The Ren & Stimpy Show TV Poster Image

The Ren & Stimpy Show



Nasty cat-and-dog duo isn't for little kids.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's some South Park-esque lampooning of commercialism and narrow-mindedness, but for the most part, the characters just come across as mean. Lots of humor involving bodily functions (which are presented pretty graphically, for a cartoon).


Heavy cartoon violence, with more malice than you'll find in most 'toons. When Ren slaps Stimpy (as he does often), the sense of fun found even when Tom is trying to eat Jerry is absent.


There's often heavy sexual content for a cartoon that, in theory anyway, is meant for kids. There's also a suggestion of a homosexual relationship between the title characters (particularly in the episodes on DVD).

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some episodes include humor based on the affects of drugs and alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there have been several incarnations of this show, including some "lost episodes" that were aired in 2003 under the title Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon. Although the original series (which still airs in syndication and is available on DVD) is tamer than that version and was definitely marketed toward grade-schoolers and tweens, between the frequent implications that the main characters are gay and their constant abuse of each other, it's really a much better fit for older tweens and teens. What's more, the show -- which first aired in 1991 -- was ground-breaking in its willingness to disregard social conventions by depicting bodily functions and adding a significant amount of gore to its cartoon violence. The episodes that air on Nicktoons usually offer a somewhat watered-down version, but they still aren't meant for kids.

What's the story?

In its early-'90s heyday, THE REN & STIMPY SHOW was ground-breaking TV, offering cartoon gore, bodily functions and fluids, crushed heads, oozing brains, and an ongoing fascination with the controversial aspects of sexuality, particularly homosexuality (which isn't portrayed very attractively here). It pre-dated South Park and has a lot in common with Bart Simpson's beloved Itchy and Scratchy Show. It was never pretty, but it was fascinating and often funny. Those early, decidedly mature episodes can be found on DVD, but Nicktoons now airs repeats of a somewhat-defanged version of the show, which included the less-offensive original episodes and those made later, without creator John Krisfaluci. (The show's evolution can be seen in its animation, which goes from intentionally rough to much more polished and plushie-toy ready.)

Is it any good?


No matter what format it's in, Ren & Stimpy is still too edgy and adult for younger children. Teens may enjoy the scatological humor and the occasional attempt at social satire, but Ren & Stimpy's once-shocking take on classic cartooning is old hat now. It's been done, and it's been done better.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the trends that this series started (or at least heralded), contributing to the current media landscape in which there are far fewer limits than there used to be. Was the show's influence good (South Park) or bad (arguably, South Park), and what affect has it had on the rest of society? Is society different because we've grown used to watching animated creatures defecate on TV?

TV details

Cast:Billy West, John Kricfalusi
Genre:Kids' Animation
TV rating:TV-Y7
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of The Ren & Stimpy Show was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Outrageous, shocking humor carries a message.
  • Cat and mouse face off in classic (but violent) cartoon.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written byMr. Beiber July 7, 2011

The Ren & Stimpy Show

Oh common sense what is wrong with you! Iffy for ages 13+. It's not really inappropriate. Anybody who thinks this show is not appropriate is crazy! Yes Ren does smack Stimpy in the face. This is TV-Y7, Characters do not take drugs, they're just acting a little weird sometimes. It's so not inappropriate! This show is a nicktoon, nick does not put on inappropriate shows. A show like "South Park" or "Family guy" would be inappropriate for kids but this show is appropriate for kids. All you do is lie Common Sense! LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE!!! LLLLLLIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is an awesome show!! Not inappropriate!
Kid, 8 years old November 15, 2011

15 or older is age appropriate

They once said the h word. So much violence. Sexual behavior. Instead of TV-Y7 it should be rated TV-14
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Written byAnonymous February 11, 2015

Ren and Stimpy is one of the cartoon comedies all kids should watch before the 8th grade.

I think 13+ sounds too harsh and unfair. This ain't any different than SpongeBob.
What other families should know
Great messages


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide