If you grew up in the 1990s or early 2000s, there is a 50% chance you were a Nick kid. I remember the kids in my class were split between Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, but looking back, both tween shows created iconic stars. Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez skyrocketed after their Disney fame, but did Nickelodeon stars find the same success?
Nickelodeon is notorious for spotting talent, and as soon as they find a promising young star, they truly invest in them. We’ve seen Amanda Bynes, Miranda Cosgrove, Victoria Justice, and countless others get their own shows because the network capitalized on their popularity. Many of them flew off the radar, but some of them became immense stars. You probably forgot that Ariana Grande got her start on Nickelodeon.
Get ready for some nostalgia because today, we are taking a look back at some of the most iconic Nickelodeon stars.
Larisa Oleynik: The Secret Life of Alex Mack
If you were around in the ‘90s, you definitely remember this girl. Larisa Oleynik seemed to always be on screen. We were introduced to her in The Secret Life of Alex Mack, where she played the title character, Alex Mack. The child star continued acting after her Nickelodeon days.
She famously played Dawn in The Baby-Sitters Club and Bianca in 10 Things About You. Then, her ‘90s fame cooled down as she transitioned into an adult actress. Her most notable recent role was probably on Pretty Little Liars, where she played Mr. Fitz’s ex-girlfriend (and fake baby mama).
Lori Beth Denberg: All That
I would recognize this iconic face anywhere. One of the most memorable characters from All That is, without a doubt, Lori Beth Denberg. She wasn’t on the show for very long due to her age, but she definitely left an impression before she wrapped up her stint at age 21.
After All That, she played Lydia on The Steve Harvey Show and then kind of vanished until 2012, when she appeared (as herself) in an episode of Workaholics, surprising nostalgic fans. The 45-year-old actress randomly guest stars as herself on shows like Hollywood Darlings. These days, she can apparently officiate your wedding.
Josh Server: All That
Josh will forever be remembered as the only original cast member who appeared on all six seasons of All That. He is unofficially the #TBT king on Twitter and Instagram, cracking people up with some classic All That images, as well as some reunion pictures.
Since All That, he snagged some smaller Nickelodeon roles, the last one being on Sam & Cat. Although he isn’t seen on screen as much as an adult, Josh never stopped acting. His most recent appearance was on an episode of Game Shakers where he played Mr. McConnor.
Kenan Thompson: All That and Kenan & Kel
Kenan Thompson was one half of the insanely beloved duo, Kenan & Kel. These two were everywhere together, and their hilarious on-screen chemistry was evident through Good Burger, All That, and of course, their very own show, Kenan & Kel. Who loves orange soda? Do I even need to answer that?
Kenan is doing exactly what he was meant to do. From acting in child sketch comedies, he is now of the longest-standing cast members on the insanely popular sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. Unfortunately, Kel isn’t on SNL with him, but we’d love to see those two on screen together again.
Danny Tamberelli: The Adventures of Pete and Pete and All That
Danny Tamberelli was the unofficial poster child for Nickelodeon back in the ‘90s. He starred in some of their most popular shows like All That and The Adventures of Pete and Pete. He is now a member of the comedy group ManBoobs Comedy, and he recently lent his voice to a character in Grand Theft Auto.
I hope you’re ready for your childhood heart to melt because he recently reunited with Michael Maronna, his former Pete and Pete co-star, on a podcast aptly named The Adventures of Danny and Mike. You super fans should definitely check them out.
Kel Mitchell: All That and Kenan & Kel
Don’t worry; we didn’t forget about Kel. Despite all the ridiculous internet rumors, no, he’s not dead. Since his child star days, Kel has voiced various cartoon characters and randomly appeared on Disney and Nick shows playing different rappers.
He was also born for the sketch comedy life. Back in 2002, he auditioned for Saturday Night Live but ultimately lost the part to Kenan. There are no hard feelings between the duo, so don’t worry; your childhood isn’t ruined yet. These days, Kel is a devout Christian and performs standup comedy.
Ross Hull: Are You Afraid of the Dark?
