Sitting down to enjoy Saturday morning cartoons over a bowl of cereal was a staple of a millennial and zennial childhood. 90s cartoons are a great source of nostalgia for many, and plenty of 90s kids have no shame in revisiting their favorite shows from the past.
While shows like Bob’s Burgers are a great way to enjoy animation as an adult, watching the original cartoons that made you fall in love with the genre just hits different. If you’re feeling nostalgic, here are some of the best 90s cartoons you can still enjoy today.
Nickelodeon was a hub for all things 90s animation. Between them and Cartoon Network, they house some of the best-known kids’ cartoons of our generation. Let’s check out some of these fan favorites when it comes to Nickelodeon cartoons.
Spongebob Squarepants – 1999
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? One of the most successful cartoons of all time.
Spongebob first joined the public consciousness in 1999 and has taken hold of our heads ever since.
So many of its freeze frames have become common meme fodder, and there are so many quotes you can start and hear everyone in the room finish along with you.
And let’s be real: the new Spongebob doesn’t hold a candle to the original episodes.
Rocko’s Modern Life – 1992
If you’ve ever experienced culture shock, you’ll definitely identify with the protagonist of this show.
Rocky is a wallaby (think a smaller version of a kangaroo) and he moves from his homeland of Australia over to the United States. The show is all about him overcoming obstacles he never expected with his friends Heffer who is, you guessed it, a cow, and Filburt the turtle.
Rugrats – 1991
Rugrats was a fun show for kids to enjoy, because the whole show was from a kid’s perspective on the world.
There are plenty of fan theories circulating about the show, like the one that all the rugrats were just figments of Angelica’s imagination. The theory gets pretty dark.
A lot of parents prohibited their kids from watching, afraid that Angelica’s attitude would rub off on their viewers. To some, this only made the show more alluring, since it was prohibited content.
The Ren & Stimpy Show – 1991
Ever wonder what shenanigans a crazed Chihuahua and a dim-witted cat would get up to if they teamed up?
This show explores the concept as it takes Ren and Stimpson J. Cat on a series of wild adventures.
Wild Thornberrys – 1998
This show followed the Thornberry family, a group of unusual adventurers that brought their kids deep into unexplored nature as they made wildlife films.
Eliza, one of the kids, has the unusual gift of communicating with animals, which makes her journey with her eccentric family even wilder.
Hey Arnold! – 1996
This show follows the exploits of a fourth-grader named Arnold, who for some reason has a football-shaped head? We just don’t question it.
Can you think of a single genre the Disney corporation hasn’t tried? So of course they also have 90s cartoons to offer. Here are some that were popular in the 90s and made a comeback in the 2010s.
DuckTales – 1987
With an extremely catchy theme song, DuckTales was one of the many cartoons Disney produced. It was so popular that Disney XD rebooted it in 2017, featuring the voices of talents like David Tennant and SNL stars like Beck Bennet, Bobby Moynihan, and Weekend Update writer Ben Schwartz.
Because if you can get a world-renowned, classically trained Shakespearean actor to play a billionaire duck, why on earth wouldn’t you?
The reboot is one of my personal favorite animated shows of all time. It’s simply magical.
Darkwing Duck – 1991
Even though Mickey normally gets the spotlight to himself, there was an extensive amount of duck universe material produced in the 90s. One of them was Darkwing Duck, a vigilante superhero protecting Duckburg from crime. Think Batman, but with worse catchphrases and, you know, as a duck. Something you never knew you always wanted.
Warner Bros. Animation
When you think Warner Brothers, you probably first think of the many classic films they’ve produced. But they also have their fair share of animated series as well. Here are some 90s cartoons that rank highly on our list.
Batman the Animated Series – 1992
The animated Batman show was one of the first instances where the Dark Knight showed his dark side on screen. It took a decidedly more broody tone that was more similar to the comic books than the 1960s live-action Batman.
He still wore his underwear on the outside of his suit, though. So no matter how dark and twisted he is, you can only take him so seriously.
Looney Tunes – 1930s to Present
Looney Tunes has been a cultural staple for nearly a century. That’s a fun fact that will definitely make you feel old. Although the original show aired in the 1930s, there were a multitude of shows being produced in the 90s including:
- Merrie Melodies Starring Bugs Bunny & Friends
- Tiny Toon Adventures
- The Plucky Ducky Show
- The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries
- Bugs ‘n’ Daffy
Aside from its infinite spin-offs and franchises, it actually had some serious cultural impacts. The concept that rabbits love carrots actually came straight from the show. Rabbits actually can’t have that many carrots, as they’re very high in sugar.
Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network
After 1992, Cartoon Network acquired the Hanna-Barbera studio animation library, which is where many classic animated kid shows are now housed. So if you grew up loving Cartoon Network shows, you can thank William Hanna and Joseph Barbers, the original animators, for their extensive contributions to 90s cartoons.
The Powerpuff Girls – 1998
Who says you can’t be small, cute, and kick-ass?
The Powerpuff Girls were an animated superhero staple for all kids, and for young girls especially. And Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup can be all blamed for this generation’s sarcasm.
Dexter’s Laboratory – 1995
Dexter’s Lab never ceased to produce mind-boggling inventions. But of course, things were never easy for the young boy genius. It’s tough having a world-class mind while keeping your parents convinced that you’re just a sweet, innocent boy.
TBS is known for producing a bunch of adult shows, including adult animation. For example, American Dad is a TBS Original. However, they also produced some kid’s cartoons along the way.
Captain Planet and the Planeteers – 1990
Who doesn’t love Saturday morning cartoons with a political message?
A group of planeteers, assembled by Gaia, the spirit of the earth, assemble to save the world from pollution and corruption. Captain Planet leads the team to take down the bad guys and make the planet a little greener in the process.
The naming was a little on the nose with this one. But then again, the writers of Superman named their superhero “Superman,” a large city “Metropolis,” and the small town “Smallville,” and they did alright for themselves.
In addition to reality TV, celebrity news, and once upon a time, music videos, MTV also produced some animated content.
Daria – 1997
Sarcastic and smart, Daria is a cynical team with no time for the “in” kids. She’d much rather kick it with her friend Jane Lane and keep a low radar, staying well below the airheads who let pop culture control their lives.
What Classic 90s Cartoons Did We Miss?
If you are one of the 90s kids, or you grew up watching 90s animation regardless of your generation, what was your favorite? Which 90s cartoons did we miss? Tell us in the comments!