animaniacs
Photograph: Courtesy Warner Bros. Animation

The best old-school cartoons and where to stream them

Keep the fam in stitches with these amazing old-school cartoons. Our list includes classics your kids will love!

By Oliver Strand and Danielle Valente
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Looking to lift your kid's spirits? Stream these old-school cartoons and watch as the laughs come tumbling out!

Our list of the best animated cartoons includes everything from Hey Arnold to Animaniacs to the full Looney Tunes library—and everything in between. They are guaranteed to entertain your brood!

In search of more streaming fun? Check out the 50 greatest animated movies to watch as a family, the 50 greatest Disney movies of all time and the 50 best family movies to watch together! When it comes to home entertainment, we have you covered.

Old-school cartoons

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hey arnold
Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon

Hey Arnold

Where to watch: Hulu

Perfect for city kids of all generations, Hey Arnold follows a  football-headed old soul of a 9-year-old and his group of friends. He and the gang from PS 118 are always up to some shenanigans, and you can't miss 'em! 

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The Magic School Bus

Where to watch: Netflix

The Magic School Bus makes science fun! This four-season series has been watched by millions of kids since it was first broadcast on PBS in the mid-1990s. Your kids will love the playful learning and trippy animation; you'll love hearing Lily Tomlin voice Miss Valerie Felicity Frizzle.

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rugrats
Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon

Rugrats

Where to watch: Hulu

As Tommy Pickles would say, "A baby's gotta do, what a baby's gotta do." Any '90s kid will admit to following Tommy, Chucky, Phil and Lil around their playpen and backyard for whatever adventure awaits. 

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animaniacs
Photograph: Courtesy Warner Bros. Animation

Animaniacs

Where to watch: Hulu

Weirdly wonderful, Animacs is a totally entertaining mix of slapstick humor and clever wordplay. The stars of the show are Yakko, Wakko and Dot, three vintage-style cartoon characters who move through the modern world with frenetic energy. Note to parents: This hyperactive, hyper-fun series isn't what you stream before bed. Another note to parents: You'll probably end up watching it, and enjoying it almost as much as your kids.

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powerpuff girls
Photograph: Courtesy Cartoon Network

The Powerpuff Girls

Where to watch: Hulu

Expect a bit of sugar, spice and everything nice...and Chemical X. When Professor Utonium accidentally spills this ingredient into his scientific concoction, the PowerPuff Girls are born: A crime-fighting trio who keeps the city of Townsville safe from villains. 

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Curious George

Where to watch: Hulu

The monkey can't help it: Good-natured Curious George is always getting into trouble because of, well, his curiosity. Remind you of any little creatures bouncing around your home? The goofball monkey and the Man in the Yellow Hat come to life in this series from the mid-aughts.

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DOUG
Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon/Viacom

Doug

Where to watch: Hulu

Tween Doug Funnie moves to a new town (Bluffington) and meets a whole new cast of characters in the process: His BFF Skeeter Valentine, the awful bully Roger Klotz and the perfect Miss Pattie Mayonnaise, the apple of Doug's eye. Plus, his pup Porkchop is always sticking around, serving major canine cuteness, and viewers are treated to Funnie's alter-ego, Quail Man, the superhero he envisions himself to be. (A vigilante whose underwear is showing...)  

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scooby doo
Photograph: Courtesy Warner Bros. Animation

Scooby Doo

Where to watch: Netflix

The original Scooby Doo is a trip, man. Since making its groovy debut in 1996, the talking Great Dane and his human sidekicks have been wandering the world in their flower-power ban, getting into trouble and solving crimes. As always, those criminals might have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids!

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invader zim
Photograph: Courtesy Nickelodeon

Invader Zim

Where to watch: Hulu

A darkly funny sci-fi series that premiered on Nickelodeon in the early aughts, Invader Zim chronicles the escapades of Zim, an alien from the planet Irk fixated on conquering Earth with the help of an inept robot servant named GIR. Invader Zim lasted just two seasons, but it has had a lasting impact on pop culture—an Invader Zim feature film is set to be released on Netflix later this year.

