California’s Top 10 Nostalgic Cartoon Shows

Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Cartoons aren’t just for kids. The popularity of animated entertainment continues to grow and evolve year after year, with a wide range of different formats and sub-genres emerging all the time. This explosion of cartoon content is increasingly being led by adults raised on animated series from the 1980s, ‘90s, and early-2000s.

With cartoons on the brain, has decided to rank the top nostalgic animated series beloved by California’s Millennial and Gen Z generations. Flashing back to their childhoods, the experts at BetCalifornia took a commercial break from California sports betting topics and looked into residents’ favorite childhood cartoons. Using Google Trends to compare the search terms for each cartoon from Feb. 27 to March 5, 2024, we discovered the top nostalgic cartoons, based on search interest compared to other topics.

California’s Favorite Childhood Cartoons

Rank Show Search Interest Score
1. SpongeBob SquarePants 69
2. South Park28
3. Johnny Bravo 13
4. The Powerpuff Girls 12
5. CatDog 10
6.The Magic School Bus 9
7. Blue’s Clues 7
8. Hey Arnold! 5
9. Kim Possible 5
10. Ed, Edd & Eddy 4

Diving Into The Top Of The List

According to our research, “SpongeBob SquarePants” was the fan favorite, with a search interest score of 69, well ahead of the animated pack.

 “SpongeBob SquarePants” began airing on Nickelodeon in 1999. The popular kids’ cartoon has a strong connection to California through its creator, Stephen Hillenburg. Though he was born in Oklahoma, Hillenburg grew up in Anaheim. Fittingly, he taught marine biology at the Orange County Marine Institute in the 1980s before leaving to study at the California Institute of the Arts. His first job in TV animation was working on “Rocko’s Modern Life,” but his passion for the ocean never diminished, eventually leading to the creation of “SpongeBob.” Sadly, in 2018 Hillenburg died from the neurological disease ALS at age 57. But through “SpongeBob,” Hillenburg left behind a legacy that’s sure to reverberate for generations to come.

Who Finished Behind SpongeBob?

California’s second favorite nostalgic cartoon is “South Park.” Not only is the show’s upcoming 27th season set to debut later this year, but on March 24 the video game “South Park: Snow Day!” will become available. Video games have been crucial part of deepening fans’ connection to the long-running, adult-oriented series, with more than 10 games released across various consoles and platforms.

Two Cartoon Network hits, “Johnny Bravo” and “The Powerpuff Girls,” land third and fourth, respectively, on our list. Both shows premiered in the late 1990s and, though they were intended for children, each contained mild adult humor and pop culture references that made them popular among a slightly older demographic.

“CatDog” ranks fifth on our list of favorite cartoon shows in the Golden State. The Nickelodeon series follows the odd-couple Cat and Dog, conjoined twins with wildly different personalities who must coexist while sharing the same body. The show aired from 1998 to 2005.

Further down you’ll find such memorable cartoon personalities as Ms. Frizzle, the free-spirited science teacher from “The Magic School Bus,” at No. 6, Arnold from “Hey Arnold!” at No. 8 and cheerleader/super-spy “Kim Possible” in ninth. Finally, “Ed, Edd n Eddy” rounds out our list of favorite cartoon throwback series that folks can enjoy as they await California sports betting apps to become legal.


Jeff Parker

Jeff Parker is an entertainment writer for A writer for film, television and the internet, Jeff is a life long movie buff, with a 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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