11 Best Binge-Watching Cartoons

Young woman sitting on sofa, watching tv, eating chocolate
Emma Kim / Getty Images

Binge TV isn't a new trend; it just has a new, trendy name. Binge-watching is just what you think it is: Watching one episode after the other of one TV series. TV shows that have completed their run, either because they chose to do so or because they were canceled, make for the most satisfying binges.

Thanks to streaming services, like Hulu and Netflix, and DVDs being released continuously, anyone can stockpile snacks and drinks, press play and binge-watch a new or favorite TV series.

But what about cartoons? TV watchers can easily find dramas, like The Wire, or serialized comedies, like How I Met Your Mother, to spend hours watching. But cartoons lovers can find worthy cartoons for binge-watching, too.

01
of 11

'Daria'

Daria Cast
Daria Cast. MTV

Around the same time, Teen Nick's Degrassi was dissecting the life of a teenager, Daria premiered on MTV to do the same thing. Daria Morgendorffer was a teenage girl who attends Lawndale High School, along with her younger sister, Quinn, and her best friend, Jane Lane.

Daria was a funnier version of My So-Called Life. Daria was also an existential examination, with the lead character wondering where she fit when she seemed to be the only person enduring the world as it was, not the candy-coated version her family and classmates enjoyed. We followed Daria through finals, hook-ups and break-ups, and finally graduation.

02
of 11

'Batman: The Animated Series'

Batman: The Animated Series
Batman: The Animated Series. The Hub/Warner Bros.

Batman is more hero than super, because his fighting skills and helpful gear are what give him the ability to fight crime and evildoers. When he's not lurking in the shadows, he is Bruce Wayne, billionaire orphan and playboy.

Batman: The Animated Series removed the camp which marked the franchise after the '60s TV series and 1989 movie starring Michael Keaton. The cartoon shifted the focus to the darker aspects of Batman's story, including Bruce Wayne's childhood. The music from the Batman movie heightened the drama, but the episodes were full of humor, too.

See also: 10 Most Popular Cartoons from the '80s

The most memorable character, however, was The Joker, played masterfully by Mark Hamill (Star Wars). Hamill was nominated in 1994 for an Annie Award for Best Achievement for Voice Acting, thanks to his ability to drop from a high-pitched giggle to a throaty threat in the turn of a batarang.

03
of 11

'Superman'

Superman: The Animated Series
Superman: The Animated Series. The Hub/Warner Bros.

Superman came to Earth as a baby when his parents sent him away from their home planet, Krypton, as it was coming apart. He grows up as Clark Kent, hiding his powers of super strength, flying, X-ray vision and lasers that shoot from his eyes.

See also: 50 Best Classic Cartoon Characters of All Time

Like Batman: The Animated Series, Superman turned its focus to classic comic book villains, like Lex Luthor and Brainiac. The man of steel also battled his alter ego, Bizarro. The cartoon featured highly stylized animation and dramatic music. Tim Daly and Dana Delaney had already voiced Superman and Lois Lane, respectively, in the Superman video game and The Batman Superman Movie: World's Finest. Both actors were adept at grounding the characters and delivering funny punchlines.

04
of 11

'Home Movies'

'Home Movies' - Brendon Small with Remote
'Home Movies' Brendon Small with Remote. Adult Swim

The show centers around Brendon Small, an eight year-old boy whose passion is filmmaking. Brendon lives with his divorced mom, Paula, and his baby sister, Josie. When Brendon isn't doing homework, or at soccer practice, he is making his own movies with the help of his two best friends, Melissa and Jason.

See also: 9 Cartoons that were Canceled Too Soon

Home Movies' run overlapped with Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. Both cartoons had characters voiced by stand-up comedians, and both cartoons experimented with Squigglevision. Although both cartoons shared producers and cast members, Home Movies told stories about the awkward time when you're nearing the end of childhood. Home Movies also touched on the pain divorce brings children and their parents.

05
of 11

'Samurai Jack'

'Samurai Jack'
'Samurai Jack'. Cartoon Network

A unique cartoon, containing very little dialogue. The series follows a warrior who is trained solely for defeating the evil Aku. But when Jack confronts Aku, he is thrown into a time portal and lands somewhere in the future. Samurai Jack must find his way back to the past, to his home and to his enemy.

Genndy Tartakovsky, who has another cartoon on this list, is the genius behind Samurai Jack. The series is visually stunning, using split-screens and quick-cuts. The story is compelling, with Jack as a loner who cannot be distracted from his mission to defeat Aku.

06
of 11

'Justice League'

Justice League
Justice League. Cartoon Network/Warner Bros.

