When a cartoon gets a reboot, it’s essentially a do-over, giving fans of old titles all the things they loved about the original but with a fresh coat of paint. With a reboot, there’s certainly a lot of potential. These days, it seems like networks are clawing at the idea of starting an old show over, whether they’re trying it for the cash grab, the fanfare, or attempting to unite old generations and new through fandom. With old school toons like DuckTales, Thundercats, Carmen San Diego, and Voltron getting facelifts, I’d like to offer a few titles for consideration. Hey, who knows? Maybe it’ll get a petition going.
10. Hey Arnold!
Hey Arnold! is an old-school Nicktoon that was way before its time; the mid-90s hit had a diverse cast who are still animated icons to this day (like the ultra-smooth Gerald and the love-crazed bully Helga). Hey Arnold! told a unique tale of Arnold, an orphaned fourth-grader who lives in a boarding house run by his grandparents. Not only did I appreciate Hey Arnold! for accurately depicting the unique experience of growing up in the inner city, but it also managed to make otherwise serious themes digestible while also managing to be funny, musical, and trendsetting. Hey Arnold!‘s enriching story hooked audiences from 1996 to 2004, seamlessly intertwining several complex story lines, superb character development, and relatable themes. There’s no doubt that this old-school cartoon would benefit from a reboot. The good news is, it wouldn’t even have to change much. If it touched up its animation and kept its formula of diversity and relevant social issues, Hey Arnold! would still keep audiences hooked in the 2020s.
9. Rocko’s Modern Life
Rocko’s Modern Life is a Nickelodeon classic from the early 90s. It tells the story of an Australian wallaby named Rocko who settles into independent adult life in suburban America with his dog Spunky. He befriends some interesting characters along the way, like Filburt Turtle (a nerdy turtle whose neurosis is only matched by his nervousness) and Heffer Wolfe (a steer who is literally raised by wolves. Voiced by none other than the legendary Tom Kenny), while managing to make an enemy out of his grouchy, nosey neighbor Ed Bighead.
The vividly animated show developed a following thanks to its wild, outrageous adventures and violent, mature humor, which went over everyone’s heads back in 1993 (like that episode where Rocko was a phone sex operator). Its popularity kept it on the air for four seasons, but I say we bring it back! Update the visuals, move Rocko to a new modern town, and see how our favorite wallaby fares in a 2022 society.
8. Courage The Cowardly Dog
Courage The Cowardly Dog is an old-school cartoon that made its way onto our small screens in the late 90s, premiering on Cartoon Network in 1999. It tells the story of Courage, an ironically named dog who is literally afraid of everything (but somehow still manages to save his owners from trespassers and evil-doers). Courage shares a home in the countryside with the loveable Muriel and her atrocious husband Eustace, who torments the poor pup every chance he gets.
Despite the gentleness of its titular character, Courage The Cowardly Dog is down.right.creepy. The show borders horror with every introduction of a new protagonist. Like Muriel’s creepy nephew Fred who is obsessed with shaving hair, and the terrifying moon spirit, whose gigantic face still gives me nightmares. Since horror seems to be all the rage these days, I say we bring this cartoon back! Reboot the show with newer, scarier, and socially relevant characters that’ll scare the pants off a new generation of kids who appreciate shows like Gravity Falls.
7. Invader Zim
Invader Zim was a hilarious Nickelodeon animated series from the early 2000s. It follows the zany adventures of an alien named Zim who thinks he’s sent to Earth to conquer it but was just dropped off in hopes that he wouldn’t survive. Invader Zim’s animated ensemble consisted of cooky loveable characters, like Zim’s adorable robot sidekick Gir and his arch-nemesis Dib, who were especially popular among emo and scene kids (a cultural movement that heavily influenced the arts in the early 2000s).
Despite developing a cult following, the show only ran for two seasons which was a huge injustice to fans! I say we give this show a reboot, touch up its 2D animation and CGI graphics, and release it on a streaming service that would not only bring in fans from the original series but also allow it to reach a brand new audience (as seen with the Netflix original film Invader Zim: Enter The Florpus). Invader Zim’s hilariously twisted adventures, weird cast, and dark sense of humor would undoubtedly be popular in a time where everyone is embracing their individuality.
6. Tiny Toon Adventures
Back in the 90s, director Steven Spielberg was on a roll with his collection of Warner Bros cartoons, creating animated staples like Animaniacs, Pinky & The Brain, and Freakazoid. Among this collection was the hit animated series Tiny Toon Adventures. Tiny Toon Adventures gave us a young, fresh take on the Warner Bros. classic Looney Tunes. The show follows the adventures of a new generation of Warner Bros cartoon characters, straight out of Acme Looniversity, where they earned their Toon degrees (as the opening theme suggests). Instead of the iconic Looney Tunes cast of animated faves like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Pork E. Pig, and Tasmanian Devil, Tiny Toon Adventures gives us a new ensemble of young, tween talent like Babs and Buster Bunny (“no relation.”), Elmyra, Montana Max, Plucky Duck, and Hamton J. Pig.
The show follows the adventures of a new generation of Warner Bros cartoon characters, straight out of Acme Looniversity, where they earned their Toon degrees (as the opening theme suggests). Tiny Toon Adventures gives each of its characters their own stand-alone segments and adventures, some of which are recurring (cue Plucky Duck’s infamous “water go down the hooooole”), and some of which feature guest appearances from other toons, both Tiny and Looney (who doesn’t love a good crossover!?). Tiny Toon Adventures‘ cute, witty, wacky tween humor kept families entertained for three seasons, but I say it’s time the Tiny Toons made a comeback! If we can give Animaniacs two more seasons, I say we give this old-school classic a reboot, too.
