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Top 25 Best TV Shows from 1990s – OtakuKart Recommends

It is a truth universally acknowledged that nothing hits better than the 90s TV shows. Whether we crave to watch a thrilling mystery adventure or a sitcom when you need a laugh, the 90s shows are always there for our aid. Not the mention the nostalgic emotions that they take us through along with the quality of content. We still do the ‘claps’ when the theme song of ‘Friends’ is played, don’t we? So let us take you to a rollercoaster of nostalgia where you are going to come across some of the best TV shows of the 1990s.

25. 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996-2001)

Created by: Terry Turner, Bonnie Turner
Starring: John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, French Stewart, Jane Curtin, Elmarie Wendel, Simbi Khali, Wayne Knight
Total Number of Seasons: 6

3rd Rock from the Sun

3rd Rock from the Sun

‘3rd Rock from the Sun’ is an American sitcom revolving around four extraterrestrials who believe that Earth is a very insignificant planet and arrive on Earth due to an expedition. The aliens act as a family and live in a human society in order to understand the human conditions and the behavior of human beings. The show has been awarded with six Primetime Emmys and was very well-received by the spectators during its time.

24. Frasier (1994-2004)

Created by: David Angell, David Lee, Peter Casey
Starring: Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, Peri Gilpin, David Hyde Pierce, John Mahoney
Total Number of Seasons: 11

Frasier

Frasier

A recipient of numerous Primetime Emmy Awards, Frasier is a spin-off of ‘Cheers’ which tells the tale of a Frasier Crane who returns to his hometown and begins his new life as the host of a radio advice show, trying to re-establish his relations with his family and friends. The series has been described as one of the best family shows and has been acclaimed critically. The revival of the series is under development and it is estimated that it will release sometime in 2022 on Paramount+.

23. The Magic School Bus (1994-1997)

Developed by: Alison Blank, Jane Startz, Kristin Laskas Martin
Voiced Over by: Lily Tomlin, Lisa Yamanaka, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Danny Tamberelli, Tara Meyer, Daniel DeSanto, Erica Luttrell
Total Number of Seasons: 4

The Magic School Bus

The Magic School Bus

This show has been critically and commercially successful for its take on combining entertainment with knowledge. One of the highest-rated PBS TV shows for school-age children, ‘The Magic School Bus’ follows Miss Frizzle who has embarked on an adventurous journey on the eponymous school bus with her class. The journey includes exciting field trips as the children learn about the amazement brought upon by science, discovering creatures, location, time period and more. The sequel of the series, ‘The Magic School Bus Rides Again’ has already premiered on Netflix in 2017.

22. Oz (1997-2003)

Created by: Tom Fontana
Starring: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ernie Hudson, Kirk Acevedo, Christopher Meloni, Terry Kinney, George Morfogen, Harold Perrineau, Rita Moreno
Total Number of Seasons: 6

Oz

Oz

The show narrates the daily incidents of an unusual prison facility, ‘Oz’ or ‘Oswald Maximum Security Penitentiary,’ depicting the cruel realistic view of the life of the criminal inhabitants in cell. Oz is one of the most well-written series of all times, and an exceptional combination of wonderful acting and character development. The plotline is intense enough to make you dislike a character at one moment, and before you realise it, you are already empathetic towards the same the very next moment.

21. Murphy Brown (1988-2018)

Created by: Diane English
Starring: Faith Ford, Candice Bergen, Charles Kimbrough, Joe Regalbuto, Robert Pastorelli, Grant Shaud, Lily Tomlin, Pat Corley, Jake McDorman, Adan Rocha, Nik Dodani, Tyne Daly
Total Number of Seasons: 18

Murphy Brown

Murphy Brown

The show features the personal and professional unfortunate adventures of an opinionated but loved woman named Murphy Brown, who works as an investigative journalist and news anchor. The show managed to cover real-life problems of an unmarried mature woman including alcoholism, breast cancer and getting pregnant, with insight and in a humorous manner. A revival of Murphy Brown premiered in September, 2018 on CBS but the future seasons were cancelled.

