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Best 90s Kids Shows

Chock full of lessons and laughter, the best 90s kids shows have stood the test of time.

Besides the 90s producing a generation of entitled, extremely tech savvy (obsessed) and lazy individuals (Hey! I'm kidding! I'm a millennial!) that decade is also responsible for producing some of the best kids shows; an accomplishment the 90s is a little more proud of. Now that the kids of this era are growing up and having children of their own, they want the same quality television shows that today’s programming doesn’t offer. By offering today's kids the opportunity to watch reruns of Nickelodeon TV shows such as Hey Arnold!, Are You Afraid of The Dark?, Clarissa Explains It All, and many others, we are bringing back the same morals and values from our childhood, many of which are still relevant today. So 90s kids rejoice and maybe rewatch these 90s kids shows, with or without a family of your own.

The Wild Thornberrys

Every child was jealous of Eliza Thornberry’s ability to talk to animals. The Wild Thornberrys follows a family of documentary filmmakers who travel to strange corners of the world to capture footage of animals. However, youngest daughter Eliza rescued a shaman who pretended to be a trapped warthog and was gifted with the ability to talk to animals. She uses this power for good as she meets new creatures wherever she goes, and tries to help them when other humans can’t. Characters on the show include Eliza, her pet chimpanzee Darwin, her feral younger brother Donnie, her older sister Debbie, her father Nigel, and her mother Marianne. The show lasted five seasons and totaled 92 episodes. There was also a 2002 film which focuses on Eliza trying to save a baby cheetah from ruthless poachers. The Wild Thornberrys was nominated for a slew of awards including the Daytime Emmys in 2001, the Burbank International Children’s Film Festival in 2001, the Environmental Media Awards in 2000, the Genesis Awards in 2001, and many others. Overall, The Wild Thornberrys was a 90s kids show that played a key role in showing kids how important it is to protect the environment and the animals that live in it.

Clarissa Explains It All

Before she was a teenage witch, Melissa Joan Hart was Clarissa Darling. Clarissa Explains It All aired from March 1991 to December 1994 for a total of five seasons and 65 episodes. Starring Hart, the 90s kids show follows Clarissa and her best friend Sam as they navigate life in middle school. The show also stars Jason Zimbler, Elizabeth Hess, Joe O'Connor, Sean O'Neal, and many others. Clarissa Explains It All is credited with becoming the first Nickelodeon series to feature a female lead, which led the network to create other shows such as The Secret World of Alex Mack and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. In 1994, the series was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program. In addition, Hart, O'Neal, and Zimbler received multiple Young Artist Award nominations. Hart won three competitive Young Artist Awards during the show's run and also received the association's honorary Former Child Star Award in 2013 for her role as Clarissa. In 2015, creator Mitchell Kriegman released a novel, Things I Can't Explain, which serves as a sequel to the series. In the novel, Clarissa is now in her late 20s and trying to navigate life as an adult.

Hey Arnold!

“Move it, football-head!” Hey Arnold! was created by Craig Bartlett when he was working for Pee-wee's Playhouse. He created a secondary character named Arnold, as well as the rest of the cast, by drawing inspiration from people he grew up with in Portland, Oregon. This 90s kids show is about a young boy growing up with his grandparents in the inner city. Characters include Arnold, his best friend Gerald, mean-spirited Helga, his grandfather Phil, his grandmother Gertrude, and many more. Overall, Hey Arnold! tackles serious themes that most children’s shows wouldn’t even imagine touching. Some of these issues included agoraphobia in the “Stoop Kid” episode, as well as depression in the “Pigeon Man” episode. A feature film based on the series, Hey Arnold!: The Movie, was released in 2002. The film features Arnold, Helga, and Gerald setting out on a quest to save their old neighborhood from a greedy developer who plans on converting it into a huge shopping mall. Over the course of its 8-year run, the series aired 100 unforgettable episodes.

Legends of the Hidden Temple

Are you a Red Jaguar, Blue Barracuda, or Green Monkey? Maybe you’re more of an Orange Iguana, Purple Parrot, or Silver Snake. Legends Of The Hidden Temple, which aired from 1993 to 1995, was a game show with six teams all vying to win the treasure by completing a series of tasks. The show centered on a temple that was "filled with lost treasures protected by mysterious Mayan temple guards.” In order to get the treasure, contestants had to endure four rounds of different stunts and quizzes in order to move forward. The first round had the six teams attempt to cross a narrow swimming pool known as "the moat.” The second round, called The Steps of Knowledge, involved the four remaining teams being quizzed about different legends. After there were only two teams left, they advanced to round three, the Temple Games, where they competed in physical challenges. The final round was the Temple Run, where the final team would try to retrieve the treasure from the temple. Writing for Entertainment Weekly, A. J. Jacobs listed Legends of the Hidden Temple among a series of imitators of American Gladiators, describing the concept as "Gladiators meets Young Indiana Jones Chronicles."

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

Before Monsters Inc. came Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. The show focuses on three young monsters—Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm—who attend an institute for monsters under a city dump and learn to frighten humans. The show ran from October 1994 to December 1997. Nickelodeon programming director Herb Scannell said the character design in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was partially inspired by Yellow Submarine, a 1968 animated film inspired by The Beatles. The character Gromble, in particular, bore a close resemblance to the Blue Meanie characters from that film. Meanwhile, show creator Gabor Csupó said some elements of the show have a look similar to the film noir genre, and called the city dump where the monster characters reside reminiscent of the visual style from the films Blade Runner and Brazil. Ginny Holbert of the Chicago Sun-Times called this 90s kids show a "cute and clever" series with "wit and inventive creatures," and compared the animation to the work of artist Peter Max. Gannett News writer Mike Hughes called it a "terrific cartoon series," and said the show's "wildly perverse humor" had a "distinctly European style" that reflected Csupó's Hungarian background. The series was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Animation in 1995 alongside Rugrats, Animaniacs, Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, and 2 Stupid Dogs.

