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The 15 Best Animated TV Shows on Netflix

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The 15 Best Animated TV Shows on Netflix

Animated television used to be solely for the kids. But a quick look at the best animated shows on Netflix reveals everything from adorable animals and Jedi knights to hard-drinking international spies. This may be the only list where My Little Pony shows up next to Archer.

But Netflix has both children and adults covered when it comes to animated shows, including a couple of original series that we highly recommend. Fox may claim animation domination, but Netflix has accumulated quite a line-up of cartoons, including some of Fox’s Sunday night best.

You can also check out The Best TV Shows on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO.

Here are the 15 best animated TV Shows on Netflix:

15. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

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Creator: Angela Santomero
Stars: Jake Beale, Addison Holley, Tommy Lioutas
Original Network: PBS Kids

Whether you watched Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood as a child or not, you’ll love and appreciate this animated series. Four-year-old Daniel Tiger is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger from Mister Roger’s. His best friends are O the Owl (the nephew of Uncle X), Katerina Kittycat (the daughter of Henrietta Pussycat), Prince Wednesday (the son of King Friday) and Miss Elaina (the daughter of Lady Elaine Fairchilde and Music Man Stan). Each episode of this fantastic program deftly tackles an issue important to preschoolers—sharing, coping with frustration, jealousy, toilet training and, most recently, the arrival of a new sibling. The series is totally engrossing, while providing children with catchy refrains that resonate with them. At least a few times a week, I’ll invoke Daniel Tiger’s name. If my daughter doesn’t want to eat something, I’ll ask her innocently what Daniel Tiger would say about trying new foods. I’ll promptly get the response, “You’ve got to try a new food, because it might taste good.” Daniel Tiger is every parent’s best friend. Seriously. —Amy Amatangelo

14. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

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Creator: Akiyuki Shinbo
Stars: Aoi Yuki, Christine Marie Cabanos, Chiwa Saito, Cristina Vee, Eri Kitamura, Sarah Anne Williams, Kaori Mizuhashi, Carrie Keranen, Emiri Kato, Cassandra Lee
Original Networks: MBS, TBS and CBC (Japan)

Known amongst fans simply as Madoka, which is also the name of the show’s lead character, this dark tale focuses “magical girls,” the anime fan lingo for young women with superheroic powers. However, this is not your average heroes-save-the-day show. In fact, it can be quite tragic. Madoka focuses on the turmoil that unfolds when the girls sacrifice more than they expect taking on their roles and world-savers. Meanwhile, one girl struggles to decide whether or not she too should agree to enter the magical girl life. With only 12 episodes, this is a perfect series for a one-day marathon. Make sure to check out the related films, also on Netflix, when you’re done. —Liz Ohanesian

13. F is for Family

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Creators: Bill Burr, Michael Price
Stars: Bill Burr, Laura Dern, Justin Long, Debi Derryberry, Sam Rockwell 
Original Network: Netflix 

F is For Family presents the long-awaited premium cable/streaming vehicle for comedian Bill Burr, one of America’s foremost stand-up masters. Co-created by Burr and long-time Simpsons scribe Michael Price, the animated series stars Burr as Frank Murphy, the ill-tempered, Archie Bunker-esque patriarch of a blue-collar family in 1973. Taking cues from the celebrated Norman Lear comedies of the era, the writing mixes broad humor with more cutting insight into societal mores and generational divides. In keeping with the Netflix model, however, the series also boasts several serialized plotlines, including Frank’s struggle to prevent a union strike and Murphy matriarch Sue’s (Laura Dern) ongoing rumination on the state of her marriage. Much like Burr’s stand-up material, the series’ humor is confident and coarse (albeit, skillfully so) while never feeling overly mean-spirited or disingenuous. F is For Family is no game-changer, but—along with NBC’s exceptional The Carmichael Show— it’s a fully realized, fresh take on what’s often considered a retro genre. Not to mention, the show features one of the absolute best, most loaded opening credits sequences in recent memory. —Mark Rozeman

