Feeling 80s nostalgia fatigue? I don’t blame you. In the wake of Stranger Things and Ready Player One, the current 80s renaissance has been delightful yet exhausting. It’s no wonder why we’re currently reliving the world of thirty years ago. The kids who grew up in the 80s finally overtook Hollywood and now they’re making their own movies, which invariably romanticize eras that both did and did not really exist.
The trend is perfectly encapsulated in a recent episode of South Park: the boys try to heighten an adventure with a sweet soundtrack by throwing on an 80s playlist. They quickly realize most 80s music sucks. The message? Everything looks glossy in rearview. The 80s also dumped us with Flock of Seagulls. I invite you to enjoy some 90s nostalgia instead. Yes, if you’re a frequenter of social media you will already feel 90s fatigue as well. But 90s kids still haven’t taken over mainstream media. My prediction is we’re about to see a wave of movies and shows set in the 90s in the next decade.
Jonah Hill’s Mid90s will be hitting theatres soon. Hill has been adamant his movie isn’t about nostalgia. Fair enough. Still, when nineties kids rise up, you can bank on seeing a lot of movies about Pogs. For now, content yourselves with seeing some cherished nineties characters if they had aged like regular people. Maybe we’ll see one or two of these franchises given the reboot treatment next decade.
Continue scrolling to keep reading
Click the button below to start this article in quick view
24 The Same Old Kids
Art by: leerer-raum
Rugrats makes from some of the best grown-up fodder since there’s so much room for them to grow. You have no idea what a baby will look like when they’re grown. Some of these other fan art grown-up pieces? Pfff. The characters are practically fully mature; you know darn well what they’ll look like with some more mileage on them. Artist leerer-raum’s interpretation seems one of the most spot-ons we have seen; it’s not a far cry from the babies to these kids.
23 Powerpuff Women
Art by: rossowinch
If you like rosswinch’s art, I recommend you check out the rest of their Powerpuff Girls material. Besides this fantastic piece, the artist has a wide variety of PP-inspired art.
Bubbles sorta looks like Harley Quinn— and we’re okay with that.
This piece is, ahem, more of the fan-yourself-frantically variety. Still, it’s so cool to see our favorite heroes grow up with us.
22 Working On His PhD
Art by: dantefitts
More Dexter’s Lab for y’all. There is quite a bit of the boy genius and his meddling sister in this list already, but I couldn’t resist including dantefitts’s supremely cool piece here. For one, the characters designs are spectacular but the lighting is also top-notch. The radioactive greens and vibrant oranges make for a stunning contrast. I also love Dee Dee’s clothing here. She’s wearing a grown woman’s dress while also calls back her trademark pinks.
21 Adult Lisa Is Adorkable
Art by: matsuri1128
Lisa’s not the nerdy saxophone player from Springfield Elementary anymore. No, sir. She’s a woman now. Fortunately, looking at matsuri1128’s awesome art has shown that she’s developed into own person (even if she looks a bit nerdy in this piece). Lisa Simpson, of course, would never drop her identity as a brainiac, but she needed to expand her persona to include fun activities as well.
20 Cyberpunk Goku
Art by: tauciuc
This had to be included simply because the cool factor was over nine thousand. Yes, I just made a ten-year-old joke. Looks like Patrick Belmore is all grown-up next.
Ever wonder why you never see Goku as an older dude? He’s never alive long enough to age.
Artist Bogdan Tauciuc has talent up the wazoo. One look at this picture and we’re suddenly salivating for some grizzled dystopic Goku. Make it happen, Toriyama.
19 New Moon
Art by: charlie-bowater/
Magnificent! All of humanity can remember watching Sailor Moon in the mid-90s because we’re all nineties kids and they stopped making kids after that. Artist charlie-bowater can relate: “I adored Sailor Moon from the very first second I saw it on tv. I would wake up at the crack of dawn before school to watch this and then race home again afterwards to watch the repeat. I think it’s about time I paid homage to one of my favorite anime’s ever; Sailor Moon!”
