Recently, the Random Movie Roulette boys talked about a certain Indiewire article that ranked the best animated series of all time, and we all had some thoughts. Certain rankings boggled our minds as they were either too high or too low, but what really stuck out to us are all of the notable series that weren’t included at all. This post is our take on the article and what they missed out on. Check out all our picks:
- Family Guy
- Venture Bros.
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
- Star Wars: Rebels
Family Guy is by no means the highest quality of animation or comedy, but with some great early seasons, and its continued popularity, Family Guy’s place in the history of animation and pop culture cannot be denied. Venture Bros., before Rick and Morty, was, and probably still would be, the crown jewel of Adult Swim animation. Parodying everything from Johnny Quest to Marvel/DC, nothing in nerd land was safe from parody by a show with amazing jokes and some drama to boot. Speaking of drama, Futurama is probably more renowned for its ability to make you cry than laugh, but it’s always happy to do both. For every 5 times Bender recites “Kiss my shiny metal ass” there’s one touching story to develop each character and give full narrative arcs to the show’s long and celebrated run.
While most would probably gasp at this choice and not Clone Wars, the fact is that with Rebels we got an entirely new cast of characters who came into their own brought to life by a much more dynamic range of actors. All the best parts and characters from Clone Wars came back when they fit in and the series had a clear and concise 4 season run which is preferable to the endlessness of Clone Wars which we still already knew the ending to.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power; Drama, action, inclusion, and terrific writing and acting. Masters of the Universe was long before my time and yet one would think this show would be after my time. But not unlike shows like Steven Universe or Adventure Time, the newest She-Ra found her place in the modern world as Adora, Catra, Glimmer, and even Hordak became a character you could empathize with, savor watching, and even learn to love. While I wish the team that did so well with this was bringing their talents to He-Man as well, we’ll always have She-Ra.
- Hey Arnold
- Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy
- Moral Orel
- The Amazing World of Gumball
- Tom and Jerry
For all of Indiewire’s list’s faults, they did a decent enough job at including most of the standouts from both Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. Spongebob Squarepants, Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy, Avatar: The Last Airbender, etc. were all well-represented, albeit with some odd placement choices, namely in Avatar’s case. However, their one big glaring omission was Hey Arnold, arguably the most adult and mature series that Nickelodeon has ever produced next to Avatar. A grounded, relatable, slice-of-life show that dealt with mature, difficult subject matter that respected the emotional intelligence of its audience with classic episodes such as “Pigeon Man”, “Arnold’s Christmas” (possibly the best Christmas episode of any cartoon series), and “Helga on the Couch” which we recently covered on our Patreon bonus show.
Indiewire’s Cartoon Network inclusions were also extensive and wide-ranging from the classic era to their more recent output, save for two significant exclusions from both eras. Their classic era miss is Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy, essentially the polar opposite of Hey Arnold in every conceptual way. A mundane suburban setting in which the characters are not kind or empathetic, but raging, hostile maniacs who thrive on the misery of their peers. Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy is anarchic mayhem whose absurd shenanigans always provide hilarity through the pain of its despicable main characters. As far as their selections from the most recent decade of the network’s output is concerned, The Amazing World of Gumball may not be as story-driven or deal with as serious themes as Adventure Time or Steven Universe, but few shows are as visually creative in its implementation of animation styles, or as refreshingly witty in ways that feel reminiscent of early Spongebob.
On the darker side of Cartoon Network, one of the most underrated Adult Swim shows is Moral Orel, a depraved, subversive parody of religious children’s cartoons where the Christian teachings are followed to an uncomfortably literal degree and the morals that our impressionable main character takes away from these lessons are disgustingly backwards with horrifying implications. Finally, one of the signature classic cartoons, Tom & Jerry, while this isn’t necessarily a series as much as it is a collection of shorts, it still ranks alongside Looney Tunes as being the gold standard for cartoon slapstick that holds up to modern sensibilities of comedy and pacing far better than any other Hanna Barbera show.
- Harvey Birdman
- Digimon Adventure
- Teen Titans
- Courage the Cowardly Dog
- Invader Zim
Digimon Adventure was a no-brainer inclusion. The Japanese “monster” cartoons had a huge cultural impact here in the West. Pokemon fever was real, but while the franchise was powerful, the anime adaptation was never the strongest in the writing department. Meanwhile Digimon Adventure, was delivering a pretty fun and engaging serialized cartoon!
Patrons already know all about my love for Courage the Cowardly Dog. I even have him tattooed on my shoulder (seriously). It’s a great starter horror, and a show that I’m incredibly grateful I had as a kid. Speaking of childhood favorites, Invader Zim and Teen Titans both did so much to shape my sense of humor and respect for the power of superhero storytelling, respectfully.
Lastly, I’m a big Adult Swim guy and Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law is far too often over looked. What if Hana Barbera characters got into petty lawsuits with each other? Harvey Birdman is on the case, and it is both clever and hilarious.
- Ben 10
- Jackie Chan Adventures
- Spectacular Spider-Man
- Hunter x Hunter (2011)
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron
I chose my picks based on their influence on my childhood as well as importance. Ben 10 has been immensely popular for Cartoon Network for a decade with multiple sequel series and a reboot. It shaped a generation from after CN’s more wild cartoon cartoons. Jackie Chan Adventures and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, while odd choices are the dark horses that everybody always overlooks. Jimmy Neutron was one of the first big shows to utilize CG animation and it mostly holds up by its witty writing. Jackie Chan lasted 5 seasons with nearly 100 episodes. Nobody really talks about either show anymore and yet both hold up really well and succeed in episodic storytelling.
My only anime on the list, Hunter x Hunter, is a personal favorite of mine. It’s a remake series, similar to Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, that truly surpasses what had come before as well as conveying the manga in a great and emotional way. Finally, Spectacular Spider-Man is the best animated Spider-Man series where his teen years are actually interesting, well developed, and quite possibly the most emotional.
Those are RMR’s picks for animated shows that had been left off the best of all time list, and we want to hear from you! Yes, you! Comment below on what you thought of our picks. Do you disagree? Have we left off some obvious ones? Tell us. Share. Shout it out to the world!