If you grew up in the 90s, chances are that you had a TV. If you had a TV, you definitely watched Nick game shows, or at least heard about them. The slime, the prizes, the thousand yard stare that can only be achieved by a sixth grader who is realizing how much "stuff" a human body can release when under extreme duress and stage lights (a thousand yard stare my fellow writer Ricardo Castano IV is all too familiar with).
In the midst of watching kids scale the Aggro Crag, bite pieces of cheese into the shape of states, and blatantly plug Konami games on Nick Arcade, you may have missed some of the dark secrets that were brooding just under the surface and behind the scenes.
All was not so rad and innocent in the world of Nick game shows; substance use, illness, and intimate relations on set all plagued the kids' network. So tighten up your BK Ratchtechs, put on your elbow and knee pads, and be prepared to be interviewed by overly excited hosts; this is 20 Dark Secrets You Didn't Know About Nick Game Shows.
20 Marc Summer's OCD Should Have Kept Him Far Away From Nick
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a debilitating illness that has pronounced effects on millions of peoples' lives. Individuals that suffer from OCD exhibit multiple symptoms and tics that would most likely exclude them from participating in a show like Double Dare.
Unless you're Marc Summers that is; then you host the dang show because you're not going to let any disease get in the way of you making fun of kids as they struggle to pick a seven-foot nose in search of a flag.
Summers apparently suffers from pretty severe OCD and has mentioned that the messes, slime, and general disorder of Double Dare made his skin crawl while he commentated.
19 Legends Of The Hidden Rat Race
Legends Of The Hidden Temple is one of those classic Nick gameshows that makes any 90s kid's eyes light up with recognition.
The memorable animal based teams, Olmec's massive talking head that was actually a guy reading a script and working a lever, and that damn shrine of the silver monkey that made you shout words you never knew you had in you as a kid.
That is, unless you know that the temple run at the end of every episode was virtually impossible to traverse in three minutes.
Kirk Fogg has mentioned in interviews that it was difficult for him, a full grown man, to do the thing in three minutes, let alone a scrappy kid who really wants a pair of British Knights. Plus, with the temple guards being strategically placed to use up your Pendants of Life before you can get out, it's a rat race.
18 "POWER SURRRRGGGEEEEEEEE!"
Mike O'Malley is really one of the greats when it comes to hosts for classic Nick gameshows; like Fogg and Moore, O'Malley was great at commentating on kids trying to surmount near impossible tasks.
In your face and energetic, O'Malley is probably the most well known and respected Nick host to ever live.
It wasn't always that way though. Apparently, O'Malley had to wake up a bit in order to keep his job on Get The Picture.
If you watch O'Mally during the first season of the connect the dots, hidden picture based show, O'Malley is a tame, sensible human being, calmly announcing a Power Surge (bonus game). The producers told him that he needed to step it up for the second season or he was done. O'Mally really took the advice to heart, because in the subsequent seasons, he screams "Power Surge" like it is the only phrase keeping him from the sulfurous scales of Satan himself.
17 They Are Pretty Fun To Watch High
It's no secret that substance use is widespread throughout, well, pretty much every facet of life. Wall Street execs are enjoying the "snow," and the whole crew working on Nick game shows are high as kites.
Yep, you read that right! Like most people in show business, the crews working on Nick gameshows were indulging just as much as everyone else in the industry.
Nothing against them though, it must have been super fun to be blitzed out of your mind and watching kids slide into giant sundaes or climbing the Aggro Crag.
16 Which Came First: The Slime Or The Slimer?
Everyone has seen the Ghostbusters movies, without exception. If you're a 90s kid, it means that they may very well be some of your favorite movies, and with good reason.
However, two of your favorite outlets for entertainment had a pretty serious legal battle before they became staples of your media diet.
The creators of Ghostbusters took Nick to court for copying their use of slime, which Nick rebutted with the fact that they had been using slime years before Bill Murray and friends, and the suit was quickly dropped.
The lesson; don't mess with 90s Nick.
15 A Seriously Physical Challenge
This one isn't especially surprising considering the nature of the physical challenges on Double Dare.
