Hook’s Iconic Non-Animated Male Leads for Kids

Written by

The Hook Team

Published on

September 11, 2023
Time to read: 4 minutes

As promised, following our recent post and in response to The Guardian’s top 50 kids’ shows to binge over the summer… we have the non-animated male leads. A lot of tough choices and some disagreements here at Hook Towers… especially over The Suite Life of Zack and Cody (is it iconic?)

As always, we would love to know what you think… is there anything you would change?

Hook’s Iconic Non- Animated Leads for Kids

1. Drake and Josh (2004 – 2007) 

Zack and Cody and Drake and Josh were on at similar times, and both had a pair of brothers as the main protagonists – there’s only one winner. Drake and Josh had more going on, funnier jokes (they knocked Oprah over), more compelling characters,  and a shared nemesis – Megan.

2. Kenan and Kel (1996- 2000)

Kenan and Kel worked because they were so obviously friends on and off screen – their misadventures, often ending with a get-rich-quick scheme or avoiding trouble with his elders smacked of realness. Who loves orange soda!? We certainly do!

3. Boy Meets World (1993-2000) 

A cosy set of 90s slippers for the viewer to slide into, focussing on Corey Mathews and his relationship with love, loss and friendship – it has some genuinely moving episodes and deep (relatively) script writing. When the love of his life Topanga moved to Pittsburgh we simultaneously said no, and ‘where’s Pittsburgh?’

4. Fresh Prince of Bel Air- (1990- 1996)

This series was the launch of Will Smith’s long and successful career in TV and film. With an unforgettable and catchy theme tune, we were introduced to Will. A street- smart African American teenager who was ‘born and raised’ in West Philadelphia; just as resonant was dorky Carlton and his dance. The Fresh Prince is still making waves with newer generations through Netflix and other streaming services.

5. Malcolm in the Middle (2000-2006)

Malcolm in the Middle follows child prodigy Malcolm, as he becomes his family’s middle child, when his oldest brother is sent to boarding school. Dysfunctional family life as Malcoms’ parents struggle to cope with their four (eventually five) sons is what made it so relatable. It was always funny, a guaranteed easy watch, and lest we forget that Hal walked around in his underwear, so that Walter White could run in his.

6. Even Stevens- (2000-2003)

Another career launch show… this time for Shia LaBoeuf. Originally airing on Disney Channel, this series follows the life of the Stevens, in particular Louis. Rude, lazy and selfish, Louis spends the series concocting elaborate plans to make his life easier. The show was so popular that they even made a feature-length movie that Premiered in 2003.

7. Henry Danger (2014-2020)

Beyond the almost maniacal commitment to toilet humour, any program where Captain Man has to find a sidekick in Henry Danger to participate in clueless adventures has to be at least in some way subversive!

8. Dodger (2022- present)

A spin off of the classic Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, focussing on the life of the Artful Dodger. This reinvented kids classic shows the life of the Artful Dodger and his exploits in Fagin’s gang before his introduction to Oliver Twist. This comical reinvention is the perfect way to keep a well-loved classic novel alive with younger generations.

9. Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide (2004 – 2007)

The topic of moving up into ‘big school’ is one that all kids face. In every episode Ned tackled this – learning about, and giving subsequent advice, on how to survive the ups and downs of being a teenager. Supported by his two best friends Moze and Cookie, Ned fumbles his way through Middle School, and comes out stronger at the other end.

10. The Suite Life of Zack and Cody (2005-2008) 

The Suite Life followed the lives of twin boys living with their single mum who lived in a hotel where she worked as a singer. This show deviated from Disney’s normal representation of a nuclear family, with Zack and Cody relying on a patchwork quilt of guardians in the form of the hotel staff and residents. The twins themselves, despite what trouble they got into (and there was a lot of that) always sought to make it right in the end, often with the guidance of the adults around them. Heartwarming and genuinely funny – what’s not to like.


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