Moral Guardians

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Down with this sort of thing!

"There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation, which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue."

Erich Fromm

People, stereotypically either conservative Holier Than Thou Bible thumpers or Political Correctness Gone Mad liberals, who believe that children—or people in general, but especially children—shouldn't be exposed to what they consider to be excessive violence, "perverted" minorities, sex, foul language, alleged support for the "patriarchy", any negative depiction of somebody in an ethnic minority, laziness, etc. The exact mix of what they object to varies from group to group.

The term "Moral Guardians" specifically describes people who take this attitude beyond the pale as zealous, absolute purveyors of the moral code, and the arbiters of what is best for everyone. Usually, they are self-appointed, and in the case of groups, some have been known to claim vastly larger memberships than they actually have.

They frequently complain to the nearest Media Watchdog, often using astroturfing to lend illusory weight to their complaints.

The Culture Police are sometimes Moral Guardians taken to a satiric and/or frightening extreme. The Bluenose Bowdlerizers are a form of Moral Guardians in our midst. Moral Guardians are often responsible for a work being Banned in China, or calling something a "Murder Simulator".

See also Black and White Insanity, Pitying Perversion and Activist Fundamentalist Antics.

Examples of Moral Guardians include:

Anime and Manga

  • Shimoneta takes place in a dystopia where the Japanese government imposed a very extreme ban on anything remotely sexual-related, to the point that even innuendoes are cracked down and punished with prison. Younger people lack the biology information on how babies are made due to the education programs classes having scrubbed even the most basic information on sexual reproduction beyond vague generalities, and it's implied that adult people doesn't even have sex anymore on fear that the monitoring device every person is obligated to wear catches them. The main rebel group are a group of "perverts" who defy the system by distributing pornography. In a high amount of irony, is revealed that said policies were created and enforced by an influential family to the end of protecting their only daughter's purity, but said daughter is now a teenager experiencing high amounts of sexual urges and has absolutely zero knowledge or context on how to process those feelings, making her more unhinged as she tries to repress them with increasingly less success, and eventually she attempts to rape the male lead when she got too overwhelmed with her unprocessed lust.

Comic Books

  • Lampooned in these two [dead link] strips by cartoonist Quino.
  • The Watchdogs in Marvel Comics are an extremist satire. A terrorist organization at least partially led by the Red Skull, they oppose pornography, obscenity, sex education, abortion, homosexuality, and the teaching of evolutionary theory, but choose to express their beliefs through morally questionable (and outright evil) methods, including vandalism, arson, intimidation, assault, kidnapping, brainwashing, and murder. They are most often foes of Captain America.
  • Also from Marvel, the Crusader, a fundamentalist who believes that the church should become more active in fighting paganism and godlessness in modern society, is also satire. His methods are questionable at best, and include murder. His actions have led to his defeat (and usually humiliation) at the hands of Thor, the Black Knight, Nate Grey, Doctor Strange, and Wolverine, the last one costing him an eye, with Wolvie pointing out his hypocrisy by quoting the Bible with "an eye for an eye". Since that defeat, Crusader seems to have wised up, preferring to stay in prison than accept the Hood's invitation to participate in the Civil War.
  • The original Foolkiller (Ross G. Everbest) was another religious extremist. Inspired by anti-Vietnam War protests and counterculture movements, he believed he was chosen by God to eliminate sinners and dissidents, those he called "fools". Ironically, his first victim was the pastor he was inspired by (a faith-healer televangelist) who he caught in a drunken orgy. He was eventually killed in a freak accident while fighting Man-Thing, and given his cameo in Thunderbolts Annual 2000, he didn't get the ultimate reward he expected to receive...

Fan Works

Mikuru: If you plan on doing what you thought in episode 1, it's not gonna work.
Kyon: umm... How did you...
Mikuru: It's because there's already enough sexual content in this show as it is. Adding any more and we'd have children-sheltering mothers lined outside the writer's door armed with pitchforks and torches. But... we can still be friends if you want.
Kyon: Curse you, sheltering mothers of the internet. Curse you all!!


