The greatest part about growing up as a kid in the '80s, '90s or Noughties was without a doubt waking up on Saturday morning. Saturday meant no school, a nice and relaxing breakfast (most likely with sugar in every bite), and most importantly, spending quality time with your favorite cartoon heroes!
You had your standard cartoons — like Scooby-Doo, Animaniacs and The Smurfs — but every kid from back in the day knew that those shows paled in comparison to the cartoons that aired during the Saturday-morning action block. Thundercats, Voltron, G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K. and more were around to make sure that Saturday mornings were full of nonstop radical action (you laugh, but cartoons actually used this type of lingo).
In a world where anthropomorphic animals fighting crimes and sounding like surfer dudes were the unique selling points for any good action cartoon, there's no arguing that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles dominated Saturday mornings. But even though the TMNT were awesome, they weren't the only ones around to wow the minds of young children. And since it's Shark Week, I thought I'd use this wonderful yearly event to pay tribute to a group of jawsome characters who have always been overlooked, even during my childhood.
Just like that, a wave of nostalgia has crashed over any '90s kid reading this article, as your mind recalls all the odd and amazing memories you have of this cartoon.
The Street Sharks might not have had as big a following as other Saturday morning cartoons, but the show's quirky cast of characters, and even quirkier premise, earns it a permanent spot in the hearts of the many who grew up watching it.
Street Sharks first aired from 1994–1997. Meanwhile, I first aired (i.e., was born) in 1998, so I just missed the hype train for this strange show. Luckily, thanks to the wonders of Blockbuster and humble VHS technology, I was able to see what all the fuss was about.
So Who Are The Street Sharks?
Like I said, the "anthropomorphic crime-fighting animal" category has always been dominated by the heroes in a half shell, so most kids these days probably aren't going to know about Street Sharks. Hell, even most people who grew up when the show originally aired have either forgotten it or didn't know about it to begin with. So allow me to drop some knowledge bombs on what I believe to be one of the greatest Saturday morning cartoons ever.
Street Sharks starts like any other show involving humanlike animals — with science! Dr. Robert Bolton and his partner Dr. Paradigm create a device that can turn aquatic animals into human-animal hybrids, because who wouldn't?
After trying to stop Paradigm from using the device for his own personal gain, Bolton is transformed into an unseen creature, before running away. Paradigm then experiments on Bolton's four sons, transforming them into shark hybrids. Unfortunately for Paradigm, they quickly turn on him. Really, I don't know why he thought they wouldn't; he did betray their father and conduct experiments on them, after all.
Each brother was given the likeness and abilities of a different shark species. Clint Bolton becomes a hammerhead shark named Jab, able to use his head as a powerful battering ram. Bobby Bolton becomes Streex, a tiger shark appropriately named for the striped pattern on his body. Coop Bolton becomes Big Slammu, a whale shark powerful enough to punch through concrete. Finally, John Bolton becomes Ripster, a great white shark with the ability to tear through steel with his razor-sharp teeth.
The Boltons, with the help of their many human and hybrid allies, patrol the streets, on the lookout for crime to take a proverbial bite out of as the Street Sharks! It sounds like a TMNT rip-off at first, and like many action cartoons from the '90s, it sort of was. But Street Sharks had its own appeal that separated it from the rest of the Turtles copies.
For starters, whereas TMNT was all about martial arts and weaponry, the Street Sharks fought with their bare hands (and teeth), akin to that of a biker gang. In fact, the only thing they really shared with the Turtles was their human-animal hybrid nature, their obsession with food, and the word "dude."
What Makes Street Sharks So Special?
Want to know why Street Sharks should be in your top 10 of amazing Saturday morning cartoons? Because it's the very epitome of Saturday morning cartoons! Seriously, everything you'd ever want in a Saturday morning cartoon can be found in Street Sharks.
Anthropomorphic animals who fight crime? Check! Largely outdated lingo that was never used by actual people to begin with? Check! An outrageous plot involving mad scientists, human-animal hybrids, and monsters that would give the Power Rangers villains a run for their money? Yes, sir! Not to mention, it's a show about sharks, and if this week has told us anything, it's that we love sharks in pop culture!
The Street Sharks might not be as popular as other Saturday-morning action heroes, but the jawsome crime fighters will always be remembered by their many fans, some of whom have equally as fervent fan followings:
Shark Week is still going strong, so to celebrate, just kick back, relax and get nostalgic over Street Sharks! They aren't that difficult to find online, by the way.
Thanks for reading! How are you celebrating Shark Week?