Rocko's Modern Life was one of the first Nicktoons. It starred Rocko Wallaby as he attempted to cope with everyday life.
- Rocko- a wallaby (often called Kangaroo Boy) from Australia trying to deal with everyday life. Catchphrases: "Oh my!", "SPUNKYYY!" , "X day is a very dangerous day". He works at a comic book store.
- Heffer Wolfe- a gluttonous, funloving steer (often mislabeled as a cow) and Rocko's best friend. Catchphrase: "That was a hoot!"
- The Wolfe family- a pack of wolves who adopted Heffer, originally intending to eat him. Heffer was originally in disbelief that he was adopted (comparable to the film The Jerk).
- Virginia Wolfe- Heffer's stepmom. A friendly lady who has a tic where she grinds her teeth. Mispronounces Rocko's name as "Grocko". Appears to have an Upper Midwestern accent. She is named after author Virginia Woolf.
- Heffer's stepdad- A grouchy, middle-aged man who gets upset easily.
- Heffer's stepbrother- an average teenage boy, who apparently takes cheerleading lessons (strangely crossdressing for the part)
- Cindy Wolfe- Heffer's stepsister. An average teenage girl.
- Hiram " Willy" Wolfe- Heffer's step-grandfather. A very cranky, nearsighted old man who hates wallabies but mistakes Rocko for a beaver
- Filbert Turtle- a clumsy, nerdy turtle who is obsessed with comics. He is in love with Dr. Hutchinson. Catchphrases: "Turn the page, wash your hands." , "I'm nauseous, I'm nauseous.", "Oh fishsticks".
- Dr. Paula Hutchinson- A cat of many trades, usually a dentist or a surgeon. She has a hook for her right hand. When her daughter was born, she had a hook also, indicating that Dr. Hutchinson was born with hers. She has a tic where she cocks her head so it creaks. She is in love with Filbert.
- Mrs. Hutchinson- Dr. Hutchinson's mom. She and her family are mortal enemies with turtles, and she disapproves of her daughter marrying Filbert. She also possesses the tic that her daughter has, but once hurt herself by twisting her head upside-down.
- Edward Bighead- an average middle-aged man working in a cubicle at Conglom-O. He doesn't like Spunky eating from his salmon bushes. In early episodes, he was the CEO of Conglom-O
- Beverly Bighead- a kindly lady who is dear to Rocko
- Ralf Bighead- son of Ed and Bev Bighead, creator of cartoon "The Fatheads", a parody of his parents.
- Really Really Big Man- the superhero of the show, who has such powers as "nipples of the future"
- The Fat Lady- a fat, hippo lady who is extremely insulted when touched the wrong way, prompting her to boot whoever does so. Normally has a Southern accent, but uses a deeper voice when insluted. Catchphrase: "How DARE you!"
- Mr. Smithy- Rocko's grouchy boss who cannot tolerate anyone being even a second late. He refuses to give raises. He became the way he is after pressing the red button on the manager's chair.
- Mr. Dupett- Ed Bighead's boss. He's a casual type, but often picks on his employees. Has a bad habit of picking his nose.
- The Chameleon Bothers- Twin foreign chameleons who have many different jobs including a cafe. Both are always naked.
- Peaches- The show's equivalent of Satan. He rules over Heck (not Hell because of censorship).
The show since its beginning has caused controversy for its use of adult humor. Some episodes had to be censored for circulation, either by changing dialogue or editing scenes. Some running gags had to be altered. Some episodes were removed entirely. This censorship was for the most part retained in the DVD releases. The episode "Leap Frogs", which was removed from circulation, was included on the DVD set however. The Rocko's Modern Life Wiki has an entire page listing all the instances of adult humor in the series.
A Rocko's Modern Life video game was released for the Super Nintendo, entitled Rocko's Modern Life: Spunky's Dangerous Day. The game was criticized by popular YouTube game review show Classic Game Room for being entirely comprised of escort missions and for its bad controls. The game, strangely, was in development before the show even debuted, meaning the developers only had concept artwork to go on. The game was developed in just under a year.
Amazon has released Rocko's Modern Life onto DVD as part of a burn-on-demand service.
The show is available on iTunes
The show had various shorts which featured clips from various episodes, such as "How to Tell if Your Dog's Brainless", where Rocko tried to argue that Spunky wasn't brainless despite clearly having all the attributes of brainlessnes. Even during his description Spunky acts idiotic.
