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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.

Synopsis: Tales of teens who morph into super-powered heroes have, in turn, morphed into a powerful franchise that includes a merchandising... [More]

#99
Synopsis: A gripping postapocalyptic horror story based on the 1978 novel, with a strong cast (including Rob Lowe in a particularly... [More]

Synopsis: Antics of two brothers with the same name dealing with life in Wellsville, U.S.A., where life is viewed through a... [More]

Adjusted Score: 91.927%
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.
Synopsis: Tongue-in-cheek Western with a Harvard-educated hero who turns bounty hunter when his dad is killed by a power-hungry time traveler... [More]

Synopsis: An Australian wallaby finds it difficult to adjust to life in America in this animated series. He does have help... [More]
Directed By: Joe Murray, Mr. Lawrence

Doug (1991)

#95
Synopsis: An animated series about the antics and rich imagination of preteen Doug Funnie as he hangs out with his dog,... [More]

Aeon Flux: Season 3 (1995)
80%

#94
Adjusted Score: 80.593%
Critics Consensus: Reaching a beguiling conclusion, Aeon Flux solidifies its status as a startlingly mature animation curio that is equal parts disturbing and sexy.
Synopsis: Animation about a scantily-clad secret agent who's a force to be reckoned with in a futuristic world, where the difference... [More]

Picket Fences (1992)
82%

#93
Synopsis: David E. Kelley's surreal slice of small-town Wisconsin life centered on the Brock family: the town's sheriff, his physician wife... [More]

Synopsis: An action-oriented modern-day Western about a Lone Star lawman who relies on martial arts to subdue bad guys. Walker's unsubtle... [More]

JAG (1995)

#91
Synopsis: A popular military drama about cases tried by Judge Advocate General (JAG) lawyers is not strictly courtroom-bound as its stars... [More]

Coach (1989)

#90
Synopsis: A sturdy sitcom about brash football coach Hayden Fox, who began with the Minnesota State Screaming Eagles when the series... [More]

#89
Synopsis: Horror tales based on the E.C. Comics of the 1940s and '50s, introduced by the Cryptkeeper, who was created by... [More]

Blossom (1991)

#88
Synopsis: A saucy but level-headed teen navigates life in the '90s, sharing a home with her divorced musician dad and two... [More]

#87
Synopsis: An easygoing Cleveland Everyman seeks simple pleasures in the company of his oddball friends as he trades barbs with his... [More]

The State (0)
83%

#86
Synopsis: Sketch comedy performed by an 11-member troupe made up of students from New York University.... [More]

Kenan & Kel (1996)

#85
Synopsis: Likable kidcom about a lumpy misfit and his debonair, orange-soda-loving buddy. Rapper Coolio composed the theme song for the show,... [More]

Synopsis: A human and two robots poke fun at egregiously cheesy sci-fi movies in this cult comedy series, which began on... [More]

Synopsis: A sleek, sexy, Emmy-nominated 1990s take on the enduring superhero, culled from DC Comics, which has spawned numerous successful film... [More]

Dinosaurs (0)
96%

#82
Synopsis: Prehistoric beings toil in mundane, suburban settings in this odd twist on the sitcom genre. The series was produced in... [More]

#81
Synopsis: Steven Bochco and David E. Kelley created this comedy about a 16-year-old wunderkind physician who graduated from medical school at... [More]

Synopsis: The masked superhero hosts an offbeat talk show featuring celebrity guests who appear on a TV monitor. Among the visitors:... [More]

#79
Synopsis: The misadventures of a pint-size inventor with a secret lab (secret from his parents, anyhow) and his ditsy big sister.... [More]

7th Heaven (1996)

#78
Synopsis: An acclaimed family drama from Aaron Spelling focuses on a minister and his family and deals sensitively and intelligently with... [More]

Synopsis: The animated adventures of the man from Krypton and his alter-ego, Clark Kent.... [More]

Synopsis: An animated crime-fighting adventure of part-human and part-turtle martial-arts masters.... [More]

