All right Ninja Nation, we’ve had a blast with this and now for the final 10 in our countdown of the greatest cartoons of all time. Enjoy!
10. Dexter’s Laboratory (1996-2003)
This was the first cartoon brought to the masses by genius creator Genndy Tartakovsky, who would later create Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Dexter, the young boy genius at the center of the show was the member of an all American family (as could only be interpreted so accurately by Russian immigrant Tartakovsy) born with a European accent and the rubber gloves of a scientist. Dexter had a rocking secret super laboratory in the basement where he conducted advanced experiments often with ruinous results due to the interference of his spacey sister Dee Dee. Good clean fun for kids and adults alike.
9. Southpark (1997-Present)
One of the joys of South Park is that they rip their story lines straight from the headlines and no target is sacred. While its perfectly acceptable in movies, television and comedy to ruthlessly attack one side of the political spectrum (we won’t say which) it is not acceptable to give the other side equal treatment and this often causes creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker to be labeled controversial. Not all is political of course, in fact much of it is not, and the arrows aimed at pop culture are sharp, accurate and hilarious. “Respect my authority!”
8. The Flinstones (1960-1966)
In 1960, Hanna-Barbera Productions did the unheard of and launched a cartoon in primetime. The cartoon was a copy of the successful Honeymooners show but set 10,000 B.C. This family of modern-prehistoric cave people lived in a world of stone, but nevertheless had every modern convenience, from dinosaur cranes for building stone skyscrapers to dishwashers powered by elephant-like creatures. Fred and Wilma and their friends Barney and Betty Rubble were joined by the Flintstones’ pet dinosaur Dino, who yapped like a small-breed dog and later on by the Flintstones’ daughter Pebbles and the Rubble’s super-strong son Bam-Bam. Fred was always finding himself in bad situations that just got worse and worse, usually until his wife was able to fix them. This show has spawned a variety of spin off cartoons, live-action movies, toy lines and even a line of cereal from Post Cereals.
7. Johnny Quest (1964-1965)
Originally airing for just one 26-episode season in 1964-65, the show hit its stride in reruns on Saturday mornings for decades thereafter. The show worked because it brought a sense adventure to kids (kids usually leading the way on the action side) and a feel of the exotic to its audience as a whole. Sure, today it seems a little dated but mix a martini, put on some Martin Denny music, pop in the DVD and you’ll get its’ magic all over again.
6. Speed Racer (1967-1968)
Again, Speed Racer gave us the exotic and a touch of international intrigue through supercar races. More important it featured the Ninja’s favorite car of all time, the Mach 5. This cartoon was one of the first Japanese anime brought to American audiences with a theme song worth the price of admission all by itself. The dubbing for American audiences was a little bizarre but it has spawned a world of parody all its own. “Go Speed Racer, Go!”
5. Venture Brothers (2003-Present)
The Venture Bros. is genius parody of Jonny Quest and other good guys versus the super villain type cartoons of the past with modern day story lines and cynicism thrown in. The brothers themselves, Hank and Dean, are not the sharpest tools in the shed but generally well intentioned, while their scientist genius dad seems merely put upon having to deal with one unintended adventure after another. Thankfully bodyguard Brock Samson is there to save the day…sometimes.
4. Family Guy (1999-2002 and 2005-Present)
Sometimes you can’t decide if Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane wants to be a creator of great cartoons or a creator of catchy musicals and luckily for us he is top rate at both. Yes, this is another cartoon about a dysfunctional family but it is so good at making fun of other shows, pop culture and modern society that it puts itself in a class of its own. Sometimes the family can be a little hard to root for but young Stui is one of the great characters of our time and the Star Wars parodies are a must see.
3. Scooby-Doo Where are You? (1969-1970)
Yet another Hanna-Barbera production born in the 1960’s, some would argue that Scooby-Doo Where are You? should be number one cartoon on this list and they probably wouldn’t be wrong. Scooby Doo Where Are You? Was the best of the many Scooby-Doo progeny with the gang solving crimes in the Mystery Machine, chasing ghosts and revealing them to be old guys in masks. The formula of the cartoon was predictable, ending up for the night at the haunted mansion, Fred requesting the group look for clues while he snuck off with Daphne, Velma acting as the brains of the operation and freaked out, possibly stoned, Shaggy and Scooby having to confront the ghost/monster themselves. The cartoon only seems to be getting more popular with age (we’ll ignore the travesty known as Scrappy Doo, due to limited space. ”I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids.”
2. Simpsons (1989-Present)
Hard to believe The Simpsons has been on the air for 21 years! Originally meant to satirize middle-class American families, it has become a pop icon itself. Year after the year the show has been consistently been uproarious while managing to stay fresh. Maybe its not the phenomena that it once was but I think Homer, Bart and the rest of the dysfunctional family will stay in consciousness for some time to come.
1. Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)
I know there will be some pushback here but if you haven’t seen Batman: The Animated Series, run out and get the box set and you’ll be on board. Right from the get go the incredible credits gave you the back story and then you were launched into a perfect noir setting with top notch story telling. This series set a new standard for superhero tales which is still felt today, most recently in the Dark Knight revamps of the Batman cannon of stories. The series tested just how far you could go in a medium aimed at children but bring in a whole new audience.