Rocko's Modern Life

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The main cast of Rocko's Modern Life watching their inferior descendants.

Rocko's Modern Life was a 1990s Nickelodeon cartoon known for its twisted, literally postmodern sense of humor. The series centers on the surreal life of an anthropomorphic Australian-immigrant wallaby named Rocko as well as his friends: the gluttonous steer Heffer, the neurotic turtle Filburt, and Rocko's faithful dog Spunky. Together they live in the enigmatic "Anytown, USA" of O-Town (no relation to the boy band of the same name).

Characters[edit | edit source]

Main[edit | edit source]

  • Rocko Wallaby Rama (Peter Gabriel) – A young adult Australian wallaby who lives a very dangerous "modern" life wherein the entire universe seems to crap on him. He was born to parents who wished to remain anonymous, and was frequently jumpkicked by them over various, petty things. After Dingo murdered his parents and sisters, the frightened wallaby left for the United States to lead a fresh new life, but got more than he bargained for. Being the show's "everyman", Rocko has held several odd jobs, including: a comic book guy, an eternally-abused cashier at Chokey Chicken who has beverages thrown in his face, a telephone mating counselor, a highway decongestant, a plumber's assistant, a high-ranking member of the Environmental Musical Party Zanzibar!, a co-creator of the critically-acclaimed surreal animated series Wacky Deli, and the high fashion pet of Fab Photo. His main attributes are sensitivity and never getting a girlfriend; he's in love with his neighbor Melba Toast, but it seems her existence is just a façade. Fun fact: the role of Rocko was originally offered to Steve Irwin, but he turned it down, saying "You ain't paying me to perpetuate cultural stereotypes, mate."
  • Heffer Wolfe (Rob Reiner) – A morbidly obese cow who was literally raised by wolves (hence his counterintuitive last name), after his deadbeat dad decided to go to Canoga Park, LA to hang out with his homies in decaying apartment complexes. Under the wolves, Heffer had a good life and learned dangerous sports like ox-wrestling, but after an odd incident where the wolves tried to eat him, he moved to O-Town out of shame. He is a complete slobbish maniac who insists on eating only the unhealthiest foods, despite inching closer to developing diabetes and having heart attacks. A nudist and existentialist at heart, Heffer has held many illustrious professions, such as serving as a member of the O-Town Cops, serving gourmet cuisine as a waiter at the world-renowned, upscale restaurant Chokey Chicken, masterfully co-creating the critically-acclaimed Wacky Deli with Rocko and Filburt, engaging in various outdoor activities with other Weasel Scouts during his scouting days, and being a high fashion model alongside Rocko. One fateful day, Heffer suffered a heart attack from eating one too many bags of Pasture Puffies, thus necessitating a trip to the emergency room. While there, Rocko and Filburt miraculously nursed him back to health with flashbacks of their fond memories of Heffer.
  • Filbert Filburt Turtle Shellbach (Woody Allen) – A nervous hypochondriac nerd turtle with unbelievably bad luck. He often feels uncomfortable or disturbed, punctuated by his catchphrase "I'm nauseous, I'm nauseous", and constantly brings up fishsticks at the most inappropriate moments. He serves as the foil for Rocko and Heffer's wacky plans, usually getting dragged along into their chaos. His persona resembles that of an inhaler shoved into a broken computer monitor.
  • Spunky (Phil Collins) – Rocko's anxiety-ridden dog who has a brain the size of a neutron, and can't sit with his feet flat on the floor. During a brief nervous breakdown, Spunky repeatedly humped Rocko's mop until the local psychiatrist snatched the mop from Spunky and proceeded to watch Dr. Hutchison Does O-Town while snuggling with it. Spunky may have some sort of desire for all inanimate objects, as he proceeded to go doggystyle on the fire hydrant and many other household objects.
  • Ed Bighead (Charlie Adler) – A depressed toad who works at the Conglom-O and is Rocko's neighbor. He has died many times over the course of the show, only to come back alive in the next episode. His wife Bev is manlier than he is, and together they had a son named Ralph, who became transgender and changed her name to Rachel in the Static Cling movie, much to Ed's mixed feelings. He is notoriously grumpy, but let's face it, so would you be if you had a dead-end job, an abusive wife, and hooligan neighbors. He used to think he was "too old", until he started acting young, then went into a deathly depression when he realized he was kidding himself. Rocko and the gang held a mock funeral to snap him out of it.
  • Bev Bighead (Cheryl Adler) – Ed's mean old wife who wears the pants in the family. She has tried to seduce Rocko, but he wanted none of it. Luckily for Ed, she's so horrible that he didn't care when she cheated on him.

