Gosh Dang It to Heck
In some family-oriented shows, instead of using completely made-up swear words, actual but relatively mild cuss words, such as "hell" and "damn", will get promoted to the top of the swearing ladder.
Contrary to popular belief, the words "damn" and "hell" are permissible in a G-rated film. For example, the 1971 movie Airport had both ("Where the hell are you?" and "You've always got some damn excuse!") and it still received a G rating, though movie-rating standards have changed since then. Even some G-rated animated features, such as Sleeping Beauty, The Secret of NIMH, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, have included mild swear words. However, it is worth noting that "Hell" can refer to the place and "damn" can mean condemnation to said place, and thus are not swear words even if such concepts are a little heavy for children. "Bitch" and "ass" almost never get such passes, though "ass" is sometimes used as a joke when referring to a donkey.
While "damn" is normally permissible, "goddamn" is still considered a Christian taboo, particularly in America. The M*A*S*H movie when shown on TV has had Sergeant Gorman's Catch Phrase, "Goddamn Army" bowdlerised to "Damn Army".
The use of "Hades" as an old-fashioned synonym for "hell" is theologically correct, in the right context, but is commonly misused in any context in which "hell" would work. Using Hades as Satan is never correct though. See also The Underworld for other terms that may be substituted in this manner in works based on other theological settings.
In the UK "sod" and "bugger" are mildly obscene -- equivalent to "hell" or "damn" in the US. Hence, in pre-Watershed non-children's dramas or comedies, "sod" and "bugger" stand in for "fuck" and "wanker". (Not understanding that "bugger" is a swearword in the UK or "damn" is a swear in the US is not this trope, but something else entirely.)
Reduced-strength swearing can severely undermine dramatic scenes, especially if strong language would be natural under the circumstances. If it is explained that the character actually used a different word, see Narrative Profanity Filter.
Occasionally, this is justified: there are some characters (and some people) who simply don't swear. Although not swearing in situations where there is no reason not to (especially if you say other things instead) will get you odd looks, there are some people who don't swear, even when the situation warrants it. Other cases, this is used intentionally to create an Incredibly Lame Punny swear ("For the love of Chrysler!").
See also Curse of the Ancients, Never Say "Die", T-Word Euphemism, and the Wikipedia article on minced oaths. Contrast Cluster F-Bomb which is the exact opposite, but can be just as annoying. Other methods of expressing profanity without raising the age rating include Curse Cut Short, Last-Second Word Swap, Foreign Cuss Word, and Precision F-Strike. A favorite tool of the Badbutt—the G-rated Badass. Another character type known for this is the Minnesota Nice.
- The Mega Man NT Warrior manga. The Viz translation creates some pretty damn ridiculous swearwords. Mega Man Hub Style is about to die unless he can pick himself up off the ground and can only mutter "dang blang!" However, a Bass who is simply incensed will preach about experiencing "Hell itself". Note that this translation also uses vocabulary WAY beyond the target audience. "Pablum," "wanton"...
- In certain Internet versions of Fruits Basket, they took out the line "What the fuck?", which they said at least seven times in a row, and put in various other lines. Natsuki Takaya doesn't usually do this, but the translators apparently wanted to make it cleaner.
- In the Slayers anime, "damn," "bastard" and "hell" are thrown around semi-liberally (a given, because "hell" is a part of the name of one Big Bad, Hellmaster Fibrizo), but they never go beyond. The biggest blurb is when the word "bitch" has the opportunity to pop up, but it doesn't, leaving many instances of awkward uses of "you son-of-a...". It is mentioned in an episode of NEXT, but only once and not in the aforementioned context. It's pretty clear that they go far beyond that in the Japanese version, if one knows the local profanity.
- Even though the translated Light Novel series had some censorship, notably, they avert this trope and throw "shit" around frequently.
- The Funimation dub of Dragonball Z abused this to hell. It was bit... odd hearing a brutal tyrant like Frieza saying "Oh my gosh". Or Goku watching something horrible happen and only being able to respond with "Guh...Darn it!" in Sean Schemmel's voice, no less. They even went so far as to change the writing on the T-shirts of demons in the afterlife so that instead of Hell (as in the place), they said HFIL, stating it was an acronym for "Home For Infinite Losers."
- The Viz manga also has characters saying "darn" here and there.
- Hiruma's charming nicknames for people and things get this treatment in the Viz editions of Eyeshield 21.
- Completely averted in the Hungarian dub of Soul Eater, with the teen heroes using a rich vocabulary of swears and profanity that would make even the creators themselves hide under the table, whenever they're seriously pissed. The fact that it's airing after ten PM may have something to do with it.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, after Al and Ed's battle at the 5th Laboratory, Winry comes to visit Ed at the hospital and tries to force him to drink his milk (which he hates). Al then tells Ed to "Shut up and drink the dumb milk." Entirely in-character, seeing as Al is a very polite young boy trapped inside a giant suit of Animated Armour.
- Canada in Axis Powers Hetalia, instead of swearing, squeaks "Maple hockey!"
- Sonic Adventure: "Or else what, ya big loser?"
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane has its teenage girl protagonists replace relatively mild "Omigod!" with "Omigosh!" whenever they get excited.
- Spider-man's J Jonah Jameson in most incarnations has an impressive vocabulary of mild swears ranging from "Poppycock" to "What in the dad-blamed Sam Hill?" Although in one comic by Peter David, when he gets repeated notes signed "F.N.S.M." (Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man), he mutters "I hate that F-n' S.M."
- Played perfectly straight in Madman, in which the titular character literally can't bring himself to curse even in the most dire of circumstances.
- Luke Cage, Hero for Hire - Luke promised his Momma he wouldn't swear. He just says things that sound kinda like usual swears, like "Sweet Christmas" and "Holy Spit!". Of course, he's been known to curse on rare occasion.
- Nova never swears for the same reason. "Blue Blazes!" (his dad does it too)
- No one swears in Marvel Adventures, the all-ages version of the Marvel Universe, but cursing is alluded to...
- In Queen Of The Universe, Spaniel Man can't even do punctuation swearing.
- Squirrel Girl seems incapable of anything harsher than "Good golly gosh!" During the GLX-Mas Special, she warned the readers that the comic contained inappropriate use of the word "flock." Partly Justified Trope because the use of the word "flock" involved Mr. Immortal screaming Flock You!, as a substitute for, you know, (sorry, I can't say with gentlemen present). Partly because Mr. Immortal was flocking with a flocking gun...
- X-Men – Wolverine, whose vocabulary likely includes a lot of words the Comics Code would have looked askance at, has generally settled on "flaming" as a compromise. He once prepared to fight Sabretooth by announcing it was time to open a can of "kick-butt."
- Seeing as, in more modern times, "flaming" refers, often in a derogatory way, to being flamboyantly homosexual, the change makes it worse. Instead of being a potty-mouth, now Wolverine sounds like a homophobe.
- A translation error induced example appears in Uncanny X-Men issue 205. There a temporarily amnesiac Wolverine says "Boku wa dare?". This is a correct way to say "who am I?", but the use of boku over ore comes off exceptionally mild mannered for Wolverine. Note that ore is merely informal and isn't offensive in the slightest.
- Mark Gruenwald's Justice League of America pastiche series Squadron Supreme did this constantly, being released before Marvel began releasing comics without Comics Code approval. The result is a dark, cynical deconstruction of the Justice League with no insults harsher than "Son of a fish!"
- The Irredeemable Ant-Man lampshades and justifies this trope: SHIELD operatives are trained to say "Blast!" instead of "Damn!" to avoid offending anyone in the field.
- PS238 has Zodon, a evil genius attending a school for superpowered children. The staff janitor is a technical genius himself though and implants a chip into Zodon which forces him to replace swear words with harmless random words. If he tries to go into a stream of profanity he will begin speaking out the lyrics to show tunes.
- Nodwick - Piffany, whose language is so comically mild that you know it's serious when she says "darn" or "crud".
- Knights of the Dinner Table usually spells "God" as "Gawd". They also frequently use amusing outburst like "Firk-Ding-Blast!" and "What the SAM FRICK?"
- Atomic Robo doesn't swear, tending to make use of more esoteric terms like "horsefeathers!" and "Cheese and Crackers!" Justified, since Robo was created and "grew up" before World War II.
- Captain America (comics) - The Cap, being traditional American values on legs, never swears, though sometimes uses this trope.
[Captain America jumps onto an F-15 and smashes the cockpit. Understandably, the pilot expresses his surprise]
Captain America: Keep flying, son. And watch that potty mouth!
- One Far Side cartoon has Satan declaring to his minions, "To heck with you! To heck with all of you!" Possibly Justified, they are presumably already in hell.
- Tintin - Tintin himself would use "Great Snakes!" As a sailor Captain Haddock's stream of abuse was, if not rude, then certainly inventive. His trademark phrases were "Billions of blue blistering barnacles!" and "Thousands of thundering typhoons!" When particularly angry, "billions of blue blistering barnacles in a thundering typhoon!" was heard.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mirage - In the early black and white issues, clots of Frank Miller-esque gore flew in all directions, but the characters' swearing was limited to heartfelt cries of "Dung!"
- Rogue Trooper uses hell! as its curse of choice. This continued even after 2000 AD started to use proper swearing.
- However, in some parts of the world (America specifically), it is still proper swearing (albeit very mild).
- World War Hulk had this exchange between The Hulk and his father-in-law.
General Ross: Hulk! Why won't you die already?!
Hulk: That's your job!
Ross: Not ding-dong likely, you crazy monster!
Fan Fiction[edit | hide]
- In the Harry Potter fanfic And I Swear, Ron casts a "Potty Mouth Reversal Spell" on himself to try and curb his swearing. It automatically translates everything he says into this trope (even when he's having sex with Hermione). He even says "Gosh darn it to heck!"
"You and your vagina are extremely slippery tonight. I hope you found my efforts satisfying."
"Mother loving cheese on a biscuit!"
- "Galaxy Quest" - When Jason turns around and realizes what Gorignak is, "Oh Darn." His mild language is probably due to years of having to tone it down for the TV show in the first place.
- Subverted in the Harry Potter movies. Ron's Catch Phrase was "bloody hell" as early as the Mirror Of Erised scene in the first movie, then in the fourth movie, Harry and Ron's little not-speaking period officially begins with Ron muttering "Piss off" as they fall asleep the night after the Champions for the tournament are announced.
- Don't forget Draco's little gem in the first movie:
Draco: Did you see his face? If the fat lump had given this a squeeze, he would remember to fall on his fat arse.
- A film aversion: In Muppet Treasure Island, Long John Silver uses "damnation", though he's using it in a religious sense in response to the other pirates tearing a page out of the Bible to give him the Black Spot, so that's okay. He later uses "hell" when he admits that he can't shoot Jim, even though Jim was ready to blow the whistle and alert the others to his escape.
- Another Muppet version is in The Muppet Christmas Carol where the bookkeeping staff gives us this little gem:
Rat: Our pens have turned to ink-sicles! Our assets are frozen!
- Several films use the the word "hell" metaphorically to mean a very horrible place or situation in two Disney/Pixar films, Cars (McQueen laments to a tourist couple passing through Radiator Springs "Don't leave me here! I'm in hillbilly hell!") and Ratatouille (Skinner greets Linguini on the latter's second day on the job with "Welcome to hell!"), both of which are G rated.
