A sampling of influential animation from this era.note
The return of animation to a point of artistic respect. The 1980s showed many remnants of the Dark Age
- Limited Animation was still the rule on televisionnote ; Merchandise-Driven shows and specials such as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, The Transformers, G.I. Joe, My Little Pony, Jem, and ThunderCats, ruled '80s television animation and had parents' groups up in arms about children watching glorified toy commercials, which were extremely split between gender lines at that. These shows were obviously still entertaining to their kid demographic though, as is evidenced by the fact that several of them proved so popular among juvenile audiences that they became huge pop culture phenomenons that are well remembered to this day. Another trend of '80s TV animation were that many established franchises received Animated Adaptations, including The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang (IN SPACE!), Rambo: The Force of Freedom, Dragon's Lair, The Real Ghostbusters, and Alf.
- The Disney Animated Canon came close to ending for good when The Black Cauldron, intended to be the stunning debut of a new generation of animators, didn't impress just-arrived company executives Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who recut it and it proceeded to tank at the box office.
That was about to change, however.
Witnessing the success of first-run syndicated animation shows like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983)
and Care Bears
, Disney tried its luck with two original series of its own in 1985: The Wuzzles
, which was soon forgotten, and Adventures of the Gummi Bears
, whose production values were significantly higher than its contemporaries. Disney's investment would prove successful, which led to the creation of other original series by Disney that aired in Disney Afternoon
that lasted until the late 1990s with successful shows like DuckTales
and Goof Troop
, among many others.
Other broadcasting companies took notice, and developed their own original series. By 1987, Ralph Bakshi
produced Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures
with John Kricfalusi
, a show that helped bring back old school, insane "cartoony cartoons". Warner Bros.
had its own revival with several Spielberg produced efforts that brought Looney Tunes
-style comedy into the 1990s; Tiny Toon Adventures
were the most successful. Much of the crew from these shows went on to launch the DC Animated Universe
with Batman: The Animated Series
in 1992. This time, Disney eventually aped them
with a cult dark action series of their own, Gargoyles
, created by Greg Weisman
, even though they eventually mishandled it badly. Cable networks such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network
started with reruns and repackagings of cartoons from earlier eras, as well as syndicated fare (as did the USA Network's Cartoon Express block; this was also the modus operandi
of the emerging home video market) but moved on to create their own shows during the '90s. The former launched the "Nicktoons" brand with Doug
, and The Ren & Stimpy Show
, while the latter made shows like Dexter's Laboratory
and Ed Eddn Eddy
that went by the moniker "Cartoon Cartoons". The latter's name was eventually dropped, however, as 2002's Codename: Kids Next Door
was the last show to use the Cartoon Cartoon label.
On the silver screen, it wasn't until the late 1980s that the industry rose to new heights. After the box office failures of animated movies in the 1970s, Disney defector Don Bluth
pushing for a return to the rich classical style of the Golden Age
, beginning with 1982's The Secret Of NIMH
; while it was not a blockbuster, it quickly became a Cult Classic
. It attracted the attention of no less than Steven Spielberg
, which led to Bluth's directing the successful An American Tail
and The Land Before Time
for Amblin Entertainment. Bluth would both rise to prominence and fall
during this period, but his collaboration with Spielberg proved to be the first real challenge Disney had ever faced in the animated film department, at least since the Fleischers
were in business. The failure of Disney's The Black Cauldron
in 1985 seemed to spell the end of Disney's animation unit, but fortunately it persevered, mainly due to the modest success of The Great Mouse Detective
. After the threat from Bluth and Amblin though, Disney frantically stepped up its game and rallied with Oliver & Company
, which was another modest success. Their newly-established, adult-oriented Touchstone Pictures
label co-produced — with Amblin Entertainment, as it happened — Who Framed Roger Rabbit
, a live-action/animated fantasy that also served as a Massive Multiplayer Crossover
of Golden Age characters and was the box office sensation of 1988.
