Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My All-Time Favorite Cartoons

It's no secret that I am a sucker for lists.  Top 10, Top 25, Top 100, hell, even the top 1,043 (songs by New York radio station Q104.3) make me happy.  I enjoy reminiscing through such lists (if they are nostalgic) and, quite often, arguing with or debating either the ordering or inclusion/exclusion whatever is being listed.  Since either side of New Year's is a wonderful time for reflection, I've decided to start the year off with my list of the Top 60 cartoons that I enjoyed as a child.  I'm electing to list cartoons because, despite still being less than a year old, Timmy has already developed preferences in terms of the shows that he likes.  Granted, his favorite programs, in order, are Sportscenter, Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption, the Scott Van Pelt show, and Sportsnation, he DOES have a soft spot for the occasional animated program.  HIS include Special Agent Oso (at the top of the list) as well as Handy Manny. 

Thinking about favorite cartoons led me to reflect back on my own favorite programs.  I remembered coming home from school and being excited about watching certain shows (primarily in elementary school) or looking forward to Saturday and Sunday mornings.  My list will surely surprise some, particularly the exclusions or the shows that I did not enjoy, but, hopefully, more than that, it will inspire some to travel back in time and to relive some of their favorite cartoons and the memories associated with them.

Note: All information regarding seasons, episodes, and air dates were taken from the respective Wikipedia pages for each cartoon.

THE TOP 60 CARTOONS OF MY CHILDHOOD ('83-'01 for technical purposes)

Note: The ordering of these cartoons is based upon an intricate ten-point, ten-category system.  Each cartoon is judged rigorously and is given a score reflective of its historical importance and overall impact on the furthering of mankind's positive aims.  And my all that I mean that the scores are completely arbitrary.  I even changed some scores today that I put in yesterday.  Just because.  Awesome!

The categories are as follows:

Opening Sequence (the sequence of images that opens each show--one of the most important and memorable aspects of identifying cartoons)
Theme Song (arguably the single most important element that one identifies with a show or cartoon (you could learn a thing or two from Friends...we're looking at YOU, LOST!))
Action Figures (let's be real--cartoons in the '80s were all about marketing; if a cartoon didn't have good action figures (or dolls) associated with it, it wasn't treading water very long)
Movies (along the same line as the action figures...but I've expanded it to include the full franchise, not necessarily that one incarnation of the cartoon)
Memorable (I know I know--I'm not getting into Mensa with these devilishly creative titles.  Memorable simply means how well each episode etched itself indelibly (is there any other way?) into your mind, heart, and/or soul.  Better cartoons have you remembering numerous episodes in their entirety or countless individual moments; worse ones have you looking shit up on Wikipedia in search of that moment of recall.)
Characters (The overall cast but the main protagonists in particular)
Villains (The foils or antagonists for the heroes, where applicable.  And where it wasn't applicable the shows got a big fat ZERO)
Artwork (Arguably the most important element overall.  Sure the characters and plot are important but who wants to watch a bunch of shittily drawn or animated characters enacting a plot on a shittily drawn or animated background?  I'm looking SQUARELY at you, South Park)
Storyline (Sadly there were no postmodern cartoons growing up (at least as far as I can remember) so plot was a necessary evil.  Storyline can refer either to an overarching storyline that persists from the beginning of the series until its end or a one-off storyline with recurring elements in which each individual episode has its own plot that shares common occurrences with other episodes)
Music/Sound (Unless you couldn't hear or didn't have the sound on, the music and sound effects used throughout each episode really gave it life (or drained it of its precious life-force).

#60 The Flintstones

Score: -3 / 100

Seasons: 6    Episodes: 166 

First Aired: 1960 - 1966

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "How could The Flintstones be last on the list!?"  Or maybe I'm not giving you enough credit and you're more mathematically minded and you're thinking, "You said the categories were scored on a ten point scale, blackguard!  What tomfoolery is this negative score you have here?  Rapscallion!"  See, the Flintstones is not simply a GREAT cartoon--it's a classic.  Hell, it's part of Americana (whatever that is).  Every red-blooded lumberjack tin-can-eating American knows who Fred Flintstone is.  They know he's married to Ginger, the red head from Gilligan's Island, and that he has a son and a daughter named Bam-Bam and Pebbles (though he might not always remember who is whom).  He might remember that Fred has a dog dinosaur named Dino...but he SURE AS HELL knows that the Flintstones live in Bedrock and that Fred's best pal is named Barney, who, incidentally, is married to Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island.

So what gives with the negative score?

Well...for starters, it got a low score for lacking memorability (you know all of those details about the show but can you remember a single episode's plot?  I can't!)  There aren't many if any villains and no good action figures.  But you didn't ask about the low score...you asked about the negative score.

You can thank the movies for that one.

I gave The Flintstones a -40 out of 10 in the movies category even though I've never seen the movie(s).  I can't and won't.  Granted, I started out by giving it a 2 out of 10 in that category simply because they casted John Goodman as Fred Flintstone (GREAT selection) but then I was forced to give -22 because the movie co-starred Rosie O'Donnell as Betty Rubble.  Seriously.  Rosie O'Donnell as Mary Ann.  I mean Betty Rubble.  Dammit!  See!!  That's why it deserves the negative score.

"Wait wait--what about the other -18 points?"

They made a sequel.  -8.  That starred Stephen Baldwin.  -10.   (I would've given more negative points but I was feeling magnanimous during my scoring.  A spot of decaffeinated Earl Grey tea in the evening will do that to a fellow!)

Seriously though--Stephen Baldwin.  That's only one Baldwin away from Billy.  Plus he's a Yabba Dabba Douchebag!

# 59 Bonkers

Score: 3 / 100

Seasons: 4    Episodes: 64 

First Aired: 1993 - 1995
Bonkers is one of those '90s shows that many '80s kids might remember and think they liked...until they try to recall any single thing about the show (other than the fact that Bonkers was a feline cop).  It's a bit like the conversation Cobb has with Ariadne outside of the cafe: you know you're outside of a cafe (or, in the case of Bonkers, that you used to watch the show) but when you try to remember how you got there (or any single detail about the cartoon) you find that you can't.

# 58 Freakazoid!
Score: 3 / 100

Season: 2  Episodes: 24 

First Aired: 1995 - 1997

When I tried to remember Freakazoid!, I kept thinking it started out as a skit in Animaniacs.  Maybe it did--I'm not really sure.  All I know is that I remember as much about Freakazoid! as I do about Bonkers.  Terrible.

# 57 Biker Mice From Mars

Score: 5 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 65 

First Aired: 1993 - 1996
I'm sure you're probably thinking, "What the hell is 'Biker Mice From Mars'"?  I can't blame you--I barely remember, myself.  I DO know they had an action figure line and that the show was filled with lots of things aimed at little boys: explosions, motorcycles, a hot babe ripe for the saving, and gigantic mice dudes.  Biker mice dudes, actually.  From Mars.

Random song Mars needing women...angry, red women:

# 56 Richie Rich
Score: 6 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 83

First Aired: 1980 - 1984

I don't ever remember watching Richie Rich...but I'm sure it happened.  It was probably one of those filler cartoons, either on Sunday morning before 9 o'clock or early on Saturdays.  Hell, as it stands, the only character I remember is Richie Rich and even that recollection is tenuous (I often confuse him with Dennis The Menace...the po' man's Richie Rich, I suppose).  The only reason Richie Rich even gets the bulk of its points is because of the movie version that came out 1994 and starred John Laroquette (who was great in Night Court...which I also watched as a kid) and Macaulay Culkin--a perfect fit for Richie Rich.  The person in charge of casting knew what he or she was doing--strike while the iron's hot!  Culkin was still riding his Home Alone fame at that point...before the drugs and dirty hookers started.

Or maybe not before?

# 55 Goof Troop

Score: 6 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 79

First Aired: 1992 - 1993

I barely remembered Goofy had a son in this show, let alone that he was all buddy-buddy with Pete and his kid.  The only reason I even watched this crap was because Goofy is my favorite of the Mickey Gang.

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Broccoli Snork?
# 54 Snorks

Score: 7 / 100

Seasons: 4  Episodes: 65 (108 cartoons)

First Aired: 1984 - 1989

I know--seven points?  I can't explain it either.  I suppose it's the novelty of them; they're like knock-off Smurfs but they live underwater.  Plus I had a Snork toy as a kid.  It's funny though because I realized that I couldn't remember much about this show either...and then I watched the intro.  Good Lord--what a shit-fest!  First of all, the song is absolutely terrible.  Second, it looks like the two dancing Snorks (at 0:08 in the video below) are about to get their grind on (it's like an underwater Studio 54!).  Third, if Snorks can breathe underwater and ride seahorses then why the hell would they need a submarine? (See 0:11-0:13)  Finally--what kind of smut is that at 0:23!?


