IMDb Picks: Animated Kids' Shows That Adults Love

by IMDb-Editors | last updated - 05 Aug 2020

These clever animated series go way beyond your typical Saturday morning cartoons — why should kids get to have all the fun?

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Janet Varney in The Legend of Korra (2012)

"The Legend of Korra" | Available to Stream on CBS All Access and on Netflix Aug. 14

Plot: Returning to the world of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" decades after the the story of the original series, "The Legend of Korra" tells the tale of a new Avatar facing very different challenges in an industrial world. "Korra" presents a more adult take on the legend of the Avatar.

Zach Tyler Eisen, Mae Whitman, and Jack De Sena in Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005)

"Avatar: The Last Airbender" | Available to Stream on Netflix

Plot: A fantastic adventure for all ages told across three seasons, combining humanity, action, and heart. In a war-torn world of elemental magic, a young boy reawakens to undertake a dangerous mystic quest to fulfill his destiny as the Avatar, and bring peace to the world.

Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal in Gravity Falls (2012)

"Gravity Falls" | Available to Stream on Disney+ and Hulu

Plot: Twin siblings Dipper and Mabel Pines spend the summer at their great-uncle's tourist trap in the enigmatic Gravity Falls, Oregon. It's like "Scooby-Doo" meets "The X-Files" by way of "Twin Peaks," with a heavy dash of comedy.

H. Jon Benjamin, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman, Dan Mintz, and John Roberts in Bob's Burgers (2011)

"Bob's Burgers" | Available to Stream on Hulu

Plot: Bob Belcher is a third-generation restaurateur who runs Bob's Burgers with his loving wife and their three children. Older kids might enjoy it, but its biggest fans may actually be adults.

Batman: The Animated Series (1992)

"Batman: The Animated Series" | Available to Stream on DC Universe

Plot: As Batman battles crime in Gotham City with occasional help from Robin and Batgirl, this iteration of the Dark Knight story remains popular with grownups because of its brilliant casting, iconic aesthetic, and stewardship of the Batman mythology.

Dee Bradley Baker in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)

"Star Wars: The Clone Wars" | Available to Stream on Disney+

Plot: Set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" presents the untold story of Anakin Skywalker's apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. The series revisits fan-favorite characters including Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Mace Windu, and Darth Maul while revealing new perspectives on the Jedi order.

Bobby Gaylor, Ashley Tisdale, Maulik Pancholy, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Alyson Stoner, and Vincent Martella in Phineas and Ferb (2007)

"Phineas and Ferb" | Available to Stream on Disney+

Plot: Phineas and Ferb invent, scheme, and stay one step ahead of their bratty sister. The show is often smart, always silly, and Perry the platypus is a great reason to tune in.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (2010)

"Scooby Doo, Where Are You!" | Available to Stream on HBO Max or Buy on Prime Video

Plot: Together with their beloved Great Dane, teenagers Fred, Velma, Daphne, and Shaggy investigate local mysteries and legends in their hometown of Crystal Cove, the self-proclaimed "Most Hauntedest Place on Earth."

Rodger Bumpass and Tom Kenny in SpongeBob SquarePants (1999)

"SpongeBob SquarePants" | Available to Stream on Prime Video

Plot: This brilliantly written series follows the misadventures of a talking sea sponge who works at a fast food restaurant, attends a boating school, and lives in a pineapple under the sea.

Jonathan Holmes in The Dragon Prince (2018)

"The Dragon Prince" | Available to Stream on Netflix

Plot: Two human princes forge an unlikely bond with the elfin assassin sent to kill them, embarking on an epic quest to bring peace to their warring lands.

Steven Universe (2013)

"Steven Universe" | Available to Stream on Hulu

Plot: A story of found family and intergalactic peril. "Steven Universe" follows the adventures of a young boy who is coming to terms with the legacy of his alien mother with the help of her fellow Crystal Gems. The series is filled with life lessons for all ages, a compelling multi-season arc, and enough catchy musical numbers to send you looking for the soundtrack.

Invader ZIM (2001)

"Invader ZIM" | Available to Stream on Hulu

Plot: An alien named Zim from the planet Irk is sent on a secret mission to conquer Earth, unaware that his leaders were just trying to get rid of him. Once there, Zim manages to disguise himself as a human child, but one boy named Dib sees through his disguise.

