I was born in 1983, so that makes me a child of the 90s. Sure, I remember seeing Thundercats on TV. I remember seeing G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Voltron, but those weren't my cartoons. Those were for people born in the 1970s.
MY cartoons officially started around 1989. So that means, the only Transformers that I was really into was these:
Sure, kids of today would scoff at how awful the computer models look, but that's where I'm coming from when I'm talking about the Transformers that I truly know. Optimus Prime is a monkey.
Even so, I wouldn't dare put that in my top ten favorite cartoons of the 90s. No, that list has a very specific batch. Now, I asked around and a lot of people agreed with my picks, so this list won't be as polarizing as some of my others. Without further Apu (Simpsons fans know where I'm coming from with that one) the top ten best cartoons of the 90s...
(Image taken from: last2pics.com)
If you asked me to tell you the plot of a single episode, I probably couldn't. But if you asked me about the characters, I'd say, oh, you got Skeeter ("Honk honk!"), Roger Klotz, his older sister, Judy, his dog, Porkchop, and of course, the love of his life, Patti Mayonnaise.
And that's because Doug was a show about characters. So much so, that when Nickelodeon's Doug became Disney's Doug, we all got really upset when they cut Patti Mayonnaise's hair. Let me just repeat that last sentence: We all got really upset when they cut Patti Mayonnaise's hair.
Are you serious? That really bothered us back then? Well, yeah, it did, and that says a lot when people get bothered (Or actually, approve of, for a select minority) when a character on a cartoon show gets a haircut that's too short.
Oh, and by the way, who needs the Beatles when you've got the Beets?
(image taken from: thebestcartoonwallpapers.blogspot.com)
Admit it, you didn't get every joke on Animaniacs when you watched it as a kid. You didn't really know half the movies that they were referencing, and you had a hard time wrapping your head around why they kept calling their psychiatrist, Dr. Scratchansniff, a "P" sychiatrist. It all went over your head. It doesn't matter. Animaniacs did back then what a lot of cartoons are doing today--Not dumbing it down just because it's a cartoon. I'd venture to say that it wasn't even a kids' cartoon. Would a kids' cartoon really have an episode parodying Apocalypse Now? The fact of the matter is, it was a great show that appealed to both kids, because it was wacky, and to adults, because it was smart, and everybody benefited from it. And that Wheel of Morality sure does give great tips!
Here's one of my favorite scenes from the show:
And who could forget Chicken Boo?
8. X-Men: The Animated Series
(Image taken from: dvdactive.com)
As a comic book nerd growing up, I already knew about the X-Men. But the uncanny mutants were around long before I was born, so it was nice to see some of their older stories get played out on TV. The Phoenix Saga, for one, was a thing of legend, and it was awesome to see the epicness of it all without having to backtrack through the older comics to learn about it. Sure, some details were changed, but overall, it took phenomenal stories and introduced them to a new audience. Plus, you gotta love that intro.
7. Ren and Stimpy
(Image taken from: students.stedwards.edu)
Unlike Animaniacs, Ren and Stimpy was definitly not for kids. Sure, it was shown TO kids, but that doesn't mean that it was shown FOR kids. Unlike the innocence of Spongebob today, which I'd say is the show's nearest successor, Ren and Stimpy just went way, way, way beyond any standard of decency that kid's should have been allowed to see. Take in note the board game, Don't Whiz on the Electric Fence, or that Powdered Toast Man flies backwards and sticks his head in the toaster to transform. I mean, what IS this? That's all I could ask myself when I was younger. What-the hell-am I watching? And that's why it was so good. Any show that can make you question if you're still living in reality has to go on this list.
(Image taken from: blog.newsarama.com)
When picking a favorite show from the two hour Disney block we all used to watch after school, most people would pick something like Duck Tales or Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers or Darkwing Duck, and I'm not saying that you're wrong by picking those shows. I'm just saying that you're less right than I am.
The other aforementioned shows, while great in their own right, weren't as deep or as rich as Gargoyles, which just came out of nowhere. The concept alone was genuine and awesome. Gargoyles, those things that you see on the top of city buildings, actually come to life at night and have adventures? No wai! Also, add to the fact that it had a deep mythology and went back several generations, and you had a show that actually made Disney cool. That, and the fact that badass Goliath was voiced by similar badass, Keith David. Ohhhh, yeeeeeah.
