When it comes to streaming content on Netflix, you have a lot of choices. A lot. We’re here to help you narrow the vast library down to something a little more manageable. And if you’re looking for classic cartoons, world-famous anime series, or the latest in computer-generated animation, then you’ve come to the right place!
Each month, we’ll comb through Netflix’s collection of animated series, from traditional childhood favorites to the streaming provider’s own original series. If you’re an anime fan, there’s a lot here to be excited about, though Netflix does struggle with providing the entire run of some of the longer series, often offering up only the first season as a teaser. However, they’re also the only place to find current, ongoing series like the rebooted Voltron Legendary Defender and the Emmy-winning Trollhunters from Guillermo del Toro. And if you want to relive some of your favorite childhood moments, or share then with younger audiences, shows like The Magic School Bus are a great start!
As Netflix continues to add new shows, we’ll revisit Netflix’s new additions and updates to ongoing series to bring you the best of the best of their animated TV series offerings. Be sure to come back to see what’s changed, and let us know your favorites in the comments and we’ll make sure they get added to the list! In the meantime, check out the best available animated TV series below.
Editor’s note: This list was updated on January 6 to include “Aggretsuko.”
Created by: Rarecho
Cast: Erica Mendez, Josh Petersdorf, Katelyn Gault, Ben Diskin, G.J. Bowes, Tara Platt, Todd Haberkorn, Debra Cardona, Misty Lee, Max Mittelman, Billy Kametz, Griffin Burns, Katlyn Robrok, SunWong Cho, Deva Marie Gregory, Abby Trott, Trevor Devall
There’s something incredibly charming yet equally cathartic about Aggretsuko, which first started out as a series of animated shorts before becoming an anime for Netflix. It might revolve around an anthropomorphic red panda, but said panda (Retsuko) is also stuck in a dead-end job dealing with so many relatable problems that face people of a certain generation. In order to cope with her stress, Retsuko heads to her local karaoke bar every night and leaves it all on the stage as she screams through some epic death metal tunes. Who hasn’t wanted to do exactly that before, am I right? But the show isn’t just about the benefits of releasing stress; it’s about getting in touch with your emotions and evolving how you face certain problems instead of instinctively running away from them — which, in the end, helps Retsuko find even more of her inner voice. – Carly Lane
Created by: Christian Linke and Alex Yee
Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Ella Purnell, Kevin Alejandro, Katie Leung, Jason Spisak, Toks Olagundoye, JB Blanc, Harry Lloyd, Mia Sinclair Jenness
There might be no bigger surprise on the list in recent memory than Arcane, which premiered almost quietly in contrast to how it concluded — with an almost-immediate renewal for Season 2. It’s technically set in the realm of League of Legends, but for any newbies who are worried about whether the series will be too difficult to follow without lots of preceding lore in their back pocket, fear not: this is an example of a show that you can dive into without really even needing to know much of a backstory. The series thrives on characters over lore, and as Vi, lead Hailee Steinfeld solidifies her rule over the most honored season of television known as Hailee Steinfall (which consists of this, Dickinson, and Hawkeye). Treat yourself to some stunning visuals, an engrossing story, and the promise of more to come. – Carly Lane
Created by: Hajime Yatate (consisting of Shinichirō Watanabe, Keiko Nobumoto, Toshihiro Kawamoto, Kimitoshi Yamane, and Yoko Kanno)
Cast: Koichi Yamadera, Unsho Ishizuka, Megumi Hayashibara, Aoi Tada, Gara Takashima, Norio Wakamoto, Tsutomu Taruki, Miki Nagasawa
Albeit short-lived overall (only clocking in at a total of 26 episodes, which is admittedly brief for an anime series), Cowboy Bebop has earned plenty of critical and audience acclaim and with good reason. The series, which first premiered in 1998, is set to become a live-action adaptation on Netflix — and thanks to the streamer, you can also check out the anime’s only season beforehand if you want to find out exactly how closely the upcoming TV show nailed Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Jet Black, and a Very Good Boy named Ein. (Plus, who can say no to composer Yoko Kanno’s legendary score?) Whether you prefer your anime subbed or dubbed, both versions are quality too. – Carly Lane
