If Beloved Nickelodeon Shows Were Given Gritty Reboots

The only surprising thing about Nickelodeon possibly reviving Hey Arnold!, among other beloved Nicktoons from the 1990s, is that it hasn’t happened already. It’s a well known property, at least to a certain generation, and it’s not like they’d be the only ones doing it. Were it to come back, though, the premise would probably be something heartwarming and gooey, not hard-to-watch and gritty, unlike Pan and about a million other reboots. That’s a shame, because we have some dark ideas for how to update select animated Nick shows for modern audiences.

Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

The monsters are sick and tired of residing in an underground dump. Why should they live a miserable, sticky existence, just because they’re different than the humans above them? Led by the tyrannical Gromble, the monsters, including scaredy Ickis, dutiful Oblina, and obese Krumm, strike back, first by attacking New Yorkers while they’re sitting on the toilet before taking their deadly strike worldwide. Can mankind defend itself before we’re trash-compacted for good?


What started as a youthful crush turns into full-blown stalking when Doug Funnie refuses to let the relish on his hotdog, Patti Mayonnaise, be with anyone besides him. There are late-night phone calls, notes scribbled in Honker Burger ketchup left on her door, and he even hires the Beets to sing an all-banjo version of “Killer Tofu” to her… at her wedding to Moo Sleech. Patti files a police report, but the Bluffington cops are in the pocket of Beebe, who’s scared of the dirt Doug wrote in his journal about her. Only one person can help her now, Mr. Dink, and he’s very expensive.

Rocko’s Modern Life

Rocko’s Modern Life is famous for its dirty jokes that went over the head of its intended audience, children, who didn’t realize why mom tittered at the name “Dr. Bendova” until years later. One of the better examples of this happens at the end of “Closet Clown,” when Rocko admits his most shameful secret: “I’ve always liked rainbows.” It’s Rocko’s coming-out moment, but his friends (who have somehow come to terms with two of Dr. Hutchison’s babies looking like Heffer) react not with acceptance, but by angrily chasing him with rakes. It’s tearing Rocko apart on the inside that he can’t say those three simple words he’s been wanting to for years: “I. Am. Gay.”


Chuckie Finster has been a nervous ticking time bomb since he was a baby, but as long as he has his best friend Tommy Pickles by his side, he can function in society. That all changes during their freshman year in college, when Chuckie has one too many white-wine spritzers and gets into a car accident, killing his passenger, Tommy. He snaps. Therapists diagnose him with generalized anxiety disorder, and Chuckie’s thrown into a mental hospital after stripping to a diaper in public and screaming “a baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do.” His nurse at the nut house: Angelica Pickles, and she’s just watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The Wild Thornberrys

The Thornberrys have made millions exploiting “exotic” cultures. It’s colonialism, is what it is. They drive their oil-leaking, harmful-to-the-environment RV everywhere, not caring which endangered flower or bug they’re crushing, and the family’s pet monkey, Darwin, has spread yellow fever from Tunisia to Cape Town. One night, while the Thornberrys are sleeping, a coup d’état is staged, and Eliza, Sir Nigel, Marianne, Darwin, and Debbie are kidnapped and held hostage. No one wants them back, because no one’s sure if they’re British or American, and they’re quickly forgotten. By everyone except Donnie, that is, who dedicates his feral life to finding his adopted family. It’s The Count of Monte Cristo meets George of the Jungle.