Synopsis: A half-mortal, half-witch teen copes with high school and her newfound powers in this charmer, for a time the crown... [More]

#74
Synopsis: The king is a portly parcel deliveryman whose Queens castle is invaded by his father-in-law after the old man burns... [More]

Synopsis: The campy escapades of ancient Greece's sword-wielding female superhero. Originally a recurring nemesis on 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena opted... [More]

Synopsis: Another variation on `Three's Company,' centering on a teacher and his two female housemates. The sitcom developed a following as... [More]

Babylon 5 (1993)

#71
Synopsis: In 2257 A.D., the Earth Alliance places a massive space station, Babylon 5, into orbit around a planet in a... [More]

Mr. Bean (1990)
100%

#70
Synopsis: The series follows the exploits of Mr. Bean, a child in a grown man's body, who causes problems and disruption... [More]

X-Men (1992)
85%

#69
Synopsis: A '90s update of Marvel Comics' mutant superheroes.... [More]

Rugrats (1991)

#68
Synopsis: The wonders and mysteries of childhood, as experienced by a group of toddlers, unfold in a charming animated series whose... [More]

Pinky and the Brain (1995)
75%

#67
Synopsis: Two lab mice are always plotting in this spin-off from `Steven Spielberg's Animaniacs.' The series aired in prime time for... [More]

The Tick (1994)

#66
Synopsis: Animated tales of a 400-pound crimefighter dressed in a blue body stocking who assumes the role of superhero and protects... [More]

#65
Synopsis: Unsolved cases were examined in this popular reality-based anthology, which became an NBC series after the success of a special... [More]
Directed By: Mike Mathis, Jim Lindsay

#64
Synopsis: Post-apocalyptic animé adventure featuring specially trained pilots battling forces of evil for Earth's fate.... [More]
Starring:

Stargate SG-1 (1997)

#63
Synopsis: A military unit uses an ancient archway to travel the universe and battle alien parasites in this cult sci-fi adventure... [More]

Synopsis: The animated misadventures of MTV's moronic teen `metalheads,' who can't do anything but play air guitar and crack vulgar jokes.... [More]

Animaniacs (1993)

#61
Synopsis: Wacky adventures of three Warners Bros. cartoon characters who finally escape from the studio lot, after being held there since... [More]

Ellen (1994)

#60
Synopsis: A warm and funny slice-of-life sitcom about an L.A. bookstore manager and her acquaintances that began as a `Seinfeld'-like show... [More]

The Nanny (1993)

#59
Synopsis: After getting fired from her job as a cosmetic saleswoman Fran Fine becomes nanny for a wealthy Broadway producer's... [More]

Martin (0)

#58
Synopsis: Martin Lawrence stars as a small-time talk-radio host learning the hard way that, while his listeners may admire him, it's... [More]

Full House (1987)

#57
Synopsis: Comedian Bob Saget stars in this heartfelt comedy series as Danny Tanner, the widowed father of three young and rambunctious... [More]

Synopsis: Teens study, date and scheme at a California high school, where silly storylines didn't stop droves of kids from watching... [More]

Synopsis: Sitcom about aliens who look like earthlings (but can't quite get the hang of acting like them), and who observe... [More]
Directed By: Terry Hughes

#54
Synopsis: A spin-off of 'The Cosby Show' finds Denise Huxtable on her own at Hillman College. Although Denise only remained at... [More]

Murphy Brown (1988)

#53
Synopsis: Diane English's hit sitcom about the brassy star reporter for a TV newsmagazine and her coworkers. Based in Washington, D.C.,... [More]

Ally McBeal (1997)
61%

#52
Synopsis: A quirky show about a wistfully idealistic lawyer and her chaotic life at a Boston firm. The Emmy-winning David E.... [More]

Star Trek: Voyager (1995)
77%

#51
Synopsis: A starship is stranded in the uncharted Delta Quadrant in this fourth 'Star Trek' series, the first to feature a... [More]

