The 30 Best Kids Shows on Netflix Streaming

TV Lists Netflix
Share Tweet Submit Pin
The 30 Best Kids Shows on Netflix Streaming

Many of us can look back on our childhoods with distinct memories of our parents telling us to turn off the TV—to go outside and play, or pick up a book. Some of us, tragically, even grew up without cable or any TV at all, and we vowed that when we grew up and became parents, we’d let our kids watch all the TV they wanted. Well, the good news is that kids TV—much like grown up TV—has gotten a lot better over the years. And the other good news (sort of) is that we all grew up and became our parents, also telling our kids to turn off the TV every once in a while. But when we’re being the cool, fun parents (or the parents secretly injecting them with all the knowledge of the universe via entertaining programming, or the parents just trying to keep them happily distracted while we binge Kimmy Schmidt on our own streaming device), we have these shows to thank. And if we’re being honest, in addition to being wonderful programs for children, these are great picks for the unrelenting kid in us all. Here are the 30 best kids shows streaming on Netflix Instant.

30. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Original Run: 1993-1995
Creator: Haim Saban and Shuki Levy
Stars: Austin St. John, Thuy Trang, Walter Jones, Amy Jo Johnson
Original Network: FOX

One of the most popular shows of the 90s, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was originally created using footage from the long-running Japanese program Super Sentai. Producers used fight scenes from the foreign show, intercut with scenes filmed in the States of the plucky teens chosen to protect the planet from alien invaders. The Power Rangers have proven to have surprising staying power, both among 90s kids who giggle now at the scrappy low-budget look of the show, and a new generation of fans finding it through both Netflix and a reboot that landed on ABC in 2010.—Robert Ham

29. The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries

Original Run: 1977-1979
Creator: Glen A. Larson
Stars: Parker Stevenson, Shaun Cassidy, Pamela Sue Martin, Janet Louise Johnson
Original Network: ABC

Amateur detectives The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew started appearing on bookshelves in the late 20s and have, rightfully, evolved greatly with each passing decade, and inspiring generations of readers. For many kids in the late 70s, though, their introduction was through this short-lived ABC series that alternated between the tales of two brothers solving crimes in a seaside town in Massachusetts to a young woman doing similar work in her home of New Jersey. It’s all fairly cheesy stuff by today’s standards—particularly the slightly zonked dialogue and chintzy episodes that took the brothers off to Egypt or Europe—but at the time, it was vital fodder for young viewers hungry for the adventures of adulthood.—R.H.

28. Jessie

Original Run: 2011-present
Creator: Pamela Eells O’Connell and Adam Lapidus
Stars: Debby Ryan, Peyton List, Cameron Boyce, Skai Jackson
Original Network: Disney Channel

The story of a small town girl running to the Big Apple to pursue her dreams has been revisited, and sometimes parodied (hello Kimmy Schmidt), countless times. But this particularly Disney-fied version of that same tale, which follows the titular Jessie as she tries to maintain order in the home of a rich New York family, is as engaging as it gets, thanks to the plucky energy and whip smart comic timing of its lead Debby Ryan, and the four young actors playing the kids in her charge. Like most Disney Channel fare, this show was a massive hit for the network, and while it is scheduled to wrap up after its fourth season (currently airing), plans for a spinoff are already under way.—R.H.

27. Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Original Run: 2011-Present
Creator: Roberts Gannaway
Stars: Colin Ford, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Corey Burton, Madison Pettis and David Arquette
Original Network: Disney Junior

A sort of Peter Pan spin-off, this one is many-a-child’s favorite, although the show might drive parents a little batty since the same thing happens in practically every episode. Captain Hook tries to take something from Jake and his crew. He fails. Jake and his pals Cubby and Izzie are nice to Captain Hook—always rescuing him and helping him out. But the recurring theme centered on being nice to everyone (even those who aren’t so nice to you) resonates. Plus there are guest appearances from Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. Just don’t be too surprised if, one day, your child asks you to pass that blasted crayon.—Amy Amatangelo

