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Best 90s cartoons

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Gracie Films

Best '90s cartoons

The 1990s were truly halcyon days for the animation world. Pre-internet, Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons were filled with every type of cartoon imaginable, and primetime TV also got into the act with more adult animated options.

Some of the first animated sitcoms started appearing on television in the 1960s. Those were the days of “The Flintstones” and later “The Jetsons,” both family comedies set in animated worlds. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, cartoon series continued to proliferate, offering child- and adult-aged viewers a variety of programming.

By the ‘90s, the launch of new channels and networks helped push along the animated heyday. Fox Kids launched in 1990. Cartoon Network started in 1992, while Nickelodeon began producing its own content in the ‘90s. MTV got into the act, and Disney Animation Studios started creating new shows again. An anime boom of Japanese content also entered the U.S. market at the same time. The competition between the networks and broadcasters led to visually stunning, groundbreaking, and often censor-shaking animation that was often ahead of its time.

Stacker decided to dive back into this wonderfully wacky animated decade to see which shows had the most lasting impressions, the biggest cult followings, and broke the molds in all the best ways. Using IMDb's user rating data, Stacker plotted the 50 best cartoons of the decade, with data updated April 5, 2019. To narrow it down, the shows had to have at least two years of runtime in the ‘90s, which eliminated anything that began in 1999 or ended in 1990. Some of the shows, like the various “Dragon Ball” series, were consolidated for overall ratings and ties were broken by a minimum of 5,000 votes.

Prepare to laugh, get nostalgic, and relive what the ‘90s had to offer.

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Deedle-Dee Productions

#50. King of the Hill

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 41,602
- Years: 1997–2010

Created by comedy writing legends Mike Judge and Greg Daniels in 1997, “King of the Hill” was an Emmy-winning show about a middle-class family in the heart of Texas, playing on the divisive tropes around liberalism and conservatism. The show was one of the longest-running programs on Fox, lasting for 13 seasons and 259 episodes. Judge is also known for creating the hit show “Beavis and Butt-Head,” while Daniels had writing gigs on “The Simpsons” and created the American version of “The Office.”

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HIT Entertainment

#49. Pingu

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 5,005
- Years: 1986–present

Fans of claymation seem to have a soft spot for the Swiss-British hybrid “Pingu,” a children's cartoon about a family of penguins living at the South Pole. The show first made it to air in 1986 and has since produced 163 episodes that last about five minutes apiece. One of the hallmarks of the show is the invented Penguinese language that was first voiced by famous Italian clown Carlo Bonomi. Episodes of the lovable show can still be seen on their official YouTube channel.

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9 Story Media Group

#48. Arthur

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 10,617
- Years: 1996–present

Still in production to this day, “Arthur” is one of the longest running animated shows of all time; the cartoon started in 1996 and has spanned 22 seasons and more than 200 episodes and running. The show is about a young anthropomorphic aardvark named Arthur and the trials and tribulations about growing up in the real world. The show airs on PBS and has featured a bevy of guest stars such as Joan Rivers, Fred Rogers, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Idina Menzel.

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Pokémon USA

#47. Pokémon

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 33,082
- Years: 1997–present

Spinning off the enormously popular video game, “Pokémon” the anime series has been in production since 1997 with more than 1,000 episodes and going. Originally released in Japan, the show has a massive worldwide following airing in over 100 countries. The show follows the adventures of Satoshi and Pikachu through the ranks of Pokémon leagues, encountering friends and foes along the way.

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Jumbo Pictures

#46. Doug

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 15,991
- Years: 1991–1994

For any kid who had questions about life's pressing problems as he passed through adolescence, “Doug” was the show with the answers. Running for only five seasons, “Doug” followed the life of Douglas Funnie as he wrote in his journal about the difficulties of navigating middle school. “Doug” was originally broadcast on Nickelodeon and briefly rebooted on the Disney Channel, though the reboot was met with derision from its original fans.