# 53 The Smurfs

Score: 7/100

Seasons: 9  Episodes: 421

First Aired: 1981 - 1989

The Smurfs are arguably one of the most popular or at least ubiquitous cartoons to come out of the '80s...but, yet again, I can remember nothing about this show.  First of all, the Smurfs look like the Keebler Elves if all those fuckers did was huff paint fumes.  Second, depending on the intro you watch, you get VERY different results/impressions about the show.  One shows an evil wizard(?) and cat hellbent on destroying the little blue boogers.  The other one is like watching a knockoff Follow the Yellow Brick road performance on acid.  The only characters I vaguely remember are Smurfette (because she's the only girl and thus the concubine of the Smurf tribe) and the elder/old man Smurf (who has probably taken Smurfette as his wife...and if he hasn't he will.  Unless she's his daughter.  But even then...)

I gave this cartoon a -10 in the Movies category because though there's no Smurfs movie yet there appears to be one coming out this year.  And it's another 3-D piece of shit spectacle.  I guess they didn't learn from the Garfield experiment.

# 52 Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars

Score: 7 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 13

First Aired: 1991
I'll best most of you are scratching your heads and wondering, "Who the hell is Bucky O'Hare?"  I have no idea how popular this show as but my guess is: not very.  The only reason it's ahead of the Smurfs is I remember asking for (and getting) at least one or two Bucky O'Hare action figures for either my birthday or Christmas.  I must've seen the show and potentially liked it at least a little bit...so yeah.

Or maybe not...I'm starting to think the toys in question were actually from the Ninja Turtles line.  Maybe someone else had the toys.  Who knows.  7 / 100 points--seriously. 

# 51 Denver, the Last Dinosaur

Score: 7 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1988

The only reason this show even got to 7 points is because of its somewhat catchy opening song.  I remembered it quite clearly despite having watched the show probably a handful of times as a tot.  To be honest, I don't even really remember Denver...and I had NO idea that he played the electric guitar until I re-watched the intro on Youtube.

Denver, the Last Dinosaur--a run of FIFTY TWO episodes including Chef Denver, Fizzback's Follies, and Arabian Adventure.

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I am a tremendous purple loser, Hey Hey! =D

# 50 Widget

Score: 8 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1990 - 1991

So the intro to this gem is typical 80s garbage...but with a preachy message!  Because that's what I want to hear when I listen to 80s music: preachiness.  It's bad enough that Jon Bon Jovi thinks I gave love a bad name and Sting and the Police are watching every breath I take, now I have to hear this little civic minded prick tell me about how the planet's in trouble.  Plus the evil female poacher in one episode looks A LOT like Wendie Malick (of course I had to IMDB her name)

Anyway, the full title of this space hippie's show is "Widget the World Watcher."  He's a "Watcher" but is nowhere NEAR the level of Marvel's race of Watchers.  Hell, I'd even prefer Fringe's Powder-Lookalike Observer over this purple shape shifting turd.

# 49 Histeria!

Score: 8 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1998 - 2001
The only thing that I remember from this show is the weird baby.  I gave it 8 points though because it tries to make something potentially boring (History or "stuff that's already happened") fun and interesting.  I'm not too keen on the addition of the exclamation point at the end of the title...it's almost as if they're trying to hard.  There's nothing like an attempt to exhibit unnecessary superlative faux excitement as a means of luring unsuspecting youth into thinking that they will actually enjoy the next thirty minutes (including commercials).

# 48 Yogi Bear

Score: 9

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 35

First Aired: 1961

Yogi Bear has his place among the most beloved characters of the 1960s and, as a result of his notoriety, he got some slack cut for him...because the cartoons were pretty terrible.  All I remember is that he wore a hat, stole picnic baskets, had a budding romance with a male park ranger, and lived in Jellystone National Park. 

They recently released a Yogi Bear movie.  Wanna see the real ending, not shown in theaters because the suits deemed it too graphic?


# 47 Dennis the Menace

Score: 12

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 78

First Aired: 1986 - 1988

Animation's original ne'er-do-well, Dennis the Menace is Bart Simpson's white, suburban, rambunctious predecessor.  I vaguely remember the dog and the Pee-Wee Herman looking kid.  Plus Dennis' Mom is SMOKIN' hot!!!  I remembered Mr. Wilson when I re-watched the intro but I did confuse him for Mr. Belvedere.

Apparently there was a movie that earned a score of 5 / 10 on IMDB but I'm giving it only a three because of the casting for Mr. Wilson.  They should've gotten Belevedere to play him.  Or Tom Selleck. 

Tell Walter Matthau to get rid of that weak ass 'stache. 

Update: It appears that he died in 2000...so you don't have to tell him what I said about the 'stache...unless you see him...but if you see him...you might wanna run...because it could be Zombie Matthau...or not...because maybe you're dead too...speaking of the Zombie Matthau though...how many zombies can you picture with moustaches?!  Exactly!!!

I've discovered the cure for Zombieism: rock a 'stache when Armaggedon comes knockin'!

(I'm thinking it doesn't even have to be a kick-ass Selleck 'stache either since I haven't seen a Zombie Matthau terrorizing any cities...must mean he's still in the box.  A moustache...in the box...nevermind lol)

Walter Matthau: Offering Maggot Moustache rides since '00!

# 46 Darkwing Duck

Score: 13 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 91

First Aired: 1991 - 1992

Our first double-digit scoring cartoon.  Darkwing Duck actually started as a character on Duck Tales and then scored his own spin-off show.  Lord only knows how his agent manipulated that one.  The show does have a certain panache to it.

Darkwing Duck...let's...get...DANGEROUS!

# 45 Woody Woodpecker

Score: 15 / 100

Woody Woodpecker...good Lord...thank God everyone knows that a woodpecker is a bird.  Right?  RIGHT?!  There's only two reasons this show is on this list: the intro song and that goddamned laugh that made that 'pecker famous.  The intro song isn't anything special other than the fact that it's not entirely in 4:4 time--something that stood out to me as I listened to all of these cartoons' themes.  The laugh was oft imitated and likely caused you to want to punch the person in the face when they did it.

I'm just waiting for some shitty 3-D film version of Woody the Woodpecker to revive that obnoxious throaty giggle.

# 44 Mega Man

Score: 23 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 27

First Aired: 1994 - 1995

I'm a little bit biased towards this cartoon because the Mega Man franchise one of the top ten of all time.  The cartoon was pretty good but never struck me as anything special.  The intro and opening song are pretty good and the artwork is typical anime-esque stuff...but still a solid show nonetheless.

# 43 Bobby's World

Score: 23 / 100

Seasons: 7  Episodes: 80

First Aired: 1990 - 1998

WOW!  I can't believe this show went SEVEN seasons!  It was a great cartoon...but I'm still surprised.  Anyway, Bobby's World kicked ass as one of those cutesy shows.  Bobby Generic (seriously that was his last name--bet you never realized it was spelled that way given its pronunciation on the show) views the world with the over-active imagination typical of children and users of various hallucinogenic substances.  Going along with the latter theme, every show involved a brief live-action moment that featured Howie Mandel, back when Howie was cool and had hair...and before he went all Howard Hughes "DON'T TOUCH ME OR I WILL CUT YOU" like he is today.  Creepy aspect of the show though is that Howie Mandel voiced Bobby.  If you can picture Bobby's voice...and then try to picture Howie Mandel's face scrunching up on that Jheri curled ass head of his, doing the voice.  Creepy indeed.

Creepier still: John Tesh composed the theme song for Bobby's World.  True story.

Bobby's World = '90s animated version of The Wonder Years.


# 42 Super Mario Brothers

Score: 24 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1989 - 1991

Oh boy...the Super Mario Brothers Super Show from the '80s.  Every episode opened and closed with a live-action bit featuring Captain Lou Albano and occasionally featured special guests; the list is pretty impressive and includes Nicole Eggert, Vanna White, Roddy Piper, and Sgt. Slaughter.  For our purposes, though, we are concerned only with the cartoon segment.  The animation was good and everything was pretty much what you'd expect from a Mario cartoon.  What prevented this from being rated higher are the opening to the show overall (Rap + Live Action Dancing over animated backgrounds by Captain Lou and the other guy = craptastic failure) as well as the sewage depository of a movie that was released in the mid-90s.  I know--the movie had nothing to do with the cartoon (or the franchise, if you ask me) but it was just so horrifically terrible that there's no way anything remotely related to Mario isn't at least mildly affected.