12. Star Wars: The Clone Wars

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Creator:   George Lucas  
Stars: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane
Original Network: Cartoon Network/Netflix

Contrary to popular belief, Lucasfilm did manage to create an engaging storyline set in the “prequel” universe. Enter Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Acting as a bridge between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, the show finds Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, along with new character Ahsoka Tano, battling against the forces of Dooku and General Grievous. What started as a series full of fun, exciting space battles, however, soon grew into a much deeper and richer story that explored the complications and brutality of war. Moreover, The Clone Wars did more to set the stage for Anakin’s inevitable turn to the Dark Side than any moment in the films. While the show’s brand of photo-realistic animation may not be for everyone, there are few who will deny that the sophisticated storytelling on display would not have been greatly welcome in the traditional Star Wars movie universe. —Mark Rozeman

11. Gurren Lagann

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Creator: Kazuki Nakashima
Stars: Tetsuya Kakihara, Katsuyuki Konishi, Marina Inoue
Original Network: TV Tokyo

Anime studio Gainax mastered the art of the giant robot-heavy action series. Back in the 1990s, they were responsible for the now-classic franchise Neon Genesis Evangelion. Around the turn of the century, they hit big again with the bizarre action-comedy FLCL. Unfortunately, neither of those is currently streaming on Netflix. However, Gurren Lagann, the studio’s 2007 series, is and you should watch it. The adventures start underground when Simon, a young teen in an earthquake-plagued community, discovers unusual technology. Along with his overconfident pal Kamina and a brave, young woman named Yoko, Simon embarks on an adventure. —Liz Ohanesian

10. Trollhunters

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Creator:   Guillermo del Toro  
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Kelsey Grammer, Ron Perlman, Charlie Saxton, Steven Yeun, Jonathan Hyde
Original Network: Netflix 

This acclaimed adventure story features one of the final performances of the late Anton Yelchin, who left behind a wealth of recorded material before his tragic passing in 2016. Yelchin voices a young man who is chosen to the Trollhunter, a magical hero who fights against evil trolls and protects the world. The series is the brainchild of Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy) and Marc Guggenheim (Arrow), so it comes from an excellent pedigree for sci-fi adventure. The series is a bright, high-stakes adventure with gorgeous animation, well-rounded characters, and more than enough action to keep kids and adults engaged. —Trent Moore

9. Phineas & Ferb

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Creator: Jeff Marsh, Dan Povenmire
Stars: Vincent Martella, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ashley Tisdale, Dan Povenmire, Caroline Rhea, and Alyson Stoner
Original Network: The Disney Channel

Tucked among The Disney Channel’s horrific lineup was an 11-minute show packed with intersecting plot lines, adventure in suburbia, intrigue and a pet platypus doubling as a super agent. With a wonderfully manic ska theme song that ends with their sister Candace complaining, “Mom, Phineas and Ferb are making a title sequence,” each show captures Phineas’ latest ambitious plan to pass the summer days—whether it’s building a giant tree house that transforms into a giant robot, or filming a movie, or creating a time machine. And even though the stepbrothers’ grand plans escape the attention of their parents and drive Candace nuts, Phineas and Ferb remain completely guileless, telling their disbelieving mom and dad what they’ve accomplished and always looking out for Candace. Refreshingly, the siblings have a deep-seated affection for one another and for their parents. And the secondary plot of each episode—Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz’ dastardly schemes involving awesomely designated devices of pure evil (the the Ugly-Inator, Age-Acclerator-Inator) are thwarted by super agent, Perry the Platypus. The subtleties of the relationship are pitch-perfect. When Perry busts in on Doofenshmirtz when his blind date is about to arrive, Perry accommodates his rival by pretending to be his pet (“She doesn’t know I have a nemesis”). Creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh met while working on The Simpsons. Povenmire later worked on Family Guy, and the cleverness of both shows—and particularly the pacing of Family Guy—has worn off on both, making it one of the smartest shows on TV for people of any age. —Josh Jackson

