It’s no exaggeration to say that Rugrats was one of the best cartoons of the ‘90s. With its wonderful cast of characters, its iconic animation design, and its humorous dialogue, the show became a kids’ television staple for many years. Children everywhere got joy from watching the mad escapades of Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and even Angelica as they tackled some big life dilemmas such as finding worms to eat, and getting the cookie jar down from the cupboard.
However, unbeknownst to many lye some very dark secrets surrounding the popular cartoon – some of which are so dark and disturbing, that you’ll wish you never knew about them. Well, allow us to fill you in on them if you dare. This list features some of the most alarming secrets regarding the show’s development. Whether it’s Grandpa Lou’s X-rated nights alone, or Angelica’s allegedly damaged psyche – you’ll never look at the show the same way again once we’re done with you.
As a huge fan of the show when I was growing up, many of these shocked, stunned, and baffled me. Now it’s your turn. These are 20 dark secrets about Rugrats you really don’t want to know. Caution: your childhood may be affected by what you’re about to see…
20 Angelica’s Twisted Mind
Seriously, Angelica Pickles is a pretty horrible kid in Rugrats – bullying, tormenting, and generally just putting the babies through hell. However, one lingering theory asserts that there’s a reason for her bullish attitude, and it’s certainly an eye-opening one.
It claims that Angelica is actually conjuring the whole thing up in her head and that the babies are, in fact, a figment of her imagination. Some of the more creative fans of the show have pinned this down to a troubled childhood, asserting that she delves into the recesses of her psyche to torture the babies.
Pretty out there, huh? Well, this isn’t the last you’ve heard of this peculiar theory. We’ll get to the rest of it later with some truly disturbing assertions regarding your favorite characters from the show.
19 No Laughing Matter
Here’s a dark moment from the show: Tommy being taken. Yes, in the show’s context, it’s your typical light-hearted affair. But the idea of a baby being taken away from his family by two thugs is undoubtedly quite unsettling.
It happens during Season One in the episode Ruthless Tommy, an episode which finds the mischievous baby up to no good again after he’s been taken by some criminals. They grab him because they think he’s the son of millionaire Ronald Thump (yes, a parody of President Donald Trump), but they soon regret it once Tommy starts flushing their stolen goods down the toilet.
Of course, it’s Rugrats so the whole baby-snatching thing tends to get played down. On paper, however, it’s a surprise they got away with this risque concept.
18 Grandpa Lou Gets “Lonely” At Night
It would seem Grandpa Lou likes some “alone” time at night (when the babies are asleep), thanks to one quite explicit segment on the show. In it, he rents some movies to watch, with one of them being decidedly not for kids.
He brings home Reptar Come Home, Reptar Redux, and (wait for it) Lonely Space Vixens. Hmm, sounds suspicious to us, and old Lou confirms our fears when he says: “My personal favorite, Lonely Space Vixens! That's for after you go to bed.” Oh dear…
Clearly, gramps likes his videos of the more adult variety, as this pretty shocking joke in the much-loved kid’s program proves. Let’s just hope the video store didn’t get the discs mixed up!
17 The Sad Demise Of Chuckie’s Mother
One of the most touching moments on the show is Chuckie and his dad Chaz reminiscing about Chuckie’s mother (and Chaz’s wife Melinda). Because despite the fact that she appears to be alive in earlier episodes (although never shown), it’s later revealed that she’s actually dead.
It happens in the episode Mother’s Day, where Chaz finally tells Chuckie about his deceased mother. The spectacle-wearing redhead then begins to have flashbacks of his mum telling him not to be scared, as well as her leaving him an emotional poem before passing away.
It turns out that she died from a terminal illness, making this tear-jerking episode all the more powerful. Who says cartoons can’t be emotionally effective too?
16 Did Chuckie Join Her?
Back to our bizarre Angelica theory, this time with regards to Chuckie’s story. Did Chuckie actually die? According to this terrifying theory, he did. It suggests that he died along with his mother in the ‘80s, with his appearance on the show simply being another figment of Angelica’s imagination.
But where’s the evidence for this? Well, those with dark imaginations claim that Chuckie’s dad Chaz is a nervous wreck all of the time because of the tragic loss of both his wife and his son. Poor Chaz!
So is Chuckie alive? Or is he simply another made-up character in Angelica’s mind? We may never know. We certainly hope Chuckie is alive and well. However, the theory gets even stranger when we get to Tommy…
15 Deeply Disturbing Origins Of Tommy
We hit the No.15 spot with this deeply disturbing origins story concerning Tommy, the show’s main character. Sadly, the before mentioned theory suggests Tommy had the same fate as Chuckie – death.
Yes, Tommy was born, however, some fans have claimed that he was stillborn. It’s certainly a dark suggestion, but one they think they can back up with the behavior of Tommy’s dad Stu. They claim that the reason Stu is always making toys in the basement is because he’s in denial about his son’s death.
