You may think the pre-social media ‘90s were a simple time for friendship, a happy era where you and your main lady would trade Pokémon on the playground and not worry about taking a selfie of the occasion. Media, however, proves things were a bit more complicated. Sure, there were plenty of iconic female friendships in ‘90s TV shows, but they didn’t come without plenty of real life friendships guidelines and questionable matching outfits.
Think I’m kidding? You just need to do a brief marathon watch of any of your favorites on Netflix (or Hulu, or however you kids are watching television these days) to witness for yourself. Or scroll down: I collected plenty of groupings of female friendships that taught us #squadgoals before squad goals were a thing (or, like, hashtags). From the too-cool-for-school besties to the color-coordinated cliques of betties to the literal siblings that epitomized pre-millennium sisterhood, I've rounded them all up for your nostalgic pleasure. Hopefully ,these ladies inspired you to bond with your gal pal over a slice rather than have catfights before homecoming.
Either way, here is everything I learned from some of the most aspirational (or just sometimes entertaining) fictional gal pals of the ‘90s.
1. Helga Pataki and Phoebe Heyerdahl, Hey Arnold!
Some may view the Helga-Phoebe dynamic as somewhat subservient, but, as someone who's been the Helga in that dynamic, your sharp-as-a-whip Phoebe holds all the power. Choosing to ignore your friend's secret affection for someone is testament to her sweetness and loyalty, yet it's also a secret to keep in Phoebe's back pocket in case the day comes when Helga really sets her off.
2. Brenda Walsh And Kelly Taylor, Beverly Hills 90210
High school best friendships are all fun and fake IDs until Luke Perry and his massive forehead get in the way.
3. Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, Batman The Animated Series
If Suicide Squad didn't make this evident for you Harley newbies, our girl should really take some time alone to find herself far away from her abusive boyfriend. Ivy is the first person to really state this and give her that safe haven, and, honestly, the two make for far better lifemates. You don't need your loser ex; all you need is an Ivy.
4. Daria Morgendorffer And Jane Lane, Daria
Misery loves company, and outcasts love snarking over the stupidity of everyone else over pizza.
5. Quinn Morgendorffer And Sandi Griffin, Daria
Friendship in the realm of popularity, however, can quickly devolve into a competition of passive-aggression and "Who's the cutest?" But it was clear many times in the series that their petty jealousies stemmed from a deep admiration for one another without the maturity required to, you know, talk about it.
6. Angelica Pickles And Susie Carmichael, Rugrats
A classic story of two Alphas— one a liberator of babies, the other a fierce dictator — constantly trying to best each other... while coming to the occasional resolution (see: the underwhelming All Grown Up, where they're all buddy-buddy).
7. Kelly Kapowski, Jessie Spano, And Lisa Turtle, Saved By The Bell
Shout out to the babes who helped navigate the most embarrassing, neon-coated parts of the '90s with you. Those VHS of all your music-projects-of-the-week are still hella funny to watch ironically.
8. Angela Chase And Rayanne Graff, My So-Called Life
When you hit a certain point in adolescence, the hair-dyeing moment of rebellion, you sometimes want to latch onto someone wildly exciting. Just for fun. Just 'cause, if you don't, you feel like you would die or something.
9. Angela Chase And Sharon Cherski, My So-Called Life
Some friendships are going to undergo growing pains in which you two will have to separate and grow separately. Let it happen. If you're life-long friends like Angela and Sharon (and, like, literally post-pubescent), you'll probably find your way back to each other when it really matters.
10. Usagi Tsukino And Rei Hino, Sailor Moon
If you set aside some after school time for Toonami every weekday, you would inevitably watch Sailor Mars flip out on our meatball-headed heroine like five times an episode (retrospectively understandable because OMG, that girl is a crying mess) in the English dub of the mind-numbingly popular anime. Sometimes you get thrown into friend groups with your polar opposite, but all that bickering means you're secretly super close. Sometimes, it's just more obvious in the manga.
11. Blossom, Bubbles, And Buttercup, The Powerpuff Girls
It's easy to get jealous of your siblings when they develop ice breath, or to feel frustrated when nobody in your fam considers you "hardcore." Holding similar values — like a mutual desire to fight crime before bedtime — will override that negativity and make you stronger.
12. Grace Adler And Karen Walker, Will & Grace
We all have that one, rude, insane borderline alcoholic friend/co-worker that we've just reluctantly kept around for the entertainment factor.
13. Stephanie Tanner And Gia Mahan, Full House
Gia only pops up a handful of times at the end of Full House as the quintessential Bad Influence Trope, and it's pretty remarkable that Stephanie doesn't kowtow to her peer-pressuring ways. I'm not saying you have to be as saccharine as a mid-'90s Tanner child. I'm just saying that Stephanie saved herself a car accident by knowing when to not be a follower.
14. D.J. Tanner And Kimmy Gibbler, Full House
Oh, Kimmy. You are proof that nobody is too obnoxious to not love, and that's proven in the way that D.J. lets her into her home. OK, technically Kimmy is breaking and entering the entire series, but whatever.
15. D.J. Tanner And Stephanie Tanner, Full House
And, likewise, the evolving relationship between D.J. and Stephanie proves that, even if you're separated by a significant age difference, you can eventually become friends with your sister, and close enough that you relish the idea of living with each other in your sequel series instead of fighting over sharing a room. Or one of you goes the route of Michelle and disappears to New York. I don't know.
16. Xena And Gabrielle, Xena Warrior Princess
We all need a mentor — or at least a strong, stunning, raven-haired goddess — to tag along with so hard that people start conjuring really steamy, basically canon fanfiction about you two.
