20 Disney Channel Original shows you can stream online
Take a trip down memory lane
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Disney Channel Original shows were the perfect form of escapism for me as a child. I remember the excitement I would have after school running to the television to tune in to the latest episode of my favorite series. These shows taught me how to deal with the many ups and downs of being an adolescent, allowing me to laugh and learn along the way.
As I think about the jokes, characters, and plots, it’s hard to believe how much these shows actually meant to me throughout the years. Many of us grew up watching these characters and becoming a part of their lives: we learned how to be a teenager with Lizzie McGuire, an annoying yet caring sibling with Even Stevens, and even a psychic ready to change life’s outcomes with That’s So Raven.
Besides the usual comedy and entertainment that comes with these old Disney shows, there’s now a nostalgia factor that reminds us of who we were and what we loved back then—no matter how old we get. Thanks to streaming services like Disney Plus, we’re able to relive our favorite Disney childhood characters and see the breakout roles that shaped their careers today. Get ready for a Disney trip down memory lane. Here are 20 of the best Disney Channel Original shows that you can stream online right now.
1. Lizzie McGuire
I like to think that Lizzie McGuire is the perfect coming-of-age TV show for kids. It not only shows the awkwardness and insecurities they have as they navigate middle school, but it also focuses on how being genuine and true to oneself goes a longer way than trying to fit in with the “cool kids.” Along with her best friends, Gordo and Miranda, Lizzie learns the trials and tribulations of becoming a teenager. Luckly, we’re able to keep up with all her thoughts and reactions through her animated alter ego. This show is a Disney staple and The Lizzie McGuire Movie even shows us how Lizzie’s life is a few years after the show since the spinoff sadly got cancelled.
2. That’s So Raven
Everything about That’s So Raven is iconic —from the catchy theme song to Raven’s outfits and all the unique disguises she had to wear to get out of uncomfortable situations. Raven may or may not always jump to the right conclusions and her visions can ruin a lot for her, her best friends Eddie and Chelsea, and her family. If there’s one thing every episode taught me was that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. This is one of Disney Channel’s highest-rated shows and it inspired two spinoffs, Cory in the House, which focuses on her younger brother living in Washington, D.C., and Raven’s Home, which shows us how Raven and Chelsea raise their children together.
3. Even Stevens
I learned the true meaning of polar opposites with Louis and Ren Stevens. The show follows misfit Louis Stevens as he survives middle school and always ends up butting heads with his perfectionist older sister Ren. Whenever things seem to be going well for one, the other one always ends up messing it up. It’s up to them to forgive each other and learn from the experiences while also driving each other nuts. Who doesn’t love their siblings after all? The series also follows the rest of the Stevens family and friends. It ended with The Even Stevens Movie.
4. The Proud Family
The Proud Family was probably the first time many black and brown kids like myself saw themselves as the main characters on an animated sitcom and not as the side character. This coming-of-age comedy centers around Penny Proud as she balances her life at home and school while always ending up in hilarious adventures which she doesn’t expect. Just like any Disney show, her struggles end up being learning lessons, and through the support of her family and friends, Penny learns to enjoy her teenagehood. Though the series ended with The Proud Family Movie, it’s getting a spinoff The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, which will introduce the family to a whole new generation.
5. Kim Possible
Who didn’t want to be Kim Possible growing up? Kim was a typical teenager who had to balance her life being a high schooler while also fighting villains and saving the world in her free time. Let’s be honest. We all wanted to have a Kimmunicator (her phone) to say “what’s the sitch?” whenever a new mission was assigned. Kim and her best friend Ron Stoppable were honestly #friendgoals, and Rufus, Ron’s naked mole rat, is the only rat I’ll ever like. This show had the right mix of any genre—from comedy to action, adventure, and even some romance. It led to many spinoff movies and most recently a live-action Disney Channel original movie with the same name in 2019.
6. Hannah Montana
Miley Cyrus’ breakout role in Hannah Montana had every kid wishing they too lived a double life as a regular tween and a world-famous pop star. Though I still don’t understand how throwing on a blonde wig completely changed Miley Stewart’s persona into Hannah Montana, this is one of Disney Channel’s most successful franchises due to its music, viewership, and humor. It had its own movie and concert movie as well. The show focused on the complexities of being a teenager while keeping a secret identity. Along with her best friends, Lily and Oliver, Hannah learns the importance of family, friends, and one’s true self.
7. Liv and Maddie
When I first heard about Liv and Maddie, I thought it was going to be The Parent Trap but as a series. Though vaguely similar, the show follows identical twin sisters Liv and Maddie, both played by Dove Cameron, who have lived different lives for the past few years. Maddie is a tomboy who enjoys playing basketball and Liv is a Hollywood star who has returned home to be with her family, the Rooneys. The two have to learn to share one bedroom and learn from each other’s differences while embracing each other’s company. One aspect that makes this show stand out from the regular Disney original shows is that it has documentary-style confessionals where the characters speak to the viewers about their thoughts on what is going on in every episode.
Before Debby Ryan became a meme for her one scene on Radio Rebel, she starred in Jessie. The series centers around a small-town girl from Texas who just moved to New York City and begins working as a nanny at the glamorous Ross family’s penthouse. Though caring for four kids can be a lot, Jessie manages to embrace the adventures and misadventures she has in her new life while forming a deep bond with the children. The Ross children had their own spinoff series Bunk’d which just aired its fourth season last year.
9. Phineas and Ferb
Who needs a hot girl summer when you can have a never-ending summer with Phineas and Ferb? This animated series focuses on Phineas and his stepbrother Ferb as they take on different projects during the summer, such as building a roller coaster or traveling back in time to hang out with dinosaurs. So realistic, right? As they embark on their adventures, they have to watch out for their sister Candace, who will tattle on them and their pet, Perry the Platypus, who is also a secret agent battling Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s evil plans.
