20 Shameful Nickelodeon Secrets That The Producers Never Wanted You To Know

Children of the 1990s will forever remember that iconic orange splatter of the Nickelodeon logo in the corner of their TV screens. It stood for classic shows such as The Rugrats, Hey, Arnold! and, um… Kenan & Kel. But despite being aimed at kids, “Nick” attracted its share of trouble – which maybe isn’t too surprising considering that these are the guys who brought us The Ren & Stimpy Show. So, here are 20 moments in its history that Nickelodeon might wish we’d forget.

20. Dirty Didi Pictures

Didi, mother of Tommy Pickles in The Rugrats, is a sweet character. So the thought of her being nude probably hasn’t crossed many peoples’ minds. However, it seems to have done for the show’s animators who – according to Didi’s voice actress, Melanie Chartoff – put up naughty pictures of Didi all over the restroom walls at Nick Studios.

19. The $25k Pieing

The old pie-to-the-face prank – known as “Pieing” – is a classic bit of harmless fun, right? Not for Nickelodeon it wasn’t, because when Double Dare game show host Marc Summers pied a woman, she took legal action and received $25,000 from the company, having claimed that she was so humiliated by the experience that it affected her sex life.

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18. Double Dare Slime Named After Street Drugs

Nickelodeon’s backstage crew were known to be a party-hard bunch who, it is said, dabbled with drugs to brighten up their days. Consequently, it is claimed that their knowledge of street drugs inspired the name “GAK” for the iconic slime used on the show, Double Dare. For the innocent ones out there, “gak” is another word for cocaine.

17. Grandpa Boris: Nazi Posterchild

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The Rugrats has been praised for its depiction of Judaism, as the Pickles family certainly gives kids some insight into Jewish ceremonies and traditions. But it is claimed that Tommy’s Grandpa Boris went too far, as the Anti-Defamation League accused the animators of making him look too much like anti-semitic Nazi posters from circa 1940. Never made that connection before? Well, you’re stuck with it now!

16. Missing Out On Adventure Time

Even if you’re not “down with the kids,” you’ve surely heard of the popular Adventure Time – a fantasy cartoon show about magic, sorcery… all that sort of stuff. It’s a huge hit for Cartoon Network, which is painful for Nickelodeon because it turned down the show not once but twice, having dismissed it as “too weird.”

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15. Rocko’s Racy Life

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Rocko’s Modern Life was always on the more adult end of the Nickelodeon line-up. So maybe it’s no surprise that it eventually overdid it on the innuendo in the episode “Leap Frogs,” which saw croaky-voiced toad Bev Bighead – desperate for “a little attention from a man once in a while” – attempt to seduce Rocko. Froggy-style springs to mind…

14. Invader Zim Referenced In Murder Trial

There’s little worse for a kids’ TV show than being mentioned by the defendant during a high-profile murder trial. Invader Zim was a much-loved but short-lived Nickelodeon show, whose image was tarnished when it was revealed that 16-year-old killer Scott Dyleski spoke about a Zim episode titled “Dark Harvest.”

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13. The Disaster of Nick Studio 10

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The dreadful Nick Studio 10 was a programming block that would interrupt shows with pointless clips and gags about things like “Farts in a Jar.” As a result, it was universally despised. In fact, its Twitter account was suspended for insulting people who disliked it. Mercifully, it was subsequently cancelled after just four months.

12. Ren & Stimpy Banned

The only thing surprising about The Ren & Stimpy Show being banned is that it only happened once. But creator John Kricfalusi went a little too far when he had Ren use an oar to beat a man to a bloody pulp with in “Man’s Best Friend.” The episode was taken off the air, and Kricfalusi parted ways with Nickelodeon soon after that.

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11. Dora the Explorer Gets ‘Sexualised’

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Dora the Explorer came to fame as a Mexican-American child with a bowl haircut. So when Nickelodeon made a spin-off in which Dora is a pre-teen with long legs, long hair, and – shock, horror – leggings, some parents were outraged. Nickelodeon had to fend off claims about Dora being too “sexualised” before the tweenie spin-off became a success.

10. Child Actors in Early Nickelodeon Never Got Residuals

Back in the early days of Nickelodeon, there was hardly any safety net to look out for the working rights of the “little guy” – or, in this case, “kids.” Once upon a time, Nickelodeon was non-unionized, so kids would only get paid a one-off fee for appearing on shows, and not get any fees each time it was aired. Life was tough in the Nickelodeon Workhouse…

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9. The Unfair Failure of The Legend of Korra

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With its anime style and themes that ran deeper than most Nickelodeon shows, The Legend of Korra was awesome. Despite critical acclaim, it was mistreated by Nickelodeon, which gave the show poor time slots and insufficient funding. In fact, it didn’t even complete its TV run, being quietly changed to an online-only show – much to fans’ dismay.

8. The Sam & Cat Nude Pics Leak

Nickelodeon’s Sam & Cat was a squeaky-clean show about a couple of teenage girls who start up a babysitting business. Unfortunately, that image was wrecked when nude photos of 22-year-old star Jennette McCurdy leaked onto the internet. Subsequently, the show never returned for a second season.

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7. Fred: The Show

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The cult of the YouTube celebrity was picking up momentum in the late Noughties, so Nickelodeon decided to pounce on it by grabbing the annoying, squeaky-voiced star of early YouTube, Fred Figglehorn, played by Lucas Cruikshank. However, little did the channel know that YouTube and TV sometimes just don’t go that well together. Fred: The Show and Fred: The Movie were panned, and Nick consequently brushed them under the carpet.

6. The Banned Horror Movie

When Cry Baby Lane first aired in 2000, parents were so outraged at its content that Nickelodeon swiftly erased it from the history books. While the film is hardly scary, references to siamese twins as “freaks,” who were split from each other by a farmer, were certainly not “Nick” material.

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5. 16-year-old Star of Zoey 101 Getting Pregnant

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Zoey 101 was a popular show for the three years it lasted, consequently springing Britney Spears’ sister Jamie Lynn to fame in her own right. But given that the show was about an innocent girl living life up at a fancy boarding school, the fact that its star got pregnant at the tender age of 16 stopped it in its tracks.

4. The Dirty Moment In Hey, Arnold!

The most infamous moment in Hey, Arnold! comes when Arnold and Helga are walking past a window, and in the background it looks like a man is doing something unspeakable to a lady’s, ahem, behind. The previous shot showed that it’s actually a man eating turkey, but with the way it looks here, you wonder if this was a dirty in-joke by the artists…

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3. Banned Episode of You Can’t Do That on Television

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You Can’t Do That on Television was a successful teenage take on Saturday Night Live (with a very freaky intro). It went a bit too dark, however, when it aired an episode about an adoptive father who sends his son back to the orphanage. The episode was never again aired in the States, though the hardy Canadians continued to show it.

2. Ren and Stimpy Gay Subtexts

For a 1990s kids’ show to imply its lead characters are gay was indeed an edgy move for the time. The stars of The Ren & Stimpy Show shared a bed, bathed together, and would have all kinds of intimate encounters (when Ren wasn’t thinking about killing Stimpy, that is). Kids didn’t get it, but the gay subtexts were clear for all adults to see.

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1. The Brothers Flub

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Things are bad when all you can muster for a theme song is to chant “Flub Flub Flub” repeatedly. The Brothers Flub was about a pair of aliens who travelled the universe and… ahhh, it doesn’t matter. It was so bad it lasted only a single season, and only got a VHS release in 1999, even though DVD was the in thing by then.

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