Aside from getting buckets of slippery slime and goo poured and/or flung at you, the obstacle course at the end could be downright dangerous. Covering everything in slime and then tasking kids with bolting around a tile floor?
How many times did you watch a kid place a foot in a puddle of goo only to fall like a sack of potatoes?
For anyone with any serious prior health concerns or injuries, a minor fall could mean serious complications barring them from participation.
14 Who's Your Gak Connect?
Gak is a term used to refer to a series of products that were meant to be take-home quantities of slime used to douse every human being on the Nick television sets.
Although the name may just seem like a clever marketing move (who could pass up the opportunity to take home Gak?), the name actually has a lot more to do with the crews' recreational substances of choice.
As confirmed by Marc Summers, Gak was a slang term used for an illegal narcotic that made its way through the cast and crew on the Nick sets.
13 Highly Distressed Kids
The 90s were full of totally rad and gnarly bright colors on clothing and products, just watch an episode of Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air to see what we mean.
This trend was not lost on the team putting together the Nick logo, the rad palette was at their disposal. So they looked in the most obvious place for inspiration; the international colors of distress.
Bright orange and green are universally recognized by rescue teams and pilots as the color of emergency craft, life jackets, you name it.
Our brains notice these colors as not belonging in most environments, making it easier for rescuers to find survivors. The designers at Nick thought them appropriate colors for their logo, knowing kids' brains wouldn't be able to look away.
12 No Parents Allowed
Aside from having one of the creepiest logos ever designed, You Can't Do That On Television was one of old-school Nick's first game/sketch show programs that featured all the silliness associated with the kids network today.
A somewhat alarming development was made a few years after the show stopped production, as kids who were on the show revealed that their parents weren't allowed to accompany them on set.
While it seems alarming in today's world, parents were totally cool with it back then (this was when you could ride bikes or walk to 711 with your friends without a computer chip under your skin).
11 A Consolation Prize
Kids were competing for all types of nifty prizes back in the day on Nick; from BK Ratchet sneakers, which were fastened with plastic zip ties as opposed to laces, and Casio rap keyboards, that are still awesome, those prizes would make any kids wig flip.
While it was common to see prepubescent contestants go home with a camera or karaoke machine, it was rare to see them rob Nick studios for a trip to space camp or Orlando.
There's a reason for that; aside from the final games being pretty difficult compared to the rest of the show, Nick shows were only allowed to give out a certain number of grand prizes per season; there are such things as budgets after all.
10 Writers At Nick Had An Odd Idea Of R&R
Temple guards were the stuff of nightmares for most 90's kids, especially that one that hung out in the tree and would grab you with the branches. Seriously, screw that guy.
While the temple guards were mostly the crew that could be seen running the other challenges on the show while dressed in khaki, sometimes other members of the Legends Of The Hidden Temple team wanted to scare the poop out of kids; often it was the writers.
Taking a break from the writing room, a lot of the minds behind the show's multiple plots would strap on a feather-laden mask and make kids jump out of their tighty whities.
9 The Pit Of Despair Gets A New Paint Job
See that white spot in the pit of despair in the picture above? Yeah, that's yak.
A female contestant on Legends Of The Hidden Temple was so stressed out while participating in the temple run that she ended up spewing chunks in the pit of despair's sphere plagued depths. Do you know how hard it is to clean a ball pit?
Honestly, this could have happened to any kid, the nerves, coupled with the temple guards and assembling the silver monkey incorrectly at least seven times, could make anyone nervous enough to puke.
The taping was halted at the time of the faithful spew; after cleanup, the girl had to get back into the pit to continue her run.
8 Busy Execs Meant Questionable Content Flying Under The Radar
Nostalgia is a heck of a thing, with 90s Nick offering up the rush in bucketloads for any fan with some free time and an internet connection.
As more and more kids turned adults watch their Nick favorites, they start to realize; some of the stuff on Nick was downright raunchy in the 90s.
From offhand comments and blatant safety code violations on their game shows, to 900 number hotlines and Grandpa on the Rugrats renting some questionable videos, Nick's writers slipped some seriously adult humor into their programming.
The lewdness was due to executives trying to pitch shows and ideas in the network's fledgling days, a task that took up a healthy amount of daylight.
