The 25 Best Cartoon Network Shows Of All Time

·17 min read

Cartoon Network is where animation lovers found our favorite weird cartoons and learned that growing up didn't mean growing out of cartoons. Whether you were watching Cartoon Network as a kid in the 90s or just started watching, chances are you love almost all of the shows on this list.

1.Adventure Time

Finn the human rides on an office chair in the sky, with Jake the Dog holding onto him

Depending on how old you are, it may surprise you to learn that Adventure Time was a lot of people's entryway into the world of Cartoon Network. Introduced in 2010, the fantasy series about a 12-year old boy named Finn and his magical talking dog, Jake, fighting evil and having adventures in the Land of Ooo, is beloved for its animation style, original music (some songs are even having a second life as TikTok songs!), bizarre characters, timeless life lessons, and groundbreaking queer rep (between a rock-music playing vampire and bubblegum princess, no less!). If you've still never made the time to watch it, the (Adventure) time is now!

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2.The Powerpuff Girls

Powerpuff girls, Blossom (red bow and orange hair) Bubbles (blonde pigtails and blue eyes) and Buttercup (short black hair and green eyes) in air, ready to fight

Sugar, spice and everything nice – if The Powerpuff Girls isn't the first thing that comes to mind when hearing that phrase, what kind of cartoons were you raised on?! This Cartoon Network classic, introduced in 1998, followed three sisters with superpowers who were made in a lab by their scientist father and spent their spare time fighting crime in Townsville. Their biggest nemesis was Mojo Jojo, an evil talking monkey with a tragic backstory.

Chances are, you've debated with friends over if you're a Blossom (a born leader), a Buttercup (tough and mean) or a Bubbles (soft and sweet). The series was so loved, Cartoon Network rebooted it in 2016. There was even a live-action remake for the CW which focused on the girls as older teens, but it's been put on pause to be re-worked, which is probably for the best – you'll agree if you saw the leaked scripts.

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3.Courage the Cowardly Dog

Courage the Cowardly Dog (pink dog with hole in his tooth) is held hostage by evil eggplants

One of Cartoon Network's strangest shows, Courage the Cowardly Dog was initially aired in 1996. It followed an anxious anthropomorphic pink dog, Courage, who was adopted by an elderly couple who live in the middle of Nowhere. Courage had to put aside his fears in every episode, battling supernatural forces, demons, zombies, and more genuinely scary things to protect his owners who were often clueless to the peril lurking around the corner. Muriel, the elderly woman, showers Courage with love, but her mean old husband, Eustace, teases him often with a scary mask, making him shake and shriek in fear.

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4.Steven Universe

Steven Universe stands in kitchen with his bellybutton exposed, holding a snack cake up, joined by Crystal Gem beings Garnet, standing, Amethyst, seated on counter, and Pearl, watching from behind.

Groundbreaking in more ways than one, Cartoon Network's first show created solely by a woman was also its first show to depict gay marriage, feature a main character struggling with PTSD, and have all female superheroes. Introduced in 2016, Steven Universe was created by Rebecca Sugar, an Adventure Time writer alum and boasts one of the biggest fandoms for any Cartoon Network show, thanks to its efforts to break out of heteronormative ideals and create a show that helped kids find their identity.

The science fantasy show centers on Steven Universe, an adolescent half-human who is coming of age while being raised by the Crystal Gems, a group of magical beings. The more time he spends with them, the more Steven grows into a more powerful, magical version of himself. Aside from the poignant life lessons, Steven Universe is also known for its stunning animation and original music.

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5.Johnny Bravo

Johnny Bravo, an animated teen boy with large upper body, sunglasses, and tall blonde hair, flexes a bicep in front of a gym.

Another early classic, Johnny Bravo left an impression its viewers when it first aired in 1996. The series followed its namesake Johnny Bravo, an Elvis-inspired teen boy with big blonde hair and a daily uniform of black sunglasses, a tight-fitting black t-shirt to show off his muscles, and blue jeans. Each episode found Johnny trying his best to earn the affections of women he encountered, typically failing and often sidetracked by interruptions from his neighbor, a little girl named Suzy who adores Johnny. Ripe with adult humor, Johnny Bravo was one of those shows your parents could laugh at just as much as you, if you watched it as a kid.

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6.Ed, Edd n Eddy

Ed, Edd and Eddy hang from a clothesline outside of a trailer, Ed hangs upside down by his feet while Double D and Eddy are pinned by their sleeves.

Early aughts kids were raised on the antics of these three jawbreaker-obsessed preteen boys with basically the same name, though each had their own personality: Double D was the brains and the leader, Eddy was the conniving mastermind behind their schemes, and Ed was...well, the dumb one, who put questionable things in his mouth, including a coat hanger. Aside from the Eds, the show wasn't short on hilarious characters, like Johnny and his aptly-named wooden board friend, Plank, cool kids Kevin and Nazz, and immigrant son of a shepherd Rolf, who grew up to be a meme. Plots involving the Kanker sisters, who were in love with the Eds, bordered on inappropriate but were equally hilarious.

