April 18, 2024 | Carl Wyndham

Nostalgic Facts About Classic Television

“Remember, licking doorknobs is illegal on other planets!” —SpongeBob SquarePants

Classic television can seriously bring on a case of the feels. Here are some interesting tidbits on some of our favorite nostalgic shows from our childhoods.

1. Boy With Square Pants

SpongeBob's name was originally intended to be “SpongeBoy,” however the name was already trademarked. Not sure any of us want to know why. Interestingly enough, SpongeBob goes by different names in different countries. In Korea he is “Square Square Sponge Song,” and in Germany “SpongeBob SpongeHead". Uh, I guess it's somehow lost in translation.

Classic Television

2. Under the Nuclear Fallout Sea

The concept of SpongeBob, which is now the longest-running Nickelodeon series ever, comes from a comic creator Stephen Hillenburg wrote while studying marine biology, entitled “The Intertidal Zone".

Classic Television factsNBC News

3. He's OK

When Paul Feig and Judd Apatow cast James Franco on Freaks and Geeks, they did so because he fit the role of an unattractive small-town "cool" guy who actually wasn't very cool. To their surprise, people swooned over him when he showed up to set, as they seriously did not think of him as a good looking guy. Well, they are straight men.

Classic Television facts Freaks and Geeks Moments

4. She Old

Sabrina the Teenage Witch actually dates back to a 1962 Archie Comic, and the show was kickstarted by its unofficial pilot, the 1996 Sabrina the Teenage Witch TV movie.

Classic Television facts Café com Filme

5. Not So PG

Nickelodeon was kind of the best when we were growing up, but some of the shows had very adult themes: One particularly glaring example is Rocko’s Modern Life, which is rife with sensual innuendos, including the restaurant “Chokey Chicken,” a game where the characters were “spanking the monkey,” and a scene where Rocko briefly works as raunchy hotline operator.

Classic Television facts Cosmopolitan

6. Chuckie Whips It

In Rugrats, the character Chuckie was inspired by the Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh, who composed the music for the show. Chuckie was voiced by Christine Cavanaugh, who also was the voice of Dexter in Dexter’s Lab.

Classic Television facts

7. Quail Man

Doug was one of the more clever cartoons of its time, and the show is full of interesting nuggets. The Dinks' (who are neighbors to the Funnies)  get their name from “Dual Income, No Kids". Then there are the Beets (obviously the Beatles), and Doug’s sister's name, Judy, is taken from a Virginia Woolf essay.

Classic Television facts Disney Examiner

8. Never Forget Those Who Got Away

Patti Mayonnaise was inspired by two girls who the creator of the show, Jim Jinkins, had crushes on in high school. The voice behind Patti is a career character actress, and she also plays Yoga Jones in Orange is the New Black.

Classic Television facts Time Magazine

9. Man of Many Comedy Voices

Tom Kenny is the voice of SpongeBob. He is also the narrator in The Powerpuff Girls, Dog in CatDog, and appeared as a regular on the sketch comedy juggernaut Mr. Show.

Classic Television factsWellentheorie

10. A Loving Couple

Ren and Stimpy were a couple. The lived together, slept in the same bed, loved each other, and even had simulated intercourse in one episode. There are numerous allusions to their relationship, including an episode where Ren is pitching to Stimpy as a catcher. They also live in Hollywood (Well, Hollywood, Yugoslavia).

Classic Television factsConsequence of Sound

11. Wild Bass Player

The Wild Thornberrys were famous for employing a star-studded voice cast, but none is more surprising than Red Hot Chili Pepper bassist Flea, who played wild child Donnie Thornberry. Now that’s some smart casting.

Classic Television factsNME

12. Steve the Rockstar

Steve, the companion of Blue from Blue’s Clue, was a struggling musician when he took the role in the show. After appearing on set with his shaggy hair and earring (he claims he thought it was only voice work), the producers reportedly asked him “Could you not look like you tomorrow morning?” Ouch. Still, it worked! Side note: Blue was a female dog. Is your mind blown?

Classic Television factsThe Odyssey online

13. Fairytale Beginnings

The Powerpuff Girls were based on the fairy godmothers in Disney's Sleeping Beauty, which is evident when you look at their colors and personalities. And yes, they can all kick your butt.

Classic Television facts

14. Hand Knitted

All of the sweaters Mr. Rogers wore on his incredible show were hand-knitted by his mother. Now that’s how you make a mother proud.

Classic Television factsNPR

15. Chains on Chains on Chains

How do you make sure you get a workout even when you’re busy at work? Well, Mr. T found the answer. His gold chains weigh between 30 and 40 pounds, which is probably how he keeps his magnificent shape.

Classic Television factsGetty Images

16. Cats Don’t Wear Clothes

In the first episode of Thundercats, all of the characters were completely undressed. Why they changed this beats me—cats don’t wear clothes.

Classic Television factsComicbook

17. Hooked Not On Phonics

Slightly older than the rest of the shows on the list, but H.R. Pufnstuf is in a league of its own. As you followed around the friendly dragon, you were treated to bright colors and trippy images (not an accident). While the show's creators deny any drug-related subtext, there is an episode where the characters inhale “laughing gas,” and fall into a fit of laughter before falling asleep. How come we never noticed these kinds of things as kids? I mean, his name is Pufnstuf.

Classic Television factsTrend-Chaser

18. Toughest Character Ever

The character of Red Foreman in That '70s Show was written to be played by Chuck Norris. Good thing it didn't happen; I’m not sure if anyone would have survived the '70s otherwise.

Classic Television facts

19. A Good Memory

When Will Smith began as an actor on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he was so nervous that as a fail proof he simply memorized the entire script, including other characters' lines. You can actually see him mumbling along with the rest of the actors' lines through the first few episodes of the series.

Classic Television factsFanart.tv

20. Bad Bet

During the shooting of Friends, Matthew Perry lost a high-stakes bet to Courteney Cox and actually had to act as Cox’s "man servant" for 6 months. Man, he must have been pretty confident in that bet. Let that be a lesson to all of you out there.

Classic Television factsThestir cafe mom

21. Man of Many Ads

Advertisements are just a part of television, and through the years, Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas implanted himself in all of our brains: he has appeared in over 800 commercials, which is more than anyone else in television history.

Classic Television factsHouston Chronicle

22. How Long Can You Go

As we likely all know or could guess, The Simpsons is the longest-running animated show on television. But what's second? Arthur! Even with DW tearing things up, Arthur still perseveres.

Classic Television factsJust Watch

23. What About The Prize

Nickelodeon's GaS must have been pretty awesome to take part in, and winning it was a dream come true for many kids. BUT—winners weren’t actually allowed to take home that awesome “glowing piece of radical rock” prize. How very dare they.

Classic Television factsGetty Images

24. To Each Their Own Orange Soda

Kenan and Kel. Ah, what a show. Fortunately for us, Kenan is still a part of our lives, as he has been a cast member of SNL since 2003, making him the longest-running cast member in the storied show’s history.

Classic Television factsBustle

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9


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