It was followed by The Little Mermaid
in 1989, a musical that refreshed the old formulas of yore
, was a surprise sensation at the box office — at last, they were well and truly back in the game. While the following year's The Rescuers Down Under
was a financial disappointment, Beauty and the Beast
raised Disney's bar even higher, a financial and critical success (in fact, the first animated film ever to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination). Aladdin
itself proved a smash with the stellar performance of Robin Williams
cementing the Celebrity Voice Actor
as the "star" of an animated film. Finally The Lion King
surpassed all expectations to become a cultural landmark and the peak of Disney's success. In fact, some people argue that this era should have been called the Disney Renaissance
, since they were the most successful animation studio during this era and had the most consistent track record in terms of hits. This new era in hand-drawn animation lasted until the rise to prominence of 3D computer animated films.
By the end of The Nineties
, rival studios had launched their own feature animation units, most notably DreamWorks
. However, most of them found that the market was still largely trapped in the All Animation Is Disney
in terms of traditional animation and most of the attempts failed miserably, or fell victim to Disney's aggressive marketing such as rereleasing The Lion King
so it could crush the rival, The Swan Princess
, in 1994. Even Bluth was forced to ape Disney with films like Anastasia
, though his attempt to break out with Titan A.E.
failed and sunk his career. However, DreamWorks Animation
, after enduring the underperformance of their traditionally animated films like The Prince of Egypt
, noticed that their small computer animated film, Antz
, did fairly well and suggested that other animation techniques could be the answer. So, they made a deal with the hailed British Stop Motion
company, Aardman Animations
, who helped show DA that the way forward is to find their own voice and style in the next age.
Adult aimed animation finally came back to television during the renaissance age. The Simpsons
became a full-fledged series in 1989 and went on to become probably the most critically acclaimed television cartoon series of all time, and MTV
caused a stir with Mike Judge
's Beavis and Butt-head
. MTV, of course, was cable — and from here came the last great progress that cemented the renaissance: the rise of cable television.
All in all, this era did a good job of at least brushing away the worst aspects of the dark age. Parental Bonus
was back, quality had soared, and profits were high. Anime
also found headway in the U.S. in this period with Robotech
becoming a cult favorite with its audacious flouting of contemporary North American TV animation conventions to present a sweeping military SF saga that felt very different from homegrown fare like G.I. Joe
. After that Sailor Moon
, Dragon Ball
began to make their presence on TV and home video across the world. In theatres, anime made its own splash with the harrowing cyberpunk ultraviolence of AKIRA
and while the Western world finally was presented with the genius of Hayao Miyazaki
with his classic films like the intelligently charming Kikis Delivery Service
and the grand, profound fantasy drama Princess Mononoke
(And indeed, anime must briefly be mentioned as a growing influence on western animators
themselves, here - they were absolutely aware of what was happening in Japan well ahead of the general public, and once things like Akira
and Ghost in the Shell
began showing up, animators and directors across the pond began straining at the bit to have their artistic restrictions loosened for fear of a consistent flood of high-quality anime pounding the western studios flat
. It was a flood which never quite materialized as people feared, but it still lit fires under a lot of people and led directly to many of the products of The Millennium Age of Animation
This is also the era that began the rise of computers in animation, riding the wave of the digital revolution that brought affordable PCs to the masses in the 1980s. Disney employed CG for major parts of their films starting with The Rescuers Down Under
, and by Beauty and the Beast
had refined it considerably (the backdrop of the ballroom scene was very much Conspicuous CGI
, as are the stampede from The Lion King
and the crowd scenes in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
). In 1994, the first completely 3D TV series, ReBoot
, came out of Canadian studio Mainframe Entertainment and premiered on ABC
in the USA. And 1995 brought the first all 3D movie and the one that launched Pixar into the spotlight and a position to drive the future of the animation industry: Toy Story