- Cars - In the clip at the end of the credits: "For the love of Chrysler!"
- Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio calls Lampwick a "jackass" even before he knew about the whole "turning boys into donkeys" thing.
- He meant in the sense of "jerk" or "fool." (Incidentally, the two homonyms for ass are etymologically unrelated.)
- In Back to The Future, Doc Brown uses "Great Scott!" whenever he's excited or surprised. In the second movie, Doc expresses his frustration with "Sir Isaac H. Newton". Also parodied somewhat when young George wonders if it's appropriate to swear when coming to Lorraine's rescue, to which Marty responds "yes, goddamnit, swear!"
- At the beginning, Lorraine scolds Dave for saying "Goddamn it". Subverted in a few scenes, the scene that comes to mind being when Biff chases Marty through Hill Valley in Part 1:
(Biff and his cronies look forwards, there is a manure truck in front of them)
Biff and Co.: Shit!
(Crashes into the truck and manure falls into the convertible)
In the third movie when Mad Dog Tannen winds up in a pile of manure the sheriff says "Get him out of that shit".
Doc: When this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're gonna see some serious shit.
- In Hocus Pocus Max tells his mother that his day at school "sucked". He is then told to mind his language.
Winifred: Oh, cheese and crust! He's lost his head!
- The polite epithets used in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
- In Johnny Dangerously, Roman Moronie mangles all his cursing, resulting in words like "bastige" and "farging iceholes." In one scene, he says, "Thees ees fargin war!" Cue the Spinning Paper, the headline of which reads, "Fargin War."
- Averted in the Speed Racer Live Action Adaptation: The film keeps a PG rating despite having its fair share of cursing. They used "ass" and "damn" a bunch of times, and even used "shit" twice - one had a Sound Effect Bleep in-movie because the character was on TV, but the other wasn't and was said by Speed himself, although it was hard to hear due to the car noises in the background. The Annoying Younger Sibling actually flips off the main villain.
- Surprisingly averted in The Iron Giant, which makes significant use of both "hell" and "damn." We also have Mansley's glorious last line, from a dialogue with Gen. Rogard. Combined with Never Say "Die", and Patriotic Fervor:
Mansley: You mean we're going to...
Rogard: To die Mansley! For our country!
Mansley: (finally snaps in fear) Screw our country! I wanna live... (tries to flee)
- The end of Planet of the Apes, and this trope, is parodied in several works:
- Done with style in The Women, a film made about a decade into the Hays Production Code era.
There's a word for you ladies, but it isn't used in high society--outside of a kennel.
- In The Right Stuff, John Glenn is portrayed as being very averse to foul language. So much so that even if he wants to curse, he literally can't. Not even the word "damn"!
John Glenn: And most of all, I am sick and tired of being second to those... *struggles* ...those darn Russians!
- Lampshaded in Oscar; Sylvester Stallone is having the worst day of his life, as he is walking through his house, cursing, he notices the Cardinal who is waiting for him, and immediately switches to non-offensive "swears".
- In Mel Brooks' High Anxiety, Dr. Thorndyke (Brooks' character) is holding a conference on penis envy when one of the attendees brings his kids, forcing him to switch to "pee-pee" and "voo-voo".
- Freddy in Young Frakenstein describes his grandfather's work as "doo doo".
- In another Mel Brooks' film, this trope is played straight and then subverted when Taggart gives us this gem:
Taggart: What in the Wide World of Sports is a-going on here? I hired you people to get a little track laid, not to jump around like a bunch of Kansas City faggots!
- Bulletproof Monk was originally going to have an R rating, during the switch to a PG-13 rating, one of the characters was renamed Mr. Funktastic from his previously, more offensive moniker. His original name is still noticeable where his necklace has been suspiciously affixed to his chest to cover up his tattoo.
- Parodied in The Brady Bunch movie, which lampooned the goody-goodyness of the 70s show. When Mr. Brady confronts the villain, the bad guy, ready for a showdown, angrily threatens to "Kick your Brady butt!" The entire family, who are watching, gasp in absolute horror, with little Cindy crying, "Daddy, he said the B-Word!"
- The films of Jared Hess, such as Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, do not contain any hard swear words, most likely due to Hess' Mormon faith.
- This gets parodied in Date Movie with a Napoleon spoof repeatedly saying "God"
- Played with very amusingly in Zack and Miri Make a Porno; during their scene in the titular porno, Zack and Miri are (very badly) doing so cliche porno dialogue. Zack blurts out "I'm gonna fuck you with my pecker" and Miri crossly tells Zack that she's offended by that. Bemused, Zack changes the word 'pecker' to 'penis' to Miri's approval.
- In Semi Pro, one character calls another a "jive turkey," and this is treated as the worst insult imaginable. The other characters try to defuse the situation by claiming he actually said "cocksucker".
- In Mystery Men the Blue Rajah uses cutlery-related speech, which thereby extends to swearing like "What the fork?" It is done for laughs: he also uses actual curses more than any other character in the movie. For example, at one point he quite audibly mutters "Oh, shit." That's not to mention cases of distinctly British cursing, like "bugger all." That could be a case of Did Not Do the Bloody Research, though.
- The DVD release of Hot Fuzz included a feature entitled "Hot Funk: The TV Version", which takes some scenes from the movie that involve swearing and replacing them with typical TV edit dubs, leading to lines such as "What the funk?!" and "Aw, peas and rice!"
- The main kid in the Angels in the Outfield remake is berated by his foster parent for saying "shut up" at the dinner table.
- Alan in The Hangover is crude in many ways but not with his language:
Phil: God damn it!
Alan: Gosh darn it!
- The Doors are asked to replace the word "Higher" with "Better". Based on a real incident behind the scenes on The Ed Sullivan Show.
- In the 1950s-set Far From Heaven, the main character admonishes her child for saying "shucks." There is later a Precision F-Strike from another character.
- When the Captain finds the body in The Trouble with Harry, he exclaims For rice cake!
- The impact of the scene in It's a Wonderful Life where George, filled with rage and self-disgust, reject's Potter job offer and tells him off is a little diluted by George's wrathful "Doggone it!" South Park showed us how these scenes might have gone without the Hays Code:
You-oo you just can't buy people, Mr. Potter, wuh. Why, you know what you are? You're a little bitch. That's right, you're a bitch, and I bet you'd like to suck it, wouldn't you?
- Used excessively in the 1993 movie Airborne.
- The Hairy Bird: "Up your ziggy with a wah-wah brush!" and "None of your floppin' buggies!"
- The eponymous Mystery Team expresses pain and anger through childish euphemisms... usually.
- Averted in the 1954 film version of Carmen Jones, though it took quite a bit of effort at the time to get the censors to pass Hammerstein's line, "Stan' up an' fight like hell!"
- Happens several times in a TV edit of The Matrix: From Choi telling Neo in the beginning that he was his "own personal juvenile delinquent", Neo exclaiming, "Jeepers creepers, that thing's real?!", and Tank's "Judas Priest, he's fast!" to cover up using "Jesus Christ" as a swear, to Neo threatening to give Agent Smith "a Flipper", rather than "the Finger". The best one was when Trinity, seeing Neo being taken away by Agents, can only respond with a deadpan "Shucks".
- The 1962 movie The Music Man uses this, but is justified by its setting being 1912. This causes some great comedy when all the parents are terrified by their children using such foul words like "swell" and "so's your old man".
- Played for Laughs in Fantastic Mr. Fox, which uses the word "cuss" in place of every cuss word, sometimes using it often enough to parody the overuse of "fuck" in Tarantino movies. In a streetscape background of one scene, there is graffiti that says "cuss" in big colorful letters. This, in turn, got the movie a PG rating for "slang humor" which was spoofed in this Strewth! comic.
Literature[edit | hide]
- In Harry Potter, they get to use "damn" as early as Chapter 3 in Book 1, and throw in "hell" when Cedric is about to be tortured by the Mind Controlled Krum in Book 4, but come Book 5, we get to drop the fucking F-Bomb and all we get is "EFFing" used at least twice if not more ("Enough...effing...OWLS!"). (second time was in Book 7, near the end I think) Also in Book 7, Hermione calls Ron an "arse," and Molly Weasley famously calls Bellatrix Lestrange a "bitch."
- Context is all: these are British books. While "damn" and "hell" might offend some in the US, they are no longer at all offensive in the UK. "Arse" and "bitch" are both relatively minor curses, and "effing" is just a euphemism. As far as I am aware, there has been no outcry in the UK over the language in the books.
- Discworld Series
- Parodied (of course) in Interesting Times. After Truckle the Uncivil is given a list of swearwords and their "civilized" counterparts, and being cut off every time he tries to use a word not on the list, he is finally reduced to shouting "Dang it all to heck!" "We've captured a f...a lovemaking pipe!"
- In Reaper Man, the excess of life force causes Mustrum Ridcully to produce small, strange-looking creatures whenever he swears. He resorts to euphemisms to prevent this from happening, and eventually produces "the most genteel battle-cry in the history of Bowdlerization: 'Darn them to heck!'" In the same book, one character suggests he use "Sugar!" like Mrs. Whitlow does. He responds, "She might say 'Sugar', but she means--"
- Captain Carrot, who in Feet of Clay actually vocalized the word "D*mn!"
- And Mr. Tulip from The Truth, whose swear of choice was "----ing." Yes, with the hyphens. Other characters sometimes ask why he keeps saying "ing".
- Proving that there's nothing that won't offend someone, somewhere, concerned parents wrote Terry Pratchett about Tulip's preferred obscenity, worried that their children would start saying it. Needless to say, the author was quite baffled by this, especially because it's not a swear, and even when used in the context of a swear, it's essentially a self-censoring profanity.
- Mr. Tulip actually responds to a complaint about his constant profanity with "What? I don't ----ing swear!" at one point. I can only imagine Pratchett's response was much the same. One of the conspirators does manage to understand Mr. Tulip's censored swearing:
Mr. Tulip: It's not a ----ing harpsichord, it's a ----ing virginal! One ----ing string to a note instead of two! So called because it was an instrument for ----ing young ladies!
Chair: My word, was it? I thought it was just a sort of early piano!
Mr. Pin: A device intended to be played by young ladies.
- In Monstrous Regiment, Shufti gives herself away as a woman when she says "Sugar!" instead of a proper swear. Polly internally tsks her about it when she realizes, 'Sugar! She doesn't swear either.' Later on, when Polly says "damn" in the middle of a sentence, Tonker tells her "Er... not damn. Not with the skirt on, Ozz."
- Susan Sto Helit, a kindergarten teacher, realises she really must get out and meet more adults when, in the complete absence of any children, she says, "Does a bear poo in the woods?"
- In Night Watch, we're introduced to a Night Watch sergeant with strict religious values, which stops him from swearing at recruits—or would do "if sergeants weren't so creative." He redresses the "regiment" they've acquired with "sons of mothers" and "you shower!"
- Award-winning British young adults' novel Henry Tumour sprinkles profanities all over the place, including "fuck" - once in bold, very large print - with the teenage narrator explaining that this is just how teenagers talk, but that since there's one word he's not allowed to use in a kids' book he has to misspell it "cnut".
- So someone is insulting someone else by calling that person an Anglo-Saxon king?
