The criteria for this list are roughly 20 years. I will allow for some leniency. Roughly 20 years. I polled over a hundred geeks, gamers, and girls for these results. I then took those results and ran it through a complex machine made up of intense algorithms and 20 sided die rolls. It is important to note here that even though these are 8 of the greatest cartoons ever made, part of what makes them great is having existed in that time. I don’t recommend popping in an old Burger King orange VHS tape with the Ninja Turtles on it and hoping to get quality programming. Hearing Krang’s voice in my head he sounds menacing. Shredder was a scary bad ass ninja master covered in knives (thinking about it now that is pretty bad ass. If there are any ninja masters out there go make a suit of knives, you’ll be unstoppable). I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Krang is stupid and the cartoon Shredder is moronic (his minions were two of the most idiotic cliche’d 80’s thug, only in the form of a mutated pig and rhino). I hope Micheal Bay does a better job with his Rocksteady and BeeBop. Maybe changes their names to DubStep and PartyRock. One could be a krunk dancing former Triad from New York, and the other an E tripping club kid. Both can get mutated by Shredder and Bay can keep the Rhino and Pig theme (I doubt he will. Probably go with Panda and Honey Badger). Enough about Micheal Bay and the abomination he’s working on. The List.
8. Pirates of Dark Water. I’m not even totally sure what this show was about. I just remember it was awesome. It came out at a time in my life when I realized that I loved depth and complex story telling in richly developed worlds. I didn’t know that’s what I liked at the time though. That would have made for an odd 8 year old. Dark Water though was awesome, I remember that. I think the main character was on a quest for eight hidden treasures and he had a broken compass passed down from his long lost father. There were living oil slicks in the water like that ooze in Creepshow 2 and they effed you up. I think his sword was really just a sword chunk. Don’t quite remember but it was voted on and made the list.
7. Doug. This made for a heated debate. Some people out there swear that this was one of the shows most despised from their young child memories. Others still wonder today if Doug Funny ever ended up with Patty Mayonnaise and consider their love to be as epic as Kevin and Winnie. You say potato I say SHUT YOUR STUPID FACE! Number seven with a bullet. I hope he kept up with Skeeter Valentine too. Like Paul and Kevin.
6. Dragon Ball z. Tough call on this one. I mean, it was released in Japan in ’86. It didn’t finish it’s complete English run until I was in college. It makes the list though. It’s a brilliant show. I’ve shown it to my kids today and they loved it. I re-watched the entire run a year ago and it was as good then as it was when I first saw it in 1995. Anime has been good since the beginning and I almost feel like it’s cheating to put this on here. But this is a list of the best and DBZ clearly IS.
5. Sailor Moon. The 20 sided die rolls are never wrong. Votes are in and the Sailor Scouts, with Sailor Mini Moon and those two gay girls who turned out to be cousins (I know that’s not how it really was) are breaking through at number 5. Tuxedo mask is flinging roses all over this list. I liked this show alright. I know a few sentences back I swore that all anime is great, but this one was really only okay for me. I get it, but I’m not a girl. I did like it though. And the females who loved this show are brilliant (unless they also like Hello Kitty).
4. Tiny Toons. This show shaped a whole generation and inspired the animation at that time. Loony Toons were not the cartoons for the kids of the 90’s. They were your parents cartoons. That’s how they it. I don’t feel that way anymore, but besides Duck Tails the only choices I had as an early-early kid were Popeye, Loony Toons, The Flinstones, and the Jetsons. Those shows deserve an honorable mention I guess but I fast forward through their clips when I’m watching Teen Titans on Boomerang. Tiny Toon Adventures was a gateway into my childish imagination. It paved the way for the Tex Avery inspired Animaniacs and comedy only Freakazoid. Wikipedia discribes this period as the animation renaissance. Buster Bunny and Babs Bunny “No relation” were the driving force behind said renaissance.
3. Scooby Doo. Unlike the tired Warner Cartoons of my ‘rents era (and I hate to dog them too much because I did like them when those toons were all there was), this series really captured something that can’t be discribed. Dancing with a macabre fascination that is really tough to nail down and sparks in childhood. Almost as if it presented the supernatural to you, but in a playful way so you didn’t have to go to bed scared. I’m not a friggin’ psychologist. That’s how it is really (maybe). It was the supernatural that made this show, and nine of ten times it turned out to be Old Man Whithers in an old lady mask with powdered-donut powder and spooky noises created by sheet paper and a comb. The votes came in and the 20 sided die concurred and Scooby graces the list at number 3.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Don’t rewatch this show. It won’t give you the same pleasures DBZ from five slots back gives you. You’ll be so disappointed that you want Micheal Bay to bring about his horror just to wipe this show from your mind. The video games, the movies, and all the ninja moves I thought I learned back then are all better in my head. Can’t bring myself to watch this series ever again, though I do remember some episodes specifically that I WANT to have been awesome. Like the one where they accidentally mutate another turtle from a glass bowl and he calls the tiny plastic tree from that bowl his “binky”. At some point burger king ran a promotion where they gave out TMNT VHS tapes. It was awesome! In 2009 the original ’87 turtles cameo’d in the revised series from 2003 in a TMNT crossover movie. Definitely worth checking out.
1. Batman the Animated Series. I shouldn’t have to explain why this is the pace de resistance’. This show is still good. Following the Tim Burton film and using the same timeless noir feel this show is a staple in nerd animation. Still valid today and heralding pleasantries to the forefront of hearts and minds even the name surfaces here on your screen. You can hear the animation (and not just because your wife is playing Lego Batman 2 on the Vita behind you. Watch for my review soon), and smell the popcorn. You probably can’t really smell the popcorn, and if you can make sure there’s popcorn nearby or you might be having a stroke. This show brought Batman back. Hardcore geeks and comic fans never forgot Bats of course, and the mainstream will never forget him. But combined with the Burton films this TV series is the reason people know that Harvey Dent is Two Face. It’s why people recognize Clayface. It gave Mark Hamil something to do as the leading voice of the Joker to this day. It invented Harley Quin for Pete Rose’s sake! I’m going to go out tomorrow and buy the Suicide Squad in TPB just so I can see some Harley Quin. Kevin Smith named his daughter after that character and it is number one on our list and number one in our hearts. May it live on for a thousand more years. So Say We All.
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