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Genndy Tartakovsky: Every Animated Series, Ranked




Genndy Tartakovsky, the Russian creative (born “Gennady” and then simplified for America), helped pioneer the Cartoon Network global domination of the 1990s with major input in both Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls. Talking to the Moscow Times in 2015, Tartakovsky said: “When we came [to the US], my father — who had been a dentist for the Soviet Union’s national ice hockey team — bought a television […] Every Saturday I would be up at 6:30 a.m. to catch the Hanna-Barbera cartoons.” Ironically, in the 90s Cartoon Network was practically made up solely of Hanna-Barbera cartoons (like classic Scooby-Doo), and Genndy Tartakovsky’s own game-changing creations would be what shifted the network irrevocably.

Enjoying a spectacular relationship with the broadcaster that would raise both parties’ names to a legendary status, Tartakovsky’s work rate was next to none, and by a mere 25 he was directing his first series the great cartoon Dexter’s Laboratory

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. The Dexter character originally came out of an extremely impressive short that Tartakovsky had made in college – one strong enough for CN to commission a whole show on.

With heavy influences from comic books and Japanimation, his work throughout the years has focused on outcasts and loners. Samurai Jack‘s whole journey was spent alone, trying to find his way home; Spear of Primal is a silent widower mourning his family; Dexter a hidden-away boy genius (persecuted in one episode by another kid for his differing accent); even the Powerpuff Girls focused on three very young girls growing up ostracized from the rest of youth, with powers they didn’t always understand.

It’s very rare that we write a list like this and every item included is a total slam dunk of a creation, but credit where it’s due: Genndy Tartakovsky has been doodling since the mid-90s and steering the industry upwards with each new show.

As the least well known on this list, Sym-Bionic Titan is also perhaps the most cult. Canceled too soon after only one season, the series finds a princess, her guard, and their robot sent to Earth to hide out while their planet is ravaged by traitor, Modula. The fish out of water premise can run a little thin, especially with no “human” character to root for, but SBT is E.T. by way of Power Rangers, so its creature designs each episode were the weekly stand-out for the show. In a career abundant with forever memorable monsters, Tartakovsky designed some impressively distinct beings in these 20 episodes. The voice cast is stacked with Tara Strong (aka Timmy Turner), Tom Kenny (aka SpongeBob), and John DiMaggio (aka Bender) all heavily featured.

Primal is Tartokovsky’s most adult-themed work so far, and all the better for it. Its dangerous world of sudden threats and near-silent heroes is akin to Samurai Jack, but Primal takes the stoicism of that show to a violent extreme with a new-found appreciation for silent film, as this epic clash between man, animal, and nature unfolds before your very eyes. What starts off as a straightforward revenge story turns into this artistic ‘character against nature’ type conflict as a caveman and a dinosaur try to get by. Before you know it, this series will wrap you up in its wonderfully atmospheric, surprisingly emotional, silent brilliance. In an interview with Polygon, Tartokovsky commented on the show’s use of silence:

Related: Primal Season 2: Cast, Plot, Possible Renewal, and Everything Else We Know