The Rugrats Timeline -- 1996 to 1998


Herb Scannell becomes president of Nick; he replaced long-time Nick president Geraldine Laybourne, who left Nick for Disney to run children's programming at ABC and The Disney Channel. Laybourne later teamed up with Oprah Winfrey to form Oxygen, a new women's channel, which started in early 2000.

Nick expands into Germany.

Rugrats win their first Kids' Choice Award in the animation category.

February 5: Britain's first Rugrats video, A Baby's Gotta Do What A Baby's Gotta Do, is released.

April 29: Nick's first spinoff channel, TV Land, goes on the air.

May 22: First issue of Rugrats' first comic book series was published in Great Britain. This is followed a few months later by their first Annual, for 1997 (common in Britain, an "annual" is a collection of stories and activities, based on the TV series).

June: Production begins on new episodes of Rugrats.

July 12: Nick releases their first movie, Harriet The Spy.

Summer: Nick In The Afternoon begins its first Summer season. Hosted by Stick Stickley, a popsicle stick, this features various animated and live-action programming, with the Nicktoons often seen in 15-minute versions only. Nick In The Afternoon lasted only 3 summers, through summer 1998.

(Left: Picture of Stick Stickley, ©1996 Viacom.)

September: New episodes of Doug, now under Disney, go on the air on ABC.

September 6: Nick In The Afternoon presented a rare repeat of You Can't Do That On Television, featuring Alanis Morrissette. That special showing was part of the block's "U-Pick" segment (not related to the 1999-2000 "U-Picks"), where a viewer requested that episode.

September 8: Blue's Clues, Nick Jr.'s popular educational program that stresses learning by watching the same episode over and over during the week, goes on the air.

October 5: The UNOFFICIAL Rugrats Online (this very website) debuts on the web.
October 7: Nick expands to 8:30PM ET; 2 new Nicktoons, Hey Arnold (#6) & Kablam! (#7), go on the air.

(Left: Picture of (Hey) Arnold; from Nick.Com; ©1999 Viacom.)

(Right: A crowded family picture of the Nicktoon family as of 1996, based on an image from Nick UK; ©1997 Viacom.)

October 26: Rugrats appears on the cover of the US TV Guide.

December: The Nick.Com URL became active. However, for the first few weeks, this is what the public saw. (Courtesy of The Internet Archive. See the How To Reach Nick page for more of Nick.Com's pre-history)

December 4: The first all-new episode of Rugrats, Chanukah, airs.

December 20: Nick expands into Latin America.


Nick UK's website opens.

Klasky-Csupo opens their website.
Viacom gets into retailling with the opening of the Viacom & Nickelodeon Stores; The Viacom Store opened in Chicago, while 3 Nickelodeon stores opened near Chicago, Minneapolis and New York City.

Production on The Rugrats Movie begins early in 1997; promotion began around Thanksgiving of that year.

Stressed Eric, K-C's first program for the British market, goes on the air on the BBC.

Gabor Csupo becomes restauranteur when he opens Lumpy Gravy in West Hollywood. The sideline only lasted about 2 years, as it closed down in June 1999.

Rugrats win their second Kids' Choice Award in the animation category.

Mother's Day was nominated for their first nighttime Emmy in the Animation category, but lost out to The Simpsons.

Rugrats won its last CableACE award for Mother's Day in the "best animated program" category; the awards were disbanded in 1998.

February 1: Nick expands into Scandinavia.

February 9: With The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show episode, The Simpsons became the longest-running animated program, breaking the 166-episode record previously set by The Flintstones (ABC, 1960-66; not counting the Saturday morning spinoffs).

February 26: David Doyle, the original voice of Grandpa, dies of a heart attack. He was succeeded by Joe Alaskey.

February 26: Andy Houts, a writer and occasional voice actor during the first 5 seasons of Rugrats, also died on this date.

April 7-13: Nick was among 32 national and regional cable networks taking part in the first annual Tune In The Kids and Family Week. Most channels (including Nick) kicked off the week on April 7 with a multi-channel simulcast of The American Family and Television: A National Town Hall Meeting.

April 19: Rugrats win their second Kids' Choice Award in the animation category.

April 19: Angry Beavers, Nicktoon #8, goes on the air following the Kids' Choice Award; it premiered in its regular Sunday morning timeslot the following day. In 1999, Nick cancels production on Angry Beavers; their 5th season, originally scheduled to end in late 2000, was never seen in the US (though it was seen in other parts of the world).

May 6: Mother's Day was first aired, featuring the whereabouts of Chuckie's mom.

June: Nick US's online content moves to the web.

July 8: Vacation, the first direct-to-video Rugrats episode, is released.

July 25: Good Burger, Nick's 2nd film (and first film based on a Nick program, All That), is released.

