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"A baby's gotta do what a baby's gotta do!"
Rugrats was one of Nickelodeon's first and most popular original series, debuting in 1991.. Paraphrasing the description at nick.com:
Grown-ups act as if babies don't know anything. But the fearless, hairless Tommy Pickles and his baby brigade know what's really going on. They'd be happy to inform the grown-ups, if they could only understand baby talk. For the Rugrats, every day is an adventure, especially if the baby-tossing, doll-torturing 3-year-old Angelica is around. Luckily, when the going gets tough, the gang gets going!
The rest of Tommy's gang includes:
- Chuckie, his red-headed, bespectacled best friend who is afraid of everything, but nothing more than "the guy on the oatmeal box"
- Twins Phil and Lil who hate it when they get mistaken for each other but love eating worms and mud
- The new neighbor and Angelica's arch rival, Susie Carmichael
- Tommy's colicky baby brother Dil, born in the first movie
- Chuckie's spunky, adventure-loving step-sister Kimi, whose mother Kira marries Chuckie's dad in the second movie Rugrats in Paris.
One of the original nicktoons alongisde Doug and The Ren and Stimpy Show, it was canceled after two seasons in 1994. Three years later with impressive rerun ratings, the show was Uncanceled and became one of the mainstays of Nickelodeon. Two standalone feature films were produced, The Rugrats Movie (1998) and Rugrats in Paris (2000). Both made a respectable box office gross. Rugrats Go Wild, a third Crossover film with The Wild Thornberrys (also a Klasky Csupo production), tanked hard and is largely responsible for the reduced work of Klasky-Csupo productions since then.
The successor series, All Grown Up, showed Tommy and his friends, ten years later as middle schoolers. Also had another short lived spinoff Angelica and Susie's Preschool Daze: the name pretty much says is all. Check out Rugrats Online for more information, and rejoice in the fact that the show is now on The 90s Are All That!
Rugrats provides examples of:
- Adults Are Useless
- All Just a Dream: "Visitors From Outer Space", though the aliens resemblance to Tommy's relatives should give it away.
- Also, "The Inside Story", when Chuckie accidentally swallows a watermelon seed and lies down, and the babies pull off an incredible journey to remove the seed. Jarring because there was no art shift to indicate the starting of the dream sequence and the ending of the dream looked like film getting ripped out of a projector.
- "Pickles vs. Pickles", though the Kangaroo Court setting clearly gave it away.
- Played straight, then inverted in "In the Dreamtime", in which after having several nightmares, Chuckie convinces himself he's dreaming when he's actually not.
- Angelica's Worst Nightmare features one, giving the episode title a double meaning (Angelica hates the idea of a baby sibling, and has a bad dream about it).
- Alter Kocker: Tommy's maternal grandparents, who are justified since they actually are Jews from Eastern Europe.
- Angry Guard Dog: The "big, mean, nasty monster dog" next door, named Frou-Frou.
- Annoying Laugh / Evil Laugh: Angelica's is particularly obnoxious and cruel.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Dil can be this towards Tommy sometimes.
- Arc Number: 15. Grandpa uses it almost every time he shows up.
- Art Evolution: Season 1 has a very different look compared to the other seasons. The animation (done in Taiwan by Wang Film Productions) is quite crude, and character designs are slightly different. Beginning with season 2, the animation work was done by various Korean studios, mostly Anivision, and became much more refined.
- Compare the first movie and the second. Compare the episodes before and after each movie to each other.
- Art Shift: The kids' movies from the episode "Home Movies".
- As Himself / The Cameo: Pat Sajak in one episode and Alex Trebek in another, although Alex was an expy of himself on an expy of Jeopardy.
- Asian Gal with White Guy: Chaz being Happily Married to Kira. No Unfortunate Implications, and it's rather cute.
- Baby Talk / Malaproper: So much so that Wikipedia used to have an article listing the kids' mispronunciations of certain words. Even 3-year old Angelica (and the 4 year olds she made friends with at a playground one day) would sometimes fall victim to this.
- Big Damn Movie
- Big No: Chuckie's first word.
- Chazz, in "Mr. Clean" when the babies get into the trash.
- Bilingual Bonus: An early episode included a Chez Restaurant named "Chez Ennui"; "ennui" is French for "boredom."
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Angelica. Based on which episode you're watching, sometimes inverted with Angelica being a Sheep in Bitch's Clothing.
- Black Best Friend: Susie is probably the closest thing Angelica has to a friend.
- Blind Without'Em: Chuckie and Didi and Grandpa Lou.
- Bowdlerise: In one episode, Tommy malaproped "germs" as "Germans." It was snipped to "Germs" in reruns.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Angelica.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Happens twice in "When Wishes Come True":
Lil: [about Angelica] She should turn into mashed peas!
- And when the babies think twice about making a wish that may end up turning them into a rock:
Lil: Or eyeballs!
- Brother Chuck: Larry and Steve, though they did make a reappearance in The Musical.
- Brought Home the Wrong Kid: At one point, while Tommy and Angelica are staying with Didi's parents, the babies up in the attic but Grandpa Boris rushes outside and brings back in two obviously different children (two boys and much older as well).
- Buffy-Speak: Because of the age of the character's we're dealing with, this tends to happen every once in a while.
Chuckie: "Don't do it, Tommy! If you give her permission to scare you, your whole life with be just one big scary... scary thingy!
