There was a time, long before the pressures of adulthood and long before "tweens" were a thing, when you could just spend a luxurious Saturday watching cartoons. In the '90s, particularly, most children would turn to Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon for a slew of animated adventures. Either had a lot to offer, but, at the end of the day, you always picked a side. And for me, that side was always Nickelodeon and their consistently quality original series. In fact, the Nickelodeon cartoons you enjoyed as a child are still just as enjoyable today.
Not that there aren't great cartoons everywhere, but, from 1991 until about 2005, Nick was churning out shows that had legitimate quality outside of being simple a children's program. If we're being honest, some of my favorite current memories involve me watching episodes of Hey Arnold on my friend's laptop, so that quality really transcends into your 20s. And said quality always topped other competing cartoons of it's time. I mean, why else would Rugrats win the Kids Choice Awards every year (which, um, incidentally was always broadcast on Nickelodeon)?
So, let's rewind and take a look back of some of our favorite Nickelodeon cartoons from our childhood, before it all fell horribly apart. Um, in quasi-chronological order, for the sake of my sanity.
While Doug himself was kind of lame (what 11-year-old wears a sweater vest?), he was constantly surrounded by a colorful (literally) set of characters that you had to love. From beatnik Judy to bully Roger Klotz, Bluffington was a town built on eccentricities, and that's why any kid would constantly tune in to this classic cartoon. Never understood everyone's love of beets, though...
Rugrats was such a powerhouse in the '90s. Though its humor could be attributed to seeing the world through a child's eyes, it elicited lulz from people of all ages. My mom's favorite was Chuckie, but Angelica was my girl.
3. The Ren & Stimpy Show
It's still hard to believe this was a children show, but there's a reason it remains a treasure of '90s history: "Happy Happy, Joy Joy." Also Cher Horowitz thinks they're "way existential."
4. Rocko's Modern Life
What even was Rocko? A wallaby? Good for him.
5. Aaah!!! Real Monsters
I was really partial to the Gromble and the way he had his four feet in stilettos. It was very Dr. Frank N Furter of him. Ironically, Tim Curry actually voiced Zimbo.
Essentially an animated variety show, and SO good. "Prometheus and Bob" freaked me out way too much, but "Action League Now!" was consistently hilarious.
7. Hey Arnold!
It's hard for me to expunge how wonderful Hey Arnold! is, because it's a cartoon that would be top tier for me to this day. In short, though, I loved it even more because Helga Pataki is me.
8. The Angry Beavers
I've watched the one where Norbert and Daggett stay up all night a thousand times, and it never gets old.
Totally loved watching the adventures of that horrible mutated creation!
10. The Wild Thornberrys
... NO, I was all about Debbie's Gen X apathy, and, of course, Nigel has come into his own as a meme. But I did not care for Eliza. And I stick by that.
11. Rocket Power
I feel like I wasn't super sold on this at the time (I'll take Hey Arnold's version of sort-of Brooklyn versus Rocket Power's faux Venice Beach any day), but, in retrospect, there was a lot to love about the show. And, hey, Reggie Rocket was the one to introduce me to 'zines!
12. As Told By Ginger
This one capitalized on the terrible awkwardness of being a girl in junior high, and nothing spoke louder to that than the episode where the girl's wear "fake up" for picture day.
13. The Fairly Oddparents
If you're curious, The Fairly Oddparents is still on today, but it peeked hard in the very early 2000s. I'm not saying that I had 11 Fairly Odd Parents fanfics, but... I had 11 Fairly Odd Parents fanfics.
14. Invader Zim
Dark, visually stunning, and a cult classic beloved by 12-year-old mall goths and mall goths masquerading as 24-year-old women (me) alike. Sadly went the way of Ren & Stimpy, but it remains a perennial favorite of mine.
BONUS: SpongeBob Squarepants
Yeah, I watched it as a child, but my brother and I were also the only non-parent adults at the theater for Sponge Out of Water. So.