Top 10 Cartoons of the 2000s

Number 10.  –  Fosters Home
for Imaginary Friends

It’s kind of funny that a cartoon has never been made with such a simple theme as the Imaginary friend. In the world of Foster’s, when kids think up imaginary friends, they become real and can interact with anyone, even adults. But as the kid grows older, they grow tired of their “fake” friends. Or, in the case of Mac, a kind, friendly eight year old, parents and older siblings force him to give up his friend, Bloo. So he takes him to Foster’s, where he makes an agreement with the staff to allow Bloo to live there without being adopted out as long as he visits him. The show has some pretty interesting characters, while they are not very original, are voiced and animated so wonderfully, it really doesn’t matter. This show is very funny, no underlying “adult” humor here as far I can tell. My favorite episode is the one with Cheese, Bloo’s younger brother. It will have you rolling when he sneers *bunnies*. Beware, though, if you watch this show, I guarantee you will get hooked!

Number 9.  –  Samurai Jack

It seems that Genndy Tartakovsky was only getting warmed up with “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Powerpuff Girls”. With those shows he proved he was a comic genius; with “Samurai Jack” he demonstrates that he is a genius, period. Every single aspect of the movie premiere is top-notch. Phil LaMarr is wonderful as Jack. James Venable’s score beautifully captures the tone and has just the right mix of traditional Oriental and electronic sounds. I liked the fact that there did not seem to be any unnecessary dialogue (in fact several scenes–most notably the beginning–have almost no dialogue at all). The animation and backgrounds are very stylish and striking, and the filmmakers even allow the art to escape the confines of the square 1.33:1 TV ratio with some split-screen and widescreen shots used to great effect. It is my hope that the series continues to be as good as the premiere is. . Someone might complain that there isn’t much of a plot for this show, but it’s meant for people to watch one episode at a time.  There is no over all plot that carries throughout the series, all the plot you’ll ever need is in the episode itself. Even if you don’t like the story, the art in itself is beautiful. Full of style and grace.

Number 8.  –  Kim Possible 

Kim Possible’s not meant to be taken as a serious epic or dramatic action show. Its focus on the blend of “saving the world” as a by-the-way activity on the side while handling the ordinary life of being a high school student is part of what makes this show so appealing. Using witty dialogue between the characters, the show often pokes fun at the clichés of villains and action shows. The interactions between each of the hilariously paired characters is really what drives the show. For example, note the team of Kim and Ron (extreme competence and intelligence versus extreme incompetence). Or better yet, note the humorous tension between benign villains and their very evil counterparts. (Dr. Drakken and Shego, and Senor Junior and Senor Senior). This show can be enjoyed on many different levels, which is why it can appeal to such a wide range of age groups.

Number 7.  –  Venture Bros.

This action-comedy spoof of sixties Johnny Quest-style super-science, evil nemeses, and supernatural happenings is by far, the best original Adult Swim program to date. The story follows The Venture family, Dr. Venture, a forty-something pill-popping scientist who never managed to step out from his father’s shadow, his two sons, Hank and Dean (both rather Leave it to Beaver-like in their refusal to swear and constant wearing of sweaters and pants), Brock Samson, their James-Bond-on-steroids bodyguard who apparently works part-time for the office of secret intelligence and refuses to carry a gun, favoring of his serrated bowie knife. Most of the hilarity stems from The Monarch, the self-declared arch-nemesis of the Venture family, a weaver of ridiculously circuitous plans against them, an employer of hilariously incompetent henchmen, and a man who harbors an unhealthy obsession with monarch butterflies and an over-wrought sense of self-importance. His melodrama usually falls on the deaf ears of his girlfriend, Dr. Girlfriend, who, in complete contrast to the Monarch, is professional, take-charge, and inexplicably husky-voiced. The cast of supporting characters is of equal quality, including a well-meaning but dim-witted robot named Helper, a necromancer renting out the Venture family’s garage apartment named Dr. Byron Orpheus (doctorate in communications, minor in women’s studies), whose propensity towards unnecessarily dramatic changes in pitch and dire warnings of disruptions in the spirit world offer the Monarch’s only competition in the melodrama department.

Number 6.  –  Invader Zim

Never has a cartoon since Rocko had so much imagination and humor as this one has. This is THE follow-up to all those old classics and favorites like Rocko’s Modern Life and Ren and Stimpy. Jhonen Vasquez and his zany sense of humor have definitely created a classic, a show that will be remembered over the years, making millions of fans, which it has already. Invader ZIM is about a short alien with his idiotic robot pal being transported to Earth to so-called “investigate” the planet so the Irkens (his race) can rule the galaxy. Of course, ZIM doesn’t know that this was a trick played by his leaders, The Allmighty Tallest, to dispatch him forever for all the damage he did in the past. The show’s animation is some of the best in cartoon history, with impressive colors and very smooth CGI. It hosts some great character designs. The characters are all likable too and are impressively three-dimensional. You have ZIM and his doom-obsessed mind, crazy Dib and his paranormal theories, idiot Gir and all his great one-liners. Gir is also the center of everything. Without him, the show would never be as funny. He provides most of the humor and imagination.

