Celebrities

Aladdin First Look: Mena Massoud Makes a Striking Heros Debut

Live action does the Cave of Wonders good. Disney has finally released a teaser trailer for its upcoming Aladdin remake, showing the title character (played by Mena Massoud) heading into that irresistible realm, which houses the treasure of all treasures: the Genies lamp. In the reboot, the cave still has that familiar tigers-mouth entrance, but its rougher—more of a stony structure than the gobby sand design of the original animated movie. But some things never change—specifically, that familiar warning the cave poses to Aladdin before he goes inside: “Only one may enter here. One whose worth lies far within. The diamond in the rough.”

The trailer doesnt give much away, but we do get a glimpse of Aladdin himself going through the magical cave and laying his hands on the Genies lamp. In this new version, directed by Guy Ritchie, Aladdin also eschews the shirtless look of the animated film; this time around, he has a short-sleeved shirt under that familiar purple vest. Massoud, it was reported last year, won the part after Disney spent months trying to find a lead actor who could do the part justice (singing, dancing, street ratting, and the like!), winning it out over more famous names like Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed. It was similar to the exhaustive search the studio embarked upon while casting the new live-action Mulan, eventually tapping actress Liu Yifei. Aladdin is easily Massouds biggest role to date, a leap up from his smaller parts on shows like Amazons Jack Ryan. You could even say its . . . a whole new world for the young actor.

The other throwbacks in this all-too-brief teaser are fairly minimal. We see the evil parrot, Iago (voiced in the original by Gilbert Gottfried), flying over the deserts of Agrabah and over the cave. We hear soaring orchestral covers of original bops like “Friend Like Me.” What were still dying to see, however, is the first look at Will Smith as the Genie, taking over the role that Robin Williams gave legendary voice to in the 1992 original movie. Smith has teased his performance on social media, writing that he “cant wait for yall to see Me BLUE!” Then show us, coward!

Disney will deliver a glimpse before long, though, since theres a long way to go until the films May 24, 2019, release date.

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  1. Doug (1991-1994)

I was a Nickelodeon kid, not a Disney/ABC kid. (Millennials know that this is a crucial distinction.) So when Doug Funnie, Patti Mayonnaise, Skeeter, and the gang made the jump from the latter network to the former in 1996, I didnt follow them. But for awhile there, Doug was home to the most relatable goober in childrens TV. Lovelorn for Patti, with an adorable dog named Porkchop, a chic older sister, and more than his share of #kidproblems (I still, for some reason, think often about him having to write an essay on silt deposits—I still dont know what those are), Doug was the ideal everyman for boring kids like me. His show also had some of the best character names on TV to date: Tippi Dink, Roger Klotz, Mosquito Valentine. Dickens would be proud. — K. Austin CollinsPhoto: From ©Nickelodeon Television/Everett Collection.Over the Garden Wall

  1. Over the Garden Wall (2014)

This wonderfully strange animated miniseries debuted just a few years ago on Cartoon Network, but owing to its surprising allure, it has already established itself as an all-time great. Patrick McHales limited series aired five nights in a row and unfolded with the surreal logic of dreams, presenting two brothers in an enchanted forest who dont know how they got there or what theyre supposed to do next. At first, the series is mystifying. But as the characters assert themselves and the weirdness resolves, it turns Over the Garden Wall into not just a fairy tale but a sliver of a coming-of-age story, with reverence for both the real world and the need to run away from it. Starring the voice talents of Elijah Wood, Melanie Lynskey, and Christopher Lloyd, its an artful fantasy for all ages. — Sonia Saraiya28. *The Powerpuff Girls* (1998-2005)

  1. The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2005)

While female-led cartoons still remain few and far between, these three bobble-headed heroines redefined what a “girls show” could be (with a little help from Chemical X). Created by Craig McCracken, the mind behind the equally zany and creative Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends, Powerpuff Girls is about female heroes—but really, its for everyone. A 2016 reboot was met with average to negative reviews from fans of the original—but the legacy of Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup remains. The members of this trio were equalizers on-screen, bravely facing villains as they learned self-assurance and how to work as a team. In their endearing, pastel-wearing way, they were examples of gender equality and heroism, the sort we could use more of on our screens today. — Sarah ShoenArthur

  1. Arthur (1996-present)

What a wonderful kind of day it has been, thanks to 21 seasons (and counting!) of Americas favorite aardvark. Created in 1996 by Marc Brown, Arthur has won over the hearts of audiences by doing exactly what most of his viewers are doing: hanging out with his best friend (in this case, a lovable white rabbit), getting through the school day, and trying to figure out how this crazy world works. From navigating the trials and tribulations of being a big brother to grappling with long-distance friendship, Arthur has experienced all the problems and questions kids face every day. Over more than two decades, the show has documented the best and worst of what growing up can be, and its relatable nostalgia still rings true today. Arthur has also reminded us that having fun isnt hard as long as you have a library card, and that treating yourself to a sundae at the Sugar Bowl is always the best way to end a day. Now, all thats left to do is wait for the Pal spin-off show. Who doesnt love a never-aging puppy with a British accent? — Sarah ShoenPhoto: From ©PBS/Everett Collection.Animaniacs

