Originally launching in 1979 as a commercial free network, Nickelodeon has created some of the best original programming for kids and adolescents that television has to offer, whether it’s cartoons, live action sitcoms, or whacky gameshows. Although the quality of programming has arguably taken a hit in the last couple of years, the network really has had a wide variety of quality shows throughout its history. Some programs were so popular, so creative, so fascinating, and sometimes so disturbing, that it went on to create long lasting memories for an entire generation of viewers.

To honor the network’s legacy, we’re counting down the 25 best original Nickelodeon shows ever created. For this list, any show under the Nickelodeon sun can be up for a nomination, whether it be a cartoon, gameshow, live action, or anything in between. It doesn’t matter if the program aired in the 80s, 90s or 2000s, or lasted or one season or ten seasons. The criteria we’re judging on involves overall quality, creativeness, popularity and how influential each of these shows has become in its own right.

So get ready to feel nostalgic, here are the 25 Best Nickelodeon Shows, Ranked.

25. KaBlam!

KaBlam Henry June SNICK Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Kicking off our list is the show that blended variety, stop motion animation, claymation, and a team of crime fighting action figures who are total idiots. Beginning its run in 1996, KaBlam! was one of the first shows that was featured on SNICK, a two-hour programming block that ran from 8 to 10pm on Saturdays. The variety program featured several shows within a show, and its off-beat brand of humor mixed surprisingly well with its indie animation techniques.

Among the most popular was Action League Now which was played out with custom-made action figures that are pretty bad at their jobs. The crime fighters consisted of The Flesh, Meltman, and everyone’s favorite, Stinky Diver, who all proved to be so popular the segment briefly spawned a spinoff series. Also popular was Prometheus and Bob, a claymation about an alien trying to fix his ship with a clueless caveman. With a number of other entertaining shorts, along with an amazingly catchy theme song from The Toasters, KaBlam! was a great piece of highly unique entertainment.

24. Figure It Out

Figure It Out Nickelodeon game show green slime Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

A crazy mishmash of old game show formulas and sliming gags that Nickelodeon was so fond of, Figure It Out was a panel game show with 1992 Olympic champion Summer Sanders as host. The object of the game consisted of four Nickelodeon celebrities attempting to guess a guest child’s special talent or unique skill. A puzzle is displayed in which the celebrities had to solve by asking the child yes or no questions. Once the trait was revealed, the child would demonstrate the ability and discuss it with the panel and host.

Among the many Nick celebrities that were featured on the show were All That heavy hitters Amanda Bynes, Lori Beth Denberg, Danny Tamberelli and Kel Mitchell. The show was a good bit of fun as we watched the celebrities try and figure out the kooky talents of the kids, which consisted of longest name ever and cow chip tossing champion (whatever that is). And of course, if the panel missed a talent or got it wrong, they were greeted with green slime which rained down from above. A perfect recipe for an entertaining game show.

23. Salute Your Shorts

the funny picture the cast from salute your shorts then now 11 photos Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Besides having one the best titles of any Nick show, Salute Your Shorts was a thoroughly entertaining ride with some decent performances and smarter writing than you would think. The plot consists of a group of ragtag friends at summer as they get into crazy situations and spend time messing with their clueless camp counselor, Kevin “Ug” Lee. The chemistry between the friends, who had names like Eddie “Donkeylips” Gelfen and Sponge Harris, was a blast to watch as they captured the flag and tried to join the wrestling team.

If you were to watch the show now, you might be surprised how well Salute Your Shorts has aged, all things considered. It’s still clearly a 90s production, but the direction and a lot of the writing is noticeably clever, especially the “Capture the Flag” episode which featured too many Apocalypse Now references to count. Still, it isn’t without the immature humor that made these shows so much fun to watch, including the theme song which lovingly went, “Camp Anawanna, we hold you in our hearts. And when we think about you, it makes me wanna FART!” Classic Nick.

22. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

Aaahh Real Monsters wallpaper Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Capitalizing on the things that go bump in the night, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters is about the adventures of three adolescent monsters who attend school that specialize in frightening humans. Each episode is a new “class assignment” that usually involves performing scares to unsuspecting humans on the surface. The dynamic between the three lead monsters is a blast to watch, from Ickis who is a young red jokester that grows in size, to Oblina who is a high society shapeshifter, and Krumm who is a blob of a monster that carries his eyeballs in his hands, and has overwhelming armpit stench.

The standout from the program however is the headmaster of the monster school, The Gromble, who is brilliantly voiced by Gregg Berger. The character can eerily go from comical to genuinely frightening in a matter of seconds, which is even more bizarre due to the fact he wears red high heel shoes on his four legs. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters is a dark series, but not without a brilliant sense of humor that asks that creative question: What is life like for monsters in school?

21. Hey Dude

Hey Dude cast Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Being this is a list that can include any Nick show throughout the years, we had to include Hey Dude, which is the network’s second original live action TV show. Originally airing way back in 1989, the program follows Ben Ernst, his son Buddy, and the colorful group of workers on their dude ranch as they run into comical mishaps. Hey Dude blended various television genres together, like comedy, adventure and family, while still being genuinely funny enough to make older viewers laugh along.

Yes, it is a silly program that is geared for teens, but its mixture of gags, silliness and themes about love and friendship is a potent bag that springs a certain sense of nostalgia for anyone who grew up in the 80s or early 90s. Unfortunately, and ironically, as Nickelodeon grew, it could no longer support Hey Dude. The show was unfortunately canceled after its fourth season when Nick opened their new studios in Orlando, and they could no longer justify the production costs for filming in Arizona. Hey Dude hung up its spurs in 1991, but the set still stands on a dude ranch which is now a resort outside Tucson, Arizona.

20. Rocket Power

Rocket Power dvd characters Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

If you owned a skateboard as a kid and watched Rocket Power, you were probably jealous of the mad skills Otto and his group of buddies had. Skills mind you that should have been impossible for a group of ten year olds to pull off the kind of tricks they did, but you have to remind yourself that this is a kid’s cartoon.

Rocket Power is Nickelodeon’s sun drenched cartoon about four friends taking part in any extreme sport they could lay their hands on. It follows the classic dynamic of the egotistical hero, Otto, his level-headed sister, Reggie, his dumb as bricks best friend, Twister, and the skittish nerd, Sam aka the Squid. The banter between the four, while not always the best written, is still fun to watch with a great cast of supporting characters including Otto and Reggie’s laidback dad that everyone wanted, Raymundo, and his Hawaiian best friend, Tito, who was always quick to give the kids some ancient advice.

Ancient Hawaiian saying: If you like brightly colored animation with extreme sports, check out Rocket Power.

19. Clarissa Explains It All

Clarissa Explains It All teen comedy Nickelodeon1 Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

In 1991, Nick’s first live action program, Hey Dude, was just wrapping up its run, and the network needed something attention grabbing to fill the slot. Enter creator Mitchell Kriegman’s Clarrisa Explains It All, a sitcom about a teenager dealing with typical adolescent problems like high school, boys, driver licenses, and pimples. The show was famous for Clarissa Darling, played by Melissa Joan Hart, addressing the audience directly during the episodes, breaking the fourth wall.

The show is an awesome blend between Ferris Bueler’s Day Off and hit 90’s sitcom Blossom. It was the first original Nick show that headlined a young girl as the main character, making it possible for The Secret Life of Alex Mack, and much later, iCarly, to be made. The show was also hugely popular with both men and women, breaking the stereotype that women would only like a show with a girl center stage. Along with her pet lizard Elvis, and her cool neighbor, Sam, Clarissa Explains It All is a solid teen-comedy that was fresh, original and funny.

18. CatDog

CatDog cartoon comedy Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

One fine day with a woof and a purr, a baby was born and it caused a little stir. It was no blue buzzard, or three-eyed frog, just a feline/canine little CatDog. And that feline/canine became part of one of Nick’s most popular animated programs in the late 90s and early 2000s. CatDog featured one up-tight Cat, and one messy and dumb Dog, who were constantly at each other’s throats for the fact that they were joined at each other’s abdomens.

