It's not even close, the 90's.
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I suppose you could start with 1880s since you had the Elmo the Aardvark flipbook, mainly I'm guessing throughout the 1890s, 1900s, and 1910s you had newspaper reels, and stuff like that, then finally in the 20s you had some bigger names come around, especially Mickey Mouse in 1928, then in the 30s Warner Bros. began to make an impact and Hannah-Barbera hit the scene in the 40s. Then, in the 50s with the utilization of TV more and more characters and companies began to run strong, and continued into the 60s and 70s. The 80s saw heavy commercialization with action-figures and cable, the 90s saw a lot of innovation, especially with adult animation, and has continued into the 2000s and I'm sure into the 2010s.Personally my favorite is the 90s, mainly because I grew up in it, and there was so much good programming, especially at the beginning with early 90s Nickelodeon and at the end with late 90s Cartoon Network.
It's not even close, the 90's.
anime stir in the later part of the decade. Shows such as He-Man, GI Joe, Thundercats, Transformers, TMNT and others were being watched by tons of viewers and churning out millions upon millions of dollars worth of merchendise and became iconic in the eyes of kids who watched those shows back then, and now their DVD releases are helping to spawn nostalgic interest in the eyes of consumers. The 90's was a fun and glorious time for cartoons, especially if you liked superheroes because shows like X-Men, Batman, Spider-Man, The Tick, Superman and other comic book related toons were gracing the screens of homes throughout the world, plus anime hit big with shows like Pokemon, Yugioh and DBZ being ported over to the U.S and were pulling in new viewers on a day to day basis. Other era's had other achievements or course, with shows like Looney Toons and Tom & Jerry the old days did very well for themselves, but the 80's and 90's were the best (in my opinion) and in my eyes are the most cherished time in cartoon history.
Nickelodeon was beginning to churn out what would become hit cartoons with stuff like Rugrats, Rocko and other shows that would do so well throughout the decade. The 90's was definatly the "boom" for cartoons as far as cable TV goes, but in my eyes it still was not as big of a boom as the 80's network cartoon blocks was, there just seemed to be more of a "Pow!" back then. I don't know how to describe it.
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The 2000's are easily the best decade for action cartoons.
I'd say either the 40's or the 90's. The incredible, energetic full animation in the mid-40's at the Warner Bros. studio (and to a lesser extent Disney, Lantz etc) has yet to be touched by any other decade. A few years earlier in the 30's everything was mostly circles and ovals that never changed their shape, and by the early 50's everything got a little too toned-down for my liking. Compare a cartoon from 1945 to one from 1955 or 1935 to see what I mean.
The 90's were the big renaissance, and they had the classic Simpsons episodes, the original Ren and Stimpy and all the Warner Bros./Steven Spielberg stuff. The 2000's felt mostly like a more boring version of the 90's, without any of the innovative fun shows like the above (or in the Simpsons' case, just going downhill) and relying far too much on Flash to tween everything. As for the action shows, I don't really care about those too much, but the 90's had some pretty good ones as well. The only cartoons that I can think of, that I liked, from the 2000's are Clone High, Futurama and the original run of Family Guy.
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I'd say, 90's. Things just seemed "better" for cartoons back then.
For America; the 90's. Of all decades that have passed since the advent of television, the 90's appears to have been when cartoonists working in the medium had the most freedom to do the shows they wanted to, without having to conform to lucrative trends. Relatively few of the great, clever TV cartoons of the decade entered the public awareness to the same degree that many of the heavily commercialized "strictly-for-kids" cartoons of the 80's did (probably because they were often to mature in one way or another for most younger children to fully appreciate them), and i think that might at least partly explain why cartoons once again started become more formulatic in the 2000's (like the dreaded "teens-like-U fighting crime in a heavily stylized, somewhat anime-esque world"-genre).
I also have a thing for the 30's, mostly because of Disney and Fleischer (the latter producing by far the funniest cartoons of the entire golden age) and also because i like the soft, "rubbery" look and feel of most cartoons of the time.
For Japan however; the 80's. Anime had evolved steadily since it came about a couple of decades earlier, and by the 80's, the genre had reached a very high standard both in terms of style and content. I while i guess the evolution has continued since then, i also feel that it has been in the 90's and 00's that most of the general trends in anime that i dislike has become standardized. The emphasis on idiotic sexual fan-service and massive overuse of face faults for instance. And i also miss the atmospheric music that 80's anime had. All in all, i consider anime to have reached it's peek during the 80's.
90's for certain.
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I couldn't pick one, the 20's through the 50's had the Disney Shorts, my personal favorite cartoons. But then Scooby-Doo emerged in the 60's as did many other H-B shows. There are way too many good cartoons to pick one specific decade for me.
The 90's for sure. Hands down.
Looks like the 90's are winning by a landslide!
The 90's is definitely a contender, although I do think it's fair to mention the 70's because adult animation thrived in that era and died out in the 90's. The 70's included the first ever X-rated animated film... so I think that it could be considered for revolutionizing animation in one way or another.
The 80's was a great year for music, but honestly not for animation. Most animated shows were just 30 minute toy commercials and not very genuinely good to start with.
In my opinion, it would have to be the 1970's. Back then, animation studios like Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, Ruby-Spears, DePatie-Freleng, Rankin-Bass and Warner Bros. were turning out some of TV's best cartoons of the decade. At the same time, the cartoon programs that ruled were Hanna-Barbera's The Superfriends(produced in association with Warner Bros.) and Scooby-Doo as well as Filmation's Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids, The Archies and Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. Warner Bros. had The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show, while DePatie-Freleng had Pink Panther cartoons. Honorable mentions from Rankin-Bass include Jackson 5 and The Osmonds. Ruby-Spears produced Fangface, Plastic Man and various features for ABC's Weekend Specials program. Animation in the 80's does get an honorable mention, especially for Rankin-Bass with arguably that animation studio's most successful regular program in the ThunderCats. In the 80's as The Superfriends, Scooby-Doo and Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids wrapped up their long runs on network Saturday morning, The Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Bugs Bunny & Tweety(follow-up to The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show), Muppet Babies, The Real Ghost Busters, Dungeons & Dragons, Spider-Man & The Hulk, etc. in addition to various first-run syndicated animated programs, ruled the airwaves(Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids moved from CBS into syndication with 50 new episodes in the 1984-85 season). The 80's were a good decade for animation, but in my opinion, the 70's were the best decade for animated programming.
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