Top 25 Best Non-Anime Animation Shows of All Time
I did this list once. But last time, I only did ten entries, not including my usual honorable mentions. And in the mindset of putting this list together, I said to myself, ten just isn't enough. I gotta talk about more. And the reason I use this title, is because it's a bit of a jab at those who preach about Anime (Japanese Animation) being completely different than cartoons. It's not. I tend to get arguments such as "It's more adult and serious than cartoons." Which as you'll see in this list isn't always the case. I'm sure there are other arguments, but that's the one I tend to see the most. But...it's all animated, it's all drawn, it's all shaded, and each have a target audience of kids, adults, or a mix of the two. Whether you like it or not, anime is a cartoon. Chocolate ice cream may taste different than vanilla ice cream, but it's still ice cream. But if we're gonna go by it not being a cartoon, please sit back and enjoy my top twenty-five non-anime animation shows of all time.
NOTE: All those shows are shows I've personally experienced. So if some show you like...such as Gravity Falls isn't on this list, nothing against it, I just likely haven't seen it. I may jab at a few shows on here, but unless I specifically name a show, I probably have nothing against it.
One more thing...this list is based on shows that are very modern. This means that classic shows such as the Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry are not listed. They deserve a list all on their own. I think that settles everything...let's get started!
25. Adventure Timeyoutu.be/BHjg6cTxmrQ
I don't know what it is about this show that makes it so charming. My guess for me personally, is that it's the unique characters. From Jake, to Beemo, to the Fire Princess, to the Ice King, a lot if this show is pretty nonsensical. But the humor is charming, and for what it is, the story at times can actually get decently deep. I'm surprised at this because honestly the show didn't speak to me when it first came out, and I won't lie, there are times it still doesn't appeal that much to me. Despite its charm, I'm not that big a fan of the animation style. The simplicity is kinda fun, but the fact that it's literally everywhere now has made me turn away from it a bit. There's little to no form, barely any shading, the colors don't blend, it's just not a style I'm particularly fond of. And no other show made me realize it more than Rick and Morty. A show I find highly overrated. I don't see what others see in that show. That show and a few other shows I think try to mimic this and it's starting to irritate me just a bit. But for what Adventure Time is, I enjoy it when it's on and that's all that matters.
24. Codename: Kids Next Dooryoutu.be/yCOkcKqLdY8
The concept behind this show is absolutely impossible not to get behind. A secret organization, run entirely by kids, has a mission. Fight crimes against kids, such as homework and flossing, committed by adults, senior citizens, teenagers, and other "evil" children. If there was ever a show that kids could get behind to make them feel like a genuine badass, it was likely this show, even if it got a little silly at times. I have to admit that the atmosphere, concept, and narrative at times could be very intriguing. The show follows a team of five kids in this organization, who go by their codenames; Numbah One to Numbah Five. Each have such a distinct and fun personality, it's impossible not to like. And each episode was treated more like two 15 minute episodes, giving us two adventures for the price of one episode, a formula I really enjoyed, and a formula that is in several other shows to be talked about. Fun concepts, fun characters, and memorable adventures, it's a show to check out to activate that inner child agent we all had at one point in our lives.
23. Dexter's Laboratoryyoutu.be/QbZfY28ptv4
Dexter's Laboratory is one of the many shows that we'll talk about here on this list by Genndy Tartakovsky. And for good reason. This guy knew how to entertain, and knew how to make a good show. He has such a unique style of animation which can take influence from all over the place, and yet each of his shows are so unbelievably different and entertaining in and of themselves. Dexter's Laboratory stars a young boy genius who houses a secret underground laboratory devoted to his own science projects and inventions, completely secret to the world, say for one person; his mischievous, big sister, who loves sneaking in, and causing all sorts of fun ruckus. The fun of this show comes from how blind and naive his parents are to this whole gig he has. Even when they tend to come across some of his inventions, they don't seem to notice anything out of the unusual. Throw in a rival boy genius, and you've got one very fun show.
