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Literature / Rotten Ralph

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Rotten Ralph is a series of children's books written by Jack Gantos and illustrated by Nicole Rubel. The books are about the adventures of a red cat named Ralph who is always causing trouble.

In 1996, the book series was adapted into two 30-minute stop-motion-animated specials, The Taming of the Ralph and Not-So-Rotten Ralph, to serve as pilots for a television series, which premiered in 1998 on Fox Family and ran for 55 episodes.


Books in the series:

  1. Rotten Ralph (1976)
  2. Worse than Rotten, Ralph (1978)
  3. Rotten Ralph's Rotten Christmas (1984)
  4. Rotten Ralph's Trick or Treat (1986)
  5. Rotten Ralph's Show and Tell (1989)
  6. Happy Birthday, Rotten Ralph (1990)
  7. Not so Rotten Ralph (1994)
  8. Rotten Ralph's Rotten Romance (1997)
  9. Back to School for Rotten Ralph (1998)
  10. The Christmas Spirit Strikes Rotten Ralph (1998)
  11. Rotten Ralph's Halloween Howl (1998)
  12. Rotten Ralph's Thanksgiving Wish (1999)
  13. Wedding Bells for Rotten Ralph (1999)
  14. Rotten Ralph Helps Out (2001)
  15. Practice Makes Perfect for Rotten Ralph (2002)
  16. Rotten Ralph Feels Rotten (2004)
  17. Best in Show for Rotten Ralph (2005)
  18. The Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph (2009)
  19. Three Strikes for Rotten Ralph (2011)
  20. Rotten Ralph's Rotten Family (2014)


Tropes pertaining to all media:


Tropes pertaining to the book series:

  • Birthday Episode: Happy Birthday, Rotten Ralph has Ralph misbehaving during his birthday and Sarah trying to quell his misbehavior by threatening to not throw him a party.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: The Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph involves Ralph learning that he's lost eight of his nine lives and his owner Sarah worrying about his safety now that he only has one life left.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph alludes to the events of several previous books when Ralph explains how he lost his first eight lives.
  • Christmas Episode: Rotten Ralph's Rotten Christmas and The Christmas Spirit Strikes Rotten Ralph take place on Christmas.
  • Early Installment Character Design Difference: When Percy made his debut in Rotten Ralph's Rotten Christmas, he was much smaller than Ralph and lacked any kind of accessories. In later books, he is closer to Ralph's height and is depicted wearing glasses and a bowtie.
  • Halloween Episode: Rotten Ralph's Trick or Treat and Rotten Ralph's Halloween Howl both take place on Halloween.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: Rotten Ralph's Rotten Romance has Ralph cause havoc on Valentine's Day.

Tropes pertaining to the animated specials and series:

