11 Stupefying Facts About The Ren & Stimpy Show

On August 11, 1991, The Ren & Stimpy Show debuted on Nickelodeon. The brainchild of former Filmation and Hanna-Barbera animator John Kricfalusi (also known as John K.), the show was part of the network's new initiative to feature creator-driven cartoons that would take on a unique vision, rather than being just another cog in an animation factory. Though the series was short-lived by today's standards, it helped usher in a new era for animation in the 1990s and still influences creators to this day. 


August 11, 1991 wasn't just the debut of The Ren & Stimpy Show, it was also the debut of the first-ever Nicktoons lineup, which also included Rugrats and Doug. Together, these three shows helped form the foundation of the network's next decade of animation, which later included hit shows like Rocko's Modern Life, Angry Beavers, and SpongeBob SquarePants.


Stimpy certainly doesn't look like any cat in the real world, but creator John Kricfalusi did have a source of inspiration when designing the character. According to the "Ren & Stimpy: In the Beginning" featurette from the show's first DVD set, Kricfalusi says Stimpson J. Cat's signature look—mainly his bulbous blue nose—came, in part, from a Tweety Bird cartoon called "A Gruesome Twosome." The short, directed by the legendary Bob Clampett, features two cats, one of whom sports an obscenely large nose. The cat in the cartoon was actually modeled after entertainer Jimmy Durante, so there's actually a little classic Hollywood sitting on Stimpy's face. 


In that same featurette, Kricfalusi revealed that the idea for Ren came to him after seeing an Elliott Erwitt photograph of a Chihuahua in a sweater. "It's a very funny picture," Kricfalusi said, "because here's a psychotic looking monster in a cute sweater." That same ferociousness coming from an unlikely animal informed the character of Ren from day one.


If you close your eyes and listen to Ren and Stimpy have one of their infamous arguments, you'll hear the DNA of two Hollywood legends: iconic character actor Peter Lorre and The Three Stooges staple Larry Fine. Kricfalusi's idea to model his take on Ren after Lorre's signature squirmy, near-psychotic voice was there from the start, but it wasn't until Billy West—best known as the voice of Fry from Futurama—came along that Stimpy's character began to take shape.

After experimenting with different takes for Stimpy, Kricfalusi offhandedly suggested that West do his Larry Fine impression for the character. The offbeat suggestion worked, and when reflecting on West's portrayal of Stimpy, Kricfalusi said in the featurette, "It was real weird, because here's this youthful type of character. He seems like a little kid, right? But he's got this full-grown Jewish man's voice. I don't know why it worked, but it sounded hilarious that he had that personality with a man's voice."


Ever since the early Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes shorts, classical music and animation have made for a perfect match. Ren & Stimpy continued this tradition by using classic pieces by 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century composers like Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Charles Gounod, Camille Saint-Saëns, Raymond Scott, and a host of others. Whether they're used to drive the action, or played underneath to establish atmosphere, every episode is full of renowned works from history's great composers.


Ren & Stimpy was never going to be a traditional Nickelodeon series, and over the years the show's production team crossed swords with Standards and Practices, parent groups, and the network itself over the nature of its content. One episode in particular was so outlandish for the network that it was shelved for years. Titled "Man's Best Friend," it featured a scene where Ren beats a character named George Liquor half to death with a canoe oar. The network refused to air the episode on Nickelodeon, and it wouldn't appear until years later when the show was rebooted as Ren & Stimpy 'Adult Party Cartoon' on Spike TV.


After the "Man's Best Friend" controversy, Kricfalusi was fired from the series, along with most of the team at his production company, Spümcø. The network shifted the series over to its own studio, Games Animation, and handed the reins of the show over to Bob Camp, who attempted to keep the series' flavor intact in a way that would keep the network and sponsors happy. "In the long run, this will be a good thing for everyone," Camp said. "John is like a not-ready-for-prime-time player. The idea of him doing children's programming—it was good children's programming, great stuff, but he was not in his element."

Despite Camp's efforts, fans and critics saw his era of Ren & Stimpy as a decided step down from the show's early days. 


After Kricfalusi was fired from Ren & Stimpy, he was under the impression that Billy West would join him in a show of solidarity—in fact, Kricfalusi says West told him he was leaving alongside him. Well, that didn't quite work out, as West would not only stay on the show, but he would also take over the voice duties of Ren in Kricfalusi's absence.

The two were unceremoniously reunited on The Howard Stern Show in 1995, where the shock jock instigated the duo over their split a few years earlier—even getting an assistant to claim West's portrayal of Ren couldn't match up with Kricfalusi's. It's a memorable segment in a car crash sort of way, and it wasn't long after this painfully awkward interview that West—who was a regular on Stern—would leave the show.


Ren & Stimpy's original run on Nickelodeon ended in 1995, but that wasn't the last audiences saw of the vulgar cat and dog duo. In 2003, Spike TV—which is owned by Viacom along with Nickelodeon—brought Kricfalusi back for Ren & Stimpy 'Adult Party Cartoon,' which was an attempt to make the show raunchy in a way Nickelodeon never would have allowed.