Histeria! is a show that I can only describe as the following...if Schoolhouse Rock and Animaniacs had a baby, Histeria MIGHT be that baby. It was one of the educational shows of the late 90's, also created by WB. Much like Animaniacs, it relied a lot on slapstick, and satire, and had a style similar to the sketch comedy of Saturday Night Live, with the intention of carrying an educational touch. And for what we got, it was actually kinda charming. It unfortunately was over budget and canceled after only 52 episodes, but that was all it really needed if you ask me. The show did go over the top, but that was part of the charm. It had some fun characters, a fun art of portraying history, which didn't go too far off topic in ways Animaniacs did. For what it was, it was fun, and it offered a fun look at world history.
21. Ed, Edd, and Eddyyoutu.be/Yr60SJOjrAs
Ah, the glory days. I so don't know why I like this show. It could be silly, too Goofy, or at times, downright stupid. But we thank it for being that because a lot of us 90's kids grew up with these three neighborhood kids, who may as well have been our three stooges. The show didn't have any real concept or major plot, each episode focused on the three title characters and their daily lives. Eddy would come up with any scheme to get a quarter, Edd would try to keep the group under control, and Ed...well, he'd be Ed. The three go on a journey through young adolescence, and it was impossible not to wanna go through it with them. Whether you wanna admit it or not, this trio likely held at least a small part of your heart growing up.
20. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Hi Genndy! Told you he'd be back. Not to be confused with the computer animated series that ran more recently, this show aired pretty much right after Episode II was made. Meant to bridge into Revenge of the Sith, the show highlighted the Clone Wars and featured battles on multiple planets with various Jedi of the Jedi Council. With art and action mirroring a show we'll get to later, it was one of the few things I actually really enjoyed about the Prequel trilogy. I don't know if it's considered canon now or not, but what I will say is that it did an incredible job of introducing General Grievous to us. Pity he wasn't handled so well in the actual movie. If you want a basic idea...well just check this out for yourself...youtu.be/xTnpqjJae-g
One thing you'll notice on this list is that I've not included any shows based on the Marvel Comic Universe. Why's this? I'll be brutally honest. Because they suck! While Marvel may be dominating the big screen, their cartoons are...absolutely forgettable. While some might point to X-Men from back in the day, there's not much else to talk about. Meanwhile...their rivals over at DC on the other hand...well let's just jump to number 19.
19. Static Shockyoutu.be/2KWeKZyxEZA
The first time I heard about this show, I wasn't sure what it was. I mean I didn't know the name, and at first wasn't sure I'd care. But boy was I wrong. And after seeing this young hero fighting crime alongside Batman? I realized that this was an already established character in DC. And it's a damn shame no one really knows the name. They took a lot guts to base a series on a hero that no one really knew about. But man did they make it pay off. It was fun, exciting, and even really gutsy. There were a few episodes that dealt with very real problems in society, from racism to gun violence. Yeah, it tackled gun violence. In school no less. The show got so popular that we saw cameos from Batman, the Joker, even the entire Justice League at one point. And if superhero cameos weren't enough, you also got cameos from Shaquille O'Neal, and fucking A.J. McLean from the Backstreet Boys. I'm not kidding, that happened. But it was a lot of fun while it lasted, that I'm honestly surprised it was as short as it was. The show only lasted three seasons if I remember right, but they were one enjoyable ride.
18. SpongeBob SquarePantsvimeo.com/168470788
Honestly, I'm not that big into this strange...strange show. But I gotta admit that the early seasons gave me plenty to laugh at. We all know the show, we all know the characters, we all know this show is nautical nonsense. And much like Ed, Edd, and Eddy, even if you have different views of the show now, you likely enjoyed it at some point in your life. If you ask me, it's kinda overstaying its welcome. I was actually surprised at how old this show really is. The bloody show is 17 years old! Who'da thunk? No wonder it's beginning to seem rather dated, and whatnot. I can't escape the numerous memes and jokes this show just spews out. For such a ridiculous concept, the following it gets is...well...fascinating. Yeah, wherever you stand on this show, the little guy who lived under the sea in his pineapple will always be a strong contender for the best animated show out there....but there's another show that takes place under the sea that I hold higher. You might be surprised at it.
