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Top 10 Cartoons of the 2000s

VO: Rebecca Brayton
This was an awesome decade to enjoy watching cartoons! These programs ranged from alien powered superheroes, to a talking sponge, the return of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and all kinds of new groundbreaking adult-centric cartoons! Join as we count down our top 10 favorite cartoons from the 2000s. Just so there aren’t any surprises, we’ve decided to include cartoons that became popular in the 2000s, even if they arrived on the scene in the late-‘90s.

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Top 10 Cartoons of the 2000s

Samurai, talking sponges, ultra-violent bodyguards and intergalactic mail carriers – the ‘00s were out of this world! Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our top 10 favorite cartoons from the 2000s.

Just so there aren’t any surprises, we’ve decided to include cartoons that became popular in the 2000s, even if they arrived on the scene in the late-‘90s.

#10 – “Ben 10” (2005-)

Kicking off our list is the Saturday morning sensation about a boy who discovers a watch-like device that allows him to morph into 10 unique and powerful alien creatures and defend the Earth alongside his grandpa and cousin. This show was an instant hit, spawning a franchise around its entertaining 10-in-1 superhero premise, and helping kids everywhere believe that anyone can become a hero!

#9 – “Teen Titans” (2003-2006)

Based on DC Comics’ teenage superhero team, this series shines a spotlight on heroes who would otherwise be second fiddles. Robin, Raven, Starfire, Beast Boy and Cyborg have been de-aged, and operate out of a giant “T” shaped tower. Entertaining action aside, “Teen Titans” was unique for its self-referential humor, anime inspired stylings, and its character-driven focus on cast relationships.

#8 – “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (2003-2009)

Marking the comeback for the heroes in a half shell, this cartoon provides audiences with a vision far closer to the dark graphic novels than that of the ‘80s series. Trading in the camp factor, puns and slapstick, it instead focuses on complex characters, fiercer action and deeper storylines. Bet you never thought you’d see a Shredder this intense…

#7 – “Samurai Jack” (2001-2004)

This breathtaking series tracks the quest of a time-displaced samurai who must find a way to back to the past to save the future! Packed with breathtaking cinematic visuals and downplayed dialog courtesy of creator Genndy Tartakovsky, the show’s plots range from dramatic to comedic and hold nothing back, while avoiding censorship through robo-mayhem. Look familiar? It’s created by the same visionary who brought us “Star Wars: Clone Wars”!

#6 – “The Venture Bros.” (2003-)

Mixing adult action and comedy with the elements of “Jonny Quest,” this show focuses on the misadventures of a pill-popping super scientist, his immature boys Hank and Dean, and their ultra-violent bodyguard Brock Samson. With a butterfly-themed super-villain called the Monarch, this show never goes in a predictable direction as it makes countless nostalgic and pop-cultural references, while also dealing with the hilarious theme of failure.

#5 – “SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999-)

On their first trip to the underwater city of Bikini Bottom, kids and adults alike quickly realize that nothing can thrill like a talking sponge who hangs out with his best friend, a starfish named Patrick! This quick-paced, low-budget Nickelodeon cartoon’s personality and laughs help it defy expectations, as it showcases hilarious antics, becomes a mega-franchise and wins constant praise.

#4 – “South Park” (1997-)

Aimed directly at older audiences, this immature program features crude, paper cutout-style animation, even cruder language and outrageous humor. After becoming a hit phenomenon following the release of its 1999 feature film, this franchise has continued to offer up a no holds barred parody of anything and everything, while maintaining its focus on its four troublemaking kids – one of whom isn’t fat, merely big-boned.

#3 – “Futurama” (1999-2003, 2008-)

This sci-fi sitcom by “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening follows the zany adventures of a late 20th century pizza delivery boy who’s thawed after a thousand-year cryogenic freeze. Bringing that Simpsons charm to new worlds as they make interplanetary deliveries, “Futurama”’s cast includes a cyclops, a drinking robot, a bureaucrat, an intern, a mad professor and a lobster-doctor. Witty, hilarious and absolutely boundless, it even survived the terrors of cancellation!

#2 – “Family Guy” (1999-2002, 2005-)

Speaking of shows with more than one life… Launching Seth MacFarlane’s animated empire and dragging the sitcom to strange new places, “Family Guy” brings viewers a dysfunctional family centered around an inept father, his loving wife, their repulsive daughter, slow son, talking dog and mother-hating scientist infant with a British accent. The master of cutaway gags, “Family Guy”’s parodies of American culture and shady characters continue to shock us!

#1 – “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2005)

Taking the top spot on our list is the deepest, most satisfying and epic cartoon of the decade. This show focuses on the last airbender, a boy named Aang, who is capable of manipulating the four elements, and is tasked with restoring peace to the world. An awe-inspiring series crafted on Asian influences, it captivates us by effortlessly switching between action, comedy and drama, while also giving us a beloved characters, a deep mythology and an expansive world.

Do you agree with our list, or are you going to take it out on Kenny? Feel free to let us know in the comments section! For more entertaining top 10s, be sure to subscribe to

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