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.
70. He-Man and the Masters of the universe
The cynic in me would call this cartoon nothing more than a glorified toy commercial but when the toys were as badass as He-man and his buddies, that’s not exactly an insult. I mean who didn’t have the castle greyskull playset growing up?
Anywho, He-man is about the power struggle between the monarchy and the would be zombie usurper for the fictional land of Eternia. Prince Adam is caught in the middle and every time he yelled out “By the power of greyskull” he would magically transform into the almighty He-man.
On his quest to vanquish evil, he’s joined by an annoying flying wizard and a man that has arms and probably a couple of other toys i’m forgetting and they make up the Masters of the universe.
It’s a toy commercial.
Before we go any further, Pokemon is the 3rd longest running cartoon broadcast in America. That’s insane. Hasn’t he caught them all yet? How do you not catch them all? I caught like 50% of them when I played Pokemon Go and I played Pokemon Go for like an hour. He’s terrible at his hobby.
Pokemon follows Ash and his chubby pocket monster slave name Pikachu and they go around beating up other defenseless animals and then, right before they die, Ash chucks a metal ball at their heads that magically imprisons them.
And then he uses his new found slave to fight other animals and the process repeats over and over till everyone dies and there’s nothing left but Pokemon episodes and cockroaches. Arthur is the second longest running cartoon. Isn’t that crazy?
68. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Star Wars was inevitably going to make the cut but since I chose to only do one per franchise, the question was, which one do I pick? Clone Wars or Rebels? After weighing the pros and cons of both, I decided the logical answer was neither.
I clearly went with the Genndy Tartakovsy version, which blows the other two completely out of the water. There’s not many good things about the prequel trilogy but one positive is that it gave us this cartoon.
Originally airing as 5 minute episodes, the entire series was eventually shown in one unedited chunk and you really get to see the brilliance of Tartakovsky. The man is a genius and I would argue that this not only is this some of his best work but it rivals the best of Star Wars. It’s that good.
The 90’s were a godsend for comic book lovers. We may not have had the glut of superhero movies like today’s kids have but we had Batman, X-Men and Spider-Man on television at the same time. That may not sound like a big deal but for a kid desperately wanting to see his childhood idols on the big screen, this was as good as it gets for a long time.
And that’s not to say belittle the quality of these cartoons. Whether we got movies or not, these cartoons were still fucking great and hold up today. Spider-Man played more like a soap opera than the other two, in so far as it having dramatic episodes that would connect to form a larger narrative. They still had the one off episodes where Spider-Man would stop the Rhino or what have you but it’s adherence to a comic book structure set apart from the pack.
66. Darkwing Duck
Before I dive into everybody’s favorite protector of St. Canard, pull up a seat and let me talk at’cha for a minute. How amazing would it be if the sequel to Zootopia finally connected all of your favorite Disney cartoons? They could literally combine DuckTales, Tailspin and Darkwing Duck all in the same universe. How incredible would that be?
Ok, back to the main mallard. Darkwing Duck was Disney’s first animated parody and it worked because you could tell the creators had a deep love and respect for the genre. They made references to golden age comics such as The Shadow, The Sandman and obviously Batman. It was a brilliant love letter to the genre and it still has some of the most inventive and creative villains to grace the screen.
I mean who doesn’t love Megavolt and Quackerjack? They’re amazing.
65. Invader Zim
It’s easy to criticize Nickelodeon’s to prematurely cancel this show but we should get on our hands and knees praising them for picking it up in the first place. Jhonen Vasquez is a comic book writer who’s primarily known for creating Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. And Nickelodeon gave him a show.
That’s insane. What’s even more insane, is that it’s amazing.
The show is about an alien who is unknowingly banished to earth on a “mission” to infiltrate the humans for an eventual take over. He enrolls in “Skool” and the show follows his misadventures in trying to blend in and a fellow student named Dib’s efforts in trying to expose him. Ride the pig.
64. Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers
Chip and Dale have always been fairly obscure Disney characters. They weren’t the household names like Mickey and Donald but they were cute and had their fans.
And then someone had the brilliant idea to take them and dress them up like Indiana Jones and Magnum P.I and then make them detectives. Fucking genius.
Joining them in their detective agency is the cheese obsessed Monterey Jack and the oddly attractive Gadget. (Yes. I had a crush on a cartoon mouse. Don’t judge me) Oh and there was a fly for some reason. Gotta sell them fly toys I guess.
My only gripe with the show would be the villains. They’re lackluster compared to Tailspin and Darkwing Duck. Fat Cat isn’t exactly memorable next to heavyweights like Nega duck and Shere Khan but they’re not bad enough to ruin the enjoyment.
Foxglove 4 lyfe.
Based on a comic of the same name, Duckman is coincidentally, (or maybe it’s not. Maybe I’m a segue fucking master) another cartoon about a private investigator but the two couldn’t be further apart if they tried.
One is G rated romp for the entire family and the other is about a foul mouthed, sex addicted private dick (emphasis on the dick) that’s terrible at his job. The only reason he gets any work is because of his partner, who’s the real brains behind the operation. Cornfed pig is a Joe Friday talkin’, just the facts type operator that gets results. Duckman is his polar opposite. But together, they get results.
But the show is barely about detective work, it’s mostly a family comedy about Duckman’s home life and it’s hilarious. The show used to be part of USA’s up all night Saturday morning block and let me just say, man. I fucking miss USA up all night. Memories.
Another toy commercial. This entire section is either toy commercials or private dicks. Who the hell ordered this list?
I was honestly going to be controversial by placing Beast Wars in this slot but then I went back and watched some Beast Wars and let’s just say, time has not been kind to mid 90’s CGI. It’s probably still well written but man, it ain’t pretty to look at.
Transformers on the hand, has aged like a fine wine. Yes, Starscream is still annoying and it’s still bizarre to me that Megatron keeps his ass on the payroll but whatever. That’s the 80’s I guess. It’s biggest contribution is actually the film it spawned. The Transformers movie was a huge deal and the fact that they killed Optimus Prime (It’s not a spoiler if the film is older than you and it doesn’t matter, he comes back), showed some huge balls. Speaking of a huge ball, Orson Welles was in it as Omicron. I don’t really have anything to follow that up with, I just really wanted to use that segue.
61. Bravest Warriors
Is this cartoon on the list because of my insane love for Adventure Time? Maybe. Is this cartoon on the list because it’s side splitting hilarious? Possibly. Is this cartoon on the list solely on the adorableness of Catbug? Definitely.
Created as a web series in the mid 00’s by Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward, Bravest Warriors is set in the far future where a group of teenagers use weaponized emotions to save the galaxy and catbug. Catbug.
Catbug. Look at him. He’s the definition of adorable. I’m not afraid of throwing around hyperbole and superlatives, so I’m just going to come out and say it: Catbug is the greatest creation of the 21st century. The world would be an infinitely better place if we were all like Catbug. Be like Catbug.