80. Mighty Max - 1993-1994
Now who remembers this one? No one? Well it's understandable; this was the Ben 10 of the 90s, Mighty Max. The story centers around Max, a teenager who has been chosen to protect a mystic baseball cap that allows him to jump time dimensions from the evil Skullmaster, he is joined by Virgil a wise old chicken/fowl and an immense warrior named Norman. The show was the direct opposite to the Polly Pocket toyline and meant to encourage boys to buy what is essentially the same toy, probably why it didn't last. But I find it memorable for two reasons: The action and content are really good, very dark color schemes and some mature situations set it on the same level as Swat Kats; the other reason is that this really is no different to Ben 10, okay Ben 10 did better and the protagonist in Mighty Max isn't as capable as Ben Tennyson but it doesn't really matter, what matters is that it connected with what ten year old boys like and that's cool looking monsters and the action that goes with it, you can't ask for anything else.
79. Recess - 1997-2001
Recess is basically everything to do with the playground played up to eleven. A mixture of urban myths, exaggerated games and a mixture of some of the best characters in a toon Disney for a longtime. It's about a group of kids with various personas in the familiar school environment. TJ is the class clown leader, Vince is the star athlete, Gretchen is the geek, Gus is the nervous wimp, Mikey is the gentle giant and Spinelli is the tough tomboy. But what really surprises people about this show is how deep the characters go. TJ hates being alone, Vince fears losing, Gretchen can be jerk, Gus can end up being a psycho, Mikey's unbelievable singing voice and finally my favorite character Spinelli revealing that she not only has the most normal family but has a hidden feminine side and I call upon her a lot for inspiration for my female characters. And that is what Recess essentially is, when you think you can stereotype the cast you then come across something surprising.
78. Sharky & George - 1988-1992
A yes Sharky & George, the crime busters of the sea. All you do is take Dick Tracey and create an underwater world. People will likely give me some grief for not sticking Spongebob in the top 100 but to be honest, I like my undersea worlds to be more fish like. A strange comment but you'll see why in a minute. The story is about Sharky & George, one is a pink shark in a fedora the other is a blue & yellow fish; every episode features the duo stopping crime in a world inspired by Dick Tracey and James Bond. Going back to the fish like comment, I prefer this to Spongebob because it's easier to get immersed into the world they create. When I see this underwater world I believe it is an underwater world and that sometimes is more valuable than overwhelming popularity that's dying slowly.
77. Code Lyoko - 2003-Present
My regular viewers will notice that over half the entries in this segment are on stuff I've not long covered; it's not laziness, this is just where I feel these shows should be positioned. The show is about a group of kids in a French Boarding School who discover a girl named Aelita trapped in the virtual world of Lyoko. They enter the world taking on CGI forms to take down the daily threats of the XANA while trying to free Aelita. This is French Cartoon making at it's finest; a little known fact about European cartoon making especially in France is that it's always done as a short film pilot first before being distributed to everyone and the budgets behind them are usually high, okay they aren't immune to crap but it's usually on stuff that's imported to them so they can be forgiven for not knowing what to do with it. Code Lyoko is a good example of their best and it's legacy has spread to anime as well since it's creator worked on Symphogear and most recently Space Dandy.
76. Invader Zim - 2001-2006
Now for something dark & zany from Invader Zim. Zim is an Invader whose antics have gotten out of hand so his superiors send him to Earth thinking that it's a good idea to get him out the way, even giving him a screw loose robot named GIR to accompany him. When Nickelodeon first released this I was surprised at the choice of design, well mostly; As Told by Ginger was the first to test the water for more mature content after a few years of lower age releases but Invader Zim didn't just test the water it jumped in head first. Zim is hilarious, GIR is hilarious, the comedy is fast paced the colors are dark and disturbing, the music is pretty intense and it's just a very well made cartoon, perhaps too well made. It was cancelled due to breaking it's budget far too much which is probably the real story despite other myths.
85. Redwall – 1999-2003
Redwall was a popular children’s novel in Britain written by the late Brian Jacques, a man who often preferred old methods to the new technologies of today. The original novel was handwritten at 800 pages long, far exceeding normal standards for children’s books at the time. The story is about a young mouse named Matthias who begins the series reminiscing about his days at Redwall Abbey and defending it from the villainous rat Cluny the Scourge. It’s a typical adventure story in medieval settings and each series centers around a different protagonist, keeping in line with the book series. What I like is that it pulls off a typically British feel of not holding back. If anyone has seen Watership Down then you know what I’m on about, if not then let’s just say that cute fluffy woodland creatures are expendable but at the same time when each character dies there’s always an emotional impact when watching it and it’s something which can only be done by certain shows and the British seem to nail it every time they do it. There’s another show further up the list which does this sort of thing even better but you’ll have to wait until it’s posted.
