Nickelodeon has started re-airing ‘90s shows, and plans to use viewer feedback to decide what airs. If viewers want Nick News, the viewers get Nick News; if Rugrats has the most fans, it gets the most airtime.
But I wanted to know what nostalgic adults like — and dislike — from their Nickelodeon-viewing days. So I gathered data from IMDB and put it on a chart. (Note: I excluded shows with fewer than 100 votes.)
The results are clear: Legends of the Hidden Temple is far and away the crowd favorite, the oldest shows are better than newer ones, and Nick News is, in terms of popularity, a hot mess.
If you made it this far without getting into an argument with another ’90s kid, here is a more detailed analysis of how we really, truly feel about the Nickelodeon oeuvre.
Legends of the Hidden Temple reigns supreme
The data says the best Nickelodeon show from the ’90s is Legends of the Hidden Temple.
In case your parents didn't let you watch TV: Legends was a Mayan-themed game show where duos of children competed against one another in what were essentially life-size puzzle games. The winning team got to enter the temple — essentially a glorified obstacle course — which made for arguably the most intense three minutes in children's television. One kid from the winning team, armed with a yellow helmet, was tasked with making her way through several rooms. But the show's producers had the brilliant idea of stashing three adults in Mayan costumes throughout the temple to scare the kids, as well as to take them out of the temple and let their teammate have a go.
No word on how the adult version of ourselves will react when we watch kids struggle to assemble the Silver Monkey.
Older shows are rated higher
Shows that first aired in the early ’90s or before are rated higher than those that started later in the decade. It’s possible the early shows were actually better — or maybe nostalgia grows over time.
The three highest-rated shows are all from the first part of the decade: Salute Your Shorts, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, and Legends of the Hidden Temple. Some of the lowest-rated — CatDog, Franklin, and The Amanda Show — premiered in the latter part of the decade.
The popular shows aren’t rated the highest
It’s possible the well-known shows, like Rugrats and Hey Arnold, suffered from large numbers of IMDB users rating the show — causing their score to regress to the mean.
But whatever the reason, some less popular shows, like Rocko’s Modern Life and My Brother and Me, outperform their better-known counterparts in terms of their score. One reason might be the cult following these shows have generated postmortem.
People really don’t like Nick News With Linda Ellerbee
It only airs a few times a year, but the kids' news program covers topics that are relevant to its audience. This is especially surprising when you consider the fact that Nick News is, far and away, the least popular show from the '90s in the IMBD data set I looked at.
According to the IMDB breakdown of how different demographics rated Nick News, women rated the show more favorably than men. Also, most people either rated the show a 1 or a 10.
These ratings will shift as they re-air
Since anyone can rate a show on IMDB, inevitably these shows will garner more votes as the Splat re-airs these shows. A show like Legends of the Hidden Temple only has about 1,250 ratings thus far, so an internet horde could easily knock the show out of the top spot in the next few months.