Sure, you love to reminisce about Nickelodeon’s 90’s lineup — aka back when kids’ shows were good. However, how much do you really know about your favorite 90s shows? Did you know that Hillary Clinton and Dame Judi Dench got slimed on Figure It Out, Nicolas Cage once appeared in Blue’s Clues and Skeeter was actually a member of the Illuminati?
You didn’t, because none of those things are true. However, some other facts are pretty cool, and slightly more real. Here’s 21 things you might not have known about Nick in the 90’s — all found on Wikipedia and IMDB. (Spoiler: all of our favorite shows were dirty.)
1. In Rugrats, Chuckie’s character was inspired by the eccentric Mark Mothersbaugh, the prolific Devo musician who was the composer for the show. Mothersbaugh was also Wes Anderson’s go-to music man, working on The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic. Chuckie started off the show with two parents, although his mother is only referred to and implied as existing, later episodes (like the Mother’s Day segment) and The Rugrats Movie redacted her life — killing her. It’s unclear exactly when this death occurs in the show.
Side fact: Chuckie was voiced by Christine Cavanaugh, who was also Dexter in Dexter’s Lab, and appeared in Aaahh!!!! Real Monsters and Salute Your Shorts as Mona.
2. Doug is filled with clever references. The Funnies’ neighbors, the Dinks, get their name from the phrase “Dual Income, No Kids.” The vice prinicipal of Doug’s school is patterned after Don Knotts and the Beets are obviously inspired by the Beatles. (Cause duh.) More surprisingly, Doug’s sister Judy got her name from a Virginia Woolf poem. According to Woolf, if Shakespeare had a sister, she would have been called Judith. Ever the journaler and avid writer, this makes Doug Shakespeare.
3. Patti Mayonnaise was inspired by the two girls creator Jim Jinkins had a thing for in high school. Her name is a combination of the two, meaning that there’s some poor girl out there with the last name of mayo. (#neverforget) The voice of Patti Mayonnaise, Constance Shuman, is a character actress who has appeared in Fried Green Tomatoes, Reversal of Fortune, Boys on the Side and Sweet and Lowdown. You wouldn’t recognize her from those, but you do know her as Yoga Jones on Orange is the New Black.
4. Although you never really hear it, SpongeBob’s Mr. Krabs has a first name. It’s Eugene. His arch-nemesis, Plankton, would be “Sheldon Plankton” on his birth certificate, if cartoons had birth certificates. Originally, SpongeBob was going to be called “SpongeBoy,” but that name, strangely, had already been snatched up for trademark. In Korea, he’s known as “Square Square Sponge” or “Square Square Sponge Song.” In Germany, he’s “SpongeBob SpongeHead,” which is closer.
5. SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg was a director for Rocko’s Modern Life and based the idea for SpongeBob off “The Intertidal Zone,” a comic book he created while in undergrad. A former marine biologist, Hillenburg convinced Nickelodeon execs to greenlight the show by dragging an aquarium into the pitch meeting. One by one, he introduced all the creatures living inside and then dropped in a doodle of SpongeBob. He then told them, “This is the star of your new show.”
6. Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob previously starred in Rocko’s Modern Life, as the voice of Heffer, Rocko’s bovine best friend. In addition to being the narrator in The Powerpuff Girls and the voice of Dog in CatDog, Kenny was a regular on Mr. Show. He also lent his voice to the TV version of Dumb and Dumber — which, yes, had a television spin-off. Kenny is also in Brickleberry, the critically reviled TV show that got a rare F from The Onion A.V. club, but it’s best if we all forget about that.
7. Rocko’s Modern Life is notable for its sexual innuendos. During the show, Rocko held jobs as an underwear model and, for one shining moment in time, a phone sex hotline operator. The restaurant the characters frequented was called the “Chokey Chicken,” an obvious innuendo for masturbation (changed later to the “Chewy Chicken.”) However, that’s hardly the only jerking off joke. In one episode, Mr. Bighead is attempting to recruit people for his bowling league and asks Rocko and his pals, but our beloved wallaby tells him they are busy playing their own game. This consists of wailing a bare-butted monkey with paddles. Thus, they are “spanking the monkey.” Note: Rocko’s preferred hobby is “jacking” and his dog is named “Spunky.”
