The Most Popular Retro Nickelodeon Show in Every State

A header image for a blog about the most popular Nickelodeon shows that aired before 2005
A header image for a blog about the most popular Nickelodeon shows that aired before 2005

Cartoons are a common sound in any household with kids on a weekend morning or after school. Many kids from the ’90s and early ’00s have graduated from cartoons to shows on the latest and greatest streaming platforms, but they still have their favorite retro cartoons and coming-of-age television shows. For this study, the team at Shane Co. used search interest on Google Trends to map out the top-searched retro Nickelodeon shows in every U.S. state. Keep reading to see if any of your childhood favorites made the cut!

Every U.S. State’s Favorite Retro Nick Show

A U.S. map showing the most popular Nickelodeon show that aired before 2005 in every state

The most popular Nickelodeon show in the Midwest and the second most searched-for show overall was The Ren and Stimpy Show. The cartoon initially ran for five seasons from 1991 to 1995, with a few spin-offs airing on MTV and Spike TV afterward. The Ren and Stimpy Show gained popularity in the ’90s for being funny, irreverent, and different from anything else on the network at the time. Ren and Stimpy fans will be pleased to learn that Comedy Central’s reboot has found a home at Snipple Animation Studios and will debut in the near future.

There was no clear winner in the Northeast, as each state had its own favorite Nickelodeon show. The Garden State’s favorite retro Nick show was Zoey 101. New Jerseyans obsessed over Zoey and the gang’s adventures at Pacific Coast Academy, showing the highest search interest in their overall favorite show more than any other state across the country. Zoey 101 is well known for its charming cast and perfect balance of comedy and drama. The show’s finale was the highest-rated live-action show ever on the network, with over 7.3 million viewers.

The most searched-for Nick show in Rhode Island was Fairly Oddparents, a good fit for the home state of AAU basketball’s Rhode Island Magic. Butch Hartman’s iconic Nicktoon sparked every child’s imagination in the early 2000s. The show made many young viewers wonder what they would do if they could get their hands on Cosmo or Wanda’s magic wands. While the classic Nicktoon’s protagonist, Timmy Turner, could have nearly anything he wanted, many of his wishes would go awry and force him to undo them. There were even some wishes that were completely off-limits — like creating or interfering with true love.

Delaware’s most searched-for Nickelodeon show was the beloved cartoon Hey Arnold! This Nick classic was ahead of its time and featured a diverse cast of characters and compelling stories in every episode. Hey Arnold! remains relevant today because it taught young viewers many hard lessons, keeping empathy at its core. Long-time fans of the series finally got closure in 2017 through Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, which tied up a lot of loose ends and answered a lot of the series’ lingering questions.

The Most Popular Nicktoons & Shows Overall

A chart showing the most popular Nickelodeon shows that aired before 2005

Danny Phantom is a clear winner for the most popular retro Nick show of all time based on search interest. The coming-of-age-meets-ghost-busting retro cartoon classic was the most searched-for show in the U.S., claiming eight states overall. Like many other Nick shows on this list, Danny Phantom has stood the test of time because it hinted at mature themes and topics without raising its audience’s rating, making it the perfect show to watch with the whole family.

Shows like SpongeBob SquarePants have become staples in pop culture since they originally debuted, thanks to memes and other online trends. Although all the shows on our list first aired before 2005, they don’t show signs of dying down in popularity any time soon. While many of these shows are considered old by today’s media standards, they continue to entertain and teach important life lessons to future generations of Nickelodeon viewers.

Closing Thoughts

Cartoons will always be commonplace in any household with kids. Some retro cartoons are more enduring than others, explaining why you might still see some of your favorite shows on the airwaves today. Many Nickelodeon shows from “back in the day” are still relevant and offer essential life lessons and fun entertainment for the whole family. Did you see any of your favorite Nicktoons on the list?

Retro shows like old-school Nicktoons and sitcoms are great for a good throwback date night. All you need is your beau, favorite snacks, and an old CRT TV to relive all your favorite shows together. If you think you’ve found the one you want to watch cartoons with forever, check out Shane Co.’s selection of engagement rings and fine jewelry that you can get without fairy godparents!


To determine the most popular retro Nickelodeon show in every state, we created a list from IMDb and Seventeen of popular Nickelodeon shows that aired their first episodes prior to 2005. Once we had a list of 45 popular shows, we used Google search data to find the search interest for each show in every state since that information started being recorded in 2004.

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