We may be living in the era of peak TV, but kids who grew up in the 2000s might say otherwise.
That's because children's television was at its best when Millenials and Generation Z were growing up, and a large part of that was thanks to Disney Channel.
Disney Channel was still finding its footing in the late 90s, but in the 2000s it quickly became the go-to channel for children and tweens alike.
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From earlier programs like Even Stevens, Recess and Lizzie McGuire to some of its later inceptions like The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Phineas and Ferb, Disney delivered its finest work during this time period, and the kids and tweens of today might never know what they truly missed.
So let's sit back and reflect on those times you would come running home from school so you can catch your favorite Disney program and talk about it with your friends on the playground the next day.
Also, make sure to tell us which Disney Channel show was your absolute favorite growing up!
Normal teen by day, pop star by night. Before Miley Cyrus became the global superstar she now is, she was Hannah Montana, a global superstar in her own right. Hannah Montana was by far the most popular show to come out of Disney, and the network will likely never be able to match the success it once had. It was so successful that a feature-length film was released in theaters! Whether they admitted it or not, every child was watching Hannah Montana because Miley Stewart was living the dream of every child out there, and had a solid group of friends and family supporting her throughout the way. Hannah Montana may have been a pop star, but Miley Stewart was just your average teenage girl who knew how much of a struggle it was to grow up.
Dave the Barbarian
An underrated gem that wasn't fully appreciated by Disney Fanatics until it was too late. While it only had one season, Dave the Barbarian became a beloved show and its reruns were all the rage. Disney has always been willing to explore the weird and wacky, and Dave the Barbarian was as weird and kooky as it could get. Dave was a cowardly barbarian who thought he was pursuing a career as a librarian who also cuts hair. Instead, he was forced into a world of fighting monsters and bad guys while his shallow sister attempted to rule the kingdom. It combined all the classic family sitcom elements with a middle ages backdrop. It was a cartoon that was way ahead of its time.
Disney Channel had a few live action shows before Even Stevens, but this Shia LaBeouf sitcom was Disney's first big hit. At its core, Even Stevens was a traditional family sitcom that followed the lives of the Stevens family. Despite being a normal middle-class family, they managed to get themselves into some pretty wacky, off-the-wall situations, mainly due to the youngest child Louis. The series which also starred Disney Channel mainstay, Christy Carlson Romano, used stereotypes such as the dumb jock brother and type A sister in a way that was truly unique to them. Even Stevens was also the first live-action Disney Channel show to culminate in a movie, and if you ask Shia LaBeouf (and me), it was one of the greatest movies ever!
Disney Channel may be known for its sitcoms, but they know how to produce some badass action shows as well. Filmore! wasn't a show known for laughs, it was a show known for solving crimes and kicking butt. A parody of police procedurals that took police work to the schoolyard. Filmore, a former juvenile delinquent turned an esteemed member of the X Middle School safety patrol was partnered up with a former delinquent in her own right, Ingrid. After helping her clear her name for a "crime" she didn't commit, the two not only became partners but best friends. With Filmore's athletic skill and Ingrid's photographic memory, the two ensured their peers were safe from all delinquents at X Middle School and made kids everywhere wonder why their school's safety patrol wasn't nearly as cool as Filmore and Ingrid.
The Jonas Brothers were all the rage in 2009. They became especially popular after the release of Camp Rock. So, it made sense for Disney to capitalize on the brothers' popularity, and have them be the stars of their own show. While Jonas didn't become the success Disney hoped it would be, it was still wildly entertaining, mainly because the brothers weren't afraid to poke fun at themselves. Joe was the stereotypical leading man, obsessed with his looks, Kevin was the loveable goofball, and Nick was the calm, cute, endearing one. Jonas also provided Chelsea Kane and Nicole Anderson with their breakout roles. Nick and Macy's romance in Season 2 (LA, LA Baby!) was what made the show go from good to great in its last season!
Disney's House Of Mouse
What do you get when Cinderella, Bambi, and Peter Pan go to dinner and a show together? You get Disney's House of Mouse! Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and the rest of the Toontown gang running their own dinner theater was a genius idea and gave Disney fans everything they could have dreamed of. The Mickey Mouse gang may have been the focal characters of the show, but other Disney heroes and villains also got their chance to shine as they attempted to either help Mickey and Co. save the day, or attempted to ruin Mickey and Co.'s dinner theater. House of Mouse was the type of show that could be appreciated by all ages, mainly because of its unique use of popular Disney characters. The fact that it hasn't been rebooted by Disney Channel yet, is the greatest mystery of all.
