If there’s one thing anyone can remember from their childhood, it’s probably the cartoons. What makes cartoons so amazing though, is how versatile they are as a form of media. The extent of imagination is endless, any story is bound to come true.
Cartoons aren’t just for kids, though. While there are several cartoons that cater to kids specifically, there have been others that were created to reach through generations. We asked the WIM Squad and here is their choice of the top 21 underrated cartoon shows of all time.
21. Adventure Time
In the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo lives the infamous duo Finn the Human and Jake the Dog. This fantasy-based animated series premiered on Cartoon Network in 2010 and ran for 8 years. The series shows the two on their adventures interacting with various fantastical creatures including Princess Bubblegum, the Ice King, Marceline the Vampire Queen, Lumpy Space Princess, BMO, and the Flame Princess. The series has won itself tons of success, not just for Cartoon Network in terms of viewers, but in awards, garnering a total of 17 awards including eight Primetime Emmy Awards, three Annie Awards, and two British Academy Children’s Awards.
20. Gravity Falls
This Disney animated series aired in 2012 and despite its short run ending in 2016, it’s won 10 out of its 37 award nominations in the span of 4 years. The series follows twins Dipper and Mabel Pines who are spending their summer with their Great Uncle Stan in Gravity Falls, Oregon. Over the course of their summer, the duo encounters mystery beyond imagination. When you stay at a place called “Mystery Shack” there’s bound to be some mystery somewhere right?
19. Steven Universe
Steven Universe is a young boy who lives with the Crystal Gems, aliens in the shape and form of humans with magical powers. Steven helps Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl protect the world from the wrong kind of Gems. Its fifth season concluded just recently in January 2019. Steven Universe prides itself in their various themes, including love, family, and the importance of healthy interpersonal relationships. Steven Universe is the first Cartoon Network animated show created solely by a woman. Fun fact, the executive producer and creator, Rebecca Sugar, created the idea while she was writing for Adventure Time.
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18. Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil
Clarence Francis “Kick” Buttowski dreams of becoming the world’s greatest daredevil. The Disney XD original first animated series follows his adventures and attempts of becoming such. Majority of the content of the show was based on real-time parallel experiences of the show’s creator, Sandro Corsaro’s, childhood.
Probably one of the longest-running animated series out there, Scooby-Doo has graced not only television screens but even the movie theatres since the 1960s. Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville “Shaggy” Rogers are four teenagers who solve mysteries usually involving “supernatural” creatures with their talking dog Scooby-Doo.
Several other works have been made bringing Scooby-Doo out of the animated realm and into live-action movies. Since its first episode in 1969, countless reboots and spin-offs from various channels and networks have been successful, keeping the spirit of Scooby-Doo alive up to this very day. In 2013, the show was ranked the fifth greatest TV cartoon by TV Guide.
Premiering on August 11, 1991, this daytime animated children’s television series focused on the lives of 5 toddlers (Tommy, Chuckie, Phil and Lil, and Angelica) and their adventures of day-to-day life. Being the second animated show released by Nickelodeon, Rugrats has won a total of 20 awards in the 13-years of it being aired on television. Along with this, it holds several titles, including the longest-running cartoon before SpongeBob SquarePants and is now currently the 3rd longest-running animated series.
15. Rick & Morty
When cynical mad scientist Rick Sanchez pairs up with his grandson Morty Smith, what could possibly go wrong? This science fiction adult animated sitcom follows their adventures between day-to-day and inter-dimensional occurrences. The series additionally follows on the lives of everyone else in the Smith household and their respective personalities, including Jerry and Beth, Morty’s parents, and Summer, Morty’s older sister.
14. The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack
Another Cartoon Network series, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack is the story of a young boy named Flapjack who was raised by a whale named Bubbie and mentored by Captain K’nuckles, a sea pirate. The series shows their adventures in search of the Candied Islands and the majority of their life on Stormalong Harbor. In the two years of running on-screen time, the show received 5 nominations for various prestigious awards including the Primetime Emmy Awards and the Annie Awards.
13. Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy
Two children, Billy and his best friend Mandy befriend the Grimm Reaper after saving Billy’s pet hamster through winning a limbo game. The seven-year running show follows their adventures and Grimm’s attempts to break out of his deal. He eventually learns to have a love-hate relationship with the children.
12. The Wild Thornberrys
Another Nickelodeon animated series, The Wild Thornberrys focuses on the life of Eliza Thornberry and her family, documentary filmmakers for a nature wildlife show. In the show, Eliza is able to talk to animals and with her pet chimpanzee, Darwin. The two explore the wilderness and meet new animals with every expedition.
