Who in their right minds would give a mainstream animated series to the enigmatic and often Insufferable Genius Canadian animator John Kricfalusi, known for causing chaos throughout the 80s in the animation industry with his attempts in putting out a grotesque, almost obscene animation style which played up every body hair, pimple, bulging vein, oozing sore, lump of unsightly fat, and pock-marked butt cheek and proudly flaunted around showing off the most disgusting and disturbing parts of internal anatomy?Well, Nickelodeon did, and the result was the gold standard ofGetting Crap Past the Radar, and also the adventures of a mentally unbalanced chihuahua named Ren Höek and his sidekick, the cheerybutmoronic Stimpson J. Cat. It is one of the first three Nicktoons alongside Doug and Rugrats.The show was over-the-top in every way imaginable: In its animation, even traditional Animation Tropes were taken up a notch. Characters rarely Temporarily Atomise anything smaller than a nuclear submarine and Non-Fatal Explosions generally take out at least one state. Even its dialog was pulled Up to Eleven—Ren didn't so much talk as scream threats and insults in other people's faces. And that's not even counting its macabre tone—in The Ren & Stimpy Show, even a standard sitcom plot such as "Ren is jealous that Stimpy has a fan club" could become a tale of operatic angst and rage. And just when you thought you've seen everything, it comes up with a story about a fart cloud Stimpy made that turns into a major Tear Jerker.Its surprising success made a huge impact on the style of Nickelodeon's animated shows. Unfortunately, of all the inventive and challenging elements exhibited by The Ren & Stimpy Show, the only one copycat shows seized on was the disgusting animation, and thus the Grossout Show was born.Friction between Nickelodeon execs and Kricfalusi - mostly over Kricfalusi's attitude and penchant for late work - eventually led to his removal from the show in 1992. Production was then absorbed by Nickelodeon itself (via its inhouse studio Games Animations) as most of the original staff gradually left in disgust over Kricfalusi's firing. The show was canceled in 1995 after a total of 53 episodes and was removed from Nick's lineup in 1996.In 2003, Kricfalusi successfully brought the pair back to TV when Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon debuted on Spike TV. However, there was some Executive Meddling still—for starters, and much to his chagrin, he was forced by Spike to shove a lot of, in his words, "unnecessary adult themes" into it due to Spike wanting another money-maker along the lines of South Park. The show was fairly well received in ratings and reviews (although many fans hated it for its excessive grossout jokes) but due to John only being able to complete three of the nine requested episodes on time, the show was canceled after just a month of airtime. Plans for a second season for APC, three episodes were drafted. Spike however decided to cancel those plans on the last second.Now has a character sheet, a recap page and a radar page, which would very much like to be updated with tropes and examples of your choice.
Addiction Displacement: In "My Shiny Friend", Stimpy overcomes his TV addiction. However, he merely replaces that with an addiction to gambling.
Alan Smithee: John Kricfalusi wasn't happy with how "Nurse Stimpy" turned out, so he credited himself as "Raymond Spum" instead. Season 1's "Black Hole" and Season 5's "Dinner Party" has no director credit at all.
An Aesop: "Powdered Toast Man" has a subtle one to go along with it's send-up of superheroes, in that it's a satirical cautionary tale about how easily authority is abused.
And I Must Scream: The happy helmet will make you happy twenty-four hours a day, against your will. With you being perfectly aware the whole time that you shouldn't be so damn happy.
Angry Guard Dog: Double subverted; Stimpy announces that a home the two plan to steal food from is not guarded... by a dog. When Ren hears this and attempts the theft, Stimpy then makes an announcement:
There's no dog... * snicker* but there's a baboon!
Stimpy: He took all our loot. He trapped us here to die! But, worst of all...HE TOOK MY COOL MINER'S HAAAAAAATTT!
Another example is the ending of "Svën Höek" where, after gruesomely describing how he's going to tear Stimpy and Sven's lips out, then gouge out their eyes, then rip out their arms, Ren simply states he's going to hit them and then they're going to fall. Possibly averted because, by that line, the tension is so high, and Ren so calmly angry, that it comes across as the most disturbingly sadistic act. Must be how Ren says he's going to look down on them and laugh.
Art Evolution: The first season was done by a handful of studios, some of which didn't quite "get" Ren and Stimpy's art style. Things improved dramatically in season 2 when then-newcomer Rough Draft Studios was hired to do animation. Additionally, Carbunkle Cartoons (who did the best work in season 1) was given more to do, showcasing some of the finest visual acting seen on TV in years. When Spumco was fired, Games Animation didn't use Carbunkle at all, instead relying heavily on Rough Draft (who admittedly, still did a fine job), as well as adding Mr Big Cartoons in Australia and Toon Us In in LA's Chinatown (Wang Film Productions did a couple of episodes as well). The art style got noticeably flatter and more UPA-influenced around this time. With Adult Party Cartoon, Spumco returned and the episodes became more detailed than ever.
Artifact Title: "Fire Dogs 2" has very little to do with the original episode. It just starts where "Fire Dogs" ended, then the fireman randomly transforms into Ralph Bakshi (with the man himself doing his voice), then he and Ren & Stimpy hang out together doing everyday things, and their jobs as a fireman and fire dogs are completely forgotten about.
Be Careful What You Wish For: At the end of "The Scotsman in Space", a genie grants Ren a wish; Ren wishes for babes and a lot of money. Stimpy begs for a wish too, and Ren relents. Stimpy wishes that people be free of want (Ren's money disappears) and that everyone should be treated equally, regardless of race or creed (Ren's babes turn into men from different countries). He also wishes to be where it's always warm, at which point Ren and Stimpy are hurled towards the sun.
Between My Legs: Heavily emphasized during a scene in "Naked Beach Frenzy".
BGM: There have literally been THOUSANDS of unique stock music cues used in this show.
Biblical Motifs: The ending of "Wiener Barons" parodies the story of Noah's Ark.
