90s Cartoon Characters That Made Nerds Cool

90s Cartoon Characters
Credit: Nickelodeon

Do the cartoons you watched as a kid define you? If so, 90s cartoon characters pushed nerds, geeks, and oddballs to an audience already filled up on heroes and villains. These new nerdy characters thrived in the 90s, and even became part of pop culture. For instance, who hasn’t called a friend “Football Head” – aka, Hey Arnold?

Amazingly, 90s cartoon characters remain popular today and brought out a coolness in nerds that we didn’t know existed. Below are the biggest nerds, geeks, and oddball characters from the 90s that were, are, and will always be adored for making weird cool.

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5. Dexter, Dexter’s Laboratory

The Russian-accented “Boy Genius” from Dexter’s Laboratory immediately became a Cartoon Network favorite. Dexter appears to be an ordinary American youngster in a lab coat on the surface. Dexter, in reality, is the world’s best scientist and master inventor, all from his parent’s basement. He dresses up like Albert Einstein, his hero, and he surely has the brilliant IQ to match.

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4. Arnold, Hey Arnold

Arnold’s parents mysteriously vanish, and he is taken to live with his grandparents. Surprisingly, this is a far more common real-life scenario for kids nowadays, and “Arnold” portrays it sympathetically. The animation is set in the inner city, making it relatable to a wide range of school-aged children, and he is constantly trying to solve his friends’ problems. That sounds more like today’s youth, regardless of where they live.

3. Tommy Pickles, Rugrats

Tommy Pickles is a bold and adventurous character even though he appears to be a baby in a diaper. He is loving, articulate, and is rarely caught without a t-shirt and diaper. Tommy Pickles is a one-year-old baby toddler, who along with his young buddies, goes out on countless adventures, including battling the spoilt Angelica, riding the family dog, and much more. While you wouldn’t immediately look at Tommy Pickles and think “cool,” he’s a leader of the Rugrats and has a very inquisitive personality that everyone including nerds love.

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2. SpongeBob, SpongeBob SquarePants

SpongeBob SquarePants didn’t hit the small screen until September 1999, but it made a huge impact. Catapulting the Bikini Bottom line-up of oddballs to the top of 90s cartoons. Amongst that cast was Spongebob Squarepants, a simple (in more ways than one) sponge, with a huge heart, who along with friend Patrick Star (who could have also been on this list) went on countless bizarre capers. The fact is, any cartoon character who loved flipping patties and has a pet snail has to be a top 90s cartoon character. He is objectively not a cool, calm, or collected character, but has become a sensation over the past 20 years showing that people are drawn to his whacky personality.

1. Homer Simpson, The Simpsons

The cartoon world would be a less interesting place if not for Homer Simpson. The Simpsons premiered in the late 1990s, narrowly making the cut for this list. The catchphrase “D’oh” is a significant part of American television culture and his clumsiness never misses an episode. Homer Simpson, like the catchphrase, is well-known across the world and is inextricably linked to 90s cartoon characters. His personality is not immediately cool as he is lazy, sometimes foolish, and a bit disorganized. However, thanks to The Simpsons humor and story, Homer is a character that we have now made to be associated with cool, trendy parts of pop culture.

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