1. Daria (1997–2002)
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Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane, her BFF and co-star on the show, perfectly capture the sarcastic attitude of Gen X and older millennial teens. In addition, there is Daria’s well-known vibe of “I don’t have low self-esteem. Even if you’re rewatching the film for the first time in years, the line “I have low regard for everyone else” is still relevant.
2. Rugrats (1991–2004)
If you’re of a certain age, Nickelodeon’s Rugrats — Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica — were a regular part of your childhood media diet. The Rugrats Movie debuted in 1998, and Rugrats in Paris: The Movie followed in 2000.
3. Beavis and Butt-Head (1993–1997)
Adult satire in cartoon form went mainstream when Beavis and Butt-Head debuted on MTV in 1993, revolutionizing the animation industry. Stories about two metalhead, couch-potato teenagers made their way into pop culture with phrases like “I am the Great Cornholio, I need T.P for my bunghole.”
4. South Park (1997–present)
The long-running South Park, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone in 1997 and still airing new episodes on Comedy Central, has created more controversy than any other show. Cartman, Kyle, Kenny, Stan, and their parents, teachers, and neighbors in a small Colorado town aren’t afraid to poke fun at celebrities, politicians, and cultural issues.
5. The Simpsons (1989–present)
After 31 seasons of The Simpsons, which debuted as a short on The Tracey Ullman Show, the show is still going strong. Even if you tried your hardest, it’s impossible to imagine a world without the Simpsons. We’re not going to be able to. Despite its age, it’s still full of wit and wisdom for adults, making it one of the original animated series to do so.
6. King of the Hill (1997–2010)
Beavis and Butthead’s Mike Judge and The Simpsons’ former writer Greg Daniels came up with the concept for Fox’s King of the Hill. There are a lot of similarities between Hank Hill and the rest of his middle-class family sitcoms in that the show follows them as they deal with the ups and downs of everyday life.
7. DuckTales (1987–1990)
There’s no doubt that the world of Donald Duck has branched out into other realms. Scrooge McDuck and his three grandnephews—Huey, Dewey, and Louie—along with a number of their friends—live out their adventures in Ducktales. What more could you want from a cartoon show than to go on a treasure hunt and defeat villains along the way?
8. Dexter’s Laboratory (1995–2003)
What adolescent didn’t fantasize about being an inventor for a secret laboratory, where they could whip up inventions on the fly? That was the main focus of Dexter’s Laboratory (as it was commonly referred to). Additionally, he has to contend with an obnoxious older sister and a bothersome neighbor/rival.
9. Rocko’s Modern Life (1992–1996)
An Australian wallaby named Rocko and his crew of pals, including Heffer Wulfe the steer and Filburt the neurotic turtle, are featured in this Nickelodeon favorite. Spunky the dog is also featured. The show was well-known for its satirical social commentary and adult humor, which led to a few media controversies—which only served to increase the show’s popularity among viewers.
10. Animaniacs (1993–1998)
Consider an animated variety show. There were numerous skits each episode featuring various endearing characters like Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, which was the premise of Animaniacs. Hulu is even planning a reimagining that will premiere in 2020. We’ll keep you updated as things develop.
11. Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995)
There have been a slew of Batman and his villains over the years, some of which were a commercial success while others were a flop. It was a favorite of many kids in the 1990s, and it was heavily influenced by Tim Burton’s (non-animated) films, which starred Michael Keaton as the eponymous character from the DC comics.
12. Arthur (1996–present)
Adapted from a book series, this animated show centers on Arthur Read, an eight-year-old aardvark who looks a lot like John Legend. With its lighthearted tone, the cartoon series has been able to address serious issues like autism, dyslexia, and cancer without coming across as preachy.
13. Johnny Bravo (1997–2004)
A big part of Johnny Bravo’s look is inspired by Elvis Presley’s hairstyle. The city he calls home is named Aron after Elvis Presley’s middle name. What else did we enjoy about this amusing animated series? Shaquille O’Neal and Seth Green are two of the show’s frequent guests.
14. Gargoyles (1994–1997)
When the Gargoyles arrive in modern-day New York City, they serve as nighttime watchmen to keep the city’s citizens safe from harm. Our favorite parts of the show are all of the Shakespearean allusions, as well as the darker themes.
15. Doug (1991–1999)
Nickelodeon’s block of animated shows, which included hits like Ren & Stimpy and Rugrats, introduced Doug as one of the originals. A teen protagonist, his family, and his wildly imaginative world are the focus of the show. After watching this video, you’ll be singing along to “Bangin’ on a Trash Can.”
16. The Powerpuff Girls (1998–2005)
Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are three superpowered kindergarten girls who volunteer their time to defend Townsville. From 1998 to 2005, they aired on Cartoon Network and helped a generation of young women discover their inner girl power with The Powerpuff Girls Movie.
17. Pinky and the Brain (1995-1998)
This animated series about genetically modified lab mice trying to take over the world was a hit with kids and adults alike. Because of its witty parodies and biting social commentary, Pinky and the Brain was a huge hit with audiences of all ages, and it’s still relevant today. It’s a good thing this animated series can now be streamed. Hulu users can watch this now.
18. Pokémon (1997–present)
As a result of Pokémon’s role in popularizing anime in the U.S., it’s still a part of our lives today, thanks to apps and a 2019 film starring Ryan Reynolds called Detective Pikachu. The adorable characters’ popularity isn’t going anywhere any time soon, which is great.
19. The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991–1995)
Animated series Ren & Stimpy from the 1990s had a devoted fan base thanks to their dark humor and erratic behavior. Even in 2020, this cartoon is fascinating to watch because it’s so bizarre — in the best possible way, of course. This would be at the top of our “best of the ’90s cartoons” list.
20. Recess (1997–2006)
This cartoon about a group of elementary school students having fun during recess was a big hit because recess was the best part of the school day. Spinelli, voiced by Better Things’ Pamela Adlon, was our favorite of the bunch.
21. Sailor Moon (1992–1997)
During the huge anime boom, Sailor Moon made its way to the United States. In the story, a middle-schooler named Usagi Tsukino gains the power to transform into a Sailor Soldier. Sailor Moon is a fantastic example of a strong female superhero, as you know.
22. The Tick (1994–1996)
For three seasons in the mid-’90s a superhero with a sidekick named Arthur went on television as The Tick, which had its roots in a comic book and gained a dedicated fan base. Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld’s Puddy) starred in the live-action series, which spawned another run of the animated series in 2016, both of which aired on Amazon. Purchase through Amazon’s Prime service
23. The Magic School Bus (1994–1997)
An adaptation of the best-selling book, The Magic School Bus does exactly what it says on the tin. When we were in school, our daily bus trips sounded a lot less fun than those of Miss Frizzle and her class.