12 Best TV Shows Based on Animated Disney Movies

Disney has a rich history of adapting its animated movies into successful television shows. The first major example being The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which first aired in 1988 and was a huge success, paving the way for a slew of others that followed suit throughout the 90s including shows based on Aladdin,The Little Mermaid, and Hercules. These series not only allow Disney to leverage the existing popularity of its well-established characters, but also provide it with an opportunity to further develop these characters and expand on the lore of their respective worlds.

With the launch of its own Disney+ streaming service in 2019, Disney has continued with this strategy by releasing shows such as Monsters at Work and Zootopia+ to the platform. Below we list the 12 best Disney television shows based on animated movies and look into how they combine nostalgia with innovation to delight audiences the world over.

12 Alice’s Wonderland Bakery (2022-Present)

Released over 70 years ago, Alice in Wonderland has been entertaining audiences for decades with its surreal storytelling, vibrant animated visuals, and a cast of weird and wacky characters. Based on Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass, the movie follows a young girl named Alice as she falls down a rabbit hole into a topsy-turvy Wonderland.

Alice’s Wonderland Bakery Is a Delight for Younger Audiences

Like many of Disney’s finest movies, Alice in Wonderland had something for all ages. Younger children are drawn to its whimsical wonderland and catchy songs, while the darker and more surreal elements might be more appealing to adults.

Alice’s Wonderland Bakery, however, is targeted squarely at the younger market and succeeds in meeting their needs with aplomb. Created for Disney Jr. in 2022, the show is about the original Alice’s great-granddaughter (also called Alice) who works at the Wonderland Bakery. The show takes all the wonder and whimsy that made the movie so fun for young kids and throws in a whole heap of new characters and settings to keep Alice’s Wonderland Bakery fresh. Stream on Disney+.

11 The Emperor’s New School (2006-2008)

Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove was released during a strange time for animation. The old, hand-drawn style was slipping out of favor making way for the new computer-generated 3D movies due to the success of CGI films like Toy Story and ABug’s Life. As a result, the traditionally 2D animated The Emperor’s New Groove underperformed at the box office and marked the end of Disney’s super successful ’90s renaissance streak.

That being said, the movie, itself, is anything but poor. Full of hilarious meta humor and fantastic voice work from a stellar cast including David Spade and Patrick Warburton, it has since amassed a cult following and is often listed amongst the greatest Disney movies of its era by many a fan of the studio.

The Emperor’s New School Retains the Meta Humor

As the Disney big wigs began to acknowledge the growing appreciation of the movie, it made sense to capitalize on this with a TV show. Set after the events of the movie, The Emperor’s New School sees Kuzco trying to graduate from Kuzco academy in order to become the ruling emperor of the Inca Empire. The show retains the irreverent humor that made the movie such a hit with fans, with plenty of fourth-wall breaking and physical comedy. Stream on Disney+.

10 Big Hero 6: The Series (2017-2021)

Released in 2014, Big Hero 6 impressed critics and fans alike with its visually sunning animations and emotional superhero narrative. Four years later, Big Hero 6: The Series premiered on Disney Channel following an extended pilot episode.

Part college teen drama, part action superhero romp, the series carries on where the movie left off as audiences witness the team of Hiro, Baymax, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Go Go Tomago and Fred navigate the world of big-city crime fighting, whilst also navigating the social complexities of life at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.

Big Hero 6: The Series Brings Back Traditional Hand-Drawn Animation

Disney took a gamble by ditching the highly praised CGI 3D style animation found in the movie, opting for a more traditional 2D hand drawn technique, closer in style to its Marvel comic book source material. It’s safe to say the gamble paid off though, as evidenced by the show winning the Outstanding Editorial team in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production award at the 2019 Annie Awards. Stream on Disney+.

9 The Lion Guard (2015-2019)

Released in 1994, The Lion King quickly became Disney’s most financially successful movie to date. It has since spawned a sequel, a remake and a slew of spin-offs, to varying levels of success. The Lion Guard is the second TV show to be based on the movie following The Lion King’s Timon & Pumbaa and takes place somewhere between the events of the original movie and its sequel. This time around, the show focuses on Simba and Nala’s son Kion, with plenty of supporting characters, old and new, thrown into the mix.

The Lion Guard Expands on The Lion King Lore

The show was well received by critics, who praised its strong character developments and child-friendly, positive message about courage, friendship and self-discovery. Fans of the movie particularly enjoyed its expansion of The Lion King lore, providing an insight into not just the futures of the characters after the events of the original movie, but also delving deeper into their personalities and backgrounds and the world they inhabit. Stream on Disney+.

8 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (2000-2001)

Before Lightyear, there was Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. Like Lightyear, it is focused on the action-packed science fiction adventures of the character Buzz Lightyear, which the Toy Story toy is based on.

A Great Shoutout to Saturday Morning Cartoons

A fantastic throwback to the Saturday morning cartoons of the ’80s and ’90s, right down to its art style, the series excels in combining humor and action without losing any of the charm fans of the Toy Story franchise have grown to love. This in-universe version of Buzz Lightyear is voiced by the ever-reliable Patrick Warburton, who does a fantastic job conveying the humor, heart and heroism of Buzz. Stream on Disney+.

7 Cars on the Road (2022)

The Cars franchise is an interesting one, to say the least. The movies consistently rank amongst the lowest Disney/Pixar movies in terms of critical reception, yet that hasn’t stopped a total of 3 movies and a further two spin-off movies being released. Despite the mixed reviews, the concept of a world populated by anthropomorphic vehicles is certainly a fun one with potential, and its core characters are affable and entertaining.

