Wizard's Top 100 CartoonsIn Wizard Magazine Issue #120 the editors published what they thought were the top 100 cartoons of all time. You can view their list here. Obviously a lot of people are going to disagree and agree with them. I welcome you to discuss your thoughts and share your lists on the forum.
Meanwhile I thought I?d give my lists and thoughts on the cartoons that I grew up with.
- The Simpsons
- Batman: The Animated Series
- Superman: The Animated series
- Batman Beyond
- The Power Puff Girls
- Transformers (includes Beast Wars/Machines)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- The Disney Afternoon
- Animaniacs/Tiny Toons/Pinky and the Brain
There are a lot of cartoons that aren?t on my list that I would also consider amazingly good cartoons. However, I would have to say that the cartoons in the above list are the shows that were my #1 cartoon at some point in time. These cartoons overshadowed everything else.
Before you flame me or yell at me about why your favorite isn?t on the list. Remember that I probably just didn?t watch some cartoons. I didn?t have cable for most of my childhood so I missed out on a lot. People have different tastes and opinions. I respect your opinions. Hopefully you will respect mine.
I figured that I would start out talking about these three since they?re the most relevant to the website. I probably don?t need to explain why these shows are ranked so high, because the fact that you?re here reading this probably means that you?re already a fan of the show. Simply put, these cartoons aren?t just animated versions of comics, but rather a different universe that?s just as good if not better. They managed to appeal to kids with their action, and to an older audience with their intelligent plots.
Batman the Animated series was created to capture some of the success of the Batman live action movies, but it was soon obvious that it was much more than a simple spin-off. It started out with Batman as the lone hero, but soon added a supporting cast of Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing and many others. Batman also managed to capture ?normal? characters such as Gordon, Bullock and Alfred, perfectly. The rogues gallery managed to turn Two-Face and Mr. Freeze into tragic heroes, while their movie counterparts were cackling idiots. They successfully translated classic Batman villains such as the Joker, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and The Scarecrow, while adding interesting new villains such as Harley Quinn, The Clock King, and Lockdown. Honestly, there has been no vision of Batman that is as true to the Dark Knight as this cartoon.
It might come to a surprise to many that I would rank Superman above Batman Beyond, but in my opinion I think that Superman was the perfect cartoon for the greatest superhero of all time, that most people don?t seem to appreciate. Batman and Superman are my two favorite heroes. However, when Batman is written poorly, he?s still a badass in a cape. When Superman is written poorly, he?s just an annoyingly big bully. Writing a good Superman story is extremely hard, but the writers of Superman managed to do an entire cartoon series without missing a beat. Their vision of Superman captured Truth, Justice and the American Way. The supporting cast of Lois, Jimmy, Ma and Pa added the human element to Superman that Batman simply doesn?t have. Superman doesn?t have a great rogues gallery, so the creators didn?t have much to work with, but they hit a home run in the one place that it really mattered: Lex Luthor. Luthor has always been the perfect counterpart to Superman. Luthor managed to beat Superman on an intellectual level, and even when Superman defeated Luthor?s plans, Lex always managed to weasel away, while Superman couldn?t do a thing about it. Lex was the only villain that Superman couldn?t beat with punches, and that made him the perfect arch-nemesis. The relationship between Lex and Superman was the glue that held the show together.
I won?t go into detail about why Batman Beyond is such a great cartoon. I have an entire website devoted to it, so you can peruse that at your convenience.
The other superhero cartoons at this time were X-Men and Spider-Man. While I?d have to say that they were good cartoons, their DC counterparts overshadowed them. They always were crappy versions of the comics. They didn?t offer a shred of originality or even an interesting plotline. Everything had a been there done that feel, except that the characters never really captured what they had in the comics. They were close, but too one-dimensional.