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
Before Cole Sprouse was Jughead Jones, he was Cody Martin: a smart and dorky preteen boy who alongside his rebellious twin brother Zack, found themselves getting into a ton of trouble at their new home, the Tipton Hotel. The Suite Life of Zack & Cody was an instant hit as soon as it premiered, and the Sprouse twins became bonafide celebrities just after a few episodes. Suite Life was a success mainly due to the chemistry of the cast. There was a character every kid, teen, and adult could relate to, whether it be Zack or Cody or Maddie, or London played by Ashley Tisdale and Brenda Song. This was also one of the few shows on Disney that gave adult characters like Mr. Moseby, Arwin, Esteban, and Carey a chance to bask in the spotlight as well. One thing everyone could agree on was that they wished they lived at the Tipton.
The Suite Life on Deck
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody had to come to an end due to a number of castmates including Ashely Tisdale wanting to move on to new projects. However, the Sprouse twins popularity was at its peak, so Disney did the smart thing and decided to continue the show, but instead of taking place at the Tipton Hotel, it took place on the SS Tipton Cruise ship. The ship happened to have a school for Zack, Cody, and Tipton heiress London to attend. Despite the location change, the Martin twins managed to still get themselves in loads of trouble, and cause Mr. Moseby all sorts of headaches. The Suite Life on Deck also introduced the world to Debby Ryan who played Bailey. Cody and Bailey's on-again/off-again romance became a cornerstone of the show, and fans of the Martin twins got to see them grow up and graduate high school.
The Emperor's New School
The Emperor's New Groove wasn't one of Disney's most successful film releases, so it was a bit of a surprise when the network decided to turn the film into a show. Yet, that decision turned out to be a good one because the show took all the elements that worked in the movie, and combined it with the classic Disney Toon sitcom elements that kids grew to love. Kuzco wasn't the most loveable guy in the world, so watching him have to overcome all the stuff Yzma and Kronk threw at him to try and get him to fail at Kuzco Academy was highly amusing. Malina and Pacha provided the show with some heart, while Kuzco's meta-humor and breaking of the fourth-wall added an extra layer of greatness to a show that should've failed.
What if you could replace every problematic person in the world with someone you think would be better? That was essentially the plot of The Replacements, a show that never took itself too seriously. Todd and Riley were two orphans who came across an ad for Fleemco which gave them a daredevil dad and spy mom for parents. The two siblings continuously used Fleemko to replace people they found problematic. However, most of the time the replacement caused even more problems, problems that Riley and Todd ended up having to fix. The humor on this show wasn't for everyone as it wasn't afraid to be insanely ludicrous and ridiculous. A prime example would be the episode set in Canada, which somehow involved unicorns. It may have been strange, but The Replacements owned it.
The oldest show on the list, Recess first premiered in 1997. However, the show was so popular (and so darn good), that it not only lasted six seasons, but it also gave reruns a number of years after its conclusion. Almost every kid's favorite part of school was recess, and thanks to TJ, Vince, Spinelli, Gretchen, Mikey, and Gus, kids learned a whole bunch of new and innovative things they could do during this free time. Recess covered all sorts of scenarios that happen to kids on a regular basis at school whether it was bullying or playground politics. While Recess ended with the film "Recess: School's Out", which was released in theaters; TJ and the gang continued to pop up occasionally in other Disney shows because let's face it, they were the coolest gang around.
That's So Raven
Oh snap was this a damn good show. The first Disney Channel show to last over 100 episodes, That's So Raven followed the life of Raven Baxter, a teenager with psychic abilities. Her abilities sounded great on paper, but it often caused Raven more problems than anything. Whenever she attempted to make the vision come true or prevent it from happening, she ended up getting herself, her family and/or her friends Eddie and Chelsea into even more trouble and chaos. Every episode saw Raven in an outlandish disguise, and Raven Symone quickly became the master of comedic timing. While the show was goofy and hilarious, it also tackled real-life issues middle-class black families faced. Despite being on the kid-friendly network, That's So Raven was beloved by people of all ages.
Call me, beep me, if you want to reach me. Kim Possible was your average teenage girl. She was a cheerleader who had crushes on boys and had a loyal best friend in Ron Stoppable Oh, she was also tasked with fighting crime, and taking down evil maniacs trying to take over the world. Kim Possible managed to combine action and humor, and ended up earning itself a highly devoted fanbase along the way. The show wasn't afraid to take things to the extreme, Ron had a pet naked mole rate for crying out loud (Rufus for life!), but somehow still managed to be relatable to tweens and kids alike. Kim and Ron's will they/won't they romance had everyone on the edge of their seat as much as every time Kim fought Dr. Drakken and Shego. Kim Possible was just so darn cool that she had every kid at recess asking, what's the sitch?
Phil of the Future
Disney Channel was never afraid to explore concepts and ideas they never did before, and Phil of the Future was their first attempt at exploring the popular genre of sci-fi in a television series (Disney Channel Original Movie, "Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century" will always be the real Disney sci-fi OG). While Phil of the Future wasn't nearly as popular as other Disney shows giving around the same time, it still managed to be wildly entertaining. It combined sci-fi with classic Disney sitcom elements including a dysfunctional family, and a budding will-they/won't they romance. This was also Aly Michalka's first big TV gig that launched her acting career. The Diffy family may have been from the future, but watching them attempt to hide that fact from everyone in the present timeline never got old.
