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The 100 Best ’90s TV Shows

The ’90s — when things were whack if they weren’t rad and you bounced from a lame party full of capital-L losers … yadda, yadda, yadda. Some of our favorite TV stars are responsible for that fly vernacular. Their favorite catchphrases were seared into fans’ brains and survive to this day on the lips of moms everywhere because those dorks starred in some of the best TV of the decade.

We’re talking the Fresh Prince, Mulder and Scully, Jerry, Elaine, George, Kramer, Bart and Lisa, Captain Picard, Buffy, Angela Chase, and, of course, Chandler, Rachel, Ross, Monica, Joey, and Phoebe to name just a few of the characters that we came to love and left a lasting impression.

Feeling nostalgic, we decided to rank the top ’90s shows below based on their popularity at the time they aired, their cultural resonance today, their Tomatometer score (where available), and an aggregation of editorial lists published by reputable media outlets. You’ll find ’90s sitcoms, ’90s cartoons, ’90s Nickelodeon shows, ’90s hospital dramas, ’90s police procedurals — sensing a pattern?

We’re saving The Sopranos (1999–2007) and other titles that aired the bulk of their seasons primarily in other decades for other lists; however, long-running shows that ran through the majority or all of the 1990s did make the list, even if they’ve had many seasons in other decades, too – shows like Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, and Unsolved Mysteries. (You may also see those on our “Best TV of the 1980s” list — coming soon!) You’ll also note that these are primarily U.S. titles, though the occasional British series was able to cross the pond in the age before streaming and make a major impression in the ’90s.

Did your favorite not make our list of the best ’90s TV shows? Tell us in the comments which ’90s series you think should have made the list or should have been ranked higher or lower.

Power Rangers (1993)

#100
Synopsis: A closeknit band of teenagers in fictional Angel Grove, Calif., transforms into a uniformed team of superheroes ready to take... [More]
Directed By: Shuki Levy, Haim Saban

#99
Synopsis: A four-part miniseries tells the horror story of King's "The Stand." A supervirus that leaked from a lab kills most... [More]

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#98

Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: With The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Bruce Campbell brings his campy charms to the small-screen in an inventive, genre-bending Western.

Rocko (1993)

#96
Synopsis: Rocko is a wallaby who has moved from his native Australia to the United States. But life in the United... [More]

Doug (1991)

#95
Synopsis: Meet Douglas Yancy Funnie, who just moved to Bluffington with his parents, Phil and Theda, and his sister, Judy. When... [More]

Aeon Flux: Season 3 (1995)
80%

#94
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: Reaching a beguiling conclusion, Aeon Flux solidifies its status as a startlingly mature animation curio that is equal parts disturbing and sexy.
Starring:

Picket Fences (1992)
82%

#93
Synopsis: Set in Rome, Wis., this drama/mystery series revolves around a small town where strange things happen. The central focus is... [More]
Directed By: David E. Kelley

Synopsis: Texas Ranger Cordell Walker kicks posterior -- usually in slo-mo. Because of his martial-arts skills, he has a competitive edge... [More]
Directed By: Len Katzman

JAG (1995)

#91
Synopsis: Harmon "Harm" Rabb Jr. is a former pilot turned lawyer working for the military's JAG (Judge Advocate General) division, the... [More]

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#90

#89
Synopsis: Based on the EC Comics series of the same name, this campy and stylized anthology series recounts a string of... [More]

Blossom (1991)

#88
Synopsis: Blossom Russo is a highly intelligent and spunky teenager. The youngest of three, she lives with her divorced musician father,... [More]

#87
Synopsis: The fictional version of comedian Drew Carey is a hapless employee for Cleveland's Winfred-Louder department store, which becomes an Internet... [More]

The State (1993)
83%

#86
Synopsis: Produced by MTV, "The State" is a sketch comedy show, a la "Saturday Night Live" with more elaborate productions. The... [More]

Kenan & Kel (1996)

#85
Synopsis: "Aw, here it goes!" Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell were among the original cast members of the popular Nickelodeon sketch-comedy... [More]

Synopsis: Forced by evil scientists to watch bad "B" movies until he breaks, a host and a bunch of captive robots... [More]

Synopsis: Another incarnation of the Superman legend, this series puts a 1990s spin on the standard story. This time, the focus... [More]
Directed By: Robert Singer

