Accidentally Correct Writing: In "Superstitious Stimpy", Stimpy is worried about bad luck on Tuesday the 17th. This is treated as a gag, but there are cultures where the unlucky day is Tuesday or the 17th (i.e. Italians consider Friday the 17th unlucky, and Spanish cultures where Tuesday the 13th is unlucky).
Acting for Two: Both main characters were voiced by Billy West after John Kricfalusi, Ren's original voice actor, was fired.
Adored by the Network: While Nickelodeon adored the show and ran it multiple times a week, the limited number of episodes (particularly early in the show's run) meant that Nickelodeon could not marathon the show like the could with their later animated successes Rugrats and Spongebob Squarepants.
Alan Smithee: Kricfalusi, unhappy with the final product of "Nurse Stimpy", replaces his director's credit with "Raymond Spum".
Ascended Fanfic: "The Cat that Laid the Golden Hairball" is based on a fan comic that said fan mailed to Spumco.
"Sammy and Me/The Last Temptation of Ren": The former for its mockery of Sammy Davis Jr.'s glass eye, and the latter for religious references. Instead of Nickelodeon, both premiered on MTV in 1996. The former would later air on Nickelodeon in 2000 and they would both air on NickRewind.
"Dog Show" was infamously banned as Nick execs thought George Liqour's vestigial tail (that he wears to disguise himself as a dog) looked too much like an erection.
"Powdered Toast Man vs. Waffle Woman" had no issues in the 90s, but when the series was syndicated on the Nicktoons Network in the 2000s, it was withdrawn from further reruns for sensitive material following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks (in this case, a scene where Waffle Woman destroys New York City with her "Radioactive Polythermal Syrup Launcher", blatantly showing the World Trade Center's Twin Towers blowing up). When released on DVD and later rerun on Nick Rewind, it returned uncut and uncensored, likely because the shock of 9/11 had long faded since then.
Beam Me Up, Scotty!: "You sick little monkey!" is considered an unofficial catchphrase for Ren (providing the title for Sick Little Monkeys, a book about the production of the show), even though he only said the line twice in the entire series: first in "Stimpy's Invention", and once again in "Sven Hoek". However, he did say the line more often in the Marvel Comics adaptation of the series.
The show itself does this during the "Happy Happy Joy Joy" song: Stinky Whizzleteats, the fictional singer of the song, quotes his basis Burl Ives several times, and in the climax blurts out, "I told you I'd shoot, but you didn't believe me! WHY DIDN'T YOU BELIEVE ME?", appropriately as a happy-crazed Ren applies a Percussive Shutdown to his mind-control helmet. The actual quote, however, doesn't specifically mention shooting, with Ives instead saying, "I told you! I told you I'd do it! I told you, but you didn't believe me!Damn your soul,I TOLD YOU!"
Ren asking "Where's my dinner?" was only used once in the Spumco era ("Marooned"), however, in the Games era episode "Who's Stupid Now?", it's treated like a catchphrase.
Creator Backlash: Kricfalusi is actually pretty critical of the original series, and warns his fans not to study his cartoons—"For everything we did right, there were a ton of mistakes." Kricfalusi even claimed once that he can't really enjoy watching his own cartoons, because all he can see are the mistakes he made on them. He also felt the original show in its initial seasons (sans the Carbunkle episodes) were very inconsistent from a drawing and animation perspective, and had many bad drawings in them (hence why he discourages his students from studying his own cartoons). Some episodes he singled out for criticism include;
The timing was bad. The drawings are bad. The colors are bad. From an artistic standpoint, to me, it's a really ugly cartoon.
"The Littlest Giant", mainly for its very slow pacing and sparse gags. He derogatorily nicknamed it "The Littlest Jokes". For budget reasons, the episode also couldn't use the crew's beloved method of drawing fresh character layouts and instead had to blow up the storyboard panels to ten-field size for the animators, resulting in a lot of unsatisfactory animation.
"Marooned"; he felt that the premise had merit, but was undermined by the episode's horrible timing (which was freelanced to another company) and some artistic mistakes that came from having to rush aspects of the episode.
"Marooned" had great ideas, but the execution fell short; the timing was horrible. We freelanced the timing on that one and it was just way too slow...We just rushed through it, and so you see a lot of really bad mistakes. You see the aliens at the end, the giant brain guys. They're on overlays, but we were rushing through it so fast that you can see the tear lines around them—they're on cut-out pieces of paper glued to cels. It looks awful.
He also considered "Black Hole" a failure for several reasons;
It's a complete failure. In every aspect it's bad; it's drawn bad, there's no direction to it at all, the timing's bad. It's a winner by default; somehow the premise managed to get through, even though the specific story points don't illustrate the premise very well. It was lucky.
Later on, he singled out the cartoon for criticism again, but this time for its poor structure;
I produced a cartoon that really suffered from poor structure: Black Hole. The premise of the story was simple. Ren and Stimpy get sucked through a black hole into another dimension where the physical laws are different than ours. Thus, they begin to mutate into weirder and weirder forms. Or...they should have. Instead they morph randomly and not in a building progression. The funniest morphs are early on, and then later they are less weird, so I considered that cartoon quite a failure. I've made other crap too, but my goal is always to have good solid structure and momentum.
