The 2000s: TV Animation

It’s the time again when critics start compiling their “best of” lists for the decade. We’ll probably do a few ourselves, though the roundup of American TV animation is looking fairly barren from this vantage point. How many shows debuted in the past decade that were entertaining, made a lasting impact on their audience, and have a shot at being remembered by future generations? A handful of American shows come to mind as standouts, most of which were cult favorites rather than mainstream successes–Invader Zim, Superjail, Venture Bros., Samurai Jack, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Yo Gabba Gabba. (A comprehensive list of TV shows can be found on Wikipedia.)

Compare this to the 1990s when we saw the debuts of TV shows that were cultural phenomenons like The Simpsons, The Ren and Stimpy Show, South Park, Beavis and Butt-Head, Batman: The Animated Series, Dexter’s Lab, Rugrats, The Powerpuff Girls, Spongebob Squarepants and yes, even Family Guy. It seemed like we were on the cusp of a new era of “creator-driven” shows that were free from the meddling impulses of network execs. It’s little surprise that these shows are the ones that audiences still discuss nowadays.

If the 2000s served any purpose, it was to highlight how unique the previous decade was; the Nineties were a genuine silver age of TV animation in which artists were allowed the freedom to experiment and the elbow room to fulfill their creative visions. The unfortunate byproduct of Nineties animation success was the introduction of a new breed of development and creative execs whose ignorance about animation art and process is matched only by their fearfulness of creativity and originality. These boobs spent the entire decade trying to come up with the next Spongebob, the next Simpsons, and the next Family Guy without the slightest inkling of how to foster the kind of environment that allowed those shows to exist in the first place. The dubious 2000s is their legacy, and it signals a depressing downward shift for TV animation in America.

I’m curious to hear your opinions. What’s your take on the last decade and what are your picks for the best new animated series of the past ten years?

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  • http://www.dougwilson.co.uk Doug

    Pokoyo? God the Devil and Bob?

  • Sam Filstrup

    Barren really? Cause I found a lot, there were a bunch of good cartoons this decade Codename Kids Next Door, Megas XLR, Foster’s, Ben 10, Flapjack, Chowder, Justice League (Unlimted), Batman Brave and the Bold, Teen Titans, Batman Beyond(Started in ’99 but ended in ’02 so it’s a toss up.), Spectacular Spiderman, Time Squad, Xaolin Showdown, Kim Possible, and already mentioned before Samurai Jack and Avatar. Probably a few missing in there.

    Some of them may end up being forgotten, but I enjoyed them all thoroughly. You make the 90′s to be so great but it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows there were a lot of bad shows mixed in with the great shows. I loved the 90′s it was a big moment in television animation, and while I agree there needs to be another big push to get things rolling it was far from barren.

    The top of the liter would have to be Samurai Jack and Spider-man. Here’s hoping Spider-man gets picked up for a new season.

  • Donald C

    …tough call.
    There wasn’t a whole lot of what I would call stellar animation over the past decade, but there was a decent amount of really good ones.
    I’d have to mull it over a bit.

  • Wayne

    However bad the 2000s may be, nothing will ever surpass the lackluster 70′s. Television animation quality plummeted, movie quality sank worldwide, and only the success of Star Wars could shake everyone out of it. And now, the technology that was supposed to free us all to create is becoming our excuse to get by with less.
    I see animation every week that has “the obligatory bloody-death scene”. I’ts getting boring. I remember when humor made us feel good, and gross-out stuff made us feel queasy. These days, the gross-out stuff seems to be a requirement for humor. The 2 different genres have become one big one. If it ain’t bloody and violent, or the characters don’t swear, it ain’t funny. That’s sad, because we’ve just thrown away half our entertainment possibilities.

    • sam the man

      The 1970s were THE Golden age of Film in America. It might not have benn for cartoons but it certainly was for movies.

  • http://yaffle.tumblr.com/ yaffle

    Some shows I liked from the past decade:

    Pocoyo
    Monkey Dust (adult cartoon sketch show)
    Xavier: Renegade Angel
    The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack
    Tom Goes to the Mayor
    Roy (TV series based on Badly Drawn Roy)

  • L

    God the Devil and Bob wasn’t that great of a comedy though…

    … but The devil himself, characterwise… is just amazing. Painting clowns; harassing Smeg; eh; the usual.

    But I would have to say Clone High and Ed Edd N Eddy are good examples of humour and quality. I’m not a great fan of “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”; but the Music Meister episode is quite addictive…

  • Franz

    While the 00′s wont have stellar star studded cast as some of the shows from the 90s, there were a few stand out shows. some like Foster’s home, Codename:Kids next door, Kim Possible, Samurai Jack, Justice league, Invader Zim, Ben 10, Avatar, Superjail, Venture Bros and Megas XLR brought back not just Imagination back to Animation, but also good storytelling and great character design, something that seems to just be a throw away Idea, then a foundation. something all those shows mentioned from the 90s.

    as for my idea of a great show from these past years, I would throw in The Boondocks, because it had such great comedy, action, fighting animation, and if you peeled back the layers, a deeper message, if you only stopped laughing long enough to hear it.

    But the reason those shows from the 90s live on so much is because they were good enough to be preserved, to be shared with others, and to always be talked about (“hey remember that one episode…”) I think it is important that we do something to keep those shows alive for others to enjoy. even if its just one person, just talking about or letting them know about one of those shows, will make them last. Really, its only the shows worth talking about.not the ones that sell the most lunch boxes, that are going to be remembered.

  • http://www.UltimateIronGiant.com Dave Zart

    What about Phineas and Ferb? Not the best animation but a sweet, well-written, engaging show. My son (and I) love it!

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com Gagaman

    None of my mates ever believe me when I tell them the 90′s were a pretty incredible time for cartoons, they always go on about the 80′s so called golden era of Transformers and Thundercats. I grew up mostly in the 90′s (was only 4 years old by 1990) so I obviously have some nostalgia for that era but there is some truth to it’s awesomeness. A shame this decade hasn’t brought about quite so much innovative huge hits on TV.

  • Anthony C.

    We can talk about the fall of creator-driven animation all day and all night but I really want to know what it’ll take to make ACTION happen that brings those creative-driven days back :-(

  • James McPants

    Well, I kinda agree. There were some very good shows (Drinky Crow, Lucy Daughter of the Devil, Metalocalypse, Chowder, Frisky Dingo, Total Drama Island, Code Monkeys and Megas XLR come to mind instantly) but I agree that they were most if not all cult shows, and not a massive mainstream success a la Spongebob Squarepants or South Park. There was much to be enjoyed, but there were not, that I remember, the kind of powerhouses that became huge like in the 90s. I also dislike the fact that animated movies (where some shone) are becoming more prevalent and similar, which I think diminishes the impact. Even if a movie has big, photorealistic yet whimsical CG, when every movie starts having the same kind of animation the effect is much lessened and everything looks similar. Not that I’m complaining, it’s employing a lot of great and talented animators and crew to whom I have utmost respect, but decade-wise I think they’re starting to look a little bland (again with the exception of some movies with more of a unique aesthetic like Coraline). It’s not that there wasn’t any really good animation; there just hasn’t been a huge powerhouse like in the 90s. And I personally think that works in detriment of the animation business, considering how many networks are filled with cheap, generic stuff like reality shows (kudos to Total Drama Island for providing a nice, animated critique of said kind of show).

  • http://mattanimates.blogspot.com Matt Christensen

    Yeah, I completely disagree as well. Nostalgia seems to always remember the good and not the bad. There was a ton of shitty animated television shows in the 90′s, as there were in every decade. All art is dominated by crap, it’s easier to produce crap. The 00′s has produced a lot of great animated television shows. Adult Swim first aired in 2001, and while a lot of it has poor animation the writing on many adult swim shows is fantastic, making them great animated shows in my mind. Even if one thinks they’re bad shows, their influence is undeniable.

  • http://bakertoons.blogspot.com/ Charles Brubaker

    I don’t think this decade was THAT bad. There has been great shows debuting this decade, even if the number wasn’t as big as in the 90s. (and there were lots and lots of bad shows debuting on that decade too, ya’ know)

    I’m very fond of “Chowder”. The show was, IMO, a success artistically. The character designs are not only hilarious, they are very unique in that no two characters look alike. Chowder, for example, looks nothing like Mung Daal. He doesn’t even look like Panini despite both characters being the same species (cat-bear-rabbit thing). Then there’s the use of stop motion and puppet sequences along with the hand-drawn animation. And it’s genuinely funny, too, even in its later episodes.

