Red sheets, dark wood boards, carved masks on the wall. White TV static buzzes, like hornets in your ears. The Goblin lounges on a gaudy, red velvet sofa patterned with poopoo paisle. He beckons towards you with a curl of his clawed finger." "Come watch TV, Norman!"
I was first introduced to Spider-Man, and thus the Green Goblin, through the 90's animated show. I balked at the cartoons that came after it, because I was petty didn't like the art styles! Bring back my chunky action figure animation!
But I've watched most of the post-90's cartoons now, and there are good shows in the Spider-Man universe! Some bad, some middling, but always a juicy nugget of Goblin to chew on.
Here's some of the Goblin's animated appearances so you can skip right to him rather than watching 5 seasons of a children's cartoon. :)
It's full of memes.
Spider-Man + His Amazing Friends (1981)
There were two 80's Spider-Man cartoons: One with just Spider-Man, and one with his Amazing friends (Iceman and Firestar). These cartoons are devoid of character development or story, but they're entertainingly surreal.
Norman is voiced by Neil Ross, who would return for the '94 cartoon, and shows a very "damsel in distress" personality. It seems in this cartoon, he physically turns green and scaly when he goblinizes. There is an absolutely amazing episode showing Norman's thighs in the Goblin costume that supports my claim.
Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994)
Godlike. I'm biased because I grew up with this one. It's the beginning of Spider-Man cartoons with character-based storylines, handled with just enough maturity to pass the censors of a children's cartoon and just enough censorship to be hilarious in hindsight. What other Spider-Man cartoon has a character tell Spider-Man to check his privilege when he swings in inner city neighborhoods, and deals with gang violence affecting Black families, while guns shoot non-lethal lasers and no one is allowed to die?!
The '94 cartoon is also special in that it's one of the last, and best, Spider-Man cartoons that deals with Peter Parker as a full grown adult. He lives with Aunt May, he has a job, he and goes to college, and juggles adult relationships. Most of the cartoons after the 2000's make Peter a teenager, trying to capture the 60's high schooler origins. But I like grown-ass man Peter. He gets to deal with mundanely depressing adult things like struggling with rent, getting told off my girls, and getting bullied by his boss.
Norman Osborn is voiced by Neil Ross, as well as the Goblin. Ross's Goblin is my favorite (alongside Dafoe's 2002 iteration), his cackling highs juxtoposing wonderfully next to Norman's worried tones. It's an incredible feat of voice acting when you can tell it's the Goblin's voice coming out of Norman's boedy, and when you can hear Norman speaking from beneath the Goblin's costume.
Norman is introduced early on as a "damsel in distress" character once again, and someone Peter feels obliged to rescue because Norman is Harry's dad. The Green Goblin doesn't make an appearance til season 3, truly a slow burn, because the producers wanted to sell Hobgoblin toys instead.
Mark Hamill does a good job as the Hobgoblin, and I thought he was cool as a kid! But the Hobgoblin doesn't get nearly as much character development as Norman/Goblin, with the Hobgoblin's motivation (making money) seeming rather boring compared to the vengeance and mental breakdowns of the Green Goblin.
Spider-Man Unlimited (1999)
I actually like this cartoon! The visual design, with comic style inking and pitch black shadows, is very appealing to me. It's only one season (13 episodes) long though, and the universe (set in an alien furry world) is 99% detached from the characters we're familiar with and love.
The goblin in this cartoon is an anti-hero, a costumed man named Hector Jones who watches over the neighborhood Spider-man lives in. He never appears outside of his wonderfully bat-winged goblin outfit. I do REALLY like this Goblin, especially because his character as a shitty father mirrors Norman's arcs. Hector is implied to have a child that he abandoned, and stalks his wife under the guise of "protection". His child is Black, his wife is Asian, and Hector has a Latino accent. Thus I must say LATINO BLASIAN GOBLIN IS GREAT. Is he allowed to wear the Osborn cornrows under his Goblin hat?
Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003)
Very unappealing visual style, and Norman doesn't make any appearances because he's DEAD. Plus Harry and Norman are blonde with no cornrows?! Bizarre! Can't be arsed to watch it.
Spectacular Spider-Man (2008)
The other god-like Spider-Man cartoon. Norman's a huge bitch, and I love it.
Ultimate Spider-Man (2012)
The visual style says teen action anime, but the writing style says googoo gaga. There's very little character development, very little shown of the mundane Spider-Man universe outside of SHIELD action sequences, and the characterization itself it iffy with Peter acting quipping idiot who can't do basic science during moments of duress.
There are amusing moments of the show with Harry/Venom/American Son, and Norman's stint as the Iron Patriot. I do not like big buff hulk Goblins at all, and thus I do not like the Ultimate Green Goblin in this cartoon.
Marvel's Spider-Man: Maximum Venom (2020)
It looks like Voltron, and that made me not want to watch this for the longest time. But it's actually a pretty good cartoon! Miles ended up being one of my favorite characters in this show because he's very cute and scared as a first-time hero, and he's traumatized because
Norman seems a bit young in this cartoon, especially with his refusal to wear a suit jacket and his tiny waist all cinched up in his Tumblr Sexyman vest. Much of the early episodes center around "Os Academy", and thus we get lots of good Norman moments. The Goblin comes a good bit later, with
Of special note, is that this Harry has black hair. Harry's usual defining characterization to be a little squished version of his father, complete with ginger curls. So it's quite the choice to give him his own visual identity, especially with so many other characters in this cartoon gaining ginger curls under the grooming tutelage of Norman. And he's acutally a science whiz to rival Peter, which is a complete reversal of his usual characterization of being jealous of Peter's intelligence (which his father adore). Perhaps this foreshadows
Spidey and His Amazing Friends (2021)
This is a show for actual 3 year olds. The goblin looks hilarious with pink blush on his green face. He displays no Norman personality, acting as generic child-friendly baddie with no backstory, and I don't think Harry exists in this universe. No point in watching this, even if you're babysitting just put on the 1994 or 2008 cartoon!