Most '90s kids with cable TV and inordinate amounts of free time remember the classic hit shows such as Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, and, of course, Spongebob Squarepants. Even now that they're all grown up, many fans can still pinpoint an episode, like Rugrats' infamous watermelon one, that not only shaped them during their formative years, but taught them a lesson that has since carried over into their adult lives.
While some TV shows have stood the test of time, others have the tendency to go "off the air, out of mind." Though these TV shows might've been less popular than the omnipresent yellow sponge in their heyday, they still hold valuable, childhood lessons that endure into adulthood.
Take a stroll down memory lane with these 15 forgotten — but nonetheless beloved — animated shows.
Just when the world was becoming obsessed with dry erase markers and boards, ChalkZone swooped in and reminded us all exactly why chalk was the O.G. drawing utensil. Starring Rudy Tabootie, his chalk character sidekick Snap, and his friend Penny Sanchez, the trio went on crazy, chalk-filled adventures and solved problems through the power of their own imaginations.
As the older, cooler brother of Harold and the Purple Crayon (another classic), ChalkZone inspired kids everywhere that if they could dream it — and, in this case, draw it — they could do it. Get back in the Zone with selected episodes, including that epic Rapunzel one, on YouTube.
2. Dave the Barbarian
Many a millennial can thank Dave the Barbarian for introducing them to the chemical name for zit cream: benzoyl peroxide. Perhaps more importantly, they can also credit this "barbaric" TV show with normalizing some pretty progressive ideas about gender roles.
The reversal of typically "male" and "female" traits between Dave and his younger sister Fang provided kids everywhere a humorous, but nonetheless relevant, lesson that a person's gender didn't automatically determine their behavior.
Just because Dave was a big, strong guy didn't mean he couldn't experience a variety of emotions — including fear and sadness — with a dream to open a "quaint, little bistro." And just because Fang was a little girl didn't mean she couldn't be confident, strong, and exhibit decisive, if a tad frightening, leadership skills.
3. Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
Besides teaching youngsters about the weather in Topeka, Kan., Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends used a playful and colorful medium to portray important issues and emotions associated with adoption and foster care.
This show featured arguably the best — and consequently, no more wrongfully forgotten — animated character, Bloo. He and his human, Mac, were a dynamic duo who can handle anything, even an imaginary friend named "Cheese" with a ceaseless thirst for chocolate milk.
Throughout it all, Mac and Bloo's friendship encouraged the show's viewers to share their craziest, zaniest ideas, as well as appreciate others. Hulu Plus subscribers can reignite their childhood imaginations with all six seasons.
4. As Told By Ginger
While the ups and downs of a tween girl's life might seem small in hindsight, As Told By Ginger's format was novel in that it directly gave a young woman an accessible platform (her diary) to discover herself without feeling self-conscious. By giving voice to the common problems adolescent girls and boys both experienced, the show reassured its viewers they weren't alone, even if they often felt like it.
In one particular episode, plenty of young women could relate to Ginger when her mom, Lois Foutley, forbid her from shaving her legs before an important party. Even so, that lesson made Mrs. F the real MVP. Back in 2000, she preached body positivity and self-love before it was cool.
Those eager to relive every cringe-worthy teenage tragedy can with selected episodes on YouTube.
In an ever digitizing world, Recess reminded kids how much fun it was to get outside and be active, even if the medium was somewhat ironic. While the show's intentions were more effective than its actual content, this cartoon must've inspired somebody somewhere to play kickball or, like King Bob, at least sit on a sofa outside.
Despite its unchanging time frame or location, Recess' colorful cast of characters from T.J. Detweiler's main crew to The Ashleys made every episode memorable. The six main pals always banded together against whatever problems came their way, whether it was homework, family issues, or simply surviving another 30 minutes under the all too watchful eye of Miss Finster.
Though many of Braceface's episodes unsurprisingly hinged on braces-related hijinks, this show really shined in its inclusion of diverse characters and situations. The protagonist, Sharon (like the actress who voiced her, Alicia Silverstone), was a vegetarian interested in animal rights. Sharon's best friend, Maria was a half-Chinese, half-Italian, extreme sports-loving daredevil who perfectly balanced out her more reserved friend.
While many a millennial can thank this show for instilling in them the fear of their braces turning them into a human radio, they can also thank the TV show for providing an example, through its protagonist Sharon, of overcoming surface insecurities to achieve self-acceptance. Orthodontically inclined audiences can definitely relate.