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Spümcø Productions

#45. The Ren & Stimpy Show

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 19,147
- Years: 1991–1996

This groundbreaking cartoon first aired in 1991 and featured an acerbic chihuahua named Ren and his dim-witted feline friend Stimpy. The show displayed a level of gross-out humor and violence that hadn't been seen before, and inspired some censorship. Today, “Ren & Stimpy” is considered a cult classic and the inspiration behind other iconic cartoons like “Beavis and Butt-Head” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

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Film Roman Productions

#44. Beavis and Butt-Head

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 25,177
- Years: 1993–2011

Mike Judge is known for creating classic shows like “King of the Hill” and “Silicon Valley,” but his first big hit was with the MTV series “Beavis and Butt-Head” in 1993. The show focused on two delinquent teens who would comment on music videos from their couch at home. Mired in controversy, “Beavis and Butt-Head” was blamed for teen hijinks around the country and was initially pulled from the air in 1997, before a short reprieve in 2011. A litany of famous actors provided guest voices on the show including David Spade, Thomas Middleditch, Bobcat Goldthwait, and David Letterman.

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Nickelodeon Animation Studios

#43. Rugrats

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 28,340
- Years: 1990–2006

One of the biggest hits in Nickelodeon's history, “Rugrats” started in 1990 and ran for nine seasons (with brief production hiatuses), before being spun off into movies, comics, video games, and endless merchandise. The show focuses on a group of toddlers and their misadventures in the big world around them. Because of the cartoon's success, a number of famous actors lent their voices throughout the years including Jeremy Piven, Debbie Reynolds, Jon Favreau, and even Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak.

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Warner Bros. Animation

#42. Freakazoid!

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 6,640
- Years: 1995–1997

Though it had only a short run, lasting two seasons between 1995–1997, “Freakazoid!” still left a big impact on cartoon and superhero fans. The laugh-a-minute comedy took place in Washington D.C. and followed the exploits of Dexter Douglas, who turns into a wild and crazy superhero when he inadvertently types in some erroneous code on his computer. For a small run, there were some very big guest voices such as Mark Hamill, Ed Asner, Bebe Neuwirth, and Ricardo Montalban. Series creator Tom Ruegger is probably better known for his work on the hit series' “Pinky and the Brain” and “Animaniacs.”

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DIC Entertainment

#41. The Real Ghostbusters

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 7,530
- Years: 1986–1991

Based on the uber-popular movie “Ghostbusters,” “The Real Ghostbusters” was a cartoon spin-off that ran from 1986–1991 with an astonishing 140 episodes. Like the movie, the show revolved around the ghostbusting foursome in New York City with the fan-favorite ghost Slimer as their sidekick. Though none of the main cast from the movie voiced their cartoon counterparts, major actors such as Arsenio Hall and Dave Coulier stepped into the roles. Ernie Hudson, who played Winston in the movies, even lost out to Arsenio for the same role on the cartoon.

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Disney Television Animation

#40. Adventures of the Gummi Bears

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 8,213
- Years: 1985–1991

By today's standards, Disney fans might find it surprising that, in the mid-80s, there were no Disney animated shows. The very first one was actually “Adventures of the Gummi Bears,” based on the candy of the same name. The cartoon, which started in 1985 and lasted until 1991, is about a band of bears who once coexisted with humans but lost contact hundreds of years ago, only to be rediscovered in modern day. Because of the show's popularity, Disney Television Animation was able to launch other hits like “DuckTales,” “TaleSpin,” and “Darkwing Duck."

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Warner Bros. Animation

#39. Tiny Toon Adventures

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 10,387
- Years: 1990–1995

At the start of the decade, Steven Spielberg teamed up with Warner Bros. to produce a spin-off to the classic “Looney Tunes” franchise. The result was “Tiny Toon Adventures," a show that featured a hipper, younger, more ‘90s-centric cast led by Buster and Babs Bunny, Plucky Duck, and Hamton J. Pig. The show first aired as a primetime special on CBS and ultimately ran for 98 episodes between 1990–1995. The show had a bevy of big-name stars who voiced characters including Spielberg himself, Phil Hartman, Vincent Price, Casey Kasem, and Sally Struthers.

