45 Retro Shows, Cartoons, and Movies to Watch on Netflix

It seems like the world is a constant spin forward and everything seems to be changing very quickly, which often makes you want to take a step back and remember your childhood.  Today, the items we loved are considered retro, which according to Wikipedia means a style that is consciously derivative or imitative of trends, modes, fashions, or attitudes of the recent past. It generally refers to items that are at least fifteen to twenty years old.  

One way to remember your childhood and even share it with your children is by watching retro shows, cartoons, and movies. A great platform that has endless retro watching options is Netflix, which is the streaming platform that costs around $10 per month. They carry your favorite classics from Powerpuff Girls to Ghostbusters, everything you loved as a child you can find.

If you already stream Netflix but have yet to venture into their world of classics, now is the time to begin binge-watching TV from the past. If you haven’t added the platform to your home, now is the time to make the switch and learn more about exactly what you can watch. Today, I have comprised the ultimate list of retro shows, cartoons, and movies that you can start watching today.

Top 10 Retro Shows You Need to Watch on Netflix

Retro TV really ranges in age and Netflix does not lack on available options. From great hits from the 60s to more recent loves from the 90s, you will find all of your favorite sitcoms from years past. You can revisit your favorite characters that you grew up with crying again as you binge-watch to the last episode.

No matter what your interests are, there is something you will love on Netflix. You can watch shows that you never got a chance to grow up or quote your favorite episodes as you watch them for the second or maybe even third time. Ranging from comedies to scary tales to family favorites, here are 10 of the best shows on Netflix right now:

1 – The Andy Griffith Show

This is a true American sitcom classic, taking you back to Mayberry, a simpler time that stars the amazing Andy Griffith. The show was filmed in the 1960s but has a feeling of time even earlier than this, following the life of Sheriff Andy Taylor, Barney Fife, Aunt Bee, Opie, and more. This is a true way to step into the past with a carefree, funny show.

2 – Cheers

This is a truly binge-worthy show that ran for 11 seasons from the early 80s through the early 90s. You can binge this show for days as it was long-running and one that you are bound to want to finish. It is based in Boston, Massachusetts, following a group of locals who meet at their favorite bar to drink, socialize, and relax. Of course, the true kicker is the bar itself is named Cheers.

3 – Frasier

This is another great American sitcom that is a perfect next step when you finish Cheers, leading you right into another binge-worthy favorite. This show started in 1993 and ran until more recently, ending in 2004. It stars the amazing Kelsey Grammer and is a spin-off of the previously mentioned Cheers, following several of the same characters.

4 – The Twilight Zone

Starting in 1959, this is a different type of show than the previously mentioned but just as binge-worthy. If you are unfamiliar with this classic hit, The Twilight Zone is a series of unrelated stories that are full of psychological thriller, science fiction, horror, suspense, and fantasy. Since no two episodes are the same, it is easy to watch countless episodes and you will be just as surprised by their unique twists and turns each time.

5 – Twin Peaks

The original version of Twin Peaks ran in the 1990s and was created by David Lynch. Recently, in 2017 Showtime brought out a newer version of the classic that you can also watch once you are done watching the classic. The story itself is a miniseries that follows FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper.

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6 – Star Trek

There is a good chance you have heard of Star Trek, whether you watched the original, a newer form, the movie versions, or a combination of all three. This is the original Star Trek featuring Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, and Scott Bakula as your favorite characters. Many science fiction lovers have already watched the series, but this is a great option to revisit and you will find several other adaptations on Netflix as well.

7 – The Wonder Years

Based in the late 1960s and early 1970s, this family favorite truly captures the time, place, and age group of the leading cast. The show originally ran for six years through the late 80s and early 90s, making it a great, semi-quick watch. It has a beautiful mix of humor, family drama, teen angst, and the nostalgia you were hoping for when searching this list. An overall great watch for those who want to relive their past or first-time viewers.