If you were a horror lover like me, Are You Afraid of the Dark was your jam. This was my favorite (and only) horror show I was allowed to watch… until I turned 12 and discovered the good stuff. Either way, this campfire show was a classic and beautifully conveyed child-appropriate ghost stories.
Since the show, Ross Hull ditched the glasses and took on a few roles before leaving the industry altogether. As it turns out, he prefers a suit and tie job, but that doesn’t mean he left our screens. The Canadian native began his career as a weatherman in the 2000s. After a few anchoring gigs with CBC Toronto, he is now the meteorologist for Global Toronto.
Daniel DeSanto: Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Daniel DeSanto is also easily recognizable from Are You Afraid of the Dark. Although he no longer tells spooky stories around the campfire as Tucker, he’s been around. You might remember him asking girls if their muffins are buttered in Mean Girls (“Ew Jason, why are you such a skeeze?”).
He is one of the more familiar faces from the show because he is steadily on countless television shows throughout the years. He also transitioned to movies. His most recent film role was as Anthony in 2018’s Little Italy.
Raine Pare-Coull: Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Raine played Betty Anne, one of the few consistent characters on Are You Afraid of The Dark. However, she pretty much disappeared after 2006. Other than a few real Tweets she posted back in 2009, everything seems to be spam. It’s actually very difficult to find any information on her.
Reportedly, in 2014 she started working at CBC Canada. Hmm… I wonder who hooked her up with that gig? Other than that, if she’s trying to stay out of the public eye, she’s doing a great job. There is no verified trace of the former child star.
Robert Richard: Cousin Skeeter
Cousin Skeeter is a classic Nickelodeon show for kids who grew up in the ‘90s. Bobby Richard starred on the hilarious show and was in successful movies like Coach Carter and One on One. However, it wasn’t easy for him to transition into an adult actor in Hollywood.
After he played Paris Hilton’s boyfriend in the horror flick House of Wax, he started landing guest roles instead of starring roles. You may have seen him in popular shows like The Vampire Diaries, Lucifer, Empire, and more. But he got back in the game in recent years and has two B-list movies set to come out soon.
Meagan Good: Cousin Skeeter
Although she found stardom playing Bobby’s love interest, Nina, during her Nick days, Meagan Good seemed to transition into adult roles a little more easily than her Cousin Skeeter co-star. She’s been all over the place lately and some people forgot she used to be a child star.
For a while now, Meagan has been playing the friend to every leading lady. However, her roles in the Think Like a Man series and Deception are giving her the chance to take the lead. She’s been actively acting since she was a kid, and she currently has two movies in production: Day Shift and Hot Stepper.
Nate Richert: Sabrina, The Teenage Witch
We were used to seeing Nate Richert on screen regularly when he played Harvey Kinkle on Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, and then one day, he just vanished. Other than a few random roles, Nate Richert decided not to pursue an acting career.
Although we probably won’t be seeing our beloved Harvey star in any upcoming movies, Nate decided to focus on a music career. He kind of fell off the grid and released a few solo indie records. Other than that, he’s been sporting a fabulous hipster mustache.
Jenna Leigh Green: Sabrina, The Teenage Witch
It may take a second before you recognize Jenna Leigh Green from her child acting days, but as soon as you do, you’ll remember how much you hated Libby Chessler. She portrayed that classic ‘90s popular mean girl, who just so happened to also be a cheerleader, of course.
These days, she has had several guest roles on shows like Bones and E.R., but she is better known for her role as Nessarose in Wicked on Broadway. Her performances are impeccable. These days, you can follow her on Twitter, where she posts some hilarious stories and updates fans on her Broadway endeavors.
Lindsay Sloane: Sabrina, The Teenage Witch
Lindsay Sloane is another actress you probably forgot started off as a child actress playing Valerie, Sabrina’s shy best friend. She wins the award for the bitchiest fictional cheerleading captain of this generation.
Since her days on Sabrina, she has appeared on countless television shows and even landed several supporting roles in movies – most notably in Bring It On. She recently played Nancy Reagan on an episode of Drunk History. Her latest movie role was playing Billie in 2019’s Ending, Beginnings. She seems to have stepped out of the limelight as soon as the pandemic hit.