One episode begins with their house being a manger-like building on a starry night and a camel's head in the frame, complete with a motif from "We Three Kings", even though it wasn't a Christmas Episode.
Ren: Hey, Jasper. Where's Phil? Jasper: I told you, they put him to sleep. Ren: So wake him up. Jasper: You don't wake up from the big sleep. Ren: The big sleep... The big sleep? The big sleep! The big sleep!!(curls up whimpering) Stimpy: What's the big sleep, Ren? Ren:[gets close to Stimpy's ear] ...He's DEAD!!! HE'S DEAD, YOU IDIOT!! Do you know what "dead" means? That's what we'll be if we don't get out of here!
Bigger on the Inside: Parodied to the extreme in "The Cat That Laid the Golden Hairball", which had Ren and Stimpy living in a birdhouse, yet there's plenty of room inside.
In that same episode, Stimpy himself. Ren's nephew Bubba is able to walk inside Stimpy's interior like a damp cavern in spite of being several times larger than him.
Bittersweet Ending: The series has very few clear-cut happy endings, but it just as often ends with this as it does downer endings. Examples include;
"Stimpy's Big Day / The Big Shot" ends with Ren and Stimpy reuniting; only for Ren to snap when he finds out Stimpy gave away his 47 million dollars.
"Nurse Stimpy" ends with Ren getting cured of his illness, but at the price of Stimpy going nuts and getting ill himself, prompting Ren to "return the favor" for all that Stimpy did to help him.
"Fire Dogs" ends with Ren and Stimpy being treated as heroes and awarded for what they did; too bad their fire hydrant helmets prompt the nearby dogs (and the lady they rescued) to form a line for a bathroom break...
"Stimpy's Invention" ends with Ren freeing himself from the Happy Helmet and just about to lash out at Stimpy—only to discover that being angry is what makes him happy in the first place! Even Stimpy is surprised at this outcome.
"Ren's Toothache" has Ren getting a new giant tooth to replace his lost ones, albeit it's a donation from Stimpy.
"Mad Dog Hoek"; Ren and Stimpy win, but Stimpy, who is way too into the sport now, breaks character by going off on a truly insane, Ultimate Warrior-esque rant; even Ren is taken back at this!
"Fake Dad" has Kowalski getting hauled back to jail, but he has bonded with Ren and Stimpy by this point.
The ending to "Magical Golden Singing Cheeses". To elaborate: Ren and Stimpy had been starving for the entire episode, and when Stimpy finally retrieved some cheese that fit Ren's tastes, the cheeses transformed into milk curd princesses, whom they were both forced to marry. So while they lived "happily ever after", the duo never did solve their food problem and died from starvation shortly after.
"City Hicks" ended with Ren and Stimpy being saved by Dusty Claus from dying on the streets of starvation...except now they have to toil in his dust mines for the rest of their lives. Neither seem to mind, though, so maybe this is a Happy Ending instead.
"A Yard Too Far". The baboon has taken Ren's hand puppet as his unwilling bride, but the boys finally get to eat their hog jowls.
"In The Army"; Ren and Stimpy graduate boot camp and are inducted into the army; only to get sent right to the front lines of war!
"Rubber Nipple Salesman" ends with Ren and Stimpy succeeding in making a sale; only for Mr. Pipe to abruptly throw them out of the house, where they fall on two bulls and ride off into the distance.
"Stimpy's Fan Club" ends with Ren finally getting a fan letter from Stimpy himself, which prompts Ren to realise how much of a jerk he was to be jealous of Stimpy.
"The Scotsman In Space" ends with the duo helplessly drifting into the sun and being incinerated on-screen; but before that, Stimpy did get his wish for equality for all mankind and freedom from want to be granted.
In "Ol' Blue Nose", the Louie Lungbubble Show is taped at NBS (a mix between NBC and CBS).
Body Horror: Examples run the gamut from Ren plucking exposed nerve endings out of his mouth in "Ren's Toothache" to Stimpy removing a giant cyclops' toenail with a crowbar in "Magical Golden Singing Cheeses".
Bolivian Army Ending: A good few episodes, but the "Commander Höek and Cadet Stimpy" episodes in particular make a Running Gag of the two facing certain death at the end of every episode.
Bottle Episode: "Rubber Nipple Salesman," according to John Kricfalusi. While it didn't have Ren and Stimpy locked in a room together (as do most Bottle Episodes), it did have them either in their truck or at the door of someone's house. This was done as a cost-saving measure, as actually animating them driving off or down the street would have put the show overbudget.
Bowdlerise: Things censored from the show in reruns range from somewhat understandable, such as extreme threats of violence and burning the Constitution (which may mean nothing to ex-pats and international viewers, but means everything if you're an American) to stupid ones, like removing George Liquor's vestigal tail on the "Dog Show" episode because it looked like a penis.
Burping Contest: Done by two lummoxes in "Lair of the Lummox", with the best belcher winning a female lummox.
But Now I Must Go: An adult Stimpy at the end of "I Was a Teenage Stimpy", after Ren is overjoyed to finally have an adult there to take care of him:
Stimpy: Sorry, pops, the world needs me! Thanks for the grub, old man! I'll call you when I need money! (flies off) I'll write, if I learn how!
Butt Monkey: Ren is probably one of the most horrifying examples of 90s animation. He suffers some of the worst luck, injuries and mental breakdowns you'll ever see a cartoon character absorb. "Double Header" is probably the peak of this, where he tries in vain to break it off with Stimpy after years of misery, only to get hit by a bus and spend the rest of his pathetic life as a freak surgically attached to Stimpy, gets fired from his job and has to work at a circus being gawked at by rednecks and idiots, grudgingly comes to accept his lot in life only to be crushed by a meteor, go back into surgery, and now spend the rest of his life as nothing more than a face and a couple of legs cursed to be suffocated every night as Stimpy goes to sleep (on his back) and every day dangling over Stimpy's Gasshole.