8 – Bill Nye the Science Guy

Probably the most educational TV show on this section of our list, this is an amazing choice for those who want to have a fun time while also learning. This is a great choice to share with your kids, but it also is a great dose of nostalgia for adults. Some of the original ideas and concepts are slightly outdated, but it is still a really cool show that anyone can learn from.

9 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Another teen classic that took the turn from a successful TV show to a successful movie. Staring the amazing Luke Perry, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Joss Whedon, and more as they lived their lives in Sunnydale High. The unique twist to this show is that while they are living their normal teen lives, they are also battling a world of vampires and demons. If you binge-watch the whole series, there is a spinoff called Angel that is also available on Netflix.

10 – Friends

My go-to favorite for late-night binging, that anyone would fall in love with after only one episode. Grab some coffee at Central Perk with your favorite group of “friends” Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Joey, and Chandler. This is a bigger series, running 10 seasons, but each episode is quick to watch and full of love, laughter, and genuine friendships. This is a real step back into the 90s and a series many of us grew up with.

10 Best Retro Cartoons on Netflix

If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, then cartoons were probably a big part of your childhood and some of your absolute favorites are available on Netflix. There was nothing like a Saturday morning sitting around the TV enjoying cartoons with your siblings. Now, if you are like me, you are ready to share your childhood favorites with your children as they grow up.

There are several cartoon options available on the platform, including most of those that you loved years ago. If you want to really feel nostalgia and go back to these simpler times, here is a list of the top cartoons you can stream on Netflix;

1 – Animaniacs

You can stream four volumes of Animaniacs on Netflix today. Even if you did not regularly watch the show when it aired in the mid-1990s, there is a good chance that you knew the characters Yakko, Wakko, and Dot. This was one of the biggest programs of the time and is still a favorite amongst adults and kids today.

2 – Powerpuff Girls

Though there is a newer version of Powerpuff Girls that can be watched on Cartoon Network, if you want to show your kids where it all began, Netflix has all six seasons available. This show follows the crime-fighting escapades of three kick butt, Powerpuff Girls.

3 – Magic School Bus

We all remember those days when the teacher rolled in that old school TV and popped in a VHS of Magic School Bus. There was nothing like getting to watch Ms. Frizzle and her class while also learning about basic science concepts. If you have kids, this is the perfect binge-worthy show to not only share your old favorites but also educate them. You can watch four seasons of the ‘90s classics on Netflix, along with a newer version of the show.

4 – Courage the Cowardly Dog

If you have never watched Courage, then you are truly missing out on this somewhat odd, yet highly entertaining show. The main character is a purple beagle who is known for being overly cowardly, despite being named Courage. There are four seasons available to watch on Netflix.

5 – Garfield and Friends

Younger readers probably remember the Garfield movies, but before that, there was the 90’s cartoon, and even before that it was a newspaper cartoon. Netflix offers a couple of seasons of this fat cat cartoon, obviously focusing on Garfield himself and his friends.

6 – Pokemon: Indigo League

Long before Pokemon Go was even a thought, there was the original Pokemon cartoon, which is now referred to as Pokemon: Indigo League. This is a great show to share with kids that have recently begun loving the game. Of course, you can always whip out your favorite collector’s cards and binge watch it yourself for old time’s sake.

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7 – Justice League

Justice League has come a long way since its original cartoon version, now offering live-action box office hits. However, in the early 2000s, there was a cartoon version of this team on Cartoon Network. If you want to go back to where it all began and see this superhero team in cartoon form, Netflix has two seasons available for you.

8 – Scooby-Doo!: Mystery Incorporated

This is probably the newest cartoon or shows that will be on our list today but is still considered retro because it eludes an older time period vibe. There are countless Scooby-Doo options out there, but they all remind you of earlier years and feature your favorite gang of mystery solvers. If you want to watch some great Scooby-Doo content, Netflix has you covered.

