The year is 2006. You just got home from school, you’ve opened a juice box and have an afternoon snack on your lap, and you turn on Disney Channel to catch your favorite show. Whether your favorite show made you wish you lived in a hotel like Zack & Cody Martin or you dreamed of being a secret teen pop sensation like Hannah Montana, there’s no denying that Disney Channel shows were simply the best.
While times have changed and the classic series are no longer on TV anymore, we can’t help but reminisce on the best childhood shows that made us laugh, cry, and want to buy a blonde Hannah Montana wig. In honor of Disney Channel and all of the amazing shows that came from it, we’ve ranked them all: the good, the better, and the best. Keep reading to see a definitive ranking of the best Disney Channel shows!
#20: So Weird
So Weird was never a mainstream hit like some other Disney Channel shows, and while the series had a bit of a darker tone than most others (and definitely gave us many nightmares at the time), it still deserves a spot on the list! The show followed Fiona, a teenage girl who got to travel on tour with her rock-star mom. Along the way, she encountered paranormal activity and pieced together stories through message boards and strangers at each tour stop and documented it all on her website. Weird? SO weird. But this show was endearing, without a doubt, and even though the main character was replaced in the third season, it was great for kids who didn’t love typical Disney storylines.
#19: So Random!
Fans of Demi Lovato’s breakout show Sonny with a Chance had a second chance at seeing their favorite show on TV again when So Random! was created as a spin-off after Sonny with a Chance was canceled in 2011. Sonny with a Chance was about a fictional show within a real show, and that fictional show was called So Random! Almost all of the original cast came back for the spin-off (except for Demi, who was battling some demons at the time) and So Random! consisted of a few comedy sketch acts and a performance from a musical guest. While the show only lasted for one season from 2011-2012, it was a fun inside look at the show from Sonny with a Chance.
Almost everyone has had at least one babysitting experience, and that’s what made Jessie so special. Starring Debby Ryan, Jessie was about an aspiring actress trying to find her big break in New York City after moving away from Texas. She accepts a job as a live-in nanny with the Ross family, comprised of two world-traveling parents, four crazy kids, a seven-foot pet lizard, and an endearing butler. As Jessie adapts to life in a new, big city and taking care of a wild cast of characters, she grows to love the Ross family as her own – making this the epitome of a perfect Disney show.
#17: Suite Life on Deck
Twin brothers Zack & Cody Martin were already living the dream on their show The Suite Life of Zack & Cody – not only did they get to live in an upscale hotel, they got to do it with a crazy group of employees and friends. But the adventures didn’t stop when that show ended – they continued their antics on The Suite Life on Deck, which followed the boys, London Tipton (the hotel heiress), and Mr. Moseby, the hotel manager, on board the SS Tipton. Not only did they get to attend high school classes on the ship, they also went on worldwide adventures as the ship stopped all over the world. In typical Suite Life fashion, wherever the boys were, a little bit of mischief and trouble was never far behind. While it was a decent show, it was nowhere near the quality of the OG – and it landed a decent – but not phenomenal – seventeenth spot on our list.
#16: Shake It Up
This is the show responsible for giving stars Zendaya and Bella Thorne their big breaks, making its legacy and even bigger piece of the Disney Channel puzzle. Shake It Up followed CeCe Jones (played by Thorne) and Rocky Blue (Zendaya), two best friends who land their dream job of being backup dancers for a local TV show, Shake It Up Chicago. It follows their struggles with becoming famous in high school and navigating the business as two young girls – but it was also full of fun original songs and high-energy dance routines. Life goals and best friend goals.
#15: Cory in the House
What happens behind closed doors in the White House? It’s something we all can’t help but wonder about, and Cory in the House showed just that! This That’s So Raven spin-off followed Raven Baxter’s brother, Cory moving into the White House with his dad, who was just hired as the head chef. A totally plausible storyline… right? Just like in the original show, the Baxter fam is no stranger to crazy shenanigans, and Cory finds himself in quite a few sticky situations on more occasions than once. While this show wasn’t as good as its original, it was definitely a hit – because, let’s be real, what kid wouldn’t want to live in the White House??