Created by: Shion Takeuchi
Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Christian Slater, Clark Duke, Tisha Campbell, Andy Daly, Chris Diamantopoulos, John DiMaggio, Bobby Lee, Brett Gelman
Delightfully demented, this animated series from Gravity Falls writer Shion Takeuchi takes its wild premise and keeps the energy escalating. Centered around Cognito, Inc, the nefarious corporation behind all of the conspiracy theories that you thought were fake but are actually far too real, the hilarious plotlines (including a riff on what really happened with the original moon landing that will totally change the way you think about Neil and Buzz) come with a fascinating rumination on whether it’s possible to fix a broken system from within. Plus, the voice cast is extraordinary, with Lizzy Caplan standing out as a nascent mad scientist whose heart is somewhere close to the right place. After only 10 episodes, Inside Job is a cult classic in the making. – Liz Shannon Miller
Created by: Ezra Koenig
Cast: Jaden Smith, Jude Law, Tavi Gevinson, Susan Sarandon, The Kid Mero, Desus Nice, Jason Schwartzman
A strange but lovely little series, Neo Yokio comes from unexpected television creator Ezra Koenig and features a wild voice cast, including Jaden Smith as a disaffected but wealthy demon fighter and Jude Law as his loyal robot butler. While it’s a short run (one season, plus a Christmas special), the series is a pop of wild imagination set in a very different world, with a very different vibe from more traditional anime. Yet nonetheless just as entertaining. – Liz Shannon Miller
Masters of the Universe: Revelation
Created by: Kevin Smith
Cast: Chris Wood, Mark Hamill, Liam Cunningham, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lena Headey, Diedrich Bader, Alicia Silverstone, Stephen Root, Griffin Newman, Susan Eisenberg, Kevin Michael Richardson, Kevin Conroy, Henry Rollins, Jason Mewes, Justin Long, Tony Todd, Phil LaMarr, Cree Summer, Harley Quinn Smith, Tiffany Smith, Dennis Haysbert
This animated series from, yes, nerd auteur Kevin Smith might have pissed off some fanboys when it premiered this summer, but that’s because they weren’t ready for this fresh, surprising, funny, and heart-wrenching take on the world of He-Man and Eternia. The series begins with a shocking twist, followed by serious apocalypse vibes as Teela (perfectly voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar) is the one tasked to save the literal universe from ending. The voice cast is packed with both legends as well as unexpectedly great choices, with a special shout-out owed to Griffin Newman, whose voice work as Orko totally transforms the character from a one-time punchline to the heart of the series. – Liz Shannon Miller
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Created by: Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko
Cast: Zach Tyler Eisen, Mae Whitman, Jack DeSena, Dante Basco, Jessie Flower, Dee Bradley Baker, Mako, Greg Baldwin, Grey DeLisle, Mark Hamill
We’re adding Avatar: The Last Airbender to this list after an extended absence, since its availability has been in flux in recent years. But perhaps you’ve never heard of the wildly popular and influential animated series? Perhaps you want to watch it for the first time? Well you should do so! Charming, smart, emotional, and enthralling, Avatar stands out for the way in which it brought together so many sensibilities for, ostensibly, a children’s show — but one that transcends all levels to stand out as an epic achievement in television, across the board. Plus, it’s also quite cute and funny sometimes! (Appa freaking rules.) If you’ve never seen it before, give it a shot, and if it’s been a while, you might consider binge-ing again. – Liz Shannon Miller
F Is For Family
Created by: Bill Burr and Michael Price
Cast: Bill Burr, Laura Dern, Justin Long, Debi Derryberry, Haley Reinhart, Mo Collins, Trevor Devall, Kevin Michael Richardson, Sam Rockwell
