Toon TV Top 50, Part One: 1949-1985

50 Best Animated TV Cartoon Series Of All Time

It sure is heartening to know that I’m not the only Ruff and Reddy fan out there. That’s the lesson I learned from the responses to last month’s article on new DVD collections of 1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoons, where I mentioned how my own Saturday morning memories skewed a bit older. Today’s younger generations–with 24-hour channels devoted to animation and other kids’ programming–may not recognize how good they’ve got it, because up until about 25 years ago such “sugar-charged supershow” fare was relegated on the three networks to weekend mornings (and, often on local UHF stations, to weekday afternoons after school). In spite of these limited hours–and some pretty limited animation, to boot–many of the shows of that era are still fondly remembered by Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers alike.

With that in mind, I thought the time had come to toss my Beanie copter into the endless ring of Internet lists, and offer up my picks for the 50 best animated cartoon series of all time, starting with the years 1949-1985 (Part two, covering 1986 to 2011, can be found here). Here are the relatively few restrictions I placed on myself: no shows comprised of older theatrical cartoons (The Bugs Bunny Show, Tom and Jerry), because it’s an unfair comparison; no live-action series (like the Krofft Brothers’ H.R. Pufnstuf), puppets (Kukla, Fran and Ollie) or marionettes (Gerry Anderson’s Supercar), or clay animation (Davey and Goliath); and no post-1975 Japanese animation, because frankly I’m just not that into giant animal-themed robots or schoolgirls battling tentacled monsters (Sorry, anime fans, that’s how I feel. Feel free to submit your own list). In ascending order, my choices are:

25. Schoolhouse Rock – Okay, this one wasn’t an actual series. Regardless, the educational shorts that used songs and animation to introduce kids to the basics of math (“Multiplication Rock”), language (“Grammar Rock”), the sciences (“Science Rock,” “Computer Rock”), history (“America Rock”) and other topics were so ubiquitous on ABC’s weekend programming in the ’70s and ’80s that they had to get a mention. Besides, who will ever forget such tunes as “Three Is a Magic Number,” “Interjections!” and “I’m Just a Bill”?


24. Journey to the Center of the Earth – One of two 1967 ABC shows based on 20th Century-Fox films and created by the less-than-stellar Filmation studio (the other was Fantastic Voyage), Journey to the Center of the Earth followed a group of subterranean explorers to…well, read the title. While there was little that Jules Verne would have recognized, Journey was a fairly entertaining sci-fi/adventure saga that boasted a nifty theme song.  And yes, that’s The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s Ted Knight doing the narration.

23. The Huckleberry Hound Show – The first Emmy for a cartoon series went in 1958 to this Hanna-Barbera syndicated show, with Daws Butler supplying the easy-going canine star’s Southern drawl. Can anyone now hear “Oh My Dealing Clementine” without thinking of Huck’s off-key rendition? Joining put-upon Jack-of-all-trades Huck in his first half-hour incarnation were Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks (“I hate meeces to pieces!”) and–before graduating to his own show in 1960–Yogi Bear.

22. Top Cat – Sure, it was Sgt. Bilko with animated felines. It was also a very amusing and very New York-flavored comedy that benefited from a voice cast that included Allen Jenkins as Sgt. Dibble, Bilko regular Maurice Gosfield as Benny the Ball, and Arnold Stang in the title role as the “leader of the gang.”

21. Thundarr the Barbarian – I talked up this 1980 sci-fi/action series from the Ruby/Spears studio in an article last year, so let me just say that, thanks to the sun sword-swinging title hero, I still find myself meeting surprising situations with an exclamation of “Lords of Light!”.

20. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Perhaps the quintessential Reagan-era cartoon, with the star-spangled paramilitary force facing down the scheming minions of an “evil empire,” this syndicated action series managed to overcome its toy line-promoting origins with some well-thought-out storylines and strove to give most of its gargantuan character line-up distinct personalities and their own individual spotlights. But you Joe fans out there already knew that, “and knowing is half the battle.”

19. Crusader Rabbit – Before gaining fame with Rocky and Bullwinkle (see below), Jay Ward teamed with Terrytoons vet Alex Anderson on this, the first animated series made for TV. In many ways it was an R & B precursor, with small and quick-witted bunny Crusader and not-too-bright pal Ragland T. Tiger taking on a gallery of comical villains in multi-part, cliffhanger storylines.

18. The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo – The 1962 holiday favorite Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol led to this short-lived 1964 prime-time entry on NBC. Myopic protagonist Quincy Magoo (voiced by Jim Backus) played such figures as Cyrano de Bergerac, Dr. Frankenstein, Gunga Din, Long John Silver and Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Watson in mostly-serious adaptations of noted literary works. Goofy? You bet, but it helped introduce me to stories I had never heard of before and even inspired me to read a couple. Take that, Classics Illustrated!

17. Sinbad Jr. – Produced first by Sam Singer for American-International Pictures in 1965, then continued by Hanna-Barbera, this syndicated show followed the exploits of the young sailor and his parrot pal Salty. Sinbad Jr.–one of the few heroes to wear Capri pants–got super-strength whenever he gave a tug on his Magic Belt. Make of it what you will, but there didn’t seem to be anything odd about it when you were a kid.

16. Roger Ramjet – Whenever I hear “Yankee Doodle,” I start singing “Roger Ramjet and his Eagles, fighting for our freedom,” thanks to this 1965 syndicated superhero spoof. Gary Owens (more serious a year later as Space Ghost) was dim-witted aviator Roger, whose Proton Energy Pills gave him “the strength of 20 atom bombs for a period of 20 seconds,” and who fought enemy spies and other foes with the help of the young members (Yank, Doodle, Dan and Dee) of his American Eagle Squadron.

15. The Fantastic Four – Marvel Comics’ flagship superhero title first came to the small screen, courtesy of Hanna-Barbera, in 1967. Because the art design was based on Jack Kirby’s original comic book illustrations, this was undoubtedly the best-looking animated F.F. translation to date (not counting The Incredibles). They even managed to depict the Galactus Trilogy better than a certain live-action film did…and in just 30 minutes. Oh, and that was future M*A*S*H actress Jo Ann Pflug voicing the Invisible Girl.

14. The Ruff & Reddy Show – “They sometimes have their little spats, even fight like dogs and cats,” but feisty feline Ruff and his easy-going canine pal Reddy would always overcome their differences in time to defeat bad guys like Harry Safari, Captain Greedy and Salt Water Daffy in their own 1957 series, Hanna-Barbera’s very first made-for-the-small-screen cartoon.

13. Space Ghost and Dino Boy – Long before he was played for laughs as an Adult Swim talk show host, Space Ghost was H-B’s first serious superhero, sharing a 1966 Saturday timeslot with Dino Boy and his caveman pal Ugh. By the way, just how many rays did Space Ghost have on his power bands? (Fun Fact: the actor voicing Dino Boy was Johnny Carson…but not the talk show host.)

12. 8th Man – “Faster than a rocket, quicker than a jet,”  this Japanese cyborg crimefighter reached U.S. shores in 1965. The brainwaves and personality of a lawman gunned down in the line of duty are transferred by a scientist into a super-strong and super-fast robot body. Similar to the DC Comics hero Robotman, 8th Man at times lamented his lack of humanity, which added a unique touch of drama to the goings-on. Oh, and in those bygone days before Surgeon General warnings, 8th Man could get away with carrying special “energy cigarettes” in his belt buckle than he would “smoke” to recharge!

11. Here Comes the Grump – There was a fun Alice in Wonderland-like quality to this 1969 fantasy from the De Patie-Freleng company, creators of the Pink Panther cartoons and co-founded by Warner Bros. veteran Friz Freleng. None other than the inimitable Rip Taylor gave voice to the short-tempered, Yosemite Sam-ish Grump, who rode his allergy-prone Jolly Green Dragon in pursuit of Princess Dawn, trying to free her kingdom from the Grump’s curse of gloom, and Terry Dexter, a boy from the “real world” who accidentally landed in this magical realm. Confession time: as a 10-year-old, I did have a bit of a crush on Princess Dawn.

10. Star Trek – The entire cast of the original ’60s series–save for Walter Koenig, who did script an episode–returned to the Enterprise to reprise their roles in this 1973 animated continuation of the show. Even Filmation’s limited resources didn’t totally detract from the entertaining stories (which included appearances by Harry Mudd, the Tribbles, and other ’60s series elements).  And I for one would like to see the tri-limbed Lt. Arex and cat-like Lt. M’Ress worked into the next live-action Trek film.

9. The Mighty Heroes – Next year’s big-screen rendition of The Avengers is all well and good, but how about a live-action movie based on the slapstick super-team of Strong Man, Cuckoo Man, Tornado Man, Rope Man and Diaper Man? Future Fritz the Cat director Ralph Bakshi created the kooky quintet, who debuted alongside Mighty Mouse on CBS in 1966, for Terrytoons. Know what Diaper Man, the Jolly Green Giant, and Charlie the Tuna have in common? All were voiced by actor Herschel Bernardi.

