A list of western animated TV shows, aka. cartoons, that i have watched, nicely tagged with quick visual content indicators so you can quickly find something that may interest you.
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You won’t find any star ratings here. These are not reviews, just general recommendations. A rating will not help you find a show you’ll enjoy. On one hand, you may enjoy a »bad« show quite a lot, which is often called a »guilty pleasure«. (Do not feel guilty watching them.) On the other hand, a show may be an excellent work of art, but it may just not be your thing. Reviews are good for expectation management and for deepening one’s understanding of a work.
Cartoons, Nicely Tagged
Ordered alphabetically, ignoring leading »the«s. The title links all lead you to the show’s IMDB page.
|Amphibia||2019||⏹︎||🎭︎||😀︎||Three friends, who have to learn a thing or two about responsibility, get portal-isekaid into a world where amphibians are the diverse dominant species. Expect lots of talking frogs and toads. It’s all fun and silly, until the first hints drop that the amphibians aren’t as peaceful a species as initially thought. Refreshingly, the story does take us back to Earth, and for more than just one episode.|
|Arcane||2021||⏵︎||🎭︎||⚔︎||🌈️||Political and character drama surrounding two sisters, great social inequality, and an uprising of the rather punk citizen of the working class district against the people up in the utopian almost victorian-Britain-like science-and-progress noble district. Expect graffiti, neon colours, very impressive animation, and magitek.|
|Avatar: The Last Airbender||2005||⏹︎||🎭︎||♂︎||An epic journey of a magic child monk and his friends in East Asia World™. His quest? Stop the Evil Emperor™ from conquering the world! Why does he conquer the world? Because the child monk, who had the magic power to stop the Emperor™’s megalomania, was afraid and abandoned his duty. Enjoy a vast cast of interesting and lovable characters, creative world building around the 4 elements of Chinese-martial-arts-based magic, and some well-written character drama. It’s one of the classics almost everyone recommends.|
|Avatar: The Legend of Korra||Year||⏹︎||🎭︎||♥︎||We had the warrior monk avatar, we had the Traditional East Asia™ world. Time for something different instead of a repeat. Meet Korra, the new magic world saviour, going for the big city, where the industrial revolution is in full force. The world building greatly expands on what was established in the previous series, and draws pretty logical and interesting conclusions for how this old magic system translates to a more modern era. We also no longer have a single Evil Emperor™ to stop. Instead every season we get an antagonist who in ideology challenges the avatar, what they do, what they stand for. And Korra’s pretty buff.|
|Carmen Sandiego||2019||⏹︎||🎭︎||Spy drama with vigilante thief Carmen Sandiego, stealing back whatever the secret criminal organisation V.I.L.E. took. Though her deeds do not go by without misunderstanding, putting her on INTERPOL’s radar. This one’s equipped with an overarching story. Expect lots of small (not always correct) factoids about different countries as a nod to the original episodic 80s TV show and the old »educational video games«.|
|Castlevania||2017||⏹︎||🎭︎||⚔︎||♥︎||🌈️||♂︎||The first season drags a little. It has a few issues with pacing and stillframes, and there’s too much focus on gore that could’ve been shifted for more character drama. But it’s just 4 short episodes in season 1. After that the story picks up fast and becomes a beautiful mess of intrigue, a bit of tragedy, and relationships. There’s nods to the games everywhere.|
|Centaurworld||2021||⏹︎||🎭︎||😀︎||🎵︎||A knight and her steed get portal-isekaid into a parallel world of magic creatures, while fleeing from an evil horde that razed the human world. The magic world is full of peace, joy, and »centaurs«, for a very broad definition of centaur. Oh, and our main character is actually… horse. Who talks now. Of course Centaurworld is not as peaceful and joyous as it seems, having a rather tragic connection to the human world.|
|DC Super Hero Girls||2019||⏵︎||😀︎||Take the DC universe, set the story in Metropolis, occasionally next door in Gotham, age all your favourite characters down to highschool kids, and make it shrill and fun. The eponymous girls are Batgirl, Bumblebee, Green Lantern, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and Zatanna. Some of you may wanna put ear protection on whenever Batgirl or Harley Quinn are too excited. The show shows much love for the DC universe, and the characters and their relationships are fun to watch. It’s episodic in nature, but there is some sense of story progression.|
