Rugrats was one of Nickelodeon's first and most popular original series, produced by Klasky-Csupo and 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:
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A - D
Absentee Actor: Tommy is missing from the episodes "Cuffed," "The Unfair Pair," and "Pickles vs. Pickles."
Accidental Hero: In The Bank Trick, Tommy and Chuckie inadvertently thwart a bank robbery.
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: Come on, Chaz, call me Drew, we've known each other since high school Chas Finster: Sorry, Mr. Pickles. I mean Drew, Drew!
Action Girl: Angelica has at least one moment in "New Kid In Town."
Josh: This is none of your business! These are MY babies now.
Angelica: This caterpult says different! *launches a water balloon*
Josh: I'm not scared of you!
Angelica: Oh, yeah? Well, you're making a big mistake, bucko! *launches another water balloon*
The Ace: Lucy Carmichael. On top of raising four kids, she earned her flight wings, studied at the Cordon Bleu, created a replica Tiffany lamp (that impressed even the Tiffany company), and in The Movie, she delivered Stu and Didi's second kid.
And in All Grown Up! we discover she was also a moderately successful Blues singer at the age of eighteen.
Acquired Situational Narcissism: In "Chuckie is Rich," Chas 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). Having "all the toys there are" (and what appears to be at least a 70-inch television) doesn't seem to make him any happier, and he keeps to himself at the wealthy day care center he attends (implying that he either isn't comfortable around or doesn't fit in with the other rich kids).
Adult Fear: Some of the movies have this. Often times, the babies wander off and the parents are scared that something terrible will happen to them. Nothing like an instant fear factor than that, right?
Drew: Snookums, I'm going over to Stu's for a few minutes!
Charlotte (off screen during entire dialogue): Okay. Is Angelica still upstairs?
Drew: Uh-huh. I haven't heard a peep out of her.
Charlotte: I'll go up and check on her. And Drew?
Charlotte: Don't call me "Snookums."
Drew also has several of these for Angelica, as noted in the same episode. They include Princess, Cupcake, and...Little Tax Shelter.
Stu often referes to Tommy as champ and Grandpa Lou will refer to all the babies as sprouts.
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.
Alter Kocker: Tommy's maternal grandparents, who are justified since they actually are Jews from Eastern Europe.
Anachronism Stew: The flashback episode is ostensibly set in 1960, as Stu was born in 1959 according to the official timeline. However, Lou says that Stu and Drew's mother is off working on a campaign that occurred in 1956.
Angelica: If he's Tommy, then I'm the Queen of English England!
And Ninety Nine Cents: In the episode "When Wishes Come True," Drew buys Charlotte a present that he shows to Stu first. In Drew's words, "It's brilliant, it's stunning, it's masterful!" And in Stu's words, "... it's Angelica." More specifically, a life-sized statue of Angelica, which cost $469.57, according to Drew.
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.
Angelica: First the sky fell, then rivers overflowed, mountains crumbled, and finally... all the TV shows were cancelled.
"The Legend of Satchmo"
Grandpa: Some folks call him "Bigfoot." Some call him "The Abominable Snowman." The rest just call him "Sir."
"Tommy and the Secret Club"
Angelica: If you don't remember to ask for the password, anyone could just waltz right into the club! Count Draculator, Sandman Husseiney... or even Chuckie. note Chuckie actually did walk into the club with little trouble
Art Shift: The kids' movies from the episode "Home Movies."
In the episode "Chuckie Is Rich," Chas wins a multi-million-dollar sweepstakes, and he and Chuckie move to a wealthier neighborhood. At the day care center Chuckie attends in said neighborhood, they have a slide in the yard... with an elevator to take the kids to the top in lieu of the usual steps or ladder. One can only imagine whether or not that was really worth it.
Stu once designs a toy clown named "Mr. Friend." The babies mishear this as "Mr. Fiend" and assume that it is a hostile enemy.
In another episode, the pilot light in Tommy's house goes out. The babies hear "pirate light" and come to believe that the repairman hired to fix it is a pirate coming to raid Tommy's house.
One of the most famous examples is in the Hanukkah episode, when the babies mishear Grandpa Boris discussing "the meaning of Hanukkah" as "the meanie of Hanukkah" and assume that he is referring to a mean bully.
Back Blocking: In the episode "Word of the Day." In the very beginning there is a huge round figure that fills up the screen. Then the camera zooms out to reveal it's the back of Tommy's head blocking Angelica's view of the TV.
"When Wishes Come True": After Angelica intentionally wrecks the babies' "sculpture" (a bunch of blocks stacked on top of one another somewhat haphazardly), Tommy wishes that "the baddest thing in the whole world happens to Angelica." A bug zapper lights up and sparks as he says this, and the babies think this means that their wish came true. Tommy is deeply regretful when he realizes it.
"Angelica For a Day": While Tommy and Chuckie are playing in the park, Angelica explains the phrase "I wouldn't want to be in his/her shoes" to the babies— she tells them it means that if you put on someone else's shoes, you become just like him/her. Tommy tries this with Chuckie so he won't be afraid; Chuckie puts on Angelica's shoes and turns into a bully, while Angelica puts on Chuckie's and is scared of everything. Tommy soon wishes he had the old Chuckie back, and, somehow, the old Angelica as well.
Becoming the Costume: In "Curse of the Werewuff," Angelica convinces the babies that they will be transformed into their Halloween costumes.
Big Brother Instinct: Played straight with Tommy to Dil and Chuckie to Kimi. Subverted with Drew to Stu. Phil is actually younger than his twin sister Lil (by two minutes), but he played this trope straight in the episode "Together At Last."
Big Eater: In the beginning of the episode "No More Cookies," the babies watch as Angelica eats an entire jar of chocolate chip cookies.
Chuckie: I never seed anyone eat like that before...
Pops up again in a later season episode, "Angelica Orders Out." Angelica uses her uncle's voice changer to pretend to be Charlotte and order all the available desserts from Zippy's Deli. She then stuffs her face.
Tends to pop up in any episode where Angelica is trying to get her hands on cookies or candy. Once she does, expect to see her gobbling it or with huge smears of chocolate all over her face.
Tommy's Grandma Minka would occasionally utter the phrase, "Thanks be to Gott." Gott is the Yiddish word for God.
Birthday Episode: Tommy's birthday was the focus of the first episode of the series, not counting the pilot.
And not just him, Angelica, Stu and others had birthday episodes.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Angelica. She manages to pull it off almost flawlessly by being absolutely adorable◊ and knowing how to put on a sufficient "Good girl" facade to fool the adults (although she still has somewhat of a "spoiled brat" reputation in-universe). All in all, she knows how and when to behave well (despite it arguably not being her nature), and she also knows when she can get away with being nothing short of nefarious.
