Well I said I’d get around to it so here it is. I’m obviously more of an anime fan than I am a cartoon guy, but I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for western animated stuff, and especially good western animated stuff. I don’t know if I’d bother comparing any of these to anime (outside of the obvious) since that kind of comparison takes away from the shows themselves, but these are some series that I feel have stood the test of time or have a pretty good chance at doing so. As for the criteria, it’s generally the same as my top anime list though entertainment value factors a bit more in here than story for some. Without further ado, let’s get started.
WARNING: There may be some spoilers about some of the shows on this list
27) Teen Titans
Synopsis: Within Jump City, five super powered teens, Robin, Cyborg, Raven, Starfire and Beast Boy form a group known as the Teen Titans. Together they defend the city from a variety of threats while also learning how to deal with each other.
Why I Like It: This show was a bit of an anomaly when it first came out as it never managed to fit into the DC Animated Universe (DCAU for short) despite the heavy prominence of those series at the time. Instead this superheroics with a weird anime-esque paint and comedy to match. The result was something that oddly clicked as despite it’s initial struggles with what kind of tone it wanted, it grew into a solid little series as it expanded on it’s characters and the story arcs gradually improved (and in some instances got much darker) as time went on. Sadly kids are probably now more familar with it’s spinoff series, Teen Titans GO (which I don’t hate as much as everyone else, but has gradually lost it’s initial charm for me) but this show was unique as far as superhero stuff goes and still holds up as being a lot of fun
26) Static Shock
Synopsis: After getting caught up in the middle of a gang-war and affected by a strange gas, Virgil Hawkins finds himself blessed with the power to control electricity. With his newfound abilities he adopts the identity of Static and decides to clear the streets of other affected superhumans called Bang Babies
Why I Like It: Growing up, I was (and still am)a big fan of superhero stuff, but as a black kid it was kind of disappointing never seeing any black heroes on TV aside from the Jon Stewart version of Green Lantern in Justice League. So needless to say a superhero show about a black kid like myself appealed to me and it helped that it was a pretty good show in it’s own right. It did a solid job of weaving together the classic hero tale with inner city issues, and while later seasons favored the former over the later it still managed to hold it’s ground throughout. To this day there hasn’t been another notable example of a solo black superhero show on TV and while I’d like to see that change sometime in the future if this is the sole example, it’s not so bad.
25) Megas XLR
Synopsis: In the distant future , Earth is fighting a losing war with an alien race known as “the Glorft”. In order to save the planet, the human resistance steals a prototype giant robot from the Glorft renaming it MEGAS . The idea is to use a time-traveling device called a time drive to send MEGAS and its pilot, Kiva, back in time to defeat the Glorift. Before the plan can be executed, however, an attack by the Glorft sends the now-crippled MEGAS all the way back to the 1930s. It stays in a New Jersey junkyard until it ends up in the hands of a slacker mechanic, Coop, and his slacker best friend, Jamie, around the year 2004. Kiva goes back in time to retrieve MEGAS, and when she finds she is unable to pilot it because of Coop’s modifications, she grudgingly decides to train Coop, who is now the only person who can pilot it. However, the Glorft have followed her through time and, much to Kiva’s chagrin, it is now up to Coop to defend Earth from the Glorft and other various threats.
Why I Like It: Genre parodies are a dime-a-dozen these days but an entire western show parodying japanese mecha is certainly something you don’t see every day and it helps that it’s actually pretty fun. It rips on various mecha series (never lasted long enough to get around to Evangelion but I can always imagine what that would have been like) but it also holds a lot of love for the genre as well. Every moment that isn’t spent making fun of robot anime is spent showing why giant robots are awesome and that makes for a pretty awesome show unto itself in my book.
24) Danny Phantom
Synopsis: So rather than sit here and explain this myself I’ll just let the theme song do that for you. Alright? Let’s move on
Why I Like It: Again I’m a fan of superhero stuff, and I also liked Fairly Odd Parents growing up so a superhero show by the same creator seemed interesting enough and for the most part delivered. Despite being much more of a comedy than an action piece the show does a pretty good job of portraying the old Spiderman superhero tale as Danny gradually matures alongside his powers and also displays a fairly interesting universe on it’s own. Sadly the show took a bit of step down thanks to a change in writers for the third season, but it ends on a pretty strong note and still makes for some good laughs and decent storytelling.