    I’m also a huge fan of “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack”. That’s a true cartoonist-driven show. One thing I love is how the style differs depending on who did the storyboards. Also, despite being a slapstick-heavy cartoon they really do care about character developments and I think they deserve praise for that.

    I’m also into “Superjail!”, “Venture Bros.”, “Moral Orel” and probably a few others I don’t remember.

  • diego c

    I’ve just realized that I hate the 2000′s,
    thanks Amid,

  • squirrel

    I can only state the effects it had on me as a person, as I am fairly fresh out of graduating.

    In the 90′s, we were supported to reach our dreams to become great animators which growing up.

    And then I graduate in 2006. Do the math.

  • T

    Invader Zim? REALLY????

  • http://www.base14.com Tyler

    You could probably say the same thing about live-action sitcoms. Both kinds of shows were overshadowed by another root cause that should not be overlooked: the 2000′s upward trend in reality-based programming. It has always appealed to network execs for its lower production values despite healthy viewership.

  • http://www.tresswygert.blogspot.com Tres Swygert

    Totally agree with the comparison! The thing though is this: The 90′s had something powerful that this decade never had, and that’s Saturday Morning Cartoons! Not many networks and channels provide innovative animation programs for children anymore, they just use reruns of the shows shown throughout the week…or some boring anime crap. Any of the shows I could name that were Saturday Morning in the 90′s would trump anything during this decade. Period.

    But this decade has produced some nice shows that at least held our hopes for a brighter future: Kids Next Door, Ed Edd & Eddy, Chowder, the Misadventures of Flapjack, Phineas and Ferb, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends….So hopefully we can go back to the days were animation was meant to be entertaining, not a calculated way to make money. Maybe John Lasseter can teach a new breed of execs so they could handle it with passion like he does.

  • http://highlyrecommended.blogspot.com Satorical

    Invader Zim, really. Mainly for the writing, although it all works.

    As for waxing nostalgic about the 80s, Thundercats, Voltron, and their ilk sucked then, and they suck now. If one more person tries to tell me Dungeons & Dragons was good, I’m gonna end up on death row for a crime involving an animation disc.

  • http://smomotion.com :: smo ::

    as much as we [ok...i] bitch and moan on how productions are set up and how all the work we want to be doing is done overseas, etc. there HAVE been some good shows. futurama is on the cusp benig from 99 but it deserves note.

    venture brothers is a really funny show with great art made by great artists.

    superjail was all done in house and is some of the craziest animation i’ve ever seen on tv.

    adult swim in general, as bad as it can be, has had a few gems.

    flapjack might have a spongebob feel, but i really dig it, i think it’s one of the better cartoons i’ve seen in a long time…and i’m not sure why i never attempted to apply to work on it…

    chowder has some great art in it too!

    i’ve not actually seen the mighty b show but what i’ve seen of it looks really nice.

    that adventure time show too, though i’m not sure if it’s aired yet…but the pilot was awesome!

    speaking of pilots, the upstate 4 by the animation cowboys fran and will krause was definitely a highlight too. though i suppose the fact that it was just a pilot and wasn’t picked up is a testament to the lack of good stuff on tv. there were lots of good pilots.

    it’s definitely slim pickins but there’s some good stuff that’s happened .

  • Peter

    Venture Bros., definitely. (It even made AV Club’s list of the best TV shows of the decade … the only other toon to do so was Futurama, which premiered in 1999.)

    And Pocoyo is DA BOMB! So thoroughly gorgeous.

  • amid

    Peter and Yaffle: Pocoyo would also make my list of top foreign TV animation during the 2000s, along with FLCL and Minuscule.

  • Nerd

    I’d say Fosters and Clone Wars. There, I said it. Clone Wars.

  • http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=052C631F61EE2838 Iain

    I think I’m at a tie between Invader Zim and Xavier: Renagade Angel.

    I’m not sure Wonder Showzen counts since it involves live-action and animation.

  • Jason

    The only TV cartoon that really stands out for me is Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was just plain amazing. Beautiful animation and production design, intelligent writing, imaginative world-building, female characters that weren’t lame stereotypes or social commentary, and a great array of heroes, antiheroes, villains and semi-villains. Superb and satisfying in every way.

    Runners-up are: Batman: The Brave and the Bold (great character design and usage of vintage, seldom-seen DC characters). Phineas and Ferb, a happy surprise in every way. And Samurai Jack, stylish and unforgettable.

    Duds and semi-duds: Chowder (nice design, lousy characters that were either gross or stupid), Flapjack (horrible design and lousy characters that were even grosser or stupider), Ed, Edd and Eddy (well, it had its moments – the recent movie was actually pretty good in parts) Codename: Kids Next Door ( the only episodes I liked were the movies, which really kicked butt), Foster’s (its movies were also good, but the individual episodes were very hit-and-miss), and just about everything on Adult Swim that wasn’t anime (Assy McGee, anyone?)

  • Rob T.

    It should be noted that the Wikipedia list isn’t complete (a fact noted on the page itself); among the missing series is “Paranoia Agent”, one of my own favorites of the decade. (Others in my top 10 include “Samurai Jack”, “Chowder”, “Fullmetal Alchemist”, “Inuyasha”, “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends”, “The Boondocks”, “Samurai Champloo”, “¡Mucha Lucha!” and “My Life as a Teenage Robot”. Oh, and an honorable mention to “Futurama”, which didn’t hit its stride until a year or so after its 1999 premiere.)

    I think there was just as much great animation on TV in the last decade as in the previous one, but has had a hard time making its presence known amid the mountain of would-be commercial dreck. The great animated TV series of the 1990′s didn’t have that disadvantage.

    On the other hand, many of the lesser-known Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network series of the 90′s–”Aaah! Real Monsters”, “Johnny Bravo”, “Cow & Chicken”–were good viewing compared to much of what’s being offered today, so maybe the standards are lower than they used to be. Or maybe the store of good ideas is being used up.

  • corey

    I like Chowder& Flapjack!

  • Rio

    Robot Chicken is probably one of the best of this decade. There’s nothing that really grabs me after that.

  • Tommy

    If “Futurama” and “Family Guy” (both 1999) can’t be considered 2000s shows then “The Simpsons” can’t be considered a 90s show since it started in 1989.

  • Spike

    I wouldn’t say that “movie quality plummeted” in a decade that saw the release of Chinatown, The Godfather Part I & II, Taxi Driver, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Annie Hall and Nashville to name a few.

  • http://youtube.com/tobyrulez Toby

    I think the most creative place for animation this decade was easily Adult Swim. Sure there are plenty of shows passed off as “stoner comedy” but some truly great shows have come from this network. Moral Orel (especially season three), Home Movies, and Venture Bros. especially. I believe they missed a great opportunity with the pilot for That Crook’d Sip. The animation was beautiful.

    Clone High is also incredibly underrated. I’ve viewed every episode of that series several times since 2004 and still haven’t tired of it.

  • seanw

    i started animation school in 99 with hopes of working on something great, tv or feature.

    10 years on i can’t see the end of the ‘good enough’ era. samurai jack feels like the last thing that tried to be of quality (original clone wars notwithstanding) and original.

    tv animation is awash in mediocrity and i need a snorkel.

    the internet is where it’s at. original and unfettered. my only fear is that the mediocrity will seep in there once the suits figure it out, and need to squash that too.

  • Dave G

    There was a diminishing outlay for TV animation budgets in the entire industry beginning in the late 1990′s which worsened in the 00′s.

  • http://daryl-rhystaylor.blogspot.com Daryl T

    I’m just going to read some entires from the Animation Magazine list of the top animated shows from the past twenty year, Avatar, Invader Zim, Ed,edd n eddy, Kim Possible, The Fairly Odd Parents, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Samurai Jack and Teen Titans. I can think of some more, but I’ll stick with what the Animation Magazine said.

  • Ashanti

    The 70′s was the decade of animation decline, but it was great for Jim Henson and puppetry, Wayne.

    The cartoons I liked in 2000 were: Samurai Jack, Kim Possible, My Life as a Teenage Robot, HiHi Puffy Ami Yumi, Justice League and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Everything else I loved was in the anime category.

