The 30 Best 90s Shows Ever

90s TV was a magical time for television, with many shows shaping who we grew to be. From TGIF to kids' shows to the resurgence of Sci-Fi, there was something for everyone to enjoy. Let's check out the best and most influential 90s shows.

1. Friends (1994-2004)

Friends 412
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution

IMDb: 8.9

Few shows have the lasting power of Friends. The age bracket was slightly higher than Beverly Hills, 90210, since it featured characters in their 20s and 30s. It was still full of drama and was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1990s.

Comedy Full of Drama

Friends32
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Many ups and downs highlight the friends' lives, from romantic entanglements to careers. The comedy and heart held this show up for so long and make it a fun one to revisit.

2. Seinfeld (1989-1998)

seinfeld-the-hot-tub
Image Credit: NBC/NBC Universal

IMDb: 8.9

Another sitcom that was greatly popular in the 90s was Seinfeld. This show hit again on a bit of an older age bracket and stars Jerry Seinfeld, basically as himself.

Older Age Bracket Sitcom

seinfeld-the-race
Image Credit: Image Credit: NBC Universal.

It follows Jerry as he and his friends get into all sorts of drama. It was one of the most-watched television shows of the decade and offered a true-to-life look at life in New York City.

3. Twin Peaks (1990-1991)

twin-peaks
Image Credit: CBS Television Distribution/Showtime Networks

IMDb: 8.8

Even though Twin Peaks got just two seasons, it opened up a wild and wacky world in the early 90s. It made a lasting impact on pop culture by presenting longer mysteries and character arcs, instead of being more contained. It pushed boundaries that were usually reserved for film and broke ground for many series that came after.

Murder of a Teenager

Twin Peaks
Image Credit: CBS Television Distribution/Showtime Networks

The premise involves the murder of a teenager named Laura Palmer, who lived in Twin Peaks, a seemingly quiet town. Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is brought in to investigate and begins to uncover even more disturbing circumstances.

4. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)

MV5BOTUwNTYyNjU1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDY4MDAwMjE@. V1 scaled
Image Credit © 1987 Paramount Television

IMDb: 8.7

As the live-action follow-up to the original Star Trek series (there was an animated series follow-up in the 70s), Star Trek: The Next Generation gave us new characters to love in Picard (Patrick Stewart), Data (Brent Spiner), La Forge (LeVar Burton), and possibly, Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton). With 18 Emmy wins, the show was among the most successful in the early 90s.

Among the Most Successful Shows in the Early 90s

star-trek-the-next-generation
Image Credit: Paramount Domestic Television

Set approximately 100 years after Captain Kirk's mission, the new generation travels under the command of Captain Picard. They seek out new worlds and new problems in this beloved and fun addition to the Star Trek franchise.

5. The Simpsons (1989-)

best Simpsons eps all timebest Simpsons eps all time slide 43 0 0
Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

IMDb: 8.7

The Simpsons is the most popular cartoon, and it hit its stride in the 90s, even though most 80s/90s kids had parents who did not understand why they wanted to watch it.

Centers Around Family's Misadventures

best Simpsons eps all timebest Simpsons eps all time slide 50 0
Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

With so much history, it is hard to distill all of it down. It centers around the Simpson family and their misadventures. Some of the highlights include the annual ‘Treehouse of Terror' Halloween episodes.

6. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-1999)

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Best Brains
Image Credit: Best Brains

IMDb: 8.7

While Mystery Science Theater 3000 isn't for everyone, it hit its stride in the 90s. Fans of the show love it, and it is definitely a cult show.

A Cult Show

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Best Brains 2
Image Credit: Best Brains

The premise involves a man who was kidnapped and is forced to watch B-movies, along with the two robots he built. The quips about the films make this fun to watch.

7. The X-Files (1993-2018)

The X Files Ten Thirteen Productions
Image Credit: Ten Thirteen Productions

IMDb: 8.6

In another fun and weird show from the 90s, we have The X-Files. This mysterious show with some aliens thrown in was compelling to watch. The relationship between Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) made for an intriguing show.

A Fun and Weird Show

The X Files Ten Thirteen Productions 2
Image Credit: Ten Thirteen Productions

The two FBI agents work to uncover the truth behind strange and unexplained events. While Scully is the voice of reason, Mulder is the believer, always trying to convince her.

8. Whose Line Is It Anyway? (1998-2007)

Whose Line is it Anyway Hat Trick Productions
Image Credit: Hat Trick Productions

IMDb: 8.5

Inspired by the earlier British show of the same name, Whose Line is it Anyway? was a welcome addition to the 90s whenever you needed a laugh. Hosted by Drew Carey, the show featured talented comedians who were great at improv.

