Disney Plus is now available in Europe as well as the US and Australia, and later in 2020 we'll start to see its original content line-up take shape, assuming the current health crisis doesn't put production on hold all year.
While the choice of TV shows on Disney Plus isn't nearly as expansive or impressive as the best movies on Disney Plus, or indeed the best shows on Netflix, there's still plenty of quality, bingeable goodness here, particularly if you're a fan of animated shows, or Star Wars.
It already has one of the biggest and best TV shows of the past year, after all: The Mandalorian is a powerful subscription driver for the service, and fans are already looking forward to The Mandalorian season 2 in October.
In 2020, too, shows from Marvel Studios like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision will start to roll out, although both are currently on production hold. Will Disney's TV catalogue one day match the breadth and quality of its feature-length flicks? Right now, it doesn't – but each original will make a huge difference.
Until then, a lot of the best shows on Disney Plus are for kids. But when it comes to the kind of adult TV that tends to dominate networks and streaming services nowadays, you've also got 30 seasons of The Simpsons on there, no matter where you are. It remains a classic, 30 years later, and Disney Plus is the only streaming service to offer it all in one place, even if it's still presented in the wrong aspect ratio of 16:9 (expect this to be fixed at some point in 2020).
For now, these are the best shows you can watch on the platform. As more shows get added – Malcolm in the Middle will definitely make this list one day – we will keep this page updated.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The long-awaited final season of The Clone Wars has begun – the result of a years-long fan campaign. This show kept Star Wars’ fire burning between the prequels and Disney’s Lucasfilm buyout, and even though it's set in the prequel timeframe, it corrects everything those movies got wrong, with weighty stories and great characterization. It’s that galaxy far, far away at its best, action-driven and packed with enough Star Wars lore to fill a space cruiser. You won't be short of Star Wars content on Disney Plus, with seven seasons of this to chew through.
The Mandalorian is Disney Plus's breakout hit, and deservedly so. This expensive-looking show has unleashed Baby Yoda upon us, a true gift, after hiding the little green alien so well in the marketing materials. Jon Favreau created this series, starring Pedro Pascal from Game of Thrones, and it's a comforting little series. Episodes rarely exceed 40 minutes, which is a blessed relief in this age of bloated streaming dramas. This eight-episode show offers the best live-action Star Wars of the last couple of years.
Originally a Hulu show, The Runaways finished its third and final season last year. From the creators of The OC, it's a really sharp Marvel teen drama with a dubious place in the MCU canon, but that doesn't really matter. The characterization in this show is fantastic, and it's based on one of the best Marvel books of the century so far, about the kids of a secret supervillain society that decide to go on the run when they discover their parents' hidden lives.
Forky Asks a Question
The reanimated spork who posed existential questions about the meaning of life in Toy Story 4 gets his own series. Up for discussion are topics as diverse as “What is a friend?”, “What is art?”, “What is time?” and – one of the biggest mysteries of our time – “What is cheese?”. Minds will be blown.
From early groundbreakers like Luxo Jr to the present day, shorts have always been a big part of Pixar’s success story. It’s only right, then, that the studio’s Disney Plus offering includes this series of experimental shorts from new filmmakers. Given Pixar’s track record in pushing the envelope, you're in for something special.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum
Jeff Goldblum could make reading a phone book sound riveting, so it's hard to imagine a more charismatic host for a documentary series. Each themed instalment – early episodes are devoted to ice cream and sneakers – features a mix of science, history and unlikely connections, all served with a generous sprinkling of Goldblum. Season 2 is on the way.
The Imagineering Story
As if to prove its new service really is all-encompassing, Disney has even found a way to bring its theme parks into the mix. The Imagineering Story is a six-hour documentary series delving into the history of the vast empire, while showing how some of Disney’s most iconic attractions are brought to life.
Marvel's Hero Project
While we’ll have to wait for the TV debuts of Marvel big-hitters like Loki, the House of Ideas is represented at launch by this uplifting factual series. Each episode showcases a real-life young hero who’s made a positive impact on their community – in a particularly nice touch, each one will get to appear in a Marvel comic.