  • Accidental Truth: In "Point of No Return", Sarah's dad lies to Ralph that he will rent Bongo Bob II: The Wedgie Continues if Ralph will let him go to the video rental store. Sarah's dad actually made up the sequel so Ralph wouldn't keep him from going, but is taken aback when he sees that there actually is a sequel to the Bongo Bob movie available for rent.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Taming of the Ralph is adapted from the first book in the series and Not-So-Rotten Ralph is adapted from the book of the same name, both having more content added to the plot to expand the story to a half-hour running time, such as Ralph being forced by Fleabag and Lulu to help them finish their song in the former and Ralph's misbehavior escalating before he is sent to Mr. Fred's Finishing School in the latter.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Ralph's cousin Percy in the books was nothing more than a more well-behaved foil to the unscrupulous and ill-mannered Ralph. In the animated specials and series, his politeness is less sincere, as he relishes getting Ralph into trouble and talks down to his cousin for not being as well-behaved as he is.
  • Be Yourself: The plot of "Percy in Love", where Percy tries to win the affection of Lulu's cousin Lola. In the end, Percy fails miserably in getting Lola to like him by pretending to be like Ralph and the alley cats, but manages to win her heart anyway when Lola turns out to be as cultured and refined as he is.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In "Point of No Return", Fleabag lists the following things he looks forward to seeing in the Bongo Bob movie: wedgies, pie fights and taxidermy Chihuahuas.
  • Brown Bag Mask: Ralph starts wearing a paper bag mask in "Ralph's Super Duper Bloopers" after he is humiliated on the Bloopers and Blunders television show.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Sarah sometimes calls Ralph "pussykins", which embarrasses him and usually makes him plead Sarah to not call him that.
  • If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: In "Dead Man's Drop", Ralph is dared by his alley cat friends to ride his new bike down a gorge. When talking about it to his cousin Percy over the phone, Percy asks Ralph if he can have something of his if something were to happen to him. What it is we don't know, as Ralph hangs up on his cousin before he can finish asking.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In "Ralph's Super Duper Bloopers", Ralph films and humiliates Sarah and her parents to compete in the Bloopers and Blunders video contest, getting his comeuppance when the security camera footage depicting him being humiliated while dressed as a clown when he tried to sneak into the studio to reclaim his tape ends up winning the contest.
  • Never Say "Die": "Ralph's Royal Treatment" has Ralph pretend to be conflicted with a fatal illness to trick Sarah and her parents into waiting on him hand and foot. Rather than directly say "die" or "death", Sarah's family refers to Ralph being "gone".
  • Now Which One Was That Voice?: Neither The Taming of the Ralph nor Not-So-Rotten Ralph specify the roles of the credited voice actors, in contrast to the television series, which does acknowledge which characters the voice actors play.
  • Lying Finger Cross: Ralph crosses his fingers while promising Sarah he won't do anything stupid again in "Dead Man's Drop".
  • Man in a Kilt: Percy wears a kilt in the episode "Percy in Love".
  • Playing Sick: The plot of the episode "Ralph's Royal Treatment" involves Ralph pretending he's dying of a deadly illness to manipulate Sarah and her parents into catering to his desires. This eventually backfires on him when Sarah, her parents and Ralph's cousin Percy find out that Ralph is only pretending and decide to get back at Ralph by pretending that they still think Ralph's dying even after Ralph confesses that he's not sick.
  • Right Behind Me: In "Grandma's Visit", Ralph annoys Sarah's dad while they're practicing for Grandma's arrival by insisting on referring to Grandma as an old lady in his rehearsed greeting. Sarahs' dad goes on to try and explain to Ralph why it isn't nice to point out elderly people's ages before realizing that Grandma is behind him hearing everything he's saying.
  • Soda Can Shakeup: Ralph attempts this prank on Percy in Not-So-Rotten Ralph. Unfortunately for Ralph, Percy anticipates his cousin's dirty trick and gets Ralph in trouble by giving the shaken-up soda can to Sarah's dad while informing him that Ralph gave him the soda can earlier, resulting in Sarah's dad getting a face full of fizz and yelling at Ralph once again.
  • Sticky Situation: The theme song to the two animated specials show Ralph pranking Sarah and her parents by sticking their rears to their chairs with glue.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Ralph's alley cat friends Fleabag, Bones and Lulu will invariably encourage Ralph to do things that will get him into trouble.
  • Umpteenth Customer: Sarah's dad ends up winning a check for 135 dollars in "Point of No Return" when he enters the video rental store after Ralph has gotten in trouble for neglecting to return the Bongo Bob movie. When the store owner finds out that Ralph was with Sarah's dad when the missing tape was rented, he promptly takes back the check and informs Sarah's dad that paying the fine leaves him with only three cents.
  • Unscrewed Salt Shaker: Ralph pulls the prank of unscrewing the salt shaker so the next person who uses it ends up spilling out all the salt on Sarah's new friend Linda in the episode "Ralph's Rival".
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: Not-So-Rotten Ralph has Ralph sent to a finishing school to learn proper behavior while his cousin Percy stays at Sarah's house. Sarah and her parents quickly find Percy so overbearing and strict that they start wanting Ralph back and hoping that what he learns in Mr. Fred's Finishing School doesn't stick.
  • Whoopee Cushion:
    • Not-So-Rotten Ralph has Ralph attempt to prank his cousin Percy at dinnertime by having him sit on a whoopee cushion. Percy instead gets the last laugh by putting the whoopee cushion in Ralph's chair.
    • The animated series episode "Grandma's Visit" has Ralph attempt to pull various pranks on Sarah's grandma, only to either fall victim to them himself or have them not work as he planned. One of his attempts is putting a whoopee cushion in a chair he intends for Grandma to sit, which instead gets sat on by Sarah's dad.

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