The Best Animated Series of All Time

The Best Animated Series of All Time

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[Editor’s Note: The below piece was originally published on November 20, 2018. It has been expanded from the 50 greatest animated series of all time to the 55 greatest as of August 28, 2020.]

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Evaluating animation will be trickier than different genres. In spite of everything, so a lot of our earliest TV reminiscences are tied to an animated sequence, brief, or particular, and that impermeable nostalgia will be tough to penetrate with typical important instruments like purpose, logic, and different goal standards. Some exhibits simply click on. They hit on the proper time and seize a blossoming creativeness. In the case of rating animated sequence, you’re not simply analyzing TV exhibits. You’re critiquing childhoods.

After all, animation can also be one of many extra expansive TV subsets, with dozens of various tones and types that make comparisons typically really feel like apples and oranges. There are cartoons, anime, brief movies, brief sequence, brief movies changed into brief sequence, net sequence, adult-oriented animation, and that’s earlier than digging into all the person genres, like old fashioned slapstick comedies (a la “The Flintstones”) all the way in which as much as the ever-more-popular dramatic animated sequence (together with “BoJack Horseman”).

With all that in thoughts, animation wants a bit of additional celebration. Animated sequence will be dismissed just because so many viewers see the medium as much less substantial than something carried out in live-action, thus eliminating even the very best of the bunch from discussions of TV’s elite packages. That’s a rattling disgrace, so to assist remind everybody of the style’s intensive affect and utmost significance, the IndieWire workers has put collectively a listing of the Prime 50 animated sequence of all-time.

Honed from a listing of greater than 100 packages, the under rating nonetheless solely illustrates a sliver of the storytelling variety animation has captured over the past century. Hunt down what you haven’t seen and keep in mind fondly these you’ve got. Animation is a style for all ages and all tales, irrespective of if you’re in a position to begin watching.


Courtesy Everett Assortment

55. “Popeye the Sailor” (Jack Kinney, 1960-1963)

Odds are you already know who Popeye the Sailor is. He’s a sailor man, who lives in a rubbish can, and thru the supernatural energy of spinach he’s in a position to finest any man no matter dimension. “Popeye” initially began out as a comic book strip in newspapers, however when the theatrical brief options began airing on tv within the Nineteen Fifties, King Options Syndicate TV thought there may be one thing to taking the character and turning him right into a tv star. A sequence of made-for-television brief options had been swiftly assembled, bringing Popeye into folks’s properties. A whopping 220 cartoons had been created in simply two years, leading to a prolific tv present, albeit with relatively rudimentary animation, significantly when in comparison with the characteristic shorts. Nevertheless it definitely stored the character within the public consciousness lengthy after his preliminary reputation had waned. Popeye the Sailor stays a personality folks know, even when they by no means watched the tv present. In 1980 director Robert Altman tried to adapt the character for a characteristic movie, starring Robin Williams, but it surely was an unmitigated catastrophe although it’s been reassessed and has grow to be a cult newurbanhabitat.comam or purchase on Amazon.

POKEMON, Misty, Ash Ketchum, Pikachu, Brock, 1998-present


Courtesy Everett Assortment

54. “Pokémon” (Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori, 1997-Current)

Can we keep in mind a time earlier than we needed to “catch ’em all?” Pokémon initially burst onto the scene as a sequence of video games for the Nintendo Gameboy and from there it turned nothing in need of a juggernaut. Youngsters realized to eat, breathe, and devour almost all the pieces related to the Japanese pocket monsters, significantly the lovable Pikachu. After changing into the highest promoting toy model worldwide the corporate turned to media and premiered the animated tv sequence of the identical identify. The anime noticed sport hero Ash Ketchum and his companion Pikachu go on a quest to grow to be a Pokémon grasp. Alongside the way in which he’d butt heads with different Pokémon groups and the assorted creatures themselves. The Pokémon franchise wasn’t simply restricted to the tv present, which continues to be ongoing. A sequence of movies can be launched through the years with Ash persevering with his quest. The sequence revitalized the Fox community again within the Nineteen Nineties and now stays some of the beloved franchises in animation newurbanhabitat.comam on Hulu; stream or purchase on Amazon.