Depending on who you ask, the deterioration of this era began somewhere towards the end of the 1990s and the early 2000s. The seeds may have been sown in 1995, when Disney distributed Pixar
's Toy Story
. It was a huge hit both critically and commercially...but Disney's traditionally animated entry for the year, Pocahontas
, did well enough financially but also disappointed many viewers. Disney's increasingly formulaic approach to feature storytelling — "I want" songs
, wacky sidekicks, pop culture jokes
, etc. — in the wake of its early-'90s hits, resulted in films that strived to include more adult themes/stories yet couldn't lift themselves out of the worst aspects of the Animation Age Ghetto
when it came to content. Disneyfication
became a dirty word as critics accused them of whitewashing/dumbing down history and classic literature/mythology (the increasing amounts of merchandise tied into these films didn't help matters). That said, while these films were considered inferior to their predecessors, only one, the aforementioned Pocahontas
, was a critical failure - at a mediocre 56% on Rotten Tomatoes
, it's the only real critical failure of the Disney Renaissance. Meanwhile, the entries that were relative box office failures - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- were modestly well-received by said critics (at a decent 73% and a good 83% on Rotten Tomatoes
, respectively), who considered them improvements over the preachy and pretentious Pocahontas
has even been Vindicated by History
recently to the point that it's a darkhorse candidate for the Magnum Opus
of the Disney Renaissance. Mulan
were even viewed as coming close to the earlier works (at 86% and 88%, respectively). Rival studios' Disney-esque efforts were usually pale imitations at best — consider Don Bluth's work post-All Dogs Go to Heaven
, The Swan Princess
, etc. — and often even worse when it came to Disneyfication, culminating in two
Italian animated features that turned the Titanic disaster
into Happily Ever After
musicals. The absolute nadir of the trend, at least as far as wide release animated films go, was Warner Bros. Quest for Camelot
- sadly, this film outdid far superior works by Warner Bros. such as the Ghetto
-busting The Iron Giant
and Cats Don't Dance
financially, even as critics savaged it. One could even pin Quest For Camelot
as being one of the films that led to the eventual downfall of the Renaissance Age.
In addition, Disney and other animation companys started producing direct-to-video sequels, prequels, and interquels to most of their Modern Age films via their television animation units
, which sold well but are considered inferior to the quality of the originals. The sales were so good that even Golden Age and Dark Age efforts were given this treatment, to the increasing horror of adult Disney fans. It can be argued that the "cheapquels" led to a fatal dilution of the Disney brand name, causing audiences to take less interest in their newer animated canon efforts. And when rival studios (particularly MGM and Universal Studios) started doing the same thing with films they
owned the rights to, video stores were glutted with unwanted, unworthy sequels to everything from The Secret of NIMH
to The Swan Princess
. Before this era sequels were rare if not non-existent. It's one reason the Renaissance, like every other period in animation history, is a bit of a mixed bag.
Also, in an ironic twist, the successes of animation and children's programming on cable helped to wound animation on broadcast TV, killing the weekday animation block outright. As animation was an expensive medium at the time, increasing competition led to a greater fragmenting of the audience. With smaller audiences for each network, plus increasing restrictions on advertising content in children's programming (daytime animation still got redlined into the ghetto), animation blocks became increasingly less profitable. The twin developments of a fracturing audience and animation's move to cable (and needing to make do with cable's smaller budgets), led to declines in animation quality. Work was outsourced to overseas studios. computer coloring eventually replaced ink and paint, and soon Flash
made inroads as an animation tool.
For this era's successor, see The Millennium Age of Animation
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Films that are associated with this era
- AKIRA: The film that made people take anime seriously.
- An American Tail: This movie was a surprise success at the box office, the first non-Disney animated movie to out-perform Disney, and had a lot to do with showing people that cartoons could still be profitable. Also marked Steven Spielberg's entrance into the animation scene.
- An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, and the two direct to video sequels.