Great at Improv

Whose Line is it Anyway Hat Trick Productions 2
Image Credit: Hat Trick Productions

Carey would take suggestions from the audience and assign scenarios on the spot to see what the performers could come up with.

9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 20th Century
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

IMDb: 8.3

This show was much more successful than the 1992 film of the same name, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sarah Michelle Gellar gave a depth to Buffy during the series that is severely lacking in the original movie. While the film is campier, it is also less successful, and Buffy is a bit too ditzy.

A Girl Destined To Slay Vampires

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 20th Century Fox 2
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

The series gives us a complete story about the girl destined to slay vampires. The cast works well together, and the storyline provides us better fights and love interests.

10. Bill Nye The Science Guy (1993-1998)

Bill Nye the Science Guy Structure Films
Image Credit: Structure Films

IMDb: 8.2

Bill Nye the Science Guy was a stellar kids' science show from the 90s. This one made learning about science fun. The show was funny, and many 80s/90s kids will remember it with nostalgia.

Made Learning and Science Fun

Bill Nye the Science Guy Structure Films 2
Image Credit: Structure Films

The show featured scientist and comedian Bill Nye as he showed you experiments and taught you about different things in each episode. Whether learning about germs or volcanos, he always made everything sound exciting.

11. Quantum Leap (1989-1993)

 

Image Credit: Universal Television

IMDb: 8.2

One of the coolest Sci-Fi shows to come out of the late 80s/early 90s was Quantum Leap starring Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell. As a different approach to time travel, Sam (Bakula) leaps into the bodies of people in the past.

One of The Coolest Sci-Fi Shows

Image Credit: Universal Television

The issue comes in when Sam doesn't know how to return home, instead leaping into other people's bodies, solving their problems, and trying to get back to his own time.

12. Wishbone (1995-1998)

Wishbone 1995 1998 Big Feats Entertainment
Image Credit: Big Feats! Entertainment

IMDb: 8.2

In another effort to get kids into reading, Wishbone gave us a literature-loving canine. The show is a fun combination of comedy, adventure, and classic literature.

Fun Combination of Comedy, Adventure, and Literature

Wishbone 1995 1998 Big Feats Entertainment 2
Image Credit: Big Feats! Entertainment

Wishbone is an adorable dog who introduces us to the classics such as The Three Musketeers, Tom Sawyer, and The Odyssey. He brings them to life through costumes, narration, and kid-friendly jokes.

13. Boy Meets World (1993-2000)

Boy Meets World American Broadcasting Company
Image Credit: American Broadcasting Company

IMDb: 8.1

As one of the staples of the TGIF lineup in the 90s, Boy Meets World was one of the best and longest-running shows of that block. Growing up with Cory, Topanga, and Shawn was something that many 80s/90s kids will relate to, as it showed them in middle school, high school, and college.

A Staple of TGIF

Boy Meets World American Broadcasting Company 2
Image Credit: American Broadcasting Company

It centered around Cory (Ben Savage) as he learns important lessons about growing up. The relationship dynamics shift as Cory and Topanga (Danielle Fishel) fall in love, and Shawn (Rider Strong)'s life gets turned upside down. This one was highly relatable, funny, and enjoyable to watch.

14. Ghostwriter (1992-1995)

Ghostwriter Childrens Television Workshop
Image Credit: Children's Television Workshop

IMDb: 7.9

For those who loved to read, the often forgotten Ghostwriter was a Sunday afternoon treat from 1992-1995 on PBS. It had everything—action, mysteries, and a ghost.

Ghosts, Action, and Mysteries

Ghostwriter Childrens Television Workshop 2
Image Credit: Children's Television Workshop

The kids' show features the main character of a ghost, which consisted of a flying ball of light who could only read and write but not see. He makes friends with the kids in the neighborhood and helps them solve mysteries through these same skills.

15. Magic School Bus (1994-1997)

Magic School Bus South Carolina ETV
Image Credit: South Carolina ETV

IMDb: 7.8

One of the best educational shows of the 90s came in the form of Ms. Frizzle and The Magic School Bus. While many times wacky, the show taught many cool science facts to the kids of the 90s.

Wacky, Cool Science Facts

Magic School Bus South Carolina ETV 2
Image Credit: South Carolina ETV

The show follows Ms. Frizzle as she takes her students on crazy (and dangerous) adventures. From learning about germs to the digestive system to outer space, you always came away from it with new knowledge.

