We’re fully immersed in the streaming era now, with regular broadcast television all but a thing of the past and online services like Netflix and Hulu leading the charge into the future. The best shows to binge-watch are the ones that have a serialized narrative, a lovable cast of characters you want to spend time with, easily consumable episodes that breeze past, and installments that move seamlessly from one story to another.
In many ways, animation is the best medium for that, with its aesthetically pleasing use of color and the opportunities for unpredictable absurdist comedy. So, here are The 10 Best Animated Series To Binge-Watch, Ranked.
Adam Reed’s hit animated sitcom Archer hilariously parodies spy movies and their stars like James Bond with a character who’s just as brash, chauvinistic, and sexist without the glamorized portrayal that 007 gets. He’s surrounded by a hysterical cast of supporting characters, including an overbearing mother and a Nazi scientist.
The show’s early seasons were straightforward espionage spoofs, while the most recent seasons have kept things fresh by turning it into an anthology show, with each season putting the same characters into a genre of pulp fiction, like a detective story, an exotic adventure, or, in the upcoming final season, retrofuturistic science fiction.
9 Final Space
Final Space is officially classified as a comedy, but it’s really more of a drama. Some laughs come organically out of the characters’ interactions, and they’re a delight, but this is really an immersive emotional experience. The characters are lovable, their storylines are unpredictable, and the animation style is visually smooth and stunning with a gorgeous color palette.
Final Space is best enjoyed binging a whole season at once, because the episodes are strung together by framing devices and cliffhanger endings. There’s only one season so far, but a second one with a higher episode count than the first has been ordered.
8 Big Mouth
What makes Big Mouth stand out amongst the crowded coming-of-age genre is the sheer imagination that goes into its depiction of puberty. Each character is lumbered with a “Hormone Monster,” an actual, tangible beast that appears whenever something embarrassing or sexually confusing happens.
Also, it shows the female perspective of puberty, which is often overlooked in the media. The voice cast features the talents of such brilliant comic performers as John Mulaney, Nick Kroll, Jessi Klein, Jenny Slate, Maya Rudolph, and even Jordan Peele, who plays the ghost of Duke Ellington. There have been two seasons and a Valentine’s Day special so far, with a third season on the way.
7 Adventure Time
Adventure Time is ostensibly a show for kids, but really, it appeals to everyone. It doesn’t matter how old you are, the adventures of a wise-cracking anthropomorphic dog and his human sidekick in a fantasy realm can be enjoyed by anyone. With its trippy visuals and genre thrills, Adventure Time is like Rick and Morty for kids, except adults love it, too.
Half-hour episodes can be a drag, which is why it’s so refreshing that episodes of Adventure Time are only 11 minutes long. They fly past while you’re binging the show, and before you know it, you’ll be on the tenth and final season, which aired last year.
Matt Groening’s first animated series, The Simpsons, laid the groundwork for the animated series that came about in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. About a decade into The Simpsons’ run, his second series, Futurama, made the same groundbreaking innovations for today’s shows.
It’s a science fiction series set 1,000 years into the future with all the mind-bending storylines, heartbreaking moments, and pointed social satire we’ve come to expect from today’s greats like Rick and Morty. In fact, at one point, when the show’s future was hanging in the balance, Fox commissioned a bunch of made-for-TV movies starring the characters and ended up chopping them up into various parts to make up a season of half-hour episodes.
5 Batman: The Animated Series
There have been a ton of animated series based on the Batman comics, but Batman: The Animated Series is easily the best one. It’s not only the best cartoon about the Caped Crusader; it’s one of the best cartoons, period. The great thing about it is that the writers, animators, and voice actors didn’t underestimate their audience.
Most superhero cartoons pander to children, but children are more intelligent than that and the makers of Batman: The Animated Series realized that. The storytelling and character development are more mature and sophisticated than your average cartoon. With its dark themes and slick design, it’s the definitive portrayal of Batman.
4 F is for Family
Netflix’s F is for Family is a family sitcom set in the 1970s starring the great Bill Burr as Frank Murphy, a grumpy patriarch who struggles to put food on his kids’ table. While Burr initially wanted to do standalone episodes like The Simpsons, he later realized that he could take a show like that to the next level by serializing the story. So, running gags like Frank’s neighbor’s drug addiction have become long-running narratives that delve deep into the characters’ psychology.
The first season of the show has a lot of political incorrectness for the sake of political incorrectness, but stick with it, because the second and third seasons have played around with the sexism, racism, and other 'isms' of its ‘70s setting in interesting ways.
3 Rick and Morty
It’s highly unlikely that you haven’t seen Adult Swim’s monster hit sci-fi comedy Rick and Morty yet, but it deserves to be included on this list anyway. Every episode delivers something unexpected, whether it’s channel-surfing on an interdimensional cable hook-up or Rick turning himself into a pickle and ending up in a high-octane, John Wick-style, ultra-violent action thriller.
The comedy has an improvisational feel to it, which is rare in animation. The show has three seasons under its belt so far, while the fourth was recently announced to be slated for this November and an additional 70 episodes have been ordered by the network.
2 Bob’s Burgers
Bob’s Burgers is one of the smartest and funniest shows on the air, and it achieves this without humor that’s mean-spirited or tone-deaf. Its sensibility is very progressive without being preachy. It has the least problematic characters on television, with the male characters not adhering to too many masculine stereotypes and the female characters not adhering to too many feminine stereotypes.
The dad does just as much housework and child-rearing as the mom and the kids are the best of friends. This is the perfect family sitcom for today’s values. Every episode is a breezy watch with some wonderful musical numbers and the producers have yet to make a weak one.
1 BoJack Horseman
Netflix’s first original animated series is also one of its best. BoJack Horseman is set in a world where talking animals co-exist with humans, and it tells the story of a washed-up sitcom star who is deeply flawed, mired in a nihilistic worldview, wants nothing more than to be a good person, and happens to be a horse.
The great thing about the character is that although he’s a horse, he’s the most human character you’ll find on the small screen right now. The show has expertly tackled such social issues as depression, addiction, narcissism, sexism, gun violence, and the #MeToo movement, all the while staying true to its beautifully developed characters.