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Best 90s cartoons

  • Best '90s cartoons

    The 1990s were truly halcyon days for the animation world. Pre-internet, Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons were filled with every type of cartoon imaginable, and primetime TV also got into the act with more adult animated options.

    Some of the first animated sitcoms started appearing on television in the 1960s. Those were the days of “The Flintstones” and later “The Jetsons,” both family comedies set in animated worlds. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, cartoon series continued to proliferate, offering child- and adult-aged viewers a variety of programming.

    By the ‘90s, the launch of new channels and networks helped push along the animated heyday. Fox Kids launched in 1990. Cartoon Network started in 1992, while Nickelodeon began producing its own content in the ‘90s. MTV got into the act, and Disney Animation Studios started creating new shows again. An anime boom of Japanese content also entered the U.S. market at the same time. The competition between the networks and broadcasters led to visually stunning, groundbreaking, and often censor-shaking animation that was often ahead of its time.

    Stacker decided to dive back into this wonderfully wacky animated decade to see which shows had the most lasting impressions, the biggest cult followings, and broke the molds in all the best ways. Using IMDb's user rating data, Stacker plotted the 50 best cartoons of the decade, with data updated April 5, 2019. To narrow it down, the shows had to have at least two years of runtime in the ‘90s, which eliminated anything that began in 1999 or ended in 1990. Some of the shows, like the various “Dragon Ball” series, were consolidated for overall ratings and ties were broken by a minimum of 5,000 votes.

    Prepare to laugh, get nostalgic, and relive what the ‘90s had to offer.

    You may also like: Best TV show released the year you were born

  • #50. King of the Hill

    - IMDb user rating: 7.3
    - Votes: 41,602
    - Years: 1997–2010

    Created by comedy writing legends Mike Judge and Greg Daniels in 1997, “King of the Hill” was an Emmy-winning show about a middle-class family in the heart of Texas, playing on the divisive tropes around liberalism and conservatism. The show was one of the longest-running programs on Fox, lasting for 13 seasons and 259 episodes. Judge is also known for creating the hit show “Beavis and Butt-Head,” while Daniels had writing gigs on “The Simpsons” and created the American version of “The Office.”

  • #49. Pingu

    - IMDb user rating: 7.4
    - Votes: 5,005
    - Years: 1986–present

    Fans of claymation seem to have a soft spot for the Swiss-British hybrid “Pingu,” a children's cartoon about a family of penguins living at the South Pole. The show first made it to air in 1986 and has since produced 163 episodes that last about five minutes apiece. One of the hallmarks of the show is the invented Penguinese language that was first voiced by famous Italian clown Carlo Bonomi. Episodes of the lovable show can still be seen on their official YouTube channel.

  • #48. Arthur

    - IMDb user rating: 7.4
    - Votes: 10,617
    - Years: 1996–present

    Still in production to this day, “Arthur” is one of the longest running animated shows of all time; the cartoon started in 1996 and has spanned 22 seasons and more than 200 episodes and running. The show is about a young anthropomorphic aardvark named Arthur and the trials and tribulations about growing up in the real world. The show airs on PBS and has featured a bevy of guest stars such as Joan Rivers, Fred Rogers, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Idina Menzel.

  • #47. Pokémon

    - IMDb user rating: 7.4
    - Votes: 33,082
    - Years: 1997–present

    Spinning off the enormously popular video game, “Pokémon” the anime series has been in production since 1997 with more than 1,000 episodes and going. Originally released in Japan, the show has a massive worldwide following airing in over 100 countries. The show follows the adventures of Satoshi and Pikachu through the ranks of Pokémon leagues, encountering friends and foes along the way.

  • #46. Doug

    - IMDb user rating: 7.5
    - Votes: 15,991
    - Years: 1991–1994

    For any kid who had questions about life's pressing problems as he passed through adolescence, “Doug” was the show with the answers. Running for only five seasons, “Doug” followed the life of Douglas Funnie as he wrote in his journal about the difficulties of navigating middle school. “Doug” was originally broadcast on Nickelodeon and briefly rebooted on the Disney Channel, though the reboot was met with derision from its original fans.

  • #45. The Ren & Stimpy Show

    - IMDb user rating: 7.5
    - Votes: 19,147
    - Years: 1991–1996

    This groundbreaking cartoon first aired in 1991 and featured an acerbic chihuahua named Ren and his dim-witted feline friend Stimpy. The show displayed a level of gross-out humor and violence that hadn't been seen before, and inspired some censorship. Today, “Ren & Stimpy” is considered a cult classic and the inspiration behind other iconic cartoons like “Beavis and Butt-Head” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

  • #44. Beavis and Butt-Head

    - IMDb user rating: 7.5
    - Votes: 25,177
    - Years: 1993–2011

    Mike Judge is known for creating classic shows like “King of the Hill” and “Silicon Valley,” but his first big hit was with the MTV series “Beavis and Butt-Head” in 1993. The show focused on two delinquent teens who would comment on music videos from their couch at home. Mired in controversy, “Beavis and Butt-Head” was blamed for teen hijinks around the country and was initially pulled from the air in 1997, before a short reprieve in 2011. A litany of famous actors provided guest voices on the show including David Spade, Thomas Middleditch, Bobcat Goldthwait, and David Letterman.

  • #43. Rugrats

    - IMDb user rating: 7.5
    - Votes: 28,340
    - Years: 1990–2006

    One of the biggest hits in Nickelodeon's history, “Rugrats” started in 1990 and ran for nine seasons (with brief production hiatuses), before being spun off into movies, comics, video games, and endless merchandise. The show focuses on a group of toddlers and their misadventures in the big world around them. Because of the cartoon's success, a number of famous actors lent their voices throughout the years including Jeremy Piven, Debbie Reynolds, Jon Favreau, and even Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak.

  • #42. Freakazoid!

    - IMDb user rating: 7.6
    - Votes: 6,640
    - Years: 1995–1997

    Though it had only a short run, lasting two seasons between 1995–1997, “Freakazoid!” still left a big impact on cartoon and superhero fans. The laugh-a-minute comedy took place in Washington D.C. and followed the exploits of Dexter Douglas, who turns into a wild and crazy superhero when he inadvertently types in some erroneous code on his computer. For a small run, there were some very big guest voices such as Mark Hamill, Ed Asner, Bebe Neuwirth, and Ricardo Montalban. Series creator Tom Ruegger is probably better known for his work on the hit series' “Pinky and the Brain” and “Animaniacs.”

  • #41. The Real Ghostbusters

    - IMDb user rating: 7.6
    - Votes: 7,530
    - Years: 1986–1991

    Based on the uber-popular movie “Ghostbusters,” “The Real Ghostbusters” was a cartoon spin-off that ran from 1986–1991 with an astonishing 140 episodes. Like the movie, the show revolved around the ghostbusting foursome in New York City with the fan-favorite ghost Slimer as their sidekick. Though none of the main cast from the movie voiced their cartoon counterparts, major actors such as Arsenio Hall and Dave Coulier stepped into the roles. Ernie Hudson, who played Winston in the movies, even lost out to Arsenio for the same role on the cartoon.