17. The Little Mermaidyoutu.be/0SO_fDZjG_Q
You're not misreading. The famous 1989 Disney film of the same name did in fact spawn a series of its own. It wasn't the only Disney movie to get its own show, as we'd see entire shows based on Aladdin, Hercules, and the Lion King, but if you ask me, this is the show that holds the most water...no pun intended. It's a prequel series to the movie, in which we follow Ariel on multiple adventures under the sea, and though a lot of the episodes can be rather silly, there are a decent amount of episodes that are actually very well done. And unlike the atrocious prequel movie, this actually does a great job of keeping to its source material. One episode that comes to mind is an episode in which Ariel discovers a human boot. Her father, being the human-hating merman he is, wants nothing to do with it and thinks it very dangerous. I won't give away the entire episode, but at the end, when Ariel discovers what the boot really is, we get a glimpse at Prince Eric, the human she eventually falls in love with. And the show does a great job of keeping his face hidden from her. The canon is held up remarkably well. I will say that writing a show based underwater is no walk in the park. Even Spongebob doesn't do the best job at it. This show did a pretty decent job at it, and at developing a series around it. We saw how she and Flounder met, we saw how she met Scuttle, and we saw a whole bunch of new characters and other familiar faces such as Ursula. It wasn't perfect on every level, but it's not often a show based on a movie does so much right. Therefore I believe it well deserves its place on this list.
16. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlesyoutu.be/dRnRUtMHGow
We all grew up with some rendition of the infamous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What's the best incarnation? If you ask me, it'll forever be the 2003 series, which was great in action, story, and animation. I feel it flagged out the story of the Turtles, and all those around them from Splinter, to April, to Casey. Each turtle is wonderfully portrayed, the action is awesome, and the Shredder? Beyond intimidating. I'm not too big on the franchise nowadays but if I ever do decide to revisit it, you can bet I'll enjoy watching this series each and every time.
15. The Powerpuff Girlsyoutu.be/OUvGCK9Dk34
The Powerpuff Girls was the show that as a kid, I'd shake my hands, jump around and say, "Ewww, girly shows!" But deep down, I actually really enjoyed watching it. Why? Because it's funny, it's charming, it's action packed, and just all around awesome. And it's once again a work with Genndy. How does he do it? It's this show that makes me kinda indifferent to shows like My Little Pony. I can't exactly say I don't see why some like that show, and I can't criticize them too much because I may be in the same boat they are when I watched this. I won't delve too much into this right now though (see the honorable mentions). Despite having an animation style, atmosphere, and all sounds appeal that screamed girl power, this show was addictive. I cannot believe how good it stands to this day....and don't you even try to bring up the recent revival. I've not seen it. Kinda...don't want to. I've read enough to say it's not worth my time.
14. Batman Beyondyoutu.be/sMXjtvMAFlI
Another show from the DCAU, Batman Beyond gave us all the fun, action, and excitement of the original Batman Animated Series, and took us into the future. Bruce Wayne retired from crime fighting, takes a young person under his wings to succeed him. And I gotta say that it was done very well. It would not only become one of the many...future canons out there of the DC universe, but it would spawn a spinoff of its own (see honorable mentions). Beyond explored the dark side of Batman's franchise, tackling many elements of story from, emotions, personal relations, fear of the unknown, to cyberpunk and sci-fi themed elements such as issues and dilemmas of innovation and technological and scientific progress affecting society, and to the disturbing psychological elements of the character of Bruce Wayne. The result? One of the darkest shows I knew as a kid, and one of the coolest things I can think of when thinking of the Caped Crusader.