- Butt Monkey: Chuckie: "Why me? Why always me?"
- Stu also qualifies, especially in the early seasons.
- Don't forget Angelica when she needs to be extra-nice and when she is a Designated Villain.
- Catch Phrase:
- Tommy: "A baby's gotta do what a baby's gotta do!"
- Chuckie: "I don't know, Tommy!" and "I Don't Think That's Such a Good Idea."
- And then in the early seasons Chuckie also had "Am I ok? AM I OK??" before going off into a tirade.
- Anyone (usually to Chuckie): "Quit being a baby!"/"Don't be such a baby."
- Angelica: "You dumb/stupid babies!" and, murmuring to herself "Dumb/stupid babies..."
- Stu: "This (toy) is gonna put Pickles Toy Company on the map!"
- Didi: "According to Lipschitz..."
- Chained Heat: Chuckie and Angelica in "Cuffed".
- Character Focus: Tommy is undoubtedly the hero of the show and Chuckie is the Deuteragonist, but Rugrats in Paris is very clearly Chuckie's story.
- Characterization Marches On: Believe it or not in season 1 it was actually Didi who was scared of clowns. Chuckie's fear of them didn't pop up until around the second season.
- Child-Hater: Coco LaBouche from Rugrats in Paris. Angelica is a rare example who is a child; she holds great disdain for babies of any kind.
- Christmas Episode: There are two of them: An early one that only featured the principal cast, and a later one with Dil and Kimi. This isn't surprising. What is surprising is that there's also a Kwanzaa episode, a Chanukah episode, and a Passover episode.
- Additionally, the second Christmas episode is not a Santamas episode. The babies actually encounter a Nativity scene and, despite not knowing who they're dealing with, give the half-naked baby in the manger some warm clothing. The baby doll and all the mannequins around them smile.
- Circumcision Angst: This disconcerting quote from "Showdown at Teeter-Totter Gulch": " Something happened to him in his first 8 days. I don't know what is is, but after that he changed and doesn't like to see babies getting picked on!"
- Companion Cube: Angelica's Barbie-parody Cynthia and Kimi's Super-Thing.
- Or Chuckie's teddy bear, Wawa.
- Competence Zone: Two levels which intersect: Angelica and Susie are on the upper level, who can communicate with the younger babies and the adults; and most of the rest, who can only communicate with Angelica and Susie. Dil is below both.
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: This show tends to play with this trope, especially in the early days. The formula usually has Tommy suggesting they do something, Phil and Lil agreeing, Chuckie mentioning that it's not such a good idea, one of the three calling Chuckie a "big baby" and dragging him along. It's usually subverted when the adventure goes south, but they still had a blast. Of course in said early days Chuckie's more temperamental attitude led him to point this out more frequently. In one episode he even lampshades how in every argument Tommy tricks him into following him and suggests to just skip it and go along with the plan right away. An interesting subversion is the episode "Touchdown Tommy". The B-Plot has the dads watching a big football game, though Chaz wants to watch the chess tournament. They blow him off and he's stuck watching the game. Apparently, he knew what he was saying - because the dads were too busy watching football, the babies covered the living room in chocolate milk and Didi and Betty were pissed when they got back:
Chaz: I told you we should have watched the chess tournaments.
- Continuity Nod: At the end of an adventure at the Zoo, Chazz discusses with Stu on where to take the Rugrats next where they won't caused mayhem; his suggestions were the bowling alley, the mini-golf course and the pool at the community center. In each case Stu mutters "Tried it.", referencing previous episodes where Stu takes them on trips to these locations and in each case they caused mayhem.
- In an episode of the later seasons, the babies were eating watermelons. Chuckie worries about shallowing a seed again, he even mentioned how the babies went inside his stomach to try and retrieve it.
- Events from the Rugrats in Paris movie are made in the first episode that aired after it, "Finsterella".
- Cool Big Sis: Susie, in a way.
- Cousin Oliver: Dil and Kimi.
- The cause of Dil's dislike can be summed up with "The premise of Rugrats is babies that can talk and go on adventures. Dil can do neither." Kimi, for her Base Breaker status, can at least do both of those things.
- Crapsack World: "Chuckie's Wonderful Life".
- Crossover: With Aaahh Real Monsters and The Wild Thornberrys.
- In the comics there was an issue that crossed over with Rocket Power.
- Crying Wolf: Angelica lies to the babies a lot and the only times they don't believe her are when she's telling the truth.
- Cute Kitten: Spike adopts a litter of them in one episode, with the babies trying to help him take care of them by getting milk.
- Darker and Edgier: The Rugrats Movie.
- Dark-Skinned Blond: Jonathan, Charlotte's assistant.
- Deliberately Cute Child: Angelica, when grownups are around.
- Delivery Stork: Explanation given to Angelica when she asks her parents where babies come from.
- Depraved Kids' Show Host: Miss Carol, at least until Angelica makes it backfire.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Angelica.
- Diaper Space
- In one episode where the babies think Grandpa's RV is a space ship, Tommy actually calls hyperspace "diaper space".
- Didn't Want an Adventure: All Chuckie ever wants is to do something nice and quiet.
- Grandpa Lou, not thrilled at the idea of having to see the Dummi Bears movie.
- Dinosaur Doggie Bone: When Grandpa takes the babies to a museum without Spike, they try to get him a dinosaur bone as a present. They succeed!
- Distant Reaction Shot: Practically a Running Gag. Any time any character, usually Stu or one of the adults, screams at the top of their lungs, the scene cuts to the outside to show just how loud the scream is.
- Disappeared Dad: Kimi's, in All Grown Up it's revealed that he's alive and lives in Japan. Having remarried and started a new family.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Tommy's parents attempt to wean him, after being without a bottle for a while, he gets a pouch-eyed look and starts desperately trying to bum one off Phil and Lil.
- Downer Beginning: The beginning of the Rugrats Movie starts off with a mother-son dance...unfortunately for Chuckie, his mother had passed away some time ago. But on the lighter side of things, Grandpa Lou (who was widowed) got remarried.
- Dream Within a Dream
- Drive-In Theater: Featured in "Runaway Reptar".
- Eek! a Mouse!: Stu does this in an early episode. His father is not amused.
- Fantastic Voyage: Traveling into Chuckie's stomach to remove a watermelon seed before it sprouts inside of him.
- Faux Symbolism: Some say that Josh, the fat kid from the episode "New Kid in Town", is supposed to represent a Dirty Communist, hence his red cap.
- Feud Episode: "Farewell, My Friend", possibly the Trope Namer. Chuckie ends his friendship with Tommy after a disastrous adventure and subsequent nightmare. He quickly changes his mind soon after.
- 555: In "The Santa Experience", Angelica dialed the phone number 555-5555 in an attempt to get ahold of a Christmas help line.
- Five-Man Band
- The Hero - Tommy
- The Lancer - Phil or Chuckie depending on the scenario
- The Big Guy - Chuckie or Phil, see above
- The Smart Guy - Lil
- The Chick - Angelica
- Team Pet - Spike
- Flash Forward: The episode that inspired All Grown Up.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Angelica's Right-Hand-Cat.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: The Toy Palace episode where Tommy and Chuckie get trapped inside the toy store has toy Daleks briefly visible in one scene.
- Another episode has Stu visit a pet shop to get Tommy a new pet after Spike gets lost. There are several animals stuffed into the cages, including an elephant. What kind of pet shop is this?!
- Pretty much anywhere there could be, there are- the supermarket, the movies, the doctor's office, etc.
- Fun with Flushing:
- The pilot episode had Tommy inspecting the toilet to find out what it does. He accidentally ends up flushing some toilet paper and making a mess in the bathroom, causing the toilet to overflow. He also flushes jewels down a toilet while he was kidnapped by robbers.
- Another episode had Angelica scaring Tommy and Chuckie by saying they'll get sucked down the drain (After an incident where Tommy accidentally loses one of his toys this way) whenever they take a bath, and throughout the episode they try to find ways to get out of it, which includes flushing anything bathtime related down the toilet. Ironically, she accidentally flushes her own doll, Cynthia, down the toilet. The plumber recovers it, but the doll is ruined. (For that episode, anyway.)
- In yet another, the parents take the kids to the pool, which they assume is a gigantic potty. The whole episode revolved around them trying to find the flusher, and trying things such as the high dive and the sauna thermostat (when they do the latter, they accidentally lock the moms inside).
- Generation Xerox: In "Sour Pickles", baby Stu sounds and acts just like Tommy, right down to keeping a toy screwdriver in his diaper.
- Genre Savvy: Chuckie. At several points he points out the general pattern of an episode where Tommy will convince Chuckie to go on an adventure, only to say "let's skip it", and go without any prodding.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: A lot, especially in the earlier seasons.
- The Ghost: Jonathan, Charlotte's assistant, whom we only ever heard about when she was talking to him on her cell phone. He was finally revealed in an episode where Charlotte had to take Angelica & Tommy to work.
- Charlotte herself was a ghost for much of the early run of the show. She was mentioned in passing, but appeared onscreen for the first time in "The Santa Experience" in the middle of the second season.
- Grandpa Lou's brother Sparky. He's deceased in the series proper, but he never shows up even in flashbacks.
- "Gift of the Magi" Plot: Intentionally set up by Angelica in "The Santa Experience" as a way of bullying Phil and Lil -- Phil will give Lil crayons and Lil will give Phil a Reptar Space Helmet, but Angelica made Lil trade in her coloring book and Phil trade in his Reptar doll. Unlike the original story, though, they get their toys back thanks to Angelica's Heel Realization.
- Grandparental Obliviousness
- Gross-Out Show: To the maximum. Somewhat justified, since the main characters are babies and babies can be pretty gross.
- Gross Up Close-Up: A lot of episodes begin this way.
- Growing Up Sucks: The fear of growing up constantly hangs over the babies' heads.
- This is the subject of "Angelica's Birthday", where she fears responsibilities and attempts to revert to a baby. She changes her mind when she realizes being a baby means missing out on fun games like pinata and eating candy.
- Half-Identical Twins: Phil and Lil.
- Happily Married: Chas and Kira, Stu and Didi, Betty and Howard, Drew and Charlotte. Boris and Minka, too, despite their quibbles.
- Especially Chas and Kira. As seen in the episodes "Finsterella", "The Big Sneeze", "Bow Wow Wedding Vows", "Babies In Toyland", "Sweet Dreams", "Mutt's in a Name", and "Kimi Takes The Cake" just to name a few.
