Quiz: We'll Give You Three Characters, You Give Us the '90s TV Show: HowStuffWorks
We'll Give You Three Characters, You Give Us the '90s TV Show
By: Torrance Grey
6 Min Quiz
Image: The WB
About This Quiz
The 1990s gave us some truly memorable television shows. Some of them followed up on the ground broken by Steven Bochco in the 1980s. Without his "L.A. Law" and "Hill Street Blues," there wouldn't be an "NYPD Blue" (also by Bochco and his partner, David Milch), nor "Homicide: Life on the Street." Other shows capitalized on everyone's anxiety about the approach of the year 2000. These included "The X-Files" and the aptly-named "Millennium."
But if you wanted lighter fare, well, there was plenty of that -- probably with a teenage cast. Teenagers were network gold in the 1990s. Consider the success of "Saved by the Bell," "Blossom," "The Wonder Years," and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Of course, not all youth-themed shows were light-hearted. "My So-Called Life" dealt with the difficulties of being a teenager (and also introduced a 13-year-old acting prodigy named Claire Danes to the world). "Party of Five" was about four young people (the baby made "Five") struggling to keep their family together after their parents' death in a car crash (kind of like a coed version of the Curtis brothers from "The Outsiders.")
How well do you remember the casts of these memorable pre-millennial shows? Show off your '90s-TV smarts now with our quiz!
Willow, Xander, Giles:
Don't be fooled by the inclusion of "Angel." It barely qualifies as a '90s show, premiering in October 1999, and the characters above only rarely guest-starred. However, Willow Rosenberg, Xander Harris and Rupert Giles were all in the core cast of "Buffy."
Chandler, Ross, Rachel:
Chandler was Matthew Perry's sardonic character. Ross and Rachel were the on-again, off-again lovers NBC was convinced America cared about so much their storyline should drag on for 10 seasons. Phoebe, Monica and Joey rounded out the six friends.
Greene, Carter, Hathaway:
"ER" lasted well into the 2000s, but its glory years were the '90s when audiences rushed home to watch it faster than ambulances raced to County General Hospital. "ER" steamrolled over "Medicine Ball," Fox's very short-lived competitor, though "Chicago Hope" did a little better.
Al, Peggy, Bud:
"Married With Children" was a breath of fresh air after decades of TV shows portraying affluent families with ultra-sincere, caring parents. It followed the Bundys, a lower-middle-class family with a distinctly cynical way of looking at life. Daughter Kelly rounded out the ensemble above.
Jerry, Elaine, George:
"Jerry" was, of course, Jerry Seinfeld. Michael Richards played "Kramer," who was in some ways the show's breakout star. But oddly enough, he's the one whose career hasn't really lived up to those of his co-stars. Perhaps it never quite recovered from a racist rant Richards broke into during his stand-up act in 2006.
Joey, Pacey, Jen:
We've left out Dawson Leery, of course, because he'd be a dead giveaway. The title role was played by James Van Der Beek, who has spent some of his post-Dawson career parodying his teen-heartthrob status, including playing himself on "Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23."
Bayliss, Pembleton, Giardello:
While "NYPD Blue" got the stronger start, "Homicide" is arguably the show with the larger cultural influence. You see its DNA in "The Wire," "Southland," and other gritty crime shows.
Dan, Jackie, Darlene:
Oh, perhaps you've heard of the show's star, Roseanne Barr? She torpedoed the popular show's reboot with one racist tweet, causing the network to pull the plug despite the show's popularity.
Mulder, Scully, Krycek:
We had you at "Mulder" and "Scully," right? "Krycek," in case your memory is hazy, was a popular bad guy on the show, starting out as a junior FBI agent who supposedly looked up to Mulder. The actors' chemistry was so good it spawned thousands of "Mulder/Krycek" slash fics online. (You know, if you're into that sort of thing).
Carlton, Urkel and "J3":
Steven Urkel, played by Jaleel White and often just called "Urkel," was the show's marquee character. Since then, he's turned up in a number of guest spots, including on the USA Network's "Psych."
Apu, Barney, Krusty:
The main characters of this show -- Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa -- are now so famous that we had to give you secondary characters, who are pretty famous in their own right. They are Apu the convenience-store owner, Barney the town drunk, and Krusty the (misanthropic) clown.
Sipowicz, Fancy, Martinez:
This Bochco/Milch production broke barriers on language and nudity, right from the beginning. It also had the guts to name its tough, no-nonsense captain "Fancy." Daring!
Brandon, Brenda, Dylan:
Brandon and Brenda were the twins transplanted from Minnesota into Beverly Hills. Dylan was Brenda's bad-boy love interest; it was Luke Perry's star-making role.
Fran, Maxwell, Niles:
This was a star vehicle for comic actress Fran Drescher (the character having the same name as the actor is usually a tip-off). "The Nanny" ran from 1993 to 1999.
Niles, Roz, Martin:
Sorry, it's not "Martin" (that was a Martin Lawrence vehicle). Instead, Niles was the brother of Frasier Crane, while Roz played the producer of Frasier's radio show, and Martin was his down-to-earth ex-cop dad. The show was, of course, a spin-off from "Cheers."