16. Law & Order (1990-)

law order
Image Credit: Universal Television

IMDb: 7.8

One of the longest-running crime shows, which also spawned spinoffs, Law & Order, began at the beginning of the 90s and was recently revived after originally ending in 2010.

Inspired by Real-life Crimes

Law Order Trial by Jury 2 NBC MSN
Image Credit: NBC.

The drama/crime show set in New York City follows a two-part format. The first part of the show is the investigation of a crime, and the second half is the defendant's prosecution. The plots are inspired by real-life events with some specifics changed.

17. ER (1994-2009)

ER Warner Bros
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

IMDb: 7.8

As one of the longest-running primetime medical dramas (second only to Grey's Anatomy), ER dominated in the 90s and made a giant leap forward for George Clooney's career. Micheal Crichton created it to tell the tales of a Chicago hospital emergency room.

Tales of a Chicago Hospital Emergency Room

ER Warner Bros 2
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The TV medical drama follows the lives and work of ER doctors, nurses, and patients. As they navigate this unpredictable world, there is a ton of drama, heartbreak, loss, and triumphs.

18. Sailor Moon (1992-1997 and 1995-2000)

Sailor Moon Toei Animation
Image Credit: Toei Animation

IMDb: 7.7

Another fun superhero cartoon, Sailor Moon, was a fun show that marked the 90s. Though it started in Japan in 1992, it marks one of the most influential anime series. It came to America in 1995 and helped introduce the art form in the country.

A Fun Superhero Cartoon

Sailor Moon Toei Animation 2
Image Credit: Toei Animation

The premise revolves around a group of girls who find out they are incarnations of alien princesses. They use their superpowers to defend the Earth.

19. WWE Raw (1993-Present)

cmpunk
Image Credit: WWE Raw.

IMDb: 7.6

The sheer lasting power of WWE Raw, and the wrestling stars who came out of it, show what a powerhouse it was when it began in the 90s. It was one of the most popular sports and entertainment shows ever.

One of The Most Popular Sports and Entertainment Shows Ever

Image Credit: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)

The wrestling stars would compete, but there was also a complete backstory to amp up the drama. An exciting mix of fighting and spectacle, WWE Raw featured legends such as The Rock, John Cena, Steve Austin, and Triple H.

20. Sex and The City (1998-2004)

sex and the city scaled
Courtesy of HBO

IMDb: 7.2

Although this one came in the late 90s, it was a pioneer of its time as it focused on sex more than other shows had dared. It was groundbreaking in tackling subjects that were considered taboo and bringing them into everyday conversations.

A Pioneer of Its Time

sarah jessica parker ss msn 6
Image Credit: Home Box Office

The premise follows four single female New Yorkers as they navigate through sex and love and how to deal with the situations in their lives. With lots of graphic topics and descriptions, it holds a strange fascination.

21. Charmed (1998-2006)

Charmed Spelling Television
Image Credit: Spelling Television

IMDb: 7.1

Coming in toward the end of the decade, we have Charmed. This witch-focused show was a hit in the 90s, although it did spark some drama off-camera between Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty, who didn't get along.

A Witch Focused Show

Charmed Spelling Television 2
Image Credit: Spelling Television

The show follows three sisters who use their powerful combination to fight evil. They each have different powers, but are most effective together.

22. Ally McBeal (1997-2002)

Robert Downey Jr. Performances Ally McBeal David E. Kelley Productions 2
Image Credit: David E. Kelley Productions

IMDb: 6.9

As a bit of a precursor to Sex and the City, Ally McBeal has a similar topic as it focuses on relationships and sex. But here, we are against the backdrop of a law firm, which makes for an interesting addition. The fourth season is especially enjoyable with the addition of Robert Downey Jr.

Focuses on Relationships and Sex

ally mcbeal main cast
Image Source: 20th Century Fox Television.

The show follows lawyer Ally (Calista Flockhart) as she works with bizarre clients while trying to find love. She has a bit of an overactive imagination, often hallucinating dancing babies. Many of the cast also sang multiple times during the show because the group would hang out at a karaoke bar after work.

23. Full House (1987-1995)

full house jodie sweetin bob saget candace cameron
Courtesy of ABC.

IMDb: 6.7

One of the kings of TGIF was Full House. Although the show began in 1987, it ran through the 1995 season, showing its lasting power. The charming sitcom that introduced us to Bob Saget, the Olsen twins, and others was a staple in many homes during the 90s.