However, the revival wasn't enough to persuade West to step back into the role of Stimpy, which led to Kricfalusi assuming the voices of both main characters. West spoke about his reasons for not returning, saying, "It would have damaged my career. It was one of the worst things I ever saw. Kricfalusi called me, and I told him I wished him all the luck in the world but I wasn't interested." Adult Party Cartoon didn't even last two months on the network.


Despite the behind-the-scenes drama, Ren & Stimpy still garnered huge ratings and merchandising opportunities for Nickelodeon during the 1990s. Obviously a sea of other twisted, adult-oriented cartoons soon followed, most prominently Beavis and Butt-head. Even creator Mike Judge credits Ren & Stimpy with Beavis and Butt-head getting the go-ahead at MTV: "Ren & Stimpy played on MTV for a while and was a big success," Judge explained. "They used that as a justification to pay for this."

SpongeBob SquarePants also owes a debt to Ren & Stimpy, especially when it comes to the series' distinct animation style. Animator Vincent Waller, who worked on both shows, said of the shared flavor of both series, "Working on Ren & Stimpy and SpongeBob was very similar. They’re both storyboard-driven shows, which means they give us an outline from a premise after the premise has been approved. We take the outline and expand on it, writing the dialogue and gags. That was very familiar."


In the years since Ren & Stimpy went off the air, Kricfalusi and his team at Spümcø have still been churning out their patented brand of crude humor. The studio has even given their take on some of the most recognizable characters in animation, including The Jetsons, Yogi Bear, and even The Simpsons. And with talks of a Nicktoons crossover movie coming to light, yet another Ren & Stimpy revival might not be too far off.

10 Bold Breaking Bad Fan Theories

Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad.
Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad.
Ben Leuner, AMC

It’s been nearly six years since Breaking Bad went out in a blaze of gunfire, but fans still haven’t stopped thinking about the award-winning crime drama. What really happened to Walter White in the series finale? What’s the backstory on Gus Fring? And what did Jesse Pinkman’s doodles mean?

While El Camino, Vince Gilligan's new Breaking Bad movie, offers definitive answers to at least one of these questions, these fan theories offer some alternative answers—even if they strain the limits of logic and sanity along the way. Read on to discover the surprising source of Walt’s cancer diagnosis, and why pink is always bad news.

1. Walter White picks up traits from the people he kills.

Walter White is an unpredictable guy, but he’s weirdly consistent on one thing: After he kills someone, he kind of copies them. Remember how Krazy-8 liked his sandwiches without the crust? After Walt murdered him, he started eating crustless PB&Js. Walt also lifted Mike Ehrmantraut’s drink order and Gus Fring’s car, leading many fans to wonder if Walt steals personal characteristics from the people he kills.

2. Gus Fring worked for the CIA.

Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda) in Breaking Bad
Giancarlo Esposito and Javier Grajeda in Breaking Bad.
Ursula Coyote, AMC

Who was Gus Fring before he became the ruthless leader of a meth/fried chicken empire? Well, we know he’s from Chile. We also know that any records of his time there are gone. And we know that cartel kingpin Don Eladio refused to kill him when he had the chance. Since Don Eladio has no qualms about eliminating the competition, Gus must have some form of protection. Could it be from the U.S. government? A detailed Reddit theory suggests that Gus was once a Chilean aristocrat who helped the CIA install the dictator Augusto Pinochet in power. Once Pinochet became a liability, Gus went to Mexico at the CIA’s behest to infiltrate a drug cartel. His alliance with U.S. intelligence kept him alive even as his work got more violent, and helped him bypass the normal immigration issues you'd typically encounter when you’ve murdered a bunch of people.

3. Madrigal built defective air filters that gave Walter white cancer.

Madrigal Electromotive is a corporation with varied interests. The German parent company of Los Pollos Hermanos dabbles in shipping, fast food, and industrial equipment … including air filters. According to one fan theory, Gray Matter—the company Walter White co-founded with Elliott Schwartz—purchased defective air filters from Madrigal and installed them while Walt still worked at the company. The filters ultimately caused Walt’s lung cancer, pushing him into the illegal drug trade and, eventually, business with Madrigal.

4. Color is a crucial element in the series.

Marie Schrader (Betsy Brandt) and Hank Schrader (Dean Norris)
Betsy Brandt and Dean Norris as Marie and Hank Schrader in Breaking Bad.
Ben Leuner, AMC

Color is a code on Breaking Bad. When a character chooses drab tones, they’re usually going through something, like withdrawal (Jesse) or chemo (Walt). Their wardrobe might turn darker as their stories skew darker—like when Marie ditched her trademark purple for black while she was under protective custody. Also, pink signals death, whether it’s on a teddy bear or Saul Goodman’s button down shirt.

5. Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead exist in the same universe.

Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead both aired on AMC, but according to fans, that’s not all they have in common. There’s an exhaustive body of evidence connecting the two shows—and one of the biggest links is Blue Sky. The distinctively-colored crystal meth is Walt and Jesse’s calling card on Breaking Bad, but it’s also Merle Dixon’s drug of choice on The Walking Dead. Coincidentally, his drug dealer (“a janky little white guy” who says “bitch”) sounds a lot like Jesse.

6. Walter white froze to death and hallucinated Breaking Bad's ending.

Bryan Cranston in the 'Breaking Bad' series finale
Ursula Coyote, AMC

In her review of the Breaking Bad series finale “Felina,” The New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum suggested an alternate ending in which Walt died an episode earlier, as the police surrounded his car in New Hampshire. He could’ve frozen to death “behind the wheel of a car he couldn’t start,” she theorized, and hallucinated the dramatic final shootout in “Felina” in his dying moments. This reading has gained traction with multiple fans, including SNL alum Norm Macdonald.

7. Jesse’s superheroes are a peek into his inner psyche.

In season 2 of Breaking Bad, we discover that Jesse Pinkman is a part-time artist. He sketches his own superheroes, including Backwardo/Rewindo (who can run backwards so fast he rewinds time), Hoverman (who floats above the ground), and Kanga-Man (who has a sidekick in his “pouch”). The characters are goofy, just like Jesse, but they may also reveal what’s going on in his head. Backwardo represents Jesse’s tendency to run from conflict. Hoverman reflects his lack of direction or purpose, while Kanga-Man hints at his codependency.

8. Madrigal was founded by Nazi war criminals.

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen) in 'Breaking Bad'
Bryan Cranston and Michael Bowen in Breaking Bad.
Ursula Coyote, AMC

This might be one of the wilder Breaking Bad theories, but before you write it off, consider Werner Heisenberg: The German physicist, who helped pioneer Hitler’s nuclear weapons program, is the obvious inspiration for Walt’s meth kingpin moniker. While Heisenberg only appears in name, there are plenty of literal Nazis on the show. Look no further than Uncle Jack and the Aryan Brotherhood, who served as the Big Bad of season 5. At least one Redditor thinks all these Nazi references are hinting at something bigger, a conspiracy that goes straight to the top. The theory starts in South America, where many Nazis fled after World War II. A group of them supposedly formed a new company, Madrigal, through their existing connections back in Germany. Eventually, a young Chilean named Gus Fring worked his way into the growing business, and the rest is (fake) history.

9. Walter white survived, but paid the price.

Lots of Breaking Bad theories concern Walt’s death, or lack thereof. But if Walt actually lived through his seemingly fatal gunshot wound in “Felina,” what would the rest of his life look like? According to one Reddit theory, it wouldn’t be pretty. The infamous Heisenberg would almost certainly stand trial and go to prison. Although he tries to leave Skyler White with information to cut a deal with the cops, she could also easily go to jail—or lose custody of her children. The kids wouldn’t necessarily get that money Walt left with Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz, either, as they could take his threats to the police and surrender the cash to them. Basically it amounts to a whole lot of misery, making Walt’s death an oddly optimistic ending. (This is one theory El Camino addresses directly.)

10. Breaking Bad is a prequel to Malcolm in the Middle.

Bryan Cranston in the series premiere of 'Breaking Bad'
Bryan Cranston in the series premiere of Breaking Bad.
Doug Hyun, AMC

Alright, let’s say Walt survived the series finale and didn’t stand trial. Maybe he started over as a new man with a new family. Three boys, perhaps? This fan-favorite theory claims that Walter White assumed a new identity as Malcolm in the Middle patriarch Hal after the events of Breaking Bad, making the show a prequel to Bryan Cranston’s beloved sitcom. The Breaking Bad crew actually liked this idea so much they included an “alternate ending” on the DVD boxed set, where Hal wakes up from a bad dream where "There was a guy who never spoke! He just rang a bell the whole time! And then there was another guy who was a policeman or a DEA agent, and I think it was my brother or something. He looked like the guy from The Shield."

Fan Notices Hilarious Connection Between Joaquin Phoenix's Joker and Superbad's McLovin

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

There seems to be exactly one funny thing about Todd Phillips's latest film, Joker.

As reported by Geek.com, someone on Twitter by the name of @minalopezavina brilliantly pointed out that Arthur Fleck from Joker and McLovin from Superbad are pretty much in the same costume.

This meme is a nice moment of comic relief in an otherwise very serious movie. In fact, Joker is so dark that the United States Army had issued warnings about possible shootings at theaters playing the film. The warnings coincided with criticisms that the film might be too violent, with fears that the villain-led storyline would result in copycat events in real life.

Both Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix have weighed in on the controversy, with the director explaining to The Wrap, "It wasn’t, ‘We want to glorify this behavior.’ It was literally like ‘Let’s make a real movie with a real budget and we’ll call it f**king Joker’. That’s what it was.”

All we can say is the amount of chatter behind Joker certainly led to both packed theaters, and endless memes online.

[h/t Geek.com]