Everyone remembers their favorite cartoon as a kid. For most kids, they were the highlights of our weekends - Saturday mornings spent with their favorite wholesome cartoon characters. While everyone reflects back on these shows fondly, a second look suggests that they also included plenty of inappropriate jokes.
Of course, not every cartoon is laced with hidden innuendoes, but these subtle WTF messages should have definitely made parents question the stuff their kids were watching. Just noticing a coy Daisy Duck shake her tail feather at Donald should have prompted some adults to sit down with their children and have a nice long discussion about the facts of life. In fact, diving deeper into the animated abyss, you’ll find a whole bunch of material that slipped past the censors.
Although certain controversial episodes never made it to air, some have been banned, and others have been pulled from rotation, there are several instances out there where cartoons totally crossed the line.
Here are 15 Forbidden Messages In Kids’ Cartoons That Got Past The Censors.
Pokémon has included everything from guns pointed at kids’ faces to Hitler mustaches, to Jynx looking like hit stepped out of an Al Jolson movie. There was even a time the show featured flashing lights that ended up sending hundreds of kids with epilepsy to the hospital.
While most controversial episodes were removed in export from Japan to the USA, there was one that managed to slip through the cracks in later years. "Beauty and the Beach" featured James wearing a suit with inflatable breasts during a beauty contest. In it, he holds his fake boobs as he taunts a crying Misty about her breast size.
Of course, displaying a younger girl in a bikini for entertainment’s sake wouldn’t be complete without ogling older men, so they made sure there was some of that in there, too.
14 The Flintstones
While there was a lot of outdated ideology happening within these prehistoric families, there were some messages that were included in The Flintstones that were definitely not aimed at children.
Sure, Fred and Barney might have been a little bit sexist. They were always at work while Wilma and Betty were at home stuck doing chores. And yes, it may have even been implied that Barney and Betty had some trouble conceiving. However, highlighting the animated characters smoking and drinking beer is a big Yabba Dabba Don’t!
Somehow, producers and sponsors thought the cartoon would be a great way to sell products – to adults. It was the ‘60s, so eventually, laws were enacted and the days of glorifying Winston cigarettes and Busch Beer in front of children became a thing of the past; much like the theme of the show.
There are tons of wild fan theories about the characters in Scooby-Doo. After all, it is considered by most to be one of the greatest cartoons of all time.
The innuendoes are well-known to anyone who’s seen the animated series. Whether it’s Velma’s preference for the ladies or Fred and Daphne getting it on, everyone has their own theories about what was really happening in the "Mystery Machine". The most popular one of all is the fact that Shaggy was always stoned. It seems almost comical that they were ever able to get away with that.
The 2002 live-action/computer-animated film even poked fun at the suggestion with Shaggy and Scooby-Doo sitting in a smoke-filled van talking about getting toasted. Of course, they were merely barbecuing, but the joke was not lost on those who grew up watching the cartoon.
12 The Smurfs
It’s true, there were a lot of valuable lessons to be taught from watching The Smurfs, but there were also definitely some things slipped in there to warn children of the perils of adulthood. As Smurfette was written as the buxom blonde (which was weirdly illustrated in a way that put down brunettes), one episode actually had her propositioning an ogre in order get back some stolen food.
In fact, several episodes had sexual undertones. “Smurf the Other Cheek” taught us why it’s important to have safe sex. After Hefty Smurf catches a “blemish” from a strange woman in the woods, he finds it impossible to get rid of his affliction without passing it along to someone else. In “The Astrosmurf”, Papa Smurf ups his creep factor after drugging and lying to another Smurf. And, of course, there was that time the entire village fat-shamed one of its own. It’s really no wonder they were always blue.
11 The Jetsons
Looking back at another childhood favorite, it’s actually now hard to miss the misogynistic undertones in The Jetsons. While the cartoon took place in the future, the characters were obviously all living in the past. Jane Jetson was a homemaker who was obsessed with fashion and shopping. Daughter Judy, at 16, was a boy-crazy teenager, who loved nothing more than going to the mall. On the other hand, George Jetson and their boy Elroy were portrayed as being hard-workers.
