For children of the 1990s and 2000s, there was never really ever a shortage of cartoons created purely for their entertainment.
While that time period certainly found the rise of animated entertainment aimed at adults — with the immense popularity of series such as The Simpsons, Family Guy, and South Park attesting to this phenomenon — the fact of the matter remains that animation, and namely animated television series, have been primarily targeted at children — and in steadily increasing numbers.
With channels such as Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, and the self-proclaimed Cartoon Network churning out content at all hours of the day, including the sporadic and oft forgotten Saturday morning cartoons on ABC, NBC, and The WB of old, it’s often near impossible to channel surf and not come across something cartoonish and cute and child-focused.
Of course, an abundance of content is hardly ever a good thing when it comes to entertainment. Too much of a good thing is one problem that the entertainment industry deals with regularly — but even more than that, too much of a not-so-good thing is all too common.
For every stellar cartoon series that aired in the early 2000s, there were a handful of others who never matched up in terms of quality.
Within both groups, no matter how enjoyable they may have been at the time, if they were at all, the test of time has not been kind to them whatsoever.
Here are the 15 ’00s Cartoons That Have Aged Badly.
15. Teacher’s Pet
Talking pets of all kinds are more or less a hallmark of animated TV series and movies alike – for some reason, they seem to be guaranteed instant hits.
However, just because something is popular, that doesn’t mean that every use of the concept will be successful. Take, for example, the 2000-2002 ABC/Disney series Teacher’s Pet, which followed an elementary school student and his pet dog who dressed up like a boy and attended school, too.
With an impressive cast including comic talents Nathan Lane, Debra Jo Rupp, Wallace Shawn, and David Ogden Stiers, the show did have a lot going for it.
It was even given its own movie release — a box office bomb that only made $6.5 million against a budget of $10 million.
However, despite Disney’s faith in the series, and the talent it boasted, the humor, animation, and concept just don’t hold up nearly two decades later.
14. Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
Capitalizing on a series that has proven to be a success is generally a good business method. It’s even better when you can capitalize on that successful series through a genre that has been incredibly successful elsewhere.
So when Disney produced Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, which aired between 2000 and 2001, it wasn’t a surprise that they were hoping for a successful series based on the popularity of the Toy Story franchise, as well as the sci-fi adventure TV genre.
At the time, the show was good for corny laughs and overdone space humor.
However, years later, with a clear over reliance on formula and stock sidekick characters who really aren’t as interesting as Buzz himself, it’s safe to say that this series doesn’t hold up, especially when compared to the animated sci-fi shows that have aired since.
13. Butt-Ugly Martians
Sometimes, with certain TV shows, you just have to wonder what people were thinking.
In addition to representing a turn toward sci-fi based series for children, the early 2000s also included experimental uses of early CGI – for better or for worse.
The short-lived 2001 Nickelodeon series Butt-Ugly Martians represents some of the worst utilizations of both sci-fi and early CGI.
The group of Martians at the center of the series — cornily named B-Bop A-Luna, 2T Fru-T, and Do-Wah Diddy – are yet another example of the fish out of water trope.
As invaders of far away planets, they soon find themselves settling on Earth, acclimating to the culture, and then, hijinks ensue.
However, far better animated and written series have handled this same topic in far better ways, so really, there’s nothing about this show worth revisiting.
12. Lloyd in Space
When it comes to the topics deemed interesting to kids of the early 2000s, we’re beginning to notice a pattern here.
As yet another series exploring aliens, outer space adventures, and awkward adolescent experiences, Lloyd in Space tries to package itself as a cheesy coming of age — in an age very, very far removed from our own.
Set in an extremely distant future, Lloyd in Space is basically a proto-dystopian series without any of the grunge and dark tone now associated with each and every dystopian series of films and shows.
No matter the unconventional setting, the experiences the awkward tweenage Lloyd undergoes are clearly meant to be universal signs of growing pains and young adulthood.
However, because of how universal these allegedly are, and yet how poorly executed and cringe-worthy the series’ set up is, there is nothing remarkable about what Lloyd has to offer, especially 14 years removed from its final episode.