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Disney Television Animation

#38. TaleSpin

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 11,652
- Years: 1990–1991

Part of the classic ‘90s Disney Television Animation lineup, “TaleSpin” was a short-lived show that lasted only a single season from 1990–1991. Based on characters from the Disney animated movie “The Jungle Book,” “TaleSpin” follows the exploits of the lovable bear Baloo as he manages an air delivery service while fending off pirates trying to loot his delivery goods. Series creators Mark Zaslove and Jymn Magon were also known for their work on “DuckTales” and “Adventures of the Gummi Bears.”

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Disney Television Animation

#37. Darkwing Duck

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 12,822
- Years: 1991–1992

Created as a spoof of classic superheroes such as The Shadow, “Darkwing Duck” was a Disney Television Animation show that ran for three seasons from 1991–1992. The main character of the show was Darkwing Duck (aka Drake Mallard), who, along with sidekick Launchpad McQuack (a spin-off character from “DuckTales”), fought crime in the fictional city of St. Canard. Show creator Tad Stone was inspired by classic DC Comics in coming up with the show's many catchphrases and superhero tropes.

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Cloverway International (CWI)

#36. Sailor Moon

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 10,635
- Years: 1995–2000

“Sailor Moon” was a popular Japanese anime series that aired in the U.S. from 1995–2000. The show follows a group of 14-year-old girls in sailor suits who discover they have magical powers and fight to protect the world and beyond. Ahead of its time, the series portrayed positive LGBTQ relationships, though most of these depictions were censored and changed in the U.S.

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Nicktoons Productions

#35. Hey Arnold!

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 27,353
- Years: 1996–2004

For many kids growing up in a big city in the 1990s, “Hey Arnold!” was a go-to cartoon. Following nine-year-old Arnold and his urban neighborhood pals, the show delved into themes like bullying, depression, and even adult issues like unemployment. Premiering in 1996 and lasting for five seasons and 100 episodes, “Hey Arnold!” was an integral part of Nickelodeon's ‘90s dominance in the cartoon space.

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Klasky-Csupo

#34. Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 5,001
- Years: 1994–1997

A decidedly adult cartoon, “Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man” was about a crass, semi-misogynistic duck named Eric T. Duckman who worked as a private detective with trusty sidekick Cornfed Pig while also juggling family life in Los Angeles. Originally airing in 1994 and lasting four seasons, “Duckman” starred a treasure trove of voice actors that reads like a who's who of ‘90s celebrities, including Jason Alexander (who played Duckman), Ice-T, Kathy Ireland, Burt Reynolds, Sandra Bernhard, Lisa Kudrow, Nicole Eggert, Ben Stiller, Jim Belushi, David Duchovny, and Heather Locklear. "Duckman" was part of a wave of animated adult(ish) shows at the time that included “The Critic,” “South Park,” and “Beavis and Butt-Head.”

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Columbia Pictures Television

#33. The Critic

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 6,845
- Years: 1994–2001

Starring Jon Lovitz as the schmaltzy and often smarmy film critic Jay Sherman, “The Critic” was a spoof of movie critic icons such as Roger Ebert and the often terrible movies they had to discuss. While it only lasted 33 episodes, the show had a cult following for its insider movie takes and incredible cast of guest stars including Billy Crystal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob Costas, Roger Ebert, Ricki Lake, and Queen Latifah. The show was created by “Simpsons” veterans Al Jean, Mike Reiss, and James L. Brooks and had an all-star gang of producers and writers, including Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”) and Judd Apatow (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”).

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South Carolina ETV

#32. The Magic School Bus

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 7,017
- Years: 1994–1997

Based on a book series, “The Magic School Bus” was an animated show that leaned into its educational aspects as much as its entertaining ones. The idea for the cartoon was to help kids learn about science without boring them to death. The series premiered on PBS in 1994 and ran for four seasons. It featured a fairly heavyweight cast that included Lily Tomlin (who won a Daytime Emmy for her performance) and guest stars like Carol Channing, Dolly Parton, Elliot Gould, Eartha Kitt, and even Tom Cruise.

