Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Top Thirty Favorite Animated Series

A revised version of an old list, with some additions. These are my Top thirty favorite animated series'.


First off, I'll tell you what did NOT make it:

The Simpsons: See this one occasionally on TV, occasionally enjoy it, am NOT into it at all, never have been and probably never will be. I know it's considered one of the greatest cartoons ever made but it's just been going on for sooooooooo damn long. It jumped the shark a long time ago, it's still running, gone over like 1,000 episodes by now, it's no longer really funny, and if I try watching it regularly, I'll never know which season an episode belongs to and whether it's good or bad. And I don't want to hunt down the season DVDs just so I can start watching it chronologically. I just can't do it - it's just not my thing, okay?

Any Transformers series: Again, this isn't my thing. I've never been a big fan of the "Transformers" franchise. I quite liked "Beast Wars", "Transformers Animated", and that first live action Michael Bay movie, but other than that the most exposure I get to Transformers are what really drives the series;
the transforming toys themselves. With rare exception, shows made to sell toys aren't very good.

- Any X-Men cartoon: The X-Men series from the 90's, "X-Men Evolution", and "Wolverine And The 
X-Men" all had their merits, but I was never enamored with any of them. I never have been with X-Men.

- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Similar to the above. The 80's cartoon, the 2003 4Kids series, and the 2012 Nicktoons series all have their strong and weak points, but I've no strong love for any one of them.

- W.I.T.C.H: I found the first season to be mostly a wreck, the second season a notable improvement,
but the show overall to be mediocre and as big a waste of the concepts potential as the comics became. 

Justice League / JLU: The final installment of the DCAU did great at adapting and distilling the essence of the Justice League and their world. But God, did it take itself way too seriously at times. I mean, there were occasional fun episodes and light-hearted moments here and there, and the Cadmus story arc was well executed for the most part, but everything else just had this deadpan serious sense of urgency, and that just gets boring after too much of it. In particular, the Big Three were terribly bland. Superman was, here more than ever, little more than a boring boy scout, Batman was a stone-cold, self-important, glory hogging jerkass loner who could do no wrong (even in an alternate reality!), and Wonder Woman was incredibly out-of-character in being a stern, violent, unpleasant, man-hating bitch nearly all the damn time. Sorry, but I like superhero comics and their adaptations to be fun.  This show was often well written, but was terribly inconsistent in terms of fun and as it stands, I find it to be incredibly overrated by it's fanbase.

Young Justice: For similar reasons as the above. Sure it tries to have fun at times, but the problem is... so many characters on the league and the team come off as unengaging, unlikable jerks. Add that to the main villains being uncompellingly mysterious and far too invincible, the heroes being incompetent losers, Superman being an unemphatic dick towards his own clone, and Greg Weisman generally doing weaker work on this show when compared to his previous works, and you get a show that just did not wow me.

- Green Lantern: The Animated Series: By darkest day, in blackest night, I've no huge interest in the Green Lantern Corp's plight. That the main draw to this show was apparently a romance says a lot, too.

Genndy's Tartakovsky's Works: Many people love "Dexter's Laboratory", "Samurai Jack", and "Sym Biotic Titan", and while I enjoyed them, they could never be favorites of mine. I don't quite know all the reasons but one of them is that Genndy could never, ever finish what he started.  He left "Dexter's Lab" after two seasons and it jumped the shark because of it, he had a pre-planned ending for the story of "Samurai Jack" but stretched the show out too long that it got canned before he could get to it, and "Sym Biotic Titan"...with all the spotlight on the bland Lance in favor over his more likable partners, and a weird plot with a rather weak villain, I'm tempted to say that it deserved to tank in the ratings and get cancelled.

- Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends or Wander Over Yonder: They're really good cartoons from the creative mind of Craig McCracken, but they have problems. Too many problems for them to make the list.

Ben 10 or Generator Rex: While Man Of Action may be good at creating ideas with potential and making entertaining shows out of them, that potential has never been fully realized and the shows end up being just "good" or "okay" rather than truly great shows. (Or in the case of "Ben 10", gets given to an entirely different creative team that proceeds to royally fuck it up)  They can be fun to watch but not the kind of thing I'd like to follow. Yet again they're tailor made for toy sales, though this time it's not all bad.

- Total Drama Series: Quite frankly, the writing for this series has never been too good past "Total Drama Island", it's first season, partially due to all the executive meddling. Heck, even "Island" had occasional stuff that could've/should've gone much better. The writing for these shows really effect how I enjoy them.

- Adventure Time: Another one I enjoy just fine, but when I really think about this one, it actually kind of hurts me. This show could have been so much better than what it ended up as nowadays. The surreal but fun and zany style of the show hiding a story of growing up, with the show, characters (mainly Finn), and audience growing up along with it, could have made for such a great show. And yet they flubbed it, mainly when Larry Leichliter departed and the show's direction changed gears for the worse. What a letdown.

Most Nicktoons: Some Nicktoons are fun ("Rugrats", "Doug", "The Wild Thornberrys", "Invader ZIM"), others are mostly crap ("CatDog", "Rocket Power", "The Fairly Oddparents" and "Danny Phantom"), but only three Nickelodeon toon shows (four if you count one's sequel series) I felt were good enough to get
on this list. And no, absolutely no "Ren And Stimpy". I despise John. K and boycott his ugly creations.

The Mickey Mouse Club House: OK, I almost did it; I almost put this one on here. Call me crazy, but
I really enjoy this one despite it being very clearly a kiddie show. I just really like and appreciate what it does with the classic Disney characters and how it's a good way for little kids to get introduced to them.  And it's addictively silly, too, especially its' songs. But it doesn't have enough value for it to be on here. 

- Sofia The First: Similar to the above. I actually do enjoy the show for the most part and think it actually contributes something worthwhile to the crappy Disney Princess franchise, but it's just not good enough.

- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Good heavens, no! I've no huge problem with the show itself - it's another one I enjoy watching from time to time, and I think it gets most of it's vital aspects down right. But it's f**king fanbase taints my view of it forever. I'm not a Brony and I don't want to even appear like one!

- Steven Universe: I considering giving this one a fair shot...then those "Gemtlemen" ruined it for me.

- Star VS The Forces Of Evil: Far too premature, since it's still new. I do really enjoy it so far, though!

- Any show by Seth McFarlane: I enjoy "American Dad" on occasion. Other than that, McFarlane is
a colossal hack who should never be allowed near writing, animation, or pretty much anything ever again.

- Any show based on a movie: Because chances are the movies did everything better than the shows.

Any Anime: I've written a whole separate list for this. See "My Top Thirty Favorite Anime Series."

RUNNER UPS
Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?: I had the vaguest memories of this one before I rediscovered it, but I watched the hell out of it at some point in my childhood.  I've always been a fan of the Carmen Sandiego franchise, it is perhaps THE best educational entertainment franchise ever.  This cartoon show was no exception. It combined knowledge and geography of the world and all of it's cultures and histories with crime busting action and excitement. Carmen Sandiego herself is just a great character and a villainess you have to admire and even root for in this show. Zack and Ivy were fun heroes to follow too. The Chief was a little too weird but he was bearable for me. The various plots that this show came up with were fun, the computer game framing device was clever, and still love the epic theme song.

 Batman: The Brave And The Bold: Now this is how you make a superhero show fun, though at the cost of being taken seriously a lot of the time in this one's case. I think this show gave us more good than bad and I have to give it lot of credit for that. The main reason it's in runner-up status is, ironically enough, how it handled Batman himself. This show was very clearly meant to be an homage to the Silver Age of DC superheroes, with many different heroes getting focus every episode. nothing to suggest that Batman needs to be the main character who appears in every episode, but he is, and he feels incredibly shoehorned into many plots as a result. It just shows how over-saturated this character has become as of late. It's a great DC show, but it didn't need to be a Batman-centric one.