|Dead End: Paranormal Park||2022||⏸︎||🎭︎||😀︎||♥︎||🌈️||Very creative show set in a mysterious theme park haunted by demons and angels alike. Our protagonists, a socially anxious girl and a trans boy, just became staff members of that park. Beautiful new friendships everywhere, especially with a talking dog and a millenium old brat from hell, and a nice overarching story to enjoy. Unfortunately, the cowards at Netflix cancelled this show.|
|Disenchantment||2018||⏹︎||⚔︎||😀︎||🌈️||Take the art style of The Simpsons, humour you’d expect in an alehouse, and a fantasy world of mystery and intrigue. It’s surprisingly interesting and full of detailed world building. Seemingly mundane bits and bobs turn out to be hints or preparation for much later plot points in a well-crafted story.|
|The Dragon Prince||2018||⏵︎||🎭︎||♥︎||🌈️||♂︎||Take the people who made »Avatar: The Last Airbender« and move their focus to more western fantasy. Elves, humans, magic, political intrigue, mystery, war, a big cast of well-written characters, and a group of kids on a journey to bring Important Plot Device™ from A to B. The first few seasons suffer a bit from stiffer animations or frame drops, likely due to careful budgeting. None the less, the show is made with great love and lots of attention to world building.|
|DuckTales||2017||⏹︎||😀︎||♂︎||Good ol’ Duck Tales, except with an overarching story and a fresh art style that makes this show feel closer to the old comic books. Expect a few exciting cross-overs with Darkwing Duck. Oh, and Webby is an awesome character now.|
|Gravity Falls||2012||⏹︎||😀︎||Two siblings go to your usual US summer camp. Except this summer camp is shrouded in mystery, magical creatures, and a sealed-away evil. Reminds one of The X-Files.|
|Harley Quinn||2019||⏵︎||🎭︎||⚔︎||😀︎||♥︎||🌈️||A violent comedy set in the DC universe in Gotham City. Our protagonists are the villains Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Clayface, King Shark, and Doctor Psycho. Wait, what…? And it’s actually a romance story. Come again…? About Harley and Ivy. And it’s one of the best romance stories i’ve experienced. It goes way beyond the First Kiss™ scene, there is no easy out Happily Ever After™. No, this relationship is complicated. Difficult, really. And you’re about to enjoy Harley and Ivy putting in the effort and working things out. All while everyone’s† having a great time‡!
(† Not everyone. ‡ For some definition of great time.)
|Inside Job||2021||⏸︎||🎭︎||⚔︎||😀︎||♥︎||A very politically incorrect parody on all your favourite US conspiracy theories. Secret world government, Illuminati™, hollow Earth, reptilians, aliens in Area 51, you name it. Follow Reagan Ridley on her way to becoming CEO of the shadow government in order to
|Kim Possible||2002||⏹︎||♥︎||Kim is part time school kid in a typical US highschool drama, and part not-so-secret secret agent kicking butts of evildoërs. The evil scientist Drakken and his right-hand henchwoman Shego definitely steal the spotlight from the other villains. It’s mostly episodic, but there is progression in the overall story.|
|Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts||2020||⏹︎||🎭︎||😀︎||🌈️||Ah, a post-apocalyptic world, with humans hiding in bunkers from… animals. Sometimes intelligent, sometimes gigantic. And of course the story begins with our protagonist getting thrown out of her shelter into the wilderness. Based on a 2015 webcomic, which unfortunately you can only read on Archive.org, for the original website is long dead.|
|Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir||2015||⏵︎||🎭︎||😀︎||♥︎||This show feels like the good ol’ Disney Afternoon or anime back in the 90s. Short fun magical girl superpower action, an episodic nature, aesops of the week, and school drama with a crush. It’s a fully 3D-animated show on a low budget, though with a lot of love. The characters grow on you, even when they have their moments of stupid, and occasionally the show catches you off guard with surprisingly complex writing and tragedy, all while building up an overarching story.|
|My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic||2010||⏹︎||😀︎||🎵︎||I don’t know how to describe this. It’s a well-written show with tons of lovable characters. Stuff’s happening. There’s overarching stories. It’s cute.|
|The Owl House||2020||⏹︎||🎭︎||😀︎||♥︎||🌈️||A girl gets portal-isekaid into a parallel world of magic and monsters. She moves in with a snarky witch, joins a magic school, and stumbles upon mysteries of the true nature of this world and its connection to home.|
|Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure||2017||⏹︎||🎭︎||😀︎||🎵︎||A sequel to the film »Tangled: Before Ever After«, which is a sequel to »Tangled«. All fun and games with lovely characters, adventures to be had, fun and joy, while the friendship between Raps and Cassandra is slowly crumbling, as is the realm around them.|
