Okay I’ll admit it — I take pride in the fact that I’m a ’90s kid. Born in 1984, it was in the ’90s that I was truly able to explore my personality. And the fact that network television was at its peak around this time was just an added perk. May all ’90s kids rejoice!
Not only were shows made specifically for kids and teens plentiful, but ’90s television also strived to help us make the world a better place. You ‘ll be hard pressed to find any ’90s kids out there who don’t know the theme song to Captain Planet, or didn’t pledge hours to Nickelodeon’s The Big Help.
Remember calling in and getting a pre-recorded Danny Tamberelli on the phone, thanking you for donating your time? You know I do!
Of course, ’90s television also pushed some limits. Those who worked in television weren’t afraid to say yes to the zaniest ideas, or some that were a little risque. But even if we didn’t understand all the references back then as ’90s kids, we sure do now. Based on the continued popularity of the decade, plenty of ’90s shows are even currently streaming online.
This means that an entirely new generation will be able to enjoy the same programs we did.
Here are just some of the shows that people who grew up outside the ’90s have completely forgotten about.
1. Salute Your Shorts
Based around life at a summer camp, this show seemed to have multiple seasons and plenty of episodes. But, surprise!
The show only aired for a year, with its first episode hitting Nickelodeon in 1991, and the last in 1992. In total, there were 25 episodes of the show that made it to air. According to Mental Floss, the premise of the show was actually based around a book, and the “Anawanna” in “Camp Anawanna” was supposed to sound like “I don’t wanna.”
2. Parker Lewis Can’t Lose
Back in 1990, FOX took a chance on Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.
And even though it didn’t last as long as it should have, it was one of the most innovative series on the network. Debuting in 1990, the show’s lead character had a Ferris Bueller-esque streak of luck and charm. Airing for three seasons, fans liked it since it wasn’t afraid to break the third wall, and also included a ton of fun pop-culture references.
3. California Dreams
Listen, you’re not going to find too many die-hard California Dreams fans. But people definitely watched.
The show aired after Saved By The Bell, and plenty of ’90s kids were fans of both. Which makes sense, as they were created by the same team. But, no with offense to Zack Attack, if you ever found yourself wanting to create your own band with your friends, you have California Dreams to thank.
4. Step By Step
It was kind of like The Brady Bunch but way cooler.
Step By Step was an important part of the TGIF lineup. Airing for a total of seven seasons, it even had several cross-over episodes with shows like Family Matters, which aired around the same time. Remember when the Foster-Lamberts met Urkel, who jet packed his way to their home? It was a big moment in television history.
5. Legends of the Hidden Temple
There can’t be any ’90s kids who don’t remember Olmec!
This Nickelodeon game show, which aired between 1993 and 1995, paired a bunch of teams of two against each other for the chance to run the temple and win fabulous prizes. Challenges were mostly based around memory, education, and agility. Even though most of us were unable to participate in the show, we all still rooted for a specific team. (For me, it was the Green Monkeys.)
6. My Brother And Me
Speaking of short series, Nickelodeon’s My Brother And Me only aired new episodes from October 1994 to January 1995, but reruns lasted until the 2000s. Wild.
The show’s 13 episodes focused primarily on a pair of brothers named Alfie and Dee Dee. But if you remember one thing about the show, it’s probably their wacky neighbor Goo and his notorious fantasy product cleverly named “Goo Punch.” It’s not clear why this show didn’t get the chance to have more episodes. Since Nickelodeon aired it so long afterward, it had to have been successful!
7. Kenan & Kel
Speaking of lines that have stuck around throughout the years, who can forget about, “I dropped the screw in the tuna”?
Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell first teamed up thanks to Nickelodeon’s All That, but were given their very own sitcom in 1996. The show aired for a total of 62 episodes, resulting in Thompson — who moved on to become one of Saturday Night Live‘s most beloved cast members — to constantly be asked about Mitchell and future collaborations for years afterward.
8. Under The Umbrella Tree
Under The Umbrella Tree was a Canadian show that gained a much wider audience after being picked up by The Disney Channel.