26. The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog

Original Run: 1993-1996; 1999
Creator: Andy Heyward
Stars: Jaleel White, Long John Baldry, Christine Cavanaugh
Original Network: ABC, syndication

Just as he had done with the world of Nintendo, producer Andy Heyward latched on to the potential of the Sega video game system and spun it out into a TV franchise. Loosely based on the plot of the popular Sonic The Hedgehog game, Sonic (voiced by Family Matters star Jaleel White) and his buddies fought against the evil Robotnik on the planet of Mobius. Like its title character, Sonic had some surprising legs, moving after one season from ABC into syndication and then getting revamped a few years later with a new look and storyline under the name Sonic Underground.—R.H.

25. WordGirl

Original Run: 2007 – present
Creator: Dorothea Gillim
Stars: Dannah Feinglass Phirman, Tom Kenny, Maria Bamford
Original Network: PBS

WordGirl originally appeared as short interludes during episodes of fellow PBS program Maya & Miguel ,but proved so engaging to young audiences that execs decided to spin it out into its own series. The audience follows the adventures of the titular superhero as she battles ne’er-do-wells in Fair City, while also introducing a pair of new words that are used during the episode. It’s a brilliant way to sneakily help youngsters expand their vocabulary, and it’s also one of the funniest shows ever produced for kids on the public broadcasting giant thanks to the use of writers with backgrounds working on shows like SNL and Daria.—R.H.

24. Signing Time

Original Run: 2006-present
Creator: Rachel de Azevedo Coleman and Emilie de Azevedo Brown
Stars: Rachel de Azevedo Coleman, Leah Coleman, Alex Brown
Original Network: PBS

Inspired by the plight of her children (one was born deaf, the other with cerebral palsy) and seeing how her daughters were communicating on a much more advanced level than their peers by using signing, Rachel de Azevedo Coleman conceived of this program to teach kids—and often their parents—American Sign Language. The show succeeds by introducing only a few new words or phrases at a time, and cementing them in the minds of viewers through repetition, song, and the bubbly spirit of Coleman and her children.—R.H.

23. The Aquabats! Super Show!

Original Run: 2012 – 2014
Creator: Christian Jacobs, Scott Schultz
Stars: The Aquabats
Original Network: Hub Network

Fans of Southern California’s punk and surf rock scenes will recognize The Aquabats from the band’s high energy live performances. But for kids, these blue suited dudes are some of the coolest superheroes around. Created by two of the men responsible for Yo Gabba Gabba!, this campy and wickedly funny series follows the adventures of The Aquabats as they defend the world from all manner of weird and wonderful aliens and villains. Fans of the 60s Batman series and the strange world of Japanese tokusatsu should welcome this magical, musical show into their lives immediately.—R.H.

22. The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That

Original Run: 2010-present
Creator: Tony Collingwood
Stars: Martin Short, Jacob Ewaniuk, Alexa Torrington
Original Network: PBS

Scaling back the anarchic spirit of Dr. Seuss’ original books, this series (and the books from which it was adapted) puts The Cat In The Hat in teaching mode, bringing his endlessly curious and positive friends Sally and Nick along to learn about science and nature. Taking some cues from from The Magic School Bus, the Cat and his friends are ferried along in a strange vehicle called a "Thing-a-ma-jigger," which can rocket through space and shrink down to microscopic size as needed. Like most kids’ shows, it follows a pretty strict formula, but is endlessly enjoyable thanks to spirited voice work from Martin Short as The Cat and the impressive amount of information it relays in each episode.—R.H.

21. Dinosaur Train

Original Run: 2009-present
Creator: Craig Bartlett
Stars: Philip Corlett, Claire Corlett, Erika-Shaye Gair
Original Network: PBS

Though the crux of this show—a steam train bounces through prehistoric eras through the use of time-traveling tunnels—is completely apocryphal, that’s no reason to dismiss the delights found within each episode. Created as a way to teach kids about the diverse kinds of dinosaurs that used to roam our planet, the CGI series is anchored by the sweet-natured family that is the focus of each episode and the occasional appearance by a bona fide paleontologist who helps bring some real science into this otherwise light-hearted fare.—R.H.

