The Sketchy Truth About Our Beloved Nickelodeon Cartoons

The shows that became part of your life, even though they killed you inside.

I don't know about you guys, but I was alive during the birth of the greatest TV station to bless this planet. Upon its creation, Nickelodeon introduced some of the most distinguished and celebrated cartoons of this century, and I was one of the millions of public-schooled Americans whose life was boring enough to enjoy them. But not just enjoy them, fiend their very existence. I would run home at 2:30 every day in time to watch TV, gluing my eyes to the screen as if I would die if I looked away. Commercial breaks were designated bathroom breaks and chocolate milk refills, then I would dive back onto the couch just as the last commercial ended. I loved Nickelodeon more than I have ever loved anything else, and I can safely say that it affected my life more than anything I've encountered.

I found out why the Rocket Power children were allowed such insane freedom. The kids' dad was a fucking stoner! But with every pleasure there is truth. Just like cigarettes become part of someone's life even though they slowly kill them inside, Nickelodeon was doing the same—only worse. At such a young, impressionable age, any TV we watched was filed immediately into our ever-expanding minds (which, in this metaphor, are filing cabinets), bringing with them stereotypes, racism, and crooked life lessons. And instead of putting a label on the screen warning "This station will fuck you up," Nickelodeon played their shows with no remorse, and let the corrupt morals seep deep into our subconscious.

Examples you ask? Here they are mother fuckers.

Hey Arnold!

Hey ArnoldHey Arnold was a show about a boy with an oddly-shaped head, Arnold, and his group of eccentric friends who got together every day and enjoyed all the innocence of being a kid. Some episodes were about school, others were just about friendship, and sometimes they would go on exciting adventures. Every episode there would be a minor conflict, 28 minutes of solving it, and then a life lesson that brought all the friends closer.

I don't even know where to start as far as how this show affected me. First off, it contained the most obscure insult towards anyone's physical appearance I've heard, and to this day I've still instinctively called people "football heads" whenever they do something stupid. Also, it hosted one of the coolest bedrooms in television history. Not only was Arnold's room accessible through the ceiling of the hallway, it had a couch that flipped out from the wall, an alarm clock powered by a potato, and a bookshelf that doubled as a ladder leading up to the roof. I was excited when my dad finally installed a light switch on my wall, and then this kid has a universal remote that controls everything!

But if you dig deeper, Hey Arnold was much more than a show about friends and their youthfulness. In reality, those kids were poor as fuck! They were living in the ghetto of New York in shitty boarding houses, and there was a highway that ran right over their neighborhood. Arnold's family had the distinction of being landlords of a boarding house that accommodated some of the strangest people. The kids would play stickball, and there was even one episode about a "stoop kid." Stickball + house stoops = poor. Everyone knows that. And to make things official, Arnold's school was called "P.S. 118." It didn't even have a real name!

Hey Arnold token black kidHey Arnold also had one of the first token ghetto black kids, Gerald, a "cool kid" who always wore a #33 sports shirt. Gerald was Arnold's best friend, but more importantly, sported the most gangster haircut ever. And Gerald was a gangster, there was no arguing. For those of you who watched the show as intensely as I did, you would realize that Gerald is the one who knows all the town's urban legends, getting his stories from a source called "Fuzzy Slippers." Does this seem sketchy to anyone else? The #33 uniform that Gerald wore could easily be associated with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Patrick Ewing, or Scottie Pippen, all gangster ass basketball players.

Not only were the kids of Hillwood shit poor, they were mentally insane. Arnold's friend, Helga, had a massive crush on him. But this secret love was far past hair-pulling and name-calling. Helga had a fucking SHRINE of Arnold, complete with pieces of chewed gum and strands of hair. You know who does shit like that? Psychotic murderers. This show taught us that even if you lived in the projects of New York, you were still able to have fun and be a kid.

Rocket Power

Rocket PowerWhen it came to being an athlete, Rocket Power was your show. The show follows four friends Otto, Reggie, Twister, and Sam "Squid" as they live a life of extreme sports around California. And when I say extreme sports I'm talking surfing, rollerblading, skateboarding, and street hockey. By the time I was 13 I quit half the sports I started, and these kids were getting drafted to the fucking X Games.

The thing I liked most about Rocket Power was the freedom these kids enjoyed. Not only did the weather of my Massachusetts town prevent me from doing anything other than a) watching TV as it rained, or b) watching TV as it poured, but I also had parents who inflicted harsh punishments for even the smallest falter. So it was fun to see these four kids live a life of lighthearted bliss, skateboarding from one amazing activity to the next, all in the most perfect weather. In fact, the weather was so perfect in this show that they would occasionally dedicate entire episodes to bad weather and how much it sucks. Are you kidding me?!

When I looked deeper into why these young children were allowed such insane freedom, I found out the corruption of the show. These kids' dad was a fucking stoner! The father, Raymundo, flirts with the only police officer of their town, so why should he bother worrying about his weed problem? They're in California, after all. And as if that wasn't enough, his dad is best friends with this dude named "Tito," a Hawaiian self-styled philosopher who helps run the restaurant Raymundo owns. And occasionally, Tito's nephew will "visit" from Hawaii. Two words: Maui Wowie.

The Wild Thornberrys

Wild Thornberry'sThe Wild Thornberrys was a show that kicked up after Nickelodeon had gained its monopoly on children cartoons. It was a show about a loving family that traveled around the world in their "Comvee" and recorded animal documentaries. The main character, Eliza, was a girl who could talk to animals thanks to a spell cast on her by an African shaman, and became close friends with the family's pet monkey named Darwin.

This show was a little weird. It's apparent that this show was released when Nickelodeon was pushing the boundaries of what they could pass off as educational programming. They managed to work in helpful information about some African animals, but it mostly left the viewer wondering what it would be like to talk to animals. But the true sketchiness of this show came through the characters. Instead of a normal main character that is surrounded by unusual secondary characters, this show gave the main character the oddest talent of all: talking to fucking animals. Upon that, they constructed the most peculiar cast of family members to raise this young girl. As a result, they created the most dysfunctional family in Nickelodeon television.

Eliza's father, Sir Nigel Thornberry, is the most erratic father figure I've ever encountered. The man had a nose the size of a small truck, and he always yelled "Smashing!" when he got excited. The "Sir" in his name suggests that he was knighted by the Queen of England, yet he is still stumbling around Africa searching for wildlife. The only other character who has a British accent is the pet monkey, Darwin, creating the oddest relationship in television history.

Debbie on Wild ThornberrysIt should be noted, however, Eliza's older sister, Debbie, was gorgeous. At my young age I had never seen something so beautiful, and my love for Debbie will never die. Unfortunately, we never saw much of Debbie because she was always tanning and acting too cool for Eliza, but I like to think that while we weren't looking she was getting railed by Darwin.

But when most people think of The Wild Thornberrys, they remember Eliza's adopted younger brother, Donnie. Donnie was a feral boy who was raised by orangutans when his parents were killed by poachers, and consequently the kid acted like a wild fucking animal. His gibberish language was accompanied by constant hyperactivity and insanity, leading you to wonder why the fuck anyone would adopt him. Together, the entire Thornberry family made you turn the show off and think to yourself how fortunate you were to be a member of your semi-normal family.

Ren & Stimpy

Ren & Stimpy ShowKnown formally as The Ren & Stimpy Show, this show was anything but formal. It was a crazy mess of random violence and obscene images, portrayed through the lives of two friends, Ren and Stimpy. Ren was a Chihuahua and Stimpy was some sort of cat hybrid. I wish I knew more about the show, but I never really watched it. The only reason it's on this list is because it had a major effect on our youth.

Upon the creation of the cartoon, the creator and writers decided that this show would not be educational. Yes, that's right, they made a conscious effort to eliminate education in this show, attributing educational lessons to the downfall of past cartoons. The writers also decided to avoid contemporary jokes in the shows. Basically, the producers threw a big "fuck you" to conventional entertainment.

I didn't watch much Ren & Stimpy, but I saw what happened to kids who did. It seemed to be the first tinge of abstract to evolve from once basic television programming, and its impact on viewers was evident. Kids who liked Ren & Stimpy slipped into the underground of entertainment as they grew older. Ren & Stimpy was sort of like an underground recruitment television show to find kids to fill the strange niche in society. These were the same kids who liked KaBlam! and are now diehard fans of Robot Chicken and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Without even knowing it, Ren & Stimpy drafted a chunk of America's youth to the alternative side of entertainment.

