Paw Patrol spin-off introduces ‘aspirational and incredibly cool’ first non-binary character

A still from new episode of Paw Patrol spin-off Rubble & Crew featuring non-binary character River.

Rubble & Crew, the spin-off from hit children’s TV show Paw Patrol, has unveiled its first non-binary character.

The new animated series follows five-year-old bulldog Rubble, one of the leading characters in Paw Patrol, as he assists with construction projects in Builder Cove, the town that neighbours the original show’s Adventure Bay.

While much of the series centres on Rubble and his bulldog clan, there are several human characters, including River, who featured in a recent episode.

River is a non-binary skateboarder, photography fanatic, and new resident in Builder Cove, who appeared in the programme on 21 August.

In the episode, River takes an interest in photographing some of the building work completed by Rubble and the gang. When they share their hope of capturing a shooting star that’s expected that evening, Rubble’s team builds an observatory to help them.

While the episode doesn’t explicitly mention the fact that River is non-binary or which pronouns they use, there is a subtle hint in what they’re wearing: their trainers and socks are pink, white and blue, the same colour as the trans Pride flag.

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A still from new episode of Paw Patrol spin-off Rubble & Crew featuring non-binary character River.
River’s socks and trainers are pink, white and blue, the colours of the trans Pride flag. (Nickelodeon)

River was written by non-binary author and activist Lindz Amer, who runs YouTube channel Queer Kid Stuff, which aims to bring LGBTQ+ media to family entertainment. 

In an Instagram post, Amer revealed that writing the character was a “bucket list” achievement. 

“I wanted to write a non-binary character who was aspirational and incredibly cool, someone for the pups (and kids at home) to look up to. They found an awesome non-binary actor [Cihang Ma] to voice River and I’m so happy how it turned out,” Amer said.

Despite the war in Ukraine, fighting elsewhere in the world, extreme poverty and a worsening climate crisis, the trainers of an animated children’s TV character have seemingly caused major upset in some right-wing social media circles, with some anti-LGBTQ+ trolls claiming the Paw Patrol franchise has “gone woke”.

However, feel differently, with one person writing: “Rubble & Crew is the latest target of the right-wing anti-LGBTQ+ fake outrage squad, all because the show had a non-binary character in one episode.”

In addition to raging about Rubble & Crew, bigots have also targeted Barney & Friends, the Barbie movie, and Build A Bear toys in recent months for their perceived “wokeness”.