# 41 Challenge of the GoBots

Score: 27 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1984/1985

As the movie aspect of my scoring system hurt the Flintstones' placement on this list, so did the action figure category help the GoBots.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the GoBots, they are essentially the New York Mets to the Transformers' New York Yankees.  The GoBots were based on a different line of Japanese toys but the premise is the same as Transformers: sentient robots engaged in conflict that has a negative impact on human society.  Apparently they too had a movie called "GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords" that was released one month before the Transformers' movie.  I had no idea that they had a movie (and as for the Rock Lords--I only found out that this crappy ass rock-looking transforming figure that I procured for myself somewhere along the childhood highway was a Rock Lord and not some fake-ass wannabe bootleg Transformer or Go-Bot; I long suspected something was amiss as the quality of the plastic used was rather high (compared to the flimsy plastic that is used with the fake toys)) but apparently it seemed like it was at least somewhat of a lucrative opportunity.  Why do I say this?  Because it featured the voice acting of Roddy McDowall, Telly Savalas, and MARGOT KIDDER!  How can those three not be worth 5 points?

I also wound up giving the action figures a score of 8/10 because they weren't quite as good as Transformers figures but are a hell of a lot better than the knockoff transforming robots you'd find in stores.  Unfortunately, I don't remember anything from the show other than the leader of the good guys (a fighter jet named Leader-1), the leader of the bad guys (a motorcycle named Cy-Kill), and a red Vespa type dude named Scooter (I can only imagine the toll it took on the creative powers of the guys that named these characters).  The problem though is that I know these characters' names only because I had the toys...so I literally remember nothing about the show.  Squadootch.  Zip.  Nilch.  Nada. 

You hear that Widget and Bonkers? 

# 40 Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers

Score: 28 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1989 - 1990

I remembered the theme song to this show as soon as I started watching the intro, which was a major plus for the show.  I also remembered Chip, Dale, and Monterey Jack as being among the primary characters on the show.  I thought that there was a spin-off show that starred Monterey Jack...and also Chip and Dale...called Talespin.  Apparently that was a different show.  I was so embarrassed for Talespin that I could not include it on this list.

Interesting story: when I was in Disney World for my first and only visit I met the real Chip & Dale (got the autographs to prove it for all the haters) and I asked them what their relationship was like with Alvin and the other chipmunks.  Let me tell you--the look that I got from those gigantic furry dudes was crazy.  Daggers!  One of them grumbled and the other looked me straight in the eye, without blinking, and said, "We don't like their kind."

Racism: it exists even at the quantum chipmunk level.

# 39 Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog

Score: 28 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1993

I can remember bits and pieces of a few episodes, which is somewhat of a first for the shows on this list thus far!  The show would have been rated higher if not for the weak-ass villains: Dr. Robotnik and his inept acolytes Scratch and Grounder.  I've always hated Dr. Robotnik, as much for his insanely difficult final machine battles in the videogames as his weak ass stature as a baddie.  Still, though, to have Jaleel White (yes, THAT Jaleel White!) voice Sonic...that's pretty impressive. 

# 38 The Tick

Score: 29 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 36

First Aired: 1994 - 1996

The Tick was a pretty epic cartoon that garnered a cult following.  Unfortunately, I cannot consider myself a full-fledged member; I might show up for the meeting but I wouldn't drink the Kool-Aid.  The Tick had some pretty interesting characters, particularly the villains, but I can't recall anyone in particular outside of Arthur and The Tick, himself.  It's hard not to like the Tick (Arthur not so much--he's like a wussier George Costanza.  I love George...but if he were as wussy as Arthur then I don't know...); he's charismatic, energetic, and an all-around likeable guy.  Plus his epic catchphrase is "SPOOOOOOOONNNN!"

I gave The Tick 3 points for the movie category and feel I should explain.  There is no Tick movie nor do I believe there ever will be.  There was, however, a live action Tick show that starred Puddy as the eponymous protagonist of the show.  Great call on the casting and worthy of three points.  HIGH FIVE!

# 37 Tom and Jerry

Score: 29 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 30

First Aired: 1980 - 1982

I labored over the placement of good ol' Tom and Jerry.  I feel like they should be higher...but at the same time I'm not sure that they were strong enough to stand out on their own against the likes of Looney Tunes.  Everyone remembers Tom and Jerry but I don't feel that their dynamic is quite as strong as Sylvester and Tweety.  Maybe it's the fact that neither of them speak.  Maybe it's the fact that Tom has a sinister air about him while Sylvester just seems driven but goofy.  Either way, this was a staple of my Saturday/Sunday morning cartoon time (much like many other red-blooded, well-muscled, whiskey-drinking, steak-eating, bacon-adoring American!)

# 36 Garfield and Friends

Score: 33 / 100

Seasons: 7  Episodes: 242 (Half were for U.S. Acres)

First Aired: 1988 - 1994

Garfield is a quintessential cartoon that was equally awesome as a comic strip in the newspaper.  It certainly wasn't a thinking man's show...but it didn't need to be.  You had the gluttonous Garfield constantly threatening to send the loveable Odie to Abu Dhabi.  Outside of that...I really don't recall much about the plot.  I know there were other supporting characters, a young chick and a chick still in its egg chiefly among them.  I remember the premise for their appearances seemed to center on hatching the chick and I remember in one episode they finally succeeded...only to find another eggshell underneath.  The only Garfield episode that I can recall with any reliability is a futuristic one...but that's pretty much it.

Garfield got a 0/10 in the movie category because they did make one--in 3-D, that combined live acting with the 3-D animated Garfield.  I didn't see it and hope I never have to.  IMDB gives it a 4.8 but that's 4.8 points too high for me.  TERRIBLE!

# 35 The Legend of Zelda

Score: 34 / 100

Seasons: 1  Episodes: 13

First Aired: 1989

Ahh...the Legend of Zelda.  One of the most successful video game franchises ever and arguably in the top five all time, let alone top ten (suck it Mega Man!)  This cartoon was also part of the Super Mario Brothers Superfantastic Happy Hour (or whatever it was called--I'm too lazy to look it up again or scroll up to see) but what made Zelda special (and thus earned it more points) is the fact that it was on only on Fridays.  The Super Mario Brothers cartoon would be on Monday through Thursday...but Friday's were ladies night...and by ladies night I mean Zelda afternoon.

Anyway, the opening is memorable for its famous "Excuuuuuuuuse me, Princess!" line.  Yeah, that's right: the ZELDA CARTOON INTRO is famous for that line.  It sounds familiar, doesn't it?  Of course it does!  Do you know why?  Because you've heard it before! 

"But I've never seen this Zelda cartoon before...how could this be?!"  you think to yourself...because it's too tough to think to other people...unless you're telepathic like my cousin Cathy.  She told me to say that...with her thoughts!

Here's the original: (0:44 seconds for those who can't wait)

And here's the plagiarizing interloper:

Now people have said that the voice actor that performs Link's character in the Zelda cartoon sounds a lot like the one who voices Aladdin in the Disney cartoon.  I say, "Bollocks!"  It's two different dudes!  And I can remember distinctly Aladdin saying to to Jasmine in the cartoon if not in the movie.

Should we be surprised that Aladdin stole this line?  Not in the least.  I probably looked like a luscious piece of fruit to him and he did how he do.

# 34 Fantastic Four

Score: 38 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 26

First Aired: 1994 - 1996

The 1990s incarnation of the Fantasic Four cartoon was pretty weak as far as superhero cartoons go (hence its position on this list).  The only character of the four that I enjoyed even mildly was the Human Torch...and even that was tenuous at best.  Dr. Doom was disappointing as the archnemesis BUT, what earns this cartoon its cool points is another recurring enemy: Galactus.  He's an eater of worlds--it doesn't get much more bad ass than that.  Plus Black Bolt was pretty cool too.  I remember those episodes a little bit (the ones that featured the Inhumans.  This show lasted only two seasons, much like some of the other bottom-feeders on the list.  This one, however, had only twenty-six episodes.  That's even less than Denver, the Last Dinosaur, for crying out loud! 

Surprised?  You shouldn't be.

# 33 Aladdin: The Series

Score: 41 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 86

First Aired: 1994 - 1995

I remember watching Aladdin on weekday afternoons; it was my first introduction to the Disney staple (I think).  For a cartoon based upon a movie it was pretty good and had some decent variations in the plot.  Jafar made for a good villain (though he was MUCH more wicked in Kingdom Hearts than in the show or the movie Aladdin).  The reason that this show placed so high was pretty much because of the movie, which got a 10/10.  C'mon--it's a Disney '90s classic!  If you were born in the early 80s then some of your first new movies were Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King. 


