Any 80s baby (and many 90s babies) will remember cartoon series Rugrats very fondly. The show revolves around the main character, Tommy, a one-year-old boy and his best friend Chuckie, embark on some fun adventures and journeys that most babies should not be going on when they are supposed to be in their play pens. Tommy is a brave and bold lad, whereas Chuckie is Tommy’s opposite, often they are accompanied by twins Phil and Lil and fall afoul of Tommy’s three-year-old cousin, Angelica. The audience can understand the babies perfectly, but the adults in the cartoon are not able to comprehend a word of what they say (except for Angelica, who is that little bit older).
Rugrats aired on Nickelodeon in 1991, created by the animation producers Klasky Csupo that released many popular Nickelodeon TV shows throughout the 90s. Many will recall such hits as Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and The Wild Thornberrys, and of course, the biggest hit Klasky Csupo made is arguably the world’s most beloved animated series, The Simpsons . In fact, Chuckie’s voice came courtesy of a woman who voiced another boy the polar opposite of the timid red-haired toddler, Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson. Dan Castellaneta, famous for voicing Homer Simpson offered his talents in Rugrats In Paris , where Chuckie gets a step-mom and step-sister. After a 13-year run and 172 episodes, Rugrats ended in 2004, including several specials, movies spin-offs and like every major hit, some weird facts evolve around it. Here are 15 of them.
15. Angelica Is Based On A Real Girl Who Bullied The Show’s Creator
The oldest of the kids in the Rugrats is Tommy’s three-year-old cousin Angelica, a sweet little pampered princess at least where adults were concerned. However, when Angelica had reign over the other babies, she was a tyrant, mainly because Angelica was so used to getting her own way. Her parents spoiled her terribly and with a mother constantly attached to her phone (a scary premonition of today’s obsession with our technology) Angelica always had the babies she could be horrible to. Despite her attempts to menace her younger contemporaries and as the only intermediary between the adults and babies (able to understand both of them) Tommy often thwarted her. Behind the scenes, however, Angelica’s character also caused more than a little tension, based on a real-life girl that once bullied creator Paul Germain. In an interview with The New Yorker, Arlene Klasky admitted that she never liked Angelica and even the voice over actress Cheryl Chase often had trouble with the fact that her character was so mean.
14. All The Kids Were Voiced By Women
For most of the series, until Susie appeared as Angelica’s rival and the nicer of the slightly older Rugrats, the majority of the babies in the series were boys. Tommy, Chuckie, Phil and then Tommy’s younger baby brother Dil who appeared on the show after his birth in The Rugrats Movie. However, although there existed a boy imbalance, behind the microphones the exact opposite scenario took place, all of the kids were voiced by women. It is common practice on stage and screen for women to often voice boys, as already mentioned Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson) played Chuckie, this is due to men’s voices growing deeper in their teens. So for this reason and due to them providing cute and funny tones for the babies, they were, in fact, all talking ladies!
13. Second Place To A Sponge
A show running for 172 episodes and lasting for 13 years is some mean feat, it means that Rugrats lasted even longer on TV than Friends , for example. Running from 1991 to 2004, producing several spin offs like All Grown Up and two movies, ensured that the show influenced and entertained children of various generations, from thirty-somethings to teens. It speaks of the ability for a show to stay relevant and loved by all ages and Rugrats certainly helped Nickelodeon’s success in producing not only funny, but quite frankly oddball cartoons. The only program whose success supplanted Rugrats on Nickelodeon was a strange cartoon made by a marine biologist that originally appeared in an unpublished comic in 1989. The animation began being written as a TV series in 1996 and aired on Nickelodeon in 1999; everyone knows this show as SpongeBob Squarepants that has now earned Nickelodeon over $12 billion in merchandise.
