Published on December 5th, 2011 | by Colin Ballsmonkey Hill3
Extreme Inbetweens – The 100 Greatest Animated Series of All Time Part 4
ME BEING PRETENTIOUS AND ARBITRARILY RANKING A BUNCH OF TV CARTOONS
THE 100 GREATEST ANIMATED SERIES OF ALL TIME
Greetings Toonsters! We’ve passed the halfway point and are getting ever closer to the coveted Number 1 spot. But before we get into round 4, let’s do a quick recap of the list so far…
100. YoungJustice/Thundercats (2011)
99. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
98. Mad Jack the Pirate
97. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
96. King of the Hill
93. The Smurfs
92. The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy
91. Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc
87. Static Shock
86. Aqua Teen Hunger Force
85. Cow and Chicken
84. Moral Orel
82. X-Men: Evolution
81. The Angry Beavers
80. Space Ghost Coast to Coast
79. Home Movies
78. Kim Possible
77. Pirates of Dark Water
76. Sym-Bionic Titan
75. Peter Pan and the Pirates
74. 2 Stupid Dogs
73. Beast Wars
72. The Tick
71. Batman: the Brave and the Bold
70. Muppet Babies
69. Johnny Bravo
68. Teen Titans
67. The Alvin Show/Alvin and the Chipmunks
66. Mighty Max
65. Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures
64. Courage the Cowardly Dog
63. Roger Ramjet
62. The Critic
61. Goof Troop
60. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
59. Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers
58. Batman Beyond
57. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
55. Liquid Television/What-a-Cartoon Show/Oh Yeah Cartoons
54. Bobby’s World
53. The Fairly Oddparents
52. Aladdin: the Series
50. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
48. Spectacular Spider-Man
47. Hey Arnold!
46. Aeon Flux
45. Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat
44. Tiny Toon Adventures
We’re almost there, so let’s quit the lollygagging.
40. Superman: The Animate Series: Four years after revolutionizing Batman, Bruce Timm and crew would apply the same magic to Superman. Superman: the Animated Series did everything it needed to do with the character and more. At a time in the comics where Superman was dead, alive, electric, red, blue, and had a mullet, the animated series kept it simple. It was bright, optimistic, dynamic, and constantly looking ahead, reflecting the central character. The supporting cast as well represented and could easily hold their own opposite the Man of Steel, especially Lois Lane who’s portrayal here was the best portrayal of the character outside the comic. The show had a booming orchestral score to rival the live-action movie and the acting was strong, passionate, and every actor gave their A-game. This was one of my first exposures to Superman and the one that continues to hold up today.
39. Invader Zim: Possibly the darkest Nicktoon ever. From the twisted mind of Jhonen Vasquez came Invader Zim, a series about a power man and painfully inept alien named Zim, whose mission is seemingly to conquer the Earth, when in actuality his superiors just sent him there to get him out of the way. Zim was mind-blowingly dark and hilarious. And when I say dark, I mean dark, one of the more memorable episodes had Zim harvesting organs from his classmates and replacing them with “stuff” in an attempt to look normal. The characters were so dynamic and hilarious absurd, you could quote them endlessly. Also the little emphasis they put on certain words like “horrible” and “filth” were genius. The show has rightfully gained a huge cult following and the way it handled dark comedy was the stuff of brilliance. In fact, if I had to sum up what made this series so good in one word it would be this: GIR.
38. The Adventures of the Gummi Bears: Adventures of the Gummi Bears was the first in a string of animated hits that would make up The Disney Afternoon. Inspired by the candy of the same name, Gummi Bears was set in medieval times and centered around a group of mystical anthropomorphic bears called Gummi Bears. These Gummis were some of the last of their race and lived in secret of humans and were only known by a select few: their young friends Cavin and Princess Calla, and their arch enemy Duke Igthorn, who wanted the secret of their GummiBerry Juice which gave the Gummis the ability to bounce like rubber and gave super strength to any human who drank it. This show would go on to set the trend for future Disney shows to follow. It presented a unique setting, interesting characters, great character design, top-notch voice cast, and solid animation. Gummi Bears helped to revitalized television animation and remains a timeless animation classic. Plus, it gets props for reuniting June Foray and Bill Scott (aka Rocky and Bullwinkle), as Grammy Gummi and Gruffi Gummi respectively.
