Animation Age Ghetto

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"This is clearly one of the year's best films. Every time an animated film is successful, you have to read all over again about how animation isn't 'just for children' but 'for the whole family,' and 'even for adults going on their own.' No kidding!"

Animation owns the reputation of a frivolous medium suitable primarily for children's entertainment; according to numerous people from the animation community, this attitude prevails across much of the Western Hemisphere (and the Eastern Hemisphere's animation industry suffers this, though to a lesser extent). This wasn't always the case: during both The Silent Age of Animation and The Golden Age of Animation, cartoons—though very limited in their range of subject—ended up targeting adults as well as children. Three separate factors -- the rise of limited animation, the fall of the studio system, and advances in color film technology—ended up creating the Animation Age Ghetto.

In the age of black and white film, the Technicolor process made shooting live-action footage a complex and expensive process—but color animation could be made with easier and less expensive methods while remaining as much of a draw as live-action films. By The Fifties, live-action color films (and even television) became commonplace, which negated the Wow Factor of animation—and without the studio system to ensure shorts would be bundled with features, the market for animated shorts eventually crumbled. Due to a new focus on long-format pieces by the major motion picture studios, only Disney remained in the American animation business—and during The Fifties and The Sixties, it entered a period of being aggressively family-friendly.

Because of a lack of theatrical venues, short-form cartoons turned to television. Full-quality animation was expensive and involved protracted development cycles—but limited animation methods could achieve the required output of ten to twenty episodes per season while remaining reasonable in terms of cost. Studios realized cartoons made with limited animation could be cheaper than live-action shows; while a few did make primetime early on—the first season of The Flintstones, for example—the majority of limited animation shows ended up as children's programming (children aren't as sensitive to quality issues, and cartoons were cheaper—and more reliable—than the kinds of live-action shows normally made for children). Animation features no last-minute bloopers, no need to control live untrained children, and less pay/credit for the people who do the work—of course the studios loved it.

Once television animation became associated with children, the producers of animated shows began writing down to their presumed audience—which made animation outside of the Age Ghetto less profitable than animation inside it. Anything considered safe for children can potentially be licensed out for merchandise, which is nearly guaranteed to sell; shows can even be 30-minute commercials (FCC regulations permitting). The Age Ghetto paints older demographics as unprofitable.

These days, the Ghetto appears to have lost some strength—at least on television, anyway. Any cartoon not on a broadcast network (read: most cartoons made today) can defy the Ghetto as much as their mission statements allow. The concept of the Parental Bonus also made a comeback; after enough PSAs on parents needing to know what their kids are watching, the networks finally figured out parents can be a demographic. The successes of shows such as South Park and The Simpsons proved that animated sitcoms for adults can be profitable—to the point where such shows exist within their own genre, fill entire viewing blocs (such as Cartoon Network's late-night Adult Swim and FOX's prime-time Animation Domination Sunday), and build entire careers. These shows' tendencies to take Refuge in Audacity, however, can make people think animation remains "immature"—even if it's not for kids—which doesn't help matters when it comes to breaking animation out of the Age Ghetto.

Animated feature films stayed more respectable than TV animation: in the decades since animation's rise to prominence on television, numerous child-friendly feature films became critical darlings—so long as they brought a quality story to the table—and Pixar did more to break down the Age Ghetto for animation than any other studio in the United States.

Japan holds fewer preconceptions about animation, thanks to a different cultural view of the medium than in the West (most of the socially-acceptable animation comes in the form of theatrical films and primetime shows—especially those with the longevity of Sazae-san). Anime still faces public stigma in Japan, though: it's viewed as either "shows for children" or "shows for the socially awkward". (The latter alludes to the post-midnight showtimes of a large amount of anime; the view strengthened thanks to the moral panic caused by the Tsutomu Miyazaki murders.) Anime's success in the West—especially North America—produced a generation of viewers who have learned to enjoy animation well into adulthood, which helped in breaking the Age Ghetto down. Anime and manga also gained a strong Hatedom (and Hate Dumb) because of the Age Ghetto, which helps keep the Age Ghetto alive and well. In a cruel twist of irony, fans of Anime and Western Animation often collide and end up accusing the other of being in the Ghetto. (If anything, anime suffered the reverse of the Ghetto; see All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles.)

The world of independent animation provides a wealth of diverse adult animation, some of which occasionally bleeds out to the "safer" worlds of TV and feature film animation. Britain's Channel 4 helped bring the ethos of independent and experimental animation into the public's living rooms, though these efforts were ultimately curtailed for financial reasons.

A quick note: sometimes, people assume the "adult" in "adult animation" means lots of foul language, sexual content, and violence—but "adult" can also refer to content too complex for children to handle (as in "Would kids really understand this?"). Such content often ends up interpreted as either Parental Bonuses or Getting Crap Past the Radar.

Associated tropes: All Animation Is Disney, Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch, Girl Show Ghetto, Public Medium Ignorance, R-Rated Opening, The Dark Age of Animation, What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?

Examples of Animation Age Ghetto include:


  • The animated advertising mascot Joe Camel was pulled because various anti-smoking activists believed that the Joe Camel campaign was targeting children, even though the campaign was claimed to be directed only at the smokers of other brands. It seems clear however, that if you associate a cartoon mascot with a product, kids are more likely to take notice.
  • Anthony Hopkins narrated an animated awareness film for charity, showing exactly what happens during the annual pilot whale hunt in the Faroe Islands. Despite the extremely disturbing visuals of screaming whales being harpooned, eaten, and the leftovers dumped on the beach to rot, the film received a U rating in Britain (equivalent to a G in the United States) simply because it was a cartoon.

