Rugrats is an animated television series created by Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó, and Paul Germain for Nickelodeon. The series premiered on August 11, 1991 and aired its last episode on June 8, 2004. The cartoon was produced by Klasky Csupo, the same company that produced Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. The show focuses on eight babies and their day-to-day lives, usually involving common life experiences that become adventures in the babies' imaginations. It was one of the first three Nicktoons and also aired on Nick Jr. in 1995. Reruns have currently been played on Nicktoons, and more recently, on Nickelodeon once again. It is currently the third longest-running Nicktoon, with a total of 172 episodes over 13 years.
The show originally revolved around four children (three boys and one girl). The fearless brave leader Thomas "Tommy" Pickles (whose family moved from Akron, Ohio to their current location in California), the cautious toddler Charles "Chuckie" Finster who reluctantly agreed to venture out into the open, unsafe areas of the house, and the twin-infants Phillip "Phil" and Lillian "Lil" DeVille who were ready for a new challenge. The toddlers are able to communicate with each other through baby speak, although viewers can understand them, because it is 'translated'. A running gag in the show is that they mispronounce words or use poor grammar and their speaking is full of malapropisms. An example of this is using the word "poopetrator" instead of "perpetrator" in "The Trial" episode. The group is often reluctantly joined by Tommy's cousin, Angelica Pickles. At three years old, Angelica is able to communicate and understand language from both the toddlers and the adults, which she often uses as an advantage when she wants to manipulate either party. She is usually very mean to the babies. Susie Carmichael, who lives across the street from the Pickles, is also able to communicate on the same level as Angelica, though she isn't manipulative. As a result of this, as well as being favored by the babies, she often clashes with Angelica. After The Rugrats Movie (1998), in which Tommy's baby brother Dylan "Dil" Pickles is born, he was soon added as a character on the show. As a 1 year old baby, Dil is not able to communicate with anyone. Later after Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (2000) was released, Kimi Finster was added as a character. She is Chuckie's stepsister.
Leaving the safety of their own playpen, the children would explore their surroundings and try to make sense out of what the adults are doing. The babies often manage to get away with meandering off and going on escapades, for the reason that Tommy’s daddy, Stu, is more often than not trying to create toys downstairs in the basement. Tommy's mother, Didi, is normally reading the most modern good-parenting guide too actively to take any kind of notice, and his paternal grandfather, Lou, is customarily sleeping in front of the television, oblivious to their antics. While most of the time, the babies are in their playpen, they always manage to get out using a plastic screwdriver Tommy keeps in his diaper (unbeknownst to any of the adults). When they create any kind of mess or visible damage, they are almost never seen as the instigators, due to them being babies. If an older person is in the vicinity of the mess (usually Angelica), that individual is held accountable.
The Pickles are a mixed Jewish-Christian family. There are two episodes that reflect the Pickles' Jewish heritage, one episode deals with the Passover holiday and the other with Hanukkah (in addition to episodes about Christmas, Easter, Kwanzaa, etc.).
Rugrats was Nickelodeon's second Nicktoon, debuting on the same day as Doug (which premiered before it) and The Ren and Stimpy Show (which debuted after). The first run of the series was produced from 1991 to 1993 before production went on a hiatus (episodes that had not yet been released at that point continued to be released through 1994). Between 1995 and 1996, only two Jewish-themed specials were aired, and the rest of the series aired in reruns. Production on new episodes began 1997, and the show aired in Nickelodeon's Snick block from 1997-2000. As of 2011, it is the longest-lasting Nicktoon to date, at over fourteen years longevity, and did not cease production of new episodes until 2004. In terms of number of episodes, it is in second, because it was surpassed by SpongeBob SquarePants in 2011, which had 178 episodes by the end of its eighth season.
On August 11, 2001, Rugrats celebrated its 10-year anniversary. The special/TV movie, Rugrats: All Growed Up was produced for the occasion. After the show, a special retrospective lookback aired, entitled "Rugrats: Still Babies After All These Years." It was narrated by Amanda Bynes. Nickelodeon approved of its ratings and popularity so much (about 70% of viewers with cable tuned in), they eventually commissioned a full series, All Grown Up, which ran from 2003 to 2008.
Rugrats ended on June 8, 2004, along with fellow Nicktoon, Hey Arnold. After the run, two fairy-tale themed direct-to-video films based on the original series under the title, Rugrats: Tales from the Crib were produced and then released separately in 2005 and in 2006.
Through its full run, Rugrats occupied several main voice actors. E.G. Daily provided the voice of Tommy Pickles, except in the unaired pilot where Tami Holbrook provided the voice; Christine Cavanaugh was the original voice of Chuckie Finster, but left after 2001 for personal reasons and was subsequently replaced by Nancy Cartwright in 2002. The fraternal twins, Phil and Lil (as well as their mother, Betty) were voiced by Kath Soucie; Dil Pickles (and Timmy McNulty) were voiced by Tara Strong. Cheryl Chase initially auditioned for the role of Tommy, but was passed up. When the show came to series, she was brought on board to be cast as the voice of Angelica Pickles. Dionne Quan was the voice of Kimi Finster, however as she is legally blind, in order to do the voice, the producers had to interpret the scripts into Braille, so she could read them by sensing the bumps with her fingers. Susie was primarily voiced by Cree Summer, though in two episodes where she could not be in attendance E.G. Daily filled in. Other regular voice actors included Melanie Chartoff as Didi Pickles, Jack Riley as Stu Pickles, Tress MacNeille as Charlotte Pickles, and Michael Bell as Drew Pickles and Chaz Finster. David Doyle provided the voice of Grandpa Lou Pickles until his death in 1997, where Joe Alaskey took over till the end of the series.