Nicktoons with Eric: Top 10 Nicktoons
For the past month and eight days, I’ve provided you with a review of mostly every Nicktoon on the list. While there were a few duds, I think that Nickelodeon has some of the greatest animated series of all time. I decided to make this blog post in an attempt to let you know my favorites. I felt a top 10 was appropriate enough for this topic. So let’s dive right in with number 10.
10. My Life as a Teenage Robot (2003-2009)
This one was debatable, but I decided it was reasonable enough. Technically, My Life as a Teenage Robot has everything I look for in a superhero genre; a likable protagonist, some great battle scenes, and a long line of awesome villains. It’s ashame that it isn’t acknowledged as much as others, because I think it’s a fun and inventive series, with a very nostalgic feel to it. But I don’t need a big fan base to like this, all I need to do is sit back and watch Jenny kick some Cluster ass. That’s all that matters in life.
9. The Angry Beavers (1997-2001)
I’m usually not a huge fan of slapstick outside of Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry, but The Angry Beavers introduced a more deadpan and fast paced way of it, which worked exceedingly well. Not only that, but it perfectly captured how siblings work in life. The older child is usually more laid back and appreciated, while the younger is usually surrounded with jealousy and lust for attention, and that’s exactly how Daggett and Norbert work. The humor wasn’t just in the slapstick, of course, there were a load of inside and breaking the fourth wall jokes, which don’t seem new these days, but were certainly fun at the time. Being both clever and fun, The Angry Beavers definitely deserves its spot.
8. Rocko’s Modern Life (1993-1996)
Rocko’s Modern Life is often considered one of Nick’s most memorable series. It’s not my favorite, but eight is a pretty good spot for it. The biggest complaint is that Rocko’s Modern Life shreds too similarly to Ren & Stimpy. I guess that could be reasonable at the time, but I think there’s a pretty big diversity. While Ren & Stimpy had more bombastic or dramatic jabs at comedy, Rocko’s Modern Life was pure silly. Not much sense was made, but it didn’t have to. With animated TV shows, you should be able to be absorbed with the craziness or absurdity that it has to offer. And that’s why I can appreciate Rocko’s Modern Life. Can’t forget about all the adult jokes hidden, but there’s too many to mention. So with likable characters and zany humor, Rocko’s Modern Life is a pleasantly bizarre series.
7. ChalkZone (2002-2009)
No matter all the hate ChalkZone gets, I consider it one of the best Nicktoons, and I’ve already gone into deep detail to why it’s so great. In my opinion, it’s one of Nick’s most creative series. It knew just how to capture the childlike wonders of our youth. It’s actually one of the few Nicktoons that even gets better every time I watch it. With all the complaints about it being sugar-coated, is there really a problem with a series that isn’t mean-spirited? Just because something isn’t vulgar doesn’t mean it isn’t good. There’s still plenty of fun to be had with ChalkZone. So if you think ChalkZone is a stimulating and imaginative series, I’d fully agree with you on that one.
6. Danny Phantom (2004-2007)
I know Danny Phantom sort of shares a brain with The Fairly OddParents, but I believe ithas a lot that makes it excel from the latter Nicktoon. In a way, this show had its own sense of creativity. How many TV series have you seen that star a superhero that’s half-human, half-ghost? Exactly. Though it usually intends for an action filled comedy, there’s quite a bit of drama in here too. I already mentioned most of that in my review, but still, it’s worth noting. Not only is the main protagonist great, but the villains are as well. That just makes it even more admirable. Butch Hartman’s done a lot for Nickelodeon, but his best project, without a doubt, is Danny Phantom.