    I’m hoping there will be a new crop of autonomous kids cartoons. You know, shows where the characters actually go places without their parents the way Charlie Brown and the Scooby Doo gang used to do. I’m rather tired of cartoons about kids in the suburbs who never leave their culdesacs.

  • Jmatte

    RobT: Paranoia Agent: YES!! Thanks for reminding me.
    I was going to yell out Cowboy Bebop, but the original date is 1998.
    Satorical: I think I will start wearing a helmet, for I have still have much fondness for Dungeons and Dragons. Not all episodes, mind you, but which shows in the 80′s would show a teenager’s face melting to a skeleton because of an evil spell?
    It was a product of its time too, let’s not forget about that. Got to compare it with the other tv fare of the period, like Thundercats or Kidd Video.

    In the 80′s, I grew up with a lot of cartoons that had a continuing storyline (Mysterious Cities Of Gold), one that would hook the viewer to keep on watching week after week. This had been sorely missing for years, until Avatar The Last Airbender arrived.
    It has to be at the top of my list of faves.

    For viewers of all ages, a big definite vote for Pocoyo!

    For adventure, Teen Titans, Batman, Oban Star Racer and…I’d give a vote for Clone Wars too.

    From Adult Swim: Metalocalypse and Venture Bros.
    (not on Adult Swim but in the same bracket: Les Lascars)

    For pure fun, comedy: Chowder, Invader Zim, Mighty B and Ed, Edd and Eddy.

    I’d like to also give a nod to the New Adventures of Lucky Luke (by Xilam studio), for writing and jokes that would appeal to an adult audience.

    Call me a positive thinker, but I believe every decade and generation get a serie that will stay with them thru their lives and of which they will still talk about fondly or with high praises for years and years.

  • Cameron

    American TV animation kind of sucked this decade. The only show I really loved was Samurai Jack, though there were a number of overlooked gems like Megas XLR that I quite liked.

    Compare this to Japan, which saw a golden age where this is concerned. There are more quality studios these days than there ever were before. As much as some of us like to judge the industry based off the latest shonen fad,the truth is shows like Paranoia Agent and FLCL probably rank among the finest TELEVISION ever produced. Heck, I’m not sure there was one live-action show this decade I liked more than Paranoia Agent.

    I really hope that does last. With the economy and all, we may be seeing the industry go into decline…which could mean more pandering. Let us support this industry on its current track (being sure to ignore that moe garbage) and hope we can see more creatives next decade here in the States. I need more than Genndy Tartakovsky shows to look forward to!

  • St. McDuck

    I remember seeing commercials for both South Park and Invader Zim before they actually started airing, and knowing simply from those ads that I would love those two shows. Turns out, I did.
    I haven’t had that same inclination at all since.

  • http://bobrutan.net Bob

    I’d definitely call out Invader Zim, Spectacular Spiderman, Foster’s, El Tigre, Kim Possible, Genndy’s Clone Wars, Venture Bros and Superjail as being among some of the best this past decade.

    In comparison to the 90s, however, there’s been somewhat of a regression. How many shows being produced now are comparable to the accomplishments or innovations of Ren & Stimpy, Batman the Animated Series, Animaniacs, Powerpuff Girls, Spongebob or Space Ghost c2c?

    The 90s were quite possibly the golden age of TV animation. This past decade has mostly been copying and maintaining the innovations of the past one. I’d say most the innovation unique to this decade alone took place in shows like Foster’s or Superjail.

  • http://twitter.com/facebrooks Brooks Michael Williams

    Most of what you already posted in the ‘article’ was already at the back of my mind, but I want to add in votes for these:

    Xavier: Renegade Angel
    The Misadventures of Flapjack
    Clone High
    Superjail

    and the hybrid ‘Wonder Showzen’ if that can count

    .. just because these cartoons are bringing new formats and storytelling possibilities to the table (ehhh with the exception of Clone High and most of Flapjack, great shows but they don’t belong with that). Whenever I think of my career’s genre these are always in the top ten shows that pop into my mind no matter where I am. Great, great stuff.

  • kEViN

    Three shows I watch with my kids on a regular basis:

    Fanboy and ChumChum
    Phineas and Ferb
    Spongebob

    I also enjoy Futurama, late night on Comedy Central.

  • http://none Barry

    Why has Ed, Edd, N Eddy not DOMINATED the list in terms of quality animation, writing, humor, voice acting, etc. Is animation so far gone that people don’t notice anymore when it is actually great?! I never hear anyone touting this show, and it should be on the top of every list, way before ANY Adult Swim show, and I love a lot of their programming…

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    Re:
    —-I’m hoping there will be a new crop of autonomous kids cartoons. You know, shows where the characters actually go places without their parents the way Charlie Brown and the Scooby Doo gang used to do—-

    SOUTH PARK! Wait – that’s a 90s cartoon, right? But, those kids are certainly autonomous. World travelers. Space travelers. Flying across the world, unescorted, in the wink of an eye. Where do they get the money for all those plane tickets? Do they even need passports?

    As far as SCOOBY DOO, those characters aren’t kids. I saw some drawings on the internets that portray them doing very adult things. The dog was even involved!

  • Rick

    I’d second the Clone Wars series, Samurai Jack and Justice League, as good US produced animation, add in Fullmetal Alchemist and Last Exile as really great anime from this decade. FMA had great animation and was the best voice cast I’ve heard since Cowboy Bebop, Japanese or English dub.

  • Anna

    Don’t forget El Tigre!

    Love love love Flapjack, Mighty B, Superjail, and Pocoyo.
    Venture Bros. is undeniably funny and original.
    Cannot wait for Adventure Time. I think it’s gonna be aaaawesome!

    There are plenty of great funny original cartoons in the aughts, we just live in an age of hundreds and hundreds of channels and are inundated with content, both good and bad.

  • http://www.cataroo.com John Cawley

    First, it was nice to see several of my shows listed as contenders for top shows of the decade. I don’t think anyone in the business wants to make a ‘bad’ show.

    That said, when folks talk about the lack of impact TV animation had this decade, they really mean there were no break-out, merchandising, gender/age group crossing shows ala a Simpsons or South Park. That could be due to the simple overabundance of product. In the 90s many of the hits came from the primetime series of the decade. There were not a lot of shows, so they got more attention. This decade TV animation is all over the place and getting an audience’s attention is more difficult.

    Ironically, theatrical animation, which previously was the ‘hard to break out’ branch of animation exploded in this decade. Franchises popped up all over the place (ICE AGE, SHREK, etc.) and single features got tremendous response. As opposed to past decades, I think I hear more folks talk about animated features than animated TV. Maybe TV is becoming the diminishing ‘middle class’ of animation with features being the rich corporations, and the internet being the poor idealists.

  • vzk

    TV animation in the 50s and 60s wasn’t much better than that from the 70s and 80s. Most cartoons then (even many from Hannah Barbera) were forgettable, poorly-animated, badly-written, and/or copied from other sources; not to mention the neutered versions of cartoons that were fluidly animated in theaters like Popeye and Casper. I never cared for anything produced by Jay Ward or the Underdog people. TV anime might have been considerably better in terms of aesthetics and story(when not butchered by Western hands), but I can’t comment much on it.

    The Simpsons is probably the only legitimately-good, American TV cartoon from the 80s.

    As for animated shows from this side of the pond debuting in the 2000s, perhaps the ones that will define the decade are JL, JLU, Teen Titans, Zim, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Metalocalypse, Boondocks, Venture Bros, Nick’s Avatar, Kim Possible, FOP (even though it was first shown in the 90s), and maybe that Phineas show if it’s as popular as they say it is.

  • vzk

    “As far as SCOOBY DOO, those characters aren’t kids. I saw some drawings on the internets that portray them doing very adult things. The dog was even involved!”

    The internets portray ANYONE (I repeat, ANYONE) doing very adult things. (See Rule 34)

  • Chuck Hensey

    We really liked Filmore! and the Static Shock series when they came on. Both had fun and engaging role models and storylines with solid animation. Neither were trend setters, but shows which we will be able to look back on and enjoy instead of Silverhawks which makes me wonder what those artifical flavors were doing to my mind when I was a kid.

  • sweetbottom

    If the criteria is lasting appeal only two real shows come to mind…

    The Venture Bros and Samurai Jack.

    Samurai Jack is to tv animation in 00′s what UPA was to the fifities, a complete singular vision in a test martketed wasteland of safeness.

