Ah, Rocko’s Modern Life. A 90s Nicktoon which abused fart noises and wiggled its way into my pre-teen heart as surely as any heartworm. You’d think a list like this would be straightforward enough. You’d think simply going through an episode guide, and watching the ones with disturbing sounding plots would be sufficient. But, it’s not that simple. I realize after watching every Rocko’s Modern Life episode again as an adult that every single episode has a disturbing part.
Even excluding the fact that Heffer is a cow who constantly eats beef, and some animals are anthropomorphized while others aren’t, and a woman with a hook for a hand is constantly working in some form of invasive surgery, nearly every episode still has some sort of cringe-worthy image or line. Hell, it seems as if everyone is out to get Rocko to such a degree that no one would blame the poor Wallabee for going completely paranoid schizo.
So, how do you decide which episodes are the most disturbing, when nearly every one has its little disturbing bits? I decided to go with a mixture of the plot of the episode, and the amount of disturbing imagery combined. Admittedly, this list took me quite a while to finish. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said I went and watched every single episode. Whittling this down to ten was exceedingly arduous. They’re all up on Netflix now, so most of my time off from customer service hell was spent watching episodes, and taking notes.
And now, in chronological order by season and episode number, here is my list of the most disturbing episodes of Rocko’s Modern Life. Oh, and some of the episodes have two segments, but I’m just going to list which of the two was most off the rocker. In one instance, it was both segments. I guess most disturbing Rocko’s Modern Life segments would have been more accurate, but it wouldn’t have sounded as good for a title, so screw it.
Side note: I suspect the creator of Rocko’s Modern Life shares my phobia of parking.
Season 1, Episode 3: Flu-In-U-Enza
Lots of snot and talking vomit (known as the Enchanted Up-Chucks) in this one. Rocko sees a Doctor Bendova, who turns out to be an escaped patient.
Just check out the room Dr. Bendova works out of.
He grabs Rocko’s bits three times, and makes him cough. Then comes the glove on Bendova’s hand, and while we don’t see it, you can guess what happened. Rocko takes his prescribed medication orally, which it warns against. He then proceeds to trip balls, and hurls.
Then come the Up-Chucks, and their toe jam tea, and other strange plans to make Rocko bettah.
This one gets gross.
Season 1, Episode 4: Who’s For Dinner
In this one, we meet Heffer’s parents, who are wolves. We also find out they were planning to eat him. But, then they grew attached, and raised him as their own. My favorite scene is when Heff is at an all night diner eating all sorts of fries, and in an obvious homage to the guy who over drinks at the bar scene in…nearly everything, he yells at the server, and tells him he’ll let the guy know when he’s had enough!
Oh, and I guess Heffer’s biological papa is a deadbeat dad.
Season 1, Episode 6: Leap Frogs
Mrs. Bighead, the amphibian, attempts to seduce Rocko, the marsupial. I’ll let the screen shots speak for themselves. Incredibly sexual for a kids show.
Oh, and for some reason the Bigheads have a moose who lives in their fridge, and holds their coffee. No, I’m not sure why either.
Somehow, this episode is more disturbing than the one where Heffer dies and goes to hell. I’d say this is the most disturbing one of the bunch. Just wow.
Season 1, Episode 8: Jet Scream
This episode starts with Heffer reading a book called “Survive,” which is clearly a parody of that book about the plane that crashed, where the rugby team had to resort to eating themselves called “Alive.” Rocko’s fillings are pulled out after he attempts to go through the metal detector at the airport, and sets the thing off a bunch of times.
The company they fly with is D-REG airlines.
The pilot explains that he “tends to blackout at higher elevations” just before takeoff. One of the overhead buttons Heffer pushes ejects a pilot out of the cockpit. Then they crash land, and take a bus. Only, who is driving the bus?
You guessed it, the shitty pilot from the plane. This guy looks really weird. I don’t know what kind of animal he is supposed to be, but he creeps me the fuck out.
Season 1, Episode 11: To Heck and Back
This episode starts with a chicken named Karen at a job interview. Congratulations, you got the job, the boss chicken tells her. Karen is enthused. Cut to a package of processed chicken with the name Karen on it.
This is in the first thirty seconds. Also, since the animals are anthropomorphized in Rocko so much, this is straight up murder, right?
In this episode, Heffer chokes to death at, appropriately enough, Chokey Chicken (heh heh) and goes to hell. Yup, this show, seemingly for children, has a character die, float up to Heaven after a giant cheeseburger, only to have his wings melt off, and then his fat ass drops down to hell. Well, to Heck; they call it Heck. Rocko attempts to save Heff with the “Himlick,” and then ends up falling inside Heff’s massive belly after trying to dislodge the chicken bone in his throat.
