Ranking Every Spider-Man Cartoon From Worst To Best –
Spider-Man was first introduced in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, but was given his own title, The Amazing Spider-Man, a year later due to the character’s immediate popularity. Spider-Man was here to stay and it wasn’t long before fans got to see their Friendly Neighborhood Wall-Crawler in animated form.
Within only five years of his arrival in comics, Spidey swung onto kids’ television sets. Over the years, the animated format was rebooted into a total of nine series, all with their own unique take on the character.
To determine which of these nine series is the best of them all, you have to look past the dated animation from the earlier entries and focus on what’s important: storytelling, character development, and frankly, was it entertaining?
While there are certainly some series that were better than the rest, even the lowest-ranking Spider-Man cartoon was still a series many fans remember fondly. With that, True Believer, it’s time to see which Spider-Man animated series was the best of them all!
9. Spider-Man Unlimited (1999)
Spider-Man Unlimited is widely considered to be the poorest entry in Spidey’s animated universe. The series premiered in 1999 at a time when revamping comic book characters was all the rage. DC had just released Batman Beyond, so Marvel decided to try their hand at a slightly different Spider-Man.
The series only lasted one season… and it ended on a cliffhanger, but hardly anyone cared seeing as the story was so “out of this world,” it didn’t bring in a ton of viewers.
Spider-Man Unlimited began with the discovery of another planet in an opposing orbit to Earth (always hidden by the sun). J. Jonah Jameson’s son took off in a rocket to check it out, but Carnage and Venom made things difficult and Jameson ended up lost on Counter-Earth.
It’s up to Spider-Man to save him, so he snagged a suit from Reed Richards and made his way to the planet. The series plays out as hokey… as if it’s trying too hard and the alternate Earth setting failed to work. The animation was on-point and the altered costume for Spider-Man was definitely well-done, but overall, the series wasn’t great… or good, which is why it sits at #9 on the list.
8. Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (2003)
Back in the early 2000s, MTV decided to take on our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man with a CGI adaptation that only lasted a single season consisting of 13 episodes. While the series wasn’t the greatest, it did have some good elements going for it.
The animation was somewhat innovative for the time, but it appeared unfinished, which didn’t exactly work. Even with the animation being an issue, the voice acting was well done with Neil Patrick Harris providing the voice of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Lisa Loeb as Mary Jane, and Ian Ziering as Harry Osborne.
The series took place in the same universe as the Sam Raimi live-action films starring Tobey Maguire. This gave fans a little something more to enjoy while they waited for Spider-Man 2 to hit theatres.
The series introduced a number of interesting villains and attempted to stay close to the Spider-Man universe created by Raimi, which is why many fans fondly remember the series. It had some good episodes and is still worth a watch – especially as a binge between the first and second Spider-Man films.
7. Spider-Man (1967)
The animation may be terrible by today’s standards, but Spider-Man’s first foray into the world of animation is one of the most beloved. Its catchy opening tune became popular among fans and will be stuck in your head should you dare to watch the video above!
This series did a great job capturing the true character of Spider-Man. Not only did he have to save the city whenever a threat would arise, Peter Parker also had to deal with his ever-ailing Aunt May, his desperate need to pay the rent, and his love life’s constant interruptions.
The series had an ridiculously low budget, which resulted in the constant reuse of stock footage. Spidey would confront one of his many villains for a few minutes, and then spend most of the episode swinging through the city.
While it was hampered by a low budget, the series still managed to tell the story of Spider-Man in a fun and exciting way. For older fans, this is the series they remember, and it is the only one that truly defined the character for a whole generation of fans.
6. Spider-Man (1981)
The Spider-Man cartoon from 1981 may be dated in the way it is drawn (not to mention the tech seen in the show), but it stands as one of the better series to star the Wall-crawler.
Unlike pretty much every other Spider-Man series or movie, the Spider-Man show from the early eighties didn’t bother with an origin story. This was a series that trusted its audience to already know who Spider-Man was. After all, he had been swinging through the streets of New York City for almost 20 years at this point.
The series showed the web-slinger doing what he does best: fighting bad guys and being Peter Parker. The show was truly akin to an animated version of his ongoing title and the fans loved it.
While it only produced 26 episodes in a single season, Spider-Man continued to air in syndication throughout the decade. It had an overarching storyline, which played out across the season involving Spidey helping defeat Doctor Doom for the people of Latveria, which was an innovative move for an animated series of the time. If you can get over the animation, it’s definitely worth a watch.
5. Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends (1981)
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is another entry from the early eighties fans remember fondly. The animation was dated, to be sure, but it’s easy to look past thanks to Marvel’s use of well-crafted and interesting characters.
