Thank you to Netflix for adding some major throwback TV shows to their platform for inspiring this post.
I have been on a binge-watching spree when I saw what popped up on the home screen of the popular subscription streaming service, and the excitement of watching them just came flooding back in.
It’s hard to believe that many of these sitcoms and animations came out over two decades ago. They filled my childhood with lessons, adventures, and inspiration. I admit that some of them influenced my behavior in school and how I viewed the world. It’s a good thing I began realizing the difference between fiction, non-fiction, and boundaries.
Nonetheless, these shows invited me to worlds that made my childhood a lot more colorful. I laughed, I cried, I got upset, I mourned, and I celebrated with the characters. They taught me social, emotional, mental, and spiritual lessons that I was not able to learn from anyone else.
And to this, I owe a massive thank you to all the creators, directors, scriptwriters, voice actors, actors, actresses, cameramen, animators, and everyone else behind the scenes who brought these timeless classics to life.
My Favorite Childhood/Teenhood TV Shows of All Time
ARTHUR (1996-2022) [ANIMATION]
Arthur tells the story of the aardvark, Arthur Reed, and the challenges he faces as a child making his way through school, dealing with two younger sisters, owning a pet, and having fun with friends.
I actually thought Arthur was canceled years ago but was surprised it kept going strong until early 2022. Nonetheless, the series was my childhood. Not every day you get to watch a series starring an aardvark and his best friends, a white rabbit, two monkeys, a bear, a cat, and a dog, experiencing everyday human-like behaviors and situations.
AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER (2005-2008) [ANIMATION]
Avatar: The Last Airbender is set in a world where a number of people can telekinetically manipulate one of four elements – water, earth, fire, or air. The Avatar is the only individual who can bend all four elements, thus having the responsibility to maintain balance and peace in the world. With the timeline of this series, Aang, the current Avatar, and his three friends, Katara, Sokka, and Toph, are helping Aang master all three other elements and stop the war that has been going on for 100 years.
Aang was the Naruto of my childhood. The series practically gave me a glimpse of real-world problems as an adolescent transitioning to her teenage years. It was the first series that introduced me to spirituality, as well as touched on sensitive issues that were appropriate for kids my age to be informed of. I guess you can say it was the first “mature” animated series I’ve seen and loved (still love it to this day).
CHALKZONE (2002-2008) [ANIMATION]
One day, 10-year-old Rudy Tabootie discovers a magic chalk that, when he uses it on any surface, leads him to ChalkZone, a world where everything and everyone that has been drawn and erased by chalk has become alive or tangible.
Man, I never realized how naïve I was back then when I even attempted to find a magic chalk of my own and draw on the chalkboard to see if there is a world such as ChalkZone. Anyways, I’ve always loved this series because of its creative style and messages. A 10-year-old boy who is already seen to have the natural talent to draw and is able to do so with ease and from his own imagination is pretty amazing. When I was 10, I could barely make my stick figures look like humans.
CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG (2000-2003) [ANIMATION]
Clifford the Big Red Dog is about Clifford, a 20-foot-tall red dog, and his human, Emily Elizabeth. Together, along with their friends, enjoy exploring their home of Birdwell Island, all the while helping out their community in any way they can. Oftentimes, Clifford also enjoys the stories that Emily tells him from their book collection, and he and his fellow dog companions have a blast recreating various adventures similar to the ones in the stories.
As a dog lover, Clifford has a special place in my heart. I used to think that some dogs were able to grow that tall and I would’ve begged my parents to allow me to have such a pet, but sadly, dogs of this size only appeared in animated shows, and nowadays, shows with CGI. Nevertheless, I think that the show illustrated a lovely way of what goes on in dogs’ minds and it was a very feel-good show that taught me the value of kindness and helping others.
DRAGON TALES (1999-2005) [ANIMATION]
Dragon Tales tells the story of siblings Emmy and Max, and their discovery of a whole new world called Dragon Land. Here, they meet dragons Cassie, Ord, Zak, Wheezie and the wise Quetzal. Together, they face various challenges and experience magic like no other.
I adore Dragon Tales. I’ve always been fascinated with stories that would bring ordinary beings to otherworldly places that I think any kid hopes to one day experience themselves. I think there was a time when I wanted to move to another house in hopes of finding a secret drawer with something that can teleport me to a place as whimsical as Dragon Land.
