Think back, if you can, to the 1990s. For many of those of us who were born into the 80s, it was really the 90s that saw us come of age, and a lot of that was done in front of the TV set (very often whilst seated on Day-Glo beanbags or inflatable chairs, whilst clad in tie-dye T-shirts and/or flannel).
And of course, as many of us were glued to the box day and night during those formative years, it’s to be expected that most of us wound up developing major crushes on some of the stars of our favourite shows.
The 90s was a great time for TV, but it wasn’t just the quality programming that kept us rapt. Here are just some of the beautiful actresses of 90s television that we never got tired of tuning back in to see again week after week…
20. Teri Hatcher in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
We’d all grown up watching Christopher Reeve portray (nay, embody) Superman in the movies, alongside Margot Kidder as Lois Lane.
However, once we saw Teri Hatcher as Lois, we’d never think of the character the same way again.
Launched in 1993, Lois & Clark (or simply The New Adventures of Superman as it was known in some territories, including the UK) presented a very different dynamic to the DC Comics superhero. The Man of Steel himself was de-emphasised, with the relationship between the roving reporters Lois Lane and Clark Kent (Dean Cain) really taking the spotlight.
Hatcher was 29 at the time, and had been slowly working her way up the Hollywood ladder with supporting roles in such movies as Tango & Cash and Soapdish, not to mention a memorable guest appearance on Seinfeld.
In its earlier (and better) seasons, Lois & Clark hinged on a will-they won’t-they romantic tension between the duo of the title – and there was no shortage of viewers who daydreamed about being the Clark of that equation!
Hatcher went on to join the ranks of James Bond’s love interests in Tomorrow Never Dies, before enjoying further small screen success in Desperate Housewives.
19. Amy Jo Johnson in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
When Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first hit screens in 1993, parents were worried that younger viewers would try and imitate the high-kicking moves of the show’s masked heroes.
However, a lot of slightly older viewers kept tuning in regularly to see Amy Jo Johnson as Kimberly, the Pink Ranger.
Johnson was aged 23 when she made her debut on the hit action series as one-fifth of the super-powered teen team. Cast largely on the strength of her gymnastic ability, Johnson would appear as Kimberly in 138 episodes, plus two feature films.
The actress remains close to the hearts of fans of the franchise, and she even made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in the 2017 Power Rangers reboot movie.
Outside of Power Rangers, Johnson has a diverse resume which includes over 40 acting roles, several directing credits and three albums as a singer-songwriter.
In 2014, she surprised and delighted fans by taking to the streets of Toronto to busk in her full Pink Ranger costume, having been dared to do so by her old co-star David Yost (Billy, the Blue Ranger).
18. Jeri Ryan in Star Trek: Voyager
Since its small-screen revival in the 80s, the Star Trek franchise has never had too great a shortage of strong, powerful and – oh yes – incredibly attractive women.
None of the Star Trek women, however, had quite that same X-factor as Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager.
Ryan was 29 when she was cast in the fourth season of the sci-fi series as a liberated former drone of the dreaded Borg collective, one slowly working to regain her humanity.
The combination of Ryan’s charismatic performance, striking looks and of course that skin-tight costume always kept the viewers coming back, until Voyager’s journey reached its end in 2001.
Recently Ryan reprised the role of Seven in Amazon Prime’s Star Trek: Picard, looking every bit as stunning as she did 20 years earlier.
17. Tiffani-Amber Thiessen in Saved by the Bell
As a sitcom specifically geared towards teenagers, Saved by the Bell has a special place in the hearts of many who grew up in the 90s.
This was of course helped by how unbelievably good-looking the bulk of the cast was, with Lark Voorhies and future Showgirls star Elizabeth Berkley stunners in their own right.
When all’s said and done, though, it was really Tiffani-Amber Theissen who made the biggest impression on fans.
Thiessen appeared as the impeccably-named Kelly Kapowski in 75 episodes of Saved by the Bell, 18 episodes of Saved by the Bell: The College Years, plus two TV movies.
Then, as if starring in just one of the best-loved teen shows of the 90s wasn’t enough, Thiessen went on to enjoy a six-year run on another of the decade’s biggest youth-oriented TV hits, Beverly Hills 90210.
More recently, Thiessen appeared in Netflix comedy-drama series Alexa and Katie, looking as gorgeous as ever.
16. Gillian Anderson in The X-Files
It’s easy to forget just how great an impact The X-Files had when it first hit TV screens in 1993.