  1. Animaniacs (1993-1998)

Animaniacs wasnt just a cartoon—it was a chaotic, old-fashioned variety series, one that won a Peabody award in its inaugural season due in part to the way the show reminded the Peabody committee of the glory days of Hollywood animation. With the backing of Steven Spielberg, frequent celebrity cameos, and the characters home base on the Warner Bros. Studios lot, Hollywood was indeed central to Animaniacs DNA. As the story goes, animated siblings Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Warner were locked away in the studios water tower in the 1930s—then emerged six decades later to unleash their brand of wild humor onto the world, as well as more than a few exceptionally catchy educational musical numbers. (“United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru . . .”) They bridged the gap between Hollywoods golden age—particularly the inspired lunacy of Bugs Bunny and co.—and the present day, with a satirical edge and pop-cultural references aplenty, the sort that appealed to children and adults alike. And with two new seasons coming to Hulu in 2020, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are getting ready to take over once again. — Christine DavittPhoto: From ©Warner Bros./Everett Collection.BoJack Horseman

  1. BoJack Horseman (2014-present)

The age of Peak TV is crowded with shows about show business—and Los Angeles, and nostalgia, and self-medicating male antiheroes. But none of them hold a candle to BoJack, which also happens to be the most moving comedy (or is it the funniest drama?) on television. In its early days, Raphael Bob-Waksbergs centauric creation seemed like a minor blip with a two-joke conceit: 90s sitcom has-been struggles to navigate 21st-century Hollywoo. (The D got destroyed in episode 6.) Also, hes a horse. As its first season went on, though, the Netflix original gradually transformed from a simplistic showbiz satire into something deeper, richer, and altogether more daring—a series that tackled all those Peak TV pet topics, but one that also wasnt afraid to thoughtfully undermine its own premise. Why should we care about BoJack Horsemans redemption? And what does redemption really mean, anyway?

As rendered by Bob-Waksbergs talented writers and an endlessly imaginative animation team headed by Lisa Hanawalt, the anthropomorphized animals and occasionally beastly humans that populate BoJack are richly layered, capable of provoking both belly laughs and heartbreak—sometimes within the span of a few seconds. Yet BoJack doesnt feel disjointed; its simultaneously hilarious and haunting, self-conscious and sweeping, gravely serious and unabashedly silly. (The Simpsons may have invented the modern blink-and-youll-miss-it gag, but BoJack has perfected the form; you could spend hours combing each frame for hidden jokes and puns capable of impressing even the most seasoned dad.) The only real knock against it is that in between those flights of fancy, BoJack can be a tremendous bummer—the sort of show where nobody is allowed to be happy for very long. But even in its most relentless moments, theres enough humor to keep BoJack from sinking as low as BoJack himself often descends—and enough poignancy to keep viewers coming back, ideally for several seasons to come. — Hillary Busis

Photo: From ©Netflix/Everett Collection.1. *South Park* (1997-present)

  1. South Park (1997-present)

First things first: this show is not perfect. Trey Parker and Matt Stones offensive comic masterpiece—a television staple since 1997 that starts its 22nd season this September—definitely reached the height of its run during the Bush years. Its beginnings in the Clinton epoch relied mostly on shock value and gross-out humor; its Obama-era episodes were funny, but not always incisive. And in the Age of Trump, its fair to wonder whether the show may have lost its way entirely. But those glory days certainly were glorious. At its peak, South Park was (and is still capable of being) as sickeningly funny (“Scott Tenorman Must Die”) and socially astute (“Here Comes the Neighborhood”) as it was maddening.

In a good way. Few post-Simpsons animated shows have managed to battering-ram their way into the cultural lexicon as thoroughly or mischievously as South Park. Few have enough iconic characters to fill a yearbook (Cartman! Mr. Garrison! Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo!), or as many classic episodes just waiting to be referenced whenever a relevant current event crops up. When I think of bad C.E.O. apologies, oil spills, or Cthulhu, I think of South Park. World of Warcraft? South Park. Poverty telethons, Stephen Sondheim, Mormons, Scientologists, lost underwear, cats in heat, NASCAR, pan-flute bands, chili, the word “succubus,” redheads, Jennifer Lopez, red-hooded jackets, child-mortality rates, woodland creatures . . .

Even if we were always the butt of every South Park gag, we were also always in on the joke. At its best, this series has defined, and maybe even predicted, the culture—and its also really fucking funny. From the looks of it, the rest of television is still catching up. — K. Austin Collins

PreviousNext

<ol start="30"> <li><em>Doug</em> (1991-1994)</li> </ol>

  1. Doug (1991-1994)

I was a Nickelodeon kid, not a Disney/ABC kid. (Millennials know that this is a crucial distinction.) So when Doug Funnie, Patti Mayonnaise, Skeeter, and the gang made the jump from the latter network to the former in 1996, I didnt follow them. But for awhile there, Doug was home to the most relatable goober in childrens TV. Lovelorn for Patti, with an adorable dog named Porkchop, a chic older sister, and more than his share of #kidproblems (I still, for some reason, think often about him having to write an essay on silt deposits—I still dont know what those are), Doug was the ideal everyman for boring kids like me. His show also had some of the best character names on TV to date: Tippi Dink, Roger Klotz, Mosquito Valentine. Dickens would be proud. — K. Austin CollinsFrom ©Nickelodeon Television/Everett Collection.