8. There also a number of interesting gay-themed in-jokes in Rocko. In “I Have No Son,” Ralph Bighead polls his assistants on their opinions of his creative work. They say, in turn: 1. “It’s a credit to your genius.” 2. “A triumph of your will.” 3. “It’s okay.” This is a reference to creation of Rocky in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. During another episode, Rocky’s car dies and his spirit leaves his body. Later, when his soul returns to the car, some poles in the garage spell out “HIV” in the background. If that’s not enough, Rocko and Heffer stay in the “No Tell Motel” in the “Road Rash” episode. This is a deleted scene from that episode.
9. The Ren and Stimpy Show famously featured numerous references to the fact that the two were a couple. The two lived together and slept in the same bed. Ren even had a picture of Stimpy on his nightstand. The couple even had simulated intercourse in an episode where Ren saws a log on Stimpy’s back, which very clearly looks like anal sex. Ren rubs his nipples first and when Ren stops, Stimpy asks him to “finish the job.” It ends with sawdust that looks like ejaculate all over Stimpy’s back. To clear up any lingering doubt, when the show was brought back on Spike, Ren and Stimpy play baseball in the very first episode. Ren is the pitcher and Stimpy is the catcher. Wikipedia refers to the two as “bisexual.”
10. According to the show, Ren and Stimpy live in Hollywood, an ideal location for a gay couple. However, there’s one problem. It’s Hollywood, Yugoslavia.
11. The Wild Thornberrys featured some very interesting casting throughout its run. In addition to recruiting the future Gretchen Weiners to play Eliza, the cast included Tim Curry, Betty White, Lynn Redgrave, singer Christina Millian, 30 Rock main gay Maulik Pancholy, Bai Ling(?), Bronson Pinchot, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, character actor Michael Jeter, The Go-Go’s Jane Wiedlin and (weirdest of all) Flea — like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Do you think he took off his shirt to record?
12. The show Blue’s Clues featured a dog and her male companion, Steve, who was always trying to solve her games. Yes, that dog was female. Blue is a girl. Steve Burns was actually a struggling rock musician, formerly of what he describes as “Morrissey knock-off band,” who got the role thinking it was just a voice-over deal. He arrived on set with long, shaggy hair and an earring, but the producers weren’t having it. To keep his job, they told him, “Could you not look like you tomorrow morning?” However, the show’s executive producer believed in him, arguing that he was “the realest” person they met with for the part. Although there was a rumor Burns ODed, he left the show to go back to music. He appeared on Rosie to let America know he’s still alive.
13. Hey Arnold! occasionally dabbled in adult subjects. During the episode “Tutoring Torvald,” you can very clearly hear a gunshot in the distance. Check it out around the 4:22 mark. In “Summer Love,” Arnold’s grandma goes to a nude beach called “Mature Wood Private Beach.” One of Helga’s many love poems to Arnold included the line: “You make my girlhood tremble.” Helga’s mother, Miriam, was likely an alcoholic, and the math teacher, Mr. Simmons (like “Richard Simmons”) was gay. In the Thanksgiving episode, Mr. Simmons brings his partner, Peter, to dinner, although his in-denial mother attempts to set him up with a woman named Joy. His mother snaps, “I didn’t know Peter was coming today.” Mr. Simmons retorts, “There’s a lot of things you don’t know!”
14. Although segments like “Vital Information” were clearly inspired by SNL, All That pulled much of its format from the Canadian show You Can’t Do That On Television. Brian Robbins (director of Norbit, The Perfect Score and Varsity Blues) and his partner, Mike Tollin, were the show’s creators, they left during the third season and Dan Schneider took the reins. Schneider was an actor in the 80s and 90s, appearing in Better Off Dead, Head of the Class (with Brian Robbins) and the Tonya Harding TV movie. All That was the start of his prolific career as a TV producer, the man behind Zoey 101, What I Like About You, iCarly, Victorious, Kenan and Kel and The Amanda Show. The New York Times dubbed him the Norman Lear of kids’ shows.
