25 Facts About ’90s TV Shows Which You Don’t Know

1. Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, named all of the main characters after his own family members except for Bart, whose name is an anagram of Brat.

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2. There was almost a live-action Krusty the Clown spinoff TV series.

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The show would have starred Dan Castellaneta (who voices Krusty and also Homer) and would have focused on Krusty’s move to LA after he gets his own talk show.

3. The original series Kelsey Grammer was going to do after Cheers was not Frasier but, rather, a highbrow sitcom about a magazine mogul who is paralyzed from the waist down in an accident and is forced to run his company from his New York City penthouse with the help of his live-in nurse.

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Kelsey had a deal with Paramount to do his own series once Cheers ended, and never intended to do a spinoff featuring his character from the show. He recruited the writers who wrote the Frasier character to come up with a brand-new series for him (they came up with the paralyzed-mogul sitcom).

The president of Paramount TV didn’t like that series and told Kelsey he should keep playing Frasier in a spinoff (which took a bit of convincing).

4. Quincy Jones decided to executive-produce The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on the spot after he saw Will Smith do an impromptu 10-minute audition at a party that he was throwing ⁠— and Will just happened to attend.

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Quincy had lawyers at the party who drew up the contracts right then and there.

5. Ellen DeGeneres’s sitcom, Ellen, was originally titled These Friends of Mine. The name was changed after the first season to avoid confusion with Friends.

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Also, the first season starred Maggie Wheeler, who, of course, played Janice on Friends.

6. In 1993, Matthew Perry pitched to NBC a sitcom he had cowritten about a group of twentysomethings called Maxwell’s House. The network turned him down because they already had a similar TV show, Friends, in the works.

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7. Jennifer Aniston was almost written off during the first season of Friends ’cause she was starring on another TV show at the time.

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In 1994, Jennifer was starring in a brand-new CBS sitcom called Muddling Through when she signed on for Friends — which meant that if Muddling became a hit and got picked up for a whole season, she would have been contractually obligated to stay on the show and the role of Rachel would’ve been either written off or recast. (They even shot Friends cast promo photos without Jennifer in them, just in case.) Luckily for Jennifer, and us, Muddling was quickly canceled, which freed her up to do Friends.

8. Cory was actually supposed to have two BFFs (one of them being Shawn, of course) on Boy Meets World. It was pared down to one BFF ’cause producers couldn’t find an actor they liked to play the other friend.

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And all of the lines they had written for the second friend in the pilot episode were given to Shawn.

9. Ryan Reynolds turned down the offer to play Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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In 2008, Ryan told the Toronto Star that while he loved the show’s creator (Joss Whedon) and the show itself, he didn’t want to play a high school student because he’d had an awful time in high school.

10. Chris Carter was inspired to create The X-Files after he read a Harvard professor’s report that said 3.7 million people had claimed to have been abducted by aliens.

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11. According to Tori Spelling, the cast never (or rarely) wore sunglasses on Beverly Hills, 90210 because Aaron Spelling — her father and the executive producer of the show — didn’t like actors to wear them; he believed it hindered them from expressing themselves with their eyes.

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Tori said Aaron would always say, “Let them see it in your eyes before they hear it in your words.”

12. The character of Dylan McKay was only meant to appear in one or two episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210. And network executives didn’t even want him in those episodes…so much so that they only agreed to it after Aaron Spelling said he would pay Luke Perry’s salary out of his own pocket for those episodes.

Aaron Spelling Productions / Courtesy of Everett Collection

According to the late actor, Aaron watched the first episode (which didn’t feature the character of Dylan) and felt something was missing from the show. After Dylan was introduced, Aaron knew that he was the missing element in the series and made the network hire Luke.

13. Warner Bros. Television brought together Queen Latifah and Kim Coles (who both had deals with the studio) and asked them to help develop a series based on a scene in Jungle Fever, in which women are sitting around talking about men and life. The show ended up being Living Single.

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They agreed to do it, but only if it was done by a black writer. The two then meet with Yvette Lee Bowser, who had came up with the show idea after meeting with them, and the rest is TV history.

14. Dinosaurs was a time-consuming show to make: Each 23-minute episode took 65 hours to film.

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15. Scott Gale, who wrote the iconic theme song for Saved by the Bell, also created the music for The Golden Girls (among many other shows).

According to Scott, the producers never wanted the name of the show in the theme song, but he never got that note, so he incorporated “saved by the bell” into the song. Also, Scott wrote all music used throughout the entire series.

16. Jessie was originally supposed to be addicted to speed — not caffeine pills — in that classic episode of Saved by the Bell.


The show’s producers changed it from speed to caffeine pills after NBC’s standards department deemed it too dark for a kids show.

17. My So-Called Life‘s Ricky (Wilson Cruz) was the first openly gay teenage character on primetime network TV.

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18. Tim Allen turned down $50 million, while Patricia Richardson turned down $25 million, to do one more season of Home Improvement.

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Both Tim and Patricia felt the show had more than run its course and didn’t want to do another season that felt forced just for the paycheck.

19. One of the most memorable and bonkers moments on Melrose Place was when Kimberly blew up the apartment building with a bomb in the Season 3 finale, but originally she was supposed to fly a plane into the building.

CBS Television Distribution

The plane plotline was scrapped after someone actually tried to use a small plane to crash into the White House. The bomb plotline ended up also being an issue because of the Oklahoma City bombing (which occurred a few weeks before the episode aired). Originally, they were going to show the building blowing up, but instead they cut the episode right before the explosion and made the explosion part of the Season 4 opener.

20. The real reason Melrose Place ended was because it didn’t make sense that all these successful people would still be living in an apartment building.

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21. There was almost a Daria spinoff called Mystik Spiral, which would have focused on Trent and his band.


22. ER was actually written by Michael Crichton to be a movie.

He took the script to Steven Spielberg to see if he might be interested, but instead, they got to talking about the new book Michael was writing. By the end of the meeting, Michael agreed to sell the film rights to his upcoming book to Steven and they never talked about ER. Oh, and that book was Jurassic Park.

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Eventually, the ER script was discovered by the president of Steven’s Amblin Television division, who thought it would make a good pilot for a TV show.

23. Family Matters‘ Steve Urkel was named after a real person.

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Steve was only supposed to appear in one episode, so Family Matters‘ co-creator, Michael Warren, decided to name the character after his friend (who was named Steve Erkel) as a joke. When the character’s popularity took off, it made the real Steve Erkel’s life difficult because he would constantly get prank calls and people assumed he was using a fake name whenever he gave his name.

24. While Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want to Wait” is one of the things we associate most with Dawson’s Creek, it was actually not the song the producers initially wanted for the theme song. Originally it was meant to be Alanis Morrisette’s “Hand in My Pocket,” but they couldn’t get the rights to it.

Getty Images / Warner Bros.

25. And finally, all of Power Rangers‘ Zordon’s footage was shot in one day and just used over and over.

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