37. The Schnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show: After Eek the Cat, Bill Kopp went on to create a number of great and off-beat shows that sadly never became as big, and the funniest of those funny cartoon shows was The Schoonukums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show. Schnookums and Meat was Disney’s attempt to capitalize on the success of Ren and Stimpy, but sadly was cancelled too early, before it could gain the same audience numbers. The show was divided into three segments: Schnookums and Meat, about a cat and dog duo with a style reminiscent of golden age Tom and Jerry; Pith Possum, about a Batman-style hero and his sidekick Obadiah, who’s look was invocative of what was done on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures ; and Tex Tinstar, a parody of western serials, with looked like a better animated Jay Ward cartoon. Though different, the three cartoons shared truly excellent animation, with each having their own unique look and style to them. In addition, the humor was top-notch and relied on visual gags even more than dialogue, which is always a plus in my book. It’s sad it never built a strong enough following, because this show was an absolute gem. Plus the pasta it inspired was awesome.
36. The Jetsons: The polar opposite of The Flintstones, The Jetsons took the same premise, a typical American family, but this time set it in the future rather than the past. The show was basically Blondie and Dagwood in the far future (in fact Penny Singleton(Jane Jetson) played Blondie in film and radio), except much more entertaining and creative. In contrast to Fred Flintstone’s bombastic and oafish personality, George Jetson was bumbling, laid-back, natured and somewhat hapless, a great central character. The show took full advantage of its setting and was constantly coming up with new and inventive futuristic gadgets. The animation was solid enough but the writing was where the show excelled. Like most old cartoons, this show saw a brief revival in the 80’s, but aside from a brighter color scheme and a new character called Orbity, the show wasn’t that much different from the original, keeping the original cast and the same quality storytelling, and as a kid I couldn’t tell the difference.
35. Garfield and Friends: Under the guidance of Mark Evanier, Garfield and Friends brought everything great about the comic strip and added to it. Garfield and Friends worked so well because Mark understood what Garfield was at its core and never strayed from it. Plus Lorenzo Music as Garfield was absolute perfect casting. His mellow and smart allecky tone was a perfect fit for the character. There was also another show in the mix called U.S. Acres, about a group of animal characters running a farm that was equally as good. The characters were strong, the designs were great, and the writing was snappy and funny. Garfield and Friends still remains much more enduring and entertaining than its source material.
34. Duckman: Created by Everett Peck and produced by Klasky Csupo, yes the same people who made Rugrats, Duckman was about the crass, foul-mouth, pornography-obsessed, abrasive, greedy character of Duckman, private dick and family man. Duckman was certainly the most adult thing to come out of Klasky Csupo. It’s jokes were more risqué, it’s visual style was very gritty and non-conformist, and it’s characters were more complex and morally gray. Duckman on its surface looked like another raunchy late-night cartoon, but the show had real heart to it, and the characters, despite being loud and crude, had real vulnerability to them, making them much more relatable. Duckman had great animation and real layers to it, just a great show all around.
33. Ed, Edd, n Eddy: Coming out of Cartoon Network’s big creator driven animation period of the 90’s, Ed, Edd, n Eddy stood out among the rest with its striking visuals and extremely non-conservative animation. Ed, Edd, n Eddy stared three boys, all having the roughly the same name, and their various money making schemes. The core of the show was the dynamic of the three main characters: Eddy was the fast-talking and money-grubbing leader; Edd (or Double D as he’s known) was the whimpy and OCD brainy one; and Ed was the blissfully dim-witted and sci-fi and horror movie obsessed lug. The trio were distinct, unique, and their personalities were consistent made for great storytelling. The animation was the high point of the show. It was fast, fluid, and seemed to be always changing, always re-inventing itself with each new episode. That can be attributed to the style of creator Danny Antonucci. It was one of the longest lasting shows on Cartoon Network and never lost what made it good along the way.
32. Bonkers: Of all the shows on the Disney Afternoon, Bonkers was the most underrated. Originally conceived as an Roger Rabbit series, the new character Bonkers D. Bobcat was used instead. Bonkers, a former cartoon star turned beat cop was paired with human, Detective Lucky Piquel as they patrolled the streets of Hollywood and tackled toon-related crimes. It’s easy to see the Roger Rabbit influence in the show, but it may be a little jarring seeing as how the show was fully animated rather than being a live-action/animation mix. Still, the show worked well. Bonkers and Lucky were great characters and their classic comedy double act worked well here. The show was just zany fun and all the toon characters they came up with were inventive and cool to watch. To date, this show as yet to come out on DVD and that’s a damn shame because this show deserved a wider audience.
31. Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinx: Tom and Jerry may be seen as the definitive cat-and-mouse cartoon, but I would rank Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinx as it’s equal. Sure the animation wasn’t as great and violence was toned down, but it’s characters had a lot more personality, plus they talked. Pixie and Dixie were very innocent and wittier and they made perfect counterpoints to Mr. Jinx, ho, while a jerk, was much more dim-witted and hapless. As with all of Hanna Barbera’s cartoons, Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinx traded in lavish animation for snappy and character specific dialogue. It’s not the most original premise, but it had a winning approach to it. I loved those meeces to peeces. And Mr. Jinx too.
