The 1980s cartoon series The New Adventures of Zorro portrays Zorro and the other Spanish Californians as white-skinned people. Warner Brothers released a new cartoon series Zorro in 1997. This 1997 cartoon portrayed the physical appearance of the Spanish characters very differently from the 1981 series. The Spaniards, even those straight from Europe, were all colored brown.
In the new series, Native American characters receive significant screen time. Don Diego owed his calling as Zorro to the Native American shaman who discovered him. The Native wise woman is Zorro's teacher and mentor, and he consults her in time of need. The shaman's grandson Little Squirrel is also a regular in Zorro episodes.
In one episode Sting Of The Serpent-God, Zorro allies himself with Meso-American warriors to protect their gold from a greedy Spanish captain. The lack of war-dancing, pow-wowing Native American stereotypes is a refreshing change from other cartoons.
The role of women has also improved markedly between the 2 Zorro cartoons. In the old series, Zorro's lady love did nothing except sit around waiting for someone to kiss her hand. She also didn't have the faintest clue that Don Diego was Zorro. In the 1997 series, Don Diego's childhood friend Isabella not only quickly found out Zorro's true identity, but also insisted on assisting Zorro. She even impersonates Don Diego so that Zorro could accomplish a mission in another place.