September 24, 2013 at 10:16 am #301964
Of all the fantastical things TV brings into our lives, nothing indulges the imagination quite like cartoons. Whether timely (South Park) or timeless (Looney Tunes),
animation can truly take us anywhere. The rules — and the budgets — of
conventional television don’t apply. In short, we just can’t help being
drawn to them. In honor of TV Guide Magazine‘s 60th anniversary, we present our list of the best and, often quite literally, the brightest:
1. The Simpsons (1989—present)
still not exactly sure where Springfield is, but we feel right at home
at 742 Evergreen Terrace. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and their
friends and relatives have balanced cheeky humor and sharp social satire
for more than 500 episodes, making this TV’s longest-running scripted
primetime series and as American as apple pie. Mmm, pie…
2. The Flintstones (1960—66)
Seemingly modeled on The Honeymooners,
this prehistoric comedy from animation kingpins William Hanna and
Joseph Barbera proved that cartoons could succeed in primetime. The
exploits of modern Stone Age families the Flintstones and the Rubbles
lasted six seasons, inspiring dozens of remakes, spinoffs and specials —
and even a pair of live-action films — providing several generations
with a yabba dabba do time.
3. Looney Tunes (1960—present)
started at the movies way back in the 1930s, but Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck
and Co. have an enduring appeal that has made their slapstick antics
pop-culture mainstays. Countless TV incarnations and an extensive cast
of beloved characters — Tweety and Sylvester, Road Runner and Wile E.
Coyote, and Yosemite Sam, among many others — ensures it’ll be a long
time before Looney fans will be saying, “That’s all, folks!”
4. Peanuts (1965—present)
Springing from Charles M. Schulz’s endearing comic strip, the Peanuts gang has become a TV fixture, thanks to the ongoing (and much-cherished) replays of holiday specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The snark-free adventures of long-suffering Chuck, joyful beagle Snoopy and their friends define what happiness is.
5. Scooby-Doo (1969—present)
would’ve guessed that an animated comedy about a crew of paranormal
investigators (four eclectic humans and one frequently cowardly and
constantly hungry canine) would still be sniffing out new fans in its
fifth decade. Beginning with the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! adventures and morphing into multiple series and movies, the Scooby gang has solved the mystery of longevity.
6. Rocky and His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show (1959—64)
and squirrel, such unlikely heroes — and such a hoot. Jay Ward’s
pun-filled send-up of movie serials may have been primitive in
technique, but it compensated with sophisticated and wacky satire. With
Fractured Fairy Tales, Dudley Do-Right and time-traveling Mr. Peabody in
the mix, each intricate episode was a dizzying delight.
7. Batman: The Animated Series (1992—95)
transformation! With moody film-noir art direction, emotional
storytelling and mature casting (led by the brawny voice of Kevin Conroy
as Batman and Bruce Wayne), BTAS was the definitive incarnation of the Dark Knight and set the standard for superhero cartoons.
8. SpongeBob SquarePants (1999—present)
his optimistic outlook and colorful cohorts — including a gleeful
starfish, a narcissistic octopus and a deep-sea-diving squirrel —
SpongeBob is the unpretentious antidote to today’s cynicism. You’d have
to be seriously Krusty not to smile when visiting Bikini Bottom.
9. Family Guy (1999—2002; 2005—present)
MacFarlane built his animation empire on the stinging (some would say
crass) comedy of the Griffin family of Quahog, Rhode Island. The show
came back from cancellation in 2005 with the same irreverence and
deadpan cutaways and has remained freak-in’ sweet to its fans—not to
-mention the television academy, which in 2009 gave the cartoon a rare
Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series alongside live-action
heavyweights like 30 Rock.
10. South Park (1997—present)
Nothing has ever been off-limits to South Park
creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who have spent 16 years going to
outrageous extremes to slaughter pop culture’s most sacred cows. Stan,
Kyle, Cartman and Kenny have seen Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson and Barbra
Streisand pilloried in their tiny Colorado town. Because of its simple
animation style, South Park has been able to churn out instantly topical episodes, demanding that we respect its authori-tay.