10. Austin and Ally
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Disney shows, it’s that the extroverted guy always becomes best friends with the introverted girl. Austin and Ally is no exception to that concept. Austin is an outgoing musician and Ally is a shy songwriter. When their paths cross, they—along with their best friends Trish (played by the meme icon Raini Rodriguez) and Dez—begin their careers in music. Together they try to overcome the many obstacles of aspiring musicians while also enjoying their triumphs. If you want some good music and laughs, this show is a must-watch.
11. Phil of the Future
When you think of the best Disney Channel original shows, Phil of the Future is a bit underrated. But to the loyal fans like myself, this show had me hooked and wishing I was a part of the Diffy family. This science-fiction series focuses on Phil and his family who traveled from 2121 on a family vacation, and due to a malfunction from their time machine, they end up living in the year 2004 permanently. The Diffys must then assimilate to being your regular suburban family while trying to fit in and keep their secret hidden.
Recess is probably my favorite animated Disney series, though it set very high expectations for what recess was actually like. But looking back at it, the show did a great job in depicting themes that are applicable to any society today such as government, hierarchy, laws, and a class system—but for kids. The series followed a group of six 4th graders who are #squadgoals and who always try to protect the vulnerable kids on the playground. Though very cute and funny, the show is kinda deep since it shows us how kids try to find a balance between being themselves and conforming to a group—something we can all definitely learn from in our adult lives.
13. So Weird
If you’re in the mood for a spooky family show with some paranormal activity in it, then So Weird is your best bet. It follows Fiona “Fi” Phillip as she travels the country on her mom’s tour bus. Life on the road isn’t what we expect since Fi runs a website about all things supernatural and uses her findings to see how they could tie into her dad’s mysterious death. Get ready for some ghosts, aliens, and even Bigfoot! The show was ahead of its time since Fi uses her site similar to how we use Twitter today in the sense that she posts updates and connects with a community.
14. Boy Meets World
The fact that conspiracy theories about Boy Meets World are trending on TikTok today just comes to show how big of a phenomenon the show has been. This was your typical Friday night family sitcom. It follows the life of Cory Matthews as he grows up from middle school through college across the span of seven seasons. From its catchy theme song to Topanga’s hairstyle and the variety of cultural issues it covered, this series definitely had an impact on 90s pop culture. The franchise was brought back with a spinoff called Girl Meets World, which focuses on Cory’s daughter and her best friend as they embrace their adolescent years with Cory as their history teacher.
15. Gravity Falls
I never found myself bored while watching Gravity Falls. It has the perfect mix of adult and child humor which makes it ideal for all ages. Twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to spend the summer with their Great Uncle Stan where they help him run his tourist trap known as The Mystery Shack. This is not a typical summer vacation since the twins begin investigating local secrets and mysteries found in a cryptic journal.
16. The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody has to be one of my favorite Disney shows. No matter how many times I rewatch their hilarious pranks at The Tipton hotel or get spooked by that one ghost episode, it just never gets old. Twins Zack and Cody showed us how to have fun yet somehow manage to stay out of trouble while living in a very boujee hotel. Along with their friends Maddie and the iconic London Tipton, this friend group definitely set the tone for squad goals for Disney shows to come. It was so successful that they had a spinoff series, The Suite Life on Deck, and a movie, The Suite Life Movie, both based on the show.
17. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
Though this is a more recent Disney show (premiered in 2019), it is still worthy of a spot on this list. If you think this is a copy and paste version of High School Musical but as a series, then you are going to be proved wrong. At first I was hesitant to watch,
but one episode in and I was hooked. This series revisits East High where members of a drama club work to put on a production of High School Musical: The Musical. There are new characters, romances, friendships, musical performances, and every now and then you get a reference to the movie and its legacy. It is also a mockumentary, so you get a feel on what the characters have to say and feel about what is happening in each episode. Don’t even get me started on how good the soundtrack is.
18. Smart Guy
This is probably the first Disney show I remember watching, and though I was 5 or 6, I still remember how good it was especially now that I can rewatch it. The show revolves around T.J. Henderson, a boy genius who gets to move up from 4th grade to 10th grade. Imagine what it would be like to attend high school with your jock brother and self-absorbed sister. At a young age, T.J. must learn to adjust to his new life while also being a kid. Everything about this show from the comedy to the cast makes it one of the best sitcoms from the ‘90s. Since Disney does love its reboots...do we see a Smart Guy spinoff happening soon?
19. Wizards of Waverly Place
Becoming a teenager is already a struggle— Wizards of Waverly Place added some magic and fantasy to the standard teenage experience. Siblings Alex, Max, and Justin Russo are wizards in training who not only have to keep their powers a secret, but also have to learn to use them responsibly. The Russos embrace the challenges of adolescence while using their powers to get out of crazy situations. Alex, played by Selena Gomez, is the first and most recognized Latina lead in a Disney sitcom. Though there have been rumors of a spinoff, the show also had two movies, Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie and The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex, both available on Disney Plus.
20. American Dragon: Jake Long
Jake Long is not your average teenager living in Manhattan—he likes to skateboard, hang with friends, and train to become the first American dragon. That’s right, he’s a descendant of dragons! With the help of his grandpa, he learns how to use his powers while also balancing his normal life and keeping his identity hidden. To make matters worse, his love interest is actually a dragon-slayer that works with his enemies. Get ready for some battles, magical creatures, and a loving family who want to help Jake fulfill his Chinese-American heritage.
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