When looking back at some of the biggest Nicktoons, most people may immediately think of beloved titles like Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, Doug, The Fairly Odd Parents, or Spongebob Squarepants. Not only are there a ton of other classic and memorable cartoons in Nickelodeon’s lineup, but a great one that often goes overlooked is Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. Where it was one of the earliest Nicktoons and had a four-season lifespan, it’s truly sad that it doesn’t live up to the likes of CatDog or Rocket Power in most people’s minds.
Created by Klasky Csupo, the same team behind Rugrats (and Duckman on the USA Network), Aaahh!!! Real Monsters followed the adventures of three monster friends, Ickis, Krumm, and Oblina, who attend scare school under a city dump. It was a delightfully creepy comedy series that featured young monsters learning to be scary. It was almost impossible not to have fun with this unique animated series.
The central characters were each relatable and quite entertaining. Ickis is a troublemaker who often gets mistaken for a rabbit and lives in the shadow of his father who is a famous scarer. Oblina is a bit of a know-it-all and is their class’s top scarer. Krumm is a bit gross, but unapologetically himself. His eyes are also not attached, and he needs to carry them around, which often leads to fun shenanigans like when they roll away and need to be retrieved. There were a slew of other outlandish characters to be equally entertained by as well.
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters is chock full of gross out humor, but never feels dumbed down. Yes, there’s jokes about awful smells, eating garbage, and toilets, but they embrace it and have fun with it. It’s all wonderfully disgusting. However, much of the humor is actually really clever thanks to the witty dialogue.
One of the show’s key elements that allowed it to stand out was that the humor and tone were darker than any of Nickelodeon’s previous series. It wasn’t necessarily adult like The Ren & Stimpy Show or Rocko’s Modern Life, but it was dark. Characters went out of their way to scare children while lurking in the night. Characters were disformed or had severed body parts. Plus, again, it was entertainingly gross. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was much darker than anything that came before it on Nickelodeon, like Doug or Rugrats, but it paved the way for other dark Nicktoons like Invader Zim.
The series used weird ideas, like using toenail clippings as currency. The Gromble, the monster who served as the scare school’s headmaster, was so strict that he once devoured a student in one bite. Despite the series’ ridiculousness, it still showcased relatable issues for its young audience like feeling obligated to go above and beyond to please strict parents. It even once crossed over with Rugrats. It’s difficult not to love this bizarre and unique series.
In some ways, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was Monsters, Inc. before Monsters, Inc. If it’s a Nicktoon that you’ve somehow forgotten about, then definitely give it a rewatch. It’s worth it for the memorable characters, hilarious hijinks, clever dialogue, gross out humor, and dark-yet-whimsical tone and animation.