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20th Century Fox Television

#31. The Tick

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 8,180
- Years: 1994–1997

“The Tick” was originally a comic book character created to spoof superheroes. Since his inception back in 1986, the wry, often dim titular character has been made into multiple TV shows, the first being the 1994 series that lasted three seasons. “The Tick” was a classic superhero, taking on a variety of villains and getting help from a trusty sidekick—in this case, an accountant named Arthur (voiced by Micky Dolenz of “The Monkees” fame). New episodes of “The Tick,” with a much different cast, are available on Amazon Prime.

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Warner Bros. Animation

#30. Animaniacs

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 19,062
- Years: 1993–1998

Tom Ruegger is responsible for creating some of the most indelible cartoons of all time, including “Pinky and the Brain,” “Tiny Toons,” and the bonkers sketch show “Animaniacs” which premiered in 1993 and ran for 99 episodes. The show was about three Warner kids—Yakko, Wakko, and Dot—who lived in the Warner Bros. water tower on the studio lot and caused mischief around various film and TV production. "Animaniacs" also introduced one-off cartoon segments that inspired spin-offs like “Pinky and the Brain.” The show, which was produced by Steven Spielberg, had great stunt casting with voices like Phil Hartman, Adam West, Buddy Hackett, and Bernadette Peters. A reboot of the show is headed to Hulu in 2020.

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Disney Television Animation

#29. Recess

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 19,605
- Years: 1997–2001

Look closely enough and it's possible to see the allegories in the animated show “Recess,” which deals with social structures in everyday life. The 1997 cartoon about fourth graders ran for six seasons, spawned multiple movies, and created a sense of nostalgia for anyone who battled bullies and stratified cliques on the schoolyard. Some of the stunt casting included astronaut Buzz Aldrin, “American Bandstand's” Dick Clark, and James Earl Jones.

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Warner Bros. Animation

#28. Pinky and the Brain

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 25,813
- Years: 1995–1998

One of the most famous cartoons of the 1990s, “Pinky and the Brain” was about genetically enhanced mice who try to take over the world. Running for four seasons and 66 episodes, the show was actually a spin-off from “Animaniacs,” where it ran as a recurring segment. Produced by Steven Spielberg and created by Tom Ruegger, “Pinky” was known for making fun of pop culture in the most absurdist ways. Famous guest stars include Pam Grier, Joyce Brothers, Eric Idle, and Roddy McDowall.

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Murakami Wolf Swenson

#27. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 27,515
- Years: 1987–1996

Named after Renaissance artists Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael, the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” started as a comic book in 1984 and morphed into multiple TV series, movies, and one of the biggest merchandising empires of all time. The original 1987 cartoon series ran for 10 seasons, 193 episodes, and followed the heroic exploits of mutated turtles who rose up from the subways of New York City to fight crime.

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Cartoon Network Studios

#26. Dexter's Laboratory

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 38,155
- Years: 1996–2003

Created by Genndy Tartakovsky—who also created “The Powerpuff Girls,” and “Samurai Jack"—“Dexter's Laboratory” was a cartoon about a boy genius with a secret lab who embarks on crazy adventures while fighting with his sister and avoiding his oblivious parents. Running for four seasons (with a brief hiatus) from 1996–2003, the show was one of the first cartoons to be produced by the new Cartoon Network and had some famous voice actors such as Mark Hamill, Fred Willard, and Martin Mull.

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Adult Swim

#25. Space Ghost Coast to Coast

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 5,238
- Years: 1993–2008

Young fans can be forgiven for not realizing that “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” was actually a spin-off of the 1960s Hanna-Barbera show “Space Ghost.” The reboot started in 1993 and ran for 11 total seasons. Different than the original show, “Coast to Coast” featured a 40-something Space Ghost hosting a late-night talk show and parodied the late-night world in often cringeworthy ways. The show has an enormous legacy, as its spinoffs include “The Brak Show,” “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law,” “Sealab 2021,” and the enormously popular “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.”

