Animation is a storytelling medium unlike any other. It isn’t restricted by budget or bound by logic. The only imitations are that of the imagination. A child didn’t understand that Speed Racer was animated on 3’s, saving time and paper but giving it an unnatural motion that’s been parodied dozens of times. They didn’t give a shit because the car was cool and there was a monkey in it. No kid cares why Bugs Bunny can talk or why the Simpsons are yellow. They’ll accept it because it’s animated. Cartoons have to ability to suck us in but also present a world that we’ll instantly accept. Nothing taps into the imagination like cartoons, Whether it’s old school like The Ruff and Reddy Show (Not on the list) or brand new like The Happy Fun Times of Bojack Horseman (That’s not the title), animation has been here since the beginning and it shows no signs of going anywhere. Here’s my list of The 100 Greatest Animated Shows Of All Time.
50. Clone High
From the brilliant wunderkinds that brought you 21 and 22 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Lego Movie, Clone High was a one season comedy that instantly became a cult hit among fans.
The show is about a high school that consists of nothing but the clones of famous historical figures like Cleopatra (Now a cheerleader), Joan of Arc (Now a goth), Gandhi (Now a party animal), JFK (Another party monster), and Abraham Lincoln (The main character who is in love Joan).
The show was unfortunately cancelled over complaints of the shows depiction of Gandhi. MTV needed those India numbers apparently. If you’re a fan of Lord and Miller’s distinct brand of comedy or 80’s high school comedies (Not only does Teen Wolf cameo in every episode, Michael J. Fox himself voices Gandhi’s liver), Clone High might be your new favorite show.
49. Æon Flux
Starting as a series of shorts airing originally on Liquid Television, Æon Flux proved so popular with viewers that MTV decided to turn it into a series.
And what a weird fucking series it was. MTV was years before and leagues ahead of the edgy programming Adult Swim would be known for. I already talked about some of the diverse content when I covered The Maxx but it bares repeating, old MTV was at the forefront of the avant garde and Æon Flux was the most interesting of the bunch.
Set in a dystopian world where the line between science fiction and fantasy are blurred, The title character is a assassin/mercenary that continuously butts heads with her lover/enemy Trevor Goodchild.
If you’re looking for a coherent story or even satisfactory answers to the many questions the show presents the viewer, you will no doubt be let down but if you give yourself over to the unique world Peter Chung has created, you’ll find a cartoon like none other.
48. Robot Chicken
Back when print media was still a thing, there was an entire magazine dedicated to toys. ToyFare was dedicated to nothing but toys, how much they’re worth and when the new ones were coming out. It was glorious and the crown jewel was definitely the “Twisted ToyFare Theater.” A five page comic in the middle of the magazine that was made using old 70’s superhero toys posed in hilarious situations. It was a real knee slapper.
It must have made quite the impression on Seth Green and Matthew Senreich because they decided to take that comic strip and turn it into what would eventually be Robot Chicken.
A rapid fire sketch show made up of stop motion animation, Robot Chicken is the television equivalent of ADHD somehow getting addicted to crack. Segments can last from five minutes to five seconds and can be about literally anything. I’m pretty sure the writers get high on old bottles of Surge and write down every idea they have and the show uses all of them. It’s most definitely hit or miss but the ratio skews in favor of hit more often than not.
The Disney cartoon department was a money printing machine in the late 80’s-early 90’s. They were cranking out hit after hit but they always based on a pre-existing property the company owned. They usually didn’t roll the dice on any new IP but thankfully someone decided to take a chance on Gargoyles.
Gargoyles was more akin to Batman: The Animated Series than to anything in the Disney stable at the time. It was far darker in tone and was one of the only cartoons at the time that was serialized. It told a continuous story that involved mature characters and a rich mythology. It was far ahead of it’s time and I wish Disney took more chances like this.
46. Steven Universe
While researching this show for this list, I found out that, apparently, unbeknownst to me, it has one of the most incredibly toxic fanbases around. I’m talking about worse than the slime that primarily hangs around 4chan bad. I have no idea why so many douche bags gravitate to this show but if you manage to steer clear of the filth, Steven Universe is a delightfully charming and deceptively deep show about friendship, family and love.
