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Best animated TV shows of all time

  • Best animated TV shows of all time

    Animated television series have captivated audiences young and old, garnering dedicated fanbases across generations. Beyond the advertising value of commercial breaks and endless potential for merchandising, franchising, and movie deals, cartoons continue to occupy genuine spots in people’s hearts and are an essential component of pop culture.

    The first animated series to air on television was 1950’s “Crusader Rabbit,” which had four-minute episodes produced in part by Jay Ward, who would go on to create the iconic characters Rocky and Bullwinkle. Animated sitcoms as well as action and adventure shows became hugely popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s, thanks to iconic production houses like Hanna-Barbera Productions, United Productions of America, and Total Television.

    These early studios paved the way for a long and diverse history of award-winning cartoon series of all styles. Stacker is here to list the 100 best animated TV shows of all time, ranked by each one’s IMDb user rating. Shows needed at least 5,000 votes to be considered, and score ties were ranked by whoever had the higher amount of votes. Read on to find out how many you have seen.

    ALSO: Best kids TV shows of all time

  • #100. Dragons: Riders of Berk

    IMDb user rating: 8.1
    Years on the air: 2012–2014

    “Dragons: Riders of Berk” was a show that followed the events of DreamWorks Animation’s “How To Train Your Dragon.” Hiccup and his friends, including warrior princess Astrid (America Ferrera) and dragon Toothless, must band together to face down a winter storm. This well-received Cartoon Network series ran for two seasons.

  • #99. Your Lie in April

    IMDb user rating: 8.1
    Years on the air: 2014–2015

    Japanese anime series “Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso,” or “Your Lie in April,” is the story of a prodigal pianist’s grief-induced deafness to music following his mother’s death. A young violin player inspires him to continue playing and listening to music in this heartfelt, psychological drama.  

  • #98. The Spectacular Spider-Man

    IMDb user rating: 8.1
    Years on the air: 2008–2009

    Most people know of the famous Spider-Man formula: high-schooler Peter Parker, who lives in New York City with his doting aunt and uncle, is bitten by a radioactive spider and gains superpowers he uses to secretly protect the city from evil-doers, while also trying to get through high school. Unsurprisingly, it makes for an enduring cartoon series, although this iteration only ran for two seasons.

  • #97. Wolverine and the X-Men

    IMDb user rating: 8.1
    Years on the air: 2008–2009

    The Marvel Animated Universe rarely fails to deliver top-quality cartoon series, and “Wolverine and the X-Men” isn’t the first example you’ll see on this list. Following a violent incident, the X-Men must reunite and team up with Emma Frost to locate the missing Charles Xavier before the government can round up and detain the remaining mutant population in this single-season show.



  • #96. Black Lagoon

    IMDb user rating: 8.1
    Years on the air: 2006

    Based on the popular manga series, “Black Lagoon” is a Japanese anime that follows the story of Rokuro “Rock” Okajima, a businessman kidnapped by the Lagoon Company, a band of outlaws. The series has all the trappings of a great gangster drama: ransom, organized crime, mercenaries, pirates, Russians, Nazi warships, fine art—if it’s trouble, “Black Lagoon” has it.

  • #95. Claymore

    IMDb user rating: 8.1
    Years on the air: 2007

    Another anime based on a manga series, “Claymore” tells the tale of a half-human, half-demon hybrid who comes to a young boy’s aid when a vengeful demon kills his family. Together, they travel to battle the demons and solve the mystery behind the murders.  

  • #94. Superman

    IMDb user rating: 8.1
    Years on the air: 1996–2000

    Originally airing on Kids’ WB, this DC Comics adaptation was widely praised for its handling of dark, complex themes as well as a star-studded voiceover list that included the talents of Malcolm McDowell, Mark Hamill, and Ed Asner.

  • #93. Gargoyles

    IMDb user rating: 8.1
    Years on the air: 1994–1996

    “Gargoyles” targeted the same older audience that made “Superman” a hit. Addressing issues like gun violence and prejudice, this animated series follows the adventures of Medieval-era stone gargoyles who not only no longer perch atop a castle—they’re not in Scotland at all. Tasked with protecting the citizens of modern New York City, the gargoyles must face a population that may not want to know they’re there at all.

  • #92. Dragon Ball Super

    IMDb user rating: 8.1
    Years on the air: 2015–2018

    The prophecy of a Super Saiyan god leads a deity of destruction to seek out his whereabouts in this Japanese manga series based on the popular “Dragon Ball” franchise. Fan favorite characters return for the fourth installment of the long-running cartoon, which received mixed reviews.

  • #91. Fairy Tail

    IMDb user rating: 8.1
    Years on the air: 2009–present

    This Japanese series based on a manga follows the story of Celestial Spirit Mage Lucy, who teams up with a fellow mage of the Fairy Tale guild—and a flying blue cat named Happy—to search for a dragon. Praised for its humor, character development, and production value, “Fairy Tale” is a strong candidate for your next anime binge.