7. Pepper Ann
Created and executive produced by a woman, Sue Rose, Pepper Ann was groundbreaking in the way it realistically portrayed Pepper Ann's single, working mother, Lydia. It was also groundbreaking as the only animated TV show to feature an epic musical episode that featured a showstopping number about poultry.
True fans will remember the catchy tune and devil-may-care lyrics of "C.H.I.C.K.E.N." Those who don't can experience that melodic magic — and more — for the first time on YouTube. I don't care if it's wrong or right, but here's how you can rewatch Pepper Ann every night.
8. Rocket Power
Only shoobies won't remember this skating-surfing-occasionally snowboarding show. This show taught kids to be adventurous, brave, and, most importantly, comfortable in their own skin — especially when it was soaking wet.
While Otto and Reggie Rocket, Twister, and Sam were all cool to the X-treme, Tito was the guru glue that kept this show together then and now. His "Ancient Hawaiian" words of wisdom, from "When surfers don't ride, potatoes ain't fried," to "When you're itching for the waves, the only lotion is the ocean."
Dudes and dudettes can catch a wave and some of the show's gnarliest episodes on YouTube.
9. Danny Phantom
If you can't bust 'em, join 'em. At least, that's what Danny Fenton did when he accidentally became half-ghost in this Nickelodeon cartoon. Even though this scary-good show met its untimely end after only three seasons, Danny Phantom still managed to show its young audience a spooktacular time. During the show's run, Danny gained new ghost superpowers and learned how to control them, which in turn inspired kids to discover and hone their own special talents (ghost-related ones optional).
10. Brandy & Mr. Whiskers
While all of these shows are woefully underrated, Brandy & Mr. Whiskers may just be the most underrated of the crop. For two glorious years, this dog and bunny version of The Odd Couple showed children everywhere never to judge a book by its cover.
Though it seemed like Brandy and Mr. Whiskers were horribly mismatched roommates, they forged an unbreakable, inter-species bond that stood the test of time — and really big snakes. Fans can jump back into the jungle with a selection of popular videos on YouTube.
11. The Weekenders
Only four letters can describe The Weekenders' impact on children's television: TGIF. Though the four friends came from various backgrounds and didn't always share each other's interests, they appreciated and celebrated each other's differences anyway. Most importantly, they all agreed on the holy trinity that is chili cheese fries.
With every episode, this fierce foursome taught their young viewers how to draw on each other's personal strengths — and how to have the best weekend ever while they're at it. Those working for the weekend will find themselves in good company on a YouTube channel totally devoted to full episodes of the series.
12. Lilo & Stitch: The Series
Everyone remembers the classic Disney movie, but few may recall the TV spin-off, Lilo & Stitch: The Series. Taking a page out of Pokémon's playbook, the Disney Channel show centered on collecting all of Dr. Jumba's other 625 experiments. Unsurprisingly, chaos regularly ensued by the middle of each episode.
By the end, however, Lilo and Stitch taught every experiment how to use the special skills Dr. Jumba gave them for good, rather than evil. In doing so, they expanded their "ohana" for two seasons of family fun. Fans of the movie, TV show, and Elvis can catch a curated selection of episodes on YouTube.
13. Angry Beavers
Despite its title, The Angry Beavers actually showcased a fair amount of brotherly love. Like real brothers, even though Daggett and Norbert fought often, they always managed to patch things up — sometimes literally, if one of their dams became collateral damage.
While often lighthearted and even a bit edgy for a kids show, The Angry Beavers reminded its viewers, especially those watching with their siblings, the unparalleled importance of their familial relationships.
As with most of these forgotten TV shows, the only way fans can get their angry on is a YouTube collection of popular videos. But don't get mad, get glad they exist somewhere on the internet.
14. Dexter's Laboratory
Though the typical Dexter's Laboratory viewer probably wasn't a boy-genius like its title character, Dexter's intelligence and dedication to his experiments were admirable. Even when Dexter's scientific pursuits bordered on crazy or dangerous, the show still inspired kids everywhere that their most ambitious ideas might just be possible — with the right laboratory equipment, of course.
Last but certainly not least, Doug has a special place in the hearts of those who remember him. Even those who need a little reintroduction will be charmed by his kind face and warm personality. Doug tackled important issues relating to pre-teens and teens like self-esteem, bullying, and rumors with his strong imagination, contemplative personality, and, if all else failed, his alter ego Quailman.
Doug devotees can watch all four seasons on Hulu Plus.
Cover image via Giphy