The Disney Channel aired the show in syndication until 1997, meaning that it became a big part of plenty of childhoods. The concept was simple — a human named Holly lived with three very adorable puppet “roommates” named Iggy, Gloria, and Jacob. The three puppets often got into crazy adventures, which typically had important lessons attached to them.
Remember Wishbone? He was everyone’s favorite pup in the mid-’90s.
Wishbone aired on PBS Kids, and cute Jack Russell Terrier aside, it actually provided an educational lesson in every episode. Since Wishbone had a very big imagination, he often dreamed that he was the lead character in some of literature’s most popular stories. Hey — it was a good excuse to see a dog dressed in an adorable costume every week!
10. The Secret World of Alex Mack
Who didn’t want to be Alex Mack in the ’90s?
Larisa Oleynik starred as our favorite girl-mutant in this Nickelodeon classic. The show aired from 1994 to 1998 and was a key part of the SNICK lineup. Oleynik went on to have a small role in Mad Men back in 2010, proving that there is life after Nickelodeon. If Alex Mack could get through junior high after being doused by mysterious chemicals, then there was hope for all of us.
11. Hey Dude
It was sort of like Salute Your Shorts, but on a dude ranch instead of at a camp.
Back in the ’90s, you usually preferred one over the other. But considering that this Nickelodeon show, which aired new episodes between 1989 and 1991, helped launch the career of Christine Taylor, it deserves a little bit of extra recognition. Taylor played Melody Hanson, one of the leads who appeared in over 60 episodes.
12. Pepper Ann
Pepper Ann aired between 1997 and 2000 and was the go-to animated show for many ’90s kids.
The show focused on a 12-year-old named Pepper Ann who was slightly awkward, but still trying to get through life. Not only was it an important series for young people who were also trying to survive middle school, but the show gets extra points since Pepper Ann is also being primarily raised by a single mom.
13. Space Cases
If you love sci-fi, it might be because of a little show called Space Cases.
This series only lasted for two seasons on Nickelodeon, but it was like no other show that the network aired. One of the most memorable characters was Catalina, who not only had an invisible best friend but the most inspiring rainbow locks on television. At the very least, it was nice that Nickelodeon tried to provide a series that didn’t fit the typical mold.
If you were the kind of kid who liked solving mysteries, the 1992 show Ghostwriter was a must-watch for you.
The show focused on a group of teens who happened to get involved in a bunch of different mysteries. In order to solve them, they depended on the help of a ghost. This ghost was more helpful than frightening, but was limited to reading and writing when it came to communication.
15. The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo
Speaking of mysteries, Nickelodeon tried its own mystery show in 1996 with The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo.
The show aired for five seasons and focused around a teen girl who had a knack for solving local mysteries. The show was fun for the audience as well, as they could pick up clues at the same time as Shelby. Having a show in the ’90s that starred a smart and dedicated Asian-American woman was also a major plus.
16. Tiny Toon Adventures
There’s something special about the Looney Tunes, but let’s face it: they were a bit dated for ’90s kids.
The alternative was Tiny Toon Adventures, which focused on the education of Babs and Buster Bunny, along with their friends Plucky and Hamton. The Warner Bros. show was a big success, launching a bunch of merchandise from plush toys to Game Boy games. They were also notorious for having seasonal specials, such as “How I Spent My Vacation,” which debuted in 1992.
17. Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper
Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper may not have had the same success as Full House, but since it was created by Jeff Franklin, it was definitely worth seeing.
The show aired between 1992 and 1997 and starred Mark Curry as the lead character. Raven-Symoné, Omar Gooding, and Holly Robinson Peete were also crucial members of the cast. For ’90s kids, it was interesting to get an inside look at what a teacher and basketball coach does after the end of the school day.
18. So Weird
So Weird, which premiered in 1999, was also a great introduction to the supernatural.
Created by Tom J. Astle, the Disney Channel series focused on a teen named Fiona Phillips who happens to have a few supernatural experiences. For a kids show, it was oddly dark — but since we grew up with horror like Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? prior to the airing of So Weird, ’90s kids were well-equipped to handle a bit of terror.