Mafia boss heads to prison – Dubbed the "Teflon Don" for his ability to evade prosecution, John Gotti led the Gambino crime family for years after ordering the killing of his predecessor, Paul Castellano. The authorities finally caught up to Gotti, shown in 1990. He was later sent to prison for life after being convicted of murder, racketeering and other crimes.
Violence rages in South Africa – During clashes between rival political parties -- the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party -- a young man clubs the burning body of Lindsaye Tshabalala in Soweto, South Africa, on September 15, 1990. Violence in the early '90s between the two groups left thousands dead.
One Germany – After decades of division after World War II, a treaty that brought together the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic to form a unified Germany was ratified on October 3, 1990. Here, Germans celebrate the news in front of Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate.
Severing ties with the Soviets – One by one, Eastern European countries cut their ties with Moscow in the early 1990s, leading to the fall of communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In this 1990 photo from Hungary, a dismantled statue of Joseph Stalin is dragged through the streets of Budapest.
Thousands stand up to the Communists – An estimated 500,000 protesters descended on Moscow's Manezh Square on March 19, 1991, to demand that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his Communist government relinquish power. By the end of the year, their demonstrations succeeded: The Soviet Union officially dissolved in December 1991.
'Seinfeld' signs off – The legendary sitcom that brought us the "Soup Nazi," "Hello ... Newman" and other unforgettable characters and catchphrases got off to a humble start in 1989. But "Seinfeld" went on to become the undisputed king of '90s television. An estimated 76 million US viewers tuned in to watch Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer one last time in the show's finale on May 14, 1998.
Pinatubo awakens – After sitting dormant for over six centuries, the Philippines' Mount Pinatubo rumbled back to life with devastating consequences on June 15, 1991. The eruption blasted hot ash 28 miles into the air and led to the deaths of 847 people, making it the most destructive eruption in the last 100 years, according to the US Geological Survey.
The KGB falls – Once the world's largest police and spy agency, the KGB met its end in 1991 after an unsuccessful coup attempt by its chief officer, Vladimir Kryuchkov. Taken days after the failed coup, this August 23, 1991, photo shows Muscovites stepping on the head of a toppled statue of KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky.
Mob killing – For his refusal to pay protection money demanded by the Mafia, Italian businessman Libero Grassi was gunned down near his home on August 29, 1991.
Struggle to survive – Though the Gulf War came to an end in 1991, internal conflict continued to roil Iraq in the years after and for much of the 25-plus years since. In this April 5, 1992 photo, frantic Kurdish refugees, forced to flee Saddam Hussein's regime, jostle for a loaf of bread during an aid distribution near the Iraqi-Turkish border.
Carson says 'good night' to 'The Tonight Show' – After nearly three decades of entertaining, Johnny Carson signed off as the host of "The Tonight Show," with the final episode airing on May 22, 1992. The finale concluded with Carson bidding fans a "very heartfelt good night," as he choked back tears.
'Dream Team' dominates in Barcelona – Will we ever see a team so stacked with star power again? Considered by many the greatest sports team ever assembled, the 1992 US men's basketball team featured all-time greats Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley, among other Hall of Famers. Here, the "Dream Team" members receive their gold medals after defeating Croatia 117-85 at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.
It's-a me, Super Nintendo! – The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES, was released to US consumers in 1991, and became the best-selling gaming console of its generation. With its advanced graphics and classic games like "Donkey Kong Country," "Super Mario World" and "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past," Nintendo sold more than 49 million of the systems worldwide.
'Cheers' to a happy ending – After 11 seasons and 270 episodes, the final episode of "Cheers," titled "One for the Road," aired on May 20, 1993. The farewell for the beloved sitcom was watched by 84 million viewers, making it the second most-watched TV finale of all-time.