NewsRadio (1995)
95%

#50
Synopsis: A sharp cast buoyed this underrated comedy about the staff at an all-news radio station in New York City. A... [More]

Absolutely Fabulous (1992)
96%

#49
Synopsis: A caustic and clever Britcom about two neurotic gal pals who are dedicated followers of fashion. Edina's in PR, while... [More]

Synopsis: One of Canada's funniest exports has a number of wonderfully odd characters who take sharp, satiric jabs at social conventions... [More]

#47
Synopsis: Often inspired sketch lunacy with an absurdist, stream-of-consciousness style, this series found a cult following similar to that of `Monty... [More]

Quantum Leap (1989)

#46
Synopsis: A time-travel experiment that went wrong sends physicist Sam Beckett back in time, where he assumes other people's identities and... [More]

Felicity (1998)

#45
Synopsis: A smart (when it wasn't soapy) series about an idealistic student getting lessons in life and love at a Manhattan... [More]

Party of Five (1994)

#44
Synopsis: Five orphaned siblings struggle to stay together in this blend of soap opera and family drama. A letter-writing campaign kept... [More]

Chicago Hope (1994)

#43
Synopsis: An absorbing medical series set in a top-flight Chicago hospital. Created by David E. Kelley, it debuted in September 1994... [More]

L.A. Law (1986)

#42
Synopsis: Cocreator Steven Bochco's classic law series is set in a ritzy L.A. firm, where caffeine and ego-driven meetings frequently veer... [More]

#41
Synopsis: A variety show packed with some Emmy-winning satire for laughs.... [More]

Daria (1997)

#40
Synopsis: Beavis and Butt-head's mouthy and sarcastic pal, 16-year-old Daria Morgendorffer, left the boys for her own series. Daria relies on... [More]
Directed By: Karen Disher

Mad About You (1992)

#39
Synopsis: Marital angst fuels this urbane comedy about Manhattan newlyweds adjusting to life together. He's a restive documentary filmmaker; she's an... [More]

Synopsis: A hyperactive Chihuahua named Ren and his brainless cat pal, Stimpy, headlined this cartoon series on Nickelodeon. The duo's zany... [More]

Melrose Place (1992)

#37
Synopsis: Slinky lingerie, rampant lunatics and loves usually gone wrong added up to many a soap fan's favorite campy pleasure. Early... [More]

Synopsis: The trendy, long-running drama about pretty kids with ugly problems followed a pack of Gen-Xers from high school to post-collegiate... [More]

#35
Synopsis: A popular and cool teen soap about attractive, very self-aware young people in a Boston suburb (though it was filmed... [More]

Wings (1990)

#34
Synopsis: Sensible Joe Hackett and his fun-loving brother, Brian, run a one-plane airline in this folksy ensemble sitcom. Their mutual friend... [More]

Spin City (1996)
66%

#33
Synopsis: New York City's unflappable, charismatic deputy mayor makes his clueless boss look good in this sharply written, well-played sitcom. Parkinson's... [More]

Roseanne (1988)
76%

#32
Synopsis: A loving but imperfect working-class family led by its `domestic goddess' mother was the basis of this classic, long-running sitcom.... [More]

#31
Synopsis: An Emmy-winning sketch-comedy series that featured hilarious parodies and dynamic dance segments, and presented such memorable recurring skits as `Homeboy... [More]
Directed By: Paul Miller, Jesse Vaughan

Synopsis: Ray Romano hit the sitcom stratosphere with this gem based on his stand-up routine. It's about a Long Island sportswriter... [More]

#29
Synopsis: Comedy tale of Tim a family man and the show revolves about fix-it-up missions, hardware garages and similarly.... [More]

Sports Night (1998)
90%

#28
Synopsis: The frenetic workplace of a cable-sports network is the setting for this alternately witty and poignant sitcom revolving around two... [More]

#27
Synopsis: A med-school grad must practice in a remote Alaskan village to repay his education in this quirky, fish-out-of-water dramedy. The... [More]

