Netflix is a veritable wonderland when it comes to shows that you a) missed when you were younger, or b) never saw the entirety of for one reason or another. Unfortunately, those that reach the glorious cloud known as Netflix Instant won’t always be available to impulsively watch at whim.
That’s why the Instant Queue exists, after all. It functions mostly as a bookmark, letting the user save their place. But even with the Instant Queue, there are titles that come and go. Given the shaky nature of the old film giants’ relationship with Internet streaming companies, the situation could change at any given moment.
So, really, the best idea would be to get your fill before they disappear. And, of all those things that might not crop up elsewhere, children’s cartoons that are amazing as an adult are perhaps the least likely to reappear. Here’s a handy list of those that are worth seeing before they’re gone for good.
1. Rocko’s Modern Life
Rocko’s Modern Life is one of the few cartoons produced by Nickelodeon that actually includes an adult protagonist. That isn’t to say that adults don’t feature in other Nicktoons, but that they rarely play the role of main protagonist.
Some of those who worked on Rocko went on to create Phineas and Ferb, and the voice behind Heffer, Tom Kenny, is now forever attached to SpongeBob SquarePants. Part of Rocko’s allure was due to the fact that it portrayed adult life in such a way as to be funny to both kids and adults at the same time. Not many other cartoons can say the same.
2. X-Men: Evolution
Though the X-Men series from the ‘90s is also available, it really hasn’t stood up to the ravages of time. In other words, it’s not as good as you might remember it being. On the other hand, the slightly more updated take on the X-Men series, X-Men: Evolution, is still kind of amazing.
Though it skates somewhat under the radar, it was and is the third longest running Marvel animated series, behind only the other X-Men and Spider-Man: The Animated Series. In addition, the character X-23 first made her appearance in the show and later transferred to the canonical universe. If that isn’t a veritable stamp of quality, I don’t know what is.
3. Inspector Gadget
If there’s any cartoon that just deserves to be on this list purely due to its merits, it’d be Inspector Gadget. There’s nothing quite like it out there now and there has rarely been in the past, especially if you take into consideration both Penny and her faithful hound Brain. The bumbling misadventures of the trio are often formulaic, but that’s part of the charm. Besides, it’s always worthwhile to hear Doctor Claw once more rubbing his demented cat in his lap while lamenting that he’ll get Gadget next time. Next time.
4. Spider-Man: The ’67 Collection
It would be hard to say that Spider-Man: The ’67 Collection is actually a good cartoon. In fact, there’s quite a bit of evidence that points to it actually being a very bad cartoon. But then, the things that the Internet latches onto aren’t always stellar examples of, well, anything.
The ‘60s Spider-Man meme is based around screen stills of various moments in the cartoon that are just — for lack of a better term — bizarre. It’s become somewhat of a hallmark to include one particular image — in the style of a collectible card game card — in a thread in order to suddenly make the whole thread about the meme. For this reason, and this reason alone, the series is worth watching in order to get some context for the silly poses and actions.
Or for more ideas.
5. Phineas and Ferb
The only show from Disney to appear on this list, Phineas and Ferb holds a special place in the hearts of many due to a variety of factors. First and foremost is the fact that it includes a musical number in almost every episode. It has even received a number of Emmy nominations for its music.
Part of the appeal here could be argued as lineage. Both of the creators, Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, had previously worked together on Rocko’s Modern Life. Given that Rocko also makes the list, it should come as no surprise that two veterans from the show managed to score another hit later.
6. The Ren & Stimpy Show
The Ren and Stimpy Show is hard to categorize as a children’s show, though that’s what Nickelodeon would have you believe. The themes and particular characters that it deals with on a regular basis are, while crude, a bit more mature than the standard. In short, why this was targeted for children is beyond me.
The show is incredibly violent, disgusting, disturbing and wonderful. It’s often hailed as the forefather to shows like South Park and Beavis and Butt-head. This is not to be confused with Ren & Stimpy: “Adult Party Cartoon” which aired on Spike TV and was cancelled shortly after debuting for missing the point entirely.