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Joe Murray Productions Inc.

#24. Rocko's Modern Life

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 17,119
- Years: 1993–1996

Following the life of Australian immigrant wallaby Rocko, “Rocko's Modern Life” was an edgy cartoon that catered to adults as much as kids. Rocko's other anthropomorphic friends included a neurotic turtle, a boisterous steer, and his dog Spunky. Together, they navigated the weird and zany world in a fictitious American city called O-Town. Started in 1993, “Rocko” ran for four seasons and was spun off into toys, video games, and comic books.

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HBO Animation

#23. Todd McFarlane's Spawn

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 6,543
- Years: 1997–1999

Based on the enormously popular comic book of the same name, “Spawn” was a short-lived animated series that began in 1997 and ran for three seasons and 18 episodes on HBO. “Spawn” is about an anti-hero soldier who was killed and makes a deal with the devil in the hopes of avenging his death. Spawn was constantly battling the will of the devil over his desire to reconnect with his long-lost love. The show was also released as a major feature film in 1997 starring Michael Jai White, and a new movie is set for production with stars Jamie Foxx and Jeremy Renner.

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Alliance Atlantis Communications

#22. Beast Wars: Transformers

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 6,813
- Years: 1996–1999

The world of “Transformers” started as a Hasbro action figure in 1984. Since then, there have been blockbuster movies, multiple TV series, and endless merchandising surrounding the shape-shifting toy brand. The series “Beast Wars: Transformers” is part of the same universe where Maximals and Predacons fight with one another on a prehistoric planet. “Beast Wars” ran for just three seasons from 1996–1999. Legendary voice actor Scott McNeil was the main voice of the show, but he may be more well known for roles in “Dragon Ball Z.”

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Warner Bros. Animation

#21. Superman

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 11,978
- Years: 1996–2000

“Superman” was a highly stylized animated series that got its start in 1996 and ran for 54 episodes. All the classic characters were involved, including Lois Lane (voiced by Dana Delaney), Lex Luthor (voiced by Clancy Brown), and Clark Kent/Superman (voiced by Tim Daly). The show was eventually combined with “Batman: The Animated Series” to form “The New Batman/Superman Adventures.” Other big cast members included Malcolm McDowell, Mark Hamill, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Cox, and Melissa Joan Hart.

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Buena Vista Television

#20. Gargoyles

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 12,403
- Years: 1994–1996

Premiering in 1994, “Gargoyles” was a show about the gargoyle statues on buildings, which in the series come alive at night and protect the city from evil. The show was spun off into a variety of comic books and toys, but only lasted for three seasons and 78 episodes. Rumors swirl that Jordan Peele, of “Get Out” directorial fame, wants to do a live reboot movie of the classic ‘90s cartoon.

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MTV Animation

#19. Daria

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 21,418
- Years: 1997–2001

Spun off from “Beavis and Butt-Head,” “Daria” was a cartoon on the life of teenage Daria Morgendorffer and her best friend Jane Lane. The show followed them as they navigated high school with deadpan wit. “Daria” first aired in 1997, ran for five seasons, and was MTV's very successful attempt at attracting female viewers. The show is iconic for how it portrayed anti-establishment tropes among teens in ways no other cartoons were doing at the time.

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Children's Television Workshop (CTW)

#18. Sesame Street

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 10,545
- Years: 1969–present

“Sesame Street” is one of the most beloved shows in television history and just recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Starting in 1969 on PBS, the educational and entertaining show combines puppetry, animation, and live actors to educate kids on math, science, reading, and writing. The animated portions of the show were usually short sketches elucidating some educational aspect for kids. In the last 50 years, the show has won countless Emmys, spun-off other series, and turned into numerous books and toys. Famous guest stars on the popular series include Tina Fey, Oprah Winfrey, Adam Sandler, Venus Williams, Denzel Washington, and dozens of other famous celebrities from the past 50 years.