- Norman Mailer's The Naked and The Dead. He changed every instance of the word "fuck" to "fug" because he had too much profanity. When Mailer later was introduced to Dorothy Parker, she allegedly greeted him by saying, "So you're the man who can't spell 'fuck.'"
- "Fug" is a real word, funnily enough, meaning "stale air."
- In John Green's An Abundance of Katherines, Colin and Hassan both say "fug" instead of "fuck". When the character Lindsey asks (to paraphrase) "Why the fuck do you say fug?" they explain that it is a reference to Norman Mailer's The Good and the Dead.
- In the Pagan series (it was his name), he used, "Christ in a cream cheese sauce".
- Completely justified in Warrior Cats, since all the characters are cats with a different vocabulary, and therefore, different profanities than us humans, so it's understandable when a character exclaims "mouse dung!" or calls someone a "fox-hearted traitor".
- The only time this gets ridiculous is when Tigerstar calls Firestar, his arch-enemy, a "stinking furball". When Ashfur called Squirrelflight a "faithless she-cat", he really meant "whore" (it works in context, and explains Hollyleaf's shocked reaction).
- Again justified in Timothy Zahn's Star Wars books, where the word "kriff" is used ("If it is a trick, it's a kriffing good one."). Futuristic setting, spacefaring culture, different profanities.
- The Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy generally has characters using fictional profanities, such as telling people to "Zark off", or swearing to the great prophet Zarquon. Interestingly, it mixes in the occasional real swear word, although usually only for effect, such as when a character receives an award for "The most gratuitous use of the word 'Fuck' in a serious screen-play".
- That last one was censored beautifully in the American release, where they changed it so that everywhere but Earth, the word "Belgium" is a terrible profanity. Also used in the original radio version. Belgium, the single worst swearword in the universe, brought up (appropriately) when the ship crashed into a 15-mile high statue of Arthur Dent Throwing A Cup At The Nutromatic Machine.
- In Bloodhound and other young-adult fantasy novels by Tamora Pierce, the characters use "swive" instead of "fuck." What Pierce seems to have failed to tell her editors is that "swive" is an actual medieval English word that means the same thing as "fuck."
- In Warhammer 40,000 novels, despite the rampant Grimdark of the setting, it seems Tanith First-And-Only, who vary widely from Badbutt heroes to Red Shirts are trained to not only replace all instances of the f-word with "feth", but use it to replace every other curse word, and even every non-curse insult (half-wit becomes "feth-wit".)
- Zoey in The House of Night says words like "bullpoopie."
- In the Young Jedi Knights books, Jacen Solo says "Blaster bolts!" when he gets frustrated.
- In one of Outdoor Life humorist Patrick McManus' stories, he mentions that one of his hunting/fishing/camping companions dislikes another and insists on referring to him by a variety of "crude anatomical names". Throughout the rest of the story, the character in question keeps addressing the other as "you kneecap", "that elbow", etc.
- The Dresden Files - Harry Dresden finds this trope amusing, and once had the following exchange with a Church Militant friend:
- From the Vorkosigan Saga series, Ekaterin doesn't like to give offence. After falling down 4 metres into a muddy river while wearing her best clothes (and a VIP falling in after her while trying to save her):
Ekaterin (faintly): Oh. Drat.
Miles Vorkosigan: Madame Vorsoisson, has it ever occurred to you that you may be just a touch oversocialized?
- Big Jim Rennie from Stephen King's Under the Dome is a Complete Monster in every respect, who has no qualms about murdering people or ordering arson or selling drugs or... you get the picture, but as ridiculous as it may sound, he won't swear. His favorite substitute for a swear word would be "cotton-picking" (as in "this cotton-picking short-order cook"), but he's also fond of using "rhymes-with-witch" instead of "bitch" or "clustermug" instead of "clusterfuck". And Rennie can't stand it, when people swear in his presence, either.
- Ender's Game ran afoul of "bugger" being somewhat obscene outside the US, leading to unintended humour where drama was intended. The author was unaware of the wider meaning of the word when he wrote the book; more recent books in the series refer to the species as the "Formics". Lampshaded in Ender's Shadow, where one Dutch nun comments that they shouldn't use the word "bugger" because it's a bad word in English, but maybe it's ok because I.F. Common isn't English (it is only 'mostly' English).
- The Wheel of Time treats bloody and flaming as horrific curses. Many of the made-up curses in the books are based on these, such as the positively indecent blood and ashes!
- In Eclipse, Bella describes having The Talk with her father as "beyond the seventh circle of Hades."
- In the Doctor Who spinoff novels, the Eighth Doctor uses terms such as "sugarmice" and "poppycock". However, other characters do in fact swear from time to time. The Doctor is just quirky. Lampshaded: the Fifth Doctor says "you know, I wish there were times when I used expletives".
- Fitz, possibly the most foul-mouthed character in the Eighth Doctor Adventures, does occasionally use minced oaths such as "Gordon Bennett". But he's from 1963, his mum raised him well when she was in her right mind, and he's basically a Nice Guy, so even though he smokes, drinks, wears leather, and has a Girl of the Week in almost every book, it seems believable his language would only be as vulgar as the situation warrants.
- In Invisible Man, the word "motherfouler" is used a lot.
- This trope is used unintentionally in a lot of older books, due to Values Dissonance. For example, Holden Caufield is often admonished for swearing when the worst thing he ever says is "goddamn" (granted, it was more serious at the time). Nowadays, it's funny for younger people to read because the swear is so mild.
- Prior to the late 1960s, virtually all television programs never permitted even so much as a hell, damn or ass on TV, except in religious contexts. (All three swear words are in various translations of the Bible.) That meant usually double-entendre was substituted, or the scripts rewritten to avoid even the suggestion. Little by little, TV dramas, usually gritty ones, began using mild profanities ... that is until potty-mouthed Archie Bunker broke the door wide open.
- In a couple episodes of Mathnet, George uses a phrase like "gosh darn" and then apologizes for "swearing" or "cursing."
- Also done with the bailiff swearing in witnesses during George's trial for bank robbery:
Bailiff: "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you Gosh?"
Tom Servo: It's Jean-Claude Van Damme!
Mike: Nah. He's more like Jean-Claude Gosh Darn.
- In an episode of ALF, the alien of the title hurt himself while building something and went off on an angry rant about "the gosh darned thing", emphasizing as if he were cursing in pain. As the family stared at him in shock, he said, "I come from a polite society."
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer did not attempt to be family-friendly, but The Mayor often acted like an evil Howdy-Doody. He very, very rarely cursed, and when confronted with the fact he was about one second from blowing up, his only comment was, "Well, gosh." This is made all the more jarring when you consider that by this time the Mayor had been transformed into a gigantic, people-eating snake-demon. His non-swears are there for the comedy value. Because swearing is rare for the Mayor, when he does swear we notice. It makes the scene in the hospital a lot more meaningful, when he calls Buffy a whore after putting Faith in a coma.
- There was also this bit from early on:
- Reality Is Unrealistic: HBO's sitcom Deadwood is set in the 1870s, but it used anachronistic swearing specifically to avert this trope. It may have gone too far in the opposite direction. Creator David Milch said they originally planned to use genuine 1870's profanity, but test audiences thought the characters sound too much like Yosemite Sam! The modern swearing was designed to capture the effect of period swearing.
- Characters on Grange Hill never said anything stronger than "Flippin' 'eck!" This fact was parodied on The Young Ones, where, during a Grange Hill spoof featuring students with names like "Rucker" and "Sucker", Mr. Liberal criticises the boys for their bad influence on the youth of Britain, only to be told, "Come off it, sir! We're the only kids in the country who never say fu... [SCENE CUTS].
- The Mormon and FLDS characters in HBO's Big Love use such culturally appropriate expletives as "goshdarn" and "Oh my heck!" While it may be culturally appropriate, let it be noted that generally only the Utah Mormons go in for "oh my heck" instead of "oh my gosh", lest they be labeled a "utard", which admittedly is a fairly offensive term all around.
- iCarly: Many characters have a habit of using certain words as substitutes for words they cannot get past the radar (like the Shay siblings' "Shoosh yeah!"). Can be considered an Unusual Euphemism but most of the time, it's a bit surprising what got past the radar.
- "Cheese and rice!" Spoken by the principal himself with the matching accent for the expression it sounds like.
- Freddie's "This is serious chiz!" was controversial enough for some people in YouTube to claim that iCarly had used a swear word. Hilarity Ensues if any non-viewer of the show saw the video and thought the swear word is Sam's last name.
- "Holy crab!" was also used in "iThinkTheyKissed" by Sam, but it definitely sounds close enough that I only noticed it was crab when I saw the episode with caption on.
- Diphead, Dipwad, Skunk Bag and so on.
- Mrs. Benson's "What the YUCK?" when she caught Carly kissing Freddie passionately in "iSaved Your Life".
- A highlight in "iMove Out":
Freddie: Oh, my go-
Mrs. Benson: You better end that with gosh.
Freddie: Dear gosh, please make her leave.
- Wayne Szalinski does this often in the TV version of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
- Doctor Who
- The Tenth Doctor's favorite minced oath is "blimey".
- While, back in the late-80s era of the Seventh, you had such joys as Ace (the rebellious teen with a destructive streak) shouting "Gordon Bennett!" and "You toerag!", while hardened military commander Brigadier Winifred Bambera is heard exclaiming "Oh, shame" when things go wrong. The episode Paradise Towers also included some supposedly futuristic (and conveniently mild) invented slang and cursing, including "ice hot!"
- Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, when having to deal with both the Second and Third Doctors at once, explodes in rage at Second's repeated attempts to find his misplaced recorder. The Brig finally shouts that he doesn't have time for "standing around looking for some damn-fool flute!"
- The New Series has had plenty of "what the hell"s, however. It has also started including "bloody" in times of extreme stress. Lampshaded by Ten in his final episode, where he chastises Wilf for swearing.
- In "The Unquiet Dead", Charles Dickens used the variation on the minced oath "What the dickens" (which actually existed in William Shakespeare's time) with "What the Shakespeare?"
- The Middleman - The Middleman himself speaks like he stepped out of the 1950s. He refuses to swear on the basis that, according to him, "profanity cheapens the soul and weakens the mind." Wendy's surprise when he says that Voyager 2 is "coming in hotter than the devil's wedding tackle" is genuine.
- Characters in Father Ted use the word "feck", which is not a euphemism but an actual, if pretty mild, Irish swear-word without an obvious widely used British equivalent. And in a couple of episodes a sorely-pressed character cuts loose with an actual f-bomb.
- In-show, feck is treated like "fuck" would be in the real world. When Ted goes on a picnic he meets an angry couple whose spot he has taken. Their tirade is along the lines of 'fup you, you fupping baxtard. This is our fupping spot'. When Ted looks at the couple in bafflement the man points to a sign at the edge of the picnic area saying 'No swearing'. Since the word feck was displayed on a billboard and complained about, there was an inquiry into the word and it was officially deemed not to be a swearword in early December 2008.
- Lampshade Hanging when Mrs Doyle is shocked by a book she's reading: "'Feck this!' and 'Feck that!' 'You big hairy arse!' Feirce stuff. And the F-word, Father, the bad F-word. Worse than feck. You know the one I mean. F you, F your wife. I'll stick this F-ing pitchfork up your hole."
