Animated TV Series The Best Animated Drama Series Ever  

Ranker TV
1.2k votes 148 voters 1.6k views 40 items

List Rules Vote up the best animated dramas that have aired on television.

The best animated television shows have never been about just being “cartoons.” The best animated drama series ever shown on TV prove that easily, with shows and scenes that get us caught up in the story. If you’ve been looking for the great animated dramas to get your feels on while enjoying the visuals of a cartoon, this list of the top animated drama series of all time will help you figure out what needs to go into your queue.

Some of the best animated dramas on TV balance the laughs with the tears. Anyone who has started sniffling during the "Jurassic Bark" episode of Futurama knows exactly the kind of perfect emotional blow a good animated drama can bring. Possibly because they’re just “cartoons,” we let our guard down and the dramatic moments have more impact. Shows that are children’s cartoons are often very good at this emotional bait-and-switch, with Gargoyles, Steven Universe, and even Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated introducing dramatic elements into their stories. Other series start out clearly as dramas, such as Avatar: Legend of Korra, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Watership Down - with light moments acting as a buffer, rather than the inverse.

Which animated TV shows bring drama the best? Vote up the best animated dramas, then vote down the shows that don't pull off being serious when they need to, and add any dramatic animated series that are missing.

list ordered by
1
87 11
Avatar: The Last Airbender is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Zach Tyler, Dee Bradley Baker, Mae Whitman
Avatar: The Last Airbender is an American television series that aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. Avatar: The Last Airbender is set in an Asiatic-like world in which ...more
2
50 17
Young Justice is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Danica McKellar, Jesse McCartney, Nolan North
Young Justice is an American animated television series created by Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman for Cartoon Network. Despite its title, it is not a direct adaptation of Peter David, Todd ...more
3
52 23
Avatar: Legend of Korra is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Janet Varney, P.J. Byrne, David Faustino
Book One: Air is the first season of the U.S. animated TV series The Legend of Korra created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Consisting of twelve episodes, it was initially ...more
4
41 24
Justice League is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Carl Lumbly, George Newbern, Phil LaMarr
Justice League is an American animated television series which ran from 2001 to 2004 on Cartoon Network. It is part of the DC animated universe. The show was produced by Warner Bros. Animation. ...more
5
36 18
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherho... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Kent Williams, Iemasa Kayumi, Vic Mignogna
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an anime adaptation of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga by Hiromu Arakawa. Developed by Bones, the series is directed by Yasuhiro Irie and written by Hiroshi ...more
6
34 17
Batman Beyond is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, Lauren Tom
Batman Beyond is an American animated television series created by Warner Bros. Animation in collaboration with DC Comics as a continuation of the Batman legacy. Depicting a teenaged Batman in a ...more
7
35 18
Dragon Ball Z is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Sean Schemmel, Christopher Sabat, Doc Harris
Dragon Ball Z is a Japanese anime television series produced by Toei Animation. Dragon Ball Z is the sequel to the Dragon Ball anime and adapts the last 325 chapters of the original 519-chapter ...more
8
29 17
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporat... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Frank Welker, Mindy Cohn, Grey Griffin
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (Cartoon Network, 2010) is an American animated mystery comedy-drama television series and the eleventh incarnation of the Scooby-Doo mystery franchise created ...more
9
32 18
Cowboy Bebop is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Kôichi Yamadera, Unshô Ishizuka, Megumi Hayashibara
Cowboy Bebop is a 1998 Japanese anime series developed by Sunrise featuring a production team led by director Shinichirō Watanabe, screenwriter Keiko Nobumoto, character designer Toshihiro ...more
10
23 12
The New Batman Adventures is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Tara Strong, Kevin Conroy, Robert Costanzo
The New Batman Adventures is an American animated television series based on the DC Comics superhero Batman, and is a continuation of Batman: The Animated Series. It was produced by Warner Bros. ...more
11
24 11
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
This show is an American 3D CGI animated television series created by George Lucas and produced by Lucasfilm Animation with the division Lucasfilm Animation Singapore, Lucasfilm and CGCG Inc. ...more
12
24 13
Naruto Shippūden is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Nana Mizuki, Yukari Tamura, Kazuhiko Inoue
Naruto Shippuuden is the continuation of the original animated TV series Naruto.The story revolves around an older and slightly more matured Uzumaki Naruto and his quest to save his friend ...more
13
22 12
Gargoyles is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Keith David, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Jeff Bennett
Gargoyles is an American animated series produced by Walt Disney Television Animation and Buena Vista Television, and originally aired from October 24, 1994 to February 15, 1997. The series ...more
14
33 21
Steven Universe is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Zach Callison, Deedee Magno, Estelle
Steven Universe is an American animated television series created by Rebecca Sugar, former storyboard artist, writer, and composer for Adventure Time. It is produced by Cartoon Network Studios, ...more
15
23 14
Futurama is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal
Futurama is an American adult animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening and developed by Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the ...more
16
20 12
Spider-Man is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Christopher Daniel Barnes, Sara Ballantine, Roscoe Lee Browne
Spider-Man, also known as Spider-Man: The Animated Series, is an American animated television series based on the Marvel Comics superhero, Spider-Man. The show ran on Fox Kids from November 19, ...more
17
24 14
Attack on Titan is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Marina Inoue, Yuki Kaji, Josh Grelle
Several hundred years ago, humans were nearly exterminated by giants. Giants are typically several stories tall, seem to have no intelligence, devour human beings and, worst of all, seem to do ...more
18
13 5
The Dragon Prince is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
james.e.englebert added Jack De Sena, Paula Burrows, Sasha Rojen
The Dragon Prince (Netflix, 2018) is a fantasy computer-animated television series created by Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond. Two human princes forge an unlikely bond with the elfin assassin ...more
19
23 15
Death Note is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Mamoru Miyano, Brad Swaile, Vincent Tong
Death Note is a Japanese manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The story follows Light Yagami, a high school student who stumbles across a mysterious ...more
20
18 12
Voltron: Legendary Defender is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Josh Keaton, Steven Yeun, Jeremy Shada
Voltron: Legendary Defender is a 2016 American animated web television series. The series follows the adventures of the Paladins of Voltron who must learn to form the giant robot Voltron to ...more
21
18 13
InuYasha is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Kappei Yamaguchi, Richard Ian Cox, Satsuki Yukino
Inuyasha, also known as Inuyasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. It premiered in Weekly Shōnen Sunday on November 13, 1996 and ...more
22
21 14
Castlevania is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Richard Armitage, James Callis, Graham McTavish
Castlevania (Netflix, 2017) is an American adult animated web television series based on the 1989 video game Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse by Konami. The series follows Trevor Belmont ...more
23
14 11
Bleach is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Johnny Yong Bosch, Michelle Ruff, Stephanie Sheh
Bleach is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. Bleach follows the adventures of the hotheaded teenager Ichigo Kurosaki after he obtains the powers of a Soul Reaper from ...more
24
9 6
The Spectacular Spider-Man is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
sandovala21 added Josh Keaton, Lacey Chabert, Joshua LeBar
The Spectacular Spider-Man is an American animated television series based on the superhero character published by Marvel Comics and developed for television by Greg Weisman and Victor Cook. In ...more
25
15 12
Fullmetal Alchemist is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Animated Drama Series Ever
Vic Mignogna, Aaron Dismuke, Romi Pak
Fullmetal Alchemist is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. It was serialized in Square Enix's Monthly Shōnen Gangan magazine between August 2001 and June 2010; the ...more