Unforgettable Characters Of Popular ’90s SeriesPublished on May 8, 2019. Updated April 27, 2020
Television of the ’90s holds a special place in the hearts of many viewers, especially those who were teens in the ’90s. From Saved by the Bell to Friends and more there were so many great series and sitcoms that dominated the decade, and many of the characters from the shows have become simply iconic, both for good and bad reasons. ’90s television was often family-friendly, positive, and hilarious and reminds many of a more innocent time. Take a look back at some of the most unforgettable ’90s characters with this list:
20. Hated: Samuel “Screech” Powers
Saved by the Bell would not have been nearly the same or nearly as iconic without its core cast of characters, but it was clear that some were much more loved than others. Although Samuel “Screech” Powers was a necessary character to round out the Bayside High group, it didn’t take long for him to rub audiences the wrong way. Although it was easy to feel sorry for Screech sometimes, his annoying characteristics were often over-powering and the joke of Screech began to wear off. Looking back on the character there were many instances where he exposed secrets, got his friends into trouble, or created unnecessary chaos that makes it hard to shrug off just because of his quirky aloofness, it was simply just annoying and at times being a bad friend.
19. Loved: Tim Taylor
There were few TV dads quite like Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, and audiences loved him. Home Improvement is probably one of the most underrated shows of the time. It ran for eight seasons from 1991 to 1999 and despite its success and popularity, it isn’t talked about nearly as much as other ’90s shows. Tim Taylor was relatable, caring, a good family man, and hilarious which made him and easy character to love. Seeing Tim Taylor on TV was like seeing your own neighbor or someone you actually know which made his appeal all that much bigger.
18. Hated: Emily Valentine
Beverly Hills, 90210 had its fair share of characters that fans loved, ones that fans loved to hate, and others that were simply just hated. Emily Valentine was one character who failed to hit it off with Beverly Hills, 90210 fans. The character of Emily Valentine entered the show for twelve episodes starting in season two, and it didn’t long for fans to turn against her. The reason Emily is so hated is because of her treatment of both Dylan and Brandon when she set up a date with both of them and then tricked Brandon into taking ecstasy. She was the stereotypical “bad girl” and played the part very, very well.
17. Loved: Fresh Prince
It may be hard to believe that it has been nearly 30 years since Will Smith’s breakout role as the Fresh Prince/Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air! There is a reason that the show is iconic — and it is because of Will! The character was hilarious, confident, caring and at times innocently ignorant and easily became one of the most popular characters on TV. Despite the fact that at the time it was Will Smith essentially portraying an exaggerated version of himself it worked, and it worked well.
16. Hated: Ross Geller
Poor Ross. Despite Friends being the most iconic show of the ’90s, Ross Geller is decidedly the least liked of all of the Friends. He was whiny, condescending and was often a very bad friend. Audiences also had a major issue with the decisions he made such as dating one of his students, making a list comparing Julie and Rachel, and apparently not spending a lot of time with his son Ben. Overall many feel like Ross was immature and definitely possessive when it came to his girlfriends and the common denominator in many failed relationships and marriages was him. As time has gone on, more and more Friends fans have been vocal about their dislike for the character and the most common complaint is that he is one word: annoying.
15. Loved: Kelly Kapowski
When the mention of ’90s TV crushes comes up, there is always one girl who is at the top and that is Kelly Kapowski. While Kelly was undoubtedly beautiful, it wasn’t the most interesting thing about her and that was the true quality of the character. As a cheesy teen show, Saved by the Bell could have done Kelly a disservice by simply having her be Zack’s hot girlfriend, but instead she was funny, multi-dimensional, caring and a hard-worker for both herself and her family. She was sweet without being annoying and easily one of the decades most loved characters.
14. Hated: Wesley Crusher
In the world of TV today it is common for characters to fall in the “hate” or “love” column and often characters are meant to be hated to help the main characters shine more, but that certainly wasn’t the intention for Wil Wheaton’s Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The character was supposed to be an impressive boy-genius, but instead he became one of the first characters to be universally hated and it is so bad there is actually a whole website dedicated to hating the character (
13. Loved: Al Bundy
On the surface Married…With Children‘s Al Bundy would read as someone who is extremely easy to hate, but Ed O’Neill turned the character into a beloved icon. While the actor doesn’t necessarily reflect the character on this for Married…With Children it is clear that the characters would not have resonated the same if it weren’t for the people behind them. Instead of Al Bundy being crude and gross, he was relatable, hilarious and very average-joe. Audiences like to see themselves represented on TV and Al Bundy was just that, a hard-working guy just trying to get through each day as his wife and kids wreak havoc in his life, which is quite often how some people feel.
12. Hated: Dawson Leery
It is usually not intended for the show’s titular character to become one of its most hated, but that was unfortunately the case for Dawson Leery of Dawson’s Creek. The dislike for Dawson grew slowly but steadily as his whining and pouting became key character points and it was clear he wasn’t going to be someone who was ever going to learn. Dawson often tried to come off as wise-beyond-his-years and clearly thought he was intellectually superior than many around him, yet would make the most downright dumb decisions. Before long fans focused on all of the characters and really stopped caring for Dawson and his storylines.
