The Best Animated Series That Aren’t Anime

There are so, so many good shows out there, so many of which are animated. Most of us are here because we think anime is the best incarnation of it. Still, there are several other animated series that are not Japanese anime. Let’s take some time out here to count down some of the best of ‘em.

This list will consist of series that are intended for the adult or young adult demographic. There are plenty of “kids’ shows” that are great, but they’ll eventually get a list of their own.

#5 Johnny Bravo

johnny-bravo

Hey, baby. We’re gonna get this party started with the man, the legend, Johnny Bravo. Here’s a show about a muscular, dim-witted guy and his unsuccessful attempts to court women. Our main cast consists of Johnny, his mom, and his neighbor Little Suzy. They live in fictional Aron City (inside Joke for Elvis fans). Each episode typically involves Johnny trying to impress a woman, and ending up in a strange and harmful predicament because of it. This show was part of the more adult cartoon block on Cartoon Network in the days prior to Adult Swim. It’s not really violent or overtly sexual, but it is sexually suggestive, and includes many pop-culture references presented in a much less formulaic manner than something like Family Guy.


 

#4 Rick and Morty

rick and morty

Rick and Morty is one of the most brilliant shows I’ve ever seen. It’s also one of the dumbest. Adapted from a short film that parodied Back to the Future, this sci-fi adventure comedy series centers primarily on the misadventures of an alcoholic mad-scientist, and his friendly but awkward grandson. It consists of everything from deep philosophical commentary on the meaninglessness of life, to crude jokes involving fecal matter. We’re treated to surprisingly well thought-out reoccuring themes that clearly took some amount of preplanning and scripting, but also episodes that appear almost entirely improvised (and honestly kind of stupid in comparison).

Still, the two approaches are balanced well enough to provide a show that feels genuinely unique, and the overarching duel between cynicism and idealism is relatable.

Oh! Also, Co-Creator Justin Roiland voices both Rick and Morty; It’s pretty impressive.


 

#3 RWBY

RWBY

RWBY follows an ensemble cast of young adults who attend an academy that trains people to fight the dangerous “Creatures of Grimm” inhabiting the world.

There’s a quite a bit of controversy surrounding RWBY. The debate isn’t over whether or not it’s obscene or insensitive or anything like that. Rather, it’s about whether or not the series counts as an “anime”. It was billed as a “Western Anime”, if there is such a thing. There are certain thematic elements in common with what we generally understand as anime, but it was developed in the United States.

Truth is, IT DOESN’T FAQUING MATTER. It’s a great animated series regardless, and one of few American animated shows that has achieved international success aside from the Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks flicks.

It started as a small, independent project that will be entering its 6th season now come Fall. The original creator, Monty Oum, actually died sometime during the 3rd season, but Rooster Teeth Animation (Red vs Blue) has continued to grow the franchise, through improved animation, a couple spin-offs, and even a videogame.

Hermit Odysseus has a more in-depth piece on why you should watch RWBY.


 

#2 King of the Hill

king of the hill

I have a soft spot for the slice-of-life genre, and if there ever was an American animated series that truly captured slice-of-life, it was King of the Hill. This series is the most realistic on the list. It revolves around propane seller Hank Hill, his family, and his friends. That’s pretty much it. The plot and humor are both derived from things that can that happen living a normal, everyday life. Viewers were gifted a glimpse of rural, blue-collar life for 13 season before the show was cancelled.

KotH may have had a longer run were it not for the explosive popularity of Seth MacFarlane pop-culture focused sitcoms like Family Guy, American Dad!, and The Cleveland Show. While that style of humor is more entertaining in the short term, it doesn’t age particularly well, and the shows fail to connect viewers with the characters in a way that makes them likable or worth rooting for. I genuinely wanted Hank and friends to overcome their problems. Peter and the gang? Not so much.


 

#1 Futurama

Futurama

A majority of nerds familiar with animated series will probably tell you that Futurama is one of the greatest American animated series of all time. I’m going to tell you that it’s THE greatest that I’ve seen. The series is the brainchild of Matt Groening (The Simpsons). It initially follows a young man named Philip J. Fry, who accidentally ends up in the 31st century, but then expands to more ensemble kind of cast. Picture this one as an episodic sci-fi slice-of-life type comedy with occasional injections of serious storytelling. It has science jokes. It has dark comedy. It has satire. It has just about everything a nerd could ever want in a show.


 

Honorable Mentions:

Samurai Jack

Samurai-Jack-Back-to-the-Past-featured

Samurai Jack follows one samurai’s quest through time to defeat the demon Aku. The original series was great. There’s a relatively new one that came out last year and supposedly concluded the storyline, but I haven’t seen it yet, so I’ll refrain from further comment.