20. Ultimate Spider-Man

Original Run: 2012-present
Creator: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Stars: Drake Bell, Ogie Banks, Clark Gregg, Tom Kenny, J.K. Simmons
Original Network: Disney XD

With Disney’s acquisition of Marvel in 2009, the media giant has seen plenty of opportunities to expand the universe that was started by the comic book company. One step was the creation of a whole mess of series featuring their iconic characters including this animated series. As they did with Iron Man: Armored Adventures, the show places Peter Parker in his teen years, but like the comic book series that spawned it, puts his alter ego under the direction of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. The result is fast-paced, features marvelous animation work, and some great voice acting by Drake Bell (as Spidey) and ringers like Clark Gregg and J.K. Simmons, reprising their film roles as Agent Coulson and J. Jonah Jameson.—R.H.

19. Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation

Original Run: 1997-1998
Creator: Haim Saban
Stars: Michael Dobson, Kirby Morrow, Jason Gray-Stanford
Original Network: FOX

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been a part of the pop culture landscape since their first appearance in comic book form way back in 1984, and show no signs of disappearing any time soon. But for a while, the TMNTs went quiet, following the cancellation of this series that aired for one season in the late ‘90s. The live-action show was seen as a continuation of the original animated series, but also attempted to expand on the brand by excising characters (like Casey Jones and April) and introducing new ones (like a female ninja turtle named Venus de Milo). Though it was successful, it didn’t last beyond 26 episodes, and kept the TMNTs off the air until their animated reboot in 2003.—R.H.

18. Nature

Original Run: 1982-present
Creator: George Page and Thomas Lovejoy
Original Network: PBS

One of public TV’s longest-running programs and the most consistently fascinating, Nature has brought dazzling photography and inspiring knowledge of the ecosphere into living rooms around the world for 33 straight seasons. Every corner of the globe has been captured by the show’s cameras and nearly every aspect of its title subject: a look at the return of the American buffalo to Yellowstone, a six-part series in 1993 that explored the science of sex, and even a glimpse at the internet’s favorite troublemaker, the honey badger. And as our environment has become more threatened by the intrusion of humans, Nature has provided an important voice of support for the plants and animals that share our home.—R.H.

17. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!

Original Run: 1989
Creator: Andy Heyward
Stars: Lou Albano, Danny Wells
Original Network: First-run syndication

Hollywood’s desire to cash in on a pop culture craze has no better exemplar than this live-action/animated show that arrived in the midst of Nintendo’s early reign over U.S. living rooms. Even viewed through a lens of nostalgia, this program remains one of the more surreal entries into the kids’ marketplace of the late 80s. Each episode featured the animated adventures of either Mario and Luigi or The Legend of Zelda, bookended by live action segments featuring former WWF figure Captain Lou Albano as Mario. The real life parts got even stranger when they introduced famous guests like Magic Johnson, Elvira, and (for some reason) Norman Fell. While kids of the 90s still get a kick out of the show’s chintzy sets and animation, today’s youngsters are still latching on to the show due to Nintendo’s continued re-use of these characters for current video games.—R.H.

16. The Adventures of Figaro Pho

Original Run: 2012
Creator: Luke Jurevicius
Stars: Luke Jurevicius, Craig Behenna, Charlotte Hamlyn, Stavroula Mountzouris, Aletheia Burney
Original Network: ABC