15. The Secret World of Alex Mack was the show that replaced Clarissa Explains It All after the show’s short three-year run. Due to Alex Mack’s intense popularity, fans of the show would often come up to Larisa Oleynik and beg her to do her transformations for them. Ever the good sport, Oleynik would look around nervously and whisper to them, “Not here, everybody would see!” Sadly though, the show’s supporting cast member Jessica Alba (who got her first-ever gig on the show) became a bigger star than Oleynik, and when the show was re-released in 2007 on DVD, the producers tried to bank on her popularity by slapping her name all over the DVDs. Alba was only in a few episodes.
16. After Clarissa Explains It All went off the air, a spin-off was intended for CBS in 1995 — called “Clarissa Now.” The show would have followed Clarissa to her internship at a newspaper in New York City. However, the pilot was dropped by CBS, although Nickelodeon aired it a number of times. But Melissa Joan Hart got her redemption: ABC’s TGIF lineup picked up Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a show in which her character, Sabrina Spellman, did eventually end up becoming a journalist at Spin magazine. Hart got the part when Sarah Michelle Gellar dropped out. She did a little-known TV show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer instead, whose creator, Joss Whedon, you may or may not have heard of.
17. Before appearing on Blossom and 90210, Sabrina’s David Lascher got his big break on Hey Dude with Christine Taylor, who would later appear in The Craft, Zoolander and Dodgeball. (Taylor is married to Ben Stiller.) Debuting in 1989, the long-running Hey Dude was Nickelodeon’s second live-action show, after 1984’s Out of Control, and it’s first big live-action hit. The show’s set is still in tact. You can visit it at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch resort outside Tucson, Nevada.
18. Although Kel was ranked higher on VH1’s list of the greatest 90’s TV stars, Kenan bested him for a spot on SNL, which they were both up for. Thompson was 25 when he got the part, making him younger than Saturday Night Live itself. He’s the first cast member to ever be able to boast that. He’s now been on SNL for a decade. During that time, Kel has also done things. He’s the proud owner and operator of some Wendy’s franchises down in Mississippi.
19. In addition to her stint on The Apprentice, Figure It Out’s Summer Sanders (a 1992 Olympic gold medalist) appeared as herself in the Cameron Crowe movie Jerry Maguire, starring Tom Cruise. Figure It Out was notable for the many celebrities that appeared on the show as a panelists, including Coolio, Evander Holyfield, Joe Namath, Mya and Carrot Top, but it also featured a very young Hunter Hayes. The country singer appeared on the show at six years old — as an accordion player.
20. Guts (also known as “Global Guts”) had a famous contestant of its own. In 1990, three years before he joined The Backstreet Boys, A.J. MacLean relocated to Orlando with his family to jumpstart his burgeoning career. He appeared in a number of Disney things, but his most notable role was on Guts in 1992, where he nabbed a silver medal. He was referred to as A.J. “The Mean” MacLean. When he isn’t trying to make the Backstreet Boys a thing again, MacLean pursues his solo projects — like guesting on a Finnish rapper’s song. You can listen to that song here. Yes, this is real.
21. Guts may not have had too many guest stars, but Are You Afraid of the Dark? did. A whole fucking lot of them. In addition to boosting the careers of series regulars like Happy Endings’ Elisha Cuthbert, Reba’s Joanna Garcia and Clueless’ Rachel Blanchard, it featured appearances by a young Neve Campbell, two-time Oscar winnerHilary Swank, Jay Baruchel, The L Word’s Mia Kirshner, Revenge’s Emily Van Camp, Everwood’s Gregory Smith, American Pie’s Eddie Kaye Thomas, Boy Meets World’s Will Friedle, Hayden Christensen, Tia and Tamera Mowry, Firefly’s Jewel Staite, Melissa Joan Hart, Cosby’s Tatyana Ali, Bobcat Goldthwait and a very, very young Ryan Gosling — who was also in the Goosebumps TV show, which is now streaming on Netflix. You’re welcome, internet.