‘Rugrats’: The Question That Inspired a Show Told From a ‘Tiny Human’s Point of View

For the kids of the ’90s, Nickelodeon aired many of the TV shows they couldn’t miss. One of those shows was Rugrats. The simple-looking animated show was about a group of babies, and it was a huge hit. 

For the 13 years that it was on the air, and for decades after, people have noticed how strange some of the stories on the show were. What exactly inspired this unusual but beloved show? One of the producers explained where the idea came from, and her answer makes a lot of sense. 

The world of ‘Rugrats’

Rugrats characters perform in a rehearsal
Rugrats characters perform in a rehearsal | David Bohrer/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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As Screen Rant explains, Rugrats was about the adventures of a group of babies whose parents were friends. Tommy, Chucky, Phil, and Lil spent their days together, along with Angelica. At three years old, Angelica was the oldest member of the group, a fact that she never missed an opportunity to point out, calling the rest of them, “you dumb babies!”

The simple premise inspired a huge following. It stayed on the air for 13 years, with nine seasons. Three movies brought the babies to the big screen. The first one was The Rugrats Movie, which introduced a new character: Tommy’s newborn brother Dill. 

With this enthusiastic following, it’s no surprise that Paramount+ is planning to air a reboot of the beloved “dumb babies” this year. Fans will be sure to tune in to see if this new rendition of the old favorite will stay true to the spirit of the original. Specifically, will it still be weird?

Strange storylines

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There’s no denying that some plotlines of Rugrats were unusual, to say the least. According to Screen Crush, a number of these episodes include nightmares and other manifestations of the babies’ fears. In one episode, Chucky was learning to use the potty, and he became so afraid of the toilet that he imagined it to be an electric chair. 

Another example of the show exploring the babies’ fears is when Tommy’s parents decided to wean him off the bottle. In his anxiety, Tommy started to imagine that his bottle was talking to him and a sippy cup grew to an enormous size and chased him around. 

In another episode, Chucky informed his friends that the reflections they saw in the mirror were actually glimpses into another world called Mirrorland. When two of their parents dressed up in old clothes, Tommy and Chucky were convinced that they’d slipped into this strange land. 

There are lots of storylines that center around the babies’ misunderstanding of things they’ve overheard. For example, there was the time when Grandpa Lou said that his old mattress was hurting his back. Not sure what that meant, the kids thought there was a monster in the mattress.

Where did these trippy plots come from? 

The inspiration for the show

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As Mental Floss reports, Rugrats was produced by the animation studio Klasky Csupo. Arlene Klasky, one of the studio’s founders, said that the premise of the show was inspired by a single question, “If babies could talk, what would they say?”

The seemingly simple question required the writers to really think about the world from the perspective of a baby. Or, as Klasky explained, they tried to understand “the logic that drove tiny humans to desperately want to stick their hands in the toilet.”

Obviously, we can’t really ask any babies if the writing team got their interpretation of their thought processes right. However, they definitely created a show that viewers loved