<ol start="29"> <li><em>Over the Garden Wall</em> (2014)</li> </ol>

  1. Over the Garden Wall (2014)

This wonderfully strange animated miniseries debuted just a few years ago on Cartoon Network, but owing to its surprising allure, it has already established itself as an all-time great. Patrick McHales limited series aired five nights in a row and unfolded with the surreal logic of dreams, presenting two brothers in an enchanted forest who dont know how they got there or what theyre supposed to do next. At first, the series is mystifying. But as the characters assert themselves and the weirdness resolves, it turns Over the Garden Wall into not just a fairy tale but a sliver of a coming-of-age story, with reverence for both the real world and the need to run away from it. Starring the voice talents of Elijah Wood, Melanie Lynskey, and Christopher Lloyd, its an artful fantasy for all ages. — Sonia Saraiya

<ol start="28"> <li><em>The Powerpuff Girls</em> (1998-2005)</li> </ol>

  1. The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2005)

While female-led cartoons still remain few and far between, these three bobble-headed heroines redefined what a “girls show” could be (with a little help from Chemical X). Created by Craig McCracken, the mind behind the equally zany and creative Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends, Powerpuff Girls is about female heroes—but really, its for everyone. A 2016 reboot was met with average to negative reviews from fans of the original—but the legacy of Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup remains. The members of this trio were equalizers on-screen, bravely facing villains as they learned self-assurance and how to work as a team. In their endearing, pastel-wearing way, they were examples of gender equality and heroism, the sort we could use more of on our screens today. — Sarah Shoen

<ol start="27"> <li><em>Arthur</em> (1996-present)</li> </ol>

  1. Arthur (1996-present)

What a wonderful kind of day it has been, thanks to 21 seasons (and counting!) of Americas favorite aardvark. Created in 1996 by Marc Brown, Arthur has won over the hearts of audiences by doing exactly what most of his viewers are doing: hanging out with his best friend (in this case, a lovable white rabbit), getting through the school day, and trying to figure out how this crazy world works. From navigating the trials and tribulations of being a big brother to grappling with long-distance friendship, Arthur has experienced all the problems and questions kids face every day. Over more than two decades, the show has documented the best and worst of what growing up can be, and its relatable nostalgia still rings true today. Arthur has also reminded us that having fun isnt hard as long as you have a library card, and that treating yourself to a sundae at the Sugar Bowl is always the best way to end a day. Now, all thats left to do is wait for the Pal spin-off show. Who doesnt love a never-aging puppy with a British accent? — Sarah ShoenFrom ©PBS/Everett Collection.

<ol start="26"> <li><em>The Critic</em> (1994-1995)</li> </ol>

  1. The Critic (1994-1995)

Sure, not every joke on this occasionally crude, broadsiding series landed. It was sometimes crass, going for the mean reference or obvious insult when perhaps nuance would have been more elegant. But when The Critic was funny, man, was it funny. Jon Lovitzs Jay Sherman, a sad portmanteau of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert (but without most of their charm or dignity), was both boor and offended aesthete, a guy trying to stand athwart the decline of culture while also contributing to it. He was surrounded by delightfully insane people, most memorably Jays gonzo patrician mother, Eleanor (voiced beautifully by Judith Ivey). The Critic, created by Simpsons writers Al Jean and Mike Reiss, ramped up its predecessors non sequitur and sight-gag humor—which, yes, perhaps paved the way for Family Guy and Seth MacFarlanes other derivative shows, but felt fresh and exciting at the time. And, not for nothing, the shows opening credits were a cheering tribute to the cozy Manhattan of Meg Ryan comedy. It didnt stink, really. — Richard LawsonFrom ©Columbia Pictures Television/Everett Collection.

<ol start="25"> <li><em>Star Wars: Clone Wars</em> (2003-2005)</li> </ol>

  1. Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003-2005)

Genndy Tartakovsky collaborated on The Powerpuff Girls (see No. 28) and created two other shows for Cartoon Network: beloved, genre-defying Samurai Jack and Dexters Laboratory, each with their own brilliant charm. But for our money, the work that stands out best is his entry in the Star Wars franchise: 25 shorts that tell stories that take place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. They have been strung together on YouTube into a feature-length Star Wars animated story, which for some fans stands as the finest film of the franchise. Tartakovsky lends his creation a grace and elegance that George Lucass second trilogy was lacking—and makes much of Star Wars landscapes, taking an operatic, majestic tour through events leading to the fall of the Galactic Republic. Much of the series unfolds without dialogue, instead relying on sound and careful framing to establish resonance with the audience. Tartakovskys vision paved the way for Lucass own C.G.I. cartoon (the very similarly titled Star Wars: The Clone Wars, released in 2008)—but more importantly, it was an early indication of what new artists could do with the Star Wars universe. Fifteen years later, we are tight in the grip of franchise cinema. But Tartakovskys work points to how beautiful, refreshing, and exciting franchise work can be. — Sonia Saraiya

<ol start="24"> <li><em>Aeon Flux</em> (1991-1995)</li> </ol>

  1. Aeon Flux (1991-1995)

Creator Peter Chung developed Aeon Flux for MTV while working on the popular Nickelodeon series Rugrats, an iconic series in its own right. And while its legacy has since been overshadowed by a regrettable 2005 adaptation starring Charlize Theron, the animated series deserves better. Its a bizarre, exceptional landscape of erotic tension and surveillance dystopia. Aeon is an agent trying to destroy her nemesis and erstwhile lover Trevor, a scientist from the fictional, future country Bregna. Especially at first, she keeps dying—but the show persists anyway, lingering on the tensions of heroism rather than the conclusion of any particular characters arc. Its unsettling, nasty, fluidly drawn, and deliberately unsatisfying, with an attention to thematics that was way ahead of most other animated shows of the era. Chungs figures are all drawn long and lean, with narrow, expressive faces that evoke haunted paintings—unsurprising, given that Chung cites Egon Schiele as an inspiration. Aeon Flux is so potent and unsellable that its ridiculous it made it to cable television in the first place—but that was the story of MTV in the 90s, which also spawned Beavis and Butt-Head and Daria. — Sonia SaraiyaFrom ©MTV Networks/Everett Collection.

