Children’s television is supposed to be a thing of innocence, purity, and fun. But as countless memes will prove, that often isn’t the case. In fact, many of the classic shows that we all grew up watching were more corrupt then any of us might think.
When it comes down to it, kids’ shows are actually crawling with as much scandal, rudeness, and tragedy as regular TV. And while you may have been blissfully ignorant to all of this as a child, we are about to open your eyes to the monsters lurking behind your childhood TV nostalgia. Sure, we may corrupt your fond memories and ruin your childhood in the process, but isn’t that what adulthood is all about?
In the same way that your curiosity just won’t let you take your eyes off a car crash, you won’t be able to help but read on, even as we traumatize your inner child. Below we present you with facts to make you laugh, facts to make you weep, and facts to make you cringe.
So enter with caution, because these are 16 Facts About Classic Kids’ TV Shows That Will Ruin Your Childhood.
16. Some Looney Tunes episodes are too racist for TV
Looney Tunes may be an international symbol of childhood fun but, having been around since 1930, it can occasionally be somewhat outdated. And by outdated, we don’t mean black and white (no pun intended) cartoons, but rather the older episodes whose values are, shall we say, “of the time.” Which is, of course, TV talk for something being old and racist. Looney Tunes has, in fact, 11 episodes that can’t be aired on television due to the highly offensive racist material in them. The 11 episodes that try to make humor out of racist stereotypes are infamously known as the “censored eleven.”
This isn’t the only time Looney Tunes has been controversial on the topic of race, as its Mexican mouse character, Speedy Gonzales, was once pulled from TV over fears that it stereotyped Mexicans. It was, in fact, the Mexican community that campaigned for his return, hailing him as an icon of their culture.
With a show having been around for over 80 years, there are bound to be slightly dated morals from time to time, but it’s probably safe to say none of us would anticipate Looney Tunes to be offensive enough to be pulled from TV. The fact that racism in children’s TV even made it to the drawing board is scary enough!
15. Eric Raymond in Jem and the Holograms was a sociopath
The whole concept of the 1980s cartoon show Jem – also known as Jem and the Holograms – was a bit scandalous to begin with. It was basically about two bands competing to be more famous than the other by any means necessary. It was somewhat predictive of the reality TV culture that would consume society in the next few decades, although looking back on it, Jem took our generation’s obsession with fame to new heights. Look no further than one of the characters in Jem actually committing horrendous crimes in order to get his band publicity.
The character, Eric Raymond, was the rival band’s manager and was pretty ruthless when it came to publicity stunts. In fact, on one occasion, he was on the phone and discussing bombing an orphanage for publicity; hopefully something that even the most shameless of reality stars wouldn’t do for fame. These disturbing crimes weren’t a one off either – some fans have counted that throughout the series that he committed no less than 157 crimes.
What makes all of this even weirder is that at no point in the show’s run did he face any kind of legal consequences. No arrests, no jail sentences, no one even batted an eyelid. What kind of world was Jem set in? And what kind of message was this sending out to kids? No wonder a culture of getting famous by any means possible developed, what with people casually going to these extremes just to get some time in the spotlight for their cartoon band.
14. Roadrunners aren’t actually fast
How many of our weekend mornings were spent watching the adventures and misadventures of Looney Tunes favorites The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote? The two had a Tom and Jerry-style relationship, with Wile E. Coyote trying to find cunning ways to catch the impossibly fast Road Runner. It would always end in disaster and humiliation for the Coyote, whose plans always fell through with the roadrunner dashing away unharmed.
However, the whole concept of the famous cartoons is about to be destroyed, along with your precious childhood memories. And that’s because roadrunners can’t actually run very fast – in fact they top out at just 20 MPH. Meanwhile, the competing coyote is actually able to run much faster, at speeds up to 43 MPH. So really, the entire ongoing chase was all a lie, spoon-fed to us by that evil ACME Corporation. In reality, that coyote could have caught that roadrunner on his first try. Which begs the question, what else was Looney Tunes lying about? Next thing we’ll find out is that bunnies can’t really talk!
