Wrapping Up 2023’s Best Episodes From Disney Channel Animated Series

As we wrap up 2023, let's do what I do best and focus on a bit of nostalgia. This time though, it will be focused on the best new episodes of the current animated series airing on Disney Channel. It’s hard to believe but in the last 12 months we saw the debut of numerous new series, as well as the conclusion of one fan-favorite series that had a substantial following waiting on the edge of their seat for literally two episodes that debuted months apart from each other.

As a reminder, this is an opinion piece about “the best” new episodes, and your ideas may differ and that’s okay. If you’re unfamiliar with any of these series, feel free to check them out on Disney Channel, the DisneyNOW app, and Disney+.

Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur

One of several new series to debut this year on Disney Channel, Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur took fans by storm when it arrived in February. The show, based on Marvel’s comic book series of the same name, follows the adventures of 13-year-old super-genius Lunella Lafayette and her 10-ton T-Rex, Devil Dinosaur. After Lunella accidentally brings Devil Dinosaur into present-day New York City, the duo works together to protect the city’s Lower East Side from danger.Of course, all of this is explained in the first episode of the Emmy-award winning series, “Moon Girl Landing.”

Fans also were excited to see the arrival of the big bad of the series, The Beyonder, voiced by series producer Laurence Fishburne. Heard in the first few episodes of the series, it’s the sixth episode where he appears and gloms onto Lunella to learn about humanity, just as she’s struggling to win a big science competition.

The award-winning show is already a fan favorite with its stylized animation and catchy music, and has been renewed for a second season which is set to debut in February of 2024.

Hamster & Gretel

While we’re on the topic of hero-based shows, let’s not forget the animated series that debuted last year – Hamster & Gretel.

From the creator of the hit series, Phineas & Ferb, Dan Povenmire, Hamster & Gretel follows teenager Kevin and his younger sister Gretel. The pair encounters a UFO in the first episode and two passengers in Kevin’s minivan are granted extraordinary powers that they must only use for good. However, it seems Kevin does not have any powers, and the other passenger in the van who now has superhero abilities along with Gretel is her pet Hamster, named Hamster.

Still technically in its first season, the show continued to debut new episodes well into 2023. It was back in February that the show started to get past its Villain-of-the-Week formula and get into a richer, more developed world. That was when Gretel befriended Nordle, and it was revealed that one of the big bads throughout the series – Professor Exclamation – was her new friend’s father.

It was in March where this kind of story idea got pushed even further, in the episode “The Bitter Sitter.” It was in this episode the archnemeses of Hamster & Gretel – Fistpuncher and the Destructress (who were also given powers by the UFO) – come into play once again. Fresh on the heels of Gretel’s best friend Bailey finding out her identity as a superhero, the rest of the Grant-Gomez family heads to a murder-mystery party and hires a babysitter to look after Gretel and Bailey.

Their babysitter, Lauren, is fantastic but has to help bail her brother out of a jam. Regular viewers of the show are quick to notice that Lauren is the Destructress, but Gretel is unaware of that until later in the episode – right around the time that the rest of the Grant-Gomez family had decided that Lauren would become their regular babysitter. Making the show more of a series than a simple new villain/new week format.

The Ghost and Molly McGee

Back for a second season The Ghost and Molly Mcgee has returned and saw titular ghost Scratch occupy the seat of chairman as the ghost world, Molly and the rest of her family get new neighbors in the form of oddly-lovable Ghost Hunters, and a new recurring villain in the form of Jinx, who we met last season.

However, there have been two oddly emotional episodes of the series thus far that retains this Disney TV Animation title as a fan-favorite.

In the first, “A Soda to Remember,” which debuted back in April, we get a bit of a glimpse into Scratch’s life when he was alive. As Molly and Libby use some tactics to stir up forgotten memories with the help of a retro flavor of soda, all hope is lost and we might have even thought it was another Scratch ploy to get favorite treats. It’s at the end of the episode when Scratch has a flashback where we see another human saying goodbye, clearly moving away, and we know there is a deeper tale to tell in Scratch’s origin story. Sadly, we haven’t seen much more of this thus far this season, but we are desperately hoping for more in the near future.

