Top 10 (80’s/90’s) Children’s TV shows that would still be watched if aired today

My friends and I got to talking  about how different the television of today is from the television that we watched as children. Maybe it’s just that as I’ve gotten older I’ve lost some perspective, but I really can’t imagine my 10 year old self enjoying watching episodes of  Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers (is that even a tv show?) or any of their copycats.

Not to say that I didn’t watch some bad television as a kid. In recent years, I’ve tried to watch re-runs of Saved By the Bell and Full House, and they definitely don’t carry the same magic that they used to. That got me thinking about which shows that I used to love would still render themselves enjoyable now that I am an adult. I haven’t seen most of these shows in years, so to get a little perspective and refreshment, I even posed the question in the askreddit section of, and got an overwhelming response. In the end, my top ten are primarily shows that I would watch, but since I think I have pretty good taste.. here ya go!


10). Dinosaurs: (1991-1994) This Emmy winning prime-time comedy was an animated sitcom surrounding a family of, well, Dinosaurs. It didn’t come out until after Jim Henson passed away, but he had been waiting until the world was ready for animation that dealt with more adult humor. After the Simpsons proved that it worked, Dinosaurs kept quite a nice following with adults and kids alike. Seeing that the world loves crude, topical animation more now than ever, I think it would definitely still work in the modern times.


9). Mr. Wizard’s World: (1982-1991)In a world where kids are seemingly getting dumber and more like video game playing robots (simple robots)  than people, I think a show like Mr. Wizard’s World should be mandatory. I know that there are some people out there that, when it came to “learning” shows, preferred Bill Nye the Science guy or Beakman’s World- but in my book Don Herbert wins out as best t.v. scientist. I don’t know what it was about this show, but it really made me want to learn things!  The only other thing that has ever made me “want to learn things” is adderall; so I have come to the conclusion that there must be some sort of hypnotic subliminal message hidden in this t.v. show. Therefore, as long as they upped their dosage to effect the masses of ADHD children running around today- it would still be a pretty popular show,  as far as “learning” shows are concerned.

Plus, it had a pretty nerdgasmic opening credits, even by today’s standards.


8). Clarissa Explains it all: (1991-1994) Maybe it’s because I haven’t actually seen an episode of Clarissa Explains it All in about 10 years, but if it is anything like I remember it -I would definitely still watch it today. You would think that after having every single person I have ever introduced myself to since 1991 reply with “har har, so do you explain it all?” And my having to answer with, ” my name is Carissa– not Clarissa, ya dumbass,” I would cringe at just hearing the show’s title… but surprisingly it doesn’t really bother me. Perhaps that’s because Clarissa was pretty much the coolest girl ever on t.v. I know you probably deny that you even watched it- but come on! You can’t tell me that you didn’t want a room like hers. I remember wanting to put a step ladder (my house was one story) outside my window, just to see if my very own Sam would pop on by. I know that today Clarissa would probably be a little dated, but I bet if they could update it to the times and get Diablo Cody to write the dialogue- it would be a hit!


7). Salute Your Shorts: (1991-1993) I’m sure your beginning to gather that I grew up in the Nickelodeon generation. I feel kinda gay admitting that I pretty much watched nothing but Nickelodeon (with the exception of Mork and Mindy,) but I can’t really be embarrassed about something that helped define me. I digress. Along with having one of the best theme songs in the existence of theme songs, I don’t think there is any question that Salute your Shorts would be a hit today.  It seems children’s television is all laugh track and pretty people these days. I don’t know if there was one pretty person on Salute Your Shorts. Plus, it was a politically incorrect slap-stick comedy set at a camp. Whats not to like about that? Also, did I mention the theme song?


6). Boy Meets World: (1993-2000) If you have followed along, you may remember an old  journal entry I posted, that mentioned how much I wanted a love like Corey and Topanga’s. To tell you the truth, I still want a love like Corey and Topanga’s. The reason this would work in present day, is because it is exactly like the shows of the present day. Only it was way better. Just thinking about it makes me want to go learn a life lesson from Mr. Pheeney. Only, now that I’m really thinking about it- they need to bring this show back in the present day. I grew up so close with these guys, I don’t know what to do next! There are so many questions that they left unanswered… What did they do after college?  Would Corey and Topanga be so happy now? Or would they be battling to keep their mortgage from defaulting?