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7.The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy

Billy, a boy with beady eyes and big pink nose, stands next to Mandy, forlorn girl with frown, and Grim, a reaper who stands with his hands on his hips.

Another example of Cartoon Network's refusal to shy away from weirdness and dark comedy, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy followed dimwitted Billy & his cynical friend Mandy, and Grim, a Jamaican-accented reaper who becomes their best friend for life by force after losing a bet to them. The show was actually a spin-off of another Cartoon Network original show, Grim & Evil, which featured all of the characters and also included Hector Con Carne in the minishow Evil con Carne. Running from 2001 to 2007, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy often featured the kids dragging Grim into their hijinks and plots for their own gain, facing off with Dracula, the boogeyman and the wolfman to name a few.

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8.Codename: Kids Next Door

The kids are disguised as trees watching teenagers through binoculars

Back in the early 2000's, everyone wanted to be part of the Kids Next Door sector and have access to their hi-tech treehouses and everything that came with it, including the hamsters who generated power for them.

The series centered on a crew made up of a diverse mix of kids, each with their own codename numbers: Numbuh 1, Nigel, the no-nonsense Brit, Numbuh 2, an aviation-obssesed German-American known as Hoagie, Numbuh 3, the awfully optimistic Japanese-American Suki, Numbuh 4, the always ready-to-go Australian-American Wallabee, and the brainy but cool Numbuh 5, an African-American girl named Abigail. Together, they fought crimes against kids, like thwarting dentist appointments and avoiding homework–an all too relatable plot for kids viewers. Another key plot point was the resistance to growing up which was viewed as an inevitable downfall–also relatable.

Cartoon Network / Via youtube.com

9.Cow and Chicken

A cartoon cow (Cow, younger sister) looks upon a cartoon chicken (Chicken, older brother) lovingly while the chicken looks unamused.

Debuting in 1997, Cow and Chicken was one of the earliest absurd cartoons of Cartoon Network's offerings, a precursor to all of the absurdity that was to come. Cow and Chicken are a brother and sister, whose parents are somehow human. Little sister Cow drives Chicken crazy as the two navigated daily shenanigans at home, school, and dealing with the Red Guy, a devilish character with buttcheeks that were entirely too pronounced. It's easier to escape from their issues when Cow morphs into her alter-ego, Supercow, wearing a purple supersuit with holes for her udders and granting her superpowers, including the ability to suddenly speak Spanish.

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10.Teen Titans Go!

Picture of Teen Titans Go! cast smiling goofily, from left: Starfire, Robin, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Raven

The Teen Titans have had their fair share of shows and movies depicting them in all different kinds of scenarios and with different personalities, but Teen Titans Go! is easily the funniest variation of this super (stupid) squad. If you've ever thought, "if I was a kid with superpowers, I would just be wildly irresponsible," then you probably love this show. One of the best episodes finds Beast Boy roping the crew into joining a pyramid scheme and making an obnoxiously catchy rap song about it.

© Warner Bros. / Via Everett Collection

11.The Amazing World of Gumball

An animated family stands in front of a realistic house, Gumball and his mother (both blue cats). sister Anais and father (pink bunnies) and adopted brother Darwin (goldfish with legs)

A more recent addition to Cartoon Network's lineup of iconic cartoons, The Amazing World of Gumball is known for its absurdity, dark humor, and its jarring use of mixed media and animation styles, including featuring its animated characters in photorealistic settings, grounding the bizarre series in reality.

The show follows the series' namesake, Gumball, a blue cat, and his adoptive brother, a goldfish named Darwin along with the rest of their family in a bunch of misadventures that result in lessons about real issues, like political intolerance, mental illness, and cyberbullying, to name a few. It's also revered for its commitment to including jokes about trending pop culture. Honestly, it might be Cartoon Network's funniest show.

Cartoon Network / Via Everett Collection

12.Clarence

Clarence, Jeff and Clarence's mom wait in line at fast food restaurant

Another Cartoon Network show that is definitely not just for kids, Clarence is equal parts goofy and heartwarming. The show follows 10-year old Clarence, who lives with his mom and stepdad Chad, as he goes on regular-kid mess-making adventures with his friends, the square-headed and very particular Jeff and the rabid, streetsmart, mess-loving Juno. The depictions of family dynamics, especially between Clarence and his mom and stepdad are realistic and sweet, and possibly even healing or nostalgic for adult viewers.

A bonus? The ending theme song is so good. Like, could have been on the Juno soundtrack good.

