How many hours have you spent so far scrolling through Disney Plus trying to figure out what movies and TV shows are worth rewatching? Well, I took a massive trip down memory lane for you and came up with a list of the Disney Channel shows and classic Disney Channel Original Movies you should definitely revisit and the ones you should probably skip.
For the purposes of this article, we wanted to stick with older classics, so anything after 2002 (when I turned 13) is NOT included. That means no Phil of the Future (great), no High School Musical (iconic), no Teen Beach Movie (surprisingly amazing). My selections are also only taken from what's currently available to watch on Disney Plus. I'll also add the disclaimer that I simply didn't have enough time to watch every episode of every show or every minute of every movie, so there might be some problematic stuff that slipped through the cracks. Disney isn't perfect (gasp!).
With that in mind, here are are the best Disney Channel TV shows and Original Movies to rewatch as an adult.
WATCH: 'Darkwing Duck' (1991)
Darkwing Duck is hysterical. The writing is sharp, the character voices are hilarious, and the antics are really clever. It's sort of a parody of a superhero noir, so it's basically like the Watchmen of the Disney Channel TV shows (a stretch, but I'm sticking with it). Definitely worth a second look. My bet is that there are a lot of jokes in there that will be funnier now that you're older.
SKIP: 'DuckTales' (1987)
The original DuckTales is so beloved that they made a new one, but I have to say, it's not really a show that's still entertaining when you're an adult. Huey, Dewey, and Louie are little kids, and even though they're cute and they get into lots of adventures, there's not much in the show to connect to once you have real responsibilities. If you have little kids, I'm sure they'll love it, though.
WATCH: 'Recess' (1997)
Recess is an all-time classic that totally deserves your attention. Spinelli, TJ, and the rest of the crew are just as entertaining now as they were when you were little. Recess is one of those shows that you can tell the adults made for themselves, even though it was marketed to kids. The writing is super smart and the characters are so well-defined.
SKIP: 'Chip 'n' Dale: Rescue Rangers' (1989)
This show, which I remember liking as a kid, is unwatchable. For some reason, all of the characters have normal voices except for Chip and Dale, which they gave the highest, squeakiest chipmunk voices. Maybe it's my aging ears, but I could barely understand or even tolerate them. And I honestly couldn't tell you what happens in the episode. It's a big ol' mess.
WATCH: 'So Weird' (1999)
Fi and her brother travel around the country on a tour bus with their rock star mom, played by Mackenzie Phillips, while Fi explores paranormal phenomena. It was awesome when I was a kid, and it's awesome now. Some sillier episodes (like the one with the tech-stealing gremlins) are a bit dated, but others totally stand the test of time and are actually a little bit spooky!
SKIP: 'Goof Troop' (1992)
This is one of those instances where you should just watch the movie. It's not that Goof Troop is that bad, it's just that A Goofy Movie was so good that there's no way the show could ever compete. And this is coming a Goofy fan. Just watch A Goofy Movie. It's on Disney Plus. Do it.
WATCH: 'Even Stevens' (2000)
Who knew that Shia LaBeouf would be... who he is today when Even Stevens came out? He still totally shines as Louis Stevens in this Disney Channel family show. And let's not forget the incomparable Christy Carlson Romano, who played an incredible straight woman as Louis' older sister Ren. The performances are still top-notch, and while the show is goofy, Ren and Louis clearly actually care for each other and the heart of the show really carries it.
SKIP: 'The Little Mermaid - Series' (1992)
I loved The Little Mermaid movie growing up. I would stick my legs in a pillow case and pretend to be a mermaid every time I watched it. But the show is boooooooring. Again, it's one of those instances where you just shouldn't waste your time with the show and watch the movie over and over instead.
WATCH: 'Lizzie McGuire' (2001)
Lizzie McGuire's problems are so thoroughly middle school, and you can definitely tell that this show kicked off the wacky, manic Disney style of later shows, but Lizzie McGuire is still great. What can I say? The writing is good, the performances iconic, and the episodes are so memorable. It's definitely quirky and at times straight-up weird, which is why it stands the test of time.
SKIP: 'Doug' (1996)
Doug started on Nickelodeon, where it became one of the most beloved cartoons of all time. And then it moved to Disney. I hit "play" expecting to be like, "Hey, access to any Doug is better than none!" but that is not how I felt watching the Disney version. First of all, they changed the theme song and the opening credits from the iconic "Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do!" How do you do that and live with yourselves?!
Second of all, the rest of it is also bad. The characters feel like pale caricatures of themselves. Every moment you remember loving from Doug definitely happened in the Nick version.
Other Disney Channel TV Shows
Watch: The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1988), TaleSpin (1990), Boy Meets World (1993), Gargoyles (1994), Quack Pack (1996), Smart Guy (1997), Out of the Box (1998), Kim Possible (2002)
Skip: Adventures of the Gummy Bears (1985), Casebusters (1986), Bonkers (1993), Timon and Pumbaa (1995), Mighty Ducks - Series (1996), Hercules - Series (1998), The Book of Pooh (2001)
WATCH: 'Halloweentown' (1998)
Obviously, when it comes to Disney Channel Original Movies, Halloweentown is the cream of the crop. I've written about it before, but I just have to say that I've watched this movie several times as an adult, and I never tire of it. It's infinitely entertaining. The sequels aren't anything to sneeze at, either! They're great! It's all great! I want to live in Halloweentown!
