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Toons of the 2000s: Top 25 Animated Television Series Countdown #10-6

by on December 9, 2009

You are reading #10-6 of the Top 25 Animated Television Series Countdown

25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 5-1 | Go back to the Toons of the 2000s Intro.  


Dates: 2005-present

Adult Swim (Cartoon Network)

80+ episodes

Created by Seth Green & Matthew Senreich

Starring: Various actors and actresses


A stop-motion comedy anthology show.

Why It Made The List

It’s nice to have an animated equivalent of Saturday Night Live and MadTV, and it’s even better to have one so rich in bizarre and often hilarious jokes. Robot Chicken also stands out for its very liberal use of old action-figures dolls, which gives its satirical jabs at those genres an extra punch—another dividend from its being animated in stop-motion.

But it’s also just good to have a show that isn’t afraid to be random, and that doesn’t have to tie itself down with a single set of recurring characters.


Dates: 2008-present

Cartoon Network

40+ episodes

Created by Thurop Van Orman

Starring: Thurop Van Orman, Brian Doyle-Murray, Roz Ryan, Jeff Bennett, Steve Little


A boy, a captain and a whale on a sometime-quest for Candied Island.

Why It Made The List

In a word: Weirdness. Weird characters, weird settings, weird stories. What would otherwise be fairly bland becomes an anarchic game of “What in the world is going to happen next?”

This unpredictability extends to its look. Unlike most cartoons, Flapjack is written in storyboards, meaning that they draw the story out rather than writing scripts, something used in Looney Tunes and other theatrical cartoons many decades ago. Another thing in common with the old cartoons of the bygone era is that the artists have the freedom to draw the characters as funny as they can get. As a result one can actually identify which artist drew which scene. This is very much a departure from other TV animation where all the characters look the same episode after episode, and a welcome callback to the days of Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones, when it was possible to identify the animators of particular sequences.


Dates: 1999-2003 [to be revived in 2010]


72 episodes (plus 4 DTV movies)

Created by Matt Groening

Starring: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr, Maurice LaMarche


A twentieth-century slacker adjusts to life in the thirty-first century.

Why It Made The List

Futurama features ingenious storylines about robots, aliens, and life in the future while also offering a sharp commentary on contemporary issues. This is exactly what you could expect from a science-fiction show, but Futurama enriches those virtues with excellent comedy, brilliantly realized by top-notch comic actors.

And, as befits a series about the future, it deftly blends traditional and cutting-edge animation techniques. Only a very perceptive eye is likely to pick up on the use of CG-animation in key models and backgrounds. These techniques are not just a crutch, however, and help give the show its comic speed and lightness.


Dates: 1999-present


128+ episodes

Created by Stephen Hillenburg

Starring: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Carolyn Lawrence, Clancy Brown, Doug Lawrence, Rodger Bumpass


A cheerful sponge and his friends have wacky fun under the sea.

Why It Made The List

Sweet, silly, and cartoonishly inventive, SpongeBob SquarePants is proof that contemporary animators can still capture the essence of Golden Age cartooning.

There’s a reason the show is popular with all ages, from tots to grandparents: SpongeBob SquarePants himself. Like Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny, SpongeBob is a household name because he is a terrifically attractive personality who is fun to watch and makes the viewer feel good. And like Disney and Termite Terrace, the folks who work on SpongeBob have surrounded their star with a stable of equally memorable characters.

The show many not have the liquid animation of the 1940s shorts, but the visuals are bright and cheerful, and the characters are greatly expressive. When married to the great voice performances by Tom Kenny and his colleagues, they justify the show’s immense popularity.


Dates: 1999-2002 and 2005-present


131+ episodes

Created by Seth MacFarlane

Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Mike Henry


Family life in Rhode Island.

Why It Made The List

Love it or hate it, probably no show has had a greater impact this decade than Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy. Its aesthetic has been very influential—see the widespread popularization of one of its trademarks, the unmotivated, deadpan flashback. And as an object of contempt it has inspired creative assaults, from cartoon historians like Jerry Beck to rival animators like Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

But the show is equally successful as the pioneer of a new economic model for animated series. After debuting to low ratings on FOX it was cancelled, but spectacular DVD sales led to its revival. It is fair to say that the emergence of the DVD market—which Family Guy did so much to highlight—has saved more than one animated series that would have otherwise been cancelled as economically unproductive. 


You are reading #10-6 of the Top 25 Animated Television Series Countdown

25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 5-1 | Go back to the Toons of the 2000s Intro.  

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