8. Astro Boy – Japan’s “god of comics,” Osamu Tezuka, created the robotic lad for a 1952 manga series under the title “Mighty Atom” (which seemes sadly ironic given the country’s current crises). Equipped with super-strength, rocket feet, night-vision eyes, and machine guns built into his butt (!), Astro Boy patrolled the futuristic skies of “the year 2000” in this 1963 cartoon series. The first toon from Japan to make it across the Pacific to America, the show mixed humorous dialogue and animation with a theme of harmony between humans and robots that (deliberately?) spoke to overcoming racial prejudices.

7. Wacky Races – Why was it when Dick Dastardly and Muttley tried to sneak ahead of everyone it was called cheating, but when the other racers did it (Rufus Ruffcut sawing through Peter Perfect’s Turbo Terrific, for example) it wasn’t? By the way, you can tell a lot about a person by their favorite Wacky Racer; mine was “ingenious inventor Professor Pat Pending and his Convert-a-Car.”

6. George of the Jungle – If it only featured the adventures of klutzy, tree-colliding dim-bulb George and his ape sidekick Ape, Jay Ward’s Tarzan send-up would still make my top 10. But add to the mix the sublime superhero spoof Super Chicken–and, to a lesser degree, racing fool Tom Slick–and this 1967 Saturday morning classic easily swings its way into sixth place.

5. Challenge of the SuperFriends – After years of annoying kid sidekicks (sorry, Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Twins) and no antagonists save for lost aliens and well-meaning scientists, Justice League members Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman–bolstered by Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and the multiculti troika of  Apache Chief, Black Vulcan and Samurai–finally got some worthy and truly evil foes to (non-violently) battle in the form of the Legion of Doom, 13 deadly super-villains. Well, maybe the Riddler wasn’t really that deadly.

4. Beany and Cecil – How can you not like a ’60s kids cartoon that made reference to Lenny Bruce and The Kingston Trio in one episode? Veteran Warner Bros. animator Bob Clampett turned his acclaimed ’50s puppet series about the crew of the Leakin’ Lena and Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent, Time for Beany (which counted Albert Einstein and Groucho Marx among its fans) into a cartoon in 1962–even working his own name into the theme song, twice! All of the marvelous, pun-filled wordplay was left intact, with characters ranging from Slopalong Catskill (voiced by the one and only Mickey Katz!) and Tear-A-Long the Dotted Lion to everyone’s favorite bad guy, Dishonest John (“Nya-ha-ha!”).

3. The Flintstones – A half-century after their debut (the first made-for-TV toon to air in prime time), there’s little more to say about Fred, Barney, Wilma, Betty and company, except that they’ve beloved pop culture icons. It started out as The Honeymooners in bearskins, but went on to become a very funny sitcom in its own right (“Pebbles’ Birthday Party,” with the dancing girls sent to Fred’s house by mistake, still makes me laugh). Did you know that Hanna-Barbera was originally going to call the show and its “modern stone-age family” The Flagstones, but that surname had been claimed by the comic strip Hi and Lois?

2. Jonny Quest – With all the deathtraps and monsters he had to escape from before he even reached puberty, I’d be amazed if Jonny didn’t grow up to be a paranoid pill-popper, as satirically depicted on The Venture Bros. (more about that next time). But come on…lizard-suited scuba-men with a laser cannon, giant spider-like robot spies, living mummies and pteranodons, and mutant, man-eating monitor lizards led on a leash by a fat guy in a loincloth? What’s not to like? There was nothing like Jonny Quest when it hit the Friday night airwaves in 1964, and H-B’s first “realistic” cartoon–created by comic book artist Doug Wildey–remains a Baby Boomer classic.

And the winner is…

1. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle – What, you were expecting maybe Baggy Pants and the Nitwits? For sheer comedic brilliance and a non-stop array of jokes, topical references (Rocky: “You know who we haven’t seen in the game today?”  Bullwinkle: “Well, among others, Prince Suvana Phuma.”) and puns that often went young its young audience’s heads (It wasn’t until college that I heard of the opera Boris Gudonov and finally learned where bad guy Boris Badenov got his name from), nothing compares to Jay Ward’s heroic moose and squirrel duo. As if Rocky and Bullwinkle’s escapades weren’t enough, the show also featured such co-stars as mutton-headed Mountie Dudley Do-Right and the time-travelling team of Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman, among others.

So, which favorites of yours didn’t make my cut? Scooby-Doo? Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids? Pac-Man (Lord, I hope not!)? Write and let me know.

  • David

    Your list brought back many fond memories. The cartoons were much better then than what we have today. I have a fondness for Ruff & Reddy — would love to see it on DVD. I absolutely agree with your top three picks. While Rocky & Bullwinkle is the best, my favorite will always be Jonny Quest. My only gripe is that you failed to include the Jetsons — the space-counterpart to the Flintstones — in your list. It would make my top 10.

  • chris

    Jonny Quest was always my favorite…Did you notice that they released Season One on DVD?
    There was only one season…lol

  • mike jaral


    • facetfact

      Here I come to save the day !

  • Mark

    I agree with Dave, all the way from Johnny Quest to the Jetsons, these were all favorites of mine. I also had forgotten about about Ruff & Reddy; what great stuff these all were. I spent many Saturday mornings (much to my mother’s chagrin) watching these classics; thanks for the memories!

  • Eddie

    Ok…where is UNDERDOG??????

    • facetfact

      There’s no need to fear – UNDERDOG is here !!!!!!

  • Tim Pertler

    You have a lot of restrictions so maybe that’s why I don’t see PEANUTS!!!!!

  • Gary Cahall

    Gotta be honest, Dave: George Jetson never seemed as likable to me as Fred Flintstone. Don’t know if it was George O’Hanlon’s voice, those rings around his boots, or what. Gotta give it up for Rosie the robot, though.
    Eddie, his show was good, and it was close, but Underdog missed it by a nose (I only had room for one pill-popping hero, and Roger Ramjet made it). Say, why didn’t Polly Purebred realize Shoe-Shine Boy was Underdog. He was the only other dog in the city!
    And Tim, I was going with weekly/daily shows, but the Peanuts TV specials certainly deserve a shout out, with their fun stories and those jazzy Vince Guaraldi soundtracks.

  • Thomas A. Petillo

    Darn good list.
    How about “Rudy Kazooty”?

  • Anonymous.

    TV animation? BLEAH (as Chalie Brown would say)!!! OK, since you insist, we all know that it doesn’t come down to the quality of the animation. Where TV is concerned, it’s all a matter of writing. In that regard, “Rocky And Bullwinkle” certainly wins. But I have to say, when it comes to more recent animated programs, I’ve become a fan of the WB “Batman” and Superman” animated TV series of the 1990’s. The animation is tolerable, and both programs were very well written. Especially the “Superman” series. In so far as modern funny stuff is concerned, I think it’s fair to say that “The Emperor’s New School” is reasonably amusing.

  • William Sommerwerck

    I know I’m considered an unduly critical faux-intellectual — but how can you have /any/ Hanna-Barbera cartoons on this list — especially when #1 is R&B? What, exactly, is /good/ about them?

    Of all their work, the only one I ever liked was Ruff & Reddy — but it’s been so long that I feel uncomfortable defending it.

    Does liking something as a child mean you’re obliged to respect it as an adult? Or should you “put away childish things”?

  • Grace

    I TOTALLY agree with your number 1 pick – I have purchased the Rocky and Bullwinkle collections on DVD as they became available!! One of my favorite other cartoon characters was a tiger by the name of Snagglepuss. I don’t know if that was the name of the show or if he was a character on some other show, but I loved his “Exit, stage left (or right)” quips before he would leave a scene.

    • facetfact

      I think that was Top Cat..

      • John Fraraccio

        Nope, Snagglepuss, who was more of a nondescript mountain lion and showed up along with Quick Draw McGraw and Yogi Bear. “TC” paid homage to Sergeant Bilko.

  • Mata

    Jonny Quest rules! Race Bannon is and always will be my dream man. My favorite episode was “The Invisible Monster”; that eerie sound it made…spooky!

  • Cyndy

    You forgot about Scooby Doo. Spent many afternoons with “those meddling kids”

    • Sebastian

      Great to see McGill still has all the bases crveoed! Style, academics and research!Canada’s Ivy League school just keeps getting better!

  • Rick

    Ruff & Ready, Johnny Quest, The Flintstones & Rocky & Bullwinkle wre amoung my favorites frowing up. How about Woody Woodpecker, Yogi Bear, Popye and Mighty Mouse?

  • The Morrigan’s Pet

    My favorite as a pre-teen was Colonel Bleep. The animation wasn’t too good but the stories were a riot (to my somewhat sanguine recollection). The neatest thing about Bleep was that my parents bought a play-along kit for the show which included a heavy plastic sheet that could be placed over the TV screen. I could use my crayons to draw stairs or a door, whatever Bleep might need to succeed against Dr. Destructo. The first interactive TV program, if I don’t miss my guess.

    • hypatiab7

      Was it on before Winky Dink and You which also had an interactive plastic tv screen cover to write or draw on? That show drove me nuts, since the guy drew so fast, it
      was impossible for a child to keep up with him.

  • The Morrigan’s Pet

    Shouldn’t’ve used HTML. That’s “Colonel Bleep.”