In this series, Peter Parker teamed up with Iceman and Firestar to tackle foes he wouldn’t normally be able to handle himself. One of the best aspects of the series revolved around the show’s many guest stars. It was fun to see some of Marvel’s best, such as Iron Man, Captain America, and most of the X-Men pop up from time-to-time. Remember, this was at a time when the Marvel Universe’s animated adventures were in their infancy.
The series was initially going to feature the Human Torch instead of Firestar. After all, Johnny Storm is a good pal to Spider-Man (He helped him design the Spider-Mobile), but the roster was changed for a good reason. In order to appeal to girls, the studio decided to swap out a familiar guy for a less-familiar gal.
It was something of a gamble when it came to associated toy sales, but it’s also one of the reasons the series is so fondly remembered. Firestar worked and so did Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends!
4. Spider-Man (1994)
When Spider-Man swung back onto televisions in 1994, he landed what would be his first true, serialized show. Not only did Spider-Man run for five seasons, each 13-episode series covered one or two major storylines.
What made those storylines great had everything to do with where they came from: straight out of the pages of Spider-Man comics. The series featured story-arcs covering the time Spider-Man popped out four extra arms, the Secret Wars storyline, and even some involving him teaming up with other versions of himself from throughout the Spider-Verse.
This series was truly like watching the comics come to life, which is one of the reasons it’s so high on the list. Its animation was well-done and doesn’t look especially dated today, the voice-acting was on point, and the characters were fun to watch.
The only thing keeping Spider-Man from 1994 from achieving a higher rank on this list would have to be the overuse of inner-monologuing. As we all know, Spider-Man loves the inner-monologue exposition, and the series relies on it a bit too much. Other than that, the show is great to watch even today.
3. Marvel’s Spider-Man (2017)
The most recent entry in the Spider-Verse’s animated universe is Marvel’s Spider-Man, which premiered in 2017. The series took the place of Ultimate Spider-Man, which came before it.
The series has a look and feel akin to the Ultimate Spider-Man universe, but remains within the standard Marvel Universe. Despite this, the animation style is absolutely beautiful and the voice-acting helped set it apart from the other series on this list. Perhaps it’s because the series is so newly made, but the animation really is gorgeous for a television series.
In terms of story & characters, Marvel’s Spider-Man offers some new takes on classic villains. Changes to Doctor Octopus and others help to keep the characters fun and interesting to new and old viewers who had been watching Spider-Man since the sixties.
In what may have been a risky venture, the series pulled in stories from the Superior Spider-Man event, which saw Doctor Octopus die and take over Parker’s body. The dark tones of the story were cleverly adapted in a way kids could enjoy and fans appreciated. Overall, it’s an impressive series to watch, which is a good thing seeing as Disney greenlit a second season following the success of the first.
2. Ultimate Spider-Man (2012)
2012’s Ultimate Spider-Man gave the world the Spider-Man from the Ultimate Universe, but with a twist or two. While this was still Peter Parker, it was based on the Ultimate Universe, the Marvel Universe, and the MCU all crammed into one new interpretation.
This was also the first series to get backing from the House of Mouse, which didn’t hurt when it came to money for animation. Disney’s money and talent seamlessly combined traditional animation with digital effects in a fluid way that made Spider-Man and his actions look amazing.
The series found a way to present Spider-Man as a core element of the much larger Marvel Universe by showcasing the web-head’s point of view. He was funny and fun to watch, which is exactly how a Spider-Man cartoon should be.
The series featured villains in a similar ‘new take’ as it did with Spider-Man, which was a fresh change to an older, more familiar format. Ultimately, 2012’s Ultimate Spider-Man was an incredible series that almost made the top slot on this list, but had to take a back seat to our number one choice.
1. The Spectacular Spider-Man (2008)
The absolute best Spider-Man cartoon to hit the airwaves since the first in 1967 is, without a doubt, The Spectacular Spider-Man from 2008. The series ran on Kids WB for only two seasons, but those were two of the most well-written seasons of Spider-Man television to date.
The Spectacular Spider-Man took what worked with the character from the previous five decades and modernized it in a way that was not only appealing to children, but also to adults.
One of the things that made this series the greatest of them all was the duality present in the depictions of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. As any reader can tell you, balancing his superhero life against his civilian life has always been one of Peter’s biggest struggles and this series managed to work it in perfectly.
There were some changes to the character(s) in the series, which included making Eddie Brock Peter’s BFF before the symbiote took hold of him, but those changes worked well. The animation is amazing, the voice-acting is perfectly performed, and the stories are excellently written. What more could you ask for in a Spider-Man cartoon?