The Millennial parents out there probably have some major nostalgic feelings about those 90’s cartoon shows of your youth. And why would you not? There was some majorly good cartooning going on. 90’s cartoon shows were so good that many of them are currently making a comeback with reboots and one-off episodes and movies. With all the access to content these days through streaming services and YouTube, you can access nearly any of the original 90’s cartoon shows that you used to love. These 90’s cartoon shows are sure to bring you back to your childhood.
90’s Cartoon Shows to Rewatch Now
Tiny Toon Adventures
The show only ran for three seasons, but most Millenials probably still remember the opening theme song, “We’re tiny. We’re tooney. We’re all a little looney…”
Tiny Toon Adventures, or Tiny Toons as a lot of people called it, is one of the old school 90’s cartoon shows, having begun in 1990. If you were not one of the cool kids who watched it in the 90’s, Tiny Toons follows the adventures of Babs and Buster Bunny, Plucky Duck, Hamton J. Pig, Dizzy Devil, Furrball, Sweetie Pie, Shirley The Loon, Montana Max, and Elmyra Duff, among others, most of whom are younger versions of popular Looney Tunes characters (think Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and the rest of the gang) with similar traits and looks.
Set in Acme Acres, the show follows this group of crazy characters as they attend Acme Looniversity where students learn to be funny. Many of the original Looney Tunes characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester the Cat, and Porky Pig teach classes at Acme Looniversity and serve as mentors to the Tiny Toons.
Episodes of the show often parody or reference current events from the early 1990s and Hollywood culture, and feature the slapstick humor and all of the cartoon violence like anvils falling on characters’ heads, characters falling from crazy heights, and lots of explosions that you expect from Looney Tunes. Two fun facts about the show: 1) three thirteen-year-olds wrote one of the episodes, and 2) each episode was scored by a full orchestra.
Tiny Toons is one of those cartoons that is pure silly and something to watch when you just want to veg out on the couch for a bit and laugh. Share the crazy hijinks of the Tiny Toons with your kids, or just watch it by yourself (because you are a grownup and do what you want) while it is streaming on Hulu or rent/buy it though Prime Video on Amazon.
Captain Planet and the Planeteers
Earth! Fire! Wind! Water! Heart! Go planet! Captain Planet is one of the most environmentally-focused cartoon that has ever been on television. The show centers on five kids from around the world dubbed the Planeteers who each have a magic ring that summons a different power that they can use to save the environment from threats. When the threat becomes too big, they combine their powers to summon Captain Planet. Anyone who watched it can likely still belt out the chorus of the show’s theme song – “Captain Planet, he’s our hero, gonna take pollution down to zero.”
Episodes tackle pollution in many forms and often feature villains polluting water or land by dumping waste somewhere it does not belong. At the end of every episode there is a Planeteer Alert that usually connects to the plot and highlights an environmental-political or other social-political issue and explains how viewers can be part of the solution instead of the pollution.
Sadly the show is not currently playing on any networks, but it does have a lasting legacy. In the early 1990’s, The Captain Planet Foundation was established with the mission to “engage and empower young people to be problem solvers for the planet.” The foundation awards grants to schools and nonprofits to fund environmental education projects, as well as operates four environmental programs geared towards students and young people with access to resources and training to teach students how to become environmental stewards and global change-makers.
Captain Planet may not currently be streaming on any platform, but you can buy seasons on Amazon’s Prime Video. The show is worth the watch for the theme song alone, but it is also revolutionary for its message about protecting the planet before many people were focusing on its importance.
Another staple of 90’s cartoon shows is Rugrats, which features four babies – Tommy Pickles, Phil and Lil DeVille, and Chuckie Finster. Throw in their parents, Tommy’s bratty older cousin Angelica, their friend Susie Carmichael, and Spike the dog and you have enough misadventures to last nine seasons, making it tied for the eighth longest-running American animated television series. It was so popular in the 90’s and early 2000’s there were even three feature-length movies.