13. The Flintstones advertised for a cigarette brand
The Flintstones are an age old (or should that be stone-age old?) brand that have entertained households for years. Known for being a family-friendly cartoon, parents would happily let their children sit and watch the series and often enjoy it themselves too. However, in a very questionable product endorsement, The Flintstones once put their squeaky clean reputation at risk.
In 1961, the cartoon cavemen were the stars of a TV advertisement for a cigarette brand. The commercial featured characters of the show buying and smoking cigarettes with great pleasure. In fairness to the show, The Flintstones had a primetime TV slow and so it targeted heavily to adults too. It was also a time when everyone smoked and the surgeon general recommended a certain cigarette brand over others. In fact, the characters were also used to advertise a brand of beer at one point. Still, in our 21st century world, the use of family friendly cartoons to advertise is usually reserved for merchandise, toys, and fun candy, and so we can’t help but wince at the thought of Fred and Barney lighting up a Winston.
12. Sally Brown was voiced by Fergie in 1984 and 1985
Fergie is a pop star generally known for her party anthems with the Black Eyed Peas or, more recently, for her song about MILFs. However, her career started off much more innocently, and for two years, way back in the ’80s, Fergie lent her voice to the well-known character Sally Brown, of Peanuts fame. And while this may not be quite enough to ruin your childhood, it’s still such a cool piece of trivia that we just had to include it. And let’s be honest, it’s definitely something that no one saw coming, and it’s sure to leave you confused, and even looking back in hindsight at the pieces that don’t quite fit.
With her vocals used for songs like “Shut Up”, “My Humps”, and “M.I.L.F.$” Fergie hardly seems like someone that you’d associate with the likes of the innocent little Charlie Brown. Still, stranger things have happened. No one would have guessed Taylor Momsen could go from little Cindy Lou Who to an edgy rock chick. No one would have dreamed that little Lindsay Lohan would go from the sweet The Parent Trap star to being an off-the-rails tabloid celebrity. But nevertheless our generation is constantly seeing child stars grow up in front of our eyes, and being shocked when they do pretty much anything other than remain a child. But in the case of Fergie, we had no idea we were ever tuning into her when we watched our Saturday morning TV as a kid!
11. Ed, Edd and Eddy were shown looking at porn magazines
When looking back at some things shown in cartoons, you can’t help but wonder what the hell the animators were thinking. Not to mention how on Earth they got away with it! One moment from Ed, Edd n Eddy is a prime example, as it shows two of the characters sitting with a porn magazine surrounded by some questionable used tissues. Cringe.
As a child you wouldn’t have noticed or given it a second glance, but looking at it now, you can’t help but gasp. We don’t know whether to laugh or cry, so instead we’ll just spread its existence all over the internet. This isn’t the only risqué reference in the show, as there was also a Post-it note in one of the characters’ bathrooms from their parents reading “don’t touch yourself“. We’ve provided complimentary brain bleach– feel free to partake.
10. Creepy internet conspiracy theories about all your favorite kids’ shows
The internet has a way of tainting anything innocent, and your favorite kids’ shows are no different. Conspiracy theories are like an internet disease, willing to get infect anything they can. Almost every classic kids’ show has received the conspiracy theory treatment, and they’re all as eerie and dark as they come.
One of these theories gives Rugrats a dark twist by saying that the toddlers are all a figment of Angelica’s schizophrenic imagination and that all the children are dead. Tommy was allegedly a still-born, Chuckie died with his mother, and the twins were aborted. This is truly childhood-ruining and the perfect example of the internet going a step too far. And Rugrats is not the only one that’s had this treatment.
The internet has claimed Spongebob Squarepants is all the result of nuclear testing, The Flintstones is the result of an apocalypse, and The Powerpuff Girls are different personalities of a girl with multiple-personality disorder (because no internet conspiracy theory is complete without MPD). So if you ever think about googling an old favorite cartoon, think again.
9. Spongebob made a prison rape joke
Whether we admit to it or not, many of us watched Spongebob Squarepants way into our teenage years– or even to this day. And perhaps that’s because the show is somewhat targeted to audiences of older ages too, as it’s a cartoon known to be a repeat offender for using adult jokes and humor, and pushing its luck with its label as a kids with every passing year.
Thanks to the internet, people are now able to point out these inappropriate moments to those who remained blissfully unaware all these years. Over the seasons there have been so many racy moments in Spongebob, including Spongebob watching sea porn, the odd penis joke, and even a period joke. But perhaps one of the naughtiest of them all is when Spongebob makes a “Don’t drop the soap!” joke to his pet snail Gary. Sorry, was that a prison rape joke in a kids cartoon? You twisted little sponge!
8. Scooby Doo would be dead by now
The famous show Scooby Doo, Where Are You! first aired in 1969. Scooby Doo’s TV career has continued ever since, with various different shows following his detective adventures with Mystery Inc ever since. In fact, the most recent Scooby Doo series – Be Cool, Scooby Doo! – is still running, meaning Scooby has been on our screens for 37 years now. Ignoring the fact that he was a fully grown dog from the show’s beginning, this would put him at least at 37 years old– and that’s not even in dog years! We hate to break it to you, but the real mystery of the show is Scooby himself. No dog lives to be that old, not even one that can solve mysteries and talk to a stoner.
We get that it’s tough to hear, but the Scooby Dooby Doo (or Scoobert Doobert for those more formal) that you grew up with has been long dead. We’d suggest that next time there’s a mystery on the show and the gang goes for the classic move of pulling a mask off, they try it on Scooby himself. The only explanation is that some creepy old white guy (as most of the culprits were) is hiding underneath. All these mysteries they’ve solved and they’re missing the one right under their noses.
And just to add to the heartbreak a little, this fact applies to many of your favorite fictional pets from childhood. Bugs Bunny is now over 75 years old, meaning in real life he would be long gone, and of course thee list goes on – Tom and Jerry, Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse and his gang. In real life, they would all be dead and buried years ago. Welcome to the real world, kids.
7. Mojo Jojo was voiced by Ghostface
We always knew that Mojo Jojo from The Powerpuff Girls was evil, but we wouldn’t have put him down as being a masked serial killer who targets groups of innocent teenagers. Okay, so maybe it isn’t Mojo Jojo himself, but this is still pretty weird. The voice actor of Mojo Jojo is Roger Jackson, who is the same guy who voices the notorious masked villain from the Scream franchise.
Not only did we Scream with shock when we found this out, but our childhoods were strangely ruined and linked up with our teenage years spent secretly watching horror movies in the basement with our friends. In fact, this bit of trivia almost has the same effect as seeing your favourite Disney Channel star sexing it up in a new, edgy acting role. We just don’t like to see our favorite childhood classics – the ones that were so wholesome and innocent – associated with something much more impure.
6. A banned Tiny Toons episode featured drunk “children”
Tiny Toon Adventures was known for being the even cuter, more childish spin off of Looney Tunes. The show followed a group of younger characters being mentored through Acme Acres Looniversity by the famous Looney Tunes characters. But we all know that things tend to get a little wild in those university years, and these Tiny Toons were no different. It seems that they had their fair share of wild nights out, ones that would make even Jersey Shore or Project X look tame.
Apparently the show got a bit out of hand when they decided to do an episode where the characters drink some beer, and they ending up having one hell of a bender. Their drunk misadventures led them to stealing a cop car and joyriding it – eventually off a cliff. The alleged message of the show was to warn kids of the dangers of drinking, but it seemed to get lost in the episode’s story. Not only was this a kid’s series showing cartoon characters getting drunk, but it showed them stealing, blatantly disrespecting the police, stealing a car, and drunk driving. It seems that even cartoon child stars go off the rails sometimes.
5. Animaniacs made a dirty joke about Prince
When rewatching the children’s cartoons we grew up on, it’s not uncommon to find the odd adult joke thrown in. It’s fairly harmless, since they went right over your head as a kid and probably made the show more entertaining for the parents forced into watching them over and over again. It does however leave you with a bit of a “wait, what?” moment when watching it back as an adult. You soon realize that the cartoon characters of your youth were never fully innocent, and relied on your own innocence to let them get away with the odd wink to something racier.