 The Care Bears Family: Yeah, I know you're all questioning me right now. But since this IS strictly a show for little kids, it can't make it to the list. But why is it even here?  Because it was a big thing in my childhood, one of the first cartoon shows I ever loved, and to this day, it's still the only Care Bears series that I can remotely enjoy. The writing on this show was usually decent and well played for one aimed at children...except whenever Hugs and Tugs were involved, 'cause they were some of the most annoying Little Jimmy characters ever made. But I liked how the kingdom of Carealot and Forest of Feelings were portrayed, and how the Care Bears and their cousins got down to Earth to help kids in need. I enjoyed some of the characters, in particular Tenderheart Bear, Grumpy Bear, and Braveheart Lion - some of the stuff they do still cracks me up to this day. And I really loved the villains. No Heart was actually an incredibly creepy and ominous main villain who got used less and less as the show went on probably because he was so scary. And Beastly and Shreeky were kind of like precursors to Team Rocket, only even more bumbling. The stories varied and it got a little stupid in the last season with all the prehistoric tales/Star Trek parodies/Songfellow Strum stuff.  But all-in-all, this is the only version of Care Bears that I consider fun and worthwhile, and I will proudly stand by that belief.

PictureThe Charlie Brown And Snoopy Show: When I think "Peanuts", I'll think of the comic strips and this cartoon. I know "Garfield and Friends" has it's fans too and I found that one enjoyable enough as well, but I still prefer this by far. The animation style works perfectly for the subject matter and the usually unprofessional voice acting manages to hold up since it defined how we hear these characters talking in our heads when we read the strips. It had a memorable musical score too, and a lot of great movies and TV specials came out of it (though some of them actually came before the show and actually led to it's creation.) And I don't know who or what was doing the sounds for Snoopy but it cracks me up! So why did this can't make the cut? 'Cause it's Charlie Brown! He can't win at anything!

The Venture Brothers: It's one of the greatest animated shows of the modern age, and very likely one of the greatest animated shows of all time. So how come it didn't make the list? Well...I just don't know where I'd even place it. I ran through all the animated series that personally meant something to me and got them all down on the list, then I turned to this one and saw
I had no place for it - no number to put it on. Plus I never really got too much exposure to it, so it doesn't actually mean a whole lot to me personally. Nothing personal but...yeah, that's just it. Nothing personal.

And now without further ado, here are my Top 30 Favorite Animated Series!

30. Futurama: One of my favorite adult comedy cartoons ever, from the mind of Matt Goerning, the guy behind "The Simpsons." I love it because it's usually smartly written, darkly humorous and entertaining, it has great characters, and it throws in just about every weird, crazy thing you could possibly think of the future having, whether they be stereotypes or not, and makes it all work so wonderfully. From aliens, robots, mad scientists, mutants, sentient heads of famous people in jars, strange drink concoctions, suicide booths, space cruise ships, and a robot Santa Claus that hunts and kills people on X-mas, this show had it all. It's main drawback is that it's usually the characters that have to accommodate the plot rather than the other way around, but the characters themselves are so delightfully weird and enjoyable that you almost forget that. It  lost some of it's luster after it got revived after four seasons and four movies in a row, but it's still definitely one of the better adult comedy toons out there. To me, it's leagues ahead of "King of the Hill", "Family Guy", and yes, even "The Simpsons." 

29. Recess: Let's scale backwards a bit and go back to a show aimed at kids; Disney's "Recess." Premiering in the mid-90's, this was the first show Disney did that was less conventionally "Disney-esque" and was instead a show about grade school kids just attending school and getting into misadventures during the recess hour. It has since been imitated by shows like "Pepper Ann", "The Weekenders", "Teacher's Pet", "Lloyd In Space", whathaveyou, but none of them have been able to measure up to this one. What puts this on here is that I just loved this strange community and culture that they gave to the school and the playground. The playground is ruled by a hammy "king" from the sixth grade, the play-sets are treated like establishments, there's certain rules and a "kid's code of honor" that must be adhered to, they have a Guru Kid, a Swinger Girl, Digger boys, a Hustler Kid, an Upside Down girl, a nerdy paper-pusher, a creepy conspiracy theorist, gangs of bullies, the "Ashleys" club, and even a "snitch" for the teacher. All these unusual characters that work in this community and that's really what makes it fun to watch. As for the leading kids: I never liked TJ and Spinelli that much, Vince and Gretchen were okay, and I love Mikey and Gus the most. And even the antagonists are treated as interesting characters;  the grown ups like Ms Finster and Principal Prickly actually have more to them beyond just being grumpy, bossy authority figures. And with many entertaining plots accompanying these characters and settings for over 100 episodes, this is a show that's worthy of being a favorite of mine.

28. Codename: Kids Next Door: This is a strange one. It started
off as just an average cartoon about rebellious brats fighting against adults played in an over-the-top manner. But then they made it into something different. This series lives in it's own universe where somehow most adults really have become tyrants towards children, whether it be as bad parents and teachers or flat out supervillains who bully kids for whatever reason. It's never really explained, although it's equated to "a disease" in the end. The Kids Next Door is the codename for a large, universe-wide organization of kids who have banded together to fight this tyranny and liberate their childhoods. And 
I enjoyed the set-up, enjoyed the characters (both the various KND and crazy villains), and I loved the stories that got told with the various concepts introduced. The "regular" neighborhood and town settings mixed with the futuristic setting was well explained enough that it works. And the 2x4 technology tools that got used on a regular basis was just awesome and often hysterical. This is also one of those western animated series' that was well accomplished and ended in a satisfactory manner, with a complete and well executed character arc for the leading KND member, Nigel Uno. And other characters like Hoagie, Abigail, or even villains like Father, the Delightful Children, Mr. Boss, Cree, and Chad got their share of good development. It's not perfect, of course. Some stuff in the show got way to overused to the point of nauseam, some characters never came off as strongly as others, and about half of the parodies that this show liked to pull were poorly done and unnecessary. But it was a quality cartoon show and one I keep fond remembrance for.

27. Fillmore!: This is one of those shows on the list where the fact that it got cancelled way too soon will forever piss me off. This was the only Disney "school setting" show to live up to "Recess". The show was genius; like "Recess", it set up it's own community at the middle school it takes place at and used it to tell stories that spoof many 70's cop dramas and crime solving shows. It was a great satire, with the school substituting for the central city, the Safety Patrol substituting for the police department, the principal substituting for the corrupt authority figure, and all sorts of middle school crimes substituting for real life felonies. All of the characters treated every seemingly mundane thing so dead seriously and it was hilarious. The characters of Cornelius Fillmore and Ingrid Third themselves were very well written, interesting characters with past and present conflicts of their own. A lot of the crimes and culprits were very memorable, too. I loved the investigations, the chase scenes, the musical score, and the opening narration of each act of the episode read by the Don LaFontaine. Just imagine how much more could have been done with this show if it had lasted for more than 26 episodes? What characters could have returned and how much more crime drama could have been spoofed? This was truly a show that was just too good to last, but what it was when it was around was a very good show. Good enough for me to consider it a favorite Disney show of mine.

26. Reboot: A CGI animated show from the 90's, produced by Mainframe Entertainment studios. Again, this show is here because of a great mix of the world, the characters, and stories that are told with them. The idea to set a show within a world inside a computer system was a really good one and this show ran with it beautifully. The nature of the system, the Net and the Web, the city of Mainframe itself, the omnipresent "User" and the "games" he sends in,  and all the computer species such as binomes, sprites, and viruses that inhabit this world. All of this stuff was very engaging. This is also one of those unique shows that gets more and more story-based as it goes along.  The first season was episodic and focused on the setting and characters just living their lives, the second season introduced more plot points and complexities to the series and ended with a story arc that changed everything, and the third season was a flat-out gripping storyline that got darker, more intense, more dramatic, and more exciting than ever. The characters involved were all great; Bob, Dot and Enzo Matrix, AndraIa, Phong, Friskit, Mouse, Ray, Capacitor, Megabyte, Hexadecimal, and even the comedic supporting characters like Mike the TV were memorable. The series never got the closure it deserved, but it was a great ride while it lasted.

