Whether it was a positive or negative wave of reactions, a wave is a wave. 2017 introduced us to some new faces, season premieres that went viral, and some familiar faces that were revived in animation. Some cartoons seemed to have a extreme cult following, others are just getting started. We’ll also be saying goodbye to one of these shows very soon, and it just hurts my soul to know that. No matter what reaction they had, they are the cartoons that will impact the future of animated television if they haven’t already. These are the top ten cartoons that had everyone talking, ranting, crying, analyzing, or all of the above in 2017.
1) Rick and Morty
Wow. What a year that Rick and Morty has had. If one word could be used to describe 2017 for Rick and Morty, that word would be “viral”. I mean this show really went there. First of all, the season 3 premiere was a total surprise, and ended up making the series Adult Swim’s most watched series ever. History was made my friend. The terms Pickle Rick and Szechuan Sauce had to have been googled at least 10 million times this year. AT LEAST. Rick and Morty pretty much won 2017.
Rick and Morty is the story of insane and sometimes hostile adventures of Morty Smith and his grandfather Rick Sanchez. Sometimes accompanied by the rest of the Smiths mom and dad Jerry & Beth, and daughter Summer, the action-filled journeys to other dimensions never end.
2) Big Mouth
A tale of crazy and embarrassing puberty stories told through animation. Netflix has really done it with this one. As raunchy and vulgar Big Mouth is, it really portrayed puberty and hormones as the monsters that they truly are. No seriously, Big Mouth surrounds a group of pre-teens who are followed by a Hormone Monster and Monstress, who are constantly harassing them and pressuring them to act inappropriately. Puberty is a confusing burden that everyone deals with, so this show can definitely relate to anyone.
3) Hey Arnold
We thought we said goodbye to Hey Arnold in 2004, but the story was not over yet. This year came the adventures of Arnold, Gerald, and the rest of the gang and their quest to help find Arnold’s parents. The P.S. 118 class won a trip to San Lorenzo, where the secrets that were held onto so long in this series finally came to the light. Romances were ignited, closure was given, and Arnold found the answer that he was looking for. Plus, Brainy is the character that you wouldn’t have thought would save the day, but that’s another amazing twist that the movie had. The Jungle Movie was a sort of, sigh of relief, and only the beginning of the revival of classic Nickelodeon shows.
4) OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes
Cartoon Network introduced us to another action packed show in 2017. Although it was introduced as a short pilot “Lakewood Plaza Turbo”, at least we got to see it become a full series. OK K.O. follows a character in a futuristic setting who is destined to be the world’s greatest hero. With the constant theme of video games and references to other shows that came before it, I think this series could have a nice future ahead. It has gained a fair amount of praise, followed by a blossoming fandom.
5) Adventure Time
All good adventures come to an end. In 2016, it was confirmed that Adventure Time will not be renewed for anymore seasons and that season 10 will be the last time that we’ll see Finn the dog and Jake the human going on a number of quests with additional characters Princess Bubblegum, BMO, Lumpy Space Princess, and more. I feel like the news brought fans closer together and made them appreciate the show while it was still here. Adventure Time’s final episode will be titled “Come Along With Me” and is set to be released in 2018.
“Adventure Time was a passion project for the people on the crew who poured their heart into the art and stories. We tried to put into every episode something genuine and telling from our lives and make a show that was personal to us and that had jokes, too! I’m really happy that it connected with an audience for so long. It’s a special thing, I think.” – Pendleton Ward, Creator
6) South Park
South Park just never seems to stop getting good. Their constant pop culture references tied in with a ridiculously funny story line makes almost every episode worth watching. This year was the premiere of season 21 and the writers didn’t hesitate to take a jab at the uprising of electronic personal assistants, the increase of home makeover shows, political outrage, and the country stylings of popular hip hop songs. The remaining episodes touched even more references to humorous and ridiculous political statements such as “fake news”. It was just South Park being South Park and we loved every minute of it.
7) Steven Universe
Steven Universe continued to be the top Cartoon Network series and one of the most popular cartoons on television today. It’s never ending adventures for the “Crystal Gems”, or the magic beings – Steven, Pearl, Garnet, and Amethyst who use their powers to protect the earth. The show separates itself from many other cartoons today in sense of representing LGBTQ+ characters, gender fluidity, and tackling abusive relationships.
“In large part it’s based on my experience as a bisexual woman. I think that there are a lot of ways that I — how to I put this? These themes have so much to do with who you are. There is an idea that these are themes that should not be shared with kids but everyone shares stories about love and attraction with kids. So many stories for kids are about love. It really makes a difference to hear stories about how someone like you can be loved. And if you don’t hear those stories, it will change who you are. It’s very important to me that we speak to kids about consent. That we speak to kids about identity. There’s so much I have to say about this. I want to feel like I exist and I want everyone else who wants to feel that way to feel that way too.” – Rebecca Sugar answering what inspired her to include those themes in Steven Universe, San Diego Comic-Con 2016
8) Family Guy
The first family of adult cartoons started off strong with their season 16 premiere. In Emmy Winning Episode, the Griffins were doing whatever it takes to become an Emmy winning show, even if it means acting as the shows that seem to always win. Shows such as Modern Family, Girls, Breaking Bad, and The Big Bang Theory were parodied. Another major turning point for Family Guy was Brian’s exit. It was such a twist that we didn’t see coming. What was thought to be episode ending resolution turned into a dark reality. This year really proved that Family Guy is still going strong 18 years later.
9) BoJack Horseman
Netflix has only five animated series on its platform, but this one has stood out the most. BoJack Horseman has won over the hearts of many being the first ever original animated series on Netflix that premiered on August 22, 2014. With their memorable one-liners, it was bound to be a success. It all takes place in the life of a Humanoid horse who was once a 90s sitcom star, but following the cancellation of his show led to him being a washed up actor, hoping to find his place in the modernized industry once again. The show takes on serious issues of mental illness and addiction with a satirical take on events in the real world. Season 4 was released on September 8, 2017 and received a positive reception overall.
10) The Jellies
This year Tyler the Creator and Lionel Boyce’s show The Jellies really had us impressed. After finding out he’s adopted, even though he’s clearly a human male and his parents and younger sister are jelly fish, 16-year-old Cornell Jelly attempts to find himself a number of ridiculous ways. The Jellies was originally an exclusive on Tyler’s app Golf Media, and main character Cornell was a different race. Tyler explains why the change of race in the best way possible at San Diego Comic-Con:
“How many f–king black cartoon characters is it on TV right now? Name five I’ll give you time. It is none. They cancelled static shock, nobody remember Fillmore, we don’t got sh-t…”
I, for one, absolutely remember Fillmore. Click here to watch the rest of Tyler’s response.