23) Xiaolin Showdown
Synopsis: Set in a world where martial arts battles and Eastern magic are commonplace, the series follows four young warriors in training that battle the forces of evil. They do this by protecting Shen Gong Wu (ancient artifacts that have great magical powers) from villains that would use them to conquer the world.
Why I Like It: Similar to Megas XLR being a parody of mecha anime this show is one to battle shonen and kung-fu movies. However more so than it’s saving grace being that it has a lot of love for what it’s parodying (which it does but that’s besides the point) what really makes the show work is branding together it’s comedy with solid character writing as the main characters (one in particular) grow quite a bit over the course of the series. The “sequel” Xiaolin Chronicles doesn’t really manage to capture the magic of the it’s predecessor (partially because it couldn’t decide if it actually wanted to be a sequel or not) but the original still has some magic to it.
22) The Legend of Korra
Synopsis: 70 years after Avatar Aang defeated Fire Lord Ozai and restored balance to the world, the new Avatar, Korra travels to Republic City in order to find her place in the world. There she discovers a movement against benders, and begins the path towards carving her own legend as the Avatar.
Why I Like It: Speaking of sequels that don’t quite live up to their predecessors, this would be one of them. Though to be somewhat fair it comes off the heels of one of the greatest animated action dramas ever made so it had some big shoes to fill. That said while it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the original, it does manage to do some interesting stuff as it further expands on it’s universe and each season covers a variety of heavy themes (some more successfully than others). It also serves as one of the few male oriented action toons to feature a female lead (even if she isn’t written as well as most of the girls in the show that preceded her), and ended on a pretty famous/infamous note regarding her sexuality. While the latter will is what it’ll likely be remembered for it’s still a fairly good show on it’s own merits.
21) Star Wars Rebels
Synopsis: Ezra Bridger is an orphan growing up on the streets of the planet Lothal. One day he encounters a man named Kanan and his crew of rebel mercenaries who fight against the tyranny of The Empire. Initially apathetic to their cause, Ezra soon finds himself involved with them and becomes a member of their crew while also training to under Kanan as an apprentice in order to one day become a Jedi
Why I Like It: So I never really managed to get into The Clone Wars series despite it being more popular both due to it’s first season being a bit of a turn-off, and my increasing frustration with the back and forth nature of Star Wars canon at the time. What sold me on this one though, was the involvement of Greg Weissman who’s made some of the best stuff here in the states, and he sure doesn’t disappoint with this one. While not as dark as the later seasons of Clone Wars it manages to get into some dark territory for it’s intended audience and manages to make each of the members of the rebels crew interesting characters with their own various backstories and motivations. As there’s only one season of it out so far, there’s plenty of room for it to go downhill but it’s off to a much better start than Clone Wars was for me and I think it might have the potential to become something really great.
20) Fairly Odd Parents (season 1-5)
Synopsis: Again rather than waste time explaining it I’ll just let the theme song do the job
Why I Like It: Fairly Odd Parents is one of two Nick animated comedies to survive for an extended period of time (the other one I’m not a big fan of despite it’s huge pop-culture success, but I digress) and for good reason. It’s a pretty good comedy in it’s prime with plenty of good parodies, fun slapstick and pop-culture jokes that generally flies over the heads of the kids watching it. More than that though it’s also a pretty warm-hearted little show as Timmy learns various life lessons through his wishes and how to make the most of his miserable little life. Unfortunately the show hit it’s prime around the 5th season and later ones proceeded to descend into making the show a lot more mean-spirited, exaggerating the characters to the point of ridiculousness and constantly contradicting what little continuity the show managed to maintain. While the show as it is today is but a shell of it’s former self, those earlier seasons are still pretty fun to look back on and are quality entertainment for the most part.