84. Ren & Stimpy – 1991-1995
Ren & Stimpy is one of the first cartoons syndicated for Nickelodeon during the 90s that pitted them against emerging cartoon powerhouse Cartoon Network. But in most cases while the original cast of Nicktoons consist of cartoons for kids with adult jokes hidden within, Ren & Stimpy is often considered an adult cartoon right off the block, with a mixture of surreal, toilet, gag and slapstick humor but stupid enough that only kids would watch it anyway. So we have a hot tempered Chihuahua named Ren Hoek and a blue nosed cat named Stimpy, but the show isn’t just about them, there are a host of other side characters within the universe that had equal screen time including Muddy Mudskipper & Powdered Toast Man to name a couple of favorites. The dark twisted color schemes added with what is dubbed off-color humor made this show standout among its peers and has only ever been successfully copied by two other shows, Cow & Chicken and Regular Show, the latter of which is currently Cartoon Network’s best show after Adventure Time, which speaks volumes about peoples tastes in cartoons at the moment of returning to a more risque setting of more mature content that’s still socially acceptable for kids which Nickelodeon is starting to re-accept into its domain and it has its own creation to thank for it.
83. He-Man & the Masters of the Universe – 1983-2004
Okay looking at this show now does make me wonder why I watched it in the first place; I’ve seen all the gay jokes and that one viral video which pretty much sums up what He-Man is like but when you look at your child self and review it through those eyes you can see the appeal. He-Man is a classic hero cartoon about a tough macho guy beating up bad guys and to be honest, what more do you want? I grew up with this show, I probably shouted “I have the power” at least once while watching it and likely annoyed my parents with it as well, but at the same I cannot fake the enjoyment I had as a child and that’s why it’s here on this list. I also enjoyed She-Ra as well, probably why I’m so accepting of Magical Girl shows.
82. Fairly Odd Parents – 1998-Present
The Fairly Odd Parents started as a creation by Butch Hartman for a Nicktoons segment called Oh Yeah Cartoons hence the earlier date on the title. The show is about Timmy Turner, an average kid with a rather miserable life under the rule of sadistic babysitters, school bullies and idiot parents; that is until he is joined by Fairy God Parents Cosmo & Wanda and as with any kid with access to unlimited wishes does, hilarity ensues. I always enjoyed the fast paced comedy in this show, especially when you know that anything can happen, I especially like Cosmo who comes out with some brilliant quotes which I like using myself. The series has stagnated in recent years as Nickelodeon insist on working the series to death like they’re doing with Spongebob, but while that show has jumped the shark, this one is just a victim of being around too long.
81. Cybersix – 1999
A rare comic book cartoon adaption that slipped under the radar during its run mainly because no one had heard of Cybersix before. It’s about a former Nazi named Von Reichter who creates a cyborg army to conquer the world but does his job a little too well when they all develop human emotions, which causes him to destroy them all but one female cyborg escapes who is named Cybersix. Cybersix takes on the disguise of a male literature teacher in an Argentine town while fighting Von Reichter’s mutants at night because she needs their substance to stay alive which also makes her a hero of the town. Inevitably she manages to drag fellow teacher Lucas Amato into the fight after he gets a little too curious. This is for adults, I’m not going to sugar coat it, the source material gets very graphic and can even go further than some hentai but the toned down cartoon still manages to remain enjoyable despite that and should be judged on the same level as 90s Batman & X-Men.
90. Galaxy High – 1986
I had a tough time selecting between this and Gravedale High a very similar show with more or less the same setup but seeing as Schools about Monsters has kind of been ruined I’m sticking with Galaxy High. Aimee & Doyle are humans that have been selected from Earth to attend Galaxy High, a school for aliens. Aimee who was a smart girl and regularly unpopular at school becomes the most popular girl in Galaxy High while Doyle who was a sports star becomes unpopular the moment he enters in a role reversal thanks to Galaxy High rewarding for high academics over everything else. This series has an even bigger feel of the Pink Cadillac Era (50s freedom with 80s culture) than many of its stable mates and provides early roles for people like Nancy Cartwright, Miss Bart Simpson herself; in fact if you listen closely you do hear her Bart Simpson voice. It’s very cheesy and has plenty of redundant dialogue but is still fun to watch.
