Sorry, Smallville fans, but there's no competition here! Featuring the voice of Tim Daly as the title character, the show mixed elements of both the post-Crisis version of Superman with older, more classic aspects. As with all of the series that spun-off from Batman: TAS , the focus was on presenting a more "realistic" version of the DC universe. As such, this led to some rather serious storylines for the Kryptonian at times, as with the fantastic series finale Legacy which saw Supes getting brainwashed by galactic boogeyman Darkseid into attacking Earth!
This is a storyline that would eventually play into the follow-up series, Justice League , which we'll be getting to a bit later on this list Though short-lived, Avatar: The Last Airbender garnered a lot of attention with its crisp animation and carefully crafted fantasy world based on Eastern culture. It was different in many ways who would've guessed a year-old bald kid could be popular?
Fans of true Japanese anime think Avatar is a cheap American knockoff, and there's no denying that the show borrowed heavily from anime.
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In an industry often dominated by Asian imports, Avatar found a way to emulate the best features of Japanese animation while keeping some unique elements of western cartoons, and that formula made it the top rated animated show in its demographic. It's so popular with the kids that the King's Island theme parks cashed in on the fun with an Avatar -themed thrill ride.
The Avatar phenomenon is sure to grow even more with the upcoming release of three live-action movies directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan. Talk about a vast and expansive sci-fi franchise. Three different, and unrelated, anime series were combined to create the world of Robotech. The technology aboard an alien ship that crashed to Earth is used to help the human race develop robots that are used to fight off alien invaders. That was the basic premise. But due to the fact that the three cartoons were separated in their characters and themes, three different generational "wars" were created to explain the new heroes and adversaries.
There is way too much to get into here regarding the entire saga of Robotech and the movies and such, but just know that it was one of the first pieces of anime to come over to America with a ton of its violence and sex left intact. It was pretty mature stuff when compared to the hijinx of The Smurfs to say the least. Most of the earlier anime that we got, like Astro Boy and Speed Racer , were softened for American audiences and had a lot of the more mature themes and scenes removed, but Robotech had a bunch of that stuff left in. Anime purists might like to trash Robotech as a patchwork Franken-show that crapped all over the original separate stories to create one big unintended masterwork, but for us it changed the way we looked at cartoons and raised the bar for storylines and violence.
Plus, we probably wouldn't have been able to follow the original shows anyway. Not a TV show as much as an ongoing series of shorts that made the Saturday morning circuit for almost 30 years, Schoolhouse Rock!
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While new episodes weren't particularly the norm throughout that long period, the series' lessons about history and English and science and all that other good stuff were more than worthy of the many repeat airings they were given, especially as they were couched in the fun and instantly appealing for kids and adults world of music.
The catchy ditty "Conjunction Junction," the conservationist-minded "The Energy Blues," and of course the how-it-works classic "I'm Just a Bill" are just a few of the classics from this series, though a quick search on YouTube reveals a ton of more Schoolhouse rock-outs that have been laying dormant in our minds for decades now, just waiting to burst out in song and teach us an enjoyable lesson once again.
We certainly agree that MTV is a pale imitation of its former self, and that its glut of television series doesn't reflect the "music" part of their name at all. But there was a time when the shows MTV offered were actually pretty clever and interesting, and Liquid Television was among the best of the bunch. A combination of material created expressly for the show and older material now getting the chance to be seen by a broad audience, Liquid Television offered offbeat and creative animated shorts that ran the gamut from silly and amusing to truly surreal and trippy.
The show served as the launching pad for some very notable franchises too -- it was here that Mike Judge's short, "Frog Baseball," about two giggling morons playing a rather violent sport, gained the popularity to spin-off the soon to be huge Beavis and Butt-head. Then there was the ultra-cool Aeon Flux segments, about the silent but deadly though always doomed to die herself assassin, which were actually stronger than the full-length Aeon Flux series that followed it.
First introduced via an imaginary sequence in The Muppets Take Manhattan , the cute and fuzzy Muppet Babies proved so popular that an animated spin-off was quickly launched. Focusing on baby versions of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and their friends, episodes revolved around the vivid imaginations of the characters, which allowed them to have globetrotting, otherworldly adventures without ever leaving their nursery.
Obviously aimed at a very young audience, this was a legitimately charming series that involved some clever ideas, such as having every visual be from the perspective of the children, meaning objects above them loomed in the distance -- and of course the face of their beloved nanny was never seen.
For kids growing up in the s, the show was also exciting because it included clips from many popular films of the era, such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones , which would be crudely but effectively incorporated into the Muppet Babies' fantasies, allowing them to take part in an X-Wing flight or run from a giant boulder.
It's rumored that some rights issues with these numerous clips may be a factor in releasing Muppet Babies on DVD -- hopefully, if that is the case, the situation can be eventually resolved. You'll find other Spider-Man series on this list, as the iconic comic book character has been brought to life via animation several times since he was created in the s. But it's the most recent series that we're giving the highest slot to, as it has quickly established itself as the definitive animated version of Spider-Man.
Gargoyles creator Greg Weisman clearly has great affection for Peter Parker, and culls from not only the original comic books but also the recent Ultimate Spider-Man title and the popular Sam Raimi film series for inspiration. But rather than coming off as a rehash, there is energy, humor and pathos in this series that make these stories feel as fresh as ever.
Beginning with Peter Parker still in high school, the first season did a wonderful job establishing Spider-Man's world, and his relationships with characters like Gwen Stacy, Norman and Harry Osborn and Mary Jane Watson, while offering pitch perfect incarnations of allies and foes like Black Cat and Doctor Octopus.