18 Ash Caught ‘Em
Art by: jorn-siberian
Here’s another hot take on an old classic from artist jorn-siberian. The artist notes they were interested in drawing Ash in a more realistic style than the anime.
Shouldn’t his name be Ash Caught ‘Em by now?
I think we can all agree the artist has succeeded marvellously. Ash also looks more Japanese here, which makes sense. Then again every city in his world is named after color so I don’t know what I’m talking about.
17 Morning Selfie With Gadget
Art by: arkangel-zigma
Y’all remember Gadget Hackwrench from Rescue Rangers? Of course, you do. Gadget is back and more adorable than ever. She’s seen here posing for a selfie. She has aged wonderfully. Then again, cartoon characters often do— when they age at all. It’s sort of unfair. Cartoon or not, nobody looks that good first thing in the morning.
16 The Formula Hasn’t Changed
Art by: rossowinch
Sugar! Spice! And everything nice! The Powerpuff Girls was one of the funniest shows on the Cartoon Network. Good gosh almighty, some of the jokes weren’t for kids (anything involving the mayor’s assistant, for example).
“It’s okay, professor. I was an accident too.”
In the vein of that more mature subject matter, we bring you Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles all grown up. Unlike some racier images out there, artist rossowinch has done a swell job emulating the show’s style.
15 Following Dad’s Trail
Art by: jorn-siberian
Sweet. I’m guessing there aren’t a huge number of The Wild Thornberrys fans among us, but there are art lovers galore. All of us can appreciate a good art. In artist jorn-siberian’s interpretation of Eliza’s later years, the Thornberry scion has followed her father’s legacy. She has also become a tried adventurer. The chimpanzee Darwin is still around, so obviously it’s not that much into the future. Chimpanzee lifespans are about forty-fifty years. Okay, that got depressing towards the end there.
14 Bob Hill
Art by: orangephoenix6
Dang, Bobby! King of the Hill was always one of those shows you had to wait to be over before you could get to watch The Simpsons— but that was when you were a dumb kid. After you blossom into adulthood, King of the Hill is like a good cup of coffee— it’s bitter and tastes like life feels. The show still doesn’t get enough credit for how funny and trenchant it is. Go back and watch ‘em if you haven’t!
13 St. Canard High School Reunion
Art by: splatterphoenix
It’s Drake and Kara’s high school reunion! I’m not totes sure which High School reunion number this is, but they look great for any age.
Darkwing Duck just got a whole lot darker as we contemplate the slow-march of age and life’s inevitable decline.
For an accompanying script, click on the link to visit artist splatterphoenix’s page. Darkwing figures into the new Ducktales universe too. Somehow. If you haven’t checked it out yet, well, you may be older than five. It’s got Scottish heartthrob David Tennant though!
12 The Avian Avenger
Art by: splatterphoenix
Another winning Duckverse entry from artist splatterphoenix. From left to right: the first Kara is aged about fourteen or fifteen years old, enrolled in high school in the 70s/80s. The second is grown-up Kara with a PhD she received in England. In the third photo, Kara was like, to heck with my PhD and now she’s a superhero called The Avian Avenger. Lastly, she evidently decided the superhero thing wasn’t for her and she returned to academia.
11 Rogue Won
Art by: m-renoir
Rogue has always had something of the mature woman about her because of her white bangs. As a teen, it makes her look tough. As someone past middle-age, it makes her look venerable and sophisticated. And she didn’t have to change anything. I think I speak for everyone when I say we’d love to see a version of X-Men in their advanced years, although the movies are moving at such a glacial production that we’re basically getting that anyway.
10 The Simpsons Are Doing Alright
Art by: matsuri1128
Artist matsuri1128 has made a name for themselves with top-shelf Simpsons grown-up pieces. There are as many types of grown-up Simpsons fan art as there are Simpsons episodes. Many fan art pictures envision Bart as a ne’er-do-well who never amounted to much. Heck, even one of the first Simpsons flash-forward episodes depicts him this way. It’s refreshing to see some versions of Bart where he seems to be doing alright for himself.
9 The Pokémon Kids Level Up
Art by: isaiahstephens
Artist Isaiahstephens is the master when it comes to grown-up versions of pop culture characters from the 90s.