7 Let's Go To Mo, Mo!
Everyone remembers Mo from Nickelodeon Guts; the accent and striped shirt were synonymous with kids flailing on bungie cables while trying to dunk basketballs and maneuver wave pools with flimsy paddles.
Funny enough, Mo walked into the audition for Guts with absolutely no knowledge on sports or the show that she was auditioning for.
Like most good things, it seems that the acquisition of Mo for the show was just a lucky pick that became one of the cornerstones of the program.
She was also apparently the only woman there from out of country without blonde hair.
6 Nacho Crag
For any kid athlete that was lucky enough to participate on Guts got a medal put around their neck while they were on the podium.
It was the true victor; the kid who scaled the Aggro Crag first and had the highest score overall, that got to hold a piece of the very Aggro Crag that they conquered over their heads, soaking in the cheers and praise from peers and Mike O'Malley alike.
Except when the cameras stopped rolling and the lights went out, that piece of the Crag was taken back by Nick.
Not all was lost, however; victors would receive a piece of the Crag, albeit a cheaper version, in the mail after the fact.
5 I'll Be Watching You
Childhood crushes are an odd thing; as hormones begin to flow and furniture begins to be secretly humped when no one's home, the attraction to the opposite gender begins to take place.
For one Nickelodeon Guts contestant, the attraction evolved into a full obsession with British ref Moira Quirk.
Moira revealed in an interview that a young fan had taken quite a liking to her after his time on the show, sending her letters and following her around to the point that it became a problem.
No word on if he still stalks Mo, or if he has moved onto other British gameshow hosts after her refusal to scale his Aggro Crag.
4 Desecrating The Holy Mountain
It's fun to watch interviews with the stars of Nick's yesteryear, especially when it comes to the really cooky hosts and stars of your childhood.
However, everything may not have been as innocent as projected on the big screen; there was, and still is, talk that host Mike O'Malley and co-host Mo hooked up on the Aggro Crag.
And why not? If you worked on one of the most prominently rad gameshows of the 90s, why not shag on top of the manmade mountain of your successes?
O'Malley and Mo both make a point to deny it in every interview, even when they aren't asked. Seems like a subconscious admittance of guilt to us.
3 15 Hour Days
It's draining enough being on TV; actors, contestants, and hosts have often voiced the effect that long shoots and bright stage lights can have on the psyche.
They are usually adults; when it comes to kids, the outcome is multiplied tenfold as exhaustion and frustration take hold.
Kids participating in Nick gameshows were often subjected to fifteen hour long shoots, which were often broken up nonsensically, adding to the sense of disorientation apparent in most of the episodes.
The shrine of the silver monkey must be particularly hard to assemble after your eleventh hour on set, but still; the head goes on last Billy, stop embarrassing yourself.
2 Not The VR We Know Today
If you've seen Nick Arcade, you know that it's the dream of every contestant, or spectator, to participate in the video zone, the VR game encased in fog and flashing lights.
As Phil Moore gets them pumped for the ensuing challenge, it's easy to see their naive 90's eyes fill with excitement as he describes their plight against wizards, mummies, and whatever else the substance-crazed writers came up with.
Then, you watch as they flail around pathetically. JUST PUSH START DARREN, IT'S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.
Seems that those VR worlds aren't as easy as they look, as kids actually watch themselves on a monitor while traversing a physical green screen set. That would be difficult as an adult, let alone a jacked up kid who just trounced the other team by playing ActRaiser.
1 Summer Gets Pummeled
Mostly everyone has seen those pictures of kids through the ages unwrapping consoles and having complete and utter spazz attacks next to their holiday symbol of choice.
The wrapping paper is reduced to confetti as the kid realizes that they won't ever have to go outside again. Now imagine that excitement, except you just stumped a group of panelists on Nick's Figure It Out.
Well apparently with a lack of wrapping paper to take his excitement out on, a victorious contestant on the show turned to host Summer Sanders, bopping her square in the nose in a display of victory.
To be fair, we'd probably pop Summer in the melon as well if it meant an N64 with Banjo-Kazooie and Yoshi's Story.