1991 was the year that Nickelodeon started broadcasting original animated series on their network. One of those series was Rugrats, a cartoon that focused in on the lives of a particular group of toddlers and was described as the “TV Peanuts of our time.” The show quickly became a massive hit among the young viewers of the show and helped cement Nickelodeon’s legacy as a pioneer in children’s television.
Even after it ended in 2004, Nickelodeon still continued to show re-runs of Rugrats in the years that followed even to this day, which showed just how popular the show really was. It resonated with fans during the 90s and early 2000s, and it still continues to resonate with kids today.
You might have watched every episode of the show. And you might have seen all the movies. You may consider yourself a Rugrats expert. But do you know everything about the show, including the backstage drama? If you want to see how well you know the Rugrats show, then check out this list of 15 things you didn’t know about Rugrats.
15. All The Babies Were Voiced By Women
It’s not uncommon in the world of voice acting for women to voice male characters—Tara Strong is the voice behind Timmy Turner from The Fairly OddParents, Maile Flanagan is the voice behind Naruto Uzumaki in the English dub of Naruto, and Stephanie Nadolny is the voice behind young Goku in Dragon Ball and Gohan in Dragon Ball Z. But it’s probably a little rare for the main cast of a cartoon to be entirely voiced by women, as was the case in Rugrats. Kath Soucie voiced the twins Phil and Lil and their mother Betty, Christie Cavanaugh voiced Chuckie, Cheryl Chase voiced Angelica and Elizabeth Daily voiced Tommy.
14. There Were Major Problems Behind The Scenes
Something else that isn’t uncommon is backstage drama on TV shows. Rugrats was not spared from a heated battleground which the show’s creators and the writing staff found themselves on. Paul Germain, creative producer and one of the main writers, decided he had enough with Klasky-Csupo, the animation company behind The Simpsons, The Wild Thornberries, Rocket Power and more cartoons, and walked out. And he wasn’t alone—the rest of the writing staff went with him. But we’ll never learn the reason for Germain and the staff walking out due to a stipulation in a legal settlement reached with Nickelodeon and Klasky-Csupo.
13. Rugrats Has A Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
As we all know by now, Rugrats was clearly a dominate trailblazer show for Nickelodeon. The unbelievable success it achieved helped pave the way for future cartoons on the network; cartoons like Hey Arnold!, CatDog, The Fairly OddParents, and many, many more. So for its tenth anniversary and as an award for the show’s many impressive accolades, Rugrats was actually given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame a few years ago, on June 28th, 2001. This was Nickelodeon’s first star and the second star for Klasky-Csupo (the first one was for The Simpsons).
12. The Popular Fan Theory That The Rugrats Babies Are Just A Figment Of Angelica’s Imagination Was Squashed
You may or may not have heard of this fan theory before. If you haven’t, well, the story goes that Angelica made up all of the babies, who all died in real life (Chuckie as an infant, Phil and Lil were aborted, Tommy was a stillborn baby). Angelica would have supposedly made them all up to deal with the neglect she felt from her parents. Show creators very rarely address fan theories, but not only did the Rugrats creators address this particular theory, but they actually debunked it. Arlene Klasky said the speculation was all false during an interview at the San Diego Comic-Con.
11. Rugrats Was Sued Over Reptar
You can just tell from looking at Reptar, Tommy’s green dinosaur toy, that he was based off of Godzilla. Reptilian appearance, sharp teeth and claws, imposing size (at least in the imagination sequences)—there’s definitely more than one similarity between the two. And for film company Toho, the creators of Godzilla, this was more than enough to go through with a lawsuit against Klasky-Csupo, especially since Klasky-Csupo was selling Reptar-related merchandise in stores. What the outcome of the lawsuit was isn’t known, but one thing is for sure, Reptar made progressively lesser appearances in the show from that point on
10. One Of The Show’s Creators Didn’t Like Angelica
Angelica appears on various lists of best cartoon characters ever and is arguably considered the most recognizable character on the show. On the surface, Angelica looks like nothing more than a manipulative, spoiled brat, but she is a lot more complex than that, which earned her the appreciation of many Rugrats fans. But one particular person who wasn’t a fan of the blonde toddler was Arlene Klasky herself. She told the New Yorker that she never really cared for Angelica and that she thought she was a bully and much too mean for the show. However, after seeing the “new” Angelica in The Rugrats Movie, Klasky grew to love Angelica.
9. The Rugrats Movie Was An Unexpected Box Office Smash
Movie adaptions of TV shows can be incredibly risky to do. If not handled right then you’ll have fans of the show expressing scathing criticism of it and wondering why a movie was greenlighted in the first place. It was an especially risky venture for Nickelodeon to do since The Rugrats Movie would be the first movie made by Nickelodeon Movies based on a Nicktoon. But their risk paid off in a smash at the box office, bringing in a whopping $140 million. The success led to two more Rugrats films—Rugrats in Paris in 2000 and the Rugrats/The Wild Thornberries crossover Rugrats Go Wild in 2003. The combined sales from all three films made Rugrats the 25th highest-grossing animated film series of all time.
8. The Start Of Rugrats Originated From A Single Question
Arlene Klasky was the one that the idea for Rugrats stemmed from. While working on ideas for Sesame Street shorts, her husband at the time, Gabor Csupo, asked her to come up with some ideas to pitch to Nickelodeon. So she asked herself, “If babies could talk what would they say? What was the logic that drove tiny humans to desperately want to stick their hands in the toilet?” Development executive Vanessa Coffee gave Rugrats its name and president of Nickelodeon Gerry Laybourne, gave the show the brilliant seal of approval.
7. Tommy’s Voice Actor Recorded A Session While In Labor
Most pregnant women would drop everything after going into labor and rush to the hospital as fast as they could after the first contraction. But, Elizabeth Daily wasn’t one of those women. In fact, she was too committed to her job to stop working, even to give birth (talk about dedication). She went into labor while in the recording booth recording for Rugrats but declined to go to the hospital and continued recording in between her contractions. After she finished reading her lines, she agreed to go to the hospital where she gave birth to her daughter. You can’t make this stuff up.
6. Angelica Was Based On A Real Person
It’s a very known fact that many fictional characters are based off of people that the creators knew (or had encountered at some point) in real-life. That said, it’s not necessarily an unusual practice for book authors, comic book writers, and other creative minds to do. Well, Angelica was actually based on someone that Paul Germain knew. While in Elementary school, in the 4th grade, Germain was tormented by one of his female classmates, and he took those distressing experiences and created the character of Angelica out of them. We wonder if this classmate knows Angelica is based off of her.
5. Rugrats Was Accused Of Being Anti-Semitic
Nickelodeon’s Rugrats was praised by many for showing distinguishable Jewish families in children’s television. In fact, the show had two episodes based on Jewish holidays to teach young viewers about the Jewish celebrations: “A Rugrats Passover” and “A Rugrats Chanukah”, both of which were highly commended by Jewish religious groups and various news outlets. However, the Anti-Defamation League was not on board with the Jewish themes of the show. They complained that the character designs of Tommy’s maternal grandparents looked similar to drawings of Jewish people found in Nazi propaganda.
4. There Was A Live Rugrats Show
Live shows of TV cartoons are probably never a good idea. Just look at the live musical tour for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Coming Out of Their Shells. The Phineas and Ferb live show was just as horrendous. And to be honest, the Rugrats live show was probably just as bad (we are not surprised). But we will probably never learn the entirety of how bad it was since only a brief trailer of the show exists on YouTube (that’s obviously not a good sign). The clip was enough to make me wonder who on Earth decided to green-light this production in the first place, though.
3. Chuckie Was Going To Be The Bully
Yeah, it’s a little hard to believe that the cowardly Chuckie was originally planned to be the bully of the show (can you imagine?). But during the early planning stages of the show, while the staff was going through character designs, it was initially decided that Chuckie should be the primary antagonist of the show. However, Germain intervened, thinking that the bully should be a girl instead, and thus Angelica was created, based on a girl Germain knew during his childhood like discussed above (the grade four classmate). Could you imagine how different the show would have been had Chuckie been the bully instead of Angelica?
2. Rugrats Used To Be Nickelodeon’s Longest-Running Show
Before the ever-so-popular Spongebob Squarepants officially became Nickelodeon’s longest-running show a few years ago in 2012, that prestigious title belonged to none other than the Rugrats TV show. The show started in 1991 and ran for a total of nine seasons until its cancellation in 2004, amounting to 172 episodes in a long, thirteen-year time span. By the time the beloved show ended, the staff working on it had burgeoned to an impressive 550 employees. As you can tell, Rugrats was an extremely popular show during its time, which is why it lasted as long as it did, and we are still talking about it to this day.
1. The Show May Be Returning
Classic cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Powerpuff Girls have seen reboots in recent times. Other classic cartoons like Hey Arnold! and Samurai Jack are due to return to the TV screen with new content as well. And other classic cartoons like The Magic School Bus and Inspector Gadget are expected to return sometime in the near-future. Rugrats is supposed to be one of the latter. And there is a strong possibility that this could become an actual reality. In July of last year, it was revealed that Nickelodeon had discussed a potential revival of the show with Klasky-Csupo and Paul Germain. And later that same year in October, a VP from the network said that Rugrats was one of the network’s fan-favorites being considered for a reboot. So keep your fingers crossed.
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