Cartoon Network has become a childhood icon since its inception in 1990. Growing beyond just a rerun block for old Hanna-Barbera cartoons, the network made the critical move towards original programming, developing childhood favorite series like Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, and Johnny Bravo. However, beyond just creating beloved cartoon shows, Cartoon Network Studios has also produced a banger list of made-for-TV movies.
Some are the rewarding culmination of various series' popularity. Others are the humble, movie length beginnings of soon-to-be-beloved shows. In an acknowledgment that the big screen is not always the premiere home for animated films, this list will be running down the best of Cartoon Network's original movies
10 Billy & Mandy's Big Boogey Adventure (7.4)
The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy presents horror and the macabre in a friendly though mischievous cartoon form. With its increasing success, Cartoon Network would eventually award the supernatural trio with a movie of their own. The Boogey Man has returned, costing Grim his powers and role as the Grim Reaper.
The Boogey Man later plots to capture the powers of the Horror's Hand, but not without Grim and his child tormentors coming in to stop him. Irwin also comes along. This fun-filled horror fest involves a variety of supernatural nonsense, cartoon singing, and the abrasive humor that the series was famous for.
9 Regular Show: The Movie (7.4)
One of the more recent entries on this list, Regular Show: The Movie dazzles with what the series is best known for; primarily, slacker culture, hijinks, and out-of-nowhere high concept adventures. However, more so than the episodes, this movie focuses on calling out the very catalyst for most of the series' adventures; mainly, Rigby's insecurity and negligence, as a past mistake becomes tested against Mordecai's friendship and a literal race against time.
This movie is also chock full of interesting callbacks, such as Time-nado, and pop culture references to Back to the Future, power gloves, and even Wes Anderson. Be on the lookout.
8 Codename: Kids Next Door - Operation Z.E.R.O. (7.5)
Codename: Kids Next Door is an absolute, unique mastodon in children's programming. Carrying significant imagination and childlike wonder behind it, it's an animated program that brought adventure, action, and consistent world-building to a child accessible format.
With that success comes also one of Cartoon Network's best movies, as the members of Sector V must now fend off the new terror that is Grandfather and seek out the Big Book of KND and its benefactor of long ago, Numbuh Zero. From here, the film would delight the eyes as incredible action, out-of-nowhere reveals, and the spirit of childhood is ever prevalent in the KND's longest entry in the fight against adulthood.
7 Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip (7.6)
Dexter's Laboratory shows the often gone awry adventures of boy genius Dexter and his secret laboratory filled with gadgets, experiments, and various buttons for his elder sister to "not" push. The film features Dexter's exploits to find the person responsible for sending destructive robots to his lab, traveling through distant parts of the future to find them. On his time-traveling adventure, he meets various versions of his future selves, from his sniveling teens to his incoherent geriatrics.
Also on the scene is Mandark, as his attempts for world domination and thwarting of Dexter's success leads to a battle of time between his future selves and Dexter's. It's an incredible animated adventure that stays on one's mind well into adulthood. Anyone can reminisce about the sci-fi antics, Mandark's eccentric laugh, and Dee Dee once again destroying everything.
6 Party Wagon (7.9)
Party Wagon is an incredibly obscure entry on this list, speaking levels as to how it rose on IMDb's page in the first place. From the creator of Hey, Arnold!, Craig Bartlett, Party Wagon was only ever shown twice on Cartoon Network, as it would later pop up in corners of the internet. Taking place during the days of the Oregon Trail, the film features the fun-filled tale Randall P. McDuff, as he and his newfound cohorts must collaborate together to find the lost treasure of Three-Eyed Jack.
It's definitely worth hunting down, as Bartlett is in a much more free platform away from Nickelodeon, as he attempts to raise the cartoon ranks once again by leaving the cool cityscapes for the simpler, zanier days of the Old West.
5 Ed, Edd, n Eddy's Big Picture Show (8.0)
How does one reward the longest-running series in Cartoon Network history? Give it a spectacular movie of course. Ed, Edd, n Eddy is a defining staple within Cartoon Network's early programming. At its forefront, the show is about a bygone period of mischief and childlike whimsy, taking place in the days of cul-de-sacs, lemonade stands, and candy seeming bigger than your head.
Ed, Edd, n Eddy's Big Picture Show takes that nostalgia and places it within an O Brother, Where Art Thou-style adventure, where the Eds are on the run for one of their biggest mishaps yet. The ending itself should be more than a selling point, as it pulls the curtain on one of the greater mysteries of the show and gives the Eds an immensely cathartic taste of the respect and adoration that they've always wanted.
4 Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Destination Imagination (8.2)
Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is a series with plenty of imaginative adventures and cartoon specials. The series started out as a movie that would later get holiday specials and the ever heartwarming "Good Wilt Hunting." However, what makes the list is the most imagination filled adventure of all, as the latest and final entry to the series' specials would see Frankie get trapped in the strange, imaginative world of a toy box.
Mac, Blue, and co. embark on the childlike dangers of this world to rescue her. As cartoon antics ensue, the group attempts to teach the mysterious villain behind everything the true meaning of friendship.
3 Steven Universe: The Movie (8.3)
The most recent on this list, Steven Universe: The Movie, much like its main series, skyrocketed in acclaim and in the zeitgeist. Not one to pull the punches on some of the show's tougher themes, Steven Universe: The Movie is very much a sincere look at identity, rejection, and personal responsibility, taking things in harsh, honest directions that few cartoons would explore.
Best of all, the music is great, showing off memorable tunes spectacular in performance and content. This is no filler movie, as it is not only aware of the series' history but uses that continuity to change and bring things forward in interesting and tantalizing directions.
2 Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: House of Bloo's (8.3)
Craig McCracken gets his second and biggest shot at this list, as his pilot for one of Cartoon Network's best shows also gets acclaim for being one of the network's best-produced movies. Starting on the right foot, House of Bloo's brings the viewer into the greater world of the imaginary, not via boring exposition, but through the homey hijinks that its premiere duo will become known for.
What follows is an explosion of visual congestion, as problems force Bloo out of his small apartment and into the titular home, full of some of the best character designs to ever land on Cartoon Network. This movie brings wacky adventures, a wide cast of eccentric characters, and the looming threat of some of the uglier villains of the world.
1 Samurai Jack: The Premiere Movie (8.6)
While it is a little shameless to include an entry that is literally three episodes sewn together, Samurai Jack more than makes up for it with the seamless connection of its story and just the incredible content of the series as a whole.
Samurai Jack: The Premiere Movie features the first three episodes, as Aku invades Japan and begins his conquest for world domination. Jack scours the world to train from history's greatest masters and ventures back to stop him only for him to become trapped by Aku's magic in the distant future. The series as a whole is inspired by the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa, and those subtle stylistic and directing nods are very welcome in this transition to the feature-length format.