11. Mary-Kate and Ashley in Action
If you were a child of the ’80s, ’90s, or ’00s, the odds are exceedingly strong that you were inundated by content starring everyone’s former favorite twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
The onetime child stars, now turned fashion industry moguls, had countless television series, movies, books, toys, and so very much more.
Yet perhaps the most forgettable venture ever undertaken by the Olsens was a short-lived animated venture that aired from 2000-2001, Mary-Kate and Ashley in Action!
In this series, the girls voiced cartoon counterparts of themselves who were actually super talented secret globe trotting agents.
With none of the charm of the mysteries solved by the younger Olsens in The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley, and with incredibly basic animation to boot, this is a show that is better off forgotten among their past weaker ventures.
It’s always a real bonus, from an adult perspective, when a children’s television show hopes to offer educational value to its viewers.
So, in the case of Tutenstein, an animated series that aired from 2003-2008 on Discovery Kids and detailed the trials and tribulations of a young former pharaoh who comes back to life, it could stand to reason that perhaps there would be some educational merit among the extreme suspensions of disbelief.
The series did have consultants working on it to ensure that some aspects of Egyptian history and culture were accurately represented, so perhaps, more than any other aspect of the series, that serves as a redeeming quality.
However, beyond that, the series suffers terribly from boring characters, trite dialogue, and bordering on creepy animation that doesn’t always seem suited for its target demographic.
9. Kenny the Shark
Tutenstein wasn’t the only Discovery Kids show to have questionable merit, however. We all know and love shows about an unlikely friendship between a child and a bizarre, often larger than life pet.
Clifford the Big Red Dog has been a cultural icon for as long as he has precisely because of the kindness and warmth the story of love between himself and his owner, Emily, represents.
In the case of Kenny the Shark, however, viewers are likely to be left scratching their heads far more often than feeling any of the requisite heartwarming feels.
Kenny’s design is certainly comically appealing, with vibrant colors and exaggerated facial expressions.
However, beyond this one design plus, Kenny the Shark is a show that unfortunately never decided what it wanted to be — so it’s no real surprise that the network pulled the plug on it even faster than they did with Tutenstein.
8. Dave the Barbarian
As we have seen so far, children’s animated shows are completely unafraid of traveling through time, dimensions, locations, and basically every component that makes up a good setting.
So Disney Channel’s Dave the Barbarian ostensibly fits right in with the crowd, following the comical adventures of perpetually oafish middle child Dave during the Medieval period of history.
Boasting an impressive cast of talented voice artitsts known for their work in animation, including Tress MacNeille, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Frank Welker, the show clearly had considerable talent behind the scenes. Unfortunately, it never delivered on the wealth of expertise it had access to.
While Dave the Barbarian was certainly good once upon a time for cheesy laughs and animated physical humor, the overall conceit of the show just falls flat all these years later, feeling gimmicky in the worst way.
7. My Gym Partner’s A Monkey
As we have already seen, if there are two general rules that can be applied to a majority of animated kids’ series, they’re probably these: the more bizarre the central characters’ relationship to one another, the better; and the more nonsensical the premise, the better, too.
Take, for example, the somehow wildly successful My Gym Partner’s a Monkey. Airing on Cartoon Network between 2005-2008, the series ran for four highly viewed and acclaimed seasons, earning multiple award nominations in the process. The cast also even included the likes of Spongebob Squarepants himself, Tom Kenny.
But the premise couldn’t have been more ridiculously convoluted in its purported simplicity: a boy, whose last name is Lyon, finds himself forced to attend a school for animals. Get it? Because Lyon, lion?
Somehow, this spawned an entire series, including specials and a movie. But years later, not a single part of this, or the decision making process behind it, is worth checking out again.
6. The Replacements
Imagination and wish fulfillment are crucial elements of the majority of children’s entertainment – but The Replacements, the 2006 Disney Channel series, may have just taken a good thing a whole lot too far.
