If you were gay and a kid in the ’90s, you were lucky to have Nickelodeon on the tube. Not only did the classic kids network dish out quirky shows that hold up well (particularly The Adventures of Pete & Pete), but it gave you bizarre, unconventional, one-of-a-kind characters who could be your friends, no matter how ridiculous or cartoonish they were. Sometimes, Nick’s characters were seemingly tailor-made for gay audience acceptance, and that’s why we’re assembled here today in this blessed Pride month: to remember 25 of Nickelodeon’s ’90s heroes (in the pre-Spongebob era) who guided us through childhood like Kirk Fogg ushering Purple Parrots past Temple Guards.
25. Petunia, The Adventures of Pete & Pete
Sure, she was just a tattoo, but she wiggled! Scandalously! Gorgeously! Distantly. Little Pete’s mermaid tattoo was the slacker ’90s kid take on Veronica Lake.
24. Helga Pataki, Hey Arnold!
Helga’s threatening stature and grating whine were just part of her appeal. Arnold’s Viking gal pal was refreshingly cynical and witty in a cartoon world dominated by a strange multicultural blandness.
23. Sardo, Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Accent on the d’oh! Sardo (no Mr.) was a puzzling minx with ’90s magician hair who didn’t terrify you so much as wow you with dinner theater grandeur. Which is also terrifying.
22. Brad Taylor, Hey Dude
If there’s one thing I love, it’s a humorless beaut. Brad was an unsmiling, no-nonsense, blue-balling ranch hand who essentially ruined Ted’s (David Lascher <3 ) life every week. Her stare? Was killer cacti.
21. Scorchia, Nick Arcade
Even host Phil Moore had to tremble at the site of this virtual villain. Scorchia was a literally flaming femme fatale who waited to destroy contestants in the bonus round of this Super Nintendo-centric game show. Adore.
20. The Gromble, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
The Gromble barely edged out his costar Oblina (voiced by the fab Christine Cavanaugh) to make this list. His nefarious, Jafar-esque voice was gay and delicious enough, but what really sets him apart from the pack is the fact that he wore four red pumps. He had a sort of Tiny Tim-meets-Dr. Frankenfurter look and vibe that I respect.