The ’00s was a golden age for cartoons. Kids growing up in the first decade of the 2000s loyally tuned into the Big Three: Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Disney Channel every day for their favorites shows, from SpongeBob SquarePants to The Wild Thornberrys.
For every Dexter’s Laboratory, there is another cartoon that wasn’t quite as memorable. ’00s kids watched these now-forgotten shows because they were on between their favorite programs. Once Nickelodeon was on for the day, you did not turn it off. When that commercial told you the programming for the next hour and a half, and the order was Rugrats, some show you felt ambivalent about, and then Hey Arnold!, you just watched the whole block. Those forgotten cartoons are honored on this list. They aren’t necessarily bad, they just don’t have the legacy of shows like SpongeBob.
Every show on this list aired in the first decade of the 2000s, although they may have started in the ’90s or ended in the ’10s. We’ve already explored ’00s teen movies and live-action TV shows that were completely forgotten, and now it’s time to do the same for toons.
Relive your childhood Saturday morning programming with 15 ‘00s Kids’ Cartoons You Completely Forgot About.
15. Codename: Kids Next Door (2002-2008)
This Cartoon Network show is about five kids who are part of Kids Next Door, a global organization that fights evil adults. Our five protagonists are in Sector V and hang out in a high-tech tree house. They combat the heinous things adults make kids do, like homework and flossing.
We know these scamps by their regular names as well as codenames: Numbuh 1, Numbuh 2, Numbuh 3, Numbuh 4, and Numbuh 5. Numbah 1 is their leader. He’s bald and doesn’t really look like a kid; more like Lex Luthor if Lex Luthor wore ’90s sunglasses. For some reason, everyone’s eyes are obscured by hair or glasses… except Numbah 3. Why is she special?
14. The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (2001-2007)
The premise of this excellent show is that the Grim Reaper is forced to be the enslaved best friend of two kids: empty-headed Billy and smart, cynical Mandy. These two children make him do whatever they want. Mandy is the best part about the show: she’s hilarious, tough, and doles out insults like it’s her job. Her hair is drawn a bit strangely, though. Billy, on the other hand, is sort of annoying. His character was supposed to be stupid, yes, but that exaggerated dumb voice gets irritating real fast.
The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and another series called Evil Con Carne were originally combined into a show called Grim & Evil. Eventually, Cartoon Network separated them into individual shows, and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy quickly became the more successful of the two– rightfully so.
13. Braceface (2001-2006)
Braceface stars Alicia Silverstone as Sharon Spitz, a teen who gets braces and discovers that they have strange electromagnetic powers that get her into sticky situations. That’s on top of the general awkwardness of having braces. A lot of ’00s kids were suffering through orthodontic torture while this show was on and related to Sharon’s struggles.
Sharon’s best friends are nerdy-but-cute Connor and stylish Maria. There is also a super cute storyline between Sharon and her crush Alden as they try to get their timing right and make a romantic connection. A post-Clueless Alicia Silverstone gave an amazing voice performance, filling Sharon with heart. However, she left the show before the third and final season and was replaced by Stacey DePass. The show definitely suffered for it.
12. Recess (1997-2001)
This gem of a show is about six friends and their adventures during their school’s daily recess. Each kid at their own distinct personality. There’s confident leader Theodore J. “T.J.” Detweiler, jock Vince LaSalle, tough girl Ashley Spinelli, sweet Mikey Blumberg, nerdy Gretchen Grundler, and shy Gus Griswald. Spinelli was an iconic badass, with her big boots and leather jacket. She was voiced by Pamela Adlon, of Louie and Better Things fame. Then there’s Ms. Finster, the unpleasant teacher with grey hair and granny glasses who’s always trying to take the joy out of recess.
You might remember the theatrical movie Recess: School’s Out. The flick takes place during the summer, when school’s out, and finds our protagonists returning to the dreaded educational institution to stop a villain who’s trying to get rid of recess.
11. Dave the Barbarian (2004-2005)
This show follows Dave, a cowardly, bumbling barbarian who lives in the kingdom of Udrogoth during the Middle Ages. His parents, the King and Queen, are often away, leaving Dave, his ferocious sister Fang, and his superficial sister Candy to defend the castle and kingdom. Their family pet is the delightful Faffy, a small, pig-like dragon who’s a few crayons short of a full box. In a fourth wall-breaking move, the show’s narrator talks to the characters, and vice versa.
