100 best TV shows from the '90s

Written by:
September 2, 2021
NBC Productions

100 best TV shows from the '90s

Before there was streaming, over-the-top media services, and satellite television, there was TGIF and Must-See TV. The 1990s proved to be a turning point in television history. Networks like NBC and ABC stocked up on comedies and realistic dramas, while relative newcomer Fox had its own arsenal of groundbreaking shows. Even cable networks like HBO and Cartoon Network started upping the ante with quality programming. Television viewers had more options than ever to get their entertainment fix.

Stacker compiled data on all 1990s TV shows in English with over 7,500 votes on the Internet Movie Database, and ranked the top 100 according to IMDb user score (as of January 28, 2021), with ties broken by votes. Note: As a top-ranking show that fell 17 votes short of the threshold, "The Larry Sanders Show" was included, and as an underseen, rare, and seminal depiction of queerness that fell short of the vote threshold, "Queer as Folk" was also included.

Do you remember the cop show that introduced (partial) nudity and crude language to primetime TV? Or the Nickelodeon show that launched the career of a future cast member of “Saturday Night Live”? How about the NBC crime drama that has had more spinoffs than there are presidents on Mount Rushmore? We include those shows and more, plus transcendent British comedies, genre-bending adult cartoons, and the sketch show that birthed the careers of many of the top comedians of the '90s.

It is a testament to the power of '90s TV that many of the shows on the list, while still holding up on their own, are being rebooted for newer generations. To help satisfy your cravings for nostalgia, each slide includes a hodgepodge of information like notable cast and crew, accolades won, the show’s legacy, and other interesting tidbits. Click through to see if your favorite '90s shows made the list.

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1 / 100
Paramount Pictures Spain

#100. Digimon: Digital Monsters (1999–2003)

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 20,323

In the late '90s, Japanese-style animation was all the rage in North America. Following in the footsteps of the Pokémon craze, “Digimon: Digital Monsters,” became a hit TV show among youngsters. The show spawned films, video games, and a reboot in 2020.

2 / 100
Deedle-Dee Productions

#99. King of the Hill (1997–2010)

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 45,474

Mike Judge, creator of “Beavis and Butt-Head,” scored another animated hit with “King of the Hill” on Fox. The show followed the Hill family and often focused on the activities of son Bobby Hill — a short, stubby, adolescent with a knack for one-liners. While the show took place in Texas and had some stereotypical Texan characters, “King of the Hill” had a diverse cast and was praised for its bipartisanship.

3 / 100
Columbia TriStar Television

#98. The King of Queens (1998–2007)

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 75,491

For almost 10 years, Kevin James was the king of sitcoms in this “Everybody Loves Raymond” spin-off. The show featured comic heavyweights like Patton Oswalt, Nicole Sullivan, and Jerry Stiller (who a few years earlier had a memorable recurring role on “Seinfeld”). In 2016, James starred in a new sitcom, “Kevin Can Wait,” which he denied was a reboot of “The King of Queens.”

4 / 100
You Go Boy! Productions

#97. Martin (1992–1997)

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 7,648

Martin Lawrence starred in this groundbreaking sitcom, which set the template for many comedies starring Black leads in the years to come. The show followed Lawrence with his close friends and girlfriend Gina and explored relationships, race, and culture like few shows on TV at the time.

5 / 100
In Front Productions

#96. Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place (1998–2001)

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 15,557

One of Ryan Reynolds’ first major roles was starring in this sitcom, which revolved around the fictional Beacon Street Pizza. Toward the end of its run, the show shortened its title to just “Two Guys and a Girl,” and on the series finale, fans decided the outcome through online votes.

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6 / 100
St. Clare Entertainment

#95. Sliders (1995–2000)

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 16,512

This popular mid-'90s drama isn’t about mini burgers, but travelers who slide between universes. Many episodes posit different outcomes to famous historical events and the show originally starred Jerry O'Connell. In 2019, rumors surfaced that a reboot might be in the works.

7 / 100
Jumbo Pictures

#94. Doug (1991–1994)

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 17,541

“Doug," one of the anchors for Nickelodeon in the '90s, was an animated show enjoyed by viewers of all ages. Following Doug Funnie and his friends, Skeeter and Patti Mayonnaise, the show was heavy on teaching lessons mixed with light humor. Oh, and we can’t forget Doug’s dog, Porkchop, who seemed like the perfect sidekick.

8 / 100
Games Animation

#93. Rugrats (1991–2006)

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 31,865

“Rugrats” often ran back-to-back with “Doug” on Nickelodeon and was equally beloved. Tommy Pickles and friends got into all kinds of mischief, and were known to be able to communicate among each other, but not with adults. A series of animated films followed.

9 / 100
Cartoon Network

#92. Ed, Edd n Eddy (1999–2008)

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 33,140

This Cartoon Network staple featured three boys named Ed who loved jawbreakers candy. They often found themselves in embarrassing situations, but always had each other to fall back on. After going off the air, the three Eds said goodbye in the 2009 film, “Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show.”