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Hyperion Pictures

#17. Life with Louie

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 6,215
- Years: 1995–1998

“Life with Louie” was a comical look at the childhood life of stand-up comedian Louie Anderson. The short-run show lasted just 38 episodes and featured Louie's wacky parents, 10 siblings, and school-yard bullies. Louie Anderson voiced his childhood self and received writing credits on all 38 episodes. Critically, the show took home two Daytime Emmy Awards.

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Ellipse Animation

#16. The Adventures of Tintin

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 15,376
- Years: 1991–1992

Based on the books by Georges Prosper Remi, “The Adventures of Tintin” follows young reporter Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy as they chase down stories and adventures. The popular brand of books has also spawned movies, toys, radio shows, video games, and endless paraphernalia. Steven Spielberg directed an animated movie adaptation, which was released in 2011 to mixed reviews.

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Madhouse

#15. Trigun

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 17,207
- Years: 1998

Though it was only on TV for one year in 1998, “Trigun” is still an all-time fan favorite. The series is based on Vash the Stampede, a galactic outlaw with a $60 billion bounty on his head. The show was a Japanese series that also spawned a feature film called “Trigun: Badlands Rumble.”

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New World Entertainment Films

#14. Spider-Man: The Animated Series

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 22,635
- Years: 1994–1998

Finding new takes on Spider-Man isn't easy, but “Spider-Man: The Animated Series” followed the superhero into college as he attempts to woo Mary Jane Watson, go to class, and fight major villains all at the same time. Airing from 1994–1998, “Spider-Man” featured a bevy of big voice actors like Sandra Bernhard, Hank Azaria, Martin Landau, and George Takei. The show also spawned video games, comic books, and tons of toys.

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TMS Entertainment

#13. Detective Conan

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 9,232
- Years: 1996–present

Known as both “Detective Conan” and “Case Closed,” this Japanese series has been on the air since 1996 and is still running today. The series follows a detective who was chemically transformed into a small boy by the bad guys of the Black Syndicate. The young Conan lives his life in secret while solving cases, going to elementary school, and trying to take down the Syndicate. The popular program has been turned into video games and nearly two dozen movies.

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Pierrot

#12. Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 9,868
- Years: 1992–1995

When 14-year-old Yusuke Urameshi pushed a child out of the way of a moving car, he was hit instead, dying on the spot. Due to his act of altruism, Yusuke was resurrected and winds up as a spirit detective, investigating the paranormal in the regular world. The Japanese series premiered in 1992 and ran through 1995, becoming one of many popular anime imports in the U.S. in the ‘90s.

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Warner Bros. Animation

#11. The New Batman Adventures

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 11,632
- Years: 1997–1999

“The New Batman Adventures” is a continuation of the hit cartoon “Batman: The Animated Series,” where Dick Grayson/Robin became Nightwing and Batgirl was more prominently featured. The show was a darker portrayal of the winged crusader and the underbelly of Gotham City. Running from 1997–1999, the series had a number of big-name guest stars like Mark Hamill, Billy Zane, Linda Hamilton, and Dennis Haysbert.

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Aniplex

#10. Rurouni Kenshin: Wandering Samurai

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 15,367
- Years: 1996–1999

“Rurouni Kenshin: Wandering Samurai” is the TV animated version of the mega-popular manga series “Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story.” Airing from 1996–1999, the story followed Himura Kenshin as he wandered the Meiji-era countryside and took over a dojo to help protect the country from opium dealers. The show initially aired on Cartoon Network, and is currently enjoying a second life on Netflix.

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OLM-Animation Studio

#9. Berserk

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 23,359
- Years: 1997–1998

The backstory of “Berserk” is not for the faint of heart. The main character Guts was a mercenary whose mother died from the plague. His adopted father tried to kill him, and he was sold into the sex trade. Guts eventually joins a gang of mercenaries called The Band of the Hawk, who fight evil members of the natural and unnatural world. The show only had a short life, lasting just a single season, but inspired video games, music, books, merchandise, films, and a second TV series in 2016.

