No doubt about it, the 90s were one awesome yet disturbing decade for kids’ TV. When you’re 12 years old, feral animals running a television network and horrific faceless toys seem totally normal (EC from Lift Off, we’re looking at you). It’s only when you grow up and re-watch old intros that you realise...that was one hot mess of a decade (and humanity pretty much peaked with the Ship To Shore theme tune).
Grab a Roll-Up, settle down and enjoy. Here are 28 of our fave kids' shows from the 90s.
Johnson & Friends
Prepare to have your world rocked to its core. You know Johnson & Friends? Those aren’t toys. They’re real people in costumes walking around a giant stage that’s made to look small. Mind blown, right?
Remember this guy? The whole thing was probably sponsored by the UK Banana Union or something, but damn it was gripping television. Also, why didn’t Eric just eat bananas all the time?
The show that taught us it’s okay to be a little bit NQR. The Raggy Dolls first screened in the 80s, but ABC kept it running for most of the 90s too. Someone needs to create a club remix of that intro...
Round The Twist
Baherhouuuunnnndthaheeerrrrrtwahissssst is how every ep of this show began, and a little thrill would run down your spine. Because you knew the next 25 minutes would be f*cking glorious. They need to bring this back.
Not only was Rugrats a kickass show, but critics have noticed it was WAY ahead of its time on issues like feminism and gender politics. Think about it: all the mums were professionals (Tommy's dad was the stay-at-home parent), Phil & Lil were the definition of gender fluidity, cross-dressing was common (and fun), and Angelica was a total badass.
The weirdest thing about this show was how you knew exactly what Pingu was saying, even though 90% of his vocab consisted of ‘mawp mawp!’
Living proof that the 90s were a nightmarish hellscape that prayed on children’s dreams. Exhibit A: Coredor. Watch his mouth and weep.
The Wild Thornberries
Just squeezing into the decade, it’s The Wild Thornberries. Everyone’s favourite illustrated adventure family. Tim Curry’s laugh in this show is perhaps the greatest audio vibration ever picked up by human ears. If you want the next 4 minutes and 14 seconds to be as good as they possibly can be, watch this.
Ship To Shore
If you can’t whistle this theme, you’re way too young to exist. Most of the eps involved the kids outwitting old mate Hermes Endakis and stopping global warming (we might be remembering that last bit wrong).
Hey Arnold! Arnold? Arrrrrnold!? They may not have been anatomically correct (there's a reason Arnold's nickname was Football Head), but out of all the Nickelodeon 90s froth, this show was one of the best. Good beat on that intro too.
George & Martha
As nightmarish as EC was, this is still the king of 90s TV. It had everything: drama, suspense, heart, monoptical plants, frill-necked lizards. Will never be touched. And a how-do-you-do whackadooooo!
Oh James Sherry, you can pretend you enjoy being a football MC, but we bet you can still navigate the entire A*mzing maze like a genetically engineered lab rat. Anyone else remember yelling at the TV when the kids missed a key that was right friggin' there on the wall?
Another old-school classic that got massive run time in the 90s. When you think about it, those drawings on the fly were pretty bloody good, no matter what Blackboard said.
Bangers & Mash
Another BBC import that rocked Australian youth for most of the 90s. Bangers and Mash were two British monkeys who got into assorted hijinks each ep. TBH we were mostly in it for the intro. Tuuuune.
Ahhhh! Real Monsters
On the one hand, great show. On the other, holy mother of hell. This thing scared the bejeeeeezus out of us growing up. We used to dream The Gromble was going to rise out of our toilet and murder the whole family (just us?). Consume at own risk.
“This is a story about an ordinary teddy bear...” is possibly the least exciting intro of any cartoon ever made. But SuperTed went on to dominate the ABC for 10 years. His origin story makes literally zero sense.
For a while, they really were “stars across the nation”. Rattus was clearly the best, but most people were shipping Derryn and Mixy pretty hard for a while. Alas, it wasn’t to be... For those of you not nerdy enough to know what shipping is, read this.
The Trap Door
Honestly, to squeeze so much comedy and pathos into a claymation show that ran for 10 minutes was a damn good achievement. I like to think Berk eventually got a job in human resources somewhere.
Pick Your Face
Before there were memes or Snapchat filters or even pop-culture, there was Pick Your Face, the highlight of which was watching kids reach inside giant plasticine noses. Aussie TV exec’s have a lot to answer for...
Seriously, what even was this show.
Rocko's Modern Life
When you’re 10, you don’t know what a deus ex machina is. But we’re here to tell you—it’s bloody Captain Planet. We don’t know why the Planeteers even bothered trying to do anything themselves—they always needed to call CP in the last three minutes of the show, and he nuked the baddies every time. Just summon him at the start and go watch Ma-Ti play with his monkey (not a euphemism).
Getting the nostalgia vibes? Here are 10 movies from your childhood you've completely repressed.
Image credit: The Trap Door