10 / 100
CTV Television Network

#91. La Femme Nikita (1997–2001)

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 9,086

Based on a 1990 movie, the TV show “La Femme Nikita” differs in a few aspects. The TV Nikita had fewer personal demons but remained a target of law enforcement. The show starred Australian model and actress Peta Wilson, who said she was happy to be done with the character after the show went off the air.

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11 / 100
Three Characters

#90. Early Edition (1996–2000)

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 11,240

Before Kyle Chandler became well known as Coach Taylor on “Friday Night Lights,” he played a blue-collar man with some mysterious powers in “Early Edition.” The premise of the show is that Chandler receives a copy of the newspaper one day before anyone else, and prevents tragic news from unfolding.

12 / 100
Steven Bochco Productions

#89. NYPD Blue (1993–2005)

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 11,767

An early forerunner of the “prestige” TV series, “NYPD Blue” changed the format of the television drama in the '90s. With strong performances around edgy subjects and tough dialogue, the show became a bit of a cultural phenomenon, as it dramatized the daily lives of members of the New York Police Department. Dennis Franz, David Caruso, and Jimmy Smits were among the actors who saw their careers take off thanks to the show.

13 / 100
Warner Bros. Animation

#88. Tiny Toon Adventures (1990–1995)

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 11,857

As the theme song stated, they were tiny, toony, and a little bit looney. “Tiny Toon Adventures” featured younger versions of popular Looney Tunes characters, such as Babs and Buster Bunny. Steven Spielberg served as executive producer. HBO Max released 10 new episodes on January 21, 2021. 

14 / 100
20th Century Fox Television

#87. The Pretender (1996–2000)

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 14,784

A man with the ability to pretend to be others serves him well in this series. However, opposed to resembling a con man, the Pretender uses his capabilities for good. A few TV movies followed the storyline after the show was canceled.

15 / 100
Jim Henson Productions

#86. Dinosaurs (1991–1994)

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 16,183

In one of the most unique TV shows of the '90s, this family-oriented series followed dinosaurs who encountered many life problems in the same way human TV families do. Taking place in prehistoric times, the show was not so much like “The Flintstones,” but actually a progressive look at a species nearing extinction.

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16 / 100
Spümcø

#85. The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991–1996)

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 20,744

Before “The Ren & Stimpy Show,” cartoons were seen as pretty standard fare, made specifically for young audiences. Ren and Stimpy, however, took crude humor to a new level and mixed in the absurd (like a superhero named Powdered Toast Man). In 2020, a documentary was released that examined the cultural impact of the show.

17 / 100
Jason Katims Productions

#84. Roswell (1999–2002)

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 27,144

Based on the book series for young adults, "Roswell High," this teen drama follows a group of high school students who exist alongside aliens in human bodies. Both Katherine Heigl and Colin Hanks were featured on the show, and in 2019, “Roswell, New Mexico” followed in the lineage of the original “Roswell” series.

18 / 100
Film Roman Productions

#83. Beavis and Butt-Head (1993–2011)

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 27,643

“Beavis and Butt-Head,” like “Ren & Stimpy” before it, was a game-changing animated show. The original cartoon slackers got into dumb hijinks and spent most of their time watching music videos, but their cultural impact was hard to match. At their height, the characters of Beavis and Butt-Head were the target of op-eds and even verbal attacks from congressmen.

19 / 100
CWI

#82. Sailor Moon (1995–2000)

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 11,629

There are various versions of the “Sailor Moon” animated series, which began in Japan in the early '90s. The series most common to U.S. viewers is based on the “Sailor Moon” manga, but the show received criticism for censorship. Some critics and fans of the show have praised “Sailor Moon,” with its female protagonist, for its messages of empowerment.

20 / 100
Disney Television Animation

#81. TaleSpin (1990–1991)

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 13,452

“TaleSpin” was an early-'90s animated show on Disney Channel, based on characters from “The Jungle Book.” The show was hailed for being one of the more creative Disney cartoons during a time when the network tried to establish a presence on cable television.

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21 / 100
Disney Television Animation

#80. Darkwing Duck (1991–1992)

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 14,722

In the early '90s, crime-fighting superheroes were a big deal, and Disney sought to cash in on the fad with “Darkwing Duck.” The show had some similarities to the popular show “DuckTales,” but stood out for its emphasis on action over comedy. Like many popular shows on this list, “Darkwing Duck” is being considered for a reboot.

22 / 100
Nicktoons Productions

#79. Hey Arnold! (1996–2004)

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 30,578

With his football-shaped head, Arnold of “Hey Arnold!” is one of the seminal characters of Nickelodeon cartoons. Arnold and his friends find mischief around a city, and eventually, they landed on the big screen with one film that took them into the jungle. The show was praised for its sweet core at a time when many cartoons were turning toward more edgy content.

