The original Nicktoons are now 30 years old. Back on Aug. 11, 1991, Nickelodeon unveiled their first three original animated programs: Doug, Rugrats, and The Ren & Stimpy Show. Airing one after the other, the cartoons premiered as part of a 90-minute block which dubbed them as the first-ever Nicktoons. All three shows, which were unique in their own ways, saw great success that only led to many, many more Nicktoons to follow in subsequent years.
Doug was the first of the three cartoons to debut that day, technically making Doug Funnie and his friends in Bluffington the first Nicktoons ever shown on television. Created by Jim Jinkins, the series follows an 11-year-old boy as he navigates the challenges of life as an adolescent, usually documenting the lessons he’s learned in a daily journal. The series would go on to air for four seasons on Nickelodeon before relocating to ABC for Disney’s One Saturday Morning block.
In the premiere episode, Doug (Billy West) plans to attend his first school costume dance dressed as a slug, hoping to score a dance with his dream girl Patti Mayonnaise (Constance Shulman). When bully Roger Klotz (West) mocks his dancing abilities, Doug turns to best friend Skeeter Valentine (Fred Newman) for advice. The second story saw Doug disguising himself due to fears he accidentally destroyed the science lab with a school project gone wrong.
The second Nicktoon, Rugrats, premiered on Nickelodeon immediately after the first episode of Doug. Following a group of toddlers and the imaginative adventures they’d embark upon when their parents were preoccupied, the classic cartoon was created by Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo, and Paul Germain. This show was also a tremendous success, running for nine seasons and spawning multiple movie adaptations, a spinoff, and a reboot series.
In the show’s first episode, “Tommy’s First Birthday,” Stu (Jack Riley) and Didi (Melanie Chartoff) Pickles strive to make their son Tommy’s (E. G. Daily) birthday is a day to remember. Meanwhile, Tommy and his baby pals want to eat dog food so they can be just like Spike, the Pickles family dog. The episode also introduced Angelica (Cheryl Chase), Tommy’s cousin who serves as an antagonist by constantly taunting and teasing the babies.
Immediately after Doug and Rugrats, The Ren & Stimpy Show premiered, serving as the third Nicktoon. Created by John Kricfalusi, the series was a bit controversial due to its dark and gross-out humor, a stark contrast to the shows that aired on Nickelodeon before it. The Nicktoon would ultimately go on to air for five seasons, developing a large cult following of its own. In the premiere episode, Stimpy (Billy West) goes to Hollywood without Ren (Kricfalusi) after winning a Gritty Kitty poem contest.
These days, Rugrats has returned with the same voice actors voicing the baby characters in a new revival series on Paramount+. Though 30 years have now passed since Tommy Pickles turned one year old on Nickelodeon, his franchise is just as popular as ever. Meanwhile, classic episodes of Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show are also available to binge on the streamer. It all began with the debut of the Nicktoons in August 2021. Happy 30th anniversary to the original Nicktoons!
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