With so many great cartoons, trying to list 25 of the best cartoon shows ever is no easy task. A good cartoon can take on a variety of forms. Most of the time, they’re meant to be funny, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, they take on a dark or adventurous tone, putting comedy on the back burner. While some might point to ratings and awards as a barometer for cartoon success, that’s not always a good way to determine the value of a cartoon. Many great cartoons have seen mild ratings and reviews. Ultimately, what makes a great cartoon is a singular vision coming together into one well-crafted and executed show. They make us want to keep coming back time and time again and even when they go off the air, they leave a lasting impression and become a show we’ll never forget. Here are the 25 Best Cartoon Shows Ever.
Based on the video game of the same name, this anime from the 90’s had a catchy theme song, lovable characters, wily villains, and adorable monsters tagging along. It had a light-hearted, innocent, and child-like wonder about how it saw its world, providing a nice reprieve from some of the darker cartoons at the time. While it’s not exactly an intelligent or thought-provoking show, it had its own charm, and for kids just wanting to see Pokemon fight, that was enough.
A cartoon classic, you might not know that this show originally aired on primetime television and was once the longest syndicated cartoon until The Simpsons came around. While its content is a tad archaic for today’s sensibilities, it’s still one of the most popular and beloved cartoons of all time. It single-handedly built Hanna-Barbera’s company. Plus, you probably have the theme song running in your head right now, don’t you?
While thin on plot, this cartoon excels in rich emotional complexity and fantastic visuals. Jack is a lone, wandering warrior on a quest to conqueror a great sorcerer, pitting him against great beasts and worthy opponents along the way. However, many of the real trials are in his inner struggles with relationships and loneliness. It’s entertaining, clever, and certainly worth giving a chance if you haven’t already.
With a great opening theme song, lots of heart, and plenty of laughs, this light-hearted cartoon on Nickelodeon helped kids navigate the awkwardness of adolescence, reminding them they aren’t alone. It waded into several issues kids have to deal with, like friendships, being an underdog, dealing with bullying, and having an epic crush. Thankfully, despite all that, it also knew how to not take itself too seriously and maintain a light tone. The main character’s name is Doug Funnie, after all.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
While there’s been plenty of reboots and movies to this series, the 1987 cartoon version is still the best. About four turtles that mutated into anthropomorphic teens, Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael train with their rat ninja master Splinter to take on the evil Shredder and the Foot Clan. It wasn’t the most insightful cartoon, but it had the best theme song, great action and adventure, and introduced little kids to the word, “Cowabunga.”