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Leprechauns in 80s and 90s Cartoons

They say nostalgia finds us wearing rose-tinted glasses, but right now in my retro world, everything is turning green. Yes, St. Patrick’s Day is upon us and aside from the shamrocks and green food coloring a plenty, we should take time remember “the little people” aka Leprechauns. These mythical creatures have taken many forms over the centuries, especially in our favorite cartoon shows. So let’s hit rewind on our TV viewing machine and look back at some animated Leprechauns of the 80s and 90s.

Kirby The Leprechaun, Filmation’s Ghostbusters

While The Real Ghostbusters were battling an Irish bog monster in their St. Patrick’s Day episode, the “other guys” from Filmation found themselves in need of magical help in the episode, “Banish That Banshee”. Jake and the Ghostbusters are told that only a Leprechaun can help them be rid of a troublesome screeching spectre, but when they meet the little rascal called Kirby, he is less than helpful. Assuming they want his gold, Kirby catches the team in a rainbow cage produced by a magic arrow. When he finds out the Ghostbusters have no desire for his pot o’ gold, they all become friends and he lends his bow to the cause. 

Meeting the banshee in a rain storm, Kirby tells the Ghostbusters they have to believe in rainbows in order to produce a miracle big enough to stop the villain. A few more magical arrows shot by the little man in green and the day is saved. If you ask me, Kirby was one hardcore Leprechaun that could give Green Arrow or Hawkeye a run for their money.

Bridey O’Connor, Tiny Toon Adventures

Tiny Toon Adventures was mainstay of weekday afternoon television for years and with good reason, they always had something wacky to share with us. In the episode “Viewer Mail Day” there is a segment called Pluck o’ the Irish where Hamton and Plucky Duck play salesmen trying to find customers at an old Irish castle. They run into a little girl named Bridey O’Conner who tells them the legend of the Banshee who haunts the castle (catching a theme here?).

Hijinks ensue including Hamton being turned to stone by the Banshee who is eventually defeated by Plucky’s prop comedy (where’s Carrot Top when you need him?) and yet, you might be asking yourself, where’s the Leprechaun in this story? Well, in a very M. Night Shyamalan style twist, just as the boys have saved the day Bridey reveals that she is actually three Leprechauns combined to make one regular sized person. Weird, huh?

Liam The Leprechaun, My Little Pony comics

Yes, there were My Little Pony comic books back in the 80's that were surprisingly not produced as part of Marvel’s Star Comics line. This was a revelation to me. Granted these were benign multi-panel storybook tales of wonder, not the frightening fury of the My Little Pony animated movies, but they did have a Leprechaun.

Liam The Leprechaun was a bearded fellow who made his debut in My Little Pony Comics #7 and oddly enough he didn’t seem to be very magical. Liam celebrated Lucky Clover Day and sported shamrocks on his clothes, but it feels like he could have added more to the fun like riding rainbow ramps to his pot of gold a la Ice Man, but maybe that encroached too much on Rainbow Brite’s gimmick.

The Sewer King’s Leprechauns, Batman The Animated Series

As hard as it is to believe, as part of the dark and gritty 90s cartoon, Batman encountered Leprechauns. OK, only kind-sorta. You see in the 1st season episode, The Underdwellers, a series of thefts around the city are being attributed to that urban criminal element every cop hates to write up a report on, Leprechauns. So Batman decides to investigate further. The Dark Knight has enough to deal with in Killer Crocs, Mad Hatters and Penguins, so you better believe he’s not standing for Leprechauns in his city.

The “big reveal” is that the Leprechauns are actually street kids forced into a life of crime by The Sewer King, they just happen to wear green cloaks so the superstitious citizens of Gotham immediately jump to blaming their muggings on tiny Irish folk creatures (as any rational person would do). The sheer number of times that the word Leprechaun is uttered in the first 5 minutes of the show is hilarious.

Ralph Wiggum’s Leprechaun, The Simpsons

Heading to prime time animation, we now get to see how Irish folklore worked its way into The Simpsons.  Ralph Wiggum had mostly been a wacky side character up to this point, having had only one starring role in a Valentine’s Day episode where he tried to woo Lisa. But now in this season 9 episode from 1998 it was Bart’s turn to have this sweetly annoying little boy by his side. During a tour of the Wiggum home Ralph casually shows Bart a rock and says, “That’s where I saw the Leprechaun, he told me to burn things.” 

Thinking these were just the ramblings of a boy with a wild imagination by the time the episode wraps up we’ve already forgotten the remark. But in the last 30 seconds suddenly a real Leprechaun hops up on Ralphs shoulder saying, “You done grand, lady. Now you know what you have to do. Burn the house down…BURN ‘EM ALL!” Yeah, he’s one of THOSE Leprechauns.

Glomer, Punky Brewster Cartoon

First things first, I had a major crush on Punky Brewster as a 4 year old, so when she got her own cartoon series on Saturday mornings, I was in heaven. They had to do something to justify the switch to animation, but instead of making Punky’s faithful pup, Brandon a talking dog (the obvious choice), the folks at Ruby-Spears Animation created a little furry whatsit named, Glomer…the Leprechaun. They were really banking on this guy with toys and dolls. Unfortunately, he was no ALF.

Hailing from the magical land of Chaundoon, Glomer pushed himself beyond the rainbow and was stuck in our world to wreak unwitting havok with his magical powers. Able to fly and move objects by pointing at them, Glomer’s lack of understanding about the human world got “the Punky pals” into all sorts of trouble and yet they always managed to put everything right by episode’s end.

You know what I just realized? None of these Leprechauns were caught up in stories using the standard mythology of granting wishes to someone who had captured them or their pot o’ gold. These Leprechauns definitely marched to the beat of their own drum, which I suppose is commendable.

Here’s wishing you lots of luck in 2019 and a safe St. Patrick’s Day! So who are some of your favorite pop culture Leprechauns?

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OldSchool80s Posted on Mar 16, 2019 at 02:37 AM

I would add "Lucky" from the Lucky Charms cereal commercials that aired regularly during Saturday morning cartoons back then! They're magically delicious...

pikachulover Posted on Mar 14, 2019 at 08:30 AM

I love Glomer he is so cute! I liked in the opening how Punky could poke the rainbow.

Vaporman87 Posted on Mar 12, 2019 at 05:36 PM

I had forgotten that Glomer was a Leprechaun. He is so much different than the traditional Leprechaun is portrayed.

Benjanime Posted on Mar 12, 2019 at 12:30 AM

ah, glomer, the scrappy-doo of punky brewster lol.

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