The Ren & Stimpy Show TV Poster Image

The Ren & Stimpy Show

(i)

 

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).

Violence

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.

Sex

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).

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
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?

QUALITY

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

Premiere date:August 11, 1991
Cast:Billy West, John Kricfalusi
Network:Nicktoons
Genre:Kids' Animation
Topics:Friendship
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.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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

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
Parent of a 8, 8, 9, 12, and 15 year old Written byChrist-Lover April 8, 2012

This show is fine for kids, give me a break.

I decided to watch the show again and I take back my review honestly I dislike the show, but it is not inappropriate. They don't act gay, they're just a couple of goofy pals. Yeah it's a little violent. It's the 90's and who cares anyway? It's not like it horribly gory or anything. It the adult party cartoon in which they were gay. I may be a bit of an overprotective parent (and I admit it too) but it is totally unnecessary to call me retarded (and I reported that reviewer). We all have our own tastes. You don't see me insulting anybody elses review.
Kid, 12 years old August 2, 2012

WHAT?!

I am a total the-90s-were-the-best supporter for cartoons and have been watching this cartoon since I was 7 and this show (don't get me wrong) has it's moments but the worst word heard is "crap" and the whole main-characters-being-gay thing is FAKE! for the violence issue, IT'S A CARTOON!! IT'S FAKE!! and it's never graphic (except in one episode). sexual content - rarely, if present, no worse than Animanaics. Although in the episode "The Big Baby Scam" a man takes off his clothes (only shown legs down) and stimpy looks up and then looks weirded out. Later in the episode, a man is shown naked outside with a mailbox covering his groin. The episode also has a deleted scene with a "family bath". One episode also has an all-male skinny dipping scene (no private parts shown) . Ren and Stimpy, compared to most cartoons today, it's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Well, it has ONE banned episode "Man's Best Friend" but the only way to see it is on Youtube. And who dosen't love Happy Happy Joy Joy. Although, save the Adult Party Cartoon for 17+. This show was also an influence of other great cartoons (not just South Park).
What other families should know
Too much violence

Poll

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

Family Media Agreement