Did you learn valuable life lessons from school, your parents, books, and the cub scouts? Maybe a little. But if you were growing up in the '90s, you most likely picked up more than a few important dos and don'ts of making it in this scary world from family-friendly TV. Ah, yes. The “very special episode” is a staple of the sitcom, designed to warn viewers about the dangers of no-nos like drugs, alcohol, and married men played by David Schwimmer. (More on that later.) But which very special eps of the '90s are worth watching? Here, we rank 10 memorable ones from nope to dope.
10. 'Dinosaurs,' Steroids to Heaven
What better way to teach children the dangers of steroids than through the power of creepy prehistoric puppets? Yes, even TGIF's “Dinosaurs” was guilty of a ridiculous very special episode. Do you remember the one where Robbie turns into a total jerk when he bulks up on something called “thornoids” so he can be all about that jock life? Yeah, that happened.
9. 'Home Improvement,' What a Drag
The most extreme thing to ever happen on “Home Improvement” -- aside from Brad's ponytail -- was when Brad was caught with a bag of marijuana. This leads mama Jill to admit she was a major pothead in high school. Lesson learned? You be the judge!
8. 'Full House,' Stephanie's Wild Ride
“Full House” taught its fair share of life lessons throughout its run. The fam battled eating disorders, the death of a grandfather, lack of telethon entertainment, sleazy scheming uncles, and many, many more hardships. But when Steph hit her tweens, started wearing flannel and hanging out with bad influence Gia, things got real. For some reason she gets in a car with two total stranger boneheads from THE MALL and goes on an idiotic, over-the-speed-limit joyride with them. Gia later gets into a car accident ... but Steph's fine because this is “Full House” and nothing that bad actually happens to the Tanners. Well, aside from their mom being dead. Too soon?
7. 'Family Matters,' Life of the Party
Urkel plus alcohol is hilarious! But don't laugh too soon, kids. This combo is almost lethal. After Steve teaches everyone to “do the Urkel” in a classic sitcom performance, his drink gets spiked and he nearly dies falling off a ledge.
6. 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,' Just Say Yo
It's busy prom season in Bel-Air, and Will gets ahold of speed-like pills that wind up in his locker. Carlton accidentally ends up popping them thinking they'll clear up his acne or some such nonsense, which leads to an epic way-too-turnt Carlton dance scene. He eventually passes out and goes to the hospital and everyone gets mad at Will even though Carlton is clearly a fool.
5. 'Saved By the Bell,' There's No Hope With Dope
Zack Morris liked to skip school and humiliate school faculty, but one thing he would never do is inhale. The classic “no hope with dope” ep introduced us to Johnny Dakota: pop star, fraud, and pot smoker. The flashy superstar comes to Bayside to do an anti-drug campaign but (twist!), it turns out he's a total toker himself. Not cool. Never meet your heroes, folks!
4. 'Blossom,' Six and Sonny / Blossom's Dilemma
Also known as the one where Six dates David Schwimmer … The entirety of “Blossom” was really just a long string of very special episodes, but how could we forget those glorious 22 minutes when Six dates an older, married ex-con and runs off with him? This puts Blossom in a real pickle. Should she keep quiet about their whereabouts or do the right thing and save her BFF? A very special dilemma, indeed.
3. Boy Meets World, 'Cult Fiction'
Shawn might be all floppy hair and smiles on the outside, but deep down he's a troubled kid from the wrong side of the tracks just looking for a family and a place to call home. So, naturally, he gets caught up in a cult called The Centre, which is run by one of the sleaziest bit characters to ever grace ABC family programming: the aptly named Mr. Mack. This odd foray into brainwashing only lasts one episode and Shawn eventually sees the light after Mr. Turner gets in a motorcycle accident.
2. 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,' Papa's Got a Brand New Excuse
While Carlton's adventures in amphetamines was kind of joke, there's nothing that funny about this very dramatic ep of “Fresh Prince.” This is where Will gets reunited with the deadbeat father (Ben Vereen) who abandoned him over a decade ago. He decides to give him another shot in the parent department but is sadly let down yet again. Will Smith really brings it in a tearful monologue denouncing his biological father and ultimately realizes that his real family is Uncle Phil.
1. 'Saved By the Bell, 'Jessie's Song'
Hot Sundae's aerobic-tastic music video for “Go for It!” would be enough to solidify this half hour as iconic, but Jessie Spano's pill-popping breakdown really takes it over the edge. Jessie, bogged down by the pressures of geometry, gets hooked on uppers that ultimately take her from so excited to ... so scared. Any child/teen/TV lover of the '90s remembers where they were when they first heard her caffeine-induced cries for help.