My husband and I were both born in the 90s, he in 1990 and I, in 1994. Although I did spend most of my childhood engaged in multiple co-curricular activities (like the all-rounded Singaporean child that my parents wanted me to be), it was great to still have some time to sit back and enjoy various cartoons on the TV for entertainment. Of course, with the advancement of technology and availability of international TV channels like Nickolodeon and Disney, it did make access to these cartoon shows a lot easier!
Though the world of children’s cartoons has changed considerably since the 90s or early 2000s, you’d still be able to find some of these cartoon shows available on the internet (and thank goodness for that) and share the joy of your childhood with your little ones. Here are 13 Old-School Cartoon TV Shows That Our Children Ought To Know and you bet, we’re going to introduce our daughter to the magic of these stories too!
Photo Credits: Wallpaper Access
#1 American Dragon: Jake Long (Walt Disney Television Animation)
Produced by Walt Disney Television Animation, American Dragon: Jake Long was one of the cartoons that I caught occasionally on TV with my sister. To be honest, I thought it was pretty cool that Asians had some representation in American cartoons and Dante Basco (aka the voice actor behind the character, Zuko, in Avatar the Last Airbender) also voiced Jake Long, the main character in the series. A double win.
The story’s pretty simple. Jake’s got the power and ability to turn into a dragon but has to learn to balance this with the regular struggles that a typical teenager would experience during puberty. On top of balancing school work and life (in general), he’s got to also protect the magical creatures living in New York City. The twist? Rose, Jake’s crush, is a natural dragon-slayer and one “enemy” that Jake has had to fight on multiple occasions. Weird dynamics, but it’s difficult to say no to a Romeo and Juliet plot right?
Photo Credits: Film Daily
#2 Avatar The Last Airbender (Nickolodeon)
Avatar: The Last Airbender (or affectionately known as ATLA) is, we daresay, one of the best animated television series that has ever been aired to date. Although we’ve re-watched ATLA multiple times through our childhood, teenage hood and adulthood, ATLA will always have a special place in our hearts. Not only does it tickle you in the right places, the plot in ATLA is heart-wrenching, touching and imparts many great lessons to us all. And although attempts have been made to “remake” the series, nothing comes quite close to the original animated series itself.
For the uninitiated, ATLA follows 12-year-old Aang, the Avatar and last Airbender, on his quest to master the four elements and defeat Fire Lord Ozai. He’s accompanied by his trusty sky bison, Appa, and winged lemur, Momo, as well as his friends, Sokka, Katara (a brother and sister duo from the Water Nation) and Toph (a blind Earthbender from the Earth Nation). They’re later joined by Zuko, the banished Fire Nation prince, who seeks to restore the honour that he lost from a rash decision made as a youth.
Photo Credits: Ben 10 Wiki – Fandom
#3 Ben10 (Cartoon Network Studios)
Created by Man of Action Studios and produced by Cartoon Network Studios, Ben 10 is an incredibly successful franchise series (spanning across 5 different seasons and Ben’s growth from a child to a teenager) and is Cartoon Network’s longest-running franchise to date. Essentially, Ben 10 is a TV series which covers Ben Tennyson’s adventures with a watch-style alien device i.e. the Omnitrix, which allows him to transform in to various different alien creatures whilst battling other alien creatures which have infiltrated earth.
Although the older series were enjoyable, we preferred the episodes that covered Ben’s adventures as a teen with Gwen and Kevin, as each character’s abilities and skills were more developed then. And we’ve always had a girl crush on Gwen because of her Anodite abilities such as mana manipulation and energy control.
Photo Credits: Pinterest
#4 Danny Phantom (Nickolodeon)
Though not a cartoon show that we’d re-watch, Danny Phantom has clinched its place in this post because of its interesting story line and character development. And as a side note, the wicked bass lines in Danny Phantom’s opening song was the reason why I decided to take up the bass lessons!
The series follows Danny Fenton, who was caught in an accident in a portal that was created by his parents (between the human world and ghost world), which resulted in him becoming a human-ghost hybrid (cue “his molecules got all rearranged!”). Thereafter, Danny developed the ability to switch between ghost and human form, and with his ghost form, he enjoyed a variety of supernatural powers. Together with his friends, Sam Manson and Tucker Foley, his life is focused on protecting his town (and world) from attacks from the ghost portal.