  • Chris

    What about Woody Woodpecker & Droopy Dog?

  • Joe Guenther

    Cartoon favorites list
    1. Rocky and Bullwinkle (yes I have a dog named Peabody)
    2. Underdog my all time favorite superhero parody
    3 Herculoids
    4 Gumby and Pokey
    5 Courageous Cat
    6 Pink Panther/Ant & Aardvark
    7 Quick Draw McGraw
    8 Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show BEEP,BEEP
    9 Star Blazers
    10 Tom Terrific
    11 Lone Ranger (cartoon was patterned after Wild Wild West)
    12 Uncle Waldo aka Hoppity Hooper
    13 60’s Spiderman “does whatever a spider can…”
    14 Banana Splits

    • Bruce Reber

      “The Banana Splits” were actually guys dressed in costumes, but cartoons were part of the show. And as I said previously, Gumby and Pokey were clay figures, not a cartoon.

  • Rachel

    Good to see 8th man, but I was also looking for Speed Racer and one of my faves – Gigantor!

  • Joe Guenther

    A Heroes Rebirth 
    Every time he passed by one the memories came rushing back. First a loud cry for help than a poor excuse that left his customer standing there with their mouth wide open. A short run to a nearby booth and BOOM all thats left are pieces of broken glass and metal as he stands triumphantly in his work clothes ready to go. Boy,those were the days. Back then,nobody minded if you needed an energy boost, however artificial,all that mattered was that you got the job done. The people tolerated his crashing through ceilings over and over again as he rushed to the aid of people calling his name. When they stopped calling his name he retired. Coincidentally,the booths he used were gone as well. The riffraff,both sinister and batty also disapeared. His other,regular job,became obsolete as shoes were made like toasters disposable and easy to replace. They took advantage of his heroic persona by merchandising him. To think,a once proud hero reduced to having his visage on a tee shirt. Thanks to babyboomers with fond memories his alter ego was a household name again. The Phone Booths he once used,are now gone but the hero remains to be called,now and forever Underdog.

    • Bruce Reber

      “Underdog”, the canine version of “Superman”, voiced by Wally Cox. I loved watching that one. I remember one of the episodes where one of Underdog’s arch-villains stole all the spoons in town, and it was up to UD to save the day.

      • John

        Was that episode “The Silver Thieves”? And it took me a long (long) time to figure out Simon Bar Sinister’s name…

  • Wayne F.

    Deputy Dawg, Speed Racer and Mighty Mouse should be there.

  • Dave W

    Baby Huey, Foghorn LegHorn, Yosemite Sam! There is really to many to list. On Saturdays, I used to watch cartoons till noon and then it was Jungle Jim!!

  • Bill C.

    Great article, though it’s obvious from some of the comments that there are people who don’t know the difference between made-for-TV and theatrical cartoons (cartoons produced to be shown first in theaters).

    Mighty Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Droopy, Woody Woodpecker, Heckle & Jeckle and many others were great successes on television, but all of those cartoons were produced for theatricals showings first. Gary explicitly stated that he didn’t think it was fair for made-for-TV cartoons (usually made on much smaller budgets) to compete with the lush, full animation of theatrical cartoons.

    Gary, thanks for all the love for Jay Ward. Although I was sorry to see one Ward series fail to make the list: Hoppity Hooper. Produced between “Rocky & Bullwinkle” and “George of the Jungle,” the series is largely forgotten today, but featured the same sharp writing and great voice work of the other Ward series.

  • version

    My favs include Johnny Quest, Jetsons, all of Aesops Fables – Rocky & Bullwinkle; Professor Clyde Crashcup; Dudley DoRight; Heckle and Jeckle; The Mighty Underdog; Roger the pill popping Ramjet; Roadrunner and Wile E Coyote;

    What No mention of Tennessee Tuxedo, Chumly and Phineas J Whoopey and his 3D-BD – these guys were educational!

    How about the Beatles??

    • hypatiab7

      How about Fractured Fairytales?

  • Ludy Wilkie

    Did you mentino Tom Terrific on Captain Kangaroo?

    Were Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle made from old movie cartoons?

    What about Quick Draw McGraw?

  • Hitchfan

    I can’t argue with the list especially the top three. R&B was and is the best. I also would add Tennessee Tuxedo and Deputy Dog. I don’t know if it qualifies but I would also add the Roadrunner and Wile E Coyote

  • Jack Hawkins

    You did forget the second half of the “Beanie” crew. Stan (the genius) Freberg was co writer and puppeteer.

  • HotTubJohnny

    Okay.What about Quick draw McGraw;Mighty Mouse;Herman and Katnip*(*Harvey/Paramount’s”Tom&Jerry”knock off).
    and Pink Panther??

    Also,how these from the 90’s:”Eek the Cat”on Fox and”Animaniacs”on the WB??

  • Ronald Black

    Does anyone remember “Clutch Cargo”?

  • Mike Phelan


  • Dan Leathers

    How about Diver Dan, and his sidekick, “O.U.Squid”?

  • Randy Dannenfelser

    I liked The Ant and the Aardvark, but I hadn’t realized it was a theatrical short.

  • JH West

    Mighty Mouse was great. But I would have to give the top spot to Rocky & Bullwinkle.

    • Cecile

      Make sure you get some sleep, and dont bvhaee like school children in your tents! Good luck and remember, keep heading NORTH!

      • hypatiab7

        That reminds me, what about “Captain Scarlet”?

        • John Fraraccio

          Not a toon but I sure remember that show. For starters the marionettes looked more human…and some got snuffed!

  • Louis Martinez


  • Mary

    Loved Jonny Quest. Race was/is so hot. Banana Splits was a favorite too, along w so many others.

  • Adam Burton

    Well, I won’t argue with the choices you made that I’m familiar with, and I can’t argue over the ones I haven’t seen, so bravo. There are many favorites from my childhood that I could list, but frankly I doubt they would really hold up to adult scrutiny (ie- I thought “Speed Buggy” was great back when I was too young to figure out it was a re-hash of Scooby Doo).

    I would mention a couple of more recent ones that I thought stood out quality-wise. The Tick, for instance: any show that has a Spanish-attired, walking plant man named El Seed, or a cockroach-themed little guy who talks like Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now who calls himself the Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight, should not be missed. There’s also the Cartoon Network’s Duck Dodgers series; there’s some mighty clever writing in those episodes.

    • hypatiab7

      Loved “The Tick”, especially the Little Wooden Boy episode.

  • Resistator

    The list is very good. I certainly love Johnny Quest, but my favorite was Cool McCool because it really made me laugh every time I saw it. Sorry Number 1.

  • fred buschbaum

    Seems we all have our own favs. Mine were crusader Rabbit, and the great Rocky and Bullwinkle. I watched many with my kids who were growing up.Just a personal thought…..I grewup with Beany and Cecil as handpuppets live, when they beame cartoons they somehow lost their luster and my interest. Many of the “made for TV” cartoons seemed too pointless and just a lot of thrashing around. I don’t think Wiley or the roadrunner would approve. And most of these charactors never heard of the Acme Co.

    • hypatiab7

      Yay! Someone else who remembers Beanie and Cecil as handpuppets. And, what about Kukla, Fran and Ollie and Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney and Shari Lewis and Lambchop? And, the string puppets on The Howdy Doody Show. My childhood wasn’t just cartoons.

      • facetfact

        I remember the Peanut gallery full of college kids when Buffalo Bob toured in the late 60’s – early 70’s…

        • hypatiab7

          If he’d been in Philly and I’d known about it, I would have been there, too.

          • facetfact

            I saw it on television – I was 22 – Buffalo Bob Smith came out slowly looked at the set on the stage for a second and then said “Hey kids, what time is it ?” EVERYBODY yelled the answer. There were a lot of tears in a lot of eyes.. Everybody remembered….(and who didn’t love Kukla, Fran and Ollie and Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney and Shari Lewis and Lambchop ? (Shari and Lambchop especially !)

  • Jim Ward

    How about 1960’s Q.T. Hush and Shamus. 100 5 minute episodes were created and all of them survive today. This series was a daytime regular after school time slot. Along with Rocky and Bullwinkle, Quickdraw McGraw, Snagglepuss or Huckleberry Hound.
    Kid’s today have no idea what they are missing.
    It wasn’t about the animation, but the writing. These writers were veteran comedians and in part the founders of comedy. Much of the material was straight out of Vaudeville. Of course, much of the credit has to be giving to the voices behind the characters like Hans Conried and Arnold Stang as an example. This was the golden age of comedy at its best

  • Holt

    Did I miss it, or did everyone leave out loveable George Jetson. The Jetsons was one of my all time favorites, along with Rocky & Bullwinkle.

    • John Fraraccio

      Read about George O’Hanlon’s involvement in the later series and movies. A very brave man. He was supposed to have been Fred Flintstone but Alan Reed won out.

  • roy levering

    One of the best things about Rocky & Bullwinkle were the sidebars: Mr. Peabody and his pet boy Sherman, Mr. Know-It-All, Fractured Fairy Tales, etc…just incredible writing that doesn’t come along often.

  • Bill C.