- Aladdin: The popularity of the DTV sequels and tv series, while acclaimed, ironically opened the floodgate to the Sequelitis that would plague Disney for years.
- All Dogs Go to Heaven: Considered by some of Don Bluth's fans to be his Magnum Opus or his last good film.
- Antz: The first film to be released by Dreamworks Animation.
- Beauty and the Beast: The first animated feature to earn a Best Picture Oscar nomination, a distinction that would not be repeated until 2010's nomination for Up.
- Beavis and Butt-Head Do America
- The Black Cauldron
- The Brave Little Toaster
- A Bug's Life
- Cats Don't Dance
- Christmas In Tattertown: A 1988 TV special Ralph Bakshi made for Nickelodeon, made in an attempt to revive the 1920s' rubberhose cartoon style. Nickelodeon intended it to be a series, but Bakshi knew this would never work, so it never went past this pilot.
- Cool World
- David Copperfield: 1993 animated adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens story with an anthropomorphic cast.
- The Devil And Daniel Mouse: An esoteric '80s made for TV film.
- Eight Crazy Nights
- Fantasia 2000
- The Fearless Four (1997): A german-animated feature, being an extremely loose adaptation of "The Four Musicians of Brementown".
- FernGully: The Last Rainforest
- The Flight of Dragons
- A Flintstones Christmas Carol
- The Fox and the Hound
- Freddie as FRO7: Made by the British during this era, it's one of the strangest animated films you will ever see.
- A Goofy Movie: Technically not part of the Disney Animated Canon but very well-liked nonetheless.
- Hayao Miyazaki films, such as Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.
- The Great Mouse Detective: This film's moderate success was what convinced Disney to keep doing animated films, as the company was in dire straits in the early '80s after a string of box office bombs.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- The Iron Giant
- The King and I (the 1999 film).
- The Land Before Time: The second Bluth movie to make box office records. Also has an very infamous case of sequelitis.
- The Last Unicorn
- The Little Engine That Could
- The Lion King: Broke the record for highest grossing animated movie, holding it for 9 years until Finding Nemo was released. Also cemented the, later maligned, wacky sidekick trope that Aladdin originally introduced with The Genie.
- The Little Mermaid: The movie that brought Disney into its renaissance era, after repeated defeats at the box office by Don Bluth's movies.
- Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland
- Mrs. Doubtfire: Has a cartoon segment contributed by Chuck Jones.
- Mumfie's Quest
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
- Oliver & Company
- Once Upon a Forest
- The Pagemaster
- The Pebble and the Penguin: Directed by the one and only world famous
Don Bluth Alan Smithee.
- The Prince of Egypt
- Quest for Camelot
- The Rescuers Down Under
- The Road to El Dorado
- Rock-A-Doodle: Seen by most fans as the movie where Don Bluth jumped the shark.
- Rover Dangerfield
- The Secret Of NIMH: Came out somewhat before what many agree to be the start of the renaissance, but definitely played a role in shaping it in the long run.
- Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights
- Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island: The 1998 Direct-to-Video film which could be very well responsible for the return of Scooby-Doo in the 21st Century.
- Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie:
- Space Jam
- Starchaser: The Legend of Orin: A 1985 3-D animated movie, notably for early mixing of hand-drawn animation and CGI.
- Stay Tuned: A live action feature, notable for an animated segment contributed by Chuck Jones.
- The Swan Princess: Notable in how frequently it attempts to defy the Disney formula, while having the characters still end up Genre Blind for other reasons, and ultimately succumbing to the Disney formula. Also the most successful animation motion picture to come from Nest (meaning: neither Disney nor Dreamworks nor Don Bluth).
- Thumbelina: As The Nostalgia Chick said, it holds many similarities to the Disney formula of the time and doesn't work out so well.
- Tom and Jerry: The Movie
- The Thief and the Cobbler: Although it was finished and released in the '90s, it did start production in the 1960s.
- Toy Story: The first fully CGI animated film.
