The best part about the streaming era of television is that we can easily access our favorite shows from the 90s. Whether it’s The Simpsons, Seinfeld, or Twin Peaks, they’re all just a click away.
1. Friends (1994-2004)
Few shows have the lasting power of Friends. The age bracket was slightly higher than Beverly Hills, 90210, since it featured characters in their 20s and 30s. It was still full of drama and was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1990s.
Comedy Full of Drama
Many ups and downs highlight the friends’ lives, from romantic entanglements to careers. The comedy and heart held this show up for so long and makes it a fun one to revisit.
2. Seinfeld (1989-1998)
Another sitcom that was greatly popular in the 90s was Seinfeld. This show hit again on a bit of an older age bracket and stars Jerry Seinfeld, basically as himself.
Older Age Bracket Sitcom
It follows Jerry as he and his friends get into all sorts of drama. It was one of the most-watched television shows of the decade and offered a true-to-life look at life in New York City.
3. Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
Even though Twin Peaks got just two seasons, it opened up a wild and wacky world in the early 90s. It made a lasting impact on pop culture by presenting longer mysteries and character arcs, instead of being more contained. It pushed boundaries that were usually reserved for film and broke ground for many series that came after.
Murder of a Teenager
The premise involves the murder of a teenager named Laura Palmer, who lived in Twin Peaks, a seemingly quiet town. Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is brought in to investigate and begins to uncover even more disturbing circumstances.
4. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)
As the live-action follow-up to the original Star Trek series (there was an animated series follow-up in the 70s), Star Trek: The Next Generation gave us new characters to love in Picard (Patrick Stewart), Data (Brent Spiner), La Forge (LeVar Burton), and possibly, Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton). With 18 Emmy wins, the show was among the most successful in the early 90s.
Among the Most Successful Shows in the Early 90s
Set approximately 100 years after Captain Kirk’s mission, the new generation travels under the command of Captain Picard. They seek out new worlds and new problems in this beloved and fun addition to the Star Trek franchise.
5. The Simpsons (1989-)
The Simpsons is the most popular cartoon, and it hit its stride in the 90s, even though most 80s/90s kids had parents who did not understand why they wanted to watch it.
Centers Around Family’s Misadventures
With so much history, it is hard to distill all of it down. It centers around the Simpson family and their misadventures. Some of the highlights include the annual ‘Treehouse of Terror’ Halloween episodes.
6. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-1999)
While Mystery Science Theater 3000 isn’t for everyone, it hit its stride in the 90s. Fans of the show love it, and it is definitely a cult show.
A Cult Show
The premise involves a man who was kidnapped and is forced to watch B-movies, along with the two robots he built. The quips about the films make this fun to watch.
7. The X-Files (1993-2018)
In another fun and weird show from the 90s, we have The X-Files. This mysterious show with some aliens thrown in was compelling to watch. The relationship between Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) made for an intriguing show.
A Fun and Weird Show
The two FBI agents work to uncover the truth behind strange and unexplained events. While Scully is the voice of reason, Mulder is the believer, always trying to convince her.
8. Whose Line Is It Anyway? (1998-2007)
Inspired by the earlier British show of the same name, Whose Line is it Anyway? was a welcome addition to the 90s whenever you needed a laugh. Hosted by Drew Carey, the show featured talented comedians who were great at improv.
Great at Improv
Carey would take suggestions from the audience and assign scenarios on the spot to see what the performers could come up with.
9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
This show was much more successful than the 1992 film of the same name, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sarah Michelle Gellar gave a depth to Buffy during the series that is severely lacking in the original movie. While the film is campier, it is also less successful, and Buffy is a bit too ditzy.
A Girl Destined To Slay Vampires
The series gives us a complete story about a girl destined to slay vampires. The cast works well together, and the storyline provides us with better fights and love interests.
10. Bill Nye The Science Guy (1993-1998)
Bill Nye the Science Guy was a stellar kids’ science show from the 90s. This one made learning about science fun. The show was funny, and many 80s/90s kids will remember it with nostalgia.
Made Learning and Science Fun
The show featured scientist and comedian Bill Nye as he showed you experiments and taught you about different things in each episode. Whether learning about germs or volcanos, he always made everything sound exciting.