17. Lisa Simpson And Allison Taylor, The Simpsons
The big take-away from Lisa's interaction with The Simpsons' sort of one-shot character (I mean, we mostly see her in the background, and, when she speaks up, it doesn't seem to be Winona Ryder providing vocals) is that female insecurity can deteriorate what could be a beautiful friendship. Focus on your similarities, not who's better. And, like, don't hide someone's school project.
18. Lee, May, And Marie Kanker, Ed, Edd, And Eddy
It's just swell to have some crazy b*women that obsess over the same group you do, you know?
19. Buffy Summers And Willow Rosenberg, Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Run with someone who wants to unlock your inner strength instead of keeping you meek and in the softer side of Sears for life. Eventually, you two will be a formidable force... or you'll start to turn on each other once Season 6 drama rolls along. Or both.
20. Buffy Summers And Faith Lehane, Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Sometimes, ethical dilemmas will separate you from a potential soul connection kind of friendship (you know, killing a guy, wearing way-too-dark lipstick, et al), but, at the end of the day, you can't deny having a supernatural empathy for that person.
21. Blossom Russo And Six Lemeure, Blossom
It's always good to have someone around to help you tackle the Very Special Episodes of life, even if she seems more interested in your dim-witted older brother than your issue-of-the-week.
22. Peg Bundy And Marcy D'Arcy, Married... With Children
You may be a vivacious, lazy, slightly tacky housewife, and your neighbor may be a straight-laced feminist, but it's nice when you can occasionally let loose and hate on your husband.
23. Ashley A., Ashley B., Ashley Q., And Ashley T., Recess
The Ashleys may have been the most fearsome clique of popular girls since Heathers (and before Mean Girls), but mad respect for their commitment to squad rules, from their celebration of Purple Day to their temporary adoption of Spinelli. Which reminds me...
24. Ashley Spinelli And Gretchen Grundler, Recess
Even if you don't have a whole ton in common, sometimes being the only two vessels of estrogen in your group is enough to form a substantial bond.
25. Eliza And Debbie Thornberry, The Wild Thornberrys
I mean, mostly Debbie was too grunged out to care about the wildlife lifestyle of the rest of her family, but sometimes you still harbor that deep-down soft spot for your sister. It helps when you're forced to live on a floating RV together.
26. Monica Geller And Rachel Green, Friends
I mean, when your former bestie shows up at your go-to coffee spot in a wedding dress, what else can you do besides allow her to move in with you?
27. Monica Geller And Phoebe Buffay, Friends
Of note, as Monica's OG roommate, it could be implied that Monica sort of stabilized the quirkiest Friends friend before driving the free spirit out with her neat-freak ways. Their bond is still maintained throughout the series, and, as a bonus, Phoebe never again had to live with an albino man who washed windows outside Port Authority.
28. Phoebe Buffay, Monica Geller, And Rachel Green, Friends
Name a more iconic trio. Of course they needed their own grouping.
29. Prue, Piper, And Phoebe Halliwell, Charmed
Oh, right. Tangible proof that all you need is your main witches... and the power of three that is one day magically granted to you.
30. Dee Dee, Lee Lee, And Mee Mee, Dexter's Laboratory
Well, it always helps to have the same interests as your best buds.
31. Lindsay Weir And Kim Kelly, Freaks And Geeks
Sometimes, the universe surprises you, and you realize that the tough, mouthy girl who seems to hate your guts is really the person you should run away with. Grateful Dead voyage, anyone?
32. Lindsay Weir And Millie Kentner, Freaks And Geeks
Sometimes, the universe surprises you, and you realize that your off-putting, wickedly nerdy best friend is, um, slightly disposable.
33. Laura Palmer And Donna Hayward, Twin Peaks
Friendship is eternal, and that's proven with Donna's desire to figure out who murdered Laura. Also, if your BFF dies before the pilot episode, it's all good if you want to move in on her biker side-piece, fam.
34. Tia Landry And Tamara Campbell, Sister, Sister
Even if you're polar opposites, it's easy to be close to someone when they have the same face as, and can take your test for, you.
35. Jess And Liz Wakefield, Sweet Valley High
Even if you're polar opposites, it's easy to be close to someone when they have the same face, and can intercept a guy who actually wants to date, you. Wait. What the hell, Jessica?
36. Fran Fine And Maggie Sheffield, The Nanny
Most teenage girls don't want to befriend their new nanny (a title which almost immediately implies "soon-to-be-stepmom"), but Fran's relationship with Maggie is, like, definitely the best case scenario.
37. Felicity Porter And Julie Emrick, Felicity
You put a lot of emotional stock in your first college best friend, and sometimes they disappoint you almost immediately by hooking up with your longtime crush. Regardless, it's sometimes worth working through.
38. Carrie Bradshaw And Miranda Hobbes, Sex And The City
With Miranda as the Ivy to Carrie's Harley, it really feels as though she loved her far more than Mr. Big.
39. Carrie Bradshaw And Samantha Jones, Sex And The City
Everyone needs a Samantha to confide in, someone who you can admit an affair to and, instead of judging, she'll shrug it off with a, "Not my style."
40. Carrie Bradshaw And Charlotte York, Sex And The City
And, likewise, sometimes you need a Park Avenue Princess to judge you and your financial irresponsibility (before bailing you out anyway).
41. Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, Miranda Hobbes, and Charlotte York, Sex And The City
Let's not pretend that this isn't still the #squadgoals gold standard 20 years later. You can break them into as many twosomes as you want, but these ladies are iconic.
No friendship is alike, and no friendship is perfect, but all of these friendships taught us something valuable growing up that Leslie Knope would soon give us a hilarious phrase for: ovaries before brovaries.
Images: MTV; Giphy (41)