- “They think I'm crazy, but I know better. It is not I who am crazy: It is I who am mad! Can't you hear them? Didn't you see the crowd?”
- ―Ren Höek
Ren Höek is the titular main protagonist of the Ren & Stimpy TV series. He is a scrawny "asthma-hound" Chihuahua with cream fur, a floppy body, donkey-like ears, neon-pink eyes with dark red pupils, red (or sometimes light brown) eyelids, and a fairly long, rat-like, pink tail who often calls Stimpy an idiot ("eediot", to quote the character) and slaps him around, quite literally. Ren is vain, spiteful, hyperactive, abusive, and he has a short fuse (especially with Stimpy). His lifelong ambitious personality is to have huge pectoral muscles. Ren's name is the real name of Kricfalusi's building manager. He was born on Tuesday the 17th, which makes him especially unlucky.
Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman of Animation World Magazine described Ren as "scrawny," "dyspeptic," and "violently psychotic." On some occasions Ren "lost his mind" in a "cumulative process," resulting in Ren becoming, in Goodman's words, a "screaming klaxon, neon-pink eyes dilating into twin novae inches above his jagged, monolithic teeth." Andy Meisler of The New York Times described Ren as "adventurous," "intelligent," and "emotionally brittle."
Ren was originally voiced by series creator John Kricfalusi for the first two seasons and was later voiced by Billy West in Season 3-5 after John K got fired in 1992. In the pilot, Pierre Decelles provided Ren's signature diabolical laughter, while West performed Ren's laugh in the series. John K returned to voice Ren in the short-lived Adult Party Cartoon.
At the beginning of the series, Ren had a long, pink, rat-like tail. It is seen frequently in "Big House Blues", "Stimpy's Big Day", and "The Big Shot". After that, Ren's tail would constantly disappear, in the episode "Stimpy's Invention", Ren's tail kept disappearing and reappearing, being quite noticeable, to the point of not being seen at all. His tail was amputated by George Liquor in "Dog Show", but later it grew back at the end of that episode. The only time Ren’s tail appeared in the Adult Party Cartoon was Ren Seeks Help (not counting Man's Best Friend or Big House Blues). He is shown at times in Adult Party Cartoon to have a small stout of a tail similar to a real-life Chihuahua's. Several episodes, most noticeably Ren Seeks Help, show his tail.
The reason for Ren's tail disappearing altogether was that creator John Kricfalusi hated animating it, so most of the time, he just left it out. After he was fired, Games Animation's episodes rarely had his tail showing as well, giving it a rare form of continuity, where there'd be whole episodes not featuring his tail, or his tail only being featured in short cameos. When Ren's tail vanished completely, it was replaced with human-style buttocks (similar to Stimpy).
Unlike the jolly dim-witted Stimpy, Ren is rather smart. However, he often seems to be a hot-tempered, scrawny, mean, dyspeptic, very hyperactive, emotionally unstable, greedy, spoiled, and violently psychotic chihuahua. He has stated once in "Stimpy's Invention" that he "loves" being angry. He is extremely selfish and childish, and at tense times mentally unstable. He also is shown to have several mood swings.
Ren's personality is best explained in the episode "Ren's Bitter Half", where Stimpy used his genetic chemistry set to create a substance called xB-49. Ren accidentally splashed the chemical onto himself, causing him to split into his evil personality, Evil Ren and his indifferent personality, Indifferent Ren. According to this episode, Ren being indifferent keeps him from going too far or losing control, as Evil Ren soon became corrupted and villainous without Indifferent Ren's influence, destroying many of Stimpy's possessions by throwing them into a vat of acid, plotting world domination with an army of his clones, beating up his clone brother, and replicating himself into the female Hideously Evil Ren, whom he married.
In the episode "Space Madness", Ren slowly went insane from constant extended isolation and tried to keep Stimpy from going insane by forcing him to guard the History Eraser Button, which led him to erasing them out of existence. In "Stimpy's Fan Club", Ren is jealous that Stimpy has more fans than him and tries to murder Stimpy in his sleep. However, he's stopped when his brain was overheating and stinging him. Ren's behavior carries many implications of sociopathy as well as psychosis, as he is shown several times to have no remorse in his actions unless they affect Stimpy.
