|Launched||September 20, 1982|
|Closed||September 15, 1996|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Sister network||USA Action Extreme Team (1995–1996)|
|Running time||1-6 hours|
|Voices of||Curt Chaplin (1982–1992)|
The USA Cartoon Express was a programming block consisting of animated children's series which aired on the USA Network from September 20, 1982 to September 15, 1996. Cartoon Express was the first structured animation block on cable television, predating Nickelodeon's Nicktoons and Cartoon Network by a decade.
In September 1982, USA Cartoon Express was announced by USA as one of six new shows on its fall schedule as the network began broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Express originally aired during the early evening hours, replacing a prior block called Calliope which continued to air on Sunday mornings until 1993. Eventually, a "Sunday Cartoon Express" would debut that took up the full Sunday morning. Curt Chaplin served as the unseen "Cartoon Announcer", providing voice-overs for the block's opening, closing and commercial bumpers, continuing in this role until 1992.
The initial lineup consisted mostly of series from the Hanna-Barbera library. 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, more cartoons aired on the Cartoon Express, including Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Jem, G.I. Joe, and The Real Ghostbusters.
In 1991, Cartoon Express premiered Voltron and Denver, the Last Dinosaur, two series from World Events Productions. In October, Turner Broadcasting purchased Hanna-Barbera and launched Cartoon Network one year later, thus taking a chunk of Cartoon Express programming with it. The only Hanna-Barbera shows on the Cartoon Express afterwards were The Smurfs and Scooby-Doo, which left the Express in 1993 and 1994 respectively.
In the summer of 1993, Cartoon Express paired Denver, the Last Dinosaur with the new series Dinosaucers to capitalize on the popularity of Jurassic Park. In the fall, 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, and USA also acquired the broadcast rights to Terrytoons shorts like Deputy Dawg and Mighty Mouse. From 1994 to 1995, several DIC Entertainment series were shown on Cartoon Express.
In 1995, USA Network premiered USA Action Extreme Team with the launch of shows based on the Street Fighter II video game franchise and Savage Dragon comic book franchise; it initially aired only on weekend mornings. The Cartoon Express left the station for the last time on September 15, 1996; the USA Action Extreme Team would inherit the Cartoon Express's timeslots and continue for two more years before ending in late 1998 as USA Networks cut its animation blocks on most of its outlets, including Sci-Fi Channel's Animation Station.