Anime and Manga

  • The Nielsen ratings for Adult Swim are often considered to be an example of this.[1] While this trope is subverted for their comedy titles, it is sadly played straight for most of their Anime titles.
  • In the English dub of Narue no Sekai, Kazuto's mother complains to him when he shows his girlfriend a magical girl anime series because, according to her, "cartoons are for kids". If you've seen the sort of Seinen magical series that the show is mocking, you'd disagree.
  • Space Adventure Cobra: In Puerto Rico, a Sunday Morning Kid's show aired four episodes of the Anime series, even though it features skimpy outfits, suggestive scenes and dialogue and people getting holes punched through them by Psychogun blasts. In every episode. Note: This isn't Values Dissonance; it was yanked off the air a month later without any public explanation once they realized what they'd done.
  • France used to have no problem with broadcasting shows like Fist of the North Star or Space Adventure Cobra in a time slot intended for kids; Dragonball Z used to in the 8 am or 10 am slot on TF1 back in the 1990s. This show sometimes has someone dying, bleeding to death, dismembered, etc., every other episode. This led to rather awkward dubbing from the voice actors, who had a hard time making the constant violence appear light-hearted, and to some protestations by parental associations. With the recent rehabilitation of animated media (greatly due to an exponentially increasing fandom of anime), much work has been put in making over the dubbing; anime is now viewed as a full-blown genre with its own specifications. Yet, censorship dies hard; Bowdlerisation still happens when the show's intended audience is too wide.
    • France is actually an interesting example of too much acceptance; the quality of localization went from mediocre in the 80's, to decent in the 90's, to downright good in the late 90's and early 2000's; by the late noughties, however, the sheer amount of imported material, and more importantly money to make off of it, led to droves of rushed cash-in dubs bringing the average quality right back to mediocre.
    • In Narutos case, the trope is played with. In France, they have no fewer than three French dubs, all from the same company: an uncensored one for adults based on the Japanese version, a mildly censored one for teenagers, and a heavily censored one for small kids based on the English dub. One can't help but wonder which dub they intended to aim at the Periphery Demographic, not to mention what said demographic consists of.
    • A French channel got into massive trouble when they aired Oniisama e... in the kids time slot. The show was cancelled after only 5 episodes. Was it maybe the lesbian subtext, the drug abuse or the suicide themes?
  • In the UK, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (dubbed and titled G-Force: Guardians of Space) was a Saturday Morning Cartoon complete with assassination, monsters that only ate women, and some fairly spectacular violence. They also aired, not just Evangelion, but the Shinji and Kaworu Bath Scene, at 10 am.
  • Speaking of Evangelion, Peruvian TV station America Latina aired it back-to-back with Pokémon during the children's hour. It barely managed to make it to episode five before being swiped off the air.
  • Petit Eva: Evangelion@School. With the madcap antics of the video, the source material must be for kids, right?
  • Just read this. Poor old Urotsukidouji. You'd almost think Popcultural Osmosis about its content would have protected it from this kind of bullshit by now.
  • In a review in Metro (free newspaper on public transport) of Goro Miyazaki's Tales From Earthsea, the reviewer made a remark along the lines of, "but its main problem is that it's not very funny; it's a cartoon, so what's the point if it's not funny?"
  • Those who remember Canadian 9/11 conspiracy theorist Toobis may remember his rant on anime and its follow-up:

Teenagers are watching cartoons instead of reading or going to the theatre. There is nothing intellectual about anime, and there's a reason universities have classes on Shakespeare and not on Japanese Por- err Anime.
I'm not saying that people can't enjoy different forms of art. (Yet the rest of the article says otherwise.)

  • For some time after the conclusion of Evangelion, when he was trying to make it as a director of "serious" films, Hideaki Anno lamented the death of the age ghetto in Japan in several interviews & cited the abundance of adult anime fans as proof of Japanese culture's degeneracy. He seems to have changed his tune somewhat in recent years, as he has gone back to working on anime.
  • The Irish DVD rental chain Xtravision charges €4 for a regular movie, but just 50 cents for kids' movies—which include all anime.
  • A website called Acts of Gord has one section where this happens. Two children try to rent an anime named Ninja Scroll that, due to its nature, is not a "family film". So thus he has to allow the kids' dad to come in to rent the film and he complains about having to come in "Just so they could rent a cartoon".
  • This trope is why all manga published in Italy includes the disclaimer "The characters depicted in this publication are all of age, and besides, they don't really exist, they're simply drawings"—because someone protested about people getting hurt or killed and sexual content in a "children's book".
  • The Animation Age Ghetto in Mexico is so strong that if it's animated, then it's automatically for kids even if it's the first chapter of Elfen Lied! Maybe that was why several shows like Ranma ½, squarely and completely for teenagers, were aired on the kids' TV slot during The Nineties. Of course, a TV show featuring a Dirty Old Man and a dude who turns into a girl is meant for kids.
  • Colombia suffers from this too. In Caracol TV aired Fullmetal Alchemist at the kid's schedule weekends 10:00 A.M or sorts. It roughly went to episode 5, even edited, until the network realized of what they got to. Then they moved it to the comfortable, 5:00 A.M in weekends... still edited. The same goes to Evangelion.
  • Parts of the United States still waver back and forth over this. In recent years, American bookstore chains started attaching slim sign disclaimers onto the Manga shelves with messages like "Some of these publications are not suitable for children", warding off any Moral Guardians that may complain about Boys Love comics in the "kid's section". Barnes and Noble outlets have moved the manga and comic book sections farther and farther away from the shelves of children's books over the years. To put this into perspective, ten years ago, the Sailor Moon manga was shelved with children's novels like The Magic Treehouse series. The manga may have had poor translation, but wasn't covering up Haruka and Michiru's homosexuality and censoring some of the violence the way the dub did.
    • However, several American libraries merely assume that, unless it's something like Watchmen, all manga and comics in general are for kids and kids ONLY. It's not uncommon to see a kid friendly comic being placed right next to Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi. Most manga (at least published stuff) has a label on it saying whether it was kid friendly or NOT - course librarians in America tend to not notice. Then again, miscategorization of stuff happens quite a bit in libraries - Stephen King and The Wheel of Time books are placed in the Juvenile fiction section with the labels SAYING "Juvenile fiction" on them, as well as Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books placed in adults section, when clearly, you can get away with having those in the juvenile section.)
    • Related; there also exists a "book ghetto", in that people assume that if something is placed in the children's section, no one other than children would find any appeal in it. Harry Potter suffered this trope when some countries produced alternative covers that looked gritty, or people who removed the jackets of the art so they wouldn't be found to be reading -gasp- a children's book. Not to mention, you'd be surprised how many things happen in kids' books that get past the radar. R.L. Stine had some very Family-Unfriendly Aesops in his books, some of his more teen-oriented books end up nearby stuff meant for ten-year-olds getting the hang of novels, Christopher Pike has been mistakenly put into the children's section, and there are some rather disturbing deaths in most Choose Your Own Adventure books. Tintin often finds itself in the children's section, though granted, it's rather "G"-"PG" rated, but most kids wouldn't really understand what Hergé was satirizing.
      • This is part of a wider problem with the way your local public library catalogs books. A lot of it is dependent on which budget was used to buy it, but there's also a lot of libraries that just duplicate the cataloging of another nearby library to save time/money. So one system messes up, so do the others. Cataloging books is harder than you'd expect. Libraries have small staffs and large collections. Catalogers can't read everything that comes in. So... yeah.
    • Hollywood Video apparently puts the very not-kid-friendly Excel Saga in the "Family" section, despite contents of the last episode.
  • Subverted and somewhat played straight in the Philippines. Until the 1960s-70s, perceptions on animation more or less followed American ones. The first influx of anime (eg. Voltes V, Mazinger Z, Daimos) in the country, however, helped weaken the Ghetto; Voltes V, in particular became a nigh revolutionary totem for Filipinos against the Marcos regime. Yet to this day, despite a solid otaku and comics community, the Ghetto stubbornly refuses to fade outright into irrelevance. Case in point: there remain Catholic Moral Guardians who still hammer down either the "Family-friendly ONLY" or "Think of the Children" rhetoric, in addition to equating hentai with child sexual abuse.
  • The Animation Age Ghetto is surprisingly strong in Japan's next door neighbor South Korea. A horrifying example of this was that a Korean dub of Hellsing Ultimate was being sold in a Seoul bookstore... in the same section and shelf as Pororo the Little Penguin and Doraemon. Apparently, store owners just don't care if an oblivious Korean family confuses a mature anime for a children's cartoon...
  • In Germany most anime is broadcast between 10am and 3pm. This includes Rose of Versailles, with its remarkably faithful translation. One of the rare occasions you can see cartoon young girls offering to sell their bodies, other women claiming to be the lesbian sex slave of the queen of France and kids getting shot while eating your lunch. Oh yeah, and for a short time they broadcasted the rewritten Crayon Shin-chan at 10am. Kids probably rejoiced when Mitsy hysterically searched the whole house for her dildo.
  • A good number of anime fans believe that 4Kids! Entertainment are firm believers of this due to their infamous Bowdlerization and censorship. Of course, the company’s name kinda says it all. Then again, Japan does have a different perception of the animation medium, as mentioned in the details above.
  • This is probably the reason Chirin no Suzu is rather unknown in the West. It looks like a sweet cute movie about a baby lamb however it's essentially a Japanese Watership Down. It doesn't help it was made in The Seventies.
  • Sonic X, while never intended for adults, DID have a lot more adult moments in its Japanese anime form. But when the aforementioned 4Kids! Entertainment got their grubby, kid-friendly hands on it real guns became lasers and mild profanities (at the Japanese level of 'Damn') were toned down even further in the American dub. Furthermore, dialogue which was Getting Crap Past the Radar in Japanese was often edited to be funny about something that wasn't sex, or just cut entirely. As well as this, Rouge the Bat had many cuts directly to her cleavage cut out.


