Five Nostalgic Cartoons You Can’t Stream for Your Kids

The Muppet Babies can no longer make your dreams come true
Five Nostalgic Cartoons You Can’t Stream for Your Kids

Like many other parents, I love sharing shows I watched as a kid with my daughter, and to my delight, she’s really gotten into a number of them. She’s become a dedicated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, and we’re currently enjoying her first run through Ren & Stimpy. However, there are a handful of shows that are entirely unavailable on streaming — usually because of music rights issues — that I might never be able to share with her. These are the five in particular that I really want her to see before she outgrows them…

‘Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies’ (1984)

Whereas most unstreamable kids shows are that way because of music rights, for Muppet Babies, it’s the clips from popular movies that were included in the show that prevents it from being on a streamer. Disney holds the right to Muppet Babies, and while they do own franchises like Indiana Jones and Star Wars, they don’t yet own The Wizard of Oz and so many other films sampled on the show.

Of course, there was a reboot that ran from 2018 to 2022, but Baby Rowlf was merely a recurring character on that show, not a member of the core cast and that’s simply not enough of the piano-playing diapered doggie for me… I mean, um, my daughter.

‘Pac-Man’ (1982)

Pac-Man was the first TV show ever based on a video game, and although I don’t fully recall it, I do have vague memories of enjoying it as a kid and would like to remind myself of how they made Pac-Man into something with a plot. Plus, from the opening credits, it looks like everyone is wearing fedoras like it’s the 1930s. Seriously, why are they all wearing hats? There must be an answer.

HBO owns Hanna-Barbera, which made the series, but Pac-Man is owned by Namco, meaning HBO would have to pay up to solve this hat mystery for me, and I’m guessing that’s not a top priority for them.

‘Spider-Man’ (1967)

If you look on Disney+, there are like 10 different Spider-Man cartoons. This includes the best cartoon of Spider-Man, which debuted in 1994, but it doesn’t include the very first cartoon the webslinger appeared in. Sure, 1967’s Spider-Man is a corny bit of yesteryear, but that’s where the famous Spider-Man theme came from as well as that beloved pointing Spider-Man meme. Strangely, there doesn’t seem to be a good answer as to why Disney hasn’t included it on Disney+. 

‘Buzz Lightyear of Star Command’ (2000)

Decades before Chris Evans controversially graced the big screen as Buzz Lightyear, Disney created the Saturday morning cartoon Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, which also told the pre-Toy Story adventures of the space hero Andy loves so much. It was a funny show with Patrick Warburton as Buzz with great gags and character design. Yet, you can’t find it on Disney+, with the online speculation being that Disney didn’t want to confuse people with too many Buzzes. 

‘Aladdin’ (1994)

Aladdin is my favorite-ever Disney movie, and I also loved the 1994 animated series. It was missing Robin Williams as the Genie, but Dan Castellaneta — the voice of Homer Simpson — did a fine job filling in. Best of all, the show had Gilbert Gottfried’s Iago join the gang as a semi-good guy without ever losing his obnoxious charm. Mysteriously, this show isn’t on Disney+ despite the fact that many of the Disney afternoon shows it aired alongside, like Darkwing Duck and Timon & Pumbaa, are available on the streaming network. 

Some speculate that the show isn’t available due to the Genie’s many pop-culture references, while others assume it’s a music rights thing. Whatever the reason, I can’t watch Iago’s beautiful redemption story, and it’s an outrage!

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