If you’re in your late twenties or early thirties, the 1990s was the decade you found out boys were pretty hot with their floppy hair, flannel shirts, and ripped jeans, especially compared to their wide-collared, neon-colored '80s predecessors. The 1990s gave us more teen TV shows and movies whose tropes are still used today and, fortunately for our increasingly raging hormones, loads of hot guys to ogle, tape to our lockers, pin to our bedroom walls, and dream about.
There was plenty to choose from during the decade, from more androgynous and non-threatening types to those who were buff and hunky and all man! In fact, when looking for 20 of our favorites '90s crushes, we had plenty to choose from, and so narrowed our choices to the top picks (and those that are fortunately still with us).
Time can ravage youthful beauty, and, in some instances, that was the case. Thanks to age and hard living, some of these '90s crushes aren’t even close to the dreamboats they once were, while others managed to shed their baby faces and become gorgeous creatures who make us say, “Damn, daddy!” Take a walk down memory lane with us to see the dudes that made our adolescent hearts flutter.
20 Edward Furlong, 1998 VS 2017
If androgynous looks were your thing – and the 1990s was full of them – Edward Furlong may have been your go-to guy of the decade. First capturing our interest in 1991 in Terminator 2, Furlong quickly cut more of a rebellious figure in the latter half of the decade, thanks to roles in edgy films like American History X and cult-hit Detroit Rock City. Unfortunately, Furlong seems to have suffered the same fate of many former child actors, as he became caught up in alcoholism, drug addiction, and multiple arrests that have left his once-promising career in shambles.
19 Erik Von Detten Doesn't Have His Floppy Hair Anymore
So dreamy, so floppy-haired: Erik Von Detten won hearts over thanks to his role as Andy Brinker in the Disney Channel movie Brink!, but those who came of age in the early 2000s might remember him best as the guy who failed to make Anne Hathaway’s foot pop in 2001’s The Princess Diaries.
While he’s since left behind his permanently wet-haired appearance in the last decade, Von Detten has remained a pretty cute guy all grown up.
He was definitely a welcome alternative to some of the more broody types we had in the 1990s.
18 Brendan Fraser Isn't George Of The Jungle Anymore
If you were a girl who preferred the manly men over the slender, baby-faced boys, then Brendan Fraser was definitely a guy on your list! The Canadian hottie found himself on our radar thanks to his almost entirely shirtless performance in 1997’s George of the Jungle, but we were treated to more of his comedy chops and overall sweet demeanor in subsequent roles in movies like 1999’s Blast From the Past and his swashbuckling swagger in 1999’s The Mummy.
Unfortunately, Fraser’s absence from Hollywood has been out of a desire for self-preservation – and fear, after experiencing the trauma of being assaulted by a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
17 Ethan Embry Still Cracks Us Up
Watching Ethan Embry pine after Jennifer Love Hewitt in 1998’s Can’t Hardly Wait gave a lot of us unrealistic expectations about cute boys who would love us from afar, but it was just one of the many movies in which Embry won our hearts. As a cute guy who wasn’t necessarily the hot leading man, Embry was often cast in supporting roles in films like Empire Records, Vegas Vacation, and Disturbing Behavior.
Like more than a few names on this list, Embry has seen his career move from movies to TV and TV movies, most recently nabbing a spot on the Netflix hit series Grace and Frankie.
16 Matthew Lawrence Still Has Our Heart
As the bratty middle child in 1993’s Mrs. Doubtfire, Matthew Lawrence (one of the three Lawrence brothers) made wearing flannel look good, which caused thirteen-year-old hearts everywhere to flutter. As he got older, he only got better-looking and, arguably, outshined his other brothers, including famous heartthrob Joey Lawrence. Making a career out of playing loveable hotties, Lawrence, like a fine wine, only got better with age. As of May 2018, he revealed that he was engaged to professional dancer and Dancing With the Stars coach Cheryl Burke.
15 Nick Carter Is Still Our Favorite Backstreet Boy
If you were a girl in the 1990s, you knew about the Backstreet Boys, the wonder group of barely adolescent cuties that spawned numerous copycats in the following decades. And, even if you weren’t a die-fan of the boy band, you still had a favorite.
For many fans, that favorite was Nick Carter, who was the youngest member of the group when he joined it at only 13 years old.
