We are just a little over a month away from the premiere of Girl Meets World, the highly anticipated squeal to ‘90s hit TV show Boy Meets World. The original, which has been off the air since 2000, was a teenage favorite and part of the T.G.I.F lineup for seven years. With the upcoming new series, there is a sense of ‘90s nostalgia as we remember all the TV shows that have been lost to us. In the ‘90s we had teen angst with Dawson’s Creek, action packed mythology shows like Xena: Warrior Princess, and of course, one of the greatest comedic sitcoms of all time, Seinfeld, a show essentially about nothing. Though it is unlikely any of the shows in our list will ever make a true return to television, it’s fun to wish for just a few more episodes.
10. My So-Called Life (1994)
A young Clare Danes and her love interest, played by Oscar winner Jared Leto, led the pack in this show, long gone before its time. While it was cancelled after only one season, TVGuide ranked it #2 on their list of “Shows Cancelled Too Soon.” What made My So-Called Life unique and worth watching was that it didn’t take what was a normal TV approach to teenage life. There were no “messages of the week,” and instead of having conflict that was easily resolved by the end of the hour, the problems faced by the characters—from drinking, to homophobia, censorship, and drug use—continued to play out over long arcs, proving that the angst felt by teens in the early 1990s was real and relatable.
9. Full House (1987-1995)
Now that Bob Saget is done lending his voice to How I Met Your Mother, wouldn’t it be nice to revisit the Tanner clan? The somewhat campy family-oriented sitcom followed widower Danny Tanner and his three daughters, the youngest of whom was played by Hollywood power twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and their entire live-in family, comedian Joey and Uncle Jesse, played by 1990s heartthrob John Stamos. The show was light and full of heartwarming family moments where the three girls invariably learned some sort of moral lesson by the end of the episode. It may seem a bit trite now, but in the 1990s, the idea of having a hand to hold on to—or so says the theme song—was a touching idea.
8. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999)/ Farscape (1999-2003)
When it comes to 1990’s science fiction, there are so many great candidates from which to choose that in the end, we had to pick two. Both Farscape and DS9 were set in the far reaches of space, but still had their own flavor. Farscape was unique, freely incorporating animatronic puppets for a few characters, though it remained somewhat obscure in popular culture. The series was cancelled with a cliffhanger in the fourth season, but thankfully, viewers got a TV miniseries to wrap up the story lines. Despite having a satisfying conclusion, we wouldn’t say no to being back aboard the ship Moya.
Deep Space Nine is both like and not like the previous Star Trek shows. While it was deep and philosophical, it broke the mold in regards to Gene Roddenberry’s religious stance, embracing the idea of prophecy and potential gods more freely and exploring humanity’s darker sides. The show, led by Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), had some of the richest developed characters in the entire franchise and was less episodic than other Star Trek shows; its seven-year run focused almost exclusively on the war with the Dominion. Like Farscape, DS9 had a satisfying conclusion, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t wonder if Sisko ever made it back from the Prophets to his family.
7. X-Men: The Animated Series (1992-1997)
One of the strongest children’s cartoons of the 1990s, the animated classic was loosely adapted from the classic Marvel comic book series. The cartoon, featured as part of a Saturday line up for kids, focused on some of the most well known and beloved comic book heroes: Wolverine, Jean Grey, Storm, Cyclops and Dr. X. While it did incorporate general elements of science fiction, it also managed to expertly weave in stronger themes like prejudice, racism and the never-ending battle between “good” and “evil.” While the cartoon series will most likely never come back, the popularity of the animated series is partly to thank for the movie franchise staring Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, and, most recently, Jennifer Lawrence. The entire run of the show is on Netflix and stands the test of time, especially that incredible opening theme song.
6. Freaks and Geeks (1999)
Another show long gone before its time, Freaks and Geeks ranks number one on TVGuide’s 2013 “Cancelled Too Soon” list. The cult classic focused on the Weir siblings, Lindsey (Linda Cardellini) and Sam (John Francis Daley) as the titular freak and geek. The show emphasized changing personal identity and the transition Lindsey undergoes from academic all-star to slacker who runs with the wrong crowd. Unlike other teenage shows, Freaks and Geeks, followed the non-popular cliques of high school. Not only did Freaks and Geeks have a fresh approach to life in high school, but it also launched the careers of several high profile actors: Busy Phillips, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen and perhaps most notably James Franco, who all started in the late 1990s show.