Cartoon Network / Via youtube.com

13.We Bare Bears

The Bare Bears walk down a street in a city- Grizzly, a brown bear on top of a panda bear, Panda, on top of a polar bear, Ice Bear

This hilarious show about three different bears trying to find their place in civilized society in the San Francisco Bay Area has a voice cast of recognizable comedians, including Jason Lee, Charlyne Yi, Demetri Martin, Patton Oswalt, and Bobby Moynihan, proving it's yet another show that's not just for kids.

We Bare Bears has been lauded by critics for its depictions of "modern millennial anxieties" and allusions to ethnical diversity, including its representation of the Asian-American experience. One of the bears, Panda, is a canon K-pop fan, K-drama watcher, cooker of Korean dishes and lover of boba.

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14.The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack

Cartoon Network / Via flapjackgifs.tumblr.com

This show about a young, naive boy raised by a whale and mentored by an old pirate with questionable morals is just as insane as it sounds. Flapjack, the namesake character, is dead set on earning the coveted title of "adventurer," and will do whatever Captain K'nuckles asks of him in pursuit for that title and the promise of a lot of candy, including allowing himself to be covered in powder by a rich old lady so he can be a "clean boy" and earn the rights to the candy in her house, which is also entirely made of candy. But Flapjack isn't greedy, so when he gets his hands on candy, he shares, inspired by Captain K'nuckles advice to "steal from the rich and give to the hmmm"– advice that may be questionable if not true. Despite the absurdity of Flapjack's adventures, the show remained relatable in its content, becoming a much-loved fan favorite.

15.Dexter's Laboratory

Dexter, small redheaded boy, angrily raises a fist while Dee Dee skates happily in the back

If you've somehow never seen one of Cartoon Network's most iconic cartoons, Dexter's Laboratory (often abbreviated to Dexter's Lab), you've at least seen the meme made of him whispering "omelette du fromage" into a girl's ear.

The '90s cartoon centered on Dexter, a child scientist and inventor with an unexplained accent whose missions were constantly thwarted by his annoying (yet lovable) sister Dee Dee and his arch nemesis Mandark, a nerd infatuated with Dee Dee. Apart from its fresh and original humor, this show's voice acting really made it stand out. Despite the fact that it's been over 20 years since the show first aired, I can still hear Dexter yelling at Dee Dee, and their mom yelling at him.

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16.Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated

Cartoon Network / Via giphy.com

Cartoon Network became home to many Scooby-Doo! shows, but Mystery Incorporated was the only one premiered by the network. One of the more recent iterations of the Scooby-Doo franchise, Mystery Inc. brought Matthew Lillard on to voice Shaggy, who he famously played in the live action movies.

This modern version of Scooby-Doo found the gang in famous horror film and TV-inspired scenarios, referencing the SAW franchise, Twin Peaks, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and the works of H.P. Lovecraft. While some episodes played up the parody, others treated the dark and dangerous situations the gang found themselves in with total seriousness, making this one of the more adult versions of Scooby-Doo.

17.My Gym Partner's a Monkey

An anxious looking boy, Adam, holds a monkey in a backwards cap, standing in front of a school bus full of animals including a pig and an elephant

Sometimes this show feels like a fever dream because it was too short-lived. My Gym Partner's a Monkey followed a regular 12-year old kid, Adam Lyon, who is transferred to a school for animals aptly titled Charles Darwin Middle School when his last name is changed to "Lion" in error. Adam befriends Jake Spidermonkey after being paired up with him in gym–hence the name of the show–and together, they navigate the highs and lows of adolescence, which as any person who has been a middle schooler can tell you, is tough even when you aren't the only human at your school. Despite Adam's classmates being animals, many of the dilemmas they face are human in nature, making the show a metaphor for the ever-changing zoo that middle school feels like sometimes.

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18.Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends

Mac and Bloo go bowling

A show for healing your inner child, Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends created a world where imaginary friends went to live in an orphanage, to be adopted by new kids when their human friends outgrew them. The main character, Mac, isn't ready to give up his imaginary friend Bloo, but his mom pressures him to. To avoid having Bloo go to someone else, Mac takes advantage of the loophole that lets Bloo stay at the orphanage as long as he visits him daily. These visits allow Mac to befriend the other abandoned imaginary friends and get into even more adventures, with many episodes doling out lessons on why people create and cling to their imaginary friends.

Cartoon Network / Via youtube.com

19.Samurai Jack

Samurai Jack, an animated Samurai, exercises his abilities in front of an orange and yellow explosive backdrop

A unique example, Samurai Jack was a rare Cartoon Network show that got cut before it could really end, and was revived over a decade later to air a final season on Cartoon Network's aptly titled adult programming block, Adult Swim. The show centered on a brave and lonely samurai with a magical katana on a mission to save his kingdom from doom. It was a truly original show, blending different styles of animation and art and showcasing impressively choreographed action-packed fight scenes while exploring themes of grief and regret. Despite it's darker subject matter, the screwball comedy style kept Samurai Jack light enough for younger audiences. The rare circumstances of its revival gave viewers the opportunity to grow with the beloved show, further solidifying its impression on fans.

