What are the best ’90s TV shows? Back in the ‘90s, when dial-up was still a thing, the Space Jam website remained untouched, and everyone thought Tamagotchis were the most important thing in the world; some of the best shows ever seen graced the small screen, and society was much better for it.
OK, that might be a stretch, but there was something special about the ’90s and its TV series. It was a time that gave us the greatest will-they-won’t-they in television history, you couldn’t change the channel without stumbling on another angsty teen drama, and comedy soared to new heights – or lows, depending on your taste and handling of poop jokes.
But what were the best ’90s TV shows? Well, to work that out, we’ve engrossed ourselves in the culture of yesteryear. We’re talking bucket hats, Nirvana on a portable CD player, and designer yo-yos, all to bring you a list of essential shows you have to have watched to call yourself a ’90s kid. These are the best small screen hits from the ’90s!
What are the best ’90s TV shows?
- Fresh Prince of Bel-air
- Ren & Stimpy
- Eerie Indiana
- Sex and the City
- Dawson’s Creek
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- South Park
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)
Will Smith entered as a prince but ruled the ‘90s as a king thanks in part to the beloved sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. After pulling up to a house ‘about 7 or 8’, he became part of a family that quickly became as beloved as The Simpsons or that other Royle family.
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Sure, Will may have been the star, but he’d be nowhere without Jazzy Jeff being thrown from the doorstep, Carlton dancing to Tom Jones, or sharing an emotional moment with Uncle Phil that still stands as one of Smith’s best performances to date. Long live the prince!
Incredibly, a show littered with monkeys, poultry, and beloved felines with poor hygiene is still a series that’s still fought over by networks and streaming services 17 years since its finale. The story of a group of 20-somethings leaning on each other in their busy New York lives made Friends one of the most beloved sitcoms of our time.
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After Rachel got off the plane, the effort to reignite this lighting in a coffee cup was replicated by so many other shows, with only a few coming close. In the end, Friends still stands as the comedy classic some will always “pivot” to.
Ren & Stimpy (1991-1995)
Ren & Stimpy walked into danger so Patrick and SpongeBob could run by breaking the mould of kids’ cartoons with snot, brains, and eye-watering animation.
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The chaotic chihuahua and his loveable but oafish cat pal spent every week tearing each other to pieces for children’s amusement everywhere, setting a bar for kids TV that others dared not venture to.
While it may seem out of touch now, there’s plenty of glimmers in modern-day animation that have both Ren & Stimpy to thank, “you idiots!”
Eerie Indiana (1991-1992)
Before Omri Katz got into a bunch of Hocus Pocus, he moved to the weird capital of the world in Eerie, Indiana. Part Stephen King book and part Amblin movie, the show ran for just a single season but had a lasting effect with its fever dream-like episodes.
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Marshall Teller was our guide, venturing to unimaginable corners of his new home, where dental wear picked up canine plans of world domination, and a Tupperware saleswoman kept her sons fresh all year round. It’s essential viewing for fans of the supernatural or Elvis (“thank you, little paperboy”). Trust me on this.
Sex and the City (1998-2004)
And just like that, HBO released a show that earned a multitude of awards and didn’t need gangsters or gritty detective stories to get them. Wherever you stand on the behind-the-scenes issues, there’s no question that Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte left their mark on television for the stories they shared and their open perspective on sex, life and friendship.
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Spawning two films, a prequel series, and an impending revival, the world has always been drawn to Carrie Bradshaw’s world of stupidly expensive wardrobes and tumultuous relationships that always led her back to Big.
Dawson’s Creek (1998-2001)
If it wasn’t Rachel and Ross, it was Dawson and Joey. The Beek and his Creek mates going through teenage troubles dominated the world at one point, regardless of their snarky conversations and overly critical film analysis they had.
Touching on topics that other teen shows skimmed around at the time, the likes of The OC and One Tree Hill have the OG-angst riddled show and its killer theme to thank for their success. Team Pacey for life!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2004)
For every generation, a slayer was born and wasn’t ours the greatest? Sarah Michelle Gellar was the vampire-killing hero who lived and died by breaking the rules and balancing a teenager’s life with saving the world a lot.
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The Scoobies battles against the forces of darkness had top tier episodes that stand alone as major moments in television, boasting some terrifying creatures of the week (we’re looking at you ‘Hush’).
One of the few on this list to have dominated the entire decade, Nickelodeon’s baby-based animated series saw Tommy, Chuckie and co wander off on imaginative adventures was the backbone of Saturday mornings.
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Paramount’s impending revival has a lot to live up to, with the original tackling essential issues like potty training, sleeping with a night light off, and sociopathic brat Angelica. All hail, Reptar.
South Park (1997-present)
It’s crazy to think that after giving Eric Cartman an anal probe, South Park would go on to become one of the most ground-breaking animated series that didn’t have a spiky-haired kid in.
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Cutting to the bone of current events with reckless abandon and loading enough swear jars to fill a Swiss bank account, Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman’s offensively brilliant adventures have them in the public eye for years. It stands to reason then that a recent $900 million ensures they’re not going anywhere soon.
Sabrina The Teenage Witch (1996-2003)
Netflix may have done a great job at adapting the comic book character recently. Still, the chances are that if you mention Sabrina The Teenage Witch to someone, they’re going to picture Melissa Joan Hart bickering with an animatronic cat.
Casting spells and learning valuable life lessons were part and parcel for another of Nickelodeon’s finest who just wanted to get her witches license and a date with Harvey. Another lovely bubble of ’90s greatness that has never lost its magic.