- Hartman Hips: Charlotte Pickles.
- Human Ladder
- Human Mail: Tommy Pickles sneaks into the mailman's bag and explores the post office to find a "baby" (really a toy his dad ordered to compare with his own handmade doll) that will be delivered to his family. Tommy gets mistaken for a piece of mail and is sent through the system of mail sorting machines and chutes, almost gets stuck in the dead letter office, and finds the package, climbing into it and going home this way.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: Angelica pretty much runs on this trope when it comes to the babies. She'll kick them, steal their toys, call them names, and try to get them in trouble. But the second any other big kid or grown-up tries to do the same thing, she'll make them sorry. Josh and Coco found this out the hard way.
- Identical Twin ID Tags: For Phil and Lil.
- If You Can Read This...: The various background signs, boxes, and papers often contain amusing jokes, gags, and Continuity Nods. One memorable box is for "Unsweetened sugar."
- Imagine Spot: Most episodes consisted of creating a more elaborate fantasy than what was really going on.
- Indian Burial Ground: The Carmichaels live on one.
- Informal Eulogy: Parodied in the episode "The Mysterious Mr. Friend", when the babies bury an immobile Mr. Friend (whom they call "Mr. Fiend") in a grave:
Chuckie: I would like to say a prayer. [...] Like, uh, "Inkle finkle dinkle doo."
- Informed Judaism: Perhaps one of the strongest aversions in any mainstream secular cartoon. There are holiday episodes focused both on Hanukkah and Passover, including a cutesy rendition of the story of Moses. Having decided to make Tommy's maternal grandparents Alter Kockers, they really ran with it.
- All Grown Up also makes several references to Tommy attending a synagogue school, and one episode centers around him trying to be more of a "nice Jewish boy" to impress a girl he likes there.
- Innocent Swearing: Angelica overhears a Depraved Kids' Show Host state, rather sarcastically, that the "real" catchphrase of the show is that the children who watch it "are all little Sound Effect Bleeps" while auditioning for it. Angelica, being a preschooler, thinks this is sincere. Hilarity Ensues.
- Irritation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: More than once.
- It's a Wonderful Plot: "Chuckie's Wonderful Life", which may or may not have been All Just a Dream.
- It Tastes Like Mud
- Kangaroo Court: "Pickles vs. Pickles."
- Karma Houdini: Angelica manages to pull one in "Barbecue Story," where she deliberately throws Tommy's ball over a fence without any comeuppance. This has mostly been Averted Trope since.
- It runs in the family. In "Party Animals," Drew throws Stu out of his house during a costume party after picking a fight with him, then has the time of his life while Stu ends up arrested for trying to get back in through the window and spends the night in a cop car, with the cops mocking him.
- Kick the Dog
- Kids Prefer Boxes: "The Box" and "Kid TV."
- A variation of this trope appears in Momma Trauma, where a man is trying to sell some toy robots, but the kids are only interested in the ball which comes as an accessory.
- Larynx Dissonance: Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, and Dil were all voiced by women.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Happens a lot to Angelica.
- Latex Perfection: The ultra-realistic Reptar suit in "Reptar on Ice."
- Leitmotif: Angeilca has a noticeable one that accompanies all her lies and trickery.
- Lethal Chef: Susie.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Angelica has her moments.
- Mad Scientist: Stu has a very apparent mad scientist streak, making dangerous and advanced toys that he insist should work properly and a seemingly absent sense of ethics when it comes to technology, even in one instance shrugging off the moral dilemmas of a time machine marketed towards children.
- Man Child: Stu and Drew occasionally lapse into this, particularly when they fight over things they did to each other as children.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Betty and Howard.
- Mega Corp: Charlotte's company, Merge Corp, apparently specializes in company takeovers, hostile and benign.
- Meganekko: Didi Pickles and Kira Finster.
- Misaimed Marketing: Reptar on Ice, in-universe. Even the man playing Reptar in the show complains about how stupid the whole thing is.
- It's more that he's thoroughly unqualified. He can't skate, can't sing and hates kids and lizards.
- Missing Episode: The episode Vacation is not available on the official compilation DVD's (even though it was a special, it was still considered a regular episode of the series), and isn't shown on TV. This could be due to licensing issues--the episode begins with the song "Vacation" by the Go-Gos--or could be due to Too Soon, due it partially involving a group of white tigers from a magic act running wild.
- It's actually on the "Decade in Diapers" DVD and VHS, complete with licensed song and tigers.
- It was also released on it's own VHS in the UK. A Bright Orange one, no less.
- Missing Mom: Chuckie's. In early seasons, she was occasionally mentioned, but never seen or heard. On a Mother's Day special episode, it's indicated (but never outright stated) that Chuckie's mom is dead.
- In the second movie, it's so obvious that any audience could tell; and this is the same movie Chuckie gets a stepmother.
- If I remember correctly, there was a brief scene in a Thanksgiving themed episode that set up the second film in which Chuckie and his father visit his mother's grave. Said scene was played, surprisingly, rather matter-of-factly.
- Mood Whiplash: Many people were turned off by how dark the first movie got, especially when you realize that they are all under the age of 3. Done completely serious, Tommy almost left his brother to a pack of monkeys in the forest. It can be quite a Tear Jerker.
