The 30 Best Cartoons and Animated Series of All Time, Ranked

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Nickelodeon / Fox

While our standards for cartoons might not be the same as when we were actually watching these shows live, quite a few still stand the test of time. It turns out that you don't have to be nine years old to appreciate the sheer comedic genius that is Jimmy Neutron. From Nickelodeon's golden age of the 1990s to Cartoon Network's major grip on the 2000s, these are 30 of the best cartoons of all time.

30. 'King of the Hill'

Release Year: 1997

Seasons: 13

King of the Hill revolves around the Texas family of the Hills, giving viewers a hilarious glimpse into an ultra-American lifestyle, all led by Hank Hill, who works at a local propane facility. The series tracks the family as they interact with the various people in their town and face a new world around them that's becoming increasingly progressive as time goes on.

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29. 'Looney Tunes'

Release Year: 1930

Seasons: Collection of Animated Shorts

One of the earliest animated shorts series of all time, Looney Tunes, is host to the OG characters that we still see running across our screens today, including Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. The show cemented these characters in a way like no other, still proving to be popular today, as we saw in the creation of Space Jam: A New Legacy.

Watch now on HBO Max

28. 'Doug'

Release Year: 1991

Seasons: 7

Doug is a classic coming-of-age series about Doug Funnie, a teenager who narrates his daily life through a journal, tracking both his personal, school, and dream lives. While Doug might seem to be a little more of the "moral of the story" type of series, it also has all the classic elements of a solid animated show and has become beloved for its good-hearted vibes.

Watch now on Disney+

27. 'Tom and Jerry'

Release Year: 1940

Seasons: Collection of Animated Shorts

Literally playing a game of cat and mouse, Tom and Jerry are the main subjects of this iconic 1940s collection of 161 animated shorts that find the two constantly at odds and chasing one another. Tom and Jerry uses all of the classic gags: anvils and pianos falling from the air and fighting in a cloud of dust, just to name a few. And while those may seem overdone if we're looking at the present, back in the 1940s, the series was simply a fun respite from the work week.

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26. 'The Jetsons'

Release Year: 1962

Seasons: 3

One of the earliest animated sitcoms, The Jetsons tracks a family set in the ultra-advanced future where cars fly and robots and aliens are regular houseguests. The Jetsons live in a high-rise-style apartment in Orbit City, which is where most of the action takes place, usually involving the entire Jetsons family, comprised of George, Jane, Judy, and Elroy.

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25. 'The Flintstones'

Release Year: 1960

Seasons: 6

The OG animated sitcom of all sitcoms, The Flintstones, tracks two families—the Flintstones and the Rubbles—who live out their lives in the Stone Age. Shaped out to be similar to that of The Honeymooners, this series is all about Fred and Wilma Flintstone, who live next door to Barney and Betty Rubble. Throughout the show, they find themselves involved in all sorts of trouble, from daily conflicts and minor occurrences to the realities of living in the Stone Age.

Given its legendary status, The Flintstones is automatically one of the best cartoons of all time.

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24. 'The Ren & Stimpy Show'

Release Year: 1991

Seasons: 5

The Ren and Stimpy Show kicked off the golden years of Nickelodeon properly in 1991, starting what would become one of the most iconic decades in animated television. The series follows two very different animals—Ren, a highly emotional dog, and Stimpy, a much calmer, go-with-the--flow cat—as they explore the world around them in both absurd and hilarious ways. One of the major cult-favorite shows of the decade, The Ren and Stimpy Show definitely relied on some pretty dark humor at times, which was a major draw to its teenage audience.

Watch now on Paramount+

23. 'The Legend of Korra'

Release Year: 2012

Seasons: 4

A spinoff of Avatar: The Last Airbender, this series focuses on Korra, who succeeded/reincarnated from Aang as the Avatar, a person able to bend water, earth, air, and fire. Not only does she have to maintain peace throughout the entire planet in her role as Avatar, but she also faces opposition from the world she's living in, leading her to have to defend her own honor while keeping the world at ease.

Watch now on Netflix

22. 'Bob's Burgers'

Release Year: 2011

Seasons: 13

One of the most successful modern-day animated series, Bob's Burgers has already completed 13 seasons and a feature film in just around a decade—an incredible feat for any television series. Basically, the show revolves around Bob Belcher who runs his own burger joint with his family, comprised of his wife, Linda, and their three children, Tina, Louise, and Gene. While the series is set at their restaurant, each episode often tracks the odd situations that the three children become wrapped up in which inevitably leads Bob to become intertwined in the issue in some form.

While the series might be a bit newer than, say, Jimmy Neutron, it's still well-deserving of being one of the best cartoons of all time.

