10 Best Cartoon Network Shows Reviewed in 2019
Cartoon Network has been providing content for quality viewing since 1992. They’re responsible for some cartoons that we consider to be classics which have reached a broad range of demographics. Cartoon Network shows are often pithy and aimed at children, but they are accessible and humorous to adults as well. If you have a little one who is looking for their next Saturday morning cartoon (or, really, a cartoon for any time), consider introducing them to some of the network’s most popular franchises listed below. Here you’ll find ten of the best Cartoon Network productions around that have been enjoyed by families for over twenty years now. Settle in with your favorite snacks and get ready for some wonderful animated adventures. These have all been rated as the best-in-category by viewers just like you!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 33 hrs of research
Fun and exuberant characters
The storyline is easy to follow
Great for all ages
Teaches a lot about friendship
- Adventure Time: Season 1
- Over the Garden Wall: Season 1
- Steven Universe: Season 1
- Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season 1
- Samurai Jack: Season 1
- Star Wars Clone Wars (Season 1-5)
- Ben 10: Season 1
- Teen Titans (Seasons 1-5: Complete Series)
- Johnny Bravo: Season 1
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Cartoon Network Shows
1. Adventure Time: Season 1
Fun and exuberant characters
The storyline is easy to follow
Great for all ages
Teaches a lot about friendship
It might be too “out there” for some kids
Follow the adventures of two quirky characters, Finn and his dog Jake, as they meet equally weird friends, take on challenging environments, and learn about the value of true friendship.Read more
There is a true storyline that lies within this show, even though it seems like it’s just one bag of weird characters with the occasional problem thrown into the mix. Your child will follow the adventures (it’s not called Adventure Time for no reason!) of Finn and his dog Jake as they fall into some pretty sticky and unusual situations, such as “accidentally” crafting zombies that are made out of candy. In fact, this is the very first episode! Kids love this show because of its bright and vibrant graphics, unique voice acting isn’t seen in many other shows, and environments that are interesting, strange, and magical, all at the same time.
The characters are loveable and personal, and kids will feel like they’re really getting to know Finn and his friends. It’s a growing show to inspire adventure, courage, and most importantly, friendship.
It’s no surprise at all that Adventure Time was one of the first to make it to our list and we can’t think of anyone, child or adult, who wouldn’t love tuning into this popular (albeit weird) cartoon.
This show isn’t as random as it seems, and we really love that it has a storyline that’s super easy to follow and loved by people of all ages. The cartoon itself is a great example of learning to love who you are, no matter how unique you are!
This is a great option for kids who aren’t completely sold on traditional cartoons. It’s also fun for adults to watch, because the show itself is so quirky and weird, but also feel-good and hilarious.
2. Over the Garden Wall: Season 1
Can be watched in full in less than two hours
Wholesome and fun for the entire family
Magical and entertaining
Great for the spooky season
Nostalgic and uplifting
Might be a bit too emotional for young children
This feel-good, emotion-packed miniseries is great for family viewing. It'll resonate with you as well as your kids and quickly become a cartoon that you won't soon forget.Read more
Wirt and Greg are two loveable characters that viewers will easily get attached to as they find their way going down winding roads and ending up embarking on various adventures. The imagination that went into creating a mini-series such as this is very evident by its realistic cartoon graphics and a thorough, but simple, storyline. Kids will find this show engaging and magical and, since it’s not as long as many series, won’t get bored with it or become overwhelming by having so many episodes to watch before they get to the end. One viewer described this show as, “stepping into a vintage Halloween card” and we think that’s such a beautiful, elegant, and fun way of describing this unique cartoon to a T.
If your child is a fan of all things magical, mystical, and adventurous, this is one show that won’t disappoint. They will want to watch it over and over again many times because it is so great.
We love that this comes across as a positive and heartfelt family show. It’s great for kids to watch on their own, of course, but this is the type of show that everyone will gain something from.
For something a bit more toned down and mellow, but not any less interesting, Over the Garden Wall is a cutely animated mini-series that brings to life the adventures of two brothers as they find their way through an unusual forest.
Kids will be hooked from the start, especially when they meet Wirt and Greg’s guide, Beatrice -- Who’s a tiny talking bluebird! All isn’t what it seems when you step over the garden wall, so be sure that you’re in the mood for adventure.
