The 15 Best ’90s TV Shows You Totally Forgot About

While TV sets have been living room centerpieces since the 1950s, television had its greatest period of evolution during the 1990s. The decade saw the birth of Prestige TV, a bevy of revolutionary animated series, major national events that launched news networks into relevance, and thanks to the proliferation of cable networks, some of the most daring programming in television history.

The period from 1990-1999 also had some of TV’s biggest all-time hits. Friends, Seinfeld, The X-Files, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Home Improvement, and Beverly Hills 90210 are just a few ’90s staples forever linked to what was referred to as The Last Great Decade in a 2014 National Geographic Channel documentary.

Aside from big hits, the television landscape of the 1990s will also be remembered for a variety of hidden gems. Here’s our list of the 15 best, yet somehow forgotten, TV shows from the ”90s. Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments section below.

1.) Sliders (1995-2000)

Starring: Jerry O’Connell, Cleavant Derricks, Sabrina Lloyd, John Rhys-Davies

Almost 30 years before Stephen Strange was dealing with maddening multiverses, a grad student and a team of reluctant friends were haphazardly jumping from one parallel Earth to another. That’s the premise for the way-before-it’s-time sci-fi series Sliders, which stars a then 20-year-old Jerry O’Connell as Quinn Mallory, a genius who creates a device that can allow people to slide between Earths. Adventurous and thought-provoking, the series was one of the first to imagine worlds with alternate histories and provided thoughtful commentary on social norms.

2.) Johnny Bravo (1997-2004)

Starring: Jeff Bennett, Brenda Vaccaro, Mae Whitman, Tom Kenny, Larry Drake

Check the pecs! Johnny Bravo (Jeff Bennett) is the musclebound, pompadour-wearing narcissist who talks like Elvis in this series that launched the career of Seth MacFarlane. The future Family Guy creator worked as a writer and storyboard artist on the series. Always the butt of the joke, Johnny Bravo was silly but also smart, with episodes spoofing Schoolhouse Rock, The Twilight Zone, and even Green Eggs and Ham.

3.) The Pretender (1996-2000)

Starring: Michael T. Weiss, Andrea Parker, Patrick Bauchau, Jon Gries

Jarod (Michael T. Weiss) is a genius who can quickly learn any complex skill, enabling him to pretend to be every kind of profession. He’s on the run from The Centre, a diabolical organization that kidnapped him as a child and raised him. A clever series full of mystery, Jarod uses his gifts not just to avoid capture but to help strangers on his journey, making him an easy character to root for.

4.) Parker Lewis Can’t Lose (1990-1993)

Starring: Corin Nemec, Troy Slayton, Billy Jayne, Melanie Chartoff

What’s a high schooler to do when both his principal and his younger sister are both out to get him? Not a thing because Parker Lewis (Corin Nemec) literally can’t lose. Heavily influenced by the film Ferris Bueller, whatever trouble Parker gets into can always be solved by the bright, charismatic, and clever teen because whatever the conundrum, it’s not a problem.

5.) Dexter’s Laboratory (1995-2002)

Starring: Christine Cavanaugh, Candi Milo, Allison Moore, Kat Cressida, Kath Soucie, Jeff Bennett

Diminutive boy genius Dexter (Christine Cavanaugh/Candi Milo), frequently at odds with his ditzy older sister Dee Dee (Allison Moore/Kat Cressida), toils in a massive lab underneath his home unbeknownst to his clueless parents. Quirky and funny, Dexter’s Laboratory not only contains loads of pop culture references, it also satirizes superheroes with recurring segments Dial M for Monkey and The Justice Friends.

6.) Evening Shade (1990-1994)

Starring: Burt Reynolds, Marilu Henner, Hal Holbrook, Michael Jeter, Ossie Davis, Charles Durning

Most people know Burt Reynolds from his film career (Boogie Nights, Deliverance) but the legendary actor received his only Emmy Award while starring in this critically acclaimed series. In Evening Shade, Reynolds plays Wood Newton, a former Pittsburgh Steeler who returns to his small Arkansas hometown to coach football. Mixing comedy with a touch of drama, the series exuded charm.

7.) Diagnosis Murder (1991-2000)

Starring: Dick Van Dyke, Barry Van Dyke, Victoria Rowell, Charlie Schlatter, Michael Tucci, Scott Baio, Delores Hall

The chimney sweep from Mary Poppins eventually becomes a doctor. Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick Van Dyke) is a respected physician and the chief of staff at Community General Hospital. He frequently works with local police on criminal cases, usually with his son Steven Sloan, played by Van Dyke’s real-life son, Barry. A smart blend of murder mystery and medical drama, Diagnosis Murder’s deft humor made for light-hearted yet entertaining TV.

