Illinois’ Top 10 Nostalgic Cartoons

Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

Forget Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny . . . the Millennial and Gen Z generations were raised on an entirely different crew of animated characters. And as those generations matured, so has the cartoon world. New technology opened the door into richer animated worlds, with storytelling that’s more sophisticated and diverse than ever before.

So, in tribute to cartoon lovers across the Land of Lincoln, we here at paused coverage of Illinois sports betting and decided to rank the most popular nostalgic cartoons from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and early-2000s. Using Google Trends, we compared the search engine interest between Feb. 28 and March 6, 2024, for a long list of cartoons from this era. Check out the results below and discover Illinois’ favorite cartoon throwbacks.

Favorite Childhood Cartoons of Illinois

RankShowSearch Interest Score
1Sponge Bob SquarePants55
2 South Park40
3The Magic School Bus22
4Kim Possible12
5The Powderpuff Girls9
6 The Fairly OddParents4
T-8 Pokemon2
T-8 Hey Arnold2
10 The Proud Family1

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SpongeBob Reigns in Illinois

Nickelodeon’s hallmark series, “SpongeBob SquarePants.” reigns supreme at the top of our list. The long-running cartoon, which premiered in 1999, actually boasts some hometown representation. Voice actor Jill Talley plays the role of Karen Plankton — a (waterproof) super computer — and originally hails from Illinois. She got her entertainment industry start with the legendary Chicago improv collective, “The Second City.” Talley also happens to be married to SpongeBob himself, Tom Kenny, the voice of the titular sea sponge.

Number 2 on the list of Illinois’ favorite nostalgic cartoons is “South Park,” one of the longest series in the history of American television. Over the course of 26 seasons, the show has evolved from a simplistic cut-out style animation to a richly animated digital world. The first episode of the series, which used traditional stop motion animation, took three months to produce in the mid-90s. Now each episode of “South Park” moves from writing to release in just six days. This rapid production pace allows the show’s trademark satire to take dead-aim at whatever is the topical hot button issue of the day.

The next three titles are all led by an incredible powerhouse female animated characters. At No. 3, we have Ms. Frizzle from the “Magic School Bus.” The eccentric educator delighted a generation of ’90s-kids with her magical field trips in which her students visited the land of the dinosaur, or travel inside the anatomy of the human body. At No. 4, we have none other than “Kim Possible,” a teenage cheerleader and gymnast who must juggle her busy life at Middleton High School alongside her secret identity as a world-saving super-spy. Finally, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are the three super-hero kindergarten girls who star in “The Powerpuff Girls,” which ranks as Illinois’ fifth favorite throwback cartoon

The highlight of the back half of the list has to be “Pokemon” (T-8). The anime series first aired in Japan in 1997, and it more than a year before the English-dubbed version of the show hit U.S. airwaves. But the series success, alongside the ultra-popular videos games, helped make Pikachu and the rest of the “Pokemon” an international sensation.

So, now that we’ve settled on the state’s ten favorite cartoon shows, we can return to our regularly schedule programming, providing the best coverage of Illinois betting apps.

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Jeff Parker is an entertainment writer for A writer for film, television and the internet, Jeff is a life long movie buff, with an actual Masters Degree in Popular Culture. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he works full time as documentary filmmaker and producer.

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