August 16: Spike's Babies & Chicken Pops (see below) had its world TV premiere on YTV in Canada; YTV won't show the 1997 episodes on a regular basis until 12/26/1997, but would later be the first in the world show new 1998 & most 1999 Rugrats episodes, up to several months before they are seen on Nick in the US.


August 23: New regular episodes of Rugrats go on the air. Spike's Babies & Chicken Pops was the first. These new episodes were part of the Saturday night Snick line-up.

(Left: Ad for Nick's 8PM (ET) line-up fro fall 1997, featuring Rugrats on Saturdays. From the August 1997 Nickelodeon Magazine; ©1997 Viacom.)

September 6: A 5 1/2-hour Rugrats marathon, scheduled for this day, was postponed until September 13, due to the funeral of Princess Diana, who was killed in an auto accident on August 30.

September 13: Recess, created by Rugrats alumni Paul Germain & Joe Ansolabehere, premiered on ABC as part of that network's new Saturday morning block, One Saturday Morning. It was to have been previewed in prime-time August 31 and premiered September 6, but due to Diana's accident, those showings were cancelled by ABC.

September 17: In an interview for "The Rocko's Modern Life FAQ", creator Joe Murray has hinted on a future animated hit for Nick:

"A good thing is I feel all 52 episodes are top notch, and I am proud of all of them. There is always a risk of turning out mediocre product after a while when you are dealing with volume. But our team was intact until the end, and kept up the quality! Another good thing is Steve Hillenburg is working on a pilot for a possible new series with Nick, and if it goes it will be a blessing to us all! He's the best!!"

Two years later, that series, SpongeBob SquarePants debuted, and became a big hit for Nick.

September 27: Dust Bunnies, the first Rugrats episode to include a segment in 3-D, airs on Nick as part of their week-long "Nogglevision" event. Other Nick series that featured special 3-D segments for the event were Hey Arnold ("Helga's Love Potion"), Alex Mack, Shelby Woo, and Kablam!.

(Left: Display poster from Kraft, which gave away free "Noggle Goggles" in specially-marked Kraft products. Right: Nogglevision logo, from Nick Australia, which held a similar promotion in August 1999. Both ©1997 Viacom.)

November: First issue of Rugrats Comic Adventures published.

(Left: Cover of the first issue of Rugrats Comic Adventures; ©1997 Viacom.)

November 25: The Rugrats' balloon debuts at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; many balloons that followed did not survive the high winds and/or the new rules that were imposed in next year's parade.


Nick Latino goes online.

Klasky-Csupo opens up their own Rugrats site, which later became part of their Cooltoons site.

Oh Yeah!, the 9th Nicktoon, goes on the air.

Nick cancels Ren & Stimpy -- by this time, it was seen only on Saturday afternoons.

February 6: Rugrats -- A Live Adventure, their first live show, began touring, starting in Wallingford, CT (near Hartford).
March: Nicktoon Studios opens in beautiful downtown Burbank, CA; it's the first major animation studio to open in the Los Angeles area since 1963.

(Left: Drawing of the exterior of the Nicktoon studios, with some of the Nicktoon characters (Rugrats, however, is produced at Klasky-Csupo's own studios), from the program for the 2000 World Animation Celebration; ©2000 Viacom.)

April 3: The Rugrats' 7th season begins, not in the US, but in Canada on YTV; it would be August before Americans saw these new episodes. These episodes include Lady Luck, David Doyle's last episode, and Fugitive Tommy, Joe Alaskey's first.

April 4: Rugrats win their third Kids' Choice Award in the animation category.

April 4: CatDog was previewed following the Kids' Choice Awards; however, it did not appear regularly until October. CatDog is the first Nicktoon to have 5 first-run episodes a week, once a day, weekdays.

April 5 & 6: Rugrats From Nickelodeon comic strip debuts in around 70 papers nationwide.

April 26: Rugrats appear for a brief Sunday-night run at 11:30PM ET on Nick-At-Nite through May 31. In July, Rugrats returned as part of Nick-At-Nite's Block Party Summer, with a 3-hour Rugrats marathon every Friday, 8:30PM ET to 11:30PM ET.

May 16: Nicktoons TV, a 5-hour mixed bag of various Nicktoons in 15-minute portions, debuted as a one-time special; another special, this one 12-hours long; was seen on August 15 before becoming a regular 4-hour Saturday morning series on August 22. It was discontinued in the fall of 1999, in favor of entire, regualrly-scheduled Nicktoons. During 2000, it was a half-hour, daily mixed bag of Nicktoons, thought it was mainly a rest home for Nicktoons that no longer have a series on Nick US, such as Ren & Stimpy, Rocko & Real Monsters. In 2001, Nicktoons TV lurked around Nick's TV schedule in place of Rugrats, but the only Nicktoon featured on Nicktoons TV... was Rugrats.

(Left: Nicktoons TV logo, from Nick UK; ©1998 Viacom.)

June: Production began on the second Rugrats movie.