Number 5.  – Teen Titans

OK, let’s face it: Superhero cartoons have almost gone the way of the dodo. Sure, we’ve still got ‘Justice League’, but other than that, we’ve got nothing. Except, that is, ‘Teen Titans’. ‘Teen Titans’ is DC Comics’s best animated TV show in years. It’s simultaneously thrilling, dramatic, weird, and utterly hilarious. I love it. For all of you die-hard geeks who loved the old comic book (which, to me, was kinda crappy), there’s some changes in the show from the comic. First and foremost, the characters are younger. In the comic, they were more like college students than ‘teens’. Here, they ARE teens. They look younger, and they certainly sound younger. For me, this is a plus. Also, it’s less disturbing to see Starfire with an outfit that actually covers her whole chest; seriously, that outfit in the comic was kinda creepy.  Anyway… This show “gets” these characters. From the utter goofiness of Beast Boy (who is even more goofy in his latest incarnation), to the gut-busting naivete of Starfire, to the utter cool that is Cyborg, to straitlaced and serious Robin, and last but not least the new and improved Raven. Raven is tougher in this series, and her deadpan delivery is often hysterical. I LOVE deadpan Goths! The action is often thrilling, and a lot is clearly inspired by anime. The humor… oh, where to begin with the humor. The writers of this show have the most bizarre sense of humor I’ve ever seen. The jokes range from movie references, character arguments (a highlight of the show), and… some really strange and weird stuff that you usually don’t get away with on Cartoon Network. The voice cast is excellent, and their interplay is fun to watch.

Number 4.  – Home Movies

Adult Swim from 2000 – 2007 was some of the greatest animated airtime in the history of television and one of the best shows to air on that channel had to be Home Movies.  The show lacked good animation and had simplistic drawings, but what makes it up for it is the setting/concept & writing for each and everyone of those episodes. And seeing that it’s number 4, that should tell you how good the writing really is!  I love the premise of an eight-year old having a digital video camera so he can make crappy and/or strange films so he can cope with life around him. My two favorite characters are Brendan and Coach McGuirk and their relationship is the best aspect of the show. I also like the crazy plots that make this show great. The show is simply relatable because it’s about a boy and his friends making movies with their own video camera and who didn’t want to make movies when we had our first video cameras. The ideas that the kids have made are great parodies and hilarious ideas for movies.  I love almost every episode of this series. The characters are all great and I always get a good laugh out of watching the show. Of course, if I had to pick a favorite character it would have to be the soccer coach Jon McGuirk, but all of them are great…I also like the character of Jason a bunch too. The show revolves around this kid who makes his own movies in his basement. Simple, yet effective. They also show scenes on the soccer team, where the McGuirk coached bunch loses nearly every game. Just a nice, funny show to watch.


Number 3.  –  The Boondocks

While Home Movies is one of the best Adult Swim programs, the best one of all has to be Boondocks. If you thought that Peanuts is the best television program adapted from a comic strip, Boondocks challenges that comic strip’s reputation. Aaron McGruder is an admitted militant liberal, and his comic strip has provided quite an insight into his world view on politics and the lack of political tactfulness. But the television show has effectively upped up the ante, making even starker commentary on society and the racist ills that have fallen on it. Some may attack McGruder for attacking African American culture by using the profane language and in his depiction of Riley, but what he has effectively provided is a sensible argument toward the ills of all cultural settings. He’s effectively illustrating what people EXPECT from black culture. McGruder has always been very critical of the “hip-hop” culture, calling it feminine and useless. In my opinion, McGruder’s commentary is almost as powerful as Spike Lee’s “Bamboozled,” where he basically states hip-hop culture is just another form of black-face to entertain suburban white people. While the television seems to border more along the lines of cultural inequities and absurdities as opposed to the full-on political commentary of the strip, he still hammers home a lot of good points. Years from now, people will look at this show as a daring look at junk cultural paradigms and laugh at the absurdity of it all.


