If you’re reading this, chances are you were a child watching TV sometime between the mid-’80s and early-’00s, and what a glorious time for television that was. From Saturday morning cartoons to the introduction of kid-centric networks, we Millennials had more TV than we knew what to do with… LOL, kidding. We knew what to do with it: we watched the hell out of
every. last. show. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the best nostalgic kids’ shows to watch with your little one. Because there are lots of good reasons to have kids, but one of the very best reasons to nurture the next generation is to use them as an excuse to re-watch all your favorite childhood TV shows… erm… we mean… introduce them to the shows you loved as a child!
And now, with the magic of streaming services, this has never been easier. And you’d be amazed how many of them really hold up! (Some of them… less so, but your kid will like it and you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy after a 30-minute dose of pure nostalgia.)
From educational to off-the-wall, these shows provided the backdrop to our childhoods, providing role models, heroes, and giving us catchphrases we use to this day (one thing about ‘90s shows, they knew how to use a catchphrase)!
Tommy, Chucky, Phil, Lil, and Angelica have toddler-sized adventures… which may look different to you now that
you’re the parent.
Stream Rugrats, rated TV-Y, on Hulu or Paramount+
This noir inspired hero is a daring duck of mystery who solves crimes around St. Canard with the help of his daughter Gosalyn and sidekick Launchpad.
Stream Darkwing Duck, rated TV-Y7, on Disney+
The Power Puff Girls
Superpowered kindergarteners Bubbles, Blossom, and Buttercup protect the city of Townsville from crime and monsters.
Stream The Power Puff Girls, rated TV-Y7, on Hulu
Ren and Louis are brother and sister, though they’re so different you wouldn’t necessarily know it. They may have their differences, but they’re still family.
Stream Even Stevens, rated TV-G, on Disney+
Yakko, Wakko, and Dot (along with a colorful cast of toons) spoof of classic cartoons and contemporary pop culture… and since “contemporary” in this case means “1993 to 1998,” your kids won’t get
all the jokes, but you will, and they’ll still laugh.
Stream Animaniacs, rated TV-Y, on Hulu
Brothers Chris and Martin Kratt and playful lemur Zoboomafoo teach their friends at home all about nature and wild life from their home at Animal Junction.
Stream Zoboomafoo, rated TV-Y, on Amazon Prime
A team of cat-human alien heroes known as the ThunderCats flee their dying planet of Thundera to their new home: Third Earth. There, young Lion-O will use the mystical Sword of Omens to fight the evil sorcerer Mumm-Ra.
Yes: it is all as epic as it sounds.
Stream Thundercats, rated TV-Y7, on Hulu
LeVar Burton, Earth’s most important and perfect person, teach kids about the wonders of reading in this classic, literacy-promoting series.
Stream Reading Rainbow, rated TV-Y, on Amazon Prime
Tiny Toon Adventures
The young toons at Acme Looniversity learn from the best in the business – Bugs, Daffy, Porky, and other classic Looney Tunes – to reach their full toon potential.
Stream Tiny Toon Adventures, rated TV-G, on Hulu
Nine-year old Arnold lives in a boarding house with his eccentric grandparents in a neighborhood full of similarly off-beat friends. Their adventures run from the mundane to the fantastic, and are always full of humor and fun. (Just be prepared with the following caveat for your kids: “We do not call people ‘football head.’”)
Stream Hey Arnold, rated TV-Y7, on Hulu and Paramount+
Absorbent, yellow, and porous SpongeBob SquarePants lives in a pineapple under the sea where nautical nonsense abounds.
Stream SpongeBob SquarePants, rated TV-Y7, on Paramount+ and Amazon Prime
Zooey Brooks is new at Pacific Coast Academy a boarding school in Malibu that has only recently begun to admit girls. She and her friends go through all the ups and downs of teenage life, growing closer and closer along the way.
Stream Zoey 101, rated TV-G, on Paramount+
Boy Meets World
Friends Cory, Shawn, and Topanga grow up together under the watchful eye of strict but beloved teacher Mr. Feeny. Your kids will love to see your first #RelationshipGoals power couple in this charming throwback.
Stream Boy Meets World, rated TV-PG, on Disney+
Living in an idyllic forest with Mother Bear and Father Bear, Little Bear goes on lots of adventures with his friends Emily, Duck, Hen, Cat, and Owl.
Stream Little Bear, rated TV-Y, on Paramount+
The Wild Thornberrys
Eliza’s parents are nature documentarians, so she and her sister live in an RV, traveling around the wilderness, which is made a little bit easier (and more fun) since Eliza has the magical ability to speak with animals!