As the only blonde in the group, with his floppy, middle-parted hair and blue eyes, Carter was pretty as well as handsome in that unthreatening way that makes tween hearts soar. Since his heyday with BSB, Carter has been open about his personal battles, published a memoir, and become a father to a little boy!
14 Hanson And Their Brother Love
Like the Backstreet Boys, we had Hanson in the 1990s, a boy band made up of brothers in which every girl had a favorite (although that favorite was rarely the eldest, Isaac – sorry). With their infectious hit “MMMBop” in 1996, Hanson joined the boy band wave of the decade with one for every age of their female adolescent fanbase.
While they were cute and non-threatening when we were first introduced to Hanson, they have since matured into gorgeous men – with gigantic families of their own.
The 37-year-old Isaac has three children; 35-year-old Taylor has five children; and 33-year-old Zac is the proud papa of four!
13 Scott Weinger Is One Smart Cookie
The dorky, intellectually-challenged, but totally gorgeous, Steve from Full House won viewers over with his good heart, but those who were really in love with the actor might remember him as the voice of Aladdin in the animated Disney classic! (Also, check out the right pic with an aged-like-a-fine-wine John Stamos!)
While Scott Weinger might have played the dumb jock, he actually graduated from Harvard in 1998 before migrating to the other side of the camera as a producer and writer.
(If you’re still a fan of Full House, you might have also spotted Weinger back in the San Francisco home on the Netflix reboot Fuller House.)
12 Mark Paul Gosselaar Isn't On "Saved By The Bell" Anymore
For older '90s kids who came of age in the earlier part of the decade, prankster and floppy-haired blonde Mark Paul Gosselaar might have been the guy whose poster you tacked to your bedroom wall. As Zack Morris on Saved By the Bell, Gosselaar was full of charm that made him get away with almost everything – and also won the hearts of his three female costars, all of whom he dated at one point or another.
As a longtime baseball fan, Gosselaar got to live his dream when he appeared on the cancelled FOX show Pitch, but we can’t deny that he still looks all kinds of ~daddy~ in a baseball cap and beard!
11 Johnny Depp Just Isn't The Guy We Remember
Beginning in the 1980s and well into the 1990s, Johnny Depp was a heartthrob that wasn’t limited by demographics.
He appealed to grown women and younger girls alike with his razor-sharp cheekbones, soulful eyes, and intellectual bad-boy appeal.
He was the weird guy at school who just so happened to be completely gorgeous! Nowadays, however, Depp is less likely to make women swoon than they are to shy away form him. Thanks to recent personal troubles, Depp looks more like your crazy aunt with his penchant for scarves and jewelry.
10 Ethan Hawke's Still Got It
Another member of the floppy-haired gaggle of gorgeous boys of the 1990s, we have Ethan Hawke. Two films stand out for being the harbingers of Hawke’s heartthrob status: 1994’s Reality Bites, where we got to see Hawke play a guitar and win over perennial '90s girl Winona Ryder and 1995’s Before Sunrise, where we saw Hawke as one half of the kind of whirlwind romantic relationship so many of us dream of.
Just the right amount of grimy, Hawke has kept the facial hair, even as it’s gotten a little grey over the years. He’s still busy as an actor and a dad, too, as a father of four.
9 Andrew Keegan Isn't Who We Thought He Was
If arrogant pretty boys were your thing in the 1990s, then you might have been swayed over to Andrew Keegan (as opposed to the charming Heath Ledger or the adorable Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You). He could certainly wear white tank tops better than any other guy of the decade!
Unfortunately for the rest of us, it seems that Keegan’s ego wasn’t just good acting – the guy has since become the leader of an actual cult. Full Circle, as it’s known, was founded in 2014, raided in 2015 over their sale of kombucha, and officially closed its doors in 2017.
8 Devon Sawa Made A Huge Impact In A Short Amount Of Time
With four short words in 1995’s Casper, Devon Sawa won over the hearts of young girls everywhere, as he danced with Christina Ricci and made them float on air.
It was one scene and yet, it immediately earned Sawa a reputation as a teen heartthrob. Up next was the coming-of-age movie Now and Then, released the same year and also starring Ricci.
