10 Animated TV Shows Barely Anyone Remembers

The most popular animated series live on in popular culture long after their final episodes. Whether that be in meme culture, reboots, or continued repeat airings years after concluding, these series have managed to leave a lasting legacy on the kids and adults that watched them. For example, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe still receives reboots and spin-offs decades after its final episodes, while series like Steven Universe live on in internet culture. Other series, though, aren’t so lucky, and this list focuses on these oft-forgotten gems.

The following 10 animated series have largely been forgotten by the general masses. While they all have significant cult followings, they have faded into obscurity since their initial release, no matter their popularity during their original runs. These were the series with immense potential that somehow fell to the wayside in the modern day. Pulling from the last three decades, these series represent some of the medium’s greatest hits or most unique experiments, and with a representative of every major genre including sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, and even light horror, viewers owe it to themselves to give them all a second chance.

10 Code Lyoko (2003)

Code Lyoko is a French animated television series that began airing in 2003. The story takes place in the Kadic Academy boarding school, where, in the basement, 8th-grade prodigy Jeremie Belpois stumbles upon a quantum supercomputer. After jumpstarting the device, Jeremie awakens the virtual world of Lyoko, as well as a mysterious artificial intelligence known as Aelita. However, this allows brings a malicious computer virus, XANA, to life, allowing him to wreak havoc on the real and virtual worlds. Using the supercomputer, Jeremie sends his friends Odd, Ulrich, and Yumi into Lyoko to defend Aelita as she attempts to save both worlds.

Code Lyoko Combined 2D and 3D Animation for Maximum Effect

Code Lyoko was ahead of its time in a number of ways. The blend of 2D and 3D animation helped distinguish the real and virtual worlds, and this visual dichotomy set the series apart from many of its contemporaries. While it was groundbreaking at the time, its sequel series (featuring live-action rather than 2D animation) didn’t achieve the same heights, and the series has since faded from popular culture. This doesn’t diminish its impact, though. The tense storytelling never coddled its audience, and the world-building and character designs are second to none. In all, this is a series that wholly deserves a modern comeback.

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9 Generator Rex (2010)

The world of Generator Rex is besieged by nanites. Five years before the events of the series, an explosion caused nanites to infect every living organism on Earth, and activation of these nanites causes the host to mutate into a powerful, often volatile new form. The organization Providence has a secret E.V.O. fighting weapon in the amnesiac fifteen-year-old boy, Rex. Unlike most E.V.O.s, Rex has active control of his nanites, allowing him to manipulate them and transform them into powerful weapons. He can also pull activated nanites from a person, making him the ultimate cure for their mutations and the only one who can oppose the evil Van Kleiss.

Generator Rex Built a Thriving, Science-Fiction Universe

While it is the newest entry on this list, Generator Rex’s impact on pop culture has largely diminished since its 2010 release, which is a true shame. This series was an incredible piece of science-fiction storytelling, bending genres and pushing character design to the extremes with the various E.V.O.s that appeared throughout the series. From giant monster rabbits to talking chimps to superheroic (or supervillainous) humans with immense powers, the show pulled out all the stops throughout its three seasons. For those who do remember this series, they fondly remember it as one of the highlights of Cartoon Network’s animated programming.

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8 Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends

We all had imaginary friends when we were kids, but when we got older, where did they go? Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends has the answer. For those imaginary friends that have been abandoned or forgotten, the titular home takes them in and gives them the opportunity to be adopted by new children. According to his mom, Mac is too old to have an imaginary friend, so she tells him to get rid of Bloo. Unwilling to part with his friend, Mac takes him to Foster’s, making a deal with its caretakers to keep him from being adopted. Now, Mac gets to visit Bloo and his newfound friends every day, and the series follows their whacky adventures.

Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends Accesses the Best Parts of Our Imagination

As its name would suggest, Cartoon Network certainly held a monopoly over animated programming in the 2000s, and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends was one of its best. It was a hilarious show, featuring some absolutely stellar writing and voice performances, and the character work was brilliantly executed. One of the best elements of the series was its bizarre character designs. Given that the series is based in childhood imagination, the characters all appear like they were designed and drawn by children. With accessible storytelling that respected its viewers’ intelligence, this series deserves a second-chance at the spotlight.