The series follows two hard on their luck children who have lived in an orphanage, only to come upon a sudden windfall in the form of a mysterious phone called a Fleemco Phone.
Thanks to the phone, they are able to replace any undesirable part of their lives with another satisfactory one – namely, swapping in people they like for those they don’t.
Using the phone, they even manage to order themselves crazy, exciting parents, so that their lives are interesting and full of adventure.
Not a single thing about this show makes sense, and its message of avoiding the difficult relationships in life through easy, magical means is all but insulting to a child’s educational level.
5. George of the Jungle
George of the Jungle is a character whose story has been told again, and again, and again. Whether you grew up with the older films and cartoons, or the Brendan Fraser movie of the 1990s, you’ve likely encountered the affably hapless George and his titular Jungle in one form or another.
However, if it was the 2007 Flash animated series, we are so, so sorry.
George’s story isn’t exactly one that involves a whole lot of heavy lifting or thinking, as it deals heavily in physical humor, lowest common denominator jokes, and fun with animals.
However, the mediocre animation used in the 2007 series, as well as the beyond confusing decision to swap the two female leads’ names between seasons — as though they were entirely interchangeable — both leave plenty of bad tastes in your mouth and merit this series being left on the cutting room floor.
4. Back at the Barnyard
Once upon a time, a movie called Barnyard was released in 2006. It wasn’t especially successful, but it made back its budget at the box office all while struggling to receive a critic’s score above 20% on Rotten Tomatoes.
It followed the lives of obnoxious farm animals, with loud and flashy CGI animation, and a cast of TV stars and movie stars alike in its voice cast.
A year later, the animated series Back at the Barnyard premiered on Nickelodeon, now featuring an almost entirely different cast, and with characters who were more obnoxious and paper thin than they had been in the previously forgettable theatrical release.
Stories about animals are generally a hit with kids, but looking back on these over the top and obnoxious characters, we can’t understand how they were ever enough of a draw.
3. The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack
By looking at the concept art for the 2008-2010 Cartoon Network series The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, prospective viewers — and their parents — surely wouldn’t come away with any positive, family friendly interpretations.
The bizarre series follows the lives of a crotchety old sea captain and a young boy he takes into his charge, along with the whale who has raised the boy, Flapjack, as her adopted son.
The humor is often crass, with adventures appearing oddly dark and unsettling in order to match the jarring, eerie feel of the animation style.
The series certainly tried plenty of new things when it came to what was acceptable within an animated show aimed at children, but they also say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” for a very, very good reason.
Flapjack really should’ve heeded that advice on more than one occasion.
2. The Mighty B!
Having come from the great mind of comedian and big name star Amy Poehler, it’s really a shame that The Mighty B! wasn’t any better than whatever it turned out to be.
The series follows a young girl who, as a girl scout, is either creative or deluded enough to think that earning merit badges will somehow award her special powers and a secret superhero identity.
The creative imagination it takes to make that leap is astounding, and it certainly could have made for a good series.
However, what instead results is yet another animated series led by a dreadfully annoying little girl, whose merits are few and enthusiasm is much too high. Coupled with some uncomfortable looking animation, it’s safe to say that Poehler and company should stick to live action.
1. Fanboy & Chum Chum
Unlikely situations are a main component of many of the series we’ve looked at on this list. Some of them even address characters imagining themselves in better or worse scenarios and taking acts to make those thought come true, or prevent them from happening.
From 2009 to 2014, Nickelodeon aired Fanboy & Chum Chum, a series about two young boys whose friendship intensity and obsession with superheroes and comics are unrivaled.
They get into ridiculous situations and take frequent adventures in order to act more and more like their idolized heroes.
The humor in the show is smarter than some others, including multiple straight up parodies of noteworthy works.
However, no matter how spot on some of their parodies may have been, it remains true that the titular characters are both dreadfully obnoxious – and that each episode is so thin on quality content, it very well may have never been written down at all.
What cartoons of the ’00s do you find utterly impossible to watch now? Let us know in the comments!