    Jack H.:

    Stan Freberg was only involved with “Beany & Cecil” when it was a live action puppet show. He had no connection with the cartoon show version of the characters.

    • Francisco

      It’s bound to get tghuoer the nearer you get but you have all done so well and a special thanks to Inge for being such a great guide

  • Cindy

    What about Mighty Mouse and Underdog???? They are great and always will be my favorites along with Jonny Quest!!! 🙂

  • Mike Oldfield

    Tough to make a choice between ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE and BEANY AND CECIL. It was quite obvious that both these cartoons were aimed at adults. I loved the dramatic introductions and voice-overs which told us what Boris and Natasha might be plotting next and the fact that Rocky and Bullwinkle came from Frostbite Falls, Minnesota.
    These shows are a lasting tribute to the great talents of Daws Butler and June Foray, two of the greatest voice artists in the business.

  • Lord Belchmore

    Dick Tracy. That show ruled. All of the cops were ethnic stereotypes and all of the crooks had physical deformities. How non-p.c. can one get?

  • ggarland

    Great memories! I agree with many of the toons that were listed. My cartoon watching heyday was during the 60’s so I can identify with almost all of the them. One cartoon that has not been mentioned is the animated version of Tarzan. I think it was out maybe in the ’80’s. I don’t remember much about the story lines but the animation was amazing. When the characters walked they looked almost real.
    There was one show on that I know doesn’t fit Gary’s qualifications because as I remember, it was probably puppets. I have know idea what the name of the show was but it had an underwater theme with one of the main characters being a deep sea diver. It was on either in the late 50’s or early 60’s. It may have even been a local show on one of the Atlanta stations. I remember being a member of the “club” and receiving things through the mail that only a member could get. I would love to know what the show was but no one I have talked to remembers it.
    Oh well the perils of getting old ….

    • John

      I remember it: Diver Dan!

    • Bruce Reber

      There was the Tarzan-inspired cartoon “George Of The Jungle”, but I don’t remember an animated Tarzan series. “George, George, George Of The Jungle, watch out for that tree!”

  • eagle

    What about fearless fly?

  • 1952 Baby Boomer

    Great comments all around….

    BUT – if YOU were one of the thousands waiting for the new 1964 ‘Fall Season’ to start in September, you just have to admit the the BEATLES Saturday Morning Cartoon was probably your favorite for at least the year or so it was on!!!
    Fairly good writing with actual Beatle Songs!

    Yeah Yeah Yeah !

  • Gary Cahall

    Another quick note of thanks to all you toon heads out there. I’m working on part two, 1986-2011, for next week (read it closely, Mighty Mouse and Tick fans), but I wanted to answer a couple of comments and questions out there:
    Eagle, Fearless Fly almost made the cut as part of The Milton the Monster Show (“Hello, Daddy!”), which used to be out on DVD but was since discontinued.
    ggarland, it sounds like the show you’re talking about is Diver Dan, an early ’60s live-action series shot right here in Philadelphia, where a live actor in a diving suit interacted with puppet fishes like kindly old Doc Sturgeon and the nasty Baron Barracuda. Two discs of the show are available at
    I wanted to squeeze Hoppity Hooper onto the list, Bill C., but the heroic little frog didn’t quite reach. I did enjoy Hans Conried as the voice of Uncle Waldo, though.
    To you Speed Racer fans out there: the Mach 5 was awesome, but Speed himself was a little bland in my opinion. Another ’60s Japanese show I liked more was Prince Planet, about a young alien hero sent to Earth to fight evil. They actually wrapped up all the subplots and sent him home in the last few episodes,and killed off (!) the two main villains.
    I don’t remember Colonel Bleep myself, The Morrigan’s Pet. There is a collection of this toon available at
    And thanks for the compliment, Thomas A. Petillo. I have to say that Rootie Kazootie was before my time, but the little puppet and his pal Polka Dotty can be seen at

  • Michelle Malkin

    My all-time favorite cartoons were the ones in
    “The Fractured Fairytales” segments on “Rocky & Bullwinkle”. I’ll never forget the Princess with a
    nose like a casava melon or the Rumplestiltskin takeoff (Scooby dooby do, scooby dooby dan, I am the Rumplestiltskin man!)”. The topical and vaudeville humor were pure perfection.

  • DAVE

    WHY were Huckleberry Hound, Top Cat, and Mr. Magoo SO LOW on the list?? And, Jonny Quest should have been no. 1, with The Flintstones no. 2, and Beany&Cecil no. 3. And, where are The Jetsons?? Other than those concerns, thanks very much for reminding me of a lot of cartoon shows that were played, on a square box, that was, in essence, my BABYSITTER !!!!!

  • jon

    Hey you guys, these are all good cartoons. The Flintstones are at the top of the list and Captain Caveman is the iceing on the cake. I could have watched the Smurfs for ever.

  • John T. Borek

    Sorry Dave, but The Jetsons were the 21st Century version of the Flintstones. To leave them out is a sin. Redo the list and include them, look at your replies, everyone loves The Jetsons.

  • Johnny Y

    Ahhh…memories…but…missing Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse as well as Mighty Mouse!!!

  • Nick

    Let’s not forget one of the hottest female cartoon characters ever…”Jade” from Jonny Quest! She may have only appeared in two episodes, but certainly kick-started MY puberty!

  • Jack Hawkins

    For Bill C. Go up to the Beanie and Cecil link. It takes you to Volume 2 of the DVD offering and lists Stan Freberg!

  • WT

    A list of my all time favorite cartoons:

    1)Top Cat, 2)Flintstones, 3)Jetsons, 4) Wally Gator, 5) Pink Panther, 6) Huckleberry Hound, 7) Jonny Quest, 8)Yogi Bear, 9)Pumpkin Puss and Mush Mouse, 10) The Looney Tunes Crew (Roadrunner, Pepe LePew, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Wiley Coyote), 11) Snaggle Puss (exit stage right) and 12) Deputy Dawg.


    I’m with Roy Levering. My all-time favorite cartton was the black-and-white “Rumplestilkin” in Fractured Fairy Tales. I’m still seaching for Camp Ochakiwanbakee.

  • Mike Oldfield

    The underwater show which ggarland remembers from the 1960’s may have been STING RAY which was produced and created by the same British company which gave us THUNDERBIRDS and MIKE MERCURY and his SUPERCAR. These were done in a process called “Supermarionation” which involved puppets which were moved one frame at a time.

    • John Fraraccio

      Not stop-motion animation, but if you search for “Supermarionation” you’ll find out there was a lot more to it…along with the James Bond film connection!

  • David in LA

    I would really like to see the animated series Sealab 2020, and Fantastic Voyage released on dvd.

    • John Fraraccio

      Fast forward: They both are, though Fantastic Voyage is on PAL Region 2 DVD only. Be careful not to bump into Sealab 2021…it will addle your brain and quite possibly other parts of your anatomy.

  • Melkior

    Gigantor, Kimba the White Lion, & Herculoids … OH yeah…

  • Kellie

    Nobody that I talk to remembers Kukla, Fran and Ollie, and I loved that show. I sure wish that I could find it on DVD! Tried to order H.R. Pufnstuf,and while I was anxiously waiting for it to come, got an e-mail telling me it was no longer available. Big disappointment. Want my grandkids to be able to enjoy these shows as much as I did.

  • Mike

    Go Go Gophers, The Archies, Josie and the Pussycats!

  • Gary Cahall

    Kellie, you can find a collection of Kukla, Fran and Ollie episodes on DVD at
    Also, H.R Pufnstuf is once again available at

  • Gary Cahall

    By the by, there are a lot of calls out there for the superhero/spy spoofs Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse and Cool McCool (sadly, neither is currently available on DVD). Did you know that both shows sprang from the mind of Batman creator Bob Kane?

    • John Fraraccio

      Yes…and Cool McCool’s the coolest! Look up also a chap named Al Brodax.

  • David Murray

    Anybody here remember “Calvin and the Colonel”, with Maggiebelle and Sistah Sue? Based on the old “Amos and Andy” series I think, and my favourite animated series of the ’60’s.

  • Cindy Urban

    What great memories all your comments bring back to me ! I love all the cartoons mentioned.Growing up my brothers and I loved Diver Dan,Deputy Dawg,Johnny Quest,Crusader Rabbit,Top Cat,Flintstones ,Mr.Magoo,The Bullwinkle Show,Dick Tracey,Popeye,all the Harveytoons,Courageous Cat,Colonel Bleep,I almost forgot about Q.T. Hush !Thanks for all the great childhood memories everyone.

  • CheriLynn

    Anyone remember the beautiful fairytales done with Indonesian shadow puppets? Perhaps this dates me even more than many of you, but I loved those. And I thought I was the only one who knew about Roger Ramjet. My grandmother lived in Lompoc so I used to scream with laughter when it came up. As for your number one pick, I completely agree. No cartoon besides Bugs could compete with Rocky and Bullwinkle. The writing was the best. And I was a fan of Edward Everett Horton in films as well as on Rocky.

  • Bill C.

    If you look closely at the description for that Beany & Cecil DVD, you will see that it includes episodes of the live-action “Time for Beany” puppet show – hence the credit for Freberg.

