Watch, Read & Listen

18 Nostalgic Animated Kids Shows to Stream With Your Little Ones

written by JASMINE WILLIAMS & BRETT NICOLE HAYDEN

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Graphics by: Anna Wissler
Graphics by: Anna Wissler

Saturday mornings hold a special place in my heart because of fond memories from my childhood. I remember waking up to the smell of pancakes and bacon, which meant I not only got to spend time with my mom, but I was also allowed to have unlimited TV time. It seemed like the really great kids shows were reserved for Saturdays and I would happily watch whatever came on. 

Now that I’m a parent, I thought my longing for the kids shows I used to watch would go away. Sure, I love my adult TV series—like Bridgertonbut I don’t mind watching whatever show my son is fixated on at the moment. We’ve finally graduated from his beloved CoComelon series (I may or may not be excited about that). Now, thanks to streaming services like Max, Hulu, Netflix, and Disney+, I’ve been able to introduce him to shows from my childhood. Surprisingly, my son has been incredibly receptive, which adds to my joy when watching them. 

If you’re thinking about introducing your little ones to some of your favorite childhood TV series but aren’t sure where to start, here are some of our favorite nostalgic shows to watch with your kids.

Max

nostalgic kids shows
Source: Max

Scooby-Doo Where Are You!

Featuring the world’s favorite Great Dane and a group of friends who love to investigate crimes around their town, Scooby-Doo is a fun show to watch with your little ones. There are different variations of the series, as it’s been reimagined over the years, but the original series from 1969 holds the most nostalgic gems. From Shaggy and Scooby’s reluctance to investigate anything unless food or Scooby Snacks are involved, to the intricate mysteries woven into each episode, your little ones are sure to enjoy watching this series.

Tom and Jerry

Tom and Jerry brings the phrase “cat and mouse game” to life, as episodes usually feature Thomas aka Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse chasing each other. On rare occasions, the two main characters find themselves working together against an obvious antagonist. It shows little ones that it’s possible to put differences aside in order to accomplish something, especially if more than one person is being affected in a situation. Aside from that, little ones won’t be able to resist the hilarious antics found in Tom and Jerry, complete with memorable sound effects.

Ed, Edd n Eddy

Follow along as our favorite Eds get into mischief and try to navigate life as teenagers. You and your kiddos will be laughing non-stop joining in on their summertime adventures, seeing how they handle jobs, friendship, and girls. Don’t be surprised if your kiddo wants their very own ‘Plank’ friend before long!

Courage the Cowardly Dog

If you remember being freaked out while watching this show—and simultaneously loving every minute—you’re not alone. There’s something about this melancholy show that drew us in, and, for kiddos maybe a bit older, it will likely have the same effect. Watch the small dog living in the middle of nowhere with an elderly couple muster up the courage to conquer supernatural forces.

The Flinstones

Return to Bedrock and bring your own Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm with you! Though set in the Stone Age, you may find the Flinstone and Rubble cavemen families more relatable than ever. With jobs, hobbies, and families, you’ll quickly realize that you’re not too different than these characters after all!

Disney+

ducktales
Source: Disney+

DuckTales

Although Mickey Mouse is often the center of attention with all-things Disney, there has always been something endearing about Donald Duck. His unforgettable voice and personality seem to run in the family because his nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, are equally charming. If you’re looking for a show that centers around family adventures and sticking together, DuckTales is perfect for you and your little one. And if you watched this one when you were a kid, you’re probably hearing the theme song in your head right now (sorry).

Darkwing Duck

Who knew a duck could be cast as a superhero? Darkwing Duck, that’s who. Funnily enough, this show is a spin-off of DuckTales and features the main character trying to balance his secret identity with his suburban one. It plays out like a parody of the classic undercover agent storyline and manages to provide a bit of action to keep viewers entertained. If your little ones haven’t seen a duck who happens to be a superhero, Darkwing Duck is the perfect show to introduce them to.