# 32 Iron Man

Score: 42 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 26

First Aired: 1994 - 1996

Iron Man was a pretty cool show but was fairly pedestrian as a superhero cartoon, much like the Fantastic Four.  What really set Iron Man apart from the latter is its theme song.  Listen to it--how can this not get you jazzed up?

# 31 Transformers: Beast Wars

Score: 42 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1996 - 1999

I have a strange relationship with Beast Wars.  When it came on I was just beginning to move away from cartoons but I had always held a special place for Transformers.  The original show had moved to cable (I think the Sci-Fi channel) and, not having cable, I was unable to watch it.  Then Beast Wars came on...unexpectedly (at least for me)...and I was both stunned and hopeful that it would fill the void left by the original Transformers cartoons. 

Maybe my expectations or standards were too high...or maybe it was just that bad...but Beast Wars never could live up to its predecessor.  I collected some of the toys but it just wasn't the same.  I didn't think the animation was all that great, the writing was pretty poor (though there were some funny moments), and the storyline was ultimately weak (despite starting out somewhat strong).  In fact, the best moments of the show were where they crossed over with the original Transformers show (with Starscream's spark and when they find Optimus Prime).  Both the intro and the opening song were terribly half-assed--not a great way to start off a show

# 30 Batman Beyond

Score: 42 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1999 - 2002

Batman Beyond was one of the only cartoons that I can remember watching while I was in high school.  Granted, I didn't see it much but if I happened to be home and not playing basketball (a rarity in those days) then I might scope out that day's episode.  I think it ran at four o'clock during the week but I'm not entirely sure.  What I do know is that it had one kick-ass opening.

The music really dials in that futuristic feel that the show had; the opening sequence, overall, felt like an animated version of A Clockwork Orange.  How can you not want to watch a show that starts off like this:


The only episode I remember was when the kid playing Batman (Terry McGinnis, evidently) has a school project where he has to keep an egg safe and to treat it like an infant.  Apparently, the episode was called "The Eggbaby" so I guess I was on-point about that.  Anyway, the animation was great--the whole show had a dark, menacing feel to it.  I'm sure that if I was younger when this came out I definitely would've enjoyed it more.

# 29 Taz-Mania

Score: 43 / 100

Seasons: 4  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1991 - 1995

Taz is arguably every boy's favorite Looney Tunes character (unless you're a front-running Bugs Bunny fan, in which case I say to you: BAAAAAAAAAAAH  BAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!) and he was well-deserving of his own spin-off show (get it?  "Spin-Off" Because he does the tornado spin thing?  GET IT!?)  Taken as a whole, the show was actually pretty impressive.  The opening sequence was great as was the intro song.  There was quite an ensemble of characters, including Taz's family, and the artwork was really spot-on.  I would've given the show at least 8 points for the Video Game category that I elected not to include because that Sega game was WICKED!  (The one with Marvin the Martian--MY favorite character).

Listen to Jonathan Davis of Korn doing his best Taz impersonation:

# 28 Exosquad

Score: 44 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1993 - 1994

Exosquad is one of my FAVORITE cartoons that I remember very little from without some prodding.  It was a space-epic G.I. Joe-ish show.  The plot was pretty good and I remember a few of the characters (the good and bad leaders, in particular).  What really made this show stand out was the action figures.  They were smaller than G.I. Joes but they came with these kick-ass exo-suits that were a lot like the thing Sigourney Weaver fights in in the Alien movies.

Speaking of movies, there never was an Exosquad movie...but I had to give it 7 / 10 anyway because I know if they HAD made one it would've been mind-blowingly awesome.

Speculative points FTW!

# 27 The Magic School Bus

Score: 44 / 100

Seasons: 4  Episodes: 52

First Aired: 1994 - 1997

Okay, so if you were born around 1983, grew up in Gerritsen Beach, and went to P.S. 277 for elementary school, the odds are that you were first introduced to The Magic School Bus books through Readers are Leaders AND that you think that Mrs. Frizzle looked a lot like Mrs. Fromhartz, who, coincidentally, had frizzy hair!  This show was great because it was one of those programs that taught you things (science, specifically) without detracting from the overall enjoyment and appeal of the show.  I loved the episode(s?) that involved shrinking the bus down and entering/exploring the human body.  Great, great show.

# 26 Inspector Gadget

Score: 46 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 86

First Aired: 1983 - 1986

♫ Do-do-do-do-do Inspector Gadget! ♫  C'mon--who doesn't remember that theme song?  It was one of the catchiest, most memorable of the '80s cartoons.  Inspector Gadget wasn't much in the way of a hero but he did have some awesome contraptions.  It was cool that you never saw the villain; for what it's worth, Dr. Claw's claw was bad ass as was the castle he was often seen in.  That cat was wicked too.  Unfortunately for Inspector Gadget (like numerous cartoons on this list) they made a live-action movie in 1999 starring Matthew Broderick as the eponymous hero.  They might as well as have casted Brendan Frasier or that Mr. Bean douchebag instead; all three are terrible choices for the Inspector!

True story: this show would've been immensely more bad-ass if it was called "Inspektor Gädget" and Herr Inspektor spoke with a thick, gravelly German accent.

# 25 The Jetsons

Score: 46 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 90

First Aired: 1962 - 1963 (I watched the second run from 1985 - 1987)

This is another one of those "Americana" shows along with the Flintstones and Looney Tunes.  Who doesn't remember the names of all of the characters AND every lyric to the opening song?  The Jetsons inspired us to think big with regards to the future AND they managed to make it at least somewhat plausible: the Jetsons took place in 2062 whereas Transformers (I think) took place in 2010.  Although, to be fair, we are about as equally close to having flying cars as we are to dealing with sentient robots.

The only glaring problem I have with The Jetsons is its lack of memorable episodes.  Can anyone remember a single full episode's plot?  I sure can't.  I just know George's boss was Mr. Cogswell or Cogsworth or something similar.  Still, this cartoon deserves its place among the best.  Plus there was a Jetsons movie that I had no idea about.  It seems legit so I deferred to IMDB, which gave it a 5.1 / 10, so I went with a score of 5.

I am kind and generous, much like Natalie Merchant.

# 24 ThunderCats

Score: 49 - 100

Seasons: 4  Episodes: 130

First Aired: 1985 - 1989

This is definitely a cartoon that holds a special place in my heart.  To begin with, the phrases, "Thundercats-HO!" and "Sword of Omen, give me sight beyond sight!" are etched forever in my heart, especially the latter.

ThunderCats is one of the first cartoons I can ever remember watching--a fact that my Mom can readily attest to.  When I was really, really little I used to run around the house trying to say Lion-O's epic quote...except I couldn't say my esses properly, so it always wound up coming out as, "Hord of Omen Give Me Hight Beyond Hight!"  In order to understand why this recollection makes me and my Mom smile you'll have to realize that I didn't just run around the house saying it...I ran around the house screaming it at the top of my little lungs, as serious as could be.

It's a good thing I don't still speak like that...otherwise it would just seem cruel to laugh.

Anyway, I had only Lion-O, Mumm-Ra, and a bootleg Snark in terms of toys...but they were awesome.  Mumm-Ra (as far as I can recall) was a pretty terrifying dude.  Lion-O was heroic as far as the primary protagonists go...but he DID bear a strange resemblance to...well...you'll see...

# 23 Conan The Adventurer

Score: 49 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1992 - 1993

Conan is another cartoon that benefited greatly from an epic opening sequence.  What hot-blooded, virile, erudite, insouciant, jocund, perspicacious, youthful lad wouldn't feel a throb or two from watching this?

I remembered the plot after watching the above video, especially the parts where Conan gave those lizard dudes their comeuppance.  One thing detracting from the show is the fact that the major antagonist is a BLATANT rip-off of G.I. Joe's Serpentor:

# 22 The Incredible Hulk
Score: 53 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 21

First Aired: 1996 - 1997

There had been an earlier Hulk cartoon in 1982 the but the one I remember was this one.  What I remember most was the fact that it had a really sophisticated feel to the plot; it plucked the heartstrings in ways most superhero cartoons don't (and was almost on par with the X-Men cartoon of the '90s).  I'm surprised it lasted only 21 episodes because it was great.  The primary foe (General Ross) struck me as a blatant rip-off of J. Jonah Jameson from the Spiderman universe.

I was able to give the Hulk only five points for movies, which I think is abundantly fair and equitable.  The first Hulk movie (which I actually liked) got ripped apart by critics and moviegoers alike.  The second incarnation (which I have yet to see) starred the greatest actor of our generation, Mr. Edward Harrison Norton.  I figured if I gave a zero for the crapfest and a perfect ten for the Norton film, it would average out to a five.

