Rugrats is an American cartoon series that revolves around a group of toddlers and their baby adventures. It is a television series created by Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó, and Paul Germain for the Nickelodeon network. Arlene and Gábor are co-founders of the animation studio, Klasky Csupo. The name of the series is taken from the slang word used for a toddler, a rugrat.
The story of Rugrats focuses on a toddler, Tommy Pickles, and his group of friends, Chuckie, twins Phil and Lil, and Angelica. Each episode narrates a day from the toddler’s lives and howsimple life experiences become great adventures in their imagination. The primary setting of all the adventures is Tommy Pickles’s house.
In 1989, Rugrats was formed under the animation studio, Klasky Csupó, which also provided services for commercials and music videos. The Simpsons was also being created at that time by Klasky, Csupó, and Germain, and they continued to do so till 1992.
The children’s channel network, Nickelodeon, announced to launch their own series of animated shows named Nicktoons. In response, the trio planned to create their own cartoon series. This was when the very first six-and-a-half minutes pilot episode, Tommy Pickles and the Great White Thing, went into production. However, this pilot episode never got aired.
The characters were co-designed by Peter Chung, Klasky and Csupó. In 1990, the production got concluded and was submitted to Nickelodeon. The series was tested with a group of children and the feedback of this test was very positive. As a result, the cartoon series went into production. The characters of Chuckie and Angelica were also added.
The Rugrats series premiered on August 11, 1991. Three seasons and sixty-five episodes later, production took a halt in 1993. The last episode of The Rugrats was broadcasted on May 24, 1994. Before the last episode was broadcasted, most of the Rugrats writing team, including Germain, had left Klasku Csupo.
Between 1995-96, only two new episodes were broadcasted which were named, ‘A Rugrats Passover’ and ‘A Rugrats Chanukah’. These two episodes were Jewish-themed and got critically acclaimed. During this time, after the making took a standstill, Nickelodeon had constant reruns of The Rugrats’ initial three seasons.
The reruns became the reason behind Rugrats gaining immense popularity and higher ratings. In 1996, Rugrats’ original episodes had aired 655 times over a year, and despite the continuous reruns, Rugrats remained one of cable network’s most-watched television series.
In 1996, the production of new episodes, for The Rugrats’ series, resumed in the Klasky Csupo animation studio. The series had its fourth season starting in 1997.
As a consequence of the massive popularity this show received, a series of theatrical films were released over the span of five years:
- Released in 1998, The Rugrats Movie, which had an additional character named Dil, Tommy’s baby brother. The film was a box office success making a worldwide gross of $140million;
- The sequel, released in 2000, Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, which introduced Kimi, Kira, and Fifi as new characters. Kimi became Chuckie’s sister and Kira became Chuckie’s new mother. Fifi became Chuckie’s new dog. This movie too became a box office hit;
- Released in 2003, Rugrats Go Wild, a crossover film with another Klasky Csupo series, The Wild Thornberrys. This movie got the least success in The Rugrats film trilogy, both critically and commercially.
Two DVD specials were also released in 2005 and 2006 named, ‘Rugrats Tales from the Crib: Snow White’ and ‘Rugrats Tales from the Crib: Three Jacks and a Beanstalk’.
On 21st July 2001, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the series premiere, a special episode named ‘All Growed Up’ was broadcasted. It was a pilot episode of the spin-off series, ‘All Grown Up!’ which was to be aired later between 2003 to 2008. This spin-off depicted the lives of the babies and their stories after they aged 10 years.
In 2008, Nickelodeon aired another spin-off series on TV, ‘Rugrats Pre-School Daze’. This series, however, only had four episodes after which Nickelodeon decided to focus only on the first spin-off.
The final episode of the series aired on 1st August 2004, concluding the show to a total of 172 episodes over nine remarkable seasons.
Several other merchandise have also been released under The Rugrats franchise. Video games, comics, toys and many other products such as action figures, fruit snacks, cookie jars, pens, pencils, etc., have been produced under the Rugrats label. By March 1999, the franchise had spawned an approximate $1.4 billion in merchandise sales.
In 2012, Arlene Klasky stated that, if Nickelodeon asked Klasky Csupo to, she would be more than happy to create new episodes for the Rugrats tenth season.
On July 16, 2018, it was proclaimed that Nickelodeon had placed an order with Klasky Csupo for a revival series. The series was announced to be executively produced by Klasky, Csupó, and Germain, and was to have around twenty-six episodes. It was also announced that Paramount Pictures was to release a live-action feature film and the release date is set to be 29th January 2021.
Rugrats gained over 20 awards and became Nickelodeon’s longest run cartoon for eight years. With two-year breaks in between, the thirteen-year run of The Rugrats series went on to become a cartoon classic marking a decade.