Among the over-18 population a 75 year old cartoon comes out on top, but The Simpsons and Family Guy beat many of the classics

Computer-generated animation is flourishing in cinemas, but cartoon animation techniques pioneered 100 years ago still have a style which can't be matched – especially if you ask everyone 18 or older.

Cartoons have inspired children and adults for generations, and new YouGov research reveals that Tom and Jerry, the slapstick cat-and-mouse series created in 1940, is the nation's favourite. 

The Simpsons, considered the most successful television brand of all time and first aired in 1989, is a close second.

Out of the 15 cartoons on the shortlist, only five are from the past 40 years. The Simpsons and Family Guy (1999) make the top three, while the more adult South Park (1997), Futurama (1999, from Simpsons creator Matt Groening) and Rugrats (1991) place 11th, 14th and 15th respectively.

The shortlist was created based on open-ended responses to the question “In your opinion, what is the best cartoon programme that has ever been on television?”. The scores are then calculated by balancing breadth of appreciation (the amount of people who say they like the cartoon at all), with intensity of appreciation (the percentage who like the cartoon most out of the list of 15). In each stage, Tom and Jerry came out on top.

The Simpsons – fun for all ages

As you might expect, preferences change with age. Many older respondents have not watched cartoons since the days when Tom & Jerry provided some of the only animated entertainment available, and the programme has stuck around since then.

But the Simpsons has a wide appeal across the generations. By clicking the table headings below, you can see that the Simpsons places first for both 18-24 and 35-39 year-olds and second for 40-59s. The post-1989 cartoons all sit in the top half of the table for 18-24s, but South Park and Futurama fall quickly as you move up the age range.

 Britains's favourite cartoon by age
 Click table headings to sort

  18-24 25-39 40-59 60+
 Bugs Bunny 3.4 4.5 5.5 6.7
 Coyote + Road Runner 2.2 4.7 5.9 7.9
 Danger Mouse 2.2 4.8 5.0 2.6
 Family Guy 13.5 14.6 5.5 2.4
 Futurama 9.7 4.6 3.2 0.6
 Looney Tunes 4.8 4.6 4.8 4.4
 Popeye 2.3 3.0 3.1 7.3
 Rugrats 5.8 3.7 1.6 1.7
 Scooby-Doo 7.0 5.1 7.4 4.4
 South Park 5.3 8.3 3.2 1.3
 The Flintstones 2.8 5.5 7.4 11.3
 The Simpsons 18.7 15.4 9.7 7.6
 Tom and Jerry 8.5 6.8 14.5 19.1
 Top Cat 2.4 3.3 8.3 6.0
 Wacky Races 3.9 4.2 7.2 3.5

 

      May 2015

The Hanna-Barbera Production studio alone was responsible for Wacky Races, Top Cat, the Flintstones and Scooby-Doo, and its founders also created Tom and Jerry. Aside from the 1990s-onwards cartoons and Danger Mouse (1981), all of the cartoons in the shortlist originate in the so-called 'Golden age of American Animation', spanning from 1928 to the late 1960s.

See the full poll results

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