 

Total Drama Island

Total Drama Island

This is a Canadian series that parodies the whole “Survivor” type reality TV show. Like some of the others on this list, you could call it a “kid’s show”, but as the above image might suggest, I contest that much of the humor and other content would go unappreciated by a younger audience. One interesting thing I learned long after I initially watched the series is that there are actually alternate endings to the finale episode; the winner and runner-up actually change based on the country you’re viewing the show in.

 

Regular Show

Regular-Show

Regular Show had a good run, all things considered. It aired on Cartoon Network in the time either right before or right after Adventure Time (I forget which) and, in my opinion, was actually better. The show revolves around two twenty-something year old guys who work as groundskeepers at large park. It received fairly positive reception, including several award nominations, but never quite captured the public eye like Adventure Time did.

 

The Simpsons

simpsons-wallpaper-pc

This slice-of-life comedy occupies a space similar to King of the Hill. Instead of rural America, though, The Simpsons gives us a glimpse into working-class suburban America. The series is a little more absurdist than KotH, but not so much so that the characters and storylines feel completely unrealistic. The Simpsons is the longest-running American animated sitcom of all time.

Check out the podcast to hear Shawn’s submissions for best non-anime animated series.

Let me know what you think of the list. Am I missing anything here?

 

 

The Weeabros don’t own any of the music or images used in this post, bro. They belong to their respective creators, licensors, and distributors. Please support the official releases.

12 thoughts on “The Best Animated Series That Aren’t Anime

  1. Love this list!! You already know how much I love RWBY (thanks for linking me BTW!), but I also love Rick and Morty. You’re right, it’s completely stupid, but it’s hilarious. I think I’m predisposed to love anything that involves Dan Harmon. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for a Community movie (“six seasons and a movie!”). Also, have you heard that apparently Christopher Lloyd wants a role on Rick and Morty as Rick’s dad?

    Perhaps the only show I’d add is Adventure Time, though I will admit I lost some interest in staying up to date with it. I’ll binge the last season when it’s all out. It’s a comfort show for me, and lately The Great British Baking Show has been filling that role.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have not heard that about Christopher Lloyd and Rick and Morty. I like Harmon, too but he can be hit or miss at times. R&M, HarmonQuest, and Community are great. I was never big on the Sarah Silverman Show, though, which he was co-creator and writer for.

      I’m the same way with Adventure Time. I’m like two or three season behind, though. I’m also not familiar with The Great British Baking Show.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Didn’t know that about the Sarah Silverman Show, but I agree. That show isn’t really my thing either! And I usually don’t like cooking shows, or reality shows, but TGBBS is the visual equivalent of drinking cocoa. I don’t really watch it because I’m invested, but because it’s too hot to wear a giant comfy sweater.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Rocco B

    Jeebus!!! I absolutely love Johnny B. He gets me in stitches. Johnny and Dexter’s labs were two cartoons that I loved. “Oh momma” I sometimes say that whenever I make a mistake at home xDD. If I remember correctly. The very last series of Jonny B, the reason why he became a “muscular stud” is because when was a teen, he had a crush on a girl. She left town without telling him why. He thought it was because he lacked confidence, wasn’t good looking enough. So he bulked himself up. Funny thing is, he resembled Karl when he wasn’t all bulked up. I remember King of the hill but never watched it.

    Futurama, I love that show. The funny thing is Simpsons comedy were becoming stale, I found futurama more funnier. Especially Bender & Zoidberg.

    There is a non-anime that would have worked as an anime besides RWBY. It’s a Disney production based off of a Italian comic: W.I.T.C.H. It stands for Will. Irma. Taranee. Cornelia. Hay Lin. It’s basically magical girl cartoon. I really enjoyed that series. Too bad it got cancelled after two seasons. Yet that crap winx club gets how many seasons?.

    Like

    1. Duuude, I know. JB probably deserved more than 4 seasons. That said, I’m glad they were able to end it with the impact that they did before it overstayed its welcome like some series continue to do. Sadly, being good doesn’t necessarily make something popular haha. I’ll take yr word for it on WITCH vs Winx tho, since I haven’t seen either.

      Futurama is definitely better than The Simpsons, but only if you’re a little nerdy to begin with. I think The Simpsons has had such an incredible run because its appeal is far more mainstream.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve lost count of how many shows people have suggested or praised that I still haven’t watched. The list keeps getting longer, but unfortunately you only have so much time in a day. Have to prioritize what you want to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I consider The Simpsons to be an American equivalent to One Piece or something in Japan, in that most people who aren’t into animated shows still know of it and consider it normal television.

      But yeah, it’s not as good as it used to be. Thatt’s understandable, though. I imagine you start to run out of ideas by the time you’re approaching your 30th season.

      Liked by 1 person

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