It’s obvious to us that kid shows greatly influence us when we are young. No matter how many times mom or dad tell us something, if our favorite cartoon characters learn the same moral we will remember it for a very long time.
The shows I grew up with are actually were all about kids; the protagonists were kids who had kids’ problems and dealt with them in kid ways. Here are the top 20 kid’s shows from the 90’s according to the Boston Examiner.
20. Ren & Stimpy
This was most certainly an atypical kids show. Created in 1991, “Ren & Stimpy” became just the third Nickelodeon cartoon (a.k.a Nicktoon) to ever be aired on the network. This animated series followed a neurotic Chihuahua in Ren Hoek and a dimwitted cat named Stimpson J. Cat (Stimpy). The two were an unlikely pair as they experienced countless wild and bizarre adventures together. What made this show a hit with kids was its off-beat sense of humor. Whether an episode dealt with odd scenarios like Ren using Stimpy’s body fat to enhance his own pectoral muscles in season four, or the series’ concept of faux commercials featuring characters such as the melodramatic superhero and breakfast spokesman Powered Toast Man, the series was no doubt a bold gamble by Nickelodeon. And it worked.
19. Legends of the Hidden Temple
This series aired from 1993 to 1995 on Nickelodeon and was a physical challenge game show for kids. The set resembled Ancient Central American iconographies and included a giant animatronic talking head named Olmec. As kids were split into teams of two and given animal names (silver snakes, green monkeys, etc), Olmec would speak of a particular historical figure and any artifact that he or she used. The six teams would then battle it out for the chance to enter the temple and retrieve the hidden artifact from its chambers. The appeal of the show was that it was a mix of trivia knowledge and physical competition. Taking place in an artificial temple setting, the series allowed kids to be immersed in a world only seen in Indiana Jones films.
18. Hey Dude
Debuting in 1989, this show centered on a fictional Bar None Dude Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. It portrayed the lives of a sweet but dim witted ranch owner in Mr. Ernest, his often dejected son Buddy, and a staff that included smug Ted, saccharine Melody, privileged Brad and even-tempered Danny. The series ended in 1991. Still, this show was beloved due to the characters. Whether it was seeing Ted’s undying quest to score a date with Brad, or witnessing Mr. Ernest bumble his way through a mid-life crisis, this series deserves a spot in the top 20.
Nickelodeon were smart to realize early on that what young people wanted to watch was kid versions of adult programming. Nickelodeon’s “Guts” debuted in 1992 and was an action sports game show that featured three kids competing against each other in four athletic challenges for points. Hosted by the energetic Mike O’Malley (Yes, Dear) and with the help of English referee Moira Quirk, this show had kids competing in baseball, basketball, football, and water events. Oftentimes though, the challenges required kids to wear elastic harnesses, as they were told to jump incredible heights or climb intimidating walls. And who can forget the Aggro Crag? The fifth and final event, contestants would have to climb an artificial mountain while activating a series of lights on the way to the peak. Along the way, the kids were forced to deal with artificial lightning storms, rock avalanches, and raining confetti that would simulate a snow effect. In the end, “Guts” made sports and athleticism fun, all the while remembering that even if you don’t win, there are no losers
16. Tiny Toon Adventures
Tiny Toon Adventures was set in the fictional city of Acme Acres, where most of the characters attended Acme Looniversity. In the series, the university was founded to teach cartoon characters how to become funny, with graduates receiving a “Diploma of Lunacy,” giving them the opportunity to become full-time cartoon characters. The original Looney Tunes characters played a role in this series as they taught the classes that the Tiny Toons attended. Most of the Tiny Toons characters were designed to resemble younger versions of Warner Brothers’ most popular Looney Tunes, as Buster Bunny was a Bugs Bunny clone and Plucky Duck was modeled after Daffy Duck.
This series was the second animated show produced by Steven Spielberg in 1993 and it was definitely “Wakko.” Featuring the Warner Brothers siblings (Yakko, Wakko, and Dot), and a host of other characters, this show consisted of two or three cartoon shorts that involved pop culture references, slapstick humor, and cartoon violence similarly found in older shows such as “Tom and Jerry” and “Looney Tunes.” The show, though, would also have educational segments, like when Yakko would rapidly name countries all over the world while attempting to make them rhyme with accompanying up-tempo background music. Who can forget great characters such as “Pinky and the Brain,” a segment about two genetically engineered mice who reside in a cage at the Acme Labs research facility.
