15 of the Best Reboots of Shows You Loved As a Kid

15 of the Best Reboots of Shows You Loved As a Kid

Barney’s coming back, y’all, with Mattel announcing a new, animated update to Barney & Friends, the slightly unnerving 1992–2010 series. It’s a shocking thought, but kids who watched Barney back in the day might reasonably have kids at about the right age to catch the new one. Besides that, Netflix kicked off a reboot of Teletubbies last year, and Disney+ is bringing back the Fox Kids X-Men animated series from the ‘90s later this year. Of course, these are just examples; pretty much anything that was ever even remotely popular is getting a reboot, and kid shows are no exceptions.

Some of these updates, though, are actually pretty good, and sometimes better than their predecessors, if we’re willing to admit it. Generations who grew up on 30-minute toy commercials will be surprised to find that good shows don’t work quite as hard to push merch to kids these days, and standards in animation have (generally) risen. So, if you want to introduce your own kids to the stuff you liked when you were their age, there are actually some pretty good options.

Here, we’re generally avoiding shows that call on previous knowledge — kids should be able to go in relatively fresh. We’re also leaving out anything in the gritty reboot category, and sticking with shows that truly are kid-appropriate.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018–2020)

Moving She-Ra away from the adventure-of-the-week format of the original, the updated series builds in a bit of serialization without losing a sense of adventure. Truly all-ages, and impressively inclusive, Princesses of Power emphasises the importance of teamwork and found family in a well-imagined fantasy world.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021– )

We’ll skip over the Kevin Smith reboot series, not because it’s not a ton of fun, but because it continues the story of the original; though it’s tween-friendly, it’s truly aimed at those of us who grew up on the He-Man of decades past. This new series, though, reinvents the Mattel franchise from the ground up with modern CG animation and plenty of action, but also emphasises teamwork and family in ways that make it perfect for slightly younger kids without built-in He-nostalgia.

The Proud Family: Louder & Prouder (2022– )

Though the title suggests a straight-up continuation, Louder & Prouder splits the difference between being a revival and a full-on reboot: None of the characters are wildly reimagined, most of the voice actors are the same, and the animation style is recognisable (if given a polish). But the show picks Penny and the family up and drops them into the present without missing a beat, carrying over the old show’s family-friendly themes while adding in more modern complications like smartphones. The landscape for suburban Black families on television isn’t all that much better than it was when the original series was on, but the new show goes further in its exploration of Black culture, as well as adding in characters with autism and dealing with queer themes, all while maintaining the brisk charm that parents will remember from the original.

DuckTales (2017–2021)

The DuckTales reboot takes all of the heart and adventure of the original series and goes quite bit further, offering Scrooge McDuck and nephews fun, funny adventures in Duckberg and beyond, while also throwing in a bit of serialization and a surprising amount of character development (for a show about ducks). It makes a pretty good case for reboots being an OK thing.

Carmen Sandiego (2019–2021)

The modern Carmen Sandiego is a thief which, OK, maybe not the best role model; but she’s stealing cultural artifacts and returning them to their owners in order to prevent them from being collected by the villains of the underworld organisation V.I.L.E. So, not a bad use of her skills. The show’s characters use their cultural and geographical knowledge to thwart the baddies, cleverly sneaking in educational material around otherwise action-oriented stories.

The Baby-Sitters Club (2020–2021)

Though it only lasted for two seasons and 18 episodes, the updated Baby-Sitters Club (based, of course, on the novel series that runs to a couple of hundred volumes) actually outlasted the original 1990 adaptation, which has an outsized place in the memories of kids of the time thanks to years of reruns on Disney and Nickelodeon. There aren’t a lot of contemporary shows that are truly aimed at tween girls, and this one treats its kids as people, neither dumbing them down nor going down the darker roads of more teen-oriented dramas.

Blue’s Clues & You! (2019– )

One of the most important innovations of the original Blue’s Clues was its silences — the show used extended pauses in order to encourage kids to engage with it, asking questions and actually giving them time to consider and answer. The new show does much the same thing, and that’s pretty great, especially in a world that’s even more filled with distractions than was the original series, which ran from 1996–2006.

