I was born in 1982 and spent my late childhood and teenage years in the '90s.
So when I was given the important task of compiling a list of the best cartoons of the '90s past, I knew without a doubt...
I WAS BORN FOR THIS.
No, but seriously... '90s cartoons are something I have a lot of personal experience with.
Starting elementary school around 1988... most mornings started with a quick TV session.
And anyone who grew up around the same time knows that weekends were all about those Saturday morning cartoons.
But when collecting a bunch of '90s cartoons to sort through, I have to say I had quite a difficult task on my hands.
It wasn't difficult because there wasn't a good selection to choose from or because I didn't have enough experience on the subject…
It was a tall order given the sheer number of amazingly good cartoons that aired in the late '80s and '90s.
The list would really need to be top 20 or top 30 to cover all the classics.
But it's our list, and we'll have to make our decisions and give these iconic cartoons the celebration they deserve.
So yeah…we'll make a top ten list. Yes, there will be a lot of cartoons that will have to be cut. And yes... it feels like a crime.
(I'm sorrySonic the Hedgehog, Pinky and the Brain, The Mask: Animated Series, Talespin, Hey Arnold!, The Powerpuff Girls, Daria, Tiny Toon Adventures, Aeon Flux, Dougypato Darkwing. God, those hurt.)
We'll include some vital '90s classics that technically started before the 1990 marker (if they had most of their content in the '90s... it should count).
So now that we're clear on the rules, let's work through this controversial list of the best '90s cartoons from the past.
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10. South Park (1997-present)
Admittedly, this was one that I never saw or had any attachment to. But when researching the best '90s cartoons, it seemed impossible to miss.
As one of Comedy Central's most popular television shows, even to this day... and a host of nominations and awards...
It would be hard to deny that South Park is one of the best cartoons of the '90s generation.
Known for its use of profanity, satire, and black humor, this series is perhaps a child of some of the classics that will appear later on this list.
And at the time of its debut, South Park (and some of its peers to come in the late '90s, like SpongeBob SquarePants or Family Guy) would have been considered the future of cartoons.
South Park was without a doubt the most "adult" of them all.
The first episode was titled "Cartman Gets Anal Probed" for crying out loud.
This was clearly a cartoon aimed at adults and teens approaching adulthood (so maybe kids like me who were born in the early 80s and hit adulthood in the late 90s).
The show has been included in many lists of best cartoons and best television shows. And it felt truly criminal not to include it on our list of the best '90s cartoons from the past.
The show even spawned some pretty awesome video games, one of which ranked pretty high on our list of the best.best ps3 role playing games. Yes… it's so good!
9. Animaniacs (1993-1998)
Animaniacs is an animated comedy television series that makes its debut on Fox Kids before eventually moving to The WB.
It was a follow-up to the ultra-popular show Tiny Toon Adventures, also produced by Warner Bros. and Amblin Entertainment.
Like many of the shows on this list, it was a show made for kids, but it featured plenty of suggestive themes that parents would enjoy as well. What seemed to be a trend in 90's cartoons.
The show featured a wide variety of characters, themes, and content presented in short mini-episode segments.
It was a success, both with children and adults. The ratings were very high, and the show even won eight Emmys!
Animaniacs spawned a movie, a comic book series, many video game titles, and even had a reboot for Hulu in 2020.
The effects of this hit series are still being felt to this day. And we're happy to see it make it to our list of the best '90s cartoons!
8. Rugrats (1990-2006)
Rugrats was an animated television show that aired on Nickelodeon's "Nicktoons" and premiered in 1991.
The show focused on a group of young children who were usually left with a babysitter while the parents were doing who knows what.
Children typically escaped their imaginations, turning ordinary life into extraordinary adventures.
There was often a moral lesson in the story of each episode. (Perhaps the most important lesson is…spend more time with your children!)
The show was a hit, running for nine seasons and spawning movies, spinoff shows, video game titles, comics, a live performance, and a ton of merchandise.