For all of the great, sugary sweet kids’ shows out there, there’s always the occasional oddball series that children and adults can’t help falling in love with. This series is centered on the adorably creepy-looking Figaro, who suffers from just about every phobia imaginable (and unimaginable). Each episode is titled after said phobias, giving us gems like "Fear of Unfamiliar Toilets (Novuslatrinaphobia) / Fear of Duplication (Clonophobia) / Fear of Hiccups (Myoclunusdiagphragmaphobia)." And when the constant chatter and sing-songiness of some of these other shows gets to be a bit much, the silence (save for some great music and hilarious sound effects) of Figaro Pho is refreshing, while the incredible animation is captivating.—Shannon M. Houston

15. Pokemon: Black and White

Original Run: 2011-2013
Creator: Satoshi Tajiri
Stars: Sarah Natochenny (Ash Ketchum), Ikue Ohtani (Pikachu)
Original Network: TV Tokyo

Between the 850 episodes, eighteen movies, and dozens of spin-offs and specials, the series has amassed a scripted fortress impervious to quality. Pokémon the show, though once wildly popular, never dominated (here in the states) quite like the games on which they’re based. The animation is unremarkable, reproducible (by staff and fans). It doesn’t play by any sense of logic, apparent or self-made (the humans are ageless, while the Pokémon are not, for instance). Moreover, that game-then-show relationship can stump parents: these hundreds of hours are marketing. The brand preaches goodness, unity, brotherhood of species. It creates a sort of violence all its own, where danger is never sensed, to which there is both fairy tale charm and irresponsibility. Comradery is ethos, and evil is only as evil as evil can be when it rhymes;. But it is still a brand. Black & White is, at times, a beat for beat remake of the original seasons (ironically, since the corresponding games are among the main series’s most idiosyncratic). This is the Game Freak way. Brand resistance is a noble thing. But when your seven-year-old lays eyes on his or her first Charizard, or Pikachu, or, now, Oshawott, and those eyes glass over with love, you’ll recognize that sort of adoration, and then you’ll have to choose between two stances: reluctance, and acquiescence.—Kyle Burton

14. How The States Got Their Shapes

Original Run: 2010-present
Creator: Sean Gallagher and Abby Greensfelder
Stars: Brian Unger
Original Network: History

This one is for the older kids in your life or the precocious youngsters that simply have to know everything about U.S history. Hosted by former Daily Show correspondent Brian Unger and based on a book of the same name by Mark Stein, this hour-long program takes a look at the way the borders of the 48 contiguous states (and Alaska) were mapped out hundreds of years ago. Those stories alone would be fascinating enough but the producers use them to jump off into deeper discussions of intrastate squabbles, the cultural landscape of America, and fun facts about how the 13 original colonies turned into the 50 state quilt we know and love today.—R.H.

13. Sid the Science Kid

Original Run: 2008-2013
Creator: The Jim Henson Company
Stars: Drew Massey, Julianne Buescher, Victor Yerrid
Original Network: PBS

The idea of introducing scientific concepts like inertia and simple machines to kids made this show worthy enough to make this list. But what separates it from similarly minded shows like Magic School Bus is its unique animation style. Using motion capture, the CGI-created series builds its characters to move like actual kids would, and renders them as if they were made of molding clay. This gives the series a quaintly homespun feel, but also allows you a bit of dazzle while you’re swallowing sometimes heady lessons about physics and ecosystems.—R.H.

12. Cosmos: A Space Odyssey

Original Run: 2014
Creator: Ann Druyan, Steven Soter, Carl Sagan (original)
Stars: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Space Dust (in all forms)
Original Network: Fox

If parents were made to believe knowledge and reason could seep into their sleeping infant the way they once thought of Mozart, this is what mothers would buy. No head-start would be overkill. We have a blooming population of young thinkers who will tell you science is faith, that climate change is conjecture, that theories about the Pixar universe; are as valid as those about ours.

Simply leave your child in the hands of the man who brought to muted basement DVRs everywhere Family Guy. Seth McFarlane got this Carl Sagan update funded. He got onscreen our emissary of science, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the guy who can make particles and Democritus sound like the intro to a Barry White song. The professionals, Ann Druyan and Steven Soter, who wrote the original with Sagan, took it from there. Over the course of thirteen episodes essential—essential—to anyone yet in high school, Tyson compacts the whole of the universe into a 24-hour scale, and gives us light; Earth comes to life as, finally, we’re told that we’re killing it.