    The Venture Bros. is more the decunstruction of a genre then great animation. The writing and pacing of that show are really its hallmarks and will spawn more then a few scholarly essays expounding on its razor sharp wit.

  • troy joseph reyes

    for me it was all about the justice league-samurai jack-the venture bros-aqua teen hunger force-cowboy bebop-ghost in the shell-the mighty b-fosters home for imaginary friends-yes, sponge bob!-and the spike tv version of ren and stimpy. complain all you want, i had fun!

  • Dock Miles

    Sticking to American shows:

    (I’m excluding any shows based on pre-existing comics or animations because to me they always feel like part of something larger. Although I must say I almost made an exception for Teen Titans, which was by far the most entertaining incarnation of that group ever done.)

    Avatar: The Last Airbender (partly because it was a mainstream hit; show went for broad appeal without pandering and was rewarded — huzzah!)

    Camp Lazlo (Chowder and Flapjack had even more inventive character designs, but the writing was consistently too weak/not funny enough.)

    The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (uneven, but outta-control hilarious when it hit its groove; Mandy might be the best Tuff Bitch in a cartoon ever)

    Home Movies (I’m making one exception for this 1999 debut show because Paula said she’d make out with me if I did)

    Invader Zim (Resistance is futile!! Give in to Ziiiim!!)

    My Life as a Teenage Robot (so much style it elevates the sometimes lesser substance)

    Superjail (rulebook? we don’t need no steeeking rulebook!)

    El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera (see My Life as a Teenage Robot)

    The Venture Bros. (who knew there was such absurdity potential in Johnny Quest?)

  • Celia

    I just want to mention that Ed Edd & Eddy made its debut in the 90′s, which is why it’s not on the list.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    You want to know what’s disturbing?

    This thread is linked from http://www.freerepublic.com

    Them “conservatives” likes they “sexy cartoon characters”.

    Must be the Palin influence. She is a cartoon character. Of sorts. That is not cool.

  • http://waggtoonsandotherstuff.blogspot.com/ Joey Waggoner

    2000s was an average decade for animation for every good thing that happened there was a bad thing that happened, but this deade was still full of great cartoons.

    In terms of Television it was a bad time, Saturday morning line ups started to fade out one by one, more programing based on video games and Movies were being made, and lets not forget what happened to the cable cahnnels. First off Disney channel starting making less and less cartoons, Nickelodeon started making more cartoons based on pr-existing properties and less on original ideals, and Cartoon Network… well we all know what happened to Cartoon Network.

    Here are my favorite animated series from this decade (Not including the one’s that debuted in the 90′s):

    Phineas and Ferb
    Invader Zim
    Fairly Odd Parents
    Teenage Mutant Niga Turtles
    Adventures of Jimmy Neutron
    Danny Phantom
    The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy
    What’s new Scooby Doo
    Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends
    Chowder

    In terms of Movies it was a good decade, though still with it’s faults. For every “Finding Nemo” there was a bunch of “Monsters vs. Aliens”. This decade also had some revelations for the animated movie, such as it’s own Academy Award and The return of traditional Animation.

    Here’s my favorite films of the decade:

    Monsters Inc.
    Ratatouille
    Wall-e
    Kung fu Panda
    Mickey Donald and Goofy: The Three musketeers (I know it’s a DTV, but it’s still a movie)
    Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
    The Simpsons Movie
    The Cat Returns
    Ice Age 1 and 2

  • Dock Miles

    Oops — I see I blundered and accidentally erased …

    Samurai Jack (a cartoon so visually potent it could get by almost without words — worthy of the four Emmys)

  • Dave G

    Thank God no one ever did an animated version of Green Acres.

  • http://tonystoons.blogspot.com Tony Claar

    The best animated TV show of the past 10 years: None

  • http://toiletpuck.blogspot.com/ Zee

    I think the 2000s was the best decade of animation in my lifetime.
    Samurai Jack, Power Puff Girls, Avatar, Sponge Bob, Flap Jack, Venture Bros, Sponge Bob, South Park, Family Guy, Futurama, My Gym Partner’s A Monkey.

    I was born in 1969. The 70′s was mostly reruns of Looney Toons made decades earlier. Plus the odd Hanna Barbara shows, which I never liked much. They were cheap. The 80′s was simply the worse decade of animation ever. The 90′s turned things around for the better with Batman, Ren & Stimpy, the Simpsons.

    As much as we bitch about some of the horrible shows, there have been more good shows this decade than there were the previous 3 decades. We tend to be blinded by nostalgia, but if you can try to be objective, we get better cartoons, with more variety these days than when I was a kid.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    Here is another vote for Foster’s. As for the rest I’m not sure. Pocoyo is good for its audience (mainly little kids). Chowder and Flapjack are ok, but not great.

    Clone High was fantastic even though pretty few people noticed it.

  • http://iggyk.blogspot.com Michael

    I’m a 90s kid and didn’t get cable until I was 13. I loved it, grew up with Animaniacs, Freakazoid, the whole Kids WB and One Saturday Morning lineup, as well as PBS shows like Arthur and Sagwa and Fox’s epic lineup on Sunday Night, and even the Fox Box had good cartoons.

    Looking back at this decade I thought it was my bias complaining on the lackluster animation that’s come to tv. Great to hear I wasn’t that prejudice.

    I do agree with the sentiment. I adore Fosters and Avatar, think Chowder is pretty good, and after seeing Samurai Jack recently, I also liked it. No one mentioned it, but…I thought The Weekenders was one of the better programs in 2000. Fillmore! was also good while it lasted.

    Dunno, I hope we start seeing better toons on tv, but looks like most of the talent would rather make movies. Don’t blame them, tv won’t pay those student loans.

  • Grayson

    I can’t say that I have much love for TV animation of any period and only a few(The Simpsons,Jay Ward, John Kricfalusi) do I even enjoy and think of as part of the art form I so much love and cheerish. Innovation, creativity, and true character animation are rare gems in TV animation and even the industry today. I hope by the time I become part of the industry in a few years opportunities for what I consider great animation are out there for me to be a part of.

  • http://ukracattack.blogspot.com RacattackForce

    Well, I’ll have to say a few. Keeping to the stateside series that premiered in this decade, I’ll have to say “The Secret Saturdays” and “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack”. TSS is a wonderful homage to 60s action series, while still manging to have a serious (and even dark) plot that gets better and better with each episode. The show is incredibly underrated, so its current season may very well be the show’s last.

    As for Flapjack, the delightful mix of traditional and stop-motion animation makes for a visual feast. Combine that with writing which deliberately makes you uneasy or just misleads you until you finally see that punchline, and you got an amazing series.

    I would have mentioned “Chowder”, but I feel that the show just went plain downhill after the first 20 episodes, with these following 29 being very hit-or-miss.

  • Nick

    The PJ’s was a nice moment for television animation. Even if you didn’t get into the show’s subject… the fact that it employed so many talented animators and artists makes it a special show for the decade. It was a big moment for Stop Motion animation.

    (It started in 1999 but went into 2000 and 2001)

  • your_homework

    I see FLCL as the greatest artistic achievement in the past ten years. The Venture Brothers has the best writing and decent animation, so I’d place them as the best American show.

    I think animated shows have more or less peaked for the decade rather early, which is why looking back on this decade may make it seem less than it actually was. Ultimately, the decade had some stellar shows. I can’t even think of ten decent shows from the 90′s.

    Animated feature films was really where the magic happened. This decade has been one of the best for that genre.

  • Emily

    Personally, I’ve really enjoyed The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and The Venture Brothers. I have high hopes for Adventure Time…

  • top cat james

    Can’t believe everyone’s forgotten “Teacher’s Pet”.

  • http://blissfulignorance551.deviantart.com/ A.J.

    Ummm I believe i would have to say
    Ren & Stimpy adult party cartoon
    The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack
    The Penguins of Madagascar
    The Venture Brothers

    and a few more perhaps?
    And Your_Homework, I couldn’t agree less with you, The 90′s was the best decade for television animation since the 50′s and 60′s
    and most features suck nowadays
    Then again My Opinion

  • Rio

    I think a better way to measure cartoons is considering the decade they came into their own. Who can argue against Simpsons shaping the ’90′s and Spongebob shaping the 2000′s?

    The show The Simpsons is not an ’80′s cartoon. Spongebob didn’t catch on for several seasons. Spongebob is clearly a 2000′s cartoon.

