The Ren & Stimpy Show, often simply called Ren & Stimpy, is animated television series created by Canadian animator John Kricfalusi for Nickelodeon. The series focuses on the titular characters - Ren Höek, a psychotic chihuahua, and Stimpy J. Cat, a good-natured, yet dimwitted cat. The show officially premiered on August 11, 1991, the same day as the debut of Doug and Rugrats, the three of which comprised the first Nicktoons. The show ran for five seasons on the network, ending its original run with the Christmas episode "A Scooter for Yaksmas".
Throughout its run, The Ren & Stimpy Show was controversial for its off-color humor, black comedy, toilet humor, sexual innuendo, and violence, all of which contributed to the production staff's altercations with Nickelodeon's Standards and Practices department. The show has received high critical acclaim and became a large cult classic during and after its run, while some critics credit it for leading the way for satirical animated shows like Beavis and Butt-Head and South Park, and playing a significant role in television animation. A spin-off for adult audiences, Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon", aired in 2003 on Spike TV, but was poorly received and cancelled soon after its debut.
- Marlin T. "Ren" Höek: Ren is a scrawny, insaniac "asthma-hound" chihuahua with a floppy body, donkey-like ears, neon-pink eyes with dark red pupils, red eyelids, and a fairly long, rat-like, pink tail who often calls Stimpy an idiot ("eeediot", to quote the character) and slaps him around, quite literally. Ren is vain, spiteful, hyperactive, abusive, and gets irritated (especially by Stimpy) very easily. His lifelong ambition is to have huge pectoral muscles (which somehow, in real life, is uncommon). Ren's name is the real name of Kricfalusi's building manager. He was born in Tuesday the 17th. Originally read (in a voice homaging that of Peter Lorre) by Kricfalusi, and later by Billy West after Kricfalusi was fired, although Kricfalusi would return for Adult Party Cartoon. He was most recently voiced by Chris Edgerly in Nicktoons MLB.
- Stimpson "Stimpy" J. Cat: A fat, red and white, rotund cat, with a blue nose, purple eyelids, no tail, human-style buttocks, flat feet and a brain size of a peanut (despite some intelligence, such as cooking and inventing; he is also a talented musician), Stimpson J. Cat is idiotically yet adorably cheerful and completely devoted to Ren, as he is, to him at least, a good friend. However, Ren abuses Stimpy constantly with both physical and verbal abuse. His trademark facial expression is a blissfully ignorant smile with tongue flopping out. Stimpy is named after an art school classmate of Kricfalusi, whose nickname was "Stimpy Kadogan" (the classmate appeared in one episode as the wrestler "Killer Kadogan"). He was voiced by Billy West, and later by Eric Bauza in the Adult Party Cartoon and Nicktoons MLB.
In addition to Ren and Stimpy, there are a host of supporting characters in the show. However, Ren and Stimpy are the only characters to appear in every episode; the supporting characters may recur, or they may only appear in a single episode. Some supporting characters would factor directly into the storyline (such as George Liquor) while others make brief cameos. Some, such as Mr. Horse, are exclusively cameo-based, appearing in many episodes in bits that have little bearing on the plot.
- George Liquor: George is an ultra-patriotic American and is so conservative that he thinks Republicans are Communists. His last name was removed from being uttered in the episodes he appeared in by Nickelodeon. Instead, the scene would pause and a record-scratching sound effect would be played instead of George speaking the word Liquor. He is voiced by Michael Pataki, although voiced by Harris Peet in his first two appearances.
- Powdered Toast Man: Melodramatic and oblivious superhero and spokesperson for Powdered Toast, the breakfast treat that "tastes like sawdust". His alter ego is a deacon. He can fly by launching himself from a toaster, or dispensing a healthy amount of flatulence; hence, he flies backwards. Oddly, Powdered Toast doesn't taste right unless Powdered Toast Man passes gas while it is being consumed. His favourite phrase is "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks, man!" Voiced by Gary Owens, although voiced by Darrin J. Sargent in his first appearance.
- Muddy Mudskipper: A mudskipper (a species of fish capable crawling out of water and breathing air directly) with the voice and personality of a grizzled vaudeville comedian who hosts an afternoon kids' show. Calls everyone he meets "a bum." Besides being a huge television star, Muddy dabbled in villainy, at one point kidnapping the Pope (voiced by Frank Zappa) before being foiled by Powdered Toast Man. He was voiced by Harris Peet, although Billy West voiced him in "Powdered Toast Man."
