One of our favorite things to do is talk about cartoons. Call us geeks or immature, we don't mind. Maybe it's the nostalgia, or maybe it's the hilarious and entertaining storylines. Whatever it is, its become one of our most beloved pastimes. If it were up to us (and it totally is), we might just throw an entertaining Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon article up whenever we can.
Because of this, we're back with another slew of secrets pertaining to a wide variety of Nickelodeon shows. We scoured the Internet, message boards, and interviews, to find 25 Shocking Things You Didn't Know About Your Favorite Nickelodeon Shows. Be warned, some of the stuff you're about to read is outwardly disturbing (especially entry 2, why). But don't worry, it's not all bad. There are some interesting tidbits that will warm your heart and give you additional reasons to respect your favorite cartoon creators.
It's a sad truth that we probably won't see any reboots or revivals of most of these mentioned Nickelodeon titles. There are some movies planned (Hey Arnold! & Invader Zim) but we doubt we'll see any extended series in the near future (with the exception of Rocko's Modern Life, pray it's good!).
Without further ado, here's a nifty list of Nick show secrets to stir up all those feelings of nostalgia!
25 Hey, He's Gay! (Hey Arnold!)
We're first introduced to Mr. Simmons in the episode 'New Teacher," where he takes over for Miss Slovak. At first, the kids hate their new instructor but grow to love him as time goes on. From that point forward, Mr. Simmons becomes a pivotal part of the show, as well as a beacon of light through some of the dreariest episodes. He's the first to offer advice, yet Mr. Simmons carried a secret that not many knew about him.
It's hinted at during the episode "Arnold's Thanksgiving," but many fans weren't sure until the show's creators spilled the beans. Mr. Simmons is gay, although he never directly comes out as such in the show. The 90s may not have been an understanding time, but we think it's fantastic that the creators included so much diversity in this slice of life comedy.
24 A Baby's Gotta Do What A Baby's Gotta Do (Rugrats)
Rugrats will go down as a quintessential 90s Nicktoon. Everything about the show was fantastic, and there's a reason it was the longest-running Nickelodeon animation (until Spongebob took the crown). A lot of its success rode on the entertaining and engaging characters. We loved all of them, but Tommy was our favorite. He was the brave, caring, and fearless leader of the group.
According to creators, there's a reason that Tommy was so brave all the time. The poor little guy was born pre-mature, forcing him to struggle for survival inside an incubator. This scary moment instilled a fighting spirit inside Tommy, turning him into the courageous infant we all know and love. Now if only we knew what made Angelica such terrible kid.
23 Breaking The 4th Wall Is Breaking The Rules (Angry Beavers)
If you're like us, then you miss Angry Beavers with every fiber of your being. The show was axed too soon, leaving us with a rodent-sized hole in our hearts. What was most depressing is that the show never had a proper ending. What may shock you is to learn that most Nick cartoons never see a serious ending. In fact, they're not supposed to.
The creators of Angry Beavers originally wanted the show to end with a special episode in which Norbert and Daggett discover they'd been canceled. A lot of shows in the modern age break the 4th wall, but Nick executives were adamant about not letting 90s cartoons craft episodes in which they acknowledge that they are ending. The finale was stonewalled, but there's an audio recording of episode floating around Youtube.
22 Are You Afraid Of A Lawsuit? (Are You Afraid Of The Dark?)
If you've never seen Are You Afraid of the Dark? you need to reevaluate your life choices. We're kidding, but the show is easily one of the best live-action titles that Nickelodeon ever aired. It's also the perfect creepy release to binge watch during the month of October, so be sure to give it a try!
Although it appears that the cast is sitting the woods, the campfire scene was usually filmed inside a studio. Some of the stories, however, took place in actual graveyards. This created a much creepier atmosphere, but also put creators at risk of a lawsuit. Strict laws prevented the filming and inclusion of any names (on headstones) to appear in the episodes. Because of this, the development crew was forced to create foam replica headstones which they could place in front of the named slabs when filming.