While sexist stereotypes were not necessarily frowned upon when the show was being made, teenage pregnancy certainly was. It seems having a young, beautiful wife was also part of the stereotype, so much so, that no one thought twice when Jane first mentioned that she was only 33 years old. That would make George seven years her senior, and would also mean that Jane had Judy at the tender age of 17. Whoops.
In the ‘80s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles climbed out of the sewers and into our hearts. Everybody loved these heroes in a half-shell who also happened to be cleverly named after Italian Renaissance artists. Although originating from the comic books, which were actually a bit darker than the animated series, the cartoon (and the franchise that would follow) shifted gears more toward children – or so we thought.
After gaining worldwide success, it appeared America had a different idea of what passed for acceptable violence. In other countries, there was controversy surrounding certain weapons the turtles used, and even the word “ninja” was thought to have too much of a violent association for a kids’ show.
The program was forced to change its name to Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in the UK and various edits were done throughout other countries. Michelangelo's nunchuks were even eventually replaced with grappling hooks, giving this crew a little less turtle power.
A large part of the humor on Animaniacs was undeniably aimed at adults. They pulled off parodies on everything from well-known operas to The Godfather. But it’s the way this show had a thing for overtly sexualizing women that most remember. A lot of scenes even came complete with Wakko and Yakko’s tongues rolling out.
The character of Minerva Mink, a blonde bombshell based on sex symbols like Marilyn Monroe and Veronica Lake, eventually had to be toned down due to her sexual nature. When that still didn’t work, they tried again with the character Hello Nurse, who sports pretty much the same look, only this time wearing a nurse’s uniform.
The running joke of her appearance, causing Wakko and Yakko to yell "Hellooooooo, Nurse!" actually comes from an old vaudeville gag. "Hello, nurse!" was a catcall used to signify the sighting of a voluptuous woman in a nurse’s uniform. It’s looney to think they got away with any of this.
8 The Powerpuff Girls
The Powerpuff Girls were an interesting phenomenon that children everywhere loved – especially little girls. Created by Professor Utonium in a lab, he made the trio out of sugar, spice and everything nice. The accidental addition of Chemical X, gave the girls super powers and because of an evil ape with some serious mojo, their evil counterparts, The Rowdyruff Boys, were born.
Aside from addressing normal kindergarten issues on this show, the animated series has taken on some more adult subjects. For instance, The Rowdyruff Boys, created by Mojo Jojo, were said to be made from the most disgusting things imaginable - an obsession with destruction that always had potential to lead to their own downfall, cooties, and "shrinkage" when their egos are damaged. Ahem.
7 Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball Z is the sequel to the Japanese anime television series Dragon Ball. This one follows the adventures of the adult Goku and his friends as they defend the earth. Dragon Ball Z's immense popularity has generated a majority of the content you’ll find in the Dragon Ball universe.
DBZ is known for being laden with some really perverse moments and an overwhelming amount of violence. The show was so controversial making its way onto American television, editing continued for years after episodes had initially aired. Blood, nudity and dialogue have all had to be removed and/or altered. However, child death, self-sacrifice, mass extinction, predators who pose as old men, and a pig with a penchant for panties, all somehow blew past the censors at one point or another.
Even though it was the 1980s, naked anthropomorphic animals were never anything that was appropriate for children’s cartoons. That’s why when the pilot episode, entitled “Exodus”, had the ThunderCats walking around the ship completely naked, a lot of people were wondering who was sleeping on the job there. The stranger part is, you actually see them wearing clothes at one point in the pilot, which means, they must’ve purposely meant to draw them naked later?
It's jarring during the episode’s bedroom scene when Lion-O is just waking up and it would appear Cheetara is just standing over him topless. Also, there is one extremely suggestive moment when Lion-O pulls at his sword between his legs and Jaga tells him, “It will not be long before the sword feels natural in your hand.”
