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Top Ten 90s cartoons on television

Just like our popular post about the best television shows from the 1990s as well as our nostalgic look at 80s cartoons and nickelodeon characters, plus our even more popular follow-up that features an extra dose of cartoon personalities from the 90s, we come to you with yet another post featuring the lovable characters from the one of the best decades in tv entertainment.

This time we will reminisce about the 90s as we list our top ten choices for the best 90s cartoons, the majority of which are from Nickelodeon.

Before we start, some honorable mentions:

  • Hey Arnold!
  • Johhny Bravo
  • CatDog
  • Mega Man
  • X-Men
  • The Tick
  • Spiderman
  • Batman Beyond/Batman of the Future
  • TaleSpin
  • Batman: The Animated Series
  • Animaniacs
  • Duckman
  • Futurama (it premiered in the 90s — 1999)

Also, for you post-90s cartoons fans (like Invader Zim, which was first broadcast in 2001), we will have another feature article for shows from 00-2010!

10. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

aaahh real monsters nick

From left to right: Oblina, Ickis, and Krumm

One of Nickelodeon’s more unique offerings, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was a strange show centered around teenage monsters in school, training and honing their skills under a disgusting city dump in an effort to be able to properly frighten humans (very similar in many ways to Monsters, Inc.).

The main characters, three adolescents called Ickis, Oblina and Krumm, were often tasked with assignments to scare the pants off of some poor unsuspecting human nearby. And of course, usually these projects end up being more difficult than they sound.

More often than not, the trio ended up in a sticky situation that usually resulted in them being chastised and punished by the schoolmaster The Gromble (whom some call just Gromble).

The show also featured a great art style, which can be seen here in this video of the opening credits:

9. Darkwing Duck

darkwing duck lets get dangerous

Let’s get dangerous!

Darkwing Duck is the action-packed cartoon starring single parent and duck Drake Mallard, whose alter ego was the big headed and fame obsessed titular character. Create by The Walt Disney Company and most memorably played Saturday mornings on ABC, it was a staple of early 90s kids cartoons.

The character and show had help from its roots as well: It was a spin-off of DuckTales, the super popular show from the late 80s featuring all manner of Disney duckage. Every episode had a handful of inside jokes, superhero references, and plenty of action sequences (which was much different than the typical DuckTales fare that focused more on adventure).

And how could you forget his trademark battle cry:

  • I am the terror that flaps in the night. I am Darkwing Duck
  • I am the terror that flaps in the night. I am the surprise in your cereal box…
  • I am the terror that flaps in the night, I am the batteries that are not included.
  • I am the terror that flaps in the night, I am the termite that devours your floorboards.
  • I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the wrong number that wakes you at 3am…

And the theme song:

8. The Ren and Stimpy Show

ren and stimpy happy happy joy joy

So silly

During the 90s there seemed to be a trend occurring: Nickelodeon was convinced that they could push the envelope when it came to children’s cartoon entertainment and did so by hosting a large amount of “not so great for kids” type shows. Ren and Stimpy was one of the best.

When most kids shows had adult jokes and humor that went over a kid’s head, Ren and Stimpy had the type of scenes that would just barely slap a child in the face before going over.

Featuring jokes that would make your own mother blush, and utilizing a style that looked magically beautiful from a distance and then zoomed in to show you the true gritty reality, R&S was a terribly vulgar and unsettling show to watch.

It was also quite a hilarious show with so much unique humor that it earned a spot in most 90s lovers’ hearts. WTF Nickelodeon?

I bet the opening credits will spark some nostalgia. And if that doesn’t do the trick, then wait till you hear this!

It’s called Happy Happy, Joy Joy:

7. Rocko’s Modern Life

rockos modern life hotline

Be hot and naughty huh?

Rocko’s Modern Life was a bizarre and delightful show that somehow got around censors and parents alike. Featuring Rocko as the immigrant wallaby, his stupid-cute dog Spunky, Heffer as the steer raised by wolves, the always nervous turtle Filburt, the angry toad neighbors called the Bigheads, and plenty of other odd characters to round out the group, there were plenty of dirty jokes to be made.

With episode names like “Schnit-Heads” and a restaurant called the Chokey Chicken, it’s not very clear whether this show was designed with children in mind (most of the humor went over their head anyways).

Pushing the limit when it came to dirty jokes, Rocko’s Modern Life was cancelled, probably mainly in part to how many people it made uncomfortable.

Take a look at this episode with Rocko, Heffer, and the Bigheads all sharing a cabin together:

6. Angry Beavers

angry beavers nick

Angry Beavers is certainly one of the best and most original cartoons that has ever aired on Nickelodeon, and how could it not be?

It features beaver brothers Dagget and Norbert, who are kicked out of their parents’ home when a new generation of beaver kids are born. It features memorable characters like Barry the Bear, Big Rabbit, Stump, and Treeflower, and weird episode concepts like one where the two brothers compete to put their “mating stench” on different things around the forest.

The concept of the characters and setting are so fresh that it makes Angry Beavers a one-of-a-kind show, and one of the most beloved shows on Nickelodeon.

5. Pinky and the Brain

pinky and the brain

pinky and the brain

Pinky and the Brain is a wonderful concept that started in 1993 as a recurring segment on the show Animaniacs (much like the cartoon in the number one slot). It grew a separate following from the rest of the sketches and eventually got picked up as a standalone show in 1995.

The number one way to identify someone who knows about these two little lab rats is simple – just say:

“Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?”

And expect a response along the lines of:

“The same thing we do every night, Pinky — try to take over the world!”

They even had a catchy theme song:

here are the lyrics if you want to sing along!:

They’re Pinky and The Brain
Yes, Pinky and The Brain
One is a genius
The other’s insane.
They’re laboratory mice
Their genes have been spliced
They’re dinky
They’re Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain

Before each night is done
Their plan will be unfurled
By the dawning of the sun
They’ll take over the world.

They’re Pinky and The Brain
Yes, Pinky and The Brain
Their twilight campaign
Is easy to explain.
To prove their mousey worth

They’ll overthrow the Earth
They’re dinky
They’re Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain


4. Rugrats


You may remember this show as “the one about babies”, but it is so much more than that. With lively characters, intriguing plots, and clever lines of dialogue, Rugrats touches on all the main aspects that make a good cartoon.

It had subtle plot points that made you laugh, it had point-of-view scenes which were very unique for its time, and it had an excellent musical score by Mark Mothersbaugh, who went on to produce wonderful driving sounds in movies like..

  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
  • 21 Jump Street (2012)
  • The Royal Tenenbaums
  • Lords of Dogtown
  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  • Rushmore

3. Doug

doug funny nick

Doug was a series that centered on the imagination and daydreams of the main character Doug Funnie.

Focused on the common issues that most kids faced growing up (especially when they move to a new city), Doug took place in the town of Bluffington, Virginia and revolved around story plots rife with bullies, crushes, puppy love, embarrassment, and worries.

When Doug wasn’t hanging around with his buddy Skeeter, getting terrorized by Roger Klotz, rubbing the belly of his loyal dog Porkchop, or receiving advice from one of his oddball family members, Doug spent his time and effort trying to win the heart of his classmate Patti Mayonnaise.

With a long run on Nickelodeon and an extension onto ABC after Disney purchased the company owning the rights to the show, Doug has a healthy backlog of great episodes (go watch it!).

Also, remember the opening credits them song (do do dooo do do do)? Listen:

2. South Park

south park boys

Cartman, Stan, Kenny, and Kyle

Take Stan Marsh, Eric Cartman, Kyle Broflowfski, Kenny McCormick and enough side-characters to rival the Simpsons, and throw them into the boring-yet-strangely-lively town of South Park, Colorado.

Now add in some dark humor, sarcasm, and plenty of jokes that you shouldn’t really laugh at yet somehow have to love, and you get South Park.

It’s actually kind of surprising in a way, as South Park started off as a “controversy whore” kind of show, going for the FCC complaints over story and humor, but slowly evolved to the point where it became smart humor that was pithy and clever while still being cringe-worthy.

Who could forget watching some South Park episodes with their parents, their friends, or their significant other and trying not to laugh at the awkward jokes presented every Wednesday.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone go balls-to-the-wall every week with a team of writers and animators to produce up-to-date comedy for people to enjoy as a guilty pleasure, and it pays off heavily, as South Park has become a much-loved (and often loathed) symbol of American pop-culture.

1. The Simpsons


Many of you will moan and guffah (yes that’s right – guffah!), but there can really only be one clear winner for the best 90s cartoon – the Simpsons.

With lovable Homer, mischievous Bart, patient Marge, brainy Lisa, silent Maggie, burpy Barney, Glovin-ey Professor Frink:

It’s very clear that many of us have favorite Simpsons characters, and that there are plenty to go around. Enough in fact to allow near-endless quoting with other fanatics .. enough in fact to encourage massive art with all the characters:

simpsons tons of characters

Can you name them all?

But aside from that, Simpsons is still running strong, with pop-culture jokes, observational humor, and family cynicism. It’s quite a fun show to enjoy and whenever a classic episode comes on the air you know it’s something you gotta watch.

Did we miss one of your favorite shows? Sound off below!