There isn't much that affected us more than the television shows we watched as children. Maybe you're a zoologist because of The Wild Thornberrys, a skateboarder motivated by Rocket Power, or a coked out artist inspired by Ren & Stimpy. Whatever the case, Nickelodeon created one of the strongest television series of the 90's, and with it every show injected an subtle message to its viewers. I hope you agree with me on this look back on our past, and how fucked up we are because of Nickelodeon.

Continue to: 

6 Cartoons from the 90's with No Respect for Reason »
Top 5 Cartoon Characters Who Might Be Gay »

The Intriguing Inconsistencies of SpongeBob SquarePants »

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Nick Moose's picture

With the exception of Ren and Stimpy these other shows didnt even begin airing untill way after I was impressionable.
Hey Arnold came on when I was in middle school I think, but by then I had already moved on to more sophisticated cartoon network stuff instead , like Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Cartoon Planet.

Gavin Pitt's picture

Hey Arnold! started life as a series of claymation shorts that were much funnier than the tv show- interestingly, Arnold never said a word in any of them.

REN & STIMPY rocked and scared me at the same time. There was an episode in which Ren becomes a hermit, and his only companion is a mummified bog man- every time it's on screen, the bog-man is shown in the hyper-realistic insert shot style than R & S always used for gross things. Eventually it starts *talking back to him*. I was forever scarred...

btw- did you ever watch the new REN & STIMPY show? Ren and Stimpy were actually openly fucking each other in that one!

Grasshopper's picture

They did more than fucking, Ren was actually raping Stimpy

What about Rocko's Modern Life? I was kind of half-expecting to see it on the list.

Rocko's modern life was the most fucked up. Just try watcing it now. Seriously, the writers for that one were trying to slip as many dirty jokes as they on Nick in 30.

I hated that one when they were on the cruise ship and the young got old and vice versa.

Genuine Mach's picture

I've definitely noticed that recently as well.. I was never into Rocko at the time though.

Casey Freeman's picture

Dude, I've never seen the weirdness of "Ren and Stimpy" and its fans so brilliantly described. I used to watch it (which tells you something) but I don't think I understood half the jokes until about a year ago.

What about "Doug" which showed teenage guys as absolute pussies who liked to eat beets?

Or the stupid "Ahhh, Real Monsters" show? That sucked too.

But the worst was "Rugrats" which probably should have caused a lot of child abuse. Because if kids acted like that, they should be beaten.

Mike Lamb's picture

Ren and Stimpy was a gateway cartoon. And I'm pretty sure Doug had a hand in creating the emo scene. I hate him for that. Rugrats was more about shitty parenting, I think. And yeah, I'm old...none of the cartoons on this list register on my I give a fuck meter. Pretty sure I was already smoking pot in high school by then.

The Rugrats was really a figment of Angelica's Imagination.

Chucky died a long time ago along with this mother, that's why Chaz is a nervous wreck all the time.

Tommy was a stillborn, that's why Stu is constantly in the basement making toys for the son who never had a chance to live.

The DeVilles had an abortion, Angelica couldn't figure whether it would be a boy or a girl thus creating the twins
-----------------------------
As for "All Grown Up" Angelica was a bipolar schizophrenic who, as a teenager became addicted to various Narcotics, bringing her back to her childhood and thus her creations she obsessed over, because of time lapse between the present and the last time she interacted with her creations, she made them older, Angelica was constantally taking hits of acid, so she would never have to live without her creations who were her only company, in a judgemental world

Angelica's mom actually died of a heroine overdose, Angelica was schizophrenic/bipolar because she was a crack baby, additionaly Drew in his depression married a gold digging whore, that Angelica idolized because she fooled herself into thinking it was her real mom, but always had a concept of her mom, Cynthia, and took a barbie doll, and made it after her mom's image, wearing an unwashed oranged dress, and having jacked up hair, which is why she was so attached to it, later in life she followed in her mom footsteps w/ drugs and everything, dieing of overdose at age 13 when All Grown Up! was "canceled"

The only rugrat not to be fictional however, was unborn Tommy's brother Dil, however Angelica didnt know the differace between Dil and her creations, Dil didnt follow her commands, after endless crying and a refusal to disapear like the others did when angelica was angry with them, she hit him. And she hit him, screaming a screaching tune, Stu ran in and pulled his neice off of his only child, but it was too late, he had a brain hemerage, which resulted in a deformation, as he grew up his damage only became more evident, by the time he was 9 in All Grown Up! He lived as an outcast, being ridiculed for his weirdness, and retardation, the immense guilt over this is what led to her drug use and is what led Angelica to un-create the rugrats breifly, until her expericance w/ hallucinogenics.

