The favorite TV shows of '90s kids
NBC

The favorite TV shows of '90s kids

Ah, the ‘90s. It was a nice time to be a kid. Technology gave us cable, Blockbuster Video, and limited access to the internet without being overwhelmed by stuff like TikTok or other references that will make us seem old. Also, we had great TV to watch. The ‘90s was an excellent time to watch TV as a child, perhaps while eating Dunkeroos and drinking Surge. Here are 25 of the favorite shows of ‘90s kids. Take a walk down memory lane with us.

 
1 of 26

“Rugrats”

“Rugrats”
Nickelodeon

Sure, the animation may have looked a little odd from time to time – it was the in-house style of Klasky Csupo – but “Rugrats” was a staple of the ‘90s. One of the three original Nicktoons, the adventures of Tommy, Chuckie, and the rest of the babies and toddlers was a beloved staple for kids who seemed weirdly nostalgic for being three when they were seven. Or something like that.

 
2 of 26

“Doug”

“Doug”
Nickelodeon

Some shows are about special people, and some are about your average, run-of-the-mill everyman. Or, in this case, an everyboy. Doug Funnie may only be remarkable in his dreams of being Quailman or Smash Adams, but beneath that green sweater vest was a good heart. Plus, his dog Porkchop had enough personality for the both of them.

 
3 of 26

“The Adventures of Pete & Pete”

“The Adventures of Pete & Pete”
Nickelodeon

If you ever wished your suburban life was just a little odder, “The Adventures of Pete & Pete” was perfect for you. From the killer soundtrack to the presence of Artie, the Strongest Man in the world, you didn’t have to be a bona fide Sludgicle man to know that the Wrigley family was a delight to spend time with.

 
4 of 26

“Clarissa Explains It All”

“Clarissa Explains It All”
Nickelodeon

Who didn’t want to have a life as cool as Clarissa’s? She had dope outfits, could create her own video games, and even owned a baby alligator for one season. The only downside? Having to deal with a brother like Ferguson. You can’t explain yourself out of that.

 
5 of 26

“Hey Arnold!”

“Hey Arnold!”
Nickelodeon

While he had a football-shaped head, Arnold was about as nice as a kid could be. Spending time with him and his friends was usually a charming way to spend half an hour. No wonder Helga had such a crush on him. A deep, frankly alarming crush.

 
6 of 26

"The Secret World of Alex Mack"

"The Secret World of Alex Mack"
Nickelodeon

If you wanted a science fiction show as a kid, "The Secret World of Alex Mack" was as good a choice as any. After all, it was directly designed for children. Alex Mack was an ordinary kid until she was covered in a chemical that gave her powers. That left her having to hide her powers, lest the evil company behind the chemical kidnap her. Larisa Oleynik was a star to the tween set for a minute there.

 
7 of 26

“Are You Afraid of the Dark?”

“Are You Afraid of the Dark?”
Nickelodeon

When you wanted to be scared, but not too scared, you could tune into SNICK on a Saturday night to spend time with the Midnight Society. “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” was a horror anthology for the tween set. It was never too spooky, and didn’t get gory, but it might creep you out enough to sleep with the lights on for the night.

 
8 of 26

“All That”

“All That”
Nickelodeon

Adults had “Saturday Night Live.” Kids in the ‘90s had “All That.” The sketch show for kids birthed some future Nick stars, including Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, who got their own sitcom. Then, Thompson went on to become the longest-tenured cast member in “SNL” history.

 
9 of 26

“Legends of the Hidden Temple”

“Legends of the Hidden Temple”
Nickelodeon

We need a little game show action, right? “Double Dare” would have been a fine choice, but we’re going with “Legends of the Hidden Temple.” Mostly so we can complain about the Shrine of the Silver Monkey. It shouldn’t have been that hard, Purple Parrots!

 
10 of 26

“The Ren & Stimpy Show”

“The Ren & Stimpy Show”
Nickelodeon

“Ren & Stimpy” was one of the first three Nicktoons, but it didn’t have a lot in common with “Doug” or “Rugrats.” It was raunchier, grosser, and weirder. Ren the dog and Stimpy the cat had what could charitably be called a toxic relationship, but kids were given a whole new level of subversion that was “safe” because it was on Nick.

 
11 of 26

“Saved by the Bell”

“Saved by the Bell”
NBC

As adults, we can admit “Saved by the Bell” isn’t good. As kids, we couldn’t have cared less. We cared about Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski, even if Zack was a borderline sociopath. When Jessie got hooked on caffeine pills, we were considered about her being so excited and so scared. Now we all laugh at it, instead of with it, but it has a spot in the heart of any ‘90s kid.

 
12 of 26

“Full House”

“Full House”
ABC

When you were a child, did you wish you had “uncles” like Jesse and Joey? Did you want a dad like Danny Tanner? “Full House” is a hokey family sitcom, and “Fuller House” is no better, but it still spawned plenty of catchphrases. Given that, we won’t be too harsh on “Full House.” No, instead we will…have mercy.