5. Beavis and Butt-head
(Image taken from: epguides.com)
Today, I can watch an episode of Beavis and Butt-head and not laugh once, but very few cartoon characters of the 90s were as beloved as the heroes of the "heh heh's" and "huh huh's" as B&B were. What I loved most about the show is when they would just sit on the couch and watch crummy music videos and make fun of them. Interestingly enough, I actually discovered one of my favorite bands during one of these segments, which I guess just furthers the notion that I really DO like shitty music.
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
(Image taken from: loyalkng.com)
If you were alive in the 60s, then you had the Beatles. If you were alive in the 90s, then you had the Turtles. TMNT was not just a cartoon, it was a phenomenon, and EVERYBODY was into them. EV-RY-BODY. When I was a kid, race, religion or creed didn't matter to me. It was, "Who's your favorite Ninja Turtle?" which would determine our friendship. If you said, Donatello, then you had to stay the hell away from me. Most of my friends were Michelangelo fans, but I was always more of a Raphael kind of guy. He was cool, but rude (Give me a break!) you know.
I STILL get fond memories for the turtles. Still.
3. The Maxx
(Image taken from: screwattack.com)
Now here's the only cartoon on my list that may not be on your own. For anybody who knows me, they know that The Maxx is my favorite comic book character of all time. And yes, even more than Moon Knight. The Maxx used to be shown on MTV on a series called MTV Oddities, which featured another excellent show called The Head. The Maxx is deep. Very deep. Jungian deep. It was an excellent comic book and the show was basically just the comic book, panel for panel, on the screen. You can't get any better than that. If you find it, pick it up. It's definitely worth the watch.
You can actually watch full episodes here: http://www.mtv.com/videos/the-maxx-episode-1/1611381/playlist.jhtml
2. Batman: The Animated Series
(Image taken from: comicattack.net)
Batman: The Animated Series won Emmys. It is, in my opinion, not only one of the greatest cartoons of the 90s, but also, the greatest animated, televised drama ever. Nothing even compares to it. Batman has been shown and repackaged since the 60s in many different variations, but none as darkly engaging as when he had this animated gem. All the familiar villains were there--The Joker, The Penguin, Two Face--but then, there were other's that weren't so known, like The Mad Hatter, Killer Croc, and my personal favorite, Clayface. And the best thing was, none of them were mistreated. All of them were given phenomenal episodes, and some of them, I'm not even ashamed to say, made me cry. Will there ever be another show like this one, I don't know, but for any of us who were alive at the time to appreciate it, we were lucky.
1. The Simpsons
(Image taken from: insidesocial.com)
Okay, let's please just try to forget The Simpsons of the 2000s and try to focus on The Simpsons that America really and truly loved. Once you do that, I don't think there's even a question about what the best cartoon of the 90s was. Hell, I'd say, The Simpsons was the best television show of the 90s, period. Sure, you can whine, "But what about Seinfeld?" in Jerry's annoying voice, and yeah, Seinfeld is definitely in the top two. But the only reason that you'd put Seinfeld over The Simpsons is because Seinfeld knew when it was time to bow out gracefully, and The Simpsons doesn't have a clue.
If The Simpsons had ended in what many, if not all, fans would call the golden years of the show, then I'm pretty sure more people would be calling it the greatest show of all time, cartoon notwithstanding.
Nothing was funnier than The Simpsons at its prime. Nothing was as engaging, and nothing was as marketable. The 90s, for me anyway, was the 16-bit war, Bill Clinton, and The Simpsons, and when I look back and tell my grandkids about it before I tell them that I didn't put any of them in my will, I'll say the same thing--The 90s consisted of three major events, the 16-bit war, Bill Clinton, and The Simpsons. Those are the things that were good in my life when I was a child, and I'll never forget them. I just hope that future generations can look back at the show when (if) it finally goes off the air and notice that the show at one point DID achieve nirvana. It was just buried by a lot of crap that really should never have been released.
Possibly my favorite moment from the show ever.