89. Two Stupid Dogs – 1993-1995
It’s about a Big Dog and a Little Dog and their adventures in stupid, many years before Spongebob would take the formula and run with it. But this series has better writing and even a few risque jokes along the way; it also debuts the reoccurring character who is somehow in every job whenever the two dogs are there. This is My Hollywood with the infamous line “Ain’t that cute. BUT ITS WRONG!!!” a character that would later inspire the Red Guy in Cow & Chicken. As for the two dogs, the little one is hyper-active and scared of cats while the big one is fairly quiet, lazy and sometimes when out of character, starts sprouting philosophy. It also holds more significance as it helped launch the careers of many future cartoon creators including Seth MacFarlane, Butch Hartman, Craig McCracken and Genndy Tartakovsky.
88. Aaagh! It’s the Mr Hell Show – 2001-2002
Ah, British anarchy at its best. The Mr Hell Show is a British Adult Cartoon that is relatively obscure nowadays but still a classic gem that could use another go. It’s about a devil named Mr Hell who dresses like a talkshow host and gets involved in a number of comedy sketches, that’s basically it. Sketch shows work pretty well in this country as were not afraid to laugh at our own celebrities and politicians and this cartoon serves that genre quite well. Also in the show is another character called Serge the Seal of Death, who could easily be mistaken for a PETA creation as he’s a Seal who goes into a blind rage and kills everyone whenever he sees someone wearing fur which leads him to mistake them as the killers of his parents. It didn’t last long and doesn’t get reruns but at the very least it’s on DVD.
87. Raggy Dolls – 1986-1994
British cartoons aren’t all bad; the Raggy Dolls are actually quite charming and carries a strong message of “it’s okay to have faults”. The story is about a group of dolls with a number of different faults ending up in the reject bin after manufacturing errors. The dolls end up on loads of adventures while spreading messages of kindness and encouraging positive thinking about physical handicaps. There are enough toy handicaps to make a good Toy Story plot out of this series. We have one covered in paint, one with a back-to-front head, one with poorly sewn limbs, one with a stammer, one made up of left over materials, one prototype made of unused material and one who isn’t handicapped but got lost before he was supposed to be exported. It ran for a decent length of eight years and 112 Episodes making it one of the UK’s longest running cartoons.
86. Care Bears – 1985-Present
Originally developed as greeting card characters the Care Bears eventually ended up as TV cartoon juggernauts of the 1980s. The Care Bears exist to spread caring throughout the world with their own color coded fur and symbol on their bellies which can act as a happiness laser to subdue evil. Now considering how sickeningly sugar coated this franchise is it’s easy to judge it as bad for your health but it’s actually not half bad when you come back to look at it and realize, it’s pretty bad but it’s laughable bad and that’s entertaining. And besides aren’t all toy cartoons the same?
95. Denver the Last Dinosaur – 1988-1990
Here we have late 80s Americana at its best which can be best described as a cross between the skateboarding extreme sports culture mixed with 1950s throwbacks which I dub the Pink Cadillac era of cartoons. There wasn’t that many of them but ones we did get were something along the lines of this show, Denver the Last Dinosaur is about a group of Multi Cultural Californian teenagers discovering a Dinosaur egg while on their usual Skating session which hatches into our main character Denver, so named after a convenient passing bus with the word Denver on it. The teens teach Denver skating while he shows them the world he came from using a pieces of his egg shell. Denver has a unique understanding of English and seems to do pretty well in the modern world even in the face of enemies including a Scientist and a music producer wanting to get rich off the Green Dinosaur. It’s very cheesy and charming enough to avoid being annoying.
94. Inspector Gadget – 1983-2003
The dim-witted cyborg detective built with enough gadgets to save the day; Inspector Gadget is out to stop the evil Doctor Claw, with the help of his assistants Penny and Brain.
The original series ran for three years from 1983-1986 and the franchise would be revived twice, once in 1995 as Gadget Boy and again in 2001 with the Gadgetinis. With a catchy theme song, an awesome transforming car and plenty of slapstick there’s much to look forward to from this cartoon even if Penny & Brain end up doing most of the work.
93. Pole Position – 1984
Now ask yourself a question, would you believe this show to be based on the Namco racing game of the same title? Well apparently it is and yet it’s nothing like it. This story revolves around a crime fighting family of stunt drivers named Pole Position, but before we begin the parents die leaving the three kids to run the whole thing. Brother & sister combo Dan & Tess drive futuristic cars with special A.I interfaces called Roadie & Wheels respectively. As for third child Daisy, she’s just there to look cute with her pet Monkey thing; actually I don’t know what it is. The show felt like a cheesy Knight Rider but as a kid, talking computers inside cool looking cars was always going to win.
