Cartoons have been a staple of global pop culture for decades now, and thankfully they don’t seem like they'll be dying out anytime soon. With the impressive cult followings of modern cartoons like Regular Show and Adventure Time, it’s hard not to think back to some of the classic cartoons that paved the way. And with the recent revival of the Voltron series on Netflix, it’s definitely not out of the realm of possibility to believe that Netflix could pick some of the more popular and creative cartoons of the past few decades to both reboot or revitalize.
It’s not easy narrowing down a list of the 15 greatest cartoons, so this list is definitely tailored more toward television shows that either deserve to be recognized on a grander scale for a younger audience today, or ones that could easily be reimagined. This list contains classics, as well as newer cartoons that took viewers by surprise. Without further ado, here are 15 Classic Cartoons That Netflix Should Reboot.
15 Danny Phantom
Danny Phantom was a Cartoon Network original series that aired between 2004 and 2007. The series was created by Butch Hartman (who also created The Fairly OddParents), and starred Danny Fenton, a 14 year old who acquires ghost-like powers when one of his parent’s inventions malfunctions. He fights the ghosts that come into his world with the aid of his two best friends, Tucker and Sam.
One of the more clever aspects of the show revolves around the fact that Danny’s parents are professional ghost hunters/catchers, and Danny must keep his dual identity a secret from them and his genius sister. It was a show that perfectly blended intriguing action, well written characters, and wonderful animation, and it was a Cartoon Network staple for many years. Danny is tasked with protecting his hometown of Amity Park from the spirits of the “Ghost Zone”, and his interactions with the several ghosts (especially box ghost) end up being quite interesting given Danny’s “half ghost” powers. Danny also had to deal with his arch-rival throughout the show, Vlad Masters, who like Danny is also a half-ghost, but with 20 more years of experience.
The show also happened to have one of the greatest and most catchy intro songs in all of animated history.
14 The Jetsons
The Jetsons is a cartoon that has solidified itself as a staple of American pop culture, plain and simple. It’s a cartoon that almost everyone, regardless of the decade they grew up in, watched and enjoyed. It’s crazy to think that it originally only aired for two seasons, only to get picked up again in 1985 as part of the Hanna-Barbera block, The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera.
The proof is out there that the series is ready for a reboot, especially with Justin Lin’s new Arconic commercial showing us a future-ready reboot of the classic cartoon. The only thing Jetsons related that we currently have is an odd crossover between The Jetsons and WWE, which is just stupid enough to not work. It would also leave the door open for a potential Flintstones (more on that later) animated Netflix universe, with crossovers galore.
27 years definitely seems like the perfect amount of time since the original series to build up hype with both old fans of the series, as well as younger kids who could discover the show's appeal for the first time.
13 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Any person who happily admits to loving cartoons has to love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And even though Michael Bay isn’t putting out Oscar-winning reboots anytime soon, the films definitely garner enough attention to prove that fans are ready and willing to consume more and more turtles. The turtles are currently alive on Nickelodeon, but the series is definitely a lot more childish (not kiddie, but annoyingly young), and a series with a slightly more serious tone would be quite welcome.
There are many animated series that have more adult themes throughout, and the Ninja Turtles seems like a cartoon that could benefit with a darker/more gritty reimagining. The Turtles have even fought alongside Batman in the comics, and it would be a delight to see a slightly lighter series brought to life on the world’s greatest streaming service, Netflix. It would also allow us to revisit some great villains, and perhaps not butcher them the way Krang was butchered in the second new Turtles film.
12 Digimon Tri (Series)
Digimon Tri is a new series of films being released throughout Japan, and a few of the films have already made their way stateside. Digimon is a beloved property, and even though it doesn’t have quite the following that Pokemon has, it’s still a show with countless followers.
The main problem with the films is their very format, the hour-and-a-half runtime really bogs down the amount of material prepared for each individual film, and many of the more dramatic/important moments get lost with some of the more lackadaisical scenes. A series would allow us to spend more time with the individual characters, and to get used to the team dynamic of the group, while also allowing pay-off for each 30 minutes spent in the digital world.
The new art direction and the fact that the series revolves around teenaged versions of the children from the original series, all lead to a very intriguing premise for the new show. The team behind the films could also use the films as a sort of prequel to the series, and just continue from where they leave off. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for another Digimon series to see the light of day.
11 The Flintstones
No list of classic cartoons would be complete without The Flintstones. Anyone on the street could merely begin humming the show’s theme song, and an entire block of people would start singing in unison. It’s such an easily recognizable property that seems unaffected by the passage of time. Like the Jetsons, The Flintstones has been seen (at one point or another) by the majority of people, regardless of age.
A new art direction and writing team could easily take the great concept set up by the original series and expand the world of the Flintstones, and its cultural reach, allowing the show to be watched by fans, new and old. It would also be interesting to see a series centered around Bamm-Bamm Rubble and Pebbles Flintstone, whether together or not, and their relationship with their elderly parents.
The Flintstones was the most profitable animated series for 30 years (up until the introduction of The Simpsons), and it seems about time that the family from the past made their way back onto our modern television sets.
It hurts to try to imagine a new version of the Peanuts, but it was much harder trying to picture it before the new animated film proved that it could be redone, and done well. The Peanuts series is, of course, based off the syndicated daily and Sunday American comic strip both written and illustrated by the great Charles M. Schulz.
In 2013, TV Guide ranked the Peanuts television series as the fourth great television series of all time. The television holiday specials are some of the most popular elements of the Peanuts series, and they still air on ABC during each of their respective holidays.
The new animated style of The Peanuts Movie was different enough from the original series, but still held onto the core design of each character, and was the perfect reintroduction/celebration of what made the comic strip and the television show so incredible. The Peanuts Movie was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film, and several of the original holiday specials either were nominated for, or won, Emmys at their respective time of release.
9 Pokemon Origins
Pokemon Origins was a mini-series that was based around a young character named Red, who is the protagonist for the first entries in the Pokemon video game series. For lifelong Pokemon fans, it was refreshing to see some stories that didn’t involve Ash Ketchum for once, even though Ash is a great lead for a children television series. It was also incredibly satisfying to see the major events from the games recreated in animated television format.
The problem with the Pokemon Origins series is that the show is far too short, and with that, a large amount of time-jumping had to occur to fit the entire narrative of the early games. A couple shorts were released afterward that continued on from where Origins' first and only season left off, but these shorts leave a lot to be desired.
Red is a great new protagonist, and it would be a real treat for fans to see him run through some of the games that followed Red, Blue, and Yellow. And hopefully this time we would see those major events in their entirety.
8 G.I. Joe
G.I. Joe is easily one of the most recognizable, and also one of the greatest children’s cartoons of all time. The series was corny, yes, but it was also a mirror into another world where war was constantly fought, and at the end of the day, the good guys would always triumph. And though this theme is played out time and time again, it’s important for children to empathize with the good of the world, and turn away from the wicked.
G.I. Joe was a pretty simple series, and a reimagining could potentially be a real game changer, if Netflix were to lose some of the campier aspects of the program, and instead highlight the intense combat between these two warring factions. G.I. Joe is also a show that doesn’t seem to be as readily available as some of the other older cartoons on this list, meaning that many of kids today have no idea about the program.
7 The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers
Galaxy Rangers was a western/sci-fi that ran from 1986 to 1989, and it was created by Robert Mandell and Gaylord Entertainment Company. The series was praised due to its interesting premise and setting, and it was also one of the first Japanese anime series produced mainly in the United States. At the time of its release, it was considered extremely revolutionary program, and even though it seems a bit dated now, it’s still a vastly impressive feat.
The show is set after the year 2086, and stars Zachary Fox, the captain of the Series 5 Rangers; Shane “Goose” Gooseman, a genetically engineered Supertrooper; Niko, an archaeologist; and Walter “Doc” Hartford, who is a swashbuckling space pirate. With a crazy premise like this, Netflix seems like the perfect place to revamp the series for a more modern audience. Hopefully the streaming service would do enough justice to the material to bring back some of the older fans.
6 Death Note (Reimagining)
Death Note is an insanely popular anime series that just so happens to be getting the Netflix treatment rather soon. However, this treatment is in the form of a live-action feature film, which seems to be the improper format for such a brilliant and long-running story. It’s difficult to tell a good story in two and a half hours, and it’s even harder to reimagine a long-running serial as a successful film.
However, Death Note is a series that lends itself perfectly towards a continuation or reimagining. The world of Death Note is very interesting, and several of the actual death note books exist within the world of the show, meaning characters besides Light Yagami could potentially come into contact with the mysterious books. It’s interesting that the new film is moving the setting of the story to America, but keeping the characters the same completely ruins the creative ingenuity in that.
Instead of a completely new and fresh story, the filmmaking team just decided to "whitewash" much of the cast of the original series and place it in America, which means the new film is already off to a rocky start. Hopefully Netflix will realize that other stories could potentially be told within this world, and will stick to television and avoid film adaptations for these kinds of materials.
