Chuckie Finster: The Heart & Soul of Rugrats

By Justin D Williams

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Having been born in the mid 80's and growing up in the 90s there are certain things I didn't pick up as a child. One thing I didn't know how brilliant the character of Chuckie Finster was written and presented. Growing up watching Rugrats and watching Nickelodeon like it was a religion. I was always a huge fan of Tommy Pickles. Tommy was brave, cool and had all the charisma with the adventures to go with. Chuckie I wasn’t a fan of growing up. I viewed Chuckie as a coward, a buzz killed and wonder why would the babies hangout with him. It wasn’t till I recently watched Rugrats again on Hulu with younger members of my family, that I realized while the show might have Tommy front and center the show most important moments and messages has Chuckie front and center. As I’m watching season after season with my family it dawned on me that Chuckie is truly the best Rugrat and kind of targeted to the older children who watched the show. Chuckie was the smartest baby in my opinion. Chuckie didn’t just do things recklessly like Tommy, he wasn’t as sarcastic as Phil or Lil. Chuckie was the reserved baby who was the voice of reason, the moral compass and he has plenty of character moments that show why he is indeed the heart and soul of Rugrats. Warning from here there will be spoilers.

Chuckie Deals With Issues No Other Baby Does

What makes Chuckie so special is that he is dealing with a lot of issues that a lot of adults and young teens tackle on the show. Chuckie has experience bullying, peer pressure, heartbreak, embarrassment, insecurity and even death. When the show wants to make an important message or tear at the heart strings it’s usually Chuckie who is used to convey that message. In season 3 episode 24 “I Remember Melville” Chuckie tackles the issue of death and the denial that somebody has passed away. Chuckie befriends a bug he names Melville and makes him his pet. He spends day and night with his new friend and has someone he can bond with besides his father and the other babies. Unfortunately, Melville dies and when Chuckie is informed by his friends he goes crazy and into a quick state of denial. Chuckie then proceeds to do everything he can to show the babies that Melville is not dead. He does circus tricks, try to feed him and then it finally hits him and the tears come down rolling down his face as he finally accepted poor Melville’s fate. It is truly a heartbreaking scene that I didn’t really appreciate till adulthood. However, Melville would not be the only time Chuckie would touch about death and closure.

One of the best if not the greatest episode of Rugrats is the Mother’s Day episode. In this episode the babies are hunting for the best gift for their mother’s. However, Chuckie questions where his mother is and why he doesn’t have one. He has dreams of woman greeting him in the garden and protecting him from scary things. It’s later revealed that these dreams are actually reality and Chuckie is telling the babies about a memory. The heartstrings start to pull as he finds a picture of his mother and gives it to his father. This moment is the most single heartbreaking moment in Rugrats. Chuckie father facial expressions when he sees the picture, the long pause of silence and him having to come to terms that his wife his gone and now has to explain the story to his son is emotional heavy and only truly works because how Chuckie has been presented in previous seasons.

Chuckie doesn’t just deal with death. He deals with heartbreak in the episode Cradle Attraction when the girl he likes he catches liking someone else. Chuckie deals with insecurity about his red hair and freckles in season 3 episode 19. In this episode Chuckie learn that being part of the in crowd is not always the best. He learns what makes him special and accepts himself for who he is. There is so many examples and I can go on and on about so many character moments. However, one that I must mention is It’s A Wonderful Life type episode. In this episode Chuckie sees what life would have been if he wasn’t born. He finds out Tommy wouldn’t be so brave. Angelica will rule with an iron fist. His father would be a lazy, lonely soul.

These episodes and character moments you couldn’t do with the other babies. As great and popular Tommy is I couldn’t see him dealing with the issues Chuckie faced. Phil and Lil were basically comic relief and did have some moment such as separation from each other, however they didn’t carry the emotional weight as the Chuckie episodes. I like to think that Chuckie was the symbolism of all life lessons and social commentary Rugrats try to tell. Lessons such as self-worth, moving on and acceptance. As  I watched the episodes now as an adult I can’t help but applaud Chuckie Finster. He is truly the heart and soul of Rugrats. If you want a Rugrat that has growth, the best character development and all the emotional beats and realistic tone Chuckie Finster is your baby.