3. Steven Universe: Season 1
The same attention to fantasy detail as Adventure Time
Great character casting
Fun to watch with unique scenarios
It’s uplifting and cheerful
Some of the episodes might fall out of order
Steven is an interesting character with the potential to be a great magic wielder... He just needs a little bit of practice! This is a fun and hilarious cartoon full of lighthearted moments and memorable characters.Read more
This show follows the story of Steven who, while capable of producing magic, doesn’t quite know where to begin with it. He’s a slightly clumsy character with a bit of a learning curve as far as using his powers go, which makes for an interesting and at times amusing cartoon. As Steven attempts to perfect the art of magic-wielding in each episode, the viewer is bound to fall more and more in love with the theme of the show and all the magical blunders that come with it. Steven will slowly become one of your child’s favorites, especially once they watch him interact with other unique characters -- Like a magical lion or giant woman!
There are various elements of this cartoon that make it unique, including the slow introduction of various support characters, magic crystals and gems, and Steven’s progressive journey in using his powers to do good.
If superpowers and magic are something that your child is enamored by in the shows that they watch, then this wonderful show of Steven Universe will be right up their alley.
The great thing about Steven Universe is that it was worked on by one of the original creators of Adventure Time, so you have a feel for that fantasy-world flair throughout the show. It’s unique and makes the viewer feel good about watching it, which is the point of any cartoon.
There’s nothing inappropriate or outrageous about this show which makes it an automatic winner in our book. It’s fun for young children but also for teens, and easily relatable to many ages in between.
4. Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season 1
Shares a positive message
Shows how strong the love of a family is
Courage is a loveable character
Somewhat spooky and fun to watch
Some viewers noted that “episode 0” (the pilot) was missing
This is a tale of a sweet, yet thoroughly nervous, little pup who would do anything to protect those he loves. It's an award-winning cartoon all about facing your fears, hope, and determination.Read more
Courage is, well, a cowardly dog -- He goes out of his way to make sure that others are happy, however, he’s quite the scaredy cat… Err, dog. Throughout the first season, Courage faces many a spook that would be sure to scare the socks off of any animal who was stuck in that situation, but somehow, Courage finds his way out of all of them. As an Academy Award-winner, we definitely recommend this show to all kids who are ten and older (younger children might find this show a bit too creepy). Story aside, the cartoon graphics and voice acting in this show is completely on-point, making for an even more personal and enjoyable experience while watching
We love that this show is so innocent. It teaches kids in the simplest of ways that it’s okay to be scared and, even more so, it’s okay to try and face your fears -- Even when you don’t know if you’re strong enough to do so.
Any child will fall in love with Courage because not only is he adorable, but he faces his fears nearly 24/7 in order to save the ones that he loves. It’s a great motivator to teach kids that love is unconditional, and that family is everything in life.
This is the big kahuna of cartoons as far as the classics of Cartoon Network go, and it’s an easy choice for parents who aren’t quite sure what their children will like to watch.
It’s a mostly uplifting show that’s filled with scenarios you could never possibly dream up and that’s something children are sure to fall in love with.
5. Samurai Jack: Season 1
Stunning cartoon graphics
Features a different cultural take
The main character is strong and honorable
The storyline is simple enough
Music throughout the cartoon is fitting and unique
It becomes a bit pricey if you decide to purchase all five seasons
This fun take on the story of a samurai-in-training has gotten a great reputation because of its unique graphics style and music. It's a fast-paced, action-packed cartoon filled with excellent morals.Read more
While it does hint at the traditional anime storyboard style, it’s the closest match would probably be similar to The Powerpuff Girls. Its slightly blocky, yet sharply detailed art fits in well with the theme of the show itself, and the graphics as a whole are rewarding and enjoyable. Battle scenes are often shown through sketch-like art which draws the attention more toward the character and not the actual violence (or lack thereof). The story follows none other than Jack as he not only learns how to be a samurai but slowly learns how to triumph with good over evil. As he comes up against each opponent, he becomes stronger, and another lesson is learned.
This show teaches a lot about honor, fighting for what’s right, and the notion of never giving up. While it might not appeal to some avid cartoon-watchers, it contains a storyline that’s easy to follow and fun to watch.
This cartoon is considered somewhat of an anime but still falls under traditional cartooning as well. It’s definitely a unique take on the world of cartoons and offers something that many don’t -- A cultural twist on a great storyline.