Zack, Screech, Jessie:
Zack was the lead character of this teen comedy. Screech was his best friend, and Jessie Spano a sincere straight-A student, who soon contradicted her good-girl image by taking the lead role in "Showgirls."
Dale, Leland, the Log Lady:
You had to turn in your intellectual card if you weren't watching David Lynch's "Twin Peaks" in the 1990s (spoiler alert: It wasn't so much intellectual as just campy). Dale was Dale Cooper, sent to Twin Peaks to investigate the death of Laura Palmer; Leland was Laura's father, and the Log Lady ... oh, never mind.
Hans, Franz, the Church Lady:
Of course, "Saturday Night Live" isn't strictly a 1990s show, but each decade of the show has its own distinct cast, characters and sketches. The 1990s were a boom time for "SNL." Everywhere you went, people were imitating German fitness trainers Hans and Franz and Dana Carvey's Church Lady.
Bailey, Julia, Claudia:
This show about five siblings making a go of it after their parents' death ran from 1994 to 2000 on Fox. It gave Neve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt their breakout roles.
Dick, Sally and Tommy Solomon:
We left out Harry Solomon, the fourth of this band of extraterrestrials who came to Earth to study it. They were played by John Lithgow, (Dick), Kristen Johnson (Sally), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tommy) and French Stewart (Harry).
Billy, Alison, Jake:
This spinoff from "Beverly Hills 90210" underwent an abrupt "mood swing" between Seasons 1 and 2. Starting as a sincere drama about young adulthood, it floundered in the ratings until the addition of Heather Locklear as a manipulative schemer led the show in the nighttime-soap direction it stuck to throughout the rest of its successful run.
Ashley, Saggin' Baggin Barry, Pierre Escargot:
"All That" was a sketch comedy show that premiered on Nickelodeon in 1994. "Ashley," the host of "Ask Ashley," was an advice-show hostess with a rather flammable temper, played by Amanda Bynes.
Will, Carlton, Hilary:
This was a fish-out-of-water story. Will (Will Smith) moves from Philadelphia to Bel Air, California, moving in with his cousins Carlton and Hilary and their parents. While Will Smith has gone multiplatinum since, Alfonso (Carlton) Ribeiro has become a very popular TV presence, now hosting "America's Funniest Home Videos."
Tim, Jill, Al:
"Tim" was Tim Taylor, the host of "Tool Time." He was played by comedian Tim Allen. Jill was his long-suffering wife, and Al was his assistant on the show.
Angela, Rayanne, Jordan:
Angela was Angela Chase, played by a very young Claire Danes. Rayanne and Jordan were Angela's best friend and love interest in this short-lived teen-angst show.
Danny, Jesse, Joey:
Danny Tanner was a widowed single father. But he was not alone, as his brother-in-law, Jesse, and friend, Joey, helped to raise the three Tanner daughters. This was also the show that gave the world the Olsen twins. (You're welcome, world!)
Cory, Shawn, Topanga:
This coming-of-age show ran from 1993 to 2000. Ben Savage was Cory, the main character. Shawn was his best friend, while Topanga was Cory's love interest.
Tia, Tamera, Lisa:
This was a star vehicle for Tia and Tamera Mowry, playing separated-then-reunited twins. Lisa was the girls' mother, and veteran character actor Tim Reid played Ray, their father.
Hilda, Zelda, Harvey:
Hilda and Zelda were Sabrina's aunts, while Harvey was Sabrina's non-magical crush. "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" was based on the comic-book series of the same name.
Tony, Joey, Six:
These were the brothers and best friend, respectively, of the lead character, Blossom. She was played by Mayim Bialik, now on "The Big Bang Theory."
Kel Kimble, Kyra Rockwell, Chris Potter:
We couldn't give you both Kenan *and* Kel in the hint; it would have been too big a giveaway. They anchored this popular Nickelodeon spin-off from "All That."
Geiger, Shutt, Kronk:
Geiger, Shutt and Kronk sounds like an ambulance-chasing law firm, but no, these were all doctors on "Chicago Hope." It was CBS's rival to NBC's powerhouse "ER," and lasted a respectable six years.
Benita Buttrell, Homey D. Clown, Fire Marshal Bill:
The number of careers this show launched was truly amazing: the Wayans Brothers, Jennifer Lopez, Jim Carrey and Carrie Ann Inaba (now a judge on "Dancing With the Stars"). Kim Wayans was also a key cast member. She played the gossipy Benita Buttrell.
Billy, Georgia, "the Biscuit":
Oh, "Ally McBeal," how we miss you -- your unisex bathrooms, your dancing baby, your "knee pit" sex technique. Billy and Georgia were Ally's ex-lover and his new wife, both lawyers at Cage & Fish. "The Biscuit" was partner John Cage, played by Peter MacNicol.
Lindsay, Daniel, Ken:
"Freaks and Geeks" debuted at the tail end of the 1990s and didn't last very long. But we couldn't omit it. It launched James Franco and Seth Rogen, aka "Daniel" and "Ken."
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