The Best Animated TV Shows of All Time: Yes, another Best of List, Get Over it

By Blake Boles, Class of 2013 and Jessica Hartland, Class of 2013 — 

The end of the year –and if numerous nutjobs are to be believed, the world– is fast approaching.  What there seems to be no end to, though, is the media’s insistence of inundating us with ‘Best Of’ articles.  It makes one want to sit at home, wrap oneself in a sheet, soak one’s liver with cheap booze, and watch cartoons.  “But which ones are the best of all time?” you slur.  Well, we’ve got you covered in a typical he-said/she-said piece; though given our authors are Blake and Jessica, more like he-yelled/she bitched.  Can they see eye-to-eye on what are the best animated cartoons of all time?

In a word, no.  Blake adds his picks, and Jessica retorts.

10.  Transformers

Blake:  Second only to Star Wars in building toy popularity through media, Transformers blew minds in the 80’s as the Autobots battled their Cybertronian foes, the Decepticons.  Though most of the episodes are deplorable in hindsight, robot warriors who turned into cars were too much to resist for millions of boys.

Jessica: Maybe I was just too young when the animated show came about, but immediately when I hear Transformers, I think of the movie and how terrible Megan Fox was in it.  It could be just natural girl talk but there is not anything appealing about a giant robot that turns into a car.  Blake, could be right about the inability to resist such “action” but personally, I think those millions should.

9.  Beavis and Butthead

Mike Judge’s creation for MTV perfectly encapsulated what many maladjusted, outcast teens thought of popular media.  Their style was irreverent, sophomoric, and wickedly funny.

Jessica: Beavis and Butthead, I have to admit, did have its intensely funny moments, but for the most part, whenever I watched it, I felt my brain cell count drop lower and lower.  But, it’s the stupidity that truly made the show even more enjoyable.  Butt-head’s signature laugh is simply unforgettable.  But hey, some people, just like Beavis and Butthead always said, thinks “it’s cool” or “it sucks”.

8.  Aqua Teen Hunger Force

Blake:  Taking irreverence to new heights, the ridiculous combination of three super-powered fast food items proved to be a winner through brilliant content alone.  Second in lunacy to only Monty Python, ATHF became so popular that a major motion picture was released; not bad for an afterthought of a show.

Jessica: The humor in this show literally comes from absurdity.  There is really no plot that goes along with it.  Not saying I am an avid Aqua Teen Hunger Force viewer, but it’s those two main reasons why I am not.  This is the kind of “flip the channel when you see it on” type of thing.  Some of the main characters are a milkshake and fries. That’s enough said.  But I may be one of the only people to feel this way since this show is among the top 10 longest running American animated series.  So, kudos to that.

7.  Futurama

Blake: Brilliant writing, and world-class voiceover cast and a sweet-yet-warped vision of the future made this quirky cartoon a classic.  You cannot deny this.  Glory to the Hypnotoad!

Jessica: They chose a perfect set of characters, oddly created, but quirky in their own way.  It is a very interesting, futuristic setting with a great storyline and humor along the way.  This show would be nothing without Bender, though. He talks like a sailor, drinks heavily, and is just a downright wild character, but he’s also the best friend.  Can’t get better than that.

6.  Batman, The Animated Series

Blake: Gritty, with wonderful music by Danny Elfman, dark storylines, and a simplistic, art nouveau look made superheroes cool again.

Jessica: You can’t deny the mystery and thrill that comes from the complex, dark series of Batman.  As an animated classic, there cannot be too much criticism, but in this day, Batman is just better in real life and in films.  It has always been a great superhero story with commitment to fighting for justice, but looking back at it now, it wasn’t that cool.

5.  Cowboy Bebop

Blake:  If you aren’t familiar with this anime classic, go out and get the DVDs right now.  Even darker than Batman, and yet even wickedly funnier than Futurama in some places, it’s the perfect mix of sci-fi, action, and humor that made it okay for self respecting adults to come out of the nerd closet.

