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Fanfic / The Rugrats Theory

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The Rugrats Theory is a fan interpretation of Rugrats. Originally a Creepypasta-inspired narrative, the theory proposes that the titular Rugrats are actually figments of Angelica Pickles' imagination. Through various means, each titular baby ends up becoming manifested in Angelica's delusions. Infamous for its content, the Rugrats Theory has been regarded as one of the darkest fan theories ever made, with several people claiming that it destroyed their perception of the series. It also inspired a Vocaloid song simply entitled the Rugrats Theory.

In late 2016, the creator of the series, Arlene Klasky, has confirmed that the theory wasn't true during an interview with Buzzfeed.

The Rugrats Theory provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • Angelica goes from a girl with a fairly decent life to one whose mother is dead and who's mentally ill.
    • Didi and Stu go from a typical married couple to one whose son was stillborn. Canonically, Stu invents toys for fun and profit, but here it's because he can't bear the thought that his son will never be able to play with them.
    • While Chas did experience his wife dying in canon, here his son's dead too.
    • Kira struggles with a drug addiction, which she doesn't have in canon.
    • Drew has a dead wife in the theory.
  • Adaptational Explanation:
    • Chas being a Nervous Wreck is explained as grief from his wife and son dying.
    • Stu's love of building toys is explained as him making him for the son he never had.
    • Phil and Lil's being Half-Identical Twins is explained as Angelica essentially making up two of the same person because she didn't know if the aborted baby would have been a boy or a girl.
    • Dil being a Cloudcuckoolander in All Grown Up! is said to come from Childhood Brain Damage as the result of being hit by Angelica.
  • Based on a True Story: The story suggests that Angelica was actually real, as was Susie. After Angelica's death from drug overdose, it is said that Susie went to work for Nickelodeon, and created the show as a tribute to her late friend.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Angelica ultimately follows in her mother's footsteps, dying of an overdose by the time that All Grown Up! finished its run. Despite that, Chaz and Kira both lived relatively happy together despite her cocaine addiction.
  • Childhood Brain Damage: Angelica apparently hit Dil due to not being able to tell the difference between him and her imaginary friends, which is why he's so kooky in All Grown Up!.
  • Creepy Child: Angelica displays this behavior due to her mental illness. A little girl who pretends babies who are deceased or weren't born in the first place are alive is as unsettling as it gets.
  • Dark Fic: The premise of the Rugrats theory is that most of the babies were dead all along and that Angelica pretended they were alive as part of some delusion.
  • Death by Adaptation: All the Rugrats (sans Kimi, Dil, and Susie) are dead. Chuckie died in a car crash with his mother, while Tommy Pickles and the twins Phil and Lil would more accurately be Never Born in Adaptation, as the former is stillborn and Betty DeVille had an abortion. And Angelica herself would die from a drug overdose, just like her mother did.
  • Death of a Child: Chuckie apparently died in a car crash when he was only two.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Just how much tragedy can strike a neighborhood anyway? The residents are hit with a car accident that kills both Melinda and Chuckie, Stu and Didi experiencing a stillbirth, the DeVilles having an abortion, a little girl suffering from mental illness and eventually dying from a drug overdose, and a boy who is left with permanent brain damage after he's violently hit in an attempt to make him go away.
  • Disabled in the Adaptation:
    • Angelica eventually becomes mentally unstable and thinks her imaginary friends are real, then that Dil isn't.
    • Dil's eccentricity in All Grown Up! is rewritten as Childhood Brain Damage (while the twins did suggest in an episode that they dropped him on his head, this wasn't meant to be taken seriously, and Didi believes that Dil just takes after his father).
  • Downer Beginning: "The Rugrats really were a figment of Angelica's imagination".
  • Dying Alone: Angelica ultimately succumbs to an overdose, and no one is there to comfort her as she dies.
  • False Friend: Susie goes along with everything that Angelica tells her, and exploits it by penning The Rugrats to Nickelodeon. That is, if one doesn't interpret Susie's motivations as creating the show as a tribute to honor Angelica's memory.
  • Gold Digger: It's mentioned that Drew remarried to an unnamed gold digger.
  • Imaginary Friend: Angelica initially made up the babies (except Dil) after Tommy was stillborn, Phil and Lil were aborted, Chuckie died, and Kimi was taken away. As she became mentally ill, she started to forget they were imaginary.
  • Junkie Parent:
    • Charlotte died of a heroin overdose when Angelica was an infant. In the "tweaked version" of the theory, Angelica's mental illness is an outright result of her mother's drug usage while pregnant. Tragically, Angelica would end up sharing the same fate as her mother.
    • Chaz's second wife Kira starts as cocaine-addicted but tries to get clean.
  • The Lost Lenore: Chaz lost his wife — and son — in a car accident.
  • Mature Work, Child Protagonists: The fanfiction is a Dark Fic based on Rugrats focusing on three-year-old Angelica. It has themes such as mental illness, drugs, and a case of Childhood Brain Damage that's Played for Drama.
  • Missing Mom: Angelica's birth mother died of a drug overdose.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Angelica began to indulge in drugs after she saw that Dil was suffering from mental retardation due to her striking him when he was a baby.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: All of the parents, but particularly Stu who, according to the theory, continually makes toys in his basement for the son who never got to live.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation: Charlotte is depicted as Angelica's stepmother instead of her biological mother like in canon.
  • Sanity Slippage: Angelica initially just made up the babies, but then she became delusional and started thinking they were actually real, and then she realised they were imaginary but thought Dil must be too.
  • Sentimental Homemade Toy: After Tommy is stillborn, his grieving father Stu spends all his time in the basement inventing toys for his son who never got to live.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: The theory says that the entire Rugrats series is seen through Angelica's delusional eyes.
  • Tragic Stillbirth: Tommy was stillborn, resulting in Stu’s obsession with inventing toys for a son who could never play with them.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Angelica violently hits Dil in an attempt of making him go away and begins to heavily use drugs as a preteen.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Angelica beats up baby Dil enough to give him brain damage. This is because she couldn't tell that he was real, unlike the other babies. When she's older she regrets this, which leads to her drug addiction.