On a trip to Paris to find love, Chaz married a hooker named Kira (He was actually going to marry a differant hooker, but she just wanted him for his money), who had a daughter named Kimi that was torn from her because she was a cocaine addict (Angelica imagined her from Kira's stories), he lost his mind after the death of his wife and was in denial that she was ever prostitue, upon return to America, Chaz and Kira married and she got her greencard, it was actually a really happy/romantic story, Kira continually stuggled with addiction, but was relatively happy w/ her life, and Chaz

Suzie was actually Angelica's only friend, who entertained the thought of Angelica's creations, for her, She later became a phycologist and teamed up w/ Nickelodeon to make the Rugrats! When Angelica died of drug overdose, she helped arrange her funeral, Angelica's death was sad, because of her addiction, she was expelled from society, which lead to a break with reality, and her eventual death, she spent the last days of her life in the back of the school cafeteria, imagining friends around her, and playing with the lives of her creations.

Keke DeVille's picture

Ok, stop smoking le crack while watching le Sixth Sense....Makes sad sad sense though.

Genuine Mach's picture

Phil and Lil's mom was also a lesbian... you forgot about that part. lol

I loved Ren & Stimpy. I haven't come across anything yet that measures up. Funny thing, while we grew up with these "cartoons" without the preamble of this will mess you up-the kids of today watching retro 'toons have a freakin' paragraph warning parents about Bugs and Elmer Fudd. WTF. Awesome, man.

Is it just me or did the article start talking about the birth of the station and then cover shows that were made way into the life of the station?

Ren and Stimpy, classic. Rocko belonged on here, as well as many others. I never even heard of the others besides Hey Arnold through little cousins.

Ren and Stimpy was awesome. I am older and watched with MY kids. But the best Nickelodeon cartoon ever? ANGRY BEAVERS. Seriously, those jokes were PUSHING IT.

You and me man.

OK - I need to clarify a few things regarding your "Hey Arnold" comments." 1. Stickball is played in a lot of schoolyards in NYC, the stoop is a common place to hang-out and all Public Schools in NYC have PS as a designation (grades 1 - 6); all of that which is listed happens in all neighborhoods, regardless of economic status.

Your Hey Arnold! rant left something to be desired.

I was raised in NYC, all public schools had a PS# mine was P.S. 85 and I lived in a pretty nice neighborhood not too far from where that show was based.

You really went off about Stickball? Really, dude, if you want to play and can't manage to get your hands on a bat or a ball, you use what you got, it was more ingenuity than "OH LIFE IS MISERABLE BECAUSE WE'RE POOR." Kids are gonna play.

Interesting stuff. I like where you are going with this. Or where've you gone. I must take issue though with yer characterization of Patrick Ewing, Abdul-Jabbar and Scottie Pippen as "gangster ass" basketball players. Those guys are all highly respected, intelligent men who happen to have played in the NBA. Nothing "gangsta" about them. Did I not read that right?

very true, none of these men are gangster in the least.

You were not alive during the birth of the greatest TV station to bless this planet. The channel started as a station called 'Pinwheel' in 1977 and then changed names to 'Nickelodeon' in 1981. A simple trip to Wikipedia would have told you that. You are an idiot and I can not even begin to name all the errors you made in this article. The only reason I even took the time to reply is because I grew up on the generation of Nick shows before you. 'Hey Arnold' and 'Ren & Stimpy' are the only ones in the bunch that I ever caught. Pete and Pete, Doug, Hey Dude, Are You Afraid of the Dark, Clarissa Explains it all etc. etc.

The other shows you listed are not even worth analyzing. My little bro watched Rocket power and the Wild Thornberrys and from what I have seen they are just as garbage as you are.

YOU FAIL AT LIFE

Ah, yes, because we all know that wikipedia is ALWAYS accurate.

Doesn't change the fact that in this case, it is.