<ol start="23"> <li><em>Robot Chicken</em> (2001-present)</li> </ol>

  1. Robot Chicken (2001-present)

The brainchild of nerdy 90s cool kids Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, Robot Chickens irreverent stop-motion spin on pop culture was one of the earliest original programming hits for Cartoon Networks Adult Swim block—after being rejected as a segment by S.N.L., MadTV, and other sketch-comedy shows. Green and frequent on-screen co-star Breckin Meyer lead a cast of familiar voices as every pop-culture sacred cow from Disney to the Smurfs gets the snarky Robot treatment. Green and Senreichs obvious love for and encyclopedic knowledge of the properties they skewer came to a head with three Star Wars specials—before the saga was popular again—that were so clever even George Lucas, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, and Jar Jar Binks himself, Ahmed Best, got in on the fun. Its both incredible that Robot Chicken didnt get sued into oblivion over copyright claims and impossible to imagine something like The Lego Movie existing without it. — Joanna RobinsonFrom ©Adult Swim/Cartoon Network/Everett Collection.

<ol start="22"> <li><em>Beavis and Butt-Head</em> (1993-1997)</li> </ol>

  1. Beavis and Butt-Head (1993-1997)

The ludicrously crude and endlessly quotable Beavis and Butt-Head defined juvenile humor for seven seasons on MTV. Its title characters obsession with sex, violence, and heavy metal struck an instant chord with disaffected members of Generation X, and led to pioneeringly dumb, dirty humor that eventually paved the way for even more outrageous fare in the years to follow, from Jackass to South Park. A 2011 revival couldnt quite capture the magic of the original, proving that the Great Cornholio and his T.P.-deficient bunghole were decidedly of their time; 25 years later, no one wants to waste their time watching two idiotic teenage tastemakers crack themselves up with crass jokes and obnoxious commentary. Or do they? — Christine Davitt

<ol start="21"> <li><em>King of the Hill</em> (1997-2010)</li> </ol>

  1. King of the Hill (1997-2010)

After Beavis and Butt-Head, Mike Judge moved on to more mature material: the day-to-day life of Hank Hill, humble Texan and salesman of propane and propane accessories, and his family, neighbors, and friends. With sly humor and rich humanity, Judges series spent 13 seasons capturing a slice of middle-class America rarely depicted on television. As the world spun out around him, Hank and his heart of gold tried their best to keep up—to both hilarious ends and Shakespearean levels of inner turmoil. But no matter what befell the Hills, Hanks commitment to being a man of decency and morality remained steadfast. I cant help but think that if he were around today, Hank Hill wouldnt want to make America great again; hed believe its great already. — Christine DavittFrom ©20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection.

<ol start="20"> <li><em>Avatar: The Last Airbender</em> (2005-2008)</li> </ol>

  1. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)

When Avatar: The Last Airbender first premiered on Nickelodeon, it was written off by some as another kitschy action cartoon, starring a boy with a blue arrow on his forehead. But others were hooked by the shows intricate world-building and hard-hitting life lessons. Now, 10 years after its series finale (which drew a massive 5.6 million viewers), Aang and his friends adventure is revered as one of the greatest feats of animation to date. Co-created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, The Last Airbender uses the aesthetic of anime and Asian cultures to craft a world where kids fly around on bison while also critiquing imperialism. Aangs emotional authenticity brings out the best, and at times darkest sides of those he meets. It is in these dark moments where The Last Airbender truly separates itself from other cartoons of its era. Aangs quest for enlightenment can raise challenging topics, but the show never lets this heavy material weigh it down. As a viewer, The Last Airbender teaches without trying—and is a shining example of what it means to show unconditional devotion to a greater cause. — Sarah ShoenFrom ©Nickelodeon/Everett Collection.

<ol start="19"> <li><em>The Boondocks</em> (2005-2014)</li> </ol>

  1. The Boondocks (2005-2014)

Over the course of four seasons and 55 episodes, The Boondocks was a nearly singular entity. The series, which followed the lives of brothers Huey and Riley Freeman, as well as their grandfather Robert, premiered on Adult Swim in 2005—and from the very beginning, the series established a sharp satirical perspective, critiquing society with a particular focus on race relations. Its philosophical center was Huey, appropriately named after Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton. (If he and Riley sound familiar, thats because both boys were voiced by none other than Regina King.) Yes, the show could be vulgar; yes, it made frequent use of the n-word—a source of controversy early on. And yes, the shows final season went severely downhill, thanks to the exit of Aaron McGruder, who created the comics upon which the show was based. But Season 4s shaky landing was not disappointing enough to undo the shows legacy—which, by the way, includes a Peabody award for one particularly controversial episode. — Laura BradleyFrom ©Cartoon Network/Everett Collection.