In essence, he’s crafting toys for the son he never had a chance to play with. It’s a heartbreakingly sad assertion, but one which some fans of the show swear by. Let's just hope this theory is all talk.
14 Supposed Dark Reason For Dil’s Odd Behavior
Surely youngest baby Dil is safe from the dark Creepypasta theory? Sadly, he’s not. It points to the baby’s very peculiar behavior in the Rugrats comeback series All Grown Up (behavior which they claim isn’t coincidental).
The story goes that Angelica (Dil’s cousin) hit the baby very hard after trying to get him away from her, resulting in Dil receiving brain damage from the blow. Talk about dark. This theory strand is so dark that it will make you watch the show in a completely different way the next time.
The worst part is that, unlike the other characters on the show (which the theory claims are imaginary), Dil is, in fact, real according to the creepy interpretation. Can you say bye-bye childhood?
13 Flippant Joke About The Death Penalty
Show writers are no strangers to including some very questionable jokes in their cartoons, and Rugrats is no different. As well as featuring a very bizarre joke about circumcision, the show has also made light of the death penalty in the past.
Yes, particularly in the episode Chuckie vs. The Potty, which centers on Chuckie making the transition from potty to toilet. In it, he dreams that he’s in jail, being forced to use the toilet. After screaming “not the chair!,” Angelica flushes him down it while laughing sinisterly.
It’s certainly quite a dark joke for a kids’ TV show, and making light of the electric chair could definitely be seen as distasteful by some. It's pretty crazy how some stuff can slip so easily past the censors.
12 Did Phil And Lil Never Actually Make It?
Thought we were done with the Creepypasta theory? Think again. Because it wasn’t just Tommy, Chuckie, and Dil who were caught up in Angelica’s twisted role-playing game, but also twins Phil and Lil too.
Yes, it claims that the DeVille parents actually decided to have an abortion. However, Angelica couldn’t decide in her mind if she wanted the baby to be a boy or a girl, so she conjured them up as twins instead. Geez, we thought Angelica was evil before but this just takes the cake.
Legend has it that Angelica created them because she never had a tangible relationship with her own parents, thus Phil and Lil came into being. Now that’s one damaged little mind if I do say so myself.
11 Controversial Comic Strip
After the show’s success, one of the things that Nickelodeon came up with to keep the focus on Rugrats was a comic strip featuring Grandpa Lou that ran in The Washington Post (the week of the Jewish New Year in 1998).
However, the depiction of the character (with his long nose and recital of the Mourner’s Kaddish) drew scathing criticism from the Anti-Defamation League who accused it of being anti-Semitic. They called Boris’ likeness “reminiscent of Nazi-era depictions of Jews.”
It’s indeed not the kind of attention Nickelodeon wanted from the comic strip, leading to the cartoon network issuing an apology soon after, and vowing never to run the controversial piece again. We'd love to see some Rugrats comics, but maybe it's not such a good idea.
10 Did Angelica’s Mother Die?
Okay, so we’ve discussed Angelica’s messed up mind according to the dark theory which has been making the rounds on the internet, but just what possessed her to be such a mentally damaged soul? According to the theory, it was her mother’s fault.
It claims that her mother was using substances while she was pregnant with Angelica, leading to the child becoming dependent on it too, as well as providing a gateway to her ‘Rugrats fantasy.’ After her mother died from using substances, Angelica sunk deeper into her habit.
Even creepier is the assertion that Angelica’s doll Cynthia is actually a mirror image of her mother, who the theory cities as also being called Cynthia. Apparently, this is why she’s always got the Barbie doll by her side. Can someone make this into a horror movie? It certainly ticks all the boxes.
9 The Terrifying SpongeBob Squarepants Connection
If you were a fan of both Rugrats and SpongeBob Squarepants, you got the ultimate treat when Rugrats in Paris first made its theatrical debut. That’s because an unfinished episode of the latter entitled Shanghaied played before the movie began.
However, the episode isn’t for those easily spooked. It featured a scene so scary in fact, that it had to be taken out when the episode finally made its appearance on television. It depicted Squidward tumbling into the abyss with a skeleton-laden backdrop adorning the shot.
It wasn’t completely done away with though. Those frightening skeletons? They were changed to spaghetti – ensuring kids everywhere wouldn’t have so many sleepless nights after being exposed to the creepy original version.
8 Chaz’s Creepy Sock Puppet
Chuckie is quite the pessimist at times, and it’s put on full display in the episode Chuckie’s Wonderful Life. In it, a guardian angel shows Chuckie what life would’ve been like if he were never born after he starts to regret mistakes he’s just made.
One of the darkest things he’s shown is the state his dad Chaz is in, without him. It depicts Chaz talking to a sock puppet called Socky, whom he speaks with because he doesn’t have a son to talk to. It’s equal parts sad and depressing, and certainly darker than most other cartoons of its kind.