And just to really punctuate it, Stimpy somehow gets the rest of his body back after the surgery.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Stimpy has a collection of boogers until his table, but for some reason, censors would not allow them to be called such, so the name "Magic Nose Goblins" was improvised for them.
Call Back: The shocked bystanders watching Ren through the window, featured in both "Nurse Stimpy" and later, "Stimpy's Fan Club".
Remember when Ren would pray for huge pectoral muscles in season 1? Guess what he got in season 3's "Ren's Pecs"?
And earlier, in "Son of Stimpy", he prayed for Stimpy's safety, and even told God he'd give up asking for bigger pecs if it got Stimpy home safe.
Ren's dentures, first worn in "Ren's Toothache", make a return appearance in "Jiminy Lummox", when Stimpy uses them to scale a fish.
"Jerry the Bellybutton Elf" was loaded with cameos from secondary and minor characters at Ren's impromptu party.
Jasper and Phil, two minor characters from "Big House Blues", reappear as competing show dogs in "Dog Show".
Can't You Read the Sign?: "Exact change ONLY!" at the end of "Black Hole", thereby causing Ren and Stimpy to be kicked off the bus back to Earth.
Chainsaw Good: The ghost in "Haunted House" tries to scare Ren and Stimpy as a chainsaw-wielding masked killer. Also, little Ren is given a chainsaw (rather than a gun) to euthanize a poor frog he's been torturing for a while in "Ren Seeks Help".
Character Development: In the earliest episodes, Ren was already abrasive and short tempered but was slowly built up into the psychotic tendencies he is most infamous for, and also portraying him more as a pragmatic, jaded adult, who could still have sympathetic qualities. Stimpy also went through this—in Big House Blues, he was very one dimensionally defined as an idiot and barely had any lines, and by later episodes became the ditzy optimist we know him as. Surprisingly the Games episodes even continued developing the characters; Ren became far less psychotic and far more of a selfish abusive Jerkass towards Stimpy. Stimpy on the other hand became far more patronising towards Ren, was increasingly implied to be a Stepford Smiler who could snap if pushed to his limits. Adult Party continued this, especially in regards to Ren, by making him an out and out misanthropic nihilist, while Stimpy was shown to be more emotionally unstable than let on before.
Chekhov's Gunman: George Liquor stars in "Man's Best Friend" and "Dog Show", and made cameo appearances in a few others. Years later, he gets his own webshow, complete with a supporting cast. It has recently been Uncanceled.
And now canceled, since George's voice actor died earlier this year.
Concussions Get You High: One episode features Stimpy excusing himself because "It's time for my appointment". He walks over to a door in the wall, inserts a quarter, and the door lifts to reveal a horse. The horse kicks him in the head, sending him flying. His reaction to this is almost orgasmic.
Continuity Nod: Many of the more memorable songs from early in the show are heard in snippets later on in the series.
"Did you say "Log'?"
"Dinner Party" features numerous characters from the show's run all attending Ren and Stimpy's dinner party. This includes Muddy Mudskipper, Powdered Toast Man, Haggis McHaggis, the Fire Chief, and even recent characters like Sammy Mantis.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: In "An Abe Divided", the punishment for disgracing the country by not being good security guards for the Lincoln Memorial is towel whippings.
Cradle of Loneliness: Ren gets very lonely when Stimpy goes off to be the Gritty Kitty mascot. At one point he is seen cradling a bag of kitty litter with Stimpy's face on it.
Crapsaccharine World: Ren and Stmipy's world looks as pleasant as a 60's tv cartoon, but when it's not being incredibly bizarre, it's not what you'd call a nice place to live either.
Crazy Cultural Comparison: The entire premise of "Travelogue" is Ren and Stimpy partaking in the many odd cultural customs of Acroneglia, such as the back shaving ceremony, eating monkey brain soup, and dipping themselves upside down in hot boiling water.
Ren and Stimpy themselves have their own unorthodox holidays, like Yak Shaving Day.
Death by Irony: If only Stimpy had realized he had pocket change when he and Stimpy were on the bus in "Black Hole", and not after the bus had left and they were about to implode.
Deconstructive Parody: "Son of Stimpy" was deliberately made by John as a stealth deconstruction of pathos scenes in movies, using a deliberately ludicrous and stupid plotline that's Played for Drama, just to show how easy it is to make people cry at a scene if you use the right staging and music tricks. He discusses this at length in this post on his blog.
John: "I purposely made a cartoon that used some filmic tricks to make people cry just to show that it's not hard to do it. And I didn't have to shoot anyone's Mom either. I made people cry over the fact that Stimpy couldn't fart for a second time. I went out of my way to make the story have the most preposterous plot events in it-everything to undermine the seriousness of Stimpy's depression. Besides the mood tricks, I relied heavily on Stimpy and Ren's acting-the drawings of their expressions and their interactions. A lot of films will ignore this part of the pathos recipe. They rely on the filmic tricks and contrived story points."
Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: "Ren's Bitter Half" near the end Ren's evil side decides to replicate himself so that the world will be full of Evil Rens, the first clone turns out to be female and they fall in love, near the end after they get married they playfully get into a fight, you will notice that none of his punches are able to strike her and she is able to beat him up all she wants.
"Ren Seeks Help" ends with Ren finally going feral, delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Mr. Horse, and getting dragged off to the nuthouse by the police. And the frog he tormented as a child shows up and turns Mr. Horse's pistol on himself.
"The Boy Who Cried Rat" ends with Ren throwing in the towel on his scam, only to find out Stimpy ate the five dollars Mr and Mrs. Pipe paid them—they promptly force them to do the dishes and a substantial amount of other housework to work off the debt.
"Black Hole" ends with Ren and Stimpy imploding in on themselves.