June 1: Citing competition and advertising problems, Nick shuts down its German service. Rugrats would later resurface on Pro Sieben (and SAT1 in January 2000), while most other Nicktoons find a home on RTL in Germany, and SF2 in Switzerland.

June 6-14: The cable industry held its second annual Tune In The Kids And Family week; on June 8, 29 channels (including Nick), presented a multi-channel simulcast of Take A Moment, a variety special hosted by Melissa Joan Hart that stresses the reasons for the family to watch TV together.

June 16: The Rugrats Father's Day Special, the first ersatz (fake) Rugrats episode, goes on the air on Nick. It was seen only for 2 years.

July: Dil makes his first official debut in the press and online.

July 17: The Rugrats Movie website goes online.

August 10: Nickelodeon becomes officially available in Brazil, though a Portuguese soundtrack was included on the Latin American version since it was launched in 1996 (see 12/20/1996).

August 12: An Americanised version of Stressed Eric, with Hank Azaria now assuming the lead, goes on the air on NBC. Originally scheduled to last all 6 episodes, it was cancelled after 3.

August 15: The Family Channel (US) became the Fox Family Channel, designed to compete against Nick. Many cable channels counterprogrammed with specials; Nick shown an all-day Nicktoons TV marathon (before becoming a 4-hour series on August 22), followed by an all-evening Brady Bunch marathon. Ironically, one of Fox Family's programs were Three Friends & Jerry, which was produced by Nick UK; it's the only Nicktoon seen in the US on a channel other than Nick (Doug doesn't count, as ABC & Nick continue to show their own versions). Fox Family lasted over 3 years -- in 2001, Disney purchased the channel and reflagged it ABC Family.

August 22: Toons From The Planet Orange, featuring animated shorts from 8 countries served by Nick, was seen on all versions of Nick worldwide (except Nick Germany, which ceased to exist by this time).

August 31: Nick expanded to 9PM ET with a new Nickel-O-Zone block, which involves the entire 8PM ET hour. The block and the expanded hours lasted until 9/15/2000.

Fall: The Aquarius Theater in Hollywood, CA, was remodelled and renamed as "Nickelodeon on Sunset". This venue is the home of live-action Nick series taped in Hollywood, such as "All That","The Amanda Show" and "Taina", as well as some concert specials produced for Nick. It is located near the southeast corner of Sunset and Vine, about 2 blocks east of Klasky-Csupo's studios.

(Left: Computer rendering of "Nickelodeon on Sunset", from the Laskowski Design website; © Viacom.)

September: Les Razmoket, the French version of Rugrats, returned to France on France 3.

September 1: The Wild Thornberrys go on the air.

(Left & Right: Pictures of the Thornberry family. From V.11 #2 of Burger King Adventures; ©2000 Viacom.)

September 20: The ill-fated synogogue Rugrats strip published in many papers; event led to removal of Boris from strip.

October: The first episode of  The Wacky Adventures Of Ronald McDonald, a direct-to-video series featuring Klasky-Csupo's version of Ronald and other McDonaldland characters, go on sale at US McDonald's.

October 3: The Rugrats Movie soundtrack was released in the US & Canada, featuring songs from the Rugrats and various popular artists.

November: Blue's Clues host Steve Burns appears on The Rosie O'Donnell Show to debunk rumors that he died of a heroin overdose.

November 1: Klasky-Csupo's first book, The Making of "The Rugrats Movie", goes on sale (though it went on sale in October on their website).

November 5: Nickelodeon goes on the air in the Philippines.

November 8: The Rugrats Movie had its world premiere at the Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
November 9: Spanish-language versions of Rugrats, Real Monsters, Hey Arnold, Rocko & Blues Clues debut on Telemundo. Nickelodeon programs were seen on Telemundo on weekdays until 9/25/2000, when they were relegated to weekdays only, to make room for a morning news program. Telemundo cancelled all Nick programming in November 2001.

(Left: The Nickelodeon on Telemundo logo, from Telemundo's website; ©1998 Viacom & Telemundo.)

November 15: Nickelodeon goes on the air in Japan, Malta, Russia (including the former Soviet republics) and Gabor Csupo's homeland, Hungary.

November 17-20: As a measure to prepare Rugrats fans for the movie, Nick puts all Rugrats episodes on hiatus for 4 days, replacing it with Hey Arnold. Even though this hiatus period was very brief, it was the first time since early 1994 that Rugrats was not part of Nick's daily schedule.

November 20: The Rugrats Movie opens in the US & Canada; costed $25 million to make, it made $28 million on its first weekend and was the nation's #1 film, until A Bug's Life came around the following weekend. By year's end, Rugrats has made $82 million. The film features the birth of a new Rugrat, Dil.

December 13: A 2-hour marathon of The Renford Rejects, a Nick UK production about a British youth soccer team, made its Nick US debut as part of the International Day Of Children's Broadcasting. The Renford Rejects can now be seen on the new Nick GAS channel (see March 1999).

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