All of these save one, are the second or even third wave of nickelodeon cartoons, their seeming sophomore and junior attempts.

Some of us can remember the original three:

Ren and Stimpy
Doug
Rugrats.

This is where all the insanity started and discussions should stem from. These are the classics,
I do agree with a couple others that deserved a mention. WTF is Rocko?? That show was f'd up even by today's standards....

You're a total moron. You are some wannabe writer trying to sound like a professional. All you did was make yourself sound like a bitchy little rich kid. Cite your sources...I mean come on don't they teach you about MLA in your nicely named HS?

It was funnier when Chappelle talked about Sesame Street. Good idea tho

When he talked about Oscar bieng just another homeless dude I was weak.

WOW I MISS ALL THEM OLD CARTOONS
I NEVER EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT HOW GHETTO HEY ARNOLD WAS
ALL THE SHOWS ON NICK SUCK ITS MOSTLY TEEN SHOWS LIKE I CARLY N OTHERS THERE IS HARDLY ANY CARTOONS ANYMORE THAT SUCKS I GUESS CHILDHOOD AND INNOCENCE MIGHT B EXTINCT SOON

I'm not sure you were the best person to write this article. In my humble opinion, Hey Arnold took from the format of Doug, while Rocco (which should of been mentioned) was successful using a similar style to Ren and Stimpy. Rugrats also deserves to be mentioned, but doesn't really fit the "sketch" argument.

Wild Thornberries and Rocket Power came from a different wave, where Nickelodeon choose an interesting premise, where the characters are in an environment the audience couldn't experience themselves. However, they aren't what people talk about when they have Nickelodeon nostalgia; that is saved for shows like Hey Arnold and Angry Beavers.

It is a fine line for the perfect age. Too old and you get caught up in Transformers and TMNT, and too young and you don't appreciate what made Nickelodeon special (and probably like Spongebob...)

i loved the era of nick ur talking about too, but spongebob was also great. one of the best. it was the most hilarious cartoon on tv. great use of adult and child humor to alow both the parents and kids to enjoy it together, which is what made it so great. last of the good cartoons on nick though... the shit today, omg what happened?

Hey Arnold was the best show ever, eve if there were insults and stuff, Arnold was good natured kid who tried to help others and be kind and that effected lots of us til this day.
What's wrong with being poor? Poor kids have life you know, they go out and play too. Disneys The Weekenders was similar to Hey Arnold but with middle classed kids who afforded to have lots of material possessions, it sucked to watch that after Hey Arnold.

As an out-of-it adolescent i think all of the plain wrong socio/sexually charged references in shows like ROCKOS, STIMPY AND ARNOLD soared over my head as I just absorbed the shows wholly, as they imprinted my brain unbeknownstedly to me/only story lines seemed important. Now It's like OMG, how did they show this Shit to children? Is this why I hate black people and masturbate 3 times daily/ have gay sex? OMG???

Actually, Hey Arnold was modeled after Portland and Seattle. Please don't make up whatever you feel like and enforce it as truth.

if you were an incredibly stupid and easily influenced child then yes, these would affect you. even as a child i was aware that cartoons were fake and they were nothing more than just cartoons.

So, you're saying that the Wild Thornberrys are dysfunctional, yet you admit to thinking about a teenage girl having sex with a monkey. Sounds like you're the sketchy one.

You are a dipshit. These shows were awesome.

Just because you don't agree with his opinion, it doesn't make him wrong or you right. Why can't ya'll state your opinion in a respectful, proffesional way so we can have a mature conversation and learn from one another? STOP TROLLIN!

uhmm p.s 118 is a real name, in the city p.s means public school and the schools go by numbers..idiot

Holy shit!

... Um, Rocket Power takes place in Hawii...

Ummmmmmm no it takes place in a fictional city based mainly off of Santa Monica, California and a few others along the coast.

Interesting theory.try researching first :3. I believe it well maybe good job on it just write. A little more

For all the people criticizing the article, I just have one thing to say.

WHOOOOOOOOOSH.......

