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.
80. Fat Albert and the Cosby kids
“Hey Hey Hey…It’s Faaaat Albert!” Based on the stand up routines of comedian Bill Cosby (who also produced and voiced the main character), Fat Albert was first and foremost a comedy but it occasionally dealt with serious issues such as racism, homelessness, stealing, substance abuse and child abuse.
Look, Bill Cosby is a piece of shit. I’m not going to defend him as a person but he did create an amazing cartoon that was far ahead of it’s time. Just don’t judge the cartoon based on who the creator is because seriously, fuck that guy.
79. The Critic
Everyone points to the decline of the Simpsons happening right around when Al Jean and Mike Reiss leave. They were the showrunners on the 3rd and 4th seasons and then they left to create The Critic. Was it worth it? Did they gamble pay off?
It did if you love The Critic and if you don’t love The Critic, you can get right the fuck out.
Lasting two seasons, the show dealt with professional film critic Jay Sherman (magnificently voiced by Jon Lovitz) as he reviews terrible film parodies-some notable examples include: Scent of a Jackass, Apocalypse Now! The Musical, Honey I Ate the Kids, and Abe Lincoln: Pet Detective and having to deal with family drama.
Imagine an animated tv show made by Woody Allen and Mel Brooks and you’d be wildly off. But it’s in the same ball park.
78. Inspector Gadget
File this one under “shows that made the cut on theme song alone.”
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the comedic stylings of Don Adams as much as the next guy and Penny and Brain are cute but just between you and me, you know you love this cartoon because of the theme song. You don’t have to lie.
Or maybe you just dig robots. Hey, I dig em too but, what’s that? You say he’s a cyborg? No. He’s 100% robot. What part of “Inspector Gadget” is human? That ain’t real human skin, that’s that shit they make sex dolls out of. His name is Inspector God damn Gadget for fuck sake. I’m getting hot. You’re riling me up. Just move on to the next entry.
He’s a robot and that’s the end of it.
77. Fullmetal Alchemist
The best anime, or at least the anime that appeals to me, are the ones that have substance, that deal with things beyond robots punching other robots or sexy teenagers with huge Astro Boy eyes.
Fullmetal Alchemist starts off with two brothers trying to resurrect their dead mother and immediately things go catastrophically bad for them. One loses an arm and the other dies but the elder brother manages to contain his younger brothers soul in a suit of armor.
Not exactly light stuff. The rest of the series follows the two brothers on their quest to retrieve the fabled Philosopher’s Stone.
Most anime last forever, like animated soap operas but there’s some that get in and out and tell an incredibly engaging story without the fluff. Fullmetal Alchemist is one of them.
76. Dr. Katz Professional Therapist
At first glance, you’d be forgiven to pass this gem up. It was animated in Squigglevision, which made everything shake harder than Michael J. Fox after being locked in a meat locker for 5 hours. It’s an extremely crude animation style but it was chosen because it was extremely inexpensive to use and they wanted to spend the money animating stand up routines and not the animation itself.
So it’s a trade off really. On one hand, you get ugly as sin animation but on the other hand, you get the funniest routines from the best comedians working at the time. From Dave Chappelle, Mitch Hedberg, Ray Romano and the list goes on and on.
It’s a murderers’ row of comedy and more importantly, it’s the first taste the world will get of the comedic legend that is H. Jon Benjamin.
What do you get when you combine the minds behind Batman the animated series with the genius who directed 1941, Lincoln and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?
You get the greatest superhero spoof of all time. (That is till we get to The Tick)
Freakazoid! starts off like any other superhero origin: a mild mannered teen gets into a freak accident and now every time he utters the phrase “Freak Out” he turns into the nigh invincible Freakazoid. Imagine Shazam but on acid and you get the point.
The show had all of the Spielberg charm but ten times the laughs. Crazier than Animaniacs and funnier than Schindler’s List, It’s the perfect amalgamation of everything that makes Spielberg great.
75. Speed Racer
I’m really tempted to just copy and paste the theme song lyrics like I did for Jem and the Holograms but you can only get away with a shameless gimmick like that once. But goddamn am I tempted.
If you were to make a list of the greatest cars in all of fiction, the Mach 5 would have to tie with the batmobile for number 1. It’s that’s fucking awesome. If this was a live action show, it would do for the car genre what Knight Rider and Dukes of Hazard did. It would be easily as influential but instead, the younger generation got the first taste of anime.
Even though they had no idea at the time. They just the animation was a but stunted and the voice acting was a bit wonky but no kid watching this at the time would’ve complained or even realized it wasn’t American. All they cared about was that rad ass car beating every son of a bitch on that track. And it did. Because when the odds are against him and there’s dangerous work, you bet your life Speed Racer will see it through.
Go Speed Racer
Go Speed Racer
Go Speed Racer Gooooooooooo
74. Alvin and the Chipmunks
Fun fact: Did you know that when Jim Davis created Garfield, he was never interested in building a funny character but instead, coming up with a calculated attempt at creating a marketable character. He filled the character with self loathing, apathy and laziness and repeated the punchline ad nauseam till you remembered what Garfield is but nothing funny he ever does.
It was a system to generate fat stacks of cash and it worked like gangbusters. But let’s just pretend he didn’t create the character solely to sell out (He did) and let’s look at the one consistent “funny” thing Garfield does: fuck with Jon.
Pets fucking with their owners is a comedy staple and Davis probably lifted it straight from the source-Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Starting as novelty albums back in the late 50’s, the Chipmunks quickly exploded in popularity thanks to their “catchy” Christmas “songs.” The world couldn’t get enough of the singing rodents and then about 30 years later, we got a cartoon.
And then 30 years later, it ended up on this list.
72. Jonny Quest
In the days between Disney and Warner Bros controlling the airwaves with Mickey and Bugs cartoons, I was always the rebel who went with Hanna and his main bro Barbera. They taught me the real lessons of the street.
You want to learn out to steal? Boom. Yogi Bear and Top Cat got you.
You want to learn how to solve mysteries like a private dick? Quadruple Wham. Josie and the Pussycats, Jabberjaw, Speed Buggy, Fangface, Scooby-Doo, and the funky phantom have so many episodes, it’s a legally accredited course on sleuthing.
Wanna kick ass like a ninja? Pow Zap Kapow. They got Hong Kong Phooey and Frankenstein Jr to show your flabby ass the moves.
What I’m trying to say is, Hanna-Barbera taught me how to live on the streets after my mother and me got evicted because my pops went out for smokes one day and I guess got lost because I haven’t seen him since. Where are you pappy? Your boy misses you. It’s been 20 years.
Oh and Jonny Quest is great.
71. Regular Show
Every generation has that cartoon made specifically for them and about them. Regular Show is the cartoon for the “Millennial” (that term gets thrown around so much, it doesn’t even mean the same thing anymore), and it’s a vast departure from the cartoons that were aimed at me when I was younger.
The main characters are still lay about bums like Beavis and Butt-head but unlike almost every other show about teenagers, these two have jobs. They have lives. They go on dates and get into relationships. It’s still as silly as anything can be that has a yeti and high five ghost as supporting characters but after awhile, the silly fades to the background and your left with a real portrait of friendship and that transcends generations.