Typically escaping their play yard without their parents’ knowledge with the help of a screwdriver Tommy keeps stashed in his diaper, episodes usually follow the babies on some sort of ordinary, everyday activity that turns into a major adventure in their imaginations. As Tommy says, “A baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do.” Reoccurring characters like Reptar, a big green dinosaur that stars in a fictional television show beloved by the Rugrats, and Cynthia, Angelica’s favorite doll, show up throughout the series and seem to be as much part of the show as the main characters themselves. Reptar especially seems to have his own cult following.
Rugrats is cute and full of clever misunderstandings as Tommy and the gang navigate life from the perspective of babies and toddlers. It is definitely one of the 90’s cartoon shows your kids will enjoy today. Luckily, you can still catch reruns on Nickelodeon, but Rugrats is also streaming on Hulu. One of the 90’s cartoon shows to be in revival, a 26-episode reboot is rumored to finally be coming to Nickelodeon in Fall 2020.
Animaniacs follows the Warner siblings Wakko, Yakko, and Dot, who are 1930’s cartoon stars that live in the water tower on the studio lot where they had been locked up until their recent escape. Most of the episodes feature them wreaking havoc and mayhem. Episodes feature an extensive cast of characters besides Wakko, Yakko, and Dot such as Dr. Otto Scratchansniff, Hello Nurse, Ralph T. Guard, Thaddeus Plotz, Pinky and the Brain, and Slappy and Skippy Squirrel.
The show is set up in a variety show format with each episode having cartoon shorts of varying lengths to give the show a sketch comedy feel with humor ranging from parody to social commentary to that typical cartoon violence from 90’s cartoon shows that we all know and love. It is full of recurring jokes and catchphrases like, “Helloooo, nurse!” and Brain’s famous, “The same thing we do every night, Pinky: try to take over the world!” in reply to Pinky’s question “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?” Pinky and the Brain were so popular they had their own spin-off cartoon that lasted four seasons in the mid-90’s.
One of those cartoons where a lot of the wit is geared more towards adult humor, it is likely that this time around you will pick up on sexual innuendo and throwback references that went over your head back in the day. Watch it streaming on Hulu or rent/buy it though Prime Video on Amazon. It is the perfect time to binge the original five seasons because 22 years after its final episode, a two-season reboot is coming to Hulu in November 2020.
Another of the earlier 90’s cartoon shows, Doug has a catchy theme song and an extremely relatable main character. The show follows 11-year-old Doug Funnie as he documents in his journal navigating the 6th grade with his best friend Skeeter Valentine and his crush Patti Mayonnaise. Rounding out the show are Doug’s parents, his dog Porkchop, and his older sister Judy, among other friends, classmates, and the occasional relative.
If you did not watch the show (you missed out!), at the start of the series, Doug has just moved to Bluffington and is trying to fit in, avoid the resident bully Roger Klotz, and navigate the regular issues of middle school life. Doug’s vivid imagination is often front and center in the show – like when he imagines being a made-up superhero named Quail Man.
Doug is a classic coming-of-age story. It navigates topics like relationships, self-esteem, bullying, rumors, right from wrong, and trying to fit in with the crowd. It is a much “quieter” cartoon than most of the 90’s cartoon shows in this list. It does not have the slapstick, gross-out comedy, or the cartoon violence of lots of the other cartoons. But it does have some fun music like the fictional band The Beets’ most popular song, “Killer Tofu.”
It is a cute show that would be really good to sit down and rewatch today with your late elementary schooler or middle schooler. You can catch reruns of Doug on Teen Nick or stream the entire series on Hulu. You can also buy episodes or seasons on Prime Video.
The Ren and Stimpy Show
The Ren and Stimpy Show is about the adventures of Ren, a short-tempered Chihuahua, and Stimpy, a good-natured cat who is not all that bright. The two fill various roles from episode to episode, including outer-space explorers, horse thieves in the wild west, and hosts of a nature show, among many, many others. Mixed in are fake ads for crazy products like Log (an audience favorite). Everyone wants a Log because, “It’s big. It’s heavy. It’s wood!”
The show’s trademark is animation involving gross close ups of things like boogers hanging out of characters’ noses, pimply faces, stubble and ingrown hairs, and all kinds of bodily functions.