The paranormal investigation series quickly became the obsession of viewers everywhere, even those who weren’t by nature sci-fi fans.
A lot of that was down to the chemistry (and an underlying will-they won’t-they romantic tension) between the show’s stars, David Duchovny (Fox Mulder) and Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully).
Anderson quickly became a superstar and a perhaps unexpected pin-up; TV network Fox had initially opposed her casting, wanting someone with more obvious sex appeal.
The actress got the last laugh there, however, as in 1997 she was voted Sexiest Woman in the World in the first such readers’ poll held by FHM magazine.
Anderson played Scully in 217 episodes of The X-Files and two feature films, and more recently she’s appeared on hit TV shows Sex Education and The Crown.
15. Christina Applegate in Married… with Children
Although sitcom Married… with Children kicked off its run in 1987, it was really in the 90s that the cynical, darkly funny show was at its most popular.
For a good portion of the audience, that popularity was largely down to the presence of Christina Applegate.
The actress starred in the sitcom as Kelly, the eldest child of the Bundy family known for her loose morals and provocative dress sense.
Applegate appeared as Kelly in all 262 episodes of the series, right up to the end of its ten-year run in 1997.
Applegate broke into movies during that time, most famously starring in Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.
Later, Applegate would go on to enjoy further success in such big screen comedies as the Anchorman and Bad Moms movies.
14. Katie Holmes in Dawson’s Creek
Teen drama Dawson’s Creek didn’t hit screens until near the decade’s end, with the show’s first episode premiering in 1998.
Even so, it made a big impact on adolescent viewers at the time – and, much like James Van Der Beek’s Dawson himself, a great many viewers were left pining after Katie Holmes’ Joey.
At the time Holmes was 20, and had not long since made her debut in 1997 film The Ice Storm when she began her 128-episode run at the Creek.
Holmes’ work on the show paved the way to a successful movie career, with the actress most famously appearing in 2005’s Batman Begins two years after Dawson’s Creek ended.
Not long thereafter, Holmes’ beauty was enough to inspire Tom Cruise to jump on Oprah Winfrey’s couch; Holmes would be married to the megastar from 2006 to 2012.
Most recently, Holmes has appeared in Brahms: The Boy II and The Secret: Dare to Dream.
13. Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Arriving on the small screen five years after the underwhelming 1992 movie of the same name, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a major game-changer for genre-based television.
Blending horror, action, comedy and teen drama, with a pointed emphasis on strong female characters, the series presented something TV audiences hadn’t seen before, and which many subsequent shows would seek to imitate.
It obviously didn’t hurt that the cast was very attractive indeed. All the women of Buffy quickly became sex symbols, with Alyson Hannigan’s Willow and Charisma Carpenter’s Cordelia earning their share of fan worship.
When all’s said and done, though, it was of course Sarah Michelle Gellar who won the most hearts (almost as many as she drove wooden stakes through, in fact).
Gellar played Buffy in 145 episodes of the hit series, and enjoyed big screen success at the same time with roles in I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream 2, Cruel Intentions and the Scooby-Doo movies.
Soon, Gellar will be heard as the voice of Teela in Netflix’s upcoming animated series Masters of the Universe: Revelation.
12. Jennifer Aniston in Friends
What can we say about Friends that we haven’t already many times before?
After hitting screens in 1994, the young and hip comedy became one of the definitive TV shows of the era, and remains one of the best-loved sitcoms ever to this day.
It seems like the whole world fell in love with that young ensemble – figuratively and, in some cases, perhaps literally.
When it came to the women of Friends, Courteney Cox’s Monica and Lisa Kudrow’s Phoebe certainly won their share of admirers, but above all else it was Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel that really made audiences swoon.
That distinctive, widely-imitated haircut was definitely a factor, as was the on/off romance with Ross; no shortage of fans would have given anything to trade places with David Schwimmer.
Since Friends, Aniston has enjoyed a high profile film career, appearing in numerous hit comedies including Along Came Polly, The Break-Up and He’s Just Not That Into You.
11. Basically the entire female cast of Baywatch
Let’s face it, for anyone with an eye for the ladies who came of age in the 1990s, one TV show ruled them all: Baywatch.
Set on the sun-kissed beaches of Los Angeles County (and later Hawaii), the series followed the daily adventures of a heroic team of lifeguards.
While David Hasselhoff was the nominal lead, it was really the ever-changing ensemble of gorgeous supporting actresses that kept the ratings high. In this instance, there were simply too many crush-worthy women for us to name one above all others.