Animaniacs is just one example of this, and we have to give it credit for being one of the strangest one we’ve come across. When the gang go searching for prints from a crime, one character misunderstands and looks for musical legend Prince. Upon finding him, they try to correct her by saying “finger prints” which is also misconstrued. We’ll let you figure the rest out, and leave you with the bizarre imagery that comes with it. Childhood. Officially. Ruined.
4. Mel Blanc has “That’s all folks” on his tombstone
Some of the facts on here are amusing, but this one is truly heartbreaking. Mel Blanc was an incredible talent, and you have him to thank for many of your childhood favorites – in particular the Looney Tunes characters. Not only was he the voice of one of the most iconic characters ever, Bugs Bunny himself, but he also portrayed other favourites such as Tweety Bird, Daffy Duck, and Speedy Gonzales. In truth, he voiced the majority of successful Looney Tunes characters and any of the originals that come to mind we can guarantee shared his voice. Sadly, after voicing these characters for many years, Blanc passed away in back in 1989, at the age of 81. He left a timeless legacy behind him, and his tombstone pays tribute to that, in a soul-crushing way.
His tombstone has the classic Looney Tunes ending line “That’s All Folks!” written on it, putting a truly emotional twist on the iconic catchphrase. The inscription was a request of Mel Blanc himself, who asked for it in his will. Even after his death, not only does his voice remain in the classics that are constantly re-watched, but his voice has also been included in productions since he passed, including in the film Looney Tunes: Back in Action in 2003.
3. The Teletubbies set has been destroyed
In hindsight, Teletubbies was a rather bizarre show. It was – as far as we can tell – about a group of various colored and vaguely humanoid creatures running around on a hill and eating “tubby custard” while the TVs on their stomachs occasionally taught us something. Oh, and the sun was inexplicably a living baby’s face. It’s fair to say looking back on the show in any way will put a strange spin on your childhood, however, something that’s bound to upset you will be the knowledge that the tubbies’ famous home is no more.
The vivid green grass hill was actually the hill of a farm in England, where on sunny days (sunny days… in England?) it was transformed into the Teletubbies set. However, after the show officially stopped filming in 2001, the owner of the farm began to get irritated by constant trespassers wanting to get a glimpse of the famous location. She became so sick of it in fact that she flooded it with water to turn it into a pond and make it unrecognizable to the public. We can only hope that all the Teletubbies were safely evacuated from their homes first.
2. The voice actor of Caillou died aged 17
Caillou was a sweet little cartoon about a young kid learning about life and the world around him. It was hugely successful and Caillou became a household name for kids. However, behind the scenes, it became part of a very dark and unfortunate story involving an untimely death. The show’s main character of Caillou was voiced by the 17-year-old actress Jaclyn Linetsky, who had a promising career ahead of her in both cartoon and live-action roles. Unfortunately on September 8th, 2003, her life was tragically cut short.
She and her co-star, Vadim Schneider, were on the way to a set of another TV project in their friend’s minivan. The minivan lost control and collided with a truck and burst into flames. Both of the teenagers died instantly. As a result of this, Caillou began to be voiced by someone else, and the show was forced to continue without the young star’s talents.
1. Chuckie’s mum wasn’t always dead in Rugrats
We all remember the shy, cautious little runt that was Chuckie in Rugrats. With his messy ginger hair and thick glasses he was nothing short of adorable, if not a little nerdy. He also became well-known for his somewhat tragic backstory. It was occasionally touched on in the show that Chuckie didn’t have a mom, but when the toddlers hit the big screen with Rugrats In Paris they made it a central theme. Poor little Chuckie was portrayed as a sad, motherless toddler in want of a mother like all his friends had.
However, what’s even more upsetting is that it would appear Chuckie’s mom died within the series timeline. Occasional references to his mom were made early on in the series, as if she were alive and well. She was never a main character and so perhaps the writers thought making the switch to having Chuckie’s mom being dead would go unnoticed. To be fair, it probably did to all kids in the ’90s who watched the show without ever heavily analyzing it. However, in hindsight, we can now see that for the series to make sense Chuckie’s mother must have died within its timeframe — meaning Chuckie was going through Hell.