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Old School Nickelodeon (also called Ol' School Nickelodeon, Ol' School Nick, Old School Nick) is a term used for programming that was on the Nickelodeon television network during the 1980s and 1990s, prior to the debut of SpongeBob SquarePants in 1999 and the subsequent discontinuation of game show programming in 2000. Said programs are viewed with a great degree of nostalgia among persons born in the 1980s, who were in Nickelodeon's target demographic when these shows aired.
Shows that aired during this era that are viewed with particular favor among "Old School Nickelodeon" fans include (but is not limited to:
- 1990s Nicktoons, such as the first three seasons of Rugrats, Doug, The Ren and Stimpy Show, Rocko's Modern Life, Hey Arnold!, CatDog, The Angry Beavers, and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters;
- Scripted programming up through the late 1990s, including Clarissa Explains it All, All That, Kenan and Kel, Hey Dude, Salute Your Shorts, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, The Secret World of Alex Mack, Are You Afraid of the Dark, and You Can't Do That on Television; and
- Game shows such as GUTS, Double Dare (and its many spinoffs), Figure It Out, Weinerville, Legends of the Hidden Temple, and Nick Arcade.
"Old School Nickelodeon" fans tend to have a more negative view toward Nickelodeon's modern programming such as SpongeBob and iCarly, and fans of the old school often consider the earlier programming to be "more funny, more intelligent, and more family oriented" than modern fare. Said nostalgia does not normally extend to the preschool programming of Nick Jr. (Rugrats being an exception, because it aired in both regular Nick and Nick Jr. time slots), most of which continues in reruns on the channel of the same name to this day.
Despite their continuing popularity, Nickelodeon has only minimally rereleased most of the shows in question to the public. Many have not been seen at all since 1999, and those that have been rerun (a very limited few) have only done so in obscure overnight weekend time slots on networks such as Nicktoons Network. Nicktoons and Nick GAS were originally designed to showcase reruns of select "Old School" programming, but Nicktoons shifted its focus to the post-SpongeBob period of Nickelodeon's program library in 2005, and Nick GAS went all-automated in 2005 before being shut down in 2007. Though some of the "Old School Nickelodeon" programming is available through the Nick Video service, the vast majority of it is not. Furthermore, it has been the policy of parent company Viacom to disallow the uploading of these shows to video-sharing sites such as YouTube.