In a time when reboots seem to be all you can find on TV, there’s an undeniable silver lining to this theme of recycled programming — it heralds the return of childhood favorites that ’80s and ’90s babies can watch with their own kids. There are a ton of rebooted TV shows and cartoons that Gen X’ers and Gen Y’ers couldn’t get enough of growing up. You remember the days: sitting on the floor in front of the couch with a bowl of Alpha-Bits, My Little Ponies lined up beside us while the TV was blasting the Animaniacs theme song. And now, those glory days have returned, thanks to adaptations of everything from beloved ’80s cartoons and ’90s cartoons to the sitcoms that made the afterschool hours golden. What a time to be alive!
Those of us whose formative years fell in the ’80s and ’90s get to enjoy the shows from that era even more this second time around since watching the reboots means introducing them to a new generation. Of course, a cartoon-filled Saturday morning for kids these days will involve tuning in via a streaming service and probably eating Kellogg’s Baby Shark cereal. Nevertheless, they can still find newer versions of your old favorites — and the joy they’ll feel watching, well, that much will be the same.
The best part is that these rebooted shows are ones you can all watch together and bond over. Kids can be so fascinated by how their parents once were! Below, check out some of the best new (old) shows inspired by childhood loves.
Where to watch: Hulu
The original Animaniacs features the Warner kids: Yakko, Wakko, and Dot — two brothers and a sister from the ’30s who were locked away, seemingly forgotten forever. But when they escape decades later, they realize all the hijinks they could be getting up to in the present. The three are back in the reboot, continuing their shenanigans, often with Pinky and the Brain as well. The show is short featurettes that are easy to follow, making it the perfect watch for kids. Plus, the theme song is one of the greats in the world of cartoons. (Let’s be honest; you still remember it from your own childhood, right?) If renewed, the reboot will enter its third season in 2022 after ending on a major cliffhanger at the end of Season 2. So get caught up now.
2. Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock
Where to watch: Apple TV+
The revival of the popular Jim Henson show finds many of the same beloved characters, plus a whole crop of new ones. Much like in the original series, the Fraggles are colorful, fun characters trying to make their way through life with music, love, kindness, and care for each other. It’s a show that easily teaches positive habits to kids, which is why everyone loved it so much when it originally aired in the 1980s.
3. Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai
Where to watch: HBO Max
Gremlins may have scared you when it premiered in 1984, but now that you’re older, you can handle this prequel (maybe?). The show, which will premiere in 2022, serves as the origin story for the furry little creatures in the film from the 1980s. Find out how Gizmo came to be hanging out in the shop where he was purchased years later and why these mogwai are such finicky little things.
4. The Smurfs
Where to watch: Nickelodeon
This revival of the 1981 TV show was produced largely in Belgium and features the lovable little blue people and their fabled stories. Modern computer animation brings back the short stories that the Smurfs take part in, dealing with anything from friendship to minor annoyances — like changing diapers! You and your kids can bond over the series that spans decades and continues to be cute.
5. Tom and Jerry in New York
Where to watch: HBO Max
This animated series brings back the ever-popular Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse for more antics. As a sort-of sequel to the movie Tom & Jerry, this show carries on with the story with Tom and Jerry in New York City continuing to get up to no good. As usual, Tom is after Jerry, and the two keep landing in trouble.
6. The Snoopy Show
Where to watch: Apple TV+
Snoopy and his friends are back in the rebooted version of the classic cartoon. The lovable beagle and his BFFs take on new adventures, but you’ll still get all the vibes of the old version of the show. Charlie Brown is his same old self, and your kids will enjoy watching him with Snoopy just as much as you did when you were a kid.
Where to watch: Paramount+
The babies never actually grow up in the world of Rugrats — these little ones are still getting into adventures! Tommy leads the charge as usual, with his toddling pals following through with help. The animation may look a little more refined than the original show, but the courage and humor among these babies remain the same as ever.
8. Reading Rainbow Live
Where to watch: Looped
After nearly two decades off the air, Reading Rainbow will return on Mar. 6 in the form of Reading Rainbow Live — a completely live series that will invite viewers to interact and engage with each other and the hosts of the reboot. Each 25-minute episode will be filled with dynamic elements like original music, dance parties, field trips, cultural explorations, and more. And while OG host LeVar Burton doesn’t seem to be tied to the revival (*sob*), the new host or hosts will read a book of the day each episode.
Where to watch: Peacock
This is a story all about how… everyone’s favorite Fresh Prince got a dramatic retelling! The original series, which aired on NBC from 1990 to 1996 and starred Will Smith, kept things mostly light-hearted and funny. Yes, they tackled tough topics, but you could always count on a warm-and-fuzzy ending or a laugh track to brighten the mood. This one’s grittier, following Will’s “complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air,” so watch with your older kids.
10. The Wonder Years
Where to watch: ABC
If you grew up in the ’90s, you probably felt like an honorary member of the Arnold family. The original Wonder Years ran from 1988 to 1993 and became a zeitgeist of middle-class American suburbia. And while it may seem impossible for a reboot to come close to touching the cultural relevance of that first series, the reboot of the same name has already wowed audiences since airing in Sept. 2021. Set in the late ’60s, it follows a Black, middle-class family living in Montgomery, Alabama. Bonus: OG star Fred Savage directs six episodes!
11. Saved by the Bell
Where to watch: Peacock
Drooling over Slater was a rite of passage for 80s and 90s babies. And now you and your kiddo can revisit Bayside High together. This 2020 version of the show comes face to face with the show's cheesiness. It’s super jokey but has a strong plot that’s just as fun-loving and bodacious as the original. Slater and Jessie are regular cast members, while Zack and Kelly make occasional appearances. The show also does an excellent job of using these new characters to really make the show relateable for a new generation.
12. Girl Meets World
Where to watch: Disney+
Boy Meets World was one of those TV shows that tackled intense real-world problems in a way that was digestible for young teens, and Girl Meets World is no different. The show fast forwards to Cory and Topanga, who are married and live in NYC with their daughter Riley. In a lot of ways, she's just like Cory, and with her bestie Maya by her side, the pair take on the world, a little at a time.
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