Supporting[edit | edit source]

  • Dr. Paula Hutchison (Halle Berry) – The catty (in the literal sense) wife of Filburt. As bizarre as it may seem, the couple even has children! That's right, two big cats, one cat, and one... cow? Oops, something strange must've happened there. Dr. Hutchinson is famous for having a hook in place of her hand, akin to a certain captain.
  • Really Really Big Man (Adam West) – Rocko's favorite superhero. He began his career making adult movies, thanks to his greatest attribute. He soon dropped the life of adult movies and went on to fight crime in O-Town. His sidekick was a prodigy boy who later went the opposite way and became an adult film star.
  • The Chemical Chameleon Brothers (Max von Sydow) – Two rich Scandinavian brothers who love to paint, make movies, run a hair salon, run a cafe, and do other things. For the drawing to pass the censors, it was agreed that the two would appear as "brothers", instead of a couple as Murray initially intended.
  • Dingo (Mel Gibson) – A bully from Australia who, in a minor fit of unpleasant emotions, murdered Rocko's parents and sisters. After Dingo was arrested and banished to an island that was as far away from the fatherland as possible, Rocko was sent to the U.S. by the witness protection program. Later, when Rocko found out that Dingo was coming over to the States to visit him, he, with the help of Heffer and Filburt, learned the art of self-defense (briefly donning trademark "warrior clothes" of a white karate suit and chainsaw). Needless to say, Dingo didn't last for one second; it literally took a few intense hours before he finally submitted to Rocko.

Production[edit | edit source]

Rocko after having a seizure from watching his own TV show.

Rocko was born from creator Joe Murray's fits of boredom, where he would draw cartoons of his surroundings (bacteria and people arguing about the mashed potato theorem). He then pitched a baseball short cartoon about these things to MTV, but they turned it down because they thought it was too cutesy for them. Murray then repitched the series to famed children's network Nickelodeon, but they too rejected it because they thought it would get children to emulate risky behaviors.

However, one fateful day in 1993, Murray came up with a new idea: change everyone to animals, and make them do the same things. This, Nickelodeon could tolerate. He then re-repitched the series to those naysayer executives, and they accepted it, greenlighting it for four seasons. Despite being a ratings success, Nick execs abruptly took the series out back and shot it in 1996, due to their tendency to quickly cancel their shows that are actually good.

This injustice influenced Murray's decision nine years later, to betray Nickelodeon by moving to Cartoon Network when producing his newer, inferior series Camp Lazlo. Rocko producer Stephen Hillenburg later absorbed all that he learned and funneled it into creating SpongeBob SquarePants, which became Nick's biggest cash cow. In 2018, Murray buried the hatchet with Nick and returned to produce the Rocko TV movie Static Cling, where Rocko returns to Earth after being in space for the past 23 years, and finds that everyone has a cellphone and there are Starbuckses on every corner. After sitting in limbo for nearly a year, the movie was released on Netflix in 2019.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Rocko was a hoot with critics and audiences, who praised it for its hidden adult jokes that are endlessly referenced on Buzzfeed and, like Rocko having unwitting phone sex with Mrs. Bighead. It was very popular at a time when almost nobody had cable TV, hence why non-cableinians have never heard of it.

See also[edit | edit source]

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