Rugrats was even honored with a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
It's safe to say that Rugrats was a hit for Nickelodeon and really helped put "Nicktoons" on the map.
And our list of the best '90s cartoons wouldn't be complete without Rugrats... one of our personal favorites from our childhood.
And with talk of reboots of the TV series, it made us hope for a possibleNew Rugrats game for PS5.
7. The Ren and Stimpy Show (1991-1995)
Ren...a frail, psychopathic, sociopathic Chihuahua.
Stimpy... a fat, carefree, goofy cat.
Sounds like the perfect couple to stay in a home together and see what happens.
And what usually happened was something crazy, disgusting, shocking, and downright hilarious.
As one of the three original "Nicktoons" TV shows for Nickelodeon (along with Rugrats and Doug), the show was not without controversy.
The show featured a very "gross" and adult style of humor, and felt out of place for a children's television channel.
You have to remember that these types of adult cartoons did not yet have a firm place in the world of television, so they had to fit in where they could.
However, the creator of programsJohn Kricfalusihe was eventually fired by Nickelodeon, and production continued without him for several years before the show came to an end in 1995.
Fortunately for the shows' cult following, this was a time before the internet and a lot of media coverage of these kinds of behind-the-scenes dramas.
For us kids living in the '90s, we were able to just enjoy the wacky nature of this one-of-a-kind TV show that was truly influential to future adult cartoons.
6. Pokémon (1997-2002)
Pokémon has been known to rank first on many RetroDodo lists.
But unfortunately for this list bully, there were only a handful of awesome cartoons that came before it and had a pretty solid hold on those top spots.
But let's not kid you... the original animated series, which made its debut in 1997, was a classic in its own right.
The show originally aired in Japan and finally premiered in the United States in 1999.
Like the first generation of the popular video game franchise, the original anime series follows Ash Ketchum on his adventures with his trusty Pokémon: Pikachu.
And the show spawned a series of...well...additional series (series?) and movies that continue to this day.
I've said it before and I'll say it again… Pokémon is undeniable. A force to be reckoned with. And it doesn't look like they're slowing down or going anywhere anytime soon.
And for fans of the franchise, that seems to be exactly what it is.requisitioned.
5. Beavis y Butt Head (1993-1997)
If we're talking adult comedy on an animated series, there's no doubt that Beavis and Butt-Head was where it all changed in the '90s.
A show like Ren & Stimpy might have made your parents say "well that's weird"... but Beavis and Butt-Head was a show that could get you in some pretty serious trouble.
The program was created bymike judge, who eventually gave us the TV classic King of the Hill and also wrote the movies Office Space, Idiocracy, and Extract.
The show was about two teenage metalheads who spent their time watching music videos, completely failing at their part-time jobs, harassing the locals, and causing some pretty serious physical harm to each other.
And by the way… WHERE ARE THE PARENTS?!
Who can forget those annoying laughs that open each episode and seemingly never end throughout the 5-10 minute sequences?
The show caused quite a stir in the media and turned out to be the highest-rated show on MTV at the time.
There was a hit movie featuring the anarchist teens in 1996 (and a sequel coming out in 2022!), as well as a handful of good video games in the '90s.
But the real legacy this truly unique television show left behind was setting a lane for adult humor in a cartoon series.
4. Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)
oh batman A character we all love. I love it. You love him. Production studios love it.
It might be fair to say that it has been a bit of an exaggeration. With over ten appearances in feature films, countless TV shows, a ton of video games...we may have more Batman than we need.
But it would also be fair to say that if fans of the caped crusader were asked to pick the absolute best looks for the character... a popular animated TV series would appear on EVERY one of those lists.
That's right... Batman: The Animated Series. The absolute best animated Batman look.
Making its debut on Fox Kids in 1992, it was the first DC Comics animated series produced by Warner Bros. Animation.
The show established the fan-favorite voice actor duo: Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Mark Hamill as The Joker.
