The List: Top 10 Greatest Animated Superhero TV Shows Of All Time

It seems that you guys prefer animated superheroes to live-action ones, as this poll got 20% more votes than the previous poll. Or maybe it's just that there have been more superhero 'toons? Either way, we've got our 10, so let's get to it.

10. The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2005)

If you grew up in the 90's, like myself, then you grew up watching Cartoon Network. The Network ran shows like Dexters Laboratory, Ed, Edd And Eddy and Johnny Bravo all of which are hugely nostalgic for my generation. And The Powerpuff Girls was part of that line-up. Ostensibly for girls, the series out-grew the gender barrier almost immediately by having a fantastically eye-catching and original art style and hugely engaging characters. It was funny, even including jokes for the parents of the kids watching, and had some all time classic villains in the shape of Mojo Jojo, the mad scientist chimpanzee, and Him, the effeminate lobster clawed demon who is so unspeakably evil no-one dare speak his name, amongst others. Oh and it had one of the best voice casts ever, including Tara Strong (because of course it did, she has a voice role in everything), Tom Kenny, Elizabeth Daily and Tom Kane. Girl Power!

9. The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2010-13)

Riding in on the wave of MCU hype that was building in the lead up to the first Avengers movie, Earth's Mightiest Heroes featured everything you'd expect and want from an Avengers cartoon series. Starting off with just the original quintet of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man/ Giant Man and Wasp, the cast grew to include all the classic members and featured cameos from the likes of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Heroes For Hire. It covered classic storylines such as the Kree- Skrull War, the Secret Invasion and the Yellowjacket arc. Shame it ran for only 2 seasons before being replaced by the inferior Avengers Assemble.

8. Batman Beyond (1999-2001)

With Bruce Timm at the helm, this series explored the future of the DC Animated Universe through the eyes of a new teenage Batman. Darker than most other kids cartoons at the time, the series blended sic-fi and cyberpunk elements to the standard superheroics of previous Batman shows. Featuring a bevy of new and interesting characters and villains alongside members of the classic Batman cast, the series was successful enough to transition to comics even a decade after the final episode aired. Oh and it might have won two Emmys, which isn't bad.

7. X-Men (1992-97)

The longest running Marvel cartoon series, X-Men ran for 5 seasons, with a grand total of 76 episodes to its name. Which considering the production trouble to even get the series to air is quite a feat. I mean, the pilot was delayed by a month and had hundreds of animation errors on its first airing and the second episode had numerous scenes missing, yet Fox turned it around.  Much like A:EMH, it featured a laundry list of characters and storylines from the comics, as you'd expect given its longevity, and dealt with numerous social issues alongside the superheroics (because it's the X-Men, of course it did). Oh and this series might have had one of the best opening themes of all time.

6. Spider-Man (1994-97)

Buoyed by the success and reception of X-Men, Marvel set up Marvel Films Animation and started production of a Spider-Man series. Again lasting 5 series (but only 65 episodes) it garnered the same sort of ratings as X-Men and a similar critical reception and when it was eventually cancelled it wasn't due to declining ratings, but instead disagreements between the network and the producer. And considering the state of Marvel at the time, this is incredible, as they were all but bankrupt by the time the series finished, meaning the company had little control over the series. Still, Stan Lee was quite involved in the first season, which is always a good place to start and it was full of the best Spider-Man villains and the best cameos from pretty much every character Marvel could shove into the series. The less said about the censorship (such as Spidey only throwing 3 punches in 65 episodes) the better. Just how the hell did they pull this one off?

5. Justice League

And from here on out, it's all DC. I'm not kidding, DC have literally locked out the top 5 spots on this list and they've already got one 'toon in already, so that should tell you something about the quality of the DC Animated Universe. Shame they can't carry that success over to live-action film making isn't it. Anyway, with Bruce Timm and his highly recognisable art style sitting behind the animators desk and Kevin Conroy under the cowl once again, we were given the blue-print for a super-team series, picking and choosing the best characters for the situation and only bringing them all together for the big fights.  Of course, starring the DC trinity, it also gave John Stewart and Wally West time to shine, as well as giving Hawkgirl her biggest exposure ever. It only lasted 2 seasons, but unlike previous shortened series, it was only planned to be 2 seasons, as there was something else on the horizon.

4. Justice League Unlimited

Beating out its predecessor by a single vote,  Unlimited took what Justice League had done and turned it up to 11. The "founding members" from the previous series are joined by everyone who is anyone from the DC comics pantheon, from Aquaman to Question. Another criminally short series, this time only running for 3 seasons, it was great while it lasted and was a fitting climax to the DC Animated Universe.