Watch now on Hulu

21. 'Regular Show'

Release Year: 2009

Seasons: 8

What's better than two anthropomorphic animals who work as park groundskeepers and hate their jobs? Regular Show is all about those two animals—Mordecai and Rigby—and their daily adventures, which often involve one of their work buddies, Skips, and their two managers, Benson and Pops.

Watch now on HBO Max

20. 'Daria'

Release Year: 1997

Seasons: 5

Daria has earned itself quite the cult following both during and after its original release in 1991, mostly for its incredible blunt comedy and the perfect cynicalness of its eponymous character. Set in the heavily suburban town of Lawndale, we get to know Daria, a teenager who—along with her best friend, Jane—gives her satirical takes on high school.

Watch now on Paramount+

19. 'Dexter's Laboratory'

Release Year: 1996

Seasons: 4

I'd say that Jimmy Neutron took a note from Dexter's Laboratory's book as the latter centers around our good friend, Dexter, a budding child scientist and inventor who creates all of his inventions in a secret lab concealed in his bedroom. His older sister, Dee Dee, tends to get involved in his creations, which usually results in something going terribly wrong for Dexter.

Watch now on HBO Max

18. 'The Powerpuff Girls'

Release Year: 1998

Seasons: 6

One of Cartoon Network's greatest series ever created (and one of the best cartoons of all time), The Powerpuff Girls is all about Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup—three young girls who all have superpowers that were given to them by their father, Professor Utonium. The trio has to fight off crime in their city named Townsville, including enemies like the all-powerful Mojo Jojo, Him, and the Rowdyruff Boys.

Watch now on HBO Max

17. 'Hey Arnold!'

Release Year: 1996

Seasons: 5

Hey Arnold! might be the most chill of all the Nickelodeon series to come out in the 1990s. Basically, Arnold is just a casual fourth grader going through life with his best friends, Gerald and Helga, as he lives with his grandparents in an apartment in Washington. The show revolves around the trio and their daily adventures around the city that they live in; but let me just say, their holiday-themed episodes might be the best of all.

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16. 'South Park'

Release Year: 1997

Seasons: 25

A sitcom going strong since 1997, South Park is all about four boys—Stan, Kyle, Eric, and Kenny—who live in the town of South Park in Colorado. The show is chaotic in every way, featuring the main characters as they get into a wide variety of trouble and comment on the general state of the world through the different people, events, and conflicts that they encounter.

Watch now on HBO Max

15. 'Futurama'

Release Year: 1999

Seasons: 7

A classic sci-fi sitcom, Futurama was actually created by Matt Groening, the man responsible for creating The Simpsons, another incredibly successful animated sitcom. Futurama features a wide cast of characters led by the preserved-by-science human, Philip J. Fry, who interacts daily with Bender, a robot, and a mutant named Leela as they all work at the same space delivery company.

Watch now on Hulu

14. 'Batman: The Animated Series'

Release Year: 1992

Seasons: 4

While most of us might think of The Dark Knight when it comes to Batman, we can't leave out the iconic animated series that got many of us hooked in the first place. Spanning four seasons, Batman: The Animated Series tracks our favorite bat as he takes on all of his OG enemies, and while it's technically a show for kids, it relies heavily upon the darker elements of Batman, which ultimately helped the series become more critically acclaimed as a whole.

Watch now on HBO Max

13. 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars'

Release Year: 2008

Seasons: 7

While Star Wars: The Clone Wars perhaps didn't start off on the most interesting foot, the series certainly solidified its own place in the Star Wars universe once the third season began. Taking place during the Clone Wars era in Star Wars history, we finally get a closer look into all the nitty-gritty details of what actually went on, which stretches far beyond what we saw in the films.

Watch now on Disney+

12. 'Rugrats'

Release Year: 1991

Seasons: 9

Many of our first introductions to Nickelodeon were with Rugrats, a perfectly funny and wholesome look into the secret lives of toddlers. Comprised of Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica, we track the crew as they hang out in each other's houses and get into trouble through their seemingly-small daily adventures that are a result of their larger-than-life imaginations.

Watch now on Paramount+

11. 'Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?'

Release Year: 1969

Seasons: 3

It's not a complete list of the best cartoons of all time without Scooby-Doo. Scooby-Doo and his gang have been going strong since the late 1960s, and it's all a testament to the original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? Comprised of Scooby-Doo himself, Shaggy, Velma, Fred, and Daphne, the crew jumps into their Mystery Machine to solve a new crime in each episode, which always results in them finding the person or entity responsible.

