We here in the Ninja Nation love our cartoons. From rising at the crack of down on Saturday mornings in the 70′s and 80′s to enjoying them with the next generation on Cartoon Network, they have always been a great source of entertainment, escape and fun. With that said, the crew at Comics Ninja has decided to put together their list of the best 50 cartoons of all time. To qualify, the cartoon had to be a regular weekly series for television so some of our favorites including the Peanuts and the Christmas specials are reserved for another list another day. We will present the list as a countdown with installments of ten at a time. So let’s get rolling, here are the best cartoons of all time starting with numbers 50-41, enjoy!
50. Spiderman (1967)
This is the first of three Spiderman related cartoons in the top 50 list and was the first animated adaptation of the Spider-Man comic book series created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko. Just like the comic book Spider-Man was a cool superhero because he wasn’t as infallible as other superhero characters. He was a wise guy and his alter ego, Peter Parker, was constantly beset with personal problems. The theme song of the show became a popular standard with lyrics written by Academy Award winner Paul Francis Webster and the music composed by Bob Harris. The song’s opening lines,
Does whatever a spider can,”
became almost as synonymous with the character as his costume.
49. Transformers (1984)
The new movies notwithstanding, Transformers was one of the most popular cartoons of the 80s, depicting a war of giant transforming robots with Optimus Prime and his autobots on one side and the evil Megatron and his Decepticons on the other. Written and recorded in America, the series was animated in Japan. The entire series was based upon the line of transforming toys originally created by Japanese toy manufacturer Takara, which were developed into the Transformers line by the American company Hasbro. The series was original and did not follow the trend of Hanna-Barbera’s copycat mysteries/adventure cartoons a decade earlier. Obvious care was put into the production with first rate voice artists, concepts and storylines.
48. The Jetsons (1962)
With the success of The Flintstones , the modern Stone Age family, Hanna-Barbera decided to make a similar family cartoon set in their vision of the Space Age in the 21st century. The half-hour family sitcom projected contemporary American culture and lifestyle into another time period. While the Flintstones lived in a world with machines powered by birds and dinosaurs, the Jetsons lived in a futuristic utopia in the year 2062 of elaborate robotic contraptions, aliens, holograms, and whimsical inventions. The… More show featured the family of George Jetson, Jane, his wife, their daughter Judy, and son Elroy living the average life in the future. Daily life was characterized as being comically leisurely because of the incredible sophistication and number of labor saving devices, which of course broke down with humorous results. George’s work day consisted of pressing a single computer button. Despite this, characters often complained of their exhausting days. Finally there was the family dog Astro who could mumble and say his words beginning with R’s. Astro’s catch phrases were “Ruh-roh!” “Right, Reorge!”, and “Rats Rall Right Reorge!” Later Hanna-Barbera cartoon dogs including Scooby-Doo and Muttley would use this type of speech as well; and guess what voice actor Don Messick played all three.
47. Superman the Animated Series (1996)
If it wasn’t for the success of Batman the animated series, it is likely that this series wouldn’t have been made which if fortunate because It was a great series. The material from the cartoon is taken largely from the comics and “Lois and Clark”. It was undoubtedly along with Batman one of the finest adoptions done of these characters for television or the movies. While not quite as good as the Batman material it was definitely worth catching. Great action adventure in the truest sense of the word. Excellent drama, lots of fun to be had here.
46. Freakazoid (1995)
On the heels of their success with Batman: The Animated Series, co-creators Bruce Timm adn Paul Dini got to together with Steven Spielberg and created Freakazoid!, a send up of the superhero genre. The show’s title character was a manic, out of control superhero with a secret alter ego, geeky teenager Dexter Douglas. Just as the main character the pace of the show and quips were just as manic. And of course one of the best parts were the tongue in cheek bad guys such as The Cave Guy and the Lobe.
45. Dr. Katz (1995)
Using the double platform of crude animation and a therapist’s couch, a different comedian would come on each week and throw out their best material. John Katz would serve as the straight man to the likes of Ray Romano, Dennis Leary and Sarah Silverman. This was a surprisingly effective format with some of the best material saved for interactions between Dr. Katz and his lay about son.
44. Frisky Dingo (2006)
The creative geniuses that brought us Sealab 2021 (to be discussed later in the countdown) also brought us Frisky Dingo. The series revolved around the conflict between a supervillain named Killface, a naked, bone-white, red-eyed, earless, talon-toed, spur-heeled, seven foot tall, hairless, muscular, humanoid focused on destroying Earth with his invention, the Annihilatrix; and billionaire tycoon Xander Crews, who fights crime under the superhero alias Awesome X. Much of the show’s humor focuses on parodying superhero and action movie clichés. Frisky Dingo brought us billionaire tycoons playing with plastic toys, animal fighting and interesting uses of ant farm and the line “shut up hooker!” thrown in for good measure. Great show, kicked a lot of butt, and the Ninja was sad to see it gone.
43. Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973)
Star Trek: The Animated Series was great because it translated the spirit of the live action show where many other live action translation to cartoons failed, see Giligan’s Island. The series basically became source material for many Trekkies left in the cold by the original, too short, television series. Fans were allowed to continue their exploration of alien worlds, see new characters and continue expanding the Star Trek universe under the guidance of original show writers D.C. Fontana and others including Gene Roddenberry.
42. Spongebob (1999)
Many of us in the Ninja Lair have little ninjas thus it is inevitable that we have come across SpongeBob. Yes the theme song is insanity inducing but we appreciated the jokes thrown in for Mommy and daddy. The show works on several levels and we appreciate that as well. The little sea creatures at the center of the show are morons for the most part but they have hearts of gold so they are easy to root for whether your three or thirty-three.
41. Batman the Brave and the Bold (2008)
The intro to this cartoon is worth it all by itself with it’s jazzy tunes and wonderful pop art. The series builds on the iconic character of Batman in this latest interpretation of the classic Batman franchise and teams him up with heroes from across the DC Comics Universe such as Blue Beetle, Aquaman and Green Arrow. The pace can be a little manic for the adults in the audience, delivering nonstop action, but it does have a true sense of adventure and comedy for the older crowd. We also love the look and feel of the ’40s and ‘50s classic comic book Batman artists. It’s not the 90′s Batman series but it’s pretty good.