All Aboard the USA Cartoon Express

5 years after the launch of the USA network a much storied animated block of programming took to the airwaves, the USA Cartoon Express. Premiering in 1982, the Cartoon Express was home to some of the most popular syndicated cartoons of the last 30 years. The show was launched as afternoon filler and at first was mostly populated with b-rate material from the Hanna-Barbera library such as Inch High, Private Eye, Dynomutt and Dog Wonder. The cartoons were strung together with cartoon shorts of an animated train conducted by Hudson the Bear. As the show gathered steam they added better material like Scooby Doo and The Smurfs.


In 1993 the Cartoon Express switch tracks and started broadcasting in the morning, instead of the afternoon. The show “host segments” also changed. They went from the classic train design to a sleek bullet train look. While the shows lineup remained strong, especially with the addition of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, their attempt to introduce original programming failed — I guess the world just was not ready for an animated version of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Problem Child”. I have been watching Problem Child on Hulu ( and can see why it did not catch on.

The massive media mergers of the 1990s brought USA under the umbrella of NBC Universal Cable. They eventually decided to pull all of the animation off their channels and on September 15, 1996, the Cartoon Express made it’s last stop.

The USA Cartoon Express has left a legacy in memories. For many years it was the only home to cartoons that would have otherwise been overlooked. Just check out this roster:

  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Battle of the Planets
  • Buford and the Galloping Ghost
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids
  • C.O.P.S.
  • Cadillacs and Dinosaurs
  • Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels
  • Challenge of the GoBots
  • Clue Club
  • Dennis the Menace
  • Denver the Last Dinosaur
  • Devlin
  • Dinosaucers
  • Dragon’s Lair
  • Dynomutt, Dog Wonder
  • Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
  • G.I. Joe
  • Goober and the Ghost Chasers
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
  • Help!… It’s the Hair Bear Bunch!
  • Hong Kong Phooey
  • Huckleberry Hound and Friends
  • Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling
  • In A Minute
  • Inch High, Private Eye
  • Jabberjaw
  • Jana of the Jungle
  • Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
  • Jem
  • Laff-A-Lympics
  • Loopy De Loop
  • Magilla Gorilla
  • Mister T
  • Monster Bash
  • Pac-Man
  • Paw Paws
  • Problem Child
  • Quick Draw McGraw
  • Scooby-Doo
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power
  • Shirt Tales
  • Snorks
  • Space Ghost
  • Space Stars
  • Speed Buggy
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3
  • The Biskitts
  • The Flintstone Comedy Hour
  • The Flintstones
  • The Great Grape Ape Show
  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • The New Fred and Barney Show
  • The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show
  • The Real Ghostbusters
  • The Roman Holidays
  • The Skatebirds
  • The Smurfs
  • The Superman Batman Adventures
  • The Woody Woodpecker Show
  • Turbo Teen
  • Valley of the Dinosaurs
  • Voltron
  • Wally Gator
  • Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch
  • Yogi’s Gang
  • Yogi’s Space Race
  • Young Sampson and Goliath

Pretty impressive huh? Now how about some video memories.

1980s Cartoon Express Commercial

1993 Closing and Commercial

1991 Cartoon Express Bumpers

USA Cartoon Express Move Intro

In A Minute


The Retroist

Editor/Podcaster at Retroist
The Retroist is like a BBQ on a bun without the bones. You're only human daddy. Chomp!

Latest posts by The Retroist (see all)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

20 thoughts on “All Aboard the USA Cartoon Express”

%d bloggers like this: