The 90s were what some people call the last great decade. Peace and prosperity reigned. Our beloved 90s cartoons on Saturday mornings were always a highlight of our week.
It was the start of the internet (remember those dial-up, fax machine-sounding connection days?) and the Google search engine. Two things the world’s population has come to rely on heavily.
We started building bigger homes, driving more prominent cars, and working longer hours.
No one worried about climate change.
We were more concerned with remembering to feed our Tamagotchi and did we have the latest hot Beanie Baby?
Fashion was all about the fashion brand Fubu. Nylon bike shorts paired with oversized jackets or sweatshirts and overalls were all the rage. Our Steve Madden platform slides took us everywhere, and Doc Martens gave us street cred.
We lived for TV.
This was the decade of Seinfeld and Friends.
Family shows like Family Matters, Growing Pains, and Full House had us fall in love with unique and quirky characters.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air made us wish our parents would say, “you’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air.”
The Sopranos gave us an inside look into the life of the tough and tortured mobster Tony Soprano. And it was the beginning of an epic series that made Manolo Blahnik’s mainstream, Sex and The City.
The Cartoons of the ’90s were colorful and silly. This decade paved the way for adult comedy cartoons, with The Simpsons leading the way.
90’s cartoons started phrase, clothing, and costume trends beyond what we had ever seen before.
Some of the Best 90s Cartoons
The nostalgia of '90s cartoons is still going strong today. So let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at 15 of the most popular cartoons of the ’90s.
1. The Simpsons
The original episode aired in December of 1989 and gained an unprecedented following through the ’90s, and it’s still going strong. It has been renewed for its 34th season and will air until at least 2023. The longest-running animated cartoon is responsible for memorable characters like Bart and Homer. The Simpsons were responsible for phrases such as “D’oh!” “Ay, Carumba!” “Eat my shorts!” and “Don’t have a cow, man!”
2. Ren and Stimpy
Ren and Stimpy Generated much controversy because of its dark humor, sexual innuendos, and raunchiness. It was canceled in 1995 but was slated for a reboot in 2021. Unfortunately, Comedy Central canned the reboot in September of 2021; however, you can still watch episodes on Nick+ via their Amazon Prime Video channel.
3. South Park
South Park premiered in August of 1997 and was not meant for kids, even though if you were a kid in the ’90s, you watched this secretly behind your parents’ backs! This show was about offending as many people as possible while making you laugh hysterically at its audacity. Season 25 can be streamed on HBO Max and CTV.ca. You can also catch episodes on YouTube.
4. Beavis and Butthead
From 1993-2011, two very immature boys who were crude, snarky, thoughtless, and bored became a phenomenon in the ’90s. With their signature laughs, weird hair, and love of heavy metal, Beavis and Butthead were among the most memorable duos in the ’90s. Prime Video, Apple TV, YouTube, and MTV are where you can find episodes of this iconic show.
A Beavis and Butthead spin-off, Daria is a bright, sarcastic teen with low self-esteem that has zero patience for her “In crowd” classmates and the adults in her life. She is happy to live under the radar and be considered an outsider. This show resonated with many young adults and even their parents, as many could relate to Daria.
You can watch episodes of Daria on MTV.com, Crave.com, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube.
6. King of the Hill
From the creators of Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill was their complete opposite. It centered on Hank Hill, a run-of-the-mill family man, and found humor in everyday life’s tedious and straightforward aspects. Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube TV all carry episodes.
7. Family Guy
Rounding out the ’90s but with the same premise of shocking and offending audiences, Family Guy didn't focus on any ordinary character. Oh no, no, no! We were mesmerized by the antics of one football-shaped-headed baby named Stewie, hell-bent on wanting to destroy the world and his sidekick, the martini-sipping family dog Brian, who (mostly) kept Stewie in check. You can watch episodes on Disney+ and Hulu.
8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The show aired from 1987 to 1996 and was about four, you guessed it, teenage mutant heroes protecting the city of New York from crime. They were all named after famous artists: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael. The show spawned six very successful movies and many a crime-fighting turtle fan! You can watch the movies and episodes on Netflix, Hulu, and Paramount+'s Nickelodeon portal.
9. Powerpuff Girls
This show aired from 1998 to 2005 and promoted female empowerment and strength. Three superhero kindergartners help save fictional Townsville from evil. Created in the genre of Anime, Powerpuff Girls were trendy amongst young children, especially girls. Many little girls wanted a Powerpuff Girl toy figure or plushy back in the day! Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Cartoon Network online all offer episodes of the Powerpuff Girls.
The Rugrats aired from 1991 to 2006. Referred to as the “misadventures of 4 babies,” Rugrats was a hilarious cartoon. The babies could understand each other’s “baby speak,” which was then translated for the audience to understand. The show contained a good amount of humor that would have gone over most children’s heads, which is why it appealed to adults. A lot of the humor referenced experiences as an adult and a parent. The show also referenced pop culture by using lines from movies and tv shows amid a joke. Hulu, Nick+, and Prime Video carry episodes of the Rugrats, or you can buy it as a download on Apple TV.
Animaniacs blended music, wit, pop culture, and slapstick comedy to create hilariously funny episodes about three inseparable siblings who created havoc wherever they went. The theme song was catchy and energetic and brought back fun memories. Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play all carry episodes of the Animaniacs that you can buy or rent. And you can check out newer episodes on their relaunched HULU show.
Pokemon first aired in Japan in 1997 and in the U.S in 1998. An anime series based on a Game Boy game had children raising a pocket monster and training it to fight other monsters. We followed the main character Ash’s adventures in working his way through Pokemon Leagues with the ultimate goal of becoming a Pokemon master. Pokemon was credited with making Anime and the Anime culture very popular in North America. Pokemon has become a massive brand with movies, toys, video games, and Pokemon Go still in high demand after so many years. You can view Pokemon episodes on the official Pokemon website (www.pokemon.com) or Netflix, which has carried Pokemon since 2014.
13. Sponge Bob SquarePants
The show first aired in 1999; however, its popularity has not waned. A fun and silly cartoon about a talking sea sponge who lives in an underwater pineapple and works at a fast-food restaurant. His life’s dream is to get his boating license. But unfortunately, he and his best friend, Patrick, a starfish, attract trouble wherever they go. You can watch SpongeBob SquarePants on Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, and Nick.com.
14. Pinky and the Brain
Pinky and the Brain premiered in September 1995. The characters were first introduced in a reoccurring skit on the Animaniacs. This cartoon is about a genetically altered, crazy intelligent lab mouse and his simpleminded roommate, whom he enlists in his quest to take over the world. Very rarely are they successful? Episodes can be streamed on Hulu.com.
15. Dextor’s Laboratory
A child genius creates inventions to save the world in his secret laboratory. We see him take on his sister, who keeps trying to destroy his inventions, and his school nemesis, Mandark, a fellow genius. Dexter speaks in a Russian accent influenced by the creator’s college roommate, who left messages in a funny accent. It was the first cartoon to be aired on the Cartoon Network.
You can watch Dexter’s Laboratory on HBO Max. It is also available to buy/rent on Google Play and iTunes.
This list could go on and on. There were so many great cartoons in the ’90s that it’s tough to say which ones were the best because they were all so different.
They pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable and what wasn't; they created theme songs that you could not get out of your head and iconic characters that are still icons to this day.
The cartoons of the ’90s also gave you Characters that you could relate to and characters that reminded you of your friends and family members.
A decade filled with invention and new ideas, the 90s were a time of growth, unification, and a decade that reveled in laughter.
They all bring back unforgettable memories from Looney Tunes, Popeye, Bugs Bunny, Futurama, Garfield and Friends, Flintstones and Hey Arnold. It’s no wonder 90’s cartoons were so famous! So tell me, which shows were your favorites?
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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay.
Victoria Cornell is the founder of Motherhood Life Balance. She helps busy moms find peace in the midst of the chaos, transform their mindset, get organized, and find the fuel to live their best life. You can find her at https://motherhoodlifebalance.com/