Thunderbirds Are Go! (2015–2020)

Maybe you watched the original Thunderbirds as a kid in the 1960s, or, equally likely for American viewers, you caught the slightly re-edited versions that aired on Fox Kids in the ‘90s. Either way, Thunderbirds Are Go! is a worthy successor to that series, even if it does away with the marionettes that gave the original its distinctive appeal; the computer animation here pays tribute to that style, using detailed textures and the occasional jerky, puppet-style movement to make clear that the animators here know their source material. It’s an action show, for sure, but there’s an emphasis on family (in the broadest sense), and the plots are mainly about the Tracy family helping out people in danger.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood (2012– )

Grownups who watched Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood as kids could do a lot worse than to show their kids reruns of that same classic series. That being the case, it’s also true that the flash-animated Daniel Tiger is a worthy successor for preschool-aged children. With characters from the Neighbourhood of Make-Believe, each episode presents two segments linked by common themes (and musical motifs) with very Fred Rogers-like emphases on kindness and mutual respect.

Shaun the Sheep (2007– )

The people behind Wallace and Gromit have been entertaining cool kids for a bit more than three decades at this point, mostly via short films and a few features (Chicken Run, for example), but the by-now long-running Shaun the Sheep TV series has made the clever, stop-motion animated, Shropshire sheep a star. The show, though aimed at 4- to 7-year-olds, has the same gentle, but frequently hilarious, good humour that Wallace and Gromit are known for, making it solid all-ages viewing. The show has a charming spin-off of its own, Timmy Time, aimed at preschoolers.

Where’s Waldo (2019–2021)

The ‘90s CBS animated series didn’t last long, though it had a bit of a second life thanks to Nickelodeon. And, of course, few of us haven’t gone searching for Waldo (or Wally if you grew up outside North America) in the pages of one of his books. The animated series sees Waldo off on a series of problem-solving adventures, all of which have educational components (usually involving the countries he travels to and cultures he encounters). Episodes also offer chances for kids (five and up) to hunt for Waldo on the screen.

Rugrats (2021– )

The computer-animated reboot of the long-running franchise has a fair bit to offer new viewers and the adults in their lives — the style and tone of the series will be recognisable to fans of the 1990s-era original: The snarky/sweet tone is still there, and even many of the original voices are back, but this is definitely a refresh. Kids aren’t going to be expected to be familiar with the ins and outs of the Rugrats universe (including their tween adventures in All Grown Up!). If you liked the original, you’ll like this new one.

Muppet Babies (2018–2022)

Rights issues mean that the original Muppet Babies, unavailable for decades, exists mostly as the frenetic fever dream of ‘80s kids. But it was real! And this computer-animated update finds the same group of toddlers (and a new friend, Summer Penguin) going on imaginative adventures (with a bit less reliance on existing IP than in the original) and learning to solve problems together.

Jellystone! (2021– )

The Hanna-Barbera characters (except for Scooby-Doo), though ubiquitous in broader pop culture, have lain pretty much fallow when it comes to TV: The last time we saw Yogi and company was in the short-lived Yo Yogi! (it was 1991, after all). This one reunites Yogi, Boo Boo, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Jabberjaw, Top Cat, and many others for genuinely absurd adventures in the titular town. The emphasis here is more on goofy comedy than it is on educating kids…but there’s nothing wrong with a little nutty fun.

Raven’s Home (2017– )

Picking up where That’s So Raven! left off, Raven’s Home finds Raven and BFF Chelsea, both divorced single parents, now raising their kids together in Chicago. But — surprise! Raven’s son Booker has inherited her psychic abilities, a development that serves as a typical episode’s story set-up, much as those powers did in the original. Though adult fans will appreciate the connections, the kids are the focus here, and young viewers (the show is aimed at ages 8+) don’t need any background. Already renewed for a sixth season, the show will go at least two seasons past the original.

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