23 / 100
David E. Kelley Productions

#78. The Practice (1997–2004)

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 7,824

Law is one genre of TV drama that always seems to bring in audiences. “The Practice” followed in that tried and true formula, and for a good seven-year run was one of the preeminent shows about lawyers on the tube. The success of “The Practice” led to the rise of actor Dylan McDermott and the spin-off series, “Boston Legal.”

24 / 100
MMG Film & TV Production

#77. The Outer Limits (1995–2002)

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 11,398

“The Outer Limits” is actually a revival of a 1960s show, centered on sci-fi themes. Kevin Conway, a noted theater actor, was the show’s narrator. “The Outer Limits” often drew comparisons to “The Twilight Zone.”

25 / 100
Hyperion Pictures

#76. Goosebumps (1995–1998)

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 11,907

Based on the popular young adult horror books, “Goosebumps” brought (mostly) age-appropriate spooky stories to TV. “Goosebumps” was so good at inducing — well, goosebumps — that the show has been credited for creating a new generation of horror film fans.

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26 / 100
Bentley Productions

#75. Midsomer Murders (1997–present)

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 23,827

“Midsomer Murders” is an English detective drama based on a 1987 novel by Caroline Graham called “The Killings at Badger’s Drift.” The show has captured legions of fans for over 20 years with its tongue-in-cheek humor, although some critics like to point out that there are an absurd amount of murders taking place in what is a relatively small town.

27 / 100
Studios USA Television

#74. Law & Order (1990–2010)

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 31,769

Who hasn’t seen an episode of “Law & Order”? The show that birthed what seems like a million spin-offs (there are actually over half a dozen) is now entering its third decade on TV. Jerry Orbach, Benjamin Bratt, and Michael Imperioli are some of the noted actors to have starred on “Law & Order.”

28 / 100
Carsey-Werner Company

#73. 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996–2001)

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 46,918

Alien comedies were done before “3rd Rock from the Sun,” but there was something about this clan from outer space that charmed audiences differently. John Lithgow and Joseph Gordon-Levitt starred in the show, which followed them and their colleagues learning to adapt to life on Earth. The show was sometimes filled with irreverent humor, but at many times was insightful with well-timed, one-liner jokes from French Stewart.

29 / 100
Constant c Productions

#72. ER (1994–2009)

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 50,481

Yes, “ER” turned George Clooney into a megastar, but the show also made the medical drama en vogue for years to come. “ER” captured the perfect mix of sadness, humor, and heartwarming moments, and won a slew of Primetime Emmy awards. The show was also noted for its unique visuals, which were copied on many shows in the future.

30 / 100
20th Century Fox Television

#71. The Tick (1994–1997)

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 8,799

“The Tick” is based on a popular comic book series, about a superhero who protects The City with a diverse cast of friends. The show, which was later made into a live-action series, was appreciated for its strange, yet compelling content and humor. Villains are often goofy (much like The Tick himself), but that just adds to the charm of this cult classic.

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31 / 100
BBC

#70. Keeping Up Appearances (1990–1995)

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 14,098

“Keeping Up Appearances” translated across the English Channel and beyond, gaining a rare following in the U.S. Centered on obnoxious social climbers, the show followed in the great tradition of wry British comedies. Today, it still charms audiences across the globe as it is available on a wide array of streaming services.

32 / 100
Nickelodeon Network

#69. Kenan & Kel (1996–2000)

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 14,113

Like any good buddy comedy, “Kenan & Kel” connected with audiences due to the titular co-stars' on-screen chemistry. Centering two longtime friends, the show followed the two teens across a variety of adventures, and became an anchor of Nickelodeon’s late '90s lineup. Kenan Thompson went on to star on “Saturday Night Live,” and Kel Mitchell excelled on “Dancing with the Stars" in 2019.

33 / 100
Disney Television Animation

#68. Recess (1997–2001)

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 22,556

“Recess” was an ingenious animated show about kids who were able to create their own society on the school playground during recess After its cancelation, the show was praised for its characterization of politics and how societies work, and several movies were made featuring the “Recess” cast.

34 / 100
Paramount Television

#67. Star Trek: Voyager (1995–2001)

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 59,276

Following in a long line of “Star Trek” TV shows, “Voyager” was set in a different galaxy and was noted for its introduction of new characters (female characters, particularly). Video games, books, and other merchandise were produced in abundance, and the show still carries a special place in the hearts of Trekkies.

35 / 100
Columbia Pictures Television

#66. The Critic (1994–2001)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 7,556

Jay Sherman is a no-nonsense, witty, sometimes annoying critic voiced by Jon Lovitz on this hit show. Sherman has been described as a “lovable jerk” known for his catchphrase, “It stinks!” In a popular episode of “The Simpsons,” Sherman made a cameo as a film festival judge.