Doug Funnie. Skeeter Valentine. Patti Mayonaise. Roger Klotz. Porkchop. These are the characters of “Doug,” a sweet coming of age animated series that premiered on Nickelodeon in 1991. Doug Funnie was a recently relocated sixth grader in the fictional town of Bluffington. Most episodes often started with Doug writing in his journal about recent life events, and then the episode would be a flashback of said events which were narrated by Doug himself. “Doug” was loved by its viewers because the series focused on how one deals with being the new kid in town. Almost every kid can relate to that awkwardness and anxiety, and “Doug” helped kids across America get through those hardships with laughter.
13. Fraggle Rock
A show for kids in the 7-12 demographic, this program was a little more grown up than its “Sesame Street” counterpart. With every character having a precise personality and yet an undefined visual distinctiveness, “Fraggle Rock” subtly dealt with complex issues such as tolerance and personal identity. The show certainly allowed a kid’s imagination to soar to new heights, which was almost certainly Jim Henson’s goal.
12. You can’t do that on televeision
In the 1990’s, and even today, Nickelodeon is best known for its green slime. The network can thank YCDToTV for this, as the show would dump green slime on the heads of anyone who uttered the phrase “I don’t know.” The show is beloved by many people to this day, and arguably had one of the biggest impacts in the young network’s lifespan. Kids of all ages eagerly tuned in to see what kind of fun, wacky sketches would be unleashed on the show.
11. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Donning colorful suits and slick helmets, the Power Rangers had the unique ability to morph into powerful warriors drawn from the spirit of dinosaurs, protecting the world from the forces of space witch Rita Repulsa. The Power Rangers themselves were teenagers who grappled with school, relationships, and, well, saving the world. The show appealed to kids due to the superhero concept, but also the fact that the protagonists on the show were almost of the same generation as the viewers who watched at home. Loaded with action and a diverse cast that included two female rangers, an Asian heroine and a black male hero, the show did a brilliant job of reaching a broad audience.
10. Double Dare
“Double Dare” featured two teams of kids competing for cash and prizes. The show involved Summers asking a given team a trivia question, upon which they could either attempt to answer or dare the other team to take a stab at it for double the dollars. If the second team was clueless, they could double dare the first team to answer, allowing them the opportunity to win four times the amount of money. If that team still couldn’t come up with an answer, they could choose to participate in a physical challenge. The challenges were often messy, sometimes involving catching cream filled balloons or some other difficult dare. This show successfully incorporated the need for both trivia knowledge and athletic prowess.
9. Inspector Gadget
Debuting in 1983, “Inspector Gadget” was an animated series that centered on an absent-minded, hapless inspector who worked for the Metro City police department. Oh, and he was also a cyborg who had various gadgets built into his anatomy. Unbeknownst to Inspector Gadget, he is often helped by his niece Penny and her dog Brain in solving crimes. What kid didn’t love this show? The ability for Gadget to have helicopter blade propellers emerge from his hat, roller skates appear at the bottom of his shoes, and an instant inflatable trench coat were deeply desired by every Generation Y kid in America. Go, Gadget, Go!
8. The Adventures of Pete and Pete
The series debuted on Nickelodeon in 1993 and centered on two brothers, both named Pete Wrigley, who lived in the fictional town of Wellsville. The series followed their wild and often bizarre interactions with their friends, family, and even enemies. There was a lot within this often surreal show that appealed to kids across America, namely the underlying theme of overcoming unfavorable odds. The ability to empathize with Pete & Pete’s struggle to prevail over bullying attacks or other dominating authority figures in their lives was always an important component within the show. The idea that the series created an imaginary wonderland full of humor, wit, and absurd premises was the perfect recipe for a classic kids program.
“Rugrats” was about a group of toddlers who frequently broke out of their playpen in hopes of discovering and deciphering the world around them. Often able to slip away due to an adult’s oversight, these babies were comprised of Chuckie, two twins named Phil and Lil, and fearless ringleader and diapered toddler Tommy. The only foe for these inquisitive babies was three year old Angelica, a spoiled girl who would always bully the rugrats and was rarely punished by her parents. The show’s appeal was in the separation of two worlds—adult and child. The perspective of children unable to properly understand their parents’ conversations, and vice versa, was a huge draw for the series. The desire of these toddlers to want to know what lies outside their playpen, and even their house and sometimes neighborhood, created a never-ending quest for answers that kept kids coming back week after week.
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Premiering in 1987, and trading in the dark tone of the comics for more light hearted fare, the show exploded and became an instant hit. Becoming entrenched in popular culture, and teaching young boys and girls across America the meaning of “Cowabunga,” this show took the world by storm. The Ninja Turtles were certainly a new brand of superhero for a new generation. With four starkly different personalities that sometimes clashed (Raphael, anyone?), the Ninja Turtles were no doubt lovable heroes. With their odd lingo and bizarre origins, kids couldn’t get enough of the green guys who constantly consumed pizza.
5. Clarissa explains it all
Debuting in 1991 and airing for five seasons, “Clarissa explains it all” is heralded as being the first Nickelodeon series to feature a female lead. The show centered on the life of an adolescent girl (Clarissa Darling) and her attempt to deal with the complexities of being a teenager. The show was unique in that Clarissa would break the fourth wall as she looked directly into the camera and spoke to viewers. The series allowed a rare glimpse into the world of a girl having to deal with everyday problems (an annoying brother, school, and teenage crushes). The appeal of the program was certainly in the title. Instead of watching passively, viewers were engaged because Clarissa spoke openly and honestly, allowing for many intimate moments.
4. Kenan and Kel
In the series, Kenan is a high schooler who works at a local grocery store called Rigby’s. Kel, a sweet yet foolish young man, is Kenan’s best friend. Oh, and he loves orange soda. A lot. The show had its two protagonists engulfed in self inflicted shenanigans, fighting for ways to comfortably resolve each problem. With a mix of excellent chemistry, comedic timing, and slapstick, “Kenan & Kel” easily deserves a spot in the top five.
3. Salute your shorts
This series debuted on Nickelodeon in 1991 and produced just 26 episodes, yet the show made a huge impact on kid viewers. “Salute Your Shorts” was about a group of teenagers who go away to Camp Anawanna for the summer. The cast of characters and funny storylines is what made the show a true gem. Whether it was the intelligent nerd Sponge, the environmentally conscious ZeZe, the rabble-rouser Budnick, the snooty Dina, or the overweight slob Donkeylips, these television characters were some of the most memorable to ever grace Nickelodeon. Seeing these kids undermine authority figures like camp counselor Kevin “Ug” Lee was certainly a highlight of the show. Watching the kids attempt to fit in with each other, though, was just as fun.
2. Are you afraid of the dark?
Very much a “Twillight Zone” for kids, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” debuted in 1992 on Nickelodeon’s SNICK. The series revolved around a young group of adolescents who met at a secret site in the woods every week to tell each other scary stories. Calling themselves “The Midnight Society,” the storyteller would begin each tale by throwing special sand into the fire, causing the flames to erupt. The episode would then begin, and usually would revolve around ghosts, magic, haunted houses, or paranormal phenomena. A show that was scary without being horrifying, it presented creative stories that often involved some kind of moral by episodes’ end. Most of all, though, the show tapped into something simple yet inherent in all of us regardless of age—the desire to experience the adrenaline rush of a good scare without fearing for ones’ safety.
1. All that
Often referred to as a kid’s version of “Saturday Night Live,” “All That” is a kids show classic. Debuting in 1994 with its theme song sung by TLC, the show featured memorable characters such as the poorly spoken Frenchman Pierre Escargot, the lactose intolerant superhero Superdude, the hapless Repair Man, and pea obsessed lunch lady Miss Piddlin among countless others. The young actors who comprised the cast of this variety show had impeccable timing and wonderful chemistry. The fact that this was a kid’s show that didn’t lower itself to just toilet humor was a testament to not only the writing staff, but the talent of all the actors involved.
As you have noticed, most of the themes in these shows are about defeating incredible odds, discovering who you are, and most of all fitting in. These are all things we went through these problems when we were kids. Let’s now look at the popular shows from today.
To know what were the most popular kid shows of today, I went to the Nickelodeon website since they produced the most amount of kid’s tv show in the top 20 of the 90’s kid shows.
