8 Times The Parents On Rugrats Were The Worst

Photo: Everett Collection.
From Betty Draper to Lucious Lyon, TV has shown us plenty of bad parents. But subpar parenting isn't just relegated to live-action television; it's a common trope in cartoons, too.

Perhaps some of the worst parents of all time appear on a little Nickelodeon cartoon called Rugrats. It's been 25 years since Nick first aired the show about the secret lives of babies. Rugrats became one of the most iconic animated series of the '90s, spawning spin-offs and several movies, featuring the tots taking on new adventures around the world.

And none of those adventures would have been possible if their parents weren't so damn awful and neglectful. Seriously, re-watching Rugrats on Hulu as an adult makes you wonder how the Pickles family was able to avoid a visit from child services for so long.

We've rounded up just a few examples of the parents from Rugrats being the worst. Click ahead and shake your head.

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Photo: Courtesy of Nickelodeon.
That Time Their Baby Was Kidnapped
Didi leaves her baby with Grandpa Lou. She also leaves the front door to their house WIDE OPEN. Unsurprisingly, Tommy gets out of his flimsy playpen and out the front door. He's then kidnapped by two idiotic criminals who are attempting to ransom a Mr. Ronald Thump (ahem).

Despite the presence of a ransom note, Grandpa doesn't even realize Tommy is missing. Neither does Tommy's father, Stu. The only reason they get to see Tommy again is because he's the most annoying baby ever, and the criminals decide to return him. The parents' reaction to getting their baby back? Some confusion, but then they're totally over it.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nickelodeon.
That Time They Lost Their Kids While Watching A Movie
The Pickles parents always seem to lose their children in public spaces (malls, parks, ice dance performances, etc.). In the show's third episode, the parents decide to take their babies to the movies to see the Dummi Bears in The Land Without Smiles. Grandpa accurately calls this movie "The Land Without Brains" because it actually looks like the dumbest movie ever made.

First, the parents put Phil, Lil, Tommy, and Chuckie on the dirty floor of a movie theater. Then, they get so caught up in The Land Without Smiles that they never even notice that their children crawl away and explore the theater. The babies proceed to eat tons of candy, literally crawl into a pile of popcorn, and wreak havoc. If it weren't for Grandpa's sweet tooth, they might never have been found again.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nickelodeon.
That Second Time Their Baby Was Kidnapped
Tommy and Grandpa go on a trip to the grocery store because Grandpa is clearly the best person to leave your child with. After asking if he can sit in a stranger's car, Grandpa jumps into an expensive vehicle with Tommy. But he's forced to abandon Tommy and the car so he can grab his previously abandoned grocery cart.

And just like that, Tommy is gone. He's been accidentally kidnapped. Things get really awful when the stranger (a butler for two rich, elderly sisters) gives Tommy to the crazy women, who decide they're going to rename him "Bostwick" and adopt him. Grandpa has to produce proof that Tommy is his grandson in order to win him back from these crazies. Great job, Grandpa.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nickelodeon.
That Time They Used Their Child To Win A Boat
In the fifth episode of the show, Grandpa Lou decides to enter Tommy in the Little Miss Lovely beauty pageant. Not because Tommy is so lovely, but because the grand prize is a Kingfisher 9000, a top-of-the-line boat. Of course, his son Stu goes along with the ruse. Because what's wrong with using your children to gain money or prizes?

It's awesome that Grandpa and Stu are comfortable with Tommy wearing a dress (because screw gender norms). But it's pretty sad that this episode is one of the few in which they pay attention to Tommy from start to finish. And it's really only because he's their ticket to a brand-new toy.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nickelodeon.
That Time They Gave Their Babies Helmets Instead Of Watching Them
In "Touchdown Tommy," Stu and Didi are met with a major dilemma. Stu and the dads all want to watch the football game. But the moms want to go shopping. Who the hell is going to watch their kids?

So toymaker and inventor Stu comes up with a great plan — he builds a cushioned helmet for the babies to wear, so the adults can ignore them and go about their business. Naturally, Didi Pickles — mother of the year — agrees to the crazy scheme. They literally put helmets on their babies' heads and ignore them for HOURS.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nickelodeon.
That Time They Let Random Teenagers Watch Their Baby
Didi (who is allegedly a teacher) decides to take Tommy with her to work as a "learning aide." Grandpa Lou replies, "You mean as an experiment. He's nothing but a monkey to you people."

Accurate, Grandpa Lou, but I'd be more impressed if you weren't trying to keep Tommy around to be your "caddy" as you play golf outside.

Some students beg to "play with Tommy." And Didi just gives him away so she can enjoy lunch. Do these girls know how to take care of a baby? Where are they planning to take him? Do they know CPR? Who cares? Not Didi Pickles. Tommy, of course, gets lost and nearly maimed several times.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nickelodeon.
That Time The Babies Were Locked In An RV For Hours
Once upon a time, Grandpa Lou got an old RV. He and his son Stu are so wrapped up in trying to fix the stupid thing that they don't see all the babies climb inside.

So the babies end up trapped. In an RV. In the garage. For hours. No big deal! The babies think they're on a trip to the moon.

One big change here: The parents actually realize that their children are missing and search for them.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nickelodeon.
EVERY Time They Followed Dr. Lipschitz's Advice
If you've ever watched Rugrats, then you've heard of Dr. Lipschitz. He's the most revered child psychologist — according to Didi, Chas, and some of the other parents. He has tons of videos, books, tapes, etc. — all containing "great" advice for raising children.

The worst thing about Dr. Lipschitz is that when the parents finally meet him, it's clear that he knows absolutely nothing about children. But for some reason, they still quote him regularly on the show, call his hotline, and follow his advice like it's the gospel.

No wonder they're such terrible parents — they're taking all their advice from this guy.