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Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Wallace is a hapless but pleasant Englishman with a taste for Wensleydale cheese; Gromit is his dog, and the real star of the show. Gromit is the more industrious and creative of the two, and his delusional ambitions often land him in trouble—to the shrieking delight of your kids. The stop-motion clay animation of this series is so distinctive that it's become a visual trademark.

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popeye
Photograph: Courtesy Warner Bros. Animation

Popeye

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

What do you remember about this classic series? This cartoon about a sailor who spends a lot of time ashore flirting and getting into fights is an American icon, and makes a strong argument for eating your greens!

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courage the cowardly dog
Photograph: Courtesy Cartoon Network

Courage the Cowardly Dog

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Courage is easily frightened. You can't blame him: His parents were sent into outer space by a mad veterinarian. Still, Courage finds courage when protecting the homestead against the aliens, spirits, zombies, vampires, evil madmen, monsters and dark forces that always seem to drop by. 

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13

The Pink Panther Show

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Da-dum, da-dum... Who doesn't love Henry Mancini's theme for the Pink Panther, the 1963 film starring Peter Sellars? The opening credits featured a cartoon panther that audiences adored so much he was spun off into the star of his own cartoon series. The Pink Panther is always stumbling into adventures, and always keeps its cool.

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Looney Tunes
Photograph: Courtesy Warner Bros. Animation

Looney Tunes

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Talk about the Golden Age of Cartoons! Looney Tunes includes many of the most iconic characters in all of cartoondom, from Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, to Tweety Bird and Porky Pig, to Yosemite Same and Elmer Fudd. The gang's all here—and your kids will love watching them!

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The Jetsons

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Meet George Jetson, an executive at Spacely Sprockets, husband to Jane, father to Judy and Elroy, friend to dog Astro. This look into life in 2062 has the same fabulousness of Disney's Tomorrowland, a mid-60s vision of utopia. Not that your kids will notice—they'll be too busy chortling when George's boss Cosmo loses it and starts shouting like an angry pug.

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Photograph: Courtesy Disney Channel

DuckTales

Where to watch: Disney+

Welcome to the Ducky-verse: This spinoff featuring Scrooge McDuck and nephews Huey, Dewy and Louie is silly fun. The stories in DuckTales span the globe, with the three young ducklings finding adventures in some far-out places.

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Photograph: Courtesy Disney Channel

Recess

Where to watch: Disney+

Think of it as the tales of some fourth-grade somethings: Recess follows a group of fourth-graders as they navigate the wild habitat known of the schoolyard, dodging bullies and finding friendship. Their challenge? How to be individuals who can express themselves while fitting in. Talk about good lessons to learn.

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Photograph: Courtesy Disney Channel

The Proud Family

Where to watch: Disney+

Penny Proud isn't always proud of her father. The 14-year old is easily embarrassed by her parents—sound familiar? Penny's best friend Dijonay Jones is always there for her as they grow up and figure out how the world works.

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Photograph: Courtesy Disney Channel

Kim Possible

Where to watch: Disney+

Kim Possible is just like every other all-American teenage girl in Middleton, USA—only she's a secret crimefighter on the side. Helped by her hapless sidekick Ron Stoppable, she is determined to stop the evil Dr. Drakken from taking over the world. 

More fun for kids

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Photograph: Courtesy Disney

"Some Things Never Change" (Frozen II)

While it might never take the place of "Let It Go," we'd be remiss not to include "Some Things Never Change" among our favorite songs from the Frozen saga. This medley lets all of our favorite characters—Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff—have a little time in the spotlight and belt out what certain certainties keep them feeling a-okay. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Disney Enterprises

"Spirit" (The Lion King, 2019)

Naturally, just the mention of Beyoncé is enough to command people's attention—and with "Spirit," she does not disappoint. The emotional and powerful ballad—and gorgeous video with tidbits from The Lion King remake—has permanently joined the ranks of the best Disney songs of all time. Its hints of gospel and African culture perfectly set the scene for Simba's return home. 

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