Ahh, good old childhood crushes. We've all been there; awkwardly gawking at posters of boy bands taking over the walls of our '90s bedrooms, flipping through magazines admiring Sabrina the Teenage Witch's hair and makeup, and wondering if it's strange to think an animated character was attractive. There's no judgment here because everyone has embarrassing crushes from when they were kids — it's only natural. In the '90s especially, when teen magazines were all the rage, and you weren't considered cool if you didn't have a cut-out crush collage in your locker at school, celebrity and character crushes were the norm. What makes heartthrobs from the '90s particularly embarrassing was that decade's obsession with bowl haircuts, gaudy clothing patterns, and hilariously staged photographs. The advancement of special effects and over-the-top music videos also added to their appeal. The following is a list of some of our most embarrassing crushes that we were quick to ogle in the '90s, but often try to forget today.
Who would admit they had a poster of Jason Lee Scott from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers hanging up in their bedroom? We sure will! Jason the Red Ranger, portrayed by Austin St. John, was not only the martial arts expert high school heartthrob when in civilian clothes, but represented the leader of the Power Rangers. Not only this, but he donned the powerful color red, and could invoke the force of the Tyrannosaurus-Rex. Come on, what elementary school girl could possibly resist such a hunk? Like all other members of his crew, Jason wasn't your average jock; he taught kids martial arts classes at Ernie's Juice Bar and Gym as a part-time gig when he wasn't in school or fighting evil. He was also a natural born leader (a quality everyone wants in an imaginary boyfriend, no doubt), and if it weren't for Jason and his patience when meeting Zordon for the first time, the Rangers would have never assembled to defeat Rita Repulsa in the first place. For that, we just couldn't resist.
Nick Carter, the youngest member of the extremely popular and successful pop group The Backstreet Boys, was always the first member to get all the girls' attention. Nick was only 13 years old when the group was formed in 1993, surrounded by his significantly older bandmates. At the time, he had to make a choice between joining what is now one of the most iconic boy bands in America, with signing a contract to The Mickey Mouse Club, which produced talent such as Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Thankfully for fangirls everywhere, he became a Backstreet Boy. In 2002, Nick came out with the first solo album of the group, but remained a team player when The Backstreet Boys Vegas show began in 2017. As hilariously over-the-top as their music videos were, Nick Carter was definitely a teenage dreamboat and a fan favorite.
Melissa Joan Hart was the quintessential girl next door on '90s screens — both big and small. She is known early on in her career for playing the tween role of Clarissa in Clarissa Explains It All, that ran from 1991 to 1994. She then portrayed the timeless and spunky character of Sabrina Spellman in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which lasted for a whopping seven successful seasons. Of course, who can forget her foray into blockbuster movies with her role in Drive Me Crazy, and all of her cameos in Britney Spears' music videos and other iconic teen movies. Recently, in 2010 until 2016, she returned to TV in Melissa & Joey. And we have to admit, she didn't lose any of her appeal. Cute, quirky, and bubbly, little girls were inspired by her positive vibes from the beginning, and the boys couldn't resist her sweet charm.
Oh, Uncle Jesse. John Stamos' classic Full House character, Jesse Katsopolis, won over every teenage girl's heart with his dark, handsome looks and bad boy musician graces. Because everyone loves a guy with a guitar, Jesse's photo was splashed all over '90s magazine covers and in school lockers. He had an obsession with thrill-seeking adventures, Elvis Presley, and had a few key catch phrases that made everyone swoon ("Talk to me," "Have mercy!"). Even though he was pretty irresponsible early on, the older he got and the more influence he had on the kids, Uncle Jesse actually became a solid adult — who all the grown-up fangirls can definitely appreciate. And we have to admit, John Stamos made the mullet look cool back then, and could probably pull it off now if there ever was a mullet resurrection.
Speaking of the bad boy musician types, there has never been a more intriguing bad boy than Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Meant only to appear in one episode ("School Hard") in 1997, James Marsters' amazing performance as Spike (or William the Bloody among other aliases), was so convincing that the show's creator, Joss Whedon, decided to keep him on, later writing him in permanently to the show. That's pretty impressive considering his following now. For all the Buffy fangirls out there, we know you had to choose a side: Team Spike, or Team Angel. For those with a penchant for Billy Idol-esque (though he claimed Idol ripped off his look in the first place) leather-clad rocker men, Spike was a dream come true for many. Despite his demonic nature, he was also the most well-rounded and dynamic character--perhaps of the entire show. Boys wanted to be him, and parents hoped that their daughters wouldn't try to find someone like him in real life.
There's no denying that Alicia Silverstone was a total Betty. Debuting her acting career at age 15 in the creepy girl-crush thriller, The Crush, Alicia is best known for her groundbreaking valley girl role in 1995's Clueless. While at first, it seems that her portrayal of Cher Horowitz in itself was what made her such eye candy, truth be told — there would be no Cher if there was no Alicia Silverstone. Along with nailing dozens of magazine covers and cameos (the '90s was big on cameos), Alicia also appeared in Batman & Robin, Blast from the Past, and other lesser-known but just as good films. With her doe eyes and pouty lips, Alicia was every teenage boy's dream girl, and every girl's role model. If anyone can rock a matching yellow plaid outfit or fluffy pink purse, it was 100% Alicia Silverstone.
It may seem a little strange (okay, super strange), but correct us if we're wrong. As kids growing up in the '90s, we were exposed to many fabulous animated movies... and just as fabulous characters that we may have had crushes on. Whether they were go-lucky street vagrants like Aladdin, or charmers like Prince Eric, little girls and boys were somehow always drawn to these handsome cartoons. So of course, whenever we mention how alluring adult Simba from The Lion King was, we may get a few odd looks. But can you blame us? For an animated lion, Simba was one dapper feline. Cheeky and powerful, he not only stood up to his oppressor and father's murderer, but he landed the girl (ignore their relation), made cross-species best friends, and saved his entire pride. What's not to love?
A. C. Slater, much like Uncle Jesse (was it the mullet thing?) was one of those heart throbs that you still might daydream about. Played by Mario Lopez (who seriously hasn't aged a day), A. C. Slater was the token jock of Saved by the Bell. Initially seen as an athletic bully and Zack's competition for Kelly, A. C. Slater eventually warms up to Zack when they become best friends. Even despite his arrogance and mocking demeanor, he eventually falls for Jessie Spano, who rightfully is able to put him in his place whenever he makes derogatory remarks and cracks inappropriate jokes. And come on, who could forget those arms? (And those dimples.) If only colorful tank tops would make their way back into men's fashion...
Princess Leia (Leia Organa Solo) was portrayed by the unparalleled Carrie Fisher, and though the original Star Wars trilogy may have been released decades before in the 1970s, she was an iconic heartthrob for boys and a strong female role model for girls in the '90s. To this day, Leia's piercing eyes and revolutionary views have made her a stunning example of how accomplished young women could be when passionate—and resilient—with a cause. Though her bikini image from Return of the Jedi may have been a cheap shot at exposing Leia's sexuality, it no doubt drove us all crazy, and is still being cosplayed by Star Wars fans everywhere. But it wasn't just Leia's looks that made her so beautiful; it was her intellect and poise, something that inspired millions of girls, and will continue to inspire for years to come.
Leonardo DiCaprio was—and still is—the classically handsome and extremely talented actor that has made a name for himself from a young age. Though he first began acting in a number of lesser-known films and TV shows in the '90s, he really made it big in 1993 when he played alongside heartthrob Johnny Depp in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Then it was in The Basketball Diaries, Romeo and Juliet, and—probably most crucially—as Jack Dawson in 1997s Titanic. Girls and boys everywhere melted whenever his baby blues blinked, and from then he kept rising. Still to this day, Leo is a strong perpetuator for environmental issues, and continues to star in and produce award-winning films (finally winning an Oscar in 2016 after years of nominations). Whether it's young Leo you like better, or current Leo, his crush-worthy status is well deserved.
This Hawaiian heartthrob has been a Grammy award-winning singer, cult classic heroine, and soap opera drama queen. Best known for her part in Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2 with Mike Meyers in 1992 and 1993, Tia Carrere actually got her start as an actress on the daytime TV show General Hospital, and even had appearances in Married... with Children. Born Althea Rae Janairo in Honolulu, Hawaii, the multi-talented actress played the biracial hottie Cassandra Wong in Wayne's World, where she performed all her own songs on the movie's soundtrack. Tia, not only a trained singer, but fluent in her native Hawaiian pidgin, which gave her the sultry accent we all know and love. A rocking queen both in the movies and in life, Tia Carrere is a crush that we just can't be mad at.
Another classic bad boy type on TV was the unforgettable Luke Perry. Best known for starring as Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills, 90210, Luke's character was one of the first brooding, tall dark and handsome teenagers to win over the ladies. He became an exceptionally popular teen idol in the early 1990s, and continued to land roles in later movies, such as the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film in 1992, and Invasion. For the most part, he secured his babe-status from 90210, but recently has appeared in CW's Riverdale (the dark look at the original Archie Comics series) as Archie's dad, Fred Andrews. Though he may have aged, there's just something especially sexy about Luke Perry that cannot be replicated. Thankfully, we get to keep our eyes on Perry every week on the CW.
Kevin Sorbo can now be considered a silver fox, but he started out as the muscly Greek half-god Hercules in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys in 1995. He may even be one of the first luscious blonde Gods to grace our screens, though he certainly wasn't the last. There was something about Hercules' proud demeanor and heroism that made him the ultimate tough guy with a heart of gold. Much like his spin-off counterpart, Xena from Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules was a loyal friend and dedicated to his duty to save Earth from monsters. Though the show is often forgotten, Hercules was one of the first of its kind in many ways (mixing comedy with life-or-death), and allowed little boys to look up to him. Definitely a crush for those '90s gals with a love of Greek mythology, Hercules was one big boy not to be messed with.
Not only was Tuxedo Mask the recipient of Sailor Moon's affections, but he was also ours. While incognito, his name was Mamoru Chiba, or Darien in English (if you even remembered that), Sailor Moon's sultry protagonist was almost better in street clothes than he was in his tuxedo. Recognizable by his winged eye mask and rose tossing when he was in uniform, Tuxedo Mask always seemed to show up at the last minute and save the day for everyone. Of course, as a regular teenage boy, he was your typical insufferable bully who enjoys teasing the Sailor Scouts in their down time. Despite this, and the fact that his identity is a constant struggle for both the viewers and himself, Tuxedo Mask may just be the most swoon-worthy animated crush of the '90s.
And finally, another animated animal character that made everyone drool (we really can't blame Bugs): Lola Bunny from Space Jam. She made her first appearance in this all-star live-action/animated movie from every '90s kid's VHS vault in 1996, and since has appeared on The Looney Tunes Show. But it was Lola Bunny voiced by Kath Soucie who was the queen of the court, and object of everyone's attention. Her inclusion was to give Bugs Bunny's character a love interest, and instead the audience ended up loving her. Lola's sass, feminist values, and tough attitude made her a fan favorite among all kids. We still can't help admiring her for standing up to the misogyny on her team, and truly proving that she could keep up—and beat—the boys.