  • This—not the expected copyright issues—is the basis for nearly any and all controversy over art exhibitions that depict subversions of classic cartoons, such as "Animatus" and "Splatter". With that in mind, see the very first line in this typical report on the latter.
  • It may be a stretch to call Spike and Mike animation festivals "art", but it's an even longer stretch to consider them kid friendly. That said, the notoriety of Spike and Mike's has never stopped woefully ignorant parents from bringing their children to what they believe to bee a bunch of short cartoons that'll keep their kids entertained for a couple of hours. It's called Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Animation Festival for a reason.
  • So you wish to be taken seriously in art? Don't draw heavily stylized art that looks cartoonish (Animesque or not) because for some reason, it isn't mature, even if your artwork depicts mature and gritty situations. This is part of the problem that most people assume that "mature" entertainment is gritty and violent, and for some, that's only what they want. Sadly, this mentality has caused a lot of people to feel pigeon-holed into drawing ultra-realistic art despite finding stylized stuff more appealing...and how weird realistic art often looks if it's not done correctly.
    • Averted by Takashi Murakami and the "superflat" movement.
    • Should not be confused with people who encourage realistic art as a stepping stone to stylized art. The "know the rules before you break them" type of people.

Comic Books

  • In an extreme example, there have been cases as recently as 2000 where comic book specialty stores which had separate adult sections have been convicted for corrupting minors, even though children weren't allowed into those areas of the store. The basis of the case is that if it is cartoon art, then it must be for children. Oh, and by "convicted," we don't just mean "forced to pay a fine and stop doing it." Some of the defendants in "obscene comic book" cases have been forced to (1) undergo psychological counseling, (2) undergo "journalistic ethics" courses, (3) avoid contact with minors, and/or (4) be subject to unannounced raids of their houses to check to see if they're in possession of or in the process of creating "obscenity". First Amendment rights, anyone? Maybe it's time for you to go donate to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
  • Partial example: Apparently some libraries put When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs in the children's section. It's a graphic novel in the same style as his books for children, but... it ends with the main characters dying horribly of radiation sickness. Although some libraries are aware of this trope and puts a big warning sticker for adults only.
  • In an unusual case of this, Robert Crumb, practically the patron saint of adult-oriented underground cartooning (and oh lawdy not at all for kids!), is somewhat cynical about the wave of "artistic" comic books and (I'm paraphrasing here) thinks comics should stick to their more proletarian roots.
  • Libraries that follow the Dewey Decimal System put all comics and graphic novels in the nonfiction section as books about art. Most libraries instead put them, along with manga, in a single subsection of fiction. This section is almost always inside the children's area, and no exceptions are made even for works that are specifically marked "for adults only" (e.g. Ghost in the Shell, which has a black banner to that effect on the cover of the American omnibus edition.) This is gradually being altered in some places. The San Francisco main library has three separate manga sections: children, adult, and teen.
  • A certain manga scanlation site used to have the following specifically-bolded intro: "In Japan people of all ages read manga, manga does not target younger audiences like American comics." The part isn't bolded now, but the wording of the intro hasn't been changed.
  • During the 1950's, the comic book industry was nearly destroyed. Why? A psychiatrist named Fredric Wertham (not entirely a bad guy, mind you, as he spoke out a lot against school segregation) noticed that a lot of the troubled boys he worked with described "reading comic books" as their favorite activity. Failing to take into account that pretty much every young boy at the time read comic books (not to mention failing to ask what kind of comics they read because comics, like regular books, have many different genres and sub-genres), he assumed that the comic books must've been the reason for their bad behavior. He published a book titled "The Seduction of the Innocent" and launched a crusade against comic books. There was even a Senate Hearing about it. Because of all the bad press, the comic book industry had to adopt the Comics Code Authority. Few stores would even sell comics that didn't have the seal. To get the seal, the comic had to adhere to a lot of rules, many similar to the Hays Code for movies. The rules were so strict on the basis that comic books were only for children, and the rules made it so that comics had to be pretty kid-friendly to get the seal, and as a result, the publishing of "adult" comics either stopped or went underground because of the Code. The Code is now defunct, as just about every comic book company has stopped adhering to it. To his credit, Dr. Wertham didn't actually want the Comics Code Authority to be created—he just wanted comics to have some sort of rating system.

Films -- Animation

Talking Cotton Ball 1: An animated film is not just a random series of mindless, self-indulging, violent cartoon images meant only to be enjoyed by young children or people with mental handicaps, but is a serious, valid art medium all unto itself which the artist is free to explore the purity of the film medium, down to each and every single frame. The animated arts are--
Talking Cotton Ball 2: (pointing) Roboooooooots!