- Mr. Horse: One of the original and classic characters, with his catch phrase "No sir, I don't like it". Mr. Horse has variously been a victim of a fall from a skyscraper, a GI returning from war in love with a sheep, a dog show judge, a tester for Gritty Kitty Litter, a doctor, and someone running from a dark past. He was voiced by John Kricfalusi (1991–1993) and Billy West (1993–1996).
- Mr. and Mrs. Pipe: A pair of square, white suburban parents who are seen only from the waist down. Mr. Pipe is typically clad in a bathrobe, slippers, and black socks supported by sock-suspenders. Mrs. Pipe appears to wear a dress and nondescript women's shoes. Mr. Pipe was voiced by Billy West and Mrs. Pipe was voiced by Cheryl Chase.
- Abner and Ewalt: A pair of incredibly stupid hicks who are sheriff and deputy of a small Wild West town. They have a strong proclivity for hanging. They eventually hang themselves in absence of a suitable hangee.
- Svën Hoëk: Ren's Swedish cousin who Ren has not seen since they were in the whelping box together. He longs to have an intellectual conversation with his cousin, but much to Ren's chagrin, Svën is even stupider than Ren's feline pal, and Svën forms a bond of stupidity with Stimpy. Last seen in Hell, though he makes a background appearance in "Jerry the Belly-Button Elf" and appears in the comic several times. Voiced by Billy West.
- Wilbur Cobb: A demented, decaying old man who was once the foremost cartoon producer in the world. He speaks in malapropisms such as "Rain? In Octember?" Voiced by Jack Carter.
- Mrs. Buttloaves: An incredibly obese and homely woman dressed in a bulging pink night gown. Voiced by John Kricfalusi and later Billy West.
- Haggis McHaggis: A short, bald stereotypical Scotsman. Voiced by Alan Young.
- The Fire Chief: Has a psychotic hatred for circus midgets and a penchant for slamming his fire axe into concrete as a response to answering the door. Voiced by Harris Peet.
- The Gilded Yak: The shaven icon of Yak Shaving Day. Rides through the sky in a canoe; capable of emerging and disappearing into sink and tub drains. Although he is shaven, he is on a constant vigil against getting a five o'clock shadow.
- Dr. Stupid: A "show within a show" context pitted Stimpy as Dr. Stupid in the program "Ask Dr. Stupid". Dr. Stupid would read a letter from a loyal viewer asking questions and then activate his "patented Stuponitron helmet", which appeared to give him a stiff electrical shock to his brain. Afterwards, he would offer odd and weird advice.
- Old Man Hunger: A strange, and always naked, skinny old man with a chicken drumstick leg on his head. He can be found showing up randomly at inopportune moments for Ren and Stimpy. Voiced by Billy West.
- Kowalski: Serving a 32-year life sentence for crimes against humanity, Kowalski is an extremely large and burly hulk of a man with incredible strength. However he also has the mind of a 7-year-old boy. In his first appearance, Kowalski is temporarily adopted by Ren as Kowalski's surrogate father. In subsequent appearances, he is mostly seen as a general multipurpose goon. Not to be confused with Bubba, Ren's Kowalski-like nephew who featured in only one Ren and Stimpy cartoon. Voiced by Billy West.
- The Announcer Salesman: The Announcer Salesman serves as the multi-purpose loudmouth in the Ren and Stimpy show. Sometimes, he is a salesman. Other times, he is a narrator, an announcer, a dog show judge, a real estate agent, etc. The character is never referred to by any name in the series, but the name of "Hey, It's That Guy" seems to be the official name given by Billy West, who voiced him. It's also rumored that this was how he was also referred to by the animators at Spumco, although this last bit is purely speculation.
Development and reception
According to cartoonist Bill Wray, John Kricfalusi created the characters Ren and Stimpy around 1978 for "personal amusement" during his time in Sheridan College. He was inspired to create Ren by an Elliott Erwitt photograph, printed on a postcard, called "New York City, 1946", showing a sweatered chihuahua at a woman's feet. Stimpy's design was inspired by a Tweety Bird cartoon called A Gruesome Twosome where the cats in the animation had big noses. When Nickelodeon approached Kricfalusi, he presented three shows, among them a variety show titled Our Gang or Your Gang, with a live-action host presenting different cartoons, each cartoon parodying a different genre. Ren and Stimpy were pets of one of the children in Your Gang, serving as a parody of the "cat and dog genre". Vanessa Coffey, Nickelodeon's Vice President of Animation Production, was dissatisfied by the other projects but liked Ren and Stimpy, singling them out for their own show.