Awwww yeah. Can't forget to talk about this beast of a show. It takes one of my favorite things out there...Metal music...and makes a cartoon out of it. I'm on board! Metalocalypse had me at day one. Its absolutely hilarious take on dark humor, its strange but very fun plot, and its absolutely INCREDIBLE music is something that you just fall in love with. I'm not kidding. I'm not that big a fan of death metal music, but Dethklok became one of my favorite things out there. I highly recommend giving them a listen, even if you're not that big in metal. The show is about the fictional band Dethklok, the world's greatest cultural force (think Beatles times 100), and how they go about their daily lives as rich incompetent death metal musicians. That's not a joke, literally the only thing these guys are good at is making metal music. Yet there's a prophecy that involves them and how they are the chosen ones who will lead the world through the apocalypse. It's a strange concept but it's so fun! ....AND FUCKING ADULT SWIM KILLED IT! I still haven't forgiven them for pulling the plug on this show. It well deserves its fifth and final season and I hope it gets it soon. If it doesn't...well I'm sure Brendan Small will give us plenty of awesome music.
12. King of the Hillyoutu.be/LUZIQufgukA
King of the Hill was a show I feel wasn't fully appreciated until it was gone. It was one of many adult animated sitcoms out there, only this one didn't just try to do what the Simpsons did. In fact, as simple as this show is...it's surprisingly very charming. The idea originally came from Mike Judge (another awesome animator) and the idea to feature some guys who just stood around and drank beer. I don't know how Judge makes these simple things so likable. The show evolved into one of the funniest sitcoms I can think of, where each and every character is a joke and parody of themselves. From the classy and by the book Hank Hill, to the lonely, depressive Bill Dauterive, to the paranoid, and not so intelligent Dale Gribble, and of course to the bumbling, incoherent Boomhauer. You know Hank made you like Propane (and propane accessories) just a little bit more than you realize.
11. Chip N' Dale: Rescue Rangersyoutu.be/hFXTa2yeYWs
Ah, Chip and Dale. We all know these chipmunks. Not to be confused with another group of animated chipmunks with horrible movies, the duo of Chip and Dale took on jobs as Rescue Rangers, and though I didn't exactly grow up with this show, I gotta say, it holds up surprisingly well. With a fun cast of characters, and fun adventures, it's a show I wish I did grow up with. I'm sorry it took me so long to even get into it. But better late than never. It's one of Disney's finest shows out there. There's really not much else that needs to be said...but then again I'm still kinda getting into it. Maybe I'll have more to say in the future.
Speaking of the future...
Matt Groening is a name you should be all too familiar with for yet another show we'll get to, but one that's become a bit of a hit lately is Futurama, and why not? Futurama is funny, intriguing, fun, and just all around enjoyable. Full of a cast of characters we all know and love, it didn't start out as strong as we'd like...so it got canceled. Then it got four movies! Then it came back! And we loved each and every second it was on. Yeah once again it's on the canceled part of the world, but I will say that thankfully, the finale did the show justice and Futurama, despite its descent runtime, didn't really overstay its welcome if you ask me. Throughout its life it remained pretty dang strong, and if you disagree? Well...I'll let Bender say that catchphrase.
9. Batman: The Animated Seriesyoutu.be/-XJ3HJXxDwc
As far as the DCAU is concerned, this will forever likely be the best of the best. Not only is this series wonderfully action packed, wonderfully written, wonderfully rooted in its source material, and wonderfully portrayed, the show is just...well...badass. Everyone remembers this show for something, whether it's a piece of dialogue, Mark Hamill's Joker, or anything else, there is a magic that this show created that has failed to replicate itself in any other Batman incarnation, even the beloved Batman Beyond. There's a wonderful charm and darkness rooted in this show that I cannot properly describe, even if I tried. It is a staple example of how to give Batman proper justice and glory. And we wouldn't have it any other way.
8. Jackie Chan Adventuresyoutu.be/MztD-gooHjU
Some of you might remember me talking a bit about this show not too long ago. Well for those that don't, here we go. We all know the name Jackie Chan. Why wouldn't we? Once upon a time, he was the world's most renowned stuntsman. The world of martial arts was fun, his work was becoming world famous. Who would have thought a cartoon on the guy could be so addicting? The show easily became a childhood favorite of mine, because of just how far they pushed. Jackie Chan Adventures went beyond simple martial arts. It took magic, demons, ninjas, wizards...it went all over the damn place and have us one incredible world of badass. The action this show gave us was so incredibly balanced, even if a bit over the top, that it's hard to find other shows with better action. It's quick, enjoyable to watch, and you can see it happening. For as bizarre as the show may seem with the whole chi magic and demons thing...it was arguably one is the coolest things of the early 2000's. It did overstay its welcome just a bit but even when it did, it remained one very enjoyable ride.