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Related: Beloved Shows That Could Be the Next Dramatic/Gritty Reboot

7 The Pirates of Dark Water

Testing the waters with a five-part miniseries in 1991 before releasing two full seasons, The Pirates of Dark Water is a fantasy adventure series set on the oceanic planet Mer. Plagued by a mysterious Dark Water that is overtaking its oceans, Mer needs a savior to gather the 13 Treasures of Rule to drive the vile substance back. Ren, raised by a lighthouse keeper, never knew that he had royal blood, but with his father, King Primus of Octopon on his deathbed, Ren is the only one who can save the world. Gathering a crew, Ren sails off to find the 13 treasures before the pirate captain Bloth can take control of the Dark Water.

The Pirates of Dark Water Take Fantasy Adventure Onto the High Seas

The Pirates of Dark Water was obviously meant as an equal competitor to He-Man and Thundercats, but it sadly never lived up to the heights of its predecessors. While it received a fair bit of acclaim during its release, it debuted in a market oversaturated with animated adventure series, so despite its unique premise and interesting world, it fell out of public awareness rather quickly after its 1993 conclusion. That hasn’t stopped a cult following from springing up around the series in the modern era, and given the series’ intense storytelling and great character designs, this resurgence is more than deserved.

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6 Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century (1999)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved detective heads into the far-future in Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. The descendant of Inspector G. Lestrade, Beth Lestrade, discovers that Professor James Moriarty has been cloned, enacting new evil plans in a new era. Tracking down Sherlock Holmes’ body, Beth resurrects the famous detective to help her track down the villain. Now, alongside the inspector and a robot who believes himself to be Watson, Sherlock Holmes’ adventures continue in the futuristic London of 2103 as they take on myriad cases in search of the rogue geneticist Martin Fenwick and Holmes’ storied rival.

Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century Turned an Offbeat Idea Into a Masterpiece

To be frank, Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century shouldn’t work. The concept is so ludicrous and off-the-wall that no modern producer would ever lay their hands on it, and yet, it got made. More than that, it was actually really good. The allusions to past Sherlock Holmes short stories introduced the source material to a whole new audience, and the futuristic world is stunningly designed. However, after the series’ second season, it just dropped off the face of the Earth. Now is the time to change that, given the continued resurgence and modern adaptations of the classic stories.

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5 ChalkZone (2002)

Fifth grade artist and amateur cartoonist Rudy Tabootie is the lead character of Nickelodeon’s original animated series ChalkZone. Besieged by the school bully and his grumpy teacher, Rudy is forced to hide his creativity from the world or get sent to detention. However, this all changes when Rudy discovers a piece of “White Lightnin'” Chalk, which opens a portal to the titular ChalkZone, a land where everything ever erased from a chalkboard dwells. Joining forces with Snap, a superhero Rudy drew at eight, and his intelligent best friend Penny, Rudy helps the people of ChalkZone while standing in the way of Skrawl and the Crainiacs.

ChalkZone Celebrates Childhood Creativity

One of the strongest thematic aspects of ChalkZone is its focus on the power of imagination, and this shines through in every episode. Rudy literally needs to create solutions to his problems, and this leads to some whacky and often hilarious scenarios. The animation is fascinating, mixing all the grainy texture of chalk art into a more traditional 2D animated style. It hasn’t had the staying power of series like Fairly Odd Parents, but while it hasn’t persisted in popular culture, this doesn’t diminish the fun viewers had throughout the show’s four seasons.

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4 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters (1994)

Long before Pixar brought Monsters, Inc. to the screen, the monsters of Aaahh!! Real Monsters were learning how to best scare children. Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm are three young monsters under the tutelage of the Gromble. Venturing out from their school grounds (a New York City dump), the trio do their best to impress their teacher and scare humans. Of course, this wouldn’t be a comedy if they were good at their job, and while Oblina is one of the Gromble’s best students, Ickis and Krumm have a long way to go before they are ready for the big, bad world of professional scaring.