Now they’re almost at the age where it’s appropriate to go adventuring on their own— instead of leaving home at nine years old.
If you’ve ever wondered what Ash, Misty, Brock, and Team Rocket might look like growing up, well keep dreaming— there’s no way Nintendo is ever going to level up their ages and stop milking their cash miltank.
8 Is She Still Bratty?
Art by: celestedoodles
Here’s a picture of Angelica from Rugrats all grown up, coming from the same set as the Arnold in this list. I think the artist has done a bang-up job translating Angelica’s bratty persona into a woman who seems slightly stuck-up. Of course, there’s nothing to prove that based on a simple stance. She only has one hand on a hip, after all. But based on what we know about Angelica’s bossiness, we can imagine she’s a handful as an adult too.
7 This Unsinkable Ship
Art by: jebbiepinka
It’s another winning grown-up Hey Arnold! entry from the MVP of grown-up Hey Arnold! artists, jebbiepinka. Helga Pataki always bullied the neighborhood football head while secretly worshipping an idol of him she kept in her closet.
Who among us didn’t keep idols of our crushes in our closet?
There are ton of Arnold x Helga fan art pieces out there to satisfy our fantasies. Alas, like the ill-fate, idol-filled crushes of our childhoods, perhaps that ship has sunk.
6 Not A Football Head Anymore
Art by: celestedoodles
Am I seeing this right? There are so many conflicting signals here. On one hand, Arnold is suave as heck now. He seems to be carrying a utility pouch so I guess he’s a handyman?
This Football head has scored a lot of touchdowns.
He’s also got a t-shirt for the Ottawa jazz festival. I’m not sure what to make of all these new facets of his character. Dang it, Arnold, choose one thing for me to mock.
5 Dot Is Still Cute, Yakko Still Yaks
Art by: ayakootani
Now here’s one you never get to see too much of— grown-up Animaniacs. The Animaniacs are these weird Warner Brothers-tower dwelling creatures that feed off raunchy content that’s inappropriate for children. If ever you’ve seen one of their cartoons as a child, nine times out of ten you’ve blacked out an adult gag that would’ve been completely not ok — if you’d understood them at all. But we’re grateful for the memories, Mr. Spielberg.
4 FX’s Dexter’s Lab
Art by: weijic
The boy genius has just invented a whole new look for himself. Dexter is all grown-up and looking extra spicy. If the whole boy genius thing doesn’t work out, he can take a shot at modelling. The vigilant viewer will notice Dee Dee’s shadow looming over him in the background, representing how she metaphorically looms over him throughout her life. The post-it note bears a reminder of how Dee Dee has destroyed his lab again. You’d think he wouldn’t need any reminders by now.
3 The Powerpuff Trio
Art by: thek40
Here’s a fresh take on the Powderpuff Girls. They’re vaguely anime-ized all dressed up. Buttercup, as always, is the one with the most attitude. Darling Bubbles looks as wholesome as ever. Blossom has— dare I say— blossomed into a most presentable young woman.
I think we need a live-action Powerpuff Girls movie purely for Jim Carrey to play Mojo Jojo.
Don’t let these spiffy new looks fool you, though. They can still kick serious monkey behind.
2 Mandark’s Dark Fantasy
Art by: wickfield
Artist Wickfield has given us the stuff of dreams— specifically one person’s dream: Mandark. As you will recall, Mandark was Dexter’s nemesis but he was totally in love with Dee Dee. The bubble contour of this image suggests Mandark is daydreaming the scene in question. Maybe he’s building a nefarious contraption to make it a reality. Whatever your interpretation, huge props to Wickfield for this pitch-perfect piece. It’s a carbon-copy of the show’s style.
1 Mall Rugrats
Art by: leerer-raum
Hey look, it’s some more Rugrats for y’all. We promise this is the last one, but the other main babies get all the attention. I thought it was high time we get to see what the twins and those other ones whose names I can’t remember are doing now. They all look super cool— except maybe Dil, who seems like he’s the lost cause of the family. That’s ok though. I completely forgot he existed until this moment.