The 57 Best Animated TV Series of All Time
In some strange twist of cultural fate, animation in this hemisphere—that’s cartoon TV, films, shorts, commercials, etc.— seems to speak only in jokes and, mostly, only to children. Western cartoons are funny, and every year, the American animated movies hoisting Oscars over their heads are the ones consumed by kids and marketed for families and designed to make everyone laugh and feel good about themselves and their anthropomorphized feelings. TV shows? Yeah, there’s an Emmy for animation, though it tends to be a tennis match between only a couple consistent comedies.
But it’s not that way everywhere—especially across Asia where dramatic animation gets deserved praise alongside live action television—and now with streaming services opening up the world of TV, even us westerners are getting in on some serious animated drama.
And with darker, heavier, more violent content, animation is starting to have its adult moment again (this time without the empty inanity of Beavis and Butthead or South Park; we'll still watch those classics, though). BoJack Horseman and Archer have proven that jaded comedies could still have a lot of heart. Series like Amazon's Undone find creative ways to illustrate challenges to mental health. And shows like Big Mouth prove that you can be every bit as disgusting as an old Eddie Murphy set while still having a lot of meaningful things to convey.
All that said, we still love the older comedies and animation classics of the past. And, hey, even the toons meant for kids are still some of the best ever. So here are the 51 best animated TV shows to fall in love with the medium.
Go stream some cartoons, like an adult.