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The Biggest '90s Nickelodeon Stars, Then and Now

There's just no question: the '90s were the golden age of Nick.

Kids today could never understand. The '90s was the golden age of Nickelodeon, a time when animated shows stretched the limits of the art form, sitcoms didn't talk down to kids, and sketch comedy launched some major careers. So many people who became famous as kids on Nickelodeon are still influential in the industry today, while some have ceded the spotlight. To take you back to the days of flipping on the TV with your Dunkaroos in hand, we're looking at the biggest '90s Nickelodeon stars, then and now. And for more stars of the best decade for the small screen, check out The Biggest '90s TV Teen Idols, Then and Now.

Melissa Joan Hart: Then

Melissa Joan Hart in Clarissa Explains It All
United Archives GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo

Melissa Joan Hart starred as the fourth-wall-breaking protagonist in the Nickelodeon sitcom Clarissa Explains It All from 1991 to 1994.

And to see what the horror stars of this era are up to, check out The Biggest '90s Horror Icons, Then and Now.

Melissa Joan Hart: Now

Melissa Joan Hart 2019
Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock

Still focused on family-friendly entertainment, Hart recently starred on the Netflix comedy No Good Nick and has appeared in tons of holiday TV movies. There's also a Clarissa reboot rumored to be in the works, though Hart said last year that it was on hold for the time being.

Kel Mitchell: Then

Kel Mitchell
REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo

One half of Kenan and Kel, the duo that was established on Nick's All That and later spun off into their own eponymous show, Kel Mitchell was a Nickelodeon regular all the way up through the year 2000.

For the music you were obsessed with as a teen, check out This Was the Hottest Pop Star the Year You Graduated.

Kel Mitchell: Now

Kel Mitchell 2018
Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Mitchell and Kenan Thompson have reunited a few times over the years, most recently to produce Nickelodeon's new version of All That, in which Mitchell performs, too. He also starred in the comedy Game Shakers from 2015 through 2019.

Kenan Thompson: Then

Kenan Thompson in Good Burger
United Archives GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo

Even before joining the original cast of All That, Thompson was already working on the small screen on CNN's Real News With Kids.

For lingo you need to leave in the past, check out The Best Slang Terms From the 1990s That Aren't Cool Today.

Kenan Thompson: Now

Kenan Thompson
Ron Adar/Shutterstock

We probably don't have to tell you that Thompson has been a Saturday Night Live cast member since 2003, earning four Emmy nominations and one win—for writing the song "Come Back Barack" for the show's 2018 episode hosted by Chance the Rapper.

And for the latest SNL news, check out "SNL" Cancels Country Star's Debut for Breaking COVID Rules.

Amanda Bynes: Then

Amanda Bynes 1997
Lisa Rose/Globe Photos/

Amanda Bynes had a similar Nickelodeon path to Kenan and Kel, first coming to prominence as an All That cast member, then getting her own series, The Amanda Show, which ran until 2002.

And for more on Bynes' younger years, check out Famous Artists Who Sang TV Theme Songs.

Amanda Bynes: Now

Amanda Bynes 2019 Instagram

Bynes has struggled publicly with substance use disorder and mental illness. She hasn't acted since the 2010 movie Easy A, but in 2018, expressed that she was considering returning to the business. She also said she was taking classes at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising.

Larisa Oleynik: Then

Larisa Oleynick in Alex Mack
Allstar Picture Library Ltd./Alamy Stock Photo

Larisa Oleynik starred as a regular girl who receives various powers after an accident with a chemical truck in the Nickelodeon sci-fi series The Secret World of Alex Mackwhich ran from 1994 to 1998. Perhaps you remember her best as melting into a puddle of sentient goo—something every easily embarrassed teen has wished that they could do.

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Larisa Oleynik: Now

Larisa Oleynik 2019
Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

In 2020, Oleynik appeared on the Netflix series The Healing Powers of Dude as the mother of a young boy with social anxiety who gets his first service dog. She also had a recurring role in another Netflix show called Trinkets, about friends who meet in a Shoplifters Anonymous group.

JoAnna García Swisher: Then

Joanna Garcia in Are You Afraid of Dark

Then known as simply JoAnna García, she was a member of the Midnight Society on Are You Afraid of the Dark? from 1993 to 1996. You remember them—those cool teens who met in the middle of the woods to tell each other scary stories that were occasionally too real for a kids show…

JoAnna García Swisher: Now

Joanna Garcia Swisher 2019
Allstar Picture Library Ltd./Alamy Stock Photo

One of the more successful members of the society, García Swisher has stayed active in TV. Her most recent role was on the Netflix drama Sweet Magnolias, which has already been renewed for Season 2.

Michael Bower: Then

Michael Bower Salute Your Shorts

He played Eddie Gelfen on Salute Your Shorts, the summer camp comedy that ran from 1991 to 1992 (and throughout the decade in reruns), but you probably know Michael Bower's character better by his unfortunate camp nickname: Donkeylips.

Michael Bower: Now

Michael Bower 2014
TLeopold/Globe Photos/ Live News

Bower is listed in the cast of a horror movie called The Bread of Wickedness—a cannibal flick which is in pre-production, per IMDB.

Michael C. Maronna and Danny Tamberelli: Then

Danny Tamberelli and Michael C Maronna in the Adventures of Pete and Pete

Michael C. Maronna (right) and Danny Tamberelli played Big Pete and Little Pete, respectively, on The Adventures of Pete & Pete, a Nickelodeon show beloved for its surrealist sensibilities and great music. It aired from 1991 to 1996.

Michael C. Maronna and Danny Tamberelli: Now

Michael Maronna and Danny Tamberelli 2018

Maronna (on the left here) has moved behind the scenes, working as an electrician on film and TV projects. Tamberelli still acts and has also done voice work. The two former child stars are still friends and host a podcast together called The Adventures of Danny and Mike.

Mike O'Malley: Then

Mike O'Malley Guts

Kids of the '90s knew Mike O'Malley best as the fast-talking host of the kids physical game show (and answer to American GladiatorsGuts.

Mike O'Malley: Now

Mike O'Malley 2016
Ga Fullner/Shutterstock

By now, you've probably seen O'Malley on a whole lot of TV shows and in plenty of movies, none ending with a race up the Aggro Crag. The latest? The TV adaptation of Snowpiercer and his recurring role as a frog-loving afterlife security guard on The Good Place.

Christine Taylor: Then

Christine Taylor in Hey Dude
YouTube/Shout Factory

Christine Taylor played the pretty and popular Melody on Hey Dude (1989-1991), the series about a group of teens working at a ranch over the summer.

Christine Taylor: Now

Christine Taylor
Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Taylor has a recurring role on the noir comedy Search Party and has also recently shown up on the TV show Elementary and Insatiable. In 2019, she made headlines for attending the Emmys with ex Ben Stiller, prompting gossip about a reunion. They had separated in 2017.

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