The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]

The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]

Basketball icons, hilariously profane kids and music legends star in the best Black animated series.

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Image for article titled The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Zoe Vibez

Animated series often have the most complex and interesting storylines on television. Black animation features some of TV’s smartest, funniest characters. In addition to teaching important lessons to kids, some of these shows tackle adult issues like racial justice in clever ways. To make it easy for you, these are the best Black animated series in TV history and some of them are available on your favorite streaming services.

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2 / 14

Afro Samurai

Afro Samurai

Afro Samurai | Is That A Motherf***ing RPG!?

A clever blend of classic samurai movies, Blaxploitation and anime, Afro Samurai was definitely ahead of its time when it premiered in 2007. The mark of a great animated series is that it doesn’t water things down just because it’s a cartoon. While it has a lot of fun with its over the top fight scenes, the cult classic never once loses quality or fails to honor the genres it stems from. Plus, Samuel L. Jackson is the voice of Afro Samurai, because who else would you want?

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Afro Samurai is available on Hulu.

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Fillmore!

Fillmore!

Image for article titled The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Cartoon TV Shows, commercials and bumpers

If you’ve ever wondered what a procedural for kids would look like, just check out Fillmore! The series follows former delinquent Cornelius Fillmore as he joins his middle school’s safety patrol and solves crimes like vandalism, missing classroom supplies and the destruction of the band’s candy. The show uses classic cop show tropes, but hilariously tailors them to middle school in an unexpectedly smart way.

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Fillmore! can be found on YouTube.

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Harlem Globetrotters

Harlem Globetrotters

Image for article titled The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Roxys Bistro Bar

The endlessly entertaining basketball team brings their shenanigans to the cartoon world in this ‘70s series. It follows the very familiar plot of the group heading for a game or appearance and being sidetracked by some crazy adventure. I’m not claiming this is the peak of animation, but it’s a fun show that will make everyone in the family smile. Seriously, who doesn’t like the Harlem Globetrotters?

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Harlem Globetrotters can be found on YouTube.

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Static Shock

Static Shock

Image for article titled The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]
Screenshot: DC Kids

When 14-year-old Virgil Hawkins is caught in a chemical accident, he gains the ability to control and generate electricity. He uses his powers as the superhero Static, balancing his teenage life with his hero duties. Premiering in September 2000 as part of the classic Kids’ WB lineup, the show remains popular because it was able to authentically blend real world issues into Static’s comic book world. And Virgil is just a likable character who fans want to root for.

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Static Shock is available on HBO Max.

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The Boondocks

The Boondocks

Image for article titled The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]
Screenshot: The Boondocks

I dare you to find an episode of The Boondocks that isn’t quotable. Featuring the wild adventures of 10-year-old activist Huey Freeman, his eight-year-old rap-obsessed brother Riley and their grandfather Robert, the show brilliantly tackled issues of race and class, using its blunt humor to cleverly deal with controversial topics. We’re still hoping for that long-awaited reboot because with everything going on in the world right now, we really need to hear from Huey and Riley.

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The Boondocks is available on HBO Max.

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7 / 14

Doc McStuffins

Doc McStuffins

Image for article titled The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Disney Junior

It may seem like just another cute Disney Junior cartoon, but do not discount the impact of seeing a smart Black girl as a doctor on TV. There are Black people studying to be doctors and scientists because they loved Doc McStuffins when they were young. Doc also teaches important lessons about understanding, friendship and self-confidence. It’s a fun, adorable show that adults can watch with the kids and not feel like they need to bang their heads against a wall.

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Doc McStuffins is available on Disney+.

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8 / 14

Black Panther

Black Panther

Marvel Knights Animation - Black Panther - Episode 1

This motion comic is a great entry point into Wakanda and its key characters. Though it only produced six episodes on BET, it’s worth revisiting just so you can see Black Panther kick Captain America’s ass in the first episode. Sure the movies are great, but this was the first major introduction to Wakanda and its people.

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Black Panther can be found on YouTube.

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9 / 14

Gargoyles

Gargoyles

Image for article titled The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Gargoyles

Yes, I know the main heroes of this ‘90s classic are Gargoyles, but with actors like Keith David, Salli Richardson, Rocky Carroll, Michael Dorn and CCH Pounder leading the voice cast, it absolutely counts. It became a cult classic based on its darker storyline arcs, which required young viewers to keep up with every episode to follow the action. The show also borrowed heavily from classic literature, offering a different education to the audience. If you somehow missed this one, its three seasons make the perfect weekend binge.

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Gargoyles is available on Disney+.

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10 / 14

Class of 3000

Class of 3000

Image for article titled The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Class of 3000

Andre 3000 stars as music superstar Sunny Bridges, who grows tired of his out-of-control life, so he decides to retire and become a teacher. He reconnects with his old neighborhood and teaches the kids about performing, while also trying to avoid the spotlight. The adorable musical was a unique entry in the mid-2000s animated world, with its Atlanta setting offering Black kids a chance to see their familiar world reflected on Cartoon Network.

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Class of 3000 can be found on YouTube.

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Craig of the Creek

Craig of the Creek

Image for article titled The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Cartoon Network

Craig of the Creek is all about imagination as Craig and his friends see themselves as explorers discovering new lands and looking for treasure. There’s a real joy in seeing these Black kids have a fun, carefree childhood that isn’t constantly marred by tragedy and trauma. Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way in the real world.

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Craig of the Creek is available on HBO Max.

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The Proud Family

The Proud Family

Image for article titled The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]
Photo: Disney+

With a star-studded voice cast and an authentic portrayal of a Black family, The Proud Family is a bonafide classic. It’s not just one of the best animated series ever, it’s one of TV’s best depictions of a Black family. It’s so beloved that when Disney announced it was launching a streaming service, fans immediately began lobbying for a new version of the series and we got The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder.

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The Proud Family and The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder are available on Disney+.

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The Jackson 5ive

The Jackson 5ive

Image for article titled The Best Black Animated Series in TV History [UPDATED]
Screenshot: Motown Today

A short-lived Saturday morning cartoon that featured the brothers going on wacky adventures like The Monkees or The Beatles, and having their immense fame interfere with their regular lives. The show didn’t feature the actual voices of the Jacksons, but their music was central to every episode making it timeless and fun.

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The Jackson 5ive can be found on YouTube.

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