Before I say this about every one of these shows let’s just put it out there, Nickelodeon in the 90s was pretty crazy. Those shows that were more on the level and didn’t go all out for the sake of being nuts were pretty cute but some of them were just insane and didn’t seem to care who knew it. Still, considering that a lot of us grew up on the 90s cartoons, or were at least starting to realize there was more to life than cartoons, these were something fun to watch when we needed it and were otherwise interesting to see every now and then when we had nothing else to do. When you watch them now a few of them seem kind of questionable for kids since the subject matter got a little weird, but when you look at all the cartoons that kids in the 80s and 90s watched you get the idea that it was kind of par for the course.
Here are some of the greatest Nickelodeon cartoons of the 90s.
5. Hey Arnold!
This cartoon was a little different since Arnold was an inner-city kid living in a boarding house with his grandparents, so right off the bat it wasn’t the stable family with a white picket fence cartoon that got shoved down our throats so often. Arnold had a different set of problems to deal with than other kids did and he and his friends spent most episodes trying to figure their way out of one jam or another. This was in some ways a cartoon for kids that didn’t have what some might call the good life and could relate to. In truth Arnold was the kind of kid that deals with his disadvantages in the best way he knew how.
4. Ren and Stimpy
Go on and admit it, you were one of those folks in the 90s that ran around saying things like “Steeempy you idiot!” in Ren’s voice. For as sick and as disturbing as this show got it was still a favorite of many that happened to think that it was genius in some demented way. The main characters were so off-putting at times that it’s no wonder why it was changed to a nighttime show at one point. The sexual innuendo alone is something that’s not really acceptable for kids, and yet it was shown during normal hours at first. It didn’t really matter that some kids couldn’t understand everything that was said, parents still had a fit.
Doug is the wholesome and fun cartoon that many parents would allow their kids to watch simply because it dealt with a young adolescent that was trying to adjust to a new home and because he was well-adjusted and the show didn’t deal with any subject matter that might have been thought to be too excessive or vulgar. The long and short of it is that Doug was the Diet Coke of Nickelodeon shows, he was fun and engaging but didn’t challenge people too much and more importantly he didn’t challenge the values or social mores of those watching to the point that they would have an issue with him.
2. Rocko’s Modern Life
Much like the Ren and Stimpy show, Rocko’s Modern Life kind of drew the ire of parents because it dealt with subjects they felt weren’t necessary for a children’s show such as innuendo, double entendres, and adult humor that kids couldn’t fully understand but still felt was hilarious. Rocko’s Modern World wasn’t always so obvious about it however since the animation was a lot different than Ren and Stimpy and showed things in a much different way that seemed a lot more toonish and less literal than the other show. But still parents quibbled since they didn’t want their kids knowing about certain things at such a young age. That’s what school is for after all.
Rugrats is probably one of the most successful cartoons that Nickelodeon came up with out of all of them. The characters were great, the stories were usually pretty good, and even the secondary characters like Reptar managed to come out as big names throughout the course of the show. The animation was a lot different than the other shows, appearing kind of “scratchy” in way thanks to the added lines in the characters and how they moved. But overall it was so entertaining that it hit the top spot just because it wan’t quite as challenging in a moral or ethical manner and it was a show that a lot of people could agree was a bit risque at times but still managed to pull it off without being too overly offensive.
Nickelodeon was where it was fun to watch cartoons for a while, especially because they got so crazy sometimes.