3. Teen Titans (2003-06)

We seem to have a theme of a lot of shows being criminally short on this list. Well, this series was originally planned to have only 4 seasons, however fan and critical response convinced Cartoon Network to order a 5th and when that ended a tv movie was made to compensate for there not being a 6th season. As popular as the Titans are in comics, I think it's fair to say that these are the definitive versions of the characters as a team. Comical whilst still dealing with mature themes, you cannot beat the interactions between these 5, especially Hyden Walch's irrepressible Starfire and Tara Strong's (there she is again) stoic and moody Raven.

2. Young Justice (2010-13)

Another DC teen team, another great show. Featuring the protégées (don't call them side-kicks) of the heroes of the Justice League, the series dealt with themes of identity and growing up, as you might expect from a show based on a group of teens. The series gained huge critical acclaim and by the time of its finale the series was getting the highest ratings of any show on Cartoon Network. The show was cancelled after 2 seasons to make way for Teen Titans Go! amidst rumors that the show was getting canned because it had too large of a female audience and girls "don't buy toys" although these rumors have been denied. Although, the toy part is true, as the series production was tied to a funding deal with Mattel. As the toys for the show weren't selling, the funding was pulled and the show was cancelled. I think we can all agree, that is a stupid, stupid, stupid reason to cancel a show and a pretty stupid way to fund it.

And Number 1, inevitably.

I think we should start a petition to have Warner Bros. put Bruce Timm in-charge of the DCEU.

What do I need to say about this series? Possibly the best iteration of Batman outside the comics, maybe even the best iteration of Batman? Featuring the vocal talents of one Mark Hamill, who quite obviously is loving every single minute of his time in the vocal booth. They even got Adam West in for a guest spot as The Gray Ghost. The series is consistently voted as one of the greatest animated TV shows of all time (usually coming in 2nd behind The Simpsons, but that's mostly due to longevity I think). Oh and it won 4 Emmys out of 12 nominated and was nominated for every single Emmy it could possibly be nominated for. You can tell a series is good when it introduces new characters and they immediately end up in the comics.

JR19759

About JR19759

Email: jr19759@hotmail.co.uk Twitter: @jr19759 Deviantart: JR19759 Deviantart HM Group: Heromachine-Art

8 Responses to The List: Top 10 Greatest Animated Superhero TV Shows Of All Time

  1. The Atomic Punk

    The original run of Powerpuff Girls is hilarious. It has a very subtle edge and dark humor at times. The new series is too cutesy and just tries too hard. I couldn’t really get into Batman Beyond. It just never clicked.

    Surprised that Teen Titans wasn’t #2 until I saw Young Justice take the spot. Both are great shows. Really disappointed by the abrupt ending of TT. The movie fell flat. It’s successor Teen Titans Go! is a riot. If you haven’t seen it, watch the episode “Capes.” So good.

    Young Justice has relatable characters. Which is why I think so many teenage girls got into it. Most certainly for Miss Martian and Superboy’s dynamic dating. My major complaint is M’gann M’orzz being a white Martian in the show when in the comic she is a green one.

    #1… duh… hello… Seriously one of the best animations of all time. When I first saw previews, I was like “ugh, can you be anymore bland?” Wrong! The art deco style fits the tone perfectly. The stories do not patronize the audience. Mark Hamill’s Joker steals the show.

  2. @The Atomic Punk- Ummm… I’m pretty sure M’gann has always been a White Martian, even in the comics.

  3. Nick Hentschel

    This was a hard poll to vote in, since there were so many *other* shows that I wanted to add: the 60’s Spider-Man show with its classic jingle, the 40’s Superman cartoons, and . . . I forget if the “Super Friends” was in there. But I couldn’t add one for consideration, without casting a vote.

  4. The Atomic Punk

    JR19759:
    @The Atomic Punk- Ummm… I’m pretty sure M’gann has always been a White Martian, even in the comics.

    I haven’t read Martian Manhunter (or any comic) for… some time. I remember the introduction of M’gann and her being related to J’onn. That is what stuck in my mind. Timing is perfect because Supergirl just added Miss Martian. No spoilers please because I haven’t seen the latest episode (CW runs Supergirl opposite of Gotham… brilliant… not. * Harrison Wells has me saying “not” again).

  5. William Peterson

    AP, the first time I saw Miss Martian was in an issue of Teen Titans (quite some time ago, now), and she was revealed to be a White Martian, either in that comic, or within two issues after. This was back when they had Superboy, Supergirl, and all sorts of other non-Titans in the book. They’ve mentioned it a few times since then, as well. And, well, no spoilers, but the folks at the TV show are very much aware of this fact… {Really hard for a White Martian to pose as a Green Martian, when either can imitate a Pink Human, or just about anything else, right?} 😀

  6. @Nick Hentschel- Super Friends was on the poll, it got 2 votes less than Powerpuff Girls, so it came 11th.

  7. @JR, you forgot to mention that Batman: TAS introduced Harley Quinn to the world as well.

  8. Worf:
    @JR, you forgot to mention that Batman: TAS introduced Harley Quinn to the world as well.

    “You can tell a series is good when it introduces new characters and they immediately end up in the comics.”