As a college graduate, I feel I have become an expert on cartoons. Not because I formally studied animation science but because a three hour marathon of Scooby-Doo is a lot more fun then a lecture on symbol trees and compiler theory.
So strap on your rocket boots, watch out for falling safes and prepare for the top eleven cartoons of the last twenty five years.
#11: Clerks the animated series
A short lived cartoon on ABC in 2000, Clerks the animated series is largely based on “Clerks” the movie. For those who didn’t see this movie (shame on you), the film followed a day in the life of Randal and Dante and their misadventures in minimum wage work. Anyone who has ever worked a minimum wage job can relate to their hijinks. The cartoon deviates some from the realistic portrayal of the movie, but then again it is a cartoon.
#10: What’s New, Scooby-Doo?
If you haven’t seen or at least heard of Scooby-Doo then you must have lived under a rock for the last three plus decades. This particular variant of Scooby-Doo outranks all the others due to its updated yet still traditional portrayal of Scooby and his pals. We live in the twenty first century; we still solve mysteries but computers the size of buildings, record players at the beach, malt shop hangouts, and villains dressed in dime store costumes just don’t exist in the modern world.
Reason for beating out #11: When you talk about Scooby Doo, people actually know what you’re talking about.
#9: My gym partner is a monkey
This is a fairly new show so many of you may not have seen it. You know a show like this one is going to be great when you can sum up the plot for the entire series in less than ten seconds. Here goes: Human boy accidentally gets transferred to a school composed entirely of animals that, at the same time, act like both animals and people.
It sounds silly, doesn’t it? Well, it is but that’s okay. The surreal feeling of middle school crushes and cliques melded with natural animal behavior makes passing by a show this delightfully silly impossible to resist.
Reason for beating out #10: Lots of talking animals and one human outdoes one talking animal and lots of humans.
#8: Jimmy Neutron, boy genius
This show is one part standard cartoon plot, one part Star Trek style techno-babble, and one part outrageousness. I don’t feel I have to explain the standard cartoon plot and hopefully you can figure out what is meant by techno-babble (ex. “If I crosslink these two circuits I should be able to reduce the neutrino emissions to level that should be safe for use.”) All that’s left is the outrageousness.
Every character is taken to the point of being a caricature. A slack jawed bully, music obsessed diva, manic friends, a jealous rival, a boy whose mindset can only be described as fluffy, and the greatest scientific mind in existence all stuck together in a fourth grade class in a town that’s constantly threatened by B-movie style monsters and adventures. Despite making no sense conceptually, the whole thing works so well in the actual product.
Reason for beating out #9: Jimmy’s robotic dog.
A twenty-something loser from the year 1999 gets cryogenically frozen and thawed in the year 3000! He must now try to assimilate into his strange new world. This turns out to not be very challenging. It seems our hero can be a loser in any century.
This show is a little bit of everything. It’s largely humor but at the same time it manages to mix in some romance, some drama, some social commentary, and even some heart. To best understand this I suggest you watch the episodes entitled “time keeps on slipping” and “godfellas”
Reason for beating out #8: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
#6: Homestar Runner
The first internet cartoon to appear on the list, Homestar Runner is an internet phenomenon. What started as simple flash cartoons about silly characters and their childish adventures suddenly exploded with the inclusion of “Strong Bad emails.”
What are “Strong Bad emails?” Simply put, these are animated responses to viewer fan mail. The concept may sound simple but with the host of cartoon characters waiting to appear in each weekly episode, even fan mail can be get laughs.
Reason for beating out #7: Direct viewer input!
A classic from my childhood, Thundercats was one of America’s first exposures to a Japanese style of animation nicknamed anime. While not fully adopted in the American market, signs of its influence can be seen in numerous modern cartoons.
So what is Thundercats? The plot in a nutshell is as follows: An ancient race of feudalistic half cat half human creatures flees their home world moments before its untimely demise. Adrift in space, the small group of surviving elite enters into cryogenic status as their ship makes its long journey towards their new home, a future Earth that has somehow returned to a more mythic age. Once unfrozen, the group must learn how to live on their new home while battling ancient evils.
Sounds crazy doesn’t it? I haven’t even mentioned yet that they regularly fight a demon-mummy and mutants using their swords, tanks, and lasers.
The show may sound off the wall, which is due to the fact that it is off the wall, but that doesn’t stop it from being so entertaining as to earn it the number 5 spot on the list.
Reason for beating out #6: Evil mummies, magical swords, and furries. Enough said.
#4: Kim Possible
A series following the day to day life of a high school cheerleader doesn’t sound like it would be very exciting unless you’re into soap operas. Add in the little detail that she and her best friend spend their free time traveling around the world foiling super villains though and you’ve got one hell of a show!
A key element to the shows humor is the awkward dynamic that exists with being both a high school student and a secret agent. Imagine how strange it would be if James Bond had to worry about failing a history test or being late for cheerleading practice.
Reason for beating out #5: Rufus, the naked mole rat.
#3: Fairly odd parents
Timmy Turner is a ten year old boy who just happens to have fairy god parents that grant his every wish. The catch? One fairly is dull, the other is crazy, all wishes have to follow the rules, and if anyone finds out he has fairies then they have to go away forever. All these factors added together make Timmy’s daily activates wonderfully amusing.
Among the shows numerous cast of characters, Fairly Odd Parents has several famous actors voicing characters including Jay Leno and Adam West.
Reason for beating out #4: Cosmo.
#2: Family guy
When this show first aired many viewers felt it was simply a pathetic attempt to replicate Fox’s “The Simpson’s.” Since “Family Guy” is occupying the number two slot on the list, clearly that has not been the case.
The show, famous for its cut away scenes that are only tangentially related to the main story, features Peter Griffin, a moronic everyman; Lois Griffin, an overworked housewife; Chris and Meg, Peter and Lois’s teenage children; Stewie, Peter and Lois’s baby obsessed with world domination; Brian, the family’s college educated dog; and their neighbors Quagmire, Joe, and Cleveland.
Reason for beating out #3: It just does. Deal with it.
Placing “College University” in the number one slot on the list will probably cause a lot of grumbling and dissent among my readers. To all of you who are planning on writing me angry emails… Take a long walk off a short pier!
“College University” is one of only two internet cartoons to appear on this list which should tell you something about the series in and of itself. The internet cartoon follows roommates Mike and Parks as they enter into campus life at College University. In between classes taught by lunatic professors the two meet other residents including Bigfoot and Optimus Prime.
The part that I enjoy the most about this series is how well they’ve managed to capture the college experience despite the peculiar cast of characters. I’ve had roommates like Parks, I’ve had professors like Prof. Gravy, I’ve fallen for girls like Sarah and I’ve gone on those mindless adventures.
Reason for beating out #2: College is really like that.