25. Code Lyoko: Now this series came from France and was dubbed into English. This was a show with a lot of potential, a good deal of which was never fully realized, but a lot of enjoyability. Like "Reboot", computers and a virtual world inside a computer system plays a big part in the show's premise only this show centers around the users. Four kids from boarding school, along with
a girl who'd been digitized into the world of Lyoko, are the only ones aware of a possible threat to the world that resides within the computer and are the only ones who can thwart his plans and shut him down for good. The show was appealing for many things; the excellent theme song, the shift between 2D and 3D animation depending on location, the action, the exciting sense of urgency that most of the plotlines had, and the ongoing storyline about Lyoko, XANA, Aelita, Franz Hopper, the old hermitage, the factory and the basement lab, and how they all tie together. This show's biggest weakness was probably that the story really could've afforded to take more risks and delve deeper into what they had set up, as opposed to too much time being spent on formulaic "conflict of the day" filler episodes. Also, the romantic angle between Ulrich and Yumi was never really engaging or satisfying. But what I liked best about the show was the setting and characters. Having a show set at a boarding school campus gave it a unique and engaging atmosphere, and the characters that inhabited it were very well defined. I grew to love the likes of Jeremie, Odd, Aelita, Ulrich, Yumi, Sissi, Jim, and even William by the end. And it did end satisfactory. "shutting things down" for good. It should be that way, at least. Any continuation of the series was a total disaster waiting to happen, which was proven when we got "Code Lyoko: Evolution." But I'll always regard this series as an animated experience that, while wasn't entirely fulfilling, was one I'm glad to have had.

24. Phineas and Ferb: When I first caught a glimpse of this one,
I thought "Shit, another cheaply animated crap show for Disney Channel.  Why don't they make good cartoon shows anymore?" Then I heard that it was a huge hit in the ratings, which confused me. But then
I heard good things about the writing, which kind of surprised me. And then I saw some of the secret agent platypus stuff and got curious. I started watching it more and more and more and now it's here on this list.  Despite it's cheap animation and designs that look like a Picasso imitation, this show actually does have a lot of charm, humor, and heart to it. It doesn't try to pander to immature audiences or try any pop culture references or crude humor. This show is sincere about what is and creates a very enjoyable, endearing tone for it that makes it watchable in spite of any shortcomings. It's like the old seasons of"Spongebob" in that it's writing is so sharp that even adults can enjoy it. It's a formulaic show, but said formula has been played around with so much that it manages to stay entertaining and well handled. There's typically three plot lines running in each episode: Phineas and Ferb's, Candace's, and Perry the Platypus'. Phineas and Ferb themselves aren't really interesting characters most of the time so much as they are devices to get a wacky story going by building something larger than life, but they're not unlikable and I do appreciate their brotherly bond and value of imagination. Candace's insistence on being in charge, obsessive compulsion with busting her brothers, or personal dilemmas that usually involve Jeremy, varies depending on the execution. But it's the supporting cast that really shines; Baljeet, Bufort, Isabella, Stacy, Vanessa, Carl, and Major Monogram always add some extra entertainment to the episodes. But by far the true stars of this show are Perry the Platypus and Dr. Doofenshmirtz. Their antics are usually the most enjoyable and hysterical part of the episode and their characters are so well rounded, impressive in Perry's case seeing as he can't speak a single word. There's not a moment they're on screen where they're not amusement - they MAKE this show for me. And of course, there are songs in every episodes, many of which will never leave your head one you hear them. So this is easily one of the better animated shows that anyone's put out on TV these days; one that young and old can enjoy, and I most certainty do.

23. The Powerpuff Girls: A show built upon the premise "sugar, spice, and everything nice, and Chemical X, are what these little girls are made of" doesn't sound the kind of show I'd like. But that would be underestimating the talent of series creator Craig McCrakken, director Genndy Tartakovsky (yes, he's on this one, so he's somewhere on the list!) and the writing staff for this show. They made this show a very fun, comedic, kickass cartoon experience that's great for girls and boys alike. Accidentally created by the Professor Utonium in an experiment to create the perfect little girl, the Powerpuff Girls have dedicated their lives to uses their strong, unusual superpowers to fighting crime and the evil forces that plague the city of Townsville. That's pretty much the premise of the show and the writing runs with it in ways that are usually always entertaining and fun, which is fit for a show spoofing superhero cartoons. The show had a great sense of humor too, most of it being surprisingly edgy for a kids' show. The girls themselves could be funny but weren't as endearing when compared to the rest of the cast; the Professor, the Mayor, Ms. Bellum, and especially the various supervillains in the rogues gallery, Mojo Jojo and Him in particular. The show was just hilarious and great to watch for four seasons and the movie. Afterwards, it's quality went downhill. But when it was great, it was great, and that's what I appreciate it for. If you haven't seen it cause it seemed too "girly", go give it a try. It will surprise you.

 22. Hey Arnold!: One of the finest Nicktoons ever made, this was a well accomplished show that debuted in the late nineties. It's main draw for me is, again, what every great show should have; setting, characters, and stories that compliment them. The urban setting of the show was great and well handled, especially for a Nicktoon. I mean, what other show has the title character living in an old boarding house with his grandparents and a bunch of other weirdos? The school stuff was good too, as was the showings of life in the neighborhood and beyond. The biggest fault I can find with the show was what happened with the characters of Arnold and Helga. Three seasons in, football headed Arnold, the supposed main character, went from being a bright, imaginative, good natured kid to a sulking, frowning moody boy who was wise beyond his years and always giving the other characters advice when they were too stupid to deal with their problems themselves. Only in the movie and when the subject of him being orphaned came up was he interesting again, but still not as likable as he once was. Helga, meanwhile, got more and more character focus and development as the show progressed but none of it went anywhere. She just stayed in the same position for episodes on end and she got really aggravating to put up with as a result. And the goddamn love triangle with Lila....But all the other characters and their stories are what saved this show from declining. Cool kid Gerald, neighborhood bully Harold, neurotic dweeb Sid, country bumpkin Stinky, quiet nerd Phoebe, rich bitch Rhonda, clumsy jinx Eugene, and even miss perfect Lila all had many entertaining and compelling moments. And that's not even getting into the adult characters like Arnold's grandparents, the other boarders, Helga's family, and the staff at the PS18 elementary school. All the characters lived an interesting, convincing life that never failed to interest me.

21. The Legend Of KorraA sequel series to another show that's later on down the list. When this show was in the works, everyone was hyped for it. When it premiered, people were more hyped than ever, especially since it seemed so good in terms of style, tone, setting, character, animation, and writing quality. And for Book One, aside from some bumps in the road, it was quality it mostly kept up...until the last stretch of episodes. In the span of those four chapters, all the promised potential started going to waste, the quality took a sharp decline, the weaker aspects of the plot got showed in our faces to the point of being downright intrusive on the better aspects, which seemed to be given the shaft, and it culminated in a season finale that, for the most part, sucked the big one. I'm not entirely sure what happened, but I can attribute it to Mike and Bryan not being writers with the talent necessary for properly supporting their narrative and creative vision. Production of the show got really hectic in Book Two, which was one disaster after another, especially for six episodes straight. It seemed like this show was fated to sink, never reaching anywhere close to the heights of it's predecessor. But that Harmonic Convergence plot, a plot that gave us a great two-part flashback story of the Avatar's origins and a great two-part season finale...after that, things changed (with Book Three literally being called Change). Everything that went so wrong in the first two seasons was made right in the next two - every. single. thing. We got great stories that were competently executed, spectacular action scenes, moments of humor and levity that were actually funny, characters getting more likable and developed, conflicts and stakes that got handled in just the right way, a great bunch of villains, and a sense of maturity and heart that was lacking before, usually when concerning the spiritual growth of the titular heroine, Avatar Korra, who became a truly great lead character by the end of the show. A better grasp on the overarching narrative themes, morality, philosophies, and emotional drama made things better, ensuring that we had tight plots that escalated towards a satisfying conclusion. (Plus, this show gave us Varrick, easily one of the best characters to come out of the Avatarverse, period.) It never quite became a masterpiece, is far from being perfect, and not up to par with it's predecessor, but it did become a worthy follow up to it's canon. Look past the early problems and you'll experience a show that struggles past it's hardships and becomes great.

