12 Nostalgic Cartoons That Will Make You Revisit Your Childhood

Although some people may not like watching cartoons anymore, we can all agree that we grew up with certain shows that helped shape us into the adults we are today. Whether it was a tiny alien and his robot sidekick trying to take over the world, a teenage human-witch hybrid trying to survive middle school life, or even a group of friends trying to solve weird mysteries, we all had that one show (or shows) that we religiously followed throughout our childhood and maybe even into adolescence. Here are 12 cartoons that are bound to make you stroll down memory lane: 

  1. 1. Teen Titans (2003-2006)

    Five teenagers, Robin, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy and Cyborg, form the superhero team known as the Teen Titans. They fight off crime and evil in their home, Jump City, while also dealing with the hardships that come with adolescence.

    This show is one of my all-time personal favorites because it shows the viewer what it means to be strong in the face of adversity. When everything seems to be going wrong, the Teen Titans prevail and keep fighting to bring justice to all. All five of the members come from dark, traumatic pasts, which also shows one of the many realities of life: not everything is happy and perfect all of the time, but things do get better.

  2. 2. Sabrina: The Animated Series (1999-2000)

    In this animated series, Sabrina Spellman is a 12-year-old half witch-half mortal who lives with her two aunts, Hilda and Zelda Spellman, and her famed cat Salem. Most of the show centers around Sabrina experimenting with magic to solve her everyday problems. But, she discovers that magic is not the solution to everything.

    Everyone can agree that Sabrina Spellman, no matter what incarnation you’ve seen her in, is one of those childhood characters who you grew up with and loved. Apart from Salem’s sarcastic and hilarious commentary, the show taught viewers that it’s okay to be different and that our differences are what make us unique. Whether you’re a witch, a mortal, or even a magical-talking cat, there’s only one you.

  3. 3. Invader Zim (2001-2006)

    The show’s protagonist, Zim, is an alien who invades earth along with his robot servant, GIR, and tries to unsuccessfully enslave the human race.

    GIR is probably one of my favorite cartoon sidekicks of all time. His silliness and outright stupidity not only provide the perfect form of comic relief, but also portray the childlike innocence that lives inside all of us. This show incorporates the theme of never giving up and always trying to improve yourself despite the number of times you fail. This is seen through Zim’s endless attempts to conquer the earth, which usually have pretty hilarious outcomes.

  4. 4. Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends (2004-2009)

    This series explains the idea of imaginary friends: they come into existence when a child makes them up, move to the orphanage when the child outgrows them and live there until a new child adopts them. This show focuses on a young boy, Mac, and his imaginary friend, Bloo, and their adventures and shenanigans in the Foster house.

    Almost every person had an imaginary friend at some point in their childhood, so this show was like a dream turned reality. It also taught young viewers to never lose the creativity and imagination that their blossoming minds contained, especially when adults told them to “grow up.”

  5. 5. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)

    Aang is an airbending avatar who gets freed from his hundred-year self-imprisonment by his waterbending siblings Katara and Sokka. These three then band together to try and stop the fire nation from expanding and conquering the rest of the world. The show’s premise is around establishing world peace. Although this is no easy or simple task, Aang, Katara and Sokka show that anyone can contribute to making a difference.

  6. 6. Scooby-Doo (1969 to present day)

    This show has been around for decades and has won the hearts of multiple generations of viewers. The mystery gang, consisting of Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and their charismatic talking Great Dane, Scooby-Doo, never cease to enchant the viewer and draw them into the mystery at hand.   

    If this show has revealed anything to me, it is that no one is perfect because we are all human. Every single episode ends with the mystery gang unveiling who the “monster” is. To everyone’s surprise, there’s almost always a person under the mask and costume. This just goes to show that we all have our own monsters inside of us and how we choose to deal with them is what defines us. Some people may turn to good and others may turn to evil.

  7. 7. The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack (2008-2010)

    Flapjack is a naive, young boy who is always looking for adventure. This adventure usually involves the search of the evasive Candied Island. He is accompanied in his misadventures by his adoptive whale-mother, Bubbie, and his pirate mentor, Captain K’nuckles.

    Watching this as a kid, I could relate to Flapjack’s relentless search for Candied Island because what child doesn’t love candy? Apart from my obsessive sweet tooth, Flapjack also taught me that being kind-hearted is a rare virtue that is hard to come by in this cruel world. We should always remain optimistic even in the face of misfortune.

  8. 8. Samurai Jack (2001-2004, 2017)

    In this series, Aku, an evil demon, sends Samurai Jack to the present where Aku’s wrath has been unleashed upon the world. Jack searches for a way back to the past so that he can defeat Aku and prevent this dystopian future from ever existing. Although he gets close to winning at times, the series is cut off without finishing the story. However, it got picked up again in 2017 for a final season that provided a much needed conclusion. So, if you were a die-hard Samurai Jack fan, you can finally rest knowing the show does have an ending.

    This cartoon embodies themes of resilience, courage and determination to bring justice and defeat evil. Although most of us are not fighting a dangerous, malicious, shape-shifting demon, we do all have our own inner demons that we struggle with. Just as Jack didn’t give up the fight, neither should you.

  9. 9. Danny Phantom (2004-2007)

    Danny is a 14-year-old boy who accidentally turns himself into a half human-half ghost hybrid with supernatural powers. He uses invisibility, flight, possession and control to protect his town from ghost attacks and other evil forces, even though it seems like everyone is against him (including his own parents who are ghost-hunters). This show is all about accepting yourself and standing up for what you believe in, even if society preaches against you. Danny teaches viewers to love themselves and use whatever abilities and talents they are gifted with for good.

  10. 10. The Emperor's New School (2006-2008)

    This TV spin-off series, based off the original 2000 film The Emperor’s New Groove, follows the beloved Kuzco through high school as he prepares to become emperor. This show is abundant with comedy and the breakdown of the fourth wall, making it a fan-favorite. Not only does it teach viewers that education is important for future success in life, but it also shows you how to have fun along the way.

  11. 11. Totally Spies! (2001-2004)

    In this show, three teenage girls, Clover, Sam and Alex, from Beverly Hills live a double-life as spies working for the World Organization of Human Protection. They fight villains while simultaneously dealing with personal problems like relationships and high school rivalry. These three show viewers, especially young females, that girls can do anything they set their minds to and make an impact in the world just as equally as boys.

  12. 12. Codename: Kids Next Door (2002-2008)

    Five 10-year-olds work together under the worldwide organization the Kids Next Door. They fight “crimes against kids,” such as flossing and homework, that are committed by teens and adults. This show is very fun and relatable to most children and teaches them to not always believe everything adults say or preach because they are human too, and no single person is flawless.

There are so many more amazing cartoons I could have included, but these are just to name a few. If for some reason you haven’t seen any of the ones I mentioned, check them out ASAP! You won’t regret it!