07/25/2013 02:42 pm ET Updated Sep 24, 2013

13 Classic TV Shows to Stream with Your Kids


By Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media editor

When I was a kid, my dad and I would watch Star Trek together, laughing at Capt. Kirk's earnestness and betting on which red shirt would bite the dust. When I was a bit older, Star Trek: The Next Generation began, and Capt. Picard -- the brave but fair leader of the more modern USS Enterprise -- became my hero. Now that my daughter's 9, she's getting a taste of Picard's brilliance thanks to Netflix and my iPad.

Parents have always shared some of their favorite childhood activities with their kids, but before Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services became so easy to access, watching favorite old TV shows was tricky (or expensive). I've put together a list of great older shows that are easy to find and fun to share with kids. Remember, even though these shows are old to you, they're new to kids! (Streaming availability is subject to change, so if you don't find the show in the listed location, seach around and you might find it elsewhere.)

The Muppet Show (4+) -- This hilarious blend of puppets and celebs from the '70s and '80s will entertain kids and induce acute nostalgia in parents of a certain age. (YouTube)

I Love Lucy (6+) -- Lucille Ball's slapstick comedy never gets old. While the traditional gender dynamics might give you pause, Lucy steals the show without ever revealing more than a knee. (Hulu)

Pinky and the Brain (6+) -- Adults and kids will want to "take over the world" after watching this clever blend of slapstick and pop culture satire. (YouTube)

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (6+) -- If you can get past the old-fashioned graphics, this mild but always entertaining classic cartoon delights young kids (and dads) of almost any age. (Netflix)

Animaniacs (7+) -- Like Pinky and the Brain, this cartoon blends silly laughs with sophisticated references that will crack up kids and parents. (YouTube)

Robotech (7+) -- This complex cartoon introduced anime to a U.S. audience and delighted kids of the '80s. Younger and older kids (and their parents) will love the intricate stories and mix of comedy and action. (YouTube)

Voltron (7+) -- While not as deep at Robotech, this giant robot action cartoon will tickle nostalgic parents with its action-packed battles and thrill kids with varied characters and plenty of explosions. (Hulu)

Jem and the Holograms (8+) -- Jem and her girl band rock in this glitzy '80s cartoon. With plenty of strong role models and catchy tunes, this one's a winner for all. (Netflix)

Star Trek: The Next Generation (8+) -- These sci-fi stories are packed with positive messages about compassion, equality, fairness, and tolerance. Parents might want to preview episodes because appropriateness varies episode to episode. (Netflix)

The Twilight Zone (10+) -- These classic morality tales will creep kids out in the best way possible. Not every one's a winner, though, so look for your favorites to share. (Netflix)

MacGyver (11+) -- With a lead who chooses ingenuity over violence and creates so many cool contraptions, what kid wouldn't enjoy this feathered-haired hero? (Netflix)

Quantum Leap (12+) -- It looks a bit cheesy to modern eyes, but Quantum Leap will appeal to kids fascinated with time travel and the concept of body swapping. (Netflix)

Seinfeld (14+) -- This classic full of quirky characters will appeal to snarky teens from any era. (Crackle)

Which shows would you add to this list? And where do you find them?

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