9 – Danger Mouse

This is a great 1990s cartoon that may not be as widely known as some of the others on our list today. However, the cartoon follows the adventures of the lead character, you guessed it, Danger Mouse and his sidekick Penfold. They chase enemies around the world, and you will be glued to your screen for each episode.

10 – Jem and the Holograms

A true classic, Jem and the Holograms recently re-entered the public eye with a movie adaptation that was released a few years ago. However, the original cartoon is the true star, following the story of Jerrica Benton who uses a holographic computer to turn herself and friends into a pop group. A great choice if you want a carefree watch.

15 Go-To Retro Movies Available on Netflix

As a mom of two, movies are where Netflix really shines to me. I can take a step back to my childhood whenever I want and do not have to get as immersed in a show. Of course, many of the previously mentioned cartoons I have shared with my children, but Netflix also has its fair share of adult movie classics that you can enjoy in a couple of hours or less.

The range of movie options on Netflix is one of the reasons I stay subscribed, with new originals coming out regularly but also some of my favorites from years ago. You will even find classic hits, a few of which I will list here. Truly, there are some great retro finds available on Netflix, but some of my favorites are:

1 – The Third Man

This is one of the oldest on our list, dating back to 1949 but is a true classic amongst movie lovers. The movie stars Joseph Cotton and, big-time actor of the time, Orson Welles. This is a mystery that follows the investigation by Cotten after the death of his friend, played by Welles. A great option if you want to step back in time and watch a movie you may not have seen before.

2 – Scarface

An 80’s classic, Scarface is a pop culture icon that almost everyone knows at least one line from. This is a favorite, if you have not seen it, you are truly missing out. The movie stars Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer in roles that are truly timeless and something they will be remembered forever.

3 – Gremlins

A true dark comedy of the ’80s featuring the perfect mix of horror, laughs, and maybe even Christmastime? Gremlins was a starting point for many later horror flicks and remains a top watch amongst those who love the genre. However, even those who do not love horror can enjoy the movie and will stay enthralled as they watch the Gremlins go from adorable to the world’s worst pet.

4 – An American Werewolf in London

Truly the best werewolf movie of all time, director John Landis beautifully combines dark humor with horror to create a classic movie focused on a commonly used theme. This flick follows the classic tale of an unsuspecting human turning into a werewolf with some unique twists, including some witticisms and unexpected gory scenes. One important note about the film is the amazing FX makeup used throughout, giving artist Rick Baker the first-ever Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

5 – A Nightmare on Elm Street

Another cult favorite in the horror genre, playing on human’s innate fear of the dark and nightmares, a true classic that many continue to watch each Halloween. There is a good chance you have seen the film or one of its sequels, but this original Freddy Kruger hit is a great choice when you want to have a scary movie night. Of course, this is not for the faint of heart and does feature a few gruesome scenes along with other nightmare-inducing content.

6 – Blazing Saddles

Taking a short break from the long line of horror films, Blazing Saddles is a comedy classic that stars the amazing Mel Brooks. This takes place in the Wild West and is full of racially charged humor surrounding the election of an African American sheriff in a small western town. Truly this is not a movie that would be made today but the comedy of the time still shines even years later.

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7 – The Omen

Going back to a classic horror film, the original 1976 incarnation of The Omen is the best option out there, far superior to its later remakes that tend to leave you wanting more. Following the classic story of the anti-Christ, the main character Damien is truly a nightmare embodying pure evil. Made for a more mature audience due to the underlying tones of violence, this will always be a scary movie favorite.

8 – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

A science-fiction favorite that is still widely loved and everyone should watch at least once in their lifetime. One of the best Spielberg films to date, there is a good chance you have heard of E.T. but if not, it follows the story of a lost alien simply trying to “phone home.” A great watch for older kids and adults alike, it evokes all of your feelings from laughter to sadness and everything in between. The perfect choice for your next movie night.