Dinosaurs (1991)
91%

#82
Synopsis: Dinosaurs live like humans in this 1990s sitcom set in 60,000,003 B.C. in Pangaea. Blue-collar dinosaur Earl Sinclair tries to... [More]

#81
Synopsis: Long before Neil Patrick Harris portrayed the skirt-chasing Barney Stinson in "How I Met Your Mother," he was a favorite... [More]

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#80

#79
Synopsis: Sleep tight, America! Your fate lies safely in the hands of Dexter, a child genius who whips up dazzling, world-saving... [More]
Directed By: Genndy Tartakovsky

7th Heaven (1996)

#78
Synopsis: Eric Camden is a reverend and the father of numerous children who faces the challenges of raising a family during... [More]

Synopsis: Superman battles evil while trying to conceal his alter ego, Clark Kent.... [More]

Synopsis: Mutant heroes live in New York sewers and train in martial arts to protect the city from crime.... [More]

Synopsis: Sabrina Spellman is a teenager with magical powers who comes from a long line of witches. Until going away to... [More]
Directed By: Paula Hart, Bruce Ferber

#74
Synopsis: Doug Heffernan puts in a long day's work delivering parcels and comes home each night to his loving wife, Carrie;... [More]

Xena (1995)

#73
Synopsis: Xena is a reformed warrior princess who travels around fighting evil. Gabrielle -- bard and friend -- keeps her company... [More]
Directed By: Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert

Synopsis: Former NBA player Mark Cooper becomes a dedicated teacher and basketball coach in Oakland after his playing career ends. When... [More]

Babylon 5 (1994)

#71
Synopsis: Creator J. Michael Straczynski's ambitious and complex futuristic space opera charts five years in the lives of those aboard the... [More]

Mr. Bean (1990)
100%

#70
Synopsis: The misadventures of a bumbling loner.... [More]
Starring: Rowan Atkinson
Directed By: John Birkin

X-Men (1992)
85%

#69
Synopsis: Professor Charles Xavier and his band of courageous mutants strike back against corrupt and bigoted government agencies as well as... [More]

Rugrats (1991)

#68
Synopsis: "Rugrats" reveals the world from a baby's point of view. Everything looks bigger, more mysterious and uncontrollable. Angelica, the oldest,... [More]

Pinky & the Brain (1995)
75%

#67
Synopsis: The odd buddies have many strange adventures.... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

The Tick (1994)

#66
Synopsis: People dressed in tights and capes set out to save the world.... [More]

#65
Synopsis: This series uses reenactments and interviews to retell the circumstances of mysteries that are unsolved. Covering crimes, tales of lost... [More]

#64
Synopsis: When violent monsters descend upon Earth to destroy humanity, a reluctant young man joins a small squad of pilots under... [More]
Directed By: Hideaki Anno

Stargate SG-1 (1997)

#63
Synopsis: A team of explorers made up of soldiers and scientists travels through a Stargate, an ancient portal to other planets.... [More]
Directed By: Brad Wright

Synopsis: Beavis and Butt-head are, as one of the early preshow disclaimers read, "dumb, crude, ugly, thoughtless, sexist, self-destructive fools. But... [More]
Starring: Mike Judge
Directed By: Mike Judge

Animaniacs (1993)

#61
Synopsis: Blending wit, slapstick and pop culture references, the variety show "Animaniacs" features a large cast of characters, whose predominant personalities... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

Ellen (1994)

#60
Synopsis: Ellen works in a Los Angeles bookstore called Buy the Book and hangs around with her friends discussing lovers, work... [More]

The Nanny (1993)

#59
Synopsis: When she appears on the doorstep of wealthy widower Maxwell Sheffield's New York home, cosmetics saleswoman Fran Fine unexpectedly gets... [More]

Martin (1992)

#58
Synopsis: Stand-up comedian Martin Lawrence drives this irreverent sitcom as a sexist, cocky and wisecracking radio station talk show host. His... [More]

Full House (1987)

#57
Synopsis: When Danny Tanner's wife dies, the San Francisco sportscaster gets support in the form of two new roommates: brother-in-law and... [More]

#56
Synopsis: Lovable schemer Zack Morris leads his pals on adventures at California's Bayside High School. The friends navigate relationships, final exams,... [More]

Synopsis: The high commander of an alien expedition lands on Earth -- what he considers to be the least-important planet --... [More]