5. As Told By Ginger
As Told By Ginger was old school cartoon from the early 2000s that did not get the shine it deserved. From the same creators who brought you The Rugrats, As Told By Ginger followed a preteen girl named Ginger Foutley who journaled about the general woes of being a growing girl in Middle School. At the time of its airing, As Told By Ginger was a breath of fresh air thanks to its rare choice to tell the story from the perspective of a pubescent girl. In addition to tackling major issues like growing pains, fallouts with friends, and peer pressure, the show also touched on the challenges of being raised in a single-mother household.
Although As Told By Ginger gave us plenty of comedy (especially from the crazy antics of younger brother Carl and his best bud Hoodsey), the show really shines with its drama, tackling emotional themes that touched the hearts of too few during its three-season run. With mascots for young girls becoming a trend in cartoons like The Owl House, I say now would be the perfect time for an As Told By Ginger reboot. My suggestion? Show a more mature Ginger vlogging about tackling issues like peer pressure, romance, and development in high school. That’s a premise that never gets old.
4. X-Men: Evolution
This early 2000s animated series may not be as popular as its predecessor X-Men: The Animated Series, but this Marvel classic was amazing and developed its own cult following during its brief four-season run. X-Men: Evolution was a more modern take on the story we know and love about a gang of super-powered mutants fighting for acceptance in a judgemental world that shuns them for being different. X-Men: Evolution depicts Cyclops, Jean Grey, Rogue, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Spyke (to name a few) as teens instead of the badass crime-fighting adults we grew to love in the early 90s Animated Series.
I appreciated X-Men: Evolution for its modern, vivid aesthetics and its updates to character designs, giving some of our favorite Marvel heroes updated teen makeovers (I especially loved the goth ensemble of Rogue. Although the get-up of netted top, cropped tank, and spiked collar doesn’t compare to the classic leather brown bomber and spandex bodysuit, it comes hella close.) I say we give this old-school cartoon a second chance with a reboot. It can appeal to a broader teen audience by premiering on a streaming service and giving updated teen makeovers to more popular X-men that weren’t included the first time around, like Psylocke and Quicksilver.
3. Rocket Power
Rocket Power was Nickelodeon’s love letter to California’s extreme sports scene, highlighting local West Coast sports like surfing, street hockey, skateboarding, and rollerblading. This old-school cartoon follows Otto Rocket and his crew of miniature sports fanatics (his best friend Twister, newcomer Sam a.k.a Squid, and his courageous older sister Reggie) throughout various adventures in both the competitive and underground extreme sports scenes. In addition to its action-packed premise, Rocket Power is unique thanks to what it does for diversity and representation. Not only did this surfer crew have a lady among them, but its animated ensemble also consisted of characters from various ethnic backgrounds, which made it one of the only Nickelodeon cartoons during the 1999 lineup to feature a cast of predominantly children of color (natural hair and all).
If this sports animated series got a reboot, its diversified crew would be wildly popular among viewers today with characters like Raymond, a single-dad entrepreneur who co-owns a shop with his best friend Tito. With a Rocket Power reboot, we could take the show’s premise a step further by introducing new characters, making the crew older, and allowing them to branch off to other popular extreme sports on the West Coast like off-roading and ziplining.
2. Dexter’s Lab
If we can give the classic animated series The Powerpuff Girls a reboot, why not throw in a Dexter’s Laboratory reboot, too? It has a similar formula of high-flying action, explosive disasters, and maniacal villains, except instead of three heroes, we get one in the form of a miniature boy genius. Dexter’s Laboratory follows the adventures of Dexter, a young boy genius with a mysterious accent (seriously, no one else in this family has his accent) and a fixation for science experiments and invention. Unfortunately for Dexter, his plans often go awry thanks to some kind of interference from the outside world, ranging everywhere from his dear old Mom and Dad, his curiously destructive sister Dee Dee, or some random villain who just wants to see the world burn.
Another breakout feature of Dexter’s Laboratory was how it gave us not just one, but three cartoons under its umbrella with the addition of segments of mini-shows Dial M for Monkey and the Justice Friends (another classic cartoon that featured the talent of Tom Kenny). If its collection of spin-offs is a sign of anything (which includes a series of shorts and a video game), it’s that there’s a broader audience for Dexter’s Laboratory that we’ve been ignoring since it wrapped in 2003. Somebody hurry up and give this old-school cartoon a reboot.
OMG! Remember KaBlam! ? It’s another old-school cartoon that could benefit from a reboot and could arguably be a lot more popular now with the advantage of streaming services. KaBlam had a premise that set it apart from other shows on the late 90s Nicktoons lineup. Unlike most cartoons, KaBlam was an anthology series that ran several independent animated shorts, each with its own art style, throughout its half-hour episodes. Its four-season lineup included Action League Now, Life With Loopy, Prometheus and Bob, The Offbeats, and Angela Anaconda. KaBlam had two wildly entertaining hosts, the dynamic duo of Henry and June, who hosted each episode from the pages of a comic book. Our hosts would turn the pages of the comics themselves, revealing a new animated short.
With its unique premise and offbeat selection of shorts, there’s so much potential in this animated series. I say we give this old-school cartoon a reboot, but instead of featuring the same shorts throughout the season, we switch it and give viewers new shorts every episode. With a big enough platform, KaBlam could be an absolute powerhouse in the animated genre and help put lesser-known independent cartoons on the map.
Which old-school cartoons would you like to see rebooted? Let us know in the comments.