 20. South Park: The highest placing adult cartoon you'll see here.
I'd actually avoided it for years because I heard it had a reputation of being obscene, offensive, vulgar, and inappropriate to the extreme. But when I started catching it regularly, I found out that there was more to it than just that. For the most part, the show is all about satire. Matt Stone and Trey Parker will lampoon anything and everything that they want to comment on, that they see as amusing or relevant, or just plain want to do. And they hold nothing back; they don't care who they offend as long as they get their jokes and points across. The show regularly shifts from being funny in a clever way, funny in a strange and immature way, preachy about morals and messages, making commentary on whatever the subject at  hand is, and sometimes being a little bit serious at point. I call this Matt and Trey's "brattiness", which is sometimes agreeable, sometimes disagreeable, but almost always fun to watch. The humor is often dark or inappropriate, but often clever too. The preachy messages in which the characters "learn something today" is sometimes poignant, and when the satire is spot-on, it's spot-on. It's a smart comedy show that uses stupidity to it's advantage, which is something I enjoy and appreciate. Matt and Trey aren't too good at writing stories but at writing comedy, they really come through. I love watching all the characters, especially Cartman, who's just so good at being such a terrible, nasty, idiotic and sociopathic jerk that he crosses the line twice and becomes a immensely enjoyable character, and the sweet, naive, sheltered little dork Butters, who plays off of Cartman's nastiness very well. Whenever it's on, I always find myself enjoying what it has to offer. It's still fresh, it's still funny, and it's always a show with a sense of humor and rational intelligence that I gotta respect. I've gone down to South Park and met some friends 'o mine!

19. Superman: The Animated Series: The only other show in the DCAU  that I found myself really enjoying other than the one later on down the list. I've never enjoyed the Superman mythos as much as I have with Batman and Spider-Man, but it has the potential to be great too. And this was a show that made full use of that potential. The world, characters, stories, action, music, and scope of this show was very memorable and well handled. As a superhero show, it was pure entertainment and awesomeness. It told exciting, action-packed episodic stories that showcased a great deal of depth and character, but also had it's own overarching story arcs; Superman's fight against Lex Luthor, his Kryptonian heritage and Brainiac's ties to it, and the most intense of all being the one involving planet Apokolips and its' evil ruler, the despotic Darkseid. It could get very serious and dramatic when it was called for, particularly in the "Apokolips Now" two-parter that resulted in a supporting character's sudden and infamously tragic demise. Speaking of characters, they were mostly great. This show had excellent renditions of Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor, and Supergirl among others. The biggest problem here was, ironically enough, the main character himself. This was one of those blander versions of Superman who was only interesting when he was delving into his Kryptonian side, which still didn't give him any humanity. His Clark Kent persona was even worse, seeing as he didn't even bother acting bumbling, nerdy, or mild mannered and instead just acted really not all the different from how he would as Superman. That was really dumb and lazy. But at least he was a good action hero to watch. And this series was definitely a great adaptation of Superman and a quality show overall, so I just had to give it kudos here

18. Sonic The Hedgehog:  The early 90's Saturday Morning cartoon, but I refuse to call it "SatAM" because that's just stupid. This series has developed a large cult following of people who enjoyed it, and with good reason. This is another show that gets me pissed that it got cancelled. Taking characters from the Sonic video game series (Sonic, Robotnik, and Tails) and putting them into a very different setting with an interesting cast of characters, this show had many things going for it. The tone was edgy and futuristic, the stories well written, the characters all well portrayed, and the story-line of a band of sentient animals fighting against a robotic industrialist dictator in hopes of restoring the balance of nature was terrific and actually managed to have a environmental message to it that wasn't hammered into your head. Just showing the dangers of technology overtaking the natural world is much more effective than telling the audience and preaching about it. A lot of effort was clearly put into the animation, plotting, and world-building of this show, too. The voice cast was great; to this day, Jallil White IS Sonic for me. And just watch the opening.  Not only is the theme song fucking awesome but how many animated shows have a opening that's essentially a bombing mission? I mean, God, they'd never get away with something like that today. This show had edge and wasn't afraid to do some serious stuff with what it had. Now it had flaws, of course. It could've afforded to lighten up in some areas, Sally was pretty bland and got too much character focus, Tails got too little character focus, Antione needed more character development and less filler episodes dedicated to his grating antics , a lot of plot elements and concepts introduced weren't explained well enough or made good use of, and Dulcy the Dragon was a pretty terrible character. But there was more to enjoy here, which is what makes it a shame that it got canned before the story could continue to go places. And it ended on a major cliffhanger too!  But at least its' spirit lived on in the Archie comics series...before it started doing it's own thing and got increasingly stupid, that is. *Sigh*

17. Gravity Falls: Disney's in the business of throwing out new flash animated shows for their channels these days, so I didn't think or expect much of this one when it caught my eye. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this was an animated gem that I almost overlooked. Based around the childhood experience and bizarre fantasies of it's creator, Alex Hirsch, and set with the premise of two twins spending the entirety of their last childhood Summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon, this is a series that hearkens back to the Disney Afternoon cartoon shows of old, with the "kids getting sent to stay with their stingy, greedy, but ultimately caring great uncle and they all get into fantastical adventures" setup being very Duck Tales-eque. But while those shows were mostly episodic, this one is able to give us a "conflict of the day" nature that actually manages to keep a sense of continuity and realistic passing of time in this Summer, and a large overarching mystery concerning the town's dark secrets and the darker secrets of some character's background that is very similar to the show I talk about one spot down. The strength of the mystery aspect, how seriously it's taken, and how intricate and well thought out it gets is especially impressive because this show remains largely a comedy. And it's one of those comedy toons that's really, really funny, with many jokes that are well timed, clever, and even go over some kids' heads. The cast of characters also manages to be extremely endearing and likable, with some of them, even minor ones, getting character development and depth that you wouldn't initially suspect could ever come from them. And it can get really intense at times, particularly whenever Bill Cipher is a presence. This is actually a very brilliant show that has lots of heart, humor, and quality to it, and it just gets better and better with each passing stretch of episodes in each passing year. And I'll cherish it for as long as I live.

