There are but two chief Nicks in my life: The first being my oldest and best mate whose Mum was mates with my Mum, whose Grandparents were mates with my Grandparents and lived just down the road from each other, and who I went through the entire length of my schooling with from Kindie all the way to Year 12. The second being that horrible orange globular prick Nickelodeon.

Beyond Fox Sports 1 airing WWF Raw Is War on a two-week delay, Nickelodeon was inarguably the chief selling point of Foxtel in the late 90s and early 2000s. Those without access to it insisted they were fine with the rotating roster of fare on ABC, which was decent enough with your Daria‘s and your Trap Door‘s and your Gogs’s and whatnot. But those who did have it knew they possessed the key to true entertainment.

Nickelodeon’s run of original programming in that period is arguably unparalleled. It is untouchable. It is the Aggro Cragg of good ass TV.

So because I’m a horrible sadist who likes inviting hoards of strangers to yell at me willy nilly, I sat down and ranked 20 of the most “classic” Nick shows from its halcyon days.

The time period for these? Arbitrary! The cut-off point? Non-existent! The difficulty in ranking some of these shows, all of which are objectively not terrible? Extreme!

It is NickelodeON, mates.

20) Doug

Doug Funnie is a janky-ass bitch who I hate. Getting about Bluffington in that shorts and vest combo. Is it hot? Is it cold? What’s going on ya dumb dumb? Quit gawking at Patty Mayonnaise for 10 seconds and figure your shit out, mate.

19) Are You Afraid Of The Dark

Go to bed.

18) Fairly OddParents

Timmy is a whiny little prick who can’t wish to save himself. Dude is granted unlimited wish power and never learns to think through the consequences before heaving them down the drain? Rubbish. Keep them small. Improve your life incrementally. Don’t just spam Hail Mary’s the first chance you get.

17) Ren & Stimpy

It’s hard to reconcile the fact that without Ren & Stimpy there probably wouldn’t have been much of a Nickelodeon at all with the fact that show creator John Krickfalusi turned out to be a pretty dodgy and gross dude. So it’s here.

16) Nickelodeon GUTS

Not the best show overall by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly the only show on Nickelodeon where you could watch a child fall tumble down a 20-foot high foam mountain while being pelted with smaller foam rocks. Aggro Crag Über Alles.

15) Drake & Josh

Say what you want about Drake & Josh being this low, but I cannot – I can NOT – look at the same way ever again after seeing his goddamned vinegar stroke face front and centre in The Wackness. It’s an artistic choice, and no one’s blaming him for making it, but it makes syndication a messy scenario.

14) Rocko’s Modern Life

The only good thing – and I really do mean only good thing – about Rocko’s Modern Life is the absolutely balls-out insane theme tune from The B-52s. Otherwise it’s just a weird-ass show about a toey wallaby and his disgusting cow friend.

13) The Wild Thornberrys

British colonialist inserts himself into the precarious ecosystems of untouched Africa under the guise of “environmentalism” and straight-up steals a native child and an endangered ape, the latter of whom he forces to wear human clothes, while gaslighting his youngest daughter into believing she can communicate with animals. PETA would have an aneurism over this.

12) The Secret World of Alex Mack

Real-talk, the hero of this show is clearly Annie Mack. While Alex tries valiantly to ignore the confronting reality of her accident, often to her own detriment, and the chemical plant itself applies the worst kind of capitalist horrors by trying to silence her, it’s Annie that’s the only one actually trying to figure out a solution to this clear medical and chemical marvel. Does Annie Mack being my outrageously big TV crush factor into this? That’s irrelevant.

11) Kenan & Kel

The deeply sad sliding doors tale of Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell‘s duelling career fortunes after attending the same SNL audition is probably the show’s most lasting legacy. That said, there isn’t a single series in the history of television as a medium that has done more for boosting the public’s awareness of Orange Soda than this one.

10) SpongeBob Squarepants

Bikini Bottom. Mr Crabs. Sandy Cheeks. The French fish named “The Tickler.” SpongeBob is not-so-low-key an absolute parade of thirst and filth and, frankly, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

10) The Amanda Show

Penelope Taynt is funnier than any character a quote-unquote “adult” sketch comedy series has managed to create in the past 20-odd years and I will bury anyone who disagrees in the cold, cold ground. ‘Course everything that happened after the show wrapped up is a solid lesson in the entertainment industry’s fair lack of duty of care. But that’s another story for another day.

