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
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 alongside Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show, it was put on hiatus after three seasons in 1994, due to the fact that the contract was only for 65 episodes, and the writers were running out of new ideas. Three years later with impressive rerun ratings, the show was put back into production 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 it 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:
Abusive Parents: While they aren't physically abusive, the parents in the show are horribly neglectful.
Acquired Situational Narcissism: In "Chuckie is Rich", Chazz starts acting like a rich snob when he hits the jackpot. Averted with Chuckie, though, who acts more or less like his usual self (albeit fancier dressed).
Ageless Birthday Episode: Averted in the aptly titled "Tommy's First Birthday", but played completely straight with the episode "Angelica's Birthday", to the extent that, in a later episode ("Pickles vs. Pickles"), her parents say that she's still 3 years old.
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.
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.
The Wiki has an article detailing the changes, among other differences.
Brought Home The Wrong Kid: At one point, while Tommy and Angelica are staying with Didi's parents, the babies are 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.
The Case Of: One episode was entitled "The Case of the Missing Rugrats".
And then in the early seasons Chuckie also had "Am I ok? AM I OK??" before going off into a tirade.
Chaz has "I don't know, Stu!"
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..." And often, "Hands off the merchandise!"
Stu: "This (toy) is gonna put Pickles Toy Company on the map!"
Didi: "According to Lipschitz..."
Centrifugal Farce: One episode showed Angelica getting on something like this at a carnival. It turns out to be a very high speed one, and when Stu tries to get the operator to shut it off, he misunderstands and turns it Up to Eleven. When Angelica gets off, and Didi asks if she's alright, she responds, "I think so, Uncle Stu."
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.
Chekhov's Gag: In the episode "Driving Miss Angelica," Tommy asks Angelica why the sky is blue. When she asks him what color he expects it to be, he responds "I dunno... green?" Angelica brushes off the comment with "You dumb babies..." She's later seen with a coloring book, using a green crayon to color the sky.
Child Hater: Angelica Pickles. Also Coco LaBouche from Rugrats in Paris.
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.
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!"
Comes up in the Passover episode. At one point a store is shown with it's sign in Hebrew text, which translates literally to "circumciser". It also is offering its prices at a "cut rate".
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. [The others glare at him]
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".
Credits Jukebox: Every episode featured the same OP of its era, but the ED could vary; sometimes it would use the usual ending music but other times it would play a different piece of music instead. Dialogue and sound effects from the just-ended episode sometimes continued into the credits
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.
Darker and Edgier: The Rugrats Movie. But also towards the show's ninth season and Rugrats Go Wild. Later episodes consisting of nude beaches, and Rugrats Go Wild was even rated PG by the MPAA, first for a Rugrats 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.
Early Installment Weirdness: The "classic" episodes of Rugrats that most of us think back on were about the friendship of the whole gang, who are all well-developed characters, working together to deal with various issues, fears, superstitions, things the adults are doing, etc. The first season on the other hand is a way starker show about a largely-silent Tommy (and occasionally some of the other kids) being brought to some new building (the hospital, the post office, a child psychologist, a baseball game, the movies, etc), wandering off from his parents and accidentally getting into all sorts of trouble without them noticing, only to return to them unharmed at the end of the each episode and leaving the building with them as it descends into chaos. It was great and creative and all, but the later episodes were way warmer, deeper and easier to rewatch now.
She also learned that Susie thought she was going to have to move, and the babies were doing their best to keep it from happening. When Susie gave Angelica her Malibu Cynthia beach house toy as a sort of parting gift, Angelica attempted to keep the babies from helping her stay... until Susie said she got a new Malibu Cynthia road racer, and that if she was staying, she and Angelica could play with it together. This convinced Angelica to help keep Susie from moving (although she was upset when Susie took back the Malibu Cynthia beach house because of it).
Feud Episode: "Farewell, My Friend", formerly the Trope Namer. Chuckie ends his friendship with Tommy after a disastrous adventure and subsequent nightmare. He quickly changes his mind soon after.
In "Family Feud", the parents of Tommy and Phil & Lil got into a fight over a game of charades.