Fourth-grade mathematics: it's not just for fourth graders...anymore!

# 21 King Arthur & The Knights of Justice

Score: 57 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 26

First Aired: 1992 - 1993

I've always been a sucker for anything knight-related, especially King Arthur stuff.  As a kid, one of my favorite books was The Castle in the Attic and its sequel The Battle for the Castle.  Many of my epic G.I. Joe battles were medieval in their theme, as were many of the stories I wrote as a kid.  With that said, King Arthur and the Knights of Justice was one AWESOME cartoon.  It combined the traditional elements of Arthurian lore with an updated angle; a group of high school football players are transported to Arthur's time by Merlin in an attempt to help said wizard extricate the original knights from their imprisonment.  Instead of keeping it strictly to a sword-and-shield sort of approach, each of the knights had a magical emblem on their armor or shield that would summon a mystical creature or provide them with some sort of thaumaturgic ability.  The main bad guy was pretty wicked (well, technically the main bad guy was a bad gal--Morgana, Merlin's foil, but her number one henchman was Lord Viper...quite the kick-ass dude). 

They never released a movie for the show but there WAS a video game that I never got the chance to play.  It looked pretty cool from the screen shots so perhaps at some point I will attempt to hit it up.


# 20 Dino-Riders

Score: 57 / 100

Seasons: 1   Episodes: 14

First Aired: 1988

Dino-Riders played on another of my interests as a wee lad: dinosaurs.  I feel like every naturalized, inoculated, undefenestrated, young American boy went through the following phases as they grew up (in no particular order): Astronaut/Space; Dinosaurs; Cowboys/Indians; Ninjas; Knights; Magic; and Racecars.  Dino-Riders appealed to a few of these phases.  The premise was awesome: good guys and bad guys modding dinosaurs with kick-ass technology and going to battle.  Every episode seemed to involve the good guys trying to remove the mind-control device on the T-Rex, as seen here around 8:19:

Anyway, the action figures were insanely awesome; the dinosaurs came with the equipment used to control them as well as a small figure of a character from the show. 

Random awesome fact # 1: Frank Welker voices the main baddie; Frankie Welks is the voice of Megatron from the Transformers show.

Random awesome fact # 2: Rex from Toy Story is actually modeled after the T-Rex from Dino-Riders.


# 19 Alvin & The Chipmunks

Score: 57 / 100

Seasons: 8  Episodes: 102

First Aired: 1983 - 1990

Alvin & The Chipmunks are among the most beloved '80s characters and cartoons and is arguably one of the most successful franchises to come out of the decade.  Everyone knows the intro song and is familiar with the Chipmunks' high-pitched singing.  Alvin was the archetypal bad-boy, Simon the nerd, and Theodore the corpulent but congenial chum. 

I don't remember many episodes from the Chipmunks but there is one that I will never forget.  Now there aren't very many villains to contend with from what I recall but the one featured in my unforgettable episode more than makes up for them.  They get ten points for the villain in ONE episode--the only one I can remember vividly: the one where they go looking for their mother. The Chipmunks came to live with Dave when he found them on his doorstep when they were infants.  One day, to settle an argument about their true birthday date, the chipmunks decide to go in search of their long-lost mother.  On their way they are attacked by a wild boar and saved by a hooded stranger (who turns out to be their mother).  That goddamned boar that attacked them was pretty scary to a kid watching this for the first time--especially when it pops up the second time and attacks the house. Worst of all the fucker winds up hurting their Mom really bad. Thankfully he gets his animal kingdom comeuppance when Nature bitchslaps him into the river.

This episode still gets me teary to this day, especially the scene with the Paul Simon song. It's probably because I was afraid MY Mom would get messed up by a boar as a kid. Meaning when I was a kid...not when she was a kid...that would just be silly...to worry about HER getting roughed up by a boar as a kid. Shit. That defies all KINDS of laws of physics: either she was boar-roughed up or she wasn't...right? WRONG! ENTER RICHARD FEYNMAN!

Feynman Histories.  Read up--you'll be glad you did:


Anywho...you can see the episode referenced above here:


You're a stone-cold killer if you can watch that lullaby scene near the end of Part 1 and not feel at least a stirring of emotion (of course, Lois Lowry could probably Giver you a pill to fix that!)

# 18 Gargoyles

Score: 59 / 60

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 78

First Aired: 1994 - 1997

Gargoyles was an awesome show for a number of reasons.  First, the characters were straightforward and easy to get behind right away.  Goliath was Optimus Prime-esque in his leadership qualities and made for a great primary hero.  Though villain-wise, the show was a bit weak...it involved Avalon, magic, Gargoyles, technology, and human collaboration.  What more could you ask for?

Oh, I don't know...how about Bill Fagerbakke (Tom Cullen from "The Stand" and Dauber on "Coach"), Ed Asner (from EVERYTHING AWESOME), and Frank Welker...again.

The most awesome episode I can remember is a two-parter that had some dude (I think it was Macbeth) becoming gigantic and stopping time...or some such thing.  Very cool stuff. 

# 17 Tiny Toon Adventures

Score: 60 / 100

Seasons: 3  Episodes: 100 (98 plus 2 specials)

First Aired: 1990 - 1992

Tiny Toons was a technically perfect cartoon; it had everything you could ask for.  It was funny, had great songs and music, had phenomenal characters and artwork, it was based upon a previous foundation of success (i.e. Looney Tunes).  What really hurt the show in terms of my list is the fact that there were no action figures, movies, or solid villains (Elmyra and that other weiner kid?)  Who didn't love Plucky Duck's "I want to flush it again" or the interplay of Buster and Babs?  Baby Taz ruled too! 

Tiny Toons = the lovechild of Muppet Babies & Looney Tunes. 

You can take that to the bank.

# 16 The Real Ghostbusters

Score: 62 / 100

Seasons: 7  Episodes: 147

First Aired: 1986 - 1991

Another one of the holy trilogy (or perhaps quintology) of cartoon franchises from the '80s.  The success of the film launched the cartoon, which, in turn, launched just about everything else Ghostbusters-related that came thereafter.  It was almost as if, in the beginning, God created Ghostbusters the movie but saw that it was without form and void...yada yada...and then said, "Let there be Ghostbusters the cartoon" and there was Ghostbusters the cartoon and God saw the cartoon and that it was good...and then he made a bowl of microwave popcorn and sat down to watch that shit!

Anywho, there are almost too many awesome things about Ghostbusters to count.  The logo is amazing and speaks for itself.  Seriously--they should have included it on that disc they sent out into space--it's THAT identifiable.  The characters are great and the adversaries are even better.  Slimer is like an illiterate ghost-Yoda...which is still awesome.  You know why?  Because without Slimer there'd be no:


I can't imagine a single kid not wanting to be a Ghostbuster at least once between '86 and '91.  Hell, you still see Ghostbuster costumes today!  Maybe it's not because of the cartoon...per se...but it could be.  I remember asking for Ghostbusters toys for either my third or fourth birthday, getting up early on my special day, and opening up my first Ghostbusters toy, which was a hand-held viewfinder type toy that projected different pictures of ghosts onto the wall.  Who didn't want the Ghost Trap and Proton Pack as a kid???

Also one of the most amazing theme songs EVER.  I mean, it stood up on its own as a single--what could possibly be cooler than that?


The only thing that sucked about Ghostbusters was the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  Seriously?  THAT'S the face of your villains?

I mean, really, who's afraid of the big-bad-Michelin-Tire-Man?

Utterly reprehensible.

To make up for it, here's a recipe for an alcoholic version of Ecto Cooler:

2 oz Midori® melon liqueur

1/2 oz Blue Curacao liqueur

1/2 oz Southern Comfort® peach liqueur
1/2 oz vodka

Splash amaretto almond liqueur

4 oz Tropicana Orange/Tangerine Juice

# 15 King of the Hill

Score: 62 / 100

Seasons: 13  Episodes: 259

First Aired: 1997 - 2010

King of the Hill was one of the few shows that I watched religiously when I was in high school.  The Hill family gave me many great moments to impersonate; I had most of the first two or three seasons memorized.  I still remember a ton of episodes from this show.  It's funny because it doesn't really stand out as anything special...but I loved it right out of the gate.  I still remember the Snipe hunt, all of the John Redcorn/Nancy/Dale moments, Dale menacing Peggy, Peggy's shoe size being revealed, Peggy winding up in a foot fetish video (no, not THIS one:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uc12hTXRv4&has_verified=1), and tons of other great moments.