11. Quantum Leap (1989-1993)
One of the coolest Sci-Fi shows to come out of the late 80s/early 90s was Quantum Leap starring Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell. As a different approach to time travel, Sam (Bakula) leaps into the bodies of people in the past.
One of The Coolest Sci-Fi Shows
The issue comes in when Sam doesn’t know how to return home, instead leaping into other people’s bodies, solving their problems, and trying to get back to his own time.
12. Wishbone (1995-1998)
In another effort to get kids into reading, Wishbone gave us a literature-loving canine. The show is a fun combination of comedy, adventure, and classic literature.
Fun Combination of Comedy, Adventure, and Literature
Wishbone is an adorable dog who introduces us to the classics such as The Three Musketeers, Tom Sawyer, and The Odyssey. He brings them to life through costumes, narration, and kid-friendly jokes.
13. Boy Meets World (1993-2000)
As one of the staples of the TGIF lineup in the 90s, Boy Meets World was one of the best and longest-running shows of that block. Growing up with Cory, Topanga, and Shawn was something that many 80s/90s kids will relate to, as it showed them in middle school, high school, and college.
A Staple of TGIF
It centered around Cory (Ben Savage) as he learns important lessons about growing up. The relationship dynamics shift as Cory and Topanga (Danielle Fishel) fall in love, and Shawn (Rider Strong)’s life gets turned upside down. This one was highly relatable, funny, and enjoyable to watch.
14. Ghostwriter (1992-1995)
For those who loved to read, the often forgotten Ghostwriter was a Sunday afternoon treat from 1992-1995 on PBS. It had everything—action, mysteries, and a ghost.
Ghosts, Action, and Mysteries
The kids’ show features the main character of a ghost, which consisted of a flying ball of light who could only read and write but not see. He makes friends with the kids in the neighborhood and helps them solve mysteries through these same skills.
15. Magic School Bus (1994-1997)
One of the best educational shows of the 90s came in the form of Ms. Frizzle and The Magic School Bus. While many times wacky, the show taught many cool science facts to the kids of the 90s.
Wacky, Cool Science Facts
The show follows Ms. Frizzle as she takes her students on crazy (and dangerous) adventures. From learning about germs to the digestive system to outer space, you always came away from it with new knowledge.
16. Law & Order (1990-)
One of the longest-running crime shows, which also spawned spinoffs, Law & Order, began at the beginning of the 90s and was recently revived after originally ending in 2010.
Inspired by Real-life Crimes
The drama/crime show set in New York City follows a two-part format. The first part of the show is the investigation of a crime, and the second half is the defendant’s prosecution. The plots are inspired by real-life events with some specifics changed.
17. ER (1994-2009)
As one of the longest-running primetime medical dramas (second only to Grey’s Anatomy), ER dominated in the 90s and made a giant leap forward for George Clooney’s career. Micheal Crichton created it to tell the tales of a Chicago hospital emergency room.
Tales of a Chicago Hospital Emergency Room
The TV medical drama follows the lives and work of ER doctors, nurses, and patients. As they navigate this unpredictable world, there is a ton of drama, heartbreak, loss, and triumphs.
18. Sailor Moon (1992-1997 and 1995-2000)
Another fun superhero cartoon, Sailor Moon, was a fun show that marked the 90s. Though it started in Japan in 1992, it marks one of the most influential anime series. It came to America in 1995 and helped introduce the art form in the country.
A Fun Superhero Cartoon
The premise revolves around a group of girls who find out they are incarnations of alien princesses. They use their superpowers to defend the Earth.
19. WWE Raw (1993-Present)
The sheer lasting power of WWE Raw, and the wrestling stars who came out of it, show what a powerhouse it was when it began in the 90s. It was one of the most popular sports and entertainment shows ever.
One of The Most Popular Sports and Entertainment Shows Ever
The wrestling stars would compete, but there was also a complete backstory to amp up the drama. An exciting mix of fighting and spectacle, WWE Raw featured legends such as The Rock, John Cena, Steve Austin, and Triple H.
20. Charmed (1998-2006)
Coming in toward the end of the decade, we have Charmed. This witch-focused show was a hit in the 90s, although it did spark some drama off-camera between Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty, who didn’t get along.
A Witch Focused Show
The show follows three sisters who use their powerful combination to fight evil. They each have different powers but are most effective together.