8. Castlevania

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Creator: Kevin Kolde, Warren Ellis
Stars: Richard Armitage, James Callis, Graham McTavish, Alejandra Reynoso, Tony Amendola, Matt Frewer, Emily Swallow
Original Network: Netflix 

Comic legend Warren Ellis, despite apparently having no familiarity with the Castlevania videogame series, somehow managed to take one look at its imagery and turn it into gold for Netflix in the frustratingly short first season of this series—a mere four episodes, about a feature film in length. Impeccably cast, and reuniting multiple dwarves of The Hobbit series (Richard Armitage as Trevor Belmont, Graham McTavish as Dracula), those four episodes are a sumptuous gothic feast of bloodletting and dizzying anime action sequences. Gory and unrelenting, it also perfectly captures the dark, princely gravitas that has always been infused into Castlevania, and characters such as Dracula and his son Alucard. The first episode, in which a semi-benevolent Dracula loses the love of his life to a mob of luddite priests and prejudiced townfolk who burn her at the stake as a witch, is mouth-dropping in its scenes of grandiose, righteous vengeance. He descends on those poor, helpless fools as a pillar of flame, godlike, obliterating everything in his path and establishing himself as a insurmountable force of nature. Even after seeing the team of heroes assembled to take him down, it’s hard to imagine how they’ll possibly be up for the challenge. —Jim Vorel

7. Family Guy

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Creator:   Seth MacFarlane  
Stars:   Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Mike Henry
Original Network: HBO 

It’s the show that made Seth MacFarlane a household name, and unfortunately, the one it seems he’ll never top. This is with good reason. MacFarlane created a family that’s easy to relate to despite the fact that it includes a talking dog (sniff) and an inexplicably British, bloodthirsty infant. Combine the characters’ eccentricities with jokes that (sometimes literally) won’t quit, and you’ve got one of the most important cartoons to grace the small screen. —Austin L. Ray

6. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

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Creator: Lauren Faust, Bonnie Zacherle
Stars: Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Cathy Weseluck, Nicole Oliver
Original Network: The Hub

When Lena Hall accepted her 2014 Tony Award for her performance in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, she boldly and tearfully declared to the world at the end of her speech, “Friendship is magic.” Of course, this is just one small, example of the incredibly (almost terrifyingly) far-reaching effects of this little show about a unicorn pony named Twilight Sparkle, and her adventures in Ponyville, Equestria. There are many great shows on this list that have permeated the pop culture sphere, and have the devotion of adults and children—but with brony culture, countless critical essays and analyses, and that ridiculous Bob’s Burger’s episode (oh, “The Equestranauts”), none can claim quite the impact as this one. —Shannon Houston

5. Death Note

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Creators: Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata
Stars:Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Maya Rudolph
Original Network: Netflix 

This supernatural thriller is a must-see for anyone with a passing interest in anime. In Death Note, a student named Light Yagami comes into possession of a notebook with the power to bring death upon anyone whose name is written in it. Light decides to use this book for what he thinks is a great purpose—ridding the world of terrible people—but his actions have consequences. If you’re a Dexter fan, you will probably get sucked into Death Note quickly. Even if you aren’t, this cat-and-mouse series is highly addictive. The series has now twice been adapted as a live-action film, most recently by Netflix, but nothing compares to the original. —Liz Ohanesian

4. Big Mouth


Creators:   Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin
Stars:Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Maya Rudolph
Original Network: Netflix 