  • Ricky G

    I’ve read through all the comments and it seems that no one is addressing the real issue as to why there was better TV toons in the 90′s than in the 00′s, and only a few people have even mentioned it amongst their lists of shows they liked, which in some cases proves even more how important this is: story. You wonder why Pixar is the king of animated features right now…well they won’t tell you any different. Their motto is “Story is King”. I believe there has been decline in the quality of stories, with only a few good ones that somehow made it through.

    You can say all you want how good the animation is in a show, but that doesn’t make it a good show. The animation could be crap, but if it has good writing, people will love it. That’s why the Simpsons has survived so long. If you truly look at the animation, you’d realize it is nothing short of mediocre. But right from the beginning, what gives the show it’s success is the content. After the writing and story is successful, then the charm, style, characters, and animation can be put on top.

    South Park is another good example. Their is barely any animation at all, only enough to tell the story. But their stories are good. Underneath all the fart jokes, potty humor, death, and racism (religiousism?) is a story, which tells a message, which in a lot of cases is a good message.

    The problem with the 00′s is that there is hardly any good, lasting stories. And I don’t mean long-winded, I mean stories that last. Sure, the jokes might be funny, but besides that, do you even remember what the episode was about? I think Family Guy is devoid of story and simply relies of shock value (which some people have mentioned) to win over it’s audience. Even I, who does not think it is a good show, still watch it from time to time, just to laugh at their jokes; it’s like watching a stand-up comedian.

    The second most important thing (in my humble opinion) is Character. Character’s are what drive the story and make it original. They are also what connects the story to the viewer. If you can’t make a connection with the audience, then even a good story falls dead. I think the best example of this is “The Office” (not entirely out of context, even though it is a live-action show). There is good writing in “The Office”, and Steve Carrell is a really funny guy, but his character has virtually nothing redeeming about him at all. He is, plain and simple, a jerk. In order to make up for being a jerk, he becomes a bigger jerk. There is no way that I could have sympathy or empathy for him; there is nothing for me to connect with. And so the story is of little interest to me when I can’t stand watching him be a jerk.

    It is not my intention to instruct on any level, or to belittle anyone, or any industry. I simply wanted to bring up the underlying issue. I am myself am student of animation, but that reinforces the fact that I need to know how important story is. Without it, animation is just moving pictures.

    In my opinion, the greatest written animated shows of the 00′s were –

    Avatar: The Last Airbender
    Samurai Jack
    Gendy’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars

  • Ricky G

    I’d like to bring up another example from one of the commentors, RacattackForce.

    RacattackForce – “I would have mentioned “Chowder”, but I feel that the show just went plain downhill after the first 20 episodes, with these following 29 being very hit-or-miss.”

    The animation is exactly the same in every episode. The reason it went downhill was the writing.

  • http://www.sweetposer.tk/urbmn/ Cameron A.

    Rather than highlight what everyone else is highlighting, I’d like to throw Harold Rosenbaum, Chartered Accountant Extreme into the ring. That’d be my pick for best Canadian achievement, easily the best thing to come out of Nelvana’s Funpak. Yeah, I’d rate that ahead of Clone High.

    I would also include Dilbert as one of my favourites, even though more than half of the show debuted in 1999. Bland animation, but good writing. UPN really mishandled the show in its second season.

  • julian

    saying this for years .thanks for wrting it down.

  • Andy

    No love for “Teacher’s Pet”? Geez, all this talk about shows lacking great design and voicework – this had Gary Baseman and Nathan Lane for starters. Granted, I did not watch it religiously but the ones that I did were very well written and animated. I always liked “Kim Possible” – another show with great designs and (literally) stellar voice-work. That one had a big enough fan base to bring it back for a fourth season on Disney Channel, which is unheard of nowadays. At least I can’t think of any other 00′s show that did that. “Family Guy” doesn’t count – it returned due to the success of repeats and DVD sales.

  • Mike Russo

    Hmm…while Spongebob, Family Guy, Futurama and Ed, Edd and Eddy all premiered in 1999, the majority of their lifetime (and the height of their success) were in the 2000s.

  • Ken

    Don’t forget Kim Possible! This show was witty, family friendly, well-animated, and contained the most memorable Disney TV animation characters since their very own Duck Tales or Gargoyles! This could have been a cultural phenomenon extending into the 2010s, if only Disney didn’t pull the plug on it… Just could the number of fan sites on the internet as we speak!

  • Dock Miles

    “Can’t believe everyone’s forgotten ‘Teacher’s Pet’”

    Oh, well — it happens. I’d throw that into my list to make it an even 10. Just as a phenomenon — Artist Most Unlikely To Get a Disney Animation Ever.

  • TheGunheart

    Amid, FLCL is a direct to video series that was merely aired on TV in the U.S.. From what I’ve researched, it was partly an experiment to see what would happen if you jammed 26 episodes worth of TV animation budget into just six episodes.

    Now, Gurren Lagann, also by GAINAX, is pretty much FLCL’s spiritual sequel, and it’s a straight up TV animation.

  • Ricky G

    @ Ken

    I’ve watched the show and I can only name two of the characters without looking them up: Kim and Ron.

  • Erik

    @ Cameron A.

    “Harold Rosenbaum, Chartered Accountant Extreme” is really funny! They are making fun of the old detective cartoons, and making fun of themselves at the same time! pt.2 has some really good jokes in it, like when he falls out the window in pt.1 and in the recap it’s one of the thugs, and then the boy addresses the fact it wasn’t Harold, and then they deliberately change the color of the boys clothes for one shot and then back again! and then when you see the “Evil X” on the screen, for 1 frame they reveal who he is!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oT2f7oEdeX8&feature=related

    must watch!

  • http://www.daganm.blogspot.com Dagan

    Samurai Jack, Fosters, SuperJail

    I also liked ‘Robot Jones’ a lot. I thought
    they were really successful in embodying that whole
    70′s commercial animation aesthetic ie. School-House Rock,
    which I looooooove. I guess most people didn’t care for it, though?

    I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll be adding Adventure Time to
    our lists, as well. (Is it out YET ?!?!?)

  • http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/mjf7583 Michael F.

    Count me in among the Robot Jones fans too. In addition to the animation being great the early-1980s feel of the show was fun.

    My favorites from the decade are Invader Zim (not afraid to be dark), Robot Chicken (i have laughed out loud way too many times), Ed Edd n Eddy (surprisingly inspired), Futurama (apparently Matt Groening was focusing more on this in the 2000s than the Simpsons), Harvey Birdman… (although the first few seasons were its best the show was still pretty well developed), ….Robot Jones (see above), pre-cancellation Family Guy (willing to be challenging)

    Least favorites: most other Adult Swim programs (too much of a fratboy theme), post-cancellation Family Guy (there’s a reason why many of the best shows out there are short-lived ones)

    Also, Wonder Showzen does not count but it would belong on my least favorites list; it focused less on entertainment and more on shock and art if anything.

  • Cyber Fox

    The problem with TV Animation in the 2000s is that most of it has adult humor, uses pop culture humor and political humor way too constantly that it will make said cartoon irrelevent for years to come, unlikeable characters and often times have a liberal agenda like Family Guy plus there are remakes that are so bad that they alienate the fans of the original series (or the interation they rememeber/charish so dearly) like Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-Lot, Gerald Mc Boing Boing, Baby Looney Tunes and Loonatics Unleashed

    but, if have to pick….
    Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi
    The Mr. Men Show
    My Friend Rabbit
    Chowder
    Busytown Mysteries (Hurray For Huckle)
    Usavich (i bet it doesn’t count due to MTV didn’t bring it stateside)
    Samurai Jack
    Teacher’s Pet
    Ed, Edd and Eddy
    The Penguins of Madagascar
    Camp Lazlo

  • Ad

    Jeez it’s almost the end of the 00′s already, mainstream animation really did suck this decade , all of the good stuff was made by animators at home in their spare time.

  • http://weirdurl.com Zekey

    I think Totally Spies, Loonatics, and Destroy Build Destroy are the best cartoon shows I’ve seen on tv.

    I have recorded each episode and will show them to my children one day.

    :)

  • Cody

    the boondocks is a fantastic show, too bad it takes FOREVER for them to make a season.