Jessica: First off, has anyone even heard of this show? I had to Google it to even find out what it was about and just based on the description, which tried to lure people into thinking it was a great storyline and cartoon, this show would never be put on my T.V.  Anime and Sci-Fi really aren’t my cup of tea, but it was said to be influential and was talked about as a masterpiece.  So, if you’re into it, it may be worth a shot.  Plus, “bebop” is a pretty sweet word.

4.  Family Guy

Blake:  I will get some heat for this selection, because many feel (including myself) that the quality of the show has gone south.  However, in its heyday, Family Guy was quite simply the funniest cartoon going.  Giggity.

Jessica: Family Guy is and will always be the most hilarious animated show on television.  There is not one day that passes where people aren’t quoting different episodes.  Even though past episodes have had a lot more humor, it is still going strong with making people laugh.  The characters all have their own personalities that mesh perfectly to create a perfect scene.  The writing is very clever and they show that thinking out of the box really pays off.

3.  Simpsons

Blake:  Before almost every other modern cartoon, the Simpsons garnered a huge following, and paved the way for almost every other contemporary creation.  It’s hard to argue with success: its actors are some of the highest paid, has won several Emmy Awards, and has been going for over two decades.  Their influence cannot be overstated.

Jessica: I remember coming in early from playing outside in order to watch the newest episode of the Simpsons.  The parody of a middle class family gives a sense of connection to the viewers. I know after watching it since I was young, I would love to have a “Duff” with Homer.  It is arguably the most successful animated television show of all time.  Now, I can’t get the theme song out of my head.  D’oh!

2.  South Park

Blake:  With one exception, the funniest cartoon series of all time.  Whether or not this show could have succeeded without Beavis and Butthead going before it is moot; following four puerile boys as they curse their way through a boring redneck town would always succeed with humor of this caliber.  The animation is an afterthought; the real genius is in the script, music, and subject matter.  Now git yo’ bitch-ass back in the kitchen, and make me some pie.

Jessica: Surprisingly, I am starting to agree with some of these shows.  Following four boys around on all of their insane adventures just can’t be anything less than funny.  There could not be a more perfect way that all of the very different characters interact.  Just like any other show, there are always good and bad episodes, but South Park constantly skates on the controversial end, which seems to have worked out for them so far.  Personally, I haven’t watched it since the “High School Musical” episode and don’t really plan on it.  Whenever I try to get back in it, the taste becomes a little too raunchy for me.

1.  Warner Brothers/Looney Tunes

Blake:  Okay, I admit; these cartoons were first shown in theaters.  But I grew up watching the old episodes on Saturday morning television, and they’re still legendary.  Every episode was a master class of comic timing, gorgeous music, expert animation (drawn by hand, people), and voiced by arguably the most gifted voice actor ever, Mel Blanc.  These were the first, and the best, ever made.  I’mma let Jessica finish, but these were the best OF ALL TIME.

Jessica: I was never a huge fan of animated shows.  The furthest my animation went was to Disney movies.  But, Blake is right. Looney Tunes was the first and always will be the best animation ever created.  Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird and all the other characters are simply timeless and regardless of how technology betters itself, Looney Tunes will always be worth watching.  Absolutely a classic and will never leave this list.

This list could have a few added and definitely some deleted, but for the most part, these will be the best animated television shows you will find of all time. Image



  1. You need to take my Animation history class, Blake. Then I can introduce you to the work of the Fleischer Brothers, who surely must be on this list [and they did Superman and superheroes first]. And how can one ignore Jay Ward’s immense contribution? Rocky and Bullwinkle was just the tip of the iceberg. Ralph Bakshi is another, the granddaddy of dark, snarky and x-rated animation. [Ever hear of Fritz the Cat?] And finally, the Hubleys! They defined modern animation and none of the folks above with the exception of the WB [aka Termite Terrace] would have existed without them. Personally, I would put Chuck Jones at the very top of the list, the best of the WB animators [and we still enjoy his Grinch].

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