<ol start="18"> <li><em>Space Ghost Coast to Coast</em> (1994-2008)</li> </ol>

  1. Space Ghost Coast to Coast (1994-2008)

This groundbreaking Frankenseries—a talk-show parody assembled haphazardly from vintage footage and new bits, hosted by Space Ghost, a D-list Hanna-Barbera superhero—deserves a spot on this list if only for the myriad shows it begat, either directly or indirectly (including, but not limited to, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law; Aqua Teen Hunger Force; and The Eric Andre Show). But taken solely on its own merits, Space Ghost Coast to Coast is still more than worthy. It made history as Cartoon Networks first original animated series, eventually inspiring the channels entire Adult Swim lineup and popularizing a signature absurdist brand of humor—long before purposefully weird non sequiturs, loose improvisation, and cleverly repurposed found footage became de rigueur for a certain brand of cult television. It predicted Internet culture, in other words—and would probably be better represented in memes today if the majority of its episodes hadnt only been made available to stream in 2016. — Hillary BusisFrom ©Cartoon Network/Everett Collection.

<ol start="17"> <li><em>The Legend of Korra</em> (2012-2014)</li> </ol>

  1. The Legend of Korra (2012-2014)

For many children of the 2000s, Avatar: The Last Airbender (see No. 20) was a defining series. But its offshoot, The Legend of Korra, was even better. Both shows follow supernaturally gifted adolescents with the ability to manipulate—or “bend”—elements. When Avatar premiered, its hero, Aang, was 12 years old; Korra, his reincarnation, was 17 during Legend of Korras first season. That age shift seems intentional: many Korra fans grew up watching Avatar, and as such, the shows sequel matured with them. Both series approached the subject of growing up and confronting ones demons with candor and heart—and both were rife with political parallels—but Korra definitely upped the ante by tackling increasingly complex issues. And its finale, in which Korra walked into the sunset not with any of the male characters shed known throughout the show, but with her female friend Asami, was nothing short of groundbreaking for a franchise aimed, nominally at least, at kids. — Laura BradleyFrom ©Nickelodeon Network/Everett Collection.

<ol start="16"> <li><em>Tiny Toon Adventures</em> (1990-1992)</li> </ol>

  1. Tiny Toon Adventures (1990-1992)

Originally conceived as a feature film, Tiny Toon Adventures set out to capitalize on the late 80s trend of launching what amounted to origin stories for beloved childrens characters. (Think Muppet Babies or Flintstones Kids.) But soon, Warner Bros. got Steven Spielberg on board—and the famed director had no interest in re-treading Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest. Instead, he created a whole new tiny crew, led by Buster and Babs Bunny (no relation) and Plucky Duck. Looney Tunes shorts were always injecting topical and adult humor into their animated antics, and the Tiny Toons were no different. Voice actors were asked to slip seemlessly into impersonations of pop-culture figures of the day, from Barbara Bush to Julia Roberts, Madonna, Macaulay Culkin, Roseanne Barr, and Spielberg himself. Warner Bros. would dial that irreverent attitude up to 11 for its very next animated project: Animaniacs. (Pinky and the Brain, by the way, were based on two Tiny Toon writers.) But while the snarky spin-off adventures of Yakko, Wakko, and Dot may have burned a little brighter in the pop-culture firmament, Tiny Toon Adventures has the distinction of having inspired the second season of Donald Glovers Atlanta. Not bad work for a little duck and a pair of cute bunnies. — Joanna RobinsonFrom ©Warner Bros./Everett Collection.

<ol start="15"> <li><em>Hey Arnold!</em> (1996-2004)</li> </ol>

  1. Hey Arnold! (1996-2004)

Its hard to think of a childrens show with a bigger heart than Hey Arnold! That starts with the animation, which renders Arnolds unnamed home-base city like a dreamy urban playground—the perfect place to stage adventures. And then there are its heroes: Arnold Shortman, a pensive fourth grader; Helga Pataki, a mercurial girl with a fierce temper; and Gerald Johanssen, Arnolds best friend and the groups most gifted raconteur. Hey Arnold! seamlessly wove urban legend with real-world experiences, and treated its characters challenges and triumphs with the weight they deserved. It delivered sentiment without becoming saccharine, and taught its young viewers lessons without condescension. That might be why Hey Arnold! remains a pleasure to re-watch, even as an adult. Its understated whimsy, along with its undercurrent of melancholy and tender optimism, are still one of a kind. — Laura BradleyFrom ©Nickelodeon/Everett Collection.

<ol start="14"> <li><em>Batman: The Animated Series</em> (1992-1995)</li> </ol>

  1. Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)

Influenced heavily by Tim Burtons stark adaptations of Gotham City and the stylish world of noir that inspired the creation of Bruce Wayne, the Worlds Greatest Detective, in 1939, Batman: The Animated Series remains to this day the gold standard against which all other comic-book animated series are measured. With an unmistakable visual style that the creators nicknamed “dark deco,” this show—which ran for only 85 episodes—produced the definitive depictions of several of pop cultures most famous characters. DC comic enthusiasts will hold up Kevin Conroys voice work as Batman and Mark Hamills gonzo version of the Joker against all other on-screen depictions. The show even generated an iconic figure of its very own: the Jokers compellingly psychotic sidekick, Harley Quinn. Though Batman has always flirted with darkness (see the works of Frank Miller), this particular show is where the gothic grit of Bruce Wayne and the eccentric extremes of a memorable rogues gallery created the perfect tonal balance that DCs films are still struggling to recapture to this day. — Joanna RobinsonFrom ©Warner Bros./Everett Collection.

