Nickelodeon is renowned for providing some of the most entertaining children’s programming in TV history: SpongeBob SquarePants, The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, The Secret World of Alex Mack. For many of us, their shows encapsulated some of our happiest childhood memories spent in front of the television during the 1990s and 2000s. As such, it’s understandable why we’d associate the provider of the shows of our most innocent years as a beacon of upstanding values, but unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case.
Sometimes Nickelodeon has made news for the wrong reasons. At times, it isn’t entirely their fault, but other times they have been very much in the wrong. Whether it’s stars going off the rails, shows causing controversy, or other reputation-tarnishing situations, there’s a history of dark secrets which make them not seem so innocent at times.
So, without further ado, here are 15 Secrets That Nickelodeon Doesn’t Want You To Know.
15 Disney vs Nickelodeon
For many of us, Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel were both childhood cornerstones. Therefore, it’s upsetting to know that their relationship featured some bitter rivalry rather than a collective desire to bring entertainment to the young masses and make this world a better place. Still, we should have known better.
Following Miley Cyrus’ break-up from Liam Hemsworth, Amanda Bynes took to Twitter to call the former Disney star “ugly” and profess her attraction for her ex. Furthermore, Miley Cyrus was also rumored to not get along with Victoria Justice, but the latter dismissed the story as media hyperbole.
Maybe feuds between stars didn’t quite escalate to Biggie vs 2Pac standards, but there’s been enough bickering to suggest that it wasn’t always cozy between some stars.
14 ZOOEY 101 STAR ARRESTED
The most famous scandal surrounding teen sitcom Zooey 101 is the story of the show’s main star, Jamie Lynn Spears, became pregnant as a teenager. The show was stupidly canceled because of it, but the headlines she attracted are nothing compared to her co-star, Matthew Underwood.
In April 2012, the actor who played Logan Reese was arrested for possession of drugs. Later that year he was also arrested for violating the terms of his probation. He didn’t go to jail, however, and since then he’s been avoiding brushes with the law.
Fortunately for Underwood, he’s since made headlines for the right reasons. Earlier this year it was reported that he saved an infant boy from a car accident. Who cares if he got buzzed a couple of times in the past.
Elsewhere, Amanda Bynes has had her own brushes with the law for drug-related behavior, most notably in the event that culminated with her dousing her own dog in gasoline and burning her neighbor's property.
13 REN AND STIMPY EPISODE BANNED
Ren and Stimpy was renowned for pushing the boundaries of good taste and acceptability for a children’s cartoon on several occasions. Hence why it was always more popular among more mature audiences than kids. That said, the episode “Man’s Best Friend” too it too far, and was banned immediately by Nickelodeon due to its inappropriate content as a result.
The episode in question featured scatological humor and references to tobacco, but the scene which caused the stir depicted a violent assault by Ren on the character George.
Deemed too violent by Nick execs, it led to co-writer John K. being fired and the episode was removed from syndication for some time -- at least until it later re-emerged as part of Spike TV’s Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon spin-off show in 2003.
12 Sam & Cat cancellation reason
Ariana Grande is one of the biggest stars to ever emerge from the Nickelodeon family. After rising to superstardom with the popular sitcoms Victorious and Sam and Cat, the latter show was put on indefinite hiatus due to reported tensions on set between her and co-star, Jenette McCurdy.
Some believe that the tension arose from Grande’s larger mainstream profile. However, its cancellation has also been attributed to racy photos of McCurdy leaking, as well as Grande’s music career really taking off.
That said, in a tell-all interview with Seventeen magazine, Grande revealed more on set woes with fellow Victoria Justice, stating that her co-star on previous Nick show Victorious was mean to her. Interestingly, however, she also discusses her strong friendship with McCurdy in the same interview. How times change, eh?
11 REVEALING SCENE IN OGGY AND THE COCKROACHES
Cartoons have never shied away from sneaking in risqué innuendos and references, but a pair of naked breasts visible in the background isn’t the most subtle nod towards adult-orientated material. In fact, that’s the kind of material that prompts the birds and the bees conversation before it’s even necessary.
