For an inquiring reader: My List of 20 Best Cartoon Series of All Time
The other day I was contacted by a reader who knows me via another forum. She asked if I would post, "at Hubpages" my list of the 20 best cartoons ever made.
So the following list is for my dear reader, who asked to be known as Grey Dotty -and her cockerspaniel Joey, her "devoted live-in helpmate and therapist". Now remember Dotty and Joey, I'm no animation expert -I just know what I like. All the same, I am delighted that you asked my opinion and at the end of this post you will find a video of my very favorite cartoon scene of all time. Here you go:
The 20 Best Cartoon Series of All Time
#20 Betty Boop (classic shorts)
Betty Boop was cute, sexy and relied on her common sense to get her out of trouble. A true feminine heroine if ever there was one in the animation world. And she named her dog Bimbo, how gutsy is that!
#19 Samurai Jack
From the classic Cartoon Network archives: Samurai Jack had many adventures, some mythical, some mystical and others just downright mirthful. Handsome, brave and ethical to the bone, I love that Mr. Samurai Jack!
#18 Pluto (classic shorts)
Pluto was naïve, sweet-hearted and devoted to Mickey Mouse, and he was a heck of a lot funnier than Mickey ever thought to be!
#17 American Dad!
Not all is sweetness and light in the Smith family, but they sure have a lot of fun. A FOX network cartoon series created by the talented Seth MacFarlane, this one has adult themes and some risque topics but it is thoroughly funny. I especially love the character of Roger, the alien member of the family. He's conniving, effeminate and snobby to the core but there's a mystifying (if sometimes raunchy) charisma about him you just gotta love.
#16 Scooby Doo, Where Are You?
It still amazes how this group of meddling kids all ended up in the one one town where every bit of criminal activity was carried out by people pretending to be ghouls. Mystery Inc were up to their necks in mystery, that's for sure, like HOW could there be so many reported hauntings without a SINGLE psychic debunker or Weekly World News reporter showing up? And despite being able to explain away and rationalize every paranormal situation that cropped up WHAT was their explanation for having a talking Great Dane? Most importantly, why did these teenagers NEVER once change their wardrobe?? I guess this is a little understandable for the forever-in-munchies hippie, Shaggy, but you'd think a perky debutante like Daphne would be changing in and out of mini-skirts and go-go boots all day. Or at least the effeminate Fred would.
These particular mysteries will probably never be resolved. But the reasons for this show's sustained popularity is definitely no mystery: it was fun!
#15 The Flintstones (original series)
Dinosaurs, stone-based technology and a conscious nod to Jackie Gleason's The Honeymooners put this show on the air and kept audiences entertained for years. Yep, there have been several re-makes and in various media platforms but nothing beats the original!
#14 Space Ghost Coast to Coast
Space Ghost started out as a forgettable crime-fighting hero of a short-lived 60's Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon series, Space Ghost and Dino Boy. After this dismal show went off the air Space Ghost went into obscurity until the 90's when he was brought back to TV as the vain and insulting talk show host of Space Ghost, Coast of Coast. Mr. Ghost was a true cartoon star now as he interviewed countless real-life celebrities and mocked the entire talk show industry. This gig was everything Space Ghost's original show wasn't: entertaining, funny and something audiences tuned in to watch week after week. Way to go Space Ghost! Too bad your influence didn't rub off on Johnny Quest.
#13 Popeye (original shorts)
I'm a little prejudiced about Popeye; my parents have told me often about when I was a baby and my first "love" was Popeye. When I was still trying to learn to walk I'd pretend to fall and holler out in an Olive Oyle-type lament, "Popeye save me!" Mama even bought me a Popeye doll. My kids recently bought a collection of old Popeye 'toons which tells me if kids are still watching it sixty-odd years after its heyday it must be funny in a way that transcends the generations!
#12 King of the Hill
King of the Hill is one of those rare cartoons that is aimed at an adult audience and yet is clean enough for the whole family to watch. If you didn't know the origins you might be surprised to discover this one was developed by the same creative team that brought us MTV's Beavis and Butthead. In fact, the lead character of Hank Hill was developed from a reoccurring neighbor seen on that funny but sometimes uninspired show.
But King of the Hill is a far different animated animal than B&B. The situations surrounding Hank Hill, his family and neighbors are often like a soap opera but much more interesting than a soap and in another rare move for 'toons, the characters are extremely well-developed. This aspect supplements the humor of the show, giving us a team of unique characters we can identify with. The dilemmas and trials they face give us a humorous glimpse at our own lives. The mature situations that are presented come in subtle dialog and hints that nicely go right over the heads of the average young viewer. Best of all the episodes leave us with an optimistic grin. All admirable qualities that make for one very entertaining show.