Number 2.  –  Futurama

No other show in this list has ever attached me to it’s characters and it’s world as long as it did like Futurama. Philip Fry is a pizza delivery boy (or should I say “pizza delivery Man”…he’s in his 20’s although at times acts more like a teen than a grown-up) who is sort of a Born Loser type. He’s working on New Years Eve (he runs into his girlfriend Michelle going to a New Years Eve party with another guy and “begins to suspect she’s cheating”) and ends up making a delivery to a cryogenic freezing lab. He accidentally freezes himself and when he’s found and thawed out its New Years Eve 3000. In a way this sucks because everyone he knows is long dead. But in a way its good because its a second chance for him to start life new and maybe be not such a loser this time around. Apparently after they thaw you out and probe you they insert a chip in your hand that helps place you in your field of expertise for a job. His chip is “Delivery Boy” and he doesn’t want it so he is trying to avoid the sexy one-eyed alien woman Leela whose job it is to make sure he gets his chip put in. When he’s notified he has a great-great-great-great (keep going) nephew named Professor Farnsworth he goes to seek him out. He goes to what he thinks is a pay phone booth and its actually a suicide machine…thats where he meets Bender a wise-ass,drinking,smoking robot who wants to kill himself because his main purpose is to aid in the making of suicide machines. The two of them try to escape Leela and when she finally catches up to them she admits she doesn’t like her job either so now the three of them seek out Professor Farnsworth to see if they can work for him.He runs an intergalactic delivery service and works with once-limbo champion Hermes, a rich girl intern named Amy,and a lobster-man doctor named Zoidberg. I feel funny pointing this out, but I will anyway: There’s always a big to do about shows today not having interracial characters as friends working together and FUTURAMA definitely goes beyond the call of duty in that area. We have single white male Fry, white Cyclops alien/mutant female Leela, Asian female Amy, Senior citizen white male Farnsworth, African American male Hermes, male robot Bender as well as male crustacean Zoideberg! And they all work together wonderfully.


Number 1.  –  Avatar: The Last Airbender

What’s good about Avatar: The Last Airbender? Pretty much everything is good. It seems like a flawless show that truly lives up to your expectations every episode. There are funny episodes, emotional episodes, serious episodes, and think of anything that you would consider good and the show has it all. Great characters and so much emotion are just a couple things that are so good about this program. Keep in mind as this show follows a direct storyline, there are minor spoilers but nothing major, only the revealing of few characters. The show take place long ago, where the four nations lived together in harmony. Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them. But when the world needed him most, he vanished. A hundred years passed and a waterbender and her brother discovered the new Avatar. And although his airbending skills are great, he still has a lot to learn before he’s ready to save anyone. But the main character believes this new Avatar can save the world. Well, that is what the main character claims in the opening narration. The Avatar has been frozen for 100 years and the world has lived without him. The opening narration is bone chilling, but it appears every episode and eventually you just want to skip through it as it becomes very irritating after a long time.

The show follows Katara, Aang, and Sokka and their travels across the world as they try and get Aang to learn the four elements that can stop the Fire Nation from taking over the world. However, there are villains who are constantly trying to stop or kill the group. There is Zuko, the prince who has been banished from the Fire Nation, and son of Ozai, the firelord. There is Azula, Zuko’s sister, and her two other companions named Mai and Ty Lee, who are some of my favourites from the show. There is also Zuko’s uncle, Iroh, the very wise man who is patient and tried to teach his beliefs to Zuko, even though he clearly is impatient with his uncle. There are also minor characters who appear every so often that interact with the group. During the second season, a young, blind girl named Toph joins the group and teaches Aang earthbending. She’s such a fun character and is so tough, they are the most unlikely person to be a hero. There is Aang’s flying Bison named Appa and Momo who is a lemur who has no major and significant role at all. But these two characters make the show so much funnier every time they are on screen. One of my favourite things about this show is that there are so many episodes that range from the emotions that are meant to be felt. There are scenes where the scenarios were intense, making it much more suspenseful. Other times there are just simply hilarious moments. In a scene in Season Three that the main character is hallucinating that he is watching his flying bison and a lemur speaking to him. Then they take it to the next level and then these two animals have a sword fight. I can’t help but laugh at this for some reason.

The characters are another thing that make the show what it is. There is Aang, the Avatar who is supposed to master the four elements, water, fire, earth, and air, however he must learn these to stop a ruthless firelord and multiple descendants of his that are trying to eliminate Aang who is the only person who can stop Ozai. Mai is my favourite though. She is such a lazy character and is always feeling so depressed and hates everything. Even her way of saying “I love you”, happens to be “I don’t hate you”. She refuses to do anything she doesn’t want to do but is still loyal to Azula. Ty Lee is also a fun character. She’s a crazy circus freak who stuns people simply by punching them. Then there is Azula, the insane princess who is one of the best villains ever in television and cinema history. These three girls, who are only teenagers, have to be the perfect trio of villains in any text I have ever seen. Overall, this is one fantastic show. I can’t think of anything to say that is negative about it. It’s a nice family show but it so well developed it is hard to not like. Avatar: The Last Airbender isn’t just a show, it’s a masterpiece. The only disappointment is that the movie sucked. The one thing the film failed to establish was the relationships between the characters. The film was just simply so bland and boring. Meanwhile, the show takes as long as it takes to develop properly and become what we see when we watch it.