Delivering Archie Bunker vibes in animated form, Bill Burr uses F Is For Family to take an unfiltered look at his childhood growing up in suburbia during the 1970s. The stacked voice cast, along with the grounded storytelling and eclectic characters, go a long way towards making this show stand out against similar series, with Burr’s distinctive rasp making up the rest of the distance. As of writing the fifth and final season is set to debut soon; it’ll be missed, but we’ll have plenty of memories to look back on (and because they’re not our memories, they’ll be hilarious to watch again). – Liz Shannon Miller
Tuca and Bertie
Created by: Lisa Hanawalt
Cast: Tiffany Haddish, Ali Wong, Steven Yeun
While only Season 1 is available on Netflix (Season 2 was picked up by Adult Swim), Tuca and Bertie is a weird and wonderful look at the world through the eyes of creator Lisa Hanawalt. Focusing on two very different but very close best friends, who both happen to be bird people, the series delivers a vibrantly animated and genuinely funny exploration of the many issues which Tuca (Tiffany Haddish) and Bertie (Ali Wong) face on a daily basis, including mental health issues, substance abuse issues, the #MeToo movement, and resurfacing trauma. The voice cast listed above is only the tip of the iceberg, with an extremely exciting collection of guest stars including Richard E. Grant and Nicole Byer making appearances, and there’s such depth and nuance to the storytelling that certain episodes will stick with you forever. This is a show to be savored and cherished. – Liz Shannon Miller
Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Cast: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins, Aaron Paul
One of the saddest, most honest, and also hilarious animated series ever made, BoJack Horseman‘s premise (a washed-up sitcom star’s career gets a late-in-life chance at rejuvenation — if he doesn’t fuck it up) lends itself to an incredibly dense and nuanced series of jokes about Hollywoo
d culture. But really the show examines personal responsibility, the ways our personal trauma leads us to help and hurt those around us, and whether or not redemption and forgiveness are possible, or even if they should be. It’s a profound examination of modern life and the eternal strive to be better, with the added bonus of a beautifully stylized world (as powered by the imagination of lead designer/executive producer Lisa Hanawalt) which imagines anthropomorphized animals coexisting with humans in increasingly imaginative ways. BoJack Horseman will change the way you look at life, and make you think about living the best possible version of it. Its legacy will hopefully live on for decades. – Liz Shannon Miller
Created by: Andrew Goldberg, Nick Kroll, Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett
Cast: Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Jenny Slate, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, Jordan Peele, Andrew Rannells, Ayo Edebiri
This Emmy-winning favorite offers up a skewed look at adolescence — very specifically the early stages of puberty — that may or may not be a show that kids of the age being depicted should watch. But should they manage to convince their parents that it’s a good idea, they’ll find the world of pre-teens Andrew (John Mulaney) and Nick (Nick Kroll) is not just extremely crude and funny, but also surprisingly heartfelt and relatable. The show’s primary hook — that each child has a “hormone monster” acting as the worst kind of guardian angel as they deal with their changing bodies, family drama, and crushes of the requited and unrequited kind — fuels so much of the comedy, with the stellar voice cast providing valuable backup. – Liz Shannon Miller
Creator: Les Pyjamasques by Romuald Racioppo
Directors: Christian De Vita, Wilson Dos Santos
Cast: Kyle Breitkopf, Addison Holley, Jacob Ewaniuk, Alex Thorne
PJ Masks is a series that regularly appears on our Collider Kids segment, in part because it’s a perfect combination of imaginative, superheroic, kid-friendly action-adventure series and entertaining morality tale. The series follows three 6-year-olds–Connor, Amaya, and Greg–who become Catboy, Owlette, and Gekko at nighttime and fight crime as the title superhero team. Together they go on comic book-inspired adventures to defeat criminals, solve mysteries, and learn valuable lessons. PJ Masks is a great answer to the current superhero story trend and one that’s much more appropriate for younger viewers since it skews even younger than even Miraculous.