Watch now on HBO Max

10. 'The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius'

Release Year: 2002

Seasons: 3

Being a show as iconic as The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, it's shocking that the series only ran for three seasons. Focusing on child inventor and genius, Jimmy Neutron, the show follows along as he and his best friends—Carl Wheezer and Sheen Estevez—use Jimmy's laboratory to create various inventions and machines to solve different problems. However, those inventions usually result in the three landing in some serious trouble after they inevitably malfunction or are used for a different reason than initially intended.

Watch now on Paramount+

9. 'Adventure Time'

Release Year: 2010

Seasons: 10

Though Adventure Time hasn't been around for nearly as long as the other OG favorites like Courage the Cowardly Dog or Rugrats, it's certainly carved out its own audience in the years since it first aired, quickly becoming a pretty beloved newbie on the scene. The series tracks Finn and Jake (a human and a dog) who run around in the Land of Ooo and encounter tons of different creatures and...yes...adventures.

Watch now on HBO Max

8. 'Courage the Cowardly Dog'

Release Year: 1996

Seasons: 4

While this show was genuinely terrifying, it was also surprisingly addicting, which led Courage the Cowardly Dog to become a major cult favorite among Cartoon Network viewers. The show centers around the eponymous, always-frightened Courage, a pink dog who lives with his owners, Muriel and Eustace Bagge, who are both elderly and very gullible. In each episode, Courage encounters something strange and creepy that Muriel and Eustace are usually responsible for bringing into their home. Because his owners are almost always oblivious to what's really going on, it's always up to Courage to figure out a way to save him and his family.

Watch now on HBO Max

7. 'Samurai Jack'

Release Year: 2001

Seasons: 5

While the samurai in question isn't technically named Jack (he doesn't have a name in the series), Samurai Jack follows a samurai prince who's on a mission to free his home kingdom that's been taken over by a dark entity named Aku. As a whole, the series has gained a massive cult following and has turned out to be one of Cartoon Network's most successful and highly-regarded series of all time.

Watch now on HBO Max

6. 'Family Guy'

Release Year: 1999

Seasons: 21

It's almost hard to accurately sum up the chaos and absurdity that is Family Guy, but the main premise is that we're following a weird family—the Griffins—which is comprised of the patriarch, Peter, his wife, Lois, and their three kids, Meg, Chris, and Stewie. On top of that, they also have a talking dog named Brian who's equally as involved in the family's goings on as they are. Oh, and sometimes Peter fights a chicken.

Watch now on Hulu

5. 'Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends'

Release Year: 2004

Seasons: 6

One of the funniest, most creative Cartoon Network series ever created, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends features a motley crew of imaginary friends waiting to be adopted by new owners, all the while living under the same, massive roof that is Madame Foster's mansion. Leading the crew is Bloo, Mac's imaginary friend, who constantly gathers up his buddies—Wilt, Eduardo, and Coco—to embark on various outlandish adventures both inside and outside of their home.

Not only is this one of Cartoon Network's greatest series, but it's also one of the best cartoons of all time.

Watch now on HBO Max

4. 'The Simpsons'

Release Year: 1989

Seasons: 34

After being around for 34 whole seasons, The Simpsons has clearly solidified itself as one of the best cartoons of all time, with 30 years, a movie, and a fan-favorite video game under its belt. Comprised of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, the Simpsons family—both as a whole and with its individual members—tend to get themselves in quite a bit of trouble in their hometown of Springfield, which all plays out throughout the show.

Watch now on Disney+

3. 'Teen Titans'

Release Year: 2003

Seasons: 5

Dare I say this is the best DC series to ever exist? Yes, I dare.

While Teen Titans has seen a few iterations (and movies) since the original series aired in 2003, the OG show is truly where it's at. With a crew comprised of the teenage versions of Robin, Beast Boy, Raven, Cyborg, and Starfire, they're able to solidly fight off crime both in closeby Jump City as well as in their collective home at Titans Tower.

Teen Titans is by far one of the greatest DC series, but it's also one of the best cartoons of all time.

Watch now on HBO Max

2. 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'

Release Year: 2005

Seasons: 3

Widely regarded as one of the best cartoons of all time, Avatar: The Last Airbender combines multiple genres in an effort to paint a full picture of the legendary Avatar, Aang, who's the only one in the world able to bend both water, earth, air, and fire. We track him and his buddies, Katara, Sokka, and Toph as they attempt to bring full peace throughout the world and within the various elements.

Watch now on Netflix

1. 'SpongeBob SquarePants'

Release Year: 1999

Seasons: 13

I will preface this by saying that I'm only referring to the episodes prior to The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, but with that being said, you just can't go wrong with SpongeBob SquarePants. The fact that I can still flip on SpongeBob today and laugh out loud is a testament to just how timeless and genuinely hilarious this show is.

Watch now on Paramount+
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