  • Ray Bradbury's dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 blamed these people for the slow chipping away at free speech that led to all books being banned. Naturally, the book has found itself challenged as often as Harry Potter, never mind the irony in banning a book about book banning.
  • The short story "The Toys of Peace" by Saki deals with this trope, and is based on an actual 1914 London newspaper story. In short, the Moral Guardians of the story are worried that giving young boys army figures and other war-themed toys would encourage them to be violent so instead they propose "peace toys" which are basically miniature civilians in front of the civil buildings (i.e. the YMCA) holding the tools of industry, instead of miniature soldiers with guns. Needless to say, when the narrator presents these toys to his nephews, the boys simply adapt the buildings for their existing military figures and play war games anyway.
  • The Catcher in The Rye: The Jerk with a Heart of Gold main character finds the word "fuck" scrawled where young children can see it, and takes it upon himself to protect an innocent public by blotting it out. Censors reacted identically.
  • The Last Hurrah features Roger Sugrue, an upwardly-mobile, Harvard-educated Roman Catholic who pesters the Cardinal and makes it his personal business to decide what is and is not acceptable behavior for other Roman Catholics. The Cardinal, while he mostly agrees with Sugrue's assessment of such situations, nonetheless finds Sugrue to be an obnoxious ass in person.
  • This is the thing that kicks off the main plot in Vivian Vande Velde's Heir Apparent novel. The titular character spends her birthday present (a gift certificate) on going to a video game arcade that is presently being picketed by a group called the Citizens To Protect Our Children (who believes only in G-rated movie making and that libraries should only stock nice, friendly, uplifting books). Soon after she goes into the game the protesters break inside and damage the building's video game equipment, including the game that the character is currently in. She's only got a few hours to win before the game fries her brain, and when she wakes up the head of the company (who, like her, is a teenager) mentions that "they're going to get their asses fried for endangering the welfare of a minor."
  • Discworld:
    • In Monstrous Regiment. The old women of Polly's home village (and, presumably, a lot of other Borogravian villages too) are notorious gossips, and spread the word far and wide about anything they disapprove of, and mostly what they disapprove of is not behaving according to the stringent and arbitrary principles of their religion; this, in a nation which has abusive corrective schools for girls who don't adhere strictly to the lifestyle (not to mention, one occasion sees Polly reflect upon her family's old pastor, who felt that women were living embodiments of all that said religion forbids, and ought to be abused regularly just for the principle of the thing).
    • Averted with the eventual banning of Nanny Ogg's The Joye of Snacks, which was prohibited, not on moral grounds, but because it was found to trespass on the purview of the Guild of Seamstresses. Also, because the publisher's wife couldn't stop laughing about it.
  • The subject of the short story Ado, which focuses on a Genre Savvy, Deadpan Snarker schoolteacher who wants to have the class read Hamlet. In this particular story, there's a moral group for just about everything, and they file complaints on lines in the story... resulting in it being cut down to about two out-of-context lines that the class is allowed to read. It also heavily implies that it's the Moral Guardians themselves that are damaging children - there's a student whose parents actively protest, and she uses the protests to simply go outside and tan and avoid schoolwork. She's quite Book Dumb as she can't spell anything, and despises having to edit her signs later due to the protests of another group, wondering where "free speech" went.
  • In Midnight by Jacqueline Wilson, the heroine is a huge fan of a fantasy author/artist named Casper Dream. She mentions that his first book, about a fairy which appears in smoke clouds, was banned from shops because Moral Guardians were concerned that it encouraged children to smoke.

