Nickelodeon Retrospective: Rocko’s Modern Life


In 1993, Nickelodeon tickled the funny bone of millions with the release of the cult-favorite animated series, Rocko’s Modern Life. The brainchild of cartoonist Joe Murray, Rocko’s Modern Life tells the story of Rocko, a timid, but lovable Australian wallaby who lives in the city of O-Town with his dog Spunky. The series focuses on various dilemmas and hijinks that befall upon Rocko and his two best friends Heffer, an obese eccentric steer, and Filburt, a neurotic turtle.

Rocko was originally created by Murray as a character for his unpublished comic, “Travis”. His inspiration to make Rocko a wallaby came after visiting a local zoo and witnessing a wallaby that was seemingly oblivious to all the chaos around him. Many of the other characters came from various sketches Murray had done over the years.

The series is notable for launching the voiceover careers of actors Carlos Alazraqui (Rocko), and Tom Kenny (Heffer). Voicing Filburt the nervous turtle was Doug Lawrence, whole Rocko’s obnoxious neighbor frogs, Ed and Bev Bighead, we’re voiced by legendary voice actor/director Charlie Adler.

When the series premiered on September 18, 1993, audiences really didn’t know what they were in for. Many networks at the time were coming out of a “dark period” for animation on television and wanted to take more risks on writers that didn’t necessarily “write for children.” While technically a children’s show, Rocko had its fair share of adult humor.

From sending Heffer to “Heck” after choking on a chicken bone, to Rocko getting a job as an “alternative” phone operator, the series proved to be just as funny to adults as it was to kids. After four very successful seasons on Nickelodeon, Rocko’s Modern Life came to an end on November 24, 1996. After the show’s end, many of its creative team and cast (including Kenny and Lawrence) continued to work for Nickelodeon under Rocko showrunner Stephen Hillenburg’s new project, Spongebob Squarepants.

Despite the series’ end, it continued to air in syndication for many years and eventually developed a cult following after being released on DVD. The continued success of the DVD sales prompted Nickelodeon to give Rocko and friends one last ride with an all-new special, Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling. The special is set to premiere on Netflix August 9!