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36 / 100
South Carolina ETV

#65. The Magic School Bus (1994–1997)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 8,256

Based on a popular children’s book series, “The Magic School Bus” chronicles Miss Frizzle and her class as they go on far-out adventures around the galaxy. Award-winning actress Lily Tomlin voiced Miss Frizzle, lending charm and grace to the main protagonist. The show was reimagined for Netflix in 2017, featuring “Saturday Night Live” star Kate McKinnon as Miss Frizzle.

37 / 100
John Wells Productions

#64. Third Watch (1999–2005)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 8,974

Third watch refers to firefighters, paramedics, and police officers who work the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift, one of the most active periods of the day. The show was often praised for its reality, and after the September 11 attacks, the cast and crew paid tribute to real-life first responders. Bobby Cannavale was among the notable actors with a recurring role on “Third Watch.”

38 / 100
343 Films

#63. NewsRadio (1995–1999)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 13,374

Although “NewsRadio” never got the acclaim of other NBC comedies like “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” and “Frasier,” it developed a cult following over five seasons. Former “SNL” alums Phil Hartman and Jon Lovitz appeared as regular cast members on this series about an AM radio station.

39 / 100
Joe Murray Productions Inc.

#62. Rocko's Modern Life (1993–1996)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 19,179

Another Nickelodeon animated classic, “Rocko’s Modern Life” revolved around a wallaby and his eccentric friends. Although not adult-themed, the show had more nuanced comedy stylings and was big on sight gags. The behind-the-scenes stories were even crazier.

40 / 100
Warner Bros. Animation

#61. Animaniacs (1993–1998)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 21,431

One of the most beloved animated shows of the '90s, “Animaniacs” had witty innuendo and recurring gags that charted well with kids and adults. Antagonists Pinky and the Brain were so well-received by audiences that they spun-off into their own successful show. The show remains a favorite of comedians. The show was rebooted in 2020. 

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41 / 100
Warner Bros. Animation

#60. Pinky and the Brain (1995–1998)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 28,123

The aforementioned “Pinky and the Brain” is a spin-off of “Animaniacs” and focuses on the pint-sized villains’ plans to take over the world. The show’s writer, Gordon Bressack, died in 2019, and was fondly remembered by fans. The show’s theme song is another beloved aspect of this memorable cartoon, and it has been covered in various formats.

42 / 100
Cartoon Network Studios

#59. Dexter's Laboratory (1996–2003)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 43,490

Child scientist Dexter runs a secret laboratory, has a great pet monkey, and is constantly quarreling with his sister — you know, very common adolescent experiences. “Dexter’s Laboratory” was nominated for many awards and helped launch Cartoon Network into a new stratosphere.

43 / 100
NBC Productions

#58. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990–1996)

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 121,429

Besides having perhaps the most catchy intro in television history, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” is one of the more culturally relevant entries on this list. Not only did Will Smith become a star, but the show mixed comedy with topics like race, social status, and parenting. Much of the cast reunited for a HBO Max special in 2020.

44 / 100
20th Century Fox Television

#57. Millennium (1996–1999)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 9,970

A former FBI agent joins a shadowy organization known as the Millennium Group in this mystery thriller series. The show often bore similarities to “The X-Files,” but with offbeat humor.

45 / 100
Britcom

#56. The Vicar of Dibley (1994–2020)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 11,859

In one of the more unique premises in television, “The Vicar of Dibley” is a British sitcom based around the law that allowed women to be ordained in the church. The fictional town of Dibley has oddball residents who are surprised when their new vicar is a woman. In 2020, fans of the show were delighted when the series returned with special Christmas episodes.

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46 / 100
MTV Animation

#55. Daria (1997–2001)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 23,133

Daria, who first made appearances on “Beavis and Butt-Head,” was featured in her own show on MTV beginning in 1997. Daria’s deadpan delivery and spot-on analysis of teen life won her fans of all genders, and she remains one of the most iconic characters of '90s television.

47 / 100
Paramount Television

#54. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1999)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 52,923

The second “Star Trek” entry on this list, “Deep Space Nine” was the third sequel to “Star Trek: The Original Series.” In detailing the adventures of the USS Defiant, “Deep Space Nine” featured big storylines like the Dominion War.

48 / 100
Grub Street Productions

#53. Frasier (1993–2004)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 73,539

One of the anchor shows during NBC’s ascent as a comedy fireworks factory, “Frasier” ran for 11 seasons. Starring Kelsey Grammer as psychiatrist Frasier Crane, the show remains one of the most celebrated sitcoms ever. “Frasier” also had several tie-ins to another seminal sitcom, “Cheers.”

49 / 100
Wolf Films

#52. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–present)

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 80,828

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” also known as “SVU,” has equaled the popularity of the original “Law & Order” and may be even more culturally relevant. Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni carried the show in its early years as Detective Benson and Detective Stabler, with many fans hoping for a romantic direction. That didn’t happen, but the show remained a ratings force with Ice-T and others stepping up after Meloni left the series. (Meloni has since reprised his role in the 2021 NBC drama "Law & Order: Organized Crime.")

