20 Classic Children’s Shows That Still Delight Adults Today

Watching the TV shows we grew up with hits us right in the heart. I love returning to the movies and TV from childhood for the sweet nostalgia. Whenever we need some comfort, these favorite shows give us a piece of our childhood back.

1. Looney Tunes (1930-1969)

Looney Toons
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Cartoons
With a zany collection of animal friends, Looney Tunes cartoons were one of the most influential animation series in the U.S. It's so significant that it single-handedly started the myth that bunnies love carrots. Join Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and their friends and foes for silly adventures.

2. Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (1969-1970)

Image Credit: CBS.
The Mystery Machine and its crew saw its start in the iconic series Scooby Doo, Where Are You! Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and Fred join forces with Shaggy's dog to solve mysteries in their backyard.

3. Speed Racer (1967-1968)

Speed Racer
Image Credit: Nickelodeon.
This fast-paced and family-oriented kids series is a must-rewatch for many. It's about a teenager who, with the help of his friends, family, and a high-tech car, follows his dreams of being the best race car champion.

4. Tom and Jerry (1940-1967)

Tom and Jerry
Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
This classic children's comedy series follows spoiled housecat Tom as he pursues his cunning and unwelcome houseguest, Jerry the mouse. Jerry continues to evade capture with clever and hilarious hijinks.

5. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983-1984)

He Man
Image Credit: Filmation Associates
When the planet Eternia is threatened by the evil Skeletor and his forces, who can save the world? He-Man can! Prince Adam transforms into He-Man with the power of a magic sword to take down Skeletor and his forces.

6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Image Credit: Funimation Productions
Deep in the sewers of New York City, a group of mutant ninja turtles train to tackle evil forces on the surface. This spunky kids' show holds a place in the hearts of many adults today.

7. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1983-1986)

G.I. Joe
Image Credit: Sunbow Productions
This action-packed show helps kids and adults learn about American values in the 1980s. G.I. Joe, the special forces group that travels the world to fight villains and protect people's rights to liberty and independence, is the subject of this popular TV series.

8. The Flintstones (1960-1966)

The Flintstones (1960)
Image Credit: Hanna-Barbera Productions.
This classic American sitcom is widely referenced in animation to this day. The Flintstones follows a family of the same name living in the Stone Age but deals with timeless issues like working a tedious job, raising a family and getting along with neighbors.

9. The Dudley Do-Right Show (1969-1970)

Dudley Do Right
Image Credit: Jay Ward Productions
Dudley Do-Right, a witty and popular character from the hit animation series The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends (1959-1964), got his spin-off with The Dudley Do-Right Show. The show follows Dudley as he attempts to save his beloved Nell from the evil Snidely Whiplash.

10. The Jetsons (1962-1963, 1985-1987)

The Jetsons
Image Credit: Hanna-Barbera Productions
In the futuristic world of 2062, George Jetson and his family drive flying cars and have access to technology we can only imagine. This sitcom follows the titular family and their wacky space-age escapades.

11. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)

Avatar The Last Airbender
Image Credit: Nickelodeon
When two young members of the Southern Water Tribe discover a young boy embedded in an iceberg, they soon learn that he is the Avatar: the only person in the world powerful enough to stop the Fire Nation's empire from taking over the world.

12. Arthur (1996-2022)

Image Credit: PBS
This beloved PBS series follows Arthur, a young aardvark who goes to school and plays with his friends. The show is known for its emphasis on inclusion, kindness, and the importance of open communication.

13. Spongebob Squarepants (1999-Present)

best SpongeBob SquarePants episodes
Image Credit: Nickelodeon Animation Studio.
Spongebob Squarepants is a quirky, colorful cartoon that follows a talking sponge and his underwater friends. The show chronicles Spongebob's everyday life, through his journey to get his boating license, his fry cook position at the Krusty Krab alongside the grouchy cashier Squidward, and his friendships with Patrick Star, squirrel Sandy Cheeks, and his pet snail Gary.

14. The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2005)

The Powerpuff Girls (1998)
Image Credit: Cartoon Network Studios.
In the unassuming town of Townsville, the intelligent and soft-spoken Professor Utonium accidentally gives his three daughters superpowers. The series follows the trio as they fight evil in their city against criminals like Mojo Jojo, Mr. Mime, and HIM. 

15. Cyberchase (2002-2023)

Image Credit: PBS Kids
When a trio of kids is sucked into a computer in their school's library, they must save Motherboard from Hacker and his minions. The kids solve puzzles and math problems each episode to help Motherboard defeat Hacker.

16. Batman: The Animated Series (1992 – 1999)

Batman: The Animated Series
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Animation.

There have been countless iterations of Batman over the years, but many people look back on the 90s classic cartoon Batman: The Animated Series fondly. The show centers around Batman and Batgirl, battling The Joker and the other villains that wreak havoc in Gotham City. 

17. Recess (1997 – 2001)

Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Disney's Recess followed the schoolyard antics of the outgoing T.J. Detweiler and his pals. Viewers grew to love the gang as they watched the group's horseplay all the way through six seasons and multiple movies.

18. DuckTales (1987 – 1990)

Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

While DuckTales got revitalized in recent years, the original DuckTales brings back many good memories for kids in the 80s and 90s. The show focused on the wild adventures Scrooge McDuck would get into with his three nephews as they explored the world.

19. The Magic School Bus (1994-1997)

Lily Tomlin and Maia Filar in The Magic School Bus (1994)
Image Credit: PBS.

So many of us watched The Magic School Bus while growing up, and the mere sight of Ms. Valerie Frizzle still brings back such cherished childhood memories. Nothing teleports audiences – and the students of Walkerville – quite like the Magic School Bus.

20. The Muppet Show (1974 – 1981)

The Muppet Show (1980) Mark Hamill star wars parodies
Image Credit: ITC Entertainment.

While the Muppets are still touching hearts today, so many kids and families were introduced to our favorite characters through The Muppet Show. This vaudeville-style show had funny skits, celebrity guests, and wild hijinks. While it's not an animated show, the puppets will get a pass this round. If you listen closely, you can still hear the theme song playing.

Author: Maya Capasso

Title: Freelance Entertainment Journalist

Expertise: Entertainment, LGBTQ+, TV, Movies, Games, Lifestyle


Maya Capasso is a passionate journalist and content writer with over 3 years of experience writing in the entertainment, lifestyle, and culture space, currently serving as an Entertainment Journalist and Trending Topics Writer for Wealth of Geeks. Maya's BAs in History and Women's & Gender Studies gave her research chops and a discerning eye for social commentary.