This original cast of voice actors even contributed their performances to the Warner Bros. video games Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009), Batman: Arkham City (2011), and Batman: Arkham Knight (2015).
That trilogy of games was a huge success, selling more than 30 million copies worldwide and winning many awards.
But it was the success of the original animated television series that made all of that possible.
Praised for its complex plots, dark tone, and obviously incredible voice acting... Batman: The Animated Series is truly one of the best comic book-themed television series ever created.
And as far as '90s cartoons go, it's a clear top ten contender.
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)
I would say this was probably the number one cartoon I watched in the late 80's and early 90's.
I distinctly remember waking up for school every weekday and turning on the TV and hearing that glorious intro music...
Which, interestingly, was co-written byChuck Lorre, the “King of sitcoms”. Who is known for comedies like Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Roseanne... to name a few.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got its start in the late '80s, but continued its reign as one of the absolute best cartoons for most of the '90s.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise began as a comic in 1984, but I think it's safe to say that it was the original cartoon series from the '80s and '90s that established the brand and made it a household name.
I think most guys in the early '90s, myself included, were crazy about turtles.
There were plenty of awesome action figures, merchandise, and food items for us to beg our parents for.
Heck, we even made a list of thebest tmnt toysof all times. They are still producing turtle products to this day!
With additional movies and iterations of animated television series, the enduring power of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is undeniable.
It was the popularity of the original animated series that gave the Turtles a permanent position in our hearts and an easy spot on our list of the best '90s cartoons.
2. X-Men: The Animated Series (1992-1997)
Take for example the success of popular animated TV shows like G.I. Joe (1983-1986) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996) and mix it up with one of the most beloved comic book franchises in history...and what do you get?
A successful show, that is.
It's the fucking X-Men...do I really need to explain that much?
Some of the amazing characters in the series include Wolverine, Cyclops, Rogue, Storm, Beast, Gambit, Professor X, Magneto... just to name a few. Now then...
Encargado por Fox Kids Network (Batman: The Animated Series, Animaniacs, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)...
Producida por Saban Entertainment (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Digimon)...
Y coproducida por Graz Entertainment (G.I. Joe Extreme, Street Fighter, The Tick).
And of course, working with Marvel and Stan Lee.
That is a winning team.
The show was a huge critical and commercial success. Comic book fans (who are notoriously protective of the source material) were also happy with the adaptation.
And cartoon fans watched in record numbers.
Comics are perhaps the best source of content to create a successful animated television series...and with a franchise like X-Men, there was a lot of content to draw from.
Everyone came out winners: Marvel, Fox, and us...kids...who were utterly and utterly obsessed with this classic '90s cartoon.
I had this show in my number one spot for a while... but when you see what took its place, you'll surely agree...
1. The Simpsons (1989-Present)
If we're talking about the king of '90s cartoons, the undisputed crown holder would have to be The Simpsons.
It made its official television debut on December 17, 1989... The Simpsons was probably the most watched cartoon by children and adults in the 90s.
To date, the series has 725 episodes and the thirty-third season (yes, 33) premiered in September 2021, making it the longest-running cartoon series in television history.
The list of accolades is absolutely insane and honestly too much to cover.
But let's just say that it has racked up quite a number of honors in its 33-plus-year history.
The show has managed to stay relevant and topical throughout that long history, but it was those golden age episodes in the '90s that really solidified The Simpsons' place as one of (if nothe) the greatest cartoon of all time.
The show is a unique blend of adult humor, satire, social and political commentary, and can even produce some very emotional moments.
The world's favorite xanthous (meaning "yellow colored") family easily gets our pick for the number one best cartoon of the '90s past.
Are you a fan of The Simpsons? Maybe take a look at our list of thebest simpsons gamesof all times.
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Anthony has been avideo game loversince he can remember. He became a full-time nomad in 2018 and has lived throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion on retro gaming and began creating a Game Boy Color game while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, taking long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.