Surprisingly, there was never a King of the Hill movie...but I still had to give it points in the movie category.  Hank Hill's predecessor DID appear in Beavis & Butthead Do America (an oft underrated and overlooked cinematic masterpiece) shortly before KotH came out. My first Hank Hill impersonation came as a result of that character. His name was Tom Anderson and his exchange with Beavis is as follows:

Tom Anderson: What in the hell is that damn noise?

[goes inside his camper and sees Beavis]

Tom Anderson: What?

Beavis: Hey, how's it going?

Tom Anderson: Pull your damn pants up, boy! I don't want to see that. Damn it, get out of here!

Tom Anderson: [throws Beavis out of camper] And if I ever catch you whacking in here again, I'm gonna hogtie you.
It's not that Tom Anderson...but would you really be that surprised if it was?
# 14 Scooby-Doo

Score: 64 / 100

Seasons: 23  Episodes: 381

First Aired: (Watched in the 1980s)

Okay...it's just ridiculous how many different Scooby Doo shows they've had.  I really had no way of narrowing down which one it was that I saw as a kid, so I'm leaving the general information for the franchise as a whole.  Scooby-Doo (whichever one it was) was one of those shows that had no overarching plot but rather followed the same format each episode: some sort of mystery is encountered and is attempted to be solved by the team of Scooby, Shaggy, Freddie, Daphne, and Velma.  The darker, mysterious characters are often meant to mislead the heroes (and, more specifically, the viewers) into thinking that one of them is the interloper.  By the end, the mystery is solved (usually but not always by Velma) and the true villain is revealed.

I always loved the theme song but the reason this show is as high on the list as it is is because it generated one of my nicknames that my parents used for me as a kid.  Sentimental value, let's call it.

Again, there was a live-action movie that I never saw but I'm starting to wish I did.  The cast featured some of the best young talent around (at the time) including Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Matthew Lillard.  Unfortunately, it also starred Rowan Atkinson (a.k.a. the Mr. Bean douchebag).

The universe has a way of balancing itself out though...since it ALSO starred Isla Fisher.  Good Lord that woman is gorgeous.  Did you SEE her in Wedding Crashers?  And she's married to Borat.  BORAT for crying out loud!

# 13 Looney Tunes

Score: 65 / 100

Seasons, Episodes, First Aired: ???

I'm sorry...my mind is still trying to wrap itself around the fact that that hairy beast gets to tup that ivory beauty.  Ugh.

Anyway...I'm pretty sure that Looney Tunes was watched by EVERY kid in America, almost without regard for what decade that kid grew up in.  I remember Looney Tunes being on on Sundays but I'm sure it was on every day.  It was the most ubiquitous cartoon out there and featured every awesome character we all grew up with this side of the Disney border.  Whether it was Bugs and Elmer, Sylvester and Tweey, Daffy, Taz, Porky Pig...every episode was awesome.  My favorite one involved Sylvester being Porky's pet cat and them stopping to spend the night at a creepy looking castle/house/hotel.


# 12 Spider-Man

Score: 68 / 100

Seasons: 5  Episodes: 65

First Aired: 1994 - 1998

This was a GREAT superhero cartoon--one of the best, to date.  Joe Perry performed the intro theme song, which is awesome.  It didn't stand out as doing anything fantastic or different with the franchise but what it did do was create a kick-ass animated rendition of the Spiderworld.  The Venom and later Carnage episodes were beyond amazing.

# 11 DuckTales

Score: 70 / 100

Seasons: 4  Episodes: 100

First Aired: 1987 - 1990

DuckTales had so many awesome elements to it.  Huey, Dewey, and Louie were like the counterparts/rivals of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore...and who didn't love Launchpad McQuack?  The Scrooge/Magica De Spell dynamic was great, as was the inclusion of Ma Beagle and the Beagle Boys (reminiscent of the evil family in The Gonies).  Bubba the Caveduck kicked ass as did Gyro Gearloose (especially in the video game version of the DuckTales--a quintessential Nintendo game!)  The DuckTales theme song is instantly recognizable and almost impossible not to sing along with if you know the words (especially the "Woo-ooh" parts...it's compulsory to sing those bits, just like performing air drums when the drums kick in at 3:16 into Phil Collins' mega-hit "In The Air Tonight."  Don't believe me?  Ask Alan's face:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TbnXqhHJkk  )

I'll never forget the episode that dealt with inflation.  I can still picture the boys wheeling a wheelbarrow full of money just go buy a lollipop!  Imagine that?  I know...it sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?  Oh...wait...

Plus, the DuckTales movie was EPIC!  I still remember the penguin girl and the colorful scarf.  I wanna watch that movie again now lol

Acoustic rendition of the DuckTales theme:


# 10 Animaniacs

Score: 70 / 100

Seasons: 5  Episodes: 99

First Aired: 1993 - 1998

Wow...Animaniacs.  It was like Looney Tunes taken to the next level (you hear that Tiny Toons?  ANIMANIACS took it to the next level.  SUCK IT!)  The cast of characters was expansive and unforgettable, not to mention the characters in one-off skits.  It was like The Three Stooges meets Weekend Update meets Histeria! meets The Magic School Bus meets any other awesome cartoon that fits but that I cannot remember.  Plus it made water towers relevant again.

Seriously though--do you have any idea how many awesome characters there were?  You had Yakko, Wakko, Dot, Dr. Otto von Scratchansniff, Hello Nurse (she could've been on the cover of "Enema of the State"!), Ralph the security guard, Slappy & Skippy Squirrel, the Goodfeathers (Bobby, Squit, and Pesto), Rita and Runt, Buttons and Mindy, Chicken Boo, Katie Ka-Boom, and PINKY AND THE FREAKIN' BRAIN (not to mention Snowball, Millie, and Pharfignewton).

Now, naturally, Pinky & The Brain were my favorite (as I would imagine they were pretty much everyone's favorites) supporting characters and I looked forward to each episode that featured them.  Imagine my exhilarated enthusiasm when I found out they were going to have their own show...

...except I forgot about the Starburst principle.  I kinda just made up the name but I've had the principle in mind for awhile.  Anyway...what's everyone's favorite original Starburst flavor?  I bet you didn't even finish reading that question before you answered either "The Pink One" or "Strawberry."  And you'd be right.  The next question is, "Who hasn't, at one point or another, looked at a pack of Starburst and thought, 'Damn, I sure wish there were more pink/strawberry ones; they should come out with a pack of JUST the strawberry ones!'"  The answer is no one; EVERYONE who has eaten Starburst has had that thought (and thought that it was their own streak of genius).  Those self-same people undoubtedly sighed, chalking it up to a pipe dream...but it DID happen.  For awhile (assuming they still don't have it now) they released a special ALL strawberry pack of Starburst.

...and you know what?

It sucked.

You know why?

Too much of a good thing.

Ditto for Pinky & The Brain.  You needed the other flavors/characters to bolster and sustain the awesomeness of the pink/strawberry/Pinky & the Brain.

Animaniacs also solidified Rob Paulsen as arguably the best voice actor of cartoons aired in the '90s.  He was the voice of Mighty Max and literally SCORES of other unforgettable cartoon characters including Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Here's but a small sample of the shows that he's been featured on:

Batman: The Animated Series
Biker Mice from Mars
Darkwing Duck
G.I. Joe
Goof Troop
Handy Manny
Mighty Max
Sonic the Hedgehog
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron
The Smurfs
The Snorks
The Tick
Tiny Toon Adventures

I've mentioned Frank Welker a few times so far.  Let's look at a sampling of his voice-acting chops:

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Batman: The Animated Series
Batman Beyond
Bobby's World
Challenge of the GoBots
Darkwing Duck
G.I. Joe
Garfield and Friends
Goof Troop
Inspector Gadget
The Jetsons
Muppet Babies
Mighty Max
The Real Ghostbusters
The Simpsons
The Smurfs
The Snorks
Sonic the Hedgehog
Tiny Toon Adventures
Tom and Jerry

Notice anything the bold cartoons have in common?  Exactly.  Rob Paulsen & Frank Welker FTW!

To finish off the Animaniacs section with a happy ending...one of the best parts of the show was the awesome songs they had.  I remember killing time in the library in high school memorizing the Countries of the World song.  Below are links to some of my favorite tunes from the show:

The Nations of the World:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDtdQ8bTvRc

The Names of All Fifty States and Their Capitols:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNUDDaEOvuY

All the words in the English language:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Etjd0lEpkk

# 09 Mighty Max
Score: 75 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 40

First Aired: 1993 - 1994

Mighty Max is a show that I liked when I watched it but that I've grown to love and appreciate even more since then.  The themes explored in each episode were really sophisticated, looking back.  I remember a bunch of different episodes but there are four that really stand out.  The two final episodes were just amazing and are among the best cartoon episodes of any action-ish animated show I've ever seen.  There was one episode that involved a megalomaniac genius taking evolution to the furthest degree possible (a pretty complex concept to tackle in a cartoon!).  I also remember an episode that dealt with the astral plane.  That one stuck with me and came to mind numerous times in later years as I explored the concept on my own.

