Brief History of Dinosaur Cartoons

I liked dinosaurs as a kid. I bet you also liked dinosaurs as a kid. I remember having a Jurassic Park T-Rex toy and pretending to feed it my action figures. It is almost impossible to talk about animated dino shows like Dino-Riders without talking about toys. Many animated series were and still are long toy ads. The old dinosaur cartoon shows were not an exception. In any case, let’s talk about old prehistoric cartoon shows!

Dinosaucers (1987-1988)

Dinosaucers is an exception to the rule. There were originally plans to release a Dinosaucers toyline, and prototype figures were produced. However, the line was scrapped after the show was cancelled. The show is now remembered mostly for it’s awesome theme song and intro.

Without hearing/understanding the actual dialogue, Dinosaucers episode 1 is really confusing. There is never a real background story apart from these few facts:

1. Dinosaucers hate Tyrannos
2. Tyrannos are stupid and have a ray gun that can make others stupid.
3. Dinosaucers can dinovolve.
4. Secret Scouts are stronger than the Planeteers

Dino-Riders (1988)

Dino-Riders was produced to promote Tyco toys. Look at this picture. Tyco knew their stuff. Prehistoric creatures with lasers fighting each other is a cool concept for both toys and our imagination. Apparently, if you any of the Ice Age Adventures series of action figures, they are quite rare.

The Land Before Time (1988)

In 1988, the first Land Before Time movie was playing in movie theaters across the world. In this animated movie, dinosaurs were not portrayed as terrifying blood thirsty creatures. Littlefood and his gang are cute and friendly. As a result, normal parents began to approve of their children love for prehistoric birds/reptiles. Of course, nerdy fathers never disapproved of prehistoric fascination. In the wake of The Land Before Time, Denver, the Last Dinosaur and Dink, the Little Dinosaur profited from the world’s love of Land Before Time.

Denver, the Last Dinosaur (1988-1989)

The Land Before Time film explored issues of prejudice between the different species. Denver also spoke to the youth about race issues. It showed a group of interracial American teens hanging out with an a rad dinosaur named Denver for a entire 65 episodes.

Like all animated series, Denver had it’s own toys. The rocking dinosaur also as used to promote Knott’s Berry Farm Kingdom of the Dinosaurs attraction and Ralston-Purina’ cereal brand Dinersaurs. How many cartoons except for the Flinstones promote cereal brands?

Dink, the Little Dinosaur (1989-1991)

Dink, the Little Dinosaur is essentially a plagiary of The Land Before Time. Dink and Littlefoot are both baby brontosaurus. The main characters have cute Pteranodon sidekicks. They have friendly adventures. I just wish I could get a glimpse of their Factasaurus clips. The Factasaurus (I assumed he is a dinosaur) would teach kids about dinosaurs.

Moving on to the 90’s

After 1991, fans of televised dinosaurs were still being satisfied. It wasn’t because of Barney. It was because the cartoons were still flowing from the animation studios. Also, the first Jurassic Park came out in 1993.

Dinosaurs TV series (1991-1994)

This isn’t a cartoon at all but one of the most memorable sitcoms of the early 90s. It’s success was almost garanteed since it was conceptualized by Jim Henson right before he died. The show was a satire of current society and played with themes such as agnosticism, racism, sexism, etc. The most memorable character was obviously Baby Sinclair because of his “Not The Mama” antics.

The Adventures of T-Rex (1992–1993)

The Adventures of T-Rex is one of those musical cartoons. It is kind of like a more “bad-ass” version of the California Raisins. Unlike many dinosaur cartoons, the setting of the Adventure of T-Rex is an anthropomorphic dinosaur world. Another thing, I find funny is that the heroes’ special powers are related to a specific part of their anatomy. You got Bernie’s legs, Bruno’s arms, Bubba’s tail, Buck’s mouth and teeth, and Bugsy’s telekinetic eyes. The tyrannosaurus brothers were just born that way! I haven’t watched much of this series yet, because I’d be spending too much time watching cartoons instead of writing blog posts. I actually do spend too much time watching cartoons online for free.

Jurassic Park Craze (1993)

Jurassic Park is a movie that everyone has seen. I believe it continued the dinosaur tv series craze in animation. If you haven’t noticed there has been at least 10 animated series where dinos have played an important role. To my knowledge this blockbuster didn’t inspire any animated series, but I do remember both the awesome Sega Genesis game and the theme song. I also might have had a dream about Jurassic Park but I might just be imagining scenarios involving my action figures.

Got to love those drum covers!

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (1993-1994)

This might be the only comic book cartoon series that was produced after the release of a successful video game. The premise of the animated series does resemble Jurassic Park. In any case, I am really sad by the fact the series only lasted 13 episodes. First, the animation is amazing for a TV series produced in 1993. Second, the plot is awesome. The heroes drive cool cars and are friends with dinosaurs. The villain is a fat capitalist lady who hates animals and trees. The heroes and villains fight mostly on the political level. Overall, if there is one show you need to watch from the old dinosaur tv series, watch one of the best cartoons ever. You won’t be disappointed.

Street Sharks (1994-1995) and Extreme Dinosaurs (1997)

Matel produced both Extreme Dinosaurs and Street Sharks as toy advertisements. I am pretty sure Street Sharks ended up being a better television series. The Extreme Dinosaurs a.k.a. Dino Vengers were even featured on an episode of Street Sharks.

You Might Also Like

  • Bryan Jones
    June 13, 2013 at 9:55 pm


  • BusinessBox
    June 19, 2013 at 8:45 am

    You are so cool! I don’t think I’ve truly read something like this before. So nice to find another person with a dinosaur cartoon obsession.

  • Nick Kennedy
    July 25, 2014 at 8:08 am

    You HAD to bring up the one Jim Henson show I DIDN’T like. Dinosaurs the sitcom was hideous. All of the characters were bland and uninspired. The comedy was awful. AND THE BABY! THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST ANNOYING AND POINTLESS CHARACTERS I HAVE EVER SEEN ON TELEVISION! His “songs” are just him screaming pointless dialogue, his character never does anything but be annoying, and he’s become popular for this!?!?!? Ok I liked you post, but I had to get that out.