Based on which episode you're watching, sometimes inverted with Angelica being a Sheep in Bitch's Clothing.
The worst part (or the best part, if you're Angelica) is that Angelica is one of the few characters who can communicate with the babies AND the adults. She can bully the babies into doing what she wants, and then put on the "cute, innocent little girl" act for the adults so they suspect nothing. And the babies can't tell the adults that Angelica torments them for kicks.
Biting-the-Hand Humor: "Reptar 2010" had Reptar wrecking a skyscraper with Viacom's name on it at one point (that's the company that owns Nickelodeon, MTV, and Paramount).
Black Best Friend: Despite their rivalry, Susie's probably the closest thing Angelica's ever had to an actual friend.
Bookworm: Susie's brother, Edwin. In "Tooth or Dare," Susie, Tommy and Angelica ask him about the Tooth Fairy. When they get to his room, he has so many books that Angelica mistakes it for a library. He has a copy of "The Odyssey" by Homer, and is reading about quantum physics when they walk in. He also wears glasses with extremely large frames (bigger than Chuckie's) to drive the point home (as if it wouldn't be obvious otherwise).
Bouquet Toss: In "Let Them Eat Cake," Stu and Didi are looking for the kids, and find their way into another wedding in the building, just as the bride is throwing the bouquet:
Stu: Look, Didi! I caught the bouquet!
Didi: *takes it out of his hands and heaves it out of the screen* He's already married!
Bowdlerise: In one episode, Chuckie malaproped "germs" as "Germans." It was snipped to "Germs" in reruns.
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).
The episode, "Toy Palace" has Tommy and Chuckie switch themselves with a baby doll and a monkey doll so they can stay in the toy palace overnight. Stu and Chas don't even notice their kids are gone until after they arrive home.
Buffy Speak: Because of the age of the characters 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!
Busman's Vocabulary: Charlotte. She's so wrapped up into her job as a corporate executive that it comes through during her everyday life, at times when it's not appropriate at all. The most glaring example, arguably, occurs when Angelica wants to know where babies come from.
Drew: Well, you see, cupcake... it all starts with a mommy.
Charlotte: And a daddy.
Drew: Right, and a daddy. First, they decide that they really want a baby.
Charlotte: Right. First they make a responsible, well thought-out decision, not recklessly or on the spur of the moment, but after lots of careful, business-like consideration!
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." In the early seasons, Chuckie also had "Am I okay? AM I OKAY??" before going off into a tirade. He's prone to saying "We're doomed" when he thinks something bad is about to happen, and to describe things as "Bad... real bad..."
Chas 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!" Sometimes uses "That's my name. Don't wear it out," when she shows up somewhere and someone addresses her directly by name. Also "Get outta town!" when someone says something she doesn't believe, and "Oh,[character's name], you're [funny/silly]."
Stu: "This (toy) is gonna put Pickles Toys on the map!"
Didi: "According to Lipschitz..."
Drew: "I think you've been watching too many cartoons" and "You stay out of this, okay?!"
In the episode "New Kid in Town," Tommy and the gang meet a big kid, Josh, who seems to want them to play with him and lets them decide what the group will do, unlike Angelica. Josh's catch phrase is, "Fair is fair," which he begins to pull put every time the babies do something he doesn't like.
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."
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. However, in "The Trial" Chuckie admitted that he thought Tommy's clown lamp was scary, and even thought about breaking it, but didn't.
In her first few appearances, Suzie was almost as naive and hyperactive as the other kids, and something of a crybaby. While this returned on sparse occasions she interacted with her family, most later episodes played her as a foil for Angelica or a Cool Big Sis for the babies.
Angelica in the first season was a villain because she bullied the babies behind the adults' backs, turning on a false smile and pretending to be well behaved whenever they were watching. She also had no love for her father at all and would mock him behind his back. In later seasons she was frequently caught by the parents whenever she misbehaved and never acted falsely nice around them. Additionally later episodes would show that her parents are the ones she does unambiguously love for, becoming something of a Daddy's Girl.
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.
Chekhov's Gun: In the beginning of the episode "New Kid In Town," Angelica orders the babies to dig a "moat" for her "castle" (a jungle gym at the park). She claims "There could be an invasion any minute," and tells the babies that she's going to go get her "caterpult" just in case. At the end of the episode, she uses it against Josh (who was bullying the babies) when she comes to the rescue.
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 nobody get pushed around."
Comes up in the Passover episode. At one point a store is shown with its sign in Hebrew text, which translates literally to "circumciser." It also is offering its prices at a "cut rate."
Closest Thing We Got: In "Rebel Without a Teddy Bear," Tommy and Chuckie are trying to clean Tommy's lion, Herman--er... Henry. They take him into the kitchen and then realize that they don't have any soap.
Tommy: Wait! *points to kitchen table*
Chuckie: Tommy, that's not soap... that's mustard.
A rare instance of The Leader falling into this trope more often than anyone else. Tommy is the youngest of all the babies (save for possibly Phil/Lil, who may be the same age, and Dil), and his naivety can cause him to unknowingly play this trope straight. Angelica's sarcastic remarks are prone to fly right over his hairless head, and he could also sometimes be described as oblivious to the obvious.
From the episode "The Alien":
Angelica: Tommy, how can you BE so dumb?!
Tommy:[smiling casually, not offended by the insult] It's easy. I'm a baby.
"Runaway Angelica" (after Angelica eats what she was told were cookies):
Angelica: These aren't cookies! They're dog biscuits! What do you think I am, a dog?!
Tommy: Uh... Spike likes 'em...
Angelica: Of course Spike likes 'em— Spike's a DOG!
Comical Overreacting: In "No More Cookies," Angelica gets what her doctor describes as a "simple, ordinary tummyache" that will subside in a day or two. When the babies come to check on Angelica, however, she looks more like she's on her deathbed than anything.
Two instances in two different episodes involve similar gags. The first, "The Trial," occurs after Angelica admits to breaking Tommy's favorite clown lamp. Didi hears, and punishes her by putting her in a kitchen high chair, while she screams "NO! Not the chair! NOT THE CHAIR! (beat after Didi plops her into the chair) Hmph! *folds arms angrily*"
In "Chuckie vs The Potty," Chuckie dreams of being a prisoner who's been sentenced to "the chair." After Phil and Lil (as prison guards) drag him, kicking and screaming, to the chair (an oversized adult toilet), he screams "No! No! NOT THE CHAIR!"
Companion Cube: Angelica's Barbie-parody Cynthia, Kimi's Super-Thing, Chuckie's teddy bear named Wawa, and Tommy's stuffed lion (Henry).
