Back in the 90’s, choosing your favorite cartoon channel and shows was as important to a kid as choosing between an iPhone or an Android device. These shows helped shape our personality, our sense of humor, and our morals that would go on to define our lives for years to come. The 90’s were a great time to be a kid, with channels like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and the Disney Channel. Growing up, I remember making breakfast before school every day and having Nickelodeon on in the background. This early morning prime-time programming consisted of a collection of the channel’s greatest hits, ranging from Rugrats to Catdog and so many other classics. These shows all had their own artistic style and set of strange yet relatable characters.
Everyone remembers the hall of fame cartoon classics from that decade like Dexter’s Laboratory and Pokémon, and even shows that started in the tail end of the decade like SpongeBob SquarePants and Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy, but surely there are some forgotten gems from the era that deserve to be revisited. This article will stir up some nostalgia as we take a trip back to a time when things were easier and the most difficult decision we had to make was what to get at lunch in the cafeteria or whether or not to get a new pack of Pokémon or Yu-gi-oh cards to expand our collection.
15. 2 Stupid Dogs
2 Stupid Dogs was the kind of show you would see on Cartoon Network during the middle of the day when you got to stay home from school because you felt kind of sick and talked your parents into letting you stay home. The show centered around, well, two stupid dogs, Big Dog and Little Dog, as they would adventure around a city and get into all sorts of canine hijinks. The episodes were fairly simplistic, which reinforced the concept of the dogs’ simple-minded antics. Honestly, I mean one of the earlier episodes revolved around Big Dog chasing after a lost can and then deciding he needs a pair of shoes, which the remainder of the episode focuses on that subplot. Early 90’s cartoons like this one were memorable for the fact that they were able to make humorous, entertaining shows that followed ridiculously simple premises in each consecutive episode with great characters, no matter how simple or stupid they really were.
14. Quack Pack
Quack Pack was another show in the long, long line of the Disney Channel’s original programming featuring its original characters that have been around since the dawn of animation back in the early twentieth century. This show centered around the triplet ducks Huey, Dewey, and Louie as well as Donald Duck. As the title suggests, Huey, Dewey, and Louie are constantly getting into mischief that usually drags Donald along much to his dismay. This show was obviously overshadowed by the far superior Ducktales, which cornered the market on animated duck hijinks early on in its life. The show never quite reached the heights of Ducktales and it can all be explained by the fact that Ducktales had a far greater imagination and reach in terms of what it allowed its characters to do. Sadly this show gets swept under the rug when remembering the classics of the decade.
13. Jungle Cubs
Anyone who grew up watching Disney movies (and let’s face it, we all did) could instantly recognize Jungle Cubs as a young adaptation of The Jungle Book. I mean come on, the song during the opening credits of the show is literally just the “Bear Necessities” song; what’s not to love? Now let me tell you something, I watched a LOT of TV growing up, but I have no memory of this show whatsoever. Watching it for the first time now, it’s a cute, animal-centric show that teaches the morals and lessons one would come to expect from classic Disney programming while remaining fun and lighthearted. On top of that, there is just something so wonderfully dreamlike about the pre-CGI era of cartoons, especially those from Disney, that reinforced the sense of childlike wonder. Maybe that’s giving too much credit to ol’ Walt Disney himself, but this show definitely deserves more recognition for its time.
12. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo was one of the most underrated adaptations of the Scooby-Doo franchise to ever exist. Of course everyone remembers the classic Scooby-Doo series, with its simple animation style and inexplicable unmaskings at the end of each episode as well as the mid-2000’s reboot of the series: What’s New, Scooby-Doo? This iteration of the show however focused on the gang of mystery solving friends during their young adult lives as they would go on adventures and uncover clues that would make the Hardy Boys jealous. The art style of the show was simpler and arguably more cartoony, with characters like Velma sporting glasses that covered the entire upper half of her face to the monsters that looked wacky even by traditional Scooby-Doo standards. Nevertheless, the show maintained its own sort of whimsical charm that kept each episode entertaining, even if it was formulaic, and still leaves us wondering what a Scooby Snack really tastes like.
