All those ‘90s babies grew up with the best childhood cartoons — shows so beloved they continue to remake them to this day. Recently we’ve seen reboots of Duck Tales, Animaniacs, and Ren and Stimpy, not to mention the many iterations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But nothing really beats the originals.
In 2021, cartoons from the ‘90s aren’t just for kids — they can provide adults a form of comfort while at work. You can put X-Men on streaming, slash through that to-do list, and laugh as you keep a running tally of how many flashbacks Wolverine has per episode. Here are 10 cartoon reruns perfect for playing while you work.
Batman: The Animated Series
This groundbreaking series was the first animated adaptation of the DC Comics superhero to air after Tim Burton’s 1989 film made him into a bankable franchise.
The show explored the caped crusader in his prime while offering up origin stories for Batman’s biggest villains. It’s written with enough grit that it garnered a wide fanbase of adults, even as the writers trusted kids could handle intricate storytelling and crime drama, and it made a lasting impact on Bat-lore (this is the series that gave us the popular villain Harley Quinn, partner to the sadistic clown the Joker). Watching them today won’t take you away from a busy day of work. The grim tone and frequent action sequences will actually keep you on track.
The journey of the 1992 X-Men cartoon progresses little by little with each episode. You pick up on the backstory as it builds a larger tale of mutants and their struggles to defend themselves and others. Provided you’ve watched it already, you won’t be distracted by each detail, but you will be fascinated by the things you now understand as an adult. New revelations may even inspire innovations in your workday — their ability to work as a team even after trauma could inspire creative problem-solving. The complete series of the 90s X-Men cartoon is available on Disney+.
Spider-Man: The Animated Series
The mid-’90s Spider-Man features superhero commentary at its best. You don’t even need to look at the screen. You’ll learn how to uncover secret villains by just listening to Peter Parker’s make scientific deductions. This series is perfect for background viewing, Peter is so descriptive in every scene, you won’t even need to look up at the TV. It’s also interesting how many stories the show covers that you don’t remember. Spidey’s greatest villain, Venom, is introduced in the first episode! The 1994 Spider-Man cartoon is available on Disney+.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Rewatch Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers for its short-form structure and low commitment. Each episode tells a different detective story, and its lighthearted music will keep you going. Even in moments of danger, you know they are going to make it out alright (it never fails, they’ll take the clues, and find the wheres and whys and whos). Plus, the content of the show harkens back to your carefree childhood days, providing element of comfort as you settle into your workday. It is perfect for effortless watching and a stress-free working environment. You can stream Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers now on Disney+.
Watch DuckTales for its mix of fun adventure and low stakes. But it’s good enough that you’ll want to make sure you have watched the full series already and are just putting it on to contribute to a more playful work atmosphere as Uncle Scrooge and Huey, Louie, and Dewey innocently solve mysteries and get into epic trouble. You’ll remember the laughs but efficiently execute your work responsibilities. The original DuckTales series is available on Disney+
This dramatic story should be watched for its fantasy elements and high intensity. The gargoyles are constantly thrown into high-risk situations where life and death are hanging in the balance — which will help put your workday troubles in perspective. You’d think it would be distracting, but really, it’s more motivating, offering just enough intrigue to fill you with resolve so you can get back to work and conquer your own to-do list. Watch Gargoyles streaming on Disney+.
Sugar, spice, and everything nice! Watch Buttercup, Blossom, and Bubbles defend the city of Townsville every day with their chemically created superpowers — which happen to mirror the different facets of your personality you’ll need to make it through the workday. This cartoon is easy to have on in the background, once you have seen the full series once you always remember the adorable and fierce adventures. The short-form structure lets you tune into the character moments you remember while not missing a beat as you juggle your workload.
Watch Darkwing Duck for the same reason you watch DuckTales and Batman (because it is basically a mash-up of both shows). You have the enticing detective stories, plus the slapstick hilarity of a duck fighting crime. Darkwing Duck’s over-the-top dramatics poke fun at Batman’s brooding personality. At the same time, he always found ways to make it funny, wether via a dramatic entrance or cape flourish, proving the importance of keeping things light around the virtual office. The series is on Disney+ for your streaming needs.
Courage the Cowardly Dog
Watching the outlandish circumstances Courage has to go through is better the second time around. Muriel’s caring yet naive actions balance out Courage’s constant anxiety and worry. (A mix of anxiety and naivete sounds like a regular workday to me). Watch this one for the bizarre shenanigans and memorable one-liners. You’ll be singing “Ramses” while you type. The supernatural aspect will catch your attention as you remember the wild characters (alien snowmen; a talking eggplant), but since you’ve seen it all before, you’ll be able to pull away as needed.
Dexter’s adventures are just as hilarious upon a rewatch as they were the first time. His uptight personality yet curiosity and ambition will still make you chuckle — and inspire you to get more done faster. Dexter’s scientific failures and childlike wants make for a gitty work experience. You can easily find moments to take a break and watch your favourite characters, then get right back into your work.