<ol start="13"> <li><em>Bobs Burgers</em> (2011-present)</li> </ol>

  1. Bobs Burgers (2011-present)

I was reluctant to get into Bobs Burgers. I didnt like the title; I didnt like the way it was being relentlessly plugged by a certain subset of comedians on Twitter. It all just seemed so smug and cutesy and exhausting, like Parks and Recreation memes in cartoon form. Im glad I didnt heed my initial revulsion, though. Because when I finally did start watching Loren Bouchard and Jim Dauterives wonderful series, it won me over near instantly. Bobs Burgers is funny and sweet and strange, both transgressive and traditional, an idiosyncratic paean to family and its odd satellites. The voice work—by H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman, and, most crucially, the sublime John Roberts—is intricate and specific, a remarkably credible family bond created from the isolated confines of a recording booth. I love the world of Bobs Burgers, for the way it manages homey quaintness alongside wacky adventure, sardonic observation, and a defiant spirit of sex positivity. If it were up to only me, I wouldnt only name Bobs Burgers the best animated series since The Simpsons; Id name this that shows true heir apparent, a thoroughly winning portrait of a family in all its irreverent intimacy. Alright! — Richard Lawson

<ol start="12"> <li><em>Steven Universe</em> (2013-present)</li> </ol>

  1. Steven Universe (2013-present)

Steven Universe is the series that countless queer people wished they had growing up. Creator Rebecca Sugar, who identifies as a non-binary woman, is blazing trails with her casually heroic approach to L.G.B.T.Q. representation in childrens media. A four-time Emmy nominee, the Cartoon Network series stars a remarkably compassionate boy named Steven and his cohort of humanoid gemstone warriors, who do their best to defend the planet while also trying simply to get by. Human or not, the characters on Steven Universe display a range of emotions—anxiety, rage, love, resentment, pride—with a level of thoughtfulness rarely explored in kids programming. And with its emotional intelligence, nuanced character development, and inherent queerness, Steven Universe has an appeal that transcends age. "We need to let children know that they belong in this world," Sugar has said; in Stevens universe, child or not, you know you belong. — Christine Davitt

<ol start="11"> <li><em>Adventure Time</em> (2010-2018)</li> </ol>

  1. Adventure Time (2010-2018)

Creator Pendleton Ward has said that Adventure Time—starring Jake the Dog and Finn the Human—was meant to be a show that “everyone can watch.” The series itself has certainly achieved that goal: set in the fantastic (and post-apocalyptic) Land of Ooo, this is a cartoon for kids that also manages to capture the complexity of human nature and all of its contradictions. Adventure Time is often silly, set in a candy-coated technicolor landscape—but it also doesnt do much to obscure the fact that Finn and Jake are a child and his mutant dog friend simply trying to survive in a world where civilization has been wiped out. In all of its surreal glory, Adventure Time takes a grim backstory and weaves it into a heartwarming tale of friendship and adventure with a compelling narrative and complex characters. Its simply . . . algebraic. — Christine DavittFrom ©Cartoon Network/Everett Collection.

<ol start="10"> <li><em>SpongeBob SquarePants</em> (1999-present)</li> </ol>

  1. SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-present)

As land dwellers who lurk the Internet know, few cartoons have enjoyed more enduring cultural relevance than SpongeBob SquarePants. Its creator, Stephen Hillenburg, cut his teeth as a director for Rockos Modern Life; his magnum opus is a gentler series with a sunnier sensibility, though it retains that earlier shows wacky sense of humor. Just try not to be charmed by the titular sea sponge and his aquatic friends, including a dopey starfish named Patrick Star, the cranky cephalopod Squidward Tentacles, and an industrious Texan squirrel named Sandy Cheeks. Even now, nearly two decades after its debut, the series continues to air new episodes—following two film adaptations, one in 2004 and a sequel in 2015—and the SpongeBob SquarePants musical, which debuted in Chicago in 2016 and opened on Broadway last year. Online, SpongeBob moonlights as a perpetual meme machine—and unlike the mysterious machinations of Patricks mind, its easy to understand why. This show is a perfect storm of appealing visual style, kooky humor, and absurdism. Its no wonder that almost 20 years later, one little sponge is still managing to latch onto viewers souls like a grappling hook. — Laura Bradley

<ol start="9"> <li><em>Big Mouth</em> (2017-present)</li> </ol>

  1. Big Mouth (2017-present)

Earnestness and gross-out humor might not seem like comfortable bedfellows—yet when Big Mouth premiered last year, it proved that an animated series can, indeed, successfully walk the tightrope between the two. After all, this is a show about puberty—and how can one tell the story of adolescence without both tenderness and a sentient, semen-filled pillow? The Netflix comedy follows a gaggle of pre-teens as their bodies and interests begin to change. It might sound like rote territory; episodes cover predictable milestones like first periods, embarrassing erections, and relationships that last only days, thanks to young loves capricious gaze. But Big Mouth is a lot smarter and more whimsical than it had to be. Its characters are haunted by horny Hormone Monsters; more than one episode features anthropomorphized genitals. Disgusting? Sometimes. But its all in service of a noble goal: providing one of TVs most honest depictions of growing up. Besides, its hard to think of a better cast to pull it all off than Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph, Jessi Klein, Fred Armisen, and Jenny Slate. — Laura BradleyCourtesy of Netflix.

