I think every single member of my generation can agree that kids television has really gone downhill since we started to get older. There are a few hidden gems here and there like Phineas and Ferb, Adventure Time, and Avatar: The Last Airbender. But for the most part, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon are just not as good now as they were in the '90s and early '00s. However, things seem to be turning around.
With the recent news of a Hey Arnold! movie in the works and Samurai Jack being brought back for all brand new episodes as well as the knowledge of Rugrats, Ben 10 and a few more are getting revived, I got to thinking about other shows from my childhood that deserve a comeback, and I have 10 for your viewing pleasure and reminiscent joy.
1. 'Kim Possible'
Who didn't want to be as cool as Kim? She was an international spy who used cheerleading and makeup to take down bad guys from all parts of the globe as well as a few aliens. She even manages to tackle time travel and handle time travel paradoxes like a boss!
I know myself and all of my other female friends idolized either her or Shego growing up (I even think they're one of the main reasons I started doing karate). But even guys can find something to love about this show. It may be slightly emasculating seeing Kim and Shego being so totally badass while Drakken and Ron are a little subpar. However, Wade is a total genius and Ron become a Monkey Fu master (yes, monkey fu is in fact a thing).
2. 'The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius'
The story followed, you guessed it, a boy genius named Jimmy Neutron. He spends his days making experiments in his backyard secret laboratory, all of which tend to be very detrimental to either himself or his friends. All except for Goddard, his adorable robotic dog.
This show was more than just a smart kid fooling around in his backyard. It showed that even the strangest people are pretty cool. No matter how weird Carl or Sheen got, we still loved them. Cindy was a bit of a control freak and not terribly nice but we still liked her. And Libby... I don't have anything bad to say about Libby actually. She was fantastic. The best part was they were all friends, maybe not at first but they were friends. Despite all their differences.
They even spend an episode parodying superheroes. They call themselves the N-Men, which if I remember correctly both Cindy and Libby had an issue with at first but then later accept. Also, they go to space and take on a giant chicken in order to save their parents. How cool is that?
3. 'Dexter's Laboratory'
Another fantastic show about a boy genius. His issues were less with his experiments backfiring but with dealing with the real world. This kid's favorite part of the day was going into his laboratory to make things. But of course, he had to deal with his family and school before he could ever get there, and sometimes even while he was there, every time he was there, actually. Dee Dee, Dexter's older sister, constantly found her way into his believed secret and impenetrable laboratory every day to cause mischief.
This show also parodied superheroes with 'Dial M for Monkey' and 'Justice Friends.' Monkey was a super powered monkey who gained his powers through one of Dexter's experiments. In any episode about him, he would leave the lab and we wouldn't see any of the normal characters for the whole episode. He would go off into space and stop some galactic threat normally with the aid of the Justice Friends who were comprised of Major Glory (Captain America), Valhallen (Thor), and Krunk (Hulk).
Ah, Recess, many afternoons were spent with me and my three siblings sitting around the TV with our eyes glued to the screen as these 6 awesome 4th graders went out onto the playground to have adventures. Each of these kids were awesome in their own way.
T.J. Detweiler was essentially the leader of the group and he always came up with some of the best and most fun things to do. Ashley Spinelli was a hot headed tomboy who was the one no one wanted to mess with, not even sixth grader King Bob. Vince LaSalle was the cool jock who everyone knew and everyone liked despite being a little too competitive. Gretchen Grundler was an awkward kid genius who was far cooler than I ever thought she was. Mikey Blumberg is a rather large fellow who seems a little dimwitted at times but is in truth a brilliant poet and talented singer. Gus Griswald was a bit of the odd man out here not having many outstanding qualities, but you realize how great he truly is.
The show mainly takes place during recess where the kids get to spend time with other students like King Bob, the Ashleys, the Kindergarteners, the Diggers, Guru Kid, Upside-Down Girl, Swinger girl, Randall, and many others. Recess is the time where the kids get to be kids without the restraint of their parents or adults to hold them back. They have their own society on the playground with government and unwritten laws as well as social classes.
Plus, who didn't love that playground?
5. 'Codename: Kids Next Door'
This show was fantastic. It followed a group of five kids; numbers 1-5, who are spies and live in an awesome and tricked out treehouse and go about fighting adults and teenagers. Or you know, just dealing with day-to-day activities and issues facing kids.
Much like most cartoons, KND had several references to pop culture throughout the show. They referenced movies like The Pink Panther, Planet of the Apes, Jaws, Jurassic Park, The Terminator, Resident Evil, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, X-Men and many others.