  • Happy Chrissy

    sheep in the big city, not a big hit, but it was a great show

  • matt

    the past decade may seem mediocre looking back at it now from the point of the people who were kids back in the 90′s.. it’s hard to not be influenced by nostalgia. but if you do compare the quality of animation produced in this decade served up on screen to those done in the 90′s.. i would say there really isn’t much to be sad about.
    yes there were way too many western TV shows trying to copy Tatarovsky’s style with thick black lines and i was never a fan of that style. but apart from that it’s not that bad…
    and let’s not conclude this decade without looking across to the other side of the pacific! the decline of the western TV animation also has a lot to do with the rise of quality animes that came out of the east and what they offered up to the world in this decade has been nothing short of f#cking amazing. in fact the best western TV animation to come out in this decade – Avatar: The Last Air Bender, is in truth a westernized anime. that alone should be a testament to the cultural influences the eastern animation has gained over this decade. so in conclusion just take all the footage of animation produced in this decade and compare it to those produced in the past decade, you’ll definitely see that this decade contain better quality animation and is also larger in volume.. so yes i would say this decade has been better than the last. but of cos that’s just me..

  • Jeffrey McAndrew

    My vote is for the animated version of Aaron McGruder’s “Boondocks” comic.

    Honorable Mentions include Invader Zim, Teen Titans, Venture Bros., Aqua Teen Hunger Force, American Dad, and Stripperella.

    I really wanted to nominate Dilbert, but it started in 1999.

    My vote for the worst animated series is “Brandy and Mr. Whiskers”.

    Dishonorable Mentions include most of the animated series done for preschoolers like Handy Manny and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. There have been a lot of christian animated programs like the 3-2-1 Penguins! that have also been pretty horrible. I havn’t seen everything of course, but this list could go on for quite some time.

  • Jeffrey McAndrew

    I completely forgot to mention Teacher’s Pet and Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law as both excellent shows. I especially liked the Teacher’s Pet movie. Clerks the animated series was pretty cool as well. I want to nominate Stephen Silver as being the best character designer for TV animation this past decade.

    Edd, Ed, N’ Eddy, Futurama, Spongebob, The PJs, Fairly Oddparents and a bunch of others that people are mentioning here are shows that started in the late 90′s even though they lasted into the 2000′s.

  • Jeffrey McAndrew

    Damn! I can’t believe I forgot Drawn Together as well. This had great writing, animation, character designs, everything! I had heard about a possible DVD movie in the works, kind of what Futurama is doing now.

  • http://atomcloudanimation.com Adam

    best cartoons of the last 10 years on TV:

    Simpsons
    Family Guy
    American Dad
    Drawn Together
    Boondocks
    Samurai Jack
    The Clone Wars (the 2d one, not the ass-3d one)

    It’s difficult to have a long list because I’m kind of with Ad’s comment about people making better animations at home in their spare time. The independent scene has sparked more of my interest this decade than most all of everything that has commercials in-between. Good animation that is timeless takes time to do. I could be wrong saying this, but I don’t feel that animation in these last 10 years….maybe even the last 20 years pushes to better memories. We can make them faster, and food is more important than beauty….or is it?

  • Mac

    Yeah, the 90′s was the better than the 00′s as far as American T.V cartoons go. Honestly, a lot of the ones people are listing here as ‘good’ I don’t care for at all. I especially enjoyed Futurama which would be my pick of the best (only the early episodes are from the 90′s). Invader Zim was good. Sponge Bob was good. A guilty pleasure would be House of Mouse which, despite its faults, I enjoyed way more than most shows listed here (again this kinda started in the late 90′s with Mouse Works). Aardman (which being British falls under the foreign category) did some good stuff with Creature Comforts and Shaun the Sheep (and more recently the charming pre-school show Timmy Time). I suppose people could complain that these were all based on things that existed before instead of being something brand new.

    I think it’s been an excellent decade for theatrical animation, however. Also this decade has seen the rise of the internet cartoon.

  • http://debbiessketchbook.blogspot.com/ Debbie

    I quite enjoyed the WB series, “Tom and Jerry Tales”. While the stores themselves are a mixed bag, the show itself was fun to look at, a nice break from the many ultra-flat looking cartoons out there.

  • Chuck Howell

    I agree with many of the picks here – Samurai Jack, Foster’s Home, Kim Possible et al – at least it’s not the wasteland of the 80′s, where an oasis like Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures and the stop motion pieces on Pee Wee’s Playhouse were all we had!

    I do want to give a shout out to one show I haven’t seen mentioned, probably because Nicktoons hasn’t done right by it promotion-wise. that would be Amy Winfrey’s MAKING FIENDS. She, character designer Aglaia Mortcheva and Amy’s husband Peter Merryman do all the voices. Perhaps significantly, they are all South Park veterans. My daughters and I discovered this show almost by accident, and now we all go around the house giving orders to each other in an abrupt easter European accent, trying to sound like Vendetta. NO SINGING!

  • Kate

    I’ve also got to say 90s American TV animation delivered a lot more than the 00s, but these were a few gems:

    The Venture Bros
    The Boondocks
    Phineas and Ferb
    Avatar: The Last Airbender
    Futurama
    Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends
    Family Guy
    American Dad
    Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
    Invader Zim
    Samurai Jack
    Sealab 2021
    Robot Chicken

    I think extra props needs to be given to Adult Swim for branching out to bring us animated shows for adults, very different styles and animation than we’ve seen on other channels, bringing more anime series to American audiences, giving show creators a lot of freedom to work (I’m just going by what I’ve read, I could be wrong) and taking big risks that have obviously paid off. Here’s hoping we’ll get to see more from them.

  • Kate

    Oh, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Ugh, I’m forgetting so many others.

  • Vincent Alexander

    Just to throw my name in here, I’m going to throw my vote in for Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, The Fairly Oddparents, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Chowder. All fantastic shows with great visuals, likeable characters and laugh-out-loud humor.

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com FloydBishop

    This discussion highlights the need for the internet to grow up a bit more and take over as the new animation distribution method. If we wait for execs at traditional media outlets to approve the animation we want to see, we’ll never see it.

    If you see an online cartoon that you like, support the art and the artist if you can. Click on banner ads, buy a copy of a DVD, or just spread the word about a cool animation you like.

  • troy joseph reyes

    great idea floyd! iam all for it! let the next generation of animated be on the internet! the networks have had their run of tyranny! lets all assemble and get our ideas out there, all we have to loose is our corporate sponsorship, who dont get it anyway! it is after the 21st century, why are we 10 years into a new century, still doing things the 20th century way?

  • EB

    My votes:

    American animation – a mediocre decade with some standouts -

    Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends
    Futurama
    American Dad
    Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law (great reimagining of 70s animation)
    Chowder
    Avatar (I understand why this was a hit, though it never really connected for me)

    Movies? Pixar et al – this has been a brilliant decade for American animated movies!

    Japan – this has been a simply remarkable decade for Japanese animation. Much of what is produced is still garbage, but there have been some utterly brilliant things as well (FLCL, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and on and on).

  • IncredibleJeff

    I thought the 2000′s were OK compared to the 90′s.It had some good shows.My favorite 10 in no particular order are:Boondocks,The Mighty B,Foster’s Home for Imaginary friends,3 South,Justice League,The Oblongs,Samurai Jack,Wolverine and the X-men,Happy tree friends,and The Weekenders.The next decade looks sort of promising.Adventure time looks like it should be fun.I think the future of animation is on the Internet.There is so much good stuff online.

  • http://super-macho.com Jorge R. Gutierrez

    I thought El Tigre was pretty good :)

  • purin

    Don’t forget the rise of Flash-type animation. Originally it was just on the internet and maybe shows like South Park and Blue’s Clues, but now most cartoons out there are animated this way.

    I believe Teen Titans was canceled due to a WB policy that cartoons cannot run longer than 5 seasons. If true, I think that reflects something wrong with the industry.

    And Avatar! I think Avatar is incredibly significant in that it’s not at all episodic. How many American cartoons have such a linear progression of episodes? Even shows that express some passage of time generally can still be watched out of order.

  • Charles

    Things are often a lot more pinpointed and targeted at small audiences now. There’s no way something like Venture Bros. or Superjail, my two favorite shows from the 00′s, could have happened in the 90′s. They don’t have huge audiences yet they’re able to survive.

