The 1990s: American Pop Culture History


The 1990s were a really intense decade. First we start off with a war that was about as one sided as they get — the first Iraq War (AKA Desert Storm).


Then we get the birth of “grunge” as Seattle takes over the way everyone dresses and listens to music.

Gangsta rap also had a huge impact on the way people dressed, talked and acted.

Sports became even more popular than they were before, but unfortunately my Cleveland Browns decided to move to Baltimore.

There were tons and tons of cheesy TV shows and sitcoms, but we can’t forget about what was probably the best sitcom of all time: Seinfeld.

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The 90s were a solid decade, with great movies like Pulp Fiction, great music like Radiohead and great cars like the Dodge Viper.

Just for fun, you can check out this goofy list of 1991 slang terms & phrases.

Learn a whole lot more about the 1990s below. Our in-depth profiles of various categories like fashion, sports and cars take you deep into the decade.

In-Depth 1990s Profiles

1990s Spice Girls

1990s Fashion: Styles, Trends, History & Pictures »

Fashion in the early 1990s was loose fitting and wildly colorful. Unless you were going for the grunge look, then color was the enemy. History w/ 50+ pics.
1992 Dodge Viper

1990s Cars: History, Facts & Pictures »

There were quite a few great cars introduced in the 1990s. One of them is my all-time favorite car: the Dodge Viper.
Michael Jordan Jersey

1990s Sports: Facts, History, MVPs & Champions »

1990s Sports: Michael Jordan owned the NBA. The NFC owned the AFC. Duke ruled. Learn more with our 1990-1999 year-by-year timeline.
1990s Movies, Pulp Fiction

Movies in the 1990s »

Some of my favorite cult classics were from the 1990s. Movies like Pulp Fiction, Se7en, 12 Monkeys, and Natural Born Killers I still watch to this day.
Saved by the Bell (1990s)

TV Shows in the 1990s »

The 1990s had some of the best TV shows ever. We're talking about Seinfeld, Friends, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Twin Peaks, Full House and many more.

Toys in the 1990s »

Some 1990s toys had artificial intelligence never dreamed possible just 20 years prior. In the 1990s, video games permanently took over the toy industry.

1990s Music: What Did People Listen To? »

Pop rocked. Country rolled. Rap & hip-hop exploded. Industrial & electronic went mainstream. Even David Bowie did a D&B record, so you know it was popular.

1990s News Headlines

  • In 1991, NBA player Magic Johnson announced to the world he had contracted the HIV virus.
  • In 1991 Jodie Foster won her second Oscar for Best Actress starring in the film Silence of the Lambs.
  • The Soviet Union dissolves in 1991 when Mikhail Gorbechev resigns.
  • Bill Clinton gets elected President of the United States in 1992.
  • On July 22, 1992, Pablo Escobar escapes from prison leading to a fiery shootout.
  • Pope John Paul II was the Pope in the 1990s.
  • Christian Laettner’s last second jumper against Kentucky gave the Blue Devils the NCAA East Regional title in 1992.
  • Michael Jordan’s father was murdered, leading to his unexpected early retirement.
  • Kurt Cobain reaches worldwide fame with his band Nirvana.
  • In 1995, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of double murder in what was called “The Trial of the Century.”
  • In 1996, Michael Johnson became the first man in history to win gold medals in both the 200- and 400-meter events.
  • In 1996, Hong Kong ceased to be a British dependency.
  • On January 6, 1996, the Prime Minister of Japan resigned.
  • Ted Kaczynski, also known as The Unibomber, gets arrested on domestic terrorism charges.
  • In 1997, scientists in Great Britain cloned a sheep.
  • In 1998, Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs to break the single season record, rekindling an immense mainstream interest in baseball.
  • Unknown Italian director Roberto Benigni wrote and directed the unexpectedly successful 1998 film, Life Is Beautiful.
  • Play the 1990s Trivia Game

    Play the 1990s Trivia Game

    The 1990s


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