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Genesis Entertainment

#8. X-Men: The Animated Series

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 32,868
- Years: 1992–1997

Before the Marvel Universe controlled the big screen, “X-Men: The Animated Series” enjoyed a five-season run on Fox Kids from 1992–1997. For anyone not familiar with the mega-franchise, the “X-Men” are a band of mutants who fight for justice around the world, battling evil humans and mutants alike. Shockingly, the series had a hard time getting to air, and a series of cost-cutting initiatives like hiring Canadian actors helped push it over the edge. Ultimately, the show's producer Haim Saban credits the show for helping him launch the incredibly successful “The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers” series.

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FUNimation Entertainment

#7. Dragon Ball

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 86,117
- Years: 1986–2003

There are so many different “Dragon Ball” series that the website IMDb dedicates an entire page to trying to explain it. Fans of “Dragon Ball” will remember one of the original offerings: the animated series that launched in 1986 and produced more than 150 episodes. The series was about Son Goku, a young warrior with a monkey tail who searches the universe for the seven Dragon Balls that will grant any wish. He also fights bad guys along the way. The “Dragon Ball” media universe includes video games, movies, theme park rides, comic books, playing cards, and toys.

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Gainax

#6. Neon Genesis Evangelion

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 36,101
- Years: 1995–1996

Another Japanese anime getting a second life on Netflix, “Neon Genesis Evangelion” first aired in 1995, lasting just a single season and 26 episodes. The story follows teenager Shinji Ikari through a post-apocalyptic world in where he and fellow teens pilot giant mechs to fight Angels, alien monsters that are hell-bent on destroying the rest of the planet.

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Ocean Group

#5. Dragon Ball Z

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 157,201
- Years: 1989–2003

In a continuation of the original “Dragon Ball” series, “Dragon Ball Z” still featured the monkey-tailed Son Goku, but now as an adult and with a son named Gohan as they continue to protect the Earth and attempt to locate the mythic Dragon Balls. The series ran from 1989–2003, and, like its predecessor, inspired games, toys, and movies. It is one of IGN's top 100 animated series of all time.

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Comedy Central

#4. South Park

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 297,371
- Years: 1997–present

Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker first brought the world's attention to the kids of “South Park” through a 1995 animated short where Jesus fights Santa Claus. Two years later, they had their own show on Comedy Central. Since then, they have produced 23 seasons and 308 episodes about four kids growing up in South Park, Co., who deal with every pressing issue from gun control and celebrity to bullying and drugs. The show has earned five Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animation Program and generated millions of dollars in revenue with toys, games, and movies.

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20th Century Fox Television

#3. The Simpsons

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 329,465
- Years: 1989–present

Created by Matt Groening, “The Simpsons” is one of the most cherished animated shows in television history. It's also a record breaker. Started in 1989 and still running today, the show follows the misadventures of a dysfunctional middle-class family in the made-up town of Springfield. “The Simpsons” holds the record for longest-running animated show of all time, as well as the longest-running scripted show of all time with 659 episodes and counting. Nearly every big name celebrity has guest voiced for the show including Anne Hathaway, Stan Lee, Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and so many more.

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Warner Bros. Animation

#2. Batman: The Animated Series

- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Votes: 73,195
- Years: 1992–1995

Premiering in 1992 and running for four seasons, “Batman: The Animated Series” was hailed for its highly stylized animation style and dark tones. The series follows millionaire Bruce Wayne, who turns into the titular Batman by night, fighting crime and a never-ending slew of super-villains. The show is typically ranked as one of the best animated shows of all time and earned multiple awards, including a Primetime Emmy in 1993.

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Bandai Visual Company

#1. Cowboy Bebop

- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Votes: 73,747
- Years: 1998–1999

Though it only lasted a single season, “Cowboy Bebop” is consistently hailed one of the best animated shows ever. Following a gang of bounty hunters as they traverse the universe in their space ship the Bebop, the series plays on old Hollywood Western tropes with a soundtrack of American rock-and-roll. The cult popularity of the show continues to this day as Netflix recently announced a live-action reboot of the series starring John Cho as the lead bounty hunter Spike Spiegel.

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