- Subverted in the Bottom finale. When the Ferris wheel carriage they're stuck on starts to collapse, the following dialogue progresses [The italicize words were censored on television]:
Richie: Oh Blimey!
Eddie: Oh my stars!
Richie: Splice my sausages!
Eddie: Cor, lummy!
Richie: Christmas Pudding!
Eddie: Blood and stomach pills!
Richie: ...hey Eddie, we sure know how to swear, eh?
Eddie: You goddamn well hit the clit right on the nail there, you cunting bastard!
- In Rowan Atkinson's "First Day of Hell" sketch, Satan says "You're all here for eternity, which I hardly need tell you is a heck of a long time."
- Lampshaded in an episode of Bullshit! when a Marine playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare scores a satisfying kill and shouts "Oh dear!" Penn comments, "Oh dear? Oh, I'm so sorry you had to hear that. That's the kind of salty language you pick up in the service today."
- Flight of the Conchords does this. In one of their songs, they self-censor the "motherfuckers" in the chorus by dropping the f. Both Jemaine and Bret are fond of saying "flip" as a curse, despite their liberally swearing friend Dave.
- HBO sketch show Mr. Show featured Pallies, a parody of the movie Goodfellas. In it, the swearing is switched to words such as "loopy nerd" and "Chinese dentist" and a middle finger is changed to a thumbs up. The movie is then shown to be presented as a morning movie.
- Referenced in Scrubs when J.D. makes a movie reference:
J.D.: Sometimes you just gotta say "What the fudge."
Elliot: That's not the line.
J.D.: I saw it on a plane.
- There's also Elliot's repeated "fricks", which come from growing up in a conservative household.
- And who can forget when JD got "so gee-darn pissed right now" at Dr. Cox for a misunderstanding with one of the interns.
- "Bajingo, bajingo, bajingo, we must have looked at a million woman's bajingos today. I'm not even comfortable looking at my own bajingo." "Is it because it looks so much like a vagina?"
- In the BBC comedy series A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie do a sketch parodying bowdlerization and watchdog groups using the made-up obscenity "pimhole," among others. Everyone reacts with horror when Laurie invokes the fictitious words, then barely flinch when he actually cusses. The skit ends with a studio exec (Fry) confronting an outraged (over the use of "pimhole") female viewer and basically telling her to sod off.
- Harry Enfield had sketch which parodied a foul-mouthed gangster film. The characters were arguing about something, but it wasn't entirely clear what, because every swear word was dubbed over. "Kiss my [knees], [muddyfunster]".
- The episode "A Very Supernatural Christmas" features a pair of ancient pagan gods who pose as a heartwarming older couple, even while preparing Dean and Sam for sacrifice.
Dean: OW! You bitch!
Madge: Oh my goodness me! Someone owes a nickel to the swear jar! Do you know what I say when I feel like swearing? "Fudge."
Dean: I'll try and remember that!
Dean: If you fudging touch me again, I'll fudging kill you!
Madge: Very good!
- In the episode "Ghostfacers," stronger profanity is bleeped out reality tv-style, and several of the bleeped words are clearly "fuck," which the the brothers don't use in the show due to network rules. In fact, under the bleeps, there's a whole lot more profanity than usual for ths show...which begs the question—wouldn't two men raised on the road by their ex-Marine father swear more than they do?
- Parodied by Jon Stewart at the Emmys:
Jon Stewart: There's something I'd like to say to the government officials in charge. (dubbed over voice: thank) You!
- The only swear word in Star Trek: The Original Series was Kirk's line at the end of "The City on the Edge of Forever": "Let's get the hell out of here."
- Dr. McCoy was fond of "Blast!" Well, at least until the movies, which somewhat expanded his vocabulary. He also asks Spock "Are you out of your Vulcan mind" in the 2009 film, which he used at least twice in the series ("Gamesters of Triskelion" and "Elaan of Troyius") and once in The Wrath of Khan.
- Wrath of Khan had the same line; DeForest Kelley didn't play it for laughs like the 2009 version did.
- On Good Eats, Alton Brown occasionally lets fly with "Goshdarn" or "Goshdarnit", and frequently uses "Oh bother!".
- Alton Brown's travel show, Feasting On Asphalt featured a very few scattered uttering of "Hell" and "Damn." Brown himself though once expressed himself with a deeply heartfelt "Great Googly-Moogly!"
- An episode of How I Met Your Mother featured a brief clip from Lethal Weapon to show the namesake of Ted's "Murtaugh List". It is so named because of the catch phrase that Danny Glover's character mutters throughout the four Lethal Weapon movies: "I'm getting too old for this s--" interrupted by Ted, who tells his kids, "Stuff. He says stuff."
- At the end of the episode, the manager of the laser tag arena tells them "You're too old for this-" and Ted tells the kids "Stuff. He said stuff."
- In the sitcom Red Dwarf, most profanities are replaced by the word "smeg" or a variant (such as "smegger" or "smeghead") which is supposedly an offensive word in the show. It is likely that smeg has an obscene origin (stick an 'ma' on the end), although the authors of the show claim it was invented separately.
- Both the show and books occasionally use "goit" and "gimboid" as insults too. Of course, more conventional swearing and insults creep in from time to time ("bastard" is often used to describe Rimmer for example - even by himself! - and, infamously, the word "twat" was used once, in the episode Polymorph).
- On CSI, a nightclub security man is checking new arrivals for weapons, and his metal-detector wand beeps when he waves it near a young woman's groin. Her excuse is "My kitty's pierced".
- The IT Crowd - "I'm at the end of my flipping rope!" "Moss! It's not like you to use that sort of language!" "Flip off!" "I've got a mother-flipping gun!"
- In Just Shoot Me, Nina dates a guy who thinks she's southern and does not smoke, drink or cuss, just like he doesn't. Yeah, right.
- Done somewhat strangely in House. "Ass", "bitch" and "bastard" get thrown around pretty freely, and "screw you" is acceptable. So the cussin' feels a bit more authentic. What is odd though, is that everyone refers to House as an ass rather than an asshole. It is broadcast television and you're not allowed to say asshole.
- Even cable does this for most of the shows. That said, Foreman did call House an asshole in the pilot episode, he just said it as he was closing a cabinet and looking away to address Cameron as he was saying it, making it Cuss cutaway.
- "What the heaven!" and "My sweet Annie" among others in Baa Baa Black Sheep/Squadron.
- In MacGyver, the title character's clean-cut behaviour extended to sometimes ridiculously mild cussing, including an actual "Gosh dang it!" in the pilot episode. An occasional "damn" or "crap" sometimes slipped through. Other characters were allowed to swear, subject to the limitations of that era's TV language restrictions.
- Stargate SG-1 - Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell, when particularly annoyed, will exclaim "Mary and Joseph!" Given his delivery, he may as well have left the first name in. He had a very strict, Bible-believing Baptist grandmother, who would probably have trained him not to take the Lord's name in vain. They made up for it by allowing him to say "Shit" in The Ark of Truth.
- Sam Carter uses "Holy Hannah" and "Oh boy", even when faced with what looks like certain death. When her father is introduced he uses the same phrases, and you can almost see the little lightbulbs going off in the other character's heads as they realize why Sam doesn't swear.
- Top Gear: Presenter James May can swear like a sailor and occasionally does, but his preferred expletive is "Oh, cock!"
- Done in theBattlestar Galactica remake series: they've substituted "Frak" for the f-word. Seeing as how it follows the story of a military vessel where humanity has been mostly wiped out, every single character uses this word at least ten times an episode. Ironically, the ratio of "Fraks" to other cuss words are incredibly disproportionate. "Frak" was used in the original series as well, just not nearly so much.
In the original 70's series, in addition to "Frak," "Frik" and "Felgercarb" were used as future profanity.
- Veronica Mars - "Frak" is also used by Veronica through most of the 2nd and 3rd season, following a story revolving around a Battlestar Galactica fan.
- Skins occasionally does this, particularly Harry Enfield's character. The best example was Chris' tirade against his former boss:
"He was a pitty boss and a pastard, and he could pucking shove his poof polo up his papseye...stupid prick!"
"I think one slipped through there."
- He then continues doing this for swear words for the rest of the episode, and occasionally later in the series.
- From the Suite Life on Deck episode "International Dateline":
Bailey: Gosh darnit! Where are all the shrimp?
- And, on multiple occasions, this is what Bailey likes to say when she's surprised:
Bailey: WHAT THE FFEATHERS?!
- Also, she holds the F, so you have no idea what she's gonna say.
- Thirty Rock. Lutz calls Liz a cunt. Pete and Frank try to come up with words that would be the male equivalent of that word i.e. "fundark". Also, "blerg".
- A Running Gag has Kenneth seem to be mincing an oath, only for him to reveal that the word he thought of as unspeakable is completely inoffensive/inane. The most famous instance is this:
Kenneth, to Liz: "You're acting like a real C-word right now! That's right — a Cranky Sue!"
- Played for laughs in Castle; Esposito has just called for background on a suspect who was stalking the victim and showed up at the hearing to issue a restraining order against him to call her a 'bitch'. However, just before he reveals the word, he realizes that Castle's teenage daughter Alexis happens to be present, and so censors himself by spelling the word in question out. This earns him a scornful look from Alexis and a helpful reminder from her father that she can spell.
- "Shut the front door!" is also used on Castle as a stand in. It does a wonderful job of completely dispelling the mood of suspenseful moments.
- Yes Minister - Nobody can make "Gosh" more convincing and sincere than Bernard Wooley (as played by Derek Fowlds). It's almost a Catch Phrase.
- The kids on Gossip Girl usually go with "eff". As in "don't eff with an effer" and "oh my effin' God."
- There's a North American commercial for Orbit sugarless gum where the slogan "It cleans a dirty mouth!" applies to a scenario where a wife and her husband's mistress argue passionately using such insults as "you cootie queen" and "lint licker".
- Lampshaded in Sledge Hammer!, the titular character chases the Baddie Of The Week through a television studio with many shows being recorded. When Hammer catches him the baddie tells him to "Go to heck!" and then states that you're not allowed to say hell on television.
- While Lost has "Son of a bitch!" as the catchphrase of a character, the most offensive word there is crap ("I don't want your piece of crap CD from your piece of crap band."). Many times it's easy to see the writers were aiming for worse words ("Now, you could do what you normally do when someone asks for something -- tell me to screw off.").
- In a DVD Commentary, Jorge Garcia reveals the shooting script has curse words, and requires this from the actors (in his case, he mostly makes Hurley yell).
- Averted with panache on QI. There's nothing quite like Stephen Fry swearing in his usual crisp diction. The writers are also fond of historical but still obscene words like "arsewisp".
Sandi Toksvig: Why do we need swearwords when you've got knockhole?
Rich Hall: Cruithne is the earth's second moon? Then why aren't there any romantic songs with the word Curithne in it?
Stephen Fry: Because it was discovered in Nineteen Ninety goddamn Four!
- In an episode of The Big Bang Theory Penny says, "Holy crap on a cracker!"
- "Darn you, Urkel! Darn you to Heck!"
- On the TV series "Bewitched," in addition to Samantha's Catch Phrase, "Oh my stars!" the scoff "my fat aunt Harriet" also shows up.