You know you watched this show and liked it growing up. And you know that deep down insist of you...you still kinda like it still. Who would think a PBS show would do so strong? Normally when I think of PBS, I don't really think of the best of the best, but this series, based on the books by Marc Brown has managed to gain quite the following. It's fun, creative, funny, and just all around entertaining. I like how this show actually manages to reference other shows that you wouldn't think kids would watch. Yeah, it's weird to see Arthur take on the style of South Park, as brief as it is. It's one of the few shows out there that can be fun for both kids and adults to watch, and that is one of the best traits you can have.
6. Aqua Teen Hunger Forceyoutu.be/d-6k_NHP0II
If we wanna talk about a show that makes no sense, has no plot, no concept, no style or reason to exist...then look no further than Aqua Teen Hunger Force. This bizarre, yet incredibly likable show was one of the best things Adult Swim ever did, and I loved each and every second it lasted on its reign of Adult Swim. It wasn't too long ago that we unfortunately said goodbye to the iconic show about...literally nothing. There was no plot, no episodes connected with each other, characters died multiple times only to come back unharmed, it was the most random, most bizarre, most nonsensical show I can think of, and I loved it. And I will say that the finale of the show, the show's only half hour episode, is surprisingly very emotional. Aqua Teen Hunger Force in and of itself represented an era of Adult Swim, and when it retired, it left a hole that will never be filled up ever again. I can understand why some don't care for this show. But that only makes me like it even more.
5. Beavis and Butt-headyoutu.be/KPeePg2N6QM
Beavis and Butt-head were to be the downfall of civilization as we know it. The duo to end all hope for our generation. They were so controversial, so frowned upon, and it made them forbidden to us. Which made them even more appealing. I will say that I gotta pace myself when watching this simple, but funny show, but the iconic legacy behind this duo is still one of the biggest things out there. The Angry Video Game Nerd highlighted them as the duo that would pioneer the form of Internet critiquing a lot if us know and love, and in a way I agree. The show us about two delinquents who live life one day at a time, where they work their part-time job, watch music videos, do stupid shit, try to score, and get beaten up. It's absolutely glorious. Yeah the more adult viewing audience may despise it, but I think we can all agree on one thing here...uhhhh.....they like....don't suck.
Animaniacs is by each and every meaning of the phrase, the Looney Tunes of the 90's generation. Wacky, Goofy, funny, and entertaining, the show crossed all lines, paid no attention to borders, and never looked back. It was downright genius. Leaning heavily on satire and slapstick, much like Histeria, Animaniacs had a bit of everything to offer. It gave us some of the most memorable gigs in animation history. Without Animaniacs, they're is no Pinky and the Brain. Without Animaniacs, there is no Slappy the Squirrel. While Pinky and the Brain would be the most successful spinoff from this show, it's really the whole style and mashing of this show that makes it so wonderful and likable. It is the poster show off 90's animation and for good reason.
3. The Simpsonsyoutu.be/XNzoJqzA6zM
Ah, the Simpsons. Everybody knows them. They're America's favorite couch family for a reason. They birthed the love of the animated sitcom as we know it....and yes, they've probably overstayed their welcome. But no one can deny the charm of this sitcom. The magic that came from this show is a magic that has been copied and pasted in so many shows now. Everyone is trying to do what this show did, but the charm and likable essence that this show spawned cannot ever be duplicated. I have no reason to explain why this show is great. You all know why it's great. Has it gone on too long? Yeah, but I will testify that it still can put out some very good episodes. Heck, one of my personal favorites came from Season 18. Watching this show just climb the ladder to become one of the longest running shows in television history is actually kinda cool to see. Even if the glory days are behind it.