  • The animated movie Heavy Metal was ridiculously, obviously not for kids. Extremes of violence and sex were fairly common in the short, rock cc-based vignettes that made up the original. In the flop sequel years later, the vignettes and much of the music were done away with, and most of the violence and sex were removed, toned down to something in the general vicinity of a PG-13 movie, maybe pushing R at best. It seems that even when making a sequel to a blatantly adult animated movie, you still need to make it not too adult.
    • South Park did an episode where everyone indulging in a new drug craze (cat piss) went into the Heavy Metal world. They did a great job not only on the animation but on pointing out what makes things allowed or not. The entire design of the fantasy world was breasts - walls, chairs, vehicles everything was made of breasts, none of it censored. The only breasts that were not allowed were the ones on the woman. When she takes off her top the camera cuts away. Wall boobs, ok, woman boobs, uh uh.
  • This is the number one reason for Watership Down's reputation. Hey, it's just rabbits, right? Cute fluffy widdle bunnies. We can let our children watch it alone. WRONG.
    • The Plague Dogs (from the same team) has less of a problem because "plague" is in the title of the movie; even with plague in the title, though, the marketers still try to make The Plague Dogs look like a kids' movie. The poster for the The Plague Dogs reads "Escape to a different world and share the adventure of lifetime". Yeah, if you consider the adventure of a lifetime consisting of starving to death, while having crazy hallucinations and trying to avoid being shot.
  • Felidae tends to fall victim to this phenomenon for similar reasons. A movie about cute kitties, probably another Aristocats? Don't think so. Director Michael Schaack isn't exactly famous for kid-friendly animation, but those who buy the DVD with the kitty on it certainly don't check if it was made by the same guy who also made movies of Werner and The Little Asshole.
  • One DVD of The Last Unicorn included commercials for shows targeted at young children (such as "The Wiggles"). Yes, it's a cartoon movie about a unicorn, but it's no My Little Pony... Then again, the older My Little Pony cartoons weren't 100% kid-friendly, either.)
  • One of the reasons Akira was such a groundbreaking film was that it helped Anime break out of this in the West. It was by no means the first mature anime, but it was the first to receive enough attention outside of Japan. These days, a lot of Western people view or even expect all anime as being on that end of the maturity scale, though. Still, Akira may be found on display in some stores at the "Kids" segment, right next to SpongeBob SquarePants, thanks to employees not reading the box.
  • The Brave Little Toaster: a great movie, but it does have some powerful images if you let yourself think about them. Mortality, finding God, salvation, self-sacrifice, the soullessness of modern culture, A number of cars singing a little song about how worthless they are as they wait to be painfully euthanized one by one...
    • According to an interview with the film's director, when the movie was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, several the judges outright TOLD the director that it was the best movie at the festival, but they refused to give that title to a cartoon because they thought the award wouldn't be taken seriously.
  • A New York Times article decried Pixar's Up for not pushing enough merchandise. Notwithstanding [2] the criticism against Pete Docter for his remark that they "make the movies for themselves", the entire article is under the assumption that an animated film must have tie-in toys for the children.
  • Titan A.E.. Part of the reason that movie flopped was because the filmmakers didn't know whether to market it towards children or towards teenaged Sci-Fi fans.
  • One of the very earliest animated films was Winsor McCay's The Sinking of the Lusitania. The kiddies must have flocked to it back in 1918.
  • Coraline. Yes, it's for kids and rated PG. Yes, it features eye mutilation. No, some countries would not have an animated movie being shown in the theatres if it's not kid-friendly enough. You're welcome.
  • A ton of reports from fans of Western Animation/Nine have come in involving seeing young children at the theater for it. Those poor kids. Apparently PG-13 means nothing to a good amount of parents if it's not live action. It didn't help that the trailers shown before the film were for more family friendly movies. Ironically, there was an ad that aired on Cartoon Network that explicitly stated it was "not your kid brother's cartoon movie". The parents just weren't paying attention to that and the PG-13 rating.
  • The Black Cauldron. Disney intentionally made it to appeal to teenaged fans of fantasy novels in the '80s and they were actually afraid that it would be rated "PG-13" or even "R". An "R" rated cartoon?! NEVER!!!!
    • Then again, Disney has a reputation for kid-friendliness and they've only released films rated higher than PG-13 under alternate labels.
  • The Triplets of Belleville got a PG-13 rating, even with full-frontal female nudity from a character based on Josephine Baker, banana skirt and breasts exposed. However, considering that it was given an all-ages rating in France, this is more a case of Values Dissonance than anything else.
  • Partly responsible for the pre-production demise in 1998 of a CGI-animated film by Rainbow Studios (which now does strictly video games and was acquired by THQ in 2001), variously titled as "Deadly Tide" and "Blue Planet". Since this was a violent action movie squarely for adults and older teens, it failed to garner enough funding, and only a promo trailer using the "Blue Planet" title was ever produced. The trailer both lampshades and thoroughly demolishes the Animation Age Ghetto, by having Lawyer-Friendly Cameos of Buzz Lightyear and Flik engage silly antics, before being stomped on by a power-armoured soldier, and segueing into a rapid-cut action scene scored with Rob Zombie's "More Human Than Human".

"Playtime's over. Let's kick some ass!"
"No Cute Animals. No Friendly Toys."

  • So far, only two critics made negative reviews of Toy Story 3. One of those had only two complaints: he didn't find the 3D good enough, and considered it was too dark and overtly mature for young viewers. Needless to say, Internet Backdraft ensued. (he even tried to defend himself)
    • The reviewer who said it was too dark does have a point; the movie was the third entry in a series with a large child audience that was otherwise completely right for them. The dark elements were downplayed seriously in the trailers, and nearly nobody expected the absolute Tear Jerker the movie turned out to be. However, while it is a good point to mention in a review, it isn't a good reason to give the movie a negative review.
      • Sure, the first two movies were for kids... except that they were made 15 and 11 years before the third one. Many viewers got the definite impression that Toy Story 3's intended audience was all the people who had seen and loved the first two Toy Story movies as children -- and who have later grown up to about college age.
  • This article about Tangled pretty much sums up the entire concept of the trope by categorizing viewers into four mindsets: "Cartoons are gay and for little kids", "That's pretty good... for a cartoon", "Movies come in all ranges of quality and whether it's animated or live-action shouldn't make a difference in how it's viewed", and "OMG PRINCESSES" (that one being exclusively filled by girls between the ages of 2 and 12). Odds are, if you're reading this page, you probably fall into category 3, and good for you.
  • A segment on ABC's Good Morning America on February 24, 2011 discussed how no animated movie has ever won an Academy Award, on the basis that the Academy thinks that animated movies are always just for kids and only for kids, despite knowing that Oscar-winning actors and actresses have contributed to these films as far back as Disney's Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, which even earned Walt Disney an Honorary Oscar. Despite being largely for kids overall, some films today have more adult themes and issues that kids wouldn't recognize, but the Academy refuses to see things that way.
  • Currently, is targeting recent animated films for... having characters that smoke in them. The fear is that the very young and presumably witless audience will immediately want to smoke or do drugs upon seeing a fictional character (regardless of alignment) do so. The specific films include Rango and The Illusionist. Even In at least one report, the clips they used were of the Bowler Hat Guy from Meet the Robinsons. You know, the villain of the movie who never even smokes over the course of the film. Yeah...
  • Since you mentioned Rango... just for starters, it's a Spaghetti Western Affectionate Parody, with all the things such a thing needs (Family-Unfriendly Violence, disgusting characters, swearing, and of course, jokes no kid would understand). No wonder lots of negative reviews go "this is not a kid's film" or "this isn't a family film".
  • Antz received guff from some critics who felt the film couldn't decide whether it was for kids or adults (the film included a rather graphic depiction of insect battle, a pinchful or mild cursewords, and one line with a ticked-off Z telling the princess that she could "just forget starring in any of [his] erotic fantasies" in the future).
  • The Scandinavian DVD release of Beavis and Butthead Do America highlights the differences between rating systems in different countries very handily, with five different ratings for six different countries on the packaging and disc: The film is rated 15-and-up in Denmark and Ireland, 12-and-up in the UK, 11-and-up in Norway, 7-and-up in Sweden and 3-and-up in Finland.
  • The Shrek series is a good example of this. All of the four films had many jokes that kids could not understand and were intended for adults, especially the first film - it even had a few curse words and they even made jokes ostensibly referring to a man's penis size. Then again, if you're under 10 years old, in which case, you'd see it as obviously just jokes about the guy's vertically challenged stature.
  • The 2011 animated adaptation of The Adventures of Tintin makes strides in escaping the ghetto, with its frequent use of firearms, pools of blood, and the use of alcohol and drunkenness for comedic effect.
    • The film was initially being promoted under just the Paramount Pictures banner - until recently, where the Nickelodeon Movies logo suddenly started showing up in ads. You can just picture the Paramount executive screaming, "What are we doing, releasing a kids' movie without promoting it as such?!"
  • In Brazil and most of Latin America, the Animation Age Ghetto still goes very strong with nearly no sign of change. It's horrifying that the DVD of Dead Space: Downfall (a prequel to a video game that everyone knows isn't for kids) was in the Children section of a regional Blockbuster, with a severed arm in space just at eye height... to a five years old. Also noticed the same in other rental stores. Although the Brazilian rating system is very competent compared to most, being somewhat more strict but also more critic (the movie was correctly rated 18+ in a large black label, regardless of it being an animation, for "Murder, Mutilation and Cruelty", although forgetting foul language and moral issues as well, but I guess it didn't have the space), most stores and consumers outright ignore it exists, and the ones who does blindly goes with it as a religion, forgetting it is just an advice.