"Monkey See, Monkey Don't". While the episode wasn't directed by him, he singled out this particular episode as "the worst Ren and Stimpy cartoon ever made" (of the first two seasons).
While he liked how "A Visit to Anthony" turned out, he was dissatisfied at how undirected the acting of Anthony's dad turned out, and he felt the sound effects and music (added by Games) were "clumsy and inappropriate".
I directed the recordings of all the characters EXCEPT my Dad, ironically and was very disappointed when I heard it. It sounded like the actor didn't know the story and was reading it for the first time, so he didn't give it the meaning that the drawings conveyed. It was a professional live action actor and I think whoever directed him was afraid to actually give him any direction. And also didn't know my Dad. I think the animation was done at Rough Draft and it was amazing. The fireplace scene was especially impressive with all the cool effects. The sound effects and music was clumsy and inappropriate as per usual in the Games episodes. That's something they just never got, even though I sent them a long treatise on how to make the sound match the moods of the story.
Kricfalusi stated in a web chat that he felt the early Games episodes had good art, background and story ideas, but were ultimately mangled by lousy direction. In the DVD Commentary for "Stimpy's Cartoon Show", he criticized some aspects of how the final cartoon was handled, namely for muddling its "Artist Vs. Non-Artist" message by changing Ren from executive to producer—while he did submit it in the cartoon as that in an attempt to avoid executive scrutiny, he felt Games used it as a chance to turn the cartoon into a attack on him instead of meddling executives (although he was ok with that), and that there were weird expressions that didn't really work in context.
Elinor Blake and I wrote Stimpy's Cartoon Show and I had planned for that to be an epic, but the direction was pretty bungled. I explain it all on the commentary. The first Games DVD is coming out soon. I'd say it's definitely worth getting. Lots of good artwork, great backgrounds and some good stories-alas, no discernible direction.
Incidentally, this cartoon suffers from some piss-poor timing, because we had just started the new episodes and were trying out a new system of shooting storyboards and timing them to music. A lot of the gags would play better if I could go back and cut them tighter. I apologize in advance! (Just run it in fast forward!)
Billy West was reluctant to talk about the show for many years after getting caught up in Kricfalusi's smear campaign. Working under K's direction apparently took its toll on West's health, with the latter often damaging his throat with how many times K made him redo lines (remember, this is a show where just about all the dialogue is screamed rather than spoken) and being bullied whenever K was impatient with him. After K's 1992 firing, he demanded that West quit if Nickelodeon didn't hire him back, but West refused out of fear of being blacklisted, nor did he feel he owed it to K anyway, leading to the latter openly calling him a "job thief" and occasionally sending him death threats (Howard Stern, West's old boss, then made things worse by inviting the two of them onto his show without either of them knowing that the other would be there, then forcing them to sit across from other another and talk. West's brother, Joseph "Jack" Werstine, had just died, so he was obviously in no mood to deal with it). And this was in addition to the more mundane backlash he was facing from disgruntled fans and industry people who bought into Kricfalusi's martyrdom complex. It got to the point where on West's now-defunct forum, even mentioning the show was a bannable offense. To this day, even after he made peace to the more well-behaved parts of the fandom, West has made no secret that K is difficult to work with, and has vowed never to work with him again.
"Genius is the twin brother of madness—both live in a world created by their own EGO. When I go to work for someone I NEVER bring my personal problems to the arena. The creators of most of the shows I've done don't seem to do that either. John K. wasn't a little bit difficult to work with. He was darn near impossible to work with. His abuse of actors including myself is legendary and was not so much about the search for perfection—it was about borderline sadism and control. His whole fixation with hell dads and boys and torture and punishment... well, I've made millions and millions of people laugh but I don't get what's funny about endless repititions of that crap that he dotes on. There's a difference between cries for help and comedy."
To a lesser extent Bob Camp, while he enjoyed working on the show, has similar bad memories working with Kricfalusi and executive demands, and wasn't satisfied with a lot of his directed episodes during the Games Animation seasons. He also hated Adult Party Cartoon and how it torpedoed any chance of the series getting revived (including his own attempt at pitching a Ren and Stimpy movie). And unlike John K., Camp was willing to admit that a large part of the show's problems was from the staff's brash attitudes. He also wasn't happy that Nickelodeon didn't ask him to return for the reboot.
William Wray, who often describes John K. as "deeply unhappy" when sharing anecdotes about him, refused to talk about the show for many years because doing so brought a lot of bad memories of his and Kricfalusi's relationship, especially since Wray allegedly took it upon himself to befriend John and help with his depression to no avail. One less-than-pleasent anecdote involved John essentially trying to teach Wray how to do his job with a painting "lesson" to get Wray to paint backgrounds exactly how he wanted him to (this despite Kricfalusi never having painted in his life). Wray initially refused to be interviewed for Thad Komorowski's book Sick Little Monkeys, and even after coming around was described in the book as "tearful" when recalling the nightmare that was John K.'s firing. When K's 2019 short Cans Without Labels (which actually plagiarized painting of Wray's) was leaked onto YouTube, Wray's critique on his Facebook page turned into a massive thread of former colleagues and other non-fans more or less confirming every single negative rumor about Kricfalusi.
