WARNING: This is a GIF-heavy post.
- Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids
I don’t know if this is still aired or repeated but this was one of the darkest shows of my youth and it was always on around teatime.
There were characters like Lorelei Lee, a serial truant and hypochondriac who had her ‘No-Schoolitis’ cured with leeches, mustard and brain surgery. Another boy, Terry the thief was cursed with an insufferable rash until he confessed to his crimes. Despite the creepy combination of narration by Nigel Planer and the amount of gory and bizarre situations, the children of this show were often taught a lesson in the good and the bad (albeit a little sadistic at times.)
Still keeping in the nineties, but slightly more upbeat, was everyone’s favourite anthropomorphic aardvark, Arthur Read. He and his family lived in Elwood City and the show was all about the daily lives of various eight-year-old animals.
What I loved about Arthur was that he and his sister D.W- younger by four years- would always bicker or try to get each other in trouble but more often than not, they came to a mutual and happy end point.
I also remember a serious episode whereby the gang find graffiti and everyone suspects the bully Binky to be the culprit, despite his denial. They later discover that a band did it for promotional reasons and apologise for falsely accusing Binky. Fighting prejudice; aardvark style.
- Scooby Doo
There were two great things to be learnt from the Scooby Doo mysteries. Firstly, despite something seeming paranormal, out-this-world and downright messed up, the truth was always revealed in front of our eyes. Our baby brains were already keen investigators!
Secondly, those truths enlightened our tiny minds to a pretty harsh fact of reality – people are monsters. (Don’t worry though, they never got away with it!)
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch
I spent most of my years growing up wishing that I had Sabrina’s magic powers – particularly the ability to get ready for school by just pointing at yourself. However, Sabrina quickly learnt through her experiences that the easiest way isn’t necessarily the one with the best consequences – all magic (if we could have it) would come at a price.
The moral lessons in this program not only came from Aunts Hilda and Zelda but from her slightly neurotic cat Salem. He wasn’t always in the right, but was still a highlight because cats are awesome.
Exercise a little caution, kids. The only thing more fearsome that the responsibilities of adult life? This series. Originally short stories by R. L. Stine, Goosebumps raised a generation of us to be reasonably savvy; trust no one because they could well turn out to be some kind of horror, from a simple werewolf to a camera that erased you from existence… *shudder*.
Goosebumps taught us: “You wandered into the abandoned building, you gotta deal with what happens in there.”
- Gravity Falls
Mabel and Dipper Pines – whilst staying with their Great Uncle Stan – become intrepid explorers and uncover the mysteries of the local town, showing that while a curious nature is healthy, it can often leave you in some pretty tight spots! Not quite as terrifying as Goosebumps because it’s animated, this is one of mine and Josh’s favourite programmes, despite it being aimed at children.
Alongside all the mayhem, there are some great lessons about being yourself, not judging people by their appearance and most importantly, the importance of looking out for your family and friends.
There’s something to be said for a programme that can make you have such strong feelings about animals (fantasy or not). Through his journey to be a Pokémon master, Ash Ketchum taught us not only about the responsibility of looking after animals but about friendship and compassion, and persevering to achieve your dreams.
I’ll never forget ‘Bye Bye Butterfree’ episode in Indigo League because it still makes me cry to this day. Treat your friends right, and they’ll always have your back (even if they are a different species).
- Powerpuff Girls
Well aside from the obvious fact that the Powerpuff Girls dedicated their lives to fighting crime and the forces of evil… In an early episode ‘Equal Fights’, the villain Femme Fatale goes around stealing only Susan B. Antony coins from the banks. After speaking to Ms Bellum, the PPG realise that equality means equality, giving this awesome speech about Susan to the villain:
“In 1872, she broke the law by voting. And even though she was found guilty, the feds wanted to go easy on her-because she was a girl!-and not send her to jail. Susan B. Anthony didn’t want special treatment. She wanted to be treated equally. She demanded that she be sent to jail, just like any man who broke the law. And that’s exactly what we’re gonna do to you.”
- Spongebob Squarepants
The biggest optimist on television, Spongebob sang and danced his way through nearly every episode. He loves his job at the Krusty Krab and is always willing to suggest ways in which to preserve or promote the business. When learning to drive – much to the frustration of Mrs Puff, the instructor – he doesn’t give up despite not being very good at it. His friendships with Patrick Star and Sandy the squirrel are loyal and honest… Basically the kind of character that if we met in our adult life, we’d despise for being just too good.
- Adventure Time
Where do I even begin?!
Finn and Jake are heroes in the magical land of Ooo and spend their time saving and helping others, or just hanging out with their friends. Throughout the programme as Finn grows up, we are taught several important lessons…
Consent (asking permission) is mandatory.
Trying new things is hard, but you should persevere.
Treating someone differently because of race, gender or social group is wrong.
You will go through some tough times, but you can make it out the other side.
What were your favourite TV shows as a kid?
Did they have a moral lesson?
What great episodes of these shows have you seen?
Let me know in the comments below!