Live-Action TV

  • Beautifully summarized in the first episode of Barney Miller. Barney's son comes in with a toy gun yelling "Bang", just as Barney is locking up his own gun in a cupboard. Barney gives him a short lecture about firearms being dangerous, gives him a toy truck to play with instead, and the kid holds it up and goes "Bang". Later he does the same thing with a slice of pizza.
  • The Muppet Show:
    • Sam the Eagle filled this role. At one time he delivered a speech about the immorality of animals who, under their fur, feathers, scales, etc., were walking around completely naked. His reaction as he realized he himself was a member of this sordid group was priceless.
    • And then they openly parodied censors in a Muppets Tonite sketch entitled NYPD Green where a censor keeps popping up to object to everything the detectives said (Such as mentioning a filthy dirtbag. The case was about a stolen bag of dirt). Eventually Kermit shuts off the camera to protect the audience from the dirty imagination of the censor.
  • Mary Whitehouse was parodied with Mrs. Desiree Carthorse in The Goodies, where she hired them to produce a "gender education" film. Despite it being censored to the point of ridiculousness (everyone and everything in the film was covered in white sheets), she still objected morally. At the end of the episode, she got her way, and all television was banned to stamp out "S-E (cross motions with finger)". The Goodies pointed out that, since there was no TV, everyone would be having sex anyway, so the episode ends with her running down the street, shouting into windows, "Stop it! Stop it!" The reason for the last was that Mrs W. had written to The Goodies complimenting them on their wholesome show, which annoyed them so much that they set out to offend her as often as possible from that point onwards.
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie:
    • Spoofed with a sketch where it turned out that "Perhaps the Mary Whitehouses of this world aren't as monumentally stupid as they appear at first, second, and twenty-third glance." A Running Gag on the show was that Stephen Fry would punch Hugh Laurie in the face, and there was a concern that people might emulate Stephen's behaviour... by punching Hugh. So instead, Stephen gave Hugh a pile of money, in the hope that all the impressionable people out there would imitate him.
    • Another sketch had a Mary Whitehouse type figure objecting to the language in a previous sketch on the grounds that her children might have seen it..and it was only due to the good fortune that they hadn't yet been born that they hadn't seen it. What made this even more ridiculous was the fact that the bad language in the previous sketch consisted solely of Unusual Euphemisms. ('Cloffprunker')
    • Yet another Fry and Laurie sketch has them apologising to the audience because MP and BBC Governor Sir William, now Lord, Rees-Mogg has forbidden them from performing a sketch with an Interplay of Sex and Violence. Sir William has written them a sketch they can perform instead that will promote common decency, family values and standards, entitled 'Bitchmother, come light my bottom.'
  • Parodied on The Young Ones in a sketch that pokes fun at the boys-school series Grange Hill:

Mr. Liberal: Don't you realize that the way you act is influencing millions of children to talk Cockney and be insubordinate?
Student: Oh, come on, sir, don't be silly! Why, we're the only kids in Britain who never say "f--" {cut to next scene}

  • Referenced in an episode of Bottom. After losing their television, Richie and Eddie decide to spend the evening playing chess instead which ends up in the usual mindless violence. As he's smashing Richie's head into the fridge, Eddie takes a moment to Break the Fourth Wall and point out to moral guardians who think that tv causes violence that in fact this particularly bout of violence is due to a lack of TV.
  • The whole point of the character Marcia Langman on Parks and Recreation. She's a right-wing activist offended by everything, often for reasons based on Insane Troll Logic.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati addressed this in an episode, at a time when Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority was more active in media influence. In the episode, the station is approached by a similar minister, who gives Art Carlson a list of songs "we'd rather you not play" and threatens to start an advertising boycott if the station doesn't comply. At first Carlson agrees, but after the DJ's protest, he has second thoughts; he tests the group's motives by bringing them a copy of the lyrics to John Lennon's "Imagine" and asking if it, too, would be objectionable. When the minister says it would, Carlson decides to fight the group, even though it means the loss of several of the station's long-time advertisers.
  • On the Alfred Hitchcock anthology show, if the characters got away with a crime at the end of a story, Hitchcock would appear afterward to assure us and the nervous sponsors that the law had caught up to them and meted out justice. Then again, in one story about an alien invasion, he appeared behind bars, announcing that the aliens were very angry with him for exposing their Evil Plan in that night show.