Pixar: In Real Life
Imagine a classic hidden-camera show viewed through a Pixar-shaped filter, and you’ve got the basic idea of Pixar: In Real Life. Brilliantly lifelike recreations of characters from the movies take to the streets, and the show records the reactions – what a way for Pixar to go live action...
Arguably the TV show that set Marvel on its path to big screen dominance, this long-running ’90s cartoon was pioneering in the way it took the serialised storytelling of comic books to kids’ TV. Loaded with familiar characters, surprisingly complex, and delivering new takes on classic X-storylines, it’s a true classic.
Whatever your vintage, Disney Plus will be Spider-heaven, as numerous incarnations of the Wallcrawler swing into action – including ’80s team-up Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, and the classic ’90s serial. This dimension-hopping 2012 series is arguably the pick of the bunch, however – not least because it brought newer Spidey Miles Morales into the mix.
In the ’80s, Disney had a habit of churning out cartoon series with indecently catchy theme tunes (see also Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Chip ’N Dale: Rescue Rangers). The ongoing adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie are the standout, however, especially as the first season of the David Tennant-starring 2017 reboot is also available.
One of the crown jewels to come out of Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox, all 30 complete seasons are available on Disney Plus. Springfield’s best days may be two decades behind it, but at its best (seasons 3-9, and some of 10), The Simpsons was as good as TV has ever been. It hits the same nostalgic, comfort-viewing buttons as The Office has for Netflix. This feels as vital to Disney Plus's success as Star Wars and Marvel. Which other streaming service has steamed hams? When Disney fixes the aspect ratio on older episodes, this will always be a good reason to subscribe.
Boy Meets World
Disney Plus goes back to school, with this long-running coming-of-age sitcom from the 1990s. Millions of viewers were glued to the onslaught of life lessons faced by teen Cory Matthews and his friends, and all seven seasons are on Disney Plus – along with 2014 spin-off Girl Meets World.
If David Lynch ever made a kid-friendly version of Twin Peaks it might look something like Gravity Falls, as the bizarre Oregon town of the title plays host to a host of paranormal events and weird creatures. It’s nominally a children’s show, of course, but why should kids have all the fun?
As well as owning Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm, Disney also has Kermit and the gang on the payroll. This 2015 series is a 30 Rock-style trip behind the scenes of fictional late-night chat show Up Late with Miss Piggy – with a crew staffed entirely by familiar felt faces. Slightly darker than the standard Muppet offering, but frequently extremely funny.
A couple of decades before it got its hands on Marvel, Disney dabbled in superheroics with this avian superhero adventure. Elements of Batman, The Shadow, The Green Hornet and other classics are all thrown into the mix alongside plenty of comedy and slapstick, as Drake Mallard fights crime under his secret identity, Darkwing Duck.
Big Hero 6
Disney never made a movie sequel to its brilliant 2014 Marvel adaptation Big Hero 6 – it didn’t need to, because this TV show did the job perfectly. Reuniting most of the original cast, this follow-up returns to San Fransokyo to pick up the adventures of teen hero Hiro Hamada and his cute robot sidekick Baymax.
2010 movie sequel Tron: Legacy didn’t quite set the box office on fire, but it did spawn this visually stunning animated series. Elijah Wood voices hero program Beck, battling to save the computer mainframe from malevolent software Clu, while Bruce Boxleitner (star of the original film) returns as Tron, protector of the Grid.
Star Wars: Rebels
This origin story for the Rebel Alliance zooms in on the fertile time period leading up to the original Star Wars movie. With many of The Clone Wars’ creative team on board, it’s four seasons of fan heaven, with an epic storyline, beautiful spaceship designs, and some of the biggest players in the franchise (Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian) back in action.
And here's one of the worst: Inhumans
Not everything on Disney+ is a classic, of course, and this short-lived 2017 TV series is proof that Marvel doesn’t always have the Midas touch (though to be fair, this wasn't from the same part of Marvel that brings you those movies). Still, if you didn’t watch it on broadcast, there’s a certain car-crash appeal to watching the trials and tribulations of the Inhuman royal family marooned on Earth.
- With most of the Marvel movies on Disney's service, watch them in order