If it’s real emotion and heart-turning you’re looking for though, look no further than “Like Father, Like Libby” which debuted on Disney Channel on July 15th. Never have I seen a more real look at a dysfunctional family dynamic in a YA series in any era.

In the episode, Libby is ready to see her dad for the first time in what appears to be years. After writing letters to each other, he is finally in a town nearby and her mom is going to take her to see him. As we progress, we see Libby getting more and more excited, making plans now that her father is back and ready to spend more time together. Perhaps they can go sledding, they can do all these great things.

Libby’s mom is, of course, apprehensive, and tells her daughter to manage her expectations. And right she is, as soon as Libby is meeting her dad, a fellow author, he treats her like someone just above any other fan, and explains that his book is a success and he’s going to be going away for a long time again to do more research and writing. The animators of the series convey the emotion so beautifully, its hard not to be devastated by the episode. Along with the heartbreak viewers get, it's also heartwarming (and refreshing after what we just witnessed) to see the beautiful relationship between Libby and her mother, and it reminds us that one of our favorite characters in the series is going to be okay.

Big City Greens

The second half of the third season of the hit series on the show saw the Green family head back to the country to their former farm home in Smalton. Throughout the numerous episodes that took place in this setting, it felt like the show was building up to a “you can’t go home again” mentality, as it was clear that the Greens missed Big City and numerous aspects of Smalton were different, unfamiliar, or leaving the Greens behind.

It all came to a head in March in the season finale, “Long Goodbye.” Though filled with pretty standard Big City Greens nonsense and fare, it was the last few minutes of the episode that really set the stage for a fourth season.

In those final moments of the episode, we see the Bill, Cricket and Tilly returning from dropping Gramma off in Big City, reminiscing about their time in the city (after procrastinating leaving the whole episode), forgetting gas and stopping in the literal halfway point between Big City and Smalton when Nancy comes to the rescue with extra gas and its decided that she can stay in Smalton and keep an eye on the Green Family Farm there, and they can go stay with Gramma in Big City whenever they can. Now, we know future episodes will bounce between the two settings, but more importantly – the drive back to the city revealed a returning character. Last seen in the second season of the show, recurring villain Chip Whistler is seen on the outskirts of the city ready to come back and exact revenge on the Greens.

Later in the year, we see his story in the last of the first batch of five episodes as part of the fourth season, but there is a different episode in the season thus far that plays to the strengths of Big City Greens. Having debuted in October, “Handshaken” sees Cricket learn that whoever has the strongest handshake in town is the most respected person around. Using the simple premise, the episode is one part western and one part anime as Cricket vies to have the strongest handshake until he realizes the one person who does is (spoiler alert) his own father.

Hailey’s On It

Another new series that debuted earlier this year was the new story-driven series, Hailey’s On It!  In it, Auli’i Cravalho (Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Moana) stars in the title role as Hailey, a risk-averse but resourceful teenager on a mission to complete every item on her long list of challenging — and sometimes impractical — tasks in order to save the world. The series also features Scott, Hailey’s best friend and Beta, an artificially intelligent operating system from the future.

Set in Oceanside, California, the series follows Hailey as she is pushed outside her comfort zone to discover the greatness that lies within. Whether she’s tackling every ride at the county fair, performing in a musical, reuniting a singing duo, or facing her ever-growing and complicated feelings toward her best friend Scott, Hailey is always encountering new challenges ― and more opportunities to conquer her fears.

Similar to The Owl House, this series has a new development every week, but every episode ties into one overarching main story. So there's no better episode that does this than the one that sets up the whole story, “The Beginning of the Friend.” This is where we meet The Professor, who comes from the future and tells Hailey that she must complete her to-do list, as doing so somehow saves the future from becoming an apocalyptic wasteland. In fact, whenever we get the idea she isn’t going to complete a task (assigned to her by Beta) we see Chaos bots appear to try and thwart her, or get glimpses of that terrible future.

The episode introduces the whole premise, but also the other main overarching plot point – one of the things she wrote on her list was to kiss her best friend, Scott. This is a recurring point throughout, sometimes forgotten completely in an episode and others filled with the tension of this looming list item.