Artist Stephen DeStefano likewise has very bad memories of working on the show.
"Nah man. I don't like revisiting Ren & Stimpy too often. I already been to the Nam, I really don't wanna go back."
Outside of the show, and in stark contrast to many of the other Spumco staff who contributed to or tipped their hat to it, Kricfalusi absolutely abhors the unauthorized book of the show's history, Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren and Stimpy Story, as it brought to light many unflattering anecdotes about him. He not only refused to have any part of it, he even took snipes at Komorowski on his blog in the post "Fanboy Admission and Genetics", drawing a disparaging caricature of him as an acne ridden and angry, troll nosed puppet with the text and caption taking an incredibly mean-spirited snipe with the caption "Puppet Aspergers" (Thad himself had the doodle colorized and used as his pic for a while). He abhorred the book so much that he would go as far as burning bridges with anyone who dared to support the book—he notably ended his 30-year friendship with animation historian Jerry Beck for posting a glowing review of the book on Cartoon Brew.
Creator Breakdown: According to Bill Wray, a perfect storm of losing control of the show, letting success get to his head and parting ways with layout artist and longtime girlfriend Lynne Naylor during its production directly caused John K.'s career to implode. This, combined with his alcoholism (the result of his then-undiagnosed bipolar disorder and ADHD), sent his personal and professional life into a downward spiral from which it never came back.
"As far as I know what seemed to trigger the real acting out was the loss of his long time girlfriend, the rise of his power/fame and then the loss of Ren and Stimpy. This trifecta of emotional highs and lows seemed to open him up to a kind of total recklessness and plunged him into a bitter take no prisoners martyrdom. Spumco truly became the John K. House of worship, free of voices of reason. I do think he was brilliant and original visionary who was smart enough to know he needed a unique as him crew of artists and writers to make R and S great, but after he cracked, he forgot he had a great team, great timing in a low ebb in the Animation world, a great new network that believed in him and gave him the world and the love of millions of fans."
Creator Killer: After Nickelodeon terminated his contract, John Kricfalusi, having let the success of the show go to his head, went out of his way to launch a smear campaign against Games Animation and ex-Spumco staff who stayed with them, painting himself as a martyr wrongfully expunged from his own creation and painting all of his former staff members who continued to work on the show as cowardly sell-outs and traitors to Spumco.
Bob Camp, who likened his relationship to John as that of having an abusive father and still carries psychological scars to this day, was dogged by the stigma of having directed the less-popular Games Animation episodes of the series for years after the series ended. Per his word, Kricfalusi had personally appointed him as his successor after his firing, then stabbed him in the back by launching a smear campaign as soon as he had the chance by calling Camp a sellout and backstabber to Spumco in the magazine "Wild Cartoon Kingdom," on his notorious blog and the DVD commentaries, and the "he said/she said" nature of the story made many wary to take his side. Camp was still able to get steady work as a storyboard artist and as director on Robotboy, but was very unpopular among Kricfalusi apologists (it's worth noting that Camp was not only responsible for the show, which never recovered from its budget or schedule problems despite his efforts, but for his then-newborn son and unlike Kricfalusi, never got royalties from the show, nor was he even invited to participate in the DVD box sets to give his side of the story). It took years for the general public to come around to Camp's side about John K's prima donna behavior to the point that he's seen as the "true" creative force of the show and not Kricfalusi.
William Wray had such a miserable experience working under John K. and was so hurt by the massive scorn the Games era R&S episodes got that he retired from animation for years and went into paintingnote He agreed to be on the DVD Commentary with Kricfalusi in the hopes that they could reconcile, but found out too little too late that Kricfalusi had deliberately arranged for him to comment on a few of the more rushed episodes that Wray had directed and was using the commentary tracks to corner Wray and insult him to his face. and has only recently began to do animation work again.
Many other staff members deliberately avoided talking about John K. for many years out of fear of being similarly stonewalled or blacklisted due to the clout John ending up holding over the industry due to Ren and Stimpy's popularity which lingered until he was eventually outed as a pedophile, at which point all bets were off.
Kricfalusi's own career never reached the heights of this show ever again and gradually crumbled into nothingness over the 25 years following his firing. He was able to coast on his near-literal cult figure status in the late 90s, having some success with webcartoons and occasional gigs with the alternative comedy scene, but few were willing to work with him due to his reputation of being difficult. His one other attempt at an original TV show bombed and his second attempt at Ren and Stimpy bombed even harder. Outside of this, Spumco would only produce a handful of short subject material, such as commercials, music videos and station IDs, before getting sued into bankruptcy in 2008, with John K's only other work of note being his extremely controversial blog. By the time his pedophilia came to light, he barely had a career to speak of any more and what little good faith anyone had in him as an artist was permanently crushed by the failure of his crowdfunded short Cans Without Labels.
Bob Camp was credited among The Players in a lot of Games Animation episodes.
Chris Reccardi wrote much of the show's original music. He and Jim Smith, with their band, Die Screamin’ Lederhosen, wrote and performed both the theme song and credits song. He also wrote the music for "Happy Happy Joy Joy."
