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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 mischievous red cat named Ralph.

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.


  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 said 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.
  • Christmas Episode: "Rotten Ralph's Rotten Christmas" and "The Christmas Spirit Strikes Rotten Ralph" take place on Christmas.
  • 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.
  • 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. Later books has him closer to Ralph's height, and 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 father 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 made up the sequel so Ralph wouldn't keep him from going, but is taken aback when he sees a real sequel available for rent.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Taming of the Ralph is adapted from the first book and Not-So-Rotten Ralph is adapted from the eponymous book, both featuring additional plot added to expand 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 being 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.
  • Artistic License Animal Care: According to the PC game Rotten Ralph's Big Night In, Ralph's favorite ice cream is "Bongo Bob's Double-Fudge Chocolate Explosion". Chocolate is poisonous to cats.
  • Be Yourself: The plot of "Percy in Love", where Percy tries to woo 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.
  • Brutal Honesty: Let's just say that Ralph ends up enjoying telling the truth a little too much in "The Whole Rotten Truth".
  • Clip Show: "Ralph's Bedside Manner" is the series' clip show episode, which uses scenes from earlier episodes as Ralph tends to a sick Sarah and tries to convince everyone that he's nice and caring.
  • 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.
  • Insane Proprietor: "Anything for a Buck" has Ralph sell some of Sarah's family's belongings without their permission at their yard sale, referring to himself as "Crazy Ralph" while doing so.
  • 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.
  • 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 "Percy in Love".
  • 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" (for a kids show), Sarah's family refers to Ralph being "gone".
  • Playing Sick: The plot of "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 father while practicing for Grandma's arrival by insisting on referring to Grandma as an old lady in his rehearsed greeting. 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, having heard everything.
  • Show Within a Show: Ralph adores the mindless drivel of "Bongo Bob".
  • Soda Can Shakeup: Ralph attempts this prank on Percy in Not-So-Rotten Ralph. Unfortunately for Ralph, Percy anticipates the 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 Dad getting a face full of fizz and yelling at Ralph once again.
  • Sticky Situation: The specials' theme song 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 $135 check in "Point of No Return" when he enters the video store after Ralph has gotten in trouble for neglecting to return the Bongo Bob movie. When the owner finds out that Ralph was with Dad when the missing tape was rented, he promptly revokes the check and informs Dad that paying the fine leaves him with only three cents.
  • Unscrewed Salt Shaker: In "Ralph's Rival", Ralph pulls the prank of unscrewing the salt shaker so the next person who uses it ends up spilling all the salt on Sarah's new friend Linda.
  • 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 episode "Grandma's Visit" has Ralph attempt various pranks on Sarah's grandmother, only to either fall victim to them himself or have them not go as planned. One attempt is putting a whoopee cushion in a chair he intends for Grandma to sit, which instead is occupied by Sarah's father.


The Whole Rotten Truth

Ralph not only openly bashes Sarah's awful singing, but also Percy's terrible xylophone playing.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / DreadfulMusician

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