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50 / 100
HBO Animation

#51. Todd McFarlane's Spawn (1997–1999)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 7,652

HBO didn’t have many animated shows in its stable, but “Spawn” was a noir hit. Based on the dark comic book character of the same name, “Spawn” ran for three seasons and won an Emmy in 1999.

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51 / 100
Soup2Nuts

#50. Home Movies (1999–2004)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 9,254

This quirky animated show is about a young aspiring filmmaker who makes — you guessed it — home movies with his friends. A cult classic, “Home Movies” was co-created by Loren Bouchard, who went on to create “Bob’s Burgers.”

52 / 100
Ivory Way Productions

#49. In Living Color (1990–1994)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 9,566

With “SNL” dominating the sketch comedy genre, “In Living Color” was a loud, hip, and downright funny competitor throughout the '90s. The brainchild of the Wayans family, “In Living Color” set up the careers of Jamie Foxx and Jim Carrey, and even featured Chris Rock for a period. Popular sketches included Damon Wayans as Homey D. Clown, Foxx as Wanda, and Carrey as Fire Marshal Bill.

53 / 100
Warner Bros. Animation

#48. Superman: The Animated Series (1996–2000)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 13,764

Kids’ WB offered some of the more memorable animated shows of the '90s, particularly with their darker-than-usual versions of comic book heroes. “Superman: The Animated Series” provided an in-depth look at Superman the character, and served as a precursor for “Batman: The Animated Series.”

54 / 100
Buena Vista Television

#47. Gargoyles (1994–1996)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 14,402

“Gargoyles” featured stone statues that came to life at night and was another animated show with dark themes. There’s been chatter of a reboot; in 2018, Jordan Peele hoped to make a film version of “Gargoyles.”

55 / 100
French & Saunders Productions

#46. Absolutely Fabulous (1992–2012)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 18,079

This gut-busting British comedy was created by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders and centers on two outlandish media figures. A feature movie was equally well-received and the TV pilot, “Mirrorball,” served as a brief continuation of the “Absolutely Fabulous” universe.

56 / 100
Warner Bros. Animation

#45. Batman Beyond (1999–2001)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 24,258

“Batman Beyond” focuses on the Caped Crusader’s years before he fought crime in Gotham City — with a twist, diverting away from the Bruce Wayne storyline. The show was immensely successful despite only airing for three seasons, spawning toys, books, games, and other media.

57 / 100
Michael Jacobs Productions

#44. Boy Meets World (1993–2000)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 38,814

One of the most memorable shows for teens from the '90s, “Boy Meets World” followed Cory (played by Ben Savage, younger brother of fellow kid star Fred Savage) as he grows up and learns life lessons with his friends, family, and principal. Danielle Fishel and Rider Strong played supporting roles on the show. In 2014, a spin-off called “Girl Meets World” aired on Disney Channel — that show was canceled, but another similar project seems to be in the works.

58 / 100
Morena Films

#43. SpongeBob SquarePants (1999–present)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 83,276

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Most kids from the '90s can answer that question quicker than they can name the colors of a rainbow, due to the popularity of “SpongeBob SquarePants.” SpongeBob is still going strong, with the film "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run" releasing in the United States in March 2021 and an upcoming prequel series to follow.

59 / 100
Carsey-Werner-Mandabach Productions

#42. That '70s Show (1998–2006)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 153,967

“That '70s Show” was a standard teen comedy, but had uncanny success in developing new stars. Almost the entire main cast went on to have long Hollywood careers, with Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and Topher Grace among the show's notables. Fox, looking to bank on the popularity of “That '70s Show,” even created “That '80s Show,” but that show had no direct tie-ins to its precursor.

60 / 100
20th Century Fox Television

#41. Family Guy (1999–present)

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 303,978

In many ways, “Family Guy” is a descendant of “The Simpsons” (they did a crossover episode in 2014), but Seth MacFarlane’s animated comedy was able to build its own legacy, too. Stewie, Brian, and Peter Griffin are pop culture mainstays, with more than 300 episodes in the bank. The show is known for its non sequitur jokes and pop culture riffs.

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61 / 100
Red Production Company

#40. Queer as Folk (1999–2000)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 5,916

Followed by a longer-running American series of the same name in 2000, “Queer as Folk” was groundbreaking for going in-depth into the lives of the LGBTQ+ community. Some aspects of the show seem dated when watching today, but many praise its portrayal of under-publicized stories, like those of HIV-positive men and women.

62 / 100
BBC

#39. Bottom (1991–1995)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 11,748

“Bottom” is a British comedy based on two losers in London who get involved in ridiculous situations. Starring Ade Edmondson and Rik Mayall, “Bottom” was mainly a hit overseas, and led to a feature film and a spin-off series. The show, which is still revered in the U.K., is now available for streaming in the U.S.

