I’m a 90’s kid that lives for nostalgia, there’s no getting around that fact. This quarantine has allowed me to re-watch some of my favorite kids’ shows from back in the day to see if the hold up. Most of these are available on one streaming service or another, with a couple of exceptions which I’m just hoping from my memory will hold up. That extra time you can put towards watching some other show you never got to as a kid or some other show you’ve been meaning to get to. Just don’t let anyone shame you out of watching your cartoons. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you can’t still find joy in them. Time and society are contructs.
1. Hey Arnold
I dare ANYONE to say ANYTHING bad about Hey Arnold. This is THE kids show of kid shows. I wanted to live in a boarding house and roam the city unattended so bad. Arnold and his friends had the life. It’s currently available on Hulu and I did a run through of some of my favorite episodes. Hey Arnold is still a quality show and definitely worth the rewatch. I mean, the episodes with Dino Spamoni? When Mr. Hyunh reunites with his daughter for Christmas? LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
Between Rugrats and Hey Arnold Nickelodeon really didn’t need any other shows. The episodes were consistently good, and the Rugrats inspired some of my own childhood shenanigans. It wasn’t anything wild, but my best friend and I did once try climbing onto each other to reach cookies that were high up. It didn’t work and we got caught, but the legacy of Rugrats is there. Plus they had some of the best holiday episodes out there. Also available on Hulu.
3. The Powerpuff Girls
Sugar, spice, and everything nice the adventures of the Powerpuff Girls were a must watch. My poor brother was outnumbered two to one (this happened a lot, but I like to think it taught him to respect women since he had to watch all of the girl power shows with me and my sister). Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are such icons, one of my favorite episodes is when they go up against the Rowdy Ruff Boys.
I haven’t watched that reboot that came out recently, but I’m not sure I want to. I have a soft spot in my heart for the original, and if the voices are different I just won’t be able to enjoy it. Talk about first world problems. So just find the original series somewhere, you won’t be disappointed. Both are available on Hulu.
4. The Wild Thornberries
Eliza Thornberry was out there living the dream, traveling the world and talking to animals. Her dad, Nigel Thornberry, has found new life in the world of memes if that helps jog the memory. One of my favorite episodes is when Eliza is with an old elephant named Rebecca who is dying of old age. It broke my heart as a child and might have been the first time a show made me cry. This isn’t available to stream but there are clips here and there online if you want to see if it hits different now.
5. Tiny Toon Adventures
This cartoon is set in the world of the Loony Toons, and follows some young hopefuls as they go to school to learn how to be funny. They’re taught by the original Toons we know and love like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Then and now I love me a connected universe with cameos aplenty, kids’ shows within kids’ shows. That’s how you teach them about frame narratives before college. The show didn’t have a long run, but what there is is definitely worth a re-watch. It’s currently on Hulu.
6. The Magic School Bus
WITH THE FRIZZ? NO WAY! Such a good theme song. Look the new one on Netflix is just fine, but nothing and I mean NOTHING compares to the original. I didn’t even realize I was learning while I watched the show, and only Bill Nye could get the same enthusiastic attention in science class. It still holds up and a good refresher for basic science you might have forgotten. It doesn’t matter if they’re kids’ shows, science is science no matter your age.The original is currently on Netflix.
7. Animaniacs/Pinky and the Brain
I’m cheating a little bit by lumping these two together, but considering that Pinky and the Brain got their start on Animaniacs I think it’s fair. I have a faint memory of watching both on Kid’s WB on Saturday mornings, but as I watched a few episodes I had a lot of thoughts. One was that it subconsciously informed part of my humor, so I guess the things you watch as kid really do stay with you. Pinky and the Brain are a gold status duo, they must never be separated. The history of the Animaniacs is actually kind of tragic? Like that was dark for a kids’ show. When you watch you’ll see what I mean, it’s also on Hulu.
WITH THE KRAFT BROTHERS. We were LOATH to miss an episode as kids. I can’t properly express how freaking amazing this show was. The Kraft brother were charming, Zoboomafoo was hilarious (it’s embarrassing how long it took me to work out it was a puppet, I had an AMAZING suspension of disbelief as a kid apparently). I loved learning about all of the different animals, where they were from, etc. I was just a kid who loved educational kids’ shows. It was really amazing and should’ve gone on for much longer. You can stream it with a PBS subscription on Amazon Prime but that was the only place I could find it.
9. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
We are a Scooby-Doo family in this house. Anything and everything that the Scooby-Doo gods bestow upon this Earth gets consumed by my family. It was one of the only cartoons my dad watched as a kid so he made sure all of his kids were also fans. This is probably why I watch so many crime shows now. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo was a favorite because we never knew when it was on, so catching an episode was an event. It’s just fun to see our favorite characters as kids and it’s a much more urban show because of it, so it was fun to see them have their adventures in places that were familiar. I was only able to find it available to stream on Amazon Prime with a Boomerang subscription.
10. Starla and the Jewel Riders
I saved the BEST for last. Also known as Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders, was one of the kids’ shows I was obsessed with as a five year old. I don’t think I even watched it on TV, I think I rented the videos with two or three episodes from a local video rental store (I’ve just dated myself so hard). For either Christmas or my birthday I remember getting the action figures complete with horses and IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER. I didn’t watch it again until my second year of college when it was randomly available on Netflix, and let me tell you, it lived up to my hype. It was about Starla/Gwenevere (depending where you live) the Princess of Avalon who had to protect her kingdom and enchanted jewels from the evil witch Kale with the help of her best friends, the Jewel Riders, and return Merlin to Avalon. Inspired by Arthurian legend, it’s one of my favorite takes on it. If you can find it, I HIGHLY recommend it.
What 90’s kids’ shows do you think are worth a re-watch? Let me know in the comments below!
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I'm a writer based in California. I received my Bachelor's and Master's in Literature from San Francisco State University. I dream of one day writing books of my own and maybe even being part of a writer's room for a show! I love to talk about pop culture, books, and travel to anyone willing to listen. Some of my favorite topics in those categories are "Avatar the Last Airbender", "Gilmore Girls", the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Mexico, and Paris. My favorite thing in the world though is my dog, he's just the cutest!