DRAKE & JOSH (2004-2007)
Two teenage guys must learn to get along at school, at work, and even at their own house when they eventually became stepbrothers. There’s Drake – the cool, ladies’ man, lead singer in a rock band brother. Then there’s Josh – the awkward, magician wannabe, intellectual brother. Completely different personalities, interests, and persona, but when they put their minds together and are in need of the other’s help, they make one of the greatest brother duos of all time.
I love Drake & Josh. I think it’s one of the best series to have ever been created. The characters are all memorable in their own way and it was sweet to see the growth development between the two brothers. The biggest message I would constantly get from each episode is that no matter the differences in families, they will always have each other’s backs.
FULL HOUSE (1987-1995)
After the death of his wife, Danny Tanner enlists the help of his brother-in-law, Jesse, and his long-time best friend, Joey, to help him take care of his three daughters – DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle. Six people under a roof is definitely not a problem for a family who enjoys sentimental lessons and tons of hugs.
Full House is a classic, don’t tell me otherwise. It has a bit of everything – comedy, romance, siblings, teenage rebellion, adult responsibilities, music, friendships, and of course, family. While watching the series, I had always wished that when I start a family of my own, it’ll be as loving, wacky, diverse, adventurous, understanding, and full of hugs as the Tanner family. And if revivals were done, I think that Fuller House has to be one of the most successful revivals to ever be done.
Rest In Paradise, Bob Saget a.k.a Danny Tanner, America’s #1 TV dad.
What happens when there are three teenagers who suddenly make it big online from an accidental upload of a video meant to audition kids for their school’s talent show? Grow the audience even more by starting an entire web show every week full of fun and crazy skits and acts.
Bless Nickelodeon for having iCarly premiere after Drake & Josh and giving me another reason to look forward to the weekend. This was practically the start of the digital age and it greatly motivated me to try and start a web show of my own back then. Of course, my shyness didn’t allow me to pursue it, but it goes to show how much of an inspiration this series was. It wasn’t just about growing an audience, it was about getting to experience new things, meeting all kinds of people, sending out positive messages, and inspiring the younger generation to take chances every now and then because there’s so much of life to see and experience, especially at our age back then.
LAZY TOWN (2004-2008)
A town traditionally used to being, wait for it, lazy, has suddenly been motivated to get up, get out, and get moving when 8-year-old Stephanie moves in with her uncle, Mayor Meanswell. With the help of superhero Sportacus, he helps urge the town to also eat “sports candy” (fruits and vegetables), while villain Robbie Rotten gets moving just so the people of the town continue to remain lazy.
Normally I’m not a fan of puppet-style characters, but somehow the ones in Lazy Town were interesting to watch. They were as close to humans as any puppet characters could be and had memorable personalities. I greatly appreciate the series’ message of motivating kids to go out and play, see the sunshine, feel the fresh air, eat healthy foods, and get enough sleep. I wish there were reruns of this show on the streaming platforms for newer generations to be inspired by this show as well. I also really enjoyed the series’ aesthetics, especially their foods. In addition, their songs were catchy and got me dancing along. Also, I may have had a crush on Sportacus and thought he was one of the coolest superheroes ever.
NED’S DECLASSIFIED SCHOOL SURVIVAL GUIDE (2004-2007)
Middle schooler Ned Bigby shares his tips and tricks on navigating through middle school and any other teenage hurdles. Along with his journey are his two best friends Jennifer “Moze” Mosely and Simon “Cookie” Nelson-Cook
Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide came out when I was in the fifth grade, so I found myself relying on it as I was close to entering middle school myself. Of course, not all of the situations on the show actually happened at my middle school, but some of the general ideas and tips did come in handy. I can’t remember which ones they were, but I’m sure I used a couple of Ned’s tips that ended up helping me out.
RUGRATS (1991-2004) [ANIMATION]
Audiences are taken to a world where we see things from the point of view of infants and toddlers. Here we have the courageous one-year-old, Tommy; the insecure two-year-old and Tommy’s best friend, Chuckie; and the eccentric twins Phil and Lil. Tommy’s baby brother, Dil, joins the group later on in the show. As soon as the adults leave the young ones on their playdate, things become much more adventurous and exciting.
Rugrats was such a joy to watch. I was old enough to understand that babies in real life do not do the kinds of things that these guys do, but it was still interesting to see a perspective of what the adult creators imagined that these infants and toddlers do.
SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH (1996-2003)
Sabrina the Teenage Witch takes us through the life of 16-year-old, Sabrina Spellman, from the moment she finds out she’s a witch, to the trials and tribulations she enables herself to get into and eventually get out of (most with the help of her two aunts, Zelda and Hilda) and is aligned with her true power.