30. Beany and Cecil/The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil: After leaving Warner Bros, legendary animator Bob Clampett went on to create two new characters for television. Originating as a puppet show called Time for Beany, Beany and Cecil made the jump into animation in 1962. The show, about a young, bright-eyed, toe-headed buy named Beany and his best friend Cecil, a sea serpent who’s only visible parts are his head and neck, proved to be a major success in both venues. The show had Clampett’s trademark brand of exaggerated and insane situations and humor and the characters were simplistic, but very likeable. In 1988, the show was revived as The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil, spearheaded by John Krisfaluci, fresh off Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. While the show wasn’t as successful, it kept the spirit of the original alive, had great staging and animation, and proved to be even stranger than its predecessor.
29. Scooby-Doo: Where Are You: Scooby-Doo has been one of the most enduring characters in animation history. He’s had more shows under his belt than any other character not originating in the golden age. The New Scooby Doo Movies, Scooby-Doo/DynoMutt Hour, Scooby’s All Star Laff-a-Lympics, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show, Scooby-Doo/Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour, The All New Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Show, 13 Ghost of Scooby-Doo, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, What’s New Scooby-Doo, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue, Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated, not to mention a crap load of movies including four live-action ones and a string of imitators such as Clue Club and Jabberjaw! But for the absolute best, we have to go back to the one that started it all…Scooby-Doo: Where are You. The show was about a group of four teens and their talking dog, Scooby-Doo (although the fact the he could talk was never brought to attention), as they solve various mysteries in their town and flee from ghost and monsters, who always end up being a regular person in a costume. The stories may seem tired by today’s standards, but back then it was fresh and new. Scooby-Doo: Where are You was definitely the most grounded of the series, feeling more like an actual mystery. The characters are worked and made up a solid and interesting group that we could follow from show to show. The show was also a lot more darker than it’s successors, with villains that actually seemed threatening and scary. The various other shows in the franchise have ranged from creative and entertaining, to mediocre and repetitive, but this is another case of the original being the best.
28. South Park: What once started as a crudely animated 30 minute fart joke, has grown into an award winning, social commentating, crudely animated, 30 minute fart joke. South Park originated as the short film, The Spirit of Christmas, and became an animated series in 1997. South Park was famous for its extremely low-budget animation and infamous for its foul mouth and very crude and adult humor, juxtaposed by the fact that the main characters were four young boys. As the series progressed, the show began to tackle current events and turned into one of the most looked to and quoted pieces of satirical media. The show is absolutely ruthless in it’s approach, going after everything and everyone typically without bias. Even when it’s not tackling what’s going on the news, the show has enough funny and interesting characters to build stories off for a long time to come. It’s rare to see a show evolve in its approach only to get better and better. There’s a reason why it’s Comedy Central’s number one show.
27. Jonny Quest: This was the shot in the arm Hanna Barbera needed. So used to making kid-friendly cartoons, Jonny Quest burst onto the scene as an intense and engaging action cartoon. The title character, Jonny Quest, was a young adventurer traveling the world with his super scientist father Dr. Benton Quest, bodyguard Race Bannon, adoptive brother and best friend Hadji, and pet dog Bandit. Jonny Quest was ass-kickingly action packed and filled with all that glorious un-politically correct subject matter missing from today’s entertainment. The show had the look and feel of a comic book and made up for its limited animation with a gorgeous visual style. It had everything you need in an action cartoon, strong characters, crazy and creative situations, real peril, high stakes, stereotypical minorities, it was amazing. The show saw a revival in the 80’s and again in the 90’s as The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, but none could really match the brilliance of the original. Truly a show of it’s time.
26. Gargoyles: Disney’s answer to Batman: The Animated Series. Created by Greg Wiseman, Gargoyles was unlike anything Disney had ever done,l and still has yet to do. The show was about a race of beings known as Gargoyles, once plentiful in numbers, now rendered almost extinct thanks to human betrayl. A group of six became frozen in stone by a magical spell and are reawakened a thousand years later in Manhattan by a billionaire named David Xanatos. The six, under their leader Goliath, resolve to protect their new home from everything from organized crime, mystical creatures, mad scientists, and even other Gargoyles. I’ve talked at length about it before, but this show was way ahead of its time. Unlike the other Disney cartoons it was serious, the storylines were expansive and complex, the characters were constantly evolving, the way it drew upon folklore, mythology, and Shakespeare for inspiration was masterful. Gargoyles could deliver morals but do it in a subtle and entertaining way. It tackled things like illiteracy, gun violence, and even racism, all while being a kick-ass action show. Like most of Wiseman’s works, it was cancelled well before its time, it was a show that held so much potential and wasn’t afraid to take risks. Gargoyles was a masterpiece.
25. Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends: Craig McCracken’s beautifully animated show about a foster home where kids send their imaginary friends after they’ve outgrown them to be adopted by other children was probably the best thing ever done in Flash animation. This show was the embodiment of joy. Insanely creative, Foster’s had some of the best character designs ever, really drawing upon the creative minds of children to create the imaginary friends. The show was rounded out by a great cast of core characters who were very well fleshed out and had real depth to them, especially the lead characters of Mac and his imaginary friend, the outspoken, selfish, manipulating, but otherwise friendly Bloo. The voice acting was amazing, the writing and stories were hilarious and filled with all the great pop-culture jabs everyone loves. But the best thing about the series was the look. The color pallet was gorgeous and vibrant and the staging was truly cinematic. It was creative, it was visually mind-blowing, it was funny, and it was fun. You didn’t have to be a kid to see the brilliance in this cartoon.
24. Justice League/Justice League Unlimited: Superfriends used to eb the most well known portrayal of the Justice League of America in the mainstream media, but in 2001, Bruce Timm and crew would once again work their magic with the DC heroes and give us Justice League. Taking some inspiration from various interpretations of the League in the comics, most notably the Grant Morrison run, Justice League assembled seven of the most recognizable DC heroes and pitted them against the greatest threats known to man. This series continued the continuity established in the previous Batman and Superman cartoons and brought attention to various other DC heroes like Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, and Green Lantern John Stewart. Each episode was about an hour long and typically split up into two parts, making each episode feel like its own mini-movie. The characters were all engaging and had real life to them, the various ways the characters would interact with each other, as well as their conflicting styles and ways of operating made the stories that much more gripping to watch. In 2004 the show was relaunched as Justice League Unlimited and featured a greatly expanded cast of heroes and villains, and more stand-alone but still interconnected stories. JLU proved to be even better than Justice League and the second season story-arc alone rivals anything that had ever been done in the comics and was some of the best writing on television. Justice League and JLU was the exact thing comic book fans had been waiting for, a smart, serious, and fun animated portrayal of the greatest super team of all time.
23. The Flintstones: A true hallmark of Hanna Barbera, and animation as a whole. The Flinstones, essentially The Honeymooners in a stone-age setting, was revolutionary as being the first prime-time animated TV show. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera wanted to re-capture the adult audience they once had and this was the perfect show for it. The show was written not like a traditional cartoon, but like sitcoms of the time. The characters dealt with more down to Earth issues played off this pre-historic backdrop with dinosaurs and saber-toothed tigers and stuff. The show had some truly larger than life characters, especially Fred and Barney who would go on to outlive the show itself. At it’s time, The Flintstones was the first cartoon in a long time to have a firm grasp on both younger and older audiences, and being the first animated sitcom it would go on to pave the way for shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy. It was groundbreaking – or stonebreaking, HAHAHA! See what I did there, that’s called comedy – for its time, and still holds up today. The Flintstones is a classic.
22. Quick Draw McGraw: Hanna Barbera’s animated send up of the western genre was a great one. One of the earliest Hanna Barbera TV cartoons, Quick Draw McGraw was about a good-hearted, semi-competent, but mostly dim-witted anthropomorphic horse sheriff named Quick Draw and his much smarter but laid-back donkey sidekick Baba Looey. The show one of the original HB stable of toons of the 50’s, long before the quality of their shorts began to drop, so the formula was both fresh and engaging. Quick Draw, as well as his alter-ego El-Kabong, was a great character. He wasn’t as passive as Huckleberry Hound or as slick as Yogi Bear, but more a bit-more of a blow hart, which is always fun to watch. He was always in it to do the right thing, but was just kind of a stubborn moron. Baba Looey was cool, collected, and the wiser of the duo, so of course he was always ignored. The show was funny and featured that good, but underrated HB animation.
21. The Powerpuff Girls: Craig McCracken’s breakout show about three super powered little girls still in kindergarten started out life as a short film called The Whoop-Ass Girls, but was toned down and real tooled for Cartoon Network. The show was one of the absolute best of the creator driven cartoons of the 90’s. The look was very much of the Hanna Barbera style, but the animation was far better. The color style of the show was absolutely amazing and could tell a story better than dialogue could. Not to say the dialogue was bad, far from it, the show was witty as hell and could parody the superhero genre and yet still be a great entry in its own right. Everything from American comics, to anime, to action movies, was a big influence on this show and the characters very appealing, made all the more better by the top-notch voice acting, Cathy Cavadini, Tara Strong, and E.G. Daily all did amazing jobs as Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup respectively and they played off each other so well. Powerpuff Girls had the kind of crazy fun missing from superheroes today and still remains a must see for any animation fan.
Well, next week will be the big one, the grand finale of this insane list, the top 20 greatest animated series of all time, including the number 1. I’ve saved the best for last so get ready to have your feeble minds BLOWN!