Films -- Live Action

  • In a DVD extra on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, one of the fake magazine covers for the Clash at Demonhead reads "BAM! POW! Comics aren't just for kids anymore!". It should be noted that that was a real news headline about a Batman comic.

Live Action TV

  • Bottom's Up features an inversion of this trope. Richie joins Eddie, who is watching a film. Richie comments about the cute furry anthropomorphic animated critters on-screen all with Species Surname: "It isn't very sexy, is it." This is proof that Eddie accepts that cartoons aren't just for kids as he was expecting something closer to X-Rated from the title The Furry Honey-Pot Adventure. The only clue Eddie gets that no sex scenes will begin is because the caption "The End" appears on-screen.
    • He was equally disappointed with his purchase of Big Jugs, which turns out just to be a history of pottery.

Eddie: Well, this ones got to be a sure-fire hit: Swedish Lesbians in Blackcurrant Jam!
Richie: Yabba-dabba-doo! No, Eddie it's Swedish LEGENDS in Blackcurrant Jam MAKING!
Eddie: Aww, come on, it's got to be dirty, it says "Swedish" on it!

  • An episode of My Family episode dealt with this when Ben was babysitting Kenzo when Janey went for a night out and she rented a cartoon for Kenzo to watch with Ben, however, when they are watching TV together, Ben plays the trope straight as demonstrated:

Ben: It's about time that you developed a more mature taste in cinema. Tonight, we are going to watch serious hard-earned cinema, not a silly cartoon about a stupid talking rat!
Kenzo: My cartoon won an Oscar, your films are overproduced re-makes and made by twelve-year-olds with short attention spans!

  • On one episode of Excused which aired on February 13, 2012, two girls excused a 22-year-old guy, Sean because they doesn't want to sit in the couch and watch cartoons.

Dianna: Hanging on the couch all day, I can't do that.
Iliza: No.
Lauren: I don't do cartoons.

    • After they picked him.

Lauren: Watching cartoons is not a date, is a nightmare.
Iliza: It's a nightmare, Sean's excused.


  • Bomani Armah's "Read a Book", which is best described as "Anti-Krunk", raised a bit of a stink from parents over its harsh language and imagery being shown on BET's Rap City and 106 & Park where children could see it. Never mind the videos that actually show off that kind of shit that show up before and after it, right?
  • People have brought young children to Gorillaz concerts. While most of their songs are fairly child-safe (bad language in some, but not in the majority of their works), their backstory is quite definitely not. Murdoc Niccals should be enough of a clue.

Newspaper Comics

  • Newspaper Comics (and Web Comics) tend to subvert this. No one will ever look at you funny for saying that you read the comics section regularly. Despite this Newspaper Comics still have to be safe for children to read since the comics section is the first part that they get read. On the other hand try telling someone you watch an Animated Adaptation of a Newspaper Comic.
    • Although Web comics usually subvert this trope, a lot of Web Comic readers who have children will show their children some of the Web comics that they read even if the original creators didn't intend for them to be read by children. Though at least the parents know exactly what's in the Web comics that they're showing to their children.

Video Games

  • If a game is rated "E," "E10+," or "T" (in other words, not Rated "M" for Money), expect this to happen—you'd be surprised how many of this "Casual" hatred can actually be described as Animation Age Ghetto.
  • Media hatred is Nigh Invulnerable. In Spain, it has recently concentrated into video game hate... with similar arguments to the ones displayed in this trope. One would think they simply erased every mention of "cartoon" and replaced it with "videogame" in their declarations. Sigh.
  • The entire justification by Michael Atkinson for why Australia doesn't have an R rating available for video games. Much to the quite vocal objections by the hundreds of thousands of gamers in Australia...
  • RPGs (especially JRPGs) get this a lot. Many of them are purposely made to go around the "T" rating specifically because, contrary to popular belief, that's actually the widest range of marketability for games, but unfortunately, because of the beliefs from the Animation Age Ghetto, many people dismiss those "Animu" RPGs as being kiddy, especially because they're not Rated "M" for Money. Never mind how many of these "kiddy" looking games are actually Crap Saccharine World based games - and it's not making an effort to hide how crappy the world is. Popular WRPG games are not as subjected to this, although you'll find that developers tend to emphasize their Darker and Edgier parts at times to avoid this. Dragon Age for instance, proudly admits it is a "Dark Fantasy Role-Playing Game".
    • This even happened with Persona. Part of the reason some people actually paid attention to 3 and 4 was because they were rated "M". Course, the "M" rating didn't stop people from seeing the use of primary colors in the graphics and then dismissing it as another kiddy RPG from Japan.
    • Is it a coincidence that Shin Megami Tensei in general became better known after Youtube became more populated?
    • The Tales series may suffer from this. Especially Symphonia, Abyss, and Vesperia. So, we have subjects like racial discrimination, vigilante murder or even accidentally killing an entire town full of people Both of these were actually committed by The Hero of all people and Utopia Justifies the Means being thrown around from every angle... Perfectly suitable for children who are under the age of twelve. In addition, the Tales (series) relies a lot on deconstructing a lot of cliches. This isn't so mcuh of an issue of "too violent for kids", but more "...would kids actually understand this stuff?"
    • Xenosaga gets this from some quarters, mainly due to its very cartoony art style. Of course, aside from how nobody younger than high-school age is going to get the umptillion references to Gnosticism that form the basis for the of the major supporting characters (who briefly joins the party) is addicted to the neural tissue of bioroids. And then he gets gunned down by one of his allies, merely because it's not her job to keep him, personally, alive. You know, for kids!
  • It's probably worth mentioning Team Fortress 2. The game uses highly stylized art reminiscent of a Pixar film which, coupled with bright colors, apparently makes it look "cartoony". This is contrasted by large amounts of blood, players gibbing upon explosion, and a mild level of swearing. You can occasionally run into 7 or 8-year-old kids online whose parents obviously didn't pay attention to the rating. Speaking of online, as a multiplayer game with voice and text chat, it's very common to hear even more inappropriate language than what was originally put in the game—there's a reason the ESRB warnings state that "online interactions are not rated".
  • A more specific example is the presence of Sprite graphics in games today (With the exception of downloadable games), which are dismissed by review sites as dated and rarely taken as seriously as 3D models.
  • If any game uses any form of stylized graphics, expect people to dismiss it as being "kiddy". Heck, people have even criticized World of Warcraft's graphics for looking like something out of a Disney Movie, and Diablo 3 and League of Legends were criticized for not being "Dark" enough. All because Blizzard doesn't believe that Real Is Brown...and there's a great deal of horror in both franchises.
  • Although Mortal Kombat fits this trope, the game WAS originally being marketed at children, particularly when it was ported to home consoles in 1993. This was one of only a handful of instances where the censors actually had a valid point on the matter.
  • While Viva Pinata is a Sleeper Hit, Microsoft wanted the game to be its answer to Pokémon, but it didn't work out. Why? Well, the game looked like a children's game but actually comprised challenging Nintendo Hard sim management tasks that kids, and even some adults, just couldn't handle.