In "Jimminy Lummox", he was shown to play pranks on both people and animals, which included hurting insects and ripping the wings off of a fly. In the Adult Party Cartoon episode "Ren Seeks Help", he was shown to enjoy harming small animals during his childhood, including a frog whom he tortured in various ways for years, despite his constant begging of Ren to euthanize him. Harming small animals for fun or pleasure is oftentimes noted as a main symptom of sociopathy, and Ren noted that he enjoyed inflicting the pain on others.
During "In the Army", Ren went mad from lack of sleep and constantly being forced to peel potatoes (or occasionally other objects, such as watermelons and missiles) as punishments, eventually believing that the Drill Sergeant was going to kill him and Stimpy. He tries to escape with stimpy to avoid his supposed fate.
Ren's ambitions vary from episode to episode. His first ambition was to develop large pectoral muscles, as shown in episodes such as "Robin Höek", "The Cat That Laid the Golden Hairball", and "Ren's Pecs". He also attempts multiple money schemes, in episodes such as "The Boy Who Cried Rat" where he pretended he was a mouse and Stimpy was a mouse catcher in order to swindle food and money from the Pipe family.
Ren is quick to put all blame on Stimpy rather than acknowledge his own actions in the deeds. Oftentimes, he is shown to slap Stimpy if he fails or annoys him, which became more apparent in the later seasons. He oftentimes refers to Stimpy as an 'idiot' or 'stupid.' In many episodes, he oftentimes smacks Stimpy and calls him a variety of insults, such as "The Big Shot" and "The Boy Who Cried Rat" although this waned. In "Ren Needs Help" he calmly states in group therapy that he smacks Stimpy when he makes him mad, which caused most of the patients and even the doctor to be fearful. In "Double Header" he attempts to send him away to Ursa Minor, even yelling that he didn't want to see him ever again because he was too fed up by him. He never learns from his mistakes and is quite frankly, despite Stimpy's stupidity, the true idiot.
On some occasions, Ren is actually somewhat understanding when Stimpy accidentally does something that impresses him. In some episodes, Ren has a malevolent, evil laugh when he has psychotic episodes, which are voiced by Billy West. Whenever Stimpy gives him something special, he thanks Stimpy and celebrates. He oftentimes calls Stimpy 'old pal', 'old friend' or some sort of variant. Ren has occasionally accepted and even enjoyed spending time with Stimpy and will be distraught to see something bad happen to him. Despite his violent temper, Ren does not seem to be very physically strong or athletic and has been overpowered by Stimpy on a number of occasions. It is also implied that he weighs little, as in "Out West" he was unable to be hanged because of his weight, fluttering in the breeze.
Even though Ren is seen as insane most of the time, Ren has also helped Stimpy on many occasions. One of the most known ones is "Son of Stimpy" When Stimpy's flatulence is seen as a "son" and then Stimpy cannot find him while searching around the house. Stimpy isolates himself from Ren, with Ren on many occasions trying to make him happy. Before Stimpy storms off into the cold night to look for "Stinky" his fart son, Ren makes a homosexual reference by looking up and seeing the mistletoe and elbows Stimpy. Which is one of the scenes that shows the character's homosexuality the most. In "It's a Dog's Life", he couldn't bring himself to hit Stimpy before their supposed execution, attempted to give Stimpy the Heimlich maneuver after he began to choke on the hard food their owner gave them, and later gave Stimpy an extra pillow for his bottom to sleep on after their owner had them neutered.
While Ren is shown to be annoyed by Stimpy, he is shown to value their friendship and will oftentimes go insane or sad from missing him. In "Stimpy's Big Day", he cried after Stimpy left and in "The Big Shot" he went utterly insane without him, leaving the house a mess and being unable to care for himself, believing that Stimpy was 'haunting him' in the form of his television shows and a pillow, and hugged a bag of Gritty Kitty litter with Stimpy's picture on it and began to sing the theme to the Muddy Muddskipper theme song. In "Son of Stimpy" he became very sad without him, sorely missing him and praying for his safe return, even being willing to give up his dreams of pectoral muscles if it meant he could have Stimpy back. After Stimpy returned, he put him next to the fire, patted him on the head, and kissed his forehead. In "Hermit Ren", he went insane from missing him and made a meat Stimpy. In "My Shiny Friend", he attempted to curb Stimpy's addiction to television, eventually destroying his television and forcing him to live in the basement for a year. In "Stimpy's Fan Club", he became remorseful for his actions and apologized to Stimpy for his behavior.