It’s nice to add some variety to cartoons every now and then, especially when they’ve come so far from shows featuring Bugs Bunny. Samurai Jack marks a new era in cartoons as we know it, and with it comes a stellar storyline, entertaining characters, and much-needed cultural accuracy.
This would be a great show for those who were fans of Mulan or have an interest in samurais and ninjas or anyone who is just looking for a fun cartoon with some great musical attributes.
6. Star Wars Clone Wars (Season 1-5)
Roughly 30 hours of entertainment, total
Beloved characters make appearances
Awesome animation and sound design
Thorough and engaging character development
Missing the sixth season; must be purchased separately
Set between Episode 2 and Episode 3 of the Star Wars cinematic franchise, Clone Wars is an animated show that takes place in George Lucas’ stunning universe.Read more
The cartoon features recognizable characters, as well as some new ones, and follows droids, clones, Jedi, and more. It’s rated PG and targeted at a younger audience, but older viewers have said that they enjoyed it as well. The character development is strong, the story arcs are interesting, and the quality of animation and sound is top notch. This particular pack includes seasons one through five on Blu-Ray, with a sixth season available exclusively through Amazon
There is much to be learned from even our favorite Star Wars shows. Kids will be shown over and over how good triumphs over evil even when the odds are against the hero characters.
This series reflects on many of the typical Star Wars themes, such as the constant battle between good and evil, and a desire for balance in the world. It’s nuanced in its representation of that, while still being accessible to young audiences.
It has a nice mix of old and new characters, and it handles storylines that tie into the central plot of the movies, while still maintaining their own independence and integrity.
Each disc is about two to two and a half hours’ worth of content. If your family has enjoyed any of the Star Wars movies, they’re bound to love this animated series as well.
7. Ben 10: Season 1
Easy for kids to understand
Very kid-friendly and appropriate
Relatable main character
Inspiring and motivational
Viewers compared it to Teen Titans and thought it was mediocre
Ben 10 is an ordinary little boy with a unique item that allows him to save the world from impending doom. Why does he have this unique item? What exactly does it do? Is he a real superhero? You'll have to watch to find out.Read more
Season one is a great way to introduce kids to show Ben 10 really is and how he became such a master at preventing catastrophes from happening. We’ll give you a hint though -- It has to do with his oh-so-powerful Omnitrix! The best part about Ben is that he’s just an ordinary boy, living in a not-so-ordinary world. He panics and gets scared just like any other boy would which puts him on a much more relatable level than many cartoon characters. However, he also knows when and how to face his fears because he knows it’s up to him to stop bad guys in their tracks -- Even when they’re of the supernatural kind. This show has a Scooby-Doo feel with a bit of superhero thrown in for good measure.
Ben 10 is a show that kids can easily relate to as it will inspire them in a way that many cartoons can’t. An ordinary boy does the impossible which will motivate them to reach for their own dreams.
Being a highly relatable film for young viewers, Ben 10 is a valuable asset for your kids to enjoy on a regular basis. They will feel close to him because they will be able to see themselves in his simple actions.
The cartoon style of this show makes it fun and playful and even during scenes that might be a bit spooky, the art style makes them very kid-friendly. Without any real spooks, this show is a crowd pleaser as well as a parent-pleaser.
Ben is one of those kids who always seems to be the one swooping in to save the day. He’s the modern-day Kim Possible and kids will love him for that exact reason!
8. Teen Titans (Seasons 1-5: Complete Series)
Good mix of humor
Appealing to a large age range
Fun, ensemble show
Still deals with adult themes delicately
Complete set of all five seasons
Some customers received an incomplete product
Based off of the comic book series but reimagined still in some pleasant ways, the original Teen Titans show spanned for five seasons. This is the complete series set.Read more
It focuses on Robin (the Boy Wonder we know and love from the Batman franchise), Starfire (a relentlessly optimistic alien princess), Raven (a reserved sorceress), Beast Boy (a goofy shapeshifter) and Cyborg (half-man, half-robot, wholly endearing and hilarious). Together, the Teen Titans fight to protect their city, while overcoming their own personal struggles and navigating tricky group dynamics. It’s truly an entertaining watch, with lovable characters and interesting plotlines.
