Most TV shows aimed at kids are hokey, cliché, and horrendously unfunny. But those shows aren’t for us, and kids love them. Not every kids’ show follows that same formula, though. Some showrunners realize, wait – parents, aunts and uncles, babysitters, and caregivers will be watching this too! Sometimes they sneak in a naughty joke or put in a mature plot line to keep us interested. Other times, they’re adapting something from a twentysomething’s youth and drawing us in with all those nostalgic feels. No matter what it is sometimes we prefer kids’ shows over shows for adults!
When we say “kids shows” we mean a show aimed at kids 13 and below. But still above infant/toddler ages, because sorry, but Paw Patrol will never be our jam. Every adult has that little part of them that will never grow up — it’s why we love Disney movies so much! So it makes sense we’d love some children shows just as much.
17. Girl Meets World
Adults will love this Disney Channel show for one big reason: it’s a spin-off of the classic ’90s show Boy Meets World. And it’s actually a fact that every twentysomething loved that show. So, ergo, you’ll love Girl Meets World too. The show focuses on Cory (Ben Savage) and Topanga’s (Danielle Fishel) daughter and her adolescence, much like the original show followed Cory growing up. The show has lots of fun callbacks to the original, as well as several characters from the OG show popping up. Also, like the original series, they don’t dumb down the humor to appeal to kids. You’ll find yourself LOLing the entire time, whether you’re a pre-teen or pre-gaming.
16. Batman: The Animated Series
Any Batman fan needs to add this to their viewing list. While the ’90s cartoon was aimed at kids, it’s been praised by adults for years. It’s a darker show than many of the Batman series that came before it, opting for a more mature tone in line with the comics. It’s also important for one big reason: it introduced Harley Quinn. Yup, without this series, none of y’all would have dressed up in a “Daddy’s Little Monster” shirt for Halloween last year. When it comes to superb tellings of the Batman story, this series is right up there behind Christopher Nolan‘s iconic trilogy.
15. Andi Mack
You think your family is messed up? Meet Andi Mack’s (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) fam. When Andi learns that her sister is actually her mother, and her mother is actually her grandmother, her entire world is turned upside down. And rightfully so! She soon finds herself on a journey of self-discovery and she reevaluates who she is and who she wants to be in the wake of these revelations. Pretty heavy for a kids show! But that’s what makes it great. It’s not the same nuclear family story we see on every TV show. It’s a real story that will resonate with real people. Anyone who grew up in a not-so-normal family will appreciate this kids’ show.
14. Avatar: The Last Airbender
This one might actually be more popular with adults than kids. Avatar: The Last Airbender tells the story of four nations — the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation and the Air Nomads — who can “bend” the element for which it’s named. The “Avatar” can bend all four elements, and that’s where our hero Aang comes in. He must master the elements and save the world. Standard heroic animated series stuff. But this show has lots of heart and some really dark moments in its portrayal of war between the nations. There’s a reason adults actively love this show, not just watch it with a kid they know!
13. Beat Bugs
Okay, I know I said there wouldn’t be an infant/toddler shows on this list but c’mon, it’s a show about The Beatles! The series follows a group of bugs living in a backyard who learn about life from singing The Beatles songs. Amazing. Each episode of the series is loosely based upon a Beatles song and features music the entire time. Adults won’t mind checking this out with a child they know because they’ll be able to bop along to some of the greatest pop hits of all time in the process. You can’t hate anything involving The Beatles, you just can’t.
12. Over The Gardens Wall
This limited animated series is drawn in such a way you’ll be thinking about old-timey fairytale books indefinitely. The dark, and almost creepy, series focuses on two brothers who become lost in the Unknown, a forest adrift in time. They encounter odd and bizarre things along the way as they try to make their way back home. It’s a whimsical animated tale that doesn’t paint itself too cutesy. It harkens back to a time of weirder children’s stories. You’ll be taken in by the eerie, fun essence of the series just like the brothers were taken into the Unknown.
What a strange little TV show. Mixing together pop culture references, educational segments, and a whole lot of comedy, this cartoon series was all kinds of fun. Oh, and Steven Spielberg executive produced so you know it’s gotta be good. The show had no staunch format and constantly played around the with what it could do. Plus there were so many references to popular culture that it’s pretty fun as an adult to try and catch them all. The series is about to be rebooted at Hulu, with Speilberg once again executive producing, so you can indulge in the kiddy goodness all over again!
10. Teen Titans Go
Balancing teen life and superhero life can be hard, but it can also be hilarious. This comedic look at the Teen Titans franchise shows the young heroes in costume and out. The series moves at a 100-laughs-per-minute pace and we can guarantee you’ll be cracking up the entire time. While it doesn’t focus super heavily on the superhero aspect of the Titans, it does give a more well-rounded picture of growing up and being a savior at the same time. And, did I mention it’s hilarious? Any comic book fan will want to check this out, kid or adult.