- In a Crowning Moment of Funny from Glee, Mercedes ends up being the third wheel to Kurt and Blaine. At one point, she zones out, and their dialogue is reduced to "Gay! Gay. Gay-gay-gay. Gay..." Fantasy-Kurt then spits out a tiny pink purse, and says "Oh my gosh, I open my mouth and a little purse falls out!"
- Since testing the myth that swearing can increase your tolerance for pain, which involved the team doing a control experiment where they shouted out ordinary words while enduring pain, MythBusters often plays with this, though they aren't shy of swearing (which gets censored in any case).
Adam Savage: Fudge! Puppies. Baby hippo.
- They did the myth "You can't polish a turd", except that they were not allowed to say turd, or crap, or (obviously) shit. So Jamie listed the things they were allowed to call it, which ranged from "dung" to "poopies."
- In Porridge, a UK sitcom set in a prison, the writers came up with the word 'Naff/Naffing' for the inmates to use as an expletive. It made front-page headlines when Princess Anne told a troublesome photographer to "Naff off!"
- This infomercial for the UK's Independent Television Commission about time-appropriate language on TV lampshades with gems like "these nasty handcuffs are really chafing you know!"
- Barney Miller occasionally had this problem. Usually a character about to swear would simply be interrupted, e.g. "Oh, who gives a flying f--" "WOJO!" However, when Ron Harris spoke about his belief that a civil action filed against him and subsequent judgment for the plaintiff were racially motivated, he was allowed to say "You are looking at one mad nigger! but "They won't suck another nickel out of this bad motor scooter."
- Keith Olbermann has taken to using fairly salty language on his Current TV show. He's been heard to lambast the city of New York for allowing major streets to be blocked off for the shooting of a "god damned Batman movie", and called Congressional candidate Rick Barber a "god damned liar"—but when excoriating the VP of Fed Ex for his lackluster response to this, Keith bellowed "BOLSHOI!"
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: In a sketch where John Cleese and Graham Chapman play two old ladies watching TV (after the BBC caused their radio to explode on cue), they notice that there is a penguin on the TV. Cleese repeatedly asking about the penguin. Peeved, Chapman ad-libs "Intercourse the penguin!"
- Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory will combine this with Sophisticated As Hell. Although more of a Deist or perhaps Agnostic, due to his Christian upbringing he is never shown swearing, and despite the mildness of the words such as "poop", "heck", and "poppycock", he will actually apologize for his language.
- In one episode of Columbo, the killer actually said "bleep" rather than using either real profanity or some tamer equivalent: "You are a bleep, bleep, bleep."
- The song "Love You" by Jack Ingram built around this trope: "Love you, love this town / Love this motherlovin' truck that keeps breakin' lovin' down". As the song puts it, "There's some words that some words just have to replace."
- "A Friendly Goodbye" by Bowling For Soup is the perfect musical example of this trope.
Ain't that a bee with an itch
Ain't that a mother trucker
You can go to H-E-Double-Hockeysticks and eff yourself
'Cause I'm so flippin' gosh darn
Sick of all the s-words you put me through
- Def Leppard's "Let's Get Rocked"... Replace all instances of the word "Rock" with "fuck" and the song makes sense...
- From West Side Story, one gol-darned tough street gang:
Here come the Jets, yeah, and we're gonna beat
Every last buggin' gang on the whole buggin' street,
On the whole ever-mother-lovin' street!
- Duran Duran's "UMF", off the 1993 album The Wedding Album, dances around what "UMF" stands for by not explaining what it means but rather phrasing it in a less explicit way ("Making love to the ultimate mind").
- Hilariously done in the Lil' Jon song "Get Low," where in the radio edit the lyric "To all skeet skeet motherfucker, to all skeet skeet goddamn" is changed to: "To all skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet, to all skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet." ("Skeet" is a slang term for ejaculiting onto someone, which to many is a lot more inappropriate than the words it replaced).
- The Mockumentary Sons Of Provo features a made-up Latter-Day Saints boy band. Among their songs, is Dang, Fetch, Oh My Heck, with the chorus: Dang, fetch, oh my heck / What the holy scrud / H-e-double-hockey-sticks / That's frickin', flippin' crud!" It is... far too catchy.
- Heavy metal group Blue Öyster Cult once sang (on "Hot Rails to Hell") that "you know darn well the heat from below can burn your eyes out!" "Darn well!" In 1973!
- Weezer has a slight tendency towards this at times: "Pork And Beans" has the repeated line "I don't give a hoot about what you think", while "Brightening Day" has "they don't give a spit". On the other hand, "god damn" and "bitch" have shown up in multiple songs.
Sarah Palin Doll: After all, we're not just the party of "No" - we're the party of "Hell, No!"
My Little Pony: <Gasp!> What did you say?
Sarah Palin Doll: Oops... Sorry, My Little Pony - I meant "Heck, No!"
My Little Pony: Shouldn't that be "Heavens, No"?
Mister Potato Head: Who the hell cares?
- Dilbert: Playing with the trope through exaggeration, it features a demonic character, Phil, who is the "Prince of Insufficient Light" and "Supreme Ruler of Heck." Armed with a giant pitch-spoon, he is empowered not to damn people for eternity, but to "darn" them, usually for 15 minutes, or with an annoying, sometimes ironically appropriate, fate. Scott Adams claims he came up with the concept when the syndicate didn't allow him to use Satan as a character in the strip and that he is more pleased with the end result.
- A pro golfer missed a putt with a $35,000 championship riding on the shot in an early Tank MacNamara strip. Just before he swung, someone reminded him that they were on national television. After the miss, he managed to confine his enraged comments to terms following this trope while still bending golf clubs over his knee and generally stomping around. In the final panel, he lay on the ground, exhausted, and the newsman asked, "'Golly willikers' doesn't seem to get the job done, does it?"
- In Paint Your Wagon, "They Call The Wind Maria" includes the line, "And now I'm lost, so goldurn lost." The same character (followed by others) sings "who gives a damn" in another number with less potential to become a song hit.
- The Odd Couple: Spoofed in the play and the movie version when Oscar complains about a cryptic note that Felix left for him, which was signed "F-U". "It took me awhile to realize that 'F-U' meant 'Felix Ungar.'"
Video Games[edit | hide]
- In Mega Man X Command Mission, X yells "Ooooooh Shoot!" when he's critically hit. The delivery is begging for a stronger word. This is a bit weird since Massimo gets away with a cut-off curse in a cut scene:
Massimo: Feeble Massimo? Grrrrrrrrrrrr! You sunnova-- (and that's how it was spelled in the subtitles)
- Earthworm Jim villain Evil the Cat lived on Planet Heck, where he unleashed Cool and Unusual Punishment (like banging your shins on table corners and going to the DMV office) upon The Darned.
- The Monkey Island series of computer games spoofs this tendency by referring to the once-again-resurrected LeChuck as a "Zombie Demon Ghost Pirate From Heck" in the third and fourth games. This is purely for the Rule of Funny, though, because they're clearly allowed to use the word ("Alright then, 'ROLL! ROLL through the gates of hell.' Must you take the fun of out everything?").
- You can also make Guybrush do this in Escape from Monkey Island if you have him examine a "No Cursing" sign in a school.
"Watch your mouth, young man!"
"Watch your mouth, young man!"
- Averted in Act III, however, when Guybrush tells Herman Toothrot, "How do I get off this [bleep] island?"
- In one of the "neutral zones" in Bionic Commando, talking to a certain enemy agent would result in him telling you to "Get the heck out of here, you nerd!" One gets the feeling the No Swastikas deal wasn't the only bowdlerization to happen in this game.
- That said, it's also averted in the same game, where Master D mentions the word "damn." And since this is followed by a gory animation of you shooting him in the face, it gives the impression that the whole final battle had gotten crap past the radar.
- Secret of Mana - The original English SNES version translated hellhounds as "heck hounds" even though 'hell' wasn't being used as a swear word. Sword of Mana for the GBA seemed to set its tolerance for swears several levels below "darn." I found it somewhat difficult to continue playing the game after a certain character's death resulted in the hero screaming "Blaaaast iiittt!!!" at the top of his lungs.
- In the first Devil May Cry title, Dante tells a boss to "flock off". It sure sounds like a tame version of a certain other expletive that starts with "f" and ends with "ck". On the other hand, he just could have been punny, since said boss is a giant bird.
- Bayonetta also borrows the "Flock off, feather-face!" line. Somewhat amusing, considering the number of times the F-bomb has been dropped by that point, and throughout the rest of the game.
- Fire Emblem
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance - The otherwise excellent English localization was tarnished somewhat by the use of the word 'dang.' Seeing as the game's plot involved genocide, racism, and a touch of implied homosexual lust, it seems odd that they decided to dumb down the language. Actually, a lot of otherwise good Nintendo games fall victim to this.
- It is particularly jarring when the commander, in danger of being slaughtered along with his friends and family at the hands of the villain, growls "dang it!" However, if Ike dies on Endgame, he says "damn". My goodness. The games also use archic slurs like "cur" or "dastard". The character Marcia has used the following words as expletives: crackers, chestnuts, mutton chops, horsemeat, jerky, and barnacles.
- In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. 'Dang' is replaced with 'damn'. The guard after the second mission, who says, "Moldy onions! Where'd they go?!"
- On a fan-translation note, Sigurd / Siglud's final words in Seisen no Keifu have been translated as "Alvis! You dastard!"
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance - The otherwise excellent English localization was tarnished somewhat by the use of the word 'dang.' Seeing as the game's plot involved genocide, racism, and a touch of implied homosexual lust, it seems odd that they decided to dumb down the language. Actually, a lot of otherwise good Nintendo games fall victim to this.
- In God Hand, demonic guitarist Ravel yells "Rock off!" after getting trashed.
- Space Quest 6: The Narrator complains that the censors made him say a line this way:
"You were supposed to see Quazar Live in Concrete with Beatrice. Of course, that was before you got busted back down to Janitor and assigned to this dad-blasted heckhole of a mother-talking spaceship!"
- Also used in Space Quest IV, when Roger is held captive by the Latex Babes of Estros.
Roger: "Let me go, b-buh-wuh... witch!"
- Spider-Man 3 was obviously trying to avert this with Spidey saying "hell" and "ass" once each, probably so it would not be thought of as "for kids". However, with this issue now satisfied, the scriptwriter apparently forgot all about it and from then on, we get phrases like "what the heck" and "oh my gosh". Seriously, who says both "hell" and "heck"?
- Star Fox 64 had quite a bit of this, notably heck. Only characters like the brash Falco even went that far. Assault had more swearing, but just as minced.
Fox McCloud: [after Pigma escapes with the Aparoid Core Memory they've been trying to get] Stop! Pigma! [[[Beat]]] Dang! [kicks the ground]
- This happens a lot in Overblood so it could get a lower rating and produces plenty of Narm.
- Final Fantasy
- Final Fantasy VII Cid replaces any instances of fuck/motherfucker/possibly even cunt with #@^!&(#^&$(^($!!!. Hell/damn/shit/ass are said liberally.
- Final Fantasy X has a wonderful example. Rikku has just had her entire hometown blown up and the team is flying away in an airship. Wakka tries to comfort her by saying 'Boom! Like happy festival fireworks, ya?'. Rikku says 'You can cram your happy festival, ya big meanie!'