<ol start="8"> <li><em>Futurama</em> (1999-2013)</li> </ol>

  1. Futurama (1999-2013)

Matt Groenings follow-up to The Simpsons leaves behind the dynamics of a family sitcom for the arguably more grown-up world of workplace ensemble comedy, featuring the story of a present-day human who accidentally gets fast-forwarded 1,000 years into the future. The snappy repartee and hundreds of characters that make up Groenings universes are replicated here—with the added madcap energy of alien species, advanced technology, and every science-fiction trope known to humanity. Futurama paved the way for the existence of something like Rick and Morty; the newer show superseded and on this list, anyway, surpassed the successes of this science-fiction animated gem. But for the dog episode alone, Futurama is an all-timer—and President Richard Milhous Nixons pickled head in a jar elevates it into cynical, sharp art. — Sonia SaraiyaFrom ©20th Century Fox Film Corp.

<ol start="7"> <li><em>Rockos Modern Life</em> (1993-1996)</li> </ol>

  1. Rockos Modern Life (1993-1996)

The elastic, cruel world of creator Joe Murrays O-Town was outfitted with the bold colors, geometric shapes, and gross-out humor of many beloved Nickelodeon Nicktoons. But amid the eye-popping stunts and barf jokes was a strangely calming, somewhat depressing story of succumbing to the absurd banality of modern life. Led by Australian wallaby Rocko, new to the vaguely Midwestern locale of O-Town, Rockos Modern Life told stories of malfunctioning appliances, condescending advertisements, baffling group rituals (Aerobics! Sightseeing! Lamaze classes!), and corporate anonymity. Rockos a naive, upbeat soul who seemingly attracts pyrrhic victories. The shows tone is inimitable—disgusting, wry, cheerful, and glowing with the technicolor of the false promise of suburban life. — Sonia SaraiyaFrom Everett Collection.

<ol start="6"> <li><em>Rick and Morty</em> (2013-present)</li> </ol>

  1. Rick and Morty (2013-present)

Dan Harmon and Justin Roilands obscene Rick and Morty is exceptional, in a kind of scary way: its easily one of the most brilliant illustrations of the limitations of Internet brain—that depersonalized, trolling, anger-driven entitlement that boils under the surface of online conflict. Not long ago, a subset of fans waged a harassment campaign against the shows female writers and threw mob-sized tantrums at McDonalds over its limited supplies of Szechuan sauce. But let these demonstrations indicate that Rick and Morty is a show that inspires great devotion. A twist on Back to the Futures Doc and Marty, Rick and Morty showcases the universe-altering adventures of a mad scientist and his fumbling, pathetic grandson. An episode might feature a trans-planetary battle, murder Ricks and Mortys from parallel universes, and plumb the difficulty of intimacy without pausing for breath. Rick will, however, pause long enough to belch, spill food on himself, and yell obscenities at his family. Its a testament to the shows skills that somehow this all becomes part of his charm. — Sonia SaraiyaCourtesy of Turner Broadcasting.

<ol start="5"> <li><em>Daria</em> (1997-2001)</li> </ol>

  1. Daria (1997-2001)

Though the snarky and unabashedly feminist vibe of one seems in direct contradiction to the juvenile, boyish humor of the other, Daria is, in fact, a spin-off of Beavis and Butt-Head. Created to be a foil for those snorting, AC/DC-loving dummies, Daria eventually graduated from background stick-in-the-mud to a truth-telling hero in her own right. Her thick glasses, combat boots, and deadpan delivery echoed a 90s archetype established by the Ghost World graphic novel and the comedic stylings of Janeane Garofalo. But in bringing that distinctly female and subversive sensibility to the largely male-dominated world of teen animation, Daria created a vital, fun space for disenfranchised, eye-rolling young women to sneer at our sick, sad world.

The show was a huge hit for MTV at a time when the networks brand was as much about mocking the cool kids as it was about courting their attention and dollars. Daria not only punched up at vain popular girls and simple-minded jocks, but also found room to sympathize with everyone—even clueless parents—and skewer its own overwhelming whiteness through the lens of overachieving black teens Jodie and Mack. And lets not forget one of 90s animations all-time sex symbols: dirtbag musician Trent Lane. But above all else, Daria put outsiders like Jane Lane and Daria Morgendorffer on the inside long before "nerd" and "geek" became synonymous with mainstream. — Joanna Robinson

From ©MTV/Everett Collection.