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 Chas 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:
Chas: I told you we should have watched the chess tournaments. [The others glare at him]
At least a handful of episodes are devoted to something bad happening to Chuckie, or him finally drawing the line, at which point the others are apologetic, at least for a while (e.g. "Farewell My Friend," "Chuckie's Wonderful Life").
During the episode "Driving Miss Angelica," the titular character accidentally locks herself in a closet while trying to get back a box of chocolates her father took from her. She pounds on the door from the inside while screaming "Daddy! Daddy!" Drew passes by the closet, but can't hear her because he has a Walkman on and is listening to the song from "Reptar on Ice."
The episode "Feeding Hubert" introduces (what the babies believe is) a monster named Hubert that eats garbage— in reality, it's the neighborhood garbage truck ("Hubert" presumably being the name of the driver). In a later episode ("The Mattress"), the babies think that there's a monster in Grandpa's bed and attempt to feed him to "a bigger monster," at which point Hubert makes his second appearance (and Chuckie refers to it by name, confirming the continuity).
During at least one episode ("The Odd Couple"), Chas is portrayed as writing left-handed. Chuckie is later revealed to have developed as a lefty as well.
At the end of an adventure at the Zoo, Chas 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 swallowing a seed again, and he even mentions how the babies went inside his stomach to try and retrieve it.
Certain events in Rugrats in Paris are alluded to in the first episode that aired after it, "Finsterella."
During the episode "The Big Flush," Chuckie goes on a rant, after being asked by Tommy "Have I ever got us lost forever?" Everything Chuckie says actually happened in previous episodes:
Chuckie: How bout the time you took us down in the basement and I got stuck in the mattress? And the time you got us locked in that toy store! And the time you made us go through that mirror into Mirrorland! And the time we chased after that wedding cake! The time we got lost in the mooseum! *continues ranting as he chases after the rest of the gang*
Susie teaches Chuckie the Survival Mantra "I'm a big, brave dog" in Season 2. In Season 3 ("Farewell, My Friend"), Chuckie uses it again.
Contortionist: The cowardly Chas is setup with one by the out going Betty. Apparently this date scares Chuckie too, but for different reasons.
Cool Big Sis: Susie tends to act as an older sister to the babies.
Angelica has her moments, too. See "Moving Away" and "New Kid in Town" for early examples. A later episode also focuses on the fact that Angelica, who by then is the lone remaining only child in the series, really wants a sibling. In fact, this popped up in the two-parter right before the first movie, where Angelica gets mad because Tommy and Chuckie don't see her as a big sister.
Coordinated Clothes: Phil and Lil dress exactly the same, with minor exceptions— Lil wears a pink ribbon in her hair, pink shoes, and her top is a dress. Phil wears blue shoes, his top is a shirt, and he wears blue shorts (Lil wears only her diaper). Because of this, Phil and Lil can each easily impersonate the other, and are good enough at it to fool their parents. Phil can even perfectly imitate Lil's voice, as seen in the episode "Beauty Pageant."
The Corrupter: Angelica, to Tommy, in "Rebel Without a Teddy Bear." She's also done this to Phil and Lil. Chuckie seems to be less susceptible than the other babies, possibly because he's the smartest and, at the same time, the most cynical. The other kids are naive to Angelica's false sincerity, and Chuckie often sees right through it, sometimes better than the adults.
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 about something to someone—mainly the babies—in almost every episode. Usually the only time people don't believe her is when she's actually telling the truth.
Daddy's Girl: While Charlotte obviously does love Angelica and cares dearly for her daughter, Angelica's usually portrayed as being closer to her dad, Drew, than she is to her. This is possibly because Charlotte is constantly working, to the point where it wouldn't be a stretch to say that she's talking, on her cell phone or in person, to her executive assistant Jonathan (or a potential client) in every episode she's been in. Subtle hints indicate that Charlotte is threatened by the fact that the working world is dominated by men, and is a workaholic to compensate.
Subverted in "The Shot." Drew (by himself) takes Angelica to the doctor's office to get a booster shot, which is far from the first or last time he and Angelica are seen together without Charlotte. At the end of the episode, however, when Angelica bursts into tears after getting her shot, she cries for her mother, even as Drew tries his hardest to console her (Charlotte hadn't even appeared yet in this episode. She is first seen in 'The Santa Experience' later that season.
Certain episodes also imply Charlotte, when properly focused on her parenting, is actually more stern and capable of disciplining her, while Drew is frequently an Extreme Doormat who struggles to draw the line. When Charlotte scolds Angelica for playing with her office equipment and asks how to behave when she tells her "No," Angelica's first suggestion is "Ask Daddy?"
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.
Stu:IT 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.
Stu: I'm sorry I called you a fathead. [after everyone made up and leave] Howard: Wait a minute... you called me a "fathead"?
Didn't Think This Through: In an episode Chuckie swallows a seed, an Imagine Spot begins with the babies shrinking in to get it out. Angelica later reveals her secret motive to actually water the seed so it will grow and Chuckie's stomach will explode. When she succeeds, she begins her Evil Gloating, until Tommy points out Chuckie will explode with her still inside.
Chuckie: Well, um... it's very sad, you guys... Barney... he wouldn't eat his broccoli, so... they sent him to prism!
Other babies: *gasp!*
Chuckie: They can do that, you know.
Inverted by Angelica's parents at least once. Angelica refuses to eat a single serving of broccoli, acting rudely towards her parents about it despite the fact that they're asking her as nicely as possible. At one point, Drew threatens her with "Angelica, if you don't eat some broccoli, then you're not going to get seconds on dessert!", to which she responds "But that's not fair!" She then throws the plate of broccoli against the wall, which shatters on impact. Spoiled Brat indeed.
The entire episode revolves around Angelica successfully suing them for grounding her for the act. Though it was All Just a Dream.
Yet another one involving broccoli: in the episode "The Baby Vanishes," Angelica reveals to Drew (thinking she's invisible and he can't see her, and possibly thinking he can't hear her) that he didn't lose a set of important documents, as he had thought. Angelica threw them out of the car window on the freeway "because [Drew] made her eat broccoli." She thinks it's hilarious.
Disqualification-Induced Victory: In the episode "Beauty Contest", in order to win the Kingfisher 9000 sports boat, Stu and Grandpa Lou dress Tommy as a girl and enter him in a beauty contest, where Tommy's cousin, Angelica is also competing. Tommy wins, until Didi reveals to the judges that Tommy is actually a boy by removing his wig. The judges disqualify Tommy and Angelica wins. Grandpa Lou doesn't mind when he remembers that Angelica is his granddaughter.
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.
