14 Best Animated Shows of All Time

Animation is not just about funny cartoons, shorts or commercials aimed at kids. It has been making rounds and growing exponentially through animated TV shows exclusively for adults.

With the rising number of OTT platforms, many renowned studios and film producers are hiring creators to strictly produce adult-oriented animated content.

It all started with Crusader Rabbit which became the first animated TV show to be aired by syndicating stations in 1950.

But The Flintstones was the first animated show developed for a network in 1960. It ran for a total of six seasons on ABC.

In this post, we are going to handpick some of the best animated shows that have incorporated diverse storytelling, loveable characters, and influential direction.


Arcane (2021 – present)

Arcane is a highly acclaimed animated television series that premiered on Netflix in November 2021.

The show is a collaboration between Riot Games and Fortiche Productions and is based on the popular League of Legends video game universe.

Set in Piltover, the show follows the lives of two sisters, Vi and Jinx, as they navigate through a world of crime, corruption, and magic.

The series is known for its stunning animation, complex characters, and gripping storyline, which explores themes such as family, power, and redemption.

Arcane has received widespread critical acclaim for its storytelling, animation, and voice acting, and has been praised for its ability to appeal to both fans of the game and newcomers to the franchise.

The show has been renewed for a second season, much to the delight of its dedicated fan base.


Love death & robots (2019 – present)

Love Death & Robots is an anthology series that was first released on Netflix in 2019. It has 3 seasons.

The first season consists of 18 short episodes. The second season has eight episodes while the third season has nine episodes. A fourth season is on its way!

What makes it one of best animated shows is the fact that each episode offers its own unique animation style and story.

Love Death & Robots explores a variety of genres, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comedy, and often features mature content such as violence, nudity, and sexuality.

The show has been praised for its stunning animation, thought-provoking stories, and creative use of the anthology format.

From photorealistic CGI to traditional hand-drawn animation, Love Death & Robots is a showcase of the many possibilities of animation.

With each episode ranging from 6 to 18 minutes, the show is perfect for binge-watching or for those short on time.


Rick and Morty (2013 – present)

Rick and Morty was developed and created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon for Adult Swim in 2013. It currently has a total of four seasons with the fifth season confirmed for release.

The show’s plot revolves around the adventures of Rick and his grandson, Morty throughout alternate realities, multiverses, and numerous dimensions.

It is lauded for its unconventional storyline, hilarious jokes, and trippy visuals. The characters often go through existential crises and are unapologetic about their views.

Rick and Morty garnered rave reviews and awards upon release and went on to become one of Adult Swim’s top favorite shows.


Bob’s Burgers (2011 – present)

Bob’s Burgers was created and developed by Loren Bouchard for Fox in 2011. It is currently on its run of eleventh season. It is already renewed for the twelfth and thirteenth seasons.

It explores the lives and adventures of Bob, his family, and their burger joint in a Southern New Jersey community.

The show’s success is mainly due to its portrayal of an average American family facing tough economic situations, chasing the American dream, and trying to get by in society.

Bob’s Burgers has also racked up several awards, such as an Emmy, Annie and Critics’ Choice.


Archer (2009 – present)

Archer was developed and created by Adam Reed for FX in 2009. It is currently on the run for its twelfth season.

It is centered around the misadventures of a highly incompetent detective named Sterling Archer along with his team of seven spies.

The animated show has developed a cult following mainly due to its novel animation style, spoofing, easter eggs, and intellectual humor.

Archer has won several awards including Emmy, Annie and Critics’ Choice.


South Park (1997 – present)

South Park was created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone and developed by Brian Graden for Comedy Central in 1997. It has been running for over twenty-three seasons so far.

It follows the lives and exploits of four boys named Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick.

The show also gained notoriety and a cult following due to its profanity, dark humor, shock value and running gags.

South Park has been able to maintain steady ratings and become one of the most successful TV shows on Comedy Central and one of the best animated shows of all time.

Read more: 10 Unique Stop Motion Animated Videos You’ll Love


The Simpsons (1989 – present)

The Simpsons was developed and created by Matt Groening for Fox in 1989. It has been the longest-running tv series with thirty seasons in total and almost seven hundred episodes.

The show parodies the life of an American family through the characters of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie.

It is known for its cultural impact, posing questions about the American way of life, the human condition, its influence on Hollywood, and predicting actual future events.

