Growing up in the 90s meant that I had the pleasure of viewing some of the finest kids TV shows ever made and for the most part these shows are generally remembered fondly and considered to be highly nostalgic for myself and many others. From channels such as Nickelodeon, Fox Kids, Cartoon Network, The Disney Channel and so on, we really were spoiled for choice when it came to deciding what to watch and this was in a time without DVR so deciding was usually difficult. This truly was the golden age for children’s programming and honestly I doubt we’ll ever see anything like it again or see kids TV shows generate the kind of popularity that some of the shows I’ll be mentioning below did at that time. We all have our favorites so this of course is simply my opinion which is my way of saying don’t be too disappointed if something you loved is missing.
5 – Goosebumps (1995 – 1998)
Goosebumps is a Canadian children’s horror fantasy anthology television series based on R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps books. It was one of the two popular television horror anthology children’s series in the 1990s (the other being Are You Afraid of the Dark?)
The TV anthology series ran for four seasons from 1995 to 1998, beginning on October 27, 1995. The series mainly featured plots based on the Goosebumps books, among them The Haunted Mask, Say Cheese And Die and The Cuckoo Clock of Doom; there were 64 episodes created in total. The TV series was very popular; it aired in over 100 countries and it was the number one rated children’s TV show for three years in the United States.
At the time that I watched Goosebumps there really wasn’t anything else on quite like it. I’ve always been a huge fan of horror and although the show is intended for children and the content is quite tame it was still a really nice change from what I was used to seeing. The tales are really creative and interesting and the makeup, usage of animatronics and stop motion were really effective, although some of it looks quite poor compared to modern standards. My favorite thing about the show was how it manages to cram so much content and exposition into such a short run time which obviously had to be done considering the length of the books. Each episode feels fresh and new and inhabits a whole new premise that feels nothing like the previous episode. Also, I liked that they somehow managed to use new child actors for almost every single episode; most of whom went on to nothing but Goosebumps, well unless you count Hayden Kristiansen and Ryan Gosling.
Talking about the child acting, some of it can be quite poor in the earlier episodes but for the most part it’s actually really decent; especially when they use older, teenage actors and adults in the later episodes. I was very pleased to see that the entire 4 seasons were finally released in a DVD box set in 2013, better late than never I guess. Be on the lookout for my top 10 best and worst Goosebumps episodes, coming soon; I love this show.
4 – Yu-GI-OH! (1998 – 2006)
Yu-Gi-Oh! Tells the tale of Yugi Mutou, a timid young boy who loves all sorts of games, but is often bullied around. One day, he solves an ancient artifact known as the Millennium Puzzle, causing his body to play host to a mysterious spirit with the personality of a gambler. From that moment onwards, whenever Yugi or one of his friends is threatened by those with darkness in their hearts, this “Dark Yugi” shows himself and challenges them to dangerous Shadow Games which reveals the true nature of someone’s heart, the losers of these contests often being subjected to a dark punishment called a Penalty Game. Whether it be cards, dice or role-playing board games, Dark Yugi is the king of them all and will take on all competition. As the series progresses, Yugi and his friends learn that this other Yugi inside of his puzzle is actually the spirit of a nameless Pharaoh from Egyptian times who had lost his memories. As Yugi and his companions attempt to help the Pharaoh regain his memories, they find themselves going through many trials as they wager their lives facing off against gamers that wield the mysterious Millennium Items and the dark power of the Shadow Games.
I absolutely love this show, the characters, the world, the concept, the art style and the mythology. The duels are exciting and in the later episodes quite unpredictable. The story lines are really complex and in depth so you really have to pay attention and remember things that had happened in previous episodes. It has a large group of interesting characters that are really well developed and given great back stories which really makes you care about their destinies. I still enjoy watching it today and still have a huge deck of cards that I love looking at from time to time.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game is a Japanese collectible card battle game developed and published by Konami. Based on the Duel Monsters concept from the original manga series, the game sees players using a combination of monsters, spells and traps to defeat their opponent. First launched in Japan in 1999, the game has received various changes over the years, such as the inclusion of new monster types to coincide with new anime series, and is currently the top selling trading card game in the world.
3 – Sabrina The Teenage Witch (1996 – 2003)
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch is an American sitcom based on the Archie comic book series of the same name. The show premiered on September 27, 1996, on ABC to over 17 million viewers in its “T.G.I.F.” line-up.
