If you grew up watching Nickelodeon — Nicktoons in particular — in the ’90s, you probably know some bizarre things were going on in the writers’ rooms.
It’s insane how many kid-unfriendly jokes have made it onto these shows, most of which no child would understand.
Grandpa Boris calls Dr. Kevorkian on
Unable to take another second of Stu’s home movies in the Season 3 episode “Home Movies,” Grandpa Boris calls someone he calls Dr. Kevorkian appeals – as in the doctor known to have assisted in putting people to sleep.
Grandpa Lou’s Dirty Movies
When Grandpa Lou is hired to babysit in the Season 2 episode “Grandpa’s Date,” he decides to hit the video store and returns with kid-friendly fare for Tommy and Chuckie, as well as an “after” movie that’s clearly an adult movie is [they] Go to bed.”
That moment from the Season 1 episode “Special Delivery” didn’t register in my sweet summer kid at all, but when I first rewatched the show as an adult, I was horrified. Tommy clearly is too when he realizes he’s moments away from joining a DEAD USPS WORKER in a stack of rejected mail.
Robert Mapplethorpe vs regular Rockwell
I had heard of Norman Rockwell when I was a kid, but had no idea who the Mapplethorpe Charlotte mentioned in the Season 3 episode “Mommy’s Little Assets” was until I was well into my twenties. For anyone else unfamiliar, he was a photographer whose work involved investigating 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, whom Anita Hill accused of sexual harassment in the early ’90s.
Howard’s Playboy Magazine
When Lil searches her father’s drawer in the Season 3 episode “Twins’ Pique,” we see what is clearly a playboy – center and all – flying through the air.
Rugrats wasn’t the only Nicktoon to crack a Playboy joke. This season 1 episode of Rocko’s modern life“Carnival Knowledge”, the snail who works on the carousel in the carnival, reads a “Spielslug” with a snail in a bikini on the cover.
That moment from the Season 1 episode “Canned,” which not-so-subtly hinted that Rocko was working as a phone sex operator, was another wild moment that I certainly didn’t pick up on Years.
Season 1 was really just full of those moments. Here we see Spunky in what appears to be post-coital bliss with a mop. The mop and shine is a nice touch.
The censorship bar on the beach
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 “censorship” meant when I was 6 – also, Rocko didn’t usually wear pants, so he did it doesn’t occur to me that he had something to hide.
Judy’s tissue 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 handkerchief but not “left”. . According to the “handkerchief code,” carrying one in your left pocket is said to mean you’re a bottom.
In the Season 3 episode “Doug and Patti PI,” there is a moment when Doug appears to be holding a small piece of paper that says “I ❤️ HEAD.”
As it turns out, Doug is actually holding one of Mr. Dink’s bumper stickers that read “I ❤️ HEADCHEESE,” but considering the shot had to be animated frame by frame, it would have been easy for the animators not to include the one in Ask.
Miriam and her smoothies
Boy, did Miriam love her smoothies. This has been a running joke throughout all five seasons of Hey Arnold! This really isn’t funny when you’re old enough to realize that she didn’t just use fruit, ice cream and hot sauce.
In the Season 4 episode “Veterans Day,” while Grandpa Phil and Mr. Johanssen are taking Arnold and Gerald on a road trip, Phil begins talking about a sexy encounter he had with a farmer’s daughter during World War II. Mr. Johanssen stops him before he gets anywhere good, but it’s easy to see where it’s going.
Helga’s trembling girlhood
It still amazes me that 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 girlhood tremble,” which convinced me that Helga grew up writing sassy romance novels.
The Gromble’s sex ed lesson
If you’ve ever wondered how monster babies are made, Season 1 of Aaah!!! real monsters, in “Attack of the Blobs”. The episode begins with Gromble giving what is clearly meant to be a reproductive sex ed class.
And Ick forms a blob with myself
Immediately after the lesson, Ickis decides to try some of what he’s learned, much to the dismay of a passing monster, who seems horrified at the apparent monster’s version of indecent exposure.
What other ’90s Nicktoons jokes crossed your mind as a kid? Mute the comments!