To all my '90s kids who remember waking up early on a Saturday morning, pouring out a bowl of cereal and plopping down in front of the television, there's a special place in all our hearts for Disney Channel original programming. Seriously, we lived in a golden time of children's TV, and we miss it.
I know how much time you spend coming through YouTube trying to find that one episode of the show you love, and I feel your pain. Really, if we could have it our way, Netflix would be buying up all the rights to the shows we love and we would be streaming it all day every day! But just because we are '90s kids and we love to remember, here are, in no particular order, some of those truly golden shows we hope we get to see again.
This cartoon was amazing. We got to see the whole lay of the "Duckburg" land and explore the lives of some less talked-about Disney cartoon stars: Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey and Louis. Listen, if you're not interested in seeing the lengths an obscenely rich duck goes to in order to protect his wealth, I don't know what to tell you. The hunt for treasure was always amazing and the episodes with other literary figures made for some fun moments in Lit. class where you get to tell your teacher, "Yeah, I know Shakespeare. I saw him played by a duck in a cartoon one time."
First we HAVE to acknowledge that the theme song for this show was the most banging tune on Disney in its time. OK, now that that's out of the way, let's get back to business. "Talespin" was one of those shows that, in a one-time Disney tradition, focuses on a secondary character from a Disney animated film -- in this case "The Jungle Book." In this series, we have Baloo working as the pilot for an air cargo freight delivery service while avoiding air pirates. You know, typical bear stuff. This show was full of adventurous spirit and well-intentioned incidents, and the Baloo, Kit, Rebecca dynamic was to die for!
"Darkwing Duck" (1991-1992)
I dare you to name a better anthropomorphic duck superhero! That's OK, I'll wait. For those of us who are already privy to the justice that Darkwing Duck doles out on the regular, a Netflix revival is the only natural step. We have a mix of film noir, slapstick comedy and also Launchpad McQuack! I think that says it all. There was also a definite emphasis on action rather than adventure, which is in rare Disney form AND a great pulp hero parody to boot! I believe some major props are in order here.
Pour one out for the defenders of the night! This show was so dark and intense, but how could it not be when it based itself on Shakespearean themes and storylines? The show stars the Gargoyles who have been betrayed by the humans they were sworn to protect and, after 1,000 years trapped in a petrified state, find themselves in Manhattan, awoken by the nighttime. No doubt most kids caught up in watching this show were hit by the heaviness of its content, but even then, we kept coming back for more. I mean, we were '90s kids. We lived for the grit!
"Aladdin: The TV series" (1994-1995)
OK, so you probably remember the classic 1992 animated film "Aladdin," but do you remember the spin-off TV series about Aladdin's adventures in Agrabah? Granted, we had a lot of questions, like why is Aladdin engaged to Jasmine but still living on the streets? and why is the genie still running around with those golden cuffs? (HE'S A FREE GENIE NOW!) But all questions aside, this series took you on so many cool adventures, treasure hunting and sorcerer-capturing, plus a really sweet crossover episode featuring Hercules. This show kept us up to speed with our favorite street urchin -- how could we ask for anything more?
"Bug Juice" (1998-2001)
?"Bug Juice, it doesn't come in a jar / Bug juice comes from who you are..."?
This show was the show that introduced us to reality TV! We had all the middle school drama and romance one could imagine with the added bonus of campfires and lakeside canoeing. When the campers bonded in their cabins, you totally felt like you were a part of it, and when crushes were revealed, you knew all the hot gossip first hand. Honestly, it was like a better version of being in middle school -- all of the information, none of the first-hand drama. Plus, the Camp Waziyatah grounds looked so good, you were begging the parentals to let you go to sleepaway camp by the end of it!
"The Famous Jett Jackson" (1998-2001)
This one has a definite note of sadness with the tragic suicide of the lead actor Lee Thompson Young in 2013. His role as the eponymous Jett Jackson was such a remarkable one in the Disney repertoire, and in a TV series that was frankly ahead of its time. This program was essentially a show within a show about a young boy who starred in his own TV series about super spy Silverstone while balancing a normal life of school, friendship and family. It hit up a lot of hard hitting issues like bulimia, censorship and even the issue of whether or not a pampered, sheltered kid like Jett could truly understand the problems facing other African Americans. The show also featured a good many guest stars, including Britney Spears, Rachel McAdams and Destiny's Child. Can I get an amen on this?
"So Weird" (1999-2001)
This show probably set alight many a future conspiracy theorist candle! It was way darker than anything else on the Disney Channel and arguably still is. In this series, we follow around Fiona Phillips as she goes on tour with her rock star mom and the rest of the band, and on every tour stop, Fi hunts down the paranormal and logs it on her '90s-era website, "So Weird." This series probably gave you the heebie-jeebies more than a few times, but it was definitely the gateway for the children of the '90s to pursue other hard-hitting conspiracy shows. Can you say "The X-Files"?
"The Jersey" (1999-2004)
This show fell into relative obscurity post its run on the Disney Channel, but despite that, it still holds up pretty well. The series stars four sports enthusiast teens who discover a ~magical~ football jersey that has the power to transport them into the bodies of big-time athletes (usually while said athletes are in the middle of a game). Along the way, there is some sort of valuable lesson learned or confidence gained that helps the teens in their actual day-to-day lives. The concept of performing a quantum leap into the bodies of your favorite athletes is such a cool idea, and no doubt this show gave a lot of us sports knowledge we never knew we needed. Bonus points for all the sweet guest stars on this show. Here's looking at you Tony Hawk, Laila Ali and Peyton Manning!
"Even Stevens" (2000-2003)
"Even Stevens" was one of 2000s-era Disney Channel's heavy hitters. This show was all about sibling rivalry and family. Most people could categorize themselves as a Ren, a Donnie or a Louis, and if you had siblings, you knew exactly who was who. This show gave us all aspects of sibling personalities, and it was glorious! We all lived for those moments where even though they were absolutely pissed at each other, they still came through and had each other's backs in the end. And how could we forget the "Influenza" episode, which is arguably the beginning of the Disney "musical episode" tradition we get to bear witness to on occasion.
"Lizzie McGuire" (2001-2004)
Alright, it goes without saying that Hilary Duff is an undisputed Disney queen. Her reign was noble and pleasant and pure, and honestly, where would we be without those tunes she would release on the Disney Channel (#WhyNot)? Lizzie McGuire is still one of the most well-known and well-loved series from the Disney Channel, and for good reason. Lizzie was the "everyman" -- she was all of us, and we identified with her hard. Every time she got a "B" on a test or was forced to wear a hideous unicorn sweater or when she wanted to rebel it up, we were there and we supported her every step of the way. Plus she taught us the importance of helping the environment and saving animals and her hair game was impeccable. Basically, we all wanted to be Lizzie's best friend and be invited into the hallowed squad that is Gordo, Lizzie and Miranda. It's been eleven years and we still want in. Help us out, would ya?
"The Proud Family" (2001-2005)
Ummm, if Destiny's Child and Solange sing your theme song, you're already winning...and with that said, let's take a moment to acknowledge the champ that is "The Proud Family"! This show dealt with the usual teen issues like bullying, gossip, responsibility, etc. but it also took the time to highlight important things like discrimination and stereotyping and culture differences. Guest voice actors on this show were aplenty with people like Mariah Carey, Samuel L. Jackson and Mos Def, to name a few. Also, this show was hilarious, and can we just point out that we had the "token white friend" character as opposed to the "token black friend"? Well played, Proud Family, well played.
"Kim Possible" (2002-2007)
Girl power to the extreme! Even Kim's name is basically just a play on the word impossible because the girl is just that good. This show is all about how girls kick butt. Where would Drakken be without Shego, or Ron without Kim? Plus Kim is so boss that she's saving the world without using a secret identity and still has time to fit in being the captain of the cheer squad, school work, homework and friendships and family. Her high school transcript is gonna be so packed, there's no way homegirl isn't getting into EVERY college. Also, the voice actors in this show are some serious Disney MVPS. Christy Carlson Romano ("Even Stevens") as Kim, Will Friedle ("Boy Meets World") as Ron Stoppable, Raven-Symoné ("That's So Raven") as Monique and Kirsten Storms ("Zenon") as Bonnie Rockwaller.
"That's So Raven" (2003-2007)
There's no possible way to watch the Disney Channel in the 2000s and avoid the scope and magnitude of "That's So Raven." This show ushered in a new wave of Disney, one where there were crazier hijinks, outlandish costumes and farfetched schemes. Raven is the best friend we all wished we had. She had mad style and psychic abilities, and you can't help but think every weekend is gonna be an adventure in crazy schemes and filled with tons of LOLs. "That's So Raven" from early on in its run also addressed a good many issues, body image and racism included, and still managed to keep us smiling the whole way through. Plus we need to acknowledge how this show will go down in Disney Channel history as the first to make the 100-episode mark! To quote Beyoncé, "Respect that! Bow down, bitches!"
"Phil Of The Future" (2004-2006)
This show deals with a family from the future who gets stuck in our present day when their time machine breaks. It was a cute, light-hearted romp and explored the possibilities of a what the future could look like. This show was such a fun ride while it lasted, and the Keely/Phil dynamic set our shipper hearts a light one too many times. You know you were working out the math in your head as to whether or not two people from different time periods could make it work. But seriously, how old is Keely in 2121? Could they make it work? Is Phil really gonna wait for her? Why am I crying right now?