<ol start="4"> <li><em>Clone High</em> (2002-2003)</li> </ol>

  1. Clone High (2002-2003)

If there were any justice, Clone High would have lasted forever. Its simple but ingenious premise—our heroes are the teenage clones of famous figures like Cleopatra and Joan of Arc, loving, learning, sharing, judging, and going to high school together—was broad enough to spark decades worth of inventive teen soap-opera parody, sly historical nerdery, ear-wormy one-liners, and truly inspired wordplay. (Principal Scudworth is secretly planning to hold his students captives at a zoo-like amusement park hell call “Cloney Island”; the show is arguably also responsible for coining the term “promposal.”) It was an early showcase for the zany, fourth-wall-busting aesthetic that creators Phil Lord and Chris Miller would eventually bring to big-screen works like The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, to much acclaim. But while their later projects are much better known, none are as fully realized as Clone High—a mile-a-minute joke machine that still managed to have real heart, thanks mostly to plots revolving around lovelorn Joans unrequited passion for her best friend, Abe Lincoln (voiced by a career-best Will Forte). Alas, the world wasnt quite ready for a cartoon about a bubble-butted J.F.K. palling around with a party-animal clone of Mahatma Gandhi; dismal ratings led to its premature cancellation after a single perfect season. After all, numbers dont lie. — Hillary Busis

<ol start="3"> <li><em>Animaniacs</em> (1993-1998)</li> </ol>

  1. Animaniacs (1993-1998)

Animaniacs wasnt just a cartoon—it was a chaotic, old-fashioned variety series, one that won a Peabody award in its inaugural season due in part to the way the show reminded the Peabody committee of the glory days of Hollywood animation. With the backing of Steven Spielberg, frequent celebrity cameos, and the characters home base on the Warner Bros. Studios lot, Hollywood was indeed central to Animaniacs DNA. As the story goes, animated siblings Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Warner were locked away in the studios water tower in the 1930s—then emerged six decades later to unleash their brand of wild humor onto the world, as well as more than a few exceptionally catchy educational musical numbers. (“United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru . . .”) They bridged the gap between Hollywoods golden age—particularly the inspired lunacy of Bugs Bunny and co.—and the present day, with a satirical edge and pop-cultural references aplenty, the sort that appealed to children and adults alike. And with two new seasons coming to Hulu in 2020, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot are getting ready to take over once again. — Christine DavittFrom ©Warner Bros./Everett Collection.

<ol start="2"> <li><em>BoJack Horseman</em> (2014-present)</li> </ol>

  1. BoJack Horseman (2014-present)

The age of Peak TV is crowded with shows about show business—and Los Angeles, and nostalgia, and self-medicating male antiheroes. But none of them hold a candle to BoJack, which also happens to be the most moving comedy (or is it the funniest drama?) on television. In its early days, Raphael Bob-Waksbergs centauric creation seemed like a minor blip with a two-joke conceit: 90s sitcom has-been struggles to navigate 21st-century Hollywoo. (The D got destroyed in episode 6.) Also, hes a horse. As its first season went on, though, the Netflix original gradually transformed from a simplistic showbiz satire into something deeper, richer, and altogether more daring—a series that tackled all those Peak TV pet topics, but one that also wasnt afraid to thoughtfully undermine its own premise. Why should we care about BoJack Horsemans redemption? And what does redemption really mean, anyway?

As rendered by Bob-Waksbergs talented writers and an endlessly imaginative animation team headed by Lisa Hanawalt, the anthropomorphized animals and occasionally beastly humans that populate BoJack are richly layered, capable of provoking both belly laughs and heartbreak—sometimes within the span of a few seconds. Yet BoJack doesnt feel disjointed; its simultaneously hilarious and haunting, self-conscious and sweeping, gravely serious and unabashedly silly. (The Simpsons may have invented the modern blink-and-youll-miss-it gag, but BoJack has perfected the form; you could spend hours combing each frame for hidden jokes and puns capable of impressing even the most seasoned dad.) The only real knock against it is that in between those flights of fancy, BoJack can be a tremendous bummer—the sort of show where nobody is allowed to be happy for very long. But even in its most relentless moments, theres enough humor to keep BoJack from sinking as low as BoJack himself often descends—and enough poignancy to keep viewers coming back, ideally for several seasons to come. — Hillary Busis

From ©Netflix/Everett Collection.

<ol> <li><em>South Park</em> (1997-present)</li> </ol>

  1. South Park (1997-present)

First things first: this show is not perfect. Trey Parker and Matt Stones offensive comic masterpiece—a television staple since 1997 that starts its 22nd season this September—definitely reached the height of its run during the Bush years. Its beginnings in the Clinton epoch relied mostly on shock value and gross-out humor; its Obama-era episodes were funny, but not always incisive. And in the Age of Trump, its fair to wonder whether the show may have lost its way entirely. But those glory days certainly were glorious. At its peak, South Park was (and is still capable of being) as sickeningly funny (“Scott Tenorman Must Die”) and socially astute (“Here Comes the Neighborhood”) as it was maddening.

In a good way. Few post-Simpsons animated shows have managed to battering-ram their way into the cultural lexicon as thoroughly or mischievously as South Park. Few have enough iconic characters to fill a yearbook (Cartman! Mr. Garrison! Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo!), or as many classic episodes just waiting to be referenced whenever a relevant current event crops up. When I think of bad C.E.O. apologies, oil spills, or Cthulhu, I think of South Park. World of Warcraft? South Park. Poverty telethons, Stephen Sondheim, Mormons, Scientologists, lost underwear, cats in heat, NASCAR, pan-flute bands, chili, the word “succubus,” redheads, Jennifer Lopez, red-hooded jackets, child-mortality rates, woodland creatures . . .

Even if we were always the butt of every South Park gag, we were also always in on the joke. At its best, this series has defined, and maybe even predicted, the culture—and its also really fucking funny. From the looks of it, the rest of television is still catching up. — K. Austin Collins

Yohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.

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