Ren's fiery temper is shown in many episodes, where he would often go off on violent, psychotic rages which would often result in the harming of Stimpy, other characters, and even himself. Ren's violent rage was however toned down in the Games Animation episodes, yet still was shown frequently. Ren is often prone to fits of psychosis, which would often
result in him becoming violent or breaking down into tears. In episodes he is shown to cry more often than Stimpy, and cries over things most people wouldn't cry about.
Like Stimpy, Ren has had many jobs throughout the series, which often last for a single episode. In "Fire Dogs", he and Stimpy posed as Dalmatians and worked as firemen, while in the Commander Hoek and Cadet Stimpy episodes, Ren is the senior officer and captain of the ship he and Stimpy use. In "Mad Dog Hoek", the pair worked as wrestlers. Some episodes portray them as working as a comedy duo, such as in "Stimpy's Fan Club" or "A Visit To Anthony". In several episodes, Ren can be seen going to work or coming home, but his job is never explained, such as in "Sven Hoek", "My Shiny Friend", and "I Love Chicken". In these episodes, Ren can be seen going to work and coming home dressed in a suit, fedora hat, and holding a briefcase. Between the two, Ren provides primarily for them via working, which is more apparent in the post-Spumco episodes. While Ren's job is never mentioned, according to "Double Header" Ren works at a top-secret factory, making warheads by pulling a lever and dropping a canister of into them. He claims that he went to thirteen years of night school for the job and obtained a degree in 'leverage.' However, it is unknown if Ren has maintained this job previously in other episodes or if this was a one time joke. In "Ren's Brain", his brain was shown leaving a building similar to the Daily Planet, a fictional newspaper company, and driving home, mentioning that he'd be happy to tell Stimpy about his promotion at work, indicating that Ren works at a newspaper company.
Unlike Stimpy, Ren is shown to dislike cartoons, in general, calling characters from cartoons 'puppets' and believing them to be for children, although he does enjoy television itself. He is shown to enjoy reading both the newspaper and various books, and is shown doing it in a variety of episodes.
Ren is shown throughout the series to have several important possessions and keepsakes. If any of these are damaged or destroyed, he is shown to have severe breakdowns. In "Sven Hoek" these possessions included his collections of dinosaur droppings, opera records, and jars of rare, incurable diseases. After each were vandalized by Sven and Stimpy, Ren became so fed up that he calmly stated in detail how'd he mutilate each of them, which included tearing their lips out, gouging out their eyes, tearing their arms out of the sockets, punching them onto the floor, and laughing at them. In "Ren Needs Help", he is shown to have a favorite chair he calls 'Danny' who 'watches over his friends' ie his collection of glass coffee tables he named Danny, Raymond, and Desi. After Stimpy accidentally destroys each of them playing golf, Ren snaps mentally and attempts to kill himself by sticking himself into their sink's garbage disposal. In "Fake Dad" after Kowalski came to live with them over the weekend, he attempted to spank him for destroying his couch due to the boy's immense weight, and ripping pages out of his book.
According to the episode "Ren Seeks Help", the reason for Ren's behavior is because at his birth, a doctor made him feel his first sensation - pain - which was so immense that he vowed that he would never feel it again by inflicting it on others, which eventually he found fun in. It is also implied in the episode that some of his psychotic behavior is because his parents were implied to be crazy, as well, and Ren inherited their madness to something of a degree. Despite "Ren Seeks Help" being written in 1991 (and almost being turned into an episode of the original series), it aired on Adult Party Cartoon and, as a result, is counted as non-canon.
A running gag throughout the show is that Ren's species is oftentimes mistakenly assumed by other characters to be a mosquito or a rat. In "Stimpy's Fan Club", Ren reads a letter from a female fan of Stimpy, in which she asks Stimpy as to why he always tolerates Ren, and inquires his species, specifically if he's a mosquito. In "Ren's Pecs", he was called a 'mosquito man' by a bully as an insult. In "Stimpy's Pet", Sid told Stimpy that he understood that the 'pink mosquito' (meaning Ren) 'wore the pants.' In "The Boy Who Cried Rat" Mr. Pipe believed Ren to be a rat, only for Ren to correct him as being an asthma hound Chihuahua and pulling out a certificate to prove it. In "Dog Tags" he says that he is a mosquito in self-loathing. In "Dog Show", Mr. Horse does manage to get Ren's species correct, although he mentions that he is a perfect representation of his sickly species. In "Stimpy's Big Day", he attempts to impress the producers of Gritty Kitty and convince them that he's a cat in order to win the money, doing such behaviors like playing with a catnip mouse and eating the litter. In several episodes, Ren is also seen with catlike claws.