The show chronicles the adventures of Sabrina Spellman (played by Melissa Joan Hart), a girl who discovers on her sixteenth birthday that she is a witch. As a novice witch, her spells often go awry. Her Aunts Hilda and Zelda Spellman (played by Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick, respectively) counsel her on the proper use of her magic and give her moral advice. Additionally, Hilda and Zelda must take care of Salem Saberhagen (voiced by Nick Bakay), a witch turned into a cat for trying to take over the world.
There were a lot of live action TV shows on in the 90s but in my opinion Sabrina was without a doubt the best of them all. It had such likeable characters and was and still is genuinely hilarious, much like Saved By The Bell it’s a true product of its time and it’s definitely one those shows that I’ll be re-watching for many years to come.
2 – Spiderman: The Animated Series (1994 – 1998)
Spider-Man, also known as Spider-Man: The Animated Series, is an American animated television series based on the Marvel Comics superhero, Spider-Man. The show ran on Fox Kids from November 19, 1994, to January 31, 1998.
The series focuses on Spider-Man and his alter ego Peter Parker during his college years at Empire State University. As the story begins, Peter has already gained his superpowers and is a part-time freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle. The show features most of Spider-Man’s classic villains, including the Kingpin, the Green Goblin, the Lizard, the Scorpion, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, Shocker, the Rhino, the Vulture, the Chameleon, and Venom. Over the course of the series the single Peter contends with the romantic love interests of Mary Jane Watson, Felicia Hardy and her alter ego, the Black Cat. The show also features appearances from various other Marvel superheroes including the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Daredevil, Blade, Doctor Strange, the Punisher, and Captain America.
Spider-Man was one of the most popular TV series on Fox Kids, ranking with the programming block’s other hit shows such as X-Men, Power Rangers and Batman: The Animated Series. Its ultimate cancellation after 65 episodes was not due to ratings trouble, but due to disagreements between executive producers. Even after the series ended, it still had an impact on the entertainment industry, boosting sales of Spider-Man merchandise and popularity. The show was named the 84th best animated series by IGN.
Oh man I loved this show! Much like Batman: The Animated Series it took a fresh take on the Spiderman universe and delivered it in a smart, interesting, dark way that had never been seen before. I cannot highly recommend this show enough, even if you wouldn’t consider yourself to be the biggest fan of Spiderman or the movies put you off; watch this show and you’ll change your mind.
1 – Pokémon (1998 – ????)
Pokémon is a media franchise phenomenon published and owned by Japanese video game company Nintendo. Originally released as a pair of interlink able Game Boy role-playing video games developed by Game Freak, Pokémon has since become the second-most successful and lucrative video game-based media franchise in the world, behind only Nintendo’s own Mario franchise. Pokémon properties have since been merchandised into anime, manga, trading cards, toys, books, and other media. The franchise celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2006 and as of 28 May 2010, cumulative sales of the video games (including home console versions, such as the “Pikachu” Nintendo 64) have reached more than 200 million copies worldwide.
The Pokémon anime TV show and films are a series of adventures separate from the canon that most of the Pokémon video games follow (with the exception of Pokémon Yellow, a game based loosely on the anime storyline). The anime follows the quest of the main character, Ash Ketchum a Pokémon Master in training, as he and a small group of friends travel around the fictitious world of Pokémon along with their Pokémon partners. The original series, titled Pocket Monsters, or simply Pokémon in Western countries, begins with Ash’s first day as a Pokémon trainer. His first (and signature) Pokémon is a Pikachu, differing from the games, where only Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle could be chosen. The series follows the storyline of the original games, Pokémon Red and Blue, in the region of Kanto. Accompanying Ash on his journeys are Brock, the Pewter City Gym Leader, and Misty, the youngest of the Gym Leader sisters from Cerulean City as Ash attempts to catch Pokémon, win battles and become a Pokémon master.
Sorry for being a little bit predictable with this one but anyone that grew up in the 90s knows just how huge and popular this show was. I used to watch it every morning before school and I loved everything about it, how can you not? Nothing can quite compare to the nostalgia that Pokémon makes me feel and one of my fondest memories as a child was the day I found a shiny Charizard in a generic pack of cards, good times.
As you can imagine this was quite tough to put together because there were so many great shows from this time period. I thought I’d add a few additional names at the bottom here because I feel as if they deserve to mentioned, thanks for reading!
X-Men: The Animated Series (1992 – 1997)
The Amanda Show (1999 – 2002)
Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles (1999 – 2000)