Our friends at Matinée Multilingual look behind the voices of the 90s 'toons...
It’s a safe bet that ’90s kids feel they grew up in the best era for kids cartoons. They had the best TV of the previous decade still showing and none of the fluff that came… well, anytime after 1999 really.
Back then cartoons really did have character – enough to sit through an entire Saturday morning of goofy presenters to catch a glimpse of your favourite show. They were the days of true heroes and villains with voices worthy of making kids tremble over their bowl of Lucky Charms (or whichever incredibly ’90s cereal you were addicted to).
And you’ll be amazed to find out where some of the voices that defined our childhood came from.
The Joker, voiced by Luke Skywalker
A perfect first entry on this list, Batman: The Animated Series managed to find that impossible balance between Gothic darkness and Saturday morning suitability for children. And it was the Joker we all wanted to see as the feature villain each weekend with his penchant for purple suits and snarling quips, voiced by none other than Luke Skywalker (or Mark Hamill outside of the Star Wars universe).
Earthworm Jim, voiced by Homer Simpson
Yes, that’s right – even earthworms could be heroes in the ’90s and Jim became the most heroic of them all after making his debut on the Sega Mega Drive. Blessed with absolutely no superpowers whatsoever, Jim had to rely on the might of his “super suit” to pummel the pixels (or ink) out of his enemies. Well, that and his cumbersome one-liners brought to you by Dan Castellaneta, AKA: Homer Simpson.
Shredder, voiced by uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince
One of those ’80s gems that thoroughly earned its ’90s airtime, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles had it all: mutants, martial arts and gratuitous pizza binges. But the show wouldn’t be anything without its unmistakable villain, Shredder. And to top it all off the walking tin can opener was only voiced by uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (played by James Avery).
Stimpy, voiced by Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and half the Futurama cast
Ren & Stimpy, absolutely no introduction needed. So, with that out of the way let’s get right down to the voices behind that cartoon magic. And it turns out Stimpy was voiced by the same man who brought Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd to life in Space Jam before voicing pretty much everyone decent in Futurama (except Dan Castellaneta’s Bender). Take a bow Billy West!
The cow from Rocko’s Modern Life, voiced by SpongeBob SquarePants (before he was a sponge)
Another Nickelodeon classic, Rocko’s Modern Life managed to turn vibrant colours into perfectly bleak social commentary that had absolutely no ill effect on ’90s kids whatsoever. Because we were in the safe hands (or voices) of Tom Kenny and co. – the man who would go on to voice SpongeBob SquarePants, Spyro the dragon, Dog from CatDog and the mayor in The Powerpuff Girls.
So there’s a handful of the iconic voices that made the ’90s the most kick-ass era for kids cartoons. They didn’t need fancy HD displays or CGI effects, just bad-ass characters and killer voices to deliver those knockout one-liners. Will kids shows ever be this good again…?
With thanks to Matinée Multilingual - voice-over agents and specialists in all things to do with re-versioning audio and video content.