16 TV Characters Every '90s Kid Had A Major Crush On Growing Up, From Jesse To Topanga
My first crush was A.C. Slater. I was five and he had dimples and the good sense to like Jessie Spano. Thus began a never-ending stream of unrequited crushes on TV characters. Not the actors mind you; who knew what they got up to in their spare time? I was all about the fictional boys then — and OK, now, too (Sam Winchester, call me). Happily, I was not alone. Every '90s kid had at least one TV crush growing up, and it is only natural that some names pop up more than others. There were certain TV characters who were just so crushworthy they made '90s kids everywhere swoon.
From the suave Shawn Hunter to the oh so cool Clarissa Darling, the characters on this list were responsible for a whole lot of first loves. They were one-sided, for sure, but that didn't make these crushes any less intense. Between scribbling their names across every inch of your textbooks and daydreaming about your chaste first kiss, these TV characters gave '90s kids their first taste of love — and you know what they say about first loves. While Slater is so not my type today, I still remember how my heart used to flutter when he strolled the halls of Bayside High, and I bet you still feel the same way about your '90s TV crush too.
1. Randy Taylor, Home Improvement
The wise-cracking middle child, Randy, on the wildly popular Home Improvement set pre-teen hearts everywhere aflutter. Was it his sarcasm or gorgeous, floppy hair that turned Randy into a one-man version of The Beatles? I'm going with both.
2. Topanga Lawrence, Boy Meets World
Topanga is one of the most self-assured TV characters of all-time. Either you wanted to be her or you were in love with her (or both). She was so perfectly unique and kind that not crushing on Topanga really wasn't an option.
3. Will Smith, Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air
Will was basically the perfect guy. He could make you laugh, he was cute, and he loved his family. I think it was his general positivity and playfulness that sold me on his character, though. Hanging out with Will was a major life goal for a lot of '90s kids because he made it all look so fun.
4. Kelly Kapowski, Saved By The Bell
The most popular girl at Bayside didn't just capture Zack's heart. The sweet, beautiful, and enthusiastic Kelly was the ultimate girl next door. All she had to do was appear onscreen to steal prepubescent hearts everywhere.
5. Shawn Hunter, Boy Meets World
The gorgeous, adorable, and slightly damaged not-so-bad boy Shawn was a certified '90s heartthrob. Thanks to Girl Meets World, the world now knows Shawn is even more attractive as an adult thanks to his continued loyalty to his friends and career as a travel writer. Commence drooling now.
6. Jesse Katsopolis, Full House
Have mercy, Uncle Jesse was hot. Like all '90s crushes, his defining feature was his hair, but Jesse was the whole package. He was snarky, a bad boy who was actually a total softie, and he was super committed to his family. Then there was the singing. Who can resist a guy who sings?
7. Lisa Turtle, Saved By The Bell
OK, so you probably weren't down with her spoiled act, but you definitely fell head over heels for her style, because dang that girl could rock a scrunchie and culottes.
8. Clarissa Darling, Clarissa Explains It All
Clarissa was a technology savvy trendsetter who gave flawless advice and rejected basically all of the social middle/high school norms. She was a rebel with a cause, and had a love for video games — of course everyone wanted to go bowling with her and maybe hold her hand.
9. Big Pete, Pete & Pete
Big Pete could get it. Sure, bad boys were big in the '90s, but the stable sweetness and adventurous spirit of Big Pete made him the star of a whole lot of daydreams.
10. Joey Potter, Dawson's Creek
Making Joey smile was surely on a whole lot of '90s kids bucket lists. Crushing on Joey was a rite of passage in many ways. On the outside she was wholesome and all-American, but there was so much more going on under the surface. Joey was a lot of kids' first "mature" fictional crush.
11. Jordan Catalano, My So-Called Life
Falling for Jordan was one of those formative pop culture experiences nearly everyone had. The laconic Jordan was just so perfect from afar. In real life, he probably would have been a bore, but back in the day he was a mysterious boy who everyone was sure had layers (and not just in his hair).
12. Zack Morris, Saved By The Bell
Those times when Zack would turn to the camera and directly address the audience were truly the most special times because for a moment Zack Morris only had eyes for you.
13. Roger Evans, Sister Sister
I mean, sure, he started as "Go home, Roger!" but when he had a growth spurt, he made an entire generation of young people swoon unexpectedly.
14. Alex Mack, The Secret World Of Alex Mack
Alex was a teenage superhero with a heart of gold. Aside from having nifty powers, she was always up for an adventure and she experienced all the same growing pains you did. Is it any wonder she felt like your soulmate?
15. Kendra Young, Buffy The Vampire Slayer
She may have not been on the show for long, but Kendra, with her great one-liners and badass slaying skills, made quite an impression. She was one of the coolest '90s characters around.
16. Pacey Witter, Dawson's Creek
Is there anyone who isn't still in love with Pacey? He will never go out of style.
If your heart is beating a little faster after reading this list, then my work here is done. The '90s truly was the ultimate decade for TV crushes.
Images: Warner Bros. Television; Giphy (13)