21 Ickis Is Finally Scary (Aaahh! Real Monsters)
Speaking of spooktacular Nick shows, here's a little tidbit about Aaahh! Real Monsters. For those unfamiliar, this quirky (and entertaining) cartoon ran for four seasons, amassing 52 full episodes (102 segments). It was crafted by Gábor Csupó (of Rugrats fame) and Peter Gaffney. Much like Are You Afraid of the Dark?, this is a fantastic show to binge during Halloween and easily one of the better Nicktoons to ever grace the network.
It saw such a critical success when it first began airing that it influenced a wide array of merchandise. Mattel produced a set of action figures, while Fleer created trading cards. It even had its own video game adaptation which appeared on SNES and Sega Genesis. At one point, there was even discussion of a feature-length movie. Unfortunately, the idea was struck down by executives because the proposed script and animation were deemed too scary for children.
20 Legendary Liars (Legends Of The Hidden Temple)
We really wish there were more shocking facts about Legends of the Hidden Temple. It's quite possibly our favorite 90s game show (besides Double Dare). It had everything, trivia, physical challenges, and a spooky obstacle course that challengers rarely completed. It even had educational overtones, with historical figures and legends surrounding each artifact. Honestly, we could go on for days about this masterpiece game show. We really wish they'd bring it back.
The most shocking tidbit about Legends of the Hidden Temple is that the Temple Challenges were often taped without a studio audience even present. Many of the tapings took place late (or in the early hours of the morning). After the timed run was completed, editors would then phone in audience sound to make it appear as if everything was happening in front of screaming fans.
19 Opposites Attract (Ren and Stimpy)
If you grew up in the 90s and feel like a weirdo, Ren and Stimpy are most likely to blame. We're joking, but the show itself was a wild ride of insane storylines and exaggerated animations. It was like a demented mixture of Looney Tunes physics and traditional Black Comedy. The wacky world of a Chihuahua and a Manx cat was wilder than anything else on television at the time, shocking audiences with its gross-out humor and depressing story arcs.
There were a lot of adult overtones in the original show, but the Spike TV reboot (Ren and Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon") took things to the next level. Without having to worry about upsetting any children, director John Kricfalusi filled his episodes to the brim with adult humor and lewd metaphors. Like the infamous "log sawing" scene, which speaks for itself. We won't show you the pictures, but here's a link to the clip in question.
18 Opposites Attract Even Harder (Ren and Stimpy)
While we're on the subject, we might as well give you another tidbit of information from the Ren and Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" era. One of the first episodes that director John Kricfalusi created showcased a scene that alludes to the duos "preference." Ren tells Stimpy "I'm the pitcher, you're the catcher." Many have concluded that the characters are gay, following this particular episode. Yet, other episodes display the duo in suggestive situations with women. The general consensus is that the iconic pair is bi.
Ren and Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" didn't last long at all. If you've seen at least one complete episode, it's easy to understand why. Even on a network with questionable adult themes, the show seemed on an entirely different level with its lewd humor. After only three episodes, it was canned. Three additional episodes were never shown on air (but do exist) while six others were canceled completely.
17 Way Down Under (Rocko's Modern Life)
On the subject of banned episodes, there were a few Rocko's Modern Life installments that were booted from television screens. For those of you unfamiliar, Rocko's Modern Life followed the "normal" shenanigans of an Australian Wallaby, along with his pals Heffer the Cow and Filburt the turtle. Although the show followed Rocko in everyday scenarios, there was little continuity. It was a completely randomized adventure filled with exaggerated slapstick humor and a slew of hidden adult jokes.
Some of these jokes and episodes went a bit too far according to Nick executives. The episode "Leap Frogs" depicted Rocko's neighbor Mrs. Bighead, attempting to seduce the wallaby while her husband was at work. "Heff in a Handbasket" was banned due to its premise, in which Heffer essentially sells his soul to Peaches (Rocko's version of Satan). Some of these episodes showed up on Nicktoons Network later on.