Soleil Moon Frye: Sabrina, The Teenage Witch
She didn’t necessarily get her start on Nickelodeon (Punky Brewster, anyone?), but most of us still remember Soleil as Sabrina’s lovable (as long as she’s not angry) college roommate on Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.
Since her stint on Sabrina, she started doing some voice-over work and then completely switched gears. The former child star opened her own organic specialty clothing shop for children called The Little Seed in Los Angeles. Other than that, she hosts a blog/web series that is focused on child-rearing and women’s issues.
Tadhg Kelly: Unfabulous
Tadhg Kelly is much cuter now, but he was definitely a tween heartthrob in his Nickelodeon days. He played Addie’s annoying older brother on Unfabulous, but he seems like he fell off the grid after that. He definitely left the acting industry, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t pursuing other goals.
He randomly emerged in 2008 when he starred in the S.P Untitled and released an acoustic album. These days Kelly is a video game designer, producer, creative director, columnist, and consultant. He has held jobs at various video game development, technology, and publishing companies. He works in an office like the rest of us mortals.
Raja Fenske: Unfabulous
Raja Fenske is immediately recognized as Jake Behari from Unfabulous, which has made for the TV movie The Best Trip Ever, in which he finally starts dating the show’s main character, Addie Singer (Emma Roberts). Unfortunately, the hunky actor hasn’t been doing much in the acting world since then.
Sure, he had a few stints on shows like Lizzie McGuire and CSI: Miami, but nothing interesting. His most notable role was starring as J in the 2013 movie Pendejo. You can follow him on Instagram for #TBT gems and for updates.
Malese Jow: Unfabulous
Malese Jow used to be Geena Fabiano, Addie Singer’s best friend on Unfabulous, but she managed to move past the show. If you were one of those kids who gave up on Nickelodeon after Unfabulous ended in 2007 (like me), you might not have realized she was in another Nickelodeon show.
Malese Jow played Lucy Stone on Big Time Rush before graduating from Nick. She got to play a teenage vampire on The Vampire Diaries and even appeared in two episodes of Hannah Montana. Her most recent gig is lending her voice to the 2020 superhero series Invincible.
Devon Werkheiser: Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide
There is no way we could have gotten through Middle School without Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guise. When he appeared on Christy Carlson Romano’s YouTube channel, Devon Werkheiser admitted that Ned Bigby was supposed to go to high school, but the idea didn’t end up working out.
Since wrapping up his time on Nickelodeon, Devon’s been working on his music career, releasing music exclusively through Myspace – which explains why we’ve never heard it. He also snagged the role of Peter Parks in Green back in 2011. He had a few guest appearances on popular shows like 2 Broke Girls and Criminal Minds.
Lindsey Shaw: Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide
Lindsay Shaw helped us get through some very formative years as “Mose” on Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. Although she got her start on Nickelodeon, the former child star has built up a pretty impressive resume over the years.
She dabbled in film, but the actress really shines on the television screen. She landed the lead role of Kat Stratford in the television series 10 Things I Hate About You (based on the movie with the same name). However, her most notable role was playing Paige, Emily’s love interest on the hit teen drama Pretty Little Liars.
Daniel Curtis Lee: Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide
Daniel Curtis really made a memorable first impression when we were introduced to him as Ned’s geeky best-friend Simon on Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. I mean, his character wore a bright red ski jacket on the first day of school. If you don’t remember, it didn’t end well for him.
The actor later moved on to the Disney XD show Zeke and Luther as Kojo. Other than that, he made guest appearances in several popular shows like Good Luck Charlie, Glee, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Lee is also a member of the celebrity basketball team the Hollywood Knights.
Leon Thomas III: Victorious
We couldn’t get enough of Leon Thomas III when he played Andrew Harris on Victorious. He was funny, charming, and truly helped make the show as successful as it was. His role as Andrew ended in 2013, but that doesn’t mean he stopped working.