Dave the Barbarian is similar to The Flintstones in the way it combines the medieval setting with modern inventions and pastimes, but Dave doesn’t hold a candle to Fred Flintstone. Dave the Barbarian was decent enough, but it only lasted one season before going off the air.
10. Fillmore! (2002-2004)
Fillmore! gets its name from protagonist Cornelius Fillmore, voice by That’s So Raven‘s Orlando Brown. Fillmore is a juvenile delinquent, and after his latest misdemeanor, his school’s safety patrol offers him an opportunity to join them and get a fresh start. Fillmore solves crimes at school with his friend and fellow officer Ingrid Third (played by prolific voice actress Tara Strong). The rest of the cast includes Horatio Sanz, Jeff Probst, and Wendie Malick.
Fillmore! is sort of a police procedural for kids. Fillmore and Ingrid solve child-friendly crimes like finding out who stole the school mascot, Lobstee the Lobster. They were a pretty awesome team. Also notable: Ingrid has very shiny black hair. The show aired on ABC Kids, but only lasted two seasons. Luckily for fans of Fillmore!, Disney Channel aired reruns all the time.
9. Totally Spies! (2001-2014)
Totally Spies! is an anime-style cartoon that follows Sam, Alex, and Clover, three friends in Beverly Hills who lead secret double lives as spies for the World Organization of Human Protection (WOOHP). They balance that with their busy lives as high school students. Every preteen girl knew exactly which of the three heroines they identified with. The spies wear iconic catsuits, and each girl has their own signature color: green for Sam, yellow for Alex, and red for Clover.
Their boss is Jerry, a middle-aged British man in a suit who assigns them mission and gives them super cool gadgets. The French and Canadian series was broadcast in the U.S. by Fox Kids and Cartoon Network. It spanned six seasons, although they were spread out from 2001 to 2014.
8. Angela Anaconda (1999-2001)
It needs to be said: the animation in Angela Anaconda is disturbing. The show used a form of stop-motion animation called cutout animation, so every character looked like a collage pieced together from black-and-white photographs. But their hair and clothes were in color, which made them look like pale corpses. Oh, and Angela’s voice is grating and annoying.
The show follows the daily lives of Angela Anaconda and her friends in the fictional town of Tapwater Springs. The Canadian-American show originated as a series of shorts on Nickelodeon’s sketch show KaBlam!. It was broadcast in the U.S. on Nickelodeon and Fox Kids. Even though this show was visually terrifying and got mixed reviews from critics, it got high ratings and ran for three seasons.
7. Hamtaro (2000-2006)
Hamtaro is a Japanese anime series about cute hamsters. What more do you need to know?
Cartoon Network and Fox Kids aired it in the United States and dubbed in English. The show has the tagline “Little hamsters, big adventures.” Hamtaro, the main hamster, is owned by a 10-year-old girl named Laura Haruna (Hiroko Haruna in the Japanese version). Hamtaro’s friend group is referred to as The Ham-Hams (awww). They all have big, adorable eyes and cute names like Panda, Jingle, and Pashmina. Their leader is named Boss (Taisho in Japanese).
The show’s original run was from 2000-2006, although it’s been revived quite a few times. Hamtaro is a big franchise in Japan: there’s a manga, a children’s book series, movies, video games, and toys. Unfortunately, it didn’t do as well in the U.S.
6. Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century (1999-2001)
We live in a world where there are two successful modern Sherlock Holmes TV adaptations: Sherlock and Elementary. But back in 1999, there was Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, which pretty everyone has since forgotten about. The DiC Entertainment-Scottish Television co-production only lasted two seasons. The show uses a mix of traditional 2D and 3D CGI animation to capture the futuristic world.
In New London in the 22nd century, a clone of notorious criminal James Moriarty is wreaking havoc on the city. New Scotland Yard has to call the only person who can bring him to justice: Sherlock Holmes. The fact that he’s long dead isn’t an issue; they reanimate his corpse using cellular rejuvenation. Then they invent a droid that learns to act like Dr. Watson. And just like that, the ol’ team is reunited.
5. Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends (2004–2009)
After eight-year-old Mac’s mom pressures him to abandon his imaginary friend Bloo, the boy discovers Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, an orphanage for outgrown imaginary pals. The home is run by a sweet, elderly woman named Madame Foster and her twenty-something granddaughter, Frankie. Bloo was an instantly iconic character. He looks like a cute ghost. The character design of the imaginary friends was incredibly creative. Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, played Eduardo, one of the imaginary gang.
The show came from the mind of Craig McCracken, creator of the beloved Powerpuff Girls. Foster Home for Imaginary Friends won six Emmys for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation and was nominated for Outstanding Animated Program in 2007. It ran for six seasons and garnered critical acclaim and high ratings.
4. Liberty’s Kids: Est. 1776 (2002-2003)
Liberty’s Kids was an educational animated show about life in the Thirteen Colonies in the Revolutionary War era. It was created by DiC Entertainment and broadcast on PBS Kids. It followed three kids who become reporters for Benjamin Franklin. There’s Sarah Phillips, an English girl who immigrates to the colonies; James Hiller, an American boy; and Henri, a young French boy. Also, because men’s hair was long back then, Sarah and James basically have the same hairstyle. The three young people experience all the major historical events of the American Revolution, from the battles of Lexington and Concord to Washington crossing the Delaware.
Due to PBS’s prestige, the show snagged A-list actors to play famous historical figures. The list is impressive: Walter Cronkite as Benjamin Franklin, Billy Crystal as John Adams, Annette Bening as Abigail Adams, Dustin Hoffman as Benedict Arnold, Michael Douglas as Patrick Henry, Warren Buffett as James Madison, Sylvester Stallone as Paul Revere, Ben Stiller as Thomas Jefferson, and Liam Neeson as John Paul Jones.
3. My Life As a Teenage Robot (2003-2009)
XJ-9, also known as Jenny Wakeman, is a robot girl who must juggle her job protecting Earth with the ups and downs of being a teenager. My Life As a Teenage Robot involves struggles with her mother/creator, the elderly human scientist Dr. Nora Wakeman. Nora wants to keep her focused on work, but Jenny wants to have fun too.
Her friends are the teenage boy next door Brad (who dresses like Ellen DeGeneres) and his younger brother Tuck. Brad is also Jenny’s love interest. They have a lot of chemistry, but how would a human-robot relationship work? Then there’s a nerdy boy named Sheldon Lee who is infatuated with Jenny, but she rejects his advances. The legendary Eartha Kitt plays the very fitting role of Vexus, the robot queen of the Cluster Empire.
2. Sabrina: The Animated Series (1999-2000)
You probably remember Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, the live-action series starring Melissa Joan Hart. But there was also the DiC Entertainment cartoon Sabrina: The Animated Series. While the Melissa Joan Hart series was definitely the better one, Sabrina: The Animated Series was also great. Both were based on the Archie Comics character and were broadcast by ABC and there were a few years when they overlapped. It was awesome.
Melissa Joan Hart’s little sister Emily Hart plays Sabrina in the animated series, while Melissa voices both Aunt Hilda and Aunt Zelda, who look much younger in this version. Nick Bakay voiced Salem in both shows. Harvey Kinkle is played by Nate Richert in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and by Bill Switzer in Sabrina: The Animated Series. The theme song to the animated series was performed by B*Witched, fittingly enough.
1. Courage the Cowardly Dog (1999-2002)
Courage the Cowardly Dog centers on Courage, a purple beagle. He lives in the middle of Nowhere (Nowhere, Kansas, that is) with his owners, an elderly couple named Muriel and Eustace Bagge. Their names are two of the most elderly-person-ish names in the world. Muriel is kind, but Eustace is grumpy and hates Courage.
Although Courage is the faint-hearted type, he must frequently overcome his fear to save his blissfully ignorant owners from the supernatural monsters that haunt Nowhere, Kansas. When Courage is frightened, he lets out a distinctive yell, revealing a tooth with a cavity.
The creator John R. Dilworth took inspiration for this dark comedy from Salvador Dalí and Ghost in the Shell. Courage the Cowardly Dog is an amazing show that deserves more recognition.
How many of these TV shows did you remember? Are there any that should have been on this list? Sound off in the comments.
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