Does Not Like Shoes: If there are any episodes in which Tommy does wear shoes, they are few and far between. Obviously does not apply to the "All Growed Up" spin-off.
Dodgy Toupee: In "Grandpa's Date," Lou reunites with an old flame from almost 40 years ago. He doesn't want to seem old when they meet, so he wears a black toupee, despite the fact that the hair on the sides of his head, and his moustache, are gray.
Morgana even knows it and asks him to take it off at the end.
Downer Ending: A downplayed version is double-subverted in "Twins' Pique." At the end of the episode, Angelica urges Lil to throw her father's "quack-u-lator" in the mud, for no reason other than For the Evulz. She refuses, and a frustrated Angelica takes it from her and hurls it towards a mud puddle. Phil runs underneath it and catches it, keeping it from going in the mud. At this point, Tommy gives Phil a congratulatory embrace for making the save... which causes Phil to fall over and drop the calculator in the mud.
Dull Surprise: Lil's reaction to the army of -inducing Mr. Friend dolls in "The Mysterious Mr. Friend" is priceless.
Lil: Boy, this has really been one of those days, huh?
E - I
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 each episode and leaving the building with them as it descends into chaos.
Invoked by Tommy of all people in "Rebel Without a Teddy Bear." Angelica has successfully "turned Tommy bad," and Tommy has just completely wrecked his whole house at Angelica's behest. She then tells him to finish it off by throwing Didi's favorite necklace in the garbage. He refuses (with some coercing from Chuckie).
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).
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:IT 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! I'm gonna go home and, and... and do some filing! *storms off* Stu: FINE!!! *likewise*
Finish Dialogue in Unison: Phil and Lil seem to do this at least once an episode, and all four babies do it from time to time.
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.
Flanderization: Not the characters themselves(this is a long runner that cleverly avoided this trope for the most part), but the baby talk. In the seasons after the movie, the baby talk is amped up to 11.
Chuckie's character as the baby that's afraid of everything is actually a case of this. In the first few seasons, he's merely the Only Sane Man - who would typically say "I don't think X is such a good idea" (and would end up going along with it anyway). He then later merely became afraid of clowns before that morphed into him being afraid of everything.
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.
In "Tricycle Thief" Susie's tricycle can be seen under the stairs to the deck before it's revealed Angelica didn't steal it.
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).
"Chuckie vs. the Potty" had a dark dream-sequence example, wherein Angelica was having the Fun with Flushing by flushing Chuckie down a giant toilet. As an added bonus, we get to see him go through the pipes, screaming the entire time.
It's heavily implied that Grandpa Lou and Aunt Miriam had a relationship similar to Tommy and Angelica as children. Lou even relates a story about how Miriam threw his favorite ball into the next yard, and another where Miriam opened a window which made Lou sick.
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.
From "Let Them Eat Cake":
Chuckie: Tommy, where's the cake? We could be waitin' here forever!
Tommy: You're right, Chuckie... it could be forever if we wait.
Tommy: We could go find the cake ourselves...
Chuckie: But, Tommy, we can't, we— wait a minute. I know what's gonna happen! The same thing that always happens when you wanna do something crazy and I know it's a bad idea! First you say we gotta do it.
Chuckie: So why don't we just skip it this time and I'll just give it a go?
From the episode "The Stork":
Tommy: If my mommy and daddy call the stork, then I could have a baby brother to play with!
Chuckie: Too bad we're babies— otherwise, we could just go get a stork's egg ourselves. [looks up to see Phil, Lil and Tommy staring silently at him. Sighs, then says in a defeated tone] I'll get the screwdriver...
"The Legend of Satchmo":
Chuckie: What if something bad happens?
Tommy: You always think something bad's gonna happen to us.
Chuckie: Tommy, in case you forgot, something bad always does happen to us.
Tommy shows real-life genre savvy in-universe during the episode "Kid TV" when he persuades Chuckie into playing a game where the goal is to simply throw an 8-ball as hard as you can with your eyes closed. Chuckie worries that he'll break something, and Tommy assures him that it won't be Chuckie's fault since "My daddy set a bad ezzample" (Stu had broken the TV earlier in the episode out of frustration by throwing one of his inventions at it).
George Jetson Job Security: In the episode "Mommy's Little Assets," Charlotte is forced to take Tommy and Angelica to work with her, as the other adults are all gone and apparently, no one will ever agree to babysit Angelica more than once. Jonathan, Charlotte's assistant, neglects to keep an eye on the kids (which pretty much all the adults do at least once an episode), and Tommy and Angelica get away and roam the building. Charlotte immediately fires him after she finds the children, even going as far as to tell Jonathan to call security on himself. He's re-hired at the end of the episode, with a promotion. To Jonathan's dismay, it's not a Vice President position— it's supervisor of Merge Corps' daycare center, starting with watching Angelica.
Angelica: *grabs Jonathan's hand and smiles evilly* Boy, Jonathan, are we gonna have fun...
A recurring example: All of the parents, especially Didi and Chas, 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 Chas' 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.
Hammerspace: Many instances, but Phil takes the trope literally when the babies are trying to figure out what to do with a bird's egg that they've found:
Phil: *pulls a toy mallet from his shirt* Let's hatch it!
Happily Married: Chas and Kira, Stu and Didi, Betty and Howard, Drew and Charlotte. Pretty much all the married couples on the show. Perhaps the only intra-marital conflict that occurs throughout the entire series is between Boris and Minka, Didi's parents, and that wound up being a big misunderstanding.
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.
During the episode "Angelica the Magnificent," the babies believe that Angelica has used magic to turn Lil into a butterfly, and they demand that she change her back. Angelica, as usual, takes this opportunity to torment the babies.
Angelica: Say "Please."
Phil, Tommy, Chuckie: Please...
Angelica: Say "Pretty please."
Phil, Tommy, Chuckie: Pretty please...
Angelica: Say "Pretty please with sugar on top and ice cream in the middle and..."
Tommy: Angelica, change her back!
Human Ladder: The babies often climb on top of one another to reach heights that none of them could reach by themselves. In addition, the order in which they climb on each other is surprisingly consistent— Chuckie's on the bottom, since he's the biggest. Phil is next, since he has a better chance of holding two babies' weights than Lil. Lil is next because Tommy is almost always at the top (being the leader of the group), and Tommy stands on Lil's shoulders/back at the very top.
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.
Angelica seems to be very insecure about being close to the same age as the other kids. She constantly refers to them as "just babies" and to herself as an adult, despite being only a year older than Chuckie and two years older than Tommy, Kimi and the twins, Phil and Lil.
Didi: *as Tommy is reaching for a bowl of cereal on the table* No, Tommy...this is Angelica's breakfast.
Angelica: Uh-huh... babies aren't allowed to eat Reptar Cereal. It's only for us grown-up people. *sits down at the table and can't reach the bowl*
During the episode "The Shot," Tommy and Hector are attempting to escape the doctor's office to avoid getting their immunization shots (after Chuckie described it as a ghastly, nightmarish experience). Angelica shows up, gets Tommy to spill the beans, and then promptly goes to tell on him.
Angelica: Aunt Didi! Aunt Didi!
Drew: Now, pumpkin, Daddy and Aunt Didi are talking.
Angelica: I know, but...
Drew: When grown-ups are talking, little girls and little boys are supposed to wait quietly.
Angelica: I know, but...
Drew: Then when the grown-ups say it's okay for you to talk, then you can say whatever you want.
I Ate WHAT?: In the episode "Runaway Angelica," Angelica orders the babies to go in the house and bring her cookies (she's hiding in Tommy's backyard after running away from home). The babies can't reach the actual cookies that they know Angelica wants, so they find the next best thing...
Angelica: Say, Tommy, these cookies are pretty good! Did your mommy make these?
Tommy: No, they're from a box.
Angelica: A box, huh? What kinda box, Tommy?
Tommy: Oh, you know... that box with a picture of a doggy on it.
Angelica:[realization setting in]...the one by Spike's bowl?
"I Can't Look" Gesture: Invoked then subverted. Angelica tricks Tommy and Chuckie into going and getting a cake from the kitchen right under the adults' noses using "invisibility creme". As she watches them, certain they're about to be caught, she chuckles then turns away, saying, "I can't watch...yes I can."
I Have This Friend: Angelica tried this on Tommy once when she was worried that her parents' new baby would get more attention than her.
I Warned You: When Tommy and Chuckie decide to spend the night at each other's houses for awhile, Phil and Lil warn them that they're gonna get so tired of each other, they're gonna start arguing. Chuckie and Tommy are best friends, so they naturally believe there's no way they could ever be at odds with one another. When the two (separately) run to Phil and Lil and complain about the other, they both tell them the same thing: "I hate to say it, but...we told you so."
Chuckie plays this trope straight often. Being the most cautious and skeptical of the group, he often warns the others that what they're doing or going to do is a bad idea. They never listen.
In the episode "Chuckie's First Haircut," one of the bottles on a barber-shop shelf reads "Eau da doo da day."
The episode "When Wishes Come True" opens with the babies building a "sculpture" with building blocks (that Tommy calls "Three Babies and a Guitar"). As the camera pans up, one can see that from bottom to top, one row of blocks reads "RUGRATZ."
Imagine Spot: Most episodes consisted of creating a more elaborate fantasy than what was really going on.
In-Series Nickname: Betty (and only Betty) often refers to Chuckie as "The Chuckster," and both Betty and Stu use the nickname "Deed" for Didi. Also see Affectionate Nickname above. The parents also have various cute baby names for their children— "Tommykins" from Didi, "Philly Willy" from Betty, and Grandpa Lou tends to call Tommy "scout."
The episode "Junior Prom" has the babies stage a school dance in the back garden. When the boys ask the girls out, Phil immediately takes Lil. Notable in that Tommy doesn't ask Angelica as she is his cousin.
"Kid TV" the twins pretend they're lovers in a soap opera. Acting out a big dramatic scene too.
"Cradle Attraction" when Chuckie discovers that the girl Megan picks on him because she likes him (read: has a crush). Lil shoves Phil and when he asks why she did it, she responds "it's because I like you" - and they both giggle.
In "Naked Tommy" they have a very curious reaction when they see each other in the buff for the first time.
One episode has the twins fall out with each other but then miss each other when they get separated for the day. It's played very much as if a couple had split up. And what's the episode called? "Together At Last"
This carried over into All Grown Up!. Until the second episode - and the kids are ten or eleven at this point - they have been sharing a room. It deals with Lil wanting independence and there is one scene (after she has moved into her own room) that's played as if Phil has been dumped. And the episode's resolution comes across as Better as Friends. Additionally Phil's reaction to Lil having to wear bras is very atypical of a brother. And there's another episode where Phil falls for one of Lil's friends - and she gets jealous that the girl is taking her brother away from her.
Indian Burial Ground: The Carmichaels live on one. At the end of their introductory episode, Randy makes a joke about it (after Stu had been bugging Randy all day, as Randy writes for The Dummi Bears, with which Stu is oddly obsessed):
Randy Carmichael: You know that Indian burial ground curse they told us about?
Lucy Carmichael: Yeah?
Randy Carmichael: You don't think he's it, do you?
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: Shouldn't somebody say a few words?
Phil: Like what?
Chuckie: How 'bout..."Hinkle, 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.
It Will Never Catch On: In "Game Show Didi," Grandpa says this of television, possibly echoing the feelings of his generation. Doubles as Hypocritical Humor since TV did catch on decades before, and because Grandpa constantly falls asleep in front of it.
In "Sour Pickles," Angelica selfishly refuses to let Tommy play with her kaleidoscope throughout the episode, but at the end, when she sees Stu and Drew make up after an argument, she gives it to Tommy and lets him use it.
In a very memorable episode ("New Kid In Town") Angelica stands up to a bully named Josh when she finds out he severely mistreats the babies (according to Tommy, he's much worse than Angelica). She even comes armed with a water balloon catapult.
Angelica: *launches a water balloon that just barely avoids hitting Josh* The next one won't miss!
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 since, allegedly because the creators despised the incident.
Kick the Dog: Angelica makes a profession out of it. Many adults that the babies obliviously harass also do this to make themselves an Asshole Victim.
The Lad-ette: Betty enjoys football, working out, home improvement, and is said to be a very good mechanic. She's also much more outgoing, boisterous, and assertive (not to mention much larger) than her husband Howard. See Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy below.
Laser-Guided Karma: Angelica, and "laser-guided" would be an understatement. If it wasn't enough to smite her within minutes of whatever transgression(s) she committed in that episode, the mighty hand of karma seems to reach down and bitch-slap Angelica as hard as possible, usually in ironic or embarrassingly appropriate ways.
In "Chuckie vs The Potty," she makes fun of Chuckie the entire episode for struggling with his potty training. At the end of the episode, Chuckie successfully uses his kiddy toilet on his own, and Angelica comes in crying that she wet the bed.
During the episode "Graham Canyon," Angelica taunts Tommy because she has chewing gum and Tommy can't have any because he's too young. She teases him with "You're too little. You'd just swallow it." Then the car hits a bump, and Angelica accidentally swallows her gum.