63 / 100
CINAR

#38. Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1990–2000)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 13,254

The standard bearer of young adult horror shows, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” was a pillar of Nickelodeon’s SNICK (Saturday Night Nickelodeon) lineup. Each episode told a different scary story, as a group of horror fans (The Midnight Society) gathered around a campfire. There’s been some discussion of reviving the series.

64 / 100
Jim Henson Productions

#37. Farscape (1999–2003)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 33,331

“Farscape” is one of the lesser-known arms of The Jim Henson Company, but a favorite among fans, nonetheless. This sci-fi series revolves around a group of justice seekers aboard the spaceship Moya, and calls for a reboot have grown louder.

65 / 100
Cartoon Network

#36. Courage the Cowardly Dog (1999–2002)

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 38,010

An easily scared anthropomorphic dog has proven to be a formula for success, but “Courage the Cowardly Dog” is more than just a Scooby-Doo clone (Courage has a pinkish/purple hue). The show was praised for being authentically terrifying and while there have been rumors for a while of a Courage/Scooby-Doo crossover, nothing feature-length has materialized yet.

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66 / 100
Boam/Cuse Productions

#35. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993–1994)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 7,856

Not your average Western, this show followed a former lawyer turned bounty hunter. The show lasted only one season but gained a cult following with fans clamoring for more episodes. One word many used to describe this show was “weird,” but weird can often equate to good.

67 / 100
Wellsville Productions

#34. The Adventures of Pete & Pete (1992–1996)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 8,828

In the pantheon of eccentric kids shows, “The Adventures of Pete & Pete” may take the cake. Following two brothers named Pete, the siblings interacted with a variety of wonderful characters like Artie, the Strongest Man in the World; Mr. Tastee, an ice cream truck driver with a soft serve head; and Papercut, a schoolyard bully who only threw paper in games of rock-paper-scissors. The show also had some great cameos including LL Cool J, Iggy Pop, and Michael Stipe.

68 / 100
Cine-Nevada Productions

#33. Northern Exposure (1990–1995)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 15,017

Small towns in Alaska have served as the setting for TV and movies frequently, but “Northern Exposure” might be the most popular of them all. With a nice mix of comedy and drama, the show detailed small town life with relatable adult issues. For some who couldn’t grasp “Twin Peaks,” this show was often viewed as lighter fare.

69 / 100
Ellipse Animation

#32. The Adventures of Tintin (1991–1992)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 16,674

Based on the famous French comic, this short-lived animated show was jam packed with action. Tintin, his dog Snowy, and occasional accomplices Captain Haddock and detectives Thompson and Thompson, track down treasure and criminals around the world. In 2011, Steven Spielberg released a 3D movie about Tintin.

70 / 100
The Bedford Falls Company

#31. My So-Called Life (1994–1995)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 18,981

Claire Danes became a poster girl for disillusioned '90s youth in “My So-Called Life.” Danes starred as introspective outsider Angela Chase alongside emerging stars like Jared Leto. The show tackled topics not often talked about on TV, like homophobia, drug use, and homelessness.

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71 / 100
Babylonian Productions

#30. Babylon 5 (1993–1998)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 27,919

“Babylon 5” was a popular sci-fi show set in the 23rd century, when Earth has expanded its reach of influence deep into the galaxy. Battles for power and independence rage on throughout the five seasons of the show, which was praised for its different storytelling in what felt like a “TV novel.”

72 / 100
Ark Angel Entertainment

#29. The Daily Show (1996–present)

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 44,941

Now hosted by Trevor Noah, “The Daily Show” began with former ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Craig Kilborn behind the desk. In 1999, Jon Stewart replaced Kilborn, and he lasted as host until 2015. The show also launched the careers of Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, and others, and produced a comedic book called “America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction.”

73 / 100
Brillstein-Grey Entertainment

#28. The Larry Sanders Show (1992–1998)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 7,483

Garry Shandling starred on this sitcom based on a fictional late-night talk show. Jeffrey Tambor, Jeremy Piven, and Janeane Garofalo were frequently featured along with a host of other celebrity cameos. “The Larry Sanders Show” is particularly loved by comedians, and remains an influential show today.

74 / 100
Brillstein-Grey Entertainment

#27. Mr. Show with Bob and David (1995–1998)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 8,655

Bob Odenkirk and David Cross brought a new type of weird to their sketch comedy show “Mr. Show with Bob and David.” For four seasons, viewers were brought into a wonderful world of surreal sketches with improv heavyweights like Paul F. Tompkins and Scott Aukerman helping out along the way. The show felt very anti-establishment and proved that you didn’t need mainstream Hollywood chops to create your own comedy lane.

75 / 100
BBC

#26. The League of Gentlemen (1999–2017)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 10,137

This British sitcom is based on the work of a comedy troupe that built an underground following in the mid-'90s. Among the characters are a family infatuated with toads and hygiene, and a kidnapping carnival owner. In 2017, the show returned after a 15-year hiatus.

