The Kids Are All Right: The Goofiest And Greatest In Classic Children's TV Shows

From Bugs Bunny and Pee-Wee Herman to Muppet Babies and a certain Kangaroo, we're celebrating the best in classic children's TV shows.

From Bugs Bunny and Pee-Wee Herman to Muppet Babies and a certain Kangaroo, we're celebrating the best in children's television.

From Bugs Bunny and Pee-Wee Herman to Muppet Babies and a certain Kangaroo, we're celebrating the best in children's television.

Although it may sound positively prehistoric to young iPad devotees, Instagrammers, and Fortnite fans, there was a time not so long ago when Saturday morning was all about our favorite TV shows.

And yes, while some of those shows were literally prehistoric (paging Fred and Wilma Flintstone!), there was a variety of children's programming available to keep any kid glued to the tube, whether on those lazy weekend mornings, after school, or even in prime time. 

With several new shows being added to today's TV mix, it's time to pay homage to some of the most memorable, classic, and beloved children's shows in television history, as well as some more recent additions to the kid-friendly fun. As Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck sang: "On with the show, this is it!"

Watch!—with the help of our friends at TV Guide—bring you a nostalgic look back at the best in Saturday morning cartoons and kid's TV shows. Scroll to see some of our all-time favorites! 
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Tom Corbett, Space Cadet (1950–1955)

Tom Corbett, Space Cadet (1950–1955)

This science fiction series, set in the year 2350 a.d. at Space Academy, USA, was notable for its early scientific authenticity, like dangerous gas fields, meteorites, and weightlessness. Tom Corbett, Space Cadet kicked off on CBS in 1950, but it ultimately ran on all four networks available in the 1950s, airing three nights per week in 15-minute intervals.

During its run, the show featured a roster of future TV stars, including Jack Lord of the original Hawaii Five-0 and Jack Klugman of The Odd Couple.

Photo Credit: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images.
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Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969–1976)

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969–1976)

This famous cartoon, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, featured everyone's favorite eponymous Great Dane, Scooby-Doo, and his teenage friends Fred, Daphne, Velma, and the super-chill Shaggy Rogers, traveling in their Mystery Machine to solve mysteries usually involving "ghosts" and other supernatural forces.

While the scary monster was often nothing more than a disgruntled and not-very-threatening landlord or grifter, these "meddling kids" were always there to save the day.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection.
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The Flintstone Comedy Hour (1972–1973), The Flintstone Comedy Show (1973–1974)

The Flintstone Comedy Hour (1972–1973), The Flintstone Comedy Show (1973–1974)

The Flintstones originally aired in prime time—the first animated show to do so—on ABC from 1960 until 1966, but this Saturday morning hour gave CBS the chance to bring a little more "yabba dabba do." The series featured new shorts with the classic characters, one with the cast of The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show (which briefly aired on CBS the prior season), and two songs performed by the band The Bedrock Rockers. (What's with all of these animated bands?)

Fun fact: The character Pebbles in The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show was voiced by Sally Struthers, shortly before she began her role as Gloria on the CBS sitcom All in the Family.

Photo Credit: Hanna-Barbera/Courtesy Everett Collection.
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The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show (1978–1985)

The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show (1978–1985)

Long after Bugs first took that wrong turn in Albuquerque, this CBS Saturday morning animated series featured Bugs and friends—including Daffy Duck and Porky Pig—in seven different cartoons in each episode. In 1976, Sylvester and Tweety were spun off into their own show on CBS for one season.

Soon thereafter, Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner (and the hapless Wile E. Coyote, among others) were featured in a CBS Tuesday night primetime edition of the series The Bugs Bunny./Road Runner Hour.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection.
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The Archie Show (1968–1969), The Archie Comedy Hour (1969–1970), Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies (1970–1971), Josie and the Pussycats (1970–1971), Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space (1972–1974)

The Archie Show (1968–1969), The Archie Comedy Hour (1969–1970), Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies (1970–1971), Josie and the Pussycats (1970–1971), Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space (1972–1974)

Attention, Riverdale fans: Archie and his pals used to be a lot more innocent.

The Archie Show was the first cartoon with the classic comic book characters. It included two 10-minute sketches and a dance of the week selection incorporating Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Jughead Jones, and Reggie Mantle. It was also here that we were introduced to some other animated characters from the Archie Universe, such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the all-girl trio Josie and the Pussycats.