Trivia Moment: that astral plane Mighty Max episode actually influenced part of my both of my novels: The Lion in the Desert and my second novel, The Walking Ghosts.

The premise for the show was pretty cool and appealed to any young boy dreaming of being special and imbued with magic and meaning.  The toys were pretty good and apparently preceded the show.  The only lame aspect of that is that the toys were a male version of the Polly Pocket toys...but the voice acting in the cartoon MORE than made up for it.  I mean, look at this cast:

Rob Paulsen (Max)
Richard Moll (Norman)    
Tim Curry (Skullmaster)
Tony Jay (Virgil)
Frank Welker (Warmonger)
Tress MacNeille (Max's Mom)

We've covered Rob Paulsen & Frank Welker already, Richard Moll played Bull on Night Court (the second Night Court star to appear on this list!), Tress MacNeille is of Simpsons renown, Tony Jay sounds like Shakespeare himself...and then there's the guy who played Skullmaster.  No joke, Frank Welker is AMAZING...but Tim Curry might just be the creepiest dude on the planet.  I mean, sure, Frankie Welks voices some wicked bad guys including Megatron...but, jeez, just LOOK at who Tim Curry has played:

Feeling brave?  Then enjoy!

# 08 Dragon Ball Z

Score: 75 / 100

Seasons: N/A  Episodes: 291

First Aired: (US) 1999 - 2003

Dragon Ball Z was the only cartoon that I watched RELIGIOUSLY in high school.  My best friend had cable and he would tape the episodes and then lend me the VHS or we'd watch the show together.  At the time, we were practicing martial arts with some regularity so watching the show served only to get us more pumped.

No joke--I don't think there has ever been a more exciting cartoon; it was like a testosterone explosion...multiplied by a million...and then taken to Super Saiyan proportions.  You'd be watching one of those fight scenes and would have to punch or destroy something just to release the build-up of manly energy inside of you.  Plus, each new storyline literally and figuratively took the show to new levels...

...it was AWESOME.

The video games were phenomenal, the action figures were excellent to collect given the long-standing history of the franchise and thus quality of the memorabilia, and the characters in the show were unforgettable.  I loved that there was constantly newer, bigger, badder enemies that forced the heroes to improve themselves as well.  Plus their names are all based on inane things like vegetables and underwear.

Japanese humor FTW!

Just a note: I gave DBZ a score of 75 / 100.  I gave the franchise a PERFECT score in the movies category...for the animated movies.  Unfortunately, they also released a live action film.  How could they have not known that it would be a terrible idea unless done perfectly?  Seriously--making a live action film version of Dragon Ball Z is just like doing the same for Stephen King's Dark Tower franchise: it has to be flawless otherwise it will get destroyed.  I wound up giving that ABORTION of a disasterpiece live action movie -20 because I had to

Imagine what that score could have been without that movie?

# 07 The Simpsons

Score: 82 / 100

Seasons: 22  Episodes: 474

First Aired: 1989 - Present

The Simpsons is arguably the greatest cartoon of all time and is certainly one of, if not the longest, lasting show out there.  Its ability to incorporate elements of pop culture and politics as well as a broad range of comedic stylings and devices renders it as an animated version of SNL.  Think about it--being "Simpsonized" as a guest character is on a comparable level as appearing as a guest host on SNL; both lists would read as a "Who's Who" of 20th and 21st century American (and in some cases, global) public figures.

I'll bet you can easily name at least twenty characters from the show off the top of your head without even trying.  Maybe even thirty.  How many other shows can you say that about?

Okay, money where my mouth is: Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa, Maggie, Santa's Little Helper, Snowball (any of them), Ned Flanders, Rod Flanders, Todd Flanders, Mr. Burns, Mr. Smithers, Carl, Moe, Police Chief Wiggum, Ralph Wiggum, Millhouse, Nelson, Cletus, Superintendent Chaumers, Principal Skinner, Bleeding Gums Murphy, Comic Book Shop Guy, Rainier Wolfcastle, Pimply Faced Teen, Apu, Patty, Selma, Troy McLure (R.I.P.), Kent Brockman.

Didn't even break a sweat.

My favorite part about the Simpsons has always been the Treehouse of Horror Halloween specials.  They've taken a BUNCH of material from the Twilight Zone (one of my top five favorite shows of all time) and I loved the alien characters. 

The Simpsons have withstood the test of time...but it's starting to feel like they've overstayed their welcome.  I would use the Rolling Stones or The Who as an example...but I have a better one: Brett Favre.  20 something seasons for both the player and the show, legions of fans, plenty of controversy (remember the writers demanding more money years ago?), both have had videos of themselves getting hit in the nuts by a football.

Interestingly enough, Brett Favre has never been featured on the Simpsons.


Maybe not.

Side note: I'm about to start reading Stephen King's Under the Dome and I can't help but wonder whether he got his idea from the Simpsons movie...or if it's the other way around...or, even stranger, if they've been able to exist completely separate from one another!

# 06 Batman: The Animated Series

Score: 85 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 85

First Aired: 1992 - 1995

This was far and away one of the most dark, suspenseful, amazing cartoons of its time.  I remember so many moments from the show, especially with the enemies Man-Bat and Clayface.  When the latter died in an episode I realized it was the first time I had ever seen a character actually die in a cartoon before.  The Mr. Freeze story was done really well too; they knew how to pluck the heartstrings with that one.

This was my first introduction to the DC world of Batman as a kid.  I never collected comics until only recently when Stephen King and Marvel teamed up to release graphic novels of a number of his works, so my knowledge of all things Marvel / DC came from cartoons rather than the printed page.  The characters' storylines were brought to life in the cartoon with great artistic skill and even better dialogue writing (think 1960s Adam West Batman...and then go to the exact opposite end of the spectrum).  Plus, just about every villain really holds his or her own.  Look at this list: 

The Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill.  Yeah, THAT Mark Hamill!)
The Penguin
The Riddler
Mr. Freeze
Two-Face (Richard Moll again holllllaaaaaa!)
Poison Ivy
Harley Quinn
The Scarecrow
Killer Croc
The Mad Hatter
and the best of them all: Ra's al Ghul.

The storytelling was great, the music was great, the action figures were phenomenal.  An all-around fantastical piece of animation.

# 05 Muppet Babies

Score: 87 / 100

Seasons: 8  Episodes: 107

First Aired: 1984 - 1991

When I started this list I knew that the Muppet Babies would be near the top but I wasn't sure of how high it would be; I think it's a perfect start to the top five.  This was my ALL-TIME favorite show as a little kid.  I loved Gonzo first, then Kermit, then Fozzy, Rowlf, Animal, Beaker, Bunsen, Scooter, Skeeter, and Miss Piggy (I know, I know--it seems like a misogynistic list but it's just how it worked out.  Nothing against puppets with vaginas--I LOVED Avenue Q!)

The show had no overarching plot but rather followed how the babies' wild imaginations and infantile/toddleresque perspective of the world would influence their approaches to a variety of problems or situations such as overcoming a fear of the dark, deciding what to be when they grow up, and imagining what a trip to an amusement park might be like.  In essence, Bobby's World stole its premise from the Muppet Babies.

Now you would think that, having no natural predators, the Muppet Babies would be scored low in the Villains category...but you'd be wrong in your cogitation.  The reality is quite to the contrary: I gave them a 10 / 10 for Villains.  Why?  One word:  Nanny.  What's creepier than a striped-sock wearing giant lady whose face you NEVER SEE a single time in 107 episodes?


How awesome are the Muppet Babies?  In an upcoming film, Animal goes to anger management rehab and one DAVID ERIC GROHL sits in on the skins for him.  That's how bad ass Animal and his muppet pals are.

Dave Fucking Grohl.

Little Known Fact about Me: I once received a Rock-and-Roll enema courtesy of Dr. G himself once.

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Dave Grohl...or Jesus?  That's right!  There's no difference.