  • Roger Waters, lyricist of Pink Floyd, savagely attacked Mary Whitehouse in a verse of "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" -

Hey you, Whitehouse, Ha ha charade you are!
You house proud town mouse,
Ha ha charade you are
You're trying to keep our feelings off the street
You're nearly a real treat,
All tight lips and cold feet,
And do you feel abused?

  • Amanda Palmer's song "Guitar Hero" parodies the idea of a school shooting being inspired by a video game. Particularly, well, Guitar Hero. The song shows how easily any game can be compared to real life violence (with the help of some Incredibly Lame Pun lines such as "It's a hit!" and "There's people screaming, just like they should / but you don't even know if you're good..."). Extra poignant because Amanda actually lost some of her friends during a school shooting - she just refuses to blame it on any part of pop culture.
  • In the same vein is the song "Rockstar Games" by The Leetstreet Boys. Check out the lyrics Here (you'll have to scroll down a bit)
  • Insane Clown Posse have a song called "Terrible," and one of the verses is an obvious Take That to Moral Guardians campaigning against music they deem unsavory.

"Oh my god, we've gotta protest that!
Some rock and roll ninja bit the head off a rat
Let's march into his concert and chant 'em to hell,
Cause he's so fuckin TERRIBLE!
Meanwhile his record sales double and triple,
Cause of YOU whining bout him rubbing his nipple!
Religious? Shit, you helped them bands
Instead of helping them poor people eating outta them garbage cans.
When your done with that, bitch, come protest me!
Shit, muthafucka, I could use the money!"

  • "The Morality Squad" is a song by GWAR about squad of Moral Guardians who attempt to destroy the band for being obscene. Part of the lyrics can be found on the quotes page.

Newspaper Comics

  • In Calvin and Hobbes Calvin finds some of their reports "very disturbing"—where's all the terrible stuff he's supposed to be seeing?
  • Bloom County lampooned these folks a lot, much as it does political ideas in general:
    • Early stories parodied (and mocked) guys like this with Otis Oracle, a caricature of right-wing extremists. Otis was the Miles Gloriosus of such folks, holding book-burning parties (he had to buy the "objectionable" material himself in order to burn them) and the banning of The Roger Tory Peterson Guide to Penguins due to its portrayal of penguins in cohabitation. (His case fell apart in court when his "expert witness" claimed the Earth wasn't round.) He was a hypocrite too; in one strip touching a young lady's knees while clearly drunk, then blaming the lady for tempting "the inner demons of sin in men" (this got him little but a fat lip) and woke up drunk and naked at a New Year's eve party. He was one of many characters eventually written out of the strip around 1984.
    • Hilariously subverted in one arc: Opus' girlfriend's mother (who never liked him to begin with) sics the local priest on him, hoping to get some outrage because Opus is part of a death metal band. But the priest turns out to be a very nice fellow with an excellent sense of humor, and he actually likes Opus' music (saying of the song "Let's Guillotine Grandma", "Something to slip into the hymns next Sunday!"). The end of the arc shows the mother very upset as the priest tries to gently calm her down. For added hilarity, the priest has the same name as an actual Moral Guardian type: Wildmon.
  • FoxTrot:
    • It parodies this with Andy being a member of the group MAGG (Mothers Against Gory Games) and only allowing Peter to play MAGG-approved games, which include Nice City, Pacifist Man, Resident Good, and Eternal Lightness. She also complains at one point about how Donkey Kong is not wearing pants.
    • In another series of strips, Andy buys a "MomVo", which does things like shutting down the TV after showing a certain amount of cartoons, or forcibly changing the channel from "trash TV" to PBS. Eventually she gets rid of it when it blocks out her soap operas too ("You should have seen how fast she yanked the cables," Jason remarks).
    • Another story arc has her objecting to the "Doomathon II" game that Jason gets for Christmas, only to end up getting addicted to it.
    • This is a Running Gag with Andy; it's practically formula that if she starts up some kind of moral crusade, the crusade will end either with her completely rejecting it once it begins to inconvenience her, or being sucked in by whatever she was crusading against.
  • Zits brings this up occasionally, usually with Jeremy's parents, Walt and Connie, filling the roles.
    • One strip has Connie preaching (quite literally) to Jeremy while watching TV, dressed in a New England Puritanical Era outfit speaking in manner from the time. In the last panel, Jeremy says, "Don't be such a prude, Mom, it's just an episode of South Park."[1]
    • Another strip has Jeremy listening to music with his headphones replaced by garbage cans in one panel and toilets in the next with Connie making comments on the side about the content.
    • In another strip, Walt gets angry at a song Jeremy is listening to, resulting in this exchange,