The LOG toy from Blammo, which initially only existed as a parody commercial, eventually did become a real Ren and Stimpy related toy.
John K. noted on the DVD commentary for "Sven Höek" that there was a Ren and Stimpy fan website dedicated to the Loyal Order of Stupids, Sven and Stimpy's "club", called "Members of the Loyal Order of Stupids".
"Ask Dr. Stupid" became the letters column for the Ren and Stimpy comic book by Marvel Comics. Just like in the TV skits, readers would send in silly questions and get equally silly answers.
Nickelodeon considered making a real Powdered Toast meal (an otherwise fictional recipe that Bob Camp claims was just "a stupid gag") as a tie-in to the show, but the plans were nixed due to the 2018 scandals surrounding John K.
DVD Commentary: A few commentaries on the DVD sets feature John Kricfalusi and Eric Bauza in character as Ren and Stimpy.
Edited for Syndication: When R&S was rerun on VH1 and Spike TV, there were commercial fades in the middle of a cartoon, which disrupted the action. There were also time cuts in some episodes. Sadly, these are the versions which made it onto DVD.
Executive Meddling: Considering what did get on the air, it's no surprise that Nick at least attempted to reign it in, though not quite as badly as rumor may have one believe.
While the producers were on the losing end of far more content arguments than John K. insists they were (their only real complaints were the "psychodrama" plots and the violence in "Man's Best Friend"), they did insist that Ren's psychosis be toned down into more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and that the show have more heartfelt moments to balance out the violence and depravity. Most stories involving George Liquor were DOA, as the executives hated the character.
Nickelodeon's biggest issue with the show's content were George Liquor and Anthony's dad from "A Visit To Anthony", both of whom were partially based on John K's own father and Nickelodeon felt that both characters were too psychotic and too close to real-life Abusive Parents.
As mentioned below, their biggest gripes were about how expensive and long production on each episode was, largely due to the John K.'s perfectionism and his steadfast insistence that all of the show's layouts be done stateside to achieve the level of detail he wanted in the animation. After trying and failing to get Spumco to pick up the pace, they dispatched an intern over to personally check on the progress.
The only real straight example of this was John K.'s firing from the series when it was clear that his relationship with Nick wasn't going to get better, at which point production moved to Nick's in-house production facility so they could better supervise and Vanessa Coffey outright forbade the staff from creating any more psychodrama episodes, pushing the later episodes in a distinctly Lighter and Softer direction. Even then, they were mostly hands-off with content.
After John K. was given Protection from Editors on Adult Party Cartoon, many fans began to side with Nickelodeon, saying that their "meddling" was what kept the show from being so depraved that it became unfunny.
Was one of the only original Nicktoons that Nickelodeon outright stated would not receive a reboot, as the higher-ups felt that it could never be made appropriate for children again after Adult Party Cartoon (the character still occasionally appeared as playable characters in video games, such as Attack of the Toybots and Nicktoons MLB). Nickelodeon removed any and all mention of Ren and Stimpy from all of their online services, save the occasional YouTube video, and even pulled reruns from Nick Splat after news of John K.'s sexual abuse history broke in 2018. As of 2019, the reruns have returned, however.
Within material for the show itself, George Liquor was omitted from later seasons of the show, as John K. was granted the rights to the character upon his leave to use for spin-off material. Allegedly Nickelodeon were quite willing to let Liquor be taken from the show, having already limited his appearances due to disliking the abrasiveness of the character, along with the surname "Liquor". George would have reappeared as a Ren and Stimpy Show character in the Adult Party revival were it not for its cancellation.
Flip-Flop of God: John Kricfalusi seems to change his mind whenever people ask about the main duo's sexuality. He goes from saying that "it's none of his business", to saying that Ren is bisexual, to that they are canonically gay. Heck, even when he made them explicitly gay in the adult spin-off, he still beats around the bush regarding this topic. The straightest (no pun intended) response he's ever given is that they're only Gay "when it's funny."
Genre-Killer: While Merchandise-Driven cartoons continued to be produced for most of the nineties, just about everyone not called Pokémon flopped after this show proved that creator-driven cartoons could sell just as well, if not better. It wouldn't be until the success of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic that networks would take more chances on toy-driven or IP-based cartoons again, for better or worse.
Genre Popularizer: Though not the first creator-driven animated series, its success officially turned it into the new standard for TV animation for 20+ years.
Hostility on the Set: It's no secret that John Kricfalusi made working on the show a blessing and a curse. When he wasn't holed up in his office to avoid confrontation and leaving others to the heavy lifting on his cartoons for him, he was an outright terror of a director to work for.
Many of the artists working on the show noted how his directions were not only hostile but often vague, with Kricfalusi often frequently ripping up artists' drawings for no better reason than it wasn't exactly what he saw in his head and forbidding them from ever deviating from the layouts. When he tore up one background because he didn't like the bright colors, calling it "fucking candy cane lane," several artists decorated the studio with a sign that read "Candy Cane Lane" and drawings of Ren and Stimpy with candy canes up one another's butts as a form of passive-aggressive protest.
