15 Lesser-Known 90s Shows Worth Revisiting
Sure, the CGI was sometimes frankly horrendous, but the storytelling and the heart was there, no doubt about it.
Here are some of the underrated series from the 1990s that, surprisingly, still hold up today.
1. Sliders (1995-2000)
"Sliders" follows physics student Quinn Mallory (Jerry O'Connell), who invents a device that lets him "slide" between alternate realities. Joined by his professor, Arturo (John Rhys-Davies), his friend Wade (Sabrina Lloyd), and singer Rembrandt (Cleavant Derricks), they jump from world to world, looking for a way back home. In one universe, America is ruled by England; in another, dinosaurs roam the streets. And also there are parallel versions of themselves causing mayhem.
2. The Pretender (1996-2000)
"The Pretender" centers on Jarod (Michael T. Weiss), a genius with the ability to instantly master any skill. He escapes from The Centre, a mysterious organization that raised him from childhood to be some sort of human Swiss Army knife for nefarious purposes. Once out, he takes on various identities, from doctor to pilot, to help people while dodging The Centre's operatives who are hot on his trail. Each episode is like a mini-movie, with Jarod fitting into a new life and making things right for ordinary people in trouble.
3. The Secret World of Alex Mack (1994-1998)
After a truck from a chemical plant almost runs over Alex (played by Larisa Oleynik), she gains powers like telekinesis and the ability to turn into a puddle. She uses her (somewhat useless) powers to stumble through teenage life, all while avoiding the plant's executives who want to experiment on her. Alex deals with crushes, family, and friends, all while hiding her secret abilities.
4. Nowhere Man (1995-1996)
Thomas Veil, portrayed by Bruce Greenwood, is a photojournalist who has his entire life erased. Even his wife doesn't recognize him. The plot thickens around a photograph he took of an execution, known as "Hidden Agenda." It seems this photo is the key, but to what? Government conspiracy? Alien cover-up? Just who can you trust when you're a Nowhere Man?
5. Earth 2 (1994-1995)
"Earth 2" starts with the simple enough premise that Earth is dying, poisoned and polluted. So, a team led by Devon Adair (Debrah Farentino) embarks on a journey to colonize a new Earth. Except, when they get there, they find it's not as empty as they thought. This planet's got its own indigenous species, and they're none too happy about these human interlopers. While the team tries to establish a new home, they have to juggle political conflict, mysterious illnesses, and the challenges of a world that's eerily like Earth – but also completely different.
6. Space: Above and Beyond (1995-1996)
"Space: Above and Beyond" gives us a squad of young United States Marine Corps Space Aviators as they're thrust into an interstellar war against an alien species. They hop from planet to planet, from battle to battle, in their high-speed Hammerhead fighter ships. Their adversaries, the Chigs, aren't just faceless monsters; they've got their reasons for fighting, too.
7. My So-Called Life (1994-1995)
Claire Danes stars as Angela Chase, a 15-year-old navigating the chaos that is high school. Alongside her are her friends Rayanne and Rickie, who are the epitome of '90s grunge and counterculture. Angela has a thing for Jordan Catalano (played by a young Jared Leto ), but it's complicated. Isn't it always? Family, friends, love, and the pain of adolescence – it's all here.
8. VR.5 (1995)
Sydney Bloom (Lori Singer) discovers that she can enter a virtual reality world by using a standard modem and some custom code. But this isn't just any VR; she can actually access other people's subconscious minds. She's recruited by a secret agency (because of course she is) to dive into the minds of criminals, politicians, and sometimes even her own family. Each episode explores a new mind-mystery, against a backdrop of '90s computer graphics that are, let's be honest, kinda cheesy but in a charming way.
9. American Gothic (1995-1996)
"American Gothic" is a drama set in a small Southern town called Trinity. The town is run by Sheriff Lucas Buck, who's not just a regular cop: he's got some evil or possibly supernatural powers. The show also follows a young boy named Caleb, who might have inherited some of the sheriff's darker traits. Throughout the series, creepy and mysterious events happen, including interactions with ghosts and other supernatural elements.
10. Dark Skies (1996-1997)
"Dark Skies" explores the idea that aliens have been manipulating historical events since the 1940s. John Loengard (Eric Close) and Kimberly Sayers (Megan Ward) find themselves entangled in a government conspiracy after encountering an alien race known as The Hive. These aliens are here to colonize Earth by taking over human bodies. The show combines real historical events, like the Civil Rights Movement and the Kennedy assassination, with an overarching alien conspiracy plot.
11. Due South (1994-1999)
"Due South" pairs a strait-laced Canadian Mountie, Benton Fraser (Paul Gross), with a street-savvy Chicago cop, Ray Vecchio (David Marciano). Fraser comes to Chicago to solve his father's murder but sticks around to serve as a Canadian consulate liaison. They solve crimes with methods as different as poutine and deep-dish pizza.
12. Forever Knight (1992-1996)
Before Edward and Bella, there was Nick Knight (Geraint Wyn Davies), an 800-year-old vampire working as a homicide detective in modern-day Toronto. Desperate to reclaim his humanity, Nick fights crime while wrestling with his darker urges. His diet consists of bottled cow blood and, well, the occasional perp if things get dicey.
13. Picket Fences (1992-1996)
Tom Skerritt plays Sheriff Jimmy Brock, who handles bizarre and often humorous cases, ranging from a man who claims he's Jesus to a traveling Elvis impersonator. The quirky family dynamics pepper the series, including Brock's wife, the town doctor, and their three kids, each dealing with their own dramas.
14. SeaQuest DSV (1993-1996)
Commanded by Captain Nathan Bridger (Roy Scheider), the high-tech submarine SeaQuest DSV patrols Earth's oceans in the near future. The crew includes a teen genius, a talking dolphin, and even a gung-ho military man. They encounter everything from undersea colonies to genetically-engineered life forms. It's "Star Trek " underwater, basically.
15. Highlander: The Series (1992-1998)
A spin-off from the movies, the series follows the immortal Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul), cousin to movie Highlander Connor. He's been alive for 400 years and battles other immortals in epic sword fights to the death. The catch? "There can be only one," as the tagline says. The last immortal standing gets unimaginable power.