I have been taking stock of pieces of culture that are near and dear to me. One of my favorite parts of pop culture is cartoons. Which got me thinking about what my animated faves from the past decade.

I watch an animation to feel nostalgic when I’m in the mood for a good laugh when I’m sad and need to feel warm and fuzzy inside or when I get home after a long day of work, and I want something familiar to binge. Which got me thinking about animated series I never want to end even though part of me knows that someday they must. I’ve found ways to revisit the worlds and stories of a few shows that I love, so they never have to come to an end. Your animated faves can be with you forever – if you’re looking in the right places.

sword art online

Sword Art Online (2012 – ?)

I struggled with which anime to put on the list, but Sword Art Online is a great example of the deep well of the world-building present in so much of today’s anime and manga series. SAO has many spin-offs like SAO: Alternative Gale Gun Online, movies like SAO The Movie: Ordinal Scale, and video games like SAO: Beta Test. In addition to all the manga that is available so I can immerse myself in the world of SAO with familiar stories and ones that I haven’t seen or read before.

wink GIF by Star Wars animated fave

Star Wars: Rebels (2014-2018)

I thought I would put a couple of examples on the list of shows that have come to an end. Star Wars: Rebels is an excellent example of a show I loved over the years it was on and never wanted to end. When it ended my world as I knew it did not end, and life went on. There’s something to taking a journey with characters over many episodes rooting for their story arc, successes, and failures along the way. Like manga and anime series, the same is true with Star Wars.

The wealth of storytelling to visit through the old and new canon is an almost endless list of graphic novels and books like Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy or the new novel by Rebecca Roanhorse Resistance Reborn: Journey to Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker to name a few. Rebels is an excellent example because it takes place after the clone wars but before the original trilogy. Characters that we know and love are woven throughout the story of Phoenix Squadron, a group of rebels fighting amongst the rebel cells of the outer rim.  You never know who you will encounter in one episode we meet a teenage Princess Leia and in another Obi-Wan on Tatooine watching over the chosen one.

In a broad arc of the series, we spend time with a character from the previous animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice Ahsoka Tano. Adventures never have to come to an end in the world of Star Wars because there is so much out there anytime you want to revisit the galaxy far far away.

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Steven Universe (2013 – ?)

Here I am writing about Steven Universe again. But I honestly can’t stress enough the incredible nature of this show. After the release of Steven Universe: The Movie, we’ve all been wondering where we would go next. Luckily, after over 150 episodes, show creator Rebecca Sugar and her team are taking us into new territory during Season 6 Steven Universe: Future.

With an entirely new undertaking where all the restored gems are living in a new colony on earth. All the core ideas in Steven Universe are still present in this new society like friendship, forgiveness, family, love, and trauma, to name a few. Every time I watch Steven Universe I wonder what the world would be like if we all went into the world with the compassion and empathy that Steven has for humanity and the Crystal Gems.

Happy Season 1 GIF by Rick and Morty animated faves

Rick and Morty (2013 – )

Rick and Morty contains multitudes, but at its core is the Smith family dynamics and the struggle to exist in an always-changing world. Topics like mental health, divorce, and even childhood trauma are covered with smart and piercing comedy. Of course, that comes with a few doses of toilet humor. I can watch episodes many times over as I wait for a new season, and there is always something new to discover. Due to the popularity of the show, there is a bounty of merchandise like board games, comics, and even a Pickle Rick mug I saw once on the shelves of Bookmans. I am not sure what life would be like without the Smith Family drama in my life.

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Adventure Time (2010 – 2018)

The end of Adventure Time was a different type of ending for me. It was a show I came to later and binged most of the series. Then the wait as the final four seasons were to air. In the meantime, I found the comics and graphic novels on the shelves at Bookmans. Plus, according to IMDb, there is an Adventure Time mini-series in the works set for 2020!

All the shows we know and love must come to an end at some point, but there are ways to immerse ourselves with the characters and worlds through video games, movies, graphic novels, and books. What are your animated faves?