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Underrated Nickelodeon Shows You Need To Watch

If you were a child at any point over the last 40 years, you probably have fond memories of the children's programming behemoth that is Nickelodeon. Some of the channel's greatest series have become cultural giants whose influence promises to linger for decades to some. Chances are, if you ask a random crowd of people if they know who leaves in a pineapple under the sea, the majority will immediately name Spongebob SquarePants. "Avatar: The Last Airbender" is widely regarded as one of the greatest modern fantasy sagas in any medium. Older series like "Rugrats" have earned nostalgic revivals, many years after they went off the air.

But for every great Nickelodeon show that receives due praise, there is another one equally worthy of your time that has slipped through the cracks. We're here to give some love to the underrated Nickelodeon shows you need to watch, from bizarre puppet sagas to thrilling game show gauntlets.

Making Fiends

"Making Fiends" only aired for a single season. The short-lived cartoon is based off a Flash animated web series of the same name created by animator Amy Winfrey, who had previously worked on "South Park" and has since gone on to direct a number of episodes of "BoJack Horseman." The scrappy, hand-drawn look that defines the distinct animation style of "South Park" may have served as an inspiration for the aesthetic of "Making Fiends," which is as charming as it is scribbly.

"Making Fiends" stars a young girl named Charlotte, who finds herself transferred to a new school in the benighted town of Clamburg. Like something out of "The Twilight Zone," Clamburg is entirely at the mercy of another young girl named Vendetta, whose diabolical ability to summon monsters (the titular fiends) terrorizes the public into submission. But Charlotte is eternally unfazed by Vendetta's actions. Her unbridled optimism proves to be so powerful, it even transforms the fiends into friends. The comical dynamic between Vendetta and Charlotte becomes ever more delightful and absurd, while the series' unique and eerie animation style delivers kid-friendly thrills.

The Angry Beavers

"The Angry Beavers" follows a pair of beaver brothers named Norbert and Daggett. Having set up their own forest bachelor pad, they now have to figure out how to live on their own. Their carefree attitude towards life winds up putting them in increasingly bizarre scenarios as the series progresses, but their own sibling rivalry proves to be as much of an obstacle as anything else. Still, at the end of the day, zany Daggett and comparatively chill Norbert always end up making amends. Their cartoon world is simply too unpredictable to weather alone.

An incredibly funny and creative cartoon, "The Angry Beavers" spans a respectable four seasons. Yet it hasn't gained the same notoriety other shows of its mid-'90s era enjoy. This is a tremendous shame — without "The Angry Beavers," one wonders if infamously bizarre Nickelodeon series like "The Fairly OddParents" and "Invader Zim" would even exist. Still, those who remember it love it — and those who've never encountered it before can catch up today.


Featuring two of animation's strangest protagonists, "CatDog” makes its bizarre premise clear in its title. Cat and Dog are conjoined twins who must figure out how to get by while being literally joined at the hip. How can a cat and a dog be brothers? It's best not to think about it and just let the wacky series do its thing. In classic comedic fashion, Cat and Dog's personalities are like oil and water. The two want to lead completely different lifestyles — but of course, one's lifestyle automatically becomes the other's. What's a poor CatDog to do?

It often feels like the whole world is out to get this unique pair: They face an ever-changing horde of antagonists, ranging from a group of canine bullies to a corrupt rabbit politician. Moreover, the city Cat and Dog live in is almost as bizarre as they are, featuring surprisingly cultured mice and odd green humanoids. While the era that birthed this series was defined by truly weird children's programming, "CatDog" still stands out as one of the strangest cartoons to ever hit the airwaves.

Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide

Coming on the air in 2004, "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide" follows young Ned Bigby as he tries to navigate the awkward intricacies of middle school life. He narrates his day-to-day experiences in a hilariously matter-of-fact way, presenting the whole thing as a series of lessons for the curious viewer. As he marches through life, he's joined by classmates like tomboy Moze and ultra-geek Cookie. Middle school is tough, but with friends like these, Ned has it handled.

"Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide" managed to set itself apart from the many kid-centric sitcoms of the early '00s by providing some surprisingly poignant takes on tween life. Older Nickelodeon viewers will recognize it as being in line with network classics like "Clarissa Explains It All" and "The Adventures of Pete & Pete," which distinguished themselves by being similarly offbeat and honest.  Despite this, "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide" has been somewhat overshadowed by the likes of "iCarly" and "Drake and Josh." While both Nickelodeon sitcoms are fantastic in their own right, Ned's story is just as clever, funny, and weird.