16 Crouching Blue, Hidden Snail (Blue's Clues)
Let's go ahead and take a break from all of the insanity we've bombarded you with and look at a secret that's a little more wholesome. It figures such a sweet and simple Easter Egg would pop up on a show like Blue's Clues. This colorful educational show was the pinnacle of children's television, during its impressive 143 episode (6 seasons) run.
There are a few cute Easter Eggs scattered throughout certain episodes, but one hidden gem reigns supreme. An adorable pink-colored snail appeared in each and every episode of the original show. She would show up three times during an episode and was usually found hiding behind objects or blending in with her surroundings.
Her last appearance was in episode 100, marking 300 "scenes" that she'd been part of. If you're especially bored one day, this would make for a fun Where's Waldo-type game.
15 Spooky Stories, Stellar Stars (Are You Afraid Of The Dark?)
A lot of famous actors began their careers as child stars. Sure, a lot of famous kid talent may fall by the wayside (an unfortunate and sad side effect of Hollywood) but some actors and actresses used children's programming as a springboard. One of the most surprising outlets for famous people was Are You Afraid of the Dark?.
The creepy campfire tales offered the perfect backdrop for young talent looking to get their foot in the door. A lot of the names that walked onto the spooky set would show up later on as big-name celebrities. Some of the most notable people to appear on Are You Afraid of the Dark? were; Hayden Christensen, Hillary Swank, Neve Campbell, Mia Kirshner, Tia and Tamera Mowry, and even Ryan Gosling.
14 Lost In Network Purrgatory (CatDog)
One of the biggest crimes against cartoon fanatics is when a show is abruptly cut short because of its network. Nickelodeon revolutionized cartoons in the 90s and 2000s (we also love you, Cartoon Network) but that doesn't mean its executives were always fair. In fact, based on a lot of the things we've read, the Nickelodeon scene was ruthless at best. Shows were constantly seeing the ax, sometimes for the most mundane reasons.
Then you have CatDog, a show that was absolutely adored. Kids loved it, adults loved it, even the network loved it (for a short time). However, for some unexplainable reason, Nickelodeon pulled the plug on CatDog during its final season. This resulted in many episodes never airing. They would eventually show up on Nicktoons, but it's hard to understand why the network would turn its back so abruptly on a beloved show.
13 Angry Bleepers (Angry Beavers)
Angry Beavers makes a second appearance on this list, but this time it's not the fault of the creators. Sometimes the network itself makes a mistake (although they're pretty adamant they never make mistakes). They made a pretty silly (hilarious) one during a 1998 episode starring the beloved beaver brothers.
During the episode "Alley Oops" there is a scene in which Daggett tells Norbert that he stinks. In true brotherly fashion, the eldest fires back with "Oh, shut up, Dag!" This didn't sit well with parents, who felt like "shut up" would spread like wildfire through impressionable kids. Nickelodeon's brilliant solution was to bleep the word "shut," which as you can imagine, made things terribly worse. The end result had parents (and kids) believing that Norbert was cussing. The line was eventually changed to "shush up, stupid!"
12 Jimmy Needs A Mensa Grant (Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius)
It's pretty odd that there aren't a lot of shocking or interesting facts surrounding Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. The series actually resonated well with fans, featured some solid animation, and had some great voice acting. Sure, it's become a bit of a meme-graveyard in recent years, but there are still those out there dedicated to preserving what the show once was.
Amidst the sea of generalized trivia, we found one interesting tidbit that's actually a bit depressing. According to one of the show's animators, the budget for Jimmy Neutron was incredibly low (which probably equates to low salary for its animators). To make matters worse, the crew only had three weeks to jam together each episode. The group rarely knew what was going on at any given time (things were chaotic) and the building in which they worked suffered constant power outages.
