Some cartoons from the 90s will never be forgotten, from SpongeBob SquarePants skyrocketing to fame in 1999 to Disney’s memorable One Saturday Morning block full of Recess, Doug and House of Mouse, and no millennial can forget Cartoon Network hits like The Powerpuff Girls and Ed, Edd n Eddy.
But some cartoons only lasted a few mere seasons, or got overshadowed by their competitors, or slipped through the cracks entirely. From some questionable animal characters to not-so-typical teenage girls to a little boy in a big laboratory, some cartoons of the 90s aren’t as memorable as others.
‘Dexter’s Laboratory’ (1996 – 2003)
Dexter’s Laboratory spent four seasons on Cartoon Network starting in 1996, and while it was known at the time as a Primetime Emmy Award-nominated animated series, it’s most remembered as the show that helped launch the career of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane.
Similarly to Nickelodeon’s Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius from 2002, Dexter’s Laboratory followed a boy genius who would create world-saving inventions in his secret laboratory while his older sister Dee Dee often disrupts his experiments and his school rival Mandark stops at nothing to try and destroy Dexter’s lab.
‘Aaahh!!! Real Monsters’ (1994 – 1997)
Long before SpongeBob SquarePants was all the rage on Nickelodeon, the network was full of obscure but entertaining cartoons, including Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, the 1994 series that starred memorable monsters for four seasons.
Years before Mike and Sully from Monsters, Inc., there were other monsters in the business of scaring. Ickis, Oblina and Krumm are remembered for their defining features Oblina’s big, red lips and Krumm’s eyeballs in his hands, and spent the episodes attempting to learn the ins and outs of scaring at Monster Academy.
‘Rocko’s Modern Life’ (1993 – 1996)
Bluey may be television’s signature Australian cartoon character nowadays, but back in 1992, it was a wallaby named Rocko in the starring role on Rocko’s Modern Life. The Nickelodeon cartoon gained a cult following in the early 90s despite the controversy over the children’s show’s adult humor.
After moving from Australia to the United States, Rocko becomes cynical as he learns how to master “adulting” on his own. The beloved wallaby faces the challenges of life alongside his pals, a yellow bovine named Heffer and a tortoise named Fliburt, making up a colorful and eccentric group of friends.
‘Johnny Bravo’ (1997 – 2004)
Cartoon Network has always been all about its starring men, from the Eds to Finn and Jake. In 1995, Johnny Bravo hit TV screens in the titular role that combined Elvis Presley and James Dean into the confident and cocky character who never succeeds at winning the ladies.
Johnny Bravo followed a simple concept about Johnny’s overly-confident attitude that led to failed attempts at wooing girls and landing him in wacky situations, and was said to have launched the careers of animators like Seth MacFarlane and Butch Hartman.
‘The Wild Thornberrys’ (1998 – 2004)
In the age of Nickelodeon shows centered around groups of friends like Rugrats and Hey Arnold!, The Wild Thornberrys put an unexpected spin on a modern family for five seasons, and later spawned a television movie and a crossover with Rugrats.
The Wild Thornberrys followed the adventures of a family who travel the world making wildlife documentaries, including eccentric parents Nigel and Marianne, a feral son voiced by Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, and Eliza, who secretly harbors the ability to communicate with animals and was voiced by a young Lacey Chabert.
‘Animaniacs’ (1993 – 1998)
Long before its 2020 Hulu reboot, Steven Spielberg‘s Animaniacs aired on The WB for five seasons and was an animated variety show in the age of live-action children’s variety shows like All That and The Amanda Show.
Animaniacs consisted of three mini skits per episode and starred a large cast of characters, but is best remembered for its starring characters of an unknown species that resemble red-nosed mice named Yakko, Wacko and Dot, who would memorably introduce each episode by starting the theme song in the WB tower.
‘The Angry Beavers’ (1997 – 2001)
The Angry Beavers became a Nickelodeon hit in 1997 and aired for five seasons as the final series produced by Gunther-Wahl Productions Inc. The show made headlines for its original final episode, which was expected to showcase the beavers learning their show had been canceled and getting killed off, according to Vice.
The Angry Beavers starred two beaver brothers, the brown Daggett and the yellow Norbert, who leave home to live a bachelor lifestyle on their own, but wind up raising trouble with zany characters like witches, government scientists and a Mexican luchador.
‘Pepper Ann’ (1997 – 2000)
Before young girls had Lizzie McGuire and iCarly to look up to, they had Pepper Ann, the animated titular teenager of the One Saturday Morning series that broke ground as the first animated Disney series to be created by a woman.
Pepper Ann followed an awkward teenage girl as she navigated friendships, growing up and talking to boys all while entering middle school. Alongside best friends Milo and Nicky, Pepper Ann was best known for her eccentric style, nerdy personality and big, red hair that was always showcased during the opening theme and earworm of the same name.
‘Bobby’s World’ (1990 – 1998)
With seven seasons, Bobby’s World was a long-running FOX series created by and starring comedian Howie Mandel and combined a live-action opening segment featuring Mandel with an animated story about the young and imaginative Bobby, who mentioned how the high-pitched voice was created by the comedian while choking on a piece of cake (according to WTOP News).
Bobby’s World told heartwarming stories through the creative eyes of adorable 4-year-old Bobby, who often imagined wackier outcomes to the everyday scenarios he found himself, friends and family in throughout the episodes.
‘CatDog’ (1998 – 2005)
If you forgot about Nickelodeon’s CatDog, odds are you haven’t forgotten its repetitive and indelible theme song. CatDog spent four seasons on the channel from 1998 through 2005 and put a whole new spin on the rivalry between cats and dogs with its conjoined main characters.
CatDog followed the yellow-colored cat and dog siblings living in their memorable half-dog bone, half-fish-shaped house and the different lifestyles each pursued as an intelligent and scheming feline named Cat and a simpleminded and fun-loving canine named Dog.