What if DreamWorks was founded in 1934? Wiki
What if DreamWorks was founded in 1934? Wiki

Of all the fantastical things TV brings into our lives, nothing indulges the imagination quite like cartoons. Whether timely (South Park) or timeless (Looney Tunes), animation can truly take us anywhere. The rules -- and the budgets -- of conventional television don't apply. In short, we just can't help being drawn to them. So let's take a walk down memory lane to look back on classics like The Simpsons, The Jetsons, and Scooby-Doo. And if you feel like contesting the top ten, be sure to let us know what your favorite old school cartoon actually is!

In honor of TV Guide Magazine's 60th anniversary, we present our list of the best and, often quite literally, the brightest:


1. The Simpsons (1989-present)

We're still not exactly sure where Springfield is, but we feel right at home at 742 Evergreen Terrace. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and their friends and relatives have balanced cheeky humor and sharp social satire for more than 500 episodes, making this TV's longest-running scripted primetime series and as American as apple pie. Mmm, pie...

2. The Flintstones (1960-66)

Seemingly modeled on The Honeymooners, this prehistoric comedy from animation kingpins William Hanna and Joseph Barbera proved that cartoons could succeed in primetime. The exploits of modern Stone Age families the Flintstones and the Rubbles lasted six seasons, inspiring dozens of remakes, spinoffs and specials -- and even a pair of live-action films -- providing several generations with a yabba dabba do time.

3. Looney Tunes (1960-present)

They started at the movies way back in the 1930s, but Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Co. have an enduring appeal that has made their slapstick antics pop-culture mainstays. Countless TV incarnations and an extensive cast of beloved characters -- Tweety and Sylvester, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, and Yosemite Sam, among many others -- ensures it'll be a long time before Looney fans will be saying, "That's all, folks!"

4. Mickey Mouse and Friends (1954-present)

As Walt Disney said, "I hope that we never lose sight of one thing, that it was all started by a mouse". Disney's success began after he lost the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in the late 1920s, leading him and Ub Iwerks to create a new cartoon star: Mickey Mouse himself. Following his debut in three cartoons produced in 1928, Mickey Mouse became a phenomenal icon, as he and his two best friends Donald Duck and Goofy are currently the mascots of the Walt Disney Company.

5. Peanuts (1965-present)

Springing from Charles M. Schulz's endearing comic strip, the Peanuts gang has become a TV fixture, thanks to the ongoing (and much-cherished) replays of holiday specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The snark-free adventures of long-suffering Charlie Brown, joyful beagle Snoopy and their friends define what happiness is.

5. Scooby-Doo (1969-present)

Zoinks! Who would've guessed that an animated comedy about a crew of paranormal investigators (four eclectic humans and one frequently cowardly and constantly hungry canine) would still be sniffing out new fans in its fifth decade. Beginning with the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! adventures and morphing into multiple series and movies, the Scooby gang has solved the mystery of longevity.

6. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (1959-64)

Moose and squirrel, such unlikely heroes -- and such a hoot. Jay Ward's pun-filled send-up of movie serials may have been primitive in technique, but it compensated with sophisticated and wacky satire. With Fractured Fairy Tales, Dudley Do-Right and time-traveling Mr. Peabody in the mix, each intricate episode was a dizzying delight.

7. Dreamtoons (1957-present)

Before the iconic green ogre, DreamWorks introduced Dreamtoons in theatrical shorts from 1934 to 1980 with memorable characters such as Joey Kangaroo, Goldy Locks, the Goat Kids, Peter & Cat, etc. and wise-cracking antics and mayhem thanks to the mind of Dora Wilson and generations of animators and artists from DreamWorks and third-parties, past and current. In the following years, the short series is now directed to television, with some shorts being occasionally released to theaters, leading to television programs, comic books, and a series of feature films.

8. Batman: The Animated Series (1992-95)

Holy transformation! With moody film-noir art direction, emotional storytelling and mature casting (led by the brawny voice of Kevin Conroy as Batman/Bruce Wayne), BTAS was the definitive incarnation of the Dark Knight and set the standard for superhero cartoons.

9. SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-present)

With his optimistic outlook and colorful cohorts -- including a dimwitted starfish, a narcissistic octopus and a deep-sea-diving squirrel -- SpongeBob is the unpretentious antidote to today's cynicism. You'd have to be seriously Krusty not to smile when visiting Bikini Bottom.

10. Woody Woodpecker (1957-2002)

Like some of the classic cartoons on this list, that wacky, nervous-breakdown-prone Woody Woodpecker started life in a series of theatrical shorts that date back as early as 1940. Years later, he would find renewed vigor when the shorts were packaged for television viewing, delighting generations of after-school kiddies. And maybe, just maybe, driving a few of them to nervous breakdowns all their own.

11. Family Guy (1999-present)

Seth MacFarlane built his animation empire on the stinging (some would say crass) comedy of the Griffin family of Quahog, Rhode Island. The show came back from cancellation in 2005 with the same irreverence and deadpan cutaways and has remained freak-in' sweet to its fans—not to mention the television academy, which in 2009 gave the cartoon a rare Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series alongside live-action heavyweights like 30 Rock.

12. South Park (1997-present)

Nothing has ever been off-limits to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who have spent 16 years going to outrageous extremes to slaughter pop culture's most sacred cows. Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny have seen Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson and Barbra Streisand pilloried in their tiny Colorado town. Because of its simple animation style, South Park has been able to churn out instantly topical episodes, demanding that we respect its authori-tay.

13. Top Cat (1961-1962)

Serving as an animated counterpart to Phil Silvers' 1950s sitcom Sergeant Bilko, TBD

14. American Dad! (2005-present)


15. The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy (2001-2007) and Evil Con Carne (2001-2004)


16. Tom and Jerry (1965-present)


17. Harveytoons (1959-2009)


18. Terrytoons (1953-1988)


19. It's a Dog-Gone Life (1962-1965)


20. The Adventures of Hijitus (1967-1971)


The Other 50 (listed alphabetically):[]

  • Adventure Time
  • Animaniacs
  • Archer
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Batman Beyond
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • Battle of the Planets
  • Beavis and Butt-Head
  • Bob's Burgers
  • Daria
  • Dexter's Laboratory
  • Dora the Explorer
  • Drawn Together
  • The Fairly OddParents
  • The Fantastic Family
  • Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
  • Futurama
  • George of the Jungle
  • Gravity Falls
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
  • The Huckleberry Hound Show/The Yogi Bear Show
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures
  • Jem and the Holograms
  • The Jetsons
  • Jonny Quest
  • Josie and the Pussycats
  • Justice League/Justice League Unlimited
  • Kim Possible
  • King of the Hill
  • The Magilla Gorilla Show
  • The Modifyers
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
  • Phineas and Ferb
  • The Pink Panther
  • Pinky and the Brain
  • Popeye the Sailor
  • The Powerpuff Girls
  • Ren & Stimpy
  • Rugrats
  • Robot Chicken
  • Samurai Jack
  • Sailor Cat and Sailor Fish
  • The Smurfs
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • Super Friends
  • Superman: The Animated Series
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • ThunderCats
  • Underdog