    I am a HUGE fan of both Stan Freberg and Bob Clampett, but the duo had a rather big falling out over “Beany & Cecil” because Freberg felt that Clampett hogged way too much of the credit for the show. So again, Freberg did NOT work on the cartoons.

    You are confusing “Supermarionation” with simple stop-motion animation.

    The Gerry Anderson shows were NOT filmed a frame at a time. The puppets are mostly conventional marionettes operated in real time by puppeteers. Heck, the strings are totally visible in most shots.

    The “Super” part of the process involved electronic relays (rather than strings) that controlled the puppets mouths, making it easier to coordinate them with the dialog.

    I definitely remember “Calvin & the Colonel.” Yes, it was based on “Amos and Andy” with that show’s creators (Freeman Gosden & Charles Correll) providing the lead characters voices. In fact, some of the episodes were recycled “Amos and Andy” radio scripts.

  • Lori Conatser

    Ya forgot Felix the Cat!

  • Leslie Sexton

    Yep, Jonny Quest and R & B were right at the top of my list, but I was estatic to see R & B predessors, Crusader Rabbit and Rags in the mix. Most people think I’m halucinating when I talk about that series. Anyone know how I can get a copy of that for posterity. R&B were my husbands favorite. Star Trek also rocked! Great List!

  • T Lady

    Top List for anything, especially Classic Cartoon series is bound to be subjective. While I do have fond memories of watching “The Flintstones”, “Top Cat”, and “The Mighty Heroes” on Network and UHF stations in my youth, there are so many others that could have made the list:

    “The Bugs Bunny & Road Runner Show”
    Any of the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies (which Bugs Bunny and Road Runner fit into)

    “Secret Squirrel”
    “Atom Ant”
    “The Hillbilly Bears”
    “Yogi Bear”
    “The Pink Panther”
    “The Ant & The Ardvark”
    “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?!”
    “Dudley Do Right”
    “Super Chicken”
    “George Of The Jungle”
    “Tom Slick”
    “Frankenstein, Jr. & The Impossibles” (which has just been released on DVD).

    Just to name a few, so many, many more.

  • SimbasGuard

    Some of my favorite pre 1985 cartoons not on your list are He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, The Incredible Hulk,The Kids Super Power Hour with Shazam, Godzilla, Transformers, and (Even though I did not even hear of this show until 1994 and the controversy caused by my favorite movie of all time). Kimba The White Lion.

  • Eddie P.

    Always thought Tom Terrific was pretty wild…could change his shape or size to fit his needs! ..and stoic ol’ Manfred ( his dog) would just go along for the ride. But, Saturday mornings were meant for early rising, sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of Cocoa Krispies, Jets, Twinkles or most any sugary cereal, and watching one great cartoon after the other. My favorite was of course the WB Looney Tunes…esp the Road Runner-Wilie Coyote toons or Daffy Duck vs Bugs Bunny episodes. So great to be a kid back in the late 50’s – early ’60’s. The only thing we had to worry about was passing to the next grade in school and a world wide nuclear holocaust!

  • Jack

    Underdog was certainly one of the best, along with GO-GO Gophers and Commander McBragg

  • Debbie

    Scooby Doo is my all time favorite, I am an avid
    fan of mysteries. I do remember Mighty Mouse and Rocky and Bullwinkle too, Happy watching everyone.

  • Steve Rothstein

    Mighty Mouse was my favorite in the 50’s.

  • BD fan

    The Magilla Gorilla Show hosted such memorables as the adventures of Mushmouse and Pumpkin Puss, and Sheriff (Ping! Ping! Pinnnng!) Ricochet Rabbit! Loved watching them during pre-school years with my mother. Underdog was also a huge favorite. Those were the days, boys & girls … kids today don’t know what REAL cartoon entertainment and talent truly is. How sad. With the loss of reverence for God goes the loss of true imagination and creativity.

  • Ross Biondo

    Thank You for including 8th Man. Someone else who thought this was a great cartoon, came up with the Six Million Dollar Man.
    As a sidenote my favorite cartoon theme song was from Hot Wheels, and all of you know that catchy song .

  • Bill C.


    “Crusader Rabbit” has been among the most difficult series to find on home video.

    Back in the day of VHS, Rhino home video released two volumes of Crusader cartoons.

    With the coming of DVDs, there have only been two unofficial releases. What are known as “public domain discs.” I can’t vouch for the quality of these discs, nor their completeness, but try looking for them on eBay or other online sources.

  • Dennis Knotts

    Great recommendations, but I see three titles missing from all the others, so let me put my two cents in: Gummi Bears [Season One is on DVD], The Wuzzels [still looking for them] and Ricochet Rabbit [found a bootleg version].

  • Dave

    Dad and I laughed watching Rocky and Bullwinkle, but for different reasons. That is the only show that delighted youngsters and adults at the same time. Classic stuff.

  • Stephen Roberts

    Good list. As much as I love many of the cartoons listed I think my all-time favorite has to be Jonny Quest. I’m with Mata: “The Invisible Monster” gave me nightmares for days. (Interesting how things that scare us as children become fond memories when we get older.)

    Calling all movie studios and producers! Get me a live action adaptation of Jonny Quest, stat! And no debacles like The Flintstones and Rocky and Bullwinkle movies, or The Fantastic Four for that matter.

    Do you think George Clooney would play Race Bannon? (Before he gets too old.)

    • Bruce Reber

      Is another live-action movie based on a cartoon really necessary? I don’t think so!

  • Chauncey

    Does any one else remember a cartoon show called “Calvin and the Colonel”? and would you/they have any idea where I can get a DVD of it?

  • Jon Bliley

    Jonny Quest, How awesome was a cartoon where people smoked and killed other charactors?

  • Peter Hirschman

    You hit almost ALL of my favorites . How about adding Powwow the indian boy, The point(it was org.made for television)The alice in wonderland with the voice of Sammy davis Junior as cthe chesshire cat(with it’s voice redubbed by scatman Crothers when it was released on video),Felix the Cat( made by trans-Lux) Frankenstien Jr. and the impossibles. and of course underdog and king leonardo and finally Hercules(the magic ring version)

  • Gary Cahall

    Chauncey, Calvin and the Colonel (an early ’60s animated attempt by the white creators of radio’s Amos ‘n’ Andy to re-use that show’s voices and plots by turning the characters into animals) used to be out on DVD, but the company releasing them lost the rights. They may pop up again sometime, so check occasionally on for further info.

    • Gon

      edatssmbsaer1fan on October 31, 2011 I actually love the way you do your giveaways I think you should do more. Forget thos ppl hating..

  • Terry

    I remember watching 7 of the cartoon shows on your list, and some I never heard of. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. For me #1 would be Rocky & Bullwinkle” and #2 would be The Flintstones.

  • CE Carter

    Cartoon shows of 1980s and 1990s came across as 30- and 60-minute commercials for toys and the action figures many of these shows were based on. Some of my favorite cartoons were Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckyl, Deputy Dawg, Woody Woodpecker, Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Pink Panther, Felix the Cat, Bugs Bunny & Friends, Johnny Quest and Popeye.
    An interesting format of the Mighty Mouse cartoons with ‘Oil Can Harry’ was that it featured opera. Probably as a throw-back to his youth, Quentin Tarantino featured Clutch Cargo in a scene of Pulp Fiction where the Christopher Walken character talks to the young Bruce Willis character about the hand-me-down wrist watch.
    Popeye is as old as Mickey Mouse, but started out as a British cartoon before moving to Hollywood. Two Popeye classics are Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, and Alladin’s Magic Lamp. The artwork in these cartoons is incredible. Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse had one of the coolest jazz sound tracks of any cartoon. has a line of books featuring the Saturday morning cartoon line-up we grew up with: (Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960, vols 1&2; Saturday Morning Fever; Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons, etc., etc.)
    These cartoons were really special programs to us. That’s probably why we still remember them.

  • mstroup

    I am shocked… SHOCKED… that you didn’t include the Speed Racer cartoons!! Driver X was secretly Speed’s father!! Chim-Chim was the original “trunk monkey”!! Campy! Corny! Horrible sound effects and cheesy voice over dubbing!! But you just had to love that Mach 5!! (Go Speedracer… Go Speedracer… Go Speedracer Go!!)

    • Bruce Reber

      Actually, Racer X was Speed’s BROTHER! Pops was his father.

  • Bill C.


    Don’t know where you got your information on Popeye, but it is misinformation.

    Popeye began as a character in the American comic strip “Thimble Theater” written and drawn by Illinois native Elsie Segar. Popeye’s first appearance in the strip (which was then featuring the exploits of Olive Oyl’s family) was on January 17, 1929.

    Popeye quickly became the strip most popular character and Segar swiftly made him the center of the comic strip’s action.

    Popeye made the jump to movies NOT in Britain (nor Hollywood in plain point of fact), but in the New York-based animation studios of Max & Dave Fleischer. He made his screen debut in a Betty Boop cartoon (called appropriately enough “Popeye the Sailor”) in 1933.

    The Fleischer Popeye cartoon series was an immediate sensation and for the remainder of the decade, Popeye even outstripped Mickey Mouse as the most popular cartoon character for movie-goers.