8.) Nowhere Man (1995-1996)

Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Megan Gallagher

Photojournalist Thomas Veil (“that guy” actor Bruce Greenwood) has his life completely erased after a mysterious organization discovers that a photo he’s taken shows four men being hanged by US soldiers. Full of mind-blowing plot twists, nothing in this show loaded with conspiracy theories is what it seems. The series finale ends with a shocking revelation that is both disturbing and groundbreaking.

9.) Recess (1997-2001)

Starring: Ross Malinger, Andrew Lawrence, Rickey D’Shon Collins, Ashley Johnson, Pamela Adlon, Dabney Coleman, Alice Beasley

This animated program follows the adventures of elementary schooler TJ Detweiler (Ross Malinger/Andrew Lawrence) and his crew of fourth-graders at Third Street Elementary School. One of the many animated TV series in the ’90s made for kids but easily appreciated by adults, Recess touched on complex topics such as class systems, monarchies, and also worked as an unusual and humorous allegory for how school can feel like prison. Tender!

10.) Northern Exposure (1990-1995)

Starring: Rob Morrow, Janine Turner, Barry Corbin, John Corbett, Cynthia Geary

New York City native and recent medical school graduate Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) ends up in Alaska after the state funds his education. Much to his chagrin, instead of interning in Anchorage to work off his debt, he’s sent to the isolated village of Cicely where the big city doctor must learn how to fit in with an eclectic group of small-town locals in need of a general practitioner.

11.) The Critic (1994-1995)

Starring: Jon Lovitz, Nancy Cartwright, Christine Cavanaugh, Gerrit Graham, Doris Grau

Al Jean and Mike Reiss, writers and showrunners on The Simpsons, created the polar opposite of Homer Simpson with their lead character, film critic Jay Sherman (Jon Lovitz) in this animated series. An elitist, intellectual snob, Sherman is quick-witted, eloquent, and at times, flat out mean. Yet, The Simpson’s comedy DNA is all over this series that parodies the film industry and pokes fun at Sherman and his inflated ego.

12.) The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993-1994)

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Julius Carry, Christian Clemenson, Kelly Rutherford, Billy Drago, John Astin

Set in 1893, Bruce Campbell stars as the titular hero, a Harvard-educated lawyer turned bounty hunter chasing after the gang that killed his father. This western, created by the screenwriter of Indiana Jones and Last Crusade (Jeffrey Boam) and Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel), has plenty of adventure, abstract humor, and touches of science fiction but unfortunately only lasted one season.

13.) NewsRadio (1995-1999)

Starring: Dave Foley, Steven Root, Andy Dick, Maura Tierney, Vicki Lewis, Joe Rogan, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Khandi Alexander

A strong cast loaded with eccentric characters, NewsRadio was irreverent, hilarious, and the perfect vehicle for comedy great Phil Hartman, who played egomaniacal WNYX radio anchor Bill McNeal like a maestro with a Stradivarius. Former Saturday Night Live castmate Jon Lovitz replaced Hartman with a new character after he was murdered by his wife but the show only lasted one more season.

14.) Freakazoid! (1995-1996)

Starring: Paul Rugg, Ed Asner, Joe Leahy, Tress MacNeille, David Kaufman, Ricardo Montalban

If Zachary Levi from Chuck and Jim Carrey became a cartoon character, you’d have Freakazoid (Paul Rugg). In this wacky series, computer nerd Dexter Douglas (David Kaufman) can turn into blue-skinned superhero Freakazoid after having all the information on the internet implanted into his brain. Produced by Steven Spielberg and developed by Animaniacs creator Tom Ruegger, Freakazoid is a hilarious, pop culture referencing, fourth-wall-breaking, good time.

15.) Eerie, Indiana (1991-1992)

Starring: Omri Katz, Justin Shenkarow, Mary-Margaret Humes, Francis Guinan

The center of weirdness for the entire planet is Eerie, Indiana, or so believes 13-year-old New York City transplant Marshall Teller (Omri Katz). Of course with animals planning to take over Eerie, a benevolent ATM that gives away money to the deserving, and a town that celebrates an annual tornado, Marshall is probably on to something.

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