He pushed Billy West to his limits and beyond, with West even getting damage to his vocal cords from the grueling recording sessions, and would often give vague directions like "You're 98% there." West could also not be swayed by bullying (he had grown up with an abusive father), which drove Kricfalusi madder than he would already be.
Worst of all was John's complete lack of professionalism and willingness to make his baggage other people's problems, such as firing storyboard artist Chris Reccardi solely for dating John's ex-girlfriend Lynne Naylor (Reccardi and Naylor married two years after John was fired and remained together until Reccardi's fatal heart attack in May 2019, proving what little good this did). Kricfalusi also rewarded Bob Jacques for his hard work on "Sven Höek" by spending hours chewing him out over the phone for how "Disney like" the cartoon looked, and only began praising the cartoon when it became a fan favorite episode. And when Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksman initially only credited Reccardi for directing after John was fired from the show, John was so enraged that he threatened to sue Nickelodeon for millions if he wasn't properly credited on the film (Nick relented and put his name on the credits). The day that most of the crew moved into Games Animation, he personally followed members around and verbally abused them to their faces.
Relations between John K and everyone else on staff during the first two seasons eventually became so unbearable that Bob Camp would invite staff members into his office to kick the wall (with a sign over it reading "John's Knees") to get aggression out. By the end of Kricfalusi's run on the show, the wall had been reduced to a massive hole.
Inspiration for the Work: John K. came up with the series through separate circumstances; Ren came about from a 1940s postcard with a picture of a chihuahua in a sweater, while Stimpy was inspired by the big-nosed cats from Bob Clampett's short A Gruesome Twosome. A friend suggested to him that he pair the two together and the rest is history.
Due to the scandals surrounding John K's sexually predatory behavior, Nickelodeon removed everything Ren and Stimpy related from Nick Splat and all of their online streaming services until 2019, and it seems extremely unlikely that the series will ever get another home video rerelease in the present future.
The short "Chicken in a Drawer", which was absent from the second DVD set for some reason. A large number of episodes on all the DVD sets of the original series featured cuts, ranging from only a few seconds to a minute in some instances. This was due to Nickelodeon tampering with footage from the negatives after Kricfalusi's firing for the reruns of them. Although he got the episodes as close to the originals as he could for the sets, he couldn't get all of the original footage back. This is also due to the fact that the footage used comes from airings on Spike TV, MTV and VH1 which cut even more scenes to make room for commercials as evidence by the seemingly random commercial fade-ins/outs.
While the Paramount+ prints of the series lack many of the edits from the DVDs, they’re still missing a good chunk of the series.
The Marvel Comics series is this in its entirety. The main culprit would probably be the fact that Disney had bought Marvel years after their publication, while the Ren & Stimpy franchise is owned by Nickelodeon, and they're essentially Disney's competitors, which probably makes a reprint of any sort difficult, if not impossible. Not helping matters is that issue #6 has Spider-Man as a main character. With the John K. scandal hurting the Ren & Stimpy brand as a whole, it likely only further hurt a potential reprint's (already low) chances.
The original full version of Stimpy’s Cartoon Show hasn’t been aired or released since its initial premiere on SNICK. Several scenes have been removed (such as Ren and Stimpy editing the film with a bicycle pedal) and various scenes were rearranged with a different sound mixing.
Kids' Meal Toy: In Fall 1994, Hardee's released a set of eight race cars based on this series, Rugrats (1991), Doug, and Rocko's Modern Life, with each franchise having two characters. The toys based on this series depicted Ren and Stimpy on rockets.
Magnum Opus Dissonance: A weird case of this being an episode that was never created. "Life Sucks" was an unproduced episode where Ren tries to convince Stimpy about how much life sucks by showing him all the horrible things in history like the Children's Crusade. Many Spümcø employees considered this the best Ren and Stimpy episode ever written but fans who have seen the animatic are just completely baffled by its existence, Seeing it as pointlessly cruel. The fact the episode was planned to be made for Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" season but that was abandoned has not helped the episode's reputation.
Missing Episode: While all episodes are now on DVD, a few episodes from the Games era were banned after one or two broadcasts. "Man's Best Friend" also went unaired for years, until finally airing once on Spike TV in 2003. Allegedly, the censors objected to Ren repeatedly hitting George Liquor with a boating oar. It can now be seen on the Seasons 1 & 2 DVD set (and formerly Netflix under the Adult Party Cartoon series). Clips of it also appeared on NickSplat's YouTube page.
Roughly 1/3 of the series rarely, if ever airs on syndication from any of the 3 networks due to either being banned or otherwise unknown reasons.
No Export for You: In a very strange case, the complete series got a standard definition Blu-ray release in Germany, but not the U.S. Strange for two reasons: One, the German release contains the English audio, and two, this was years before the Kricfalusi scandal or the Happy Happy Joy Joy documentary.
Non-Singing Voice: When Games Animation took over production, Billy West provided Ren's speaking (and laughing) voice, while Bob Camp would provide Ren's singing voice (most notably in the "Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen" anthem.)
Old Shame: Jamie Oliff, the director at Lacewood Productions, was not happy with how his studio's episodes turned out, and actually asked John to not send them any more work. He said that the crew members had really bad attitudes and weren't as grateful as they should've been to be working on such a unique cartoon.
Only Barely Renewed: The series was originally not going to air past its first season due to scheduling issues but because to the popularity of "Stimpy's Invention" and the song "Happy Happy Joy Joy", Nickelodeon renewed the show for a second season.
Billy West was both this trope andThe Original Darrin, as he was originally cast as both leads when the show was being pitched before John Kricfalusi changed his mind and decided to do Ren instead (although Billy West generally would provide Ren's signature maniacal laughter). West took over the role of Ren, as well as Mr. Horse and Mrs. Buttloaves following Kricfalusi's termination. West also recorded lines for season 2 episodes which began production at Spumco but finished at Games and, therefore, Kricfalusi was unable to finish himself.
Gary Owens replaced Darrin J. Sargent as the voice of Powdered Toast Man after the first PTM bumper. In Powdered Toast Man's final appearance, "Dinner Party", he was instead voiced by Billy West.
Harris Peet originally voiced George Liquor in "The Boy Who Cried Rat" (in the short scene of George chasing Ren and Stimpy away from his trash) before being replaced by Michael Pataki.
In "Hard Times For Haggis", Haggis' butler Marvin was voiced by Stan Freberg. Billy West took over as Marvin's voice in his next appearance, "A Hard Day's Luck".
Ren and Stimpy premiered at the tail end of the AIDS crisis, and a big part of its controversy was American parents not only finding the show disgusting but fearing the ramifications of children laughing at bodily fluids at a time when most of the country was outwardly afraid of them.
It's no accident that many episodes are centered around Ren's mental instability, considering its come to light that John K has suffered from bipolar disorder and ADHD (which he self-medicated with alcohol) that went undiagnosed for years.
Any episodes which feature hardass fathers were described by Bob Camp and Billy West as "a primal scream" against John K.'s own hypermasculine, disciplinary father and the rough childhood he put him through.
"Reverend Jack Cheese" is basically the Games Animation crew telling the audience what it was like working under John K in the first two seasons.
Role-Ending Misdemeanor: There are a couple of conflicting accounts as to why John Kricfalusi was fired from the show, but both of them fall under this trope. According to Kricfalusi himself, he was dropped due to his refusal to censor "Man's Best Friend", which featured scatological humor, brief cursing, and above all else, a lengthy sequence where Ren beats George Liquor with an oar. According to everyone else, his dismissal was the result of Kricfalusi's tendency to significantly delay the production of numerous episodes, which came to a head during the second season when he sent Nickelodeon executive Linda Simensky a Strongly Worded Letter saying that his episodes would "cost what they cost and take as long as they need"; Nickelodeon promptly terminated his contract as a result.
When America adopted the TV rating system in the late 1990s (when Ren and Stimpy reruns were more or less still going), the show was rated TV-Y7 for comedic violence and scenes considered too gross or scary for children under 7 (there was even an announcer who prefaced the show with this warning, only the comedic violence was called "silly slapping"). Years later, with the short-lived Adult Party Cartoon series and ramped-up concerns over content, you have Moral Guardians like Common Sense Media branding this series as suitable for ages 12 and up, and the UK's DVDs have rated this a 12 (not suitable for children under 12) for the same reason it was rated a TV-Y7 — and this was after they edited an episode to remove a Western song about the joys of hanging yourself ("The Lord Loves a Hangin'"). The American DVD releases are not rated but have a parental warning on the set saying the series has "explicit content" (!) and is for mature audiences only.
On Spike TV, reruns were rated TV-PG, likely due to some of the censored content being restored. However, reruns on NickSplat were rated TV-G for unknown reasons.
Schedule Slip: The main reason Spumco and John K were fired from the show. From the very beginning, episodes weren't being completed in time thanks to Kricfalusi's perfectionism, forcing Nick to re-air the first episode "Stimpy's Big Day/The Big Shot" in the time slot designated for the second episode. "Black Hole/Stimpy's Invention" was delayed a full year before finally airing in in February of 1992 (and it shows). Not only did it kill any chance of syndication, it wasted a lot of the station's money from advertisers. Several of the Spumco artists were forced to do work on Doug just to stay on Nick's payroll, if they weren't being paid out of Kricfalusi's pocket. Season 2 improved only marginally and Kricfalusi's bad attitude did nothing to convince Nick that it was worth their time and money to keep letting this happen. When Kricfalusi outright bit the hand that fed him by sending Nickelodeon a Strongly Worded Letter saying "Spumco episodes will cost what they cost and take as long as they need," Nickelodeon finally got fed up and fired him. Even after the move to Games, the staff couldn't catch up fast enough to prevent further delays.
Screwed by the Lawyers: Nickelodeon intended to reanimate and recut "Man's Best Friend" to remove some of the more offensive material and make it suitable for their broadcast standards. The new animation was nearly finished by the time they found out that John K. still owned the rights to the George Liquor character, meaning that even if they wanted to, Nick couldn't air the episode without his permission.
Around 1/3 of the show was removed from circulation in the early 2010s due to the license to show Raymond Scott music expiring. As of 2021, this seems to be reverting, as some of these episodes aired for the first time in years on NickRewind.
Short-Lived, Big Impact: At 5 seasons and a spin off (the last two of which and the spin off are barely talked about nowadays) this show did not last so long as the two other shows in the original Nicktoons line up, Rugrats and Doug, which continued in some form or another for the better part of a decade. And yet, R&S is among one of the most influential cartoon shows of the last twenty years, spawning dozens of imitators and being the Trope Maker for the Grossout Show genre.
Throw It In: The scene in "Stimpy's Breakfast Tips" where Stimpy inexplicably has Black Bead Eyes just for one shot was an animation mistake by Fil-Cartoons—the scene was supposed to have Stimpy's eyes over them and the cork eyes were left in as a joke since they would've been covered up by the eye drawings, but that bit of animation inexplicably got thrown out by them. Spumco had the option of doing a retake for it, but John K. was so amused by the error ("That's weird shit even we would never come up with.") that he decided to just leave it in as is.
Tie-In Cereal: Ren & Stimpy had Powdered Toastman Cereal, which is essentially a version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Troubled Production: Right from the start, the series was fraught with production troubles that ultimately destroyed the show. Years later, Bob Camp summed up the show as "the best of times, the worst of times" and that "the whole thing was fucked from the beginning."
Nickelodeon green-lighting their first original show from a studio that had never produced animation (up until this time, Spumco had been an illustration company) turned out to be the blind leading the blind. According to Bob Camp, there was poor communication regarding creative control from then-network head Linda Simensky, who outright told the crew that they had carte blanche on content under the incorrect assumption that they shared a consensus of just how far "too far" was. The result was constant disagreement and confusion between both parties on an issue-to-issue basis. The executives also didn't understand the show's particular brand of absurdist filmmaking like jump cuts or gross up close ups when shown the storyboards, forcing the crew to over-explain most of the more bizarre gags (this obviously didn't help the network's faith). Because of John K.'s insistence that the show not use scripts, only storyboards, he had to fly to New York every time the network needed to approve stories. Each storyboard took two months to complete and be approved. Bob Camp admitted that the crew had too much of a "shitty 'fuck you' attitude" that the network wasn't prepared to deal with.
Many of the season 1 episodes were massacred by bad outsourcing, due in part to work from Fil-Cartoons, a literal sweatshop studio in the Philippines with poor working conditions and such dismal pay that employees were forced to sleep there. The studio handled ink-and-paint work for the entire first season, and more often than not heavily ruined many scenes due to their all-around cheap Xeroxing, ugly colors and even "reworking" drawings or whole scenes of animation without the consent of Spumco; there were even some unintentional (rather than purposeful) Off-Model moments, such as Stimpy's eyes inexplicably turning black in the "Stimpy's Breakfast Tips" note It was supposed to be a placeholder for a separate level of animation photographed in front of it, specifically of Stimpy's actual eyes, but that bit of animation was thrown out and Ren accidentally having two elephant trunks on him instead of one in "Black Hole". note specifically, Ren's trunk is supposed to shift off to the side when he looks at his watch, but a mistake left the animated part of his trunk moving, but with a top drawing of his trunk kept static above it, making it seem like he now has two trunks . Carbunkle director Bob Jacques had to fight tooth and claw to get the studio to turn in acceptable work for episodes like "Stimpy's Invention" (and even then the sporadic error slipped in, such as Stimpy's eyes floating off his face when he's showing Ren his new socks), and described the experience of working with them as "all damage control" and called them "the cheapest shithole studio I've ever had the displeasure to work at." The second season switched to digital ink and paint, presumably to avoid further problems like this, which came with its own set of problems, being such a new and still very rudimentary form of technology.
One of the biggest sources of friction was over censorship. Nickelodeon was always uneasy with the gross-out nature of the show's humor, and sent constant revisions to every single episode; "Nurse Stimpy" had a good chunk of footage axed before it got to air (specifically a gag involving a leech being used on Ren) and they even kept one finished episode, "Man's Best Friend", off the air due to its violent and scatological content. As a general rule, anything that had to do with religion, politics, alcohol, and tobacco was put under a microscope by Standards & Practices; the character George Liquor had his last name removed from one episode and made only sporadic appearances due to opposition from the network, right down to axing an entire scene with him from "Rubber Nipple Salesman", forcing Spumco to change a Liquor cameo in "Haunted House" into a parody of Doug Funnie (a scene that got edited out in reruns anyway) and rejecting an episode idea starring him (which prompted the crew to improvise the story for "Fire Dogs" in an afternoon), while "Powdered Toast Man", featuring The Pope, removed a cross from his hat and credited the character simply as "The Man with the Pointy Hat", and the ending scene of Toast Man carelessly using the Constitution and Bill of Rights as kindling for a fire got edited out after its initial airing, which ironically ruined the episode's satirical message of how easily authority and power are abused.