5. Hey Arnold! (1996-2004)
From a dramatic stance, Hey Arnold! is probably Nick’s best. I know it doesn’t compare to the emotion-grabbing Avatar and The Legend of Korra, but think about it, Hey Arnold! is basically real life. The way situations and dramatic events are portrayed is sincere, relatable, and realistic. And while it may make me look like a pessimist, Hey Arnold! taught me that things aren’t always going to work out for the best, and bad things will happen. It doesn’t mean the world is out to get you, it just means that not everything is going to go the way that you want it to. But Hey Arnold! didn’t try to make us negative or depressed, it just tried to help us mature. Again, the series wasn’t just all mopey and lamenting, it had a good source of humor too, especially in later seasons. So as far as realistic cartoons go, Hey Arnold! is probably the best.
4. Invader Zim (2001-2006)
As demented and freaky as it is, Invader Zim is surely one of the funniest animated series. While I could appreciate the humor, I could appreciate the the darkness behind it too. Though Zim’s hilarious, he has a bit of a tragic back story behind him. Okay, not that tragic, but it’s still pretty rough. GIR, while also hysterical, is sort of a freak of nature as well (he is adorable, though). It’s clear that creator Jhonen Vasquez has some form of bizarreness behind him, and that comes into full effect with Invader Zim. It’s a shame this show couldn’t last long, because in terms of consistency, it’s probably the best Nicktoon. Oh well, I can deal with a solid 27 episodes than an overblown amount. With eccentric characters and some ludicrous jokes, Invader Zim makes its way to number 4.
3. The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991-1996)
There’s a big part of me that wants to put The Ren & Stimpy Show at number one, but I felt that it fit at number three. It may not seem like it today, but Ren & Stimpy is one of the most original animated series of all time. It was gross, vulgar, and completely insane. And I love it. The animation was beyond its time, the music (though not original) perfectly fit the moods, and the two main characters worked so well off of each other. The jokes didn’t always have proper context, but I guess that’s what made them so funny. A lot of people claim this show was copied for years to come, but I think of it more as inspiration. And while this show was mostly comedic, it could have it’s dramatic and poignant episodes too, which often rank as my favorite episodes of the series. Unfortunately, this was another Nicktoon to decline in quality as it went on, but it wasn’t as bad as others. Even though it isn’t my favorite Nicktoon, I still consider The Ren & Stimpy Show to be one of the best and most groundbreaking animated series.
2. Avatar: The Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra (2005-2008; 2012-present)
I included both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra since they’re technically part of the same series. In my opinion, Avatar and its successor make the greatest animated action series of all time. Both beautifully animated an expressed, Avatar strays differently from Hey Arnold!; it doesn’t try to make us more mature, it treats us like we are mature. It doesn’t fake us out or try to troll us (alright, the first episode of Korra kinda did that with Zuko’s mom), it just tells its story straight. The plot is top notch, the characters are both enjoyable and sympathetic, and it just gives you the emotional benefit you want from it. Avatar is one animated series I will never get sick of watching, as I also look forward to watching what Korra has to offer in the future. If only M. Night Shyamalan knew what a disgrace the movie was.
And my number one favorite Nicktoon is…
1. SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-present)
Now who didn’t see that coming? As predictable as it is, I can’t deny my love for SpongeBob. I know how much hate I’m going to get for cheating with this, but I have to stick with what I know best. So why is my favorite Nicktoon a show that has declined so far that it almost has more bad episodes than good? Well, SpongeBob is probably the cartoon that I hold most to me, and it’s a big part of my life. To this day, I have too much SpongeBob merchandise to count, even most of the video games (which I still play). But the nostalgia isn’t just what makes me love SpongeBob, it’s just the first three seasons in general. They’re just so joyous and welcoming, I don’t know how you can’t laugh, or even smile at them. It just makes me feel so endeared that I can’t be depressed watching it. And no matter how bad SBSP has gotten, I still find myself watching the new episodes to this day. Even if I dislike them, it’s such a routine that I can’t stop. So while you might disagree, I consider SpongeBob SquarePants (during Hillenburg’s era, of course) to be the greatest Nicktoon of all time.
Tune in sometime this week for my Top 10 Nicktoons’ characters!