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20.Megas XLR

Megas, a giant robot, stands towering over its human counterparts, Kiva, Coop and Jamie

A short-lived fan favorite, Megas XLR was unlike any other Cartoon Network show. Set in an alien-ruled world in the year 3037, the futuristic cartoon centered on a human resistance force whose last hope was a giant, prototype mecha robot that they stole from the alien race. Together, Kiva, Coop, and Jamie hatch a plan to use Megas to travel back in time to the last battle humanity faced against the Glorft alien force and lost, hoping to reverse the outcome and change the future. Unlikely heroes that they are, the human force (especially Coop) often get themselves into unique messes, like accidentally ruining TV for everyone and inviting a giant radio-wave eating monster to Earth, that are hilarious to watch and made this show the success that it was.

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21.Over The Garden Wall

Wirt and Greg walk in the autumnal woods accompanied by frog and bird

This Emmy-award winning cult classic has become a yearly rewatch every Fall for its fans, thanks to its attention to detail that perfectly captures the feeling of cozy and slightly creepy Fall nights. Following half-brothers Wirt and Greg through a mysterious forest, the miniseries is dreamlike in both its storytelling and imagery, and not at all by accident. The writer and showrunner, Patrick Hale, referenced a collection of vintage postcards for inspiration and the payoff was palpable. The end result is a show that allows its viewers to get lost alongside the brothers in the woods, searching for meaning and answers in the unknown.

Cartoon Network / Via youtube.com

22.Chowder

Mung Daal teaches Chowder about food

While it was perhaps the only Cartoon Network show that centered on food and cooking, Chowder was much more than a food show, even if every character was named after a food. The series followed the young and hyperactive Chowder, who served as an apprentice to elderly, eccentric chef Mung Daal. Eager to learn, Chowder is still an impulsive kid who makes a lot of mistakes and has to fix them. His antics are not appreciated by Shnitzel, the gruff chef he works with, whose only communication is saying "Radda," a word without a real meaning that fans adopted anyway. The show was beloved for its snarky, original writing that wasn't afraid to break the fourth wall at times.

Cartoon Network / Via youtube.com

23.I Am Weasel

I.M. Weasel, an animated weasel stands in front of an operating table which holds I.R. Babboon, an animated baboon

A serious classic, I Am Weasel was a spinoff of Cow and Chicken that followed a much loved, well-spoken weasel and his dimwitted baboon friend as they fought to be the star of the show. I.M Weasel was too good to be true: a gentleman with a PhD and a total ladies man, while I.R. Baboon was jealous of his successes. Red Guy from Cow and Chicken also appeared frequently to mess with I.M Weasel and I.R. Baboon, his buttcheeks just as disturbingly prominent as they were before. If you were a fan, you can still the theme song: "You don't need pants for the victory dance, cause Baboon is better than Weasel!"

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24.Ben 10

Ben Tennyson of Ben 10 stands with his back out, above him are the aliens he can call on

Originally airing in 2005, Ben 10 became Cartoon Network's longest running franchise, with five different iterations spanning over the course of the last fifteen years, including a reboot that aired from 2016-2021. Safe to say: people love Ben 10. Still, the original series remains the most beloved.

The series centers on Ben Tennyson, a 10-year old who possesses an Omnitrix: a watch from outer space that gives him the ability to transform into one of 10 different aliens, each with their own unique powers. Over the course of a summer vacation with his grandpa Max and cousin Gwen, Ben finds himself in situations requiring the powers of the aliens, but sometimes his watch transforms him into a different alien than he chose, making the path to solving the problem at hand more difficult than expected. At its heart, Ben 10 was a show about a young, unlikely hero that was just plain fun to watch.

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25.Regular Show

Rigby, a raccoon, and Mordecai, a blue bird, stand and water grass with a hose

One of the Cartoon Network shows that toyed the line between being for kids and being for adults, Regular Show became a fast favorite amongst teens who appreciated the inappropriate humor that flew over the heads of its younger viewers, including a joke about big balls that its writer, Calvin Wong, admitted to being ashamed of writing. The show followed friends Rigby and Mordecai, apathetic young adults who work as groundskeepers at local park and often find themselves in situations that would be simple enough to overcome, until something magical or supernatural makes it difficult, thus turning a boring day into an extensive misadventure. Ripe with innuendos galore and some of the strangest characters Cartoon Network has ever seen, Regular Show is the kind of show you never get tired of revisiting, especially when you just need a cheap laugh.

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