USA Cartoon Express

For the Chinese company, see Toon Express Group.
USA Cartoon Express

USA Cartoon Express logo
Network USA Network
Launched September 21, 1982 (1982-09-21)
Closed September 15, 1996 (1996-09-15)
Country of origin United States
Format Children's programming
Running time Daily, 2-6 hours
Original Language(s) English

The USA Cartoon Express was a programming block of animated productions which aired on cable television's USA Network from late 1982[1] to September 15, 1996. The Express was the first structured animation block on cable television, predating Nickelodeon's animation blocks by half a decade and Cartoon Network by more than a decade.


In September 1982, USA Cartoon Express was announced by USA as one of six new shows on its fall schedule. The Express originally aired during the early evening hours, replacing a prior block called Calliope.[1]


The initial lineup consisted mostly of series from the Hanna-Barbera library.[1] Well-known properties like Scooby-Doo, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Space Ghost, The Smurfs, and Jonny Quest shared space with lesser-known properties like Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch, Inch High, Private Eye, Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, and countless others, as well as numerous spinoffs of The Flintstones such as The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show.

By the end of the 1980s, a more diverse lineup of cartoons aired on the Cartoon Express, including G.I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, The Real Ghostbusters, Jem, Robotech, and Alvin and the Chipmunks. The announcer was Curt Chaplin, later known for The People's Court.[2]

In October 1991, Turner Broadcasting purchased Hanna-Barbera and launched Cartoon Network one year later, thus taking a chunk of Cartoon Express programming with it.[3] The only Hanna-Barbera shows on the Cartoon Express afterwards were The Smurfs, which did not leave the Express until 1993; and Scooby-Doo, which disembarked the Express in 1994.

Changes for 1993

In the fall of 1993, Cartoon Express introduced two original series, Itsy Bitsy Spider and Problem Child (based on the film franchise); both failed to catch on with viewers. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became the new marquee series on the block.

Terrytoons and the USA Action Extreme Team

USA later briefly acquired the broadcast rights to Terrytoons shorts like Deputy Dawg and Mighty Mouse, and DC Comics related cartoons such as Superfriends. In 1995, USA Network premiered USA Action Extreme Team with the launch of shows based on the Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat video game franchises and Savage Dragon comic book franchise. Those three shows, along with Wing Commander Academy were involved in a crossover that centered around an original character called "The Warrior King."[4] After the original series and TMNT left the air, the block was turned into a morning-only all-action block, with programs like Mighty Max, Sailor Moon (which later became one of the mainstays of Cartoon Network's Toonami block), Street Sharks, and Gargoyles as the primary shows.

The end of the line

On September 15, 1996, Cartoon Express left the station for the last time as USA Networks cut its animation blocks on most of its outlets, including SciFi Channel's Cartoon Quest and Animation Station, ending franchises that had been a staple of the network for 14 years.

Programs aired on USA Cartoon Express


Other series

Hudson the Polar Bear, the conductor and unofficial host of USA Cartoon Express during the 1990s.

USA Cartoon Express original series


USA Action Extreme Team

TV specials

See also


  1. 1 2 3 United Press International (UPI) (September 21, 1982). "Remember 'Terry and the Pirates'". Ellensburg Daily Record. p. 14. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
  2. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. "Exec says Ted to get Fred by Monday". The Tuscaloosa News. Los Angeles Daily News. October 27, 1991. p. 1E. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
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