2. Avatar: The Last Airbenderyoutu.be/d1EnW4kn1kg
Avatar was a show I didn't give enough credit to when I first saw it. But man...what a show. One of the most iconic shows to come out of animation lately, it took us on one epic journey through a fantasy world we all wanted to be a part of. If you didn't, that means you're lying. Avatar came out when I was in high school, so I was kinda turned off to it at first, but the more I saw of it, the more intrigued I became. The story is told so well, with some incredible action and character, it's hard not to shower it with praise honestly. It ran strong all three seasons of its life, and for a show to do that is very rare. I haven't seen anything of the Legend of Korra spinoff it's produced, but I've heard mixed things about it. As the Nostalgia Critic would say...there's only one Avatar. And nothing will ever put it down.
As per usual, here are a few honorable mentions before I reveal my top pick.
- Star Wars: Rebelsyoutu.be/6PQzotJG9WU
Much like the similar computer animated Clone Wars, this show carries the legacy from that show and shows us the early days of the Rebellion. And from what I've seen, it's really well done. I wasn't entirely fond of the direction of its predecessor at times, but the action is still very fun to follow, and this show is no different.
The DC version of the Avengers had one kick ass show. And that's all I really need to say. It was fun to see the team fighting crime together, and seeing the multiple villains of their universes team up to try and bring them down.
Family Guy is one of the many shows out there that tried to do what the Simpsons did. And you know, for a while they actually did a pretty good job. The early days of this show are very funny, and though there are some really...really similar plots and elements seen in the Simpsons, it managed at times to be its own thing. Heck, we even saw the two shows crossover. It's starting to phase out on me nowadays, but it was a fun show back in the day. Which is more than I can say for shows like Bob's Burgers or South Park.
-My Little Pony: Friendship is Magicyoutu.be/77zlmGQ8nDg
Before I get any unwanted comments, I'm just gonna say this. I'm not a fan of the show, I don't see the appeal of it, and the craze behind it boggles me, but again, as I said when I was talking about Powerpuff Girls, I think the dirt the fans of this show get is completely uncalled for. I will admit that I sat myself down and watched a few of these episodes. I tried to see what others did. I didn't see it. But you know what, we ask have our shows and whatnot. And though I will scratch my head at the liking of a show that just screams for a target audience of female viewers, six and under, it's kinda cool to see how embracing this show has been to its Fandom. And I won't deny that there were some things I kinda liked when I did watch it. It's doing something right and though a lot of us will never see the appeal it has, I'll be one of the few out there to say...watch what you want to watch.
-The Zeta Projectyoutu.be/UrlYxTA0Wn4
Anyone remember this show? The Zeta Project spawned from an episode of Batman Beyond in which a robot, originally built to hunt down and assassinate human targets, abandons his program and searches for a freedom. The government, thinking him a danger to society, is attempting to hunt him down and take him in. The show was actually kinda fun, and it never got the proper ending it deserved if you ask me. But for what it was, it was one of my favorites growing up, and maybe one day, it will get the ending it deserves.
And the number one best non-anime animation show of all time is...
1. Samurai Jackyoutu.be/e51hgWIsY4M
Some of you probably called it. It wasn't long ago I gave a countdown for the best episodes of this show. In it, I called it lightning in a bottle. As close to perfection as you could get. The animation charm and action is some of the most memorable things I can think of. The storyline, fun. The characters, incredible. Everything I can think of about this show was done right. But...like many other great shows out there, it was cut off far too early, lasting only four seasons, its popularity overshadowed by shows like Teen Titans. But sometimes...good things happen to those who wait, and after twelve years of waiting, we are finally going to get a fifth and final season to wrap up Jack's story. It cannot come soon enough. Even if the show won't quite be the same as it was back in the day (with the passing of Mako and whatnot), I expect nothing but greatness from this show, and from Genndy.
And there you have it. The best of the best as far as animation is concerned. Agree with the list? Disagree? What are a few animation shows that aren't anime that you guys like? Let me know down below. And if you read this entire thing...thank you!