Most Influential CartoonsAnimation is an art form that has lasted for hundreds of years and many cartoons have come and gone. However, there are a select few that have stood the test of time and changed the industry as a whole. This is a list that features cartoons that altered the art of animation with their new ideas and willingness to take risks.
Think of a cartoon gag. Just think of any physical joke that you would usually see in a cartoon. It's more than likely that the Looney Tunes invented it. The animation landscape was forever changed when the Warner Brothers' group of tricksters burst onto the scene in the 1940s. If Disney was the classical music of cartoons, then Warner Bros was jazz. The Looney Tunes took chances with violent and intelligent humor that offended many people back in the day, and made just as many people laugh. Here's a tough task: find someone in the entire WORLD who doesn't recognize at least one Looney Tunes character. You just can't do it. The Looney Tunes paved the way for every toon that came after them with their groundbreaking use of physical humor and their pure comedic genius.
Looney Tunes changed cartoons forever, animation wouldn't be the same today without Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.
These days, the majority of adult-focused cartoons revolve around the actions of a family. The Flintstones is what started it all. Before the invention of the television, cartoons were only shown in cinemas. The Flintstones was one of the first primetime animated series to air on a major network, and established animation's credibility on the small screen. The plots and family dynamic of the show went on to influence many animated sitcoms such as The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Bob's Burgers just to name a few.
While the Looney Tunes are mainly responsible for inventing many physical cartoon gags, Tom and Jerry is the cartoon that perfected them. With little to no dialogue, Tom and Jerry has entertained people of all ages with their brilliant use of cartoon violence. Everybody has seen at least one short from this cat and mouse pairing. If there is any cartoon that is pretty much impossible to hate, it's most likely Tom and Jerry.
It inspired Disney's Snow White, and sexy paper clips!
The Simpsons set the standard for adult cartoons that I highly doubt any will ever surpass. A brilliant sitcom with relatable characters and magnificent writing, The Simpsons has not only influenced other cartoons but it influenced comedy as a whole. The show broke new ground in terms of what was deemed to be "acceptable" to show on primetime television. Many former writers like Conan O'Brien and Brad Bird have go into to do incredible things. The Simpsons is most likely the greatest animated series of all time and left such an impact on both animation and television.
The most recent cartoon on this list, Adventure Time is responsible for beginning a Cartoon Renaissance in the 2010s. Pretty much every animated series that came after Adventure Time was influenced by it in some way. The creators of Regular Show, Gravity Falls, Rick and Morty, Steven Universe, We Bare Bears, The Amazing World of Gumball, and Star vs. The Forces of Evil have all cited Pen Ward's series as an influence. Former writers such as Rebecca Sugar and Pat McHale have even gone on to create their own successful cartoons after working on the show. Adventure Time's willingness to take risks has inspired tons of up and coming cartoonists across the world, and its legacy will live on long after it finally finishes its run.
This is hands down one of the best cartoons of all time. I am still crushed to this day about it being over. Going for a hike through the woods has never felt the same since I started watching this show. Everything feels like an adventure now. This show made my imagination run wild when I was younger and it still has that effect on me.
SpongeBob set the standard for children's cartoons with its brilliant humor, visual gags, and brand of storytelling. It was one of the first children's animated series to appeal just as much to adults as to kids. SpongeBob has become so beloved that many of us can quote older episodes line-for-line. Everyone is familiar with at least one memorable line from the show, as well. While the series has been in a rough patch for a while, SpongeBob changed an entire network and the entire genre of children's programing.
South Park appalled millions of angry parents when it first premiered in 1997. The animated series about four foul-mouthed grade-schoolers was the first ever television program to receive a T.V.-MA rating. It's safe to say that South Park broke new ground in terms of what you could show and say on television. But profanity is not the only reason why South Park has lasted for so long. Trey Parker and Matt Stone's cartoon is one of the smartest television programs on television in terms of its comedy. Nothing is off limits for satire. Race, religion, sexuality, disabilities, celebrities, politics, you name it. South Park has put their darkly comedic spin on pretty much everything there is, and as long as something crazy or stupid is going on in the world, Parker and Stone will be there to satirize it.
Ren & Stimpy was one of the first cartoons to air on Nickelodeon, and it brought with it a style that seldom few had ever seen before. No one had really seen a cartoon as bizarre, crude, and psychedelic as Ren & Stimpy before, especially not one meant for younger audiences. The show carried on Tom and Jerry's tradition and brought in a whole new batch of cartoon gags that are still being used to this day. While it spawned many disgusting and unpleasing gross-out rip-offs and a terrible adult-themed remake, Ren & Stimpy is responsible for bringing Nickelodeon into the mainstream and inspiring many strange cartoons that came after it.
Batman: The Animated Series was one of the first "kid's" cartoons that brought a real sense of darkness and intensity to the screen. Prior children's cartoons were usually brightly-colored and upbeat with a clear villain and a happy ending at the end of each episode. Batman TAS changed all of that with its grit, intimidating atmosphere, and wide variety of unstable characters. It did not talk down to its audience and gave them all the respect that they deserved. Batman TAS changed the landscape of superhero cartoon shows and allowed more kid's cartoons in the future to address more and more adult themes.
Flapjack is a show that many people love and many people hate. Whether you're a fan of the show or absolutely hate it, you have got to admit that it left a mark on the cartoon industry. Need proof? Pendelton Ward of Adventure Time, J.G. Quintel of Regular Show, and Alex Hirsch of Gravity Falls all worked on Flapjack before going on to create their own cartoons. Is that enough proof for you?
The first Cartoon Cartoon to ever be made, paving the way for other Cartoon Cartoon shows to be made in Cartoon Network's Powerhouse era. Thank you, Genndy Tartakovsky.
This show inspired not only SpongeBob, but also Regular Show and Phineas & Ferb.
First cartoon to be made specifically for television.