Like most Nicktoons, CatDog was an outrageous mix of comedy and some disgusting elements. Nowhere near the kind of gross out gags of Ren and Stimpy, but still, CatDog had its fair share of cringey moments. That’s at the heart of a lot of Nick shows however, and along with it came some enjoyably creative animation, some subtle sight gags, and some brilliant voiceover work including the likes of Spongebob’s Tom Kenny and Futurama’s Billy West.

17. The Angry Beavers

The Angry Beavers cartoon comedy Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

The Angry Beavers tells the story of two beaver brothers and their series of unfortunate mishaps and shenanigans. The older brother, Norbert, is the equivalent of Arthur Fonzarelli if he lived in the woods and chucked wood. He always knows the coolest things to say, and never breaks a sweat worrying about life’s problems. His younger brother however, full name Daggett Doofus Beaver, is a spazz on wheels, and isn’t the smartest beaver under the tree.

Together the two seem to get involved in every odd occurrence conceivable including growing super long teeth, battling mind-controlling pond scum, making bets to see who can stay up later, and dealing with a dreaded disease known as ‘stinky toe.’ Like CatDog, the animation here is rather stunning, as is the offbeat writing which includes throwbacks to 1950s sci-fi. Creative as it is sporadic, The Angry Beavers is chaotic, nutty, whacky, and fun in the best possible way.

16. Legends of the Hidden Temple

Legends of the Hidden Temple game show Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

A child’s equivalent of American Gladiators, Legends of the Hidden Temple was a rousing action-adventure game show that pit six teams against each other in a series of physical and mental contests. With an intro that featured host Kirk Fogg making an entrance by swinging in on a rope, and the set based on some sort of Mayan temple that actually talked, it obviously struck the right note with kids. Most remember staring at their television set as we watched the Red Jaguars, Blue Barracudas, Orange Iguanas, Silver Snakes, Purple Parrots and Green Monkeys go toe to toe, squaring off in theTemple Games and the Steps of Knowledge.

Legends of the Hidden Temple is so appealing for its depiction of childhood fantasy as ordinary kids crawled along a slippery plastic mat while bungeed to a chord, or knocked each other around on a high beam over a pool. The moment everyone looked forward to the most however was the climactic Temple Run, in which the winning team got a chance to make a mad dash through the ultimate obstacle course. The only kick in the pants was, if you did win, Legends of the Hidden Temple didn’t feature the most illustrious prizes which included a book and bookmark, shampoo, a pair of outdated jeans, and a disposable camera.

To fans’ delight, Nickelodeon has announced a TV movie version of the popular show will be released this November. You can check out the recently released first trailer here.

15. Double Dare

Double Dare game show Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

This gooey game show goes by many names: Double Dare, Family Double Dare, Super Sloppy Double Dare and Double Dare 2000. Whatever form you watch, one thing is for certain; someone’s getting slimed. One of Nickelodeon’s earliest shows (the original being broadcasted in 1986), Double Dare consisted of two teams that competed to win some easy money by competing in trivia questions, and partaking in some messy stunts referred to as ‘physical challenges.’

The main objective of the game was to get as many points as possible. If a team was asked a certain question and passed, the opposing players could be dared or even double dared to quadruple the original points. If the team that was double dared refused to answer, that would have to take part in a physical challenge, which usually ended with someone getting green slime rained down upon them. It all culminated in a bizarre obstacle course which had players run through giant ears, past a giant peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and into a big nose.

14. Drake & Josh

Drake and Josh comdey Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Nickelodeon’s highest rated sitcom, Drake & Josh was one of Nick’s most popular live action TV shows. After showcasing their comedic chops on The Amanda Show, Drake Bell and Josh Peck were awarded their own sitcom which was thought up by series creator Dan Schneider, who had previously produced All That. The show was like a teen version of The Odd Couple when two stepbrothers move in together, Bell being the cool one who picks up all the chicks, and Peck being the goofy dweeb.

The dynamic worked, and the chemistry between the two actors was hard to deny. While it’s certainly nothing profound or revolutionary, Drake & Josh was a guilty pleasure for most tweens and young adults when it was on the air. Sure, it got a bit outlandish sometimes, their younger sister’s pranks with all of her tech wizardry is completely unrealistic, and Peck can certainly overact in some areas. But the show is still heaps of fun about two polar opposite stepbrothers that, at the end of the day, would do anything to help each other.

13. The Fairly OddParents

The Fairly Odd Parents cartoon Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

One of Nick’s longest running cartoons, The Fairly Oddparents is the brainchild of Butch Hartman, a former writer and director on both Johnny Bravo and Dexter’s Laboratory. It’s a genius blend of superb animation matched with a highly original concept: if you had fairy godparents, what would you do with them? That’s the question that ten-year-old Timmy Turner is asked, who’s endowed with magical protectors Wanda and Cosmo, and who frequently makes the most absurd wishes that lead to the most calamitous of consequences.

The Fairly Oddparents is funny and, thankfully, doesn’t take itself too seriously, leading to a series of entertaining adventures. It was immensely popular with any kid that had their eyes glued to their television sets, and even featured several crossover episodes with Nick’s Jimmy Neutron (a show that barely missed this list). So now, you might be asking if this show was so well received, why doesn’t it rank higher on our list? Well, like The Simpsons, The Fairly Oddparents had a series of well-crafted seasons, and then kind of dipped in quality as the show progressed. Not that the cartoon was bad in its later years, but it certainly wasn’t as strong as the first few seasons. Still, this Nicktoon is one of the network’s most popular and recognized, which more than qualifies it for a spot.

12. The Adventures of Pete & Pete

The Adventures of Pete and Pete comedy Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Originally beginning its run as a series of minute-long shorts that aired between other shows, The Adventures of Pete & Pete centers around the surreal adventures of two brothers, each inexplicably named Pete. The older Pete, commonly referred to as ‘Big Pete,’ usually sets up the story of each episode through his point of view, while ‘Little Pete’ gets himself into whacky predicaments like tunneling out of his basement after being grounded.

Like most Nick shows that were geared at children, Pete and Pete featured some of the sharpest writing at that time, and even holds up to today’s standards. In fact, it’s better than a lot of teen shows today that all conform and blend together. The Adventures of Pete & Pete is incredibly unique and wonderfully acted, full of memorable supporting players like Bus Driver Stu, and of course, Artie, the Strongest Man in the World. Not to mention the long slew of cameos the show featured, which even included the great Steve Buscemi as one of their classmate’s parents. If you like shows that are bursting with energy and creativity, and one heck of a catchy theme song, look no farther than The Adventures of Pete & Pete.

11. Rocko’s Modern Life

Rockos Modern Life halloween cartoon Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Rocko’s Modern Life is one of those rare cartoons that, although advertised as such, isn’t really geared towards kids. The show is chock-full of adult humor like double entendres (a restaurant named the ‘Chokey Chicken’) as well as innuendos on social and cultural behavior. The story revolves around an Australian immigrant wallaby, Rocko, and his dimwitted friends which include the insatiable steer Heffer and the neurotic turtle Filburt. Together they get in to crazy situations and relentlessly annoy Rocko’s pigheaded neighbor, Ed Bighead.

While the premise is a little bizarre to say the least, the show is filled with an incredible offbeat wit that is just as smart as it is funny. Rocko’s Modern Life is filled with satirical social commentary that lays into everything from greedy corporate dealings, to gym membership absurdities, to credit cards and flying coach. The characters are hilarious to watch, especially the grumpy Mr. Bighead. For its surreal sense of humor and witty commentary, Rock’s Modern Life was a bold move by Nickelodeon to demonstrate that these shows weren’t just for kids.

10. Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Are You Afraid of the Dark horror scary Nickelodeon1 Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Submitted for your approval, by the Midnight Society.

If Drake & Josh is Nickelodeon’s version of The Odd Couple, then no doubt Are You Afraid of the Dark? is their interpretation of The Twilight Zone. It doesn’t get more original than this, literally, because each episode tells a completely new and creepy story. Framed by a bunch of teens that tell ghost stories around a campfire, appropriately named ‘The Midnight Society,’ each episode is a new horror tale that made any kid watching in the 90s go to bed with the lights on. Just the intro alone is spooky enough to induce some frightening nightmares.

