- Legends of the Hidden Temple (ran 1993- 1995)
I wanted to be on this show more than anything. It was so frustrating watching team after team fail completely at assembling the Silver Monkey inside the temple; that room tripped up so many contestants. I realized, after watching so much, that the first team to make it across the moat in the first round went on to the temple at the end. Every. Time. Plus, tell me you wouldn’t have instinctively knee’d the temple guards in the crotch if they jumped out at you like that.
They’re making a feature film based on this show, believe it or not. Remember, the choice is yours and yours alone.
- The Adventures of Pete & Pete (ran 1993-1996)
This show was about two redheaded brothers – both named Pete – who invaded our TV life. The crazy antics of the younger Pete and his friendship with Artie and his rebellious tattoo of Petunia. The older Pete being what teenagers are: awkward and swayed by teen lust. How did the younger Pete get away with so much!?
This show was our first introduction to Nickelodeon star Danny Tamberelli who would go on to be a part of All That, Figure It Out, and a few other Nick shows before fading into obscurity for a while. He recently has been making music with his band, Jounce, and was the voice of Jimmy on Grand Theft Auto V.
- Rocko’s Modern Life (ran 1993-1996)
Another show where I question why, as kids, we were allowed to watch it. Have you ever re-watched this as an adult? Let’s recap. Rocko’s dog’s name was Spunky… The superhero, Really Really Big Man, had the power to show you the future by attaching his…nipples…to your eyeballs.
But it also touched on important adult themes, such as being a responsible credit card owner, having anxiety, addiction, and insecurity. All of which went over all our heads as kids. One message it did always instill in us was this: big corporations suck and being the little guy can be pretty hard, but we can’t let that get us down. Bonus point: the theme song was performed by The B-52’s, a band that has much more substance than “Love Shack” and “Rock Lobster.”
- My Brother and Me (ran 1994-1995)
A short-lived show, but I bet you’d remember that theme song. It was a sitcom based show that was about everyday life, crazy kid pranks, and misadventures of childhood. Unfortunately, it also included terribly corny writing and poorly timed canned laughter. That didn’t matter as a kid, though. At least, not back then.
5. Rugrats (ran 1991-2004)
Before Spongebob ever picked up a hydro-dynamic spatula (with port and starboard attachments and turbo drive), Rugrats was the longest running Nickelodeon cartoon during its time. Probably one the most watched shows on this list, it was universal, and, like many of its contemporaries, it has an interesting conspiracy theory about what was really going on. Tommy Pickles and company went on to have a few movies, video games, and a spin-off show called All Grown Up that featured the kids as pre-teens. Once we grew up, ourselves, we finally understood how crazy Tommy’s grandpa really was. “You really don’t know what Russian Roulette is…”
- The Secret World of Alex Mack (ran 1994-1998)
We all know the story of kid gets hit by truck carrying chemicals, chemicals spill on kid, kid gets super powers. The most famous of these happened in Daredevil, but on Nick in the 90s was Alex Mack. Anyone who didn’t wish they could melt into a puddle to get under doors and shoot electricity from their fingers after watching this show was lying.
It also helped that this show came on just as Clarissa Explains It All was ending, giving us another strong female lead to pine over after Melissa Joan Hart’s exit from the network.
- All That (ran 1994-2005)
Your parents had SNL and Mad TV, and you had All That. This show was the start of a few spin offs, and movies, such as Kenan & Kel, Good Burger, and The Amanda Show. Just like SNL, it went through several cast changes over the years as the kid stars got older. The original will always be the best, though. Whether it was Kenan’s Pierre teaching us French from a bathtub while wearing a rain coat, or Kel’s infamous REPAIR MAN (man, man), it never failed to bring the laughs.
The show was also the start for Nick Cannon who went on to host America’s Got Talent AND marry Mariah Carey for a time.
- Hey Arnold! (ran 1996-2004)
Hey Arnold was a classic from start to finish. From its jazzy opening and closing theme songs, to its poignant look at kids’ troubles growing up, it created so many memorable moments. Through Arnold, Gerald, Helga and the rest of the gang’s eyes, we learned lessons about friendship and loyalty, the harmful nature of bullying, being careful in cities, and how to make the world’s biggest pizza puff. We all wanted to have a pig for a pet and be closer to our grandparents. We wanted to have a cool mentor named Fuzzy Slippers and always found a reason to yell, “HEY MARIA! COME OVA HERE!” And, of course, we never looked at vacant lots in the same way ever again.
- Clarissa Explains It All (ran 1991-1994)
Clarissa, oh Clarissa. Please explain everything! Her room was awesome, her best friend climbed in through her window (talk about laid back parents). She spoke to us directly about the situations that we all faced in our growing years. She guided us through almost everything we could think of AND she had a condescending, geeky brother named Ferguson. How can we thank you for the advice and those lessons you taught us?
The star, Melissa Joan Hart, went on to play Sabrina The Teenage Witch, which turned out to be an even bigger hit show. Albeit, the sarcastic, talking cat, Salem, probably played a large role in making the show so great.
- The Angry Beavers (ran 1997-2001)
One word: “spoot.” What does it mean? What do you think it means? Two beaver brothers who lived in an incredibly luxurious dam in the middle of a pond (that strangely had electricity) were simultaneously polar opposites and two peas in a pod. Dag, the nervous, immature, naïve youngest and Norbert, the older, blonder, smarter (sorta) eldest always got themselves into some kind of bind that would work itself out by the end of the episode – not without bandages and bruises to go around.