A Widower Father Raising Three Girls

Joey Jesse Danny Full House
Courtesy of ABC.

It centered around a widower father of three girls, who moves in his brother-in-law and best friend to help him raise them. Full of hokum and family hugs, watching this one is like being wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket.

24. Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001)

Xena

IMDb: 6.7

Saturday evenings in the 90s weren't complete without Red Baron pizza and the Warrior Princess. Xena was the strong female character that we didn't know we needed. Lucy Lawless brought her to life. Along with her war cry, chakram, and best friend Gabrielle (Renée O'Connor), Xena fought against evil in all forms, whether corrupt royalty or the gods.

A Strong Female Character Fighting Evil

Xena Warrior Princess Renaissance Pictures
Image Credit: Renaissance Pictures

Before directing the Spider-Man films with Tobey Maguire, Sam Raimi came up with the characters for Xena and Army of Darkness.

25. Lois and Clark (1993-1997)

lois and clark
Courtesy of ABC

IMDb: 6.7

With an emphasis on the romance between Lois and Clark, there was a bit less action than we were used to seeing from Superman. The thing about this show was that it didn't just feed into the romantic tropes, but made them better. Clark is more than just Superman, and Lois has more character development than in the past.

Follows The Romance Between Lois and Clark

Lois and Clark December 3rd Productions
Image Credit: December 3rd Productions

This show follows the couple as they try to build their romance. Superman still fights the bad guys, but it is more complex than a one-note superhero show.

26. Family Matters

Family Matters Warner Bros
Image Credit: Warner Bros

IMDb: 6.6

With nine years on air, Family Matters was another one of the longest-running shows in the successful TGIF lineup. It gave us some cringe-worthy catchphrases, such as Urkel's “Did I do that?”, but it also showed a show that could tackle real issues.

Did I Do That?

Family Matters Warner Bros 2
Image Credit: Warner Bros

It is about the Winslow family and the annoyances caused by their neighbor, super nerd Steve Urkel. His inventions tend to drive them up the wall, but he has a good heart in the end.

27. Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (1993-1996)

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers MMPR Productions
Image Credit: MMPR Productions

IMDb: 6.5

Sort of a 90s version of Transformers, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was a cool crime-fighting teenager show in the 90s. The action was on-point, and this was a fun show to watch after school.

A Cool Crime-Fighting Teen Show

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers MMPR Productions 2
Image Credit: MMPR Productions

The plot revolves around a team of teenage crime fighters who work against the evil Rita Repulsa and her monsters. These monsters escaped their imprisonment on the moon to wreak havoc on Earth.

28. Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-2000)

Beverly Hills 90210 CBS Television Studios
Image Credit: CBS Television Studios

IMDb: 6.4

As a primetime soap opera geared toward the drama of teenagers, Beverly Hills, 90210 was unique at the time. Its popularity was well-reflected, and many stars would have successful careers.

A Soap Opera Geared Toward Teenagers

Beverly Hills 90210 CBS Television Studios 2
Image Credit: CBS Television Studios

The premise centers around a group of high school friends as they deal with love and crises. Since the show lasted so long, they also went to college and found more drama. There was also some drama outside of the show, such as Shannen Doherty fighting with the cast and being fired after the fourth season.

29. America's Funniest Home Videos (1989-)

Americas Funniest Home Videos ABC Productions
Image Credit: ABC Productions

IMDb: 6.1

While working on Full House as super dad Danny Tanner, Bob Saget also hosted America's Funniest Home Videos. A silly but enjoyable show, AFV gave people the chance to earn big money by catching silly moments on tape.

Silly Moments Caught on Tape

Americas Funniest Home Videos ABC Productions 2
Image Credit: ABC Productions

The game show had an open call for people to send in their funniest home videos to compete for the chance to win money. As a family show, comedy, and reality show, this was a fun escape.

30. The Real World (1992-)

The Real World MTV
Image Credit: MTV

IMDb: 5.0

When The Real World began, it sparked a resurgence in reality television. While there had been reality TV in the past, such as An American Family from 1973, which was the inspiration, The Real World brought back the drama in a big way in the 90s.

Sparked a Resurgence in Reality TV

The Real World MTV 2
Image Credit: MTV

MTV's original reality series featured a group of young adults who were initially strangers. It brought them together in one house and filmed their interactions and drama

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


Kristen Winiarski has worked as a professional writer for 15 years, studying classic TV shows and films to further her expertise and understanding about how they have evolved. This passion led her to start her own classic movie blog before branching out into the professional entertainment writing world.