While it was only on the air for a single season, "Catscratch" fills its 20 episodes with enjoyable lunacy. The series revolves around three feline brothers: Mr. Blik, Gordon Quid, and Waffle. Each is stranger (and more hilarious) than the last. Following their owner's death, they're left with a massive inheritance, a skillful butler, and a gigantic monster truck. Each episode centers around their lavish antics, which range from throwing fancy parties full of zombies to encounters with the kraken.

With performances from comedic talents like Wayne Knight of "Seinfeld" fame, this bizarre series makes up for its scant runtime by packing every single episode with breakneck laughs. Sadly, "Catscratch" was promptly forgotten by all but the most loyal Nickelodeon fans. It has a lot to offer with its off-the-wall comedy style, and is worth checking out if you're a fan of the more absurd cartoons that dominated the '00s.

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

From the same animation studio that brought '90s audiences "Rugrats" and "The Wild Thornberrys" comes "Aaahh!!! Real Monsters," a series that undoubtedly caused as many nightmares as it did laughs. While this is a notably creepy series full of genuinely scary monsters, even the most wary child can appreciate the imaginative environment it brings to life. This series explores the world of monsters who live underneath a New York City garbage dump. Most episodes highlight the antics of young Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm, who are learning how to become properly scary. 

What "Aaahh!!! Real Monsters" lacks in life lessons, it makes up for in visual gags and gross-out humor. This series boasts some of the most inventive character designs to ever hit TV: Each monster is a unique creation, boasting their own fully-formed aesthetic. Striped Oblina wouldn't look out of place in a Tim Burton movie, while Krumm could be on a Garbage Pail Kids card. If you're interested in exploring the world of creepy cartoons, you've got to check out "Aaahh!!! Real Monsters."

Rocko's Modern Life

One of the first shows the legendary Stephen Hillenburg worked on was "Rocko's Modern Life," which hit Nickelodeon in 1993. Years later, Hillenburg went on to create the iconic "SpongeBob SquarePants," which dramatically overshadows this '90s cult classic. But if you're a fan of Bikini Bottom's quirky characters, you need to make time for Rocko and his friends.

This oddball cartoon follows Rocko, the titular wallaby, as he goes about his day-to-day life in the fictional O-Town. He's joined by his enthusiastic pup Spunky, his less-than-intelligent pal Heffer, and the freaked-out Filburt, whose reclusive and socially awkward nature is at odds with the rest of the group. Their shared misadventures are as weird as they are entertaining, and often full of sly social commentary. In fact, "Rocko's Modern Life" has become somewhat infamous for its adult-oriented comedy. But anyone of any age can enjoy this winsome series — and the revival special, 2019's "Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling."

The Brothers Garcia

With its heavily Latino cast and crew, "The Brothers Garcia" broke major ground when it debuted in 2000. It's narrated by an adult Larry Garcia, who recounts his youth with fondness and humor. Little Larry is eager to forge an identity for himself, but this is a tall order: He's the youngest kid in his family, and a twin to boot. But having siblings isn't always tough — sometimes, it's what gets you through your childhood. Life in San Antonio might be crazy, but it's always entertaining.

Alvin Alvarez, who plays young Larry, does a great job bringing the many different elements of "The Brothers Garcia" together. While the series takes a little time to find its footing, it makes up for this delay with killer performances and a skillful balance of heart and humor. "The Brothers Garcia" ends up being so strong, in fact, that "The Garcias," a reboot series taking a look at the fictional family's life some 15 years later, is slated for a 2022 release.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

"Are You Afraid of the Dark?" has been somewhat overshadowed by "Goosebumps," which benefits from being based on the renowned children's horror novel series of the same name. But "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" still stands out as one of the most genuinely spooky series ever aimed at children. Those who were lucky enough to catch the series during its original run have been haunted by its terrifying visions for decades.

Basically, "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" is "Tales from the Crypt" for younger viewers. The series is framed by a gaggle of teenage friends who call themselves the Midnight Society. The group meets in the woods to regale each other with horror stories, which form the meat of the series. These tales can creep out even the most seasoned fans of horror: Ghosts, vampires, and creepy clowns are all present and accounted for, populating stories both familiar and completely original. It might be rated TV-PG, but "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" still features some of the scariest episodes of TV ever made.

