10 Best Nickelodeon Cartoons of the '90s

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10 Best Nickelodeon Cartoons of the '90s

SpongeBob and Squidward
SpongeBob and Squidward. Nickelodeon

It's hard to believe that Nickelodeon is more than thirty-five years old. What started out as a quirky channel for kids, that featured green slime on a daily basis, has become one of the highest-rated networks, with a roster of award-winning hit series to its credit as well as toddler favorites like Paw Patrol.

People who grew up in the '90s saw Nickelodeon in its early stages, when edgy cartoons were starting to become popular. Click through this slideshow to see the 10 best Nickelodeon cartoons of the '90s.

See also: 10 Best Cartoons of the '80s

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'The Ren & Stimpy Show'

'Ren & Stimpy'
L-R: Ren and Stimpy. Nickelodeon

 is about a show about a dog and cat who are two unlikely pals. Ren is an asthmatic, cynical chihuahua, and Stimpy is the good-hearted cat who gets knocked around by Ren. Each episode is more about the gags, violence (to Stimpy) and sound effects than it is about an actual story. The secondary characters were just as zany, with names like Powdered Toast Man and Muddy Mudskipper. After the episode "Stimpy's Invention," a whole generation walked around singing "The Happy Happy Joy Joy Song."

Aired: August 11, 1991 - December 16, 1995

Episodes: 52, including "Fire Dogs," when Ren and Stimpy paint themselves to look like dalmatians so they could get jobs at the fire department. 

Creator: John Kricfalusi

Trivia: Ren's full name is Ren Hoëk

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Doug. Nickelodeon

Doug is the story of an eleven year-old boy, the mistakes he makes and how he fixes them. Doug Funnie and his family -- dad Phil, mom Theda, sister Judy and the dog Porkchop -- help Doug figure out some of life's toughest lessons, including how to navigate his rocky relationship with Patti. The pilot episode, "Doug Can't Dance," gives us a chance to see all the kids in his life, including a cameo by Quail Man.

Aired: August 11, 1991 - January 2, 1994

Episodes: 52

Creator: Jim Jinkins

Trivia: Doug was a character in a series of grapefruit juice commercials before he got his own series.

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Clockwise from bottom left: Dil Pickles, Kimi Finster, Susie Carmichael, Tommy Pickles, Chuckie Finster, Angelica Pickles, Lil DeVille, Phil DeVille. Nickelodeon

Rugrats is about Tommy Pickles, a baby, and his baby friends, who discover magic, danger and great comic adventure in a world adults often take for granted. There's also the twin babies Phil and Lil DeVille, his best friend Chuckie and Angelica, his three year-old cousin, who is the biggest bully they know. Rugrats was unique when it aired, because the way the babies and characters were drawn was rough, rather than cute. Rugrats was also unique for celebrating a variety of holidays, like Passover. We never really knew if the babies could understand the grown-ups, but we knew for sure that the grown-ups had no idea what was really going on with the babies. Rugrats in Paris, a feature film, became one of the most successful movies based on a TV cartoons.

Aired: August 11, 1991 - November 5, 2006

Episodes: 176

Creator: Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo and Paul Germain

Trivia: The character Tommy was named for Germain's son, Tom.

See also: 10 Best Movies Based on Cartoons

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'Rocko's Modern Life'

Rocko's Modern Life
Rocko's Modern Life. Nickelodeon

What’s a wallaby to do when he’s surrounded by annoying neighbors, freeloading pals, heaps of laundry and the weight of life in general? Why, turn to his loyal canine, Spunky, his dim-witted best pal, Heffer, and the neurotic nay-sayer Filburt to help him confront the trials and tribulations of modern life. Brimming with social satire and offbeat humor, Rocko’s Modern Life is one of the few animated shows to break through the genre and emerge as a truly original television experience. Over the course of its four-season run, the series nabbed a Daytime Emmy Award.

Aired: September 18, 1993 - May 21, 1998

Episodes: 53

Creator: Joe Murray

Trivia: One episode had no dialogue whatsoever, just pantomime.

See also: Who does what voice on SpongeBob SquarePants?

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'Hey Arnold!'

Hey Arnold!
Hey Arnold!. Nickelodeon

Hey Arnold! is about a fourth-grade boy, Arnold, living with his grandparents, who run the Sunset Arms boarding house in the big city. Arnold shares a roof with a diverse and unusual menagerie of characters (including his pet pig). Arnold’s friends include storyteller Gerald, class jinx Eugene, sometime-bully Harold, and tomboy Helga, who harbors a secret crush on Arnold. Arnold's head is football-shaped because creator Craig Bartlett wanted him to be recognizable in every shot.

Aired: October 7, 1996 - June 8, 2004

Episodes: 100

Creator: Craig Bartlett

Trivia: Hey Arnold! debuted as an animated short for the Nickelodeon film Harriet the Spy in 1996.

See also: What happened to Aang after Avatar: The Last Airbender?

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'Angry Beavers'

The Angry Beavers
The Angry Beavers. Shout! Factory

In Angry Beavers, twin beaver brothers Norbert and Daggett leave their childhood home to begin living the life of wild and crazy bachelors. These boys like to party hard and play all day until sleep deprivation drives them spootin’ mad. Fortunately, the boys have their friends Stump (an actual tree stump), Barry Bear (he has a fear of clowns) and Treeflower (the love of Norbert's life) that often join the revelry as they encounter everything from wacko government scientists and a swamp witch, to the dreaded stinky toe and even evil mind-controlling pond scum.

Aired: April 19, 1997 - November 11, 2003

Episodes: 64

Creator: Mitch Schauer

Trivia: Norb and Dag were originally just friends, not brothers.

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CatDog. Nickelodeon

Brothers Cat and Dog couldn’t be more different. Cat is clever and cultured, while Dog is a naive but lovable goofball. But they can't get away from each because they share a body. This crazy set of conjoined twins find themselves in all sorts of silly adventures, but through them all, the two misfits stick together, whether they like it or not. Other characters include the Greaser Dogs, Mr. Sunshine, Rancid Rabbit and Winslow. (In the book , creator Peter Hannan says that when fans ask how Cat and Dog went to the bathroom, he would ask them, "Well, did Mickey Mouse go to the bathroom? I don't think he needed to. I don't really think CatDog needs to, either.")

Aired: October 4, 1998 - June 15, 2004

Episodes: 67

Creator: Peter Hannan

Trivia: CatDog was the first Nickelodeon cartoon to air every weekday.

See also: 10 Reasons I Love Pee-wee's Playhouse

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'Wild Thornberrys'

The Wild Thornberrys
The Wild Thornberrys. Shout! Factory

The Wild Thornberrys is about Eliza, a young girl who can talk to animals. Her family, the Thornberrys, travels the world, exploring deserts, rainforests and jungles. Eliza is joined by Darwin, the chimp; Donnie, the wild boy she befriends; Nigel, her father and the narrator of their documentaries; Marianne, her mother, the filmmaker; and Debbie, her teenage sister. Lots of scientific research is packed into each episode, and the animals are drawn very realistically.

Aired: September 1, 1998 - June 11, 2004

Episodes: 91

Creator: Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo

Trivia: Several times it was suggested that Eliza get her braces off or get contacts, but those ideas were shot down.

See also: 50 Best Cartoon Characters of All Time

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'Rocket Power'

Rocket Power
Rocket Power. Nickelodeon

Rocket Power is about a group of fiercely loyal friends that are thirsty for experience. They participate in a lot of extreme sports, like skateboarding, surfing and mountain biking.They’re wildly uninhibited, and entirely invincible in their own minds. Otto and Reggie, brother and sister, hang out with their friends, Twister and Squid, on the boardwalk. When everyone's hungry, they visit Otto and Reggie's dad, Ray, who owns the Shore Shack, a burger restaurant. Together, the kids learn by taking risks, experiencing failure and through it all stick together to form the kind of friendships that you never forget. 

Aired: August 16, 1999 - July 20, 2004

Episodes: 71

Creator: Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo

Trivia: The creative team did research at the X-Games in Redondo Beach to bring authenticity to the series.

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'SpongeBob SquarePants'

SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants. Nickelodeon

SpongeBob SquarePants is about an optimistic, well-meaning, nerd of a sea sponge. He's known all over the world, along with his friends and neighbors, like Patrick Star, Eugene Krabs, Squidward Tentacles and Sandy Cheeks. Stephen Hillenburg, the creator, was a marine biologist who wanted to make a cartoon for kids. He gave SpongeBob a job as a fry cook because kids would think it was cool to work at a fast-food restaurant. He made SpongeBob rectangular, rather than round like an actual sea sponge, to emphasize the fact that he doesn't really fit in.

Aired: April 1, 1999 - Still going strong

Episodes: Over 300

Creator: Stephen Hillenburg

Trivia: The theme song is inspired by his time working at a marina, where he would dress in a sailor suit for a daily show. He would ask, "Are ye ready kids?" And they would respond, "Aye aye, captain!" Then he would say, "I can't hear you!" to get them to yell louder.

See also: 10 Best Episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants

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Want more?

Aang - Avatar the Last Airbender
Aang - Avatar the Last Airbender. Nickelodeon

Discover more great cartoons at these links.