"Space Madness" ends this way with it showing Ren is still suffering from Space Madness (but hiding it and reinforcing his own delusions). And then the History Eraser Button segment comes, and Stimpy gives in to his urges and erases himself and his friends from existence.
"Sven Hoek" ends with Ren unintentionally blowing up his house, and he, Stimpy and Sven are sent to Hell.
As per the old lady's will, Ren and Stimpy are killed and stuffed at the end of "It's a Dog's Life", so that they may join her in the eternal salvation of the hereafter.
And of course, there's "Marooned", where Ren and Stimpy, having been swallowed by a giant space monster, are awaiting certain doom by other creatures the monster just swallowed. Even the prime directive says the two don't have a chance of survival.
And then there's "The Last Temptation", which is a downer ending to the entire series.
Driven to Suicide: The frog that Ren was tormenting in "Ren Seeks Help", after Ren wouldn't honor his request to put him out of his misery. After Ren gets dragged off to the nuthouse, he crawls into Mr. Horse's office, and uses his pistol to off himself.
The Ghost in "Haunted House". Subverted in that trying it makes him alive again.
Drowning My Sorrows: Stimpy goes to a bar in "Terminal Stimpy" when he realizes he only has one of his nine lives left.
Episode Title Card: Most were just a still image set to some music, but "Sven Hoek" was live action footage of a lederhosen-wearing, accordion-playing man. John K. abhors the latter, confirmed by his DVD Commentary of "Sven Hoek".
Satan: So, you whizzed on the electric fence, didn't ya?
Flashback Cut: Ren & Stimpy never had an entire episode devoted to showing old clips, but the beginning of "Double Header" featured a brief flurry of clips from earlier episodes of Stimpy acting stupid.
Genre Savvy / Wrong Genre Savvy: Zig-zagged by Ren: whenever he identifies a pattern, it promptly shifts out from under him. An example from "A Yard Too Far": When he's about to steal some hog jowls from the front yard, he states that in other cartoons, there's usually an Angry Guard Dog prepared to maul the everloving crap out of whoever enters the porch. Stimpy mentions that there is none present. He does not, however, mention the guard baboon.
Good Is Not Nice: George Liquor. He is not remotely evil and firmly believes in rules and discipline (hence his mantra "It's discipline that begets love!"), but he pursues it in such an aggressive, overzealous manner (going as far as to play mindgames with Ren and Stimpy in "Man's Best Friend"), that it makes him a force to be reckoned with when roused to anger.
In "Hermit Ren," he gets so sick of Stimpy he leaves to join a hermit guild. They provide him with a cave and a boulder to lock him in forever. Completely alone. It doesn't take long for him to lose his mind. He gets kicked out for creating imaginary friends.
His Recycled INSPACE counterpart goes insane in "Space Madness" when, confined to a spaceship on a long mission, he is deprived of all contact besides Cadet Stimpy. Interestingly Stimpy does absolutely nothing to instigate this as the only bit of mischief he causes in this episode occurs after Ren is long gone.
Ren goes more than a little nuts at the end of "Farm Hands" when he thinks he and Stimpy are the last survivors after a devastating tornado. However, it turns out the farm's cow also survive (and took a dump on them).
Ren and Stimpy both slowly lose their sanity in "Big Flakes" while they're trapped in the cabin.
The Grunting Orgasm: Stimpy has, or at least greatly implies, one in the episode "Altruists" of Adult Party Cartoon.
Hair-Trigger Avalanche: Demonstrated in "Big Flakes", though playing against expectations, Ren isn't the one who sets off the avalanche which would bury their cabin. He shouts for Stimpy to shut up already, yet it's Stimpy's "AMEN!!!!!" which is the trigger which causes the avalanche.
Hair-Trigger Temper: Ren in the episodes post-Kricfalusi, when his anger and screaming traits were played up more, wheras in the earlier episodes he only broke down under the most manic and frustrating of circumstances.
Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Subverted by Stimpy in "No Pants Today". He suddenly realizes that he wears no clothes and feels ashamed about it.
Hands in Pockets: Ren doesn't have a tail because John didn't like animating it.
It is actually removed in "Dog Show" by George Liquor using a rubber band and is never seen again.
But then it reappears when Mr. Horse passes Ren during the pre-judging (he even wags it in excitement). That's right. Negative Continuity is so strong in Ren and Stimpy that the character's physical attributes aren't even consistent between scenes in the same cartoon.
Happy Ending: There are a handful of times where an episode ends with a clear Happy Ending, even if's often offbeat or with one of the characters in a mild, but not particularly awful, disposition;
"Big House Blues" has both Ren and Stimpy getting happily adopted by a family, and Stimpy gets his first material possession—a litterbox (which Ren has the misfortune of getting stuck in).
"Robin Hoek" has an in-universe happy ending with Robin Hoek saving Maid Moron; of course, outside the story the episode has a strange "Was it really a dream?" ending.
"The Littlest Giant" ends happily with the Giant saving Wee Ren's farm and earning his friendship and residence, albeit the giant has Ren perform rather peculiar tasks for him such as being his personal backscratcher and put up with things like the giants sneezing.
"Son of Stimpy" ends with Stimpy reuniting with Ren and Stinky, the latter now having a rotting fish for a wife. They move inside Ren's nose.
Hard Work Montage: "Stimpy's Cartoon Show". Stimpy makes a cartoon all by himself, but when he promotes Ren to producer, Ren cuts his budget. So Stimpy is forced to literally chop down trees to make the paper he needs to draw on. Stimpy also does every task involved afterwards, including photographing each frame, one by one. By the end, he's appropriately exhausted.
Head Desk: In "Space Madness" Ren bangs his head on the table after seeing the Food Pills Stimpy presents.
Here We Go Again: Stimpy falling in love with a goat head at the end of "I Love Chicken".
