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The best cartoons of all time

Sophomore George Frano compiles, and explains, the best eight cartoons in the universe.
George Frano
Pictured are the eight programs that made the list. Which one is your favorite?

Every now and then, people turn on some cable television and flip to their favorite childhood channel. As the channel changes to Nickelodeon and SpongeBob Squarepants, you are filled with nostalgia, reminiscing about those Saturday mornings eating cereal on the couch while watching TV. Everyone always had their hopes for what they wanted to put on TV that morning, and many conversations have been held regarding which childhood cartoons reign supreme.

In the ’80s, we had Voltron, Fraggle Rock, and The Simpsons; in the ’90s, we had Johnny Bravo, Rugrats, and Hey Arnold; in the ’00s, we had Operation: Kids Next Door, Samurai Jack, and Teen Titans. 

But when it comes down to it, there are some that truly stand the test of time.  Here is my inarguable of the best cartoons of all time.

8. The Amazing World of Gumball
Amazing World of Gumball show poster (Benjemin Boqelet)

Amazing World Of Gumball has a fantastic mix of all sorts of animation, and an interesting storyline. This show is one of the most popular shows to ever be produced by Cartoon Network, as it follows the Watterson family and their daily adventures. This program means more as I have gotten older and picked up on what the episodes are really about, such as moral lessons, how to treat others, and being happy with yourself.  It taught me lessons of acceptance and really showed how much parents do to help provide for their families. In addition to these important lessons, the show uses a unique mix of animation and real images included in the show. As many shows use one type of animation, it is interesting to see some of the characters not be animated.

This show is ranked number eight on my list due to it not having such a severe influence on my personality or development, however still is an amazing show that you can watch even into your older years.

7. Phineas and Ferb
Phineas and Ferb show poster (Dan Povermire)

Phineas and Ferb is one of the most influential shows that I have watched. Phineas and Ferb followed the stories of five friends, led by the two brothers Phineas and Ferb. The show follows their summer vacation and the adventures they get into. The two brothers spend every day crafting and building impressive structures, whether it be a roller coaster or a mind control device, all in their backyard. These depictions of building and crafting made many desire to also build and make things on their own. This show also had a very intriguing storyline: the daily adventures of Phineas, Ferb, and friends, but also on their pet platypus who was secretly a crime fighting super spy. Perry the Platypus and his adventures allowed for the show to talk about real world issues and emotions in a way that was still appealing to children. They did this through Perry, as his arch nemesis, who possessed all the problems that so many people go through every day, such as depression, a daughter who doesn’t love him, or anxiety. This show is ranked so high on the list due to its creative influence, intriguing storyline, and ability to talk about real world issues in a creative and understandable way.

6. Wild Krats
Wild Kratts show poster (Christopher Kratt, Martin Kratt)

Wild Kratts may be responsible for thousands of children’s interest in animals. The show, about two brothers and their team who help out animals who are in perilous situations by transforming into similar animals, this part of the show is what is appealing to viewers, as they are almost made into superheroes. Whether it be teaching the audience about the native Australian ecosystems, such as coral reefs or eucalyptus forests, or teaching about the battle between giant squid and sperm whales in the deep ocean, each episode involves an engaging storyline mixed with the perfect amount of education. The show gets kids thinking about the environment and the proper way to treat it. 

This show is ranked at six, due to the fact that it perfectly integrates real-world problems, such as global warming and de-habitation, while making the main characters, the Kratt brothers, almost look like superheroes as they save the day and are able to help the animals in need. 


5. Regular Show
Regular Show show poster (J. G. Quintel)

One of the most debated shows ever, Regular Show, has one of the best storylines in cartoons and possibly of all TV shows. Following the two main characters, Mordecai and Rigby, a bird and a raccoon, the show uses imaginary creatures as well– characters range from a talking gumball machine to a ghost to a raccoon. While the show doesn’t focus on real world problems as much as the others do, the show follows the main characters through their daily life working as groundskeepers for a park. The characters go through all types of challenges and episodic adventures, while simultaneously developing a series-wide storyline. That storyline continues to build and becomes the core feature into the last season. The build-up, many say, culminates in the best ending in all of cartoon history. This show is not solely meant for children, and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. 

It could be argued that this show ought to be ranked higher due to it’s amazing ending, but, it’s five here, nonetheless.

4. Gravity Falls
Gravity Falls show poster (Alex Hirsch)

Another show on the list, similar to Regular Show, is Gravity Falls, where the focus is less on real-world problems and more on developing an engaging storyline. This show follows the summers of two kids named Dipper and Mabel, who are sent to live with their great-uncle for the summer. With living with their great-uncle Stan comes all types of insanity: conspiracies, secrets about the government, the Illuminati, and secret super-powerful relatives. This show focuses on adding little details throughout in order to show character development and plot development. This addition of conspiracies makes the show very enticing as you want to find the true answers.