Walt: Did I hear what I think I just heard?!
Jeremy: Dad, it's just a song lyric.
Walt: Don't give me that! I'm sick of this new music that's nothing but drugs and sex!
Jeremy: You mean like, "Lay Lady Lay", "Lucy in the Sky", "Purple Haze", "Brown Sugar"?
Walt: Hey, that's different! Those are classics!
Connie: Ouch. One point for the teenager.

  • Subverted in another arc where Connie hears some of the content of Jeremy's music and wants to have a look through his CD collection, resulting in Jeremy going off on a rant, only for Connie to declare that the music is fine.

Professional Wrestling

  • The Parents Television Council has affected at least one of their targets in a way they probably didn't intend; their targeting of WWE SmackDown! inspired WWE to create a stable called "Right To Censor" (universally referred to as RTC), a group of Moral Guardians who set out to combat sex and violence in WWE programming... literally, by beating the hell out of anybody who they deemed too offensive for TV. Even the other heels hated them.
  • CM Punk's Heel character is something of a Moral Guardian. He spends a lot of time chastising the audience (or other wrestlers) on their debauched and indulgent lives full of drugs and partying while saying his life of purity and abstinence makes him "better than you". In WWE he takes this to a cult-like level by leading around a troupe of "converts" who accept and endorse the hardline Straight Edge way while doing anything Punk demands.

Recorded and Stand-up Comedy

  • Mary Whitehouse, now deceased, was 'honoured' by comedians Newman and Baddiel, who ironically named their 1990s sketch/stand-up series The Mary Whitehouse Experience.
  • Monty Python took their own swipe at Mary Whitehouse in a live performance which happened to fall on Michael Palin's 30th birthday. As it also happened, Eric Idle's mum was a dead ringer for Ms. Whitehouse, and when the troupe brought her onstage to present Palin with a cake and flowers, he promptly thanked "the old bag herself for coming out," and stuffed the flowers into the cake.


  • In Moliere's Le Misanthrope, Arsinoé is a prudish old woman who seeks to limit Célimène's pleasures, largely because she is jealous of her love with Alceste. Tartuffe from the play with the same name is also morally censorious, at one point draping a handkerchief over Dorine's overly exposed bosom (though he is, of course, a complete hypocrite, and tries to seduce Oronte's wife behind his back). Molière suffered a great deal from Real Life Moral Guardians.
  • The unseen Mrs. Grundy, in Thomas Morton's play Speed the Plough, in which Dame Ashfield continually worries, "What will Mrs. Grundy say?" of each development, has passed into everyday speech as the embodiment of prudery and censorship.

Video Games

Web Comics

Dogbert: …And 'boycott' is spelled with a double 'T.'