Hotter and Sexier: The Adult Party Cartoon episodes in general (even though the experiment to do so was a failure), but Naked Beach Frenzy was the hottest and sexiest of all the APC episodes, so much so that Spike TV didn't air it, as they felt it went too far in the fanservice department. It is available on DVD, for those who want to see it.
How We Got Here: "Who's Stupid Now?" is partially a flashback story, as it begins with fat Ren and spends half the episode leading up to how he got that way.
I Am Not Weasel: Ren is occasionally mistaken for a mosquito or rat. This could possibly be a lampshade, based on how he's drawn.
I Ate What?: The episode "Onwards and Upwards" dealt with Ren and Stimpy living in a spittoon and savoring many of the "foods" it has to offer. This is actually a subverted trope, as Ren and Stimpy are fully aware of what they're eating, yet dine on it like it's fine cuisine.
Idiot Savant: In the space-themed episodes, Stimpy was surprisingly adept at science, such as when he described what imploding was to Ren in "Black Hole".
In Another Man's Shoes: The premise of "Who's Stupid Now?" involves Ren becoming the fat one and Stimpy becoming the skinny one, in order to keep their TV show. Ren gains empathy by knowing what it's like to be the ridiculed one in the duo.
I Will Show You X: In a Ren and Stimpy episode dealing with the Stimpy facing his own mortality and going throuh various emotional phases. To illustate "Anger", there's a short bit where Ren is at the dinner table, ready to eat.
In "Wiener Barons", the narrator flat out insults Ren and Stimpy when they don't do what he's describing.
Narrator: And so, our heroes head north. (Ren and Stimpy, represented by a dot on the map, are moving west) AND SO, our heroes head NORTH, STUPID! (the dots begin to travel north)
In "Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen", the narrator somehow seems to think the year 1856 is "thousands of years ago". In the same episode, the narrator says the world will never forget the main characters, whose names he can't remember.
In "Son of Stimpy", the narrator (who is only heard at the very beginning of the cartoon) contradicts himself by saying the true story he's about to show is all made up.
Limited Animation: The very first few episodes, most notably "Stimpy's Big Day" and "The Big Shot". Averted with many season 2 episodes, notably "Son of Stimpy" and "Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen" (both by Carbunkle Cartoons).
Logo Joke: The Ren and Stimpy logos are played with in "Space Madness" and "Black Hole"; in the former, Stimpy pressing the History Eraser button caused R&S to be removed from the logo, while in "Black Hole", their faces are inverted due to the duo having imploded a few seconds earlier.
Loony Fan: Stimpy is this to Sammy in "Sammy and Me".
Loud Gulp: Stimpy, before eating monkey brain soup in "Travelogue".
Luxury Prison Suite: The plot to "Pen Pals": Ren and Stimpy want to be arrested and thrown in jail, because a TV commercial paints it as a luxury residence. Their plan backfires, though, when a colossal inmate is put in with them, eating up all the free space in the cell.
Lyrical Dissonance: The fireworks-inducingly regal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen's anthem jumps from the quasi-coherent first stanza to the following (second) stanza without any shift in mood:
Midair Bobbing: Seen in "Haunted House" with the ghost, among other episodes.
Mistaken for Pregnant: A subversion: In "Stimpy's Pregnant", Stimpy believes that he himself is pregnant, due to throwing up in the morning and feeling bloated. It's not until they reach the hospital that Dr. Horse reveals to Ren that Stimpy's merely constipated.
"The Cat That Laid the Golden Hairball"'s ending: Ren, Stimpy, and Bubba are all fighting back tears when it's announced that if Stimpy doesn't have his hairball gland, it's over. Suddenly, Ren and Stimpy gleefully state that it's over, and start dancing while happy jazz music plays. Biggest mood whiplash ever.
The opening titles of "Man's Best Friend" are relatively cheerful-looking and accompanied by a happy-sounding Raymond Scott piece ...and then VERY abruptly cut to an loud dramatic sting and a ominous-looking "Starring George Liquor" card.
"A Visit To Anthony" careens madly from childlike play to frightening grimness to outrageous laughter.
"Dog Show" is a fairly tame episode, until we learn that dogs who fail to pass pre-judging are eaten alive. This is not exactly Played for Laughs.
Morality Chain: Stimpy is this to Ren, to an extent. While more often than not Ren acts like an abusive jerk towards Stimpy, it seems like Stimpy's the only person he's ever been remotely nice to. Stimpy's also been able to calm Ren down somewhat when he's having one of his mental breakdowns, instill some sense of right and wrong in him, and get him to loosen up once in a while. It's implied that if Stimpy were to ever disappear Ren would go completely and irreversibly Ax-Crazy, and be overcome by his loneliness.
Except in episodes like "Double Header", when he'd rather put Stimpy on a bus to Ursa Minor than spend another minute with him.
Mythology Gag: The Fire Chief turning into Ralph Bakshi in "Fire Dogs II" is a nod to the fact that the Chief from the original "Fire Dogs" was loosely based on him.
The islander's voice in "Aloha Hoek" is based on Marlon Brando.
Subverted in "Fire Dogs 2" when the fire chief, which is based on Ralph Bakshi, morphs into Bakshi himself (complete with voice and everything), and stays that way for the rest of the episode.
No Ending: "Big Flakes" just abruptly stops. Do Ren and Stimpy ever make it out of the snowed-in cabin? Who knows.
Noodle Implements: Just try and guess what the various "tools" in Stimpy's laboratory are for. Some of them make the sounds of real-life power tools, but how exactly a beaver can function as a drill is anyone's guess.
No Pronunciation Guide: No two episodes seem to agree on just how to pronounce Ren's last name. Stimpy, other characters and narrators usually go with some variation of either "Hork" (rhymes with "pork"), "Ho-eck" or "Ho-ack".
Even Ren isn't consistent about the pronunciation; he does blow up at least once when someone fails to pronounce it "Hork", but other times he says nothing.