5). The Wonder Years: (1988-1993) Read the above post about Boy Meets World, and pretty much all the same reasons apply. The Wonder Years, set in the 60’s, followed Kevin Arnold in his journey through adolescence. Although it was set during the time my parent’s were growing up, I could relate to Kevin and his gang probably more than anyone else on television.  Each episode played out as a chapter of Kevin’s life, and I can still hear that narrator in my head every time I learn a lesson. It was both hilarious and heartbreaking, and as much as today’s youth has changed over the years- I’m sure even they can relate to that.


4).Pee-Wee’s Playhouse: (1985-1991) I think there is a good chance that if Paul Reubens hadn’t gone and pulled his wiener out in public, Pee Wee would still be the sensation today that is was back in the late eighties. Or at the very least it would have been canceled and then later given a shot at a come-back. Pee Wee was an over- the -top character who had a group of odd friends (mostly played by Second City alumnae, puppets, and stop animations) who helped him learn very odd life lessons. In Pee Wee’s world, it was not out of the ordinary to take a trip into his nostrils to see what his boogers were up to. More than anything, it was always such a fun time you never realized you were actually learning something. Kids (and adults) from any generation would enjoy spending a little more time in that playhouse where anything can happen. Today’s secret word is… Awesome! AHHHHHHHHHHH

On a side note, it  turns out Paul Reubens is making plans to revive Pee Wee live on the stage. I will definitely travel to see this, where ever it may be.


3).The Ren and Stimpy show: (1991-1996) “Ren and Stimpy” set the footprints for pretty much every crass cartoon that plays today on Adult Swim. This show followed the ridiculous adventures of Ren the crazy chihuahua and Stimpy the cat. They often touched on important subjects as farting, rotting teeth, selling rubber nipples, and pissing on electric fences. I know this show would work today, because it still does. It was even revived back in 2003, and in the newest revival Ren and Stimpy were even more openly gay for each other than before.  It does need to be noted that original creator was only responsible for the first 2 seasons. The good news is that as of June 2009, you can catch re-runs on MTV 2. Ohhh Joyyyy!


2). Hey Vern, It’s Ernest!: ( 1988) Similar in mood to Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Jim Varney brought us a variety of hilarious characters in this short lived comedy. If you have seen the Ernest movies, you must note that they were really poor in comparison. I remember watching this show over and over from video tapes that my parents recorded, and I may just have to pull them back out this weekend. It really is a shame that Jim Varney passed away because he really was a talent like no other. Sketch comedy has certainly made a comeback in recent years,;and if Frank Caliendo can have a career now, there is no question that Jim Varney could too. I think the main reason why it didn’t work back then was because it was so ahead of it’s time. KnowwhutImean?


1).The Adventures of Pete and Pete: (1993-1996) I always kind of thought that this was kind of like The Wonder Years on heavy hallucinogenics. The Adventures of  Pete and Pete follows two brothers named Pete in their absurd but hilarious tales of adolescence. The characters were all quirky, yet sincere. The story lines were outrageous, yet you could relate. The acting was great and I am surprised the two main Petes are MIA… although you will notice superb guest stars ranging from Janine Garafalo to Michael Stipe. The Adventures of Pete and Pete is one of the most unique and memorable tv shows I have ever seen, and as much as it touched me, it would have to have the same impression on a younger generation. Afterall; they still all have 2 eyes and a heart, don’t they?

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  • Jennifer_SomewhereInBetween

    How could I have missed The Wonder Years, Pete & Pete, or Pee Wee!! I'm so glad you posted the link to this :)

    I would be so happy if The Wonder Years came out on DVD!!

  • Jennifer_SomewhereInBetween

    How could I have missed The Wonder Years, Pete & Pete, or Pee Wee!! I'm so glad you posted the link to this :)

    I would be so happy if The Wonder Years came out on DVD!!

  • Hector Sloan

    I definitely agree with this this!…

    Would anyone like to critique a new children’s concept that I am working on?… It’s called Hector The Friendly Collector…

    Any comments, feedback or suggestions would definitely be appreciated.


    “Hector’s Creator”

  • Pingback: Mark()

  • Mumbleslam

    I watched many of the same shows, but from your comments, it seems you have a skewed perspective. Besides the fact, Boy Meets World before Salute Your Shorts?? Do you not remember the travesty that was Boy Meets World when they went to college?? It was heinous. I definitely don’t remember Salute Your Shorts “jumping the shark” like Boy Meets World did…repeatedly.