As he got older (but no less cute) Sawa spent the latter half of the decade in edgier roles in indie flicks like SLC Punk before taking a break for five years because he didn’t feel inspired by the roles he was being offered.
7 Jared Leto Is Still Slaying It
With his puppy dog eyes and ability to wear any flannel shirt like it was made solely for him, Jared Leto was the kind of guy you always dreamed of having as a boyfriend but were unable to ever actually get. Like Angela Chase in My So-Called Life, we too were enamored of Leto.
After bursting onto the scene in the decade as a teen heartthrob, Leto soon took on more intense roles and won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a transgender woman – not too shabby for a guy whose most notable attribute in the 1990s was “perfect hair!”
6 Rider Strong Was Our First Crush
Speaking of hair, the floppy curtains on either side of Rider Strong’s face may not have aged well, but the actor certainly has.
As the bad-boy BFF of Cory Matthews on Boy Meets World, Strong played the sensitive Shaun Hunter who covered up his heart of gold in a leather jacket.
Thanks to the family-friendly material of Boy Meets World, it was easy to swoon over him even if your parents were in the room. Nowadays, Strong is even better looking, with the same eyes and grin he’s always had, but with an added dose of facial hair to make us weak in the knees.
5 Josh Hartnett Hasn't Changed One Bit
A latecomer to the wave of '90s hotties, Josh Hartnett first began making an impact in the latter half of the decade thanks to edgy teen fare like 1998’s The Faculty and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later and 1999’s The Virgin Suicides.
Standing at an impressive six-foot-three, the squinty-eyed actor with the low voice was dreamy in an unconventional way, and those who were up on him knew that he was worth watching in the 1990s, even if his star didn’t start to really rise until the 2000s. Taking a break from his heartthrob status (and Hollywood), Hartnett became more selective of his movies and, consequently, faded from the spotlight.
4 Freddie Prinze Jr. Was Mr. Teen
Is there any other actor who is quite as emblematic of the 1990s than Freddie Prinze Jr.? At the time, it seemed that no teen movie was complete without Prinze Jr. on their starring bill.
With his dark hair, height, and big brown eyes, the actor was that ideal combination of sensitive and athletic that gave us unrealistic expectations about the guys we went to school with.
As many know, Prinze Jr. tied the knot with fellow '90s star Sarah Michelle Gellar and the two are still happily together with two children. While he’s got a bit of grey in his raven hair these days, he’s still giving us major heart palpitations.
3 Ryan Phillippe Was Always The Bad Boy
The costar of Freddie Prinze Jr. in 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, Ryan Phillippe was the bad boy to Prinze Jr.’s. nice guy. With his gorgeous blonde curls, blue eyes, and totally ripped body, Phillippe was usually the bad guy, with a sneer on his face that weirdly made him even more appealing. Plus, who didn't fall in love with him in Cruel Intentions?
Good genes clearly run in the family and, while Phillippe split from his Cruel Intentions costar Reese Witherspoon, they managed to create two beautiful doppelganger children, which is a legacy that lasts past '90s heartthrob.
2 Leonardo DiCaprio, 'Nuff Said
Was there a girl alive in the 1990s who didn’t have a poster of Leonardo DiCaprio taped to her walls? Or one who at least imagined him declaring his undying love like in Romeo + Juliet (which you watched even if you didn’t entirely understand the dialogue)?
DiCaprio was just starting his meteoric rise to stardom during the decade and he rocked floppy hair like nobody else.
Of course, we all know that the longtime bachelor has finally earned that well-deserved Oscar, dated a slew of models, fought for decades in defence of the environment, and still managed to pique our '90s nostalgia whenever we see him walk a red carpet.
1 Jonathan Taylor Thomas Was Our Favorite Middle Child
The golden-haired boy king of Home Improvement who also happened to voice young Simba in The Lion King (which made you feel weird for being attracted to a cartoon character – and an animal at that), Jonathan Taylor Thomas was peak '90s crush. Funny and smart, JTT could keep up with his comic costar Tim Allen and, thanks to the family-friendly viewing time slot, you could ogle to your heart’s desire without raising your parents’ eyebrows.
Alas, by 2006, it seemed as though the pouty-lipped teen idol had all but disappeared, until he resurfaced seven years later in another Tim Allen comedy, Last Man Standing.