- A Troll in Central Park
- Twice Upon a Time
- Volere Volare: A french Roger Rabbit Effect romantic comedy.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Series that are associated with this era
- For any and all Anime not listed on here, see:
- Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
- Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers
- Adventures of the Gummi Bears: The Disney cartoon that finally introduced quality animation to made-for-TV cartoons, playing a big role in getting rid of lingering legacies from The Dark Age of Animation.
- Ćon Flux
- Albert the Fifth Musketeer
- Alvin and the Chipmunks: Their 1980s incarnation.
- Wakko's Wish - A direct-to-video film based off said series.
- The Angry Beavers
- Batman: The Animated Series
- Beavis and Butt-head
- Beethoven The Animated Series: Yes, this does exist.
- Betty Boop: Received two television specials in the '80s; "The Romance of Betty Boop" (1985), and "Betty Boop's Hollywood Mystery" (1989).
- Biker Mice from Mars
- Bobby's World
- BRATS Of The Lost Nebula
- The Brothers Flub
- The Brothers Grunt: Danny Antonucci's pre-Ed, Edd n Eddy work.
- Bubsy: an Animated Adaptation of the games. Needless to say, it did poorly.
- Budgie The Little Helicopter
- Captain N: The Game Master
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers
- Captain Tsubasa: Along with Dragon Ball, the series that started the anime boom of the '90s in Europe.
- Care Bears
- Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue
- Casper the Friendly Ghost: Got both a live action/CGI hybrid movie revival, as well as a brand new animated TV series to boot.
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
- The Comic Strip
- Courage the Cowardly Dog
- Cow and Chicken
- The Critic
- Darkwing Duck
- Defenders of the Earth
- Dexter's Laboratory
- Doug, the very first Nicktoon, and the first TV show for Jumbo Pictures. Aired on both Nickelodeon and ABC (after getting bought by Disney).
- Dragon Ball: Made and dubbed during this period (and quite possibly the trope codifier for starting the North American anime craze of the mid-late '90s). One of the hundreds of anime spawned during this period and one of the several dozen that caught on in the US. You can confidently say that this series is one of the main reasons anime became popular during the '90s outside of Japan.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy
- Eek The Cat
- Exo Squad
- Family Guy: Got its start at the end of this era.
- Felix the Cat: Specifically, the character got two revivals, one good, the other very contested. The first one was Felix the Cat: The Movie, which was based on Felix's flanderized portrayal from The Dark Age of Animation. The second one was the surprisingly good The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, which basically brought Felix back to his roots and the series even threw in a bit of Max Fleischer surreality into the mix.
- The Flintstone Kids
- Futurama: Got its start at the end of this era
- Galaxy High
- Garfield and Friends
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
- The Goddamn George Liquor Program: A pioneering web cartoon series from 1997, being the first cartoon made in flash, and the first to be made exclusively for online.
- Goof Troop
- Gravedale High: A long-lost 1990 Hanna-Barbera cartoon starring Rick Moranis, who had a skyrocketing career at the time this came out.
- Gremlins 2: Features an opening cartoon segment starring Bugs and Daffy.
- Heckle and Jeckle: In The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle.
- Help! I'm a Fish
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
- Hey Arnold!
- Hot Rod Dogs And Cool Car Cats
- Hugo the Movie Star a.k.a. Jungle Star Hugo.
- Inspector Gadget
- Johnny Bravo
- Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures
- King of the Hill
- Life With Louie
- Littlest Pet Shop (1995)
- Looney Tunes In The Seventies And Onward: Post-Termite Terrace theatrical shorts from The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties and in The New Tens.
- Magic Adventures Of Mumfie
- Mazinger Z: It was renamed Tranzor Z and aired in the USA in 1985, heavily re-edited.
- Mickey Mouse Works
- Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures
- Mike, Lu & Og
- Millionaire Dogs
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: The anime that effectively pulled the Gundam franchise out from its glut since the late '80s; and the first to gain series wide exposure in the United States.