Clancy Brown, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, and Taylor Gray in Star Wars: Rebels (2014)

"Star Wars Rebels" | Available to Stream on Disney+

Plot: A brave and clever ragtag starship crew stands up against the evil Empire as it tightens its grip on the galaxy and hunts down the last of the Jedi Knights.

Christine Cavanaugh, Cheryl Chase, Elizabeth Daily, and Kath Soucie in Rugrats (1991)

"Rugrats" | Available to Stream on Hulu

Plot: This beloved Nickelodeon cartoon follows the misadventures of four babies and their precocious older cousin as they face the many things in life they don't understand.

Superman: The Animated Series (1996)

"Superman: The Animated Series" | Available to Stream on DC Universe

Plot: The last son of the planet Krypton protects his adoptive home of Earth as the greatest of the superheroes. The high-quality animation in this depiction of Clark Kent's adventures has the depth to captivate grown comic book fans.

Dexter's Laboratory (1996)

"Dexter's Laboratory" | Available to Stream on HBO Max or Hoopla, or Buy on Prime Video

Plot: The misadventures of a boy genius and his annoying sister are both hilarious and disturbing, as one ponders why a small American child speaks with an ambiguous Eastern European accent.

Marina Sirtis, Edward Asner, Thom Adcox-Hernandez, Jeff Bennett, Keith David, Bill Fagerbakke, and Frank Welker in Gargoyles (1994)

"Gargoyles" | Available to Stream on Disney+

Plot: A clan of heroic night creatures pledge to protect modern New York City as they did in Scotland one thousand years earlier. Get ready for surprisingly complex plot lines and lots of moody visuals.

Rickey D'Shon Collins, Jason Davis, Ashley Johnson, Andrew Lawrence, Courtland Mead, and Pamela Adlon in Recess (1997)

"Recess" | Available to Stream on Disney+

Plot: A group of diverse students at the Third Street Elementary School — T.J., Vince, Ashley Mikey Blumberg, Gretchen and Gus — establish a model society at school, complete with its own government, class system, and set of unwritten laws.

Phil LaMarr and Mako in Samurai Jack (2001)

"Samurai Jack" | Available to Stream on Fubo

Plot: Samurai Jack travels across time and space — and plenty of stunningly animated landscapes in between — to find the man who destroyed his father's empire: the wizard Aku.

Hey Arnold! (1996)

"Hey Arnold!" | Available to Stream on Hulu

Plot: The everyday life of Arnold, a fourth-grader, who lives in a boarding house with his grandparents and an assortment of other neighbors. The kids on Arnold's block go on all sorts of questionable adventures around the city for 10-year-olds, but the characters are diverse and endearing.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983)

"He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" | Available to Stream on DIRECTV

Plot: The most powerful man in the universe, He-Man, goes against the evil forces of Skeletor to save the planet Eternia and to protect the secrets of Castle Grayskull.

Adventure Time (2010)

"Adventure Time" | Available to Stream on Hulu

Plot: A 12-year-old boy named Finn and his best friend, a wise 28-year-old dog with magical powers, go on a series of surreal adventures together in this incredibly progressive series.

Fred Newman, Constance Shulman, and Billy West in Doug (1991)

"Doug" | Available to Stream on Hulu and Disney+

Plot: Meet Douglas Yancy Funnie, who just moved to Bluffington with his family. When he isn't with his friends Skeeter, Patti, and Beebe, he confesses his pre-teen insecurities in his journal and fantasizes about life from the vantage point of his invented superhero, Quailman.

The Fairly OddParents (2001)

"The Fairly OddParents" | Available to Stream on DIRECTV or Buy on Prime Video

Plot: Two magical fairy godparents come to the rescue when a ten-year-old boy is repeatedly humiliated by his evil babysitter. Wanda and Cosmo can grant Timmy almost any wish, which often leads to unexpected consequences.

The Powerpuff Girls (1998)

"The Powerpuff Girls" | Available to Stream on Hulu

Plot: Three super-powered little girls constantly save the world (or at least the city of Townsville) from monsters, would-be conquerers and a few other gross things.

Lily Tomlin and Maia Filar in The Magic School Bus (1994)

"The Magic School Bus" | Available to Stream on Netflix

Plot: An eccentric school teacher takes her class on wondrous educational field trips with the help of a magical school bus, teaching viewers about biology, ecology and countless other subjects from a way-cool point of view.

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