    BTW – Mighty Mouse appeared in over 80 cartoons, but only a small handful of them followed the operatic format.

    The best book on the history of classic cartoons is “Of Mice & Magic” by noted film historian (and cartoon buff) Leonard Maltin. On the web, you can find production information at a website called The Big Cartoon Database.

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  • Diane

    Wow – lots of cartoon fans out there. My favourite was and still is Rocky & Bullwinkle. The other segments in their show too – Boris & Natasha, etc. Don’t think anyone mentioned Casper the friendly ghost – he was so cute. What about Little Lulu, loved her too. Great memories!

  • John

    Rocky and Bullwinkle deserve the crown but as an also-ran,would you believe “Tennessee Tuxedo”voiced by Don Adams himself? I concur with “Crusader Rabbit” and “Ruff and Reddy”-I still remember the narration from the latter:”from the planet Munimula-that’s aluminum backwards”. Anyone remember”King Leonardo and Friends” ,another golden oldie?

  • elsando

    I haven’t read all the comments (but I will). Did anyone mention Johnny Jupiter – with Major Domo and Reject Robot? Weird kids like me loved it. And a great local Dallas show before the world of cable was The Frito Kid, with Snakebit Sam and Little Nell – tho it wasn’t a cartoon – sped up like an old time movie.

  • ximenao

    I hope it’s not too,late to add my own two cents to this post! I generally like your list, but would like to add perhaps a few important omissions, a sentiment certainly in concert with the majority of responses to this article. First of all, an observation: I think that, while I love Looney Tunes, it’s best to leave them out of this list, as they are mostly animated shorts originally made for the cinema, not television.
    Secondly, I would definitely have included “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” (Filmation’s best work, even including He-Man which had a tendency to be campy at times), “Planet Of The Apes”, which explored some really adult subject matter, impressive for a Saturday Morning cartoon, especially one made in the 70’s and I would definitely include “Gumby” which, under Art Clokey’s marvelous supervision, had a tendency to approach the surreal.

    • Bruce Reber

      I don’t think Gumby would qualify as a toon-it featured animated clay figures, but it wasn’t a cartoon.

  • Greg Hossbach

    Good list = lots of memories! Tom Terrific, Yogi Bear, Quickdraw McGraw, Augie Doggy & Doggy Daddy, Dick Tracy, Heckle & Jeckle, Clutch Cargo, and Wile E. Coyote (with everything from Acme)& The Roadrunner missed your list. Just a quick question…who was the dog who, when given a dog biscuit (shaped like a “T” ora “Y”), would hug himself a few times while saying “Yummmm” and then shoot straight up in the air and float softly to earth? Please let me know. Keep up the good work!

  • Gary Cahall

    Greg, the treat-craving canine you’re thinking of was named Snuffles (not to be confused w/ Warners’ talkative mouse Sniffles), and he was used by Quick Draw McGraw to track down frontier fugitives…as long as Quick Draw and Baba Looey had plenty of dog biscuits for him to ooh, aah, and shoot up into the air in ecstasy over.
    Is it just me, or does Snuffles’ whole routine, in hindsight, seem kinda orgasmic?

  • Greg Hossbach

    Snuffles! Yes! Thanks, Gary!!! BTW, it seems to me that not soon thereafter a company came out with dog biscuits shaped just like those that Snuffles craved. Orgasmic? Yes — doggy style!

  • Ellen Urie

    Cannot believe I didn’t see this mail from MovieFanFare until now!Somehow missed it. Kellie, I do remember kukla, Fran, & Ollie. Also Paul’s Puppets. That was when my Dad got our first TV set. I always liked Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Woody Woodpecker, Tom and Jerry. Also Felix the Cat and Roadrunner. It was fun to see a cartoon and the news before a movie when I was a kid!!!

  • K C

    What great lists… man, the nostalgia… Does anyone recall one with a bear family dressed like hillbillies and one of the punchlines was “What do you say, Pa?” And the old bear would just mumble something. My mother and I would tease my father about it since it was back in the days of somewhat gruffer patriarchs that still smoked pipes and all.

    • John Fraraccio

      Scroll down a bit and you’ll see an earlier answer: None other than The Hillbilly Bears, which I believe premiered with Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel. Maw, Paw, Shag and Flora. Alan Reed’s successor as Fred Flintstone voiced Paw while Wilma’s voice actor Jean Vander Pyl did Maw and Flora. Shag was the ubiquitous Don Messick.

  • Gary Cahall

    Sure thing, KC: those bears dressed as hillbillies were, believe it or not, called The Hillbilly Bears. Created by Hanna-Barbera to cash in on The Beverly Hillbillies’ success, Ma and Pa Rugg and their kids appeared on Atom Ant’s show in 1965. Remember how only the son, Shag, could understand what Pa was saying?

  • K C

    Thank you for your reply, Gary, although now I am beginning to wonder about old age setting in since I could not remember the title of that toon. And thank you for the tidbit about how H-B wanted to cash in on as I recall the rather phenomenal success of the Beverly Hillbillies.

  • Stephen Rhodes Treadwell

    In my most noble opinion the best cartoons ever made are the 1975 Tom & Jerry cartoons, where T&J are friends. They fascinate me much more than any other cartoon I ever saw. They have the most beautiful animation of any version of T&J. I never saw a cartoon w/ a them song I liked better. Besides they make T&J a very special cartoon. What other cartoon has a version so opposite the original; I’m talking about T&J being friends.

  • Stephen Rhodes Treadwell

    Hanna Barbera did a better job w/ animation than Looney Tunes did.

  • Jack

    The Flintstones and Rocky & Bullwinkle.

  • Johnny Lasagna

    Like all lists everybody has a favorite that did not make the cut but truth be told, all of the cartoons listed were great for their time and most are still great. Thanks for the reminder of past times.

  • Doppleganger51

    I  agree  a  lot  of  todays  kids  are  culturally  deprived   I  may  be  a bit  older than  you  or at the very  least  have  watcched  different  shows  like  mighty mouse   tom and  jerry  huckleberry   hound   quick  draw  mcgraw   speedy gonzales   wally  gator   peter  potamus  and so so   breezly  bruin   yogi bear and  boo  boo   tennesee  tuxedo  flipper  and  lassie  or  rin tin  tinngarfield  goose  and  romberg  rabbit   breer  rabbit  and  good  old  bugs  bunny  porky  pig   and  daffy  duck  with  foghorn leghorn  and  snagglepuss and  exit  stage left  or  right  pixie  and dixie   or the chicken hawk   deputy  droop along  or  richochet  rabbit   tom  terrific  and  top  cat  and  sidekicks   pluto  guro  gearloose  and  howard  the duck  and  scrooge  mc  duck  clutch  cargo  and  spaceghost  and  casper  and  wendy and  chip  and dale  and  secret  squirell  and  rocky  and  bullwinkle  the  flintstones  and  the  jetsons  and  johny  quest  and  lets  not  forget  superman the original  and  all  the other  super  heroes  batman  flash wonderwoman  green lantern  the hulk  and  green  arrow  and  supergirl  and the hulk  iron man  captain America the martian manhunter  and  the justice league   the legion  of  super heroes   and later the inhumans  and  much  later  the xmen  although  as that  point  i  was not  a kid  any more and  flash  gordon  the original   the lone  ranger   sky  king  bat  masterson  the  cisco  kid  and  all  the  earlier  ones  comedians  laurel and  hardy  the  keystone  cops  all  the mack  sennet  comedies  charlie  chaplin  abbot  and  costello  lewis  and  martin and  all  the  radi  shows  I  listened  to before  tv  came  out I  could  go  on  but  I  leave  the missing  ones  to  some  one  else  to  relive   

  • Adlaidmorton65

    Pinky & the brain???

  • Kdshultz

    Did you forget  gilligan’s planet, new adventures of gilligan, the dukes and the bufford nugget nose hour

  • Johnny S

    i think ill just make a classic cartoon list featuring well all of the originals

  • Lynda K

    Who can tell me  the name of the cartoon program that was on in the 50’s, black & white, Wiley Wil, and a funny little, very short  man dress in a black trench coat, hat and I think carrying a spy glass.  As I remember Wiley Wil was very skinny , had long legs and wore a plaid suit and bow tie.  When he would go around buildings he would wrap his outer leg around the building and pull the rest of himself quickly around.  He used to say “I don’t want to be happy, I want to be sad”.  Young people ask your parents if they can identify this cartoon please.  I have been trying to find info on this for quite awhile.  Thanks.    Lynda K

  • Paul

    I remember Space Ghost teamed with Frankenstein Jr for at least one season. Does that sound familiar to anybody else?

  • Kiri

    This is a very american-oriented list. While we in australia got many of the american cartoons – a lot of these never made it across the pacific, and so wouldn’t have made it to my list. Rocky and Bullwinkle though? Definitely! And Roger Ramjet! I pray that they never try a live action version of RR, it would be spoiled if they did.

  • Bob K.

    Somehow, I think you forgot about Saturday mornings in tne Mid-1950″s….I remember getting up, at 6-7 years old, at 7AM, to watch Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle, Popeye the Sailor Man, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and there were many other Action & Adventure shows, like the T.V. show called “Rin Tin Tin”, Sky King”.