20. Married… with Children (1987-1997)

Created by: Michael G. Moye, Ron Leavitt
Starring: Ed O’Neill, David Garrison, Katey Sagal, Amanda Bearse, David Faustino, Christina Applegate, Ted McGinley
Total Number of Seasons: 11

Married... with Children

Married… with Children

One of the most hilarious sitcoms, the show follows a misanthropic women’s shoe salesman, Al Bundy, who leads a miserable life with his lazy wife, a dim-witted and promiscuous daughter, and his dysfunctional son. ‘Married… with Children’ sets another bar when it comes to humour. No wonder it is one of the longest running shows even if it has no moral values to deliver to the spectators. With entertaining characters and amazing performance, it is difficult not to fall in love with the show and rewatch it again and again.

19. Quantum Leap (1989-1993)

Created by: Donald P. Bellisario
Starring: Scott Bakula, Dean Stockwell
Total Number of Seasons: 5

Quantum Leap

Quantum Leap

The series follows a scientist named Dr. Sam Beckett who travels back in time during a government experiment and takes the place of other people on a temporary basis, in order to rectify the historical mistakes and leap back to the current time. This Sci-fi series leaves its viewers laughing at one moment and then quickly make you all serious. The balanced mixture of humour, romance, drama and social commentary is what makes the show a unique one.

18. The Adventures of Pete & Pete (1991-1996)

Created by: Chris Viscardi, Will McRobb
Starring: Danny Tamberelli, Michael Maronna, Alison Fanelli, Judy Grafe, Hardy Rawls, Toby Huss, Michelle Trachtenberg
Total Number of Seasons: 3

The Adventures of Pete & Pete

The Adventures of Pete & Pete

One of the most well-written shows for the children, ‘The Adventures of Pete & Pete’ is a comedy TV show that spins on two red-headed brothers, both with the name Pete. The show depicts the surreal and humourous adventures of the brothers in suburbia among their friends, neighbours and enemies. It originally aired as minute-long shorts but was later developed into a regular series owing to its popularity.

Read: Top 10 Most Iconic Family Television Series Of All Time

17. Kids in the Hall (1988-1995)

Producerd by: Joe Bodolai, Lorne Michaels
Starring: Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Scott Thompson, Mark McKinney
Total Number of Seasons: 5

Kids in the Hall

Kids in the Hall

‘Kids in the Hall’ is a sketch comedy TV series that features the comedy troupe named the same as the show title, consisting of Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, Bruce McCulloch and Scott Thompson. They have written most of the sketches of the show and has even acted as almost all the characters, irrespective of male or female. The show has been renewed for another season which will be a continuation of the original show, featuring the same troupe, and will be available to watch on Prime Video.

16. Unsolved Mysteries (1987-present)

Created by: Terry Dunn Meurer, John Cosgrove
Presented by: Raymond Burr, Robert Stack, Karl Malden, Dennis Farina, Virginia Madsen,
Total Number of Seasons: 15

Unsolved Mysteries

Unsolved Mysteries

The show documents real-life mysteries, paranormal phenomena and cold cases featuring some of the most intriguing as well as compelling unsolved cases that we might ever come across. After getting cancelled several times due to different reasons, the show kept coming back due to its high demand. A reboot of the original series was picked up by Netflix in 2019 and was released in July, 2020. The show has been able to bring some of the unsolved cases into limelight and thus letting them to be solved.

15. Full House (1987-1995)

Created by: Jeff Franklin
Starring: Bob Saget, John Stamos, Dave Coulier, Jodie Sweetin, Candace Cameron, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Total Number of Seasons: 8

Full House

Full House

This sitcom revolves around the events of Danny Tanner, a widowed father who has to raise his three daughters, D.J., Stephanie and Michelle with the help of his best friend Joey Gladstone, and his brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis in his San Francisco home. The show is humourous, dramatic, entertaining and delivers the importance of family. A sequel of the show has been released by Netflix in 2016 along with a final season that aired in June, 2020.

14. Mr. Show With Bob and David (1995-1998)

Created by: David Cross, Bob Odenkirk
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, Tom Kenny, John Ennis, Jay Johnston, Jill Talley
Total Number of Seasons: 4

Mr. Show With Bob and David

Mr. Show With Bob and David

Presented by Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, ‘Mr. Show With Bob and David’ is an American sketch comedy series that originally showcased the semi-fictionalised versions of the hosts but later transitioned to feature on-stage sketches, performing them before a live audience and some pre-taped segments. Several alternative comedians have also been featured in the show as writers as well as cast which includes Paul F. Tompkins, Jack Black, Sarah Silverman, Karen Kilgariff.