9 – Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Perhaps the best in the Indiana Jones franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark is an 80’s classic that begins what would later lead to four films. It stars amazing actor Harrison Ford as he travels to recover a stolen artifact that possesses destructive powers. Full of sarcastic one-liners and action, this is the perfect jumping-off point for an Indiana Jones binge session.

10 – The Terminator

Long before his time as governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger was known as an amazing bodybuilder and “the Terminator.”  Continuing down this science fiction genre, the movie follows an action hero who is a cyborg assassin known as the Terminator. The movie has a lot of impressive stunts and action scenes, for the 80’s that is and is overall a great watch.

11 – Poltergeist

Though there have been newer remakes of this classic 80’s horror film, nothing replaces the original. It has the perfect mixture of suspense and ghostly fear to keep you watching from start to finish. The parents in the movie must face their own fears to find their sweet daughter who has been taken into another dimension by spirits that haunt their home. A great addition to any scary movie night.

12 – The Godfather

A quote-worthy classic that is a mafia-based family headed by Don Corleone. This was a big hit during the time, being nominated for several Oscars and widely watched in most homes. The story takes you back to years ago, focusing heavily on 1940s mob life.

13 – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Audrey Hepburn is a truly beautiful actress in this classic film, which is probably her most iconic role and still highly referenced today. Holly Golightly is the main character, played by Hepburn and the film follows her as she lurks around local jewelry stores and the twists and turns of her life. This is a great film for both adults and teens alike.

14 – Ghostbusters

The special effects from this amazing classic leave something to be desired compared to modern-day options, but they still are just as enjoyable as they were when the movie was first released. You have probably watched or at least heard the theme song from the film, but revisiting it is never a bad choice. Follow the gang of Ghostbusters as they catch spirits and crack a few jokes along the way.

15 – Heathers

A great classic watch for young adults and adults who want to relive their younger days, Heathers is another quote-worthy watch. The movie features Winona Ryder and is full of beautifully written sarcastic, dark comedy. If you have never watched the film, you are truly missing out and it should be added to your watch list immediately.

What to Watch When You Have Seen Them All

Now that you have browsed my list of what I consider to be the top 45 best shows, cartoons, and movies available on Netflix when you want a blast from the past, you may be wondering what’s next. If you have not seen any of the previously mentioned options, I suggest you watch them as soon as possible. If you have seen them all or do not love watching your old favorites again, there are some newer options that will give you that same retro feel.

You can browse a complete list of shows and movies that are currently available on Netflix, here!

There are thousands of available options on Netflix, which is why it remains as one of the most highly purchased streaming platforms available today. They also have original content coming out regularly that you can enjoy.

The Best Modern Show with a Retro Feel

However, if you want to binge-watch a show that will give you the same nostalgia as those listed above but with new twists and modern filming capabilities, I have two words for you, “Stranger Things.” This is my go-to favorite for when I want a taste of what life was like years ago but do not want to watch classics that I have seen time and again.

Stranger Things focuses on a group of kids who are growing up deep in the heart of the 1980s. The show has strong Russian themes, representing the fears and feelings of the time, but with a science fiction twist. Based in small-town America, you will see all of your favorite 80’s fashions, lingo, stores, logos, and more popping up on the screen.

The show is unique as the episodes were all filmed in the last few years but have gone to great lengths to recreate the decade. You will fall in love with Mike, Lucas, Will, and Dustin a group of friends who find an ally in a less than normal girl named Eleven. The show has quickly grown a reputation for its quality storylines and binge-worthy episodes. More importantly, this is new to you show that still gives you that retro feel, with new episodes, recently released and more seasons in the making.

Overall, if you are hoping to take a step back and want to enjoy some of your favorites from the past, Netflix will not disappoint. Whether you want to pick a few of the classics I have listed for you or binge watch some newer retro finds, it is time to turn on your TV, phone, or tablet and take a step back in time.