SKIP: 'Brink!' (1998)
I know I'm going to get a lot of hate for this one, but my dudes, I watched Brink! again, and it's... not good. First of all, did you remember that Erik von Detten's character's name is Brink?! That's a ridiculous detail. And the whole thing is just so bro-y. Sure, there's one badass girl skater, but she has to spend the whole movie saying, "Yeah, I'm a girl, but I'm a cool girl" in different ways over and over again, and it's exhausting. Also, I hate to say this, but inline skating is just not cool! There are way better Disney Channel sports movies out there.
WATCH: 'Smart House' (1999)
Smart House, I would argues, is the best of the Ryan Merriman Disney Channel Original Movies, and that's saying a lot. But it's just so good. It's one part bonkers wish-fulfillment (a house! that cleans for you!), one part moving family drama, and one part evil robot takeover. Katey Sagal is a master.
SKIP: 'Jumping Ship' (2001)
Listen, the Lawrence brothers were probably the first Disney Channel family royalty, but their movies aren't that good. That's not to say they weren't tan and handsome in Jumping Ship. They very much were. But the whole thing is just confusing! They don't even play brothers! Joey and Andrew play cousins, and Matthew is just a guy they meet who charters the boat they take. What! What is that choice?!
WATCH: 'Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century' (1999)
I'm sorry, but Zenon holds up! There, I said it. The space stuff still looks pretty cool, and the writing is fun and different. Plus, in the movie, Chelsea Clinton is the President of the United States, and that's just so interesting to me. Also, "Supernova Girl" still slaps.
SKIP: 'Double Teamed' (2002)
You know that Netflix movie Tall Girl everyone made fun of because it was about a very tall, very beautiful white girl who claimed to have a terrible life because she was Too Tall? Well, multiply that by two, add some poorly-played basketball, and you have Double Teamed. It's the real-life story of twins Heather and Heidi Burge, who ended up in the WNBA, but the movie is mostly two very tall, gorgeous girls complaining that they're too good at sports. (Also, that is one unfortunate title for a kids' movie —ed.)
WATCH: 'The Color of Friendship' (2000)
The Color of Friendship was the only DCOM to tackle racism head-on, and oh boy did it! It's based on the true story of Piper Dellums, the black daughter of a U.S. Congressman, who is excited to welcome an exchange student from South Africa into her home. But Piper expected to house a black girl, not Mahree, a white — and super racist! — South African girl and the daughter of a policeman, who is living during apartheid and simply cannot believe her eyes when a well-to-do black family picks her up from the airport.
I say watch it because, while it's not flawless, they do not shy away from depicting outwardly racist characters and discussing real issues, which was rare for the Disney Channel. It's refreshing to watch. That being said, I can't know what it's like to watch this movie as a black person, so I don't know how everyone will feel. I mean, the n-word is said. Uncensored. Twice. Once by a white person. So... that's a thing.
SKIP: 'Tru Confessions' (2002)
I liked Tru Confessions when it came out because I, too, thought it was cool to carry a camera around and document your life. But wow, it does not hold up. Tru is an early vlogger type, and she's annoying AF, not to mention insanely angsty. Also, Shia LaBeouf plays Tru's twin, Eddie, who has a developmental disability, and it just feels like they should have cast that part with someone who really had a disability.
WATCH: 'Cadet Kelly' (2002)
Hilary Duff and Christy Carlson Romano face off in this military school movie, and it's just great. Kelly is an artsy, New York type who gets shipped off to military school when her mom marries Gary Cole, the straight-laced commandant of the school. As likable as Hilary Duff was in Lizzie McGuire, she is perhaps even more spunky and lovable in Cadet Kelly.
SKIP: 'Get a Clue' (2002)
I was excited to revisit the Lindsay Lohan vehicle Get a Clue because I remembered it as an entertaining kid sleuth movie. It stars Amanda Plummer too, and she's always great. But the movie is actually mostly about super rich private school kids in New York City snooping into their teachers' private lives and complaining about having to ride the subway. It's weird and not worth it!
Other Disney Channel Original Movies
Watch: Don’t Look Under the Bed (1999), Johnny Tsunami (1999), The Thirteenth Year (1999), Phantom of the Megaplex (2000), Alley Cats Strike (2000), Rip Girls (2000), Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire (2000), The Ultimate Christmas Present (2000), Motocrossed (2001), The Luck of the Irish (2001), The Poof Point (2001), Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge (2001), Twas the Night (2001), Gotta Kick It Up! (2002)
Skip: You Lucky Dog (1998), Horse Sense (1999), Up, Up, and Away (2000), Ready to Run (2000), Miracle in Lane 2 (2000), Quints (2000), Stepsister from Planet Weird (2000), The Other Me (2000), Hounded (2001), Zenon: The Zequel (2001), The Jennie Project (2001), The Scream Team (2002), A Ring of Endless Light (2002)
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