I’m no stranger to cartoons. I wouldn’t say it’s a personality trait, but they are defining things from my childhood. I am not a morning person and never have been. My mom usually woke up for school; otherwise, I wasn’t getting out of bed. But Saturday would roll around, and I was up at 7 A.M. on the dot. I would pour myself a bowl of cereal (Preferably a bowl of Pops, but I stopped eating those religiously when they switched from the aluminum to the clear plastic one. They were never the same.), run to the couch, and flip on the king of Saturday morning cartoons, Kids’ WB. So far, I’ve ranked Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon shows. It’s only right I continue by ranking early 2000s Kids’ WB cartoons.
Ranking Early 2000s Kids’ WB Cartoons
I have to preface this list before I get started. Not all of my picks are technically Warner Bros. Animation. Some of my picks were syndicated or programming from other studios like 4Kids Entertainment or Sony Pictures. It’s close enough. They aired on Kids’ WB, and I watched them every Saturday morning, so I don’t care, and it counts in my book.
7a. Superman The Animated Series/Batman The Animated Series
These picks are cop-out of answers, I know. How can I justify two picks in one? Well, I’m not going to justify it. You have to get over it because I couldn’t put one above the other. Both shows are easily the best adaptations of the characters we have ever gotten. We see Superman and the boy scout he is, but we also see him struggle. He’s not some angsty broken guy like in Henry Cavill’s version. (No shade. I love Man of Steel.) But his version doesn’t come close to the Animated Series.
7b. Batman The Animated Series/Superman The Animated Series
We have gotten a few great and not-so-great Batman adaptations, but none are as iconic as The Animated Series. If you ask me, “Who’s the first actor you think of when I say, Batman?” My answer has and will forever be Kevin Conroy. He is Batman. Paired with Mark Hamill as the Joker, you have the most iconic voices to ever bless our ears. We see Batman as the world’s best detective, one of the best fighters, and the man on a mission to save his city, all wrapped into one. Usually, the movies only pick one of them and run with it.
Both of these shows led to other great works, such as
Fun Fact: Harley Quinn first appeared in an episode titled Joker’s Favor before appearing in the comics. So without BTAS, we wouldn’t have Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.
6. X-Men Evolution
If X-Men Evolution aired on any other channel, it would be higher on its list, but it shows the depth of this cartoon lineup. The OG X-Men cartoon was good and is a classic in the eyes of most Saturday morning watcher aficionados, but X-Men Evolution is better. The animation is cleaner. (Yeah, it was a newer show. I get it.) What I loved the most was the story. It followed key X-Men figures, but when they were much younger than previously shown. We don’t have to deal with the weird love triangle between Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Wolverine. They were kids, high schoolers who had to navigate the normal world of school and the world of superheroes who go on missions. It felt like a secret world in our world, like Hogwarts, but with superpowers instead of magic.
5. What’s New Scooby-Doo?
In anime, three shows considered the Big 3 ushered in an era of anime watchers. For classic Saturday morning cartoons, at least in my head, Tom & Jerry, The Looney Tunes, and What’s New Scooby-Doo are the big three. They are the classics. What’s New Scooby-Doo is iconic. The cast, the plots, the mystery machine, and the Hex Girls (IYKYK) make this cartoon amazing. The show knew what it was and didn’t try to be anything else. But the most iconic thing is the theme song sung by Simple Plan. (Could it get any more early 2000s than that?) What’s New Scooby-Doo’s theme song is the rock anthem of a generation. Don’t believe me? Still the aux the next time you’re in the car and play it. Watch what happens.
4. Jackie Chan Adventures
There is something about old kung-fu movies with Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, and Jet Lee that has a hold over most of Central America. If I had a dollar for every time I walked in on my day watching Fist of Legend or Enter the Dragon, I would be a millionaire. And while I do like some of the movies, I never understood his obsession with them until I watched Jackie Chan Adventures. It’s filled with weird, wacky characters going on even weirder and wackier adventures to collect coins that granted the holder mystic animal powers. Ridiculous in concept, but Jackie Chan is a comedy genius, and the fight scenes were both epic and hysterical. Although, in retrospect, this show probably has some problematic characters, seven-year-old me didn’t know any better.
3. Batman Beyond
Batman Beyond is one of, if not the coolest, Batman storyline we have ever gotten. It throws us into the future, where Bruce Wayne is roughly 100 years old and no longer wears the cape and cowl. Things happen, and we meet Terry McGinnis, the boy who will take up the mantle of Batman. This show has the best Batman costume to date, the coolest gadgets, and the weirdest subplot ever.
The Batman Beyond costume is peak character design. In the words of Edna Mode, “No Capes!” We got to see some cool futuristic gadgets that are easier to buy than the OG Batman’s. (It’s always been a little weird how advanced Batman’s tech has been.) And the weird furry subplot of the show keeps you on your toes. The only bad thing I have to say about this show is that it’s too short. I needed more than 52 episodes. Correction, I still need more than 52 episodes.
2. Xiaolin Showdown
Like any tier list or ranking, my number one and two spots were hard to pick. You could argue that Xiaolin Showdown deserves to be number one, but I couldn’t do it. In my heart of hearts, it wasn’t better than my number one pick. But I do love this show, even though every character is a racial stereotype. It was the early 2000s and had a cool premise filled with fighting. It doesn’t hold up nowadays, but watching a bunch of preteens yell XIAOLIN SHOWDOWN and then fight with weapons like “Changing Chopsticks” and “Tangle Web Comb” is peak childhood. The basketball showdown episode is still better than all of Kuroko no Basket. (Yeah, I said it. What are you gonna do about it?)
1. Static Shock
When ranking early 2000s Kids’ WB cartoons, Static Shock is the cream of the crop. Name me another kids’ cartoon that deals with gang violence, racism, and low-income family better than Static Shock. That’s right; you can’t. But that’s not what makes this cartoon so great. No, it’s the fact that Virgil Hawkins is the first cool superhero we got as kids. Yeah, Superman and Batman were cool as heroes, but their secret aliases were boring nerds. Clark Kent is a reporter who acts like a boy scout. Bruce Wayne is an orphaned, angsty billionaire. Wally West is a science nerd. Peter Parker is all of those things minus the billionaire part. No, Static Shock listened to cool music, wore cool clothes, and didn’t sound like a responsible adult every time he spoke.
And Virgil wasn’t the only well-written character in the show. Static Shock, the show had some of the most memorable villains ever. Rubber-Band Man’s redemption arc is top tier, but Ebon stole the show. He was an absolute menace, and I loved it. Also, gotta shout out the boy Richie AKA Gear, Virgil’s best friend. As a high school student, Richie came up with and created a lot of cool gadgets for Static. (I know, we later find out it’s the bang gas that gave him super-intelligence, but still, kinda impressive nonetheless.)
How’d I Do?
Whether or not you agree with my list doesn’t matter because I killed this ranking list. If you disagree, you are wrong, and you have bad taste. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. But I had a blast ranking early 2000s Kids’ WB cartoons, and my job is cool sometimes. I wonder how I’ll figure out how to write about cartoons again for work? Who knows, but stay tuned to find out because I will weasel another cartoon ranking on here somehow.