Web Original

  • Gaia Online, being primarily an anime fansite, gets this a lot, despite having several measures to prevent under-thirteens from getting on the site. As a result, they often have to deal with parents upset that Li'l Precious has a half-naked succubus draped on their avatar.
    • In the early days, when it was still known as Go-Gaia, the main page featured a link list with clearly-labeled links to adult-content websites. This was eventually removed after multiple complaints from users about being restricted to submission of PG-13 content on a site whose main page flaunted porn.
  • Portrayed in this So... You're A Cartoonist? strip.
  • Probably unintentional on the writers' part, but one installment of I'm a Marvel And I'm a DC included a scene in which Rorschach claims to "appreciate" Marvel allowing children to choose between "the latest Pixar film or a [PG-13] movie about a razor-clawed human death machine." This may indicate that they thought Pixar's latest film at the time, Up, was strictly kiddie fare.
  • Happy Tree Friends is a cartoon about cute forest animals, but it has so much violence, little kids shouldn't go near it with a ten foot pole.
  • Parodied in the Strong Bad Email "for kids", when Strong Bad responds to an email proposing a Strong Bad childrens' show by describing exactly why he shouldn't be dealing with small children. As for Homestar Runner at large, the stated intent according to The Brothers Chaps is that, while the material is family-friendly, the cartoons are no more for kids than cauliflower is for llamas.
  • kinda pushed into this territory with 6 Terrifying Children's Cartoons from Around the World, where some of the entries aren't technically for kids, but even thinking Watership Down and The Plague Dogs are "children's animation" is insane to a ridiculous degree. Of course, this being Cracked, this is almost the standard.
  • Discussed in "Why Are Western "Adult" Cartoons So Childish? - A History" by Fionapollo. She concludes that the problem with "adult animation" on western TV is unwillingness to venture outside sitcoms.