In the episode “(Un)happy Camper,” which sees the cockroaches on their way to the beach, we see a photograph featuring boobs on display in their vehicle for a few seconds. The picture is promptly covered by Oggy shortly after as he enters the vehicle, but by that point the damage was already done.
The episode was pulled from Nick’s programming schedule after the complaints started rolling in. Still, it’s hardly uncommon to see boobs on the beach and the Oggy creators were probably just going for authenticity and not trying to corrupt the youth.
10 EMMA ROBERTS ARRESTED FOR HITTING BOYFRIEND
Don’t mess with Emma Roberts. The Unfabulous star might have achieved fame playing a sweet-natured character, but you really don’t want to get on her bad side. Her on-off boyfriend, Evan Peters, reportedly found that out the hard way.
In a report that emerged in 2013, police were called to a hotel room where Roberts and Peters were staying and found both parties harboring injuries. However, witnesses said that it was Roberts who was arrested and taken in for questioning for assault.
She was let go shortly after without being charged, but that’s nothing compared to the ordeal her boyfriend went through as he ended up sporting a bloody nose. These days, their romance still seems to be ongoing, though, as they were spotted dating still earlier this year.
9 THE VIACOM LAWSUIT
Nickelodeon is one of a number of companies to come under fire as a result of a class action child privacy protection lawsuit filed against media conglomerate, Viacom. Basically, they’ve been accused of snooping on children and using the data gathered for their own monetary gain. At the time of writing, the case is still ongoing.
According to the concerned parent who initiated the lawsuit, the free gaming apps Llama Spit Spit and SpongeBob Bubble Party apparently gather kids' personal information through special software and use it for advertizing purposes. This is a violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits companies gathering children’s personal identifying information without consent.
Viacom believes that the claims were made without merit and plan to fight the case all the way to the end.
8 KEKE PALMER'S "TAPE"
We’re currently living in an era where it seems celebrities can’t have a private life without their racy details being exposed online. And if their personal pictures and videos aren’t being exposed by hackers, the rumor mill is never short on scandals -- even if there is no evidence.
Keke Palmer, the actress/singer Nick fans will remember from True Jackson, VP was in the headlines earlier this year denying claims that she’d made an adult tape with popular rapper The Game. According to Palmer, their relationship is strictly friends and nothing more.
The rumors were based on a video featuring Palmer and the hip hop artist that didn’t reveal anything concrete. So, basically, when there’s no actual evidence of dirty play, people will go out of their way to make it seem that way still.
7 WHEN ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE WENT TOO FAR
Like Ren and Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life is another Nicktoon that’s never been shy about pushing boundaries of acceptability. The show managed to sneak in a few dirty jokes without aggravating censors. However, the season one episode “Leap Frogs” went further than most.
In the episode, one sexually-frustrated married character tries to seduce the titular Rocko by aggressively pursuing him, claiming that she needed “a little attention from a man once in awhile.” Due to its sexual humor and scenes of attempted of adultery, however, the episode was pulled from Nick’s line-up for several years.
But over the years, Nick lightened up. In 2002, the episode aired for the first time since 1993 and it didn’t even feature cuts. Seemingly, the 21st century was more open to humor about breaking the marriage vow.
6 DRAKE BELL’S FINANCIAL TROUBLES
In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Drake Bell was on his way to becoming a national sweetheart. With his good looks, charm, successful music ventures and blossoming acting career, he looked set to rule the world. On top of that, Drake & Josh is arguably the most popular Nick show of all time, but its hunky co-star has fallen from grace since it ended.
In addition to social media spats and DUI arrests, Bell had to file for bankruptcy in 2014 after claiming that he was over half a million in debts as his income wasn’t covering his living costs. With expenses close to $20,000 a month and not enough earnings to cover it, the debt ultimately became too overwhelming to cope with.