    It is a shame that the 00′s haven’t had a huge cultural phenomenon cartoon (if 1999 shows like Family Guy and Spongebob don’t count), but I think it’s a change in TV in general. I don’t really see a Seinfeld or Cheers of the 00′s either.

  • Anna

    the 2000s to me represent a decade when 90s HITS started failing (The Simpsons, I’m looking at you, or things like X-Men and Batman franchises), but a lot of shiny new amazing shows came to be (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Harvey Birdman, almost everything in the Adult Swim blocks, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Danny Phantom & Fairy Oddparents…)

    sadly, 2000s also came back with a vengeance in the “hey you gaiz! We was popular so lets keep cashing in on this!” category. Shows stopped having plots and were nothing by social commentary flashes, celebrity jokes and long-winded pats on the backs “we’re so clever!” moments. The Simpsons, still looking at you! Family Guy after-cancellation, Seth MacFarlane sunday-night takeover

  • RealityCheck

    Hahahaha. Classic. You guys are proof to me that it’s not only the executives with terrible taste. Terrible stuff gets made partly because there’s people who just love bad stuff and so they make it. I mean, wow. phineas and pherb? Fairly odd parents? Total Drama island? as proof of GOOD stuff being made? Not surprising i guess, given how many of you are excited about Frog Princess.

  • http://bakertoons.blogspot.com/ Charles Brubaker

    “You guys are proof to me that it’s not only the executives with terrible taste.”

    So, just because you have a differing opinion on what constitutes a “good” cartoon that we automatically have bad taste?

    Classy.

  • mickhyperion

    I would think for a cartoon to be considered truly outstanding, it would need to transcend genre barriers as well as age barriers. Truly memorable characters like Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Yogi Bear, Pink Panther, Homer Simpson, Cartman, Spongebob, etc. have done that. 80 year olds know who The Simpsons are and so do 5 year olds, as does every age group in between. How many cartoons in the past decade have brought us characters who can live up to that criteria? Certainly a few at least, but which ones are they? Is it just a question of quality or is a big part of the equation really about exposure?

  • http://www.sofoca.cl Andrés Sanhueza

    Does Gorillaz count as ‘from 2000′?

  • http://yeldarb86.deviantart.com Mr. Semaj

    TV Animation, particularly in the past three years have been at a standstill. Most of the decent stuff this decade came either from the first half, or were carried over from the 90′s.

    Some of the former includes:

    -The Simpsons
    -Family Guy
    -Daria
    -Futurama
    -The PJ’s
    -Celebrity Deathmatch
    -SpongeBob SquarePants
    -South Park
    -The Fairly OddParents
    -Powerpuff Girls

    Some of the latter includes:

    -Downtown
    -Clone High
    -Drawn Together
    -Kim Possible
    -Danny Phantom
    -Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends

    Just a few good cartoons from the past four years I’m thinking of:

    -Camp Lazlo
    -Phineas & Ferb
    -Chowder
    -American Dad
    -Robot Chicken

    Sadly, most TV cartoons today consist of shows that wore out their welcome ages ago, retreads of previous series, shallow copies of other shows, or shows that only lasted a couple years and are hardly around anymore.

    A far cry from the fountain of inspiration from the 1990′s.

  • Bruce

    Why-why-why do people say Xavier: Renegade Angel?

    I swear I’ve never seen an uglier looking show.

  • Lucky Jim

    “Why-why-why do people say Xavier: Renegade Angel?”

    “Xavier” is pretty much an impossible show to describe. You’re either in tune to the show’s frightening yet hilarious metaphysical weirdness or find it completely worthless. It’s probably the single most bizarre thing to have ever aired on television, which is something of an accomplishment.

    As for the animation, the creators think bad CG is hilarious.

  • http://artofguy.deviantart.com Guy

    I can’t see how anybody can like anything made in this decade. Well, I can with regular people, (though only kids and really, really tasteless adults) but not with an animation website.

    I just can’t call something great because it goes off-model once in a while and makes me laugh a couple times. (And they don’t even manage to make me laugh that much.)

    Not to mention that everything looks really lousy.

  • Almightygosh

    “Sadly, most TV cartoons today consist of shows that wore out their welcome ages ago, retreads of previous series, shallow copies of other shows, or shows that only lasted a couple years and are hardly around anymore.”

    90′s: Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, Freakazoid (ripoff of Mike Allred’s Madman). This is how the past was honored in the 90′s. Not to mention limitless amounts of stuff like “Die Hard 2: The Series”.

    In the 2000′s: Robot Chicken, Titan Maximus, Venture Bros, Harvey Birdman. Homages which, unlike the old stuff, have wit, verve and style.

    There have been three stop motion cartoons for adults, with another one in the pipeline in this decade alone. One of the cartoons mocked the far right on a weekly basis and had Dino Statomapoulis and Scott Asdit writing. Hardly barren.

    The real regret is Sunday on Fox. MacFarlane has his fans, but is three shows really necessary?

    In this decade a lot of comedians made honest forays into animation. Dino Stamopoulis, Jerry Seinfeld, Mitch Hurwitz, Seth Green, and pretty soon, Jaimee Foxx and Andy Dick (on an Augenblick toon no less!) Animation is going to come out of its shell next decade and have an even more diverse array of styles.

    I think, compared to last decade, this has also been the first decade where the original visions weren’t overtly influenced by stuff from 60-40 years ago. Its moving forward, at least from the audience’s perspective. In 50 years, nostalgia people will be rubbing their chins, clamoring for the days of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Love or hate that show, it is using its visuals to enhance its bizzare jokes.

  • Viridis

    I’ve definitely noticed a decline in quality animation shows– I have two younger sisters, and the crap that they watch after school, whether animated or not, just doesn’t compare. As you said, it’s all Spongebob and no creativity.

    Some of my favorites from the last few years:

    Avatar the Last Airbender – Probably the most epic cartoon on US TV in a long time. This show gives me hope for the future of cartoons. Fantastic storyline, fantastic animation, excellent depth that went well beyond its target audience

    Danny Phantom – Very clever in its parodies of other “action” shows, and very cute, if a little episodic. And I quite like the blocky animation style, too. I though it was made in the early 00′s but I could be wrong; I only just learned about the series myself.

    Batman Beyond – I do remember really enjoying the storylines on this, but it’s been years since I saw it.

    Those would probably be my top 3 picks: I don’t really enjoy “adult” cartoons like Family Guy, they always seem too crude. And honestly, most of the better animated shows I watch nowadays are anime. I do think that’s a consideration, honestly– what is the precise connection between the ending of 90′s awesome cartoons, and the rise of anime? I’d be willing to bet that Japan’s products became so popular because people were looking for the more interesting plots and characters that cartoons no longer had/have.

  • Jason

    “I would think for a cartoon to be considered truly outstanding, it would need to transcend genre barriers as well as age barriers. Truly memorable characters like Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Yogi Bear, Pink Panther,” *snip*

    The Pink Panther is barely a character, actually. He has no voice and no personality. CN’s been running the old Panther theatrical shorts and TV episodes lately, and it’s painfully obvious that in them, the Panther is just a plug-into-any-situation type; his real appeal is nowhere to be found. By stark contrast, in the original opening credits of the very first film, he’s terrific. He may be silent, but he’s loaded with personality thanks to his slinky, mischievous movement (he’s on all fours most of the time, and is all the more charming for it), plus his unusual color is quite vivid (he’s even outlined in pink, whereas the shorts fall back on bland black), and he’s partly klutzy and accident prone. In my opinion, the Panther should have stayed in the jungle and been regarded with superstition by the natives and as a target with hunters, with occasional high-concept outings like the short where he’s locked in a battle with a human over whether to paint everything blue or pink. As it is, he’s kind of a high-concept cipher.

  • http://web.me.com/chrisstulz/ C. Stulz

    I’m surprised more people didn’t mention Robot Chicken!

    Best animated shows of the decade:
    Robot Chicken
    Gendy’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars
    Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
    Family Guy
    Futurama

  • http://artofguy.deviantart.com Guy

    So, just because you have a differing opinion on what constitutes a “good” cartoon that we automatically have bad taste?

    Classy.”

    No, if you have bad taste you have bad taste.

    Phineas and Ferb? Total Drama Island? How much worse can it possibly get? Squares bouncing around the screen extremely fast while everything flashes epileptic colors and a voice screams insults at you?

    No, that’d be about as bad.

  • Chet

    I just want to put in a plug for Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks, since no one else has mentioned it.

