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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.”

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