Original photo uploaded to http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0e/Dave-Grohl.jpg  by Leahtwosaints  
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(327 KB)Leahtwosaints

# 04 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Score: 89 / 100

Seasons: 10  Episodes: 193

First Aired: 1987 - 1996

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Heroes in a half-shell!)--was there a bigger franchise to come out of the '80s?  (Maybe, but more on that later).  Everyone had their favorite turtle (I was a Raphael and Donatello guy early on, adding Leo into the mix later on) and bad guy.  The Shredder is one of the top cartoon villains of all time...Mr. Oroku Saki himself. 

TMNT was easily the most balanced franchise in terms of its forays into different media and venues; everything that TMNT touched (early on) was gold.  Great cartoon with solid characters, tons of action, a coherent and awesome storyline?  Check.  Strong comic book presence?  Check.  GREAT line of action figures?  Check.  Phenomenal trilogy of movies?  Check.  Some of the best side-scrolling/action video games in the history of the genre?  Check!!!   

The first Ninja Turtles game for the NES is one of the hardest games ever made; the second TMT game--"The Arcade Game" is one of the best.  The third game was decent but the fourth "Turtles in Time" is easily one of my all-time favorite games.

All three movies were great and involved animatronic live-action acting.  Frickin' A!!!  

# 03 X-Men

Score: 92 / 100

Seasons: 5  Episodes: 76

First Aired: 1992 - 1997

X-Men was my first introduction to the awesomeness that is Wolverine, Cyclops, Magneto, Sabretooth, Apocalypse, Archangel, and the scores of characters from the Marvel universe.  The storyline was great and somewhat steady (returning to earlier conflicts or unresolved issues in later episodes) while exploring microcosmic stories such as the love triangle between Wolverine/Jean Grey/Cyclops or the rivalry between Professor X and Magneto. 

As would be expected from a Marvel show, the artwork was truly stellar.  The writing was great and the music really added much to the show; it was virtually perfect on the visual, intellectual, and auditory levels.  Everything about the show made it worth watching...over and over and over again.

The action figure line associated with the show is one of my all-time favorite; I still have a huge collection of toys that I will pass down to Timmy when he's old enough either to play with them or at least to appreciate them.  I had almost all eight incarnations of Wolverine as well as the old / new versions of most of the other X-Men. 

The show worked very well on an emotional level as well as on an entertainment and marketing ones.  You really felt for Rogue knowing that she could never love the way she would want to; you understood Wolverine's rage; and you were inspired by Professor X's altruism and idealistic nature.

I'm definitely looking forward to re-watching these episodes with Timmy when he's older; I hope he'll be as into them as I was (and probably still am!) 

Watching X-Men was like seeing a comic book come to life.

# 02 G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero

Score: 99 / 100

Seasons: 2  Episodes: 95

First Aired: 1985 - 1987

G.I. Joe was, perhaps, the ideal cartoon for any little boy growing up in the '80s.  It had action, drama, suspense, mystery, action, romance, action, ninjas, Sgt. Slaughter, and action; the only thing that it lacked was bacon...but that's a separate issue.

G.I. Joe had some great heroes (screw Flint and Duke and all of the other frontrunners--I'm talking about bad-ass mofos like Roadblock, Gung-Ho...and Sgt. Slaughter) but C.O.B.R.A. had some really [insert superlative here] villains.  Cobra Commander and Destro were alright...but I'm talking Serpentor, Dr. Mindbender, Golobulus, Nemesis Enforcer, Cobra Ninja Viper, the Python Patrol, Night Creeper, Night Creeper Leader...oh yeah...

and Storm Shadow.

What toy was more coveted as a boy in the late '80s than the original Storm Shadow? 

Then, of course, there was Snake Eyes.  I can't think of a more kick-ass rivalry than the one these two shared.  Granted, you have Optimus/Megatron and Wolverine/Sabretooth...but come on...Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes.  Any episode that either of those dudes were in was unbelievable.

The best parts about the series, though, are the movie and the action figures.  The movie was great and introduced a completely new enemy in the Cobra-La sect.  It also had some pretty epic moments.  It was definitely an animated-cinematographic highlight of the time.

But let's be real...the real draw was the toys.  They were the perfect size and had the perfect amont of poseability to render them, truly, the perfect action figures.  They came with awesome accessories (and the occasional animal sidekick); even the packaging was great, giving biographical information for each figure.

I know it might seem odd to be so enthusiastic about these action figures...but I spent the great deal of my childhood playing with them, having them engage in epic battles or going on seemingly never-ending quests.

G.I. Joe gave me hours of enjoyment, whether it was watching the show or the movie, playing with the toys, or reading up about them, it really was one of the defining shows of my childhood...

# 01 Transformers

Score: 100 / 100

Seasons: 4  Episodes: 98

First Aired: 1984 - 1987

...but it wasn't THE defining show; that honor goes to Transformers.  Far and away the coolest cartoon ever and the greatest collection of action figures as well as an amazing movie.  The theatrical Transformers film was Orson Welles' final body of work before his death.  It also had a wicked song called "The Touch." 

I remember damn near every Transformers character and can recall tons of episodes.  Much like G.I. Joe, though, the best part about the show was its line of toys.  Transformers were the first toy that actually made you think; instead of just smashing them together you had to figure out how to transform them (and of course doing so was half the fun.  I probably made that transforming noise a million times when I was a kid!)  You had the primary characters from the show, then ones that combined into even bigger robots, and then gigantic bases (and even more gigantic bases, towards the end). 

The realistic design of the toys lent to their awesomeness, as did the sheer variety of Transformers characters.  You had cars, trucks, jets, dinosaurs, insects, mythical creatures, futuristic space things...and finally, recently, whole planets. 

How much of an impression did Transformers leave on me as a kid?  I waited almost twenty years for them to come out with a Unicron action figure and when I finally found it last year, I bought it in ebay.  It was expensive and I knew I'd never play with it...but I knew I had to have it; it fulfilled a childhood dream.

The show also featured a worthy adversary to Frank Welker: Peter Cullen--the voice of Optimus Prime.

The storyline of the show was flawless (unless you want to dock points for them not setting it far enough into the future, which I could understand) and seemed to get ever more expansive as the show continued to grow in terms of its cast and its scope.

Look at the success that the Transformers franchise has had, almost thirty years since its appearance on American television.  It's spawned numerous successful cartoon incarnations since the original show ended, it's launched two blockbuster films (with another one on the way), it's released wave after wave of timeless toys (indeed the '80s Transformers toys could stand up to the current assortment available today), and, in defiance of common thinking about franchises, it seems to have grown in popularity since the original show ended.  Sure, other franchises have attempted similar comebacks (TMNT and G.I. Joe among them)...but it's often forced by the suits seeking to turn a profit and thus said comebacks ultimately fall flat among consumers; not the Transformers though.

This is the greatest cartoon ever aired and is one I hope my son will cherish as much as I have throughout my life!


Well, not really.  I know what some of you are thinking.  If you're a female reader who fits the demographic age group I set out at the beginning, I'm sure there are numerous cartoons whose exclusion you are stunned by.  Of course, if you're a male who fits the demographic, I'm sure you're thinking one, if not two things:

Where the fuck is He-Man and/or Voltron?

Simple: I never got into either.  I missed the Voltron boat and just never watched He-Man.  I think I had a Skeletor was the only He-Man figure I had growing up...and it never struck me as anything special.

If you're more of a '90s kid, you might be wondering where Beavis & Butthead are on the list (or Ren & Stimpy, or any other similar show).  My response is simple: I didn't get cable until high school (almost the end, actually) so I had missed most of the cable cartoons and had outgrown them by the time I was able to watch Cartoon network.

There are two things that I need to mention though regarding two shows that didn't make the list.

Captain Planet and South Park are the two worst cartoons in the history of television.  Captain Planet appealed to some, I'm sure, but I absolutely hated it.  I don't remember why but I know I had a visceral response to seeing it on television--I abhorred it that much.

Then there's South Park. 

I've never seen a bigger piece of animated shit in my entire life; I've actually felt myself getting dumber every second I've wasted watching that show (thank God it's probably totaled sixty seconds or so, at most).  The animation (if you can call it that) is piss-poor terrible.  I know it's meant to be shitty but it really goes above and beyond.  The characters are obnoxious, the voices are even worse, and the various premises used on the show are ridiculous.  I know there's a HUGE following for South Park out there and I suppose it just comes down to a matter of taste.  I can't stand the show but I understand its relevance and importance (much to my chagrin) in terms of pop culture; it's almost on a level with the Simpsons but is probably closer to Family Guy in terms of its relevancy.

Speaking of--the only reason Family Guy wasn't included is that I didn't actually start watching it until 2004 or 2005 so I couldn't include it in the list.  My guess, though, is that it definitely would've landed in the top 25 if not higher.  Come on--what other cartoon has dared to have a character play Marco Polo with Helen Keller!?