11 Butch Hartman's Marker Fiasco (Fairly OddParents)
The Fairly OddParents is another show that one would expect to carry a plethora of interesting facts and trivia. After all, the colorful show received wide acclaim and has won numerous awards during its already lengthy 10 season run. Sadly, much like Jimmy Neutron, there aren't a lot of wild or crazy facts to be found. Still, we managed to dig up one interesting information nugget that we find pretty funny.
When Butch Hartman was hard at work creating characters for The Fairly OddParents, he ran into a unique issue with the show's protagonist, Timmy Turner. According to Hartman, Timmy's hat was originally supposed to be blue, but his blue-colored marker died midway through coloring. This forced the creator to use a pink marker to finish his character design. Rather than suffer through a re-color, Hartman created the idea that Timmy's parents expected a baby girl, which explains all of the pink clothing.
10 Failure To Yield (Ren and Stimpy)
This is the last time we'll talk about Ren and Stimpy on this list, although, we could probably create an entire list dedicated to all the controversy surrounding the show. This time, however, the issues surround director John Kricfalusi. It's no secret that Ren and Stimpy was always meant to push the envelope (just look at Ren and Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon"), but there are only so many things you can get away with on a kid's network.
Rumors swirled that Kricfalusi and Nickelodeon weren't on the best of terms, to begin with, so it's no surprise that the network canned the infamous director during a dispute over an upcoming episode. The short in question, titled "Man's Best Friend," was deemed far too violent for children's programming. Call it "creative differences" if you want, but John Kricfalusi was forced to move onto other projects.
9 A Mild Finale (The Wild Thornberrys)
The Wild Thornberrys was a curious creation. There are some who suggest that the show saw a rocky start (although it did develop a cult following). Regardless, Nickelodeon treated the cartoon as if it was its favorite child. The coddled series had 91 episodes across 5 seasons and even inspired some film adaptations. Yet, in its "golden hour," Nickelodeon tossed it aside like the runt of the litter.
The series had planned to end gracefully with a two-episode grand finale. Nick executives had other plans. They allowed the first episode to air but didn't release the second episode until over a year later. When the episode was finally aired, it saw no advertisement or promotion, so many fans weren't even aware that it was broadcasting.
8 He Invaded Our Hearts (Invader Zim)
We get all happy and tingly when we get to write about Invader Zim. We loved most of the cartoons that came from the 90s and early 2000s, but Invader Zim will always hold a special place in our hearts. The show was just pure random hilarity. The way Zim talked, his clumsy attempts at taking over the world, and his complete misunderstanding of humans, made him a clever character that we all secretly rooted for.
That's why it's so heartbreaking to hear about all of the "what ifs" floating around the internet. Had Invader Zim not abruptly ended, we would have most likely gotten a three-part television "movie" called Invader Dib. The episodes revolved around Dib attempting to wage all-out war against the Irkens. There is an Invader Zim movie in the works, so let's hope it includes the same premise.
There's also the news that Adult Swim approached creator Jhonen Vasquez about airing the show on their network. He sadly declined.
7 Wanted: Bobesponja (El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera)
Before the Book of Life exploded onto the big screen, director Jorge Gutierrez was working on another animated project. Those of you who grew up on cartoons during the 2000s will likely remember the hilarious (and well written) show El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera. The clever creation followed a young hero that was constantly torn between an incessant need to do good and a growing desire to be bad.
Unfortunately, the amazing animation was cut short. It only lasted one season, which equated to 26 episodes. This was a cartoon show that should have seen a long and prosperous life. The creator dismayed that the show simply could not keep up with SpongeBob Squarepants in a ratings battle. He holds no ill-will towards the sea sponge but did paint this hilarious (and amazing) homage.
6 A Recipe For Success (You Can't Do That On Television)
This is a bit sneaky on our part because You Can't Do That On Television saw most of its international airing time in the 1980s. Technically it's a 90s show since it made it all the way to 1990 before disappearing. For those unfamiliar, the show originally began as a Canadian TV sketch comedy show, similar to Saturday Night Live. It was aimed at kids and usually provided sketches about pop culture.