Acting like a real dog
Although anthropomorphic, Ren is seen acting like a real dog sometimes. In "Big House Blues", he whimpers like one and is kept in the pound, even wags his tail, along with drinking out of a toilet bowl in order to wash himself after he kisses Stimpy in his sleep. In "Son of Stimpy", he's seen on all fours on top of Stimpy's litterbox, he's seen walking on all fours in "Dog Show", yet again, wags his tail. In "School Mates", he reunites with an old friend and the two are seen running on all fours and barking whilst chasing after Stimpy. In "Ol' Blue Nose", he can be seen kicking in his sleep while making dog sounds. In "School Mates", he is seen barking, chasing cats, playing with garbage and chasing cars. There are also many times in episodes where he would whimper whenever he would get hurt.
During the duration of the series Ren has had a total of two voice actors.
- John Kricfalusi
The creator of the series itself. For the first two seasons of the Ren & Stimpy Show (except for "Monkey See, Monkey Don't", "The Great Outdoors", a scene in "Stimpy's Fan Club" and "Cat Who Laid the Golden Hairball") and the Adult Party Cartoon, creator John Kricfalusi provided Ren's voice. He voiced Ren in a manner he described as a "Bad imitation of Peter Lorre". In a nutshell, John K. did Ren's Spumco-era voice, until he was fired by Nickelodeon itself, which kept his show until season five. John K. voices Ren in Adult Party Cartoon, although Ren's voice sounds different in an attempt to make him sound older. His voice recordings are heard in a few episodes of seasons 3-5 after being fired from Nickelodeon.
- Billy West
Billy West was the voice of Ren during the second season to the fifth season. However he did also voice Ren in several episodes of the second season and several scenes in Stimpy's Fan Club. In addition, he voiced Ren during the anthem of the Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen. After John K. and Spumco were fired by Nickelodeon, Billy West took over as the voice of Ren for the Games Animation episodes. West, who already voiced Stimpy, provided Ren's laugh throughout the series (even when John K. was still the voice of Ren). West provided Ren's voice using a combination of Kirk Douglas, Burl Ives, and a slight "south of the border" accent.
- Chris Edgerly
Edgerly voiced him in the "Nicktoons MLB" game.
- Kricfalusi received inspiration, used when drawing the first drawings of Ren, from a Elliott Erwitt black and white photograph of a growling chihuahua in a sweater next to a woman's feet, which he found very amusing.
- Ren was named after John Kricfalusi's landlord.
- Frank Welker, Joe Alaskey, Carlos Alazraqui, Pat Fraley, Hal Rayle, Patrick Pinney, Jack Angel, and Townsend Coleman auditioned for the voice of Ren.
- Billy West also auditioned to play Ren but the creators of the series believed that having West voice both Ren and Stimpy would give him too large of a workload, as he also voiced the titular character of Doug. So, Kricfalusi voiced him instead.
- It is implied several times that Ren may be older than Stimpy, perhaps by a large margin. This is supported by how in Ren's Retirement, Ren is stated to be ten - 53 in dog years - while Stimpy is said in "Stimpy's Big Day" to be three - 28 in cat years. In "I Was a Teenage Stimpy" Stimpy was shown to go through puberty, with Ren taking on the role of a conservative father to him, being happy that once Stimpy 'grew up' he'd have somebody to take care of him.
- In Adult Party Cartoon, Ren's voice is deeper in an attempt to make him sound older.
- In "Ren’s Retirement", Stimpy states that Ren is 70 in dog years when he turned ten, but this is inaccurate since chihuahuas, like Siamese cats, live way longer and age slowly than other dog breeds. This could be a goof about how Stimpy is too dumb to know how to count.
- The origin of the gag of Ren being referred to as a 'mosquito' could've been inspired by how many of the cast and crew members had, at first, believed him to be a fly or a mosquito after seeing his concept art.
- Doctor N. Gin from the Crash Bandicoot franchise is very similar to Ren, especially in the Radical Entertainment games where his voice sounds extremely similar to Ren's and may have even been influenced by him.
- He and Stimpy were going to be the pets of Donny Chicken Child, the son of George Liquor, but Donny was cut from the show.
- Mr Höek was voiced by Mike Kricfalusi, John Kricfalusi's dad.
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