Western Animation

  • Despite the Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry DVDs having a warning on the DVD cases that these are intended for adult collectors still doesn't stop places like FYE from placing them in the kids section.
  • Older cartoons with racially insensitive material are hit particularly hard by the ghetto. Live-action movies of similar vintage like "The Birth of a Nation", "Gone with the Wind", or "Breakfast at Tiffany's" are readily available on DVD with little in the way of condescending and apologetic disclaimers, the regular malady of the handful of lucky classic cartoons that get released at all. Luckily most of them are becoming Public Domain.
  • Swat Kats jumps to mind. Running from 1993 to 1995, It was among the earlier western attempts at breaking the ghetto, and, in spite of the many problems that popped up because of that, the series went on to become a hit and garnered high ratings. However, Ted Turner, owner of Hanna-Barbera, single-handedly forced its cancellation against outraged fan protests - for the sole reason that he personally disliked the show's Darker and Edgier content.
  • Though how it happened is... let's just say sad, it's also amusingly ironic that the only animated shows on FOX that survive are comedies for the older crowd.
  • In Italy, if it's cartoon art, then it must be targeted to children, bloody battles, dismemberment and sexual innuendo notwithstanding. Which is weird, considering how established the Italian market for adult comic books is.
  • The censor board from France, before the 1990s, just automatically flagged animation for kids without even watching a single episode. To this day, we still don't know why.
    • Probably in part because France has the same baffling problem as Italy, above. While Franco Belgian Comics have pretty much always had large segments intended solely for adults, the cartoon series they make are almost universally children- or family-oriented even to this day (which led to some problems in the early days of the 90's anime craze, which is probably why they changed their tunes).
  • Invasion America, the only primetime animated drama produced in the United States, folded after one season without any plot resolution.
  • When Batman the Animated Series was released, critics praised the mature storytelling and vibrant art style, saying it was "wasted on weekday afternoons." They thought it could easily grab the attention of a more adult audience. When FOX put this to the test, giving the show a prime-time slot, it flopped miserably.
  • The Animatrix, a collection of animated shorts set in the universe of The Matrix, was aimed squarely at an adult audience. Many of the shorts were surreal to the point of psychedelia, and they had violence. The Animatrix has a higher Rotten Tomatoes score than the original Matrix. It sold poorly, but this was probably related to lack of publicity and oversaturation of the Trilogy more than any cultural bias about the role of animation.
And when we say violence, we mean it. The Second Renaissance is probably the most gory thing associated with the Matrix trilogy, regardless of being canon or not. Seriously. It's gorier than the original films. Most of it is simply a pretty realistic portrayal of what an all-out man-machine war would look like; it does this very well, perhaps a little too well in some cases. One scene is a graphic shot of a mech pilot being literally ripped out of the cockpit by one of the Machines which doesn't notice, or doesn't care, that the human's arms and legs are still secured inside the mech. The voice acting of the pilot screaming is... very, very well done.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series is a continuation of the old live-action Star Trek: The Original Series, complete with Gene Roddenberry at the helm and the original cast providing voicework (except Walter Koenig). It aired in the 1970s on Saturday morning—anything not kid-friendly in those slots was literally forbidden back then. Even then, they treated the show as a complete sequel to Star Trek: The Original Series, including continuing the themes of the show. Heck, they even had an episode about religious intolerance called—I kid you not -- "Jihad"! And an episode where Nurse Chapel gets a whiff of Harry Mudd's love drug and tries to jump Spock's bones (or at least as close to it as TV would allow back then...) It's particularly odd when one considers that the company that made it, Filmation, to at least some extent actively encouraged the Animation Age Ghetto, as they felt it their civic duty to act as agents of social uplift for the kids, and not to scare or puzzle them too much.
  • Despite the fact that the Teen Titans source material was directed toward teenagers, hence the title, when the comic was adapted into an animated series, many aspects were either severely watered down or removed altogether to make it suitable for a solely juvenile audience. The quote from above comes from response to criticism that the series as a whole expressed an overly childish nature.
    • The struggle between doing a quality show and watering it down lent a schizoid flavor to the show. You would, for instance, have the angsty and adult Raven plot arc, and in the middle there would be an episode featuring that Bat-Mite ripoff.
    • Its successor Young Justice, while having little to do with its namesake comic, has a much more mature feel. Real guns are frequently used (although lasers are also shown), there are fairly complex running storylines, innuendo-laced jokes are made, characters are killed, and there are also allusions to real world political situations such as in North Korea and the Middle East (albeit with obvious stand-ins). It's made all the more baffling since the series is currently aired on Saturday Mornings rather than a prime time slot, where more adult-oriented content like The Clone Wars is usually placed on Cartoon Network.
  • A similar occurrence took place to a much greater extent, especially in the later seasons, of Static Shock. The Milestone Comic on which it is based can be best described as an Amazing Spider-Man with a black hero, twice as much angst, and 10 times more contemporary content (sex, gay-bashing and visual gang warfare were but a few of the series's recurring focal points). While the beginning of the animated series is close enough to its source material, it became more and more child-oriented as time went on. Family-Friendly Firearms was in full effect by the middle of the series even though real guns were seen and used in the series' premiere.
    • There is another example of a non-laser gun when a bullied kid steals his father's gun with the intention to kill his tormentor; he ends up being knocked to the ground by some students with the gun going off and hitting his friend Richie in the leg. Richie doesn't bleed, but you can tell he is in serious pain. Later on, we find out he could've died if the bullet struck any higher.
  • Since the creators belived that WB would not go for a dark animated series, the original pitch for Justice League had a Lighter and Softer tone with a modified version of Young Justice acting as kid sidekicks to the JLA. When the show was instead picked up by Cartoon Network, the sidekicks were ditched and the show's tone was made closer to that of the earlier DCAU cartoons. Bruce Timm has gone on record stating that he's relieved the original idea never came to fruition.
  • The producers of Spider-Man: The Animated Series had a list of requirements to keep the show politically correct. Some were animated staples such as laser guns and not mentioning "death", "die", etc.; but some were utterly ridiculous ("Caution that when Spider-Man lands on the roof, he doesn't harm any pigeons.").
  • Subversion: the UK—specifically, Channel 4 -- has produced a hefty amount of adult animation for TV.
  • Daria aired on The N, which at first shared a channel with preschool channel Noggin. Episodes shown on The N were frequently censored to remove any references to things like sex, drinking, or other "mature" content. What makes this particularly infuriating is that Degrassi, The N's most popular show, deals with these kinds of topics all the time.
  • Sky One used to air Family Guy and Baby Blues as part of their Saturday Morning line-up, along with kids stuff in the early part of the decade. They, uh, did not last long. Though in the latter's case, note that the comic strip was family-friendly.
  • Fox used to air The Ripping Friends on Saturday morning. It is basically The Ren and Stimpy Show on steroids (it is created by John Kricfalusi...). The show is dirty, filthy, and hilarious. Cancellation and a spot on Adult Swim at 11:00 PM ensued. Guess they figured adults would appreciate all the poop and booger jokes more.
  • Speaking of The Ren and Stimpy Show...
  • The Simpsons is revered for being an animated show enjoyed by both children and adults, but in the British "100 Greatest Kids' TV shows" poll on Channel 4 (which wasn't very democratic since the 100 shows were picked by the channel in the first place; the public were simply putting them in order, so to speak) the number 1 spot was taken by The Simpsons. The people on the show's constant pleas that it belonged there because it appealed to all ages really held no ground considering there are plenty of other shows that kids can also enjoy despite them being made for adults that didn't make the list. Once again it seems to be the old argument "It's animated, that means kids must like it!"
    • In Brazil, TV Channel Rede Globo decided to start airing The Simpsons at noon, right after the morning cartoon block. Not very good, but at least The Simpsons was aknowledged as a separate entity from the block; and the time slot could be watched by adults and teenagers. But then they changed their minds and started airing it inside the cartoon block. It's quite a shock to see The Simpsons being aired right after The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, to say the least.
    • In Colombia it's aired saturdays 2:00 - 3:00 P.M to this day, severely edited, to say the least. It's more a case of Executive Meddling since it seems they know that the show has some things not meant for children, but they do it anyway because they know adults and teenagers love it anyway and it's not bad to get more audience.
  • Invader Zim deserves a mention. Nickelodeon specifically asks its creator to make it a show for older children, but wound up marketing it between SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents. Predictably, it only lasted a season and a half. (Ironically, Nick later opted to whore it out in crossovers meant for said other shows' target demographics).
  • Bell TV will categorize any animated series as "Children", regardless of its rating. End result, cartoons such as those in the future with automated suicide booths and vending machines labeled "Refreshing! Crack", with frequent decapitation and dismemberment, oft-horrifying imagery, cannibalism, a severely debauched clown... and Toki are labeled as "Children".
  • Every movie in the DC Universe Animated line has a sticker on the case saying "The First-Ever Animated (insert subject of movie here) Movie Rated PG-13!", as if nobody would watch the movie otherwise (which, sadly, is probably the case). It technically isn't even true for Batman: Gotham Knight, since Return of the Joker was rated PG-13 eight years before.
  • Some people would say that Looney Tunes deserve a special mention in this case. They're aired on Boomerang and clearly marketed to young children - despite the gratuitous amounts of various types of guns, smoking, alcohol, violence, general cruelty and lots of World War 2 references - things that are not passable even in modern TV-PG rated Cartoon Network shows (perhaps excluding the violence). On the other hand, you can find most of those in a G-rated film (Beauty and the Beast has Gaston carry a gun, drink beer, and literaly stab the titular Beast in the back, while An American Tail depicts smoking). Perhaps these commentators are simply underestimating American culture's ideas about what's kid-friendly?
  • Despite being marketed as a kids' show on a kids' network, Avatar: The Last Airbender explores heavy themes including genocide, imperialism, child abuse, and is probably the best example of displaying how War Is Hell while still keeping it somewhat safe for kids. One character has a quarter of his face burned off, inflicted by his father, the Big Bad. References are constantly made to entire civilizations wiped out during the century-long war that is occurring during the series. It also has a strong narrative and is known for its incredibly rich character development, even winning a Peabody award (very unusual for a cartoon) for said character development and its respect for war's consequences. These are only a few of the reasons why it's so beloved by fans and critics, both kids and adults alike.
At the same time, though, there are times the show clearly pulls its punches in ways it might not if it weren't genuinely meant for children. Why is it that even though it seems clear Azula is willing to kill people, she never does so when she has the chance (e.g. punishing those two women who annoyed her in season 3 by banishing them instead of killing them as most live-action villains like her would probably do, having her friends imprisoned for betraying her rather than killing them, imprisoning Zuko and Katara in season 2 instead of killing them...)? Why is that during a fight scene, Sokka doesn't take his chance to decapitate Combustion Man even though it would've been self-defense? Obviously, because it's a kids show. The finale was also criticized for a perceived immaturity in the resolution of Aang's moral dilemma by having him rediscover spirit bending, and not take a harsh choice. It was representative of the character's personal struggle.
    • The sequel series is also very dark, dealing with themes such as racism, class-ism, terrorism and the conflict between tradition and technology. By the creators' own admission it is Darker and Grittier, and has been consistently getting high views in older age groups, evening managing to beat out some Prime-Time shows in viewership. Despite this, its marketed at a slightly lower age group than its predecessor.
  • This was the source of the Executive Meddling behind The Powerpuff Girls. It was originally intended for a more mature audience, but was dialed back at the producers' request (necessitating a name change from the original title, "The Whoopass Girls"... exactly.) Its original intent is still somewhat clear, however.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars launched an assault on the Ghetto. Apart from a few specifically kid-aimed episodes, the show has gone on to feature flamethrowers, suicide, state terrorism, genocide, political assassinations, child soldiers, and full-scale war sequences inspired by the Normandy Landings. Given the strength of the franchise and the massive Periphery Demographic, this isn't as far-fetched as one might expect. It still has its moments though, one example being Ashoka slicing up 6 heavily armed battle droids, then about 5 seconds later letting the same number of alien guards capture her. This too, however, has been changed as of season 4, which features the Umbara arc, where Clones fight to the death against human like Umbarans, culminating in a battle that had one of the highest casualty rates of the show's history. Ahsoka also was alowed to perform a four way decapitation against armed Mandalorian bandits and get by the censors.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is possibly the strangest subversion of this trope in existence. Despite the fact that its primary demographic is grade-school girls, the showrunner did everything she could to make it enjoyable for the parents of said grade-schoolers but thanks to a couple of blog posts condemning the show essentially sight unseen, it managed to catch the attention of 4Chan and later snowballed into the sub-cultural phenomenon that it is today. Many adults have taken a strong liking to the show, thanks to its fantastic writing and animation. The writing is a strong aversion of this trope, as the writers attempt to write the show in mostly an adult manner, making the characters, situations, and morals very relatable for adults in addition to its target audience. This show is a far cry from the previous My Little Pony series that play this trope straight as straight can be. So many adults like the show, that the masses of Males age 17-35 has become the show's massive Periphery Demographic, so large, that the staff of the show regularly listen to the fans or write things into the show or the advertisements directly aimed at them.
  • RCN network in Colombia aired American Dad during morning weekends, along with things from Disney. Moral Guardians screamed and the show didn't survive a month.
  • Again in Colombia, Caracol network used to air "Ranma 1/2" and "Cardcaptor Sakura" uncensored, with the announcement saying that those two shows were specifically for children. They still air "The Simpsons" and "Futurama", and still announce the programs as specifically for children. No one has said anything about it whatsoever.
  • The creators of The Critic blame its short run on ABC on this trope. The show was the only animated series in the network's lineup, and aired on a night of family friendly comedies (an audience The Critic clearly was not aiming for.) The ironic result that was viewers dismissed the show as kid's fare despite it being the edgiest thing ABC showed all night. The show parodied this by ending an episode with Jay breaking the fourth wall and wishing "a special good night to all of you just tuning in to watch Home Improvement!" This was followed by wacky cartoon music and an iris-out effect reminiscent of old Looney Tunes shorts.
  • One commenter (with the username "CTB") on this blog refers to her husband as a "five-year old" for liking Tiny Toon Adventures and other old cartoons.
  • In 2011, the Parents Television Council was shocked to discover that cartoons broadcast by night-time on the programming block called "Adult Swim" are, in fact, inappropriate for children. Gee, who would have thought?
  • Jeph Loeb admittedly believes in pandering Marvel Comics cartoons to children, hence the comedic overtones and self-contained storylines of Ultimate Spider-Man, and the rumor that The Avengers will get a similar Animated Adaptation. Never mind the acclaim their predecessors, The Spectacular Spider Man and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, received by also appealing to Marvel Comics' adult fans.


