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35 Incredible Things That MTV Gave Us

From VJs and Reality TV to ‘Nirvana: Unplugged,’ celebrating the channel’s legacy on its 35th anniversary

Thirty-five years ago today, viewers tuned in to see an astronaut planting a flag on the moon — a colorful, ever-changing banner for something called "MTV" — and, whether they knew it or not, witnessed the beginning of a music-industry gamechanger. When you think of the channel today, of course, you probably think of shows involving teen moms, ironic Nineties meta-horror and Nick Cannon hanging out with his famous friends; music videos are now things you watch on YouTube. But in the three-plus decades since folks starting screaming "I want my MTV!", the network has left a lasting legacy of everything from memorable on-air personalities and mind-warping promos to selling musical styles and subcultures to the masses. It's turned oddball characters into pop-culture icons, been a key career-booster for everyone from Madonna to Britney and invented TV genres. It even helped sway a Presidential election.

In honor of MTV's anniversary — and the kick-off of MTV Classic, a cable channel devoted to the revisiting and rerunning programming from the network's glory days — we've singled out 35 things MTV has given us since that first Buggles clip ("Video Killed the Radio Star") helped the channel plant its flag on the pop landscape.

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‘Liquid Television’

You probably know that before the rise of YouTube, MTV was your best source for music videos. But it was also your best source for mind-bending animation: From 1991 to 1994, an era before animated clips went viral on Monday mornings, they had a showcase on Sunday nights. Liquid Television was the first place anyone saw Beavis and Butt-Head, but its defining star was Aeon Flux, the impossibly leggy secret agent moving through a surreal landscape. Charlize Theron played her in a 2005 movie, but she was never meant to be rendered in imperfect human flesh. GE

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