He has taken a few roles here and there, but you probably haven’t seen him on screen lately. That’s because Leon decided to pursue his other passion – music − which we got a taste of in Victorious. He’s released a total of three mixtapes since his time on Nick.
Noah Munck: iCarly
Who could forget Gibby? Carly and Sam’s dimwitted but hilarious, faithful sidekick. Naturally, iCarly fans adored Noah Munck, the actor who played him. His character was so popular that in 2003, a spin-off show for Gibby was ordered; unfortunately, it fell through at the end.
Throughout the years, Munck has shifted his focus to music and released a few songs before returning to the acting world. He is currently playing the recurring role of “Naked Rob” Smith on The Goldbergs, and it’s probably his most popular gig since iCarly.
Nathan Kress: iCarly
No matter what else he does in life or career, Nathan Kress will always be known as Freddie Benson to Nick fans. He even continued playing Freddie on a few guest appearances on Sam & Cat. Since his time as Freddy, the actor has landed a few small roles before co-starring in his first big film, Into the Storm, in 2014.
He kind of disappeared from the spotlight for a while because he was starting a family. Get ready to feel old; Nathan Kress is now married with two children. However, he surprised fans earlier this year when he reprised his role as Freddy on the iCarly reboot.
Jerry Trainor: iCarly
Although Jerry Trainor has continued acting since his time on Nick, he has yet to reach the same success he did as Spencer Shay on iCarly. We were first introduced to the actor as “crazy Steve” on another hit Nickelodeon show, Drake and Josh – the same show where we met Miranda Cosgrove.
Cosgrove played the evil little sister, and Jerry played… well… a crazy person. Someone in the industry must have noticed their talent since they snagged them off Drake and Josh and created a new show for them. Jerry has been working steadily, but he really thrilled friends when he reprised his role as Spencer for the iCarly reboot in 2021.
Avan Jogia: Victorious
Who could forget this teen heartthrob? We first met Avan Jogia as Beck Oliver on Victorious, but he continued to find roles after his time as a child star. In fact, he’s been making some pretty big movies – which doesn’t really come as a surprise considering how pleasant it is to look at his face.
The actor also landed notable TV roles. He starred as Danny Desai, a conflicted, dark character on Twisted (ABC Family). In recent years Avan’s been focusing on movies, the latest being 2021’s Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, where he plays Leon S. Kennedy.
Elizabeth Gillies: Victorious
Elizabeth Gillies is arguably the only Victorious star who landed a role that may be more popular than her Nickelodeon character, Jade West. Since her time on the show, she has worked on an alternative rock album and had a YouTube channel where she posts impressive covers of popular songs.
She appeared in minor roles, but her acting chops didn’t go unnoticed. It’s rare to play one famous character, but this actress doubled down when she snagged the role of Fallon Carrington, the main character in the 2017 drama based on the 1980’s soap opera of the same name.
Sean Flynn: Zoey 101
We first met Sean Flynn when he fell off his bike as Chase Matthews when he first laid eyes on Zoey (Jamie Lynn Spears) in the pilot episode of Zoey 101. He never fully gave up on acting, but unfortunately, nothing came close to his Zoey 101 fame. Luckily, we live in a world that loves reboots!
Don’t get too excited; I didn’t say Zoey 101 is coming back (although we’d all love that), but Sean did reprise his role in What Did Zoey Say (TV short) in 2015. It was based on the 2005-time capsule episode. Zoey promised Chase he could open it and find out what she said about him in 10 years and trust me, it doesn’t disappoint. You could check it out on YouTube.
Matthew Underwood: Zoey 101
If you’ve never watched Zoey 101, chances are you’ve never seen this actor. There was a point in time where you might have thought he was the cutest guy on Nickelodeon, but his acting career kind of stalled after that. He had a couple of run-ins with the law and took time out of the spotlight.
