“Hey Arnold!” was packed with unique characters that every kid growing up in the late 1990s grew to love. The show followed the trials and tribulations of a fourth grader living in the big city. Iconic side characters like “Stoop Kid” and “Pigeon Man” were just as engaging as the main group.
Clarissa Explains It All
Before she was “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” Melissa Joan Hart was Clarissa Darling, the girl every ‘90s kid turned to for life advice. Clarissa was Nickelodeon’s it girl in the early ‘90s in every way: fashion, music, and manner of speaking. Kids everywhere began copying these attributes.
Depicting the lives of four Californian pre-teens with a passion for extreme sports, “Rocket Power” was a Nickelodeon favorite. The characters spoke in a new and unique way, and inspired some of the slang of the viewers. The wise words of laid-back Tito were also beloved by fans of the show.
The Amanda Show
Amanda Bynes may be a tabloid fixture nowadays, but back in the day she was the sweet-faced host of the one of the best sketch comedy and variety shows on TV. Amanda’s characters are still memorable to this day among her fans, such has the obsessed Amanda fan, the dancing-lobster-loving Judge Trudy, and the “Dawson’s Creek”-parodying Moody.
Like “The Amanda Show,” “All That” was a sketch comedy show for kids, notable for launching several famous careers. Lasting an incredible 10 season, the Nickelodeon fixture was a vehicle for Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, Amanda Bynes, and Nick Cannon, and introduced fan-favorite Lori Beth Denberg. The show also had various famous guest stars such as Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and many more.
The Wild Thornberrys
“The Wild Thornberrys” was a favorite of many kids, especially those with a penchant for nature or animals. Following a family of nature documentarians with a daughter that could speak to animals, the show was a fresh concept that appealed to the audience.
“Doug” was one of the earliest Nickelodeon shows, and definitely one of the most beloved. Every kid wanted friends like Skeeter and Patti Mayonnaise. Doug’s super alter ego, Quailman, was also a huge hit, and continues to be a popular Halloween costume since all you need is a belt and some underwear.
Kenan & Kel
In the late ‘90s, “Kenan & Kel” was the epitome of comedy for Nickelodeon viewers. The show was so popular that it launched the comedy pair into their own hit film “Good Burger,” which was based on their famous “All That” sketch. Kenan continues his funnyman ways to this day as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live.”
Rocko's Modern Life
“Rocko’s Modern Life” was the peak of Nickelodeon’s surrealist cartoons. The show depicted a wallaby that immigrated to the city of O-Town from Australia. While Rocko obviously appealed to kids, the show was also laden with adult humor such as satirical social commentary and innuendo, which made it popular for older teens as well.
Legends of the Hidden Temple
Arguably, Nickelodeon’s greatest competition game show was “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” in which 6 kid duos competed for a chance to enter the Mayan-styled hidden temple. The intricate temple maze consisted of 12 or 13 rooms each with a specific challenge. It was every kids dream to be able to enter that temple.
The premise of “Catdog” was, well, very bizarre. Following the day-to-day lives of a conjoined half-cat half-dog may have been freaky at times, but the show became a hit for its zany energy.
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
A completely unique show for Nickelodeon, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” dramatized a different scary campfire story each week. Kids and teens with a love for the spooky adored the show.
As Told By Ginger
A classic depiction of the haves and the have nots set in junior high, mild and kind Ginger becomes friends with the rich and popular Courtney. The show offered a thoughtful look into the common struggles of pre-teen life. Plus, the theme song rocked.
Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide
As funny as it was helpful, “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide” was a favorite of many Nick loyalists. The show gave a melodramatic depiction of middle school as a realm where each decision you make is of life-and-death importance. Ned Bigby knowledgeably informed the viewers how to survive a new middle school dilemma each week.
The Ren & Stimpy Show
The adventures of the hyperactive chihuahua Ren and the dimwitted cat Stimpy are legendary Nickelodeon fare. “Ren & Stimpy” was a pioneering cartoon that faced controversy for its oftentimes crude humor and violence, but set the stage for future cartoons to entertain adults as well as children.
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
Before “Monsters, Inc.” there was “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters,” the Nickelodeon show about young monsters learning to scare humans. The show was different from the other Nick shows at the time for its leanings to gross or sometimes frightening situations. However, the “Aaahh!! Real Monsters” was beloved for its wit and inventiveness by both kids and adults alike.
Everyone tuned into the premiere of “Zoey 101” to see the acting debut of Britney Spears’ kid sister, Jamie Lynn. Fans fell in love with the dramedy about the life of a girl at a newly co-ed boarding school. The fictional school, Pacific Coast Academy, seemed to have it all — luxurious rooms, oceanside views, and an expansive and beautiful campus.