Nostalgia is a powerful thing. It can bring strangers together (bonding over mutually fangirling out because a B*Witched song happens to play on the radio is a beautiful thing). It can strengthen friendships, creating a sense of a shared childhood experience for people who grew up miles and miles apart. It can make you stop and say “WHOA” while your eyes bug out of your head a little bit when you remember something that felt integral to your childhood years ago, but that you forgot about completely for a long time.
I’m not great at math, but I remember a lot about TV shows I loved when I was in 5th grade, just to give you an idea of what my brain prioritizes. It might not be the best use of my brain cells, but you have to play the hand you’re dealt. As a result, I have a lot of conversations that involve me making a reference to a piece of pop culture that I think is as commonly known as, say, Rugrats or Lizzie McGuire, but is met with blank stares and sometimes a loud “huh”?
Usually, after a lot of fumbled explaining and some helpful Googling, there’s an a-ha moment. And that a-ha moment is kind of beautiful. It’s the look that comes with remembering something you never thought in a million years you could forget. In an effort to share little of that beauty with you now, here are 12 shows there’s a great chance you loved and watched religiously as a kid, but completely forgot existed until right now.
Space Cases aired on SNICK and even though you might not remember this show, you almost certainly remember settling in every Saturday night for the Orange Couch lineup on Nickelodeon. Space Cases was a sci-fi series about a group of kids (and two adults) from different planets who get lost on an alien ship and try to find their way back home. Catalina (played by Jewel Staite, who would later go on to become a sci-fi icon thanks to her starring role on Joss Whedon’s space western Firefly) rocked the rainbow hair before it was cool. The theme song still gets stuck in my head from time-to-time. Oh, and the show featured guest appearances from sci-fi greats like Mark Hamill and George Takei.
I loved the animation style of Angela Anaconda, even as a kid. Angela was sassy and the show had a sharp sense of humor that not a lot of kids’ shows did at the time. If you remember nothing else about the series, you remember the distinct art style and Angela’s nasally voice. The show started as a short on KaBlam! and speaking of KaBlam!…
KaBlam! was a cartoon sketch comedy show on Nickelodeon. It was also a part of the SNICK lineup, and, fun fact, was the only animated series developed for SNICK. It was hosted by Henry and June (cartoon characters, of course) and featured lots of regular segments that are still amazing to rewatch today (prepare to YouTube for a while): Prometheus and Bob, Life with Loopy, and Action League Now! just to name a few.
Animorphs was your favorite show based on your favorite book series. The main characters could turn into animals and it brought us a young Shawn Ashmore (who later went on to play Iceman in the X-Men movies) to love.
In a Heartbeat
Want more Shawn Ashmore? No problem. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to In a Heartbeat, a Disney Channel show about teen paramedics. I like to think of this one as beginning the trend of shows about teens having unbelievably cool jobs that teens don’t usually have (you’re welcome, Hannah Montana), but really the show was based on an actual EMT squad in Connecticut that was made up of teen volunteers, and that’s even cooler.
Fi forever. (Sorry, but the show really jumped the shark when Annie came along.) In the early seasons, at least, So Weird was like a teen version of The X-Files. It centered on a teen named Fiona (Fi), who was obsessed with the paranormal. She got a chance to investigate strange happenings all over the country because she lived on the road, touring with her rockstar mom’s band. It even featured a young Erik von Detten, back when that was a draw for a TV show.
Darkwing Duck is another show whose theme song gets stuck in my head on the regular. I was really into this whole family of shows, which in my head includes Duck Tales and the next entry on this list, TaleSpin.
Another Disney show with another catchy theme song. And yes, the main character is Baloo the Bear (yeah, that Baloo the Bear).
The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo
Shelby Woo was a cool, teen detective living with her cool uncle (played by Pat Morita, NBD) in Cocoa Beach, Florida and, later, Boston. The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo probably deserves more credit for the “cool teens with cool jobs” genre than In a Heartbeat, and definitely made me think it was possible to just go volunteer with the police department and solve crimes, no matter your age or on-paper qualifications.
Flash Forward was probably legitimately my favorite show for a while. I was devastated when Jewel Staite left Space Cases for its second season, but then I forgave her because it was to do this show. This Disney show followed BFFs (and probably soulmates) Becca and Tuck and I wish it were still on now.
As Told By Ginger
Ahh, the Nicktoon that always gets forgotten. As Told By Ginger was really underrated. It was a cartoon, yeah, but it was also a Lizzie McGuire-esque look into the mind of a real tween/teen girl.
The Journey of Allen Strange
Remember when Nickelodeon had a show about an alien trying to live a normal life with a family in the suburbs? Don’t worry, neither do most people. The Journey of Allen Strange aimed to fill the supernatural hole left by Alex Mack’s departure from the SNICK lineup, and it did an OK job (and lasted for three whole seasons, believe it or not).
(Images via Nickelodeon, FOX Kids, and Disney.)