Most of the episodes didn't have much of a correlation on each other until later on in the series. However, it dealt with many issues you wouldn't expect for a cartoon like this. One of the biggest issues was growing up. Because once you become a teenager, you're no longer allowed to be member of the KND. Numbuh 5's older sister Cree Lincoln (Numbuh 11) is actually a big adversary that the group has to take on, and when they do she poses a significant problem for the normally level-headed and awesome Numbuh 5.
6. 'My Life as a Teenage Robot'
Following a robot made by Nora Wakeman, My Life as a Teenage Robot was most definitely odd. But like most of the great shows of its time, it promoted female empowerment and showed a strong female character saving the world and doing something good. Sure, Jenny (AKA XJ-9) is a robot, but she is a girl no less.
Jenny was built with plans of saving the earth, but being an AI and a teenager, she wants to go to school and educate herself. Also, she wants to be popular and make friends. After befriending Brad and his rambunctious little brother Tuck, she gets to go to school and meet all sorts of people. Now she has to balance her school work, her social life, and saving the world on a daily basis. Remind anyone else of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Anyone? No? Just me? Okay...
7. 'American Dragon: Jake Long'
Who doesn't love a good show about dragons? No one that's who.
Jake Long is just your average teenager. He has a crush on the super attractive Rose, he has his two best friends, Trixie and Spud, he has an annoying younger sister Haley, he spends a lot of his free time at home with his family and his dog Fu Dong, and the rest of the time he turns into a dragon and helps save people and mythical creatures.
This angsty teenager has a lot of issues. And the first and foremost is the fact that while he's a dragon, his crush Rose is a dragon slayer. Not a good combination, huh?
This show only got 2 Seasons which I think is a great injustice. We never learned who the Dark Dragon was and there was so much else left unsaid. Like why on Earth did Jake's dragon alternate get so suddenly skinny between Season 1 and Season 2? Seriously, I want to know.
8. 'Danny Phantom'
Danny Phantom follows teenager Danny Fenton whose ghost hunting parents are not very good with their tech. Trying to figure out what went wrong with their ghost portal, Danny steps inside and accidentally alters his DNA which allows him to change into a ghost whilst also allowing evil spirits to flow through the portal - which he now has to fight and bring back to the Ghost Zone.
Despite not understanding how people never figured out he was Danny Phantom (I mean come on, Danny Fenton, Danny Phantom! Also, when he changes he shouts "going ghost", how did nobody see this?), it was a wonderful show.
Danny's character can easily be compared to Peter Parker. Both are teenagers whose DNA gets altered. By day they go to class and are complete nerds, incapable of doing anything cool and are constantly bullied. By mid-afternoon, they turn into awesome superheroes that save the day! I need more of this in my life.
9. 'Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends'
This show takes place in a world where any person or thing that has ever been thought up becomes real. They are called imaginary friends, which is weird because they are clearly very real.
At a certain point in our lives, we leave our imaginary friends behind. In the real world, they disappear from our thoughts. In this world, they are abandoned and need somewhere to live. And that is where Fosters comes in. Here, Madame Foster takes in all the abandoned imaginary friends and lets them get adopted by the young kids who are too lazy to come up with their own.
It sounds kind of sad and depressing and at times it is. Some of these imaginary friends haven't been adopted in years. They just hang around and get sad together. That is until Mac and Bloo show up and change the entire dynamic of the place.
The imaginary friends can be compared to the toys from Toy Story in that they need to be stimulated by children to be truly happy. Mac does that. You see, Mac is told that he has to leave Bloo behind because he's getting older, but he doesn't want to. So, Bloo is allowed to live at Foster's without getting adopted so long as Mac shows up everyday after school to prove that he hasn't grown up yet. As a result, Mac now gets to hang out with all the awesome imaginary friends in this halfway home.
This show was original and like all the other shows of the time, dealt with real situations and real problems. It was a fantastic show hidden beneath crazy antics and a very odd concept.
10. 'House of Mouse'
Infinitely better than the replacement Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, this show followed Mickey and the gang as they ran a dinner theater club where all animated Disney characters from every show and movie meet up to hang out and watch old shorts as well as acts from various cartoons.
One of the biggest selling points of the show was incorporating many obscure characters in their episodes. They had characters only found in park attractions, characters from Disney comic books (Lil' Bad Wolf and April, May, and June Duck), and characters from other animated shows on TV.
My personal favorite episode was actually not an episode. It was their direct to video, Mickey's House of Villains in which the villains take over the House of Mouse on Halloween night. The villains take over and enjoy being in charge for the short amount of time that their plan succeeds.
- Rocket Power
- Totally Spies
- The Replacements
- The Wild Thornberries