The CGI has a knack for the emotion in color. The stars, gas clouds, and even the pseudo-rotoscoping historical animations put you in a place, a time, and not, thankfully, in front of a Windows 98 wallpaper. Forget the visual splurge and moments of artistry, though. The kids don’t care about that. They have deGrasse Tyson, whose tender-bombastic range bursts from the podcast heavens and into the vacuum of eternity with enthusiasm, clarity, and curiosity of equal depth. For a kid, he can fill up the whole thing. For the parents—us, you—something else fills up that great abyss: wisdom; facts. The largest departure from Sagan’s original is the lack of patience for institutions—religious, political, economic. Druyan, Soter, deGrasse Tyson, and all are desperate, mercifully so, to expose the hustle: The most amazing things in our universe are not in our hands, but in the sky and, by extension, us.—K.B.

11. Curious George

Original Run: 2006-present
Creator: Based on the books of Margret and H.A. Rey,
Stars: William H. Macy (narrator), Rino Romano (narrator), Jeff Bennett, and Frank Welker
Original Network: PBS Kids

We all know the story of the very curious monkey and his friend, the Man with the Yellow Hat. This gentle series charmingly narrated by William H. Macy and Rino Romano, brings George to life while teaching children about being responsible and playing well with others, and instilling basic math, science concepts and deductive reasoning concepts. Often, George tries to be helpful to disastrous and humorous effects. Interspersed with the cartoon are real life vignettes with children that mirror the themes of the episode. Curiosity, as all parents know, is a great thing and any show that encourages this idea is always going to be a favorite.—A.A.

10. Rastamouse

Original Run: 1994-1997
Creator: Michael De Souza, Genevieve Webster
Stars: Reggie Yates, Cornell John, Sharon Duncan Brewster, William Vanderpuye
Original Network: Cbeebies, BBC

Many of the shows on this list will be familiar to most, but we dug deep into the Netflix Kids section to find a few gems—and this was one of the greatest. The British animated stop motion series centers on beloved, rastafarian Rastamouse and Da Easy Crew, who fight crime and solve mysteries in their Mouseland neighborhood (and also have a reggae band, and skateboard everywhere). Although not spoken entirely in Caribbean patois, the language and accents of these wonderful characters are just accurate enough that American viewers will bend their ears a bit, and learn a few key phrases like, "Dat is dread!", "Irie, man," as well as the critical importance of ginger beer on a hot summer day (nah worry, it’s non-alcoholic). With these crimefighters on de case, children will be exposed to a culture that has been hugely influential on American music and style. Also, it should go without saying that the reggae theme song is top notch.—S.H.

9. Powerpuff Girls

Original Run:1998-2005
Creator: Craig McCracken
Stars: Cathy Cavadini, Tara Strong, E.G. Daily, Tom Kenny
Original Network: Cartoon Network

While Cartoon Network was already a going concern by the time the first episode of Powerpuff Girls aired in November 1998, this fast-paced explosion of bright colors, female forward energy, anime-inspired graphics, and pop culture savvy put the network on the map. And while it never reached the surreal levels of its spiritual cousin Adventure Time, it drew in a multi-generational audience week after week to delight in Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles’ manic adventures protecting the denizens of Townsville from all manner of baddies.—R.H.

8. The Magic Schoolbus

Original Run: 1994-1997
Creator: Joanna Cole and Bruce Degan
Stars: Lily Tomlin, Danny Tamberelli, Malcolm Jamal-Warner
Original Network: PBS

Like almost all public television kids’ fare, The Magic School Bus was born from a popular book series and adapted into an animated show. In fact, it was the first completely animated show to be part of the PBS lineup when it began back in 1994. The transition from the page to the screen was a smooth one, with the creators utilizing the possibilities of hand-drawn animation to do what the books did so well: teaching kids a mess of scientific facts in a fun and cheeky fashion. The Magic School Bus wound up having a long legacy, surviving beyond the end of its four season run. Re-runs of the show have popped up on cable for years, and Netflix is funding a new season, which will drop on the streaming service in 2016.—R.H.

7. Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Original Run:2008-2014
Creator: George Lucas
Stars: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Dee Bradley Baker, Tom Kane
Original Network: Cartoon Network/Netflix

Contrary to popular belief, Lucasfilm did manage to create an engaging storyline set in the "prequel" universe. Enter Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Acting as a bridge between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, the show finds Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, along with new character Ahsoka Tano, battling against the forces of Dooku and General Grievous. What started as a series full of fun, exciting space battles, however, soon grew into a much deeper and richer story that explored the complications and brutality of war. Moreover, The Clone Wars did more to set the stage for Anakin’s inevitable turn to the Dark Side than any moment in the films. While the show’s brand of photo-realistic animation may not be for everyone, there are few who will deny that the sophisticated storytelling on display would not have been greatly welcome in the traditional Star Wars movie universe.—Mark Rozeman

6. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

Original Run: 2012-Present
Creator: Angela Santomero
Stars: Jake Beale, Addison Holley, Tommy Lioutas
Original Network: PBS Kids

Whether you watched Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood as a child or not, you’ll love and appreciate this animated series. Four-year-old Daniel Tiger is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger from Mister Roger’s. His best friends are O the Owl (the nephew of Uncle X), Katerina Kittycat (the daughter of Henrietta Pussycat), Prince Wednesday (the son of King Friday) and Miss Elaina (the daughter of Lady Elaine Fairchilde and Music Man Stan). Each episode of this fantastic program deftly tackles an issue important to preschoolers—sharing, coping with frustration, jealousy, toilet training and, most recently, the arrival of a new sibling. The series is totally engrossing, while providing children with catchy refrains that resonate with them. At least a few times a week, I’ll invoke Daniel Tiger’s name. If my daughter doesn’t want to eat something, I’ll ask her innocently what Daniel Tiger would say about trying new foods. I’ll promptly get the response, "You’ve got to try a new food, because it might taste good." Daniel Tiger is every parent’s best friend. Seriously.—A.A.

5. Pee Wee’s Playhouse

Original Run: 1986-1990
Creator: Paul Reubens
Stars: Pee-Wee Herman, Laurence Fishburne, Phil Hartman, Lynne Marie Stewart, John Paragon
Original Network: CBS

For the last half of the ‘80s, Pee-Wee Herman was an unavoidable presence in the pop culture landscape thanks, at first, to his Tim Burton-directed feature film (Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure) and then via this entirely family-friendly show he developed for CBS. The half-hour paid homage to kids’ shows from creator Paul Reubens’ youth, like Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo, while adding his own brand of anarchic energy and completely respecting the intelligence of its young viewers. Add to it a surrealist playhouse set where every object was given a face and a voice, as well as occasional visits from equally silly friends like Cowboy Curtis (post-Apocalypse Now/pre-Matrix Laurence Fishburne) and Captain Carl (the late Phil Hartman), and you had the makings of one of the most unique programs to ever get screened on Saturday morning network TV.—R.H.

4. Phineas & Ferb

Original Run: 2007-2011
Creator: Jeff Marsh, Dan Povenmire
Stars: Vincent Martella, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ashley Tisdale, Dan Povenmire, Caroline Rhea, and Alyson Stoner
Original Network: The Disney Channel