And if you thought the latter were a little strange with their cat ears and wacky outfits, they had nothing on those Groovie Goolies, a rock band composed of Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman (who ultimately got their own spinoff series).

Photo Credit: Hanna-Barbera/Courtesy Everett Collection.
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The Alvin Show (1961–1962; revived on NBC in 1979)

The Alvin Show (1961–1962; revived on NBC in 1979)

The Alvin Show was derived from a 1958 record titled "The Chipmunk Song" (a strong candidate for the most grating earworm of all time).

Animated Alvin was the adorable and mischievous lead singer of The Chipmunks, opposite the tall, bespectacled Simon and the loving and naive Theodore. David Seville was the group's adopted human father and manager, who at some point in each episode of the Saturday morning cartoon would screech "Alvin!" when the trio misbehaved.

Four live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks movies with Jason Lee in the role of David Seville were produced in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2015, and a TV series revival, titled ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks, premiered on Nickelodeon in August 2015.

Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)

It was a premise that had to be seen to be believed: four skateboarding turtles who lived in the sewers of New York and were trained by their anthropomorphic rat sensei in the art of ninjutsu in their battle against criminals, mutated creatures, and alien invaders (among other evil forces).

Based on the comic book, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was an immediate sensation, morphing into a merchandising bonanza complete with toys, video games, a cereal brand, and five films—and some of the coolest Halloween costumes ever.

Photo Credit: Ronald Grant Archive / Mary Evans.
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Jim Henson's Muppet Babies (1984-1991)

Jim Henson's Muppet Babies (1984-1991)

Based on a dream sequence in the 1984 film The Muppets Take Manhattan, Jim Henson's Muppet Babies was a long-running Saturday morning staple as an animated version of the beloved Muppets, living together as, well, babies in a nursery under the guidance of "Nanny" (who never revealed her face).

The babies, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Scooter, Skeeter, Animal, Gonzo, and Rowlf the Dog, spent much of their time imagining themselves in live-action clips and movies such as Star Wars and Ghostbusters. A reboot of the series premiered on Disney Junior in March 2018.

Photo Credit: Henson Associates/Courtesy Everett Collection.
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Captain Kangaroo (1955–1984)

Captain Kangaroo (1955–1984)

Bob Keeshan, who played Clarabell the Clown on Howdy Doody, created this weekday series based on the warm relationships between grandparents and children.

Captain Kangaroo featured Keeshan telling stories, meeting guests, and indulging in stunts with humans (remember Mr. Green Jeans and Dancing Bear?) and puppets like Mr. Moose, who loved surprising the Captain with ping-pong balls that fell from the ceiling. The show incorporated cartoons, including Tom Terrific and The Toothbrush Family, and features such as The Magic Drawing Board and the Captain's Reading Stories sessions.

Photo Credit: CBS Photo Archive.
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Tom and Jerry (1965–1972)

Tom and Jerry (1965–1972)

Based on the famous Oscar-winning MGM theatrical shorts, the now-classic Tom and Jerry from Hanna-Barbera Productions (home of The Flintstones and The Jetsons, among countless others) centered on the rivalry of Tom, a cat, and Jerry, a mouse.

Their ongoing feud wasn't exactly kid-friendly, with frequent electrocutions, maiming, and lots of axes and hammers, but unlike their more modern counterparts—The Simpsons' Itchy and Scratchy--the lack of any blood and gore kept their fights relatively tame. After running for seven seasons, the program resurfaced as The New Tom and Jerry Show in 1975.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection.
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Pee-wee's Playhouse (1986-1990; repeats from 1990-1991)

Pee-wee's Playhouse (1986-1990; repeats from 1990-1991)

After the success of Pee-wee's Big Adventure (based on the character Paul Reubens had developed on stage and on an HBO special), Peewee's Playhouse featured a sketch comedy troupe including Laurence Fishburne (Cowboy Curtis), S. Epatha Merkerson (Reba the Mail Lady), and the late, great Phil Hartman (Captain Carl).

And as for Pee-wee's pals Jambi, Chairry, Pterri, and Randy, the show's "secret word" to describe them may be "unforgettable." Now a cult favorite among adults, Pee-wee's Playhouse is recognized for its originality and wonderfully demented ("I know you are, but what am I?") characters.

