Skip To Content

    29 Pop Culture Moments That Happened Summer Of 1996 That Feel Like Both Yesterday And 50 Years Ago

    This is what summer looked like 25 years ago.

    1. Friends wrapped up its second season with "The One With Barry and Mindy's Wedding":

    Screenshot of Rachel in a ugly pink bridesmaid dress
    Warner Bros. / Courtesy: Everett Collection

    The show was part of NBC's Must-See TV lineup, alongside The Single Guy, Caroline in the City, and Seinfeld.

    2. Bob Barker was still the host of The Price is Right — which celebrated its 25th anniversary with a big primetime special:

    CBS/ Game Show Flashback/

    3. Watching Nick at Nite meant Block Party Summer and Lucy Tuesdays:

    Screenshot of Lucy Tuesdays Nick at Nite commercial

    4. The Rosie O'Donnell Show made its debut and became an instant hit:

    Photo of Rosie O'Donnell at her desk on the show
    Frank Micelotta Archive / Getty Images

    5. Also making its debut that summer was The Daily Show, which was hosted by Craig Kilborn...

    Logo for The Daily Show
    Viacom/ Pill Cosby/

    6. ...and Kenan & Kel:

    Nickelodeon / Courtesy: Everett Collection

    7. If you had the internet, you were most likely using AOL — and, of course, it was dial-up:

    AOL homepage in 1996
    AOL / Via

    FYI: Only 20 million Americans had the internet that year.

    8. And, of course, a movie night at home usually meant going down to Blockbuster and renting a movie:

    Blockbuster Night commercial screenshot

    9. The Nintendo 64 was released in Japan — but it wouldn't be released in the US until September:

    N64 product shot
    Yvonne Hemsey / Getty Images

    10. Mariah Carey had one of the biggest songs of the summer with "Always Be My Baby":

    Screenshot of Mariah Carey on a tire swing over a pond
    Sony Music/

    11. As did the Fugees with their cover of "Killing Me Softly With His Song":

    Screenshot of Lauryn Hil

    12. The Fugees' album The Score was also one of the biggest-selling albums that summer, as was Nas's It Was Written:

    Sony Music

    13. Primitive Radio Gods had the biggest alt-rock song with "Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand":


    14. And a little group called the Spice Girls released a new song in July called "Wannabe":

    Screenshot of the Spice Girls dancing on a staircase
    Spice Girls/

    15. The 1996 Summer Olympics were in full swing down in Atlanta...

    Photo from the opening ceremony of the Olympics
    David Taylor / Getty Images

    16. ...and Kerri Strug and the Magnificent Seven took home the gold in gymnastics:

    Kerri Strug being carried off the floor by her couch
    Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

    Strug landed the vault that helped the team win, despite having a badly injured ankle.

    17. The Chicago Bulls beat the Seattle SuperSonics during Game 6 to win the NBA Finals — with Michael Jordan being named MVP:

    Michael Jordan holding the NBA Finals trophy
    Brian Bahr / AFP via Getty Images

    18. Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially divorced after being separated for nearly four years:

    Princess Di and Prince Charles looking upset in 1992
    Kent Gavin/Mirrorpix / Getty Image

    19. Tom Cruise had one of the biggest blockbusters of the summer with Mission: Impossible...


    It was also the third-highest-grossing movie of the year.

    20. ...and he was also still married to Nicole Kidman:

    Tom and Nicole holding hands on the red carpet
    Vince Bucci / AFP / Getty Images

    21. While Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow were Hollywood's it couple:

    Brad and Gwyneth both dressed in black and walking down the street of NYC
    Lawrence Schwartzwald / Getty Images

    22. And Cameron Diaz was Hollywood's newest it girl after starring in The Mask:

    Photo of Cameron smiling and playing a GameBoy
    Mikel Roberts / Sygma via Getty Images

    23. Denzel Washington was named People's Sexiest Man Alive:

    Denzel with his wife at a movie premiere
    Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

    24. The Nutty Professor was also one of the biggest movies of that summer:

    Universal Pictures

    The film helped launch Eddie Murphy's comeback.

    25. While Independence Day was the biggest film of the summer — establishing Will Smith as a blockbuster star:

    20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. Courtesy: Everett Collection

    The film was also the biggest movie of the year.

    26. Speaking of Will, his show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, aired its final episode:

    Screenshot of Will standing in an empty set

    27. MTV 2 launched and promised to only show music videos:

    MTV 2 logo
    Chris Hattings/ Viacom/

    28. Tickle Me Elmo hit the shelves in July, and we had NO idea just what we were in for:

    Tickle Me Elmo doll in box
    Tyco / Via

    29. And finally, if you attended a wedding, quinceañera, bar/bat mitzvah, sleepover, birthday, and/or backyard party that summer, then you probably danced the "Macarena."

    BMG U.S. Latin

    "Macarena" was not only the biggest song of summer, but also the biggest song of the year.

    Nostalgia Trip

    Take a trip down memory lane that’ll make you feel nostalgia AF

    Newsletter signup form