Every single year we are given more and more reasons to love geekdom. We really are living in a golden age right now, as far as most of our interests are concerned. Sure, the comic book industry itself is suffering due to poor sales, store closings and hateful interactions between fans and creators, but we are still enjoying an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the amount of new entertainment we’re given. Every year seemingly offers up more than the last.
However, there is one year that sticks out more than any other year: 1993. That wonderful trip around the sun deserves special attention as it was the year that gave birth to more significant pop-culture gems than any other year before or after (It’s also the first year I became a teenager, but that’s neither here-nor-there). Now that introductions are out of the way, sit back and enjoy, in no particular order, these 15 beautiful reasons why 1993 is the greatest year in pop culture history!
#1 Jurassic Park
I could probably just leave this here and 1993 would still be the greatest year in pop culture history. You see, the way I look at it, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who think Jurassic Park is a great movie, and those who are wrong. There’s not much that can be said about this movie that hasn’t been said a million times over, so it’s hard to even come up with anything to say that you don’t already know.
Like JAWS before it, changed movie making for all time. It was the film that ushered CG into mainstream filmmaking, and whether or not you think that’s a good thing, almost thirty years removed and CG in movies today still doesn’t look as good as it did in Jurassic Park. An expertly crafted film in every sense, it is unequaled in spectacle, pacing, acting, and suspense. This movie earns every single accolade it has ever received and films today are still attempting to emulate it. The summer of 1993 belonged to Jurassic Park, and for good reason!
#2 Take 2 Interactive
There’s a good chance that you may not know exactly what Take 2 Interactive is, but if you’re a video game fan, then you most certainly have heard of (and probably played) some of the games they’ve produced before. Starting in 1993, the video game publishing company started small, as most companies do, and they were responsible for publishing many different titles across all sorts of genres.
They pumped out sports titles, FPS’s, game show titles, survival horror, and plenty of games based on other properties like Blair Witch, Austin Powers, and Pixar movies. However, most gamers will be familiar with their more recent offerings like Bioshock, Grand Theft Auto, Bully, Red Dead Redemption, WWE, XCOM, Mafia, the 2K sports series, Max Payne, LA Noir, Manhunt, Borderlands, Evolve, Duke Nukem, Midnight Club, and more! These are some of the biggest and most well received titles in video game history and they all come from publishing giant Take 2 Interactive. If you like any of these titles, thank the year 1993, because that’s when Take 2 was born. Oh, also, they published some Dora the Explorer video games. Check and mate!
Now, some of you more discerning readers may be thinking didn’t Deadpool first appear in 1991? You’d be right to think that, but during 1991-1992 Deadpool was simply a side character or a guest star. It wasn’t until the magical year of 1993 that the ‘Merc With a Mouth’ got his own official title.
In August of 1993, Deadpool #1 hit store shelves and the rest, as they say, is history. Not everyone (myself included) finds Deadpool as charming as everyone else does, but there is no denying that he has shot, punched, and irritated his way into our social subconscious and it appears that he is here to stay. 1993 is the year that gave birth to Deadpool’s first foray into his own comic stories and love him or hate him, he’s become a full-blown pop culture icon.
#4 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 2
Like Deadpool, the TMNT got their start before 1993, but they received a significant shift in terms of their comic book journey in that year. Until then, Mirage Publishing outsourced the bulk of their TMNT stories. Creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird occasionally wrote and illustrated stories, but most of the first volume of TMNT consisted of disparate stories with little or no consistency in terms of artwork or tone.
1993 represented a change in all of that when Volume 1 came to an end and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 2 hit the book shelves. Although the turtles were already cultural icons, comic books have always been their first home, and Volume 2 marked the very first time when readers could consistently follow the heroes in a half shell without fear that the next issue would be completely different in every way. It only lasted 13 issues, but Volume 2 was a welcome change to the Turtles’ comic run and stands as a fantastic, but ultimately overlooked comic book run.
#5 The X-Files
Has there ever been a television show as good as The X-Files? No. The answer is no, it doesn’t matter what silly shows you think about mentioning. The X-Files was a gamble when it premiered on the FOX network back in 1993, but it hit with audiences and critics alike and changed the landscape of television forever. I could prattle on and on about The X-Files, so if any of you ever wanna chat about it, hit me up.
To keep this succinct though, I’ll just point out that each and every paranormal television show that has ever been released since 1993 is (and should be) compared to The X-Files. While some of them have been good, not a single one of them have come anywhere close to reaching the greatness of this seminal TV show. Scary, funny, disgusting, and relentlessly addicting, Mulder and Scully have ingrained themselves into our psyche and as far as I’m concerned, they can stay there. Not only did 1993 produce the greatest movie of all time, it also produced the greatest TV series of all time! Get the The X-Files: Complete Series here!