It might make your childhood heart smile to hear that Underwood actually directed Jamie Lynn’s 2013 music video for How Could I Want More. Another fun fact is that country superstar Carrie Underwood is his cousin, if the name didn’t already give that away…
Erin Sanders: Zoey 101
Erin Sanders did an incredible job playing Quinn, Zoey’s super weird but very lovable friend. Quinn was certainly one of a kind. Who can forget her wild inventions like the time when she genetically fused an apple and banana together, creating the “Banapple”?
Since her time playing the nerdy character, Sanders evolved into a less quirky and smoking hot actress. After her role as Quinn, she continued to work with the network on another show, Big Time Rush. She guest-starred on countless shows and even started landing big-screen roles! Her latest movie is 2020’s The Call, where she plays Tonya.
Christopher Massey: Zoey 101
Christopher Massey portrayed Chase’s roommate and best friend, Kyle Massey on Zoey 101. His character was basically the only voice of reason on the show. Like many of his co-stars, Massey hasn’t had anything as notable as his Nickelodeon role.
We did see him reprise his role on What Did Zoey Say? alongside his former co-star, Sean Flynn. He got in trouble with the law back in 2016, and other than a few minor roles, he’s basically been out of the spotlight. Other than that, continue praying to the Nickelodeon Gods for a Zoey 101 spin-off.
Keke Palmer: True Jackson, VP
Keke Palmer started gaining tween fans on the Disney Channel in 2007 when she starred in the movie Jump In alongside Corbin Bleu, who was fresh off his High School Musical fame. Shortly after, Nickelodeon snagged the young actress and gave Palmer her very own show, True Jackson, VP.
Keke Palmer has been working steadily since her child star days. She was the first Black actress to play Cinderella on Broadway. She’s appeared on popular shows like 90210, Grey’s Anatomy, and Scream Queens, just to name a few. She currently has two movies in post-production, so get ready to see more of this talented starlet.
Ashley Argota: True Jackson, VP
Back in the day, Ashley Argota was True Jackson’s best friend Lulu on the Nickelodeon show. After the show, she appeared on several shows on Disney and ABC family, like Austin & Ally, The Fosters, and Girl Meets World.
She stepped away from the industry in order to earn her nursing degree at NYU but continued to work steadily. She found the most success on the tween networks, and in 2014, she starred in the Disney Channel original movie, How to Build a Better Boy. More recently, she has been pursuing other interests. Ashely’s latest role is Cassie Holmes in I Hate New Year’s.
Matt Shively: True Jackson, VP
Matt Shively was a fan favorite on True Jackson, VP, and he continued acting after the show ended. Since playing Ryan Laserbaum, Matt Shively has been steadily acting. In 2014, he reunited with his former Nickelodeon castmate, Ashely Argota, starring together in Disney Channel’s How To Build a Better Boy.
Shively has appeared in countless popular shows like Teen Wolf, C.S.I., Jessie, and The Santa Clarita diet, just to name a few. He also starred in the short-lived show Grand Hotel. Unfortunately, nobody really tuned into the suspenseful drama (except for me) so, it was canceled after just one season.
Josh Peck: Drake & Josh
When the Nickelodeon network saw the incredible and hilarious on-screen chemistry between Josh Peck and Drake Bell on the Amanda Show, they knew they needed to give them their own show. However, Josh Peck is no longer the chubby, nerdy stepbrother we were introduced to on Drake & Josh. He looks amazing now.
In 2015, Josh starred in Grandfathered alongside John Stamos before making a guest appearance on Stamos’s show Fuller House. He will probably never play a more iconic character than Josh Nichols, but he seems content with that. He is now happily married with a baby. Yeah, if you didn’t already feel old.
Miranda Cosgrove: iCarly
iCarly may have ended in 2012, but Miranda Cosgrove hasn’t gone anywhere. She never played a character as popular as Carly, but that certainly doesn’t mean she didn’t continue to find success in the industry. Her most notable role is voicing the character Margo in the Despicable Me film series.
She has made a number of guest appearances on television and film, but she’s recently been finding iCarly fame again. With the new reboot, Miranda is targeting the iCarly fans who grew up with her, and fans can’t get enough of it.