- Final Fantasy X-2 has its share of swearing; ass, damn, bastard, from everyone except Yuna. The closest she gets to swearing is, "Oh, poopie". Rikku actually scolds her for saying something so vulgar. And Yuna was copying Rikku!
- Apparently, mentioning excrement at all was too much for Kingdom Hearts II. Instead, Yuna says "Oh, foofie".
- Initially, most of the classes in Team Fortress 2 did not swear very much in-game, at most using "damn" and "hell". The Pyro(well, as far as we know) and Medic still do not swear. Class updates have provided at one line for the other classes in which they swear, usually some form of "ass" or "son of a bitch." Some class-specific examples:
- The Engineer used to be notable for going on G-rated blue streaks involving words like "damnit", "dagnabit" or other similarly mild phrases in keeping with his educated Southern Gentleman personality. In Meet the Engineer, he comes up with euphemisms like "structurally superfluous new behind" and "motherhubbard." After his update, he started swearing for real ("I'm wolverine mean, you son of a bitch!" "I just beat on your sneaky ass like a mule, boy!").
- In contrast, the Scout has always been foul-mouthed, making liberal use of "ass" and "dumbass" even before the class updates. Even though he usually says "freakin'" or "frickin'" in-game, he uses "fucking'" in Meet the Scout (although censored).
- The Spy, generally, didn't swear except for one instance of "shit" (in French). He's become more foulmouthed after his update, and also uses "fuck" in Meet the Spy (censored like in Meet the Scout).
- The only class who has used curse words from the beginning is the Sniper who, in keeping with his stereotypical, vulgar, impolite, knife-wielding behaviour, frequently used swear words such as 'wanker' and 'piss' even pre-update.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl - Solid Snake's dialogue was cut back for his appearance in the game. Not that his dialogue was all child-friendly, though.
- In Darkest of Days, your CO/buddy Dexter breaks out the following whilst you flee from a German Prison:
"Time to make like shepherds and get the flock outta here!"
- In Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2, after your first (and only) mission with Larxene, when you talk to Demyx, he says "Man, why's Larxene gotta be such a witch all the time?" We all know what he meant at that point, but apparently Demyx is so lazy, he can't even bother to swear. Averted in the Game Boy Advance version of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories where Axel says "It's about time you gave me one hell of a show!"
- Shadow the Hedgehog. It is obvious they wanted to show us the Anti-Hero personality, but using "damn" and "hell" in every other sentence is not the right way to go about that.
- Depending on how you've role-played Mass Effect's Commander Shepard, s/he can be a hard-bitten ruthless mass-murderer, but will keep their dialogue PG. Squadmembers, on the other hand, have no restrictions whatsoever.
- Well, Shepard is a Commander after all. But in the sequel s/he and everyone else got more liberal with their language in order to fit with the Darker and Edgier story.
- Rome: Total War measured your popularity. One was, "When a plebian greets you on the street, the second word is usually 'off'."
- In many SNK games, the English translators tend to use "Hades" instead of "Hell". Especially so in the Samurai Shodown series (which creates some Fridge Logic when you think that Far Eastern warriors should not have any knowledge of Greek mythology whatsoever).
- Chrono Cross plays the trope almost completely straight. They drop the ball with "bugger": Kid uses it liberally, possibly being unaware it is a swear word.
- Command & Conquer is almost completely swear-free but in Red Alert 2, the occasional Sam-hill slips in courtesy of Carville.
- In the 1st Degree presents Inspector Looper, who tries so hard not to swear. When Ruby put a Lampshade Hanging on it, Looper had to explain that her tyrant of a mother told her to stop swearing. She does say "And I don't want any crap this time" to Tobin when she was interviewing Tobin. Does "crap" count as a minced oath or not?
- Call Of Duty: United Offensive is an odd example of taking an already mild instance and further "G-rating" it.
Sgt. Moody: "Ender, I'd find that funny if I wasn't freezing my can off!"
- The XBLA re-release of Guardian Heroes features such gems as "Holy schnitzel", "Mother bucket", and "Son of a cyclops".
- AceCombat Zero: The Belkan War has P.J. shout "DANG IT!!" just before he gets shot down. Unusually for this trope, he sounds genuinely furious, and this is the only time P.J. really loses his cool.
- The Chapman Brothers purposefully avoid harsh language in Homestar Runner because they think "cute flash cartoons shouting obscenities" are a tired cliché. They also attribute Strong Bad's popularity to his trademark overuse of the word "crap". "Crap" was almost the site's trademark word for awhile before they got sick of it and stepped it down. Not to mention liberal use of "freaking" and "hella" when appropriate.
- Strong Sad did say "damn" in one Halloween episode, but it was used in the religious sense ("... and if you answer wrong, you get eternal damnation, but if you answer right you get a Twizzler?").
- Used and subverted by Yahtzee in his Zero Punctuation reviews, often at the same time. What he says is much dirtier than what appears on the screen. His comment Halo Wars's mission timers was written as "What arbitrary silliness", contrasting with "Bull fucking shit." A rebuttal to Moral Guardians decrying videogames is captioned "No, and I consider your argument misinformed," but he says "No, and go fuck yourself, you ignorant scaremongering cockbags."
Web Comics[edit | hide]
- Lampshaded with Grace and her No Social Skills nature, in El Goonish Shive. Once, when something went wrong, she let off a long string of "Crud"s before apologizing for her choice of language. In fact, when she used the word 'dammit', everybody was stunned. Seen again when Elliot sheds his superhero form by changing into a more "mild-mannered" one.
- Gunnerkrigg Court flirts with this trope. Most of the time, the harshest cusses we hear are "damn" and "hell", even from characters who would presumably have a more colorful vocabulary. The characters react realistically (namely, not at all) to this mild swearing, while the author facetiously reproaches characters in the comment section below the comic for their language. The result of all this is that the few times that harsh language is used, it's genuinely startling.
- The So Bad It's Good Doom comic, despite being rather violent and gory (having been made during the Dark Age) uses this trope. The closest it gets to a swear word is "sunova..."
Doomguy: Sweet Christmas! Big-mouthed floating thingies!
David McGuire: Oh, man. I just had a character say, "crap." There go my chances of there ever being a Gastrophobia Nicktoon?8222;¢.
- Would it be surprising to find out Santa's elves in Sluggy Freelance do that as well?
- Scary Go Round sees a bully with an interesting approach to swearing:
Gary: I'm gonna funk his ship up. That melon farmer won't walk again...Now kiss off.
- Windows Vistaaaaa!
- Done in kind an unusual way in Cwen's Quest where the heroes all have censored swear words like $%#& but the villains use stand-in words and phrases like "Frex!!!" and "Lords of Darkness!", though the word "ass" does get through unedited.
- Lampshaded with this exchange
Ace: ...so Knives would like to know why the frex they are dead!
Ace: It's a faerie word Sven. Figure out what it means yourself, asshat.
- Averted in Captain SNES. Captain SNES is supposed to be kind hearted and the epitome of good. Alex swears so much that he actually uses it as an attack. It doesn't work due to "slippage".
- At the same time it is played straight by Alex's captor, who at worst uses very mild cuss words and hates Alex for swearing so much.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob (with Multiple Demographic Appeal) uses this. On the rare occasions when cursing would appear, it's depicted as punctuation swearing (!* %!!!^!). More often, though.. Jean's catchphrase is "Egad," and Bob and Molly are deliberately corny enough to say "Gosh" and "Jeepers!" played completely straight. The insectoid Nemesites say "Frass!" (bug poop) and the dragons say "fewmets" (dragon poop).
- In Penny and Aggie, when the devout, gentle Katy-Ann suspects her boyfriend has gone back to binge-drinking, she calls two of her friends for help. When Brandi says she's reluctant to get involved in others' relationship conflicts, Katy-Ann shouts, "Brandi, just get the heck over here!" A stunned Brandi thinks, "Holy f#$%, she just cursed at me."
- I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space: "Golly, I'm sure in a pickle.
- A staple of Ralph E. Hayes comics (Nip and Tuck, Goblin Hollow). Tales of the Questor and its Spin-Off Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger tend to use Unusual Euphemisms instead.
- Equius Zahhak of 'Homestuck sticks to genteel curses like "fudgesicles" unless he's extremely flustered, and berates others for foul language, believing it to be a habit of the lower classes. He was once embarrassed for having used, "shoot."
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja almost never uses swearing, the exception being an occasion utterance of "jackass". In a recent issue, a NASA employee shouted "AAAA what the flarking heck!?" when his printer shorted out.
- This is Joyce's idea of strong language.
- Sinfest had Criminy reporting from Sinfest headquarters on whether the cast and crew have gone soft.
- In The Specialists, Max makes frequent use of the exclamation "Applesauce!" such as in this montage.
- Both played straight and averted in Bob and George. Most of the time the characters will use minced oaths or be censored outright, but every so often something will happen that one character (usually Roll) can only respond to with a hearty "fuck".
- The Unspeakable Vault of Doom has the exasperated Cthulhoo occasionally exclaim, "Fthagn!".
- Super Doomed Planet:
Dr. Crane: Exploding Planets! Dr. Gregor ffinch!
Dr. Finch: Why, Maximilian Crane! I'd know your moronic expletives anywhere!
(one fiend to another): It's part of our new 'Family Friendly' policy.
- Abby in Dangerously Chloe expressed her amazement about "kick-booty water park" - appropriately enough, since she's just old enough to appreciate shirtless boys, but young enough to appreciate winged ponies. And currently in Heaven. Literally.
- Played with in the final panel of Order of the Stick #1024, in an exchange between two
"Also, if this ends OK for us, can we maybe talk about reforming all those archaic friggin' runes?"
"Hey! Don't pin this all on Frigg, everyone agreed to this!"
- From That Guy With The Glasses:
- That Dude in the Suede, he doesn't use then because he is never angry enough (and possibly because of his religious upbringing).
- Linkara of Atop the Fourth Wall. Subverted in that he does curse, he just doesn't use the "more colorful four letter words" to prove that he doesn't need them to be funny. You can hear him curse a few times in Behind The Scenes videos. This is saying something compared to nearly all of his colleagues.
- The Greatest Freakout Ever videos on YouTube star a Spoiled Brat who throws many temper tantrums and generally destroys something in the process. Despite all the damage he causes, he never actually cusses and actually threatens to tell on his brother for doing so, implying that cussing is the only form of misbehavior that actually upsets their parents.
- Although his dad and grandmother swear quite a bit.
- Another subversion is The Angry Video Game Nerd in his Lester the Unlikely review, but only at the cave stage in the game.
- "Scarface School Play" demonstrates this trope to a hilarious extreme.
- Several Let's Play members, particularly those not associated with Something Awful, do this. Examples include the Linkara-esque Deceased Crab & the Badbutt Man Child Sir Ron Lionheart.
Raocow: Oh, pumpernickel.
- Kikoskia often says "Fiddlesticks" and the like. Out of hundreds of videos, he's sworn twice.
- Lampshaded/directly quoted in Volume 8 of My Opinions On Every Pokémon Ever.
- LPer Super Skarmory avoids cursing in his walkthroughs. As long as they're not Castlevania.
Super Skarmory: Holy... pickles.