- One TV show they watch is done in Spanish. It is meant to look like a sappy telenovela, but the dialogue "María, este libro está tarde. Voy a la biblioteca" means "Mary, this book is late. I'm going to the library".
- Heffer mentions regarding the price of the TV that they will pay "a dollar a month for the next 632 years". This means that the TV is about $7,584.
- In one episode, Rocko is running for city dog catcher against Ed Bighead. Ed's campaign ad accuses Rocko of causing "the sinking of the Titanic" (which happened in the early twentieth century) and the failure of the "1958 Edsel". The Edsel is shown brand new with a wheel falling off. This is a reference to the urban legend that the Edsel brand failed because the cars were lemons. In actuality, the brand failed because of poor design, poor timing, and poor marketing.
- In another episode, Heffer is viewing his past lives through the crystal ball of a mystic. One of his past lives was aboard the "Hindenburger", which he caused to crash due to his weight. This is a reference to the horrifically tragic crash of the Hindenburg airship (which actually occurred as the Hindenburg was trying to dock with its mooring mast, causing the mast to tear the ship and make it explode).
- It is also shown that Heffer was responsible for the mystic spending the rest of his life as a muckraker (literally raking muck). An actual muckraker is "one who spreads real or alleged scandal about another (usually for political advantage)".
- Although the show is set in the present, the cars depicted are mostly in a fifties style (e.g. circular headlights, fins, etc). The appliances are also depicted in a fifties style, having an art deco design popular in the middle twentieth century.
- Although Heffer is a steer, the word "heifer" is a name for a calf.
- In one episode, Rocko and his friends create a mock funeral for a depressed Mr. Bighead. They sing "Here Comes the Bride", indicating that they don't know the tune "Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, op. 35" by Chopin.
- Despite living a "modern life", Rocko lacks many modern amenities. These include cable television, a washer, and a dryer.
- In one episode, heffer joins a cult centered around the worship of hot dogs. He is hired as a spokesman for sausage commercials, which his boss refers to as "schnitzel". This derives from the name "wienerschnitzel" as a name for "hot dog". This results in the common usage of the word "weenie" (a common synonym for hot dog) throughout the episode. "Schnitzel" is in fact German for a cut of meat rather than a sausage. The proper term for sausage is "wurst" (pronounced "vurst"). The actual origin of the nickname is wienerwurst (Vienna sausage).
- In one episode, Rocko joins Ed Bighead's bowling team. It is revealed that Ed lost a bowling tournament because he failed to get the one winning pin. However, in a flashback it is revealed he lost the tournament despite knocking down nine pins, indicating that he would have won had he bowled a strike. This means that the tournament would've actually resulted in a tie if nine pins didn't result in a win.
- In one episode, the local supermarket has everything 99% off until noon. This is an allusion to Black Friday, where many stores have major discounts on several items until noon as after-Thanksgiving sales. Despite this major sale, however, the store has barely any people in it. Also, such a sale would be more appropriate for a "going out of business" event.
- There is an episode where Rocko gets sick. His medicine comes in a giant pill, a parody of meds that come in large, hard-to-swallow pills that have to be cut up. The warning on the bottle says it is not to be taken orally, unusual for a pill-based prescription.
Pop Culture Allusions
- Popular new wave band The B-52s performed the original intro.
- In one episode, Rocko enters a game show called "Win A Kitchen" in order to replace his devastated kitchen. His first prize is a spoon from Fleagle, a parody of the Speagle catalog.
- Dr. Phil appears as a plumber in one episode, where he gets a morbidly obese goldfish out of Rocko's plumbing
- In one episode, Heffer, Filburt, and Rocko are watching various shows on their new Habachi super-deluxe big screen TV (purchased by accident due to a malfunction in the ordering machine).
- Habachi is a parody of Hitatchi, an actual electronics company
- In one episode, Rocko and the citizens of O-Town are pushing for a major recycling program. When meeting Captain Compost Heap, Heffer at first sees Murky the Bear. This is a reference to Smokey the Bear, a spokesman for preventing wildfires (then "forest fires").
- In one episode, Heffer becomes the first customer at a hot dog restaurant to eat the Nachtwurst Nightmare Platter.