Netflix’s new animated series, from creators Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin, follows four friends through the earliest stages of puberty: Andrew (John Mulaney) sports inconvenient erections; Nick (Kroll) awaits his first pubic hairs; Jessi (Jessi Klein) begins menstruating at the Statue of Liberty; Jay (Jason Mantzoukas) conceives rococo ways to get off with his pillow. It’s wickedly bawdy—one episode’s end credits roll over an extended description of Andrew’s dad’s testicles—and devilishly funny—another uses a note-perfect Seinfeld send-up to explain the blowjob “head push” and the term “mons pubis”—but as implied by its theme song, Charles Bradley’s “Changes,” the series is sweeter than it appears at first blush. Its goal is to cut through the humiliations of sex, to break through the shame shellacked atop our “gross little dirtbag” selves to reveal the perfectly normal yearning underneath: for pleasure, for touch, for emotional connection; for approval, confidence, intimacy, love. By admitting, as Andrew does in the series premiere, that “everything is so embarrassing”—and not only for teens—Big Mouth squares a space in which there’s no question that can’t be asked, and no answer that applies the same way to everyone. It’s the streaming version of your sex-ed teacher’s anonymous slips of paper, except the laughs aren’t sniggers—they’re hard-won, empathic guffaws. —Matt Brennan

3. Archer

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Creator: Adam Reed
Stars: H. Jon Benjamin, Jessica Walter, Judy Greer, Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell, Amber Nash
Original Network: FX

Archer has succeeded as a hilarious parody of both James Bond and Mad Men with the comedic sensibilities of FX’s best. After upping its own ante with Archer Vice, Archer’s sixth foray into spy hijinks (spyjinks?) surprisingly focused on Archer’s reluctant march toward adult responsibility, interrupted, of course, by run-ins with Japanese holdouts, Irish assassins, cybernetically enhanced operatives, Welsh separatists, and Lana’s parents, among many, many others. And then came Archer P.I.—sorry, the Higgis Agency. The jokes are as sharp as ever, though the animation has never been crisper, and the action has rarely been better. Most of all, the stakes have never felt so grounded. Maybe making parenthood the real heavy here is a risk, but for Adam Reed, it pays off. —Paste Staff

2. Futurama

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Creator:   Matt Groening  
Stars: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr, David Herman, Frank Welker
Original Network: Fox

Totally underappreciated in its original run, which just caught the tail end of the ’90s, one gets the sense that Futurama at first suffered from misplaced expectations. Knowing it was coming from Matt Groening, perhaps people expected a futuristic version of The Simpsons, but Futurama is fundamentally different in quite a few aspects. Although it was similar in its satirical lampooning of modern (or futuristic) daily life and media, it was also capable of being surprisingly—even shockingly—emotional at times. Just ask anyone who remembers the end of “Jurassic Bark” or “The Luck of the Fryrish,” among other episodes. Likewise, its self-contained continuity was unlike almost every other animated sitcom, with events unfolding in both its first and second run on TV that fundamentally affected the viewer’s perception of earlier plot points. It’s now rightly recognized as one of the best animated comedies ever. —Jim Vorel

1. Bojack Horseman


Creator: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Stars: Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris, Paul F. Tompkins 
Original Network: Netflix 

BoJack Horseman is one of the most underrated comedies ever made, and it almost pains me that it doesn’t earn more praise. Right from the title sequence, which documents BoJack’s sad decline from network sitcom star to drunken has-been—set to the beautiful theme song written by the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney—this is one of the most thoughtful comedies ever made. Which doesn’t mean it’s not hilarious, of course. Will Arnett is the perfect voice for BoJack, and Paul F. Tompkins, who is in my mind the funniest man on planet Earth, could not be better suited to the child-like Mr. Peanut Butter. This is a show that isn’t above a visual gag or vicious banter or a wonderfully cheap laugh, but it also looks some very hard realities of life straight in the eye. There are times when you will hate BoJack—this is not a straight redemption story, and the minute you think he’s on the upswing, he will do something absolutely horrible to let you down. (There’s a special irony in the fact that a horse is one of the most human characters on TV.) So why isn’t it loved beyond a strong cult following? Maybe it’s the anthropomorphism that keeps people away, or maybe it’s the animation, but I implore you: Look beyond those elements, settle into the story, and let yourself be amazed by a comedy that straddles the line between hilarious and sad like no other on television. —Shane Ryan

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