The Simpsons has maintained steady ratings throughout its running and able to garner accolades. Also, Homer’s catchphrase “D’oh” is now a legitimate expression in the dictionary.


Futurama (1999 – 2023)

Futurama was developed and created by Matt Groening for Fox initially in 1999, which was picked up by Comedy Central in later years. It ran for a total of seven seasons.

The show follows a deadbeat named Philip J. Fry who gets revived back to life in the 31st century after being frozen for a thousand years.

Its distinctive qualities, such as the dynamics of nerdy characters and video game humor, revived the season after its cancellation by Fox.

Futurama has also received many awards throughout its running including Emmy, Annie, and Writer’s Guild of America.


BoJack Horseman (2014 – 2020)

BoJack Horseman was developed and created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg in 2014 for Netflix. It ran for a total of six seasons.

It is centered around a has-been Hollywood star in a parallel universe, where anthropomorphic animals and humans coexist.

The animated show will be remembered for its character development, existential plotlines, tragicomedy, originality, and dark humor based on Hollywood and social constructs.

Throughout its running, BoJack Horseman was able to receive nominations and accolades at many prestigious award ceremonies.

Read more: A Deep Dive into the Present and Future of Animation


Samurai Jack (2001 – 2017)

Samurai Jack was developed and created by Genndy Tartakovsky for Cartoon Network from 2001-2004 and later for Adult Swim in 2017. It spanned a total of five seasons.

The animated show revolves around a prince named Jack in a dystopian Feudal Japan. He wields a magical katana and must defeat his cardinal enemy named Aku to free the earth from his rule.

It became popular for its fluid animation, aesthetics, voice acting, music, and compelling storyline. It was brought back for another season in 2017.

Samurai Jack won many popular awards including Emmy, Annie, and OIAF.


Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005 – 2008)

Avatar: The Last Airbender was developed and created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko for Nickelodeon in 2005. It ran for a total of three seasons.

It focuses on the life of the current Avatar named Aang, who is integral to end a 100-year global war started by Fire Nation.

The show is praised for its art direction, soundtrack, characters, and touching on themes such as genocide, totalitarianism, and war.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is Nickelodeon’s most successful animated series to date which received many awards including an Emmy and a Peabody. It also spawned comics, graphic novels a live-action film adaptation, and a sequel.


Death Note (2006 – 2007)

Death Note was developed by Tetsuro Araki from a Manga by Tsugumi Ohba for Nippon TV in 2006. It ran for a single season of thirty-seven episodes.

The anime depicts a young high school boy who finds a mystical book known as Death Note. He, then, proceeds to go on a killing spree to get rid of all the evil in the world.

The show has been praised for morally ambiguous characters, psychological mind games, and moral questions.

Death Note’s legacy reached the heights of Hollywood when Netflix decided to adapt the manga into a feature film but failed to achieve the same status.

Also read: 8 Awesome Animated Documentaries to Get You Out of a Creative Rut


Cowboy bebop (1998 – 1999)

Cowboy Bebop is an anime television series that aired in 1998 and has since become beloved to a large number of people.

The show follows the adventures of a group of bounty hunters in the year 2071, as they travel through space in search of their next bounty.

Cowboy Bebop is known for its stunning animation, detailed characters, and an incredible soundtrack that blends jazz and other musical genres.

The show explores themes such as existentialism, loneliness, and the human condition, making it stand out in the world of anime.

Even though the series didn’t run for a long time but its impact can be seen today too. Cowboy Bebop has had a lasting impact on popular culture too.


Sailor moon (1992 – 1997)

Sailor Moon is a classic anime series that first aired in 1992. It follows the story of Usagi Tsukino, a teenage girl who discovers she is the reincarnation of a powerful warrior called Sailor Moon.

Along with her friends, Ami, Rei, Makoto, and Minako, Usagi fights against evil forces threatening Earth.

The show is known for its great characters, theme songs, and its empowering message of friendship, love, and female empowerment.

Sailor Moon has been credited with helping to popularize anime in the Western world and continues to be a favorite among fans of all ages.


Final thoughts

Animated cartoons and shows are dear to children as well as adults. They are equally enjoyed and loved by people of all ages and will continue to do so.

Animation has conquered a major chunk of advertisement, entertainment, and infotainment industries to date and it continues to dominate.

If you feel like animation is something you want to sink your teeth into for your business, then feel free to contact us and see how our professionals can help you out with it.

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Posted by Adil Ashraf

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