#6 Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
The wonderful TV series that this movie sprang from, Batman: The Animated Series, missed being on this list by only a few months, as it premiered in September of 1992. However, 1993 did bring us one of the greatest animated films of all time, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm! Releasing on Christmas day, Mask of the Phantasm was a disappointment at the box office. The lack of advertising could be to blame, but whatever the reason, it was in and out of theaters before it ever made back its budget.
In the years since though, this film has gained a ravenous following and for good reason! It maintained all of the elements which made the animated series so fantastic, and amplified them all. It was dark, mature, and more than a little disturbing in some areas. In fact, until Nolan’s stellar Dark Knight trilogy came along, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was the most faithful Batman adaptation to ever hit the theaters! Still just as good as it was back in 1993, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm stands as a crowning achievement in comic book movies; animated or otherwise.
#7 Guillermo Del Toro
That’s right, kids; Guillermo Del Tor was born in 1993! Actually, he wasn’t, but his film career was! Before ’93, Del Torro’s filmography was relegated to some Spanish language shorts and a couple episodes of a television show. However, his amazing vision was finally brought to the silver screen with his first feature film, the underappreciated Cronos.
Although it carried a lower budget and lacked some big name Hollywood actors, Cronos showcased the unique style that Del Toro would eventually become famous for. In the years since, he has been responsible for some of the most entertaining and visually appealing films in recent memory. Movies like Hellboy, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, Pacific Rim, The Shape of Water, and more have become favorites of audiences and critics alike. Del Toro is one of the best storytellers in the movie world right now, and it all started in a little year known as 1993.
# 8 Frasier
Possibly a bit of an outlier for this list, I think Frasier more than earns its place as a reason why 1993 is such a great year. While it may not be the first television show that you think of when you think pop culture or geek culture, I am consistently surprised at how many people I talk to that are, like me, enamored with Frasier right along with comics, games and movies.
I tend to think that it’s because the structure of what made Frasier such a fantastic show closely mirrors why we love the other things we do. Unlike other sitcoms that were on at the same time, like Friends, Frasier didn’t pander and it never tried to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It was a sophisticated show, especially in the world of sitcoms, but it was also often silly and always hilarious. The show never lingered on jokes as many other shows did; the audience either caught it or they didn’t, and I think it’s this kind of uncompromising writing that appeals to fans of comics like me. The acting was also always superb, as was everything else about Frasier. There’s never been a show like it before or since and it was definitely one of the last great sitcoms, but it all started in 1993.
#9 Army of Darkness
Hail to the king, baby! 1993 also gave us the Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell classic, Army of Darkness! Evil Dead 2 will probably always be thought of as the best in the Ash Williams trilogy, but Army of Darkness is consistently a strong contender for first place. While the first two films (especially the first) dwelt mostly in the horror genre, Army of Darkness embraced the silliness of its premise and went full on screwball, action horror comedy.
It’s also the best example of Bruce Campbell playing Ash as most of us envision him. We get the best look at his narcissism and machismo, as well as his charming aloofness. The effects were almost completely practical, which also leads to its unending charm. When Army of Darkness premiered in 1993 it almost went unnoticed, but here we are almost thirty years later, and it is a bonafide cult classic. When people think about Ash Williams, they most likely envision the version from this movie above all others and we have 1993 to thank for it.
#10 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3
What’s that you say? This movie is terrible? Well, right you may be, but I never said that the items on this list need to be good, they just need to have had some impact, and the Turtle’s third entry in their live action movie trilogy has cemented itself into the minds of TMNT fans the world over… for better or for worse. The greatest distinction that this film carries is that until Megan Fox and Michael Bay came along in 2014, this was considered the worst Turtles film of all time, and for good reason.
By the time 1993 came around the TMNT’s popularity (at least in the mainstream) was beginning to wane, and this film is a classic example of a last gasp cash-grab from a production company that knew their property was on its last leg. Although there’s nothing very “good” about this movie, coming on thirty years later we Turtles fans have come to appreciate this movie as a charmingly bad entry into our heroes’ mythos. A classic example of so-bad-its-good cinema, now that the TMNT are going strong again, we’ve latched onto this film and even enjoy watching it, if for all the wrong reasons. 1993 gave us the absolute WORST TMNT movie up until that point, and now we love it for that!
When DC Comics and Chuck Dixon introduced Bane into Batman’s world back in 1993, they likely had no idea how far reaching his influence would be. Even today Bane is remembered as one of the only villains to ever best Batman one on one and the entire story arc is covered in the hugely popular Knightfall storyline which started in… you guessed it… 1993.
Knightfall was more than a Batman story, it was an event. The collected volumes are some of the thickest graphic novels you can find because the scope of the story was so big and so far reaching. More than just the tale of how Bane broke Batman’s back, the story covered the origins of Bane, his assault on the Dark Knight, the aftermath of Bane’s attack, and the eventual rise of Bruce Wayne to take back his cowl. Although not everything about Knightfall still resonates with fans (Jean Paul Valley’s suit was so stupid) there’s no denying Knightfall’s influence. Even today the image of Bane breaking Batman’s back is ingrained into our minds, and the storyline even served as the inspiration to the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.
#12 Beavis and Butt-Head
Hey, kids, remember when MTV had good programming? Yeah, me either, but back in 1993 they did team up with Mike Judge to bring us two of the most recognizable pop culture icons, Beavis and Butt-Head. Ahead of its time, this show employed a brand of comedy that really hadn’t been seen at that point. One part MST3K style skewering of music videos and one part mini serial, Beavis and Butt-Head blasted to popularity and may have even served as MTV’s first step into shifting away from music television.
Like most things that people complain about, this show was far less offensive than its reputation said it was. The show was actually very witty and did a great job of satirizing the current culture before everybody and their grandma was doing it. Beavis and Butt-Head became so popular that they even got their very own feature film and paved the way for Mike Judge to branch out and bring us the marvelous King of the Hill! Thanks 1993!
If you haven’t watched Animaniacs since you were a kid, you really need to revisit it because you will most certainly find it even funnier than you did back then. When the Warner Brothers, Wacko and Yacko, and their Warner Sister, Dot first burst onto the scene back in September of 1993, people had never seen anything quite like it. The humor hearkened back to the self-aware wackiness of Looney Tunes, but Animaniacs ratcheted it up a few notches. It was bright, colorful, and full of fun characters, so kids automatically loved it, but it also skewered the television and movie industry in a way that only adult could ever appreciate.
Many real life individuals like Steven Spielberg, Rob Reiner, and Bill Clinton were called out by name, which was an extreme rarity in animation in those days. The writing was hilarious and incredibly smart and sharp, on top of stellar animation and immediately lovable characters. Animaniacs is probably just as popular today as it was when it first appeared in 1993 and that is a testament to its enduring quality.
Mike Mignola’s Hellboy from Dark Horse Comics burst onto the scene in 1993. Since then the titular character has maintained a surprisingly consistent comic run with several crossovers, video game appearances, two movies (with another one on its way), prose novels and loads of merchandise. Apart from all that glitzy stuff though, Hellboy is quite possibly the most interesting and multi-layered comic book character to premier in the past thirty years, and it all started with an unheralded appearance back in 1993.
Mignola’s Hellboy subverted what was thought about horror comics. Hellboy certainly dwells within the horror genre, but it also employs a healthy dose of mythology, science-fiction, history, mystery, and comedy. Hellboy himself is a kind-hearted, well meaning character who is always at odds with who he wants to be and who he was born to be. He’s a monster-punching detective who is as scary looking as the creatures he fights. Hellboy continues to be one of the most popular comics on the market today and it’s popularity shows no sign of slowing down.
#15 Marvel Studios
Hey guys, you like the MCU? You like seeing the Avengers and Ant-Man and Black Panther on the silver screen? Well, then thank 1993 because that’s when Marvel Studios got its start! Known originally as Marvel Films, the building blocks for the future MCU were started in ’93 when the company organized its film division for the express purpose of distributing films based on their own IPs.
They started out producing animated television shows, then in 1996, they changed the name to Marvel Studios (as its still known today) and eventually produced their first film, Blade, starring Wesley Snipes. They began licensing their properties out to other production companies like FOX and SONY, which they are slowly getting the rights back to, since they can now afford it now that the MCU is a billion dollar franchise. It may look different than when it started and have a different name, but the Marvel Studios that we all know and love got its start in the magical year known as 1993.
I know, I said only 15, but hey, it must be your birthday because we’ve got a bonus for you: 1993’s seminal classic, Carnosaur! Back before The Asylum was pumping out cheap, knock-off mockblusters, the fabled Roger Corman brought us this Jurassic Park rip-off. While most films of this ilk are straight to DVD, cheap-o affairs, Carnosaur bears the distinction of actually making it to the theaters, even a few weeks before Jurassic Park hit. Also of note, Diane Ladd, the mother of Laura Dern, who starred in Jurassic Park, was the star of THIS cinematic masterpiece.
That should have made for some interesting discussions at Thanksgiving. In the years since its release, Carnosaur has garnered the reputation of being one of the best bad movies ever. It had much more heart behind it than the chain of knock-offs do today, and for that I can appreciate it. Based on a book that was actually decent, the film crew changed up the story to closer reflect the sensibilities of Jurassic Park, albeit with much more violence and much cheaper. It set the standard for what “mockblusters” would eventually become and it did it with gusto and practical effects. Spawning two sequels and a rumored remake, Carnosaur deserves to sit with the others on this list as reason as to why 1993 is the greatest year in pop culture history. Well.. maybe not beside them. Possibly behind them. One row back.
There you have it folks! All the reason you need to believe me and a whole lot more! What do you guys think? Got a better year than 1993? No. No you do not, but we would still love to hear your suggestions!