Recess

This show single-handedly made me look forward to recess at school. The show Recess perfectly captures the way children break into different groups to play along with the hilarious adventures that often happen on the playground. It is sure to resonate with your little one, especially if they get to go outside during the school day.

The Muppets

The Muppets spans several generations and continues to be cherished today. Who can resist the likes of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, and Gonzo? With so many different personalities, The Muppets captured the way people can differ from each other, but still manage to respect and even love one another. It’s a great way to introduce your little ones to the concept that others do not have to be just like them in order for friendship, respect, and love to occur.

Hulu

nostalgic kids shows
Source: Hulu

Rugrats

Every now and then, we could all stand to see the world from our kid’s perspective. Rugrats gives us a theatrical glimpse into the life of a toddler and all of the basics behind kid-logic. With clueless adults, Angelica’s terror, and a gang of little friends, there’s never a dull moment for these toddlers—or the viewers!

Netflix

Thomas and Friends

Thomas and Friends weaves memorable themes such as friendship, responsibility, and honesty into its storyline. Not only will your little ones learn important lessons along with Thomas and his friends, but they will also fall in love with the hilarious situations the trains find themselves in.

The Powerpuff Girls

“Sugar, spice, and everything nice” is how the opening theme of The Powerpuff Girls begins, but parents know what happens next. “Chemical X” is accidentally spilled into the mixture and Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are born. With three differing personalities and powers, The Powerpuff Girls follows the main characters as they juggle kindergarten, villains, and sibling rivalry. You can also watch the series on Max.

Barney and Friends

Yes, Barney did in fact make the list. It’s nostalgic because Barney not only places a high value on friendships, but it also teaches children to have empathy for others. I think we can all agree more empathy is needed in the world. Aside from that, who can resist the charm of, “I love you. You love me. We’re a happy family. With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won’t you say you love me too?”

VeggieTales

VeggieTales began as a show that prioritized religious themes, particularly Christian, and aimed to share biblical tales in a way children could understand. Whether your household follows a particular religion or not, you may appreciate that the heroes of the series are vegetables.

If you have a picky eater, introducing them to VeggieTales may encourage them to try more vegetables throughout the day. With characters like Bob, Junior Asparagus, and Pa Grape, you and your little ones will come to love these captivating characters. You may find that your little ones begin naming different foods found in your refrigerator or pantry after watching—how fun would that be?

The Magic School Bus

One way to get kids excited for school, even on a Saturday morning? Help them feel the magic! Just like we did, they’ll love joining with Ms. Fizzle and her students on their out-of-this world adventures. Exploring themes they may be learning about in school in a whole new way, The Magic School Bus will show them the world of space, sea, and beyond and get them excited to learn in school.

Amazon Prime Video

nostalgic tv
Source: Amazon Prime Video

Dexter’s Laboratory

This series is probably responsible for those of us who wished we had a secret passage or room hidden behind our bookcases. With main character Dexter working on inventions in his laboratory—unbeknownst to his parents—Dexter’s Laboratory is sure to capture the hearts of your little ones. Even if they can’t relate to Dexter, there are other characters, including his sister Dee Dee, they may take a liking to. Watch out: you may hear your little ones telling people to stay out of their laboratory as a result.

The Jetsons

Did you think we would have flying cars by now? I think the Tesla is the closest thing we’ve gotten to as far as advanced technology is concerned. However, that didn’t stop The Jetsons from showing us what life would look like in the future. It features modern architecture, robotic maids, and even a beloved space mutt. Wouldn’t that be something for parents whose little ones may be allergic to pet dander?

Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends

Did you have an imaginary friend when you were younger? If so, this show can serve as a conversation starter with your little one about your adventures. The first episode begins with main character Mac taking his imaginary friend Bloo to Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, but ends with Mac being granted regular visitation to the home. Over the course of the show, viewers get to meet a variety of imaginary friends they come to know and love. It celebrates children using their imaginations along with adults who haven’t forgotten the power of it.