Our generation is obsessed with nostalgia, and there are few things that get the nostalgia factory pumping like reminiscing about the TV shows of yesteryear. More than music or movies, it was pretty easy to be a kid and watch the same TV shows that other kids were watching…which–side note–is why I still believe that one of the best icebreakers is to talk about old TV shows you and your peers grew up with. Next to ’90s Nickelodeon classics and old school Cartoon Network shows, Disney Channel produced some of the most easily memorable content of the Millennial and Gen-Z era, especially when it came to its Disney Channel Original Movies. I mean, who hasn’t seen classics like Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century or The Cheetah Girls?
From Motocrossed to High School Musical, Disney Channel made a lot of memorable DCOMs in the ’90s and ’00s, but there are also plenty of them that are forgotten about that are just as good as any of the more well known ones. Sure, Disney Channel has been getting on the nostalgia bandwagon and is playing some of those old school classics, but many are still an afterthought. Well, let’s take a minute to recall these 18 Disney Channel Original Movies you always forget existed.
1. Get A Clue
Lindsay Lohan (and a young Brenda Song) were absolutely killer as teens who try to solve the mystery of their missing school teacher. This was made a couple of years before she made Mean Girls, so this movie isn’t as well known in her repertoire, but it should be because it’s actually really effing good.
2. Jump In
Jump In, starring Corbin Blue and Keke Palmer, might have been one of the highest rated DCOM premieres, but its notoriety definitely fizzled away over the years. That’s a shame, because this movie about a boxing star who inadvertently ends up on a female-dominated double dutch team is actually pretty damn good for a Disney Channel joint.
3. Ready To Run
You’d think there would be more horse-girl DCOMs, but there’s only Ready to Run, an inspiring movie about a girl who wants to be a jokey in the male-dominated world of horse racing. Oh, uh, also…she can talk to horses. Yes, homegirl is a horse whisperer.
4. Stepsister From Planet Weird
Whoever made this DCOM had to have been on some psychedelic drugs when they wrote this, because this movie is a trip. Basically, a teen girl named Megan discovers that her weird new stepsister, Ariel, is actually an alien who comes from a planet in which her true form is a bubble. Yes, a bubble. Anyway, Ariel and her father are actually refugees from an intergalactic war, which is a major plot point alongside Megan’s quest to just be a normal, popular girl in middle school.
5. Under Wraps
Fun fact: Under Wraps is considered the first official DCOM! This story about a group of friends who discover a mummy manages to be ridiculously wholesome without being nauseatingly so and it’s still a really great not-so-scary movie to watch around Halloween.
6. Tru Confessions
If you’ve watched Tru Confessions without crying, you didn’t watch it right, frankly. This movie about a girl who creates a documentary about her brother, who has autism, is not only a tear jerker, but also one of Shia Labouf’s best performances. It didn’t get as much rotation as it deserved, but it’s by far one of the most powerful DCOMs ever.
7. Gotta Kick It Up
Gotta Kick It Up is one of the best DCOMs of all time, quote me on that. This movie about a group of Latinas at a struggling East LA school who–with the help of a new teacher–become a killer competitive dance squad, is definitely one of the better sports movies that Disney Channel developed in the early 2000s.
8. The Poof Point
Two scientists create an anti-aging machine…and accidentally get stuck in it. Their kids have to suddenly deal with the fact that they’re close to being the adults in the household, and, of course, chaos ensues.
A young wiz-kid is a dorky college student studying psychics, but after falling for a girl who goes to high school like a normal kid his age, he decides to attend the same high school she does…but masquerades as a bad boy. What could go wrong?
10. Phantom of the Megaplex
You might catch this movie around Halloween on Disney Channel, but this cute movie about a supposedly haunted movie theater deserves to be played even in not-so-spooky months. Why? It’s a goofy good time, and it’s so early 2000s it hurts.
11. Pixel Perfect
Here’s the best way I can summarize this movie: That guy from Phil of the Future creates a holographic pop star to help out his friend’s band. But everyone quickly realizes that creating people all willy nilly has plenty of nasty consequences.
12. The Color of Friendship
Who else had no idea what apartheid even was until The Color of Friendship, a movie set in the ’70s about a black girl who is excited about hosting an African exchange student…until she discovers that the exchange student is a white South African girl. The two learn a lot about race relations together, a pretty daring topic for a DCOM in the early 2000s or even today.
13. Up, Up, and Away
Up, Up, and Away tells the story of a boy who realizes he’s the only one in his family of super heroes who doesn’t have powers. So, what does he do? Fake it till he can make it. This movie is really funny and really charming, despite the corny moments, which is why it’s a shame that it’s not more beloved in the DCOM canon.
14. Susie Q
Back when Disney Channel Movies were a little grittier, a movie like Suzy Q thrived on being aired over and over again. The film about a girl who dies in a car crash on her way to winter formal in 1955 and can only be seen by a teenage boy 40 years later was, frankly, a little morbid but in a sweet way.
15. Alley Cats Strike
This 1999 DCOM about two towns’ sports rivalry being determined by a bowling match deserves a lot more love. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie singlehandedly sparked a bowling buzz for kids at the time. Hell, I know I was suddenly interested in bowling after watching it.
16. Don’t Look Under The Bed
To this day, Don’t Look Under The Bed is arguably the scariest of all DCOMs. In fact, this movie–about a teen girl who is being framed by the Boogieman and has to defeat him with the help of her imaginary friend–was so controversial that it largely fell out of rotation in Disney Channel’s movie lineup, though you might be able to catch it around Halloween.
17. You Wish
This be-careful-what-you-wish for movie (starring Twitty from Even Stevens and Miranda from Lizzie Mcguire) about a teen boy who wishes his annoying younger brother was never born received a lot of promo leading up to its release, but it must not have drawn the attention Disney hoped, because it ended up becoming one of the more forgettable DCOMs out there.
18. Can of Worms
Even when this movie was new, I still found it too weird and freaky to watch. But hey, that hasn’t stopped this movie–about aliens who visit a teen after he sends a message to outer space–from being an OG Disney Channel cult classic.
Which of the above movies are your favorites? Which other forgotten DCOMs should be on this list? Tell us in the comments!