I confess: I am a HUGE Smurfs fans. I even like the original comic strip by Peyo that the cartoon show was adapted from.I have a big collection of Smurf toys, too, most given to me over the years by family members. And I display these proudly in my home. I'm not ashamed; they are gifts of love :)
Anyway, while I'm not crazy about the feature film that recently made the theater rounds the original cartoon show is fantastic. I don't know what it is about it either: it is cute, naïve and there isn't an ounce of intellectualism thrown into the situations or dialog. But I love it. Needless to say my daughters love the Smurfs, too. So this guilty-pleasure 'toon rates #11 on my list and if you are frowning or sighing over it being here, eh, you'll just have to grin and bear it.
#10 The Simpsons
The Simpsons is one of the longest-running TV shows ever and why not? It is witty and filled with biting yet gentle social commentary. The characters we've come to love - and in the case of a few of these we've come to love just for their despicable natures. Even after all these long years the subject matter still manages to make the news from time to time. And what about that real life Playboy cover Marge Simpson appeared on? Not bad for a suburban Mom of three with a dome of blue hair and an unexplainable devotion to the town's most destruction-prone idiot.
#9 The Ren and Stimpy Show
This NIckelodeon show about a high-strung chihuahua and his slow-witted feline friend spurred a lot of controversy back in the day for its gallows humor, innuendos and toilet jokes. The controversy wasn't spurred on by parents but from certain parties at the network who cited Standards and Ethics problems in what appeared as a retaliation move for delayed production. Despite the in-house melodrama Ren & Stimpy garnered high ratings during its years on NICK, especially among young adults.
One of the appeals this show had was that was made the old-fashioned way -by all-human artists instead of computer animation. But the best thing about Ren & Stimpy was that the content was typically rude, crude and shamelessly funny!
#8 Mighty Mouse: the New Adventures
This cartoon enjoyed an all-too-brief spot in the CBS line-up of Saturday morning cartoons back in the 80's. It was different than anything before in children's animation in so far the content relied on a good deal parodying of the original Mighty Mouse series for comedy. As lively and original as it was the run for the show was doomed when some irate parent alleged that one episode showed Mighty Mouse taking cocaine. It was almost immediately dropped from the airway - you have to remember the networks were a lot more likely to cave in to hysterical and unproven charges back then. As unfair as CBS's decision may have been, even as fans grew up and stopped buying the products advertised during the commercial breaks, we never forgot the show. When years later CBS had finally matured somewhat and released the episodes on DVD there was already an audience eager to buy and re-watch the episodes in their uncut and hilarious original form.
#7 Time Squad
Time Squad was another cartoon that survived only a brief on-air life, this time on the Cartoon Network. It featured a trio of time travelers: Otto, the genius kid, Tuddrussel, a gung-ho time cop and Larry 3000, an effeminate and intellectual robot- who travel back in time to right wrongs in history. These wrongs happen to be events that the rest of us may have never have guessed could even possibly have happened: like Beethoven's giving up his musical career to become a professional wrestler or Edgar Allen Poe's endeavor to be a writer of cheerful greeting cards or when the fathers of the American Revolution nearly passed up the chance to break away from Britain because they were busy comparing wigs and drinking tea.
As potentially irreverent as this show was it was never crude or mean. But it was extremely humorous and remains a cult favorite today.
#6 The Pink Panther (cartoon series)
Modern cartoon creators could learn a lot about The Pink Panther toons as they were made without incessant references to pop culture or sloppy computer animation. The plots were simple, the dialog minimal and the star was the coolest cat around. He also made me really love the classic films starring Peter Sellers even more. So thank you, Pink Panther!
#5 Goofy (the How-to and Everyman classic shorts)
Goofy was another cool character - or at least he thought he was. The truth was he was an oblivious magnet for disaster. Yet he kept his cool amid mayhem as he demonstrated to audiences how to accomplish manly tasks like riding a horse, exercising and playing football, and later how the grown-ups do it on such activities as giving up smoking, preparing for an atomic bomb attack and being a responsible parent. These Goofy shorts were by far the most sophisticated projects undertaken by old-world Disney and they stand to this day as the funniest animated pieces the studio has ever produced. Take a bow, Goofy - you've earned it!
#4 The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (aka the Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle)
Social satire has been around for eons, but The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show was a true pioneer - it was the first socially parodying cartoon best appreciated by adults to appear in a time slot devoted to children's programming. This show also brought us some timelessly lovable characters - Rocky the astute, cultured flying squirrel and Bullwinkle, a hayseed moose, and a pair of nefarious and hapless Soviet spies, Boris and Natasha. With a backdrop set in Frostbite Falls, MN, each week Rocky and Bullwinkle found themselves pulled into some hub of political intrigue, usually instigated (or at least aided and abetted) by Boris and Natasha. In addition to Rocky and Bullwinkle's melodramas there were other shows written within the show, including Fractured Fairy Tales, Peabody's Improbable History and my favorite, Mr. Know-it-All which featured Bullwinkle teaching viewers important life skills.