- He wins Rice A Rooney, the San Fernando Treat. This refers to Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco Treat. A copy of their home game, a common game show consolation prize. And the Weeniemobile, a reference to the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile.
- In the same episode, they listen to the biggest disco hits of the seventies played (much to Rocko's dismay) on bagpipes. One of them is Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees.
- Also in the episode, Heffer paraphrases popular Steppenwolf hard rock song Born to Be Wild.
- In one episode, Rocko is looking for a new dish for Spunky. One of the suggestions is the "Super Bowl", which is designed to look like a football field.
- In one episode, Heffer suggests a melted GI Jimbo action figure for Rocko's garage sale. This is a reference to popular toyline GI Joe.
- A tick and a ringworm live on Spunky's back, and are depicted in an Odd Couple fashion.
- Inside the tick are a couple of germs who are depicted as a parody of famous 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy (a regular on Nickelodeon classic television block Nick at Nite).
- In one episode, Ralph Bighead is trying to create a bad show so he can get out of his producing contract. He, Rocko, Heffer, and Filbert create a rather bizarre show called Wacky Deli. In the entirely random first episode, the Goofy Holler "YAAAA-hoo-hoo-hoo-eee!" can be heard.
- In one episode, Heffer is dragged from Chewy Chicken screaming "Chewy Chicken is people!". This is a paraphrase of a famous line from science fiction dystopian horror film Soylent Green.
- In the road trip episode, Rocko and Heffer stay at the "Baits Motel". A scream can be heard from the motel. This is an allusion to the Bates Motel in the iconic horror film Psycho.
- In one episode, Rocko becomes a contestant on a game show similar to The Dating Game. One of the bachelorettes is described as "enjoying pina coladas and getting caught in the rain", taking lyrics from the hit song Escape by Rupert Holmes.
- In one episode, Dr. Hutchinson's hook kills a giant monster. Dr. Hutchinson says "Well, the hook killed him". Filburt then replies "No. It wasn't the hook. 'Twas tartar killed the beast.", a paraphrase of the 1933 film King Kong.
- One episode has Filburt paraphrase a sketch from British comedy show Monty Python
- In one episode, Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt are on a rafting trip. At one point, they go under a bridge where a hillbilly-type character is sitting playing the banjo. This is an allusion to the horror film Deliverance.
- One episode has Heffer say "Klaatu barada nikto", a quote from the sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still.
- One episode features a parody of the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland
- In one episode Rocko is in a store that advertises blue light specials. This is a reference to K-Mart.
- One episode has Rocko fall in love with a wallaby named Melba Toast. Melba toast is also the name of an appetizer.
- In one episode, it is revealed that Rocko is nearsighted. After glasses fail to work, Rocko settles on contacts. His idol jackhammering competitor is also revealed to wear contacts, but only when he's jackhammering, otherwise wearing glasses, which make him look intellectual. This attracts a college student with questions about Nietzsche, a German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist.
- In one episode, Rocko and heffer are visiting France. heffer interrupts Rocko's daydream about a French wallaby he once met by reciting the phrase "Donnez-moi un peu de papier de toilette" ("give me some toilet paper" in French). Incidentally, he mispronounces "toilette". It should be "twa-LAY", not "toy-LET".
- In one episode, heffer chokes to death and goes to "Heck" (censored, as indicated by "Peaches", the episode's equivalent of Satan). It is revealed that heffer is guilty of the deadly sin of "gluttony". At the end of the episode, Peaches is "cursed" to have his own show called "Peaches' Modern Life".
- In one episode, Rocko is riding a subway to work after his car is impounded. One of the people on the subway, a former mailman, says that after being laid off he has been feeling a little "disgruntled", causing everyone to vacate the car. This refers to "disgruntled postal workers" becoming uncontrollably angry, resulting in mass shootings (which also resulted in the term "going postal").
- Popular internet reviewer Nostalgia Critic reviewed the show as a part of his Nicktoons episode. He incorrectly labeled Rocko as a kangaroo when it is clearly indicated throughout the show that he is a wallaby. He mostly calls the show a more reserved version of The Ren and Stimpy Show. He points out a reference to Monty Python and claims "this plagiarism has to stop". He also points out the episode "Rinse & Spit" as an especially maniacal episode, specifically pointing out a character who is a talking foot, which causes him to scream.
- The voice of Rocko also voiced Spyro the Dragon