It’s been a good year for gaming overall. But it has been an even better year for cartoons. After years of seeing only a few handful of shows really take the animated medium to new heights, 2015 arrived with an entire army of fresh cartoons and returning favourites. Hell, 2015 might be the greatest year for cartoons ever and hopefully the start of a new golden age that hasn’t been seen since the peak of the Cartoon network and Nickleodeon era.
There could only be one winner for the best cartoon of 2015 however, and that award that we got from the ACME warehouse goes to…
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
There’s a reason why Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the best show on TV right now, and that’s consistency. Heroes in a half-shell that engage in weekly adventures, with each and every single episode being standalone brilliance. Forget the Turtles that you grew up with in the 1980s or the early 2000’s. Because the current generation of mutated ninjas are going to go down as the definitive version of the franchise that you grew up with.
There’s so much that TMNT gets right, from the dynamic between Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello, to a superb supporting cast of allies and enemies. It’s a show that also has some dynamic action sequences, call-outs to the past that never feel forces and references to other films and series that are spot-on inspired.
It’s also already in its fourth season, and shows no signs of slowing down yet. So if you haven’t tuned into a cartoon series that easily schools the recent film on how to make the Turtles a blockbuster franchise, you’ve got plenty of episodes to catch up on. Booyakasha.
Here’s a look at some of the other runner-ups, who almost snagged the top spot from those amphibious ninjas.
Star Vs. The Forces of Evil
If I had to describe Star Vs. The Forces of Evil in just two words, I’d use these: Infectiously fun. The idea of a magically-supercharged teen attending a high school isn’t exactly new, but Star Vs. The Forces of Evil breaks the trope by having a lead character who fully embraces her craziness, and usually drags others into her adventures as well. Toss in a dash of some Scott Pilgrim influences, solid animation and a highly addictive soundtrack and you’ve got another fine example of 2015 being a great year for cartoons.
All the rocking tracks of one of the best electronic music groups around, linked to a far-off future where Jamaica is protected by the people’s hero known as Major Lazer who fights back against the the threats of President Whitewall and General Rubbish. It’s crazier than it sounds, and even better than you’d realise thanks to episodes which feature call-outs from Tremors, Bob Marley and a war with Vampire Vampires.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Aqua Teen Hunger Force forever? Maybe not, as Adult Swim’s longest running original series finally met its end this year when Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad faced their greatest foe: Network cancellation. With just one season left to wrap up any loose threads and resolve any lingering plots, Aqua Teen Hunger Force did what it does best: Ignore any and all continuity to instead focus on episodes that included an evil robot Jesus, sinister body-swapping pets and the wrath of the Brain Fairy.
Sanjay and Craig
Some cartoons push the medium to tremendous highs in an effort to become true art. Sanjay and Craig isn’t that kind of cartoon. Instead, it’s a fantastic example of wonderfully stupid humour done right when Sanjay and his pet snake Craig get involved in all kinds of weird scenarios.
Can an anime that focuses on a amateur superhero who has the ungodly power to defeat any foe with a single punch actually be riveting enough to watch for a full 21 minutes every week? Yes, yes it can and then some.
Forget about Adventure Time: Cartoon Network’s very best show right now is easily Steven Universe. From voice-acting through to animation, lore and plots that have a massive pay-off, Steven Universe is exactly the kind of series that we need more of right now. A show that proves that cartoons can be complex and endearing, Steven Universe is magical to the extreme.
Rick and Morty
While the majority of the shows above may be geared towards kids first, there’s nothing about Rick and Morty that should ever be allowed near your young ones. Darkly comedic and equipped with the morality of an alcoholic nihilist, Rick and Morty is the anti-cartoon and a fantastic alternative to anyone who needs to get some sugar out of their system.
Teen Titans Go
In comic books, the Teen Titans are seen as the next great generation of heroes. Up and coming sidekicks who are ready to save the world and establish their own legacy as the next great hope for humanity. Teen Titans Go is none of that. Instead, we’ve got heroes who find themselves engaged in twisted adventures where humanity comes second to off-the-clock shenanigans.
And it’s not just some fantastic deconstructing of popular tropes here either! Teen Titans Go is funny enough on its own, but its the artistic influence of Dan Hipp that really makes the show shine, giving it an artistic flair that no other series on this list can match. TITANS, GO!
Seven seasons in, and there’s still only one way to properly describe a cartoon series about a racoon and bluebird who look for ways to slack off from doing actual work in a public park: OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Transformers: Robots in Disguise
Transformers: Prime is easily the best Transformers cartoon ever made, a series so damn monumental that it set an impossibly high bar for any successor series that would follow it. So what does Robots in Disguise do? It follows its own path, setting fan-favourite Autobot Bumblebee up as the leader of his own squad of rookies and rebels who find themselves hunting down rogue Decepticons on Earth.
It maybe a tad bit formulaic with a monster of the week setup, but Transformers: Robots in Disguise does a wonderful job of creating a group dynamic with unique personalities between the various Autobots, forging its own path along the way.
Two seasons, and that’s all she wrote. Disney’s wonderfully weird animated series had a game-plan in mind, that ended this year for the Pines family. Mysteries were solved, scams were pulled and the Pines twins had a summer vacation that they’ll never forget in one of the very best original shows that Disney has ever made.
Last Updated: January 4, 2017