Synopsis: Different races try to coexist peacefully in the third `Star Trek' spin-off. This one takes place on a 24th-century space... [More]

#25
Synopsis: Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) is your average guy. He has a best friend named Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) from the... [More]

Sex and the City (1998)
71%

#24
Synopsis: This series explores New York City's dating scene, where four sassy women, Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha are in search... [More]

NYPD Blue (1993)
84%

#23
Synopsis: This gritty, acclaimed crime drama from Steven Bochco elevated the genre and altered the boundaries of what network censors would... [More]

Murder One (1995)
91%

#22
Synopsis: Steven Bochco's provocative courtroom thriller began as a seasonlong investigation of one L.A. murder case. The series was originally intended... [More]

#21
Synopsis: Drama about a 12-year-old boy coming of age in the late 1960s and early '70s.... [More]

Synopsis: This lowbrow hit about the Bundys, TV's first family of raunch, made the new Fox network a player. The long-running... [More]

#19
Synopsis: A cheerleader is chosen to battle the forces of evil as she weathers the storms of young adulthood in an... [More]

Oz (1997)
89%

#18
Synopsis: A grim and graphically raw drama about life (and often death) in an experimental prison ward called Emerald City at... [More]

Synopsis: A moody Caped Crusader defends Gotham City against the usual suspects in this animated series inspired by director Tim Burton's... [More]

Synopsis: Jon Stewart anchors this comedy news show which satirises current events.... [More]

Synopsis: An arresting, gritty police series set in a Baltimore precinct, where detectives learn that being a cop can sometimes be... [More]

Freaks and Geeks (1999)
100%

#14
Synopsis: Fringe students cope with life at a Michigan high school in 1980 in this critical favorite. Stories focused on sophomore... [More]

My So-Called Life (1994)
100%

#13
Synopsis: A thoughtful drama about an angst-ridden teen (she calls school `a battlefield for your heart') and her suburban family. Critical... [More]

Prime Suspect (1991)
100%

#12
Synopsis: The cases of weary, sardonic British homicide detective Jane Tennison (Emmy-winner Helen Mirren), a flawed but sympathetic heroine who adopts... [More]

#11
Synopsis: Classic satire about late-night TV host Larry Sanders, a neurotic (when he's not being self-obsessive) performer. The show boasted celebrity... [More]

Law & Order (1990)

#10
Synopsis: Durable cops-and-lawyers procedural with gripping headline-inspired storylines.... [More]

ER (1994)

#9
Synopsis: The multiple Emmy Award-winning ER explores the inner workings of an urban teaching hospital and the critical issues faced by... [More]

Twin Peaks (1990)
88%

#8
Synopsis: A surreal cult favorite about the investigation into the murder of a high-school homecoming queen in a Pacific Northwest lumber... [More]

Synopsis: Teenage Will moves from the tough streets of West Philadelphia to a posh mansion in Bel-Air, California.... [More]

Frasier (1993)
93%

#6
Synopsis: Brilliant 'Cheers' spin-off in which psychiatrist Frasier Crane returns to his native Seattle, where he hosts a call-in radio show... [More]

Synopsis: A new crew boards a revamped USS Enterprise in the first spin-off from the '60s cult classic.... [More]

The Simpsons (1989)
85%

#4
Synopsis: Matt Groening's subversive, animated satire about Springfield's hapless first family became a cult favorite when it premiered on Fox in... [More]

The X-Files (1993)
75%

#3
Synopsis: 'The truth is out there,' and FBI agents Scully and Mulder seek it in this sci-fi phenomenon about their quest... [More]

Friends (0)
78%

#2
Synopsis: One of television's top-ranked series and the recipient of numerous Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations, "Friends" is a... [More]

Seinfeld (1989)
88%

#1
Synopsis: The landmark Jerry Seinfeld-Larry David creation about four neurotic New Yorkers was ostensibly about nothing, but of course was uniquely... [More]


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