#54
Synopsis: Denise Huxtable is in "a different world" -- predominantly black Hillman College -- in this popular "Cosby Show" spinoff. A... [More]

Murphy Brown (1988)

#53
Synopsis: Murphy Brown is the star reporter of "FYI," a newsmagazine series. Murphy is sarcastic, ambitious, often self-involved and bossy --... [More]

Ally McBeal (1997)
61%

#52
Synopsis: Ally McBeal is a young attorney who joins a prestigious law firm with a highly sexual environment and whose staff... [More]

Star Trek: Voyager (1995)
76%

#51
Synopsis: Kathryn Janeway is the captain of a starship that is lost in space and must travel across an unexplored region... [More]

NewsRadio (1995)
95%

#50
Synopsis: "NewsRadio" showcases the hilarious antics of staffers at WNYX, the fictional No.2 news radio station serving New York. The characters... [More]

#49
Synopsis: A show brilliant in its uncensored bad behavior and satirical humor, this series features Edina and Patsy, two hard-drinking, drug-taking,... [More]
Directed By: Jon Plowman

#48
Synopsis: This series is a hilarious sketch comedy featuring five male actors who portray almost every character themselves, playing both male... [More]

Synopsis: This series is composed of surreal sketch comedy pieces dealing with everything from politics and religion to popular culture. The... [More]

Quantum Leap (1989)

#46
Synopsis: Former scientist Sam Beckett finds himself trapped in time due to an experiment gone awry, leaping into the body of... [More]

Felicity (1998)

#45
Synopsis: Felicity Porter is a shy girl who finds out what life on her own is really following her high-school graduation.... [More]

Party of Five (1994)

#44
Synopsis: After their parents die in a car accident, the five Salinger siblings are forced to live on their own, with... [More]
Directed By: Chris Keyser, Amy Lippman

Chicago Hope (1994)

#43
Synopsis: Dr. Phillip Watters heads the hospital administration and often butts heads with dedicated doctors and surgeons who take issue with... [More]

L.A. Law (1986)

#42
Synopsis: The high-powered law firm of McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak handles both criminal and civil cases, usually for high fees.... [More]

#41
Synopsis: Live from New York for more than four decades, celebrity hosts join an award-winning ensemble cast to perform comedic sketches,... [More]
Directed By: Lorne Michaels

Daria (1997)

#40
Synopsis: Brainy, sardonic Daria Morgendorffer tries to fly under the radar at Lawndale High School, and she's doing a pretty good... [More]
Directed By: Karen Disher

Mad About You (1992)

#39
Synopsis: In this comedy, married New York couple Paul and Jamie Buchman (Paul Reiser, Helen Hunt) share their lives and offer... [More]
Directed By: Danny Jacobson

Synopsis: Ren, a psychotic Chihuahua, and Stimpson J. Cat, a dimwitted Manx cat who goes by the nickname Stimpy, have a... [More]

Melrose Place (1992)

#37
Synopsis: This sudsy drama from Aaron Spelling focuses on the lives and loves of young adults in an apartment complex in... [More]

Synopsis: One of the definitive shows of the 1990s, "90210" originally follows the lives of Brandon and Brenda Walsh, who both... [More]
Directed By: Charles Rosin, Darren Star

#35
Synopsis: This drama series chronicles the lives of wannabe filmmaker Dawson Leery, his best friend Joey (female), who has been in... [More]
Directed By: Greg Berlanti, Paul Stupin

Wings (1990)

#34
Synopsis: Two brothers, Joe and Brian Hackett, run a one-plane commuter service from a small Nantucket airport. Along with Joe's on-again/off-again... [More]

Spin City (1996)
69%

#33
Synopsis: New York Mayor Randall Winston needs help running the city. So, for much of the series, he counts on Deputy... [More]

Roseanne (1988)
76%

#32
Synopsis: Explore life, death and everything in between through the relatable, hilarious and brutally honest lens of the working-class Conner household,... [More]

#31
Synopsis: This series provides a platform for the many members of the comedic Wayans family. Popular recurring sketches include Homey D.... [More]

Synopsis: Ray Barone is a successful sports writer and family man who deals with a brother and parents -- who happen... [More]

#29
Synopsis: Tim "The Toolman" Taylor, host of the home-improvement show "Tool Time," definitely is not as handy at home as he... [More]