- Morality Chain: in earlier episodes, Chuckie was often this to Tommy, Phil, and Lil, since they could be manipulated or led astray by Angelica into doing bad things. this is most evident in "Rebel Without a Teddy Bear", where Chuckie is the only thing keeping Tommy from being as much of a mean-spirited, destructive hellion as Angelica.
- Moral Guardians: Boris and Minka would later be written out of the show because the publishers thought he was too much like a Jewish stereotype. I guess no one told them that Rugrats was created by Jews.
- Or that Eastern European Jewish grandparents really are like that, as anyone with them will tell you.
- Mouth Cam
- The Movie: Two canon movies and a Crossover with The Wild Thornberrys.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Basically the premise of the show, the kids would explore the basement or the backyard and it became a daring adventure filled with cliffhangers, monsters and other things their wild imaginations would create.
- The Musical: A live-action one called Rugrats: A Live Adventure from the end of the '90s. Nostalgia Filter heavy.
- Musical Episode: One parodying several older songs, such as "Bicycle Built For Two" becoming "A Trike That Is Not For You", et cetra.
- About half of "Reptar On Ice" is the actual show and peoples' reactions to it, and the other half is the babies' adventure.
- My Little Panzer: The Reptar Wagon.
- Not to mention the Toy Palace. Dear lord, the Toy Palace.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Tommy's last name, Pickles, is sometimes mispronounced in various ways, such as "Peaches" (which becomes a plot point in Angelica Breaks a Leg, mixing up Angelica's X-Ray with that of a football player named Antonio Peaches), and "Pridklers".
- Aunt Miriam always calls Didi a different name each time, Didi would correct her but she doesn't listen. Tommy's uncle Ben keeps calling Stu Mr. Pickles despite being brothers-in-law. In the episode featuring how the babies first meet, Chas kept calling Drew Mr. Pickles, but is reminded that they've been friends since their high school days.
Drew Pickles: Stop calling me "Mr. Pickles"!
- Neat Freak: Chuckie.
- Never Heard That One Before: Tommy in All Grown Up about the joke "Can it, Pickles! Or should I say, 'jar it'?"
- Never My Fault: Angelica gets sent to day camp and blames her doll, Cynthia, for suggesting it.
- In "Passover", Pharaoh (Angelica) blames Cynthia for being drowned by Moses.
- Nice Character, Mean Actor: A major plot point in "Word of the Day". Angelica gets invited to appear on her favorite kid's show, "Miss Carol's Happy House", hosted by a quirky Genki Girl who claims to be a Friend to All Children, but she sneaks backstage and hears Miss Carol viciously insulting the kids on her show with a dirty word that we never hear. It gets even funnier when Angelica repeats the word on TV, not realizing what it means, and Miss Carol ends up having a complete Villainous Breakdown on the air.
- Nightmare Sequence: I'm not Tommy, hyuck hyuck!
- I'm not Stu!!!
- "Was I a funny clown?" "Uhh... not really."
- I'm not Stu!!!
- The Nineties, and in the first season, The Eighties (even though 1991 is part of the 90s).
- Noodle Incident: The time Chuckie got his head stuck in a sock became a Running Gag.
- “You said forty seconds. I thought you had been kidnapped by ecoterrorists again.” Charlotte's life suddenly seems just a bit more impressive.
- To be fair, ecoterrorists were everywhere in the 90's.
- There was also the time Angelica told Chuckie the guy on the oatmeal box moved in next door.
- Or when she covered his glasses in peanut butter.
- Tommy lists a whole string of noodle incidents in "Garage Sale", like putting mud in his father's shoes so they'd squish and filling the toilet with Jello so the fish wouldn't get hungry.
- "The Big Flush" has Chuckie rattling off a list of adventures Tommy's gotten them into, all of them referencing previous episodes...except for the time he got stuck in a tomato bush and a dog thought he was a tree.
- “You said forty seconds. I thought you had been kidnapped by ecoterrorists again.” Charlotte's life suddenly seems just a bit more impressive.
- No Matter How Much I Beg: Angelica and the cookie jar.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: The show starts with Tommy's first birthday, and all four seasons get featured at least once before Dil is introduced, the last one, autumn, being the one in which Didi's pregnancy is set up. Getting the length of a pregnancy right, they seemingly set The Movie in which Dil is born in the summer yet Tommy and Dil are only a year apart, both before the Time Skip and after!
- Though they don’t age Chuckie makes several infant-to-toddler transitions such as moving from crib to regular bed, bottle weaning, potty training, and even speaking (a single world). An early episode had Tommy’s parents try to wean him but decide to hold off on it and in the later seasons he moves from crib to regular bed. The twins are seen sleeping over in regular bed so they might have switched over as well.
- Not Me This Time: One episode has Suzie blame Angelica for stealing her brand-new tricycle and punishes her by tying her doll to a balloon and letting it go. Despite the evidence against her, Angelica was completely innocent -- Suzie's trike was under her porch, Angelica's trike was her own and Angelica's red hands (which Suzie thought was from opening her garage's painted doors) were actually from her finger painting an apology letter. Thankfully for Suzie, a miracle (or a low-flying plane) gets Angelica's doll back to her and everyone's happy again.
- Except Chuckie. It was his balloon.
- That said, Angelica did make off with the trike across the backyard despite Suzie's protests, and she did break her reflector. Even if she was innocent, Suzie did have reason to believe she wasn't.
