Oh, the 90s, what a great time to be a kid. Thanks to the expansion of cable, networks like Fox,
Nickelodeon, and the Disney Channel started popping up, and with them, a wealth of creative cartoons for us to consume. Even if you weren’t a child of the 90s, the quality of the writing and animation were so strong that most of them still hold up to this day.
Which is why today, we’re gonna go on a little nostalgia joy ride and pick out the 10 Best 90’s cartoons!
Make sure you watch the video at the top of the article to see our list, and then leave a comment and let us know what you're favorite 90's cartoon was!
Kicking off our list at No. 10 is Doug. The alter-ego of Quail-Man was unlike any cartoon that kids had seen before. There were no he-men or transforming robots here. Just plain ol’ Doug Funny, an extremely ordinary guy in high school who felt like every one of us: he fantasized in class, crushed on Patty Mayonnaise, dealt with bullies, and stressed out when he got a giant zit. Doug was relatable, and we loved him for it.
Slide 2/10 – 9. Spider-Man: The Animated Series At No. 9 I’ve got Spider-Man: The Animated Series. The 90’s saw a huge influx of some really awesome comic book based cartoons: Spawn was amazing, The Tick was fun, The Maxx was interesting, The Incredible Hulk was underrated… But Spider-Man: The Animated Series was the first time the wallcrawler had been so faithfully adapted. It felt like the comic book come to life, and while it’s a little dated now and “feels” like it’s set in the 90s, I mean Punisher has a headband -- it’s still a ton of fun to watch.
Slide 3/10 – 8. Animaniacs No. 8 is Animaniacs. Honestly, it was a toss-up between this and Tiny Toons, but Animaniacs edged it out for a number of reasons: The theme song was annoyingly catchy, the jokes were pretty zany for a kid’s show, but the biggest reason? Pinky and the BRAIN, the two lab mice who, every night, tried to take over the world. How Pinky and the Brain haven’t been rebooted yet for their own animated movie is beyond me, but I’m pretty sure they’ll turn up again at some point.
Slide 4/10 – 7. Rocko's Modern Life In the No. 7 spot is Rocko’s Modern Life. What I love most about a lot of Nickelodeon’s early 90s cartoons, like Ren & Stimpy, is that there’s no chance they’d ever be made today. They weren’t afraid to be dark, weird, or completely grotesque, and Rocko’s Modern Life was probably the best example of this--The show was laced with sexual innuendo that would be completely inappropriate today-- in one scene, they literally played a board game called “Spank the Monkey.” Yet the show was endearing to kids because awkward Rocko always seemed to be the normal one trying to get by even though he was constantly surrounded by complete absurdity.
If this show didn’t make you a fan of comic books as a kid, then it’s hopeless. Introducing the band of dysfunctional mutants to an entirely new generation, X-Men adapted just about every major storyline from the X-Men comics up to that point. The show tastefully used mutants as a metaphor against racism and homophobia, and helped teach kids that we should all accept and celebrate our differences. The only drawback was the animation was influenced by the art of Jim Lee, which didn’t translate very smoothly. But to this day, Cal Dodd’s Wolverine is still who a lot of fans still hear when they read the character.
Slide 6/10 – 5. Duck Tales At No. 5 is DuckTales. Technically speaking, DuckTales premiered in the late 80’s, but by 1990 was so popular that it got its own animated movie. It was the first instance of Disney rebranding and modernizing their classic characters and paved the way for other popular 90s cartoons like Goof Troop, Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers, and TaleSpin. It even led to the Batman inspired spin-off Darkwing Duck which was personally one of my favorites growing up, but I work for a place called comicbook.com, so I’m biased.
Slide 7/10 – 4. South Park No. 4 - South Park. While Beavis and Butt-Head could be credited for kick starting crude animated comedy for the MTV generation, South Park came along and changed everything. It was hilarious while also extremely controversial and thought provoking. Matt Parker and Trey Stone to this day are still churning out episodes, over 20 years later, and they still aren’t afraid to stray away from socially relevant topics, no matter who they might offend.
No. 3 is Rugrats, the pinnacle of Nickelodeon animation in the 90s. The series had an excellent voice cast, was exceptionally well-written, and the animation was crude but in a cute way. Seeing the world from the perspective of these 4 toddlers was refreshing, and the show did a great job juggling silliness with real heart. It even broke new ground with a kid’s show with holiday specials that centered around Passover and Hanukkah instead of Christmas.
Slide 9/10 – 2. Batman: The Animated Series No. 2 is Batman: The Animated Series. There might possibly never be a comic book cartoon as good, dare I say, influential as Batman the Animated Series. The art-deco anachronistic setting was inspired by Tim Burton, and Danny Elfman returned for the theme, but this cartoon soon surpassed the movies in every conceivable way. The gothic animation was brilliantly simple, conveying the perfect tone for the Dark Knight. Plus, the voice acting cast was superb, namely Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as Joker, to the point where they have continued to voice different iterations of the characters for close to 30 years now. Slide 10/10 – 1. The Simpsons But the Number One cartoon of the 90s? What else? The Simpsons. This show will forever and always be the GOAT of animated sitcoms, and influenced everything that followed. It’s still the longest running animated show of all time and it’s hard to argue than anything else could top it.