Stream The Wild Thornberrys, rated TV-Y7, on Paramount+
Earl Sinclair is a family man… erm… family
dinosaur, trying to navigate the modern world of 65 million B.C. with his wife, Fran, and children, Robbie, Charlene, and baby named Baby. Every Millennial who gleefully shouted “Not the Mama!” will love sharing this classic with their kids.
Stream Dinosaurs, rated TV-PG, on Disney+
Rocko’s Modern Life
Rocko is an Australian immigrant (and a wallaby) adjusting to American life with the help of a colorful cadre of comrades.
Stream Rocko’s Modern Life, rated TV-Y, on Paramount+
Think SNL but for kids. This sketch comedy show features skits like Good Burger, Vital Information, Ask Ashley, and Loud Librarian (we still laugh).
Stream All That, rated TV-G, on Paramount+
13-year olds Lizzie, Miranda and Gordo (and Lizzie’s cartoon alter-ego/narrator) stick together to make it through the tumultuous middle-school years.
Stream Lizzie McGuire, rated TV-G, on Disney+
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
Ickis, Oblina and Krumm are young monsters living in a dump in New York City. They attend a school where they learn to frighten humans, and are regularly given scare assignments from their demanding and volatile headmaster, The Gromble.
Stream Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, rated TV-Y-7, on Paramount+
Clarissa Explains It All
Clarissa Darling is a kooky, sometimes salty teenager who talks directly to the audience about things that are happening in her life, from the trials and tribulations of growing up to squabbles with her annoying brother Ferguson.
Stream Clarissa Explains It All, rated TV-G, on Paramount+
A clan of ferocious but loyal Gargoyles are pledged to guard a Scottish castle. But when humans don’t hold up their end of the bargain, the gargoyles are frozen in their stony forms for 1,000 years. But when the castle is moved to New York City, these guardians continue their mission in their new home.
Stream Gargoyles, rated TV-Y7, on Disney+
Adventures in Wonderland
When Alice faces a problem in the real world, she often finds the answer lies on the other side of the looking glass in Wonderland, where her friends the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and others are always there to lend their off-beat perspective. Your kids will love the puppetry, singing, dancing, and educational content!
Stream Adventures in Wonderland, rated TV-G, on Disney+
There’s no case too big or too small for the Rescue Rangers! Chip, Dale, Gadget, Monterey Jack, and Zipper work together to foil the bad guys and crack the case, whatever it may be.
Stream Rescue Rangers, rated TV-Y7, on Disney+
Legends of the Hidden Temple
In this classic gameshow, Red Jaguars, Blue Barracudas, Green Monkeys, Orange Iguanas, Purple Parrots, Silver Snakes compete to uncover the secrets of the ancient Mayan temple that only Olmec (the totem announcer) knows. Part trivia, part physical challenge, all nostalgic fun.
Stream Legends of the Hidden Temple, rated TV-G, on Paramount+
Gullah Gullah Island
Parents Ron and Natalie teach their three children about Gullah culture with the help of their niece, Vanessa, and the lovable Binyah Binyah Polliwog.
Stream Gullah Gullah Island, rated TV-Y, on Paramount+
Doug Funnie is a typical tween whose big imagination helps him get through all the problems and opportunities middle school has to offer.
Stream Doug, rated TV-Y, on Paramount+
Professor Xavier knows that there are those in the world who don’t accept mutants, humans born with extraordinary abilities. That’s why he opened his school for Gifted Youngsters, a safe haven for mutants, who learn to use their talents for the good of humanity.
Stream X-Men, rated TV-Y7, on Disney+
That’s So Raven
Hapless psychic Raven Baxter tries to help her family and friends with her gift (and flamboyant use of costumes). It doesn’t usually work, but everything turns out well anyway!
Stream That’s So Raven, rated TV-G, on Disney+
Are You Afraid Of The Dark?
The Midnight Society is a group of friends who gather around a campfire to swap spooky stories, presented by a new cast of characters each week. (Though there are some repeat appearances: “that’s Sar
do: no mister, accent on the – do.”)
We know what you’re thinking: “why would you suggest this absolutely terrifying show to my children?!” It’s… really not very scary, even though your inner 8 year old is screaming right now. Your kids will love
feeling like they’re watching something spooky without actually getting scared, just like you did at their age!
Stream Are You Afraid of the Dark, rated TV-Y7, on Paramount+