- Not Now, Kiddo: When Susie first moves in, she can't find her room because her stuff hasn't been moved in. She tries complaining to her mom, but she won't listen. Neither will her dad.
- In "The Shot," Angelica keeps trying to tell her Drew and Didi that Tommy and his new friend Hector ran away. Drew keeps shushing her, then when he finally lets her speak she tells them what happened. Drew's response? "These are the sort of things you should tell grownups right away."
- Obfuscating Disability: After watching a soap opera, Angelica fakes breaking her leg so everyone could bend to her every whim. Thanks to a very young doctor, her X-Rays are mixed up and they believe that she DID break her leg. The doctor does realize his mistake later, but not before Stu nearly has a major breakdown.
- And unfortunately for Antonio Peaches, a football player who's X-Ray was mixed up with Angelica's, the doctor found out his leg was actually broken a little too late.
- Oh, and X Dies: From "I Remember Melville":
Phil: [to Chuckie] "Oh yeah, your bug died."
- Panty Shot: In "Mirror Land", when Didi comes down stairs to retrieve her glasses from Lou, after she tells him to "take off that ridiculous hair", he chuckles and says "Hey, where's the ballet?", referring to Didi (who's wearing a ballerina outfit) inadvertently flashing her white undies. Surprised and mortified, she hurriedly adjusts her tutu and blushes.
- In "The Case of The Missing Rugrat", Ms. Emma lifts up the front of her split dress to hide the view of Lou's family birthmark after he unbuttons his shirt to prove Tommy is indeed his grandson, revealing her white pantelettes.
- In "Tricycle Thief," Susie holds a trial against Angelica who is accused of stealing her tricycle. Susie ties the string of her mylar balloon to the left foot of Angelica's doll and dangles it upside down, causing the doll's skirt to fall over and show white panties.
- Parental Bonus: Many in the movies.
- The series seemed built on this in the early seasons, with the adult cast getting subplots with humor relating to adult issues. Just as an example, one episode featured a B-plot of the adults getting together and doing their taxes.
- In one episode Angelica actually states that she's afraid "Sadam Hussaney" will invade her clubhouse.
- In one episode where they thought they were on the moon, Chuckie bit Stu's finger thinking he was a moon alien. He used words Chuckie never heard before.
- "Please, please, let me make a perfect toy!"
- In the episode "Home Movies", the babies make their own with crayons. Near the end, Angelica challenges Tommy to make one.
Tommy. Alright, I'll do it, but I warn you, it's not gonna be pretty. I don't have all my motor skills yet.
- At Charlotte's workplace, there are two fish named Vesco and Boesky, named after businessmen involved in financial scandals.
- The lawyer in "Pickles Vs. Pickles" is Mr. Barnum. It's a double bonus because not only does the judge call the lawyer on making the court a circus, it would be remarkably prescient of another trial, this time with a laywer named Bailey ...
- "Game Show Didi" has Didi on a game show that's most like Jeopardy! (with Alex Trebek voicing host Alan Grabak, no less), although they have the prize showcase Wheel of Fortune used to have. Didi chooses a gold-plated dalmation, a reference to the infamous ceramic dalmation from Wheel of Fortune's aforementioned prize showcase.
- In "Kid TV", Angelica gets into a brawl with Phil and Lil as she tries to force them to sing during a soap opera she thinks is an actual opera. Tommy tells them to stop, saying there's too much violence on TV already.
- Parrot Expowhat:
Stu:: Presenting the Bonkomatic Baby Bumper!
- Perfume Commercial: "Angelica's Beauty Juice."
- Pet the Dog: Angelica gets these moments now and then.
- Pig Latin: In one episode ("Superhero Chuckie"), after Angelica sees the actor playing Captain Blasto "fly" on a rope, she asks him if he can do it again without the rope, and the actor whispers to her, "Ix-nay on the ope-ray, kid."
- The Pig Pen: Phil and Lil.
- Pirate Girl: There was an Imagine Spot (stemming from a game of make-believe) where the babies were pirates. Naturally, Angelica plays the role of the evil pirate captain.
"Prepare to be bored!"
- Poke the Poodle: Tommy's idea of being bad is...throwing an empty cup of juice on the floor.
Angelica: "First of all, when you knock over your juice, you do NOT drink the juice first."
- Poorly-Disguised Pilot: All Grown Up was merely intended to be a fun episode, but because it was so popular they considered it a proof-of-concept pilot.
- Porn Stash: There is an episode which centers around the babies trying to get into Phil and Lil's father's locked desk. Once they do they empty the contents and for a split second you can see a magazine with a woman dressed as a bunny on the cover.
- Potty Failure: Given the age of the main characters, it's bound to happen.
- Pro Wrestling Episode: "Wrestling Grandpa".
- Punny Name: Dil Pickles.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Stu and Drew.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Stu is generally depicted as a struggling toy inventor while routinely inventing technologies that should by all rights revolutionize the world as we know it.
- To prove a point: Stu invents Mr. Friend in an episode in 1993. 5 years later Microsoft introduces the Actimates Barney. They're both more similar than you think.
- Even moreso, there was the episode when he successfully created an anti-gravity field. The only flaw in his plan was that he blew the power grid in the process.