Mother fuckin donkey cock

your a fucking retard who doesnt know tv when he sees it. the 90s had the best tv ever. i watched every single one of these shows. i never obbessed over debbie or robot chicken aqua team hunger forces or if i can talk to animals or how much freedom the rocket kids got. i loved these tv shows im glad that nick made these shows i just cant believe you obbessed over a cartoon girl i guessing you never been laid in your life im sixteen and proably been laid more then you. i also guessing you dont have any else to do wit your life then remeber your childhood tv shows and write about how bad they were. remeber you watched them too so if you say were so fucked up then i guesssing you are too

shits gay

HOW is Rocko's Modern Life not on here with all of the sexual puns they had??

Jeez, it's an opinion guys. GTFU. I strongly believe that all these cartoons had some form of uneducational puns here & there. I grew up in the 90s & I'm not stupid either. I'm very intelligent & I know weird stuff when I see them. Im sure you all who are criticizing have your own opinions as well so just get over it. if you didnt like it & if you had a "life", you didnt have to comment.

& for the person who was 16 & having more sex then the guy who blogged, lol to you.

90s are all that
Nuff said

In all honesty you are entitled to your opinion but here's a thought isn't blaming these 90's shows for how some peoples mental health turned out the same as a person who eats fast food everyday blaming the fast food places for making them fat...think about it. Some of us were kids when we watched these shows(like me) and I just watched them because I thought they were entertaining. Plus I'm sure if parents saw a problem with these shows we wouldn't have watched them. And as far as mental health goes. I turned out just fine. Compared to kids now who have Video games that have graphic killing plots to them Hey Arnold and the rest of the shows you mentioned are not that serious but like I said you have your own opinion.

I can't believe i just wasted 15 minutes of my life reading this bullshit "article" that has absolutely no research done at all on these shows. You're such a dumbass -.-

This is the most inaccurate thing I've ever read. You are basically saying that if you live in a city you are poor. That's stupid. The kids lived in brownstones. Arnold lived in a boarding house with his grandparents as landlords. The name of the school is irrelevant. In New York City it is normal for a school to have a name like PS 118 or CS 133 (the elementary school I attended) AND I AM NOT POOR AS FUCK.

Gerald a gangster? Because he was black ? That's ignorant.

Maybe the show is completely fine and you're the one with the problem.

90s are all that!
prick XD

Arnold's school did have a name. PS 118 stands for public school number 118. It's very common in cities where they don't want to take the time to name every school, or because there is more than one school in a district so they can't be [town's name] elementary school. There is a PS 118 in New York City.

yay i lov everything nickeoldeo

i also want to say one thing
'
'
suck my dick

This is despicable.. keep believing that sheltering your kids from information thru the TV is a good thing... see how shy and slow he is socially when he gets older..

I really hated Hey Arnold i knew a child a had a disorder i hope the stupid show ends.I know everything about hey arnold.

Oh.

Nice article bro. Yeah 90's nick is very dear to my heart so it was cool to hear someone break the shows down and get to the essence of them. My little sister is 13 and knows nothing about those cartoons. Even snick with All that, kenan&kel, pete and pete, my brother and me.Now nick and disney are just a bunch of shows that push fame, egotistic values and stereotypes on kids. Awww the 90's...Those were the good old days. Good read.

All these shows where coming from the era of the Simpsons mid point. The digests theory is just by some professor, they do it for all the shows. It just seems that a lot of the shows like Hey Arnold, Rugrats, Spongebob, Rockos world, ect where based of someone's life, adult entartainment, or based on true reality. All theses shows where part of my childhood but just like Disney they are all pretty fucked.

Genuine Mach's picture

Hey Arnold also had a ghetto, Asian John Wayne, a creepy guy that breathed down Helga's neck while she was reciting Shakespearean prose about Arnold (let's assume that's all he was doing), and a sexist immigrant dude from Eastern Europe who sat around scratching his ass all day ("Suzie, make-a-me a sandwich! That's your job!")
Now we know where the sandwich jokes really come from...

All schools in new york are called. PS (insert number here) I went to achool in ny. Come on, thts just common knowledge.

Your article was very interesting. However;

Stickball + house stoops = poor. Everyone knows that. And to make things official, Arnold's school was called "P.S. 118."

1. Stoops do not equal poor in regards to the current real estate market.

2. P.S, is a common acronym for Public School, used often in large cities and also accompanied by numbers e.g 118.

I will still read your article because its interesting.

Not to mention that Helga's mom was a total alcoholic. :P