I guess I have the series to thank for when it came to my choice of Halloween costume almost every year since discovering the idea of witches. I love otherworldly storylines that crossover with reality. I can’t be the only one who has tried pointing my finger at something, trying to connect with some inner witch magic, and hoped to see some sparkling dust come out of my finger and change whatever I was pointing into something else.
THE BERENSTAIN BEARS (2003-2004) [ANIMATION]
Married couple, Mama and Papa Bear, gives audiences insight as to what it’s like to be a family of four, and later on, a puppy, in the countryside community of Bear Country. The series focuses on family roles, and relationships, and are meant to guide kids with life lessons.
The Berenstain Bears is another series that greatly inspired me as a kid. It’s not only helped me with the lessons as a kid but also gave me insight as to what parents think and feel when it comes to raising kids. This is like the animated and furry version of Full House, and it truly is a great show for the entire family. Also, their theme song is one of my most memorable and favorite songs to sing along to.
Zoboomafoo is a live-action/animated children’s series starring brothers, Martin and Chris Kratt and their real/talking lemur friend, Zoboomafoo (“Zoboo” or “Zob” for short). The three are often hanging out at Animal Junction with friendly creatures of all kinds.
Zoboomafoo was probably the most fun and educational series I watched during my very early childhood years. I absolutely love it and was able to learn as much as I could about animals from the show. I enjoyed all of the songs and wanted to go on the same outdoor adventures as the Kratt brothers to learn more about animals in the wild.
ALL GROWN UP! (2003-2008) [ANIMATION]
ALL THAT (1996-2000)
AS TOLD BY GINGER (2000-2006) [ANIMATION]
BABY LOONEY TUNES (2002-2005) [ANIMATION]
BARNEY & FRIENDS (1999-PRESENT)
BIG TIME RUSH (2009-2013)
BOB THE BUILDER (2001-2004) [ANIMATION]
CAILLOU (1997-2010) [ANIMATION]
CATDOG (1998-2005) [ANIMATION]
CLIFFORD’S PUPPY DAYS (2003-2006) [ANIMATION]
CODENAME: KIDS NEXT DOOR (2002-2008) [ANIMATION]
COURAGE THE COWARDLY DOG (1999-2002) [ANIMATION]
DANNY PHANTOM (2004-2007) [ANIMATION]
EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (2005-2009)
FRANKLIN (1997-2004) [ANIMATION]
FOSTER’S HOME FOR IMAGINARY KIDS (2004-2009) [ANIMATION]
GEORGE LOPEZ (2002-2007)
HEY ARNOLD! (1996-2004) [ANIMATION]
JOHNNY TEST (2005-2014) [ANIMATION]
LITTLE BEAR (1995-2003) [ANIMATION]
LITTLE BILL (1999-2004) [ANIMATION]
LOONY TUNES (1930-1969) [ANIMATION]
MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE (2000-2006)
MAX & RUBY (2003-2019) [ANIMATION]
MAYA & MIGUEL (2004-2007) [ANIMATION]
MY LIFE AS A TEENAGE ROBOT (2003-2009) [ANIMATION]
MY WIFE & KIDS (2001-2005)
POKÉMON (1997-PRESENT) [ANIMATION]
ROCKET POWER (1999-2004) [ANIMATION]
SCOOBY-DOO! MYSTERY INCORPORATED (2010-2013) [ANIMATION]
SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS (1999-PRESENT) [ANIMATION]
SUPAH NINJAS (2011-2013)
TEEN TITANS (2003-2006) [ANIMATION]
THE AMANDA SHOW (1999-2002)
THE ADVENTURES OF JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS (2002-2006) [ANIMATION]
THE FAIRLY ODD PARENTS (2001-2017) [ANIMATION]
THE GRIM ADVENTURES OF BILLY & MANDY (2001-2007) [ANIMATION]
THE LAND BEFORE TIME (2007-2008) [ANIMATION]
THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS (1994-1997) [ANIMATION]
THE NAKED BROTHERS BAND (2007-2009)
THE POWERPUFF GIRLS (1998-2005) [ANIMATION]
THE WILD THORNBERRYS (1998-2004) [ANIMATION]
TOM AND JERRY (1940-1967) [ANIMATION]
TOTALLY SPIES! (2001-PRESENT) [ANIMATION]
TRUE JACKSON, VP (2008-2011)
WINX CLUB (2011-2019) [ANIMATION]
ZOEY 101 (2005-2008)
What are some of your cherished tv shows as a child?