  • Joseph23006

    I vote for ‘Mighty Mouse’. However, this past year “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” reappeared on television but severely cut. The only reason I know this is because my sister liked this show and it took me years to find the DVD for her. Sometimes the memory of the show is better than what is replayed years later when PC crowd protects our sensibilities.

  • KarenG958

    I loved Rocky & Bullwinkle, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and of course Jonny Quest! But I can’t believe you failed to mention the superhero that was “Not bird, nor plane, nor even frog,” the Wally Cox voiced Underdog!

    • veriphile

      You nailed it, KarenG!! My thoughts precisely! But I would also have to add the Pink Panther somewhere in the mix.

  • john h

    ” in the begining ” can not forget Tom Terrific

  • Phunnyest Phukka

    I thought that Johnny Quest is the best of all, but what about “PLASTICMAN”? Quite a hilarious cartoon that had me wondering exactly what OTHER things stretched that they could not show in a kid’s cartoon……HA-HA.

  • Charles M Lee

    The best television cartoon show of all time is not even on this list. It is by far the Bugs Bunny Show. Rocky and Bullwinkle would be number two. Left off of this list are Mighty Mouse, Tom and Jerry, Popeye, this list is not even close.

  • The Big Little Kid

    It’s hard to dispute some of these ‘cartoon classics’, but age ‘is’ a factor. The old Paul Terry black & Whites with ‘Farmer Gray/Alfalpha (sp)were silent with music backgrounds. I was sorry when those went off the air. I would love to have some in my library. Felix the Cat is off of this list as well as Betty Boop of the ‘B&W’s’
    The Herculoids was another that I thought should be on this list. Leaving off Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckel is just out and out ‘wrong’.
    I guess in the end it’s who you ask and how old are they.

    • BobinTX

      I’m 66. I thought “Heckle & Jeckle” was the best!

      • John Nagle

        Finaly… a true person of taste speaks up! H&J was a harbringer of all that has come… and let us not forget Woody Woodpecker…too violent my ass!

      • hypatiab7

        I’m 67 and my favorites were Crusader Rabbit (and Rags the Tiger, of course)
        and Rocky & Bullwinkle (especially Fractured Fairy tales.)

        • Kenny Koala

          Don’t forget that dastardly villain, Dudley Nightshade

  • Tim M

    Tennessee Tuxedo, voiced by Don Adams. And his chum, Chumley!

  • Gary Cahall

    Believe me, folks, I’m more than old enough to remember watching Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, and even black-and-white Popeyes on TV. However, as mentioned in my introduction, I deliberately excluded theatrical cartoons from this list and concentrated solely on programs made for TV. After all, it’s unfair to compare the full animation done by the Warner Bros., MGM and, of course, Disney studios in the 1930s and ’40s with the more limited (in movement as well as budget) animation that Hanna-Barbera, Jay Ward and the like had to work with.
    On a related note, even if they were included, the Paul Terry-era Mighty Mouse wouldn’t have made my list. Face it: he was a boring, one-note character who usually didn’t show up in his cartoons until the last couple of minutes to beat up cats. It took Ralph Bakshi’s 1987 Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures to make M.M. worth watching, as I mention in the second article in this series.

  • J.P.

    My fave is actually not a cartoon, it is the original Beany and Cecil show which was live action puppets, when live meant live… Nothing beats that… Second is Crusader Rabbit, then R&B… Anything after that is up for grabs…

  • Johnny Sherman

    My favorite geographic feature of the Beany and Cecil cartoon was No Bikini Atoll. Clever stuff.

  • laustcawz

    For all the terrific choices, there are a few that also deserve to be here (“Felix The Cat”, “Spider-Man”–1967, “Underdog”), but there’s one GLARING omission–the brilliant “Wacky Races” spin-off “The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop”.

  • rr

    def rocky and bullwinkle!

  • rgordon7

    Yup, Moose and Squirrel.

  • Bunyip Bluegum

    “Felix The Cat” from the late 1950’s early 1960’s should be in there somewhere. And, what about “Clutch Cargo” with Syncro-Vox??

  • Kerwood Derby

    You left out something on the R&B show; Fractured Fairy tales and Aesop & Son. Narrated by the great voice of Edward Everet Horton.

  • linsai

    Casper the Friendly Ghost! Felix the Cat, Fractured Fairy Tales and one more, Itchy Brother and Biggy Rat. Oh wait, what about Quick Draw McGraw!

    • Bill Cross

      Fractured Fairy Tales were a part of “The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show” (along with Peabody & Sherman, Aesop & Son, and Dudley Do-Right). Biggy Rat & Itchy Brother were the villains on the “King Leonardo & His Short Subjects” show.

      • Dave

        Don’t forget comander McBragg.

  • Billy Jack Curry

    Pink Panther!!

  • Bruce Reber

    Some of these may be a bit obscure, but here goes-Josie and The Pussycats, King Kong and The Wizard of Oz (yes, there were cartoons based on these classic films), Milton the Monster, Flukey Luke, Quick Draw McGraw, Secret Squirrel (with his fez-wearing sidekick Morocco Mole), Inspector Gadget, Planet of the Apes, The U.S. of Archies (based on the comic strip), Deputy Dawg, Superman, The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Wait Til Your Father Gets Home, Hong Kong Phooey, Atom Ant. If anyone can think of any I’ve left out please post them.

  • calamityjean

    The Jetson’s and The Flintstone’s…

  • Andy B

    Crusader Rabbit – way ahead of it’s time; forerunner to Rocky & Bullwinkle. Some of the jokes were beyond our heads as kids, but understood them later.

  • FootCenter

    I’d just wanted to mention Jay Ward’s other great series , Hop pity Hooper (aka Uncle Waldo show) I enjoyed it also as much as Moose & Squirrel & am sorry it’s ignored so often . As with Rocky show the animation not too special, but great scripts & characters made the show a real joy to watch.

  • diacad

    Tezuka’s Astroboy, without hesitation. There were three series – b/w in 1963 version, color in 1980 (my favorite), and the recent 2009 CGI version. Unfortunately, most of the 1963 version available in the US is dubbed, not subtitled, which cuts into the charm, in my opinion. And CGI usually does not appeal to me.

    • John Fraraccio

      I second that. And read up on the original for it effectively became the first anime broadcast Stateside. View them now; the animation may be crude but, American network standards notwithstanding, many of the stories still hit home, and there was unquestionably some genuine wit and insight involved.

    • John Fraraccio

      Just now remembered another Tezuka production that saw air time Stateside…and it isn’t Kimba the White Lion but The Amazing 3. But, you need view the latter with its original Japanese title Wonder 3 (“Wanda Surii”) with English subtitles and captions to appreciate Tezuka’s touch and its source culture. Catch it on YouTube while you still can.

  • A kid in the 60’s

    Nice article. It brings back great memories!

  • BarbC

    Love it! Just had to watch an episode of R&B a couple nights ago. I’m showing my age but loved to watch Popeye in the ’50’s too.

  • Frances Sponzilli Kelly

    I agree that Rocky & Bullwinklel should be Number 1. BUT, what about Quickdraw McGraw!!!! And Underdog!!! and Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote!!!

  • Gatoms

    The original 1966 New Adventures of Superman from Filmation Associates…on CBS. For a 14 year old boy consumed by comic books of that era, this series hit just at the right time. It was the first animated Superman since Paramount’s superb efforts back in the 1940’s. Saturday mornings…Captain Crunch, bubble gum, comic books, NASA/Gemini, Beatles and TV. A time that is no more. Impossible due to children’s addiction to the electronic culture. Humbug!

    • Randy

      Don’t forget Quisp and Quake cearels, Tang, and Space Food Sticks !! Loved the 8th
      Man show and those repowering cigarettes !!

  • Dick Lee

    From the foggy mists of my memory comes the image of Col. Bleep with Squeek and Scratch!

  • facetfact

    SHAME ON YOU !!! You have completely ignored the greatest of all time – SOUTH PARK..

    • WWII Kid

      I think the article was about stuff when we were kids. Nobody killed Kenny when we were in grade school.

      • facetfact

        mmm – well, that’s true….

    • Bruce Reber

      “South Park” the greatest cartoon of all time? I’d rather watch some of the off-the-wall stuff on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. No wonder kids today are so messed up – we don’t need any more cartoons like “South Park”.

  • Josep Colomer

    From my limited exposure to American cartoons, as I was living in Europe at the time, among those available over there, certainly

    Top Cat

    and Huckleberry Hound (including Yogi Bear)

    the most daring and least cloying ones

    (Disney always respected, nevertheless)

  • WWII Kid

    I loved The Beatles animated series!

    • John Fraraccio

      I believe the producer got involved with their film Yellow Submarine.

      • Bruce Reber

        I didn’t care too much for the movie, but I loved the song (from their “Revolver” album in 1966).

    • Bruce Reber

      Yes, that was one awesome cartoon series! It was inspired by their first movie, “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964). I think the cartoon ran from 1965-66.