9. Regular Show
Ignore the title of this show because it’s certainly not regular. The show focuses on some lazy park employees: one is a blue jay and one is a raccoon. You know, natural friends. Oh, and their boss is a gumball machine. That premise alone is enough to make us want to see WTF this is! There is one other big reason you’ll love it, though: it’s about two guys who get bored at their job so opt for adventures instead. We can all relate. Who hasn’t wanted to goof off at work all day? Okay, scratch that, who always goofs off at work all day consequences be damned? Yeah, we thought so. And that’s how we know you’ll totally love this kids TV show.
8. Raven’s Home
She’s back! All twentysomethings grew up watching That’s So Raven and now Raven-Symoné is back with a rebooted version of the series. Raven still sees visions of the future, though now they help her navigate motherhood and her fashion career. She also has a son who has inherited the same crazy powers his mother has. Raven and her BFF Chelsea (Annelise van der Pool) are both divorced, single mothers — a rarity for a kid-aimed show. It shows an example of the many families in America that aren’t some sort of suburban dream. As if that wasn’t relatable enough, you can also relive your Disney Channel-childhood-days with this nostalgic piece of TV.
7. Steven Universe
We are all Steve Universe. Steven (Zach Callison) is part-human part-Gem, living with the Crystal Gems, as they all try to guard the universe. While the Crystal Gems are badass heroes, Steven is more of a “little brother” part of the group. He means well, but he’s more often than not goofing off and being awkward. Oh, and his magic comes from his belly button. It’s such an endearing little TV series that you won’t be able to resist it, no matter how silly and childlike it is!
6. Powerpuff Girls
This is one childhood love you should definitely bring into adulthood. Three girls kicking butt and doing it all on their own? The BEST. Powerpuff Girls is a feminist dream cartoon, and we’re so lucky it’s around to teach young girls the important things in life. It’s fine if you’re made of sugar and spice, but you can also have a little badass kick in there too. The girls take control of their own destiny and help protect everyone around them, especially their hapless father. Not only is this a fun peek back into childhood in the ’90s but it has a message still relevant to this day: girls rock!
5. Gravity Falls
Cartoon Network is killing it when it comes to cartoons that kids and adults alike will love, and Gravity Falls is the quirkiest of those great TV shows. The show focuses on Dipper and Mable Pines, twins who are sent to live with their uncle running a “Mystery Shack” tourist trap in Gravity Falls. They soon learn that the tourist trap is much more than that as the town has *real* mysteries to uncover. The show is just so sweet and strange that you won’t be able to resist it. Added bonus — it has some huge names voicing the characters. Kristen Schaal, Linda Cardellini, and Jason Ritter are just a few of the people associated with the silly little comedy.
Do you ever really grow out of Pokémon? The answer to that is “no.” With the resurgence of the popular series thanks to the phone game Pokémon Go, the classic kids’ cartoon is more relevant than ever. The sprawling mythology and interactive element to the series are exactly what every bored (and boring) adult needs. Because let’s be real — 99% of the people who were playing “Pokémon Go” were adults. There is such a strong nostalgic element tied with this series that will never die. Whether you’re a child now or a parent to one, you’ll never forget the first Pokémon you fell in love with (Pikachu, duh.).
3. Spongebob Squarepants
Spongebob Squarepants is not just one of the best kid shows of all time, but one of the best TV shows of all time period. The silly humor, the sly dirty jokes, and the fun pop culture references make it the best. While the show is made for kids, it very clearly has elements in it catered to adults, like some hidden mature humor or casting choices. Having Adam West voice an aging superhero? Perfect. We still find ourselves falling into Spongebob marathons when they’re on. The show is just that good.
2. Adventure Time
There’s a reason you can buy Adventure Time merch at every Hot Topic — adults love it. The TV show is about Finn and his magical dog Jake (you’ve already won us over) as they try to fight evil in the Land of Ooo. Finn is in love with Princess Bubblegum but homegirl won’t give him the time of day. Which we love — just because you’re a princess doesn’t mean you have to marry the dashing hero who saves the day. The cartoon is beloved by children and adults alike and has won numerous awards, including seven Emmy’s and a Peabody Award. It’s a twisty, rollercoaster of a ride as it turns the “hero saves the day” trope on its head. Brb, going to Hot Topic to get a Jake the Dog keychain.
1. A Series of Unfortunate Events
If you’re like me then the first book with the most adult themes you ever read was “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” The series was full of mystery, advanced vocabulary, and it never, ever pandered. While it explained the words that young readers may not understand, it didn’t make them feel stupid for not knowing them. Not only were the books edge-of-your-seat fantastic, but they were also pretty educational. So when Netflix announced they were adapting the series into a TV show, all the children of the early ’00s rejoiced. The series is creepy, dark, humorous in wicked ways, and totally perfect. Kids will love the dark whimsy, while adults will love reliving their fave books again. Thank god Netflix makes the episodes available to binge watch immediately because we may be adults but we have the patience of kids!