  • Shad

    Thanks for mentioning Yo Gabba Gabba!, the animated segments on that show get overlooked as it’s a preschool show but are killer. There are a ton of amazing guest artists who design/direct their own music videos and shorts.

  • Gijs Grob

    I really think Fairly Odd Parents is underrated. I love its own universe, its nonsensical humour and its sense of timing. El Tigre is also a favorite of mine, especially because of its beautiful designs. I also enjoyed The X’s.

    From Europe come interesting and beautifully designed animation series for children like Kika & Bob (Belgium), Matt’s Monsters (France) and A Kind of Magic (Spain).

    FLCL is an entirely different matter. Because it has only six episodes I consider it a different thing from ordinary television series. But it is definitely a highlight in 2000s television animation.

  • Eris

    Why hasn’t anyone But Kate & EB mentioned Harvey Birdman; Attorney at Law? That show was hilarious! I still can’t watch an episode without cracking up.

    Also, I must agree with first mention going to Invader Zim. That show had a rare genius, combined with a great appreciation for the absurd. So good!

  • Invader Zim

    This human may live…to serve me.

  • Sylvain

    Futurama was extremely great, no wonder the monkeys cancelled it. I haven’t seen many great shows ever since. Except Robot Chicken which has been a guilty pleasure.

  • http://kirbydream.com/ Leirin

    While the number of good animated cartoons these days has depleted, it still has its rare gems:

    -Fairly OddParents
    -My Life as a Teenage Robot (even if you hate the story archs, the style is brilliant)
    -Chowder
    -Flapjack (just like MLaaTR, the style makes up for some of the weaker episodes)
    -Danny Phantom
    -Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends
    -Phineas and Ferb
    -Kim Possible
    -House of Mouse

    And of course, when just talking about animation as a whole, we have Pixar’s movies. I myself think Pixar is starting another Golden Age of American Animation all on their own, and I’m glad to see that their wonderful work has motivated some other artists out there. Really, we could start a second Golden Age ‘ere…

  • Max Morris

    *ahem*

    Mindgame and Kaiba must be seen by all, Masaki Yuusa is a genius. Ghost Hound, which has yet to get a real American release as well, was amazing. Paprika, and pretty much anything else Kon put his hand to was brilliant as well. Damn good decade for Japan if you ask me.

    As for Adult Swim and Cartoon Network, a lot has already been mentioned I think 12oz Mouse was pretty amazing stuff. Courage The Cowardly Dog began in 1999, but the meat of the series was this decade, and I am still amazed that it even existed.

  • http://www.twitter.com/BewareOfDoom Sophia

    Invader Zim was my favorite cartoon of this entire era. (I say this while sporting my G.I.R t-shirt and quite stylish “DOOM!” bracelets.)

  • Jason

    “The Fairly Odd Parents” was a show I liked once, until it totally all changed and the characters got obnoxious, especially Cosmo. And everybody shouts on that show. I can’t even *listen* to it anymore.

  • Wicabeth

    I often have conversations with my boss about the animation nowadays compared to the real break out shows of 90s and how you really don’t seen them anymore. Yes, there are the rare gems that will pleasantly surprise you.

    Invader Zim is definitely a wonderful mention for the dark comedy it had. It would even poke fun at its own absurdity from time to time (“Why was there ham in my pocket?”)

    Other honorable mentions (for me) include Venture Brothers, Flapjack, Samurai Jack, Fosters, Danny Phantom, Fairly Oddparents, Chowder, Drawn Together, and Robot Chicken

    I also enjoyed the first half of Sealab 2021. At the time, you did not see much of, what I dubbed, ‘recycled and reused’ animation as the characters were from the original Sealab cartoon. I know it is similar to The Brak Show and Space Ghost C2C in that aspect at least. I wasn’t that overly impressed with The Brak Show (I enjoyed it well enough) and I think Space Ghost came out in 99ish? Though I may be thinking of Cartoon Planet.

  • http://aspiranteacineasta.blogspot.com Kike Sosa

    I would have to agree on pretty much everything on your list, specially on “Invader Zim”, “Samurai Jack” and “Avatar”, those were definitely some of the highlights of American TV animation…though I also think “Teen Titans” should be recognized…and I think Genndy Tartakovsky’s “Clone Wars” miniseries is worthy of this list as well…

  • Johnny C.

    I honestly miss Invader Zim. Nickelodeon was an ass when it gave up on IZ. I’m pretty sure it had almost nothing to do with the ratings, because I watched it every day. There were rumours of the ‘Bloody Gir’, (The ones actually ‘hidden’ in the episodes, not GIR covered in ‘pizza sauce’) which I honestly believe is a hoax, that supposedly brought it down.

    Samurai Jack was good too. I’m going to have to look that up to find the seasons. It was never officially canceled, though. Rumors are that there’s going to be a movie…. heheh.

  • S.G.R.

    Invader Zim. Oh, yes. I mean even to this day, fans keep coming! And that’s a plus considering that the show was canceled.
    It lives on, boys and girls. You’re doing a very good job in that department.

  • jayfest

    One of my favorites right now is SuperNews on Current TV (and current.com). It’s been around for a couple of years now.

  • http://blissfulignorance551.deviantart.com/ A.J.

    My oh my. I forgot a show i veiwed religiously as a youngster in the earlier years of this dreaded decade…Teachers Pet :D
    I would come home from school, tune in to Toon Disney and fall in love with what i saw. A more than simple writing style, An invigorating visual style derived from the epic Gary Baseman, and Nathan Bloody Lane! That alone screams animated epicness :D

  • http://blissfulignorance551.deviantart.com/ A.J.

    Oops, i also need to memtion this… alot of you are refusing to list some of you Choices becuase they premiered in the 90′s. I think as long as MOST of the show’s duration, mainstream popularity, or good quality included this decade, it should be allowed :P
    If this counts. i’d like to say that
    South park (which premiered in the late 90′s)
    and Recess (same deal)
    were two shows that were still GREAT in the 2000′s.

  • Darwin

    Agreed. Too many great shows of the decade to mention! Lifeboat luke was a great little show too. Short but funny!

  • http://johnpannozzi.blogspot.com John Pannozzi

    While the ’90s were indeed a special time for animation, and no American TV cartoon this past decade really has set the world (at least to the degree of Simpsons, SpongeBob, etc.), I wouldn’t say that this decade has dropped in quality that much compared to the last one. I’d say the ratio of good shows to not-so good shows isn’t really all that different from the ’90s. People all too easily forget that all TV cartoons didn’t instantly become masterpieces when the Simpsons and Ren & Stimpy started. There were tons of lousy cartoons in the 1990s, like Captain Planet, and does anyone else but me remember the cartoon with the flying piano named Dudley? Didn’t think so. For every winner cartoon from Nick, CN, Disney or WB there were at least a small handful of half-baked pap from companies like Dic. It is true that the lack of variety on CN, Nick and the Disney Channel nowadays is depressing, but all of these channels still have at least 1-4 shows worth watching. As for shows from the 00′s I like? Most of the big names have already been dropped, so I’ll mention some more overlooked (at least around these parts) shows:
    The 4Kids revamp of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles managed to stay quite loyal to the original independent comic books (which are far superior to pretty much every other incarnation of the Turtles), while adding some fresh material. I also must give props to the works of Gargoyles co-creator Greg Weisman, who I have considerable loyalty to. I even like the second season of W.I.T.C.H. he story edited. And of course, the Spectacular Spider-Man has proven to be maybe the most beloved comic book superhero animated series outside of Bruce Timm’s DC Comics shows.

  • http://johnpannozzi.blogspot.com John Pannozzi

    Also, I want to add that shows like Chowder and Flapjack are like Rocko’s Modern Life to SpongeBob’s Ren & Stimpy. Chowder and Flapjack are nowhere near as popular as SpongeBob, and have even been seen by some as rip-offs of the Sponge, much like Rocko and Ren & Stimpy. But hey, Choweder and Flapjack do have respectable fanbases, much like Rocko, and consider the fact that both Ren & Stimpy and SpongeBob have been considered to have jumped the shark when their respective creators left them. And, hey, as weird as it may sound to some of you, I’ve encountered people online who prefer Rocko to Ren & Stimpy. So who knows how Chowder and Flapjack will stack up to SpongeBob in the long run, and especially among cartoon fans (specifically, the ones who feel SpongeBob jumped the shark).