Search form

My Top 10 Boy's 2-D Animated Action Series

If you like 2-D animation action series and think you know which ones are the best, take a look at my list so you can tell me how wrong I am.


Ever since I came up with the notion to do these lists, I’ve taken some time to look at what others have done before me and I’ve been surprised to find how much opinions vary.   I don’t know why I’m surprised but I thought there might be more equanimity and consensus but I suppose it was foolish to think that would be the case.

To limit the field to 2-D domestic market productions has narrowed this field substantially and made the choosing and ranking of my selections a bit easier.   There are so many wonderful Anime candidates that would need to be considered that it would be very difficult to limit the category to ten. 

As it is I’m sure I will have left off someone’s favorite and that I may count on hearing why my choices are off base... please remember, this is for fun or at least should be so don’t get to overheated if  you feel I’ve made a horrible choice… Just remember it is my list and you are welcome to offer your list if you want…

So here goes:

 10.   He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

One of the great strip shows of the 80’s with 130 episodes broadcast over two seasons.   Based on Mattel’s toy line the show became an immediate hit with The Sword of Power, Battle Cat, Orko and Man-At-Arms, all aiding Prince Adam in his never ending battle with the evil Skeletor.   “By the Power of Grayskull…. I Have the power!”

9.   Teen Titans

I love this show and I really love its theme song.  Teenage superheroes with all the problems and angst of normal kids while fighting evil and keeping the world save from villains and criminals at the same time.  Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy and Robin – wow, ‘Go Teen Titans!’

8.  GI Joe

Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Larry Hama’s creation was a massive hit that seemed to have more incarnations than can be imagined.  From the early Marvel/Sunbow episodes to the DIC run in the late eighties, to its later reworking through 2007, GI Joe just won't die.  Action with tons of weapons and neat gear, what more could a boy want?  - If there ever was a quintessential action show, GI Joe is it. 

7.  Transformers

Along with GI Joe and He-Man, Transformers became one of the great toy driven action shows of the 1980’s when strip shows were king.   Yet another Hasbro conceived show developed and written in the U.S. with animation coming from Japan and later Korea.   Autobots and Decepticons, warring robots from outer space that can transform themselves into all sorts of neat things…  Kids loved this show in 1984 and the concept is still ringing the cashbox today.

6.  Jackie Chan Adventures

This is one of my very favorite shows.  Nearly 100 episodes were made over 5 seasons with the series mixing humor, fantasy and adventure into an intoxicating mix of fun and action.  Jackie with the help of his uncle and young niece Jade battles the evil Dark Hand.   Not heavy and dark but light and fun and well animated – wish they had made more..

5.   X-Men

Stan Lee’s wild and imaginative world of X-Men, Heroes and Villains began its network run in 1992.  It ran for five seasons and gave us such memorable characters as Wolverine, Storm, Beast, Morph, Magneto, Sabertooth and many others.  For many, the animated series is far more loyal to the Marvel comic than the blockbuster films that were to follow, but no matter how you look at it this property has captured a following that only continues to grow.   

4.  Jonny Quest

Since 1964 Jonny Quest in its various incarnations has been delighting viewers with the adventures of Jonny, his pal Hadji and Jonny’s dog Bandit.   The cast was rounded out with Jonny’s dad, Doctor Quest and Race Bannon.  Thirty-nine episodes were produced over two seasons while new episodes followed in the mid 80s.  The show always featured a blend of action and excitement with a certain restive charm, reminiscent to me of Tintin and Snowy or Terry and the Pirates.  In 1996 another 26 episodes were added mixing computer aided animation with traditional 2-D giving the show a sharper edge and a more contemporary look.  In 1997 yet another 26 episodes were produced which returned stylistically to the earlier shows.   This was aa great series that aside from series one in 1996, offered a mix of modern gadgets and gear with old world stories of mystery and adventure.

3.  Superman – the Series

Lots of studios have produced superman episodes of varying quantity and quality.  The question of which you prefer comes down to whether you’re a modernist or old school in your animation tastes.  I have to say that while I am drawn to many of the old Filmation episodes as a purist, I have to say that the 54 episodes broadcast by WB from 2005 to 2006 are really superb examples of our art and craft.  Big hats off to Bruce Timm, his vision makes these shows jump off the screen while drawing you in at the same time.   These shows are dark but in keeping with the DC brand of superheroes and they provide plenty of action and drama to work across a wide demographic.   Hard not to admire the craftsmanship   and care in these shows – a lot of time spend in the layouts and the boards and great posing.   If I would have any complaint it might be with a few of the stories but that would be like saying you loved the wine but felt the label on the bottle could be improved…

2.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

From an obscure comic book pitched around town to nearly everyone, to a risky syndication order of 5 episodes that no one had a lot of hope for, to a mega hit within two years, TMNT became a broadcast and marketing phenomenon like few of us had ever seen.    For ten long years Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo brought an immense amount of fun and adventure to their viewing fans in its original form from 1987 through 1996.  Over 190 episodes were produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson under the creative overview of Fred Wolf, who had understood the scope of the property when he had first seen it and was responsible for arranging the initial syndication deal that launched the property.    With a bright mix of humor and action the show introduced its viewers to whole new batch of surfer speech such as bodacious, far-out, bogus and cowabunga .  And all the time these very cool dudes fought crime and ate pizza they made us laugh we happily rooted for them and splinter as they took on Shredder and his villainous crew.   Several revivals came later bringing this series episode total to well over 200.  Cowabunga Man!  What a run….

1.  Batman – The Animated Series

Having already said how much I admired Bruce Timm’s work on Superman I need to say it again for Batman – TAS.  This show is dark, wonderfully moody, contains fantastic art and perspective layouts, great posing and is build from scripts that not only don’t get in the way but actually compliment the outstanding animation.   Batman seems to be a character that was Heaven made for animation and Timm seems to get it better than anyone that went before him.  Now we do have to say that with a generous WB animation budget this show had more assets and ammunition (read money) than any before it as well but so what?  How many big budget films and series are stinkers, while every cent of this budget can be seen on the screen?   This is a series that is layered with story, art and sound so as to bring the viewer into its world and keep you there from beginning to end. 

So there it is.  I know I left out one or two rather notable titles but dealers choice and these are mine.