All the Important Things We Learned from Rugrats

Nickelodeon’s classic cartoon about a crew of precocious babies didn’t seek out to teach many lessons but we learned some all the same.

L-R Nancy Cartwright as Chuckie Finster, Kath Soucie as Phil and Lil DeVille, EG Daily as Tommy Pickles, Cheryl Chase as Angelica Pickles and Cree Summer as Susie Carmichael in RUGRATS episode 8B seasosn 2 streaming on Paramount+ 2023.
Photo: Nickelodeon | Paramount+

Before SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents, there was Rugrats.

Alongside fellow “Nicktoons” Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rugrats premiered Aug. 11, 1991 on Nickelodeon and helped establish an animated storytelling dynasty on the cable network. Created by Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó, and Paul Germain, the show was by far the most successful of Nickelodeon’s early offerings and helped set the stage for the Patrick Stars and Timmy Turners to come.

The cartoon followed the daily lives of toddlers Tommy Pickles, Chuckie Finster, and twins Phil and Lil DeVille as they attempted to make sense of the adult world while also indulging in their imaginations for some larger-than-life adventures. Though the children’s parents also featured as secondary characters, Tommy and friends could only communicate with one another in their own unique baby language.

For an audience of a certain age (a.k.a. the geezer writing this), Rugrats came to be synonymous with Nickelodeon, cartoons for kids, and the ’90s themselves. Even though the aforementioned SpongeBob and Fairy OddParents have since surpassed Rugrats in both episode count and cultural influence, it’s hard to shake the perception that the show’s nine season run and 2021 reboot was of monumental importance for TV.


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