5 Rocket Power
Rocket Power is without a doubt one of the greatest Nickelodeon series of all time. Rocket Power was created by the same creative team behind Rugrats, and is about a group of four friends who love extreme sports. It ran from 1999 to 2004, and it was incredibly popular when it was airing, and it actually still airs on Nickelodeon's Splat cartoon block.
The show was hilarious, heartwarming, and all kinds of cool, and it basically highlighted how all kids wanted to spend the majority of their time. When the kids weren’t biking, skating, or roller-blading, they were usually found at the Shore Shack, finding out all they needed to know about life post-surfing retirement by their spiritual guru, Uncle Tito.
It was a show that was created to facilitate the needs of aging audience Rugrats had gained, and it ended up capturing the imaginations of many children at the time. It’s also a show that is ready for a retooling, as there really aren’t many extreme sports themed cartoons for younger viewers.
4 Teen Titans
Teen Titans was a series on Cartoon Network that aired from 2003 to 2006, and featured team members Robin, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven. Animated properties based on DC Comics titles have a long track record of being some of the greatest animated series of all time, and Teen Titans is no exception.
Centered around the team's daily activities with keeping their city safe from villains, the show was always thrilling, engaging, and an exceptional character piece. The Teen Titans currently live on Cartoon Network with their new show, Teen Titans Go, but it pales in comparison to the great work done in 2003. Seeing Robin comes to grips with a real threat in Slade Wilson was perhaps one of the greatest hero/villain cartoon arcs in animated history, and it was evident that the creative team behind the series really understood the canon and importance of the characters.
Having Netflix reboot the original series could also potentially lead into a crossover with Young Justice, which recently got renewed, and streams exclusively on the streaming service giant.
3 Codename: Kids Next Door
Codename: Kids Next Door was so ingenious in its basic narrative structure, and was also executed extremely well. Codename: Kids Next Door is a program about a group of kids, named and numbered 1 through 5, who combat the evil forces of the grown ups that exist within their world. They combat these adults with wood-based weaponry that they design themselves in their state-of-the-art treehouse. The arch nemeses of the children are the Delightful Children from down the lane, a ground of kids that work under “Father”, the leader of all the adult tyranny.
It’s surprising that this show gets left out of a lot of conversations abort the best modern cartoons, but it was a fantastic program that is criminally underrated. For this series, it would be beneficial for Netflix to just continue the program (similar to how Cartoon Network is continuing Samurai Jack), and perhaps tell the story of what happened after the kids grew up. Maybe they now must battle against an even angrier enemy, senior citizens.
2 Masters of the Universe
Masters of the Universe is in the conversation for greatest cartoon ever made. It’s a classic that still holds up fairly well today, even though its more than 30 years old. For those who have never seen the immaculate cartoon, it's centered around the hero, He-Man, who is in constant conflict with his arch nemesis, Skeletor. It was a show that taught children the importance of bravery, and that standing up for what you believe is right is the most crucial thing in life.
Hollywood has been attempting to create a new feature film based on the property for many years now, and (rightfully so), the project is not an easy one to condense down to two hours. Netflix has already proved that it can reboot a property and create a faithful yet truly inventive new series with Voltron, and Masters of the Universe could easily see the same amount of success. Having Netflix reboot the series would also leave it open to crossing over with the #1 choice on this list, and the thought of that should make any cartoon lover foam at the mouth.
Thundercats came out a few years after Masters of the Universe, and it was instantly compared and judged against its older sibling. The topic of “which show was better” is still hotly debated to this day. The answer is that both series were great, and the order in which you rank them in your favorite cartoons of all time is based solely on personal preference.
Thundercats is about a young lion named Lion-O, who is rapidly aged-up when he is jettisoned from his ship along with his several comrades, by their mentor, Jaga. Lion-O is chosen to be lord of the Thundercats after he is able to wield the sword containing the eye of Thundera, a mythical stone that holds the Thundercat's powers.
Thundercats, like Masters of the Universe, has been in feature film development hell for years now, and even with Mila Jovovich stating recently that she’d love to be in the movie, there doesn’t seem to be much headway. Thundercats was actually already rebooted in 2011, and the series was actually pretty incredible, but unfortunately the ratings were less than stellar, and it got cancelled after only one season.
Hopefully Netflix could bring Thundercats to a new generation, and material is already written for the eventual MOTU/Thundercats crossover, as DC Comics actually has a crossover comic series running right now.
So what do you think? Were there any cartoons that didn’t make the list that you’d love to see? Let us know in the comments below.