I’m a Chuckie. There. I said it. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with this, but the character I always identified with most on Nickelodeon’s Rugrats was Chuckie Finster, the nervous, eternally put-upon baby with the bright red mop top and the thick glasses. Chuckie was the doubter, the overthinker, the kid who would sigh and say “I triiiiied” in that tonsillitis-y whine of his. If seven of the show’s babies were going to jump over a puddle and one was going to fall in, Chuckie would be the kid who ended up with the wet shorts.
Of course, back when I was watching the show in the 90s, I told myself a different story.
I tried hard to convince myself that I was a Tommy, the show’s valiant leader. He was smart and brave and loyal, a diapered mini-hero who could find adventure in any playpen, face any kid-size danger, and stand up to the pigtailed über-brat Angelica. Tommy was the Jerry to Chuckie’s George, the Kevin Arnold to his Paul Pfeiffer, the Carrie to his Miranda. And whenever I tuned in, I tried my hardest to see myself as him. Who doesn’t want to be the alpha baby?
The funny thing is, though, I look at the show a little differently when I rewatch it now. Sure, Tommy is bold and fearless and true. But he’s also pretty dull. No matter what the situation is – whether the babies are looking for a lost toy or exploring the backyard or chasing after Spike – you can always count on Tommy to make the blandest, most eye-roll-worthy declaration of “We can do it guys!” Remember the episode when Angelica was sick but really wanted to go to the Dummi Bears show, so she tries to convince the grown ups that all the other babies are sick. But then she gets left at home while they go to the show – except then Tommy has them all pretend to be sick so they can stay home with Angelica so she won’t feel left out? Honestly, who does that? Angelica was being a bully and deserved to sit home alone. But leave it to Tommy “No Child Left Behind” Pickles to turn the car around so even the wicked can feel welcome.
Now, I’m not saying Chuckie would’ve done anything different, but at least he would’ve thought about it a little, gone back and forth, probably cried a couple times trying to make up his mind. Chuckie was every bit as good-hearted as Tommy; he just wasn’t such a brainless do-gooder. And Chuckie always had one strong advantage: He was the funny one. Tommy might’ve been the star, but it was Chuckie who got the biggest laughs (followed by the terrible twosome Phil and Lil, followed by batty grandpa Lou, followed by literally every other character in the show before Tommy).
I can’t be the only person out there who’s had this debate with himself. So I’m going to throw it out to you guys: Which Rugrats character was most like you? Were you a fearless leader like Tommy? A lovable dweeb like Chuckie? Or maybe you were a bouncing bundle of id like Phil or Lil? I’m also honestly interested to know if anyone identified with Angelica out there . (If so, I’d like to thank you for reading this whole post even though you must have very limited internet access at your high-security women’s correctional facility.) Let us know in the comments below!