Cartoons have been making us laugh ever since the early 20th century. From slapstick comedy to satirical wit, comics have evolved into a prevalent art form with millions of fans worldwide. But which cartoons stand out from the rest as the best of the best? Here are my picks for the 10 greatest cartoons of all time.
1. Looney Tunes (1930-1969)
A cartoon list would only be complete with Looney Tunes. This Warner Bros series introduced iconic characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and more. These animated shorts packed rapid-fire gags and made cartoons a proper art form. With its mix of slapstick, wordplay, and pop culture references, Looney Tunes set the template for cartoons that followed. The hilarious rivalry between Bugs and Daffy is comedic gold. And say what you will about Acme products—Wile E. Coyote helped make anvils funny!
2. The Simpsons (1989-Present)
As the longest-running American scripted TV series, The Simpsons has cemented its place in the cartoon hall of fame. This satirical look at working-class family life packs laughs around every corner. Homer is the lovable oaf we can all relate to, while mischievous Bart continues to “Eat My Shorts.” With its parade of eccentric Springfield residents and sharp commentary on society, The Simpsons remains highly relevant after over 30 seasons. Don’tDon’t have a cow, man!
3. South Park (1997-Present)
South Park takes satire to new levels of profane hilarity. The misadventures of four foul-mouthed kids push every button with its biting cultural criticism. Thanks to quick production turnarounds, South Park stays fresh by satirizing current events. Behind the crass humor are astute observations about hypocrisy in America. Between alien invasions and reindeer games, South Park shows that no topic is taboo regarding comedy.
4. Spongebob Squarepants (1999-Present)
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? This eternally optimistic sea sponge brings infectious joy to kids and adults. The nautical nonsense of Spongebob and his Bikini Bottom pals—like Patrick, Squidward, and Mr. Krabs—is absurdist comedy at its best. Spongebob’sSpongebob’s childlike wonder makes even mundane moments hilarious. And Squidward is the grumpy neighbor we all love to laugh at. Over 20 years later, Spongebob still conjures belly laughs out of the simplest things.
5. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969-1970)
These meddling kids and their dog cracked cases and mysteries galore. Scooby Doo made Saturday morning cartoons a must-see event. The monsters always looked so creepy…until they were unmasked! Shaggy and Scooby’sScooby’s cowardice made for funny moments. And Velma’sVelma’s brain, Daphne’sDaphne’s bravery, and Fred’sFred’s traps permanently sealed the deal. With its groovy tunes and flower-power vibes, Scooby Doo captured the spirit of the 60s and 70s. It’sIt’s still fun re-watching the gang solves supernatural mysteries today.
6. Futurama (1999-2013)
Set in the 31st century, Futurama offered an intelligent take on the future. Fry’sFry’s journey as a Human revived in 1999 paved the way for galaxy-hopping hilarity. Along with the cycloptic Leela and robot Bender, Fry navigated a world filled with aliens, mutants, and sentient apes. Futurama combined sci-fi adventures with laughs at every warp jump. The show also packed touching emotion into its exploration of relationships and humanity. As Fry put it, the future is “weird and scary.” But also gut-busting funny, thanks to Futurama.
7. Family Guy (1999-Present)
This Fox animated series has made irreverence its brand. Following the Griffin family and their quahog neighbors, Family Guy leaves no stone unturned when testing boundaries. Peter Griffin leads the charge with his oafish antics. Stewie and Brian trade barbs and pop culture zingers. And who could forget those epic chicken fights? Family Guy keeps the laughs crass and consistent after over 20 seasons. Consider that freakin’freakin’ sweet.
8. The Flintstones (1960-1966)
Yabba dabba doo! This stone-age sitcom struck comedy gold. Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble were the best frenemies who got into plenty of mischief. Wilma and Betty always forgave their prehistoric partners. Dino provided some adorable levity as Fred’sFred’s loyal pet. And The Flintstones kids Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm added to the fun. Set in the fictional town of Bedrock, The Flintstones took the problems of modern life and transported them to the dinosaur era for laughs. It was the first animated sitcom and paved the way for many more.
9. Rocky and Bullwinkle (1959–1964)
These two pioneered serialized storytelling in cartoons long before binge-watching was a thing. The plucky flying squirrel Rocky and his dimwitted moose friend Bullwinkle had Cold War-era misadventures across Frostbite Falls, Minnesota. Their battles with Russian-esque spies Boris and Natasha were humorously timed during the Cold War. Supports like Mr. Peabody and Sherman brought education into the mix. And Fractured Fairytales offered hilarious twists on classic stories. Rocky and Bullwinkle proved cartoons could blend wit, satire, and clever narrative arcs.
10. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)
This Nickelodeon series blended dazzling animation with emotional storytelling. Following young Avatar Aang on his quest to master air, water, earth, and fire was truly epic. The world-building provided an immersive backdrop for Aang’sAang’s heroic journey. And characters like Toph, Sokka, Katara, and Zuko became lovable. Despite being animated, Avatar tackled war, loss, and redemption in poignant ways. Avatar is an animated series that appeals to all ages through warmth, humor, and heart.
From the laugh-out-loud antics of Looney Tunes to the satirical wit of The Simpsons, cartoons have always found ways to entertain us. As animation techniques evolve, cartoons continue pushing boundaries and making us chuckle. But at their core, the best cartoons bring joy to the child in all of us. They take us on fantastical adventures, make light of daily stresses, and provide comfort through memorable characters. Luckily, there are so many iconic cartoons to choose from – these classics above are just the tip of the iceberg. Laughter is the best medicine. So keep enjoying the wonderful world of cartoons!
Q: What was the first popular cartoon?
A: Felix the Cat, created in 1919, was one of the earliest cartoon characters to gain widespread popularity.
Q: Who are some influential cartoon creators?
A: Walt Disney, Tex Avery, Hanna-Barbera, Seth MacFarlane, Matt Groening, Trey Parker, and Matt Stone are some of the most influential cartoon creators.
Q: What country produces the most cartoons?
A: Japan produces the most animation globally, including popular shows like Pokémon, Dragon Ball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more.
Q: What cartoon character has been adapted the most?
A: Mickey Mouse is one of the most adapted cartoon characters, appearing in film, TV, video games, and endless merchandise.
Q: What tools do animators use to create cartoons?
A: Traditionally, animators used pencil and paper to draw cartoons. Digital tools like Toon Boom, TVPaint, and Adobe Animate are commonly used today.