- Are You Afraid of the Dark? (ran 1990-1996)
This show was, hands down, way too scary for little kids. Even as an adult, some of these episodes are still chilling (once you get past the awful child acting). I remember being terrified of going into the deep end by myself after “Dead Man’s Float” aired about an invisible entity that was trying to drown people in an indoor pool that was built upon a burial ground. With a keen eye, you can spot a young Ryan Gosling, Bobcat Goldthwait, Gilbert Godfried, Hayden Christenson, and others, as they made their rounds as players in the tales told by The Midnight Society.
- CatDog (ran 1998-2005)
One fine day with a woof and a purr was the start of how CatDog won your heart. The dim-witted dog and the bossy cat raised a lot of questions for us as kids, though. “How do they use the bathroom,” being the main one. Such was the mystery of CatDog. Some things need to remain a mystery though.
All of us who grew up to be cynical adults are now able to relate a little too strongly to Winslow, the mouse who would walk out of his tiny door, make a snide comment about the state of the world, and then turn around and disappear back inside.
- Kenan and Kel (ran 1996-2000)
Awwww here it goes! If you are a 90s kid and you have not said at least once in your life “who loves orange soda” and got a response of “kel loves orange soda,” take a seat, because I have no idea what you were doing for those four glorious years. The theme song was sung by Coolio. Correct. Coolio. If you didn’t know who Coolio was again, the chair is right there.
Kenan and Kel was arguably the most famous Nickelodeon sitcom post-All That. Kenan went on to become a front-runner on SNL and Kel…well, he was in Mystery Men, which is fantastic, and then I think he was in a commercial at one point?
- Eureeka’s Castle (ran 1989-1995)
This puppet adventure was the greatest, created by none other than R.L. Stine. (Excuse me what?) You heard me. A music box-castle full of wacky puppets who belonged to a giant, the full-hearted dragon, Magellan, and, of course, our favorite nerd, Batley. This was one of the kiddier ones, starting out on Nick Jr. before making its way to Noggin, but it still held a charm that we loved into our later years, much like Fraggle Rock.
- Figure It Out (ran 1997-1999)
This was a very unique game show that was part charades, part password, and part pseudo-celebrity gag show. It featured a panel of Nick stars from shows like All That and The Amanda Show. Their job was to correctly figure out the kid-contestant’s hidden talent through several different types of clues. Throughout the show, they’d have fun gags like a secret word that would cause a bucket of slime to fall on a panel member’s head. They didn’t really seem to have a high standard for the hidden talents that these kids had, either. Many of them included things like burping Christmas songs or biting cheese into shapes. Craaaaazy, right?
- KaBlam (ran 1996-2000)
A comic book come to life. A show about a bunch of mini shows. It was almost like hours of TV, condensed into a half hour. You could watch Prometheus and Bob, Action League Now (which had its own spin-off), Sniz and Fondue, Life With Loopy, The Offbeats, and so many other unique skits. We could write a whole post on this show alone (that might not be such a bad idea)! It came on near the end of the night and was worth those cranky mornings!
- Animorphs (ran 1998-2000)
I wanted to be an Animorph so bad that I would lay in bed and think about becoming a tiger or really any animal. Why didn’t aliens give me the power to save the earth as an animal? COME ON NOW!! Based on the insanely popular book series that one hopes was available in every elementary school library, the show had a decent run that picked up the action-slack where shows like Beetleborgs left off.
- The Wild Thornberrys (ran 1998-2000)
What would you say to your pets if you could speak to them? What would you talk about? The ghost that your cat communes with that hides in the corner of the room? The Wild Thornberrys let us live that fantasy through Eliza’s “Gift of Gab.” The show had an incredible voice cast, as well, that included the one and only Tim Curry as Nigel and Flea (bassist of Red Hot Chili Peppers) as Donnie, the wild boy. And who were we kidding? Many of us had a crush on Debbie, the mysterious, mid-riff bearing, eye-rolling teen who was dragged around with her lame-o family on their African adventures.
- Hey Dude (ran 1989-1991)
This was one of the very early Nick shows, airing before Clarissa, Pete & Pete, and Are You Afraid of the Dark. It followed the lives of a family that owned a ranch with their handful of misfit teen ranch hands. I used to get this one confused with Salute Your Shorts, which aired closely after and took place at a summer camp. But Camp Anawanna never came close to the memorable power of “HEYYYY DUUUUUUUUDE”.
- Action League NOW! (ran 1996-2001)
The spin-off of KaBlam, since it was one of the short skits on the show. This show was so low-budget that it had a “so-bad-its-good” quality. It was literally just some action toys getting beat up and torn apart (or melting). Grab your favorite snack and get ready to laugh at all the craziness of this show. I have re-watched episodes and still find the snarky replies hilarious.
- GUTS/Global GUTS (ran 1992-1996)
The ultimate prize for a kid was the glowing piece of the Aggro-Crag. The rad, radiation-green fragment held the entirety of the 90s aesthetic: neon tackiness and Nickelodeon green slime. GUTS was an athletic kids show that really put you to the test with intense track races, obstacle courses, and the intimidating, man-made Aggro-Crag. Much like Legends of The Hidden Temple, this was the show many of us watched in agony, being so confident at how much better we could have competed. Or was that just me?
Bonus: Stick Stickly (First appeared in 1995- forever in our hearts)
That wonderful stick was our best friend! Sometimes he was better than the show we wanted to see. He had his own mini skits and was the best host. His jokes made us all laugh. At one point, we all put those googly eyes on a popsicle stick, but it just wasn’t the same. Who knew he would also go on to be the namesake in the start-up of the crabcore genre as the song title by Attack Attack!?