In addition to his general unprofessionalism (see above), John K.'s perfectionism was out of control. Spumco was largely understaffed, due to his refusal to hire anyone who didn't meet the standards of the studio's founders (himself, Jim Smith, Camp and Naylor). Not only did this mean that the show had to be created by an incredibly small crew, but what few staff members were hired regularly had their drawings torn up if they didn't meet Kricfalusi's exact expectations, despite his directions often being vague. One scene of Stimpy shaking his butt in Stimpy's Invention was re-animated sixteen times until it met John's approval. Historian Jerry Beck distinctly remembers visiting the studio and finding out John was so obsessed with finding the right color for the present Stimpy hands Ren that the walls were lined with over 50 different cels of the same present in different colors, likening it to a scene out of The Shining (ironically, John ended up working with one of the initial color choices).
Through a combination of the crew's perfectionism and the constant battles over what was acceptable to air, the show suffered from severe Schedule Slip almost from the start. Nickelodeon only ordered six episodes when the show was green-lit and they still had to rerun the pilot episode in order to have something to show in what would've been the second episode's time slot; this helped the show build an audience but killed any hope for syndication. The second season was planned to have twenty episodes before getting cut down to thirteen. Only eleven were completed, with two held over for season three.
Feuding between John K. and Nickelodeon over how long and expensive the production of each episode was reached its apex September '92, in the middle of the second season, when John K. told them point blank that episodes would "cost what they cost and take as long as they needed." Having had enough, Niceklodeon fired him and his studio from the series and continued it through their new in-house production facility Games Animation (John K. continues to insist that content was the deciding factor, specifically that in "Man's Best Friend," but nearly all sources say otherwise).
The remainder of the series was finished by half of its original staff (those who weren't loyal to John K.) plus some newcomers. Despite their efforts to conform to the more traditional structure of TV animation production, deadlines were still missed. Both fans and much of the staff agree that there were more bad episodes of this era than good ones. Nevertheless, the show ended up running for three more seasons until 1995, at which point Nickelodeon put it on "indefinite hiatus."
While John Kricfalusi provided Ren's voice in the first two seasons, Billy West would provide Ren's insane laughter. Certain episodes in production at the time of Kricfalusi's firing will have him providing the majority of Ren's lines, but West providing odd lines (as in "A Visit To Anthony").
A number of Games episodes had Nickelodeon censors demanding last-minute changes to odd lines of dialogue. Because West was unavailable to provide ADR for these lines, show artists would redub Ren and/or Stimpy instead. This include "Here's your pasta, 'big shot! (From "Ol' Blue Nose"), "My first grownup possession" (from "I Was a Teenage Stimpy") and changing all references to "immigrants" to "new Americans" in "Travelogue".
Uncredited Role: Season 1's "Black Hole" and Season 5's "Dinner Party" have no director credits. John K. said that the former doesn't have one because "there just isn't".
Prior to John Kricfalusi's firing, several more episodes had been scripted for Season Three by Spumco's staff. Some were produced into episodes of the Games Animation seasons and the Adult Party revival, though often retooled to some degree. In addition, at least nine episodes were scheduled for Adult Party, however Kricfalusi's second firing led to its cancellation after only six episodes. Among the three planned episode, "Life Sucks" had already been storyboarded and its dialogue recorded.
Wag the Director: "Reverend Jack Cheese" was directed by Craig Bartlett, though he admitted that he mostly was just there to see it through to completion and had no vested interest in the storyline, nor did he understand all the in-jokes about John K. (as he had come in later in the show's production). Thus, it could be argued that the real directors of the short were the writers, who had been with the show from the beginning.
Word of Gay: John K's confirmation on whether Ren and Stimpy are a gay couple is a bit flip-flopped. Answers from John K. range from "It's none of my business" to "Only when/if it's funny" to "Both of them are desperate and/or bisexual." He finally confirmed their status as a gay couple in an article back in 1997 (which can be seen right here), and they are quite clearly portrayed as a couple in Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon".
John K. unfavorably compared Games Animation taking over the production of the show to giving "an unedited cartoon to the milkman and have him finish it for ya." In response, the Games logo for the show (designed by Mike Kim) depicted Stimpy dressed as a milkman.
Ren in "Stimpy's Cartoon Show" and the character of Rev. Jack Cheese were both unflattering caricatures of John K.'s dictatorial habits by the Games staff. Notice that both of the characters wear horn-rimmed glasses (as Kricfalusi does). Interestingly, despite the common believe that "Stimpy's Cartoon Show" was done without Kricfalusi's knowledge, he was actually involved in the initial writing and while he was aware of the comparison, and was even okay with it, he did feel like Games bungled the "Artists vs Executive" message of the episode by changing Stimpy from an executive to a producer (to further emphasize the comparison to Kricfalusi), though he admits at the same time it was probably for the best to keep the actual executives off their backs.
Write What You Know: The gag of Rev. Jack Cheese putting cold cuts on Ren and Stimpy's heads came from a staff party where a very drunk Bob Camp put cold cuts on an equally drunk Kricfalusi's head. The characters' incantations ("This is perfectly good lunch meat," "I'm sure you want to waste it," "What are ya?") were Kricfalusi's bemused reaction.
Rev. Jack Cheese, as mentioned above, is the Games Animation staff's interpretation of John K. himself.
Written by Cast Member: Many of the early episodes were written by John K., who initially played Ren. Later, "Ol' Blue Nose" was partially written by Billy West, who at the time voiced both Ren and Stimpy.