- The Renaissance Age of Animation
- Retcon: In the first few seasons, it's pretty apparent that the writers intended Chuckie's mother to be alive and just be a different kind of ghost. (In "Chuckie vs. the Potty," he specifically refers to his mother as failing to potty train him.) After being Uncanceled, however...
- Rousing Speech: In "Mega Diaper Babies", Angelica has the babies on the run with her army of flying animals. Chuckie, Phil and Lil vow to give up and play something else. Tommy's response delivered in a fervor worth of Braveheart or 300:
Tommy: "'Play something else'? PLAY SOMETHING ELSE? I can't believe you guys!"
- Tommy had a tendency to do this from time to time. Chuckie even lampshaded it in one episode. "I love it when he gives these big speeches." And in one episode, Chuckie managed to give one to Tommy.
- Salt and Pepper: Angelica and Susie.
- Sassy Black Woman: Susie, especially in All Grown Up.
- Sauna of Death: An accidental example.
- Save the Villain
- Senior Sleep Cycle: Used over and over again as the device that allows the babies to cause whatever mischief they've decided to do that episode.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Chuckie and Tommy.
- Series Fauxnale: The Rugrats All Growed Up special would have been a fantastic and emotional series finale... if it weren't for the fact that the one episode was so popular that they decided to permanently Retool the show into a preteen school sitcom.
- And the show itself went on for another three years.
- Shout-Out: Quite a few, many mixed in with the parental bonuses.
- Tommy says "Make it so, number one" when they're pretending to have gone into space.
- The Blasto Oath is pretty much ripped straight from the Green Lantern oath.
- "Mega Diaper Babies" was an early episode featuring a quartet of superheroes battling a metallic supervillain (which naturally, the babies imagined themselves recreating).
- One of Angelica's nightmare-inducing stories about a boy who was eaten by a monster beneath his bed, was named Barnaby Jones.
- And of course, who could forget Grandpa Lou's tale of the "Satchmo" that lives in the woods?
- Tommy was once accidentally adopted by two eccentric old ladies who lived in a dilapidated mansion.
- After discovering a nickel in the sandbox, the babies and Angelica get nickel  fever, and paranoia sets in. The reference is doubled, when just like the gold, the nickel is eventually reclaimed by the wind & sand.
- Not to mention Chuckie saying "We don't need no stinking nickels!"
- Stu and Drew's favorite show as kids was clearly a take on Rocky and Bullwinkle.
- In one episode, Chuckie wanders into a room of elderly people (including one who looks like Albert Einstein) doing the Hora. He wanders out in a daze. Upon being asked what he saw, he says, "The Hora! The Hora!"
- Complete with Rimshot.
- An episode in which Angelica promises her mom to be quiet up to a certain point to win a new Cynthia doll toy parallels that of The Twilight Zone episode "The Silence".
- The episode "Toy Palace" contains some pink Dalek toys in the background of one scene.
- Chuckie declares that he's a "human bean! in "The Slide."
- Another episode where they think they've gone to the moon and are trapped with no way to get home. Phil makes a shout to the tagline of Alien.
Chuckie: We could yell and cry for help.
- One episode, "Chuckie's Wonderful Life", is a shout-out to It's a Wonderful Life, albeit without the Christmas themes or suicide.
- Tommy has an aunt and uncle named Elaine and Ben.
- Angelica's "You like me, you really like me" in the final episode of the original series, is clearly a reference to Sally Field's oscar acceptance speech in 1985.
- In the Halloween episode where the babies find the mouse in the garage, Tommy and the mouse are about to touch fingers like the poster for ET the Extraterrestrial before the garage door opens.
- The infamous episode Angelica Breaks a Leg features a young doctor named Hogie Dooser.
- "Ruthless Tommy" has Tommy kidnapped by two dumb criminals who think he's the son of Ronald Thump.
- Shown Their Work: When Didi goes on the game show, one of the questions is "What was President Nixon's favorite food?" The answer was ketchup and cottage cheese, which really was his favorite food.
- Show Within a Show: Reptar, The Dummy Bears, and several others.
- Including the blatant parody Blocky and Oxwinkle.
- Six Is Nine: In one episode, Tommy gets kidnapped as a result of criminals succumbing to this trope.
- Spanner in the Works: In "The Bank Trick", Tommy and Chuckie unwittingly foil a bank robbery while looking for candy at the bank.
- Special Edition Title: Used in the first Christmas Episode.
- Spin-Off: All Grown Up and Angelica and Susie's Pre-School Daze. The former a time skip series following the Rugrats during their preteen years (and Susie and Angelica's teenage years). The latter focusing on the title characters exploits during pre-school.
- Spiritual Successor: Recess, which was made by former co-creator Paul Germain, writer Joe Ansolabehere, and their writing team. It aired in Fall 1997 when Rugrats got renewed.
- Spoiled Brat: Angelica, to the point where even her parents recognize this even as they spoil her! But to their credit, they've tried many times to correct it.
- Stealth Pun: One episode had Tommy and Chuckie part ways, with Tommy befriending a brave girl and Chuckie befriending a cowardly boy. The boy's name is Freddie (because he's afraid of everything) and he has a cat on his overalls, making him a "fraidy-cat".
- Story Arc: Season 1 has kind of a story arc in the background. Stu is hired by Mucklehoney Toys as an inventor early in the season, invents the Patty Pants doll after that, and at the end of the season is mass-producing thousands of Patty Pants dolls for Mucklehoney.