Hopefully, he can get back on track sooner rather than later and we get that Drake & Josh reunion we’ve been waiting for since 2007.
5 RUGRATS ACCUSED OF ANTI-SEMITISM
One of the best qualities of Rugrats was its ability to portray the world through the hazy, curious eyes of a child. Therefore, when Tommy Pickles pondered the meaning of his Jewish religion in a 1998 comic strip, it didn’t go down too well with some readers. Religion is, after all, quite a touchy subject, and its insensitive handling in this particular strip sparked some controversy.
The outrage was caused due to the depiction of Grandpa Boris being too reminiscent of Jewish stereotypes. Abraham H. Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League claimed that “The caricature of Grandpa Boris is reminiscent of stereotypical Nazi-era depictions of Jews.”
Nickelodeon responded to the growing outcry at the time by removing the character from future issues of the series.
4 INVADER ZIM ACCUSED OF INSPIRING A MURDERER
Can entertainment create killers? Does questionable content inspire mentally damaged people to commit atrocities? That’s a debate that’s been raging on for decades, and at one time even Invader Zim was on the receiving end of a lashing.
On October 15, 2005, Pamela Vitale was found dead inside her home. Five days later, her neighbor, Scott Edgar Dyleski, was arrested and subsequently charged with murder. But how did that relate to a cartoon about an alien?
The prosecution asserted that Dyleski also had a fascination with images of body parts and drew attention to comments he had made after watching the episode Invader Zim "Dark Harvest", in which Zim collects human organs in an attempt to appear more human. According to witnesses for the defense, Dyleski’s comments were made in jest and not to be taken seriously. He’s in prison to this day.
3 FORMER STAR ABUSED BY X-MEN ACTOR
Brian Peck, the actor most famous for roles in X2 and the Return of the Living Dead series, was found guilty of assaulting a Nickelodeon star in 2004. He was charged with eight counts of sexual abuse.
Peck served 16 months in prison after admitting to the crimes, and these days he works as an acting coach -- sometimes on shows featuring children. He is, however, prohibited from interacting with underage parties. Following his release from prison, he would work for Disney on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
The actor chose to remain unnamed and was listed as John Doe in order to protect his identity. The case was featured in the documentary An Open Secret, which explores pedophilia in Hollywood. The victim isn’t featured, but it goes into more detail nonetheless.
2 FORMER POWER RANGER GOES EVIL
Ricardo Medina Jr. introduced himself to fans of kids’ television in 2002 when he played the Red Wild Force Ranger in Power Rangers Wild Force. In 2011, Nickelodeon debuted their own Power Rangers show with Samurai, and the actor would return to the popular universe to play a character named, Dekker.
For a while it seemed as if he was on course to etching his own name in the annals of Power Rangers history for the right reasons. That was until he was arrested in 2015 for stabbing his roommate to death, anyway.
He claimed self-defense and the murder charges were dropped in 2016. However, earlier this year he was convicted to six years in prison for voluntary manslaughter, to which he pled guilty. While there will be a new incarnation of the Power Rangers of some kind when he’s eventually released, we doubt he’ll be returning to the fold in any capacity.
1 SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS ACTOR FALSELY ACCUSED
In 2014, reports circulated on the internet that the voice of SpongeBob, Tom Kenny, showed underage videos and would also be facing charges. Reports also surfaced that the show had been immediately canceled as a result.
Fortunately, however, the accusation turned out to be false and the story didn’t gain any traction. Fans did take to message boards to voice their outrage, but that was about the full extent of it. In the end, it turned out to be a bad joke perpetrated by a comedy satire website with the worst sense of humor.
The article in question is longer online. But it wouldn’t be the first time that Nickelodeon has been falsely associated with such subjects, following similar accusations aimed at Dan Schneider in 2013. The cartoon does have its own dark secrets, but this isn't one of them.
Do you know any other secrets that Nickelodeon wants to keep hidden? Let us know in the comments.