We all know that Amanda Bynes and Nick Cannon had self-titled shows on Nickelodeon, and SNL’s Kenan Thompson got his big break on the network as well (thanks so much for Good Burger, Kenan.) But a few other stars also started honing their skills on the network that brought you green slime and Stick Stickley.
1. Christine Taylor
I think Hey Dude was my favorite show on Nick—or at least right up there (Are You Afraid of the Dark was definitely in the running as well). Long before she met Ben Stiller, Christine was hanging out on the set of a dude ranch in Arizona. She took the role of Bar None lifeguard Melody Hanson at the age of eighteen, which was her big break until she landed the part of Marcia in The Brady Bunch Movie.
2. Alanis Morissette
You Can’t Do That on Television was a Canadian show, but when Nickelodeon picked up the show for their then-fledgling network in 1981, it took off stateside as well. Alanis was a regular on the show. It’s also where Nickelodeon picked up their obsession with green slime—the cast of YCDTOT got hosed with the stuff whenever they uttered the phrase “I don’t know.”
3. Julie Benz
Most recently known as Rita on Dexter and Robin on Desperate Housewives, Julie’s first big role was on Nick’s Hi Honey, I’m Home! It was a show about a family from a 1950s sitcom whose show got canceled, booting them into the real world. Julie played Babs Nielsen, the teenage daughter of the family.
4. Blake Sennett (AKA Blake Soper)
Before Blake was rocking in the band Rilo Kiley, he appeared as Ronnie Pinsky in the hilarious (at least, I thought it was) sitcom about summer camp, Salute Your Shorts. He went by Blake Soper by then, and followed up his stint on Nickelodeon with a supporting role on Boy Meets World as Joey “The Rat” Epstein.
5. Michelle Trachtenberg
Yes, she was Harriet the Spy, which was a Nickelodeon movie—but before that, she had her first-ever role on TV as Little Pete’s best friend on The Adventures of Pete and Pete. Her character liked to wear a cast on her arm because she liked the itchy feeling, not because her arm was actually broken.
6. Rachel Blanchard
Rachel took over for Alicia Silverstone as Cher when Clueless was adapted for the small screen; she also played Sally from the Flight of the Conchords song “The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room” (the whole wide room). Prior to those roles, she was scaring the crap out of me as part of the Midnight Society on Are You Afraid of the Dark from 1991 to 1993.
7. Elisha Cuthbert
When Are You Afraid of the Dark was revived in the late ’90s, Elisha Cuthbert took up the mantle of creeping kids out just before they headed off to bed on Saturday nights. She’s had lots of roles in movies since then, but I bet most people now know her best as Jack Bauer’s daughter on 24.
8. Ryan Reynolds
ScarJo’s husband has always starred as the dreamy hunk—his first show was on the Canadian teen soap opera Hillside, which Nickelodeon bought and repackaged as Fifteen.
9. Mike O’Malley
Even some adults started out on kids’ shows. O’Malley’s big break came at the age of twenty-five when he was cast to host the game show Get the Picture in 1991, and then GUTS the following year. I loved GUTS. It was like American Gladiators for kids. How could you not enjoy that? O’Malley has had no shortage of projects since then, including Yes Dear and My Name is Earl, but I like him best as Kurt’s dad on Glee.
10. R.L. Stine
Well, you can’t say this was his “big break,” since Stine had already published several teen horror novels by this time, but from 1989 to 1995 he served as the head writer for the kids’ puppet show Eureeka’s Castle. Not only that, Stine actually co-created the series.
Do you have an old Nickelodeon favorite? Let’s reminisce in the comments.
Originally published on Mental_Floss