12. Tommy Was Different In The Pilot
The pilot episode of any series usually works as a testing ground to see how the show works and to give a test run to anything that feels wrong or right. Those who have watched any pilot episode are often surprised by how slow and different it is from the rest of the series. It is to the first often what the first series is to the entire show (as few shows’ first seasons rank among their best). However, any Rugrats lover can tell you what Tommy looks like off the top of their heads, he has little hair and almost always dressed in a blue shirt and a diaper. Although when fans get to watch the pilot back, they notice a very slight yet extremely glaring detail about little Tommy, he wears a red shirt. The decision afterwards made a change to blue, a colour a tad more subtle and blue is more associated with boys; hence we were presented with the Tommy fans are used to.
11. The Angelica Theory
Angelica proved a contentious character that did not sit well with everyone, even some of the show’s creators and the actress that voiced her. However, because Angelica is the only character that communicates not only with the other babies, but can speak to the adults too, some people tend to develop fan theories that border on the macabre. Apparently, some people believe that Angelica sees the babies as a figment of her imagination and that Tommy, Chuckie, Phil and Lil are in fact the ghosts of dead infants that Angelica sees as imaginary friends. That would certainly explain Angelica as cruel and vindictive, bullying the other kids, because she may be tired of their spirits hounding her the whole time. It puts a very dark spin on an otherwise very amusing children’s show.
10. A Voice Actor Was In Labor While Working
In a show about babies, even though it is a cartoon, once again, art often imitates life, and it seems that the Rugrats exemplifies that saying more than many other shows. People often say if a group of women in the same vicinity fall pregnant at the same time, is there something in the water? Well, one could easily ask the question of the studios where Rugrats was drawn and recorded, and funnily enough, one of the actors almost gave birth to a baby, while acting the voice part of a baby. The woman who voiced Tommy, Elizabeth Daily, was pregnant during the recording of the show, even going into labor while making an episode. Daily said in an interview that during the recording, the engineer grew more concerned that her contractions were getting closer together, though Daily carried on, soon after, her daughter was born.
9. Are Phil And Lil’s Parents Gay And Married For Show?
Tommy and Chuckie have two other close friends, twins Phil and Lil. The two look exactly the same, except that Lil wears a pink bow on her head that distinguishes the two. Phil and Lil look the same and act the same, both of them are messy and gross, rough and tumble, insect eating and just as adventurous as Tommy. Phil and Lil certainly take after their mother, although kindly, their mom is bold and an outspoken feminist that wears a sweater adorned with the female symbol. Phil and Lil’s father is a little weedy, and together they seem to personify and old stereotype. Rumors circulated that Phil and Lil’s parents represented a marriage of convenience where the mother is a lesbian, and the dad is gay, both are in the closet and are married, living their separate lives, having kids in the old turkey baster method.
8. “Mother’s Day”
One of the main things fans of Rugrats notice is that the absence of Chuckie’s mother is noticeably conspicuous throughout the episodes, but once fans discover the reason, it is heartbreaking and apparent why Chuckie is so withdrawn. The early seasons suggested that Chuckie’s mother was around, yet in 1997, the creators of the show decided to produce an episode titled “Mother’s Day.” In the episode, it is revealed that Chuckie’s mom, in fact, died when the kid was only a few months old. The creators chose to include the episode – set in flashback format with Sex and the City‘s Kim Cattrall offering the voice of Chuckie’s mom – and was developed to help kids learn how to cope somewhat with the death of one of their parents. Meaning that the show wanted to help as much as it could with possibly the most painful thing a child can go through.
7. Tommy Was Premature
Rugrats often revolves around Tommy leading the gang on some wacky journey that takes them through places no baby should be in, often crawling through danger and becoming embroiled in madness. However, why is Tommy so headstrong and determined and brave? He is a natural fighter and doesn’t let anything get in his way and always makes sure that whatever scrape the babies get in, Tommy gets them out of it and every episode results in a happy ending? One theory as to why Tommy acts so boldly is that he has had to fight since the beginning because he was born prematurely. Compared to the other babies, Tommy does appear smaller in stature, so perhaps struggle is just part of Tommy’s makeup? Because Tommy had to be strong and fight for his life from the beginning.