The show is a great ensemble piece and often has an important moral to be learned throughout episode arcs. It mostly deals with familiar personal problems, while also trying to fight crime.
If you have kids who are engrossed in the superhero franchises, Teen Titans is a nice opportunity for them to watch heroes closer to their own age in the crime-fighting scenes.
The show is sometimes light-hearted, often very funny, and yet still it manages to deal with mature themes and pretty elegant character development. Your kids will love this cartoon style.
The humor strikes a nice balance between occasionally adult, but mostly universally comedic. Younger kids will love many of Beast Boy and Cyborg’s jokes, while older kids appreciate the nuance in the character development.
9. Johnny Bravo: Season 1
Funny interactions and situations
Innocent enough for kids of most ages
Features strong support characters
One of the original Cartoon Network classics
Might not be appropriate for kids under ten
Now here's a classic that many people will remember. Johnny Bravo is still just as funny as ever and makes for the perfect family comedy cartoon.Read more
While other shows have certainly mellowed out as far as their popularity ratings go, Johnny Bravo is one of those shows that will probably be around for several more decades. His character is confident, all about his hair, and at times has superhuman strength -- So why do kids love him so much? Because he’s hilarious! Granted, there are some scenes that very young kids might not understand, but overall, this is a great family-friendly show. The supporting characters are great and their interactions with Johnny are sure to produce a laugh, but what’s really fun is watching Johnny get himself out of awkward situations. He seems to always find a girl he fancies which often gets him into trouble, and how he handles it is always hilarious.
He might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but he has enough hair gel to make up for it. This is quite possibly the only show that has taken something as mature as dating and make it kid-friendly.
Ah, now we’re talking about Cartoon Network classics! There aren’t too many on this list, in fact, Johnny Bravo is really the only one that still holds its own in today’s society.
Johnny Bravo is a very Elvis Presley-type of a character which makes him all the more fun to watch. This would be a great show for older kids as well as parents because it’ll bring back some of the nostalgia that Cartoon Network was once famous for.
This show is still so relatable today and never fails to have kids laughing and parents reliving a cartoon they loved so much. Johnny Bravo is sweet, loveable, and sometimes just downright silly!
10. Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
Colorful, fun animation
Loving ensemble cast
Silly and light-hearted
Mostly clean humor
286 minutes of entertainment
This DVD is only the first season of the show
In this silly and heartwarming series, Imaginary Friends live happily with their creators until the children outgrow a need for an imaginary friend and sever the connection as they mature. But then where do they go?Read more
One sweet little old woman, Madam Foster, decides that she wants to be young-at-heart forever, and so maintains her relationship with her imaginary friend throughout her life, and opens her home to other orphaned imaginary friends looking for a family. Mac, a young boy whose imaginary friend Bloo can’t live with his family anymore, stumbles upon the home, and Madam Foster allows Bloo to live there without being put up for adoption, so long as Mac visits him every day. Thus, begins this great ensemble piece, full of color and spirit.
The show deals a lot with growing up, some of the loss that comes with that, and the importance of holding onto our creativity, imagination, and compassion. It’s often very silly and fantastical and is just overall a feel-good show.
Knowing about imaginary friends at a young age is important for kids. It is all a part of growing up and finding your place in the world. Colorful and delightful, this show covers the topic beautifully.
Addressing the common subject of imaginary friends, this lovely cartoon has a nice twist on the topic. It has the style of being entertaining, yet able to teach younger children about some of the important life lessons.
This one is definitely good for a younger crowd. Older kids will probably also find it sweet, but it’s pretty light-hearted, so younger children won’t be scared or upset by dark or adult themes.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Cartoons are essentially the great American pastime for kids. When it’s a rainy day, early morning, or late night, cartoons are something that kids can watch, relax, and unwind to -- Similarly to how we, as adults watch movies and our own television shows. Cartoon Network has been around for almost two decades now and with it, they’ve introduced shows that have revolutionized the cartoon industry as we know it. They’ve created shows that cater more towards various age groups, thus helping to create a child-friendly cartoon station rather than something generalized and boring.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no saying that your child will inevitably turn into a “couch potato” if they watch some cartoons every now and then. While constant television-watching can encourage somewhat lazy habits, the occasional cartoon or TV time is mostly harmless for children. Watching feel-good cartoons can actually do wonders to improve and brighten your child’s disposition which is something that was never considered many years ago. For decades now, parents have valued cartoons not only for entertainment purposes for their kids but to also introduce them to important concepts and ideas for life-long learning.