Superheroes pack this list for binge-worthy TV cartoons because their comic book lives are ripe for harvesting ready-made stories. Each superhero comes with his or her own powers, weaknesses, significant others and nemeses. Justice League is no exception. With Martian Manhunter (J'onn J'onzz), Superman, Green Lantern, Batman, The Flash and Wonder Woman leading the crime-fighting group, writers found no end to the possibilities for over-arching storylines.

The tension that arose from so many lead and recurring characters also made for an entertaining cartoon, like watching Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne square off from time to time.

Fans of the animated series Batman and Superman enjoyed the continuity of hearing many of the same voices for each character, especially the villains, which included The Joker (Mark Hamill), Clancy Brown (Lex Luthor) and Clayface (Ron Perlman).

07
of 11

'Star Wars: Clone Wars'

Star Wars: Clone Wars
Star Wars: Clone Wars. Cartoon Network

Genndy Tartakovsky is responsible for two of the cartoons on this list: Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars. The Clone Wars cartoon I am referring to is not the CGI version that aired on Cartoon Network, after the first "episode" was released in movie theaters in 2008. This Star Wars: Clone Wars was touted as a micro-series that filled the gap in the Star Wars saga between Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith feature films.

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Clone Wars was conceived as a collection of animated shorts. They are fast-paced and gorgeous. The action is quick, with the 2D stylization Tartakovsky used in Samurai Jack. The story moves just as quickly as the action, taking fans over the bridge into Anakin's turn to the dark side.

08
of 11

'Avatar: The Last Airbender'

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Avatar: The Last Airbender. Nickelodeon

Avatar: The Last Airbender followed Aang, the titular character, as he trained to defeat Fire Lord Ozai. He traveled the world with Katara and Sokka, a sister and brother from the Southern Water Tribe who helped Aang prepare for his final battle.

I have binge-watched Avatar: The Last Airbender more than once. Though the main storyline centers on Aang, other engrossing stories are weaved into each episode. Prince Zuko's redemption journey from Aang's nemesis to his best friend is perhaps the most interesting storyline in the series.

See also: 10 Craziest Villains on Avatar: The Last Airbender

The world of Avatar also draws you in, with the Four Nations having centuries of culture, traditions and history.

09
of 11

'Wolverine and the X-Men'

Wolverine and the X-Men
Storm, Logan and Beast in 'Wolverine and the X-Men.'. MARVEL

Wolverine and the X-Men follows Professor X's students after he disappears during an attack on his school. When they catch a glimpse of the future, and the world in ruins, Wolverine becomes the mutant students' leader, helping them track down the Professor while uncovering the villain behind the attack.

Wolverine and the X-Men is squarely aimed at X-Men fans. Wolverine is mature, having to become responsible for the other students in the Professor's absence. However, his attitude and cutting humor are still evident. Plenty of X-men favorites play important parts in the series, including Beast, Storm, Cyclops and Nightcrawler. Characters from the recent X-men movies make a few appearances, such as Jean Grey, Mystique and Sabretooth.

Taking the Professor out of most of the action allows the story to follow Wolverine while he stumbles and works to overcome his instinct for solitude. Watching him interact with the younger students makes for an entertaining series.

10
of 11

'Archer'

Coyote Lovely - Archer
"Coyote Lovely" 'Archer'. FX

has the sleek look of a spy comic worthy of James Bond. But the characters couldn't be more base, which results in episode after episode of hilarity.

Archer follows the spies at ISIS agency, which is headed by Malory Archer, whose son, Sterling, is her best agent. The agents work to avoid one international crisis after another while managing to gouge each other in the process.

See also: Sexiest Cartoon Characters on TV

In the five seasons the cartoon has aired, Sterling has loved and lost, fathered a child, and almost discovered the identity of his father. His romance with Lana, a fellow agent, has sizzled and fizzled alternately. An amazing number of stories bloom from a small cast of characters (country singers and cocaine!), all of them funny.

11
of 11

'ThunderCats'

Lion-O 'Thundercats'
Lion-O 'Thundercats'. Cartoon Network

For more than two decades, the call of "Thundercats, ho!" brought back memories of the '80s cartoon that starred a flaming-haired Lion-O. The 2011 reboot kept the same cast of characters, but toned down their cat features and calmed the reds and oranges that colored the '80s series.

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Cartoon Network's also kept the storyline that Lion-O is destined to lead the Thunderans out of the shadow of the evil Mumm-Ra. The series is full of action, telling the age-old story of right versus wrong, of loyal friends and family, and a boy who must grow up and accept the mantle of leadership.