 16. Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated: I, like many others, have never been the biggest fan of Scooby Doo. The first "Where Are You?" series was okay for an old Hannah Barbara cartoon, and "What's New, Scooby Doo?" was a fun modernized version, but all the rest of the Scooby series' were childish, dull, formulaic, predictable, or just plain sucked. And then this one came along to be sort of a "Scooby Doo for people who don't much like Scooby Doo." It was notably darker in tone, the setting was moved to the mysterious Crystal Cove, the characters were fleshed out to be more believable and 3-dimensional, and not only were all the usual episodic Scooby Doo mysteries featuring antagonists actually scary and menacing, but they were all somehow all tied to a larger mystery in an overarching storyline that just keeps on building as the show goes on, and eventually starts going places that you never in a million years expected a Scooby cartoon to go, and like "Gravity Falls", the mystery 
is just incredibly intricate and thought out. It literally starts with an old locket and ends with the goddamn apocalypse (in Scooby Freaking Doo!) and it actually makes total sense in context. I'll be clear that this show isn't perfect. I particularly disliked the first half of Season One, where the promised storyline and potentially great ideas kept getting thrown aside in favor of soap opera romances and Velma's character being turned into a shrewish, abusive mega-bitch during a bizarre love triangle between her, Shaggy, and his dogWhat? But once the story got going, it REALLY got going, and the excitement and entertainment never stopped. The mysterious plot is intriguing, the twists and turns are unexpected, I liked what they did with Daphne and Fred's characters and their relationship, I loved the intimidating villains (particularly the primary villain, the evil Professor Pericles), and to see actual character and plot development coming out 
of a Scooby Doo series is almost surreal but gives me this amazing feeling. I'd never expected that
Scooby Doo could ever be so dark, badass, and well executed, but this show certainly is. It's got such 
a unique quality to it that it transcends it's franchise and becomes an outstanding work of animation in general - one of the best modern cartoon shows to be sure. If you haven't experienced it, go do so! NOW!

15. Tale Spin: The first of the great Disney Afternoon shows to appear on this list. This show was actually kind of weird on the surface. It recycled the name and look of the character Baloo from "The Jungle Book" as it's main protagonist, along with Louie and Shere Khan in supporting roles, and put them in a modern setting. And Baloo was an airplane pilot. What kind of show was this?  Well, if you took the time to watch it, you'd find it was a funny, engaging, well executed, and surprisingly deep show. It was a show for kids that didn't try to be just a kid's cartoon, it contained a lot
of mature themes in it's writing. The setting of Cape Suzette, a city by the sea, was an excellent looking location and it's inhabitants were fun, well portrayed characters such as Rebecca Cunningham, her daughter Molly, Wildcat, Louie, Khan, and Kit Cloudkicker, the latter of which is one of the few child characters in animation who isn't a dumbass or an annoying nuisance. He's a realistic personality with depth of his own. The plots were interesting and the antagonists were great, particularly the always amusing Don Karnage and his sky pirate crew. And of course, like all Disney Afternoon shows, you have got to love that theme song. It wasn't nearly perfect and could've been a lot more exciting than it was at many points, but it was a very good series that I look at with fondness. TALE SPIN, TALE SPIN!

14. Duck Tales: Next on the Disney Afternoon is..Duck Taleswoo-ooh! Yeah, this show isn't the same as the Uncle Scrooge comics that inspired it, but it still has some of the same charm and qualities present and is still very good in it's own right. The insanely catchy ear worm of a theme song pretty much sums up what the show is. The city of Duckburg and all the other places around the world this show took place at made this a show that was always on the move. You'd always go somewhere different for a different adventure, which is the spirit of all good Scrooge adventures. The plots were zany, ambitious, and exciting, and the characters just made things better. The family bond between Scrooge and his nephews, and the companionship they share with all of their friends, is really what made this show. It had a great amount of heart and adventurous spirit to it. The 80's music had a special charm that worked well for this show and the voice cast was always great. Alan Young simply owns the role of Scrooge McDuck. Hearing his voice acting is a huge benefit for this medium and now I cannot read Uncle Scrooge comics without hearing his voice as the titular character. Talents like Frank Welker, June Forray, and Hal Smith also made their characters shine. The show mainly suffered in it's last season, which heavily featured annoying new characters like Bubba Duck and Fenton Crackshell, and the writing quality took a pretty noticeable decline. But for what it is a series, it doesn't just hold up - it really holds up.

13. Adventures Of The Gummi Bears: Next on the Disney Afternoon is...the Gummi Bears! (Odion!)  This was the first great Disney animated series and even now, it's something to behold. It really created an interesting world with vibrant lifestyles and different cultures. You wouldn't think that a race of small bears named after chewy candy snacks who can bounce really high and get super strength when the drink "gummiberry juice" would be at all interesting and not stupid...but you'd be real surprised. The mythology and lore behind the Gummi Bears existence, the magic and secrets that they hold, and the lost Gummi heritage that they must rediscover is all very fascinating stuff. They fit right in with the medieval fantasy setting and they're actually what greatly inspired Greg Weisman in his creation of the Gargoyles in "Gargoyles."  Now that's a sign of greatness. The human characters of the kindgom and villages, most prominently Cavin and Princess Calla, are fun too and Duke Igthorn is actually a lot less inept than your average bumbling 80's cartoon villain, and is incredibly amusing, too. I saw this show in my childhood and actually, I came to appreciate and enjoy it more when I re-watched it as a young adult. To me, it's biggest flaw is that it had the potential for much more than it gave us. I think there ought to have been a more focused story arc and a truly menacing, vile villain aside from just the comical likes of Duke Igthorn and Lady Bane. The fact that the show ended on an open-ended note only reinforces that. But what was good was great, and so this is definitely a cartoon show that I'll always hold in great regard. 

12. Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers: Next on the Disney Afternoon is...the Rescue Rangers to the rescue!  This show is on here at this spot mainly for the nostalgic value and for the fact that it's fun, adventurous, and has its' own level of depth to it. It's got a very simple premise to it; Chip and Dale the chipmunks form a team with two mice and a fly dedicated to saving people or helping them with serious problems, as well as possibly solving crimes as well. It's what they do with this premise that really makes this show great. The plots are often quirky and wildly entertaining, and it has some great antagonists in Fat Cat and Professor Nimbnul. But the best thing was the interaction and relationships between the main characters. Chip and Dale are like brothers, Chip being the smart, practical one who wants to be a serious crime buster, while Dale is the scatterbrained goofball who just wants to have fun.  Both of them have a crush on Gadget, the kinda crazy engineering genius female mouse, but value their friendship with her and each other even more. And then there's Monterrey Jack, a rather large Australian rodent with  a jolly, overeager tough guy attitude but a soft heart who's like the big brother and backbone to the whole team. Zipper the fly was just a typical sidekick and team mascot, but even he had his moments of being a good pal. The almost family-like bond between the Rangers gave the show it's heart and made it always fun to see what they could take on next. The show was a favorite in childhood and always will be.

11. Darkwing Duck: Last on the Disney Afternoon is the terror that flaps in the night himself, Darkwing Duck! This was another show I enjoyed as a child but found I enjoyed even more when I got older, and it is the most entertaining, off-the-wall hysterical, and just plain awesome show to come out of the Disney Afternoon's olden days. It's one of those great superhero spoof shows
that takes advantage of everything that makes the crime fighting, costumed superhero genre fun. But this 
one is special because the city of St. Canard is populated by animal people, something wacky is always happening, crime or no crime, and it's resident superhero is a superhero only because he's on a perpetual ego-trip and wants to satisfy his own pride. Not only is Darkwing a very amusing and endearingly jerky character voiced superbly by the great Jim Cummings, but he's actually interesting and richly developed. He actually has a good range of emotions and reasons for why he behaves the way he does. His adopted daughter Gosalyn is also a very  interesting, fun, and endearing character and her relationship with her surrogate father is a touching one that gives the show most of its' heart and seriousness. But most of the series is zany comedy and boy, does it deliver. From silly slapstick to clever sight gags to witty banter and hilarious dialogue, this is a very funny show. Launchpad Mcquack as Darkwing's sidekick is hindered a little too much by stupidity and bungling, which is way too played up compared to his character in "Duck Tales", but he's still okay and the various villains more than make up for other characters' shortcomings.
 A batshit insane electric-powered rat, an equally insane duck toy maker in a jester costume, a dorky mutant plant/duck hybrid, a dog made entirely of water, a sleazy secret agent rooster with a steel beak, and a psychopathic, darkly humorous evil twin of the main hero are all part of a wonderful rogues gallery 
in this show. So for me and many of it's other viewers, this series is clearly one of Disney's all time bests.