The show's pilot began production in 1989, after Kricfalusi pitched and sold The Ren & Stimpy Show to Nickelodeon. The pilot was done by Kricfalusi's own animation company, Spümcø, and screened at film festivals for several months before the show was announced in Nickelodeon's 1991 line-up. The first episode of the show premiered on August 11, 1991, alongside Doug and Rugrats. Spümcø continued to produce the show for the next two years while encountering issues with Nickelodeon's Standards and Practices. The show was noted for its lack of early merchandising; Wray cites the initial lack of merchandise as "the unique and radical thing" about The Ren & Stimpy Show, as no toy company planned ahead for any merchandise for the show, and Nickelodeon did not want to use "over-exploitive" merchandising.
Kricfalusi described his early period with Nickelodeon as being "simple", as he got along with Coffey, the sole executive of the program. When another executive was added, he wanted to alter or discard some of the Ren & Stimpy episodes, but Kricfalusi says the episodes stayed intact since he did a "trade" with Coffey: he would have some "really crazy" episodes in exchange for some "heart-warming" episodes. According to Kricfalusi, The Ren & Stimpy Show was the "safest project [he] ever worked on" while explaining the meaning of "safe" as "spend a third of what they spend now per picture, hire proven creative talent, and let them entertain". He estimated Spümcø's run of The Ren & Stimpy Show cost around $6,000,000 to produce.
The show received mixed reviews. Terry Thoren, former CEO and president of Klasky Csupo, said that Kricfalusi "tapped into an audience that was a lot hipper than anybody thought. He went where no man wanted to go before – the caca, booger humor". The Morning Call called it "high voltage yuks and industrial-strength weirdness". Even as the show came to garner high ratings for Nickelodeon, the relationship between Kricfalusi and Nickelodeon became strained, eventually leading to Kricfalusi communicating with Nickelodeon solely through his lawyer. Several of the show's staff attribute the tension to episodes that were not produced in a timely manner. However, some of the delays were attributed to Nickelodeon's prolonged approval process and withdrawal of approval from scenes and episodes that had been previously approved. Another issue of contention was the direction of the show. Nickelodeon later asked the new studio to make it lighter and less frightening. Kricfalusi cites his dismissal primarily to the episode "Man's Best Friend", which features a violent climax where Ren brutally assaults George Liquor with an oar.
Games Animation (1993–95)
Nickelodeon terminated Kricfalusi's contract in late September 1992 and offered him the position of consultant for Ren & Stimpy, but he refused to "sell out". Nickelodeon moved production from Spümcø to its newly founded animation department, Games Animation, which later became Nickelodeon Animation Studios. Bob Camp replaced Kricfalusi as director, while West, having refused Kricfalusi's request to leave along with him, voiced Ren in addition to Stimpy. Fans and critics felt this was a turning point in the show, with the new episodes being a considerable step down from the standard of those that preceded them. Ted Drozdowski, resident critic of The Boston Phoenix, stated that "the bloom faded on Ren & Stimpy." Animation historian Michael Barrier writes that while the creators of the Games episodes used bathroom humor jokes that were similar to those used by Kricfalusi, they did not "find the material particularly funny; they were merely doing what was expected." The show ended its original run on December 16, 1995 with "A Scooter for Yaksmas", although one episode from the final season, "Sammy and Me/The Last Temptation", was not aired; it instead premiered on Nickelodeon's sister network, MTV, on October 20, 1996.
In 2003, Kricfalusi relaunched the series as Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon", aired along with reruns of the original series (labeled as Ren & Stimpy Classics) during a late night programming block on Spike TV and rated TV-MA. As the title implies, the new series featured more adult themes, including an openly homosexual relationship between the main characters. Billy West declined on reprising his role as the voice of Stimpy, saying that the show was "not funny" and that joining it would have damaged his career. (West would eventually return to the role, however, for Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots in 2007.) Eric Bauza instead voiced Stimpy, while Kricfalusi reprised the role of Ren. Fans and critics alike were unsettled by the show from the first episode, and only three of the six produced episodes were actually aired before the show was cancelled.
Since Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" was never aired on Nickelodeon nor intended to be broadcast on any network under the Nickelodeon brand, it is not covered on this wiki.
- → Main article: The Ren & Stimpy Show episode list
Home video releases
- → Main article: The Ren & Stimpy Show videography
VHS and Laserdisc
The Ren & Stimpy Show was first released on VHS in the United States and Canada by Sony Wonder. The tapes contained the same edits as Nickelodeon's first screenings. However, Ren & Stimpy: More Stinky Stories contains a censored version of the short "The Big Baby Scam". The entire sequence where the family take a bath and Mr. Pipe gets out to answer the door is very crudely deleted. Also, Ren & Stimpy: Have Yourself a Stinky Little Christmas contained an edit to "Son of Stimpy", removing the scene where Stimpy gets thrown out of the police station.