So don’t feel bad about yourself Chuckie, your dad would be talking to a sock puppet if you weren’t around… oh, and Angelica would be obese. Go figure.
7 Using The Experience Of Being Bullied
We’ve already mentioned just how horrible Angelica is on the show, but it turns out that her sadistic attitude stems from some real-life experience. Yes, mastermind of the show Paul Germain used some of his own personal run-ins for the character.
Germain was bullied by a real-life Angelica, and he never forgot about it. So when it came time to figure out the cast of characters for Rugrats, he made sure to include a cartoon version of his real-life tormentor.
In fact, Germain was so adamant for her inclusion on the show that he fought tooth and nail with the other writers to ensure she made it in. Why? He thought it would teach kids to spot real bullies in their own life. Clever!
6 The Presence Of A Not So PG Rock Group
I’d hazard a guess that most fans of Rugrats have never listened to post-punk outfit Devo, however, they do have a considerable presence on the show. Not only was the theme song written by the band’s frontman Mark Mothersbaugh, but Chuckie’s look was also modeled after him as well.
It’s certainly surprising to see them so heavily integrated into the kids show, considering the fact that they are the same the group that garnered controversy in the past for songs like “Mongoloid” and “Whip It.”
On his likeness to Chuckie, Mothersbaugh told Splitsider in 2012, “We both had thick glasses, we’re both near-sighted, and had I pretty wild hair back then. I didn’t have kids yet, so it still had color in it.”
5 Angelica’s Intimidating Inspiration
So keeping with the show’s more conventionally accepted origins, we’ve established that Angelica was based on a real-life bully, but did you know that she also had another inspiration? Yes, it was none other than Dallas’ own J.R. Ewing.
It was brought on by the fact that Angelica’s voiceover actress Cheryl Chase had trouble playing the bratty young girl, and looked further afield for guidance. Writer on the cartoon Steve Viksten then told Chase that she should look to J.R Ewing for inspiration.
He told her that Angelica was the J.R. Ewing of Rugrats, helping Chase to finally nail down her intimidating nature. Sure, she's not known for her eloquence or steely glare, but you can definitely see the similarities. Now there’s an example of one show helping another.
4 An Unfortunate Spat
Speaking of Paul Germain, it turns out the Rugrats linchpin wasn’t just fighting for Angelica’s inclusion, but also sparring with the show’s production company Klasky Csupo in general.
As head writer and producer for the cartoon, Germain was an integral part of the show’s creation. However, a dispute with Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo made Germain get up and leave the show after it was canceled for the first time. After being given the green light again, the show was made by an entirely new set of writers.
However, many assert that this marked the downfall of the show – never really being able to match the quality of the shows in which Germain penned with his team of scribes. Unfortunately, both Germain and Klasky Csupo aren’t able to discuss their falling out due to legal reasons.
3 Tommy Was Voiced By A Woman?!
It’s not just Tommy Pickles who was voiced by a woman, but the rest of the babies too. Yes, instead of getting males to voice the baby boys, females were used instead due to their high-pitched voices.
Tommy was voiced by Elizabeth Daily, Chuckie Finster was voiced by Christine Cavanaugh, Phil DeVille was voiced by Kath Soucie, and Dil Pickles was voiced by Tara Strong, despite the fact that these babies are male in the popular cartoon.
This is one we’re sure the writers didn’t want you to know about because it’s quite possible that it will be annoyingly stuck in your head the next time you watch the show. Sorry!
2 Reptar Got The Show Sued
Remember Reptar? The green dinosaur that Tommy used to carry around with him? Well, it seems the toy got the show into a spot of trouble in 2002 because of its uncanny likeness to Godzilla.
Toho (who possess the rights to Godzilla) sued the show for its resemblance to their creation, which is why its appearance in the cartoon diminished in the show’s later years. It’s a shame too, because Reptar played a pivotal role in many episodes, usually coming to life in some of the more "out there" segments.
With the merchandising that the toy got outside of the show, it’s no real surprise that Toho put a stop to it. Still, it can never be said that it wasn’t a welcome addition to the show.
1 Hating On Their Own Creation
We touched on writer Paul Germain’s push for Angelica to be included in the show, but just why did he have to fight so hard for it? Well, it stems from co-creator Arlene Klasky’s resentment of the character.
She hated the rebellious young girl for a long time, citing her bullying nature as being too much for a children’s cartoon. In fact, she didn’t start taking to Angelica until the Rugrats movie came out. After its release, she said, “I think she’s great for the show, I love Angelica.”
Of course, despite her spoiled attitude, Angelica became one of the highlights of the show, serving as the perfect contrast to the other sweet children. So there you have it. After reading these 20 dark secrets, we’re sure you’ll never watch Rugrats the same way again…