In "The Shot," Angelica guilt-trips Tommy into telling her his and Hector's plans to escape the doctor's out of fear of getting their booster shots, and then proceeds to snitch them out. After Tommy and Hector are discovered, they both realize shots aren't too scary and had no problem with them, while Angelica could not stop crying after hers.
In "The Alien," Angelica tells the babies that Chuckie and his father are aliens, simply because she's jealous since she's too big to fit in the new playhouse Chuckie has. She commits to the lie, and eventually tries to "melt" Chuckie by spraying him with the hose. When she does, Chuckie doesn't melt, and the babies no longer believe Angelica. As the kids join Chuckie in the playhouse, Angelica clutches the hose while screaming "YOU DUMB BABIES!" She then accidentally sprays herself with the hose.
Despite the fact that it turned out to be All Just a Dream, Angelica STILL felt some karmic wrath when she attempted to make the seed in Chuckie's stomach grow. As she watered it and it began to sprout, the vines that came out of the seed grabbed her by the ankle and thrashed her around until she managed to free herself.
At the end of "The Trial," Angelica admits to breaking Tommy's clown lamp, and then brags that the babies "Can't do anything about it, because [they] can't talk," before victoriously shouting "I did it, I did it, I DID IT!" Didi hears the entire confession, and Angelica immediately denies it. Didi doesn't believe her.
Subverted in the episode "Moving Away." The babies recall how the four of them and Angelica all met one another at a housewarming party for Stu and Didi. Before the occasion, Angelica tells each baby, in private, that the other babies are mean, selfish bullies, for no reason other than so she can see them fight for her own amusement. At the party, her plans goes off without a hitch, and as she congratulates herself for being "a genius," she spots a box of cookies in the neighbor's yard. She then tries to fit through the bottom of a broken fence to get to them, and gets stuck. Soon after, the babies realize that Angelica lied to them about one another, and Tommy somehow deduces that it's because she wanted them to be friends. Grateful towards Angelica, they go and help her get unstuck from the fence.
Averted in Season 1. The costume mentioned above had a zipper in the front that disappeared once it was fully zipped, and Reptar's mouth actually moved as the man in the costume talked. In the Season 1 episode "Reptar's Revenge," 'Reptar' is nothing more than a skinny, balding middle-aged man with his head sticking out of the costume's mouth.
Leitmotif: Angeilca has a noticeable one that accompanies all her lies and trickery.
Reptar has one as well. It's used even when only his likeness is seen— dolls, cereal, even Tommy's night light.
In Season 1 (and possibly 2), when a moose is shown or talked about, the same sound plays in the background almost every time.
Limited Wardrobe: Perhaps one of the few western hemisphere cartoons that averts this trope from time to time for no plot-related reason. Tommy wears an orange shirt instead of his standard blue in at least one episode (he also wears shoes and overalls in "Reptar's Revenge"), and Chas, Chuckie and Drew sometimes wear sweaters as opposed to their more recognizable attires.
Charlotte in particular seems to be the most frequent rebel to this trope. She wears numerous different outfits, and sometimes even wears curlers in hair despite the fact that her hair is never curly.
Literal-Minded: Being babies, the main characters of the show are extremely prone to this trope. For example, Phil and Lil tell Chuckie that what we call a "watch" is called a "time," because when adults wear one, they tend to glance at it before exclaiming "Look at the time!"
Living Emotional Crutch: The premise of the episode "Together At Last." Didi and Betty have coffee at Betty's house when they notice the twins arguing loudly. Coincidentally, this is right after Didi tells Betty that Lipschitz recommends separating twins every now and then to help them maintain independence. Betty at first is reluctant, but gives in and lets Didi take Lil to play with Tommy and Chuckie, while Phil stays at home with her.
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.
Most of the adults on the show are portrayed as more absent-minded than one would expect a parent with an infant to be. But Stu ranges from "immature adult" during arguments and short feuds with Drew, to what can only be described as "borderline mentally deficient" at seemingly random times. In "The Blizzard," he runs into the kitchen and screams "Yippee, school's been cancelled!" after a big snowstorm, at which point Chas has to remind him that he's 35 years old. In another episode, he rushes to get Chuckie's kiddy toilet while Chuckie is in the bathroom— Didi tells him to "put it down," and Stu puts it down right where he's standing... outside of the bathroom. Even Chuckie probably realizes that the potty doesn't belong in the hallway.
To elaborate, Betty's loud and boisterous (generally friendly though unless you mess with her kids), likes pro wrestling, is implied to exercise often, and even at one point runs a 10K marathon. She's good at things like car repair, construction/home improvement, and plumbing, and she's strong enough to lift Phil and Lil each with one hand, by their shirts, at the same time (she may be the only adult in the show's entire run to do so).Howard, on the other hand, is quiet and meek and has been seen more than once (or implied to be) participating in a "feminine" activity/chore. In "The Unfair Pair," Phil and Lil walk into the kitchen as Howard is baking cookies; in "Moving Away," Betty contemplates going to Stu's housewarming party by saying to herself "Well, Howard has a lot of laundry to do..."; in "The Stork," he's knitting and keeping to himself as Didi and Betty become immersed in watching a pro football game. Betty clearly wears the pants in their relationship, but they do love each other as each is quick to defend the other (see the episode entitlted "Family Feud").
Some more grown up viewers have assumed this to be a version of dual , the jury's still out.
Mass Hypnosis: When the adults go with Grandpa to a bowling championship, the kids are left with a (presumably) teenaged babysitter. When Angelica starts to act up, the babysitter turns on a Dummi Bears movie, which appears to literally hypnotize all of the babies present (except Tommy, who's off-screen when the movie is first turned on). They sing along with the movie in an eerie monotone and say things like "Must... stay... here..." and "Must... watch... bears..." Tommy eventually frees them from the hypnosis by violently shaking Phil, Lil, and Chuckie. He neglects to do so for Angelica, and it turns that she's still hypnotized even after they all go home.
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 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.
There was also a comic (Whether or not it was meant to be canon or not) wherein Chuckie was standing on a crack, thinking that it's "Step on a crack, bring your mother back". Angelica is about to correct him to how it's break his mother's back, before she has a Last-Second Word Swap, and then stands next to Chuckie saying, "See anything yet?"
Mistaken for Pregnant: In "Angelica's Worst Nightmare," Charlotte Pickles thinks she's going to have another baby when she has read the pregnancy tester. It turns out in the end of the episode that she must have read it wrong and that she and Dru are not having another baby after all.
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.
Mundane Utility: "Toy Palace" has, among its assorted toys intended for children being sold, a working time machine. And this isn't one of the babies' imagine spots.
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.
Never Trust a Trailer: The promos Nick ran for the show during the early/mid 90's made the babies sound almost like juvenile delinquents who defied authority at every turn. On the actual show, however, they're somewhat mischievous but fundamentally good kids who genuinely care about each other and their respective families.
