On October 29, 1994, SNICK's Halloween themed evening began with the series premiere of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. Viewers watching Nickelodeon that night were treated to "The Switching Hour," the first of 56 half-hour installments of the bildungsroman featuring monsters-in-training Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm learning to terrify unsuspecting humans one scare at a time, with the help of the sometimes creepy headmaster Gromble and his literally underground monster academy.
1. THE SHOW'S EXISTENCE IS THANKS TO THE SUCCESS OF RUGRATS
Graphic designer Arlene Klasky and animator Gábor Csupó met in 1979, got married, and started their own animation and graphic design company in 1982. After working on commercials and music videos, Klasky Csupo Inc. got the break of a lifetime in 1988 when they were asked to animate The Simpsons' one-minute shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show. Matt Groening was responsible for "tone and style," but it was Klasky Csupo that was responsible for making the characters yellow, not to mention for the color of Marge's distinctive blue hair.
After three seasons and "two years of battles and putting out fires," the producers of the show and Klasky Csupo ended their business association. Before the break-up however, Klasky, Csupo, and Paul Germain created Rugrats for Nickelodeon. Once Rugrats became the number one cable kids' show, Nick asked for another kids' show from the power couple, and Real Monsters was inspired by their monster-loving young children.
2. THE SHOW WAS INFLUENCED BY BLADE RUNNER AND BRAZIL
Csupó believed that Aaahh!!! Real Monsters had a "very film noirish look," and that the city dump in which the monster academy was located was similar to the look of cult classic dystopian films Blade Runner and Brazil. Herb Scannell, Nickelodeon's programming executive, went on record saying that the characters on Real Monsters looked like the characters in The Beatles' 1968 animated movie Yellow Submarine. This is very apparent with The Gromble, whose voice and look echoes The Blue Meanies in The Beatles' acid trip universe.
3. SOME CRITICS BELIEVED IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN INFLUENCED BY SOMETHING ELSE
The Brothers Grunt was an MTV animated comedy series that premiered two months before Real Monsters. Because the show was visually similar and on networks owned by the same company, Csupó was asked if there was a legitimate comparison to be made. Csupó said his show was "a lot more story driven," whereas the MTV show was "more idea driven." The Brothers Grunt wasn't liked by critics and would only last for seven months, leading its creator Danny Antonucci to spit out that his show was "MTV's dirty secret." Antonucci would later rebound to create Ed, Edd n Eddy.
4. GROMBLE'S NAME WAS "GROMBLE" TO AVOID A LAWSUIT
The Brothers Grunt was never a show that Real Monsters worried about legally, but they weren't entirely free of copyright concerns. In the pilot episode that would never be aired on television, The Gromble had a different, rather tame name—The Womble. Unfortunately, there was a stop-motion animation British program in the seventies called The Wombles. To avoid a lawsuit, "Monsters, Get Real!", the second episode of the series, was nearly identical to the pilot with the exception of slightly better graphics and the one name change.
5. KRUMM'S NAME WAS INITIALLY SLUMBO
Krumm was always written as a monster with a slothful, "slow, lethargic voice," which wasn't much of a challenge for voice actor David Eccles. Eccles, who also voiced the incoherent Snorch, revealed in the Nickelodeon teaser embedded above that Krumm, the character who walked around with his eyes in his hands and struck fear in humans with his armpit stink, was originally named Slumbo in an early version of the pilot script. No reason has ever been given for the change.
6. OBLINA WAS PLAYED BY THE VOICE OF CHUCKIE FINSTER, DEXTER FROM 'DEXTER'S LABORATORY,' AND BABE THE PIG
You'll recognize Christine Cavanaugh's voice, whether it's as Chuckie from Rugrats, Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory, Marty Sherman on The Critic, or as Babe the Gallant Pig in Babe. Cavanaugh's voice was distinct enough in 1994 for her to try something different with her portrayal of Oblina, the upside-down candy cane-shaped worm that turned her organs inside out. She ultimately decided to sound like a British version of the actress Agnes Moorehead, who played Endora on Bewitched.
7. TIM CURRY AND JIM BELUSHI ALSO PROVIDED VOICES
Tim Curry has had a long, successful career in theater, TV, and film. What some people don't know is that Curry has voiced many animated characters, like Nigel Thornberry on The Wild Thornberries and currently as Palpatine in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Curry was the voice of Zimbo on Real Monsters, a bee-like creature with green hair and one bird's leg who served as The Snorch's interpreter, The Gromble's assistant, and as an all-around nuisance to the students. Mama Gromble was voiced by SCTV comedy legend Andrea Martin. Bronson Pinchot, a.k.a. Balki Bartokomous, voiced Deitrich Dunlap. Jim Belushi played Simon, the human who was determined to prove that the monsters existed, for eight episodes.
8. PRODUCTION ON A REAL MONSTERS MOVIE WAS PERMANENTLY SHUT DOWN
Fresh off the runaway success of The Rugrats Movie, Nickelodeon, Klasky Csupo, and Paramount Pictures were all interested in making a movie for Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. Allegedly, production of the movie was permanently shut down because the story for it was "too dark for children." Instead of developing a different concept, Nick and Klasky Csupo came up with Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, The Wild Thornberrys Movie, and Rugrats Go Wild—all of which turned a profit. Outside of Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm cameos on a 1999 episode of Rugrats, new material from the Aaahh!!! Real Monsters universe disappeared after its 1997 cancellation.