Then there was Nicole Eggert, Alexandra Paul, Yasmine Bleeth, Gena Lee Nolin, Kelly Packard, Traci Bingham and Donna D’Errico – and we’re still not done.
Baywatch’s line-up also included Brooke Burns, Angelica Bridges, Stacy Kamano, Carmen Electra… the list goes on. Truly, it was the stuff that many a young man’s dreams were made of.
10. Jennifer Love Hewitt in Party of Five
There weren’t many teen-oriented 90s TV shows that launched quite so many future big name actors as Party of Five.
With all respect to Campbell, who was extremely crush-worthy in her own right, the spotlight was really stolen in the show’s second season when Jennifer Love Hewitt joined the cast.
After starting out on Disney’s Kids Incorporated, Hewitt got her big break on Party of Five as Sarah, initially a supporting character who gradually became a key member of the ensemble thanks to positive viewer reaction.
Not to take anything away from Hewitt’s performance, but a good portion of the audience were undoubtedly eager to see more of Sarah simply because she was so lovely to look at.
Much like co-star Campbell, Hewitt’s success on the show lead to big screen success in a hugely successful horror movie – in her case, I Know What You Did Last Summer.
9. Lisa Bonet in The Cosby Show
Today, any conversation about The Cosby Show is inevitably tainted by the awful things we now know about its disgraced headlining star.
However, back when it first aired from 1984 to 1992 (and the many reruns that followed), it was a beloved sitcom popular with young and old alike.
And for the younger viewers, a lot of the appeal was down to its endearing and attractive youthful characters – in particular Lisa Bonet’s Denise.
Denise was the second eldest child of the Huxtable family, and Bonet’s charisma and beauty sent the hearts of millions of viewers into a flutter.
Such was Bonet’s popularity, she was given her own spin-off series in A Different World – in which she co-starred with another highly crush-worthy actress, Marisa Tomei (although both Bonet and Tomei would leave the series after one season, with Bonet later returning to The Cosby Show).
One such viewer who has admitted to growing up with a crush on Bonet was none other than her future husband, Jason Momoa.
8. Jennie Garth in Beverly Hills 90210
Launched in 1990, Beverly Hills 90210 was a teen-oriented soap opera overseen by Dynasty producer Aaron Spelling.
The show presented the youth of the 90s with a glamorous, affluent, All-American lifestyle of which the bulk of us could only ever dream.
Hand-in-hand with that was, of course, a dreamy cast, the audience being spoiled for choice by the sheer number of beautiful young men and women on screen.
When it came to the ladies of Beverly Hills 90210, Shannen Doherty’s Brenda and Tori Spelling’s Donna had no shortage of admirers – but it was arguably Jennie Garth’s Kelly who teen viewers crushed the hardest on.
Garth wound up one of the few original actors to remain in the show for its entire ten-season run, as well as reprising the role in 2008 revival 90210.
Garth would also twice make the top 100 list in the FHM magazine readers’ poll of the sexiest women in the world.
7. Jane Leeves in Frasier
Launched in 1993, Frasier was a spin-off of the top-rated sitcom Cheers that surprised everyone by becoming every bit as successful as its predecessor.
Naturally, much of that success was down to Kelsey Grammar’s performance in the title role, but it also had a lot to do with the supporting cast.
A key player in that supporting cast was British actress Jane Leeves as Daphne, the live-in nurse of Frasier’s ailing father Marty (John Mahoney).
Leeves came to the role after breaking into showbiz as a dancer, and one of ‘Hill’s Angels’ on The Benny Hill Show. While Frasier’s brand of humour was a bit more cerebral, Leeves’ sex appeal still had a significant role to play.
Throughout the series, Frasier’s brother Niles (David Hyde-Pierce) fell desperately in love with Daphne, and he certainly wasn’t alone there.
Leeves played the role in 257 episodes of Frasier, and received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her efforts.
6. Kelly Hu in Martial Law
Launched in 1998, Martial Law was a short-lived but much-loved action series which introduced TV audiences to Hong Kong martial arts legend Sammo Hung.
More pertinently for our purposes here, the series also gave us a chance to see Kelly Hu every week.
Hu was 20 years old, and a former Miss Hawaii and Miss Teen USA, when cast as Detective Pei Pei ‘Grace’ Chen.
The show offered Hu regular opportunities to show off her martial arts skills, which gave viewers yet another reason to gape at her in awe.