- Muppet Babies
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: The famous mecha series that deconstructs the entire genre. Also one of the anime that caused the craze of the late '90s.
- The New Adventures of Beany And Cecil
- Oh Yeah! Cartoons
- The Oz Kids (1996)
- Patrol 03
- Pepper Ann
- Peter Pan & the Pirates
- Pinky and the Brain
- The Powerpuff Girls
- Pokémon: Effectively gave anime a fighting chance in the United States. And the only one that's still going strong.
- A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
- Rambo: The Force of Freedom
- Raw Toonage: A short-lived Animated Anthology series from Disney that spawned two spinoffs.
- Rayman The Animated Series: An extremely short lived All-CGI Cartoon series, very, very loosely based off of the limbless wonder.
- The Real Ghostbusters
- ReBoot: The first fully CGI TV series.
- Recess: One of the three flagship programs of Disney's One Saturday Morning, and the most successful and popular one. While not the first Disney animated show to not be based off a pre-existing franchise, it was the first really successful show by Disney that was animated and not based off a pre-existing franchise.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show
- Rescue Heroes
- Revolutionary Girl Utena
- Road Rovers
- Robotech: Yes, it was a Cut-and-Paste Translation of three unrelated anime series, but it was on the forefront of introducing American audiences to Japanese animation, breaking several of the conventions of U.S. animated television shows, as well as ironically building the popularity of importing unedited Japanese productions.
- Rocket Power
- Rocko's Modern Life
- Rolie Polie Olie
- Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles
- Rurouni Kenshin: The series that made samurai stories popular among anime fans from this generation.
- Sabrina: The Animated Series
- Sailor Moon: One of the three major series that started the anime craze of the '90s (along with Dragon Ball and Evangelion).
- Saint Seiya: One of the series that also started the anime craze of the '90s, but in Latin America and, to a (sightly) lesser degree, Europe.
- Scooby-Doo still lingered throughout this age of animation. However, the franchise seemed to be winding down... for a while.
- Sei Juushi Bismarck
- The Simpsons
- The Smurfs
- Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Noteworthy for being a huge favorite among Sonic fans.
- Sonic Underground
- South Park: Much like Family Guy, it got its start toward the end of this era too.
- Space Goofs
- Spicy City: A Ralph Bakshi tv cartoon, and one of, if not the first, aimed at an adult audience, predating South Park.
- Spiral Zone
- Spongebob Squarepants
- Street Fighter
- Superman: The Animated Series
- SWAT Kats
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987
- Tiny Toon Adventures
- Tom And Jerry Kids
- Toonami: Cartoon Network's original action after school block, launched in '97 near the end of the age. While showcasing such hits as ReBoot, it's also known for one of the earliest and most successful blocks to showcase anime, bringing us classics such as Sailor Moon, Mobile Suit Gundam, Dragon Ball Z, Outlaw Star, and many more, and is probably directly responsible for the rise in anime in Western audiences.
- The Tick
- The Tune - First feature by indie legend Bill Plympton
- Two Stupid Dogs
- Unico and the Island of Magic
- Voltron: One of the earliest anime to be released in the US during this age.
- Wallace & Gromit
- The Wacky World of Tex Avery
- Weekend Pussy Hunt: A Spin-Off of The Goddamn George Liquor Program, and likewise is one of the earliest flash cartoons ever made.
- The Wild Thornberrys
- Wing Commander Academy
- Woody Woodpecker got his comeback during this time thanks to the TV series The New Woody Woodpecker Show.
- The World of David the Gnome
- The Wuzzles
- Yo Yogi!
- Youre Under Arrest: While not as known, it was one of the anime released during the craze in the United States note . And also one of the few that had a release by a relatively major comic book company.
Real Life People Directly Involved With This Era
- April Winchell
- Arlene Klasky and Gábor Csupó of Klasky-Csupo.