8) CatDog

I don’t understood CatDog. I mean, I understand it in the sense that it’s a cat and a dog somehow fused together as one. I understand it in the sense that they live in a house with a Brooklyn tough guy mouse who terrorises one half of them but is best friends with the other. I understand it in the sense that the cat/dog dichotomy is a constant push-and-pull and, when combined two creatures controlling the same physical body, leads to more than enough animated hijinx to make one of the more memorable Nick shows of all time. But when I say I don’t understand CatDog I mean I just do not get where or how they/it shits. Is there a hole in the middle of its tum? Is there two dual-purposes digestives systems in there meaning each head’s mouth also functions as an anus? Also why do their paws transform into human hands on a whim? Real weird.

7) The Adventures of Pete & Pete

Did y’all know that Steve Buscemi was on this show? What about Iggy Pop? Or Michelle TrachtenbergPete & Pete had an absurdly deep bench. One of the strangest shows Nickelodeon ever did that managed to hide in the plainest of sight. Artie (the Strongest Man in the World) is a GOAT-tier recurring character.

6) Rocket Power

Three experienced extreme sports enthusiasts repeatedly injuring their out-of-town friend by strapping wheels to his feet despite his deeply apparent lack of balance. You absolutely love to see it. Furthermore, Raymundo is easily the coolest and best animated Dad in TV history.

5) Rugrats

One of the OG Three of Nickelodeon shows, Rugrats served as the undisputed cornerstone of the network for well over a decade. And while it’s indisputably a great show, it’s only coming in at 5 on this list because the deeply dark, suffocating Ordinary People overtones that lingered over the kids heads cannot be denied. All adults in the series trapped perilously in their own suburban hell; strangulating corporatisation, navigating the world as a widow, trapped in the cogs of middle class mediocrity despite dreams of self-reliance. All that’s waiting for those innocent kids as they slowly grow up. It’s hell, man.

4) Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

Gross, weird, funny, poignant, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters might get overlooked in your ordinary, store-bought, run-of-the-mill Nickelodeon Best Shows lists, but not this one baby! Easily one of the most inventive premises Nickelodeon ever put to air, and definitely the most charmingly offputting. Like all good Nickeldeon shows, it was 95% entertaining, and 5% uncomfortable. That’s the sweet spot.

3) Legends of the Hidden Temple

The King of kid’s game shows. Only rivalled maybe by Australia’s own A*Mazing. Funnelling children through an ancient temple run where at any point they could be abducted by Temple Guards never to be seen or heard of again (so I’m told), the show combined two of the absolute best and most worthy things you can do with a captive audience of kids: Teach them wild tales of history and tell them absolute made up bullshit without once letting them know which is which.

2) Hey Arnold!

Unquestionably the coolest of all the Nickelodeon shows, Hey Arnold! took the fairly unique (for TV) setting of growing up in the inner city and made it look dope as hell. Everything from Arnold’s gadget-filled skylit bedroom to the legendary secret bathroom in his building’s basement to the relentless and very deserved tormenting of that fucking coward Stoop Kid, every aspect of Hey Arnold! absolutely rules. And if it weren’t for just one other show, old mate would be wearing a crown fit for a football-headed king.

1) Angry Beavers

Angry Beavers slaps. Angry Beavers slaps hard. Name one other show that could take something as utterly cooked as glowing tree sap and make it look like the most delicious shit you’ve ever seen. Hell, they managed to take what was more or less a completely silent and inanimate tree stump and turn it into one of the most beloved characters of the series. Funny, whip smart, sassy and arrogant in all the right ways, there is no Nickelodeon show – past, present, and arguably future – that can top Angry Beavers for its madcap, 100-mile-an-hour, breakneck animated slapstick. It absolutely rules. Plus it has the Best Theme Song and Best Opening Titles crowns locked up in a walk.

I am not bloody wrong. Not even a little bit.