Betty: It's Dances With Wolves. Howard: Oh. I never saw that movie. Stu:(annoyed) Well then you must have at least heard of it, did you? Howard: Not really. I don't even like musicals. Stu:THAT ISN'T A MUSICAL, YOU IMBECILE!! Didi: Stu! Don't yell, it's just a game! Stu: Then why do I always get teamed up with Howard? Howard: Just a minute... are you calling me an imbecile? Stu: Oh, very good. And it only took you fifteen seconds. Howard: That's it! I don't need to take this!
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: Portrayed in the original commercials; the twins aren't mentioned but presumably count as one entity since they are, after all, twins.
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, a full sized shark, a cat sized slug, and a praying mantis the size of Angelica. What kind of pet shop is this?!
Pretty much anywhere there could be, there are- the supermarket, the movies, the doctor's office, etc.
From the Mouths of Babes: In the episode "Dummi Bear Dinner Disaster," all the adults are trying to impress Paul Gatsby (who's having dinner at the Carmichaels'), a cartoonist and creator of the Dummi Bear cartoon. Drew in particular is attempting to become business partners with Paul, and when he introduces Angelica...
Drew: Angelica, say hi to Uncle Paul.
Angelica: My daddy says your show is the biggest gravy train in town!
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 bath time related down the toilet. Ironically, she accidentally flushes her own doll, Cynthia, down the toilet. The plumber recovers it, but the doll is ruined.
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).
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.
A recurring example: All of the parents, especially Didi and Chaz, rely on the help of a renowned child psychologist. There was an entire episode dedicated to showing that he had absolutely no clue how to actually handle the presence of a human infant, meaning every bit of advice in all his books is a load of crap. The psychologist's name? Dr. Lipschitz... Think about it...
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.
Similarly to Jonathan, Charlotte is heard talking to a Mr. Yamaguchi in a handful of episodes including "Let Them Eat Cake". He and his company Yamaguchi Industries would be mentioned again several years later in the "Acorn Nuts and Diapey Butts" arc leading to the second movie, where he appears as Coco's boss by video call at the beginning and in person at Coco and Chaz's wedding toward the end of the film.
Grandpa Lou's brother Sparky
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.
Happily Married: Chas and Kira, Stu and Didi, Betty and Howard, Drew and Charlotte.
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.
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.
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." Phil and Lil: A-hen!
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.
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.
Manchild: Stu and Drew occasionally lapse into this, particularly when they fight over things they did to each other as children.
To elaborate, Betty's loud and boisterous (Generally friendly though unless you mess with her kids), likes pro wrestling, and is good at things like car repair and plumbing. Howard on the other hand is quiet and meek but the only time we've ever seen him doing a stereotypical "feminine" activity was in "The Unfair Pair" when he was baking cookies. Betty wears the pants in their relationship, but they do love each other as each is quick to defend the other (See "Family Feud").
Mega Corp: Charlotte's company, Merge Corp, apparently specializes in company takeovers, hostile and benign.
Might Makes Right: Pretty much the entire basis of Angelica's relationship with the babies. Often, when either the babies are asked why they do what she says, or the babies themselves ask HER why they should do what she says, the answer is "Because I'm/she's bigger/stronger than you/us."
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.
I think you might be thinking of the Mother's Day episode. The Thanksgiving episode focused more on the food, "Nakey Americans", and the turkey they ended up with. Mother's Day was a season 4 episode same as the Thanksgiving episode (the first movie comes right after the end of Season 5, and Rugrats in Paris happens right at the beginning of Season 7) and it ends with Chuckie and his father in his mother's garden, where one of Chuckie's only memories of her takes place. It's an absolutely beautiful episode as well and makes this troper bawl like a baby. It was also nominated for a Daytime Emmy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Never Say "Die": Chuckie's biological mother (never seen outside of flashbacks), Melinda, is heavily implied to have passed away before the timeline of the show began. It's never outright stated, however.
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.
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. Also, when Angelica tries to tell Didi that Tommy had left the doctor's office and her father shushes her, and later tells her she should've spoke up.
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.
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 pantalets.
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 Cynthia and dangles it upside down, causing the doll's skirt to fall over and show white panties. Later in the sequence when Susie lets go of the balloon, the string is now tied to Cynthia's right foot and her skirt is now back in position covering her undies.
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 "Sad-man Husany
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 won't 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 ...