Mr. Meaty

Riding the uncanny valley with its deliberately off-putting puppets, "Mr. Meaty" stayed on the air for a total of two unnerving seasons. Its live-action weirdness probably gave a few younger viewers nightmares, but that's likely what it was going for. The series centers around two teenagers named Parker and Josh. While the duo couldn't be more dissimilar — cool Josh is the inverse of the socially awkward  Parker — they're forced to work together at their dead-end fast food job in the fictional Scaunchboro mall. To say that things get weird would be a major understatement.

Much of the comedy on display might remind older audiences of the grotesque hijinks that immortalized cult classic "The Ren & Stimpy Show." Parker and Josh are constantly finding themselves involved in surreal situations that border on being both scary and hilarious: They get involved in soy-based cults, become vampires to blow off work, and accidentally get flung into the future. If you're looking to break up the monotony with something truly absurd, "Mr. Meaty" will fit the bill.


Innovative mid-'90s series "KaBlam!" offers a wide variety of comedy sketches featuring unique animation styles. While it's not talked about as much as it should be nowadays, fans who do remember this quirky series are sure to recall the exploits of Henry and June, the cartoon duo who serve as guides to the show's many segments.

Nothing is off-limits when it comes to the visual department on "KaBlam!" The series itself is told through the pages of a comic book, which is depicted in vibrant colors and an endearingly rough style. But "KaBlam!" truly shines in its sketches: They make use of stop-motion animation, puppetry, mid-century visuals, and basically everything else. They're also completely hilarious. One of the most infamous recurring sketches, "Action League Now!," hysterically captures the anarchic spirit of children's play by chronicling the adventures of unfortunate action figures like Meltman and The Flesh. One of the most visually diverse series ever made, "KaBlam!" will still blow you away.

The Legend of Korra

"The Legend of Korra" was probably always going to be somewhat overshadowed by its widely-acclaimed predecessor, "Avatar: The Last Airbender." But Korra's story deserves to be recognized on its own merits, as both as incredible adventure starring an unforgettable protagonist and a dramatic expansion of the "Avatar" world.

Set 70 years after the events of "Avatar: The Last Airbender," "The Legend of Korra" tells the story of Korra, a young woman of the Southern Water Tribe who has succeeded Aang in the role of Avatar. Like him, she struggles to unite a world torn apart by conflict — but Korra also has to deal with huge technological advancement. Furthermore, Korra is considerably more brash than peaceful Aang, which proves to be an asset and a curse. Can this competitive warrior find balance?

Despite being set in the same universe as "Avatar: The Last Airbender," "The Legend of Korra" feels like its own creation, in large part due to the wealth of new settings, characters, and conflicts it introduces. It even manages to explore some deeper themes than its predecessor, including authoritarianism, post-traumatic stress, and urban inequality. If you love Aang, you owe it to yourself to give Korra a shot.

Gullah Gullah Island

Even though it's definitely intended for a younger crowd, "Gullah Gullah Island" influenced a wide range of children's entertainment. Taking place on the fictional island of the same name, the series is a musical and educational showcase that teaches important lessons on topics encompassing life, culture, and morality. Guided by the fictional Alston family and a colorful frog named Binyah Binyah, these heavy topics are explored with candor, humor, and song.

"Gullah Gullah Island" is especially notable for its real-life roots in the Gullah culture of the American Lowcountry region. Ron and Natalie Daise, the married pair who host the series, are renowned ambassadors of Gullah culture — the series is, in fact, just one element of their multifaceted careers. Their wholesome presence, combined with memorable music and a lighthearted approach to thoughtful topics, makes "Gullah Gullah Island" a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Legends of the Hidden Temple

Back in the day, Nickelodeon was full of live-action game shows like "Guts" and "Double Dare." But none of them ever had quite the same sense of adventure that "Legends of the Hidden Temple" captures. Each episode of this rollicking series features a different artifact its contestants vie for. All the while, it builds interesting lore, which is delivered to players and audiences alike by way of a giant talking head named Olmec.

While the challenge is part of the fun on every game show, "Legends of the Hidden Temple" takes things a step further. Competitors are spread across six teams of two, and are subjected to four rounds of challenges. These range from physical obstacles to knowledge tests, all culminating in an exceptionally difficult final round referred to as the "Temple Run." It's filled with adult temple guards ready to jump out of every corner (probably giving some of the poor kids nightmares for years), as well as a labyrinth of puzzles that could probably stump most adults. While a reboot show and TV movie have hit the airwaves in recent years, there's nothing quite like the original series.