Tommy and Chuckie once "filled the potty with Jell-O so the fish wouldn't get hungry."
Howard, to Betty: I'd never forget our anniversary... not after what happened last year. *nervous laugh*
“You said forty seconds. I thought you had been abducted 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.
Many of Chuckie's seemingly random fears were brought up throughout the series, with no backstory and no further explanation. Amongst them— spandex, putting his feet in his own shoes ("It was dark in them shoes!"), and green Jell-O ("It coulda been alive! It really coulda!")
Non Sequitur Thud: In the episode "Tooth or Dare," Angelica is trying to extract a tooth from Chuckie's mouth so she can get money from the tooth fairy. Eventually, she becomes crazed and chases Tommy and Chuckie through the house with a pair of pliers. Near the end of the chase, she runs into a wall after Chuckie and Tommy sidestep her. As she's on the floor, semi-conscious, this exchange happens:
Tommy: Angelica, are you okay?
Angelica: *sits up, eyes crossed* Oh, but Daddy, the babies ate all the ice cream sammiches...
Chuckie: What ice cream sandwiches is she talking about, Tommy?
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.
Angelica also wears a diaper under her dress during the first season, and from Season 2 onward, she wears just her polka-dot pants under the dress. Her pajamas also change from typical baby "feety" pajamas to just an oversized Dummi Bears shirt.
Not Me This Time: One episode has Susie 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 — Susie's trike was under her porch, Angelica's trike was her own and Angelica's red hands (which Susie thought was from opening her garage's painted doors) were actually from her finger painting an apology letter. Thankfully for Susie, 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, and it didn't survive the ordeal.
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. See Hypocritical Humor above.
Not What It Looks Like: At a costume party, Stu and Drew have an argument over who's king of the jungle— Tarzan (Stu's costume of choice) or King Kong (Drew). They eventually decide to "Step outside," or at least Stu does, before Drew closes the door and locks his brother out. He eventually attempts to climb the gutters and enter through an open window on the second story (after knocking on the window, but never knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell). He slips, however, and is hanging off of the gutter by his loincloth as police pull up to the window. He tells them that it's his brother's house. They don't believe him, and he gets arrested (in his Tarzan costume).
No, You: Stu, towards Howard, after Didi accuses Betty of stealing Didi's earrings (episode entitled "Family Feud"):
Howard: Betty, a thief?! That's an absurd proposition!
Stu: YOU'RE an absurd proposition!
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.
One-Liner: After the babies have spent nearly the entire episode running from Stu's latest invention, they successfully defeat "Mr. Fiend." When they turn around, however, they find themselves staring down an entire army of Mr. Fiend dolls.
Lil: Boy, this is really one of those days, huh?
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.
The episode "Touchdown Tommy" featured the adults watching the "Ultra Bowl." While the team names are never stated (presumably for copyright reasons), it's clearly intended to portray the Houston Oilers (later the Tennessee Titans) vs the Dallas Cowboys. Drew is wearing a silver shirt with a blue star on it, while Howard's shirt is red, white and blue, with a stylized oil derrick◊ on it, both of which are the main logos for the respective teams. The episode was first aired in late October of 1991, at which point Houston was 4-2 and Dallas was 5-1. However, despite being in opposite conferences and thus having the possibility of playing one another in the championship (writers get bonus points for creating a matchup that was possible, and somewhat likely, in real life), Houston didn't make it, while Dallas did.
In that same episode, right before the game starts, Stu and Howard yell "Come on, Houston!" while Grandpa and Drew respond with "Go get 'em, Dallas!", further reinforcing the point that it does indeed depict Oilers vs Cowboys.
In one episode Angelica actually states that she's afraid "Sad-man Husany Saddam Hussein" 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.
In "Man of the House," Tommy tells Chuckie he's seen his dad "talking to no one" saying "Please, please, let me make a good toy this time! Pleeease!"
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 ...
Parental Neglect: The parents in the show are horribly neglectful. Excluding mothers and/or fathers who are just terrible people and don't care about their kids, the adults in this show might very well be the worst parents in the history of television.
It's not even like the parents are neglectful in a completely literal way. They're just idiots for the most part. Tommy is definitely an extremely resourceful baby (finding ways to get out of his crib, playpen, or even his HOUSE without the adults noticing), but something like taking away his screwdriver or giving him a crib with walls too high to climb would seem to make sense.
Then there's the episode "Barbecue Story." At the end of the episode, the babies have caused such a commotion that the grown-ups have taken their eyes off the burgers on the grill. Eventually, it catches fire, and Betty sees it before calmly asking "Hey, what's that?" IT'S A FIRE, BETTY. IT'S A GODDAMN FIRE.
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.
Present Peeking: In "Regarding Stuie" the babies had Stu, whose mind had been reverted to that of a baby thanks to bump on the head, grab a box high in the closet which they thought contained Christmas presents.
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...
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'!
Subverted during the episode "When Wishes Come True," in which the babies think Angelica has been turned into stone:
Tommy: We can't just leave Angelica this way forever!
Lil: Why not?
Tommy: Well, because... Angelica's not just a big old mean kid who likes to push us around and pull our hair and make us eat old green stuff from under the couch!
Chuckie, Phil, Lil: She's not?
Tommy: No! She's a lot more than that! She's the one who's been there before us! She's the one who shows us the way! Sure she's hard on us! She's gotta be hard! But she's our friend, and we gotta help her!
[beat as Chuckie, Phil, and Lil stare blankly at Tommy]
Tommy: Plus, if we don't turn her back into real, we're gonna get into a lot of trouble.
[Chuckie, Phil, Lil all immediately and enthusiastically agree to help]
Chuckie lampshaded Tommy's tendency to do this in the episode "No More Cookies."
Chuckie: I love it when he gives these big speeches.
In at least one episode ("Rebel Without A Teddy Bear"), Chuckie managed to give one to Tommy.
Running Gag: A subtle one occurs in the early seasons (and only happens two or three times). Angelica asks someone (other than her parents) for something in absolutely the most polite way possible. They nicely tell her no, at which point she gets angry, physically assaults the person, and takes what she was asking for.
Reptar (a man in costume at a carnival): Hello, little girl. Would you like a free sample of my Reptar Cereal?
Reptar: Here you go. *gives her one of the mini cereal boxes*
Angelica: *continues to smile* May I have another one, please?
Reptar: I'm sorry, little girl. Only one free sample per human child.
Angelica: *beginning to scowl* ... gimme one.
Reptar: Look, kid, it ain't up to me!
