Ren and Stimpy, created by John Kricfalusi, are the titular characters in the American animated television series The Ren & Stimpy Show. Kricfalusi created the characters during his stay in Sheridan College and they first appeared on film in the pilot episode "Big House Blues". Ren is a scrawny, violently psychotic chihuahua, and Stimpy is a fat, stupid cat. They are often at odds with each other on the show, though they do share moments of closeness together.
Ren is a scrawny "asthma-Hound" Chihuahua. Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman of Animation World Magazine described Ren as scrawny, dyspeptic, and violently psychotic, who loses his mind occasionally in a cumulative process resulting in him becoming, in Goodman's words, a "screaming klaxon, neon-pink eyes dilating into twin novae inches above his jagged, monolithic teeth." Andy Meisler of The New York Times described Ren as "adventurous," "intelligent," and "emotionally brittle."
Ren has a fairly long, rat-like, pink tail. However in the first two seasons, Ren's tail constantly disappeared and was even docked by George Liquor in the season 2 episode "Dog Show", while getting Ren and Stimpy both ready for an upcoming dog show (even though Stimpy is a cat) although it continued to appear afterwards in the episode, as well as episodes afterwards. After season 2, Ren's tail had a rare form of continuity throughout the show, not even appearing at all in most episodes.
Kricfalusi originally voiced Ren in a manner that he describes as "a bad imitation of Peter Lorre." Billy West said that he auditioned to play Ren; the creators of the series believed that having Westâ"who was also voicing the titular character in fellow charter Nicktoon Doug at the timeâ"voice both Ren and Stimpy would give him too large of a workload. West voiced Ren after Nickelodeon fired Kricfalusi; Kricfalusi would return for the Spike TV episodes and unaired episodes of The Ren & Stimpy Show. Chris Edgerly would voice the character in the game Nicktoons MLB though. In the pilot episode, Pierre Decelles provided Ren's signature diabolical laughter, while West performed Ren's laugh in the series. Although he does threaten Stimpy with bodily violence when annoyed with his stupidity, Ren does care for Stimpy. His catch phrase is "You eediot", and he also uses variations of "What is your problem, you sick little monkey?", which parallels a quote by Lorre in The Maltese Falcon: "You... you imbecile. You bloated idiot. You stupid fat-head, you."
Kricfalusi complained about Nickelodeon executives requesting that Ren have "a softer side". Bill Wray said that Ren was his favorite character to write for; Wray described Ren as "fun" because "you can make him mean." In 1993 he added that "It drives me crazy when I tell people I work on the show and they always say, 'Make Ren meaner.'"
Stimpson "Stimpy" J. Cat is a red and white, rotund cat with a blue nose, purple eyelids, no tail, hands with gloves that have fingernails, human-style buttocks, flat feet, and a brain the size of a peanut. He is portrayed as intelligent enough in some episodes to be a chef or a scientist, and sometimes as nonsensically stupid. Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman of Animation World Magazine described Stimpy as "obese," and "brain-damaged." Andy Meisler of The New York Times described Stimpy as "bosom," "barrel-chested," and "good-natured."
Stimpy's trademark facial expression is a blissfully ignorant smile with his tongue hanging out. When he gets excited, he says his catchphrase, "Oh, Joy!", or simply "Jooooooy". Stimpy is named after an art school classmate of Kricfalusi, whose nickname was "Stimpy Cadogen" ("Killer Cadoogen" was Stimpy's pseudonym in several episodes, and in a few others he is referred to as Stimpleton Cadogen). West said that he based Stimpy's voice on an "amped up" Larry Fine of the Three Stooges. West described Stimpy as one of his favorite characters. Eric Bauza voiced Stimpy in Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" and Nicktoons MLB.
Stimpy likes to create destructive electronic devices. Andy Meisler of The New York Times says he feels a fixation for "sensory pleasures of fresh kitty litter".
Wray described Stimpy as his favorite character to draw. Wray said that Stimpy does not have "a huge range of emotion."
West said in an interview that he did not wish to voice Stimpy in the Adult Party Cartoon because he believed that the series was not funny and that voicing Stimpy in it would damage his career.
In a 1993 interview by a comics magazine, Bill Wray stated that he believes that Kricfalusi created Ren and Stimpy around 1978 for Kricfalusi and his friends' personal amusement at university; Kricfalusi attended Sheridan College in Canada. Wray said that he had initially "forgotten about" the characters. When Nickelodeon requested new series, Kricfalusi assembled a presentation called "Your Gang", similar to a children's show with a live action host presenting various cartoons. Each cartoon parodied a genre, and Ren & Stimpy parodied the "cat and dog" genre. Vanessa Coffey, the producer of the show, said that she did not like the general idea, but that she liked the characters.
Kricfalusi originally created Ren and Stimpy as the pets of George Liquor and Jimmy The Idiot Boy.
Kricfalusi received inspiration for Ren from a black and white photograph of a chihuahua in a sweater next to a woman's feet.
The characters and homosexuality
From its start, there were hints at the characters' sexuality. During the SpÃ¼mcÃ¸ years of the show on Nickelodeon, a running gag would have Ren and Stimpy engaging in something intimate (such as Stimpy bathing Ren during the episode "Nurse Stimpy"), with Stimpy assuring Ren that "no one will know" about the private and rather embarrassing encounter, only to pan towards a window in the room and showing several characters (including Mr. Horse) witnessing the event. This was dropped after SpÃ¼mcÃ¸ was fired from the show.
Kricfalusi himself discussed the sexuality of the characters in a January 28, 1997 interview with the San Francisco Examiner.
Jeffery P. Dennis said in the journal article "The Same Thing We Do Every Night: Signifying Same-Sex Desire in Television Cartoons" that Ren and Stimpy are within a world where "gay identities cannot exist," so the series portrays same-sex romantic desire as "anomalous and perverse." Dennis added that the critics of the series "made much" of the gay connotations of Ren and Stimpy, such as their sharing of a house and bed, their reminiscing of a wedding, and Stimpy's "giving birth" to flatulence. Dennis said that Ren is "socially and sexually" the aggressor in the relationship; in addition he says that some episodes portray Stimpy as "a stereotypical 1950s wife" who cleans, cooks food, and irons Ren's underwear. Dennis stated that the aspects "may adhere to a reading of a sexual relationship." Dennis concludes that the relationship between Ren and Stimpy is a parody of heterosexual relationships rather than an actual gay or an actual romantic relationship. Dennis adds that in other situations Ren and Stimpy are "read more appropriately" as coworkers, enemies, friends, and house pets. Dennis argues that Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo are more consistently gay than Ren and Stimpy. Dennis also stated that the scenes of Ren and Stimpy as a couple emulate a heterosexual couple instead of being a union between two men.
In a response to Dennis' statements, Martin Goodman of Animation World Network said that Kricfalusi had outed Ren and Stimpy as gay and adds that while the Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon" had not yet been released and therefore Ren and Stimpy had not been explicitly portrayed as gay, Ren and Stimpy would qualify as a consistently gay couple since they share a bed, live as partners, discuss a planned wedding, and had a "child," with the child being flatulence.
- List of characters in The Ren and Stimpy Show
- The Ren and Stimpy Show
- Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon"