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The Surprising Animated Series That People Prefer Over Avatar: The Last Airbender

In a time intended for long binges of TV shows, classic programs are once again taking the spotlight for themselves. Titles like Friends and The Office remain as popular as ever, but others are rising in the ranks thanks to the increasing popularity of streaming services. For example, on May 15, 2020, the evergreen Nickelodeon Americanime Avatar: The Last Airbender arrived on Netflix, delighting those who'd watched it before and enticing first-time viewers to give it a go. Now 12 years removed from its finale, the series' story and presentation hold up surprisingly well for their age and continue to stand firm at the forefront of pop culture.

The journeys that Aang (voiced by Zach Tyler Eisen), Katara (Mae Whitman), Sokka (Jack De Sena), and, later, Toph (Jessie Flower) share in are undoubtedly timeless — however, they're not the first choice for many cartoon lovers. Looper recently conducted a poll and asked the masses to cite which animated series is their absolute favorite of them all. Over 160,000 folks brought their opinions to the table, and the results of the data were rather surprising. 

One fan-favorite program took an unexpected lead — surpassing the likes of Rick and Morty, Batman: The Animated Series, and write-ins including South Park and the original Teen Titans. With 25 percent of the vote in its corner, it's plain to see that many prefer the stylistically unique Star Wars: The Clone Wars over Avatar: The Last Airbender (which earned 22 percent of the vote) when it comes down to brass tacks. Although, one has to wonder, what kind of factors led to The Clone Wars' victory?

Star Wars: The Clone Wars' top spot is well-earned

Set between the events of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, the series details the raging conflict between the Galactic Republic's combined clone and Jedi forces against the villainous Separatist droid army. That description might sound limiting on the program's storytelling ability, but The Clone Wars actually encompasses a variety of genres. From story-heavy dramas to comedic, Jar Jar Binks-centric misadventures, there's something for everyone to enjoy — all set against the backdrop of a galaxy in turmoil.

While Star Wars is an immensely recognizable brand, The Clone Wars doesn't rely on name value alone, nor does it tread old ground very often. The show takes incredibly deep dives into the unexplored corners of the fictional universe, putting the spotlight on characters and worlds that the prequel trilogy didn't have time for. Not to mention, its original characters like Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker) and the ever-popular Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) have become some of the most beloved in the entire canon.

Additionally, there's the matter of recency bias to account for; ATLA's story ended in 2008, but The Clone Wars' final season concluded in early 2020. The series had been on ice since 2014, when Disney dropped season 6's "Lost Missions" on Netflix, but the absence of new episodes made the fans' hearts grow fonder. When The Clone Wars' seventh season arrived via Disney+, the air was rife with nostalgia for the program's tear-jerking finale that still has the Star Wars fandom reeling.

Across seven seasons, 133 episodes, and one critically maligned theatrical movie, Dave Filoni and George Lucas' brainchild is recognized as a crucial piece of Star Wars media and one of the best animated shows ever created. Avatar: The Last Airbender certainly has its die-hard fans, but this time around, Star Wars: The Clone Wars takes the cake.