11. Street Sharks
Street Sharks was a show that spawned from the rampant success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The show was essentially a kid-friendly version of The Fly with Jeff Goldblum. In Street Sharks, a scientist fuses the body of four kids with shark DNA to create a gang of crime fighting animal hybrids that are as intimidating as they are powerful. The show was an extreme action cartoon full of explosions and fights that seemed so cool at the time. The show was not as successful as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because of the lack of distinct characteristics between each individual shark. None of the characters carried the charisma or charm of Donatello or Leonardo. However, I do remember seeing action figures of the show’s characters on shelves in Target all the time and Vin Diesel himself was once a spokesperson for the figures before he went on to become the action movie star we know today.
10. Cartoon Cartoons Fridays
Reaching the end of each school week brought its own amazing sense of relief and happiness but nothing was greater than tuning into Cartoon Network every Friday evening for the Cartoon Cartoons marathon show. As a kid, I never watched live action shows, but CCF was always an exception. The hosts were always charismatic and relatable, seeming just as enthusiastic about introducing new episodes every week as I was to watch them. The great thing about CCF was that it incorporated more than just new episodes, it also showed reruns of its own original programming. In addition to cartoons, there were interstitial, live-action segments that were as fun and lighthearted as one would have expected from late 90’s Cartoon Network. One of the most memorable segments of the show were the giveaways that consisted of viewers calling in for the chance to win Cartoon Network themed merchandise and other prizes.
9. I Am Weasel
I Am Weasel was another Cartoon Network show done in the same wacky and zany art style as its successful sister show, Cow and Chicken. The show centered around its titular character, a weasel whose name literally spells out I.M. Weasel. His silly hijinks would often include his arch-frenemy, I.R. Baboon, as the two would go head to head to outdo one another in some competition or bone-headed scheme. This show also introduced one of the most obscure characters in cartoon history: The Red Guy. This chubby, red devil would always come on the scene and introduce some random wrench to throw into the plot. His goofy antics were often complimented by the fact that he was completely naked! The Red Guy was voiced by famed voice actor Charlie Adler, who also did the voices of IR Baboon, Cow, AND Chicken in their own shows. Talk about vocal range!
Doug was an incredibly successful show but honestly, when was the last time you even thought about this one? Doug was your typical young adult who dealt with a wide variety of problems you would expect a young teenager to go through. He deals with bullies and the fear of getting rejected by his crush and narrates all of this from his own personal journal. My personal favorite character from the series was porkchop, Doug’s anthropomorphic canine pal, who would always bring a lighthearted tone to the show. The show was featured prominently on Nickelodeon for its first few seasons but was eventually bought by Disney and aired its remaining seasons there. The fact that the show belonged to two different channels during its lifetime, that might just be the reason we don’t see reruns anymore, much to the dismay of fans. Thankfully, the show can be streamed on Hulu to relive that classic 90’s nostalgia.
I have such distinct and fond memories of waking up every morning before elementary school, turning on Nickelodeon around 7 am and seeing my favorite animated variety show, Kablam! Its cartoon hosts gave it the edge over similar programs like Cartoon Cartoons Fridays and the shows were so varied, bizarre, and strange. Each segment felt like its own individual show. Some of the best shows on Kablam were Action League Now and Prometheus and Bob. Action League Now was a hilarious live action show that centered around a team of action figures that lived underneath a child’s bed. Each hero had very bad powers, most notably Stinky Diver, who was simply just really smelly. The framing of the show was great as well because it was so easy to see that the figures were being moved and manipulated by a hand that was just out of frame. Prometheus and Bob followed a similarly bizarre route, but featured a Claymation alien and Neanderthal interact across a wide variety of slapstick situations.
6. Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron
Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron was another show born from the success Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but this show centered around an extreme force of feline partners who dealt with a wide variety of crimes and criminals who would always be dealt a swift uppercut of justice by the end of each episode. The show had a feeling very similar to the animated Batman series that came out near the end of the 90’s, which also dealt with a similar theme of crime and punishment. The show always confused me as a kid because the city looked like it was populated by humans in cat costumes but on a strange, just not right kind of level. Like almost every show from the time, the intro was absolutely amazing. It had everything, from explosions to a literal dragon that tore open a HOLE IN THE SKY before flying down into the city to unleash destruction on its inhabitants.
5. Extreme Ghostbusters
Extreme Ghostbusters was the sad, forgotten child in the very short-lived lineage of the animated Ghostbusters series. The show lacked the charm and lovable characters of the original films upon which it was inspired and was of notably lower quality than the other Ghost-centric show, the Real Ghostbusters. The potential to confuse these two shows and mix them up may be the reason it is so often forgotten to the halls of animation history, much like the confusion that surrounded the Nintendo Wii and its follow up console, the Nintendo WiiU. People just didn’t understand that there was a difference between the two! In addition to not making itself stand out, the show also featured 3D models of buildings and cars (as seen in its intro) that look absolutely horrendous by modern standards and honestly it’s hard to say if they were even worth shaking a stick at during the 90’s
4. Dumb and Dumber
Ah Dumb and Dumber. One of the classic buddy comedy movies of the mid-90’s and arguably some of the funniest work from either Jim Carrey or Jeff Daniels. And of course, with the rampant success of the film, companies scrambled to find a way to market the brand to any corner of the world they possibly could and ended up on the avenue of animated children’s programming. This was not an uncommon practice, especially for anything Jim Carrey was involved with, seeing as we got animated versions of plenty of his classic films, from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective to The Mask. Of all of these shows, Dumb and Dumber has universally been panned as one of the worst animated cartoons to come out during the 90’s and its hard to argue against all of the criticism. The show lacked any of the original cast and was limited to a small run of only 13 episodes before being taken off the air.
3. The Brothers Flub
The Brothers Flub was an interesting take on the duo comedy that Nickelodeon practically dominated with during the 90’s. The show takes inspiration from classics like the Angry Beavers and Ren and Stimpy but was so bizarre that it had difficulty ever finding its footing and unique identity as a show that it never really took off, so to speak. The show centered around, you guessed it, the Flub brothers, Guapo and Fraz, who travelled through space to deliver mail and get in all sorts of trouble. The show played to the traditional comedy tropes of having a large, bumbling character, who was usually dumber than the leading, thin character that would always come up with some sort of plan or scheme to save the day. The only memory I have of the show, aside from seeing it in passing was a random fast food toy that I had from years ago, so maybe the show isn’t so lost after all!
2. Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist
Dr. Katz was easily my first exposure to Comedy Central, long before I ever got to watch South Park or any other of the more mature comedies the channel had to offer. I was drawn in by the shaky animation style that always moved, even if the characters stood still. The strange close ups on the characters faces was unlike anything I had ever seen before and the show had an element of improvisation that introduced me to the earliest forms of sarcasm and introduced me to the sense of humor I have to this day. One of the best things about the shows is that they would always have celebrity guests who would come on and just riff for a few minutes or tell stories. I have Dr. Katz to thank for introducing me to classics like Dave Chappelle and Ray Romano who I would later learn were the backbone of American comedy.
1. Mike, Lu, and Og
Mike, Lu, and Og was one of my favorite shows growing up but I think I can safely say that I have never met anyone else who has the same affinity for the cartoon or at the very least has even seen it to begin with. The show centers around three kids, Mike, Lu, and, Og as they have adventures around their island home. The art style of the show always reminded me of a story book kind of aesthetic and the island music and locale would make me want to go play one of my favorite games, Super Mario Sunshine, after the end of each episode so that I could either recreate what I had just watched or go off on an adventure of my own. Hands down my favorite part of the show was the way in which the animals were drawn, from the wacky birds to the ram that would weasel its way into just about every episode, this show had something for everyone.