Drake Bell: Drake & Josh
Drake Bell starred as the cool, guitar-playing ladies’ man Drake Parker on Drake & Josh. The duo never failed to make audiences laugh, and the show was a massive success for Nickelodeon. It seemed like a successful acting career was in Drake’s future, but that didn’t exactly happen.
Josh may have found a little more success than Drake, but neither of them lived up to their child stardom. Other than minor roles and guest appearances, we haven’t seen much of Drake lately. He did bring a smile to my face when he reunited with Josh on an episode of Grandfathered. Other than that, he’s been doing voice-over work and focusing on his music.
Amanda Bynes: The Amanda Show
Amanda Bynes was arguably Nickelodeon’s most promising child star. She was such a hit on All That the network created a new show for the actress, The Amanda Show. The sketch comedy show showcased her comedic timing and evident acting chops. After the Amanda Show, the actress had a bright future in the industry.
She starred in a string of popular teen movies in the 2000s like What a Girl Wants and She’s the Man, to name a few. She was the most beloved star on television… until she went off the rails. Fans were disappointed when she became the child star stereotype and spiraled out of control. Thankfully, she is much more stable now and taking care of her mental health.
Emma Roberts: Unfabulous
Emma Roberts is so famous now that you probably forgot she spent time on Nickelodeon. From 2004-2007, Roberts starred as Addie Singer on Unfabulous and continued to find immense success in the industry after that. She appeared in the teen mermaid movie Aquamarine in 2006, and her career skyrocketed from there.
She’s been a regular on Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story anthology series since 2013 and appeared in countless big-name movies. Some of her most famous roles were in Scream 4, We’re the Millers and Nerve. She recently starred as Sloane Benson on Netflix’s Holidate.
Ariana Grande: Victorious
Like Roberts, Ariana Grande found immense success after her Nickelodeon days, only she decided to focus on music rather than acting. She broke out as Cat Valentine on Victorious. Although she was a fan favorite, Ariana didn’t get to show off how incredibly talented she was on the show… so she started a YouTube channel.
After some alleged rivalry between Grande and her co-star Victoria Justice, the show came to an end. However, Nickelodeon wasn’t going to let Ariana go that easily and teamed her up with iCarly’s Janette McCurdy for the spin-off series Sam & Cat. After an alleged feud between the duo and Ariana’s skyrocketing music career, Sam & Cat was canceled.
Jamie Lynn Spears: Zoey 101
She may have been Britney Spears’s little sister, but Jamie Lynn showed off her own talent when she joined the cast of All That. The network was so impressed by the young actress that they gave Jamie Lynn her own show, the amazingly popular Zoey 101.
Jamie Lynn starred as Zoey Brooks for all four seasons. In 2008, news broke that the 16-year-old actress was pregnant, and that’s why the show got canceled. However, the show actually wrapped before the actress knew she was having a baby. She gave birth to her daughter Maddie and stepped out of the limelight to raise her quietly. She’s had another child since and has been returning to Hollywood. However, she recently faced controversy over her sister’s very public conservatorship.
Christian Serratos: Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide
Christian Serratos is a familiar face on Nickelodeon. Despite not having her own show, she played a bunch of supporting characters on Nick shows, most notably in Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, where she played Ned’s crush, Suzie Crabgrass.
After Nickelodeon, we got to see the actress on the Twilight franchise before becoming a series regular on The Walking Dead. You may also recognize her from The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Most recently, she portrayed Selena Quintanilla on Netflix’s Selena: The Series.
Jennette McCurdy: iCarly
Jennette McCurdy appeared on Zoey 101, True Jackson, VP, and Victorious before landing her iconic role as Sam Puckett in iCarly. Fans loved her character, so as soon as iCarly wrapped, the network stuck her with Ariana Grande so they could both reprise their famous characters in Sam & Cat.
There have been a bunch of rivalry allegations about the two former co-stars. Fans were incredibly disappointed that they didn’t get to see Carly’s iconic best friend on the reboot, but Jennette opened up about the pressure she felt in the industry. We can’t blame the girl for taking a break; she’s been gracing us with her on-screen presence for as long as we can remember.