Nickelodeon at 40: Breaking Down the Big Hits From ‘Dora’ to ‘SpongeBob’

As Nickelodeon turns 40, Variety breaks down some of the network’s most important titles to date.

All That
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nickelodeon

All That
All That” launched careers in its 1994-2005 run, and is being resurrected with a new cast and many of the same producers this summer. “It just seemed like a quirky, different hang out for kids,” says original cast member Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”) who is coming back as an executive producer on the reboot.

Pictured: The new host of Blue's Clues, Joshua Dela Cruz, on Nickelodeon. Photo: Gavin Bond/Nickelodeon. (C)2018 Viacom, International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“Blue’s Clues & You!”
“Blue’s Clues & You!,” premiering in November, reinvents the 1996-2007 hit for another generation. Series co-creator Angela Santomero looked at specific elements of the original when reviving the show, including music: “How can we make sure fans can sing along, but kids of today feel like it’s a show for them?”

Dora the Explorer
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nickelodeon

Dora the Explorer
Dora the Explorer” comes back as a live-action movie in August. “The reason to make that movie wasn’t because it was still running on television,” says Nickelodeon Group president Brian Robbins. “It’s because it’s a beloved piece of IP, a beloved character and it spans multiple generations. A first-generation ‘Dora’ fan probably has kids of their own.”

Double Dare
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nickelodeon

Double Dare
Double Dare” returned last year with new host Liza Koshy, a Vine and YouTube star, and original host Marc Summers offering commentary. “As a kid you’d get psyched to get messy or see others get messy and win prizes,” says Koshy, who grew up watching the original game show.

Henry Danger
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nickelodeon

Henry Danger
“Henry Danger,” a live-action comedy in its fifth season, stars Jace Norman as a superhero’s sidekick. “Jace was 13 at the time [of auditions]; he felt like a young Jim Carrey,” says Paul Kaplan, Nickelodeon executive vice president of talent. “Finding talent in that 13- to 14-year-old age range has been a great sweet spot for us.”

Heidi Klum and Melanie BrownNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 24 Mar 2018
CREDIT: Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shut

“Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards”
“Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards” was co-created by Albie Hecht in 1988, before he became a Nick executive, and it continues to air annually. “We were taking this genre of awards shows that nobody had given kids, but who went to the movies? Who loved music?” Hecht says. “To celebrate kiddom that way was extraordinary.”

Paw Patrol
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nickelodeon

Paw Patrol
Paw Patrol” has been a hit with preschoolers since its 2013 debut thanks to “a magical combination of cute, adorable puppies; vehicles and community heroes,” says Cathy Galeota, senior vice president of Nickelodeon preschool content. “The community hero theme is not only very powerful and aspirational to preschoolers, but so relatable and developmentally appropriate for this age group.”

rise of teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nickelodeon

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” returns for its second season this fall and the franchise expands with a feature-length animated movie produced for Netflix. “It’s a way to reach kids on streaming at the same time the series is running on Nickelodeon,” says Ramsey Naito, executive vice president of Nickelodeon animation production and development.

CREDIT: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

Rugrats,” a hit during its original Nicktoons 1990-2006 run, will be revived. “‘Rugrats’ connected because we were making it smart,” says Paul Germain, who created the show with Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo. “Kids responded to the comedy, related to the characters and could tell that they were not being talked down to.”

CREDIT: Courtesy of Nickelodeon

SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants” celebrates its 20th anniversary with a one-hour tribute special in July followed by a new theatrical release next year. “It’s a show that relates to everyone whether it’s kids and a family or college kids,” says Naito. “It’s a very authentic voice.”

More TV

  • Amy Sherman-Palladino - Outstanding Writing for

    'Mrs. Maisel' Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino Honed Her Writing Skills on 'Roseanne'

    Last year Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” made Emmy history with wins for both comedy writing and directing, becoming the first woman to achieve that double. On July 16, her show, a ’50s period piece starring Rachel Brosnahan as an up-and-coming comedian in New York, was nominated for 20 Emmys, including outstanding [...]

  • James Corden

    James Corden to Develop Animated Comedy Series 'Dead Henry' at Fox (EXCLUSIVE)

    In one of the first deals this development season, James Corden has set up an animated comedy project at Fox. Titled “Dead Henry,” it is described as a buddy comedy set in the limitless but strangely familiar world of heaven, where Henry searches for the meaning of life in the afterlife. Corden is credited as [...]

  • Crypt-TV-Facebook

    Facebook Signs Deal With Crypt TV for Slate of Five Horror Series

    Crypt TV, the digital studio founded by Eli Roth and Jack Davis and backed by Jason Blum, expanded its deal with Facebook, inking a content partnership to create a slate of five horror and monster-themed series exclusively for Facebook Watch. For Facebook Watch, it’s one of the first deals for a full slate of content [...]

  • Robin Givens OWN Network

    Robin Givens on OWN's 'Ambitions,' TV Roles for Black Women and #MeToo

    Robin Givens’ breakout role came in the 1986-91 sitcom “Head of the Class.” Since then, she’s established herself as one of the most prolific actresses on television. That trajectory has continued into this year, with Givens playing a slew of what she calls “badass women” in shows such as “Riverdale” and “The Fix,” including her [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Seeks to Stop Appointment of Special Prosecutor

    Jussie Smollett’s lawyers filed a motion on Friday to overturn the appointment of a special prosecutor in his hate crime hoax case, arguing the appointment would expose the “Empire” actor to double jeopardy. Smollett is seeking to reverse an order issued last month by Judge Michael Toomin, who faulted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx [...]

  • Jimmy Pitaro ESPN

    Dan Le Batard Tests ESPN's - and Jimmy Pitaro's - No-Politics Policy

    Perhaps someone didn’t get the memo. Ever since Jimmy Pitaro took the helm of ESPN in early 2018, employees at the Walt Disney-owned sports-media juggernaut were made aware of at least one thing: The new boss didn’t want sportscasters yakking it up about politics any longer. But Dan Le Batard, the popular radio and TV [...]

  • Rick Rubin Spotify Secret Genius Awards,

    Seven Things We Learned About 'Shangri-La' and Rick Rubin from Showtime's Series

    Showtime’s documentary series “Shangri-La” insists it is not a biographical documentary on uber-producer Rick Rubin, and it’s not meant as a four-hour advertisement for Rubin’s legendary Malibu studio, after which the four-part series is named … but it feels like a little bit of both those things. “Shangri-La” is primarily filmed at the studio where [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content