Many stories, like “The Monkey’s Paw” were based on urban legends that were retooled into full-fledged narratives. Fast paced and scary, the stories would include everything like alien takeovers, killer paper clowns, an updated headless horseman legend, and comic book monsters that come to life. If you watch the series now, it no doubt suffers from being a tad dated, and probably won’t scare you like it used to. However, it’s still thoroughly entertaining, and that’s saying something for a kids show that’s going on 25 years old. Are You Afraid of the Dark? still stands as Nick’s spookiest and disturbing show that terrified any kid growing up in the 90s.

9. The Ren & Stimpy Show

The Ren and Stimpy Show comedy cartoon Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Disturbed, depraved and dumbfounded don’t even begin to describe the next Nicktoon on our list. The Ren & Stimpy Show is the kind of program you watch now as an adult and think, “How in the world were they able to advertise this as a kid’s show?” Nothing, and we mean nothing about Ren & Stimpy, qualifies it as a kid’s show. That might be an oversimplification, but you watch these adventures of a paranoid chihuahua and dimwitted cat and tell us why it’s classified as a “kid’s show.” Most of the gags are highly cerebral and gross, making mothers across the nation want to shield their child’s eyes, and it was exactly that buffer that made us all the more interested in watching it.

Created by the screwball minds of John Kricfalusi and Bob Camp, Ren & Stimpy is a visceral experience like no other. The plots of the episodes made little to no sense in the grand scheme of things, which featured the titular characters trying to make it as rubber nipple salesmen, or search low and wide for a long lost fart. But it is that spontaneous absurdity that catapulted Ren & Stimpy to the heights that it soared, making us cringe and uncontrollably laugh at the disturbing events taking place on our TV screens.

8. Invader Zim

Invader Zim alien comedy cartoon Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Speaking of disturbed, it doesn’t get more disturbing and outright hilarious than Nick’s 2001 cartoon, Invader ZIM. It would be interesting to know what was going on in creator Jhonen Vasquez’s mind when he thought of this delicious tale of a dimwitted alien trying to infiltrate and conquer Earth, who fails at every turn. Zim has an ego the size of the planet he’s trying to surmount, and is continuously cut short by his human rival Dib, and his clueless defected robot GIR, who honestly steals every scene that he’s in.

Backed by some of the most cutting edge animation at the time, and still breathtaking by today’s standards, Invader ZIM is like a Mystery Science Theater’s fan’s dream come true. It seamlessly blends sci-fi, action and comedy into one twisted and hilarious cartoon with superb voice acting and visionary direction. As good as it was, ZIM was unable to find a supporting audience, and was cancelled after only three brief seasons. Its legacy lives on however, and today you can’t turn into a Hot Topic without looking at a t-shirt with GIR slurping on a bubblegum and chocolate slushy.

7. Doug

Doug Funny Porkchop cartoon Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Conceived from drawings he did in his sketchbook during the 1980s, Jim Jinkin’s Doug is another brilliant animated coming-of-age-tale in Nick’s vast roster. This time the story is about Douglas “Doug” Yancy Funnie, who has recently moved into his new hometown of Bluffington. Doug sets the tone of each episode by narrating as he writes in his journal, dealing with things that the average 6th grader would run into like his crush on Patti Mayonnaise, his friendship with Skeeter Valentine, or run-ins with his bully Roger Klotz.

One of the first three cartoons created by Nick, the other two being Ren & Stimpy and Rugrats, Doug explores the awkward and strange time that is adolescence. Doug Funnie is a normal kid that most pre-teens watching this show could relate to. He loves his favorite rock band, The Beets (an obvious homage to The Beatles), tries to express his feelings for the girl of his dreams, Patti, and frequently daydreams that he’s a superhero that wears underwear on the outside, Quailman. Voiced by voice acting legend Billy West (what hasn’t this guy done?), Doug remains a highpoint in Nicktoons for its exceptional writing and originality.

6. Kenan & Kel

Kenan and Kel orange soda Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Who loves orange soda? Kel loves organge soda. Is it true? I do, I do, I do-ooo.”