- Sursum Ursa, seeing as the show normally carries a PG rating.
- Much like the Let's Players above, Slim Kirby tends to avoid strong swear words. He drops a Precision F-Strike from time to time, but it's a rare occurrence.
- A Very Potter Musical parodies this trope. In the canon of the first musical (set in the "second year" for Hogwarts students), basically every character swears, our hero even dropping the F-bomb once. However, in the sequel (or really the "prequel," seeing as it's set in the FIRST year of the students at Hogwarts), when Professor Lupin swears, the children cover their ears and gasp until he replaces it with something less obscene.
- Olan Rogers never uses a more vulgar word than "crap", and his videos are much funnier for it.
- Prior to the advent of FOX's animated cartoons – particularly, The Simpsons and Family Guy – swearing in cartoons was very rare. For instance, during the Golden Age of Animation, whenever a character expressed disgust or contempt for someone or a given situation, they would utter something nonsensical, such as "Rackin-frackin' rickin'-rackin' ... " and so forth.
- The ill-tempered Yosemite Sam was particularly prone to this trope, using nonsensical euphemisms for his heavy swearing. This takes center stage in the 1960 cartoon "From Hare to Heir," where longtime antagonist Bugs Bunny – in a 17th century English setting – informs Sam that he will inherit 1 million pounds if he can keep his temper under control; the wascally wabbit then tests Sam's anger management skills by annoying him with multiple small favor requests, with the penalty for losing his temper at 300 pounds per offense. This frustrates Sam so much he tries to run outside to rant and rave, although Bugs also deducts for these instances as well! Eventually, Sam tries to set up Bugs' doom, but they all end with Sam "rackin' frackin' rickin' rackin'" himself to the wrong end of things. Eventually, Sam does find a way to manage his temper ... too late, as he loses his inheritance.
- In The Simpsons, for instance, the words "damn" and "hell" are treated as fairly shocking. When the show debuted, "damn" and "hell" were shocking in a cartoon, at least in America, as was the word "butt". The trope has been fading in the series's more recent episodes, most likely to keep in line with other adult cartoons, such as Family Guy. Definitely long since subverted. Words like "bastard", "pissed", and "bitch" have been used occasionally for well over a decade in the show now. Probably because of the show's ever growing immunity to tampering; at this point, the creators can do whatever they like in the show and get with it.
- Played with in a specific episode where Sideshow Bob is meeting his parole board. He describes prison as a "urine-soaked hellhole", when one of the board members objects and says he could have just as easily called it a "peepee-soaked heckhole". Sideshow Bob cheerfully withdraws his choice of words.
- However now that they can include so much showings in earlier slots now get edited to heck and back. Of course the writers are able to sneak some past through which only the sharp eyed viewers can see. Like one store with a sign reading "Sneed's feeds and seeds -- formerly Chuck's". If you don't get it, consider that Sneeds rhymes with feeds and seeds—now consider what rhymes with Chuck's using the same starting letters.
- Naturally Ned Flanders is a walking parody of the trope: "Son of a diddly". It's very noticeable when Ned loses it: "Oh-hell-diddly-ding-dong-crap!"
- Krusty the Clown's suggestion to the Red Hot Chili Peppers for toning down their song "Give It Away" on his comeback TV special: "Instead of saying 'What I got you got to get it, put it in you,' how about 'What I'd like, is I'd like to hug and kiss you?'". Parodied in that the Peppers love this suggestion.
- In "Bart Sells His Soul," a stressed-out Moe finds himself unable to keep his temper and language in check at his new family restaurant.
Moe: (to a little girl complaining her soda's too cold) Your teeth hurt? Your teeth hurt?! Well, that's too freakin' bad. You hear me? I'll tell you where you can put your freaking "sodie" too!
(All the customers gasp)
Todd: Ow, my freakin' ears!
Ned: Well! I expect that type of language at Denny's, but not here!
- From Bart's Nightmare in that same episode: "Bart sold his soul, and that's just swell. now he's going straight to--hello operator, give me number nine..."
- In Season 17, Mr. Burns says "dream on, bitch" to Rich Texan.
- Reverand Lovejoy, after getting hit by a bowling ball on the foot: HOLY Shining light unto us all..."
- Does Bart's Catch Phrase "Eat my shorts!" count?
- Parodied in the episode "Pygmoelian", where a character clearly says "What the fudge?" but is still bleeped.
- Adventure Time does it so much there's at least one example per episode. Although Finn has a knack for using random words for expletives, he still occasionally says "butt" even when he's known to use other less direct alternatives.
- Hilariously done on Histeria! (the "Lincoln" episode), when Lydia Karaoke (the Network Censor) interrupts a bit about the Battle of Mobile Bay, when Admiral David Farragut famously said "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" Lydia suggests, perhaps "Darn the torpedoes", or "I sure am having problems with these torpedoes". In reply, David sends her on a special 'scouting mission' ahead...floating back on the wreckage, she decides that maybe he was justified in saying that word.
- Rocko's Modern Life went one further in an episode where Hell was referred to as Heck, and when Heffer started to say "Don't you mean He-" he gets silenced, as though the word was too strong to be heard in a kid's show. In another episode, though, a sign clearly says "Hell".
- Similarly used in an episode of Pinky and The Brain wherein the characters visit a fiery place very self-consciously named "Hades." Lampshaded as Brain celebrates over a trap door, finally saying as it opens "What am I saying? I'm in hell!" (Though he is cut off before pronouncing the "L" as his shout trails off.)
- "War is the H-word".
Zap: "You're going to be meeting with their leaders, the Brain Balls. We don't know much about them. But they've got a lot of brains, and a lot of... chutzpah."
Bender: "These chairs are a real pain in the...waddya call it? Lower back! Yeah, that whole region!" Granted, he's rigged to a bomb which will explode if he says the a-word, but he doesn't know that.
- Robot Devil: "Sorry Bender, you agreed to this when you joined our religion. If you sin, you go to robot hell...for all eternity!" Bender: "Ah, hell. I mean, heck." Robot Devil: "It's all right, you can say that here."
- Also parodied in other places with Farnsworth's... unique expressions. "Sweet Zombie Jesus!" Which makes it all the stranger when the "Jesus" part is muted when it's Edited for Syndication.
- Also parodied with the character of Mom, who seems to enhance her curse words in random ways, causing them to become more comedic. "What the sweaty hell?" -- "Jam a bastard in it, you crap!"
- Also occurs with some of Hermes' expressions which often rhyme ("Sweet gorilla of Manila!") or involve a green snakes, sugarcane, and trucks "I'm hungrier than a green snake in a sugarcane field" though these do not always take the place of swears.
- And of course the old lady who uses nonsense words like kirjigger "You young whats-a-callit... idiot"
- In the early episodes Fry would annoyingly say "crud".
- Very closely danced around in Justice League and its sequel; usually, a character comes very close to saying hell (or, in the case of one minor creep, ass) in the manner of "Go to hell", but are interrupted just as they're about to say the word. In a clever subversion, in the episode "The Balance", Zatanna speaks the word hell, but backwards (she can only use her real magic by saying what she wants it to do in reverse, like a record played backwards, thus the word is indecipherable to the uneducated ear; besides which, it was a literal reference to Hades).
- Superman himself once replaced the word "fucking" in a particularly frustrated rant against Luthor with "flipping". Hawkgirl, the show's number one source of Getting Crap Past the Radar frequently finds herself interrupted when she's about to throw in a swear word. Many other characters use "bites" or "stinks" in place of "sucks", etc.
- Also, Green Lantern's shocked exclamation, "Judas Priest!" This is an actual pre-existing curse replacement.
- Justice League Unlimited does this in a unique way, by having all curses be cut off before finished (or be turned into horrible puns - GL's "kiss my axe" had me bleeding out my ears for a while), in an attempt to make the show Edgier. Not Darker and Edgier, just edgier. Of course, you get a few bad ones, and a few gems, such as:
Dove: How about you calm down, and I'll let you go
Thug: How 'bout you kiss my (Dove twists his arm) a-aaargh.
- This trope actually results in greater comedy in the episode "Kids' Stuff." When all the adults on earth are sent to another dimension, Copperhead hysterically exclaims "It's Judgment Day, and we've gone to the bad place! The bad place!"
- A particularly ridiculous example. In one episode Wonder Woman helps a princess get away from a boring party, much to the dismay of the princess' bodyguards. Upon realizing that they've lost the princess, one bodyguard exclaims: "Poop!"
- Possibly averted: the "Poop!" in question was said in a different language and subtitled for the audience; given that translations aren't always exactly precise, there's no way of knowing the severity of the term for excrement he used: a certain four-letter word in English ALSO means "poop".
- It is played completely straight in the Justice League episode "Legends", in which some league members get thrown to an Alternate Universe Affectionate Parody of the Silver Age. All of the heroes and villains speak politely and use out-dated and inoffensive swears, most of whom are also puns. Such as Music Master's "fiddlesticks!".
- Weirdly, Batman: The Animated Series actually had Batman reply "the hell it isn't" at one point. It was changed for repeats and DVD though, so it's sadly lost.
- In Danny Phantom, Vlad Masters uses various candy-related words to express himself. ("Oh, cheeselogs!") The [English] teacher Lancer uses book titles. ("Great Gatsby! What's going on?")
- Codename: Kids Next Door, especially with Numbuh 4, who replaces nearly every possible swear word with the word "crud", leading to phrases such as "why the crud not?"
- In Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Frylock scolds Meatwad for using "hell," "damn," & "ass." Both Frylock and Meatwad use actual cuss words, but they're beeped out by other sounds from the Episode.
- In the episode of George Shrinks when George's prized "Zooper Car" is stolen, A very ticked off George states he will find it "Wherever the heck it is." His father then proceeds to scold him for saying the word "heck". What world does this family live in?
- It could perhaps be because George's younger brother Junior is at the age where he's saying a few words and some short sentences; it could be because they don't want Junior to pick it up and want to get George out of the habit to help prevent that.
- Darla Dimple gets away with swearing in German-language version of Cats Don't Dance, though not in the English. "I wouldn't have gotten all of this/If I hadn't learned to defend myself damned well!" This seems appropriate, considering her personality.
- Averted in the 5th episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, with two instances of "hell" from the Clone troopers ("What the hell was that?!" and "Like hell you did!"). On the second airing, however, both were Bowdlerised, causing the latter to sound as if the trooper saying it was conceding; the exact opposite of what he meant.
- Family Guy featured this in a not-so family friendly way, in a brief parody of The Smurfs:
Smurf 1: She smurf'd me!
Smurf 2: No smurfin' way!
Smurf 1: Yeah!
Smurf 2: Shut the smurf up!
Smurf 1: I smurf you not!
Smurf 2: Right in the smurfin' parking lot?
Smurf 1: SMURF yeah!
- The Lion King has Timon censoring Pumbaa before he says the word "Fart." "Pumbaa! Not in front of the kids!"
- As well as Timon about to say ass, before turning said word into a scream.
Timon: Why do I always have to save your aAAAGGGHHH!
- Played straight and parodied in Madagascar. At one point a character says "Darn you! Darn you all to heck!" Later on this is parodied as a Parental Bonus. The protagonists are stranded on an island and a character makes a large "HELP" out of unsturdy tree trunks, and the right side of the P falls to the ground, forming "HELL". Because kids can't read...right?