#14: Girl Meets World
Cory and Topanga from Boy Meets World are, without a doubt, one of the most beloved TV couples of all time. Luckily for fans, their story continues through the Disney spin-off Girl Meets World. The show, which debuted in 2014, follows Cory and Topanga’s daughter, Riley, as she navigates life as a teenage girl alongside her best friend and her family. A number of Boy Meets World characters reprise their roles in a big way (specifically Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel as Cory and Topanga), and several fan-favorites make guest appearances. While getting to see the old gang once again is great, what’s even better is that the show is candid and honest about the societal pressures young girls face today. We love it!
#13: Good Luck Charlie
Teddy Duncan made vlogging cool before it became mainstream on Good Luck Charlie. The main character decides to create video messages for her baby sister, Charlie, filled with advice about dealing with their family, navigating her teenage years, and lessons we all wish a big sister would teach us. Good Luck Charlie is so good because it’s relatable; we all have crazy family moments, and we all face situations that we wish could be accompanied by advice from an older sibling who has already been there and figured it out. This show proves that no matter how crazy life can get, you’ll get through it with your family by your side. Now if only Teddy Duncan made advice vlogs for us.
#12: Sonny with a Chance
Sonny with a Chance gave Demi Lovato her big break, but the show was also about Demi’s character, Sonny, getting her big break, too. This Disney show was the epitome of everyone’s dreams as it followed Sonny, an average girl who just so happened to be cast in her favorite television show. (That’s like you being cast in Hannah Montana or That’s So Raven). As Sonny traveled from her small hometown to Hollywood to star on So Random!, the show followed her crazy experiences with her castmates and her new life as a star – what could be better than that?!
What teenage girl wasn’t obsessed with the Jonas Brothers at the peak of their success? That’s why this show had perfect timing – it premiered on Disney Channel a year after the Jonas Brothers starred in the Disney Channel Original Movie Camp Rock and became genuine tween heartthrobs. The series caught the JoBros just as they transitioned from cute boy banders to megastars, so the show was a perfect way for superfans to get their Jonas fix. Jonas premiered in 2009, and though it only lasted two seasons, it followed the brothers as they played a ~fictional~ group of brothers who were also in a massively popular boy band as they tried to juggle their career with their high school experience. We can forget that amazing firehouse they lived in, too. While the show wasn’t the best Disney show of all time, it was a Jonas fan’s dream come true. And we were all Jonas fans.
#10: Phineas & Ferb
104 days of summer vacation sounds like a dream, right? That was the case for the quirky stepbrothers on Phineas & Ferb. The cartoon followed their crazy summertime adventures (like building a rocket, finding a mummy, or climbing up the Eiffel Tower… remember that amazing opening theme song?) along with their sidekick (and undercover spy) Perry the Platypus. But, of course, Phineas & Ferb can’t get through a day without facing some trouble from their older sister, Candace, or their evil nemesis, Dr. Doofenshmirtz. Their adventures were never short of excitement, and we can’t help but be jealous of the vacay these two got.
#9: Even Stevens
Even Stevens premiered on Disney Channel just as many millennials began to tune in. From 2000 – 2003, this show followed the Stevens family – and they’re just like almost every other family out there though maybe slightly more bonkers. The youngest, Louis (played by a young Shia Labeouf!), was a typical mischievous little brother who always clashed with his older sister, perfectionist Ren. Ren was an overachiever who constantly found herself at odds with her younger brother and his antics. Their oldest brother, Donnie, was a good-looking star athlete who made up for his lack of intelligence with his athletic ability. Just like any other family, they bicker and fight, but at the end of the day, they’re always there for each other. Plus, Beans, the weirdo neightbor totally rounded out the wacky family.
#8: Phil of the Future
He’s a 22nd-century man! Phil of the Future answered questions we didn’t even know we had – like, what happens when a time-traveling family from the future (the year 2121, to be exact) gets stuck in the 21st century after their time travelling machine breaks down? That’s what happened to Phil Diffy and his family! After a mishap leads to them getting stranded in an unknown time period, they have to pretend to act like an average family to avoid giving up their true identity. That’s like pretending you don’t know about Instagram and Snapchat if you somehow ended up in the year 1901. Basically impossible. Of course the will-they-won’t-they love aspect between Phil and his BFF kept us enthralled, too.