Bridging the gap between My Little Pony and Adventure Time, Steven Universe mixes a little from column A and a little from column B to create a wholly original show that promotes LGBTQ rights and has a strong emphasis on world building.
The world Steven and the three lady gems he hangs out with is has expansive and intricate as they get. The storylines are deep and the characters are extremely well written. It’s a real Gem of a show. (Get it? Because it’s all about Gems)
45. Rocko’s Modern Life
How could a show about a wallaby, a gluttonous cow and a timid turtle be one of the most controversial kid’s shows of all time? Well, the fact that every episode has more double entendres, innuendo and visual jokes that were laden with adult humor than Beavis and Butt-head and Ren and Stimpy combined doesn’t hurt.
Rocko was one of those shows that felt like the creators were purposely hiding as many naughty things in every episode just to see what they could get away with. They named a chicken restaurant after a masturbation joke and Rocko even works as a phone sex operator one time. They sure don’t make cartoons like this anymore.
There’s two kinds of people in this world, people that love He-Man and people that love Thundercats and the latter is the only correct option. This would be much higher if it wasn’t for whatever the fuck snarf is but even with that annoying, floating sack of shit, it’s still clearly the better show.
Lion-O would kick the shit out of He-Man and Mumm-ra is way cooler than Skeletor. These are facts. What’s also a fact is that Cheetara was hot and this never felt like a glorified toy commercial, unlike some cartoons *Cough* He-Man *Cough* but it also never got as a cool a toy line as He-Man, so I guess they’re even.
Did I mention that Cheetara was hot?
43. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Speaking of a glorified toy commercial, this cartoon was specifically made to sell toys. They actually came up with the toys before the show but no one thought they would sell without name recognition, so they greenlit a show. But again, the toy line was so badass, that’s not really a complaint against the show.
Based on an extremely graphic underground comic, the cartoon is a complete 180′ from its source material. Instead of brutal gang violence and explicit sex scenes, the show was all about catch phrases like “Cowabunga” and “Shell Shocked” and eating pizza. The only controversial thing about the show was the title. Apparently, ninjas are so controversial in Britain, that they ordered the show to be renamed Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and I hate it. It doesn’t roll off the tongue properly. Ninjas don’t even exist anymore. Get it together Britain.
42. Gravity Falls
If you were to judge a show based on how fanatical it’s fanbase was, Gravity Falls would be right behind My Little Pony in terms of devotion and adoration. Fans of this show really connected to it and it’s not hard to see why. It’s built like a less weird Twin Peaks but with way more mysteries and targeted more towards children. Not to say Twin Peaks isn’t for children (God knows I loved that log lady when I was younger), but, actually no, that is what I’m saying. Don’t show your children Twin Peaks. It’ll fuck em up.
The show is about Dipper and his younger sister Mabel who are sent to stay the summer with their great-uncle Stan in a town filled with nothing but paranormal oddities. It’s a regular ‘ol hotbed of weird, so much so that their great-uncle runs a tourist trap called “The Mystery Shack”, which sells nothing but bizarre knick knacks. The bulk of the show is about the two investigating the spooky shit that happens in the town and it’s fantastic.
Oh and it’s in the same universe as Rick and Morty, so It’s automatically good.
A spin-off of Beavis and Butt-head, Daria focused on the (mis)adventures of a cynical, highly intelligent teen trying to survive not only the hell that is high school but the drudgery that is her family.
“I don’t have low self esteem, I have low esteem for everyone else.”
Daria was one of the first cartoons to truly understand the “outsider.” Other characters realized immediately that she was intelligent but nobody ever bullied her or insulted her because she was introverted. They accepted that she was different and it wasn’t a big deal. Her sister and her vapid friends are the only ones that have a problem with it but the show goes out of its way to show that they’re the true “outsider” because they have nothing to offer anyone. They’re all just fashion mannequins that can talk.
Daria was a mature look at the teenage experience and when it ended, MTV officially died.