Aaah!! Real Monsters Makes Fun of Our Worst Nightmares

No one will ever truly know how this show was greenlit. The monster designs are often disgusting and terrifying, and the overarching comedy is far more mature in tone than its contemporaries. With that said, this animated series is still one of the best “horror” comedies of all time. The series paved the way for modern animated giants like SpongeBob SquarePants, series that followed the same comedic formula to find greater success. Aaahh!! Real Monsters may have largely faded from public perception, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t had a very real impact on the industry today.

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Related: AAAHH!!! Real Monsters: Why Tim Burton Should Remake the Nickelodeon Show

3 Xiaolin Showdown

Over a millennia before the events of Xiaolin Showdown, Grand Master Dashi trapped the evil sorceress Wuya in a puzzle box. Now, in the modern day, evil genius Jack Spicer has found and unlocked the puzzlebox, freeing Wuya from her slumber. Now, four young monks – Omi, Clay, Raimundo, and Kimiko – have been brought together to gather the mystical artifacts known as the Shen Gong Wu. These artifacts give their wielder incredible powers, but with Jack seeking the Shen Gong Wu for himself, the four will have to engage him in Xiaolin Showdowns to earn the title of Xiaolin Dragons.

Kung-Fu Superpowers Are the Cornerstone of Xiaolin Showdown

In short, Xiaolin Showdown is an excellent kung-fu fantasy adventure story. It takes all the action-packed, superpowered fighting and adds a touch of collectible fever, giving the showrunners an opportunity to stretch their design skills and create believable magical artifacts. The main cast was excellent, playing off of each other in incredible ways, and while it was largely episodic, the overarching story arcs were brilliantly constructed. While the series lost some of its steam in its final seasons, it is honestly a surprise that this series hasn’t seen a reboot or sequel in the modern day.

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2 Cyberchase (2002)

In Cyberchase’s version of Cyberspace, Dr. Marbles uses the artificial intelligence Motherboard to manage his virtual world, but when his assistant, named simply the Hacker, betrays him and attempts to upload a virus into Motherboard, Dr. Marbles is forced to exile the program. However, three kids (Matt, Inez, and Jackie) accidentally free the Hacker, allowing him to enact his evil plan. With Cyberspace in jeopardy, the children are forced to dive into virtual reality find the Hacker’s Encryptor Chip and nullify the virus. Thankfully, they aren’t alone in their mission, as the Hacker’s former servant, Digit, has decided to join them on their adventures.

Learning Became Heroic Cyberchase

Given the younger intended demographic and educational nature of Cyberchase, it makes sense that it is often forgotten in the conversation of great animated TV. Viewers were meant to grow out of it, aging out to more advanced educational programming as time went on. That doesn’t change the fact that Cyberchase managed to make learning actually accessible and fun. The storytelling was a bit flat, as can be expected from this type of series, but there were actual stakes to these adventures. The episodes weren’t Dora the Explorer seek-and-find adventures, but real attempts at stopping a supervillain with real consequences if they failed.

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1 Jackie Chan Adventures (2000)

In the world of Jackie Chan Adventures, magic and monsters actually exist, though much of humanity is unaware of their presence. Jackie Chan is an archaeologist who is thrust into this world of mystical intrigue when he discovers a mysterious talisman hidden inside an artifact. This talisman and its kin all represent the creatures of the Chinese Zodiac, and each gives its wielder powers based on its featured animal. Jackie, his uncle, and his niece Jade are sent on a worldwide adventure to track down the rest of the talismans before Valmont and the Dark Hand can use them to resurrect the demonic sorcerer Shendu.

Jackie Chan Adventures Represents The Best of 2000s Animated Series

How Jackie Chan Adventures ever faded from popular culture is a mystery. The series tells an excellent story of mysticism and martial arts, bringing classic kung-fu films to animated life with humor and fascinating world-building. The tale of magical talismans and secret organizations was thrilling and having Jackie Chan as the lead (even though he didn’t voice the character) was a stroke of genius that introduced the iconic actor to younger viewers. This is one of those series that should have lived on long past its final episode, especially given its similarities in plot and tone to the 1999 film The Mummy, but instead, it faded into obscurity.

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