DEXTER'S LABORATORY, (from left): Dexter, Dee Dee, 1996-2003. © Cartoon Network / Courtesy: Everett Collection

DEXTER’S LABORATORY. © Cartoon Community / Courtesy: Everett Assortment

©Cartoon Community/Courtesy Everett Assortment

53. “Dexter’s Laboratory” (Genndy Tartakovsky, 1996-2003)

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In 1996 Cartoon Community audiences had been launched to Dexter (voiced by “Rugrats” alumni Christine Cavanaugh), a boy genius with an enormous hidden laboratory beneath his home. Each episode would see Dexter plan an exquisite experiment, solely to see it foiled by his annoying sister Dee Dee (voiced by Allison Moore and Kat Cressida). The sequence would grow to be one of many highest ranking sequence on the Cartoon Community with it garnering a Primetime Emmy Award in 1996. The sequence would make Tartakovsky one of many premiere voices of animation and he would find yourself leaving the in 1999 to start work on his subsequent mission, “Samurai Jack.” “Dexter’s Laboratory” would see a revival in 2001 earlier than concluding for good in 2003. Although it’s been off the air for over 15 years audiences are nonetheless drawn to its enigmatic animation type and quotable lead character. There weren’t many exhibits that would pull out a whole episode from its lead character solely with the ability to say “cheese omelet” in on Amazon.

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS, Theodore, Alvin & Simon, 1987-1991


Courtesy Everett Assortment

52. “Alvin and the Chipmunks” (Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and Janice Karman, 1983-1990)

The loveable threesome often known as Alvin and the Chipmunks have been round because the Nineteen Sixties, when their tune “Witch Physician” raced up the charts. The truth is, the Chipmunks had been so ubiquitous that in proper after the success of “Witch Physician” creator Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. created a tv present, entitled “The Alvin Present.” It wasn’t successful, lasting little greater than a 12 months. However within the early-Nineteen Eighties the try to revive the sequence idea lastly discovered an viewers. “Alvin and the Chipmunks” on NBC in 1983, starring the rascally Alvin, the bookish Simon, and the loveable Theodore (the primary two voiced by Bagdasarian, Jr. and the latter by Karman) as they obtained into all method of hijinks. The sequence would garner a big following, particularly as soon as the Chip-ettes, woman variations of the Chipmunks, had been launched as rivals. In 1987, off the success of the present, the Chipmunks would get their first characteristic movie, “The Chipmunk Journey.” They usually haven’t gone away, regardless that the sequence was canceled in 1990. One other sequence would premiere on Nickelodeon in 2015 and continues to be going robust, regardless that Alvin has transitioned from 2D animation to on Amazon.

RUGRATS, Angelica with mom, Phil and Lil with mom, Tommy Pickles with mom, Chuckie, Spike the Dog, 1991-present, episode 'Mother's Day' aired 12/14/96, (c)Klasky-Csupo/courtesy Everett Collection

RUGRATS, (c)Klasky-Csupo/courtesy Everett Assortment

Klasky-Csupo/courtesy Everett Assortment

51. “Rugrats” (Gabor Csupo and Arlene Klasky and Paul Germain, 1991-2004)

One among Nickelodeon’s first main successes, “Rugrats” mixed humor for each kids and adults in a vibrant ’90s animated package deal. Courageous child Tommy Pickles (voiced by E.G. Each day) went on all method of exploits together with his finest buddies, exhibiting that “a child’s gotta do what a child’s gotta do.” The sequence was an enormous success upon debut in 1991, changing into a franchise behemoth for Nickelodeon. A sequence of characteristic movies and merchandising alternatives would abound, with the Rugrats themselves slapped on all the pieces aimed toward kids. However exterior of that the sequence has aged surprisingly properly. You would possibly hear stray references to the likes of Clarence Thomas and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” on prime of the infants realizing the horrors of clown dolls and what dwells within the basement. The sequence noticed a short-lived spin-off, with the characters rising into youngsters, 2003 to 2008 and there are plans for a reboot arriving in newurbanhabitat.comam on Hulu; stream on CBS All Entry; stream on Amazon by way of CBS All Entry; purchase on Amazon.