Spirit Riding Free
Creator: Aury Wallington
Cast: Amber Frank, Bailey Gambertoglio, Sydney Park, Nolan North, Andy Pessoa, Kari Wahlgren, Tiya Sircar
Here’s one for the kiddos, especially if they’re into horses and horse-riding. Spirit Riding Free is a follow-up series to the Oscar-nominated 2002 animated feature film, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. This show follows Spirit’s son, Spirit Jr., who becomes the stead of a young girl named Lucky Prescott. Curiously, the series shies away from Spirit’s adventures in the Wild West and focuses instead on Lucky’s attempts to fit in and find friends in the town of Miradero, Oregon. Spirit Riding Free is not meant for everyone but it’s certainly accessible to anyone. Youngsters will find the main characters relatable and even admirable as they go about their chores, solve prickly problems, and make mistakes along the way. Parents who watch along with their young ones won’t be bored to tears either since Lucky and Spirit often join their human and horse friends for trail rides, riding competitions, and all sorts of Wild West hijinks. Check this one out if you haven’t yet!
Director: Donna Brockopp
Cast: Andrew Francis, Richard Ian Cox, Brian Drummond, Matt Hill, Ashleigh Ball, Cree Summer
Okay, stick with me on this one. Dinotrux might lose the majority of older viewers just by reading the title alone–I know it almost lost me–but the proof is in the prehistoric pudding for this DreamWorks Animation series. If it sounds like a mash-up, well, technically that’s because it is a mash-up, but it’s done well. There’s a Tyrannosaurus rex merged with a megaton excavator and wrecking ball, a little lizard meshed with a rotary drill for all sorts of detail work, and a half-Stegosaurus, half-garbage truck critter that’s tons of fun. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for these clever characters who are just as entertaining on the screen as they are in toy form. Dinotrux is a modern cartoon that feels like something that could have existed back in the dino-craze of the 80s and 90s, just with much better animation software. Like those morally aware toons, Dinotrux puts the focus on a disparate gathering of critters in the Mechazoic era working together to defend each other from predators and build up their community. It definitely skews younger, but it’s one of those series that kids will likely remember for decades to come. Update: The story continues with Dinotrux Supercharged.
Kulipari: An Army of Frogs
Creator: Trevor Pryce
Cast: Charles Adler, Lacey Chabert, Keith David, Josh Keaton, Mark Hamill, Kevin Michael Richardson, Mikey Kelley
Kulipari: An Army of Frogs is one of those original series you might have missed, but it’s a fun new entry into the realm of animated kids shows. This one comes, perhaps surprisingly, from the mind of former NFL star Trevor Pryce and is based on his novel series. The story itself is a great throwback to classic fantasy/action/adventure tales told through anthropomorphic animal pals, and though it does feature battles and a bit of violence, it’s pretty kid-friendly. Kulipari centers on Darel, the son of a famous Kulipari warrior (an elite group known for their martial skills, heightened abilities, and natural poison) who dreams of joining their ranks despite his lack of talent. But when the Amphibilands is threatened by the powerful alliance of the Scorpions and the mystical Spider Queen, Darel and his pals must step up if they hope to save their friends, family, and home. Kulipari is a cool new entry in the genre and it’s still early on, making now the perfect time to check it out! (Bonus: There’s a follow-up series titled Kulipari: Dream Walker if you want more fightin’ frogs!)
Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir
Creator: Thomas Astruc
Cast: Cristina Valenzuela, Bryce Papenbrook, Keith Silverstein, Mela Lee, Max Mittelman, Carrie Keranen, Selah Victor, Benjamin Diskin
The French CGI action/adventure series Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir is an instant eye-grabber thanks to the fantastic designs of Thomas Astruc and the animated stylings of Zagtoon and Method Animation. It’s a story about the titular superheroes, mild-mannered Parisian teenagers who transform into their supersuits in order to keep the city safe from supervillains. Marinette Dupain-Cheng and Adrien Agreste somehow remain ignorant of each other’s true identities even as the sparks fly between them either in costume or as plain-clothes school students. Miraculous is a super-stylish series that, to me, is the modern equivalent of Sailor Moon. It’s catchy, it’s high-concept, it’s got a lot of action packed into each episode, and the Parisian, adolescent romance is at the heart of the whole story. This is one of the cooler titles available on Netflix so do yourself a favor and check it out before it becomes the next big thing.