This show takes the fourth spot over Regular Show due to its consistent use of clever details and development that build up to the big reveal and final season.


3.  The Magic School Bus
The Magic School Bus show poster (Joanna Cole)

There’s a whole lot to say about why The Magic School Bus was such an legendary show. While it was an educational, following the adventures of science teacher Mrs. Frizzle and her students, it’s still immensely entertaining. A show so versatile that you can watch in school and at home is a parent’s dream. This show taught me, and so many others, lessons from basic biology to basic ideas of outer space. This show created a desire for information that drove me to be interested in our universe. Not only was it of educational value, but it was also of personal development because all the students have differing personalities, so everyone can relate to a character; thus making it a show that people can always relate to. 

This show is ranked at number 3 due to its educational and entertaining value. It also creates reflects an environment where, no matter what your personality is, there will be someone you can relate to.

2. SpongeBob
SpongeBob Square Pants show poster (Stephen Hillenburg)

SpongeBob SquarePants is arguably the best show ever to be made by Nickelodeon. It follows the main character, SpongeBob, during his days working at the Krusty Krab, going jellyfishing, and heading out on adventures with friends. This show is one that all kids born in the 2000s and on can agree is one of the most nostalgic shows around. SpongeBob was a show that was never slow and provided unending entertainment. Whether it be SpongeBob living like Larry, or cooking the perfect Krabby Patty, every episode of SpongeBob is unique and will always captivate a place in my mind.

This show is ranked second because, although it is near par with the number one spot, it only loses due to the versatility and nostalgic value the number one spot brings to the table.



1. Looney Tunes 
Looney Tunes show poster (Leon Schlesinger, Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising)

Undoubtedly the greatest cartoon of all time, Looney Tunes is the most nostalgic, impactful, and entertaining cartoon. People who grew up with Looney Tunes, myself included, look at the cartoons of today and think about how they don’t compare to the misadventures of Bugs Bunny or Wiley the Coyote. This show’s value is so high due to its many different stories and characters.  Ranging from a Tasmanian Devil in a gladiator ring, to friar monk Porky and friar monk Daffy, the span and breadth of Looney Tunes characters helps keep the show alive and original. While still going strong 90 years later, Looney Tunes is beloved by all, even when most of the characters have no words to say.  For viewers, there’s no language barrier– anyone can follow the funky, hilarious story lines.  Looney Tunes has characters of all sorts, talking animals, hunters, friars, and so on, and it has also resulted in many movies such as both Space Jam

Looney Tunes deserves the Number 1 spot due to its versatility, lack of language barriers for global viewers, long-standing appreciation, and respect by all through the ages.   

So there you have it– my top cartoons of all time.  If you have views or opinions, feel free to leave them in the comments and just remember: Looney Tunes is the GOAT.

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About the Contributor
George Frano
George Frano, Staff Writer
George Frano is a sophomore in his first year on the Gauntlet, as a staff writer. His favorite color is purple, he has a dog named Myca, and plays soccer and video games. His favorite movies are Asteroid City and the Seven Samurais.

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  • HussainApr 24, 2024 at 12:36 pm


  • Dylan KinderApr 22, 2024 at 8:08 am

    It’s baffling that any list claiming to showcase the best cartoons could possibly overlook “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” This animated masterpiece isn’t just a show; it’s a cultural phenomenon that has left an indelible mark on audiences worldwide. To omit it from any discussion of the greatest cartoons is akin to ignoring the Mona Lisa in a conversation about art.

    At its core, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is a triumph of storytelling. Set in a richly imagined world where people can manipulate the elements of water, earth, fire, and air, the series follows the journey of Aang, the last surviving Airbender and the Avatar, a being capable of mastering all four elements and bringing balance to the world. But what sets “Avatar” apart is its depth of character development and narrative complexity. Each character, from Aang and Katara to Zuko and Toph, undergoes profound growth and transformation throughout the series, grappling with themes of identity, redemption, and the consequences of war.

    Moreover, “Avatar” excels in its world-building and mythology. Drawing inspiration from various Asian cultures, the show crafts a vibrant and immersive universe filled with diverse landscapes, cultures, and philosophies. From the bustling metropolis of Ba Sing Se to the serene Air Temples, every location feels meticulously realized, enhancing the sense of immersion for viewers.

    Beyond its narrative and world-building prowess, “Avatar” also boasts impeccable animation, breathtaking action sequences, and a stirring musical score that elevates every moment. But perhaps its greatest achievement lies in its ability to appeal to audiences of all ages. While ostensibly a children’s show, “Avatar” tackles mature themes with nuance and sophistication, making it equally resonant for adults.

    In conclusion, any list purporting to celebrate the best cartoons that excludes “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is fundamentally flawed. Not only does the show exemplify excellence in storytelling, character development, and world-building, but its enduring impact on popular culture cements its status as a timeless classic deserving of recognition among the greatest animated series of all time.