Tucked among The Disney Channel’s horrific lineup was an 11-minute show packed with intersecting plot lines, adventure in suburbia, intrigue and a pet platypus doubling as a super agent. With a wonderfully manic ska theme song that ends with their sister Candace complaining, “Mom, Phineas and Ferb are making a title sequence,” each show captures Phineas’ latest ambitious plan to pass the summer days—whether it’s building a giant tree house that transforms into a giant robot, or filming a movie, or creating a time machine. And even though the stepbrothers’ grand plans escape the attention of their parents and drive Candace nuts, Phineas and Ferb remain completely guileless, telling their disbelieving mom and dad what they’ve accomplished and always looking out for Candace. Refreshingly, the siblings have a deep-seated affection for one another and for their parents. And the secondary plot of each episode—Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz’ dastardly schemes involving awesomely designated devices of pure evil (the the Ugly-Inator, Age-Acclerator-Inator) are thwarted by super agent, Perry the Platypus. The subtleties of the relationship are pitch-perfect. When Perry busts in on Doofenshmirtz when his blind date is about to arrive, Perry accommodates his rival by pretending to be his pet (“She doesn’t know I have a nemesis”). Creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh met while working on The Simpsons. Povenmire later worked on Family Guy, and the cleverness of both shows—and particularly the pacing of Family Guy—has worn off on both, making it one of the smartest shows on TV for people of any age.—Josh Jackson

3. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

Original Run: 2010-2013
Creator: Lauren Faust, Bonnie Zacherle
Stars: Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain, Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Cathy Weseluck, Nicole Oliver
Original Network: The Hub

When Lena Hall accepted her 2014 Tony Award for her performance in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, she boldly and tearfully declared to the world at the end of her speech, "Friendship is magic." Of course, this is just one small, example of the incredibly (almost terrifyingly) far-reaching effects of this little show about a unicorn pony named Twilight Sparkle, and her adventures in Ponyville, Equestria. There are many great shows on this list that have permeated the pop culture sphere, and have the devotion of adults and children—but with brony culture, countless critical essays and analyses, and that ridiculous Bob’s Burger’s episode (oh, "The Equestranauts"), none can claim quite the impact as this one.—S.H.

2. Sesame Street: Classics

Original Run: 1969-Present
Creator: Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett
Stars: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Caroll Spinney, Steve Whitmire, Kevin Clash,
Original Network: PBS

Anyone born after 1969 can certainly tell you how to get to Sesame Street. This compilation of sketches from 1969-2012 features all the fan favorites including Elmo, Grover, Ernie and Bert and the Count. Part of the success of this show can be attribute to the many characters who represent certain traits common in young children. There’s the child who only wants desserts (Cookie Monster). The one who can’t stop asking questions (Big Bird). And the lovable, cranky kid (hello, Oscar the Grouch). There’s a reason the 47-year-old series is the country’s longest running children’s program. Sesame Street knows how to talk to kids without talking down to them. By treating the pre-school set like the actual people that they are, the show educates while entertaining. Little ones walk away not only knowing the alphabet and their numbers, but also key important social skills like sharing, taking turns and getting along with others.—A.A.

1. Arthur

Original Run: 1996-present
Creator: Based on the books by Marc Brown
Stars: Michael Yarmush, Daniel Brochu, and Robert Naylor
Original Network: PBS Kids

Based on the series of books by Marc Brown and aimed at school-aged children, eight-year-old Arthur the aardvark loves to explore the world around him. The show dives deep into themes of friendship and the importance of getting along with everyone, even (or, especially) those who are different from you. The series deftly takes on the emotional and social issues that come with grade school in a way that children will respond to. Episodes deal with topics such as friends who tease you, being embarrassed, falling behind on your school work, and eternally-frustrating family dynamics. But what makes Arthur unique among all these great shows are the many, many episodes that took on even bigger issues—like dyslexia, cancer, religion, cultural differences, transnational adoption, and Asperger’s syndrome—in a child-friendly way. Throw in that unforgettable theme song, “”Believe in Yourself (performed by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers), and a slew of fantastic celebrity guest vocals from over the years (including Art Garfunkel, Alex Trebek, Michelle Kwan, Joan Rivers, Matt Damon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Alan Cumming), and you have what is just about the perfect kids TV show—something we loved watching as kids, and love introducing to the next generation. —Amy Amatangelo and Shannon M. Houston