Nose Nuggets: Stimpy has a booger collection that appears in multiple episodes.
Nothing but Skin and Bones: In an episode, the duo are starving and Ren opens his skin to show there's literally no fat, just bone. Then Stimpy opens his skin to show he's nothing but skin and fat.
Off Model: One of the most prominent aspects of the show in its first two seasons was John's strict rule that the animators were forbidden from ever drawing the same expression or pose, or drawing any character the exact same way twice. Note that this isn't the typical definition of Off Model (i.e. in that it's bad drawing) so much as it was John's way to breaking his animators out of bad habits and to keep them from falling into formula acting and drawing—although many sloppy drawings did get into the show, which John considers among the many mistakes Ren & Stimpy made, and hence why he discourages his students from studying his cartoons.
One-Shot Character: Dr. Brainchild from "Blazing Entrails", the leprechaun from "A Hard Day's Luck", Mr. Noggin from "Bell Hops", the islander and crab family from "Aloha Hoek", Jerry the Bellybutton Elf, Jiminy Lummox, the head parasites from "A Friend in Your Face", and Bubba from "The Cat That Laid the Golden Hairball", among many others.
In the episode "Stimpy's Fan Club", Ren is so distraught at disappointing Stimpy that he tears open his fur and hands Stimpy a dagger for him to stab him in the chest.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Ren and Stimpy in "Wiener Barons"; they're dressed as wiener inspectors to bypass the gate guard, but it's obviously them underneath the disguise. Additionally, the guard kicked them out before (and heard their voice, which they didn't distort when in costume), so it's hard to believe he fell for such a thing.
Ren's mouse act in "The Boy Who Cried Rat." He pretty much just dresses up like Mickey Mouse.
The attempt to pass for dalmatians in "Fire Dogs."
Polka Dot Paint: To get jobs in the fire department, Ren and Stimpy use 'dalmatian paint' - one quick swipe each with a brush and they're white with black spots - Stimpy's tongue included.
Porn Stash: In "I Was a Teenage Stimpy", Ren hides numerous Husk magazines in his dresser. He realizes that it was Stimpy who stole the magazines when a single hair of his stuck to a piece of scotch tape.
Ren: Someone has breached my security system...
Potty Emergency: Ren, at the start of "Pixie King". Unfortunately for him, Stimpy is occupying the bathroom and won't be able to, erm, do his business, until Ren reads him a story.
Precision F-Strike: In the Adult Party Cartoon episode, "Ren Seeks Help," Ren seeks psychological help after abusing Stimpy in some (unexplained) manner that is regarded as being horrible, even by Ren himself. He goes to Mr. Horse and proceeds to tell him about his youth, and the various displays of genuine psychopathy he exhibited then. He finally works up the nerve to tell Mr. Horse what it was he did to Stimpy, and then asks, "What do you think is wrong with me?" After some consideration, Mr. Horse says "So you wanna know what's wrong with you? You really wanna know?" He then punches Ren in the face and screams "YOU'RE FUCKING CRAZY!!!THAT'SWHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU!!"
Mr. Horse: That's right! You need to be locked up, away from decent, NORMAL people! What kind of a lunatic are you? You just walk up to strangers on the street and tell them "Hey Mister, you want to hear some sick stories of my sick, twisted youth!"
Ren: I don't understand! I came to you for help! I bared my soul to you! I told you all my darkest secrets! And now you tell me I'm crazy? WHAT KIND OF PSYCHOLOGIST ARE YOU?
Stimpy of all people does something like this at the end of My Shiny Friend. After his TV addiction has been cured, it turns out that his addiction has turned to gambling; as the screen fades to black we hear him mutter a frustrated "Crap!"
Scare Chord: The show owed most of its horrific atmosphere to this trope. This saw theme is a good example. Practically every episode has some of this, particularly whenever Ren went Ax-Crazy, which was often.
Scenery Censor: When the woman removes her top in "Naked Beach Frenzy", Stimpy stands in front of her breasts just as her bikini top drops, obstructing Ren's view. With his butt no less.
Schmuck Bait: The History Eraser Button from "Space Madness."
In "Man's Best Friend", George Liquor tells the duo about discipline and explains at length why they they shouldn't sit on the couch. Then he tells them to go ahead and jump on the couch. Ren refuses to follow through, but Stimpy does. A few moments of false security later, Stimpy is subjected to George's discipline.
The board game Don't Whiz on the Electric Fence from "Sven Hoek." In something of a subversion, it's Ren, not Stimpy or Ren's Stimpy-like cousin Sven, who ends up urinating on the fence, despite the obvious, cartoony electrical charges emanating from it. When the resulting electrocution sends them all straight to Hell, the Devil immediately knows why they're there: "So, you whizzed on the electric fence, didn't ya?"
Can't accuse Ren of stupidity here - all he wanted to achieve was do something as horrible to Stimpy and Sven as they did to his beloved posessions. He probably didn't think much about it, considering he was really angry.
Screams Like a Little Girl: One of the show's main running gags, to such an extent that an episode without at least one good high-pitched scream feels incomplete.
Stimpy can do a very good one in the German dub.
Secret Test of Character: Reversed in "Lumberjerks": Ren and Stimpy are supposed to chop down every tree in the forest, as ordered by their boss Pierre. But a disgruntled tree lobster grabs Ren and shows him what happens when he does so (such as birds losing their home). The crab fully expects Ren to have a change of heart, but all it does is make Ren want to chop down more trees. Just as the crab looks like it's about to kill Ren, the crab takes its mask off, revealing Pierre underneath, who said he passed the test.
Serious Business: Dog shows in this universe. Dogs that don't pass pre-judging don't just miss the finals, but are literally fed to bigger, larger dogs.
Set Right What Once Was Wrong: The original proposed ending to Space Madness, nixed by Nickelodeon editors, would have featured Ren and Stimpy going back in time and undoing the damage caused by Stimpy pushing the History-Eraser Button.
Sexophone: Such a musical motif is heard in "Pixie King" when Stimpy poses in his pixie outfit.
Shave And A Hair Cut: This happens a few times in the song "Happy Happy Joy Joy", albeit without the "two bits" part.
Shout-Out: The first episode has Stimpy making several to the catchphrases of several beloved Hanna-Barbera TV cartoons, as well as Looney Tunes.
In the first three "Commander Hoek" segments, the TV signal title card (which has a native american on it) is a nod to the series The Outer Limits.
In "The Scotsman In Space", Stimpy makes the scotsman haggis, which is made "From the Shamus Culhane recipe", a nod to the renowned Disney animator Shamus Culhane.
"Happy Happy Joy Joy" is a salute to Burl Ives, according to this video — which manages to dig out all the lines from Ives' various songs and film roles quoted therein.
Burl Ives himself was reportedly asked to sing the song, but his schedule prevented him from collaborating. When John K. played the song for him later, he was disappointed that he'd missed his chance to be Stinky Whizzleteats.
Early in "Monkey See, Monkey Don't", Ren tells Stimpy that he's "seen every Tarzan movie ever made."
"Marooned" has Ren directly reference the Prime Directive from Star Trek, and the alien creature they encounter later on (whose fake appearance is that of something they desire) is a homage to the creature from the first Star Trek episode "The Man Trap".
The beginning of "Sammy and Me" is an obvious homage to "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery", with Stimpy eagerly waiting at the mailbox for a special package to arrive, and then running at a lightning pace down the road to a secret spot to open it.
In "Superstitious Stimpy", one of the phrases Stimpy chants while praying to the beef carcass is Ub Iwerks.
It's rather subtle but in the scene from "Powdered Toast Man" wherein our hero saves the Pope, note that Muddy Mudskipper is wearing a top hat. note It's a nod to the cover of Trout Mask Replica, which Frank Zappa, the Pope's VA, produced.
One of the nonsense phrases Stimpy says in "Blazing Entrails" is "Want Some Sea Food Mama", which was the name of a song by the Andrews Sisters.
In "Lumber Jerks", a character resembling Fearless Leader appears from beneath the tree stump that Fifi pulls out of the ground.
Show Some Leg: Stimpy woos the duck guard in "Altruists" by pretending to be a sultry female duck.
Slow Motion: The buxom woman running down the beach in "Naked Beach Frenzy". We also get a slow-mo scene of the Ren-lizard seen in "Untamed World" eating a fly.
Small Reference Pools: Averted, as many of the classical music tracks used in the show aren't the famous ones heard everywhere. Who but classical buffs know about Frederic Chopin's "Ballad in F-Minor Op. 52", or Josef Suk's "Asrael" symphony, or Claude Debussy's "Canope", or Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Francesca da Rimini"?
Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: In "Superstitious Stimpy", Ren, fed up with Stimpy praying to a beef carcass he's supposed to be cooking, mocks "juju" (which Stimpy believes in).
Ren: I wave my shiny red keister in the face of you, and you "stuperstitions"!
Stimpy: No, Ren! It's bad juju to blaspheme!
Ren: Juju, huh? Oooh, I'm so scared. The big bad juju's about to get me. COME ON, JUJU, I'M CALLING YOU OUT! (struck by lightning)
Spin-Off: The Goddamn George Liquor Program, a webtoon which Nickelodeon had nothing to do with, but still uses a minor character from the series that John got the rights back to. Weekend Pussy Hunt, by proxy, is also this.
This Is Reality: In "Stimpy's Big Day", Ren tries to convince Stimpy that cartoons aren't real, "not flesh and blood like we".
Through a Face Full of Fur: Out of all the show's characters whose faces (or bodies) would turn a different color, Ren seems to be the one who did that the most, most notably Ren when infuriated. Episodes in the case of this occurring with him include:
In "Sven Hoek", Ren, who's on his way out the door to work, gets red-faced as he turns around and is irritated by Stimpy and Sven's antics.
In "The Great Outdoors", Ren is angered and turns red when he can't find the source of what's causing him to itch while he's trying to get a night's rest and he searches for it on various parts of his body. He then finds a mosquito, which with sadistic and malevolent glee, he swats and kills with his hand.
An exception of not turning red while in a rage is "To Salve or Not To Salve", with Ren instead turning some shade of blue and what looks like he's on the brink of decomposing, fighting to repress his rage after Hey! It's That Guy (a perpetually persistent salesman) shows up once more (this time from a toilet tank) to attempt selling the salve to Ren while Ren's almost done using the toilet.
In "Stimpy's Cartoon Show", Ren becomes red-faced while ticked off at Stimpy's answer to his question.
In "Jiminy Lummox", Ren turns a less intense shade of red when he finds what Stimpy is doing with his dentures after looking for them.
In "I Love Chicken", Ren is steamed and becomes very red-faced when Stimpy still won't let him have the chicken for dinner (due to Stimpy having fallen for it).
In "Hermit Ren", Ren turns a deep shade of red when he notices his razor is missing and angrily asks Stimpy (who uses it as a hammer) where it is.
In "The House of Next Tuesday", Ren turns red wholly from the heat and burn he receives, after viewing himself on screen as a lobster (which a chef drops in hot water) through a smell-o-vision helmet. As if he were the lobster (whose head Ren sees turn into his minus the long ears) and physically being dropped into the pot, as part of a cooking show. Then Ren himself has actually and physically been turned into a lobster.
In "Pixie King", Ren turns deep red irately, when he struggles to prevent wetting himself as Stimpy delays his turn from using an outhouse.
In " Ren Needs Help", Ren madly (both in terms of anger and mania) turns a slight shade of red after Stimpy drives him bonkers one too many times and finds Stimpy broke part of the former's favorite chair while golfing.