At such a young age, it can be challenging to relate to movies that feature actors and actresses, because many times, your child has no connection to them. Cartoons have a way of being heartwarming, humorous, and personal. Kids grow an attachment easily to their favorite characters because they pick up on certain qualities and attributes that they can relate to themselves. It’s through this process that kids can learn different methods of handling situations, how to face their fears, and, most importantly, how to be confident in who they are. It is the simple style of the illustrators and writers of cartoons that attract kids to watch them and want to watch them over and over again.
Briefly, there was a period of time where cartoon-watching was frowned upon because it was seen as a “lazy” activity. However, now that kids have so many options as far as free-time activities go, watching cartoons can be an amazing way to help them unwind and watch something uplifting. Having positive attributes was one of the qualities we looked for in every single show that made this list, and this is exactly why. Try using cartoons for a family fun night with the family for an exceptional night of fun. Your little one will appreciate and enjoy the attention to their favorite cartoon characters.
It is best to watch any new shows that you purchase for your young child with them at least the first time they view them. Only in this way can you see if they really like the show and are interested in it to watch it multiple times in the future.
When picking out shows for your children to watch, be sure to find something that they are really interested in. You do not want them to watch it just once and then be bored with it. Favorite characters are a good clue to what they will watch repeatedly.
Other Factors to Consider
Nowadays, cartoons are very progressive, such as is seen with shows like Clarence and Adventure Time. These types of shows feature all kinds of diversity both in character as well as the environment. It’s details like this that can encourage acceptance and an open-mind amongst young children since they learn what they see and hear. Cartoons can help children to understand how to work through problems and how not to avoid being afraid of their fears. By watching their favorite cartoon characters, they’ll see things in simplified terms and learn new ways of dealing and being brave through another person’s story.
As a child, family time can be the glue that holds together their daily life. Whether you spend an hour or an entire rainy day together watching cartoons, it’s a bonding experience and something that they’ll remember. Positive activities such as these release endorphins which will naturally uplift your child’s mood and improve their overall outlook on life. As they get older, it becomes harder and harder to spend quality time together doing simple things like this, and cartoons can be a huge part of making the best of this time while you have it. If you find a show that your child likes, don’t be afraid to laugh and enjoy it with them -- These are the developing ties that will eventually bring the two of you closer and strengthen your bond.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What age is appropriate for these cartoons?
We recommend age eight and up just to be on the safe side, however several of them are appropriate for much younger ages as well. as we know, even adults love to watch cartoons, so many age groups will want to watch these along with the younger members of the family.
q: Is there any difference between the hard copy and the digital copy of these shows?
Occasionally, the digital copies will have some episodes out of order if you download the entire season. Other than that, it is just a matter of having the hard copies in your hand rather than as a digital program copy. Some people prefer hard copies over digital because they have a tangible object they can see, plus it may be easier for smaller kids to use.
q: Can you buy episodes individually?
Yes! If there’s an episode you think sounds boring, inappropriate, or just really want to watch, you do have the option to download them individually. However, it is a download only. No hard copies are offered in this particular type of format.
q: How long is each episode?
By nature, cartoons are fairly short, generally no longer than 25 minutes. All of these cartoons are around that length except for the Over the Garden Wall miniseries, which is more of a movie-length in-full.
q: How do I know if my child will actually enjoy these?
The best way to find out is to watch them! A great option is to download an episode of several cartoons and see which one your child enjoys the most. Then, you will know which ones are their favorites to purchase the rest of the collection.
q: Which are best for the entire family to watch together?
If your children are older (ten or older) Johnny Bravo is a fun and nostalgic option, however, Over the Garden Wall, Adventure Time, and Clarence are all examples of great family-friendly cartoon shows. For very young kids, you will want to watch at least the first time with them to make sure they understand the show and to ask any questions they have about it. Shows are best enjoyed with someone else no matter how silly or childish the content is. The bonding time will be very important to them.
- Therapists Explain How Cartoons Affect Your Mental Health, Online Article ,
- https://childmind.org/article/benefits-watching-tv-young-children/, Parenting Article ,
- Cartoons: Their Importance in Kids' Development, Informative Article ,