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76 / 100
Carnival Film & Television

#25. Jeeves and Wooster (1990–1993)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 11,656

This British sitcom is based on P.G. Wodehouse’s “Jeeves” stories. “Jeeves and Wooster” starred a young Hugh Laurie, and was praised for being true to Wodehouse’s original works. In 2016, many of Wodehouse’s unseen works were acquired, including those made while under Nazi imprisonment.

77 / 100
New World Entertainment Films

#24. Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994–1998)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 26,644

The hero Spider-Man was introduced to a new generation with this animated series based on the Stan Lee comics. The first “Spider-Man” animated show debuted in 1967. Hank Azaria of “The Simpsons” fame occasionally lent his voice to this version of “Spider-Man.”

78 / 100
Genesis Entertainment

#23. X-Men: The Animated Series (1992–1997)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 37,601

This show was the first successful attempt at airing an X-Men-based animated show, and it ran for five seasons on Fox Kids. The show’s popularity led to several comic book spin-offs, and may have served as a basis for the ultra-successful 2000 film about the X-Men.

79 / 100
Double Secret Productions

#22. Stargate SG-1 (1997–2007)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 83,427

Based on the 1994 film “Stargate,” this sci-fi series continued the story from the movie. Focusing on a special ops team that explored the galaxy, “Stargate SG-1” was highly successful and led to several spin-offs and films. Beau Bridges briefly joined the show toward its tail end.

80 / 100
The Curiosity Company

#21. Futurama (1999–2013)

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 212,656

“The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening unleashed “Futurama” on Fox in 1999, and the show featured the voice of another Fox legend, Katey Sagal, who previously starred on “Married... with Children.” The show followed the workers of Planet Express, led by delivery guy Philip J. Fry. Set in the 31st century, the show featured unique technologies and a wide array of creatures full of wit, snark, and heart.

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81 / 100
Baltimore Pictures

#20. Homicide: Life on the Street (1993–1999)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 11,522

A gritty cop drama, “Homicide” was often in the shadow of “Law & Order” on NBC, but was equally, if not more revered by critics. The show was based on a book by David Simon, perhaps best known as creator of “The Wire.” After the show went off the air, a TV movie aired in February 2000.

82 / 100
Warner Bros. Animation

#19. The New Batman Adventures (1997–1999)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 14,430

This Batman series showcased Bruce Wayne’s sidekicks, noticeably Robin, Batgirl, and Nightwing. Voice actor Kevin Conroy voiced Batman and would find additional work giving vocals to the Dark Knight in Batman video games. “The New Batman Adventures” also gave prominence to Harley Quinn, whose popularity grew exponentially in the 21st century.

83 / 100
TalkBack Productions

#18. I'm Alan Partridge (1997–2002)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 18,585

English acting legend Steve Coogan starred as Alan Partridge in this British sitcom. Down on his luck, Partridge tries to revive his star power with TV show pitches. “I’m Alan Partridge” was co-created by Armando Iannucci, who later went on to mastermind the hit comedy “Veep.”

84 / 100
Hat Trick Productions

#17. Whose Line Is It Anyway? (1998–2007)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 39,987

An adaptation of a British hit show, the American version of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” featured Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles, and Colin Mochrie. The improv stars were under the direction of Drew Carey and later Aisha Tyler, with various comedic guests popping in from time to time. Brady went on to have the most post-“Whose Line” success, starring on his own show, and going on to host “Let’s Make a Deal.”

85 / 100
Paramount Comedy Channel

#16. Spaced (1999–2001)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 50,481

Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson led this rowdy British sitcom, with Nick Frost a frequent collaborator. Equal parts geeky, spaced out, and full of witty dialogue, “Spaced” is seen as a high point of British comedy at the turn of the century.

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86 / 100
FUNimation Entertainment

#15. Dragon Ball (1995–2003)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 53,126

A “Dragon Ball” TV series aired in Japan in the 1980s, but it wouldn’t reach American airwaves until a decade later. Based on Akira Toriyama’s manga, “Dragon Ball” follows Goku and his friends as they compete in tournaments, and they often battle against a villain named Piccolo. In the U.S. version, blood and gore were often edited out of scenes.

87 / 100
Tiger Aspect Productions

#14. Mr. Bean (1990–1995)

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 102,411

Perhaps the most famous British comic character around the world, Mr. Bean (played by Rowan Atkinson) warmed the hearts of American audiences throughout the '90s. “Mr. Bean” aired on HBO and PBS in the U.S., and Atkinson starred in a film featuring the Mr. Bean character in 1997 (wherein he travels to Los Angeles). Mr. Bean memorably popped back up during the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.

88 / 100
TalkBack Productions

#13. Brass Eye (1997–2001)

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 9,619

“Brass Eye” was a popular British show that parodied current news, and was a spin-off of the show, “The Day Today.” Gina McKee and Simon Pegg were among the stars of “Brass Eye,” and the show’s sharp wit remains culturally relevant for decades since its release.