The Other 50 (listed alphabetically):
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Battle of the Planets
Beavis and Butt-Head
Dora the Explorer
The Fairly OddParents
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
George of the Jungle
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
The Huckleberry Hound Show
Iron Man: Armored Adventures
Jem and the Holograms
Josie and the Pussycats
Justice League/Justice League Unlimited
King of the Hill
The Magilla Gorilla Show
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
Phineas and Ferb
The Pink Panther Show
Pinky and the Brain
Popeye the Sailor
The Powerpuff Girls
Ren & Stimpy
The Spectacular Spider-Man
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Superman: The Animated Series
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Tom and Jerry
The Yogi Bear ShowSeptember 24, 2013 at 10:25 am #301966
All in all, a pretty respectable, diverse list. I’m overjoyed to see the inclusion of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Phineas and Ferb, Pinky and the Brain, Spectacular Spider-Man, Daria, and Samurai Jack in the honorable mentions, plus Batman: The Animated Series in the top ten. Although I would have liked to have seen Ducktales, Gargoyles, Hey Arnold, and Robot Chicken on the list. Would have also been nice if they had included some anime like Death Note, Code Geass, and Cowboy Bebop. They actually probably could have if they had done a traditional Top 100 list as apposed to just 60. IGN did it, why couldn’t TV Guide?September 24, 2013 at 11:24 am #301967
This is bullshit.
"I don't even believe in god, but I'm going to thank her tonight."September 24, 2013 at 11:33 am #301968
They actually probably could have if they had done a traditional Top 100 list as apposed to just 60. IGN did it, why couldn’t TV Guide?
I got the impression it was to tie in to their 60th anniversary.September 24, 2013 at 11:43 am #301969
I figured that too, much like they did a series of Top 50 lists for
their 50th anniversary. Yet, they did the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of
All Time in a year that had nothing to do with 100. I guess it’s just
me, but I guess I just like my all time lists to be stretched out to
100.September 24, 2013 at 11:59 am #301970
Now, I would’ve changed the top 10 just a little bit. Scooby-Doo, as iconic as it may be, never reached the levels of excellence of Batman: The Animated Series. Didn’t even come close actually, and I have never been a big Batman fan, but that show was great and truly stands among the best in all television of the 90’s. SpongeBob and Family Guy are there because of popularity only.
They were both great at one point, but both faced huge drops of quality at specific moments (SB when it returned after the film, FG in it’s first run after cancellation) and they shouldn’t be higher than Powerpuff Girls (one of the all-time best and iconic), Adventure Time (which I hope one day is seen as one of the all time best, because I really think it is), Daria, Dexter’s Laboratory, Futurama, Rugrats (really surprised it didn’t make top 10!), Samurai Jack, Tom & Jerry (another odd omission from the top 10), Underdog and Woody Woodpecker. South Park, for example, as much as I love it, shouldn’t be top 10 either.
This list skews too much in a “biggest cartoon franchises” way than actual quality and influence measure. That said, I can why one could make the case for the top 4 being sort of set in stone. It’s hard to argue against that selection even if you are not a big fan of some of those, as they really are a perfect balance of popularity, acclaim, quality, influence, impact and continued pop culture relevance, so I salute EW on getting that absolutely right. I would’ve put Looney Tunes and Peanust slightly ahead of The Flinstones, but it’s a minor personal thing.September 24, 2013 at 12:04 pm #301971
I also agree that Ducktales and Hey Arnold! should’ve made the honorable mentions list. Or at least that they could’ve expanded a bit, after all, there are tons of great animation american TV history.
I don’t mind the lack of anime because this is clearly american-tv centric. Notice how they don’t even have the Tintin animated series.September 24, 2013 at 12:24 pm #301972
I would’ve put in Ducktales, Darkwing Duck, Bobby’s World, and Life with Louie.September 24, 2013 at 1:09 pm #301973
I would have included X-Men (1992-97). It wasn’t perfect, but it was fairly well done for a comic book adaptation.
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