21. Ally McBeal (1997-2002)
As a bit of a precursor to Sex and the City, Ally McBeal has a similar topic as it focuses on relationships and sex. But here, we are against the backdrop of a law firm, which makes for an interesting addition. The fourth season is especially enjoyable with the addition of Robert Downey Jr.
Focuses on Relationships
The show follows lawyer Ally (Calista Flockhart) as she works with bizarre clients while trying to find love. She has a bit of an overactive imagination, often hallucinating dancing babies. Many of the cast also sang multiple times during the show because the group would hang out at a karaoke bar after work.
22. Full House (1987-1995)
One of the kings of TGIF was Full House. Although the show began in 1987, it ran through the 1995 season, showing its lasting power. The charming sitcom that introduced us to Bob Saget, the Olsen twins, and others was a staple in many homes during the 90s.
A Widower Father Raising Three Girls
It centered around a widower father of three girls who has his brother-in-law and best friend to help him raise them. Full of hokum and family hugs, watching this one is like being wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket.
23. Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001)
Saturday evenings in the 90s weren’t complete without Red Baron pizza and the Warrior Princess. Xena was the strong female character that we didn’t know we needed. Lucy Lawless brought her to life. Along with her war cry, chakram, and best friend Gabrielle (Renée O’Connor), Xena fought against evil in all forms, whether corrupt royalty or the gods.
A Strong Female Character Fighting Evil
Before directing the Spider-Man films with Tobey Maguire, Sam Raimi came up with the characters for Xena and Army of Darkness.
24. Lois and Clark (1993-1997)
With an emphasis on the romance between Lois and Clark, there was a bit less action than we were used to seeing from Superman. The thing about this show was that it didn’t just feed into the romantic tropes but made them better. Clark is more than just Superman, and Lois has more character development than in the past.
Follows The Romance Between Lois and Clark
This show follows the couple as they try to build their romance. Superman still fights the bad guys, but it is more complex than a one-note superhero show.
25. Family Matters
With nine years on air, Family Matters was another one of the longest-running shows in the successful TGIF lineup. It gave us some cringe-worthy catchphrases, such as Urkel’s “Did I do that?”, but it also showed a show that could tackle real issues.
Did I Do That?
It is about the Winslow family and the annoyances caused by their neighbor, super nerd Steve Urkel. His inventions tend to drive them up the wall, but he has a good heart in the end.
26. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (1993-1996)
Sort of a 90s version of Transformers, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was a cool crime-fighting teenager show in the 90s. The action was on point, and this was a fun show to watch after school.
A Cool Crime-Fighting Teen Show
The plot revolves around a team of teenage crime fighters who work against the evil Rita Repulsa and her monsters. These monsters escaped their imprisonment on the moon to wreak havoc on Earth.
27. Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-2000)
As a primetime soap opera geared toward the drama of teenagers, Beverly Hills, 90210 was unique at the time. Its popularity was well-reflected, and many stars would have successful careers.
A Soap Opera Geared Toward Teenagers
The premise centers around a group of high school friends as they deal with love and crises. Since the show lasted so long, they also went to college and found more drama. There was also some drama outside of the show, such as Shannen Doherty fighting with the cast and being fired after the fourth season.
28. America’s Funniest Home Videos (1989-)
While working on Full House as super dad Danny Tanner, Bob Saget also hosted America’s Funniest Home Videos. A silly but enjoyable show, AFV gave people the chance to earn big money by catching silly moments on tape.
Silly Moments Caught on Tape
The game show had an open call for people to send in their funniest home videos to compete for the chance to win money. As a family show, comedy, and reality show, this was a fun escape.
29. The Real World (1992-)
When The Real World began, it sparked a resurgence in reality television. While there had been reality TV in the past, such as An American Family from 1973, which was the inspiration, The Real World brought back the drama in a big way in the 90s.
Sparked a Resurgence in Reality TV
MTV’s original reality series featured a group of young adults who were initially strangers. It brought them together in one house and filmed their interactions and drama
Kristen Winiarski has worked as a professional writer for 15 years, studying classic TV shows and films to further her expertise and understanding about how they have evolved. This passion led her to start her own classic movie blog before branching out into the professional entertainment writing world.