#7: The Proud Family
The Proud Family was Disney Channel’s first animated series, and it definitely set the bar high for all animated shows to come. It may seem simple at first look: it follows Penny Proud, a teenage girl trying to balance the pressures of high school friendships, fitting in with her peers, dating, and juggling her crazy family all at the same time. While she often gets embarrassed by her larger-than-life family members, especially her father, the core of this show lies in the fact that strong family ties are the most important thing. Sure, some truly bizarre things happened to this animated family (remember the Gross sisters?), but the show was quality.
#6: Kim Possible
You can call her and beep her if you want to reach her – Kim Possible, that is. What’s the sitch?! Balancing the usual challenges of being a teenage girl in high school and fighting crime and evil villains in her free time, KP can do it all. Along with Team Possible, comprised of her friend Ron Stoppable, his naked mole rat Rufus, and their computer tech friend Wade, Kim and the gang often find themselves fighting Dr. Drakken and his sidekick Shego. There’s not much Kim Possible can’t do (thus the name), making her the perfect role model for young girls to look up to – and making this one of the best Disney Channel TV shows ever made.
#5: Wizards of Waverly Place
The Russo siblings were just like any other group of brothers and sisters – except for the fact that they were secretly wizards, of course. Their father, a former wizard, passed his powers on to his children (despite the fact that their mother was a mortal) and the three kids would eventually have to battle it out against each other to see who can keep their powers – which is totally a normal thing for siblings to fight about, right? While learning all about their wizarding ability, Wizards of Waverly Place also followed them as they tried to live as normal of a life as possible. This show gave Selena Gomez her breakout role, and it’s also one of the most successful Disney shows of all time. It won three Emmy awards and somehow surpassed That’s So Raven for the biggest number of episodes produced. It also had the most-watched series finale in Disney Channel history. So, yeah, iconic.
#4: The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
What kid wouldn’t want to live in a hotel? Zack and Cody Martin got to live everyone’s childhood fantasy when their mom accepted a position as a lounge singer in a swanky hotel – but no amount of fancy decor or yelling from the hotel manager could stop the twins and their friends from getting into trouble in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. This show had a stellar cast, including Dylan Sprouse, Cole Sprouse, Ashley Tisdale, and Brenda Song, and it was the perfect combination of mischief and fun. (And who can forget that one horrifying Halloween episode?) The Suite Life was so good that it resulted in a spin-off series and a movie, making this one of the all-time best Disney shows.
#3: Hannah Montana
Miley Stewart (played by Miley Cyrus) truly had the best of both worlds: she was an average high school girl AND she was also one of the most successful and popular teen pop singing sensations. The only catch? No one but her dad (played by real-life father Billy Ray Cyrus) and brother knew about her secret… at first. Alongside her friends, Lily and Oliver, Miley goes through the usual challenges of high school while juggling her top-secret career. NBD, right? The show ran for four seasons from 2006 – 2011 and resulted in a number of corresponding albums, a North American tour, and a movie, making this show deserving of a spot in the top three.
#2: That’s So Raven
Landing at number two is That’s So Raven. This show is the combination of everything Disney is known for. Raven Baxter (played by Raven-Symoné) was an average high school girl, dealing with her crazy family and friends at school – but she was also a psychic. Raven’s visions of the future pretty much always led to her crazy antics to try to either stop the visions from happening or to alter the future in some way – and of course, it was always her trying to stop the future that led the events to happen. Some of her shenanigans included crawling through the school vent to get rid of a block of smelly cheese (yuck), dressing up as her mother to stop her teacher from giving her a bad grade, and saving her favorite boy band from crazy obsessed fans. But this show went beyond the typical Disney themes, too: it also tackled hard topics like racism and body image, both of which aren’t always so candidly mentioned in Disney shows. Raven did it all, and That’s So Raven is truly one of the best Disney shows ever created.
#1: Lizzie McGuire
Lizzie McGuire is as close to Disney perfection as you can get – so it undoubtedly gets the number one spot on the list. It followed Lizzie McGuire as she tackled typical, relatable middle school problems: swooning over crushes with her best friends, avoiding the mean girls at school, trying not to get too annoyed by her little brother and her parents, and WANTING. A. BRA. She was also accompanied by her cartoon alter-ego who narrated her thoughts. Lizzie and her friends, Miranda and Gordo, were the definition of friend goals before we even knew what that meant. The show launched Hilary Duff’s career and it provided a truly iconic movie sequel, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, that was just as good. It won favorite TV Show at the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards in 2002 and 2003 for good reason – this show is definitely the best Disney Channel show of all time.