It’s been a great decade for kids TV, as the medium has evolved in ways that can entertain viewers of all ages, from toddler to preteen. To commemorate the decade coming to a close, we’ve decided to list our 10 favorite episodes from the last 10 years, which highlight some of the best kids shows to grace the small screen.
Girl Meets World: “Girl Meets Cory and Topanga”
When it was first announced that Boy Meets World would be getting a sequel series revolving around Cory and Toganga’s daughter Riley, many fans of the original show were skeptical. Yet the revival proved to be better than expected, as it pleased longtime fans while satisfying a new generation of viewers. Nothing demonstrated this delicate balance better than the sixteenth episode of the second season, as Riley learns about her parents love story while also getting an important lesson about believing in herself.
Spongebob Squarepants: “Squid Noir”
It’s remarkable that everyone’s favorite absorbent, yellow, and porous sponge has remained a staple of kids TV for over two years, yet heading into his fourth decade of relevance, Spongebob is as popular as ever. And one of the best episodes of his third decade of dominance was the ninth episode of the eleventh season, which served as a hilarious tribute to the classic noir genre, with Spongebob trying to figure out who stole Squidward’s missing clarinet. It’s episodes like these that prove the show is every bit as dumb and brilliant as you remember.
Peppa Pig: “Police Station“
It’s hard to overstate just how popular Peppa Pig is for young kids. Just look at ‘Police Station’, the thirty-sixth episode of the fifth season, which features the family heading to the police station after George loses his favorite toy Mr. Dinosaur. It’s a simple, perfectly pleasant story that perfectly executes the formula that is beloved by millions of kids around the world.
Arthur: “Arthur’s Toy Trouble”
The best episodes of Arthur featured the mild-mannered aardvark in conflict with his adorably malevolent little sister DW. And that dynamic is in full effect when Arthur gives a seemingly detective toy to DW, only to discover it may be worth more than $2 million. Even 19 seasons in, it’s always a delight to watch these two siblings clash.
Legend of Korra: “Beginnings”
The underrated sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender peaked with this two-part story that shows the titular water-bender rediscovering her Avatar Spirit by finding Raava, the spirit of peace and light. It’s the type of carefully crafted and absolutely thrilling story-telling that makes this one of the most beloved adventure series of this century.
Steven Universe: “The Answer”
Certain kids shows are so transcendentally good they manage to cultivate an adult fanbase and one prime example is Steven Universe. The show is as emotionally resonant as it is effortlessly hilarious and the greatest example of why it appeals to both adults and kids is the 21st episode of the second season, where we learn how Ruby and Saphire met and eventually formed the Crystal Gems.
Paw Patrol: “Pups Save a Mud Monster”
The only young kids show that might give Peppa a run for her money, Paw Patrol takes the idea that kids love dogs and uses that to create a society where a team of puppies are called on every episode to save the day. In this sixth season episode, the team needs to help a group of snowboarders who are stuck on a broken chair lift while a monster is loose.
Adventure Time: “What Was Missing”
Another one of those kids shows that appealed to adults as much as young viewers, Adventure Time proudly let its freak flag fly for nearly 300 episodes. The 10th episode of the third season proved to be its masterpiece, as it takes a delightfully ridiculous concept – Finn, Jake, Marceline, and Princess Bubblegum must form a band to retrieve stolen items from The Door Lord – and ends up teaching a lesson filled with depth and nuance, namely that the key to true friendship is open and honest communication.
Gravity Falls: “Weirdmageddon Part 3”
A series finale is a notoriously hard thing to do right and even the most beloved shows often end on a divisive note (looking at you, Sopranos) which is why it’s so remarkable that a kids show managed to deliver one of the greatest TV endings ever. Really, all three parts of Weirdmageddon deserve mention but we’re giving special attention to the phenomenal final episode that managed to tie up loose ends, deliver the show’s signature blend of laughter and heart, and give Dipper, Mabel, and the viewers a fond farewell to the incredibly weird and lovable small town of Gravity Falls.
We Bare Bears: “Panda’s Birthday”
One of the most entertaining most recent kids show proves it’s only getting better with its fourth season finale, which shows Grizzly and Ice Bear trying to make their brother Panda’s birthday special by meeting with K-Pop group Monsta X. Of course, along the way, the three bear brothers get themselves into no shortage of hilarious antics.