  • ufjlbo

    FANTASTIC I have always liked and enjoyed Rocky & Bullwinkle, The wife goes to the other room when I pop in their DVD”s(LOL)! There was never a better comedy team that hit the airwaves, and I don’t think there will ever be. This just made my day, Thank You!!

  • Peter Sugars

    The Jetsons & The Flintstones must be my two favourites, but so many other fantastic ones

  • Mike from Novi

    Rocky and Bullwinkle are #1 but Johnny Quest as #2? no way! I had really bad animation Maybe Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones or Scooby Doo. Obviously the person who made up this list wasn’t around in the 1960’s? I still refer to all outsourced-to-India calls as “talking to Hadji” (from Johnny Quest), however.

  • Paul

    Filmation’s Tarzan Lord of the Jungle was by far the best animation seen on TV for that time period. Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, Mighty Orbots, Dungeons and Dragons, Hanna Barbara’s World of Super-Adventure had the best intro ever!! Good Memories from my past!!

  • leroy

    What about Felix the cat ?

    • Dave

      Terriffic show.

    • Bruce Reber

      Loved the theme song – “Felix the Cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat”!

  • bb

    Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour

  • bb

    forget South Park!

  • teapartygreg

    max fleischer popeye, superman cartoons. Betty Boop, CoCo the clown (out of the inkwell) plus all of the other ones (Small fry the fish). The drawing was excellent, 3D. and the Cab Calloway ghost one. There are tons. 1960 Astroboy. Tobar the 8th Man.

  • Bob

    How about “TELECOMICS” from the early 1950’s and OSWALD THE RABBIT TV cartoons!

  • Gernot

    You missed out on Popeye! He had two series, one in the 1960’s and one in the 1980’s! I don’t care HOW bad the animation got, he’s STILL my favorite! 😉

    • williamsommerwerck

      I believe the ’80s Popeye was made by Hanna-Barbera, and it was uncharacteristically good.

      • John Fraraccio

        One reason was Jack Mercer’s participation. He did more than provide Popeye’s voice.

  • Dianned

    How about Clutch Cargo?

    • hypatiab7

      I loathe “Clutch Cargo”! Those moving lips in a stationary face always creeped me out.

      • williamsommerwerck

        Agreed. That cheesy weirdness carried over to the rest of the show.

        It was definitely a cartoon, but whether it was animated is debatable.

  • Stan

    It seem’s to me that the “Woody the Woodpecker Show” belongs on a top 25 list more than some of the others.

    • Bill Cross

      “The Woody Woodpecker Show” consisted of cartoons made originally for theatrical exhibition (as did the long-running “Bugs Bunny Show”). This is a list of cartoons made specifically for TV.

  • Stan

    Mighty Mouse didn’t make the list?

  • Traci

    How about ‘Fractured Fairy tails?!
    I was always partial to them!

    • Joe


    • Dave

      LOL. They were cool.

  • billyboy53

    What about “South Park”?

  • CrashFroelich

    Roger Ramjet was a riot and clearly written for adults to enjoy, as well as kids. However, my favorite would be the anime series Cowboy Bebop that aired on CN.

  • Chet Carman

    Heckel & Jeckel, Woody Woodpecker, Rocket J. Squirell, Tom & Jerry – the old school, ultra-violent ones**

  • David Strickland

    Road Runner will always be the best

  • Joe

    The Flintstones are #3, as clones of the Honeymooners, but where is their clone – the Jetsons?

  • Jonorr

    Very good, and often spot-on.
    Do you remember Herge’s Adventures of Tin-Tin?

    • Dave

      I loved that show. Awesome.

  • Joel

    What—No Underdog??? Here’s to Wally Cox! There’s no need to fear!!! Also no Superman Cartoons from the 1960’s featuring Bud Collier who voiced him on radio. Finally The Lone Ranger cartoon, a 60’s version featuring a villain named Tiny Tom who was a rip off of Professor Loveless from the live action Wild Wild West.

    • hypatiab7

      What about ‘Batfink”? Your bullets cannot harm me. My wings are as a
      shield of steel!” “Batfink” is now out on cd.

  • Sadler2010

    Yeah, no Underdog, no Mighty Mouse???

  • Mike

    Always loved The Flintstones, Roadrunner… Bugs Bunny was always my favorite overall cartoon. I did not see “Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse” mentioned anywhere..loved the Frog as Edward G. Robinson. You left out the BEST song from School of Rock “Conjunction Junction” ..”conjunction junction what`s your function? Hooking up words and making them sound right” 🙂

  • Mike

    Yes, “Underdog” also with his “girl” Sweet Polly PureBread..funny stuff.

  • Sidrich61

    What about the british spy spoof Danger Mouse?

    • hypatiab7

      It’s out on cd now. I love British animations. For years all I could say was ” Oh, crumbs!”
      until it finally came out.

  • Fran

    I liked Clyde Crashcup most people who were kids in the 60s don’t remember him but I thought he was great.. My brother, my sister and I loved Leonardo the Lion, and the skunk voiced by Don Adams to sound like Ronald Colman

    • John Fraraccio

      You mean Odie Cologne? Talented chap named Allen Swift voiced him. Adams voiced Tennessee Tuxedo.

  • John Patterson

    George of the Jungle;Dick Tracy;Quick DRaw McGraw.

  • Alex grzybinski

    come on Where’s Scooby Doo was a die hard fan in the 1970’s and still is and nobody can out do this “” Hey Scooby “”

  • P.g. Hudsonjr


  • John David Stewart

    No Scooby-Doo? That’s ridiculous.

  • Mike Givens

    While it might not have been my favorite cartoon, my fondest memories are of a cartoon short on Captain Kangaroo’s show called Gerald McBoingBoing. Whenever Gerald opened his mouth, noises came out. When a doctor once asked Gerald how he was feeling, out came the huge sound of a diesel locomotive. It was great fun.

    • hypatiab7

      I was lucky enough to have the Gerald McBoingBoing book when I was a child.

      ‘This is the story of Gerald McCoy and the strange thing that happened to that little boy.
      They say it all started when Gerald was two. That’s the time boys start talking, least most of them do. ‘

      Then it goes into how Gerald never spoke. He just said “Boing!”

  • FR3

    Animaniacs, Freakazoid, and Pinky and The Brain.

  • D Downing

    Linus the Lionhearted! The voice talent list alone makes this cereal adfest worth mentioning. I remember on a later episode of Murphy Brown when Sheldon Leonard (the voice of Linus himself) said something like ” I’ve got to go to a meeting with a bunch of programming execs who think the pinnacle of Saturday morning cartoons was Scooby-Doo!”

  • D Downing

    OOps! Forgot to mention. Tom Terrific! With Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog!

  • stldjen

    Rocky and Bullwinkle came on late on Sunday nights when it was originally shown, around 10pm, which I thought was weird. I was around ten at the time. Was there something they didn’t want kids to see? 😉

    • hypatiab7

      I don’t know where you lived when you were a kid, but in Philadelphia,”Rocky & Bullwinkle” was on in the afternoon just after we got home from school..

  • Ellie S

    What about Speed Racer or the Marvel Super Hero group: Captain America, Submariner, Iron Man, Incredible Hulk and Thor, God of Thunder from the 60s?

  • rapalmi

    No complaints here on that list. ROCKY and GEORGE reign supreme!

  • williamsommerwerck

    I’m sorely tempted to say… “Rocky & Bullwinkle”, and nothing else. This list comprises mostly garbage (the Hanna-Barbera shows in particular) — and garbage is the polite way of putting it.

    I can think of a few /good/ shows missing. How about the Batman and Superman series animated in Japan? Quite nice. Then there’s “The Venture Bros.”, a nasty send-up of “Jonny Quest”. How about “The Simpsons” (when it was good) and “Futurama”?

    Then there’s /the/ greatest animated series — simply because it is so brilliantly offensive — “South Park”.

    I can understand someone liking “Speed Racer”, because it had a certain innocently dumb charm. But a “good” show? No way

  • Yogi

    The Flintstones premier was on the same night as the first Nixon/Kennedy debate. little tidbit

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  • John Fraraccio

    My goodness, someone else remembers Journey to the Center of the Earth and Fantastic Voyage. Top Cat has his followers too; that was Hanna-Barbera’s next foray into prime-time broadcast sitcoms, between The Flintstones and The Jetsons. Then along came Jonny…

    • John Fraraccio

      To my amazement all 17 episodes of Fantastic Voyage are available on PAL Region 2 DVD. Filmation may have not been the best at animation but its backgrounds and layouts were above average. And Ted Knight did more than narrate…he was quite the voice talent. It must have been a lot of fun to watch him characterize in the recording booth.

  • bigg3469

    Wowser! I loved “Here Comes the Grump” when I was a kid ( and to tell you the truth I had a crush on Princess Dawn too!) Fun Fact the voice of Terry Dexter was Jay “Dennis Mitchell” North of the live action version of Dennis the Me

  • Bruce Reber

    There was one cartoon series, “Clutch Cargo”, where the voices weren’t synched to the characters’ mouth movements. It was hilarious!

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  • myta

    i am looking for one of the t.v. shows that placed underwater and they had an antenna on their head

  • Holding Our Own

    Who can take this list seriously, since Transformers isn’t on it?