- Bill Plympton
- Craig Bartlett, an animator for Pee-Wee's Playhouse, writer for Rugrats, and creator of Hey Arnold!. Also Matt Groening's brother-in-law, interestingly enough.
- Cree Summer: Actress/voice actress who got her start in the beginning of this era with her role as Penny in Inspector Gadget. She's still a popular voice actress today. She also portrayed Freddy in A Different World, which aired around this time.
- David Kirschner, who was largely responsible for An American Tail and more obscure animated movies during The Nineties such as Once Upon a Forest, The Pagemaster and Cats Don't Dance.
- Don Bluth - A major force behind the start of this movement who's career was ironically (and depressingly) destroyed by the resulting competition.
- Fred Seibert, the producer behind World Premiere Toons and Oh Yeah! Cartoons, making him indirectly responsible for their various spin-offs.
- Genndy Tartakovsky
- Hayao Miyazaki
- Hideaki Anno
- Hiroaki Noguchi
- Hiroyuki Aoyama: Before doing The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars for Madhouse, he was one of the people involved in this era of animation.
- Hisao Yokobori
- Isao Takahata
- Jim Jinkins, creator of Doug, which aired in the middle of the Renaissance.
- Joe Murray, creator of Rocko's Modern Life, and later Camp Lazlo.
- John Kricfalusi, the creator of The Ren & Stimpy Show
- Kath Soucie
- Kazuhide Tomonaga
- Keiko Oyamada
- Kenji Hachizaki
- Matt Groening
- Mike Judge
- Nelson Shin: Producer of The Transformers cartoon; director for Transformers: The Movie and founder of South Korean studio AKOM, who worked on several of the shows present in this age.
- Nobuo Tomizawa
- Osamu Dezaki
- Pamela Segal-Aldon
- Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere, who wrote for Rugrats (the former co-created it) and Hey Arnold!, and the creators of Recess
- Rob Paulsen
- Saburo Hashimoto
- Sawako Miyamoto: More for her work at Walt Disney Animation Japan then TMS's Telecom unit (as she was a directer there, as she did mosty did key animation at Telecom), not related with Shigeru Miyamoto.
- Seth Mac Farlane, who got his start writing, storyboarding, and voice acting in this era; and whose World Premiere Toon would eventually served as one of the inspirations for Family Guy (which of course premiered at the end of the Renaissance).
- Shojiro Nishimi: Before doing Tekkon Kinkreet for Studio 4°C, he was one of the people involved in this era.
- Skip Jones, animator on many of the films of this era including several of Bluth's films.
- Steven Spielberg
- Takashi Kawaguchi
- Tara Strong
- Ted Turner: His company bought the rights to MGM's pre-1986 library and Hanna-Barbera's entire library, which of course included vast amounts of old cartoons. This would prompt the launch of Cartoon Network.
- Teiichi Takiguchi
- Tom Ruegger
- Toshihiko Masuda: Chief TMS Directer of the Disney and Warner Bros. shows that TMS worked on.
- Tress MacNeille, a very prolific voice actress from this time to today.
- William Joyce: creator of Rolie Polie Olie, which aired at the end of the era
- Yoshifumi Kondo
- Yuichiro Yano
- Yukio Okazaki
- Yutaka Fujioka: Founder of TMS.
Real life people who are directly influenced by this era
- Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi. Animation historians, writers on Art of and other animation novelty books, and bloggers of the industry-popular Cartoon Brew.
- Doug Walker, a.k.a. The Nostalgia Critic. Much of what he reviews exposes the somewhat worse aspects of some of the animation to come out of this era, and frequently includes gags referencing such cartoons.
- The Cartoon Man saga is a mostly live action homage to animation from this era, and by extension, the previous eras by which it was influenced. One character is specifically said to have made cartoons in the 80s and 90s in universe.
Tropes associated with this era include:
- All Animation Is Disney: This trope runs rampant on Don Bluth's work, and it doesn't stop there.