13. In Living Color (1990-1994)

Created by: Keenen Ivory Wayans
Starring: Keenen Ivory Wayans, Damon Wayans, Kim Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans
Total Number of Seasons: 5

In Living Color

In Living Color

The show began airing during the time when most of the sketch comedy shows out there used to cast the whites, while the cast members of ‘In Living Color’ were black. The series delivered black humour from an uncut and raw perspective. The show became very popular among the international viewers for its boldness and won a number of Primetime Emmy Awards. Some of the earlier known comedians, including Jamie Foxx, David Alan Grier, Tommy Davidson and T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh have also been a part of the show.

12. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

Created by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Nicholas Brendon, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Stewart Head, Charisma Carpenter, David Boreanaz, James Marsters, Seth Green, Emma Caulfield, Marc Blucas
Total Number of Seasons: 7

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Inspired by the 1992 film going by the same name, the story has been set in a world where Slayers are chosen by destiny to fight against demons, vampires and other dark forces. The show chronicles a young woman named Buffy who has been chosen to be a slayer, although she wants to lead a normal life. However, she learns to embrace her fate and forms a circle of loyal friends who came to be known as ‘Scooby Gang.’

11. Boy Meets World (1993-2000)

Created by: April Kelly, Michael Jacobs
Starring: Ben Savage, William Daniels, Will Friedle, Betsy Randle, Rider Strong, Lily Nicksay, Lee Norris, William Russ
Total Number of Seasons: 7

Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World

‘Boy Meets World’ is an American sitcom that revolves around the everyday events and life-lessons of a teenage boy, Cory Matthews and his two siblings who bears the trials of growing up. The show also stars Cory’s best friend Shawn Hunter, teacher George Feeny, brother Eric and love interest Topanga. Labelled as one of the well-scripted teenage shows, ‘Boy Meets World’ consists of actors who have done a great job in portraying their characters, along with the right amount of humour.

10. The Simpsons (1989 – present)

Created by: Matt Groening
Voiced by: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith, Nancy Cartwright, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria
Total Number of Seasons: 32

The Simpsons

The Simpsons

The show that doesn’t even need an introduction! It has the record of the longest-running American sitcom, the longest-running American animated show, as well as the longest-running American scripted primetime TV series. The show made its debut more than thirty years ago and is still going strong with the Simpson family consisting of Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie. The series has already been renewed for another two seasons that will be released by 2023.

9. The Wonder Years (1988-1993)

Created by: Carol Black, Neal Marlens
Starring: Fred Savage, Alley Mills, Dan Lauria, Olivia d’Abo, Danica McKellar, Jason Hervey, Josh Saviano
Total Number of Seasons: 6

The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years

Set between 1968 and 1973, ‘The Wonder Years’ is a coming-of-age comedy-drama that narrates the social and family life of a teenager named Kevin Arnold living in a suburban middle-class family consisting of his mother Norma, his father Jack, his brother Wayne, his sister Karen. His best friend Paul Pfeiffer and his love interest Winnie Cooper are also featured in the show. A recipient of numerous awards, ‘The Wonder Years’ is a series which has been and will be remembered even years after it’s completion.

8. Saved by the Bell (1989-1983)

Created by: Sam Bobrick, Peter Engel
Starring: Mario Lopez, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dustin Diamond, Elizabeth Berkley, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Lark Voorhies, Dennis Haskins, Ed Alonzo, Leanna Creel
Total Number of Seasons: 4

Saved by the Bell

Saved by the Bell

One of the best school shows of all time, ‘Saved by the Bell’ chronicles a group of high school friends of Bayside High School in Los Angeles, along with their principal. Although the show started off with lighthearted comedy, it soon turned into touching educational and informational subjects including homelessness, women’s rights, remarriage, death, drug use, driving under the influence, and environmental issues.

7. Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)

Created by: Paul Feig
Starring: John Francis Daley, Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Samm Levine, Jason Segel, Becky Ann Baker, Martin Starr
Total Number of Seasons: 1

Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks

Labelled as one of the greatest television shows of all time, ‘Freaks and Geeks’ is a cult classic that showcases the sad, hilarious unfairness of the lives of teens. Set during 1980–1981 in a suburban high school in Detroit, the show has presented two groups of friends, the younger ones as ‘The Geeks’ and older ones as ‘The Freaks’. While the geeks add the necessary comic element to the series with their easygoing attitudes, the freaks deal with the dramatic storyline including the problems related to youth, self-esteem and drugs.

6. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)

Created by: Andy Borowitz, Susan Borowitz
Starring: James Avery, Will Smith, Janet Hubert-Whitten, Karyn Parsons, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana M. Ali, Daphne Maxwell Reid, Joseph Marcell, Ross Bagley
Total Number of Seasons: 6

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

With Will Smith playing the fictionalized version of himself, ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ centres on a street-smart boy in his teen, born and brought up in West Philadelphia. After getting into a fight in his neighborhood with a couple of boys, he is sent to live with his rich uncle and aunt in Bel-Air. However, his usual lifestyle does not match with the style of living of his upper-class relatives. The opening introduction song is one of the most popular theme songs of the 90s.

5. The X-Files (1993-2002, 2016-2018)

Created by: Chris Carter
Starring: Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Robert Patrick, Mitch Pileggi, Annabeth Gish
Total Number of Seasons: 11

The X-Files

The X-Files

The story is about two FBI agents— Fox Mulder who is the believer and Dana Scully who is the skeptic, working in the basement of the FBI and investigating on strange and unexplainable supernatural phenomenans, including the alien presence. The show is indeed an intelligent masterpiece, and an epitome of beautifully delivered complicated scenarios and plot.

4. My So-Called Life (1994-1995)

Created by: Winnie Holzman
Starring: Bess Armstrong, Claire Danes, Wilson Cruz, Devon Gummersall, Jared Leto, A. J. Langer, Devon Odessa, Tom Irwin, Lisa Wilhoit
Total Number of Seasons: 1

My So-Called Life

My So-Called Life

My So-Called Life ended up being a trailblazer for the LGBTQ community, following the lives of several teenagers in the social circle with Angela Chase as the main protagonist. The second season of the show was never picked up although it ended with a cliffhanger. The series received several awards and nominations, and was even critically acclaimed for the portrayal of adolescence as well as the commentary of its main character.

3. Seinfeld (1989-1998)

Created by: Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David
Starring: Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander
Total Number of Seasons: 9

Seinfeld

Seinfeld

One of the most influential sitcoms of all time, the show focuses on the minutiae of daily life. With Jerry Seinfeld playing as the fictionalised version of himself, ‘Seinfeld’ centres on his personal life surrounded by his three friends— George Costanza, Cosmo Kramer and Elaine Benes. Regarded as ‘the show about nothing,’ ‘Seinfeld’ is incredibly a worth-watching show owing to its well-written script, crazy plots and hilarious acting.

2. Twin Peaks (1990-1991, 2017)

Created by: Mark Frost, David Lynch
Starring: Kyle MacLachlan, Mädchen Amick, Michael Ontkean, Dana Ashbrook, Lara Flynn Boyle, Richard Beymer, Sherilyn Fenn, Warren Frost
Total Number of Seasons: 3

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks

‘Twin Peaks’ can be considered as a landmark turning point in TV drama, which received praise from both the spectators as well as the critics. The show revolves around an investigation led by Dale Cooper, an FBI Special Agent and Harry S. Truman, a local Sheriff into the homicide of homecoming queen, Laura Palmer. The uncanny tone of the narrative of this detective fiction, the use of supernatural elements and the melodramatic portrayal of the supporting characters aids in making it the best mystery to be ever put on screen.

1. Friends (1994-2004)

Created by: David Crane, Marta Kauffman
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer
Total Number of Seasons: 10

Friends

Friends

Who could have acquired the first position in the list other than the legendary sitcom ‘Friends’! The show that recently turned 25, ‘Friends’ has receiving worldwide popularity ever since it debuted and has won numerous nominations and awards throughout its run. The six friends— Rachel Green, Monica Geller, Phoebe Buffay, Joey Tribbiani, Chandler Bing and Ross Geller will always be there for us, as the theme song says.

Read: Top Ten Best Action Movies Of The 90s