10. The Batman: Here's a show that proves that patience can be
a virtue and that faith can be rewarded in the end. When the show debuted in 2004, it looked stellar.
The animation, the design of Gotham City and it's citizens, the voice cast, the creepy theme song, and the whole look and feel it was going for was something very fun. It was high time we got a new Batman series for a new generation and this one, centering around a young Batman in his third year of fighting crime, had potential. But one thing was off: the writing.  Most episodes in the first season were sloppily written, had cringe-worthy dialogue, an immature sense of humor when using puns,-thin characterization, and almost always included some form of "toy commercial" for whatever high-tech gear Batman used to deal with the bad guys, stuff like "Bat Wave", a "Bat Bot", a jetpack or glider, or even different versions of his cape and cowl. It tried majorly hard to be "hip" for the young crowd, and as a result, what could have been a great Batman show was falling flat on it's face and coming off as majorly campy. It was despised by many, either for those problems or because some butthurt "fans" couldn't let go of the DCAU Batman and didn't want to see Batman done in any other way, so they claimed that this show was "ruining Batman." (Forgetting that there have been and always will be many different interpretations of Batman 'cause there is no single definitive Batman, and the franchise has lived through "Batman and Robin"). But most of its faults were the doing of the greedy executives. I still had hope that the series would find it's way eventually, and knowing that Jeff Matsuda and the rest of the staff were dedicated Batman fans made me have faith in them. And by the first season's finale, it happened. The show got really, really good. The writing quality improved, the puns were toned down, the toyetic marketing ploys were dropped, the characters became more well rounded, and more interesting things were being done with the series. It still felt off at some points but the rest was quality entertainment and a great take on Batman. It gave us some great Batman stories, outstanding takes on some of Batman's rogues (Penguin, Clayface, Riddler, Poison Ivy, and Professor Hugo Strange in particular) and though die-hard Batman fans often still libeled it for butchering the Batman mythos, in a way, it told the whole story of the Batman mythos. In one show we went from a young Batman dealing with new supervillains (Season 1), Batman working closer with the GPD (Season 2), Batman taking on a sidekick (Season 3), Batman forming a "family" (Season 4), and Batman joining the JLA (Season 5). Through all five seasons, Batman's legacy was followed and it ended as a very cool, fun, and satisfying superhero show which serves as a testament to a character's history and career. It's nowhere close to "Batman: The Animated Series" but can stand next to it with no shame.

9. Teen Titans: This is another fun superhero cartoon show that predated "The Batman" by a year; "Teen Titans!" Personally, I have never been a fan of the Teen Titans comics.  It was too corny in the beginning and way too angsty and melodramatic later on. It was most definitely at it's best during the 80's era of Wolfman and Perez's "The New Teen Titans" stories but even that had it's flaws. What this show does is distill the essence that 80's era into a cartoon that also goes with it's own unique style and episodic nature, turning it into something immensely enjoyable to watch, especially if you were a teenager in your middle school and high school years at the time the show was airing like I was. The anime-inspired style they chose got it a lot of fans and detractors, but I personally think it works great for a show about teen superheroes. The show's seasons are set in a manner similar
to "Buffy The Vampire Slayer", with adventure-of-the-day episodes and story arcs written for each seasons. The writing for both of these was usually top-notch. The characters were the best part; all five members of the core team were very likable, interesting, appealing, and receiving good bits of character development over the series' course, even the often irritating Beast Boy. The show had some cool supporting heroes and very enjoyable, memorable villains too, most notably the team's main enemy, the enigmatic Slade. I think the best character had to be Terra, who kicked lots of ass and managed to be a well rounded, layered tragic character who left a huge impact in just five episodes. Like "The Batman", it had five seasons and they all told great stories. The flaws of this show would be that a lot of the character development, while good, should have been conveyed better, some of the "silly" moments and episodes came off as a bit needlessly stupid and difficult to sit through, some stories were poorly written, some characters were annoying, the story arcs ought to have had more time to be told and fleshed out (particularly the one in the third season), there was a good deal of wasted potential for several plot and characters, and I don't think I'll ever be able to understand that last episode and the way they decided to end the series. But despite all those bads, the stuff that's good easily outweighs them and made the show an overall satisfying cartoon experience once it was done. This was one of the finest animated series' of it's generation and shall always be dear to me because of it. When there's trouble, this is the show you ought to call. Teen Titans, GO!*
*We do not talk about "Teen Titans GO!". Ever.*

8. Arthur: Okay, I think I might be starting to lose people now. Seriously, a PBS kids show like "Arthur" gets this high on the list? Above all those cool superhero and Disney Afternoon cartoons? Well, here's the thing: the is one of the most well written edutainment kids shows out there and it actually really holds up. It obviously has to since it's still running to this day and has far outlived, eclipsed, and displaced the original children's books by Mark Brown that it's based on. It's like the kiddie equivalent to "South Park" in that it's still going on and still hasn't ran out of steam. It's smartly written, fun to watch, and contains nothing wrong with it whatsoever. That's not to say there aren't flaws, obviously there are. DW is an unpleasant brat most of the times and episodes starring her tend to blow, there are some characters who feel like they have no point on the show, some episodes miss more than they hit, Baby Kate and Pal episodes have been popping up too frequently, those dumbass "A Word From Us Kids" segments in between stories are stupid, the Tibble Twins are also obnoxious, and the Mark Brown character designs are severely lacking, as is the animation that accompanies them. But honestly, everything else is great. I love the plots, I love the settings, I love most of the characters, I love the music (including the theme song sang by Ziggy Marley) and I love the style and presentation of all the episodic stories. But most of all, I love how unafraid it is to tackle certain subject matters and show them to a child audience without talking down. It's done stories about the death and mourning of pets, people banding together during a blizzard, children with Asperger's syndrome, single parents getting into a relationship and a break-up, cancer, and even the aftermath of a school fire standing in for the 9/11 disaster among others, and they are all handled with a surprising maturity. Often there'll be real people on the show voicing animalized versions of themselves, which helps get something across even further, even if a little creepy.. The possibilities of what stories could be told seem endless in this show, which makes it interesting and pretty addictive, even to an older crowd. For me, it's worth watching and worth being a favorite on the list. 

 7. Spongebob Squarepants: Have I lost anyone yet? Hear me out on this one:  I'm referring specifically to "Spongebob Squarepants" in it's first three seasons and the movie (which was intended by Stephen Hillenburg be the grand finale, which shows). Some of the episodes that followed were still entertaining too but it lost the quality it used to have, and nowadays it's an incredibly stupid, immature, mean-spirited sadist show that has been dumbed down for kid viewers. Back in it's prime, however, "Spongebob" was a whimsical, witty, self-aware, hilarious, and engaging show that kids and adults could enjoy, and it was one of the best Nicktoons around. I loved the underwater civilization of Bikini Bottom, I loved the endearing and funny characters that resided there, I loved the voice acting and music for the show, and I loved the writing. The humor could be zany and silly, but also smart and sophisticated, too. The show just does so many random, wacky stuff such as having a pirate picture sing the opening theme song, have a Jaques Cousteu imitator narrate some episodes, include live action sequences at times, telling dodgy jokes that kids wouldn't get, and have events or actions that make no sense whatsoever, and it all worked. "Spongebob" was a very clever, well made show that had a great deal of edge to it but a big heart to it too. It was sincere about itself and didn't hold back in being so. Stephen Hillenburg and Derek Drymon obviously knew how to make it appealing, and it payed off big time because the show was enormously popular and a huge success in the ratings. And though this popularity has caused it to overstay it's welcome, it very much earned it. Before it Jumped the Bikini Bottom Shark, this series was among the most enjoyable of all comedic cartoons and THAT is what I'll always love it for.

