Rugrats is one of the few cartoons from the 1990s that are mostly controversy-free, or at least there were no publicly known scandals. But Tommy and company do have some behind-the-scenes secrets, including a lawsuit from Toho against the creators of the series over the babies’ favorite pop culture icon: Reptar. Created by Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó, and Paul Germain, Rugrats made its debut on Nickelodeon in 1991, and was one of the original Nicktoons along with Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show.
Unlike those two, Rugrats was aimed at a younger audience, and followed a group of toddlers and their day-to-day adventures, made extraordinary thanks to their very active imaginations. Over the course of nine seasons, viewers got to know the families of the main characters, their “enemies”, and their favorite things, which obviously varied from baby to baby, but they had one thing in common: they all loved Reptar, a green T-Rex whose preferred activity was to destroy everything.
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Reptar was not only popular within the series but outside as well, making its way to all types of Rugrats merchandise, and even became a collection of suspended family coasters at Kings Island, called “Rugrats Runaway Reptar”, though they were later renamed and rethemed. But not everyone liked Reptar, and Klasky and Csupó were sued by Toho, a Japanese company.
Why Rugrats Was Sued By Toho
Toho is a Japanese film, theater production, and distribution company founded in 1932, and is best known for its most famous creation: Godzilla. The monster has become a worldwide pop culture icon and is best known for its destructive nature, which served as inspiration for the creators of Rugrats. It’s no secret that Reptar is a parody of Godzilla, as it’s very evident, from its similar appearance to its tendency to destroy pretty much everything at its reach. Reptar was even seen in one episode starring in a film where he fought a robot doppelgänger of himself (as a parody of Mechagodzilla) and a giant pterodactyl (a parody of Rodan). Given the popularity of Rugrats, Reptar caught the attention of the people at Toho.
In 2002, Klasky and Csupó were sued by Toho because of Reptar’s resemblance to Godzilla. By then, Reptar had already appeared in various episodes as well as in the first two Rugrats films, The Rugrats Movie (where Tommy and his friends use their Reptar Wagon to return Dil to the hospital) and Rugrats in Paris (where the characters travel to Reptarland in Paris). After that, Reptar’s appearances in the series decreased – but Nickelodeon had already enjoyed the perks of Reptar merchandise. Reptar ended up being a friendly version of Godzilla, and even though it was a fun addition to Rugrats, it’s understandable that Toho decided to do something about it.
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