In "Big Flakes", Ren turns intensely red after learning from Stimpy that the latter threw a moose's head (which was their dinner) into a lit fireplace and Ren becomes so ticked that he has Stimpy play charades with him, and after guessing correctly what Ren's about to do in response, he slugs Stimpy on the nose.
In "In The Army", Ren and Stimpy are told by the sergeant to remove their gas masks. When Stimpy does, he turns green frontally from breathing in the poison gas, which causes him to cry hysterically and since he can't bear it, he flees outside for some clean air (this doesn't faze Ren due to using the cheating tactic of holding his breath).
In "Dog Show", Mr. Horse's face turns red deeply, boiling over a poodle's imploration of not having to be subjected to getting inside a bulldog's mouth, as punishment for failing to pass the judgment.
In the missing episode "Man's Best Friend", which later and finally shows up as an Adult Party Cartoon episode, while repeatedly telling Stimpy to get on the couch as part of a disciplinary test and Stimpy does what he says, George grabs him and turns a deep red in the face, then a brighter shade of red, complete with eyes bulging and neck stretching with veins popping in response. Just as Stimpy thinks he's really in trouble for his disobedience, it turns out George is actually content ironically and he rewards him with a cigar. George also turns the same shades of color bodily, when he gets out of a padded suit that he wore while Ren flogged him with a boat oar.
In "A Visit To Anthony", the episode's titular boy turns pale and starts to hyperventilate again getting knocked down by Victor.
In "Who's Stupid Now", Ren and Stimpy's director becomes steamed and intensely red-faced with incense, snorting heavily and nostrils flaring when Ren (who has been forced to switch roles with Stimpy as the fat, dimwitted sidekick), fails to remember his exact lines.
In "A Dog's Life", Stimpy turns blue frontally from asphyxiation while trying to eat a rock giving to him for his meal.
In "The Last Temptation of Ren", Ren becomes blue-faced after choking on a cluster of oatmeal and passing away.
In the Adult Party Cartoon two-part episode, "Fire Dogs 2", Stimpy frontally turns green from inhaling and exhaling smoke from the wrong end of a cigar.
In "Atruists" from the same, later series, Stimpy turns red with embarrassment frontally when he notices where Ren is (looking back at Stimpy face up, having gotten stuck inside a toilet drain), after Stimpy foolishly and mistakenly thought the voice he kept hearing was some spirit's rather than Ren's, who kept calling for him.
Title Drop: Lampshaded in "Marooned": Ren remarks that he and Stimpy are marooned.
Stimpy: Just like the title of this cartoon!
Title Montage: Every clip from the opening comes from "Big House Blues", which is rather unusual. Usually in a montage opening, clips are taken from multiple episodes.
To the Pain: The end of "Svën Höek." Ren is so angry he's looped back into calm, and bluntly describes the various tortures he's going to inflict on Stimpy and Sven. It includes tearing out lips, gouging out eyes, ripping out arms from their sockets, and hitting them.
Two Shorts: Though a few episodes also took up the full 22 minutes, such as "Stimpy's First Fart" and "Stimpy's Fan Club".
Underside Ride: On their way to Canada, the two hitch a ride on a train, at first we see two figures in a train cart that would be Ren and Stimpy, but it was actually two random guys shaped like them, and the real two are under the cart with their heads bumping on the tracks.
Universal-Adaptor Cast: This is especially true for the space-themed shorts: "Space Madness", "Marooned", "Black Hole", and "The Scotsman in Space".
Unmoving Plaid: The man who helps Ren and Stimpy move into Haggis's former mansion in "Hard Times For Haggis" has a shirt that features this.
Unusual Euphemism: "DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP TAPPING LIKE THAT, YOU BLOATED SACK OF PROTOPLASM?!?!"
Vague Age: Ren and Stimpy. In fact, one episode plays with this, by revealing that Ren is retirement age in dog years.
Vocal Evolution: John K. stopped pitch-shifting Ren's voice on Adult Party Cartoon because he couldn't figure out how to make it sound like it did on the original show.
Vomit Discretion Shot: Ren vomits in "Travelogue" when he sees a hair in his soup, but we never actually see the vomit itself.
"Magical Golden Singing Cheeses" contains a partial subversion; Ren turns away from the camera to vomit, but you can still see some come out of his mouth.
In "Monkey See Monkey Don't", Filthy the monkey loudly vomits into Ren's hand, but off-camera.
Nor when Ren's mother vomited in "Ren Seeks Help."
Welcome to the Big City: Ren and Stimpy in "City Hicks" are immediately beat up by thugs and have their sheep stripped upon entering the city. They also are informed they can't just shovel dirt right off the bat, as it's a union town and they have to start at the bottom first.
If'n you ain't the grandaddy of all liars! The little critters in nature... They don't know that they're ugly. That's very funny: A fly marrying a bumblebee. I told you I'd shoot, but you didn't believe me! WHYDIDN'T YOU BELIEVE ME?! Happy happy joy joy...
Work Off the Debt: "The Boy Who Cried Rat" ends with Ren and Stimpy doing chores for Mr. and Mrs. Pipe to earn back the five bucks Stimpy ate:
Mrs. Pipe: And after you're done with those dishes, you can vacuum the rug, paint the lawn, mow the hedge, shave the chickens...
Working on the Chain Gang: Ren and Stimpy's job as pixies in "Pixie King" is more or less this, especially since they're whipped by policemen if they slack off for even a second.
Also shows up in "Powdered Toast Man vs. Waffle Woman": the top headline reads "Powdered Toast Man Lets Down Little Johnny!", while a smaller headline at the bottom of the page reads "World at War - Planet Doomed."
Zany Scheme: "The Boy Who Cried Rat", which involved Ren posing as a mouse and Stimpy pretending to eat Ren so they could get $5 for rodent killing. Also "Big Baby Scam", which had Ren and Stimpy posing as babies so they could be pampered and not have to work for food or shelter.