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.
One of, if not the only cartoon HBO ever produced, Spawn is one of the most faithful adaptations ever created. With apologies to Michael Jai White but Keith David was born to play Al Simmons. His unmistakable growl adds a level of depth no other actor could duplicate.
Spawn is about a Vietnam commando who’s betrayed and murdered by another commando and he swears revenge. He makes a pact with the leader of one of the circles of hell named Malebogia and he becomes one of the top soldiers in his army-The hellspawn or spawn for short. He’s able to see his wife again but it comes at a terrible price. It’s exactly like that classic story called the scorpion king with the rock. Except with less scorpions.
59. The Huckleberry Hound Show
“Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling clementine…” The blue hound dog had a particular penchant for singing this little diddy and it’s impossible not to have it stuck in your head for days after watching an episode.
Like many shows of the time, The Huckleberry Hound Show was made up of multiple segments. The first two have become animated legends but the third has kind of been lost to time. Huckleberry hound was an immediate hit and Yogi Bear proved so popular, he got his own show. Hokey wolf was there too. 2 outta 3 ain’t bad.
58. Tiny Toon Adventures
There was a time, where all you needed to be successful, was to have Spielberg’s name slapped on your cartoon and bam, instant classic. Where have you gone Spielberg? Why have you forsaken us? We got shit like Catdog when you left. I hate Catdog. How does it take a shit? Is it like the human centipede? Answer me Spielberg! How does he shit!!??
Tiny Toon Adventures is about the descendants of the original Looney Tunes going to school to learn how to become the next generation of Tunes. Three things: 1. I probably watched the made for tv movie “How I spent my summer vacation” about 30 times when I was a kid. 2. Remember the spin off The Plucky Duck Show? Of course you don’t. 3. Animaniacs literally killed this show. They cancelled Tiny Toon Adventures in favor of Animaniacs. Coldblooded.
57. Pinky and the Brain
Speaking of Animaniacs (Seriously, I’m straight up murdering these segues), Pinky and the Brain started life as a segment on that show but the kids loved these rats so much, that they got their own show.
Pinky and the Brain follow two rodents on their quest “To take over the world.” Pinky is simple like Forrest Gump and the Brain is an Orson Welles sounding genius that really just wants to rule the world. He’s a simple mouse. Every episode is a parody of whatever movie just came out (A lot of these cartoons automatically date themselves with these crazy old references)
Oh and skip the second show Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain. It ain’t good.
56. Courage the Cowardly Dog
Starting life in the What a Cartoon! Show pilot showcase (Seriously, no other show launched more cartoons. It’s insane how many cartoons got their start from What a Cartoon!), Courage was quickly picked up and audiences everywhere were treated to 4 seasons of the craziest shit Cartoon Network ever aired.
In the middle of nowhere live an elderly couple, the man’s name is Eustace and his wife’s name is Muriel. They also own a pink pug named Courage that Eustace takes extreme pleasure in scaring half to death. But Eustace isn’t the only thing trying to scare Courage, the show also involves monsters, aliens, sexy French ducks, zombies and demons. It was the closest thing we’ve ever gotten to an animated horror cartoon for kids and it’s incredible.
Oh and the pilot was nominated for an Oscar but lost to Wallace and Gromit.
55. Hey Arnold
There’s no many cartoons that deal with what it’s like to be a kid. Recess comes kind of close and I’ve always related to Doug but Hey Arnold captures adolescence almost better than any other show. It shows what it’s like to be a kid, albeit with exaggerated character models but the spirit of childhood is the same. Most children’s shows try and focus on the fantastical like Phineas and Ferb or unbelievable like Steven Universe and even though those shows are great, they’re escapism. They’re not meant to be realistic. Besides the fact that he has a football head, every thing about Hey Arnold is realistic. I knew those kids. I had those problems. I never had a pet potbelly pig though.
Nickelodeon recently announced that they’re bringing Arnold back and I couldn’t be happier. Younger generations need some Arnold in their lives.
Can it football head.
Building off of the “What are babies thinking bout?” Premise started by Muppet Babies, Rugrats took that premise and ran with it. Generating three films, three spin off’s and is still the second longest running Nickelodeon cartoon behind Spongebob, Rugrats was a monumental success.
Starring Tommy Pickles and his baby cohorts Chuckie, Phil and Lil and of course Angelica, the show followed the babies misunderstanding of basic everyday things. Because as Angelica loved to remind them “They’re stupid babies.” She might’ve been an asshole but she was right, they dumbass babies. The show stayed constantly great until the first film came out. Then they introduced Dil (As in pickle. Oh the wit) and the show slowly started to decline but the good far outweigh the bad and the Rugrats are still beloved by generations to this day.
53. Astro boy
I’ve already commented on American audiences being first introduced to anime with either Speed Racer or Sailor Moon but neither world exist if it wasn’t for Astro boy.
Created in 1959 by the “Godfather of manga” and “Japanese Walt Disney” Osamu Tezuka, Astro boy is set in a futuristic utopia where man and robot co-exist. It focuses on the adventures of a little robot boy who was created by Dr. Tenma after his son died in a tragic car accident. The manga was crazy popular in Japan and they quickly made it into a television series. Running just shy of 200 episodes, Astro boy was and still is incredibly influential on all aspects of pop culture.
Fun fact: Osamu Tezuka was so beloved by the people of Japan that when he died, more people attended his funeral than that of the emperor.
52. The Tick
Ben Edlund is a genius. He singlehandedly created the best superhero parody of all time when he debuted the comic in the mid 80’s and then did it again when he made the cartoon ten years later. The Tick is one of those properties like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that started off obscure but once it went mainstream, it’s never left the public conscience.
The Tick is about about a big blue superhero and his sidekick named Arthur who dresses like a moth and they’re attempts to save “The City” by the cavalcade of evil that constantly wants to destroy it. Like El Seed or Chairface Chippendale who, as you may have guessed, has a chair for a face. It’s hilarious and the 2003 live action tv show was equally as great but just like the cartoon, it was cancelled for too soon.
“You can’t strike a good deal with evil. No matter how much you haggle!”
“Evil is a foot!”
Let me make this abundantly clear: this entry is for the Nickelodeon version only. I’m not covering the abomination that is Disney Doug. Because there’s nothing worse than Disney Doug. Socks for Christmas? Disney Doug is worse. Coming home from school to find out your dog, who’s just a puppy, died suddenly? Disney Doug is worse. Finding out that your mom is having sex with that teacher you hate? Disney Doug is worse. It’s the holocaust of cartoons.
Nickelodeon Doug on the other hand is a charming show about a kid named Doug Funnie and his day to day activities. Which involve trying to muster up the courage to talk to his crush Patty Mayonnaise, hanging out with his buddy Mosquito Valentine or trying to avoid the neighborhood bully Roger.
It’s a great show about a great kid but seriously, stay away from Disney Doug.