All Hail King Julien
Executive Producers: Mitch Watson, Bret Haaland
Cast: Danny Jacobs, Andy Richter, Kevin Michael Richardson, India de Beaufort, Jeff Bennett
The multiple Emmy award-winning DreamWorks series All Hail King Julien is about to launch its fifth and final season on Netflix. That’s a remarkable feat, especially when you factor in the show’s 78 overall episodes and a spin-off season that tackled ambitious storytelling in the “Exiled” season. Fans of the show can expect a solid conclusion to the series, plus a few surprises along the way. If you’re a fan of the Madagascar movies, then you’ll already be familiar with the characters in this series. The story centers on Julien, the lemur from those movies, who finds himself as a reluctant king before the events of Madagascar. This all-out comedy has plenty of laughs for the little ones, but thanks to the show’s subversive and satirical humor pulled from the headlines, there’s an awful lot for older viewers to enjoy as well.
Creator: Ryan Wiesbrock
Cast: Brian Atkinson, Ted Raimi, Debi Derryberry, Philip Maurice Hayes, Leigh Kelly
This relatively new entry from stop-motion animation experts Stoopid Buddy Stoodios (Robot Chicken) is a more kid-friendly series than we’re used to seeing from them, but it’s also fun for the whole family. Buddy Thunderstruck centers on the title character, a rip-roaring, race-truck drivin’ dog and his ferret/mechanic pal. It’s one part Talladega Nights and one part Robot Chicken, all at a fast pace that never loses steam. If you’re looking for a different sort of comedy presented in the rarely seen stop-motion animation, Buddy Thunderstruck is your winner!
The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants
Creator: Dav Pilkey
Directors: Octavio E. Rodriguez, Seung Woo Cha, Todd Grimes, Kevin Peaty, John Harvatine IV
Cast: Nat Faxon, Jay Gragnani, Ramone Hamilton, Sean Astin, Peter Hastings The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants brings comics creator Dav Pilkey‘s hilarious adventures of George and Harold to life, even as the troublesome duo bring life to their own comic book creations in turn. Now streaming its second season, the animated series from DreamWorks and Titmouse is an absolute blast for kids of all ages. There are plenty of kid-friendly jokes from beginning to end, but there are also lots of more adult-oriented laughs to be found throughout. This is one series you won’t mind sitting down to watch as a family unit.
The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants follows George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two best friends who’ve bonded through their love of pranking, comic books and being the thorns in Principal Krupp’s side. In Season 2, George and Harold must try to keep their grades up in order to go to summer camp! But with Principal Krupp sent away, will they come out on top in a school run by Melvin and a Cyborg Melvin from the future?
Creator: Duane Capizzi
Directors: Kevin Dart, Jos Humphrey, Kenny Park
Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Finn Wolfhard, Liam O’Brien, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Kari Wahlgren Carmen Sandiego is the latest adaptation of the storied franchise that began as an educational computer game. Over the years, there have been live-action game shows, animated series, and more expansions than you can count for the title, but Netflix’s new animated series brings Carmen Sandiego into the 21st century and reinvents the title thief as a likeable antihero. Unfortunately, it pretty much leaves the educational aspects behind in favor of a fashionable action-adventure story, but it’s a fun watch otherwise.
Everybody asks “WHERE is Carmen Sandiego?”, but nobody asks “WHO is Carmen Sandiego?” The iconic woman in red returns for new international capers and a peek into her past.