Web Original

  • [Semi-]parodied by Intuitor: The minds of our children and their ability to master vectors are (shudder) at stake.
  • Naturally, The Onion has parodied Moral Guardians more than once, as well as the science of "psychology" excuses as a whole: "U.S. Children Still Traumatized One Year After Seeing Partially Exposed Breast On TV". To think—some of them weren't even one year old... oh, the horror!
  • TV Tropes: Although they formally deny it, if one reads the discusson threads in which wiki pages are reported and judged for possibly violating TVT's content restrictions, one will see that work pages are not judged by their content but by the work they describe. One will almost never see a discussion like "Will this page as written cause us trouble with Google Ads? Can we change it so that it doesn't?" Rather, the commentary is almost universally along the lines of "the work this page describes is offensive to me, we should not even acknowledge it exists" and decisions are made on that basis alone. Regardless of what they claim to the contrary, except in the cases of certain famous works whose removal would bring (and have brought) negative press attention, TVT imposes a moral standard for the works that are allowed to appear on the wiki. That standard is determined by the Lowest Common Denominator of Squick and/or prudery found among the vocal minority who report (and demand removal of) pages.

Western Animation

  • South Park subjected William Donahue, the leader (and apparently only member) of The Catholic League, to a hilariously cruel Take That in the "Fantastic Easter Special" episode.
  • Given quite a Take That in Phineas and Ferb. In one episode taking place in a Bad Future, it is revealed that Moral Guardians essentially destroyed society by going to Knight Templar extremes and eliminating all traces of fun and creativity.
  • Parodied by House of Mouse, which featured the Censor Monkeys... who, at one point, received a safe to the head. The safe was dropped after the monkeys decided that disguising the violence with novelty sounds was an acceptable compromise. When the safe hit, it sounded like a squeaky toy being squished. One of them even opens the safe and sticks his arm out to show everyone they're ok.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut For those who haven't heard the song "Blame Canada", the last two lines. "We must blame them and cause a fuss before somebody thinks of blaming us!" In response to them allowing their children to see a movie with copious use of the F-word, then blaming Canada for their kids being disrespectful and foul-mouthed.
  • An episode of King of the Hill (Hilloween) had a Christian one of these move into Arlen and get the town's police to cancel Halloween after "Satanists" (Hank & Bobby egging her house) "ran over my cat" (which she did herself while chasing them down in her car). The Halloween-loving (Christian) Hank took it upon himself to end the nonsense.
  • Parodied to the point of deconstruction in The Simpsons when, after Maggie hits Homer with a mallet after seeing the same thing on "Itchy And Scratchy", Marge leads a movement to get violence in cartoons banned. Then, the same movement objects to Michelango's David touring the city because of its nude content... which Marge, an art lover, is not offended by. On a television interview, she is challenged with regards to the hypocrisy of calling for the banning of one form of expression that is found objectionable and not another; as she's unable to answer, her protest is reversed.
    • Also subverted by Seymore Skinner's mother (In The Computer Wore Menace Shoes) who calls down to Seymore on his computer demanding to know 'Are you looking at girly pictures?!' to which he responds 'No mother!' and she yells back 'Sissy!'.
  • Family Guy had something similar: Peter started his own TV studio, called PTV, which is filled to the rife with very crude and lewd programs. After Lois sees the "Sideboob" hour, she gets offended, and even when Brian points out that it is still the parent's ultimate responsibility to prevent their kids from seeing this. Because of this, she called in the FCC, where they essentially censor Quahog a lot, forcing them to go to DC to significantly weaken the FCC's power. Note that this was in the version that aired on TV (both network TV and cable). In the uncut version on DVD, the reason why Lois did this made even more sense: Basically, one of the PTV shows that Peter made, a Jackass expy called "Douchebags" (featuring a segment called, "I Dare You to Crap Off Of That") had Peter being dared by Cleveland to poop off the side of a highway, onto another highway. Peter does so, and the poop lands on Lois' car, causing it to crash, she gives Peter a tonguelashing (who counters that she shouldn't have "driven into oncoming crap"), and points out that Stewie is now deeply traumatized from the car crash (even moreso with the attempts to wipe it off), and then calls the FCC.
  • Parodied in the Time Squad episode "Child's Play," in which Shakespeare is under the control of a stereotypical greedy agent who forces him to write plays for