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5 Shows like My Little Pony ‘n Friends: Moral Animation Lessons

Thanasis Karavasilis itcherIn today’s story, we have a lesson for all of you. Cartoons needn’t be mindless caricatures of color and action or adult shows disguised in satire and comedy. A few decades ago, they were silly, entertaining and morally rich. ~ Thanasis Karavasilis

Morality in Colors

Cartoons now are dumber and don’t help kids learn about what’s important.

There aren’t many TV shows similar to ‘My Little Pony’. Produced back in 1984, this seemingly girly show was (and still is) a big hit with the boys, and its cute little ponies are certainly not a menace to society.

Every episode concludes with a moral lesson. In a time when people were preoccupied with the Cold War, conspiracy theories, and countless visions of the future, the cartoon industry invested heavily in producing scripts that could educate the young and teach them how to avoid the same mistakes of their elders.

Our first title has to be the most obvious of recommendations, but then, we are taking a trip back in time to the 80s for some lesson-teaching cartoons.

Bonus: Here’s how the theme song of My Little Pony evolved through the years.


Shows Similar to ‘My Little Pony ‘n Friends’…

‘My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic’ (Lauren Faust, 2011- )

From this day forth, I would like you all to report to me your findings on the magic of friendship, when, and only when, you happen to discover them. — Princess Celestia

There isn’t much to say here. Most of the people who know the remake probably don’t know it was based on the 1984 animation.

This is probably the only modern animation cartoon that follows the same format (a moral lesson taught at the end of each episode) and is directly linked to its roots. It’s also incredibly popular with all ages and groups, proving that the format shouldn’t be abandoned.

Similarity Match: 95%
Even though the animation, voice acting, and dialogue are up to date, the show remains true to the original 1984 feeling.

‘HE-MAN and the Masters of the Universe’ (John Errwin, Alan Oppenheimer, Linda Gary, 1983-1985)

In today’s story Zagraz had a problem. He lost his confidence in himself because he had once failed. Well now we all fail sometimes, but we should never be afraid to try again. And we should always keep believing in ourselves. As the old saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try again. Until later, bye.

HE-MAN is the most powerful human in the universe, and probably Conan’s twin brother who just dyed his hair blond. He stops the plans of the evil Skeletor, who’s, surprisingly, a skeleton, for control of Eternia and castle Greyskull, which is a castle in the shape of a skull. And it’s grey.

Yet, at the end of each episode, HE-MAN and his friends reminisce on the plot with a moral lesson we could all benefit from.

Similarity Match: 85%
Directed mainly towards little boys, HE-MAN has the same ‘story and lesson of the day’ format – but don’t expect cheeky scenarios and bright colors!

‘BraveStarr’ (Pat Fraley, Erika Scheimer, Susan Blu , 1987-1988)

Just remember, that friendship is a two-way proposition. I mean it works both ways. To have a good friend, you must be a good friend. So long from your friend, Bravestarr.

Well said, Marshal BraveStarr. Wise words from a cartoon with the moral-lesson-a-week format.

BraveStarr is the sheriff of the wild-west planet, “New Texas”. No points for originality there, but it’s a kids’ show. What did you expect?

He battles the evil outlaw Tex-Hex with help from Thirty-Thirty, his cybernetic talking horse, and Deputy Fuzz, his mentor. BraveStarr is Native American, promoting diversity in a time when the internet wasn’t there to prop up notions of equality.

Similarity Match: 80%
There aren’t any little ponies here, but you can find a stallion and a sheriff teaching some lessons the hard way.

‘Thundercats’ (Bob McFadden, Larry Kenney, Earl Hammond, 1985-1989)

In this episode the ThunderCats realize that trust must be earned, since first appearances may be deceiving. Learn to judge people by central characteristics and not superficially.

The inhabitants of the planet Thundera evacuate just before it’s destroyed. Since they’re humanoid felines, they call themselves Thundercats. In the 80s, writers and creators had a tendency to oversimplify names in children’s shows, yet overload them with morality issues. Those were some strange years.

Another notable thing of that era’s shows is that they all featured amazing intro songs. A coincidence or a conspiracy?

Here’s a list of what we learned from these thunderous cats.

Similarity Match: 80%
The animation style was very similar in the 80s and the format’s the same. While the kind of morals touched on are alike, the story is totally different.


If You Like ‘My Little Pony n’ Friends’, You Will Like…

It’s true that the format found in the series similar to ‘My Little Pony n’ Friends’ is long gone. But that doesn’t mean that all modern cartoons have abandoned their pedagogic ways for mindless fun or obscure satire.

‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ (Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, 2005-2008)

‘Avatar’ is a contemporary cartoon that attempts to combine moral philosophy with Buddhist teachings and future technology with past wisdom.

The morality lessons might not be as straightforward as those encountered in 80s cartoons, but each character in ‘Avatar’ represents a different life lesson and the show in its entirety preaches that every person we meet has something to teach us — even if that something is what not to do.

Sound good? Make sure to also have a look at these other shows similar to ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’.

More mature and polished than ‘My Little Pony’, ‘Avatar’ is a show heavily influenced by contemporary issues and is full of moral lessons.


I’ve Learned Something Today…

That’s what the kids in ‘South Park’ say every time they have something profound to share. Every work of art, be it a book, a painting or a TV show has something to teach us if only we look closely enough.

Always pay attention to what you do, and you’ll certainly come out of every experience a little wiser.

Keep watching, listening, reading, and playing!

Hey there! I′m Thanasis, a writer and lover of stories who was educated to be a teacher of English. I spend my time between worlds and inside pages; written or otherwise. I roam the endless void called The Internet in a constant quest to discover pieces of great storytelling in every artistic medium imaginable.
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