The show was clever, sophisticated and bitingly funny and it accomplished all this without once being vulgar or rude. For these reasons I personally consider The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show the BEST adults-comedy-loosely-disguised-as-a-kids-cartoon that TV has ever produced.
#3 Tom and Jerry (classic shorts)
Way back when our parents and grandparents were young Tom and Jerry had real cinema star power. Their shorts appealed to young and old alike and their popularity remained so strong that for decades they were staples of afternoon programming on small TV networks across the globe. In recent years, however, Tom and Jerry cartoons were targeted by television watchdog groups that bemoaned the slapstick (labeled violence by entertainment nazis) and for alleged racial stereotyping (one of the few human characters portrayed was Tom's cantankerous African American owner). Honestly, I've never seen the racial stereotyping alleged to be in these toons and I've watched them LOTS of times. As for the slapstick, er violence, well I've never seen any child try to copycat any of the many dangerous stunts Tom and Jerry perpetuated on one another. These shorts were just funny and also frequently sweet. This combination made them endearing, at least to generations of rational viewers with an appreciation for humor.
#2 South Park
Granted, South Park is not entertainment intended for children. This series created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker has enjoyed a long run on Comedy Central and is one of most controversy-attracting shows to ever hit television. The controversy comes as no surprise -the storylines are often distasteful and the dialog is always peppered with vulgarity. But I think the primary reason it attracts controversy is that the writers poke fun at everyone -from celebrities to political notables to religious figures. The writers have also targeted every subject under the sun -modern culture, technology, politics, religion- and in doing so riled the wrath of many. The thing about this which critics don't get but fans do is that by recognizing no sacred cows the irreverence comes off balanced. This very adult cartoon makes us think as much as laugh. And despite the irreverence there are heroes to be found in South Park such as the naïve and gentle Butters, the practical and amorous Chef and of course Kenny, who has become, through his incessant reincarnating abilities, a self-sacrificing avatar of Divine Purpose.
One of the things I like most about South Park is the level of realism crafted into the personalities of the main characters. For all of the grossness and taboo-breaking going on we recognize at least one among these witty characters as someone we have met and known, even if if that someone is ourselves.
#1 The Loony Tunes (original shorts and various Golden Age TV series)
Like Tom and Jerry the Loony Tunes appealed to both young and old, but with a lot more wackiness and satire thrown in. From their beginning as cinema pleasantries and most especially in their television years Bugs Bunny and friends set the tone for the Golden Age of American Animation. The humor was enjoyed by millions, and it was the kind that relied on slapstick, subtle social satire and a lots and lots of visual mishaps. Every kid had their favorite Loony Tune hero and, in turn, these characters retain their cult fan bases today. So impacting was their comical exploits on the American conscious that not even the best of Disney animation had a chance to rival them. I think this is because they made us laugh and so shamelessly so, and it was the kind of laughter one simply can't forget.
To name a few of my favorites among the Loony Tunes alumni:
Wile E. Coyote - the super genius with absolutely no grasp of caution when it came to using complicated roadrunner-capturing devices manufactured by the Acme Corporation
Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot - this gruff bulldog (Marc Anthony) wasn't expecting to be the friend of any feline. But when a cute kitten suddenly shows up in his home Marc Anthony's pride and peace are ruffled completely. Soon this macho canine realizes he's fallen head over heels in love with the little bundle of skin-clawing joy and will defend her against any and all danger.
Foghorn Leghorn and Dawg - Foghorn was a know-it-all and conniving rooster forever trying to get the best of everyone. His schemes usually ended up backfiring, however, with much mayhem and sardonic dialog along the way.
Porky Pig and Sylvester - now I know Sylvester was better known for his role opposite Tweety Bird, but I happen to feel his comic side shone best when paired off with Porky. In these toons Sylvester was owned by Porky, and the poor cat was thrust into the position of saving his oblivious (and ungrateful) master time and again from dark and menacingly hilarious peril.
Bugs Bunny and Elmer - it just couldn't be Loony Tunes without Bugs and Elmer. Despite a long history of failing to shoot the wascly wabbit Elmer never stopped trying. By the same token Bugs never tired of making Elmer's life a living hell. This co-dependent love/hate relationship provided some of the FINEST comedic moments in all cartoon history.
Among all the memorably wonderful cartoons I've enjoyed over the years, the following one is my all-time favorite and stars Bugs and Elmer. Hope you enjoy and for today That's All Folks!
This Hub ©June 2, 2012 by Beth Perry
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