You read the title, you know what this is. Keep in mind this is an OPINION piece, so if you don’t share my opinion, don’t come after me with pitchforks. Let’s get on with the list…
10. Steven Universe
A pretty darn good myth arc, memorable and lovable characters, fantastic animation, incredible songs… Steven Universe is a show that demonstrates that you can do a LOT with just eleven minutes per episode. It was a potpourri of EVERYTHING that made 2010’s cartoons so good and memorable (for the most part), and in my opinion, it was a show that DESERVED every accolade thrown its way. I NEVER missed an episode!
…when it was on! Seriously, the way Cartoon Network treated this show, you’d think they fucking hated it! You’d go MONTHS at a time without a single episode, and then suddenly you get a brand new episode EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK for just ONE week!? The hell was that!?
And let’s not get into the fandom…And I think I’d better stop here, otherwise I’ll pop a blood vessel. In any case, I LOVED this show, and the ending was very fitting.
9. Dexter’s Laboratory
The cartoon that showed Cartoon Network was more than just a collection of old or imported cartoons; they had the talent needed to not only make ORIGINAL stuff, but GOOD original stuff.
Dexter’s Lab was that cartoon that hit ALL the right notes: it had fantastic and original plots, an unforgettable cast of characters, a premise that pretty much writes the stories itself…what was not to love? A boy genius has a secret lab, and his sister causes him trouble? How do people even come up with these ideas!?
8. Space Ghost Coast to Coast
This was THAT show, the one that’d be advertised on Cartoon Network every afternoon around three to five PM while you were watching the Adventure Hour, but then you’d notice it said the show aired at freakin’ eleven at NIGHT! I wasn’t allowed to stay up that late!
But anyway, this is the show that gave Cartoon Network a taste of what it COULD do with animation. No, I don’t mean recycle it, I mean using animation to make an entertaining show for an adult audience. This show is the origin point for adult swim, one of Cartoon Network’s most celebrated animation blocks.
The show ALSO helped pave the way for one of my personal favorite shows from my youth: Cartoon Planet! Honestly, it’s amazing how much Cartoon Network owes of its current identity to this little program hardly any of us could see because it was past our bedtimes!
7. Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends
Again proving that, when it comes to cartoon concepts, you gotta leave it to CARTOON Network to come up with the BEST. The idea: a foster home for imaginary friends, where kids can come up and adopt a friend like one adopts a pet. This allows for character designs of ALL kinds to be included. Hell, just look at that picture I posted!
Likewise, the humor of this show was TOP NOTCH! I STILL laugh out loud at the episode where Cheese locks everyone out of the house!
6. Ed, Edd n Eddy
Three kids have wild and wacky misadventures in suburbia. That’s as low concept as you can get. That’s the sort of premise that runs dry ten episodes in before you start adding fantastical elements like magic and fairies. Ed, Edd, n Eddy took this simple concept and milked it for all it was worth for TEN FREAKIN’ YEARS!!!!
And then, THEN the creators capped it all off with a made-for-tv movie. This was a show that would never, EVER have lasted as long as it did if it didn’t bring top quality entertainment every season!
5. Teen Titans
I’m speechless. I have no words for how fucking AWESOME this show is. I almost feel bad for ranking it so, so low, but please remember: Cartoon Network just has THAT many GREAT shows.
What made Teen Titans so good is that it was that perfect mix of action, comedy, and character driven stories. Every Titan had a chance to shine, getting at LEAST one focus episode per season. They all played off each other so well, and they all lent something to make the show as unique as it was. THAT is why so many of us are disappointed to see what Teen Titans Go has done to the legacy of this series.
4. The Powerpuff Girls
NO, NOT THAT ABORTION FROM 2016! I mean the ORIGINAL version from 1998! The show that combined sugar and spice for a satisfying rush, the version of the show that pretty much solidified Cartoon Network as THE place for the BEST cartoons on the PLANET!
3. The Amazing World of Gumball
I. Have. NO IDEA how to describe this show, except with maybe the following: the best damned comedy show to ever grace Cartoon Network. There’s no other way, NO OTHER WAY TO DESCRIBE IT! I mean, have you SEEN the jokes on this show!? There’s a joke about the glass ceiling for women’s careers in business! And what about that time Gumball and Darwin delivered a pizza to a couple made of pizzas, and Gumball then DROPPED the pizza!? I was in STITCHES!
2. Adventure Time
This is the show that pretty much saved Cartoon Network from the malaise that came from the late 2000’s period. After the DISASTER that was CN Real, Cartoon Network needed a truly original show that could help improve its image among TV viewers. Thus…Adventure Time.
For the rest of the decade, Adventure Time wasn’t just the BEST show on the network, it was arguably the show that redefined how good Western cartoons could get. An entire mythology, story arcs that changed the status quo, character development…this show had it all. It was daring, it was amazing, and if you missed it, you missed out. I dare to even call this show the BEST animated show to come out of the 2010’s from ANY network!
Before we get to Number 1, let’s give it up for these Honorable Mentions:
Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy: horror comedy done RIGHT. No other words need to be said.
Toon Heads: a docu-series that focused on information regarding cartoons. Highly informative yet entertaining.
Courage the Cowardly Dog: It was SO CLOSE between this show and Steven Universe, SO CLOSE! I personally rank it Number 11.
Number 1: Samurai Jack
What do you get when an animator decides there isn’t an action cartoon on TV that can leave him satisfied? Quite possibly the BEST action cartoon ever made, that’s what!
Wanna know how GOOD this show is? When the show got abruptly cancelled, fan outrage was NOT silent. For well over a decade, the fandom was demanding (DEMANDING) that the show be given the proper finale it deserved. When Cartoon Network caved in, what did they do? Did they release a comic book detailing the ending? A special one hour TV event? A movie?
A whole. Fucking. Season. A whole season was produced in 2017 to give this show the finale it and the fans truly deserved. What other show can boast that!?