The Ren and Stimpy Show

Television retrospective


You know you’ve made it when people are buying cuddly toys of your animated stars. Even if it stars a psychopathic Chihuahua and a simple-minded Cat. Back in the nineties Ren and Stimpy swept onto screen to acclaim and controversy. Mostly controversy.

rens retirement

Poor Sweet Ren

Imagine my surprise when I came across the delightful “magic nose goblins” whilst eating dinner with the family. Imagine the horror as the camera zooms in for an extreme close up of Ren’s withered face.

Imagine eating to this?

Whoever was in charge of the scheduling on BBC2 is a national hero.

happy happy joy joy

“Happy, Happy, Joy Joy”

Ren and Stimpy was childish, disgusting and violent. Oh, it was also aimed at children. The animation was gross, the close ups were gross, the themes were gross. Man, I love gross. I can’t imagine many contemporary cartoons would be allowed to get anything close to the psychotic bile of “Ren Hoëk”, or the intellectuality challenged ignorance of “Stimpson J. Cat”.

That’s not to say modern children’s cartoons aren’t any good. They’re more progressive, smarter and funnier than anything we saw in the 90’s. Adventure Time, Regular Show, Steven Universe are fantastic shows. I’m sure there are more than a fair few I don’t know.

Sure, we grew up with gay icons such as He-Man and Snugglepuss, but of course, they were in the minority.

Modern children’s’ cartoons are great, so why am I pining for the repugnant Ren and Stimpy?

Tex Avery style ludicrous animation.

The animators have been given the freedom to really for go it.

Nearly all modern cartoons set the rules of the world and rigidly sticks to them. Some of the rules might include surreal elements, but modern cartoons don’t break their internal logic. You won’t see eyes popping out of sockets, or roadrunner skipping through a drawing of a tunnel.

That Tex Avery insanity has fallen out of favour in recent times. Cartoons can do anything and I loved it when the artist is free to tinker with expectations. That moment where Wile E Coyote looks down, before falling… I miss that…. Weeeeeeeeeeee – Poof!

What I’m saying is… fuck logic.

Tex Avery Gobloo

Ladies and Gentleman, May I present Tex Avery’s Gobloo.

Ren and Stimpy had no respect for the logic of their world. Ren’s head would explode in anger, Stimpy’s nose would pop off. Ren would prod Stimpy’s eyeball over and over with a MASSIVE finger whilst making a serious point. There wasn’t a hint of subtlety in the script, anything could happen. The show didn’t rely on a surreal story, world or moment.

You were gifted with pure visual nonsense throughout.

It wasn’t an arty-farty show. It was farty-arty.

Ren’s frothing rage was one of the most incredible sights to behold in modern animation.

To get Ren to the appropriate rage levels, Stimpy’s well-meaning stupidity made for the perfect loving relationship. As the show was supposedly geared towards children, this restraint helped the show. The show flirted with the inappropriate, but just about stayed on the correct side of the censors. Without this restraint the show doesn’t work, as the woeful 2003 “adult” version proved.

Swearing is a poor substitute to imagination.

Ren crazy

Having a “moment”

For such an apparently cruel show Ren and Stimpy’s relationship is strangely caring, but also completely dysfunctional, like your dad.

Side note – The sound fx and music in Ren and Stimpy was awesome. To this day, I still sing Jiminy Lummox’s song in my head.

The show correctly identified that half an hour of Ren beating Stimpy wasn’t enough. The show had a large array of side characters to fall back on, such as Powered Toast Man, fake adverts about Logs and Muddy Muddskipper an aggressive fish entertainer. The good majority of these skits hit the mark and at times supersede the main duo. It’s practically bubbling with outlandish ideas.

Mr Horse

‘No Sir, I don’t like it’

Ren and Stimpy had wonderful (not really) stories to compliment such extreme animation.


“Gee, I dunno Ren”

You had emotional heart-wrenching story about Stimpy’s wayward fart.

You have David Attenborough style, natural world stories, about spying upon rare animal life, such as the “Wily Tree Geezer”.

You had incoherent stories about wrangling “Galoots”, as an old Geezer yarns a tale by the campfire, whilst cooking his own nose.

It also helped that Ren and Stimpy had a mocking tone throughout, which works excellently well for British sensibilities. Piss-taking always works.

Tooth fairy

Wot a Beauty!

I’m aware that none of this makes any sense, the stories made no sense. I’m hoping you raise an eyebrow and endeavour to hunt down a copy to see for yourself.

Ren Teeth

Filthy Chihuahua Teeth

If this does make sense to you, hey! Ren and Stimpy was great wasn’t it! Yes, yes, I agree, that bit you loved was very funny.

Side note – I loved the incidental throwaway visual gags throughout. Such as the loving family home being an overturned cow, with a door at the arse-end.

The Ren and Stimpy Show was the last thoroughly insane children’s cartoon. I don’t think you’ll see anything quite like this again.

No really, I’m sure there are regulations against it.