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#5 Dexter’s Laboratory (Cartoon Network Studios)
Admittedly, this was not a cartoon that we regularly watched but one that we definitely remembered. A Cartoon Network animated television series, Dexter’s Laboratory follows Dexter, a boy-genius and inventor, who has a hidden laboratory in his own room (what a dream, right?) that he keeps a secret from his parents. Often, his sister, Dee Dee, would endeavor to find ways to get into Dexter’s lab and thwart his experiments. The series also covers Dexter’s rivalry with a fellow boy-genius Mandark, who has an unrequited love for Dee Dee.
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#6 The Fairly OddParents (Nickolodeon)
I can’t even begin to describe how obsessed my sister was with The Fairly OddParents. It was always on TV and one of the only cartoon shows that my sister would be willing to watch during dinners. Put simply, The Fairly OddParents follows Timmy Turner, a 10-year-old boy who has the company of two fairy godparents i.e. Cosmo and Wanda, who can grant him any wish he wants. However, these wishes often backfire or result in various problems which Timmy would then have to solve. Well I guess things aren’t always as straightforward as they seem, right?
Photo Credits: Pursue News
#7 Kim Possible (Cartoon Network Studios)
Created by Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle, Kim Possible is an American animated action comedy-adventure TV series which follows Kim, a teenage girl who has to fight crime on a day-to-day basis whilst coping with the regular struggles of teenage-hood. Her clumsy best friend, Ron Stoppale (a polar opposite to Kim’s name) accompanies Kim on her journey and they eventually develop a romantic relationship.
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#8 Pokemon (TV Tokyo)
No, don’t take out your phone to play Pokemon Go. Even though that’s a great way for the show to “come alive”, you can’t beat enjoying the real deal i.e. indulging in 22 (and soon 23) seasons of Pokemon the Series, a Japanese anime television series based on the video game franchise by The Pokemon Company. Although the 23 seasons do recycle relatively the same plot i.e. Ash Ketchum going on a Pokemon journey with his trusted sidekick, Pikachu, with flat characters, it’s always exciting to see how Ash grows in his relationship and trainer skills with various Pokemon that he meets in different regions. And really, there’s a reason why Pokemon has stuck around all these years. It’s just that addictive.
Photo Credits: Wallpaper Access
#9 Rugrats (Nickolodeon)
I’ve heard some of my friends mentioning that Rugrats was one of their favourite cartoon shows growing up and hence, it’s in this list. From what I’ve gathered (as I’ve never watched the show), Rugrats follows a group of babies in their day-to-day lives whose life experiences get transformed into great adventures in their own imaginations.
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#10 SpongeBob SquarePants
You’ve really got to be living under a rock if you’ve never heard of SpongeBob SquarePants. In fact, most of us are so familiar with the show that we’d be able to recite the theme song by heart. This story follows the adventures and everyday lives of SpongeBob, and his aquatic friends in Bikini Bottom, a fictional underwater city. The series also features the competition between the Krusty Krab and Chum Bucket, which will definitely release a chuckle or two in you.
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#11 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Unless you’re a true fan, most would not know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles actually originated from comic books published by Mirage Studios. The TMNT Turtles live in the sewers of New York City and become engaged in battles with criminals, evil overlords, mutated creatures, alien invaders amongst others, whilst doing their best to stay out of the public eye. In Fred Wolf Films’ adaptation of the books, the TMNT Turtles have been portrayed in a light-hearted manner, whose conversations are dotted with expressions reminiscent of surfer lingo e.g. “bummer”, “cowabunga” and more.
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#12 The Powerpuff Girls (Cartoon Network Studios)
Sugar, spice and everything nice. The Powerpuff Girls is perhaps one of the most iconic animated TV series from the Cartoon Network thus far. Most wouldn’t need any introduction to the series’ titular characters, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup, who are kindergarten-aged girls with superpowers. They were created by Professor Utonium, their father and created, and are enlisted by the mayor of Townsville to fight criminals (Mojojojo, anyone?) annd other enemies.
Photo Credits: 123Movies
#13 Totally Spies! (TF1; Cartoon Network)
If you’re looking for a show all about girl power, Totally Spies! would be your go-to animated TV series. The series revolves around three girls from Beverly Hills, Sam, Alex and Clover, who are both spies working from the World Organization of Human Protection whilst managing their regular lives at school. Similar to the concept of Charlie’s Angels, the girls are recruited by Jerry, the organisation’s leader, who then assigns them to tackle and resolve multiple global crimes.