Rugrats

What do you call a bunch of toddlers with imaginations bigger than themselves? Trouble! Rugrats is a 90s kids show that aired on Nickelodeon in 1991 and lasted nine seasons, totaling 172 episodes. The cartoon envisions the lives of a group of toddlers as they take on life and, what to them are, grand adventures. The Rugrats are made up of brave toddler Tommy, his ever worried friend Chuckie, rough-and-tumble twins Phil and Lil, and older, meaner, and bigger Angelica. The kids are constantly getting themselves and each other into trouble, unbeknownst to the oblivious adults. Tommy's inventor dad is always coming up with the next big and usually unsuccessful invention as grandpa naps as their sweet mother is busy reading the latest novel from her trusted doctor-author, Dr. Lipschitz. Rugrats ended in 2004, but not before releasing Rugrats The Movie in which Tommy's little brother Dil is born. Rugrats has won three Daytime Emmys, four Kids' Choice Awards, as well as many other awards and nominations.

CatDog

Why choose between a cat and a dog when you could have both? The 90s kids show originally aired on Nickelodeon in the US from 1998 to 2005. Toward the end of its run, a TV movie was released, titled CatDog: The Great Parent Mystery. The series follows the adventures of conjoined twins Cat and Dog who have two heads at either end of their body and no tail or hind legs. Although they are brothers, they have very different personalities which often conflict. While Cat is very cultured, Dog is very fun-loving. He enjoys chasing cars and exploring, things Cat does not want to take part in. Show creator Peter Hannan said CatDog was inspired by watching neighborhood cats and dogs occasionally fight each other, and thought that it would be great to make conjoined twins Cat and Dog to see how both the animals would fare against other obstacles. In 1998, the series was nominated for an Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Television Production. At the Kids' Choice Awards in 1999 and 2000, the series was nominated for a Blimp Award for Favorite Cartoon.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Every 90s child wanted to be a part of the Midnight Society. Are You Afraid of the Dark? was the 90s kid version of present-day American Horror Story. The first episode of this 90s kids show aired the evening of Halloween in October 1990 in Canada. It aired in the US from 1992 to 1996. The show was both a critical and commercial success, garnering numerous awards as the series progressed. It revolves around a group of children who call themselves the Midnight Society and who come together at the beginning of every episode to tell a scary story. The themes of the stories usually focused on paranormal phenomena which haunt young children, such as demons, ghosts, magic, haunted houses, magical curses, aliens, witches, vampires, and werewolves. The episodes were so frightening for kids because they were either filmed in the woods, in abandoned houses, or in public places like schools or libraries. There were a variety of different episodes that tackled a lot of strange paranormal ideas such as "The Tale of the Lonely Ghost," in which a dead child and her elderly mother are reunited. There was also "The Tale of Vampire Town" where the lead character is a goth obsessed with vampires. Then there was "The Tale of the Pinball Wizard" where the main character finds himself trapped in a giant pinball game. Are You Afraid of the Dark? tapped into every fear imaginable for kids, which was why it was so popular.

Doug

No one can resist humming the theme song to Doug. Doug follows the adventures of Doug Funnie, an awkward kid just trying to get through life one day at a time as he writes in his journal and fantasizes about his life as a superhero, Quailman. Characters include his best friend Skeeter, bully Roger, love interest Patti Mayonnaise, his dog Porkchop, and his hipster sister Judy. The series premiered in 1991 on Nickelodeon as the channel's first original animated content alongside Rugrats and The Ren & Stimpy Show. The series' original run consisted of 52 episodes over four seasons that were broadcast from 1991 to 1994. The series addresses numerous real life topics that resonate with kids all over the world, including trying to fit in, platonic and romantic relationships, self-esteem, bullying, and rumors. Doug was largely inspired by creator Jim Jenkins' childhood growing up in Virginia, and most characters in the series are based on real individuals. It became a top-rated show, inspiring various books and merchandise, a live musical stage show, and a theatrical feature, Doug's First Movie, released at the series' conclusion in 1999. It won two Parents' Choice Awards, four Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, and was nominated for three CableACE Awards and four Daytime Emmy Awards. This 90s kids show was also nominated for the Prix Jeunesse International Award.

Kenan & Kel

"Aww, here it goes!" Kenan & Kel is a staple of 90s Nickelodeon programming. Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell are the kids’ version of Laurel and Hardy, Martin and Lewis, or even Abbott and Costello. They are so beloved that Jimmy Fallon reunited the two on The Tonight Show in September of 2015 just to recreate their famous Good Burger sketch from All That. Kenan & Kel focuses on two boys who are very different—Kenan is a high school student with a job at a local grocery store while Kel is his clumsy, orange soda-loving best friend. The show lasted four seasons and had 65 episodes, as well as a TV movie and a Good Burger film. Kenan & Kel won Favorite TV Show in the 1998 Kids Choice Awards among many other awards. Thompson and Mitchell were also ranked 40th and 39th on VH1's 100 Greatest Kid Stars. Since the end of the show in 2000, Mitchell has kept so quiet that there was a rumor that he had died. On the other hand, Thompson made himself busy with projects such as Fat Albert, The Smurfs, Psych, The Awesomes, The Amazing World of Gumball, and Saturday Night Live. However, seeing the two stars reunited on The Tonight Show brought nostalgia rushing back to all the 90s kids who grew up with Kenan & Kel.

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