Lilo & Stitch
Stitch was all the rage in the early 2000s. He became the most popular Disney character of the time period, and almost every kid was obsessed with him. It only made sense for Disney Channel to capitalize on this box office sensation, and give the loveable blue alien his own TV series. Spinoff shows of movies are largely a hit or miss situation, but Lilo & Stitch managed to be a smash hit. Every episode saw Lilo and Stitch embroiled in a new adventure as they searched for other alien experiments created by the mad scientist Jumba. Stitch's advanced abilities and Lilo's heart and determination made them the perfect team as they helped reform all the experiments, and welcomed them into their ohana. Lilo & Stitch was the perfect combination of heart, humor, and adorableness.
Phineas and Ferb
The youngest show on this list, Phineas and Ferb was one of Disney Channel's longest running shows, and a majority of it took place during summer vacation. The cartoon followed stepbrothers Phineas and Ferb who thought of the craziest adventures for them and their friends to have during summer vacation. While they were doing this, their older sister Candace regularly continued to try and stop them, and their pet platypus Perry (aka Agent P) secretly battled the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz. The show wasn't afraid to take risks creatively, and it became beloved by kids and teens alike. Its success led to multiple films and TV specials including Marvel and Star Wars crossovers. Phineas and Ferb proved that sometimes the most offbeat ideas lead to the best shows.
Everyone lives for the weekend, but no one knew how to do the weekend better than Tino, Lor, Tish, and Carver. A show about four pre-teens who couldn't be any more different from each other, but yet still manage to find new things to do as a group every single weekend. Similarly to recess, The Weekenders diverse quad of characters ensured all kids had someone they could relate to whether it be the sophisticated Tish, the klutzy dork Tino, tomboy Lor, or wannabe cool guy Carver. The Weekenders proved that while not all weekends are going to be filled with excitement and adventure, they will always be fun when you spend them doing the most mundane things with your friends.
Sonny With A Chance
Just like the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato became a huge star after the release of Camp Rock, and it was only natural that she would get to be the star of her own show. Sonny with a Chance saw a normal girl become a famous tween TV star. Little did she realize that being a part of the sketch show So Random would mean she would be entangled in all sorts of hysterical behind-the-scenes drama. Sonny was surrounded by a group of zany personalities including Tawni Hart: the stereotypical diva, Nico, and Grady: the comedians who dreamed of being heartthrobs, and Chad Dylan Cooper: the teen heartthrob who starred on the rival teen soap, Mystic Falls. Chad and Sonny's budding romance quickly became a cornerstone of the show, but alas we never got to see a proper ending due to its premature cancelation. Chonny forever!
Disney needed to capitalize on the success of Even Stevens, and followed it up with an even bigger success in Lizzie McGuire. Lizzie McGuire was your typical family sitcom that followed the trials and tribulations of Lizzie McGuire who had to deal with all the drama of middle school with the help of her friends Miranda and Gordo. Add in an overprotective mother, a clueless father, and an annoying little brother, and you got a recipe for success. However, what made Lizzie McGuire so unique was that we got to see what Lizzie's true feelings about certain situations she found herself in were thanks to her animated alter ego. Getting to see two different sides of Lizzie made her so loveable, and thanks to Hilary Duff's girl-next-door charm, Lizzie McGuire was one of Disney's first big sensations!
The Proud Family
One of the most diverse animated shows of its time, The Proud Family followed the lives of a middle-class African-American family. Penny Proud was the headstrong, eldest child of the Proud family who attempts to grow up, despite her overprotective father Oscar preventing her from doing so. The Proud Family balanced real-life scenarios with sometimes outrageous situations, but no matter the situation, The Proud Family ensured that they would tell it through the black experience. It explored themes of black culture, black religion, racism, bullying, and segregation. The show had a diverse crop of characters including Penny's best friends Dijonay, Zoey and LaCienga. While the friendships were an important part of Penny's life, it was the relationship amongst the Prouds that made the show stand out.
Wizards of Waverly Place
The 2000s saw Disney mold a ton of future pop stars, and Selena Gomez is arguably the biggest one of all. Wizards of Waverly Place launched Gomez's career, and a huge reason for that was because of how awesome the show was. It quickly became a smash hit for the network, and even won a few Emmy's during its run. The show started off rather tame as Jerry Russo tutored his magical kids Alex, Justin, and Max while they also attempted to blend in with all the normal kids in their high school. However, as the show grew in popularity so did the budget. The Russos magical adventures continued to be bigger and better as they encountered a ton of evil beings and other magical creatures along the way. Alex's best friend Harper, and epic romances for both Alex and Justin equaled a Disney Channel show that was simply magical.