11. American Dragon: Jake Long
Jake Long is a teenage boy who can turn into a dragon. In the process of having to deal with and balance his powers with ordinary teenage boy problems, this Disney animated series follows Jake’s training and experiences with his crush, who unbeknownst to him is a natural dragon slayer.
10. Rocko’s Modern Life
In the fictional town and world of O-Town lives Rocko, an Australian-immigrant wallaby, and his friends, Heffer, Filburt, and Spunky. Featuring anthropomorphic animals, the show has faced several controversies for its adult humor, including double entendre, innuendo, and satirical societal commentary. However, the show still reached some success, winning the 1996 Environmental Media Award for their episode “Zanzibar!” which featured environmentalism, pollution, and deforestation. Several of the show’s writers and production staff have been nominated and awarded other prestigious awards such as the 1993 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Film Sound Editing and a CableICE Award.
9. The Jetsons
The 1960s animated sitcom, The Jetsons, grew to be known as the Space Age counterpart of another famous animated series, The Flintstones. Set in a century in the future, the shows feature aliens, robots, holograms, and various inventions. Several inventions or technology used in the original cartoon, such as flatscreen TVs, video chatting, and tanning beds, were mentioned in the show as “inventions” which are now being used in the common age. In August 2017, ABC ordered for a live-action sitcom of the show to be written. Clearly, The Jetsons still continues to thrive as various live-action reboots and remakes are in the making and are set in the near future.
8. As Told by Ginger
Ginger Foutley is a middle school girl who tries to be more than just a social geek. Along with her friends, Darren Patterson, Dodie Bishop, and Macie Lightfoot, the trio solves the many conflicts that come their way. Every single adventure faced by Ginger is recorded and written down in her diary once she gets home. Alas, two episodes of the series were ranked in Nickelodeon’s “100 Greatest Moments in Nicktoons History” and the series even garnered three Emmy nominations for the Outstanding Animated Program (less than one hour) category.
7. Max & Ruby
This seven-season animated show follows Max and Ruby, two bunnies who are brother and sister. It has been showing since 2002 and is still continuing to be aired on Nickelodeon. The series focuses on the sibling relationship between the two. Despite it seeming like a more kid-friendly show, Max and Ruby foster life-lessons that are suitable for the audience of all ages.
6. Bob’s Burgers
A Fox animated series that started airing on 2011, the show follows the Belcher family and their hamburger restaurant. Over the show, they feature Bob’s struggles to compete with other business surrounding his restaurant. The series has merited success as it’s been nominated seven consecutive times for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program, winning the award twice, once in 2014 and again in 2017. It’s long run is still going strong, as it has now been renewed by Fox for its 10th season. Additionally, a feature film of the series is set to be released in 2020.
5. The Backyardigans
Based on the live-action show “Me and My Friends” in 1998, The Backyardigans stars Uniqua, Pablo, Tyrone, Austin, and Tasha, talking animals that have grown to be best friends by being neighbors. Their day-to-day life consists of musical numbers and role-playing and visualizing of each of their own “dreams” that cater to the primary focus of each episode. It may sound like a kiddy show, but trust me, the songs and the visuals never get old, with storylines enjoyable for children, teenagers, and adults alike.
4. My Life as a Teenage Robot
In Tremorton lives Jenny, or XJ-9, a robot girl who lives life as a normal human teenager but, at the same time, has duties to protect the Earth. The Nickelodeon series was created by Rob Renzetti and was first aired in 2003. Because of poor ratings then, it was canceled after two seasons but the third season aired in 2003.
3. Wonder Pets!
Talking and singing animals? What more can you ask for? This show ran for 10 years beginning in 2016 under Nick Jr., the children’s channel of Nickelodeon. Originally “Linny the Guinea Pig,” Ming-Ming Duckling and Turtle Tuck joined the team once the show started getting more attention. The three are elementary school classroom pets who rescue baby animals through teamwork.
2. Over the Garden Wall
This one-season animated show of cartoon network follows half-brothers Wirt and Greg who start off lost in a forest called the Unknown. The two go through the forest encountering supernatural beings that question and challenge their own insecurities and passions. In order to get home, they must find a way to overcome these obstacles. Despite its short run, the series was able to hone realistic contexts and symbolism especially when it came to family and finding one’s true self.
1. Hey Arnold
Airing in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Hey Arnold! is a Nickelodeon animated show who follows a fourth-grader named Arnold. Arnold lives with his grandparents inside a boarding house and the show highlights his experiences dealing with the problems of the people around him and at the same time his adventures in the big city.
Do you have any animated shows you think are underrated? Let us know in the comments down below!