- Stupid Crooks: One cartoon saw two bumbling criminals kidnap Tommy and hold him for ransom after they get their real target's house address wrong. Even then, the 1-year-old baby becomes too much for the two idiots to handle so fast that they end up returning Tommy back to his parents before they even realized Tommy had been missing.
- Suck E. Cheese's: Piggy's Pizza Palace.
- Survival Mantra: Chuckie: "I'm a big brave dog. I'm a big brave dog."
- Take That: In "Reptar 2010", one building Reptar destroys is a Viacom skyscraper. This makes it Hilarious in Hindsight from the YouTube debacle years later.
- The Talk: When Angelica asks where babies come from, they decide to be honest with her. They chicken out.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Phil and Lil can switch identity with a mere bow toss.
- Even though you can still tell the difference between them (Phil wears blue shorts and Lil doesn't), it still manages to fool everyone.
- Theme Naming: Lou, Stu, and Drew Pickles.
- Taken Up to Eleven in one episode, where they visit Stu's brother Hugh and his wife Dotti, and Tommy meets cousins Tammy, Timmy, and Tony Pickles.
- Theme Twin Naming: Phil and Lil DeVille.
- There Was a Door: In the "Visitors from Outer Space" episode, Angelica gets a little carried away with the planet atomizer:
"You know, kid, these doors do open automatically."
- Three Dimensional Episode: Dust Bunnies.
- Those Two Guys: Larry and Steve.
- Through a Face Full of Fur: In "Barbecue Story", when Tommy tells the other babies "A baby's gotta do what a baby's gotta do" (in reference to getting his ball back from the other side of the face and a neighbor's yard, after Angelica threw it there), his diaper becomes loose and snaps off, revealing his crotch. Tommy pulls his diaper back up and light blush appears on his cheeks, as he looks at his friends and smiles coyly.
- In "Give And Take", Stu literally turns blue in the face when he's blowing air into the Boppo balloon doll with all his might.
- Time Skip: The Poorly-Disguised Pilot for All Grown Up.
- Title Drop:
Grandpa Lou Pickles: Why you rambunctious little rugrats, I oughta...
- Toilet Humour: Of course, given the age of the main characters, it's expected.
- One particularly glaring example is the episode where they get gerbils and Stu, while looking for them, says something about a "big surprise". Cue Gilligan Cut to a closeup of gerbil feces, with Tommy and Chuckie complaining that it's not the surprise they wanted.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Susie and Angelica.
- The Tooth Hurts: This plays a part in one episode when Angelica tries to pull out one of Chuckie's teeth for tooth fairy money.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Cookies for Angelica.
- Translation Convention: The babies' babblings are rendered as infantile English.
- Trapped in TV Land
- True Companions: The babies are pretty much always together, and it's often hard to believe that the in-universe time the series takes up would have to be less than a year or two. Even Angelica is included.
- Tsundere: Angelica for Chuckie, in the comic strip at least.
- Unintentional Period Piece: The first three seasons, due to the pop culture references and technology.
- Visible Invisibility: Parodied in the superhero episode, where Lil as "Dotted Line Girl" tries to sneak up on Angelitron, only for her to be seen because the lines are visible.
- Viva Las Vegas: The special, Vacation or Rugrats Vacation. However, it's quite difficult to find these days.
- The Voiceless: Dil.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In "Slumber Party" (Tommy pukes all over Angelica) and "Chuckie Loses His Glasses" (Angelica pukes all over Drew).
- We Want Our Jerk Back: Angelica just can't stay nice.
- Wham! Line: "The Family Tree" focuses on Chuckie, but with a sub-plot about Stu and Didi going on a cruise for their anniversary. Didi seems sea-sick throughout, but then the end of the episode explains it is something more:
Didi: We're gonna have another baby.
- What If: Babies could talk, how would they see the world?
- When I Was Your Age: Grandpa Lou.
- Whole-Plot Reference: The episode "Radio Daze" features the Rugrats' take on The Maltese Falcon, replacing the MacGuffin with the "Malties Woodchuck", which contains a bag of malted milk balls.
- "The Smell of Success" is one for Flowers for Algernon, with Chuckie going through an experimental process to gain a prodigious sense of smell.
- Technically, it was to cure his allergies. The sense of smell was just a side effect.
- "The Smell of Success" is one for Flowers for Algernon, with Chuckie going through an experimental process to gain a prodigious sense of smell.
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Larry and Steve, though in their case it's probably because they kept messing up.
- Or rather, take the blame for the mayhem the Rugrats cause at their jobs.
- In "Incident in Aisle Seven," one of them complains about why they took jobs at the supermarket when their jobs at the movie theater ("At the Movies") were much easier.
- Or rather, take the blame for the mayhem the Rugrats cause at their jobs.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: In one episode, the kids are looking for nickels in the sand box after Angelica digs one up by accident. Among the things that, disappointingly, are not what they're looking for, are a 100 dollar bill and precious jewelry, which are unceremoniously discarded as "old junk".
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Stu has spiky purple hair.
- You Say Tomato: The babies pronunciation of animal as "am-mi-nal".
- Yuppie Couple: Larry and Steve.
- Saddam Hussein
- it's actually "Sasquatch"