89 / 100
Channel 4 Television Corporation

#12. Father Ted (1995–1998)

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 36,499

Dermot Morgan starred as Father Ted Crilly in this Irish slapstick comedy. Several priests live on Craggy Island (a fictional locale) where hijinks regularly occur around men of the clergy. The show was noted for its catchphrases, and still is regarded one of Europe’s most favored sitcoms.

90 / 100
Ten Thirteen Productions

#11. The X-Files (1993–2018)

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 198,575

The truth is out there: “The X-Files” is one of the most memorable shows of the '90s. Starring agents Scully and Mulder, this duo that was well-studied in extraterrestrial happenings explored the most mysterious realms of Earth. Several movies followed the show, and “The X-Files” legacy still resonates among a new generation of UFO chasers and believers of the unknown.

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91 / 100
OLM-Animation Studio

#10. Berserk (1997–1998)

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 28,686

Based on a manga by the late Kentaro Miura, “Berserk” was a game-changing Japanese animation series. Although many American audiences didn’t get to view it until the early 2000s, imports of the show made their way across the Pacific, where fans followed the travels of Guts, the Black Swordsman. “Berserk” is often considered the Game of Thrones of manga.”

92 / 100
Rysher Entertainment

#9. Oz (1997–2003)

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 88,656

HBO became a major player in TV dramas with the release of “Oz,” where at the fictional Oswald State prison, a series of gangs quarreled as they searched for some semblance of existence behind bars. Well, behind bars is not quite apt, as the premise of the show was that the prisoners lived more so in a contained open community, behind pods as opposed to traditional cells. Christopher Meloni, Ernie Hudson, and J.K. Simmons were among the show’s stars, along with Dean Winters — who you may know as “Mayhem” from the Allstate commercials.

93 / 100
Ocean Group

#8. Dragon Ball Z (1996–2003)

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 112,770

“Dragon Ball Z” is the sequel to “Dragon Ball.” The show began by focusing on Goku and his son, Gohan, and took many twists and turns during a run of just under 300 episodes. “Dragon Ball Z” may be the most important show in terms of the popularity of manga in the U.S.

94 / 100
Comedy Central

#7. South Park (1997–present)

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 330,674

Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s crude kids picked up where “The Ren & Stimpy Show,” “The Simpsons,” and “Beavis and Butt-Head” left off, taking cartoon humor to a new level. In the fictional Colorado town of South Park, four friends get into all kinds of mischief over 300-plus episodes. A movie and hundreds of varieties of merchandise has kept the South Park brand strong well into the 21st century.

95 / 100
John Wells Productions

#6. The West Wing (1999–2006)

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 64,468

The brainchild of Aaron Sorkin, “The West Wing” had great storylines and a powerful cast to create one of network television’s most memorable dramas. Rob Lowe, Allison Janney, Martin Sheen, and others starred in this White House-centered show, which critics still debate in terms of legacy. Among the many think pieces out there about the show, a popular theory is that “The West Wing” foreshadowed the politics of the presidency of Barack Obama.

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96 / 100
Apatow Productions

#5. Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000)

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 128,744

Judd Apatow executive produced this cult classic, which only lasted one season but is cherished near universally by those who watched it. Based on high school-aged teens — groups of freaks and geeks — the show was the starting point of successful careers for Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and James Franco. In 2018, a documentary looked at the short but wondrous existence of “Freaks and Geeks.”

97 / 100
Bandai Visual Company

#4. Cowboy Bebop (1998–1999)

- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Votes: 88,952

Set in 2071, “Cowboy Bebop” followed bounty hunters in the Bebop spaceship. One of the most critically acclaimed manga series ever, “Cowboy Bebop” first aired in the U.S. on Adult Swim. A live-action version of “Cowboy Bebop" was confirmed to release in Fall 2021. 

98 / 100
Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions

#3. Friends (1994–2004)

- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Votes: 822,704

NBC scored a runaway hit with “Friends,” with fans going crazy over everything from the theme song to Jennifer Aniston’s haircut. The premise of the sitcom is pretty basic: six friends live in New York City and have crazy stories of dating, family, and friendship. But there was something endearing about Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler, and the quirks of Joey and Phoebe. Many Major League Baseball players from Latin America watched reruns to better learn English.

99 / 100
Warner Bros. Animation

#2. Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995)

- IMDb user rating: 9.0
- Votes: 87,040

This noir animated version of Batman was unlike any other portrayal of the Caped Crusader at the time. Considered by some critics as the best adaptation ever of a comic book series on TV, “Batman: The Animated Series” combined precise artwork, great writing, and switched seamlessly between canon and new storylines.

100 / 100
HBO

#1. The Sopranos (1999–2007)

- IMDb user rating: 9.2
- Votes: 300,035

The questionable ending aside, “The Sopranos” might be the definition of “prestige television.” James Gandolfini starred as Tony Soprano, and the show followed him and his associates as they became mob kingpins in the Northeast. In 2021, a movie will serve as a prequel to “The Sopranos,” keeping the legacy of this show alive and well.

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