6. Tommy’s Based On The Creator’s Son
Despite Angelica appearing to look like an angelic monster that terrorizes her peers, it is not all as bad as even the actors, and some of the creators believe. In fact, Angelica was drawn to look like the creator’s niece, so it is, in fact, a nice homage to a very important little girl in his life. Art often imitates life, and many creators will freely admit that their character and story plots heavily borrow from events that take place in their lives, or from stories that they have heard from friends, relatives or others. Also, the main character, Tommy, is based on the son of Klasky and Csupo’s baby son, Brendon. It must seem odd that Klasky and Csupo’s son – obviously now a grown man – watches reruns ofRugrats, knowing that a talking baby that goes on whacky adventures was based on him.
5. Defeating Disney
For decades, Disney had ruled the media unquestionably when it came to broadcasting kid’s cartoons and also with the cinematic release of many animated films. Also, when Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise, the company ensured that a vast bulk of legendary movies remain under the thrall of Mickey Mouse’s ears! Many of the massive cartoon hits the corporation has produced over the years are so ingrained in popular culture that everyone grew up throughout their childhoods with one Disney movie or other being their favorite. Although until Rugrats came along, no other animated product could rival the Disney or Pixar Empire – to borrow from Star Wars. Not only was Rugrats: The Movie the first Nickelodeon series adapted into a feature film, as well as the first non-Disney movie to gross over $100 million at the Box Office.
4. Whip It, Chuckie
Art often imitates life and writers/producers of shows regularly borrow from stories they have heard or experienced in their own lives. Moreover, there are occasions where the creators of shows get to make a little nod to their fandoms that influenced their tastes and lives and of course, Rugrats is no exception to this rule. One of the creators was no doubt a huge fan of 80s electro band Devo, famous for their song “Whip It” and for donning odd round, ziggurat shaped hats, much like a red wedding cake on their heads (not THAT Red Wedding!). Chuckie is in fact modelled on the Devo frontman who once said in an interview that he had ginger hair, glasses – being near-sighted – and his hair possessed the wild quality of Chuckie’s.
3. Devo Demo
Strangely, because of these fan connections, TV shows often get a piece of work gifted to them by a rather famous individual. Even an animated kid’s creation can receive the honor of being the subject of a star’s attention; many notable examples are evidence of this. Paul McCartney offering “The Frog Chorus” for the Rupert Movie, Ringo Starr narratingThomas the Tank Engine, Derek Jacobi British toddler TV show In the Night Garden. Even Nickelodeon is lucky enough, with Rocko’s Modern Life‘s theme tune performed byThe B-52s and the Rugrats had their memorable theme music created by none other than Devo frontman, Mark Mothersbaugh. The very person that inspired Chuckie’s wild hair and thick glasses. So fans can know that as they listen to the Rugrats theme tune, they are hearing a masterpiece from an 80s synth pop band.
2. Hollywood Walk Of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is one of America’s greatest tourist attractions, extending for 15 blocks from Vine Street in Los Angeles and past Sunset Boulevard. The array of famous faces from past and present are a sight to behold and a journey into the glamor of Hollywood, as well as being a valuable history lesson. All of the biggest legends of movies, stage and screen remain cemented into the very walkways of Tinseltown, even some names that people would least expect. Muhammed Ali and some cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse, even Donald Trump have their star on the sidewalk. So it is only fair that the Rugrats also have their star placed upon the street alongside all of those legends… and the Donald of course as the tourists gather around!
1. Beam Me Up, Tommy!
There are always pairings that go down in history, a leader and a sidekick that make a great friendship that we can all live up to. One of those is Tommy and Chuckie and although the pair are polar opposites – Tommy being unable to avoid adventure and Chuckie an introvert – it is because of those differences that make their companionship something so cherished. Movies and TV are based off memorable pairings, Joey and Chandler in Friends, Bert and Ernie, Laurel and Hardy and of course Tommy and Chuckie in Rugrats. With Tommy as the headstrong leader and Chuckie as the pensive, thoughtful individual that wants to hold back, it mirrors a far more classic pairing that clearly the creators of Rugrats were influenced by in their youth. Star Trek created the most famous of leader and sidekicks, Captain James T. Kirk and half-Vulcan, half-Human, Dr Spock.
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