Sony Wonder also released a Laserdisc released titled "Ren & Stimpy: The Essential Collection", which included the same content as the Ren & Stimpy Classics and Classics II VHS tapes. It was notably one of the very few Laserdisc releases of any Nickelodeon production (the others being the Laserdisc releases of Harriet the Spy, Good Burger, and The Rugrats Movie, and a few Rugrats Laserdiscs released by Paramount).
In 1996, Nickelodeon's home video rights were transferred to Paramount Home Video. However, only one Ren & Stimpy video was re-released under the Paramount label in the United States - Have Yourself a Stinky Little Christmas (which this time also included the episode "Big Flakes").
In the United Kingdom, a few more tapes, mainly containing episodes produced by Games Animation, were released by Paramount in the PAL format (not playable on conventional US VCRs).
Time–Life released several episodes of The Ren & Stimpy Show in a "Best of" set in September 2003. This set is now out of print.
On October 12, 2004, Paramount Home Entertainment released the first two seasons in a three-disc box set. Although the cover art and press materials claimed the episodes were "uncut", a handful of episodes were, in fact, edited, due to the use of Spike TV masters. One of the episodes from the second season, "Svën Höek", did have footage reinserted from a work-in-progress VHS tape, but with an editing machine time code visible onscreen, as well as grainy footage. A second set, titled Seasons Three and a Half-ish, containing all of season three and the first half of season four up to "It's A Dog's Life"/"Egg Yolkeo", followed on June 28, 2005. Season Five and Some More of Four completed the DVD release of the original series on September 20 of the same year.
John Kricfalusi mentioned in a 2005 interview that an Ultimate Ren & Stimpy Collection DVD set, which would've contained the entirety of the series (this time with the episodes fully uncut) plus the "Adult Party Cartoon" episodes (which had received its own single-disc release in 2006), was being planned, but this set was never released. The existing DVD sets (minus the DVD release of Adult Party Cartoon) were instead repackaged together as The Ren & Stimpy Show: The Mostly Complete Collection on February 6, 2018.
The original series was released entirely as a 9-disc set in Germany on October 4, 2013 by Turbine Media. After people claimed that two episodes on the second disc were not completely uncensored, Turbine Classics offered to send everybody with proof of purchase an uncensored disc. Since the set is the first to include all scenes ever broadcast worldwide, it is considered the first truly uncensored DVD release of the series.
- Dog Pound Hop (Opening Theme) written and performed by Jim Smith, and John Kricfalusi
- Big House Blues (Closing Theme) written and performed by Jim Smith, and John Kricfalusi
- The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen Anthem (from the episode "The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen")
- Happy Happy Joy Joy (From the episode "Stimpy's Invention") written and performed by Stinky Wizzleteats (John Kricfalusi)
- Lord Loves a Hangin (From the episode "Out West")
The show spun off three soundtrack albums during its run - You Eediot!, Crock o' Christmas, and Radio Daze. A few musical highlights from the show and the first album were also included on The Best of Nicktoons.
Ren & Stimpy was also referenced in the Primus song "Nature Boy".
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: Space Cadet Adventures (1992; Game Boy)
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: Buckaroo$ (1993; NES, SNES)
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: Stimpy's Invention (1993; Genesis)
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: Veediots! (1993; SNES, Game Boy)
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: Fire Dogs (1994; SNES)
- Quest for the Shaven Yak Starring Ren Hoëk & Stimpy (1994; Game Gear)
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: Time Warp (1994; SNES)
In addition, Stimpy was a playable racer in Nicktoons: Racing for PlayStation, PC, GBC, GBA, and Arcade, and in the home console versions of Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots. Ren, Stimpy, Powdered Toast Man, and the Shaven Yak were also playable characters in Nicktoons MLB.
Appearances in other Nickelodeon projects
Stimpy appeared as a plush in an episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot.
- Official website
- The Ren & Stimpy Show at the Internet Movie Database
- The Ren & Stimpy Show at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Members Of The Loyal Order Of Stupids message board
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|1992-1994||Clarissa Explains It All • Roundhouse • The Ren & Stimpy Show • Are You Afraid of the Dark?|
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|1997-1999||Rugrats • The Journey of Allen Strange • Animorphs • Cousin Skeeter|
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