Personality Swap: In "Angelica For A Day," Chuckie and Angelica swap personalities while an increasingly weirded-out Tommy tries to turn them back. Turns out to be All Just a Dream.
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."
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.
Priceless Ming Vase: In the episode where Tommy visits the post office, there is a package that, if you pay attention, is labeled "Ming Vase", being sent through the mail. Predictably, it is shattered in the process.
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 Un-Canceled, 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 was delivered in a fervor worthy of Braveheart or 300:
Tommy: "'Play something else'? PLAY SOMETHING ELSE? I can't believe you guys!" Phil: "What do you mean, Tommy?" Tommy: "When Megelatron tried to steal all the water in the ocean, did the Mega Hyper Heroes 'play something else'? When the evil Germaniac tried to blow up the universe, did the Mega Hyper Heroes 'play something else'?" [Chuckie, Phil and Lil are silent] Tommy: No! Whenever the Earth needed them, they've been there. But now they need US, and I don't know about you guys, but I'm SURE not going to 'play something else'!"
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.
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 Re Tool the show into a preteen school sitcom.
And the show itself went on for another three years.
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.
The Pre-School Daze never made it through though, and wound up just being A Day in the Limelight episodes for Susie and Angelica on Rugrats. Four episodes were made and included on two (unsuccessful) RugratsDirect-to-Video movies.
Spiritual Successor: Recess, which was made by former co-creator Paul Germain, writer Joe Ansolabehere, and their writing team. It began airing in Fall 1997 when Rugrats got renewed from hiatus.
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.
Drew: Angelica, if you don't eat your broccoli, then you're not going to get seconds on dessert!
"Reptar on Ice": Tommy attempts to bring a lizard to a Reptar ice skating show by putting it in his diaper. Chuckie later ends up carrying it in his diaper. It also happens at the end when the lizard climbs from Tommy's diaper into Stu's pants
"Faire Play": Subverted, Tommy briefly has a frog hidden inside his diaper, but doesn't react.
"Chuckie's Duckling": Dil put Herbert, Chuckie's duck, into his diaper, causing him to fidget around
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".
Stock Sound Effect: Stu Pickles's distinctive girlish scream, along with Chazz and Charlotte's screams, Tommy's crying in the early seasons ("WAAAAAAAH! AAAAAAAH! AAAAAAAAAAH!") among certain other vocal effects.
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.
Strange Minds Think Alike: On one episode, Stu and Drew (in a flashback) are grounded by their dad, and are not allowed to watch Blocky and Oxwinkle. When Stu plans to break out, he boasts that not even President Weisenheimer can stop him. When they accidentally turn on the TV's built-in radio trying to find the TV function, the news announcer on the other end is doing a report on Eisenhower, but slips up with "Weisenheimer" at first.
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.
Surprise Party: In one episode, Stu plans a surprise party for his wife, Didi. He has one of the neighbors get her out of the house for the afternoon. Unfortunately, he is placed in charge of watching the kids when the ladies leave. They still managed to pull it off, though, though not without some grief on Stu's part.
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.
But it turns From Bad to Worse. They went to the basement door and opened it, and the floor is littered with thousands of newborn gerbils. "Look Tommy, the floor is moving!"
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.
Also Megan for Chuckie and some other boy in that one episode.
Uncancelled: After the show went on a hiatus when 65 episodes were produced for the show, the show got so many high ratings due to the reruns that they renewed it for another season in 1997. The episodes after 1991-1996, got mixed reviews. A heavy few thought the show went completely downhill due to additional characters or the fact that Paul Germain left the writing team to make Recess, along with fellow writer Joe Ansolabehere, with them taking a good amount of Rugrats writers with them. A few thought the new episodes were okay, a few thought the new episodes were good, but couldn't hold a candle to the original episodes, a few thought that it went downhill after "Rugrats in Paris", a few people thought the episodes were just as good as the older ones. And a few thought it was better than the earlier ones.
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?
Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Averted to an extent. It's never stated what city they live in but there is proof they live in California. California license plates are spotted in several episodes, and in "Special Delivery" there's a California flag at the post office. They also live by the ocean and within driving distance to Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon. In a noncanon comic book the Rocket Power gang babysits the Rugrats, and it's been established that show takes place in Southern California.
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.
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".