11. Loved: Zack Morris
Zack Morris definitely had his faults, but the Saved by the Bell character is the shining star of ’90s television. Zack Morris was the guy all the action revolved around and while he sometimes made poor decisions, he also learned and grew and it was fun watching him do so. Whether you wanted to be with Zack or be Zack, he was seen as charming, cool, funny with a good-heart who cared deeply about his friends and his school.
10. Hated: Kimmy Gibbler
Kimmy Gibbler was a very hard to tolerate character on Full House. Although the show and all of its characters could be a little sickly sweet, and a lot of the time it was hard to like some characters such as Stephanie Tanner, it was Kimmy Gibbler that most viewers had a problem with. While she had the potential to derail the whole show, it cannot be denied that she was actually a much needed juxtaposition for the order and sweetness in the Tanner household. At the time however, she was just seen as inserting herself into issues that didn’t involve her and was either putting DJ down or getting her into trouble. To be fair to the character, she has become an integral and beloved part of Fuller House, so love her or hate her, nothing would be the same without Kimmy Gibbler.
9. Loved: Pacey Wittaker
Thanks to Dawson Leery becoming so easy to hate, it was easy for his best friend Pacey Wittaker to become the focus for many Dawson’s Creek fans. Pacey’s easy-going nature, wise-cracking humor and natural charisma made him a much more attractive and much more likeable character and it wasn’t long before he completely stole the show. While Pacey was wrapped up in some questionable storylines along the way such as his affair with a teacher, overall he was loved and often thought of the shining star of Dawson’s Creek even though he wasn’t supposed to be.
8. Hated: Claudia Salinger
Each of the Salinger children on Party of Five had their own issues to deal with after the tragic passing of their parents, but Claudia always seemed more preoccupied with herself. Although it was understood she was only a child, her adult-like attitude and fact she thought herself smarter than everyone made her easy to dislike. As time went on, Claudia’s antics continued and her character didn’t seem to see that her actions often caused harm or serious issues to those around her.
7. Loved: Buffy Summers
Powerful female leads are still fairly uncommon but back in the ’90s, a lead character like Buffy Summers had really never been seen before. There is a reason Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of TV’s most iconic shows and why Buffy is one of TV’s most iconic characters. She was strong, smart, confident and the kind of female role model that young fans never knew they needed.
6. Hated: Marcy Rhoades
Marcy Rhoades/ Marcy D’Arcy on Married…With Children was easily one of the most unlikable characters on television. Although Al Bundy was rude, Marcy would burst into the Bundy’s home and often unleash many unprovoked insults at Al and before long most viewers hoped that Al would just start locking their door. While the character was definitely hated, she helped make Al more likeable as a result, which was essential as Al Bundy had many qualities that could have made him disliked as well. Marcy Rhoades was the neighbor that everyone dreaded they themselves would have and just the sound of her voice can make any Married…With Children fan cringe.
5. Loved: Dylan McKay
Over 10 seasons from 1990 to 2000 fans went on a wild ride of ups and downs with all of the Beverly Hills, 90210 characters and while they went through many love-hate relationships with a lot of the characters, the one who stayed steadfast was Dylan McKay. It was impossible not to love the loner bad-boy with a heart of gold, and it isn’t surprising that he quickly became the show’s biggest stars amid a young, hot cast.
4. Hated: Newman
It seems that for many the main characters of Seinfeld were hard to love, but when it comes to someone on the series that everyone hated, it was definitely Newman. Wayne Knight has an uncanny ability to portray characters that are easy to dislike and his most iconic is Newman on Seinfeld. The problem with Newman was that while most hated characters are annoying, he took it a step further to be obnoxious. While other characters on this listed might have irritated viewers it was Newman who was able to get under their skin and actually make them angry –similar to how Seinfeld reacted to him.
3. Loved: Friends (Not Ross)
Depending on personalities, it seems most people have a different favorite Friend, but for reasons previously mentioned, that Friend usually isn’t Ross. Whether it was Joey’s endearing ignorance, Chandler’s self-deprecating humor, Monica’s neurotic yet relatable tendencies, Rachel’s stylish ways, or Phoebe’s hilarious quirkiness they all had their pros and it was exceedingly clear that millions loved them.
2. Hated: Dawn Summers
There are few characters on really popular television series that are as hated as Dawn Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The introduction of Dawn really angered fans because for four seasons Buffy had been an only child and Dawn’s existence didn’t make sense. While it was eventually revealed that the character played a much bigger role as the Key it couldn’t detract from the fact that Dawn was still a whining, lying and often very annoying teenager. Although fans could overlook their irritation towards Dawn because of her importance to the series in season five, things changed in season six or seven when she really just was a pouting, childish teenager and just one more thing that Buffy had to worry about.
1. Loved: Mr. Feeny
’90s television was full of mentors and those to guide the young characters on the series, but there was none better than Boy Meets World‘s Mr. Feeny. While William Daniels’ amazing talent can of course be attributed to just how great the character was, there is no denying that from the writing to the portrayal, everyone loved Mr. Feeny. Honestly, Boy Meets World’s entire roster of characters was pretty endearing but Mr. Feeny gets the top spot because many viewers felt like they actually learned things from him as did Cory, Topanga, Shawn and Eric. George Feeny was not only smart and caring, but also hilarious and his dry and often sarcastic responses to either Cory or Eric were pure comedy gold.