Considering how strong Season 1 was, we're very excited to see where this show goes next. This classic show about exotic supercar races was the first taste of anime for many American viewers. It featured the best car in all of anime, the Mach 5. Speed Racer 's mass-market success helped set the stage for the influx of anime we see in today's media, mainly because the American adaptation of the show was surprisingly good for the time.
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The new English theme song was a bit reminiscent of old radio jingles, and millions of Americans can recognize the tune in just a few notes. The title change from "Mach GoGoGo" to "Speed Racer" was probably one of the best marketing moves in animation history, and the often-parodied, fast-paced, sometimes-awkward English dub added a strange kind of charm to the show. In retrospect, the show comes off as campy and low-budget, but back in the '60s and '70s it was the new hotness, and its legend grew even more with syndication.
Attempts to remake and modernize the series have pretty much ended in disaster, but the original still remains a nostalgic favorite with fans across the world. Co-created by Loren Bouchard Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist and Brendon Small who would go on to create Metalocalypse , Home Movies tells the story of a precocious eight-year-old boy named Brendon voiced by Small who likes to create home films with his friends. The writing is hilarious, driven forward by the comedic deliveries of the cast.
Brendon's conversations with the other characters feel real, from his mother Paula voiced by comedian Paula Poundstone in the first season, then by Janine Ditullio for the remainder of the series , to soccer coach John McGuirk voiced by H. The first season, which lasted just five episodes on UPN before being picked up by Cartoon Network, was produced in production company Soup2Nut's Squigglevision, the signature style of Dr.
The subsequent four seasons were produced in a more straightforward animation style. King of the Hill has never gotten the hype of the shows that it shares FOX's Sunday night schedule with, and the Hill family might not have the "buzz" factor of the Simpsons and the Griffins, but we're guessing Hank Hill would be fine with that. The style of comedy is much more subtle and character based than most animation, and in fact King of the Hill is so dialogue oriented, it could probably work just as well in live-action as animation. Hank, Peg, Bobby and Luanne are wonderfully awkward -- coming off as very believable as they try so hard to be the This often under-appreciated series exists in a fully formed world, as characters like Dale, Bill, Boomhauer and Lucky bring the town of Arlen, Texas to life.
Of all the projects completed by ex- Saturday Night Live players, The Critic is the most fully realized, hilarious and heartwarming.
It took its cues from Woody Allen movies like Annie Hall and Manhattan , and offered up a style of random abstract humor that wouldn't really be seen again until Family Guy. Jon Lovitz simply was Jay Sherman. We know it's really Lovitz, since he doesn't alter his voice in any way to inhabit the cartoon character, but Jay Sherman was such an endearing sad sack of a film critic that he completely stands alone as his own entity outside of Lovitz.
And that's a good thing. All fat Jay Sherman wanted to do was wear sweaters, love his fat son, find someone to grow old with, argue with his tummy and see a good movie. For the love of God, just give him a good movie. Instead he's forced to watch such tripe as Schwarzenegger's Rabbi P. This show was just grand. And hey, Jay Sherman even got a guest spot on The Simpsons. Who else can say that? Seth Green and Matt Senreich never stopped loving toys, and guess what?
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Neither did we. Tapping into the collective geek memory its creators and audience share, Green and Senreich's Adult Swim series delivers fast-paced comedy via segments lasting anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Using stop-motion animation and toys and a bevy of notable voice actors , the targets here run a wide pop-culture gamut, from the Olsen Twins to He-Man.
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When it comes to the toys, movies and cartoons Robot Chicken has parodied, there is obviously a lot of knowledge and love at work -- you have to remember Turbo Teen well to make such a twisted, hysterical send-up as the one seen on Robot Chicken. Welcome to the cartoon's first "procedural. Scooby Doo Where Are You! Chasing ghosts and revealing them to be old crusty codgers in masks. This was the show where they changed the world by tackling the tough cases that no one else could crack. Their van would break down, and then they'd all learn that wherever it was that they managed to get stranded had a ghost problem.
Then Fred would have the brilliant idea of splitting up the gang to look for clues, in which he always sent the two pothead cowards, Shaggy and Scooby, off together. Then they'd set a trap for the fake monster.
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And of course Damn straight. And we wouldn't have it any other way. Robots in disguise! Has there ever been a show that's more tailor-made for young boys? There have been numerous iterations of the animated series over the years, but here at IGN our favorite will always be the original s cartoon. Viewed 23 years after its debut, The Transformers is hardly what we could call great television.
The stories are fairly simplistic and repetitive, consisting of variations on the same storylines, with many of the same beats occurring time and again. But as kids we certainly weren't troubled by how many times Megatron would yell "Decepticons, retreat! We just enjoyed seeing giant robots change into other things and then fight each other. There's a part of us that actually appreciates The Real Ghostbusters more than the actual Ghostbusters movies.
Well, certainly the second movie anyway. Don't get us wrong, the first movie was classically hilarious, but The Real Ghostbusters just told some really mean and nasty supernatural stories. Their take on The Boogeyman -- and we all know that everyone has their own take on that creature -- was the best we've ever seen. This show had a notably darker tone than other cartoons on at the time, and did well in its research of creature myths and folklore. Most of the time, like on the CW show Supernatural , Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Winston could often be found thwarting famously diabolical creatures.
They all fell to the power of the real Ghostbusters! Interesting note: The original voice of Venkman was old Rhoda voice actor Lorenzo Music, who was also the voice of Garfield for 12 years. And who did they get to do the voice for Garfield in the movies in order to echo the old Lorenzo Music dry tone? Bill Murray.
Not to be confused with the new CGI series which has a "The" in front of the title, Clone Wars debuted in on Cartoon Network as a series of three-minute shorts eventually extended to minute segments.