 
13 of 26

“Family Matters”

“Family Matters”
ABC

It was supposed to be a show about the Winslow family. Then, Steve Urkel showed  up. The Winslow’s neighbor immediately stole the spotlight and because the star of this TGIF staple. Eventually the show went to some insane places, but as long as Urkel was there to say “Did I do that?” people didn’t seem to care.

 
14 of 26

“Step by Step”

“Step by Step”
ABC

Admit it, the theme song is already in your head. Here’s another TGIF show about a blended family. Maybe you weren’t explicitly watching TV on a Friday night for “Step by Step,” but you never minded that half hour, right? It was a another family-friendly sitcom you could watch with your own family, no matter the makeup of it.

 
15 of 26

“Boy Meets World”

“Boy Meets World”
ABC

Many ‘90s kids grew with Cory, Topanga, and company. The show begins with the kids as sixth graders. By the time it ended Cory and Topanga were married and in college. It was a journey many of us lived right alongside them, even if we didn’t have our own Mr. Feeny. Which, in truth, would have been kind of weird.

 
16 of 26

“Dexter’s Laboratory”

“Dexter’s Laboratory”
Cartoon Network

Not every worthwhile cartoon of the ‘90s was on Nickelodeon. Cartoon Network had a few animated shows themselves. The best of the bunch was probably “Dexter’s Laboratory,” a show about a boy mad scientist and his bubbly sister Dee Dee. When nothing was on Nick, you could always check in with Dexter to see what he was up to.

 
17 of 26

“Bill Nye the Science Guy”

“Bill Nye the Science Guy”
PBS

If you wanted a real scientist, as opposed to Dexter, Bill Nye was the (science) guy for you. While not a scientist by trade, he knew his stuff. More importantly, he knew how to make it entertaining to kids while making sure they still learned. There’s a reason Nye still pops up all the time. The kids of the ‘90s generation still like to listen to the bow-tied comedian turn science advocate.

 
18 of 26

“Captain Planet”

“Captain Planet”
TBS

When you brought together earth, wind, fire, water, and heart, you would call Captain Planet into action. Usually this meant taking down a polluter or a poacher or somebody else hurting the environment. There was a strong green message through “Captain Planet,” which goes perfect with the Captain’s own hair.

 
19 of 26

“Power Rangers”

“Power Rangers”
FOX

Why did we like “Power Rangers?” Most of the show was a redubbed version of a Japanese show. The only newly-shot stuff was the American actors not in their costumes. They weren’t good actors. The special effects weren’t good. And yet, you could count on half your elementary school clash dressing like a Power Ranger for Halloween.

 
20 of 26

“Sister, Sister”

“Sister, Sister”
The WB

The Olsen twins are the preeminent twins of the ‘90s, but don’t forget about Tia and Tamara Mowry. They had their own sitcom as well, which focused on their adventures as sisters. Their younger brother even had his own show “Smart Guy.” What a ‘90s power family.

 
21 of 26

“Home Improvement”

“Home Improvement”
ABC

“Home Improvement” was not explicitly for kids. However, it was a family-friendly sitcom that was designed to be able to be watched by kids and parents alike. For many ‘90s kids, a half hour a week spent with Tim “The Toolman” Taylor and his family was quite common. It’s a better show than you might recall, though Al Borland might not think so.

 
22 of 26

“Blossom”

“Blossom”
NBC

Before Mayim Bialik was an actual neuroscientist and played a scientist on “Big Bang Theory,” she was a child star in her own sitcom “Blossom.” Follow Blossom Russo, her brother Joey, and Blossom’s best friend Six through childhood misadventures. Plus, Blossom sure knew how to rock a hat.

 
23 of 26

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
NBC

Before Will Smith was the biggest movie star in the world, he was a rapper and a sitcom star. Many of us first became aware of his charms in his TV vehicle “Fresh Prince.” You know the story. The one about how his life got turned upside down. While it was a funny show, on the occasions “Fresh Prince” would get serious for a “Very Special Episode,” they usually succeeded better than others.

 
24 of 26

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”
CBS

While the cartoon version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started in 1987, it lasted well into the ‘90s. You probably had the toys. This is the version of the four turtles with names taken from Italian masters that introduced a lot of what we think of as being tropes of the world. If not for the cartoon, they wouldn’t even be into pizza. Imagine that!

 
25 of 26

“Beavis and Butt-head”

“Beavis and Butt-head”
MTV

OK, so you probably had to sneak this MTV show as a kid. Still, we know you watched “Beavis and Butt-Head.” You quoted them to your friends. You saw a lot of music videos for the first time thanks to these two derelict doofuses. While the show isn’t as good as its spinoff “Daria,” that was one you watched when you were a little older and could appreciate it.

 
26 of 26

“The Simpsons”

“The Simpsons”
FOX

Sure, “The Simpsons” is still going. It also wasn’t entirely for kids. Adults and kids alike loved “The Simpsons” in the ‘90s. However, it was definitely a staple of being a ‘90s kid. We’re willing to bet at least half of you reading this had some Bart Simpson merchandise. Or maybe you were one of those kids whose parents didn’t let you watch “The Simpsons.” Even then, it was part of being a ‘90s kid.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

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