Along with Hung, Hu was the only cast member to appear in all 44 episodes of Martial Law before its cancellation in 2000.
Hu went on to enjoy big screen success, most memorably as Lady Deathstrike in X-Men 2, and as the all-powerful (and very scantily-clad) Sorceress in The Scorpion King, the breakthrough movie of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
5. Alyssa Milano in Charmed
A great many children of the 80s grew up with Alyssa Milano as the girl of their dreams.
After reaching fame as a child actress in long-running sitcom Who’s The Boss?, many young viewers were crushing on Milano from an early age.
After following that sitcom with a number of movie roles and a stint on the soap Melrose Place, Milano was then cast in supernatural drama Charmed.
The actress was 26 when she joined the equally crush-worthy Shannen Doherty and Holly Marie Combs in the show, which centred on three sisters who discover they’re witches.
As the series went on, Milano took centre stage on Charmed – particularly after Doherty departed, to be replaced by the (wouldn’t you know it) also-gorgeous Rose McGowan.
But as undeniably lovely as her co-stars were, there was just something about Milano that kept viewers enraptured above all others.
4. Alicia Witt in Cybill
On its arrival in 1995, Cybill marked the TV return of its leading lady Cybill Shepherd, following on from her beloved 80s series Moonlighting.
Younger viewers couldn’t have cared less about that, though: we were all too busy gawking at Alicia Witt.
Witt was 20, with roles in Dune and Twin Peaks behind her, when she was cast as Cybill’s daughter Zoey, every inch the rebellious Generation X teen.
Witt’s co-star Dedee Pfeiffer (sister of Michelle) may also have inspired a few youthful crushes – and honestly, the same can be said of leading lady Cybill Shepherd herself.
However, it was definitely Alicia Witt above all that we were left most anxious to see again in every new episode.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to keep Cybill from being suddenly and unexpectedly cancelled after its third season. Witt would go on to enjoy some film success, notably taking the lead in teen horror Urban Legend.
3. Sherilyn Fenn in Twin Peaks
Few TV shows warrant the label ‘game-changer’ the way Twin Peaks does. David Lynch’s bizarre blend of detective drama, oddball comedy and metaphysical horror was truly unlike anything TV audiences had ever seen.
Again though, it wasn’t just the masterful, unpredictable storytelling that brought viewers back week after week.
There was also the small matter of how hauntingly beautiful most of its cast was – not least Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne.
Once again, Fenn was by no means the only Twin Peaks actress that viewers were crushing on: we can hardly forget Lara Flynn Boyle and Mädchen Amick, not to mention their older co-stars Joan Chen and Peggy Lipton.
Fenn’s Audrey had the edge, though – and it was probably down to the more seductive, assertive nature of her character.
Outside the hit TV series, Fenn’s sexuality was heavily on display in such films as Two Moon Junction, Meridian and Boxing Helena (none of which were anywhere near as good as Twin Peaks, sadly).
2. Brandy Norwood in Moesha
Launched in 1996, teen-oriented sitcom Moesha followed the trials and tribulations of the high school teen of the title and her family.
The all-important title role was taken by Brandy Norwood – or simply Brandy, as she was known from her other career as a singer.
Playing Moesha gave Norwood ample opportunity to exercise her dramatic and comedic muscles on a weekly basis.
And, much to the delight of the show’s enthusiastic audience, she always looked very good doing it.
Brandy’s fame on the show certainly didn’t hurt her pop career either – two years into her six-season run on Moesha, Brandy enjoyed her biggest hit in The Boy is Mine, a duet with Monica.
The hip-hop and R&B music scene made its presence felt in the show too: guest stars on Moesha included Usher Raymond, Ginuwine and Master P.
1. Lucy Liu in Ally McBeal
When Ally McBeal first hit TV screens in 1997, it immediately wowed audiences with its quirky blend of courtroom drama and surrealist humour.
Plus, as was so often the case with 90s TV, the series offered up a veritable smorgasbord of eye candy in its extremely good-looking cast.
When it came to the women of Ally McBeal, viewers were spoiled for choice with such beauties as Jane Krakowski, Portia de Rossi and of course Calista Flockhart in the title role.
However, when it came to raw animal magnetism, no one had quite the same appeal as Lucy Liu as the domineering Ling Woo.
The role cemented Liu as a major sex symbol, paving the way for her big screen success in the Charlie’s Angels movies and Kill Bill.