5. Darkwing Duck (1991-1992)
Let’s get dangerous. Who knew cartoon characters could be so complex? Drake Mallard, the everyday suburban identity of mask-wearing superhero Darkwing Duck, struggles with his conflicting desires of wanting fame, fortune, and acclaim while also wanting to be a good father to his adopted duck-daughter Gossalyn. That’s pretty heavy for a Saturday morning cartoon. Most episodes found Drake/Darkwing struggling between the two desires, but his better nature normally won out. Accompanying him was his side kick Launchpad McQuack; together they engaged in slapstick action stories against both street criminals and super villains like Negaduck and Megavolt. Darkwing Duck reminds us of a time when cartoons were smartly written and laden with several pulp fiction references that made it enjoyable for adults too.
4. Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
Probably one of the best classic cult TV shows of all time, the David Lynch created drama was, all at once, a parody of soap operas, a horror show, a murder mystery, a comedy and a surrealistic examination of human nature. It was also just strange, but in the best possible way. Kyle MacLachan stared as Dale Cooper, an FBI agent who is called to the tiny town of Twin Peaks to investigate the gruesome murder of Laura Palmer. Like most Lynch type films or shows, the true narrative is uncovering the seedy underbelly of a town that appears safe and wholesome on the surface. What makes us wish Twin Peaks would come back.
The show was known for its bizarre montages, like a visit to the Red Room where a dwarf speaks backwards trying to explain Laura Palmer’s murder. The show was canceled after two seasons and even though Laura’s murder was solved before then, we’re still wondering if Dale ever found a damn fine cup of coffee that matched the brew in Twin Peaks.
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
How many 1990’s TV shows can claim that an entire academic subset sprung up around them? After the cult TV show went off the air, pop culture specialists began “Buffy Studies,” analyzing the supernatural phenomenon. Over the course of seven seasons, viewers followed the Chosen One, Buffy Summers, and her friends Willow, Xander and Giles as they saved the world. A lot. The Joss Whedon created show was known for its pop culture references and realistic depictions of teenage speech and manner. Buffy constantly tried to push the envelope, from arcs dealing with sexuality, to an episode in which all the characters lost their voices and there was zero talking for half an hour, to the groundbreaking musical hour “Once More With Feeling.” While the show continues in comic books, the Slayer coming back to TV for one final Apocalypse would make supernatural enthusiasts very happy.
2. Friends (1994-2004)
What we wouldn’t give for one more visit to Central Perk with our favorite six friends! The show that helped launch of the careers of Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, and Jennifer Aniston, the series finale is one of the most watched finales in the history of TV, with close to 53 million viewers. Over the course of ten seasons, the 6 friends from different backgrounds and walks of life struggled through relationships, jobs, family, and even the occasional monkey. Granted, Friends ended exactly like everyone assumed it would: Chandler and Monica had their babies and moved to the suburbs, while Ross and Rachel found their way to back to each other. But this fairy tale ending doesn’t stop people from hoping; every few months the Internet is abuzz with rumors of a reunion special, only to be crushed when the stars deny any plans. We know it’s probably never going to come back, but is it too much to hope that it’s just on a break?
1. The X Files (1993-2002)
Many viewers would like to pretend that the series ended after season seven because The X Files without Fox Mulder just doesn’t make sense. Sadly, the show continued to air without everyone’s favorite conspiracy theorist. But before that happened, we were in awe of the intricately woven mythology mixed with horror and science fiction storyline of two FBI agents investigating the paranormal. Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, respectively) were the ultimate buddy-buddy cops, one believing in aliens and UFO’s, the other a hardened skeptic. Throw in some alien abductions, a nefarious smoking man, and some truly strange monster-of-the-week stand alone episodes and you have a show that audiences couldn’t get enough of. It may be long gone, but we want to believe it’ll be back someday.
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