5 Tiny Toon Adventures
In a three-part episode called “Elephant Issues”, Tiny Toon Adventures thought teaching little kids about serious topics was a good idea. The segments address issues such as getting along with different people, peer pressure, and, of course, the evils of alcohol.
In the segment titled “One Beer", Buster, Plucky, and Hamton decide to get drunk. After that, things seem to quickly spiral out of control. The trio steals a police car (outside of a doughnut shop no less), go on a joyride and wind up meeting an untimely demise after they crash through a sign and drive right off of Death Mountain into a graveyard. This appalling adventure managed to slip right past the censors. It aired once and was then pulled.
Years later, Warner Bros. eventually decided to include it on the DVD. If seeing a fiery blaze and your favorite cartoon characters in angel wings isn’t enough to teach you about the dangers of drinking, nothing will.
4 G.I. Joe
When it comes to combat, you have to be mentally and physically prepared for what’s in store. Well, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero did not mess around with that message. This kids’ cartoon played some messed up psychological mind games that could’ve just as easily been straight out of Kubrick’s war film, Full Metal Jacket.
"The Phantom Brigade" had Cobra summoning ghosts in an attempt to try to take Joe’s agents down. In "The Gamesmaster", a bored, rich guy decides to kidnap Cobra and Joe agents and toy with them on a private island. Other episodes included weird dancing in seedy clubs and sucking the youth out of models.
The worst of all was “There’s No Place Like Springfield”, because nothing says children’s cartoons like planting horrible delusions into a character’s head and driving them to the brink of insanity just to extract some information, right?
In the ‘90s cartoon TaleSpin, Baloo, originally from The Jungle Book, and his navigator, Kit Cloudkicker, were often on flying adventures that involved air pirates and some kind of action that signified they were living in the 1930s.
While no one could miss that the actual World War II was going on during those years, the episode "Last Horizon” went completely overboard in an attempt to depict things with historical accuracy. Needless to say, the idea of incorporating some really negative Asian stereotypes did not have everyone laughing and resulted in the satirical episode being temporarily banned.
In the fictional city of Panda-La (Pandas are native to China) lived the Japanese Emperor Wan Lo. From here it goes from bad to worse with some offensive accents and, of course, the end, where they blow everything up in a blatant reference to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Someone definitely should have warned them to abort this mission.
2 Cow and Chicken
Following the misadventures of two animal siblings, this Cartoon Network animated series hovered over the line of what was acceptable on a regular basis. References to smoking appear early on in Cow and Chicken and the flamboyant “Red Guy” always had his rear-end exposed. However, there was one controversial storyline that shockingly managed to make it on the air once before it was pulled.
In the episode “Buffalo Gals”, when an all-female biker gang takes over Cow and Chicken’s house, the lesbian references are hard to miss – which is a surprise the censors did. Aside from the softball jokes and the other horribly offensive stereotypes, the fact that they were literally chowing down on carpet should have certainly set off some alarms. Someone even thought it would be a great idea to name one of the characters, “Munch Kelly” - in case the other innuendos were too subtle.
Even though Chowder was often praised for being a kid-friendly show with little toilet humor, every once in a while a dirty joke would pop up, catching everyone off-guard. On this show, each character- innocently enough - is named after some sort of food. Usually, the most offensive thing that comes to mind with this cartoon is how Chowder’s pet (named Kimchi) is really a smelly fart.
Of course, there was that one episode that slipped in a joke about oral sex while two guys were handling some phallic-looking ice cream. Oh, and that one scene Shnitzel tells an apparent sex story in front of Chowder (who represents a child) which gets Mung Daal all hot and steamy. Chowder is usually great when it’s hot and steamy... except when we’re talking about kids’ cartoons.
What are some other forbidden messages in kids’ cartoons that you think got past the censors? Let us know in the comments!