Best Cartoon Network Shows of the 2000s, Ranked – MovieWeb

The 2000s were an epic time in animated television that introduced audiences to celebrated cartoon classics, with many debuting on Cartoon Network.
The 2000s was an epic time in animated television that introduced audiences to celebrated cartoon classics, with many debuting on Cartoon Network. The fan-favorite channel is no stranger to creating popular, cutting-edge programs that to this day remain beloved gems, with shows like Teen Titans, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy and Ben 10 taking viewers by storm. Since its groundbreaking launch in 1992, Cartoon Network has continued to be a dominant force in cable television, reaching 94 million households as of 2021.
Audiences fell in love with an array of colorful and memorable characters on the channel, from the perpetually scared pooch in the surprisingly creepy Courage the Cowardly Dogto enchanting, made-up pals in Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends. With such an impressive selection of content, Cartoon Network was undeniably the place to go for all your animated series needs. These are the best Cartoon Network shows of the 2000s.
Following the lives of teenage super agents Alex, Clover and Sam as they work undercover in Beverly Hills while dealing with the growing pains of going to high school, the 2001 spy-fi show Totally Spies! chronicles the trio's misadventures fighting conniving bad guys and looking stylish while they do it.
Series co-creator David Michel wanted to incorporate fictional Japanese influences and was inspired by the '90s hit Clueless and thrilling James Bond format. The girl-power program initially ran for five seasons before being revived for a sixth in 2013, with a prequel theatrical film being released in 2009; an upcoming seventh season is scheduled for release in 2023.
The 2001 animated action-adventure Samurai Jack centers on the titular, katana-wielding prince as he is sent into a dangerous dystopian future by a nefarious shape-shifting demon determined to take over his land. It is up to the powerful warrior to tackle a variety of formidable foes on his quest to return to his own time, culminating in a final showdown between Jack and the evil ruler Aku.
Created by Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter's Laboratory), the cartoon was based on his interest with both bushido code and samurai culture, with Tartakovsky shooting the series to capture the cinematography of the 1970s and also embody classics like Spartacus and Lawrence of Arabia. Samurai Jack ran for five seasons including a short-lived 2017 revival.
When 10-year-old Ben Tennyson discovers a mysterious watch-like device while on a camping trip with his grandpa and cousin, the adolescent finds himself with the ability to shift into wondrous alien creatures in the 2005 series Ben 10. Ben is given unique powers and spectacular skills as he is able to transform into 10 vastly different aliens, using his newfound abilities to protect his family and Earth from evil outside forces.
Famed voice actress Tara Strong offered her talents for the hit program, tackling the role of Ben in addition to fellow characters like Benwolf, Upgrade, and Buzzshock. Ben 10had a very successful four season run and led to the follow-up spin-offs Ben 10: Alien Force and 2016reboot.
Adapted from the titular DC Comics superhero team, the 2003 anime-inspired animated series Teen Titans follows the crime-fighting adolescents consisting of Robin, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg and Beast Boy as they protect Jump City from dangerous foes like Slade, Brother Blood and Trigon. Co-creator Glen Murakami wanted the characters to maintain their superhero identities the whole time throughout the program's run, having once expressed, "It was really important to me that little kids watching it could identify with characters. And I thought that the minute you start giving them secret identities then kids couldn't project themselves onto the characters anymore."
Related: Top 10 Animated TV Shows of the 2000s
The overwhelming popularity and fanbase of Teen Titans led to an original five season run and a TV movie, and spawned the follow-up series Teen Titans Go!. The cartoon was nominated for numerous Annie Awards and TVLine included it on its list of best animated series themes of all time, with many praising its catchy and memorable intro.
Chronicling the entertaining adventures of a group of unique 10-year-olds as they battle to fight crime against adults in their secret espionage tree house, 2002's Codename: Kids Next Door is a Cartoon Network gem that was a ratings hit for the channel. Centering on the diverse, code-named children Nigel, Hoagie, Kuki, Wallabee and Abigail, each episode revolves around the group tackling crimes committed by adults using advanced technology, taking on everything from homework to dentist appointments. The series went on to produce 6 seasons and two television films as well as a cross-over episode with The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
Revered creator Craig McCracken (The Powerpuff Girls) once again hit cartoon gold when he introduced audiences everywhere to Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, with the animated series taking place in a wondrous world where children's imaginary pals can take physical form and actually exist.
With memorable and charming characters like Bloo, Eduardo, and Wilt, the program focuses on the bright 8-year-old Mac and his struggles with growing older and fears of leaving his imaginary friends behind. McCracken developed the six season show to have an eccentric style that evoked "that period of late 60s psychedelia when Victorian stylings were coming into trippy poster designs" and wanted it to be a family-friendly program all ages could enjoy.
After losing a wager with the dippy boy Billy and cynical girl Mandy, the Grim Reaper is forced to become the duo's best friend and servant in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, with the series depicting their many misadventures involving both the supernatural and life's everyday struggles.
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Despite being initially miserable about his servitude to the scheming kids, Grim eventually begins to grow fond of Billy and Mandy (albeit just a little), and their love-hate relationship is hilariously prevalent throughout its six seasons. The program was a critical and commercial hit, winning two Emmy Awards and an Annie Awards while also leading to three television movies.
Fewer animated shows proved as popular and enduring as the 2000s cult classic Ed, Edd, n Eddy, which focuses on the preteen trio of boys as they concoct schemes and scams in their suburban cul-de-sac in hopes of making money and buying their beloved jawbreakers.
Adult cartoonist Danny Antonucci was dared to try and produce a kid-friendly program, designing the eponymous characters while working on a commercial; he based their personalities on his own personal traits and drew inspiration from his two sons and children he grew up with. Ed, Edd, n Eddy was undeniably one of Cartoon Network's most successful original series and attracted a massive audience of 31 million households during its five seasons, becoming a celebrated staple for viewers of all ages.
Praised for its creepy, foreboding atmosphere and delightfully dark humor, the beloved, wonderfully bizarre Cartoon Network comedy horror series Courage the Cowardly Dog may have premiered at the end of 1999 but became a massive 2000s hit despite its seemingly short 4 season tenure. Following the easily frightened yet loving titular pooch as he lives on a remote farm in a town called Nowhere with the nurturing Muriel and mean-spirited Eustace, the classic show depicts the many terrifying foes and evil forces Courage is constantly squaring off against.
Series creator John R. Dilworth turned his Oscar-nominated animated short The Chicken from Outer Space into the full-length show for the network, having previously worked on lauded shows like Doug and Rugrats. The spine-tingling series went on to win both an Annie and Golden Reel Award, and was described by the online magazine PopMatters as "a fascinating and textured mixture of cartoon and horror-movie conventions, and a joy to watch."


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