Last update: May 23, 2020
There’s no disputing that Disney+ is packed with great stuff. It has (almost) all of Disney’s animated movies. It has The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars TV show. It has original content from National Geographic, the entire Pixar library, Disney’s classic live-action family films, and much, much more.
With more than 600 series and movies in its library, Disney+ has almost too much to choose from. We’re here to help. Whether these programs are nostalgic favorites or new to you, there’s plenty of quality TV on Disney+. Here are the best shows on the new streaming service.
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Boy Meets World
For seven seasons audiences watched Cory Matthews (Ben Savage), his on-again-off-again girlfriend Topanga (Danielle Fishel), his older brother Eric (Will Friedle), and his best friend Shawn (Rider Strong) navigate middle school, high school, and college, usually with the help of their teacher/principal/friend, Mr. Feeny (William Daniels). While Boy Meets World tackled heady issues like divorce, child abuse, and underage alcoholism, it was also a sweet and funny TGIF staple that earned legions of fans — not to mention a spinoff, Girl Meets World, which is also available on Disney+.
Focusing on the origins of the Marvel teenage superhero group Runaways, Marvel Runaways is set on the fringes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. No Iron Man or Thor here — just six extraordinary Los Angeles teens uniting to defeat their evil, criminal parents, collectively known as the Pride. After stumbling across a terrible secret and discovering their parents have been lying to them their entire lives, the Runaways investigate what their guardians are after and what else they might be hiding. From teen show expert EP Josh Schwartz (The O.C., Gossip Girl), Runaways walks a fine line between superhero glam and teen angst.
By day, Drake Mallard is a regular suburbanite who frets over his adopted daughter, Gosalyn. By night, he’s Darkwing Duck, a masked superhero who spends the midnight hours fighting crime alongside his pilot sidekick, Launchpad McQuack. Sure, sometimes Darkwing’s ego gets in the way of stopping evildoers, but when push comes to shove he’s not just the hero that St. Canard needs. He’s the hero that St. Canard deserves.
Unlike the other Disney Afternoon cartoons, Gargoyles wasn’t afraid to go dark. Gargoyles‘ deep and nuanced characters, serialized plot lines, and pitch-black tone don’t seem out of place today, but at the time, there was no cartoon quite like it (give or take Batman: The Animated Series). While the third season suffered from some behind-the-scenes changes, the first two still hold up. If you have Disney+, they’re well worth revisiting.
When Dipper and Mabel Pines decide to spend the summer with their great uncle Stan, a huckster who runs Gravity Falls’ No. 1 tourist trap, the Mystery Shack, they don’t know what they’re in for. Gravity Falls is kind of like a kid-friendly mashup of the X-Files and Twin Peaks. It’s also equal parts thrilling and hilarious, and one of the best cartoons of the past 20 years. You’ll come for Gravity Falls‘ long-running mystery and bizarre creatures, but it’s the delightful characters that’ll keep you around. Gravity Falls is weird, but it sure has a lot of heart.
By day, she’s regular teenager Miley Stewart. By night, she’s international pop star Hannah Montana — and almost nobody knows her secret. Sound like trouble? Oh, it is. Not only did Hannah Montana launch Miley Cyrus’ career (and helped revitalize that of her real-life and on-screen father, Billy Ray Cyrus), but it’s also the highest-rated show in Disney Channel history. If you grew up with Miley, Disney+ gives you the perfect chance to revisit the series: Every episode is available on Disney+ right now.
The first live-action Star Wars series got off to a surprising start, and things are only going to get wilder as time goes on. In this groundbreaking series from Iron Man director Jon Favreau, Pedro Pascal stars as a masked warrior who travels through the Star Wars Universe’s seedy underbelly, brushing up against ex-Imperial warlords, former Rebel shock troopers, assassin droids, and all other kinds of ne’er-do-wells in his search for the ultimate bounty. Featuring the talents of Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Gina Carano, Giancarlo Esposito, and Taika Waititi — and that’s just in front of the camera — this one is something special.
Phineas and Ferb
Stepbrothers Phineas and Ferb are going to have the best summer vacation they can, the only way they know how: By building ludicrous and extremely dangerous contraptions in their backyard and avoiding the wrath of their older sister, Candace. Phineas and Ferb has the same energy as Family Guy (co-creator Dan Povenmire used to work on Fox’s animated sitcom), but it’s not nearly as raunchy, leading to a show that the whole family can enjoy. It’s a great time to catch up on Phineas and Ferb, too: A spinoff movie, Candace Against the Universe, will hit Disney+ this year.
So Weird was never the biggest Disney Channel series, but over the years it’s become a cult classic. The title tells you why. In this X-Files-inspired series, a teenage girl tries to find a way to communicate with her dead father while touring with her rock star mom and ends up running afoul of ghosts, vampires, Bigfoot, angels, and all kinds of other paranormal creatures. If you want something darker than the typical Disney Channel fare, look no further. You’ve found it.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The Clone Wars feature film, which also serves as the series pilot, is not good. The animated series that followed very much is. While Star Wars: The Clone Wars might’ve started as a typical action-adventure cartoon, it quickly morphed into something a lot more complicated: A thorough and nuanced examination of the horrors of war in the Star Wars universe. Throughout seven seasons (including the final one, now available on Disney+!) The Clone Wars both deepened and expanded the Star Wars franchise in all kinds of unexpected ways. Even better? The end isn’t really the end — the story continues in The Clone Wars‘ also-great follow-up, Star Wars Rebels.
What’s left to say about The Simpsons? Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa, and Maggie aren’t just cartoon characters. They’re cultural icons, not to mention stars of the longest-running sitcom in American history. Sure, by this point, there are probably more bad Simpsons episodes than good ones, but that doesn’t matter. On Disney+, you can revisit the glory days of seasons 1 through 10 as much as you want. Trust us. Those will never get old.
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
Back before Cole Sprouse was chewing the scenery on The CW’s sexy Archie comics adaptation, Riverdale, he and his real-life brother Dylan played twins who lived in the fictional Tripton Hotel, where they hatched schemes alongside classmates and hotel staff. The Suite Life was nominated for three Emmys, regularly tops lists of the best-ever Disney Channel series, spawned both a movie and a sequel series, and helped launch the careers of young stars including the Sprouse brothers, Ashley Tisdale, and Brenda Song.
The Proud Family
The Proud Family was groundbreaking TV for the Disney Channel. Disney’s first animated show centered entirely on an African-American family, The Proud Family is a delightful, sometimes zany coming of age show following the precocious Penny as she navigates the early years of adolescence. Balancing family, friends, school, and everything else teens do is always easier said than done but it certainly doesn’t help that Penny’s trigenerational household seems to have a knack for getting into larger-than-life hijinks.
X-Men: The Animated Series
Wolverine and the X-Men (also available on Disney+) might be the superior cartoon, but there’s still nothing quite like X-Men: The Animated Series. The phenomenally catchy theme song. The ludicrous Jim Lee-designed costumes. The weird, funny moments that have sparked a thousand memes. X-Men: The Animated Series doesn’t quite hold up — if it was ever any good at all — but it doesn’t matter. This Saturday morning cartoon was many fans’ first introduction to Marvel’s merry mutants, and it remains one of the most popular takes on the characters. Nostalgia: It’s powerful stuff.
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