6. The Spectacular Spider-Man: Swingin' back to superhero shows with this one. Animated "Spider-Man" series' have been made for years now, but none of them did much justice to the character and his world, nor were they even great. Then along came this one from the creative mind of Greg Weisman and blew all of its' predecessors out of the water. For this was a really good, really fun, really well written, and very high quality series. It's got a large fan following online because it was just that damn good. Now contrary to what some fans think, this show was actually far from perfect. There were a few flaws weighing it down at times; some kiddie character designs, a few miscast voices, pointless composite characters or race lifts, under-utilization of some things while overdoing others, and the occasional writing missteps here and there. Trust me, that's quite a bit that I could rail against. All of that often detracted from the show, and yet still couldn't compare to the stuff that was gotten right. Spidey himself looks great, is excellently voiced by Josh Keaton, and moves really well through superb animation. the action sequences are well done and exciting, the high school hi-jinx rarely fails to entertain, most of the characters were well-rounded and developed, and the storytelling of this show was brilliant. Each set of three or four episodes told a story arc that was all part of a continuing storyline that saw Peter Parker growing as both himself and as Spider-Man. The episode titles were all theme-named depending on the story arc. The use of the major players in the stories was great, and the show gave us some excellent supervillains like the Lizard, the Big Man, the Green Goblin, Dr Octopus, and Venom. Like any good adaptation of superhero comics should have, the show contained some of the finest versions of certain characters, all well voiced and written, and a joy to watch on-screen. And this is one of those series' that kept building and building; you could never quite predict what would come next. The twists were surprising, the continuity was tight, and you couldn't afford to miss a single episode because, as is the way of the Weisman, anything could be important later on down the road. The few flaws to be found in this show irritated me a lot perhaps because so much else was so great. The good trumped the bad in this show and it's a damn shame that it got cut down in it's prime when there was still much more stories yet to be told. But for the 26 episodes that we have, this series was simply spectacular superhero experience for all ages.

5. Animaniacs AND Pinky & The Brain: They're both on this spot because they count as two halfs of the same series to me. Try as they might, the Looney Tunes could never get a really great animated series and were much better suited to cartoon shorts (though I  sort of enjoy"The Looney Tunes Show" these days). This series, produced by Steven Spielberg himself, was the true successor to Looney Tunes in TV show format. It was all a bunch of episodic cartoons filled with zany slapstick and witty humor, using a cast of great cartoon characters who were created solely for this show. The central stars of the show, the Warners, are great. They have a well played backstory written for them that ties into the history of cartoon animation itself and explains why they live the way they do. They're crazy, joking, free-spirited, fun loving hedonists who cause chaos wherever they go, which is why they are continuously locked away in the tower at Warner Bros. studio but always manage to escape. The three of them aren't mean spirited and are even friendly if unprovoked; they just want to have a good time and don't care much for order or rules is all. Their antics in the toons starring them were entertaining, as were the antagonists they went up against such as security guard Ralph or Dr. Scratchensniff. Other cartoon stars like the Good Feathers, Slappy Squirell, Rita and Runt, Minerva Mink, and even Chicken Boo were good for a laugh as well. Mindy and Buttons cartoons were usually unfunny and the Hip Hippos were so bad that they stopped appearing regularly early on, but I could deal with 'em. But the best were Pinky and the Brain, which is why they spun off into their own series of stories eventually. Two lab mice who've had their brains enhanced with differing results who are trying to take over the world makes for some brilliant gags and comedic set-ups, and the voicework by Maurice Lemarche and Rob Paulsen for the characters was always brilliant. Their different schemes and repeated antics never got old, and the writing was so clever and mature (if not outdated, in the case of all the shots at Bill Clinton) that it made it an easy favorite for this list. The spin-off had a great run if we just overlook that stupid "Elmyra" phase, and "Animaniacs" itself received a stupendous conclusion in "Wakko's Wish", a movie that was everything a finale should be, giving closure to all the characters and ending the series on a high note. There hasn't been an animated comedy show quite on this level since, and I doubt there ever will be. 
* And alright, I'll give a mention to "Tiny Toon Adventures" here too, since I consider it basically the pre-evolution of "Animaniacs."

4. Gargoyles: This show is also on the Disney Afternoon at a time,
but it's really in a league of its' own, for it is one of the all time great masterpieces of animated television.
If you've seen Greg's blog, you've seen him talk on about this show. But let me still say what it means to me. did not grow up with "Gargoyles", I first started watching it in my early teen years when it was being run on Toon Disney. And once I started watching, it hooked me in. This was an ingenious work of fiction from creator Greg Weisman. It created this world where a race of gargoyles existed in ancient medieval Scotland, gargoyles that belonged to different clans and who slept as stone statues by day but came to life when the sun went down. These gargoyles swore to use their strength to protect human civilization, but most human had nothing but fear and scorn for their kind due to their "monstrous" nature. So when a human betrayed his kingdom (for the gargoyles' sake, ironically enough), it led to a spiraling tragedy that resulted in the massacre of nearly the entire clan and the surviving gargoyles being put under a spell that turned them into statues for day and night. A condition was made on when and how they could again be awakened, which they were when a nefarious modern day billionaire moved the ancient Scottish castle to Manhattan and placed it on top his skyscraper. The show gets it's appeal from watching how these gargoyles deal with coexisting with humans in the modern age, how they adapt to things that didn't exist in their time, and how they fight against evil and hatred that has always existed and likely always shall. Not only is the backstory fascinating and the world extraordinarily portrayed, but it's filled with different storylines, interesting, memorable, and multidimensional characters, and breathtaking excitement that comes from top notch animation, musical score, voice acting, and storytelling. The writing of this show is just great.  Many different mythologies and fantasies from medieval gargoyles, to Shakespeare, to Arthurian lore, to old myths and folk legends, and even Illuminati conspiracies are weaved into this universe and they all blend together really, really well. For two seasons, this show was gripping and characters such as Goliath, Hudson, Broadway, Brooklyn, Lexington, Bronx, Elisa Maza, David Xanatos, Demona, and Macbeth all left a profound impact. It sagged a little during the second season's latter half, "the Avalon World Tour", but was as good as ever once things picked up again. You'd think this would get an even higher space than 4, but it can't because we never did get a third season that would've concluded the series. We got a terrible substitute in "The Goliath Chronicles" and while the comics written by Greg Weisman that tell of what would've been the third season contain interesting ideas, they were written waaaay too late in a time long after "Gargoyles" was relevant, and seems to have been cancelled too. 
But the show as mostly a quality work and will remain a landmark in animation now and forever. And I will always wait for it to live again!