It’s a catch phrase for a generation from two of the biggest child stars ever, Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. After their noticeable chemistry on All That, the dynamic duo was treated to their very own sitcom that starred the pair as high school students that frequently found themselves in bizarre predicaments. Kenan played the more grounded of the two, with a job at a local grocery store, while Kel played his clumsy best friend with an orange soda fetish of epic proportions.

Due to calamitous mishaps, usually caused by the clueless Kel, the two friends would have to maneuver around hilarious hijinks like Kenan unknowingly buying a stolen car, or Kel accidentally blowing up an orange soda factory. Each episode would start with the pair walking up on stage and explaining the plot of tonight’s crazy shenanigan, usually ending with Kenan’s catchphrase, “Aw, here it goes!” Lasting for four seasons and spawning a made for TV movie, Kenan & Kel was received with massive popularity from both viewers and critics, and is still heaps funnier than most teen comedies produced today.

5. Hey Arnold!

Hey Arnold cast wallpaper cartoon Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

It would only make sense for a network whose target demographic is aimed at kids that most of Nick’s shows are about a teenager and the complications of growing up. The great thing about these Nicktoons however is that they aren’t just for children. Most of them transcend the term “kid’s show” for their clever writing and three-dimensional characters, and that never rings more true than their 1994 cartoon, Hey Arnold! Creative, funny and featuring some of the most memorable characters of any Nick show, Arnold and his classmates have cemented their place in Nickelodeon history as one of the very best Nicktoons.

Arnold is a 4th grader that lives with his grandparents in their boarding house, and has one of the coolest rooms imaginable (who didn’t want that room as a kid?) The wonderful cast of characters from the boarding house like Mr. Hyunh or Oskar Kokoshka is only rivaled by Arnold’s eclectic classmates like his best friend Gerald, and of course, his classmate who has a secret obsession with Arnold, Helga G. Pataki. Helga is not just one of the best written characters in Hey Arnold!, but of any Nickelodeon show ever. Her disturbing family life is painful to watch, making her develop a dry sense of wit and passion that easily makes her a favorite among fans. Indeed, every character from the clueless Stinky to Arnold’s hilarious Grandpa is fleshed out in this show, making it a favorite for not just kids, but for any parent who sat down to watch as well.

While the show lasted for years thanks to its popularity, it was never given a definitive ending. But it is now a glorious time to be Hey Arnold! fans, as creator Craig Bartlett has announced that the long awaited Jungle Movie will finally be released this year. A pipe dream of fans for years, the new production will hopefully answer some of the more burning questions left in audiences’ minds like where Helga and Arnold’s relationship stands, and what exactly happened to Arnold’s parents.

4. All That

All That Keenan Thompson bathtub raincoat Nickelodeon1 Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Filled with some of the most talented young comics at the time, All That is Nickelodeon’s version of Saturday Night Live for kids. This sketch-comedy was fueled by series showrunner Dan Schneider, who although isn’t credited as a creator, was really the creative force behind the program. Cited as the “Norman Lear of kid’s shows,” Schneider set out to make the kid-version of SNL, and put together a cast that comprised of Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, Amanda Bynes, Josh Server, Danny Tamberelli and Lori Beth Denberg among others.

Together, they created some of the most hilarious and original sketches that parodied contemporary culture. Who could forget Denberg’s commentarial news show “Vital Information,” or not crack a smile from Bynes’ manic “Ask Ashley.” There was Mitchell’s kooky Repairman-Man who would break more things than he fixed, and Kenan’s “Everyday French with Pierre Escargot” pictured above, which had the young comedian sit in a bathtub and recite silly phrases in a terribly-pronounced French accent. Undeniably, the most popular sketch the series spawned was “Good Burger,” starring Kel as a dimwitted fast-food cashier, which was so popular it was even made into a theatrical movie. While it was revamped in the early 2000s, nothing beats the magic and creativity the original cast had in those first few years of All That.