  • While TV Tropes (and subsequently All The Tropes) averted this for the most part, there were at one time cries of Ruined FOREVER by some users of the former site as well as critics of the site simply because Animation works and tropes are cataloged. A number of these complaints can be summarized as "why does this site catalog these stupid kids' cartoons instead of proper literature?" and such. Of course, this is why the No Such Thing As Notability rule exists.
  • Under Verizon FiOs cable services, all animated programming seems, by default, to be assigned the descriptor tag "Children's". This leads to the bizarre situation of seeing this tag applied to shows like Archer, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Baccano!, all of which bafflingly also carry (well-deserved) TV-MA ratings. One wonders whether any parents have yet complained.
  • Likely not intended; but TiVo suggestions, if left on, would often give you suggestions based on what channel you recorded. If you recorded something off the Adult Swim block, it wouldn't be uncommon to see it suggesting stuff for younger audiences, Nickelodeon, or Toon Disney.
  • The 1988 book Animation From Script To Screen is a good example of how an analysis of Western animation can both try to avert this trope and end up reinforcing it. It's written by James ("Shamus") Culhane, an unsung legend in the history of animation, who worked on Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Pinocchio, and Dumbo, as well as many other features for Disney. Culhane had an encyclopedic knowledge about animation (as well as other subjects) and pretty eclectic tastes: he praised Ralph Bakshi and Richard Williams (head animator for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which was a big movie hit at the time), ridiculed the commercially-driven dreck on Saturday morning TV, and tried to present animation as a serious art form indebted to (among others) Michelangelo and Sergei Eisenstein. He even warns writers for cartoons never to target children only, because only if you write for adults will you be completely uncondescending. However, his prejudices toward his own profession still show through at times. He assumes that most animators aspire to make people laugh - which would be fine, except that it carries the Unfortunate Implication that cartoons cannot inspire any emotion other than hilarity. He also writes that "very subtle acting may never be possible to meet in this medium." (If only Culhane, who died in 1996, could have lived to see the "performances" of the characters in the Pixar and DreamWorks movies!)
  • Quick: What channel on cable television delivers the most shows where the characters are either animated or have a cast consisting of at least 50% puppets? If you guessed Cartoon Network, you would be wrong. The answer is the Sprout Network, a 24 hour preschool channel which has 100% animated or puppet broadcast. Even the live segments always have at least as many puppets as people. The only questionable exception is Barney, which while all long-term recurring characters are full-body puppets, they do not always meet the 50% mark.
  • March 2012: the Polish television channel Polsat has an advert that announces the showing of several CGI films. How does the advert begin? "Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound. These cartoons have enthralled children through the years. In the twenty-first century, cartoons are both for children and for adults!" Because everything animated made before Pixar and Shrek is kiddie fare... granted, if the only cartoons you know from before 2000 are Hanna-Barbera cartoons, it's not surprising you're holding that kind of an opinion.
  • Also as of March 2012, main Italian network RAI was the biggest offender of this trope. To clarify, while animation on RAI used to be far more prominent throughout The Nineties, after the Turn of the Millennium animated shows started to appear at a progressively smaller rate, until they were completely confined within an early morning timeslot. Then, in the mid-2000s, the RaiGulp channel, aimed at a younger demographic, rose to fame as the "safe place" for animation in general, and most arrows were pointing to a fairly brighter future: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Code Lyoko, Ruby Gloom, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Wolverine and the X-Men, The Spectacular Spider-Man, any good show, you name it. Then, however, things went downhill at the beginning of The New Tens, where "kid [soap] operas" like Grachi[3] started overshadowing animation at an alarming rate, culminating in live action series getting the spotlight and nearly all animated shows being confined to an after-midnight timeslot. With Avatar: The Last Airbender among them.
    • RAI then subverts this trope only around Christmas, where it becomes the equivalent of the Golden Age Disney Channel on steroids. Yeah, the same network that nearly denies the existence of animation as a medium, does the complete opposite in mid-December by nearly running a marathon of the entire Disney Animated Canon.
  1. Although some would argue Screwed by the Network also contributes to this as well, but that's another story entirely.
  2. When adjusted for inflation (which the reviewer did do, albeit now out of date, and that's why the grosses are off) Ratatouille and WALL-E were their least financially successful movies in the US and Canada.
  3. (the fact we don't have an article for that here should tell you something)