Angelica: I SAID GIMME ONE! *kicks Reptar and takes the entire tray of mini cereal boxes*
Another occurs in Season 1 only. After Tommy saw Reptar for the first time on television, he gets visibly excited whenever he sees Reptar. The viewer can tell that Tommy is trying his hardest to tell Stu and Didi how much he likes that big, green lizard, but they never realize it. They eventually figure it out in Season 2, though.
The Scapegoat: Chuckie is often blamed for things that weren't his fault in any way— mostly by Angelica, such as in "Cuffed," after she bullied Chuckie into helping her steal a set of toy handcuffs intended to be a present for an orphan (and Angelica handcuffed her own wrist to Chuckie's, with no way to unlock the handcuffs):
Angelica: YOU! This is all YOUR fault!
Angelica: That's right! If you hadn't have come over here, I never would've sneaked into the closet to get this dumb thing in the first place!
Angelica also blames her doll, Cynthia, for many of the situations that Angelica's bratty behavior creates. In one episode, she even blames Cynthia for startling her as she was coloring, even though it was actually her father calling her that caused it.
The first Halloween episode had some pretty creepy background music.
The ending credits music from the episode "Mega Diaper Babies."
The music that plays in the background when Not!Tommy and Not!Stu speak
Seasonal Baggage: Type 2 (Seasonal Montage: Flipping between the seasons to show the passage of time in a story), subverted. In the episode "Grandpa Moves Out," after Grandpa moves out of Stu and Didi's house, the next sequence shows leaves falling, then snow, then fresh grass and birds chirping, implying that several months have passed. After the montage, the words "One Week Later" are superimposed on the screen. Then, just in case the viewer is still confused, Drew visits Stu's house:
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.
During the episode "The Mysterious Mr. Friend," the new toy Stu made for Tommy scares him when Stu places it in his crib while Tommy sleeps. It sits up says one of his catchphrases (as the toy's audio chip causes the voice to skip eerily), and its head spins around manically.
After discovering a nickel in the sandbox, the babies and Angelica get nickel gold fever, and paranoia sets in. The reference is doubled, when just like the gold, the nickel is eventually reclaimed by the wind & sand.
"The Word of the Day" features a beloved children's entertainer who is really crude and vulgar (and dumped from airtime) while being waited on by a sweeter and more wholesome woman which sounds similar to "The Killing of Sister George".
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 DoctorWhoalek toys in the background of one scene. Considering they created Tommy—who solves most of his problems with his "trusty screwdriver"—it's safe to assume that the creators of the show were fans.
During the episode "Destination Moon," Chuckie is scared to leave the "spaceship." Tommy reassures him that it's just "One small step." Chuckie responds "It looks more like a giant leap to me."
In one episode at a bowling alley, the babies find several pairs of bowling shoes that they mistake for clown shoes. Phil comments "Maybe they'll send in the clowns," and Lil replies "Don't bother. They're here."
Sibling Rivalry: Phil and Lil get along for the most part, but they also argue over both petty and significant things, and the viewer can sometimes see them in the background of a scene, fighting over a toy.
Single-Minded Twins: Besides looking and dressing almost exactly alike (even in their pajamas), Phil and Lil share the same favorite color (green), and an extreme fondness for eating worms and bugs. In the episode "Twins' Pique," they berate Tommy and Chuckie for addressing both Phil and Lil simultaneously (Tommy greets them with "Hi, guys!"), and demand that they speak to Phil and Lil separately.
Six Is Nine: In one episode, Tommy gets kidnapped as a result of criminals succumbing to this trope.
Skyward Scream: Angelica has one in "Early Retirement." It's loud enough for the ENTIRE UNIVERSE to hear.
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.
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!
Angelica: BUT THAT'S NOT FAIR!
The opening scene of the episode "Princess Angelica" is almost perfectly indicative of just how spoiled Angelica is. Drew reminds her that Angelica agreed to clean her room once a month since Drew bought her a $400 video game console. She tries to get out of it by saying "I didn't feel like it this month," then offering to start the deal next month. She's nothing short of bewildered when her father, for once, refuses to budge.
"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
Status Quo Is God: Invoked many times, including an episode in which Angelica runs away from home (and another in which Chuckie does the same), one instance where Angelica "turns Tommy bad," and (amongst many others) "Farewell, My Friend," in which Tommy and Chuckie decide to no longer be "bestest friends."
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 Chas 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.
Straying Baby: Just about every episode involves the babies breaking out of a playpen and/or straying away from the adults watching them.
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 Didi, while cleaning up, complains that despite the gerbils being gone for days, they still left plenty of "presents" behind. Cue Gilligan Cut to a closeup of gerbil feces, with Tommy and Chuckie complaining that it's not the presents 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's movin'!"
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. As seen in flashbacks during "No More Cookies," Angelica's first word was "cookie." At the end of the episode, she wants cookies so bad that she eats them after they've fallen into a tub of soapy water.
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.
To be more specific, Chuckie shows a surprisingly hot temper, at times, for someone as tactful and introverted as he is. He's yelled at Tommy, Phil and Lil many times when it probably wasn't warranted (if what he said wasn't wrong, it was how he said it). Tommy tends to take it in stride and never gets mad at Chuckie for losing his temper, and Phil and Lil follow Tommy's lead.
Tommy even treats Angelica as if they were as close as a brother and sister, even though she tortures him as a hobby. Angelica has been saved from many a bad situation because Tommy refused to abandon her.
Their parents also qualify. They help each other a lot, and treat each other's kids like their own.
Tsundere: Angelica for Chuckie, in the comic strip at least.
Also Megan for Chuckie and some other boy in that one episode.
Uncancelled: The show ended after it's initial 65 episodes contract but due to high ratings and popularity, Rugrats got a reprieve (after it aired it's original finale in 1995) for a fourth season and many other seasons to follow. Although it was officially cancelled in 2004.
Unintentional Period Piece: The first three seasons, due to the pop culture references and technology. Having said that, this occurs alot in post season 3 episodes as well, just not as much.
Vinyl Shatters: In "Give and Take," when talking with Chuckie, Angelica breaks a few of Chuckie's records just for kicks, by simply hurling them into the air and letting them break among hitting the ground as if they were glass (though such records are difficult to shatter this way in real life.)
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.
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.
In one episode, Didi works at a high school named 'Eucaipah', which is similarly named to the Southern California town of Yucaipa, near San Bernardino. So it's possible that their home is either in that city or at least close to it.
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."
In the episode "The Bank Trick," Tommy and Chuckie mistake "ATM machine" for "M&M machine," and explore the bank that Didi took them to, looking for candy. Eventually, they find their way into the banks "secure" storage vault, and look through large bags of money, discarding all of the cash as "green wrapping paper."