Since making their debut in 1961, the Fantastic Four – aka Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and The Thing – have appeared in comics, games, movies, and on toy shelves. The Fantastic Four have also been the subject of multiple animated shows, dating all the way back to 1967.
But how many Fantastic Four cartoons are there? And more importantly, which show is a forgotten gem?
Read on for more details…
The Fantastic Four cartoons in release order
To date, there are five Fantastic Four cartoons. The Fantastic Four cartoons – which were produced between 1998 and 2005 – include:
- Fantastic Four (1967-1968)
- The New Fantastic Four (1978)
- Fred and Barney Meet the Thing (1979)
- Fantastic Four: The Animated Series (1994 – 1996)
- Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes (2006)
Are all of the Fantastic Four cartoons part of the same series?
All of the Fantastic Four cartoons are separate entities and can be viewed as individual shows in their own right.
What is significant about each series?
- Fantastic Four (1967-1968) was produced by Hanna-Barbera (Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, Top Cat etc) and ran for one season comprising 20 episodes. The show featured character designs by American cartoonist, Alex Toth.
- The New Fantastic Four (1978) was produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises (The Pink Panther Show) and ran for one season comprising 13 episodes. The show is most notable for not including the Human Torch – one of the founding members of the Fantastic Four. In The New Fantastic Four, the Human Torch was replaced with a robot called H.E.R.B.I.E.
- Fred and Barney Meet the Thing (1979) was an animated programming block which incorporated two TV shows: The New Fred and Barney Show (a Flintstones spin-off) and The Thing – a solo series focusing on The Thing. The Thing ran for 26 11-minute episodes and told the story of teenager Benjy Grimm, in a significantly reworked take on the classic comic book character. No other members of the Fantastic Four appeared in this series.
- Fantastic Four: The Animated Series (1994 – 1996) originally aired as part of The Marvel Action Hour – an hour-long programming block which paired the FF show up with Iron Man: The Animated Series. Fantastic Four: The Animated Series ran for 26 episodes across two seasons, with the characters also appearing as guest stars in The Incredible Hulk: The Animated Series and Spider-Man: The Animated Series which aired during the 1990s.
- Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes (2006) was an American-Canadian-French production which ran for one season totalling 26 episodes. During its initial run in the US the show experienced a bumpy broadcast, with some episodes never making it on air!
What is the best Fantastic Four cartoon?
Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes is a forgotten gem, which deserves more recognition than it received. The show’s erratic and incomplete broadcast in the US didn’t help it to gain an audience in 2006, and it is often overlooked today.
For my money, if there is one Fantastic Four animated show that needs reappraisal then it is World’s Greatest Heroes.
Here are how the Fantastic Four cartoons rank according to IMDb:
- Fantastic Four (1967-1968) – 6.7/10
- Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes (2006) – 6.7/10
- Fantastic Four: The Animated Series (1994 – 1996) – 6.4/10
- Fred and Barney Meet the Thing (1979) – 6.2/10
- The New Fantastic Four (1978) – 6.1/10
I hope this information about the Fantastic Four animated TV shows has proved useful. Should you wish to know more about the Fantastic Four, please check out one of the recommended reads below.