Along with Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur and Hailey’s On It! Another series debuted this year, this one being (in my opinion) unlike anything else on Disney Channel in a long time, if ever. This new series, Kiff, follows the titular young squirrel and her bunny best friend, Barry. Together, they embark on the most rambunctious and often hilarious adventures that start out in sheer simplicity – one episode finds the duo just trying to redeem a coupon for a free pretzel – and then evolves into a territory for the absurd in the greatest way. The aforementioned pretzel episode finds them inadvertently creating a pretzel cult at the mall, with the followers being traded away to local witch Helen to help with her unauthorized bedazzling business.

All set in the city of Table Town, Kiff’s world is composed of animals and magical creatures who help flesh out the wondrous world building where each episode has a call-back to a previous one, yet each 11 musical eleven minute half is its own random and hilarious adventure.

Personally, I’m partial to the hijinx of an episode titled “Friendship in the Time of Cheese Caves,” which follows Kiff and Barry on a field trip to the Cheese Caves, but fellow classmate Candle Fox is distraught over her budding friendship with Trevor and how she may have inadvertently ruined it. The episode includes parodies of The Price is Right, some super swishy swim shorts, odd cheese harvesting creatures, and what may very well be the best song in the series thus far.

Others will point to the new holiday that Kiff has created, “Halfway There Day,” as a standout in the series thus far. The new holiday takes place on July 2nd, exactly halfway through the year. This allows residents of Table Town to celebrate getting halfway through the year by taking it easy on themselves and putting in half the effort in the hopes of being visited by Centaur Claus, who will allow them to throw away their New Year’s Resolutions in his magical trash can. If all of this sounds crazy…you’re probably just being a Beverly.

They’re all great, but it’s the creators of Kiff themselves who suggest their own favorites – both “Weird Delivery” and “Blooper Quest.”

There are so many great episodes, it’s hard to nail it down to one or two, but either way – don’t sleep on Kiff. The series was renewed for a second season in June, so we expect more fun from Kiff and her fellow Tabletonians in the future. And I didn’t even mention Ghost Wolf!

The Owl House

Where Kiff is a rambunctiously random and absurd show with individual adventures and stories in each episode – 2023 brought an amazing story to a close when the third season wrapped and concluded the ultra-popular fan favorite series, The Owl House.

The third season, controversially shortened to three 45 minute episodes in lieu of the previous 20 episode seasons, kicked off in the latter half of 2022 with the first of the three episodes and setting up the finale.

In January of 2023, the second part aired to much fanfare and saw Luz and her friends return to the Boiling Isles from the human realm, only to find that the Collector has taken over, turning the landscape into a childish playground. This second episode, “For The Future,” is a comfortable yet thrilling middle ground where we see the students return to Hexside and deal with fellow students who are now being controlled by Kikimora in disguise as she attempts, once again, to rule the Boiling Isles. With its own twists and turns, it starts tying some of the loose strings in the series together, setting up one climactic finale where Luz, Eda, and King must take on the Collector and Belos, who is still alive and trying to destroy their world.

That all happened in the series finale, “Watching and Dreaming,” which arrived several months later in April. It was this episode that fans got what they were waiting for when we saw Eda, Luz, and King reunite. We also got to see King’s father for the first time while Luz was in the realm in-between, where fans could be heard cheering from their own television sets and devices around the world. It was the climactic battle between our favorite trio that had viewers on the edge of their seats until the final defeat of the big bad Belos, as he took over the very heart of the Titan itself. After the greatest callback in the series (“Now Eat This Sucka!”), fans were treated to a beautiful epilogue that showed Luz and her friends several years later that was equal parts emotional as it was satisfying for devoted fans of the series.

You can catch all these episodes and series still on the Disney Channel, the DisneyNOW app, and Disney+.

Sign up for Disney+ or the Disney Streaming Bundle (Disney+, ESPN+, and ad-supported Hulu) now

Tony Betti
Originally from California where he studied a dying artform (hand-drawn animation), Tony has spent most of his adult life in the theme parks of Orlando. When he’s not writing for LP, he’s usually watching and studying something animated or arguing about “the good ole’ days” at the parks.