It also marked the birthplace of Nickelodeon's famous green "slime." Whenever someone would utter the words "I don't know," they would find themselves instantly coated in the green substance.
The slime itself was made from a curious concoction of Cream of Wheat, water, food coloring, and Johnson's Baby Shampoo. The shampoo product was added to make the gooey mess easier to clean up.
5 Double Dare You To Pay Up (Double Dare)
While we're on the subject of slime, we might as well talk about Double Dare. It was perhaps Nickelodeon's greatest game show, racking up the ratings anytime it was broadcast. The crew dumped gallons of green slime on each contestant, as well as multitudes of multi-colored Gak.
Strangely enough, our bit of trivia about this show doesn't involve slime at all. Instead, it revolves around Marc Summers, a pie, and a woman's inability to "perform" in the bedroom. According to Marc Summers, a female contestant filed a lawsuit against the show, claiming that Summers hit her so hard with a pie that she lost her "carnal abilities." The studio paid her $25,000 to leave them alone. We guess you really can sue anyone for anything.
4 Sing A Song Of Cats And Dogs (CatDog)
We've already established that Nickelodeon can be a bit strange when it comes to their intellectual properties and advertising practices. Sometimes the studio sees fit to simply cancel a show, regardless of how well it's doing. It also has a penchant for playing certain advertisements into oblivion, while others see obscure time slots. A fantastic example of this phenomenon is the fabled CatDog music video.
According to some fans, there was a CatDog commercial that played an extended version of the theme song, complete with extra verses and a killer harmonica solo. What sounds like Internet make-believe is actually real. Nickelodeon was so stingy with the commercial, they aired it exactly one time before it disappeared into their vaults. Youtube user KnapfordMusic98 managed to track down a copy of the music video and uploaded it online for all to see.
3 The Amanda Show: Live From Wizard Peak (The Amanda Show)
If you were an avid Spyro The Dragon fan, that also happened to never miss an episode of The Amanda Show, you may have already known this little Easter Egg. The Amanda Show launched a lot of young careers. It was a fantastic sketch comedy show, filled to the brim with entertaining characters and hilarious skits.
Yet, the best bit of trivia for this particular show comes from an easily missed musical score. Anyone who's seen enough of The Amanda Show will likely recognize its catchy opening theme. Strangely enough, this theme was also used in the original Spyro The Dragon video game, for the level Wizard Peak. The versions don't sound exactly identical, but you can definitely hear the similarity.
Don't worry, there wasn't any thievery here. Stewart Copeland (of the British rock band The Police) composed both songs.
2 Fifty Shades Of Didi (Rugrats)
We decided to include this particular entry towards the end of this list for two reasons. One, it's incredibly shocking, and two, we were dreading having to write about it. To us, the Rugrats will always be an amazing and innocent cartoon show that we grew up with. We loved all of the characters and adored their simple yet imaginative adventures.
Sadly, one of the Rugrats' crew members probably has rather different feelings about the show she worked on. Melanie Chartoff, the voice actress who played Didi Pickles, spoke about a time that she learned a horrible truth about the show's animators. Apparently, the animation crew would "let off steam" by drawing risqué pictures of Didi in the men's restroom. For a while, painted on the stalls, were depictions of the character in suggestive leather attire, complete with whips and chains.
1 An Act Of Defiance (Invader Zim)
When we first started writing this list, we knew we had to feature this particular secret at number one. It's not just because Invader Zim is one of our favorite shows ever, it's because of how cheeky and hilarious the Easter Egg is. If you want to see this particular bit of trivia for yourself, you'll have to have an eagle-eye (although many instances have been found and shown online).
The legend goes that Invader Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez wanted to include the above picture of a bloodied Gir in one of the episodes. The network was adamant that it was too gory. In a bold display of defiance, Vasquez decided to slip the image into as many episodes as possible, unbeknownst to the network censors. Viewers have found a few of these bloody Gir's hidden on single frames and in inconspicuous places throughout the episodes.