The Powerpuff Girls
When I first saw this cartoon it caught me completely off guard. It manages to disguise itself as an idiotic brawl, but between the frames it contains a wealth of tongue in cheek humor, and clever parodies. Even with the jokes that only appeal to an older generation, the characters are all 100% original, funny and interesting. The girls are actually pretty one-dimensional, but when you combine all three of them together you come up with the perfect team of little superheroes. Leadership, Toughness and Honestly all rolled up into three cute little heads. The supporting cast of The Professor and The Mayor are perfect in balancing the idea that they?re still little girls, but they?re also the town?s heroes. The rogues gallery is the craziest bunch that I have ever seen. From the blabbering MoJo JoJo to the devilish Him, each villain adds a unique twist to every episode. Sure they?re completely ridiculous, but that?s what makes them so fun to watch. The episodes are often one-shot deals, but the writers know that and keep them down to 12 minutes, which is the perfect length for the pacing of the show. If you shied away from the Power Puff girls, because you thought it was a stupid girls show, you thought wrong. It?s simply proof that girls do like cool things, and not just Barbies.
Honestly I don?t remember much about the Transformers. I watched it when I was young, and that?s about all I remember. I still have a ton of my original Transformer toys, and I remember playing with them a lot. When I go back to watch some of the cartoons, they really are quite stupid, but at the time I loved it. Let?s face it, big robots are cool, and their toys were even cooler. Fast forward ten years or so to Beast Wars and you get Transformers with great plots. Some people didn?t like the animals compared to the cars, but I thought it was a refreshing new twist on a tired old concept. Beast Machines wasn?t that great, but it expanded on the Transformer mythos. When you combine all three series, you end up with a solid cartoon that?s managed to remain fresh for two decades.
Other 80?s cartoons that got overshadowed by the Transformers included M.A.S.K., Silverhawks, and He-Man (though the only reason I probably don?t like He-Man as much was because I couldn?t afford the toys)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
All right, this cartoon was pretty bad. I?ll admit that I got caught up in the whole Turtle fad, and probably went along with what everybody else was doing at the time. However, I bought the toys religiously, and watched the cartoon with the same fervor. I probably loved them more for their toys, and the adventures I came up for them, but the cartoon and movies played big roles as well. I?d love to see the turtles redone more intelligently a second time around. They?ve been re-launched a few times, but never to the point where I felt they evolved into something more than a just a kids cartoon.
The Disney Afternoon
For me this means Duck Tales, Chip and Dale?s Rescue Rangers, Talespin, Darkwing Duck and The Goof Troop. These cartoons managed to combine great characters with even better plots. I honestly can say that I?ve watched every episode of Chip and Dale, Talespin and Darkwing Duck. The latter cartoons (Aladdin, Bonkers, etc) seemed to depend on their movie tie-in rather than the great stories. The entire ?series? peaked at Darkwing Duck, with it?s creative take on superheroes. All of them managed to take wholesome Disney characters and transform them into characters that went through amazingly imaginative storylines. It?s hard to make wholesome entertainment that?s fun to watch, but Disney did it perfectly. It?s too bad their movies depend on song and dance instead of plot and characters.
Animaniacs/Tiny Toons/Pinky and the Brain
What the Disney Afternoon had in characters and plot the Warner Bros. Cartoons had in humor and laughs. These toons managed to incorporate loads of pop-culture into their stories. I never watched Bugs, Daffy and the other WB characters, but I loved the intelligent humor that these cartoons had. Honestly though, I have trouble remembering any of the plots, because they were quite weak when compared with the punch lines. Heck, most of the plots, especially in the Animaniacs, were completely random and pointless. Yet, nobody did pop-culture and humor better than these guys?except maybe the PowerPuff girls.
I don?t really classify The Simpsons in the same group of cartoons as ones I?ve already mentioned, since it?s targeted towards adults rather than children, still I have to say that it?s not only the best cartoon ever, but probably the best television show ever as well. The Simpsons started out as America?s typical dysfunctional family, and revolved around their hijinks. While it was good, it wasn?t spectacular. In the following seasons it evolved with intelligently written jokes and commentary on the world around us while making numerous references to pop-culture. I really can?t say too much more about the Simpsons, that you probably don?t already know. If you?ve seen it, you love it.
I?d classify other ?adult? cartoons such as Family Guy, Futurama, Clerks and South Park as amazingly good as well, but they simply don?t compare to the Simpsons.