92. Popeye – 1933-2004
Popeye the Sailorman started out as a comic strip in the late 1910s and would later become a Betty Boop cartoon in the 1930s before going solo with his own cartoon. Popeye’s distinctive features include beefed up arm muscles, a squint in his eye, a uniquely huge chin, a smoking pipe, a can of spinach and a voice which sounds like he breathed in too much sea air. A typical short would feature the endless love triangle between Popeye, Bluto and Olive Oyl. Bluto resembling a lumberjack while Olive Oyl being so skinny that she appears to have no bones. The formula is simple, Popeye & Bluto compete for Olive Oyl, Bluto gets the upper hand, Olive Oyl doesn’t like it, Popeye eats spinach, gains super strength, beats up Bluto, wins the girl, end the episode. Sometimes we get Popeye become the slapstick from other members of his family while sometimes we see more from Wimpy, a man who eats nothing but burgers. Popeye’s last appearance was a CGI special in 2004 but nothing since, it’s a pity, he’s the only cartoon character who actively encourages healthy eating back before it was compulsory in pre-school cartoons.
91. Megas XLR – 2004-2005
What would you do if you had a giant robot? In Japan, pilot it, get sucked into a war and watch as half the cast dies while you angst about it. In America, let’s give it an awesome paint job and mod it like a hotrod. This is the story of Coop & Jamie as they discover the discarded robot Megas after a time travel incident threw it in to their time; joined by Kiva, the two slacker’s mod up Megas and save the world from the aliens that want the robot destroyed. It’s awesome to see a show like this seeing as Japan always gets to have all the cool robot shows so it makes a change to see America do it and do it in such anarchic form that it became a mega hit, a hit that was cruelly cancelled before its finale. As of this year there are currently attempts to revive this show along with the creators other show Motorcity but as of now, nothing has come of it. Kickstarter anyone?
100. Amethyst Princess of Gemworld – 2013
In the dark 80s Princess Amethyst was a comic under the DC Label; in 2013 she became a short cartoon for DC Nation block on Cartoon Network. Since then she has had no series which is a shame because this is the greatest cartoon that will never be made along with the Scott Pilgrim cartoon. In the cartoon version, Amy is playing her favourite video game when she fails to defeat the last boss, emulating the frustrations of every gamer in this situation. But in a strange twist the game talks to her absorbs her in, transforming her magical girl style into Princess Amethyst so she can then complete the game using herself as the warrior. What makes this girl interesting is that she’s not only a geek girl but a very capable warrior when she got going, they did all that in one short and what does DC do? Not make it. Anyone know a good kickstarter?
99. The Simpsons – 1989 to Present
Ah The Simpsons, America’s favourite cartoon family and still around despite declining quality in the last few years but you know, I don’t care much for that, The Simpsons has always been good to me, I admit it’s plummeted on this list so much that it’s barely hanging on but it still entertains me even now. What keeps it going so long? Having a dedicated core voice cast which are instantly recognisable and cannot be replaced, this means that the only way this series will finish is if one of them dies, as tragic as that sounds it’s probably going to be truth in a few years.
98. Count Duckula – 1988-1993
Castle Duckula, home for many centuries to a dreadful dynasty of vicious vampire ducks - The Counts of Duckula! Legend has it that these foul beings can be destroyed by a stake through the heart, or exposure to sunlight. This does not suffice however, for they may be brought back to life by means of a secret rite that can be performed once a century when the moon is in the eighth house of Aquarius. The latest reincarnation did not run according to plan. I couldn’t mention Britain’s greatest duck and vampire without typing up the opening theme lyrics. Despite the horrific quality of the animation as was standard in 80s British animation of the time period, Duckula was still very entertaining. He may be a vegetarian, extremely silly and sounds like Danger Mouse but he’s still more vampire than Twilight.
97. Talespin – 1990-1991
This series has become a forgotten gem in recent years, the further adventures of Baloo the Bear as he pilots his famous yellow plane in Talespin. Yes this is the same Baloo the Bear from Jungle Book alongside other Jungle Book characters and a few original characters. In this cartoon Baloo runs an Air Cargo Freight Business alongside Rebecca who purchases his business to keep it afloat, they are joined by orphan bear Kit who becomes Baloo’s navigator; the trio go on adventures wherever the job takes them avoiding the evil Air Pirate Don Karnage along with other enemies set to a 1930s era inspired by Indiana Jones. It was an awesome treasure trove of adventure and needs a revival.
96. Futurama – 1999-2013
Matt Groening’s other animated series Futurama is a series filled to the brim with hundreds of geek references while still setting itself a thousand years from present day Earth. Delivery Boy Fry is sent into the future after falling into a cryogenics tube; in the future he meets up with a foul mouthed alcoholic robot named Bender and a sexy one-eyed mutant named Leela. Once he meets his descendent, he begins working for his delivery company alongside his new found friends and everything from then on is everything you expect from a show about the future from Matt Groening. The guy has great vision and likes to make interesting worlds and needs to make more cartoons.