Cars on the Road Received Universal Acclaim

Taking place some years after the third Cars movie, Cars on the Road see’s Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy reprise their roles of Lightening McQueen and Mater, respectively. Unlike the movie, however, the series was a huge critical hit, scoring an impressive 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Playing out more like a buddy-cop show, the show doubles down on the humor and the back-and-forth repartee between its two leads. This new approach works well as the chemistry between the two becomes a highlight, along with its decision to throw in a bundle of pop culture parodies into the mix. Stream on Disney+.

6 The Little Mermaid (1992-1994)

The movie that arguably brought about the ‘Disney renaissance’, The Little Mermaid is widely regarded as one of the greatest Disney movies of all time. Full of catchy songs, vibrant animation and delightful characters, the potential to further explore this underwater world was rife, and that’s exactly what The Little Mermaid series did. A prequel to the original movie, it follows the deep sea adventures of Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian.

It Sticks to the Movie’s Formula

The series became a staple of Saturday morning TV, warming the hearts of millions of children across the globe. Sticking to the movie’s winning formula, the show retained all its charm whilst adding a plethora of well-written, new adventures for audiences to dive into. Stream on Disney+.

5 Hercules: The Animated Series (1998-1999)

Following the success of the critical and commercial hit movie Hercules, an animated series was commissioned and later aired in syndication the following year. The show focuses on Hercules during his teenage years as he trains as a hero. Fan-favorite Phil returns as Hercules’ trainer, with veteran voice actor Robert Costanzo replacing Danny DeVito and James Woods reprises his role as the villainous Hades.

The Hercules Show Focuses on His Teenage Years

What makes the animated series work so well is that, not only does it retain the movie’s unique ancient Greek inspired art style and irreverent sense of humor, but it also focuses on Hercules’ best era depicted in the movie, his teen years. While this part of his life only plays a small part in the movie, it’s one of the most entertaining aspects.

The TV show delves far deeper into what it must be like dealing with, not only the pressure of trying to impress his almighty father Zeus and become a real-life hero, but also the social pressures of life as a teen growing up under these extraordinary circumstances. Stream on Disney+.

4 Lilo & Stitch: The Series (2003-2006)

Lilo & Stitch won the hearts of audiences worldwide as its adorable titular duo fought the powers that be to protect their unique friendship. Lilo is a young, orphaned Hawaiian girl being raised be her sister while Stitch is the alien result of a science experiment gone wrong. The two form an unlikely bond after Stitch crash lands on the island.

Lilo and Stitch: The Series Is a Sci-Fi Show with Heart

The TV series is a sequel spin-off to the original movie and follows on from the events of the made-for-TV sequel film Stitch! The Movie. The pair are tasked with rescuing the remaining experiments gone wrong, turning them from bad to good and returning them to their homes. The series ups the action and is more focused on the intergalactic, sci-fi elements of Stitch’s background, resulting in a fast-paced, thrilling show full of heart and humor. Stream on Disney+.

3 Aladdin (1994-1995)

Aladdin is without a doubt one of the greatest animated movies ever made thanks to its gorgeous animation, fantastic voice work (particularly from the late, great Robin Williams as Genie) and its superbly composed, catchy musical numbers. Set after the events of the movie, the series manages to recapture much of that magic as it follows the adventures of Aladdin, now engaged to Jasmine, and his trusty monkey companion Abu.

Why It’s Great

With such rich source material and dynamic characters to draw from, it was hard for the TV series not to be great. Gilbert Gottfried is on top form as the newly (mostly) behaved parrot Iago and, while unfortunately Robin Williams doesn’t reprise his role, veteran voice actor Dan Castellaneta does a fine job at imitating William’s trademark brand of high-energy improvisational style humor.

The show further explores Aladdin’s evolving friendships with characters old and new and takes viewers on an array of high-octane adventures as he strives to keep himself and those friends safe from the dangers lurking outside (and inside) the city of Agrabah. Stream on Disney+.

2 Zootopia+ (2022)


Release Date
November 9, 2022


Among the most recent Disney TV shows based on its animated works, Zootopia+ hit Disney+ in late 2022 to critical acclaim. The Zootopia movie was celebrated for its elaborate and rich world-building, as well as the vast array of unique and interesting characters who populate this anthropomorphic world. The TV show allows viewers to further delve into the lives of many of these characters and further immerse themselves in the vibrant city of Zootopia.

Zootopia+ Adopts a Unique Format

Lasting only around seven minutes per episode, Zootopia+ is set during the same time period as the movie and is delivered as a mini-anthology series, with each episode focusing on a different character. More than just a series of individual stories, the narratives cleverly link and overlap a la Quentin Tarantino style and tie into the main movie story, only from a different perspective.

A particular highlight is Fru Fru the shrew’s wedding, in which audiences are given a Goodfellas-style insight into the criminal background of her mob boss father. Stream on Disney+.

1 The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1988-1991)

Going right back to 1988, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was Disney’s first series based on a major movie and remains the greatest to this day. In 1977, the world was first introduced to Disney’s interpretation of A.A. Milne’s adorable rag-tag gang of stuffed animal friends as they came to life and explored the world of the Hundred Acre Wood with Christopher Robin in the film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Just over 10 years later, Christopher Robin, Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, Owl, and Gopher returned in all their glory to capture the hearts of the world all over again.

The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is the First of its Kind

The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has all the charm and magic that made the characters so appealing in the first place, but somehow still manages to improve on absolutely everything to make it, possibly, the only Disney TV show to outshine its source material. The characters are further developed, the animation retains its signature style but looks even more detailed and aesthetically pleasing, the stories are fun, frivolous and uplifting and the voice work is second to none.

Winning back-to-back Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program, the series was universally praised and a total of four series were created, with it remaining on television for nearly two decades. Stream on Disney+.


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