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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!

Written by
Oliver Strand
&
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

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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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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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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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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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.

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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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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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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Recess
Photograph: Courtesy Disney Channel

17. 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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More fun for kids

“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (Toy Story)
Photograph: Courtesy Disney/Pixar

1. “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (Toy Story)

No matter when or where we hear this favorite from Randy Newman, we can't help but picture ourselves in Andy's bedroom as Buzz, Woody and pals come to life while the toys' owners are out and about. This song is practically synonymous with the Toy Story franchise!

“The Bare Necessities” (The Jungle Book)
Photograph: Courtesy The Jungle Book + Disney Enterprises

2. “The Bare Necessities” (The Jungle Book)

Baloo the bear knows how to live the life and it begins with not holding on to worries or strife. Much like Timon and Pumbaa do with Simba, Baloo teaches little Mowgli how to live freely.

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