|She-Ra and the Princesses of Power||2018||⏹︎||🎭︎||♥︎||🌈️||The two friends Adora and Catra are members of a military group fighting against powerful magic-wielding enemies, until one day circumstances lead to Adora getting separated from the military, falling into enemy hands. Hmm, but the enemy all seem to be actually nice people. And now her old faction seems rather cruel. Well, that would’ve been a rather straight-forward change of sides, if it wasn’t for this little detail that now Catra is Adora’s enemy. Oops.|
|Star Trek: Lower Decks||2020||⏵︎||⚔︎||😀︎||🌈️||Follow a ragtag band of low-ranking starship crewmembers doing all the dirty work while the higher-ups do their more formal first and second contact duties. Comedic, lovingly detailed dive into what makes Star Trek Star Trek. There is an overarching character drama pulling the more episodic… episodes together.|
|Star Trek: Prodigy||2021||⏵︎||🎭︎||♥︎||♂︎||Take the action, drama and pacing of a Star Wars animated show, combine it with the world building and values of Star Trek, and you get this here. A bunch of kids escape a forced labour camp on a stranded starship prototype and now… have to learn how and what it means to be starfleet, all while still on the run. What could go wrong?|
|Star vs. The Forces of Evil||2015||⏹︎||🎭︎||😀︎||♥︎||Boy meets rebellious magic girl, causing not just chaos in his world, but also bringing boy and chaos to other magic worlds. Magic sure is awesome. And… at times problematic. Very problematic. Irresponsible even. Is it worth it? Oh and there’s cute lil’ demon world conquerors and ex boyfriends from hell.|
|Teen Titans||2003||⏹︎||🎭︎||😀︎||♂︎||Take DC heros Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Beast Boy, and Raven, in their »teens«, 24/7 in their superhero personas, sharing an apartment in their HQ, fightin’ evildoers. Mostly episodic, though there are overarching story lines per season.|
Explanation of Info Icons
To shorten the table’s width and make it more mobile-friendly, a number of symbols are used to annotate the TV shows. Here’s a quick listing of each symbol and what it means:
- The show is dramatic, i.e. it focusses on emotional or social conflicts and their resolution.
- The show has a rather silly kind of humour. Expect weird things to happen.
- The show is rather violent. It doesn’t just feature physical conflict, it features excessive amounts or forms of it. Sometimes for humour, sometimes for shock value.
- There’s a lot of characters singing in this show.
- A show’s completion status. ⏵︎ is not yet finished and more episodes are in the works. Make sure to check this article’s date of publishing and last update. ⏹︎ is a show where all episodes (of the main story) are released. ⏸︎ is a show that has been cancelled. Be careful, you will be disappointed by the never-to-be-resolved end-of-season cliffhangers.
- The story features romance. Not necessarily as the primary genre, but it plays an important part in the story.
- An openly LGBT+ show. Some few examples may have LGBT+ representation that may come across as rather forceful.
- Most shows i watch happen to have a woman or girl as the lead character. Where this is not the case, ♂︎ is a show with mostly male leading characters.
Be aware that people have different ideas of how much drama is drama, or how much something else is something else. Take these icons as rough guideposts.
Where’s the show �‽
I didn’t watch it yet or didn’t like it.
Is Kim Possible all romance?
Compared to the other shows, Kim Possible doesn’t have as strong a focus on the very few aspects i’m tagging here. Sure, there’s there’s a little bit of romance, which becomes significant later, but really it’s just a cool action-packed spy drama.
Isekai is a trope that’s pretty much the »current meta« in manga and anime. Protagonist gets pulled out of their home world into a fantastic new world and now has to make ends meet. Traditionally the protagonist crosses the worlds by means of sudden death and either being reborn or getting their soul transfered into a non-character of the other world, taking over their body.
Hence me adding the word »portal«: The characters didn’t die, they can return. And the capability of returning is made into an important story point.
There’s an added bit to the Isekai genre in that traditionally the other world is based on a video game the protagonist played. Not the case at all here. Isekai really isn’t the best word, but it’s briefer than the mouthful: »Trapped in Another World™«
So what’s your favourite?
I have multiple and it’s easily a third of the list.
Are all these shows PG-13?
Careful with the ⚔︎ tags.
Where is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood‽
That’s an anime.
In memory of cancelled shows from the above list.
- 🪦 Dead End: Paranormal Park
- 🪦 Inside Job