- All-CGI Cartoon: Started in this decade with both, Pixar's films, and TV series Beast Wars, ReBoot and South Park (all three airing within the same time period on television to boot).
- Animated Adaptation: Though this does go back to the previous era, it began to happen more frequently in this era, with unlikely movies such as Beetlejuice, Ace Ventura, and Ghostbusters receiving their own animated adaptations.
- Animated adaptations of video games were also big at the time, with mixed results.
- Animation Age Ghetto: A sad relic of the previous era. Animation did begin to overcome this somewhat, with the success of more adult cartoons such as The Simpsons.
- Animation Bump: IN ♠ SPADES.
- Arch-Competitor: Don Bluth to Disney from about the release of An American Tail untill All Dogs Go To Heaven was beaten by The Little Mermaid at the box office (after which Bluth stopped posing a real threat to Disney, arguably due to the departure of Steven Spielberg).
- Award Bait Song: A staple of animated films of this era.
- Box Office Bomb: With Disney in its renaissance, few animated movies released by other studios stood much of a chance. Between the releases of The Land Before Time and Shrek most non-Disney animated films bombed at the box office (Don Bluth's Anastasia being a prominent exception).
- Conspicuous CG: In some of the 2D movies from the late '80s and early '90s, it just looked weird when they tried to integrate computer animation because CG technology wasn't advanced enough yet. See the beginning of Thumbelina.
- Disney Fication
- Disney Acid Sequence
- Everybody Laughs Ending: Was still used a lot during the '80s, though it stopped being taken seriously and played straight at some point during the '90s.
- Follow the Leader: The mentality of many of Disney's competitors during this era. Most of them failed miserably, though.
- Genre Throwback: Rampant. The Little Mermaid was designed to be just like the old Disney animated musicals, Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs were inspired by the Warner Bros. cartoons in the Golden Age, Genndy Tartakovsky and Craig McCracken frequently threw back to '70s/'80s anime and superhero shows (and at some points drifted into Affectionate Parody territory), John Kricfalusi threw back to Tex Avery, and so on.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Happened quite a lot in Disney's movies during this period, such as the Genie in Aladdin basically just being Robin Williams, only blue and a Reality Warper.
- Licensed Game: This trend would explode with the NES, and it continues to this day. Nearly any cartoon that has ever become famous has received a video game adaptation.
- Limited Animation: Not quite as present as in the dark age, but shades still existed throughout this era. Especially in regards to television animation.
- Live-Action Adaptation: Just as movies were being adapted into animated series, the inverse was also happening more frequently.
- Off Model: Despite somewhat better animation, this still ran rampant throughout. The fact that literally everyone in North America and Japan were outsourcing did not help matters either.
- Parental Bonus
- Prime Time Cartoon
- Recycled: The Series
- Saturday Morning Cartoon: Though by no means did they end during the Renaissance (there are still a few around today), this was the last animation era in which Saturday Morning Cartoons on network TV were still big contenders.
- Serkis Folk: Disney's first all CG character was the carpet from Aladdin. From there Serkis Folk would become increasingly more common, as traditional animation declined.
- Shout-Out: There were many shout outs to classic cartoons. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was basically one long Shout-Out.
- Spinoff Babies
- The Movie: Many cartoon characters both old and new, such as Tom and Jerry, Felix the Cat, Looney Tunes, Goofy, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Transformers, The Flintstones. and others, got their own movies during this period, some of which vary in quality, but tended to usually be quite bad.
- Thick-Line Animation: Popularized by shows such as Dexter's Laboratory, this style caught on towards what many may consider the end of the renaissance. Nowadays most western television cartoons that have come out have this style, if it isn't trying to look anime.
- Toilet Humor: Became increasingly more common place in the 1990s, especially with Gross Out Shows like The Ren & Stimpy Show.
- We're Still Relevant, Dammit: The animation industry as a whole during this period. And boy did they prove it.