We meet Peaches, who you’re lead to believe is an extremely unsettling parody of Satan. Well, in a later episode (also on this list) we see Peaches takes orders from someone, so if Peaches was going to be the Devil, he stopped assuming that role as of the fourth season. Peaches lets Heff know that his eternal punishment will be to watch his friend Rocko slowly starve to death inside his carcass, over and over.
And for some reason Peaches has cow udders on his head. Makes sense to me…
Oh, and they spray milk from them while his head rotates. Ah, blessed nightmare fuel, thy name is Nicktoons.
Season 2, Episode 9: Uniform Behavior
Heff, not wearing a seatbelt, crashes his dad’s whip, and totals it. Heff is fine, being built like a brick shithouse, but his papi decides Heffy needs to pay for the repairs himself and get a ….dun dun dun…job.
Encouraged by his love of the Robofrog series, Heff decides to take a job as a security guard.
He’s visited by the seven udders of justice. This first season was really into udders, who knows why. He takes a vow to be a bitchin’ security guard.
Heff is transformed overnight into a hard-ass security guard. A stickler for the law, Heff goes to his new job at Conglomo (We Own You). As a huge Stephen King constant reader (obsessive nerd) I’d have to kick my own ass if I didn’t add this one, as it has the longest homage to The Shining, other than that Simpsons Treehouse of Horror segment, in any cartoon. They even have a “Heeeeere’s Heffer gag. It’s great.
And for good measure, the episode ends with Heff naked in jail.
Season 3, Episode 3: Sugar Frosted Frights
Clearly Filbert’s weird aunt, Gretchen, and his candy bender are the most disturbing bits of this episode. There is a spooky tale of The Hopping Hessian, which is of course a nod to the The Headless Horsemen.
Screenshots speak louder than words.
Season 3, Episode 3: Ed is Dead
Complete with Hitchcock presents homage, with Heffer filling in the outline, this one is about a perceived murder of Ed by Bev, most foul. Again, look to screenshots, but any kids show that deals with a murder of a next door neighbor is twisted in my book. And that’s why I loves it.
There is actually an overhead shot stolen from Psycho I noticed. For all those kids that were familiar with the movie Psycho. And of course, there is the basement scene, also an homage to Psycho. I’m sure there are a bunch of nods I didn’t even catch.
Season 3, Episode 4: I See London, I see France
Heff and Rocko visit Paris. After dealing with the insane narcoleptic pilot in season one, you’d think they’d be weary of flying, but you’d be wrong.
Once again, this one is all about the bus driver/tour guide. Said tour guide is proud he has never lost a tour patron in the many years he has acted as tour guide. Rocko strays from the tour, tired of the tour guide’s lack of knowledge. Heffer gets freaked out by the mentally unstable tour guide, and soon departs as well.
The guide has a meltdown, and is out for blood; Rocko blood. They are chased by a bus driver the rest of the episode.
Seriously, this one is completely normal, except for this tour guide. At one point, he mentions his wife and kids, and holds up a picture of them…which is of a bowl of fruit.
Also, the episode manages to touch on globalization, in particular, Americanization. There is a Chokey Chicken at every major landmark. Now that’s disturbing. I’m glad there isn’t, say, a bunch of McDonalds in France.
Season 4, Episode 9: Heff in a Handbasket
We meet Peaches again, who is getting yelled at by what I assume to be The Devil. For some reason, it appears The Devil wears one of those hats with a pinwheel on the top. Peaches doesn’t have a good record with keeping souls in Heck. Peaches lures Heffer into winning a trip to Heck, by being on a fake game show.
Oh, and Heffer’s grandma wolf is in Heck. That’s how he gets out of being trapped in Heck for eternity.
Peaches’ punishment for failure is he has to be on a show, which looks suspiciously like Rocko’s Modern Life if we’re going off of the credits.
I was on the fence whether I’d add “Rocko’s Happy Vermin” from season 3, but ultimately, there was only one really icky part where he puts a bunch of bugs in his mouth. Also, “Mama’s Boy” from Season 4, but that one was merely disturbing to me, as a young adult recently ventured off on me own.
Honorable mentions for every episode with Bloaty and Squirmy, and nearly every other episode.
Amazon has Rocko’s Modern Life: The Complete Series on sale for $29.99. Can’t go wrong at that price for an 8-disc set, IMO.