3. Avatar: The Last Airbender: The last Nickelodeon toon you'll see
on here, and this show is nothing like your average Nicktoon. This is another one of the all time great masterpieces of animated television. In this show, creators Mike and Bryan, along with head writer Aaron Ehazz, have created a fantastic animated epic like no other. Because it looked interesting, I watched this one since it's first airing, followed it ever since, and was utterly blown away by what it ended up being. Forget about that stupid Shyamalan movie that was made based on it and look at the animated series itself, for it is something to behold. Like all the greatest works of fiction, the key to this show's appeal lies in the fascinating world it creates, the characters it crafts to populate it, and the magnificent story that gets told around it all. The world is a great fantasy world inspired by old age Asian cultures, with four nations dedicated to the four elements of Bhuddism (Water, Earth, Fire, and Air) ruled over by different forms of governing power, and kept safe by superpowered "benders" who bend the elements to use as their weapon as it synchronizes with their martial arts movements. The one with mastery over all four elements is known as the Avatar, a being of godlike power and wisdom who is always reincarnated into a different person of a different nationality. But that mysteriously stopped just as the world needed the Avatar most. The Fire Nation seeks world domination and has declared war on the rest of the world in order to claim it, throwing the world into imbalance as a result. This war has lasted 100 years and is the backdrop for the hero's journey that makes up the series' plot. The Avatar, an airbender boy named Aang who is the last of his kind, has returned and now must learn to master the three remaining elements so he can defeat the Fire Lord with his power in order to restore peace and balance to world once more. He is aided by the pretty young waterbender Katara, her older brother Sokka, and blind but badass earthbender Toph, in his quest to end the war and fulfill his Avatar destiny. But the Fire Nation is hot on his trail, thus he gets pursued by the likes of the relentless Prince Zuko, the loathsome Commander Zhao, and the treacherous Princess Azula. To say any more of this story would be spoiling it and probably wouldn't even do it justice. This is honestly right up there with all the other great fantasy epics ever written and presented beautifully in animated form. The story, the characters, the animation, the action sequences, the emotional moments, the humor, the voice acting, the musical score, the sheer scope of this show is all about as close to perfect as you can get. It also explores deep themes such as the effects of war, the loss of family, parental abuse, moral ambiguity and the limits of what's right and wrong, dealing with fear and grief, the nature of destiny, government conspiracies, spiritual journeys, redemption, and staying true to oneself. The storytelling and character development of this series is more than one might ever expect from a cartoon, let alone one from Nickelodeon. The complex character arc of Prince Zuko was an amazing and fulfilling one indeed! And this places one spot higher than "Gargoyles" not just because I enjoy it more, but because it did have a third season. The show had a three season trilogy structure planned out from the start and it was fulfilled, concluding the story in an immensely satisfactory way and accomplishing everything that the creators set out to do. It told a complete story and ended as one of the greatest animated experiences ever made. The sequel never matched the legacy and impact of this one. This was a wondrous ride from beginning to end. 

2. Batman: The Animated Series: Here's the all time great animated masterpiece that I'm sure everyone knows of. The cartoon show that hit the early 90's TV as a result of the live action Batman movie's success, it is still to this day the greatest superhero show ever made. Directed and produced by Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett, and written by a great staff of writers like Paul Dini, this was a show that had everything a great show could possibly have. It had great background designs, a memorable soundtrack, a terrific voice cast to voice a great cast of characters, and not only was the quality great and the writing superb, but the scripting, direction, and overall execution of the show had a level of sophistication to it that had never been seen before in a cartoon. It was as much for young adults as it was for kids. Since I was born in 1989, this is the Batman I grew up watching on TV and a show that I loved, enjoyed, and appreciated even back then and I just grew to love it more and more as I got older. It just gets even more amazing with age. The animation is pretty dated by today's standards but everything else about the show still holds up. Like a superhero adaptation should be, it's lots of fun. It's done in an episodic style and most of those episodes stories were intriguing, exciting, and well written. But it's the characters that really made it come off. Bruce Wayne/Batman, voiced by Kevin Conroy, was great. Dark, brooding, angry, driven, intelligent, and stern but with a heart of gold and an incentive to protect people from crime first and foremost. He had a layered personality and a complex psyche, which was shown in many episodes where his character took center stage, as well as the "Mask of the Phantasm" movie. His supporting cast members like Alfred Pennyworth, Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon, and Harvey Bullock, also came off as great as they could get.  And there were many great villains in the rogues gallery. The Joker, Harley Quinn, the Riddler, Two-Face, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Clayface, Scarface, Rupert Throrne, Ras Al Ghul, and even the Mad Hatter were excellently developed and portrayed. Now there were small things that this series got wrong. Robin was never really compelling or endearing, some of the villains weren't quite so good (Penguin, Catwoman, Killer Croc, Roland Daggett, etc), there was the occasional poor episode, and there could have been more continuity and story arcs than just the HARDAC and Ras Al Ghul ones. But next to all of this show's aspects of greatness, these weaknesses are almost microscopically small. It contained some of the best episodes and moments in all of animation and it was a groundbreaking achievement in animated history. It's a favorite among Batman fans, animation fans, and many other viewers all over the world. Quite frankly, I cannot see how one can NOT like this show in some way!  Even if you don't love it, you at least have to appreciate and respect it for what it is. One of the greatest and most beloved animated achievements ever, and always a definite favorite for me.

Now I know what you must be thinking: Wait a minute, we went through "Animaniacs", "Gargoyles," "Avatar", and "Batman: The Animated Series", four shows widely regarded as the best animated series' ever created!  What could possibly make the number one spot over them? The answer may surprise you...

 1. The New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh:  Yes, this is it. This is my favorite animated series of all time. If I've lost anyone on this one, then fuck you. I freaking love this show. I loved it as a child, I love it now as a young adult, and it will always be dear to my heart. I feel that this was the greatest animated series that Disney ever came out with and the high point of Disney's Winnie the Pooh's animated career, the original Pooh shorts aside. And this show did everything right. It captured everything that makes Pooh, well, Pooh. I've always loved these characters and this episodic series told us many great stories about them and gave plenty of opportunities for us to just see them living their life in their little world. There were always plentiful amount of adventures and misadventures to be had, and damn near every single one of them was of the highest caliber of entertainment. The tone was just perfect; it was whimsical, silly, laid-back at one moment and frantic in the next, there was never a dull moment here. The musical score that accompanied it was brilliant and one of the most memorable TV show soundtracks for me to this day. The humor was very simple but could also be very witty and well played. One Western-themed episode had a horse parody of Jack Nicholson as the bad guy, and another actually referenced slasher movies ("slusher movies" as they were called here) and ended with the characters facing jail time. It's the kind of stuff kids might not get but you really appreciate when you're older. There was also occasionally a good deal of drama and emotion to be found, I kid you not  -look no further than the episode "Find Her, Keep Her" to demonstrate that. I'm 27 years old now and that episode STILL makes my gut wrench when I watch it; the story is very well told and Ken Sansom's performance voicing Rabbit in the episodes' climax is incredible. The show as a whole had a very simple nature to it; just as bunch of stuffed animal characters belonging to a young boy getting into situations in the woods. But this Pooh show, as should be true for all things Pooh related, just had such a innocence, a sincerity, and a heart to it, that it always managed to be engaging. It never ceases to be interest you in seeing exactly what adventures can happen here, and most often you'll end up with a whimsical, magical experience that will satisfy. How can one not like Winnie the Pooh, anyway? It literally has a timeless innocence to it and is subject to great stories and characters. Don't let the way Disney often markets Pooh give you the wrong idea. You can never grow to old for Winnie the Pooh, and this show is proof of it. It has lasting appeal for all ages and all time. That is why it is my number one all time favorite animated series.

10 comments:

  1. An interesting list, Eric. Some of your choices, such as Batman: TAS, Avatar and Gargoyles were expected, since these shows have earned their place on any list of the best animated series. Your number one choice took me by surprise, however. Though I must say that your description of it, sort of makes me want to re-watch a few episodes. I have fond memories of the show from when I was a child, even if it wasn't my favorite among Disney's offerings.

    I did a list like this myself not too long ago, which combined both western cartoons and anime. Although, I'm thinking of re-visiting and expanding it to a top 40 or maybe even a 50 at some point in the future.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Viktor. :)

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  2. Good list, though am curious. What is it about SU and the gems that u dislike?

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    1. Nah, I'm actually fine with SU and I never said I had any problems with the Gems ("Gemtlemen" was a joke referring to the obnoxious SU fandom people). I just can't get into it to the extent where I could call it a fave.

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  3. I understand. the fans are the absolute worst. did you hear about what they did to one of the storyboard artists? disgusting. I like the show but am not going to belittle and insult someone else because they don't like it. to each his own.

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  4. I've only seen the Gargoyles movie but from what I've heard about the series it sounds fantastic.

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    1. It really is. Go watch it when you're able to.

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  6. for me the duce and the best universe already made in the western animation even though it is not perfect and the only good universe in the west
    there are other good series like gargoyles spider man 2008 and avatar aang but no other universe of the same level of dcau

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