Photo Credit: John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images.
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Big Top (1950–1957)

Big Top (1950–1957)

Ed McMahon is of course best known as Johnny Carson's sidekick on The Tonight Show and as the host of Star Search.

But in this early offering, he played Ed the Clown—complete with a nose that flashed to open the show—and introduced a potpourri of circus acts, ranging from trapeze artists to trained animals. After a six-month run on Saturday in prime time, Big Top became a fixture on Saturday afternoons on CBS.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection.
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Heckle and Jeckle (1956–1960, 1965–1966; revived on NBC from 1969–1971)

Heckle and Jeckle (1956–1960, 1965–1966; revived on NBC from 1969–1971)

Originally a series of animated movie shorts from Terrytoons, Heckle and Jeckle were two extremely talkative magpies, never able to make up their minds without worrying about the consequences. They needn't have worried: No matter what they decided, it was always wrong.

The pair first appeared on television in the 1956 summer primetime series CBS Cartoon Theatre, hosted by Dick Van Dyke, which also included animated series Gandy Goose, Sourpuss, Dinky Duck, and Little Roquefort. The Heckle and Jeckle Show was one of the first animated series to be regularly featured on Saturday morning.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection.
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Quick Draw McGraw (1959–1961)

Quick Draw McGraw (1959–1961)

Known as "the fastest gun in the West," Marshal Quick Draw McGraw was a dim-witted horse trying to maintain law and order in New Mexico alongside his assistant, a Mexican burro named Baba Looey.

Additional segments in the Emmy-nominated Saturday morning cartoon featured Snagglepuss—the trouble-prone pink mountain lion of "Heavens to Murgatroyd!" fame—and Augie Doggie, a dachshund who was constantly bailed out by his father, Doggie Daddy.

Photo Credit: Hanna-Barbera/Courtesy Everett.
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Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (1963–1966)

Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (1963–1966)

Don Adams (known for playing Maxwell Smart on Get Smart) was the voice of Tennessee Tuxedo, a quick-witted penguin who lived at the Megapolis Zoo with his friend Chumley, a simple, easygoing walrus, and professor Phineas J. Whoopee, known as the "Man with All the Answers."

Tennessee and Chumley would always try to escape, but after discovering that the outside world was a little more complicated than they'd imagined, they would return to the zoo and its not-so-nice director, Stanley Livingston. The Saturday morning series Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales was created and produced by Total Television, which later did Underdog.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection.
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Winky Dink and You (1953–1957)

Winky Dink and You (1953–1957)

Known as the "first interactive TV show." Winky Dink and You was a Saturday morning series hosted by Jack Barry (later of The Joker's Wild fame) that centered on the exploits of Winky Dink and his dog, Woofer.

The show featured a merchandising tie-in called the "Winky Dink Kit," where children at home—prompted by Winky Dink—would take the clear plastic sheet from the kit and place it over the TV screen, using the crayons provided to draw all over it. Despite its popularity, production was halted because of concerns about harmful X-rays from the TV and, not surprisingly, complaints from parents who did not want to buy the kit. A new version of Winky Dink and You was revived for syndication from 1969 to 1973.

Photo Credit: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images.
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CBS Storybreak (1985–1988)

CBS Storybreak (1985–1988)

A rare departure from the typical Saturday morning fare, animated series CBS Storybreak, hosted by Captain Kangaroo's Bob Keeshan, featured adaptations of popular children's books, including How to Eat Fried Worms, Ratha's Creature, and Hank the Cowdog.

Making parents and teachers very happy were the show's captions, which gave young viewers the chance to read along with each story. In 1993, it was re-released with new host Malcolm-Jamal Warner.

Photo Credit: CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

 
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One Magnificent Morning (The CW: 2014–present)

One Magnificent Morning (The CW: 2014–present)

With an emphasis on educational programming aimed toward teenagers and their parents, One Magnificent Morning began as a five-hour Saturday morning block featuring a potpourri of live-action half-hour programs.

Now three hours in length and consisting of six series, the current lineup features The Wildlife Docs; Did I Mention Invention?; Ready, Set, Pet; Welcome Home; This Old House: Trade School, and Chicken Soup for the Soul's Animal Tales. And nary an animated rock band in sight.

Photo Credit: Litton Entertainment/The CW. 

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