Marty: Oh, Sugar honey ice tea!
- In the Spin-Off Series The Penguins of Madagascar Skipper calls the Hoboken zoo a "Nineth portal of Hades".
- South Park
- In the episode "Christian Rock Hard", Cartman meets a Christian metal band who describe their music as "hardcore". Cartman sarcastically comments "Yeah, you guys are real hardcore", to which one of the band members responds "You bet your gosh-darned rear end we are!". Jonas did it too.
- Also Butters. He is this trope. He literally says "gosh dang it to heck".
- When he throws his baseball cap to the ground in frustration, he exclaims, "Son of a biscuit!"
- This tendency makes it all the more hilarious when he becomes a pimp and starts throwing around "bitches" and "hoes", though to be fair, he doesn't seem to understand what those words mean.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
Aang: Aw, monkeyfeathers.
- Well it's another universe, so slang from our culture would logically not exist in the Avatarverse. For all we know "monkeyfeathers" is a strong curse word where Aang's from.
- Played with in the car wash episode of Phineas and Ferb. Phineas overuses the word 'dang', then decides that he's not street enough to pull it off. "It's the Black Knight! And his hounds of heck!"
- Kim Possible - Kim's teacher Steve Barkin mitigates his blasphemy by saying "Cheese and crackers!"
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers maxes out at "gosh", "darn", and "heck".
- The Hungarian word for "shit" has really gotten out of the bleeped-out zone in recent years, and it is more and more common to hear it in even cartoon dubbings. For example, Eddy from Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy casually uses the word in one episode. Even though words like "damn" or "hell" can be used freely, this still came completely out of the blue.
- In a SpongeBob SquarePants episode all about swearing, SpongeBob and Patrick's newly-discovered "Sentence Enhancer" is heard as a dolphin noise. It is probable that they are actually swearing and the sound that the audience hears is a Sound Effect Bleep. Played with at the end, however, which implies that the apparent Sound Effect Bleep is the swear in question. The exact same plot was used for an episode of The Powerpuff Girls and Baby Looney Tunes.
- "Barnacles", "tartare sauce", and "fish paste" are common SpongeBob expletives.
- One notable example from Xiaolin Showdown: "DANG YOU OMI! DANNNNNG YOUUUUU!"
- Dean and Hank of The Venture Brothers are famous for using unusual substitutes for curse words. They even chide each other if they use real curse words. This gag has been toned down in later seasons of the show.
"Oh my glory, you're right!"
"And they kill clean! Don't let dames get in the way!"
"Double dammit!" "Hank, you said the double-d word!"
- In an episode of The Flintstones after an argument with Barney, Fred goes on with his usual muttering of "racking fracking" and ends the rant with "Damn!" which shocks Betty and Wilma.
- Space Ghost Coast to Coast had an episode wherein the characters began cursing at each other, only for the more offensive words to be replaced by a computerized voice saying something else entirely. Zorak: Bring it on, you son of a (computerized voice overlaps) carpenter!
- The Mask cartoon has one that doubles as a Shout-Out: "Get away from her you Glitch!"
- Kick Buttowski - Kick's trademark expression for impending doom on a stunt gone wrong is "Oh biscuits!".
- Since it was an adaptation of notoriously edgy source material, it's deliberately done as obnoxiously as possible in Sam and Max Freelance Police:
Max: From heck's heart, I stab at thee! For Pete's sake, I spit my bad breath at thee!
- It's even lampshaded on the back of the DVD cover -
...about a pair of likeable law enforcement types who don't take crap (oops! we mean guff) from anybody.
- American Dad had Rodger telling Francine that she's acting like a real "C U Next Tuesday".
- Another episode played with this with Francine: "If it's so darned, no damned, yeah I went there, if it's so darned important..."
- Steve has "brownies" as an expletive.
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Harold tells Billy it's important to have a list while in a Walmart-esque department store so you don't buy "stupid crud" and "catch heck from the missus."
- In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Speed Demon" Him manages to take over in the girls absence.
Him: As you raced through time, the whole world went to HECK!
- In The Amazing World of Gumball, after Gumball pedals his bike up a steep hill only to find that there is another steep hill ahead, we get this:
Gumball: "GOSH DARRRRRRN IIIIIIIIIIT!"
- A later episode also has Darwin treat the phrase "pile of beans" as if it where some sort of expletive.
- Helga's "criminy". She does use "crap" every now and then, though.
- My Little Pony characters in G1 and G4 have a habit of saying pony-versions of profanities and exclamations, such as "Pony Feathers". Fanon has also made a whole bunch of equivalents.
- In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic the characters sometimes exclaim "What the hay".
- Plus, "Give a flying feather."
- Also, "Horseapples" which is also a slang term for horse dung.
- Sometimes people who work around children try to temper other people's language. In the 1970s, one school district in the US dealt with a demand that the book Making It With Mademoiselle be removed from the shelves of the high-school library. An assiduous investigation, in the form of actually opening the book, revealed that it was a volume of sewing patterns from the editors of Mademoiselle, a fashion magazine.
- ESL teachers of adult learners are often split on the topic of just how clean your speech needs to be in class. On the one hand, teachers should be professional and this includes appropriate language; on the other, part of teaching your students about usage includes vulgarity (so they at least know just how bad other people's language is). Most teachers settle for keeping their own vocabulary G-rated but not censoring students.
- Making matters worse, textbooks written for ESL teachers in training are largely silent on the topic. One assumes that lessons on correct usage of vulgarity and profanity are not condoned, though. This has lead several self-study books devoted entirely to profanity. One notable example is Dark Horizon, a parody of the ubiquitous Japanese textbook series New Horizon where the characters have failed in life and become bums, prostitutes and criminals.
- Japanese as a second language faces a similar problem even though the language lacks words you can't say on television that aren't about groups of people. New learners are only taught the most polite language possible even though less polite language is normal, especially for men. This results in a stereotype of non-native posters using polite, feminine language, even though everyone around them is using casual, masculine language.
- Foreign languages have their own equivalents of this trope. In particular, oaths that refer to religious imagery were often "sanitized" into nonsense Gosh Dang It to Heck.
- In German, "Gottes Blitz" (God's Lightning) became "Potz Blitz."
- Similarly, the Dutch "godverdomme" (literally "God damn me," same root as "goddamn") often becomes "potverdomme"—or simply "verdomme" (which still means "damn" and is a Dutch equivalent of the "shit" expletive).
- The word "shit" in the Netherlands is a much milder word there than in English speaking countries and can be seen as the equivalent of "damn". Just like 'fuck'
- "Sacré Dieu" (Holy God) became "sacrebleu." Similarly, "Par Dieu" ("By God") became "Parbleu".
- In Belgian French, "Nom de Dieu" (for God's sake) often becomes "nomdedjeu," "nomdidju", and other variants. Gaston Lagaffe's Prunelle is notorious for it.
- "Nom d'un chien" ("name of a dog") is another old-fashioned form.
- The Russian "Blyad'" (technically "Whore", but used more like "Fuck") becomes "Blin" (Pancake) in front of sensitive ears.
- "Khuy" ("cock") becomes "Khren" ("horseradish").
- "Yebat'" ("fuck") becomes "Yeteet'" or "Yedreet'" (nonsensical erratives, the latter probably derived from the word for "tough, healthy" or "kernel").
- "Yobana mat'" ("fucked mother") becomes "yedryona vosh" ("strong, healthy louse").
- Russian has quite a lot of inventive obscene cursing, and most of it has at least one "heck" form, sometimes many and often quite picturesque. In a nutshell, any word, I mean any, starting with "yo" (including loanwords and mispronounced "ya" words), can be a euphemism for "yobana mat'". But religious curses are never "hecked", they are considered very mild by themselves.
- Québecois is ripe with this, too. Crisse de tabarnac de calisse! This is actually considered very obscene, for a more "Gosh Darn It To Heck" name, try "Crime de tabeurslak de caline!" It doesn't mean anything but it's still used.
- The Polish swearword of choice is very often "kurwa" (literally meaning "whore", but contextually the same as "shit" or "fuck" in English), and is vulgar enough to be censored on TV. Poles wanting to avoid offending delicate sensibilities often use "kurczak" which means "chicken".
- In Argentina was once usual the euphemism Me cache en dié for Me cago en Dios ("I shit on God"). The euphemistic form even made it to a tango's lyrics.
- In Spain "Me cago en la mar" (I shit in the sea) has "Me cachis en la mar." In some areas that is shortened to "cachi la mar."
- In Spain, many cuss words have similar euphemisms, though "joder" (fuck) probably is the word with the most subsitutions: "joer," "jope," "jolín," "jolínes," and more.
- Also, "Te Jodiste", as in, "You're fucked", has been shortened to "Tejo"—which is the first person present tense of knitting (equivalent to I knit", or "I'm knitting").
- In Mexico many people tendo to finish any phrase with Chihuahua, the name of a Mexican state, when not intending to use the real word: chingar, which is used as "fuck".
- Italian has "cavolo" ("cabbage") as a euphemistic form of "cazzo" (literally "cock"—no, not a rooster—but more like "fuck", as in "what the fuck" or as an interjection).
- The Finnish curse "perkele" (euphemism for Satan, originally the name of a pagan thunder god) often gets corrupted mid-sentence into "perjantai" ("Friday") if the speaker realizes there are sensitive ears present. This was parodied in the Finnish amateur film Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning, where the main character Pirk uses "Oh, Thursday!" as a curse.
- Similarly in French, "Merde!" ("Shit!") will occasionally change to "Mercredi!" ("Wednesday!") mid-word.
- In Arabic subtitles/dub for any foreign movie, any F-Cluster Bomb gets invariably swapped with the generic "Tabban" ("Curse!"). Oddly enough there are many insults with thinly-veiled sexual overtones which get spared by Rule of Funny, in local productions.
- In English, 'fucking' is increasingly being replaced with 'freaking'.
- Many Utahn members of the LDS church use rather odd substitutions for curse words, including "Oh my heck!", "Oh my gosh" or "holy heck". Stranger ones include "Biscuits", "Fridge it", and "Snap".
- Heck, Mormons period have a tendency to abstain from swearing! Justified, though, because the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth, which all Mormon youth are given to read and follow as a guideline, specifically admonishes readers against using swearwords, among other things.
- When asked for his opinion of Ted Bundy, Charles Manson called him a "poopbutt".
- Preacher Tony Campolo was somewhat famous in religious circles for pointedly averting this trope (paraphrasing here): "There are children in third-world countries dying from starvation while your family is throwing away leftovers. That's bullshit!" [dramatic pause] "And I bet there are some of you here that are more upset that a man just swore from the pulpit than you are about the fact that a child is dying right now because he doesn't have any food."
- Averted and parodied in the Dan Vs. episode 'The Gym', Dan uses the word 'hellbent', and a gym android says that he'd prefer Dan used the word 'heckbent'.
- In fact, to "bugger" someone is to commit "buggery", that is, either sodomy or bestiality. "Sod" is derived from "sodomite".
- Which is quite appropriate, given that the game is both set in the 60's and utilizes several 60's media tropes (such as Film Noir for the Spy)
- Still mildly "blasphemous", as blue is the color of the Virgin Mary.