50. “Reboot” (Gavin Blair and Ian Pearson and Phil Mitchell and John Grace, 1994-2001)

This ’90s sequence, initially from Canada, was the very first fully computer-animated sequence, and the medium turned part of the message because of the premise. On some degree, “Reboot” was mainly a cop drama following the adventures of a “Guardian” who lives within a pc mainframe holding issues working safely regardless of evil viruses attempting to destroy the system. The metaphor is comparatively bonkers, however the high quality of the animation is fairly spectacular for the time interval, anchored by some actually partaking character design and meta jokes about coding and gaming which have stored the franchise energetic in different types to today. – LSMStream on Amazon by way of Shout Manufacturing unit; purchase on Amazon.

49. “Scooby Doo, The place Are You!” (Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, 1969-1970)

"Scooby Doo"

“Scooby Doo”


Zoinks! Though this explicit Hanna-Barbera title solely lasted two seasons, it launched an animated franchise that continues to today. The cowardly Nice Dane with a speech obstacle who solved crimes together with his, like, completely groovy teen buddies captured imaginations with the sunshine horror parts, hilarious catchphrases, bonkers mysteries, elaborate Rube Goldberg-like traps, and goofy characterizations. This sequence launched many reboots — one which included popular culture greats such because the Harlem Globetrotters and Sonny & Cher, as animated variations of themselves — weird spinoffs like “Scooby’s All-Star Laff-a-Lympics,” and a number of imitations. Starting from comics and movies to popular culture references in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and a current crossover on “Supernatural,” Scooby and his buddies have grow to be embedded within the American consciousness. And it will’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for these meddling children! – HNStream on Amazon by way of Boomerang; purchase on Amazon.

48. “Teen Titans Go!” (Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath, 2013-present)

Maintain your cellphone silent whereas watching “Teen Titans Go!” otherwise you’re positive to overlook a joke. The fast-paced animated sequence packs in additional laughs per minute than simply about every other present on TV, stuffed to the brim with pop-culture references, sly jabs on the DC universe, and loads of self-deprecating gags. Born from the ashes of “Teen Titans,” the present stored the unique sequence’ voice actors however modified up nearly all the pieces else. The present options comedically heightened variations of Robin (Scott Menville), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Raven (Tara Robust), Starfire (Hynden Walch), and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), who’re normally too busy discussing Nineteen Eighties expertise, political philosophies, dancing, and a lot extra. Maybe the refined joys of “Teen Titans Go!” can finest be summed up by this logline from a Season 1 episode: “Robin and the Titans grow to be irritated when Beast Boy and Cyborg will solely say the phrase ‘waffles.’” – MSStream on Hulu; purchase on Amazon.

47. “The Flintstones” (William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, 1960-1966)

"The Flintstones"

“The Flintstones”


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Impressed by “The Honeymooners,” “The Flintstones” turned the primary animated sequence launched in primetime, and remained essentially the most profitable of its form till “The Simpsons” got here alongside 30 years later. The key of its charms was its satirical tackle fashionable suburban tradition utilizing absurd, anachronistic parts in a Stone Age setting. Fred Flintstone’s bluster and his pal Barney Rubble’s easygoing nature delivered a well-recognized sitcom magic, while dinosaurs and sabertooth tigers added prehistoric exoticism. It additionally impressed the futuristic counterpart, “The Jetsons,” which additionally took a ‘60s sitcom aptitude to the house age. “The Flintstones” is the primary primetime animated sequence to earn an Emmy nomination, and it’s nonetheless thought of a basic greater than half a century later. And that’s one thing to “Yabba Dabba Doo” about. – HNStream on Amazon by way of Boomerang; purchase on Amazon.

46. “Superman: The Animated Sequence” (Alan Burnett and Paul Dini, 1996 – 2000)

Superman at all times sprung to life on the web page, however repeatedly proved to be a problem onscreen. How do you provoke an indestructible, goodie-two-shoes hero? Villains must be specifically engineered to pose any menace in any way (they’ll’t all have kryptonite), and Clark Kent can’t be the one identification providing the viewers a human connection. Alan Burnett and Paul Dini’s WB adaptation, the primary of Warner Bros. Animation’s follow-ups to “Batman: The Animated Sequence,” made clever decisions from the get-go. First, they launched a Superman who was extraordinarily sturdy relatively than completely impervious. He felt ache when he was crushed by a toppling constructing, even when it wouldn’t kill him, and watching him pressure to save lots of the day made his efforts that rather more partaking, week after week. Making Lois Lane an energetic hero herself helped as properly, and the lifelike animation match these updates, together with the intense tone and driving rating. – BTBuy on Amazon.

