Aaahh!!! Real Monsters is an American animated television series about adolescent monsters in training, developed by Klasky-Csupo for Nickelodeon. The show ran from October 30, 1994 to December 7, 1997 on Nickelodeon's main United States cable channel.
The show focuses on three young monsters — Ickis, Oblina and Krumm — who attend a school for monsters under a city dump and learn to frighten humans. Many of the episodes revolve around them making it to the surface in order to perform "scares" as class assignments.
The episodes follow the adventures of Ickis, Oblina and Krumm, three young monsters attending a monster school whose headmaster is The Gromble.
The show is set in New York City, demonstrated throughout the series by the presences of the Empire State Building and an Independent Subway System. The dump the monsters inhabit is implied to be Fresh Kills Landfill, but never explicitly named in the series.
Ickis (voiced by Charlie Adler) - Ickis is a small purple monster who, due to his large ears, is often confused with a rabbit. He is the son of Slickis, a famous scarer. He seems the most skittish of the monsters, but is also a capable leader. Ickis looms (grows in size) to scare, and comes from a long line of loomers.
Oblina (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh) - Oblina comes from a wealthy monster family, and is considered by The Gromble to be his best student. She is shaped like a black-and-white, upside-down candy cane, resembling a banded sea krait. One of her favorite methods of scaring humans is reaching within herself and pulling out her internal organs like Zim did in "Dark Harvest", and she has considerable talent for shapeshifting into various terrifying forms. She also has a talent for inducing nightmares in humans, by sticking her finger in their ear and tickling their brains while they sleep. When voicing Oblina, Christine Cavanaugh attempted to make the voice sound like a British version of the actress Agnes Moorehead.
Krumm (voiced by David Eccles) - Like the rest of his family, his eyeballs are not attached to his body, and are usually carried in his hands; if he requires the use of both hands, he can carry them in his mouth. His most valuable tool in scaring is his overwhelming armpit stench, as well as using his eyeballs.
The Gromble (voiced by Gregg Berger) - The Gromble is a tall, green-blue monster with two tufts of hair, a beard and a tail. He wears a belt around his waist and a red pump on each of his four feet. Along with Ickis, he is one of the few monsters who can hear the Pool of Elders — the source of monster existence that is made of the very substance of fears. The Gromble uses the Viewfinder which his students sit in so that he can view their scaring activities.
The Snorch (voiced by David Eccles) - The torturer/disciplinarian of the Monster Academy who works for The Gromble and is often seen with Zimbo. Though the Snorch just makes vocal effects, he once wore a voicebox translator (with the voice of it being provided by Brock Peters) in one episode.
Zimbo (voiced by Tim Curry) - Zimbo is a monster who resembles a bee with one mammal-like leg and a humanoid face with green hair. He is the Gromble's assistant in his class and is always seen on the head of The Snorch.
Simon the Monster Hunter (voiced by Jim Belushi) - The recurring antagonist of the series. Simon is a human who is determined to prove that monsters exist. He wears a thick-collared jacket and glasses.
Slickis (voiced by Billy Vera) – Ickis' father and one of The Gromble's favorite former students.
Horvak (voiced by David Eccles) – Krumm's father. He lost one of his eyes at the Battle of Concord and wears a black glove over that respective hand, similar to wearing an eye-patch. He was considered to be one of The Gromble's worst students and now works as a mold farmer.
Mama Gromble (voiced by Andrea Martin) – The Gromble's mother.
Sublima (voiced by Charlie Adler) – Oblina's mother.
Skeetch (voiced by Marvin Kaplan) – Oblina's father . Nicky (voiced by Steven Hartman) – The monsters' only human friend. He is a 10-year-old boy who befriended Ickis.
The Shroink (voiced by Michael Prince) – An elderly monster.
Dizzle (voiced by Cynthia Mann) – A female monster student who likes Ickis.
Dr. Buzz Kutt (voiced by Edward Winter) – A monster who is the residential doctor.
Borl (voiced by Michael Dorn) –
Kriggle (voiced by Dorian Harewood) –
Exposia Vertov (voiced by Lisa Raggio) –
Snav (voiced by Xander Berkeley) –
Zooeuh (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) –
Phuepal (voiced by Victor Wilson) –
Marty (voiced by Thomas F. Wilson) –
Deitrich Dunlap (voiced by Bronson Pinchot) –
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was created by Gábor Csupó and Peter Gaffney, and was produced by Csupó's company Klasky Csupo, which also created the animated shows Rugrats and Duckman. Before the final title was chosen, which took over 5 years, the series had the working titles Monsters and Real Monsters. The show was conceived after Csupó and his wife and creative partner Arlene Klasky were approached by the network Nickelodeon to create a follow-up series to Rugrats. Csupó was inspired to write a show about monsters because his own young children loved them. He also said he knew Nickelodeon would not want a series about human characters because everybody else was pitching shows about animals. Csupó drew some sketches of possible monsters on a piece of paper and successfully pitched the idea to the network: "I wanted them silly and not too skillful – and the idea worked."
Nickelodeon programming director Herb Scannell said the character design in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was partially inspired by Yellow Submarine, a 1968 animated film inspired by The Beatles. The character Gromble, in particular, bore a close resemblance to the Blue Meanie characters from that film. Csupó said some elements of the show have a look similar to the film noir genre, and called the city dump where the monster characters reside reminiscent of the visual style from the films Blade Runner (1982) and Brazil (1985).
Home media releases
From 1997, select episodes of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters were released on VHS by Paramount Home Video. The complete first and second seasons were released for PlayStation Network for view on the (PlayStation 3) and PSP (PlayStation Portable) systems.
On March 22, 2011, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the home video rights to the series from Nickelodeon. They have subsequently released the first three seasons on DVD. The fourth and final season was released on June 10, 2014 as a Shout! Select title.
On October 8, 2013, Shout! Factory released Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: The Complete Series on DVD.