Was Cartoon Network better than Disney Channel and Nickelodeon in its prime?

Cartoon Network
Image via Warner Bros. Discovery

This one question could easily be the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. Forget about politics, religion, or finance, those are all so boring anyway — the real hot-button issues of the day are about network television, right?

You can’t deny it’s something we’ve all thought about, debated with friends, and have never been able to agree on. So let’s finally try and settle this. Of Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, and Nickelodeon — in their prime, which channel truly reigned supreme? If the comment section of this tweet is any indicator, we might be here for a while.

Picking one of these three juggernauts is like trying to pick your favorite child — you aren’t really allowed to like one more than the others, but there might be one that cleans their room a little more often. It seems like that analogy fits well with how the internet feels, and to be honest, we couldn’t agree more. At first glance, Cartoon Network is the clear winner.

During CN’s heyday, their list of popular shows was astounding. These were bangers like (stick with us here, it’s quite the list): Samurai Jack, Adventure Time, The Powderpuff Girls (whose fandom recently rushed to defend the show), Ed, Edd, n Eddy, Teen Titans, Codename: Kids Next Door, The Amazing World of Gumball, Dexter’s Laboratory, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Total Drama Island, Ben 10, Chowder, and so many more beloved pieces of children’s television.

Then Nickelodeon and Disney Channel enter the mix, and we aren’t so sure Cartoon Network holds up.

Nickelodeon didn’t just rock with cartoons, they had some great live-action material as well, and that combination definitely kept people coming back. Shows like: Hey Arnold!, Avatar: The Last Airbender, CatDog, The Wild Thornberrys, The Fairly OddParents, and Danny Phantom were absolutely incredible. Oh yeah, and a little indie show called SpongeBob Squarepants.

If animation wasn’t your thing though, you could tune in to Big Time Rush, Victorious, Neds Declassified, Zoey 101, Drake and Josh, or iCarly — all legendary. Does anyone else feel old yet?

Finally, Disney Channel. Centered around their non-animated projects, they had some heavy hitters too. There was A.N.T Farm, Lizzie McGuire, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Wizards of Waverly Place, Good Luck Charlie, That’s So Raven, and Even Stevens, to name a few.

Not forgetting about Kim Possible, The Proud Family, and Recess — which for our money were just as good as anything else at the time. Don’t even try to argue, you know it’s true.

So which was best? Well, in a way, they all were. In the end, these three channels existed to inspire us, entertain us, and help us become better people — regardless of which you liked the most, each had something to bring to the table.