The Top Ten Most Influential Cartoons of the 90s
My local paper's tv columnist wrote up an article on Rugrats's 10th anniversary, and went on to state that the most influential cartoons of the ninties were The Simpsons, Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, and South Park. Scuse me? Did we decline mention of the studio that began the tv animation revolution? So, without further ado, here is my list:
The Most Influential Cartoons of the 90's (Non-theatrical)
1) The Simpsons (FOX)
2) Ren and Stimpy (Nickelodean)
3) Batman: The Animated Series (WB)
4) The Powerpuff Girls (CN)
5) Rugrats (Nickelodean)
6) Tiny Toon Adventures (WB)
7) South Park (Comedy Central)
8) Dexter's Laboratory (CN)
9) Animaniacs (WB)
10) Dragonball Z (CN)
And if you care to go on:
11) Gargoyles (Disney)
12) Doug (Nickelodean)
13) Veggie Tales (Big Idea)
14) Pinky and the Brain (WB)
15) Pokemon (4Kids)
Feel free to submit your objections and your own lists!
Webmaster, The Warner Bros. Animation Archives
Influential, not quality. In this case, Pokemon would rank higher than Dragon Ball Z (quality-wise, too) , but maybe because Pokemon came at the end of the decade...
I might rank Bobby's World and take out Doug...
Sailor Moon should be here somewhere...it defined "cult" cartoons for the 90s...just kept resurfacing...
Aeon Flux should be here...
Perhaps Arthur should be in here and Veggie Tales out. Arthur signified the end of "simple, non-ironic" cartoons on PBS.
Nickelodean should be Nickelodeon.
Well, it ran from 1985-92, so I guess you could count Muppet Babies. This show was very creative and funny and caused a bunch of copycats such as Tom and Jerry Kids, Pup Named Scooby Doo, and IMO Rugrats only exists today because Muppet Babies did pretty much the same thing first, babies going on adventures and using their imaginations.
Also the Ninja Turtles started a lot of interest in Ninja type stuff, Power Rangers, and action in general. I seriously think they might have helped bring some of the anime to the U.S. And I'm not saying it was the best toon, but it was certainly influential.
I agree with all of the stuff in your top 10 more or less, they all were important, but I think that these were too. I'm not sure how influential Rugrats has been, but it certainly is popular. PPG is popular but again, I haven't seen too much of an influence, though I remember Jerry Beck listing something about a PPG knock-off at his site. But all of the top 10 were/are popular and probably have more impact than I realize.
Some of the others you list, I doubt. I've barely even heard of Veggie Tales. Pokemon's definitely had its rip-offs, but those will be just a fad.
Let's see....top 10 cartoons in terms of influence with the general public (vs. quality/influence on us animation fans)....my guesses, in no particular order:
1. The Simpsons: Definitely the head of the group. Went along well with a renewed sense of freshness in animated cartoon writing, re-introduced the notion of a prime-time animated series being viable, and raised the overall bar for animated cartoons (Sat. morning and otherwise). Spawned various short-lived imitators of its style ("Fish Police", "The Critic", etc.).
2. Batman: The Animated Series: Similar reasons as the "Simpsons" above, though also bringing the notion that a dramatic-toned animated series is viable. Also raised the bar on superhero-based animated series above the previous levels set by the "Superfriends" and such (and along with the first two Bat-movies, helped darken Batman's image with the general public, vs. the campy old Adam West version that sticks in the public's mind). "Gargoyles" is clearly influenced by B:TAS, and there's also the "Superman" (and upcoming JLA) series in the same vein/universe...
3. Ren and Stimpy: Started the notion of a successful cartoon series being possible (or successful series period) on cable TV. Also started the current trend of "grossout" humor in animation (and possibly in Hollywood entertainment in general).
4. Beavis and Butt-Head: Popular cartoon based largely on shock value/jokes aimed at teenaged/older viewers (esp. in terms of sexual/crude references). Possibly influenced by Ren and Stimpy's tone; successors include "South Park".
5. South Park: Same as "Beavis" above, but with an even heavier/more relentless shock/grossout value tones.
6. Tiny Toon Adventures: Marks Warner Bros.' entry into modern TV animation, and (along with the "Simpsons") harkens animation back to a irreverent tone seen in the old "Looney Tunes" theatrical cartoons. Becomes a smash hit, being clearly different than other Sat. morning-type cartoon shows (and, along with the "Simpsons", "Ren and Stimpy", and possibly the late-80's "DuckTales", helps raise the bar on Sat. morning-type animation as a whole). Successors include A!, PatB, F!, etc.
7. Pokemon: Truly huge smash hit anime show, brings Japanese animation into the true public eye (or at least shows something other than the public's image of anime as excessively sex-and-violence-laden). Lots of freakish little creatures (as the local weekly paper called them :-) fighting with each other and with various powers/cute looking appearances appeals to boys and girls alike. Lots of imitators (Digimon, etc.).
8. Rugrats: Crossover appeal with kids and adults, but doesn't truly catch on until it's moved to a better timeslot by Nick (also showing the power of what a good timeslot can do for a show). Biggest hit of the whole "NickToons" lineup, with tons of merchandise raking in the dough for Nick even 10 years later (and for Klaspy-Csupo as well, I suppose....probably an even bigger cash cow than the "Simpsons" would've been). Spawns the whole "Nicktoon" show-creation frenzy ("Angry Beavers", "Wild Thornberries", etc.)
9. The Tick: enjoyed modest popularity, and still seems to have a following in reruns.
10. The Powerpuff Girls: Though probably a hit more associated with the 2000's than the 1990's ultimately, it seems to be proving to be Cartoon Network's biggest hit in its history (not counting all those "Scooby Doo" reruns. Predecessor might be "Dexter's Lab" in style/humor tone...
Honorable mentions: "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" (show with appeal to Baby Boomers and Gen-X-ers alike, even if it's not purely animated; was Cartoon Network's first big hit); Sailor Moon (cult following); Dexter's Lab; Pinky and the Brain.
Of course, this is all relative to what the public enjoys in terms of TV animation IMO; clearly not what we here would pick as "best animated shows of the 90's" (which might make an interesting second poll).
Probably not one most people would remember, but I'd throw in "Duck Tales," since it seems to have been the show that made cartoons commercially viable again, launched the Disney Afternoon block, and prompted a lot of the other studios to try to match its high production values. Yeah, it premiered in '87, but there were at least three seasons, so I think it counts.