The creators were not looking to make an educational show that taught any lessons or followed the typical kids cartoon formula of the day. Instead, the show features dark humor, sexual innuendo, and adult jokes. At the time, the show, which played on Nickelodeon, was controversial and parents were not always happy with the show’s content. However, The Ren and Stimpy Show had lasting effects. It paved the way for shows like Beavis and Butt-Head and its effects can still be seen in shows like SpongeBob SquarePants and Teen Titans Go! which both often make use of the close-up grotesque animation that was the hallmark of Ren and Stimpy.
Another of the 90’s cartoon shows making a comeback, Comedy Central recently announced that a reboot is in the works. Until then, you can stream the show in all its glory on select Prime Video channels.
Rocko’s Modern Life
Set in the fictional town of O-Town, the show follows a wallaby named Rocko and his friends Heffer who is an eccentric steer, Filburt the neurotic turtle, and Rocko’s faithful dog Spunky, along with a cast of other characters including Rocko’s neighbors Ed and Bev Bighead. Episodes find Rocko in various predicaments that correspond to pretty regular aspects of everyday life. He has a job at Kind of a Lot O’Comics where his boss is a jerk. The town is pretty much run by a megacorporation called Conglom-O Corporation. The show even includes a place called Heck where “bad people” go when they die.
Unlike most 90’s cartoon shows of the day, Rocko’s Modern Life did not hand a fully-finished script to the animators to animate. Instead, the animators were usually given an outline of just a few pages and they were required to come up with a majority of the cartoon gags and dialogue, which they really liked.
Similar to The Ren and Stimpy Show, Rocko’s Modern Life was controversial for its adult humor, innuendo, and satirical social commentary. However, during its showing, most of the show’s audience was adults, which continues to make up the show’s cult fanbase even today. Another of the 90’s cartoon shows that are still well-loved, in 2019, 23 years after the show’s finale, Netflix released a 45-minute special titled Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling.
You can catch reruns of Rocko’s Modern Life on Teen Nick or you can buy episodes or seasons on Prime Video.
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
Nickelodeon served up the 90’s cartoon shows because Aahh!!! Real Monsters is another show developed for Nickelodeon in the mid-90’s. The show follows three monster friends – Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm who attend a school for monsters under a New York City landfill and are studying how to scare humans. Many of the episodes revolve around the trio going to the surface in order to perform scares as class assignments, but their attempts often do not work out as planned.
The show was clever, silly, and cute (having been developed by the same people that brought you Rugrats). The monsters were less scary than they were funny disasters. The show does include some gross elements, they are monsters after all. For instance, the monster community uses toenails as currency.
Unfortunately, Real Monsters is not currently streaming on any services, but you can buy it on Prime Video and watch those crazy monsters with your own little monsters.
Hey Arnold! is another of the 90’s cartoon shows brought to us on Nickelodeon. It chronicles the adventures of 9-year-old Arnold, a daydreaming, jazz-loving, football-headed kid who lives in a boarding house with his grandparents. Along for the adventures are his best friend Gerald, the coolest kid in class, and Helga, a bully who spends her time tormenting Arnold while secretly in love with him.
In each episode, Arnold usually either helps a classmate or fellow tenant at the boarding house solve a personal problem or he encounters some predicament of his own. A lot of the episodes involve urban legends or fanciful stories, usually told by Gerald. It shows 90’s kids doing what 90’s kids would do. Run around the neighborhood, tell stories that you heard from a friend of a friend, and generally have fun. Full of childhood innocence with a touch of cartoon comedy, Hey Arnold! is a heartwarming show that offers life lessons for surviving the world as a kid.
Because people cannot seem to get enough of these 90’s cartoon shows, a made-for-televison film titled Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie played on Nick in November 2017. Now you can catch reruns of Hey Arnold! on Teen Nick or stream the entire series on Hulu. You can also buy episodes or seasons on Prime Video.
Every generation thinks their stuff was the best and of course they do. That is what you grew up on. No matter what generation you came up in, it is hard to argue that 90’s cartoon shows are pretty amazing. Full of slipstick, crazy cartoon shenanigans, and jokes that you will only get now that you are an adult, 90’s cartoon shows seem to be making a comeback. So share them with your little ones and enjoy them again. It seems they are here to stay.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on 25+ Fun Ways for Entertaining Kids at Home.