In the early 2000s, my TV diet was predominantly based in animation. Long before Netfllix or Amazon Prime had taken off, by the law of mums everywhere, binge watching was restricted to about an hour after school and Saturday mornings – which meant all the top stations crammed their best shows within these periods.
Some of these shows have captured the hearts of people well into adulthood, which has resulted in multiple reruns, revivals and some very, very questionable live-action movie adaptations. It just goes to show that even as we grow up, our old favourites will always find a way to live on.
Or, maybe it’s just that adults have serious problems letting go of their childhood. Who’s to say?
Five teen superheroes battling bad guys and their hormones, all the while trying to protect Jump City from daily destruction.
When Teen Titans stepped onto the superhero animated scene, it quickly became the crème de la crème of DC Comics cartoons, and probably one of the best DC adaptations to this day. The show didn’t try to take itself too seriously, nor was it free from it’s own personal brand of grit and maturity. Not to mention that theme song. I’ll never get it out of my head as long as I live – I might be saying that a lot in this list, now that I think about it.
After a malfunction in Dr Eggman’s lab, Sonic and his friends are stranded on earth, and have to collect the chaos emeralds that have been scattered to even have a chance of getting home.
There have been many different series starring everyone’s favourite blue hedgehog over the years, but Sonic X had held out as one of the most favoured for its clean animation style and fun-loving characters. And yes, the theme song’s a banger.
Cheerleading high schooler by day and a badass crime fighter by night. Kim Possible and her friend Ron Stoppable were sent out on top ranking missions and faced perilous villains the world over.
There was a period while I was at school, when every other person I knew had their notification noise set to Kim Possible’s ringtone. I couldn’t even walk to the library and back without hearing someone press their phone’s to their ears and go, “What’s the sitch?” Miss Possible’s cultural impact really does speak for itself.
In a dystopian future, the samurai known as Jack must find a portal back to his own time to undo and face the evil shape-shifting wizard Aku.
Japanese styled animation reached an intense peak during the early 2000s, with many of these shows making appearances on this list. As far as raw style and artistic value is concerned, Samurai Jack wins hands down. While other anime-styled competitors during this time – Xiaolin Showdown, American Dragon etc. – opted for more of a ‘teenagers kicking paranormal butt with our talking animal sidekicks’ approach, Samurai Jack went down a grittier, much darker path. It was something different that no one else was doing with animation at the time and has rarely been seen since.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
After being frozen in an iceberg for a hundred years, the avatar, Aang, realises he has to master all four elements and put an end to a war that has decimated the continents.
A list like this wouldn’t be complete without at least mentioning ATLA. Since it’s Netflix revival and the public announcement of live-action remake of the legendary series, it has hit mainstream viewing with the heft of earth bender’s right hook. The show has reached critical acclaim and has won the hearts of fans everywhere for its immersive world, fantastic storytelling and well-developed characters.
When five teenage girls discover they have magical abilities, they quickly become thrust into a whole new kingdom and work the rebellion to face their destinies as guardians of the veil.
With the new Winx Netflix series coming out, I am immediately reminded of the original animated series’ fierce competitor, W.I.T.C.H. There’s a saying that goes round: You’re either a Winx fan, or a W.I.T.C.H fan. Quite true in this case, since I’ve never watched Winx before (otherwise it would feature quite heavily on this list as well)
W.I.T.C.H was a decisively darker show geared towards young girls, and was inspired heavily by Japanese ‘magical girl’ shows like Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura. It was a show that maximised the early-birthed idea of female empowerment and defined a new version of kickass that became an instant hit with young people everywhere.
The early 2000s proved to be a goldmine for animation. There really are just too many shows to count. What are some of your most beloved childhood shows that you still watch to this day?