1. Spongebob Squarepants
Much of the series centers on the exploits and adventures of the Spongebob and his various friends in the underwater city of “Bikini Bottom”. The series’ popularity has prompted the release of a media franchise, contributing to its position as the highest rated show and among Nickelodeon’s most-watched shows.
2. Fairly Odd Parents
“Fairly Odd Parents” is about the adventures of Timmy Turner who is granted fairy godparents named Cosmo and Wanda. Timmy Turner is a 10-year-old boy who lives in the town of Dimmsdale with his dim-witted parents, who almost never pay attention to him. His life is constantly miserable because his parents are rarely home, he is babysat by Vicky, a 16-year-old torturous babysitter, he is bullied daily, and is tormented by his teacher. But everything changes when he receives two fairy godparents. Timmy learns that his fairy godparents are capable of granting him any wish he wants within certain limits. However, Timmy’s immature nature causes him to sometimes ask for wishes that unintentionally result in disaster, and he and his fairy godparents must find a way to “unwish” the wish.
When Carly and her sassy best bud Sam act funny at a school talent show audition, tech-savvy Freddie tapes it and posts it online without telling them. Upon seeing the girls’ strong chemistry and banter, the online audience clamors for more and the iCarly webcast is born. While grappling with typical issues of adolescence, Carly, Sam, and Freddie find they’ve also become online celebrities as their show, which features talent contests, recipes, problem-solving, and random dancing, garners international accolades.
Carly lives in Seattle with her twenty-six year old brother/guardian Spencer and produces the show in a makeshift third-floor studio loft in his apartment. Although no mention is made about the location of their mother, Carly and Spencer’s father is a U.S.Air Force officer (“Col. Steven Shay”), temporarily stationed on a submarine, who is often mentioned but has never actually been seen on the show.
4. The Penguins of Madagascar
The Penguins of Madagascar is a spin-off of the Madagascar films. The series follows the adventures of the four penguin protagonists: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private, who perform various paramilitary-like missions to protect their home in the Central Park Zoo. The penguins often have to deal with problems caused, or made worse, by King Julien XIII (a ring-tailed lemur), Maurice (an aye-aye), and Mort (a mouse lemur).
It is not known how the penguins and lemurs arrived at the zoo after their adventures in both Madagascar films. During the show’s opening title, the penguins are also seen opening a crate that reads “Madagascar” and contains the three lemur characters. DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has stated that “there is at least one more chapter. We ultimately want to see the characters make it back to New York.”
5. Big Rush
“Big Time Rush” is a Nickelodeon television series about friendship and brotherhood that chronicles the finding, making, and breaking of a boy band. They get a chance to become the newest pop sensation, the opportunity to be the boy band called Big Time Rush.The series navigates through all their antics, conflicts, and schemes living in LA. The program began airing on YTV on September 6, 2010. They move to LA, where they live at the “Palm Woods Hotel” and attend the “Palm Woods School”, a special school just for actors, actresses, singers, and other performers. The boys routinely come into conflict with their overbearing, outrageous, hard-driving (but successful) producer, Gustavo Rocque , and his well-meaning assistant Kelly Wainwright, while trying to impress Gustavo’s boss, Arthur Griffin, so that they can become successful. The boys also frequently come into conflict with “Mr. Bitters”, the Palmwoods Manager.
The series revolves around aspiring singer Tori Vega, portrayed by Victoria Justice, who attends a performing arts high school called Hollywood Arts, while getting into wacky screwball situations on a daily basis. The series premiered on March 27, 2010.
Many critics find this show to be “cobbled together with the wooden-headed market in mind.” (Variety Magazine, Brian Lowry) Mark A. Perigard from the Boston Herald says The bulk of the cast mugs for the cameras, probably to compensate for a script that could have been commissioned from fifth-graders.”
7. Supah Ninjas
The series revolves around Mike Fukanaga, the main protagonist, and his friends, Owen and Amanda. After the death of his grandfather, Mike is given a mysterious letter which leads him to discover that he comes from a long line of ninjas. With Owen, and later Amanda, they are ushered into the world of crime-fighting, forming the team “Supah Ninjas.” They are trained with a hologram of Mike’s grandfather, who Owen refers to as “Hologramps.”