Sports Night (1998)
90%

#28
Synopsis: Casey McCall and Dan Rydell are two sports anchors and best friends both on and off the screen. At "Sports... [More]

#27
Synopsis: Dr. Joel Fleischman graduates from Columbia University medical school and is assigned to work in the tiny Alaskan town of... [More]

Synopsis: A spinoff of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Deep Space Nine" is set on a space station near the planet... [More]

#25
Synopsis: With the help of true love Topanga, best friend Shawn and teacher Mr. Feeny, Cory Matthews juggles school, friends and... [More]

Sex and the City (1998)
70%

#24
Synopsis: A sex columnist, Carrie Bradshaw, and her three friends -- Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda -- explore Manhattan's dating scene, chronicling... [More]

NYPD Blue (1993)
83%

#23
Synopsis: This Steven Bochco-produced series pulls few punches in portraying the day-to-day lives of cops in New York's 15th Precinct. Characters'... [More]

Murder One (1995)
91%

#22
Synopsis: High-powered attorney Theodore Hoffman defends Neil Avedon, an arrogant young actor with a track record of drug-and-alcohol problems, in a... [More]

#21
Synopsis: "The Wonder Years" tracks life in the turbulent late 1960s and early '70s through the eyes of the increasingly less... [More]
Directed By: Bob Brush

Synopsis: The antithesis of the loving "Cosby Show" family, "Married ... With Children" focused on the Bundys, a suburban Chicago family... [More]

#19
Synopsis: Sarah Michelle Gellar takes on the role of Buffy Summers in this TV version of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," based... [More]

Oz (1997)
92%

#18
Synopsis: Inmates and correctional officers inside the Oswald State Correctional Facility, nicknamed "Oz," battle for power and survival amid warring factions... [More]

Synopsis: This animated series conveys the dark mood of the original "Batman" comic books. Unlike the light action "Batman" show of... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Altieri

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%

#16

Synopsis: This fast-paced police drama portrays the brutal detective work of a homicide department in Baltimore. Dealing with the numerous murders... [More]

Freaks and Geeks (1999)
100%

#14
Synopsis: Growing up circa 1980, a misfit high-school student and his pals are probably destined to become new media millionaires, but... [More]
Directed By: Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan

My So-Called Life (1994)
95%

#13
Synopsis: "My So-Called Life" is a bastion of teen angst. Angela is a high schooler in constant turmoil over her exposure... [More]

Prime Suspect (1992)
100%

#12
Synopsis: After a colleague suffers a near-fatal heart attack, Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison takes over an investigation into the murder... [More]

#11
Synopsis: Hey now! This series offers a behind-the-scenes look at late-night talk show host Larry Sanders (Garry Shandling) and the production... [More]

Law & Order (1990)

#10
Synopsis: Lives hang in the balance as detectives and prosecutors pursue justice in New York City. In cases ripped from the... [More]

ER (1994)

#9
Synopsis: Set in Chicago, this medical drama deals with the personal and professional crises of the doctors in the emergency room... [More]

Twin Peaks (1990)
82%

#8
Synopsis: A crime drama mixed with healthy doses of the surreal, this series is about FBI Agent Dale Cooper, who travels... [More]

Synopsis: Will Smith more or less plays himself in this good-natured NBC sitcom. As the show's popular theme song explains, fictional... [More]

Frasier (1993)
95%

#6
Synopsis: Dr. Frasier Crane, a successful Boston therapist, moves to Seattle to get a new start on life; he has a... [More]

Synopsis: Featuring a bigger and better USS Enterprise, this series is set 78 years after the original series -- in the... [More]

The Simpsons (1989)
85%

#4
Synopsis: This long-running animated comedy focuses on the eponymous family in the town of Springfield in an unnamed U.S. state. The... [More]

The X-Files (1993)
74%

#3
Synopsis: In one of the longest-running science fiction series in network TV history, FBI special agents investigate unexplained, mind-bending cases known... [More]
Directed By: Chris Carter, Glen Morgan

Friends (1994)
79%

#2
Synopsis: Three young men and three young women -- of the BFF kind -- live in the same apartment complex and... [More]

Seinfeld (1989)
89%

#1
Synopsis: Four single friends -- comic Jerry Seinfeld, bungling George Costanza, frustrated working gal Elaine Benes and eccentric neighbor Cosmo Kramer... [More]


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