45. “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” (Lauren Faust, 2010-present)

"My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic"

“My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.”

Discovery Media

The plastic equine toys from the ’80s have had a outstanding endurance amongst collectors, however the Hasbro franchise actually hit the large time when Faust’s cartoon deepened the mythology of the ponies and created a media and merchandising phenomenon. In Ponyville, the unicorn pony Twilight Sparkle and her dragon pal Spike befriend 5 different ponies as a part of a job given to her by mentor Princess Celestia. The present’s themes about friendship and kindness balanced with intelligent popular culture references appealed to a large viewers, together with a rabid grownup fanbase — most notoriously younger and middle-aged males who type themselves as “bronies.” It’s now embedded in remix tradition and has impressed numerous memes, imaginative cosplay, and, in fact, imitators. – HNStream on Hulu; purchase on Amazon.

44. “Sealab 2021” (Adam Reed and Matt Thompson, 2000-2005)

One among Grownup Swim’s preliminary launch of cartoons, “Sealab 2021” took a forgotten ’70s journey cartoon and, properly, crapped throughout it, turning the environmentally-friendly journey ‘toon right into a profane hotbed of office resentments and absurd humor, which creators Adam Reed and Matt Thompson would hone of their future sequence. Nonetheless, “Sealab” had a lot to supply, like a bottle episode the place the insane Captain Murphy will get trapped beneath a fallen merchandising machine and befriends a scorpion. Or the one the place the crew was visited by their Bizarro counterparts. Or all those the place Sealab blew up on the finish, solely to be completely nice within the subsequent episode. It’s okay, although. Pod 6 was jerks. – JSBuy on Amazon.

43. “Rocko’s Fashionable Life” (Joe Murray, 1993 – 1996)

Rocko's Modern Life

“Rocko’s Fashionable Life.”


A wallaby, a cow, and a turtle stroll right into a tv set, and the jokes simply stored rolling from there. Joe Murray’s satirical adventures of an Australian immigrant, Rocko, his buddies Heffer and Philbert, and the assorted deranged characters populating the fictional American “O-City” made for wildly artistic children’ tales. Whether or not warning towards the risks of megacorporation Conglom-O, visiting Heck for some existential classes from satanic overlord Pinky, or taking a poke at superstar tradition in Holl-o-Wooden, the cult favourite was self-aware, sharp, and launched the world to impeccable skills like Tom Kenny and Carlos Alazraqui. Plus, even for ‘90s Nickelodeon, “Rocko’s Fashionable Life” was by no means afraid to get tremendous bizarre — a respite for kids whose imaginations ought to, and normally do, shock you. – BTBuy on Amazon.

42. “Gargoyles” (Frank Paur and Greg Weisman and Dennis Woodyard, 1994-1997)

Magic, science fiction, and Shakespeare got here collectively within the mid-Nineteen Nineties for some of the bonkers animated sequence ever. The premise might need appeared comparatively sophisticated: Legendary creatures often known as gargoyles spend their days hanging out on the corners of buildings, frozen in stone, and at evening, they arrive alive. However actually it was a story of household and romance set towards a fantastical backdrop, which delivered no scarcity of loopy plot parts (particularly in its second season). “Gargoyes” by no means turned as iconic as a few of the different exhibits on this record, however the creativeness it placed on display every week was exhausting to prime. – LSMStream on Disney+; purchase on Amazon.

41. “Duck Tales” (Jymn Magon, 1987-1990)

Editorial use only. No book cover newurbanhabitat.comatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1562645a)Disney Duck TalesFilm and Television

“Duck Tales.”


A lot is made from the theme tune with its signature “Woo-oo!” refrain — and for good purpose. Not solely is Mark Mueller’s ditty catchy as hell, but it surely additionally encapsulates the enjoyable and journey current from the sequence’ early days as a comic book guide to its onscreen adaptation that continued the colourful and dynamic visible type. The rich Scrooge McDuck is a curmudgeonly but charming foil for his rapscallion grand nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and together with the pilot Launchpad, they get pleasure from all method of worldwide and historic escapades worthy of Indiana Jones himself. That is zippy escapism shared between two seemingly disparate generations, one thing not seen in kids’s cartoons that normally preserve authority figures within the background. The sequence was so well-liked that it lives once more in a 2017 reboot on Disney XD. – HNStream on Disney+; purchase on Amazon.

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