If you grew up in the ’90s and watched Nickelodeon — especially Nicktoons — you probably know that some weird stuff was going on in the writers’ rooms.
It’s crazy how many non-kid-friendly jokes went into these shows, most of which no kid would even understand.
Grandpa Boris calls Dr. Kevorkian
Unable to take another second of Stu’s home movies in the Season 3 episode “Home Movies,” Grandpa Boris makes a phone call to someone addressed as Dr. Kevorkian – as in the doctor who famously advocated human euthanasia.
Grandpa Lou’s dirty movies
When assigned to babysit in the Season 2 episode “Grandpa’s Date,” Grandpa Lou decides to go out to the video store, returning with some food for Tommy and Chucky, as well as an adult movie for “after [they] Go to bed.”
This moment from the Season 1 episode “Special Delivery” didn’t register at all with my sweet summer kid, but the first time I rewatched the show as an adult, I was horrified. Tommy clearly is, too, when he realizes he’s minutes away from joining a DEAD USPS WORKER in a pile of rejected mail.
Robert Mapplethorpe vs. Normal Rockwell
I had heard of Norman Rockwell when I was a kid, but I had no idea who the Mapplethorpe Charlotte mentioned in the Season 3 episode “Mommy’s Little Assets” was until I was in my 20s. For anyone else unfamiliar, he was a photographer whose work included an examination of NYC BDSM culture among gay men in the late 60s to early 70s.
The Clarence Thomas hearings
Later in the same episode, Charlotte mentions Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who Anita Hill accused of sexual harassment in the early 90s.
Howard’s Playboy magazine
As Lil goes through her father’s drawer in the Season 3 episode “Twins’ Pique,” we clearly see a Playboy — center and all — flying through the air.
Rugrats she wasn’t the only Nicktoon poking fun at Playboy. In this season 1 episode of Rocco’s modern life“Carnival Knowledge,” the slug who works the merry-go-round at the carnival reads a “Playslug” with a bikini-clad slug on the cover.
This moment from the Season 1 episode “Canned,” which implied that Rocko was working as a phone sex operator, was another crazy moment that I definitely didn’t get. years.
Season 1 was really full of these moments. Here we see Spunky in what appears to be post-mop bliss. Mop and Shine is a nice touch.
The censored beach bar
This one from the Season 1 episode “Sand in Your Navel” really flew over my head, mostly because I didn’t know what the word “censor” meant when I was 6 — plus, Rocko didn’t usually wear pants. It doesn’t seem to me that he had anything to hide.
Judy’s scarf tip
In the Season 4 episode “Doug & Patti Sittin’ in a Tree”, Judy gives Doug advice on how to dress for his first date with Patti, and she tells him to wear a scarf, but not “on the left “. According to the “handkerchief code”, wearing one in your left pocket means you’re down.
In the Season 3 episode “Doug and Patti PI,” there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment when Doug is seen holding a small piece of paper that says “I ❤️ HEAD.”
As it turns out, Doug is actually holding one of Mr. Dink’s stickers that says “I ❤️ HEADCHEESE,” but since the shot had to be animated frame by frame, it would have been easy for the animators to not include the one in question.
Miriam and her smoothies
Boy, did Miriam love her smoothies. This was a running joke throughout its five seasons Hi Arnold! This really isn’t funny when you’re old enough to realize he wasn’t just using fruit, ice and hot sauce.
In the Season 4 episode “Veterans Day”, while Grandpa Phil and Mr. Johanssen are traveling with Arnold and Gerald, Phil starts talking about a sexy encounter he had with a farmer’s daughter during WWII . Mr. Johansen stops him before he gets to anything good, but it’s easy to see where he was going.
Helga’s trembling girlhood
I’m still surprised they got away with that line. In the Season 4 episode “Helga’s Parrot,” Helga writes a poem that includes the line “Arnold, you make my girls tremble,” which convinced me that Helga grew up to write sassy romance novels.
Groble’s sex lesson
If you’ve ever wondered how monster babies are made, it’s covered in Season 1 Aaaah!!! Real Monsters, in “Attack of the Blobs”. The episode opens with Gromble giving what is clearly supposed to be a lesson in sexual reproduction.
And Ickis forms a blob with himself
Right after the lesson, Ickis decides to try out some of what he’s learned, much to the dismay of a passing monster who seems horrified by what appears to be the monstrous version of indecent exposure.
What other ’90s Nicktoons jokes went over your head when you were a kid? Sound off in the comments!