3. Rugrats

Rugrats The Movie river cartoon Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Besides maybe The Simpsons, there was no cartoon more popular in the 1990s than Rugrats. Unless you were alive to witness it, there really isn’t anyway to compare the craziness of Rugrats fever. The program lasted over ten seasons, produced three films, a spinoff series, and was marketed on everything from popsicles to Band-Aids. So it was popular, but the real question is how good the quality of Rugrats really was: does this show still hold up today? Absolutely it does.

Of course, any cartoon from that era is going to appear a tad dated, but Rugrats is still just as smart and fresh from when it originally aired. The adventures of Tommy, Chucky, Phil, Lil and the bratty Angelica depict what it would be like for the life of a baby. Simple situations like getting lost in a pet store or moving across a basketball course in the hot sun are transformed into sweeping epics the likes of Lawrence of Arabia. Add on to that countless movie references too many to count including The Terminator to Silence of the Lambs, and you have a show that’s not just enjoyed by kids, but adults as well. While the quality started to dip right around the time of the first movie, those first few seasons of Rugrats are still classic, and dare we say it, timeless.

2. Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar The Last Airbender Aaan Avatar state Nickelodeon1 Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Completely different from every other show they’ve produced, Avatar: The Last Airbender stands alone as Nick’s most artistic series to date. It doesn’t feature wacky and irreverent humor at the focal point. There is humor to be had, especially in characters like Sokka, but Airbender is rather a sweeping epic told in an anime-esque style. It’s a huge milestone for the network’s ability to present a deeply engaging story that even though is aimed at kids, treats these kids with respect. There are dark adult themes here that Airbender is not afraid to explore. Often times, the good guys do not come out on top, and the show is not afraid to dive into the troubling psyche of characters like Zuko, a kid who is filled with rage and struggling to find his identity. It is each character’s journey and the relationships they form with each other that completely immerse the audience into the world it presents.

Besides top-notch storytelling, Avatar is backed up by some of the most beautiful animation ever put to screen. The elemental fights between the characters are absolutely breathtaking, whether it be the stylistic patterns of waterbending or the rugged advancements of earthbending. Paired with an excellent told story, likable and fully realized characters, a fantastic musical score, and some of the best casted voice acting ever, and you have yourself a unique experience unlike any other.

Honorable Mentions

The Wild Thornberrys on Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

Before we unveil our #1, we’d like to give a shout out to some programs that were close to making this list. Given Nick’s huge stable of shows, it was a tough job narrowing this down to a top 25. Here are some cartoons and sitcoms that barely missed the cut.

The Wild Thornberrys

Danny Phantom

Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide

As Told By Ginger

The Amanda Show

ChalkZone

iCarly

1. Spongebob Squarepants

Spongebob Squarepants rainbow Idiot Box Nickelodeon Nickelodeons 25 Best TV Shows Ever

As well-crafted as The Last Airbender is, and as influential as Rugrats was, there’s no denying the longevity and timeless humor of Spongebob Squarepants. Perhaps the network’s most popular cartoon character ever, Spongebob has made an impact like no other. The baby of creator Stephen Hillenburg, the show depicts the wacky adventures of frycook Spongebob Squarepants, his dimwitted best buddy Patrick, his aquatic squirrel friend Sandy Cheeks, his curmudgeon neighbor Squidward, his crustacean cheapskate boss Mr. Krabs, and his pet snail, Gary. The tale of a talking sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea probably wouldn’t seem like the plot for the biggest kid’s show ever made, but that’s pretty much what it became.

There are many things that make Spongebob work, be it the unique aquatic setting or the spot-1: Emon voice acting, especially from Tom Kenny who plays the titular sponge. The biggest charm of the animated series however is the humor. There sight gags and cutaway pranks galore that will leave anyone, be it a 13-year-old or a 30-year-old, crying from laughter. And that’s the biggest draw: the fact that Spongebob is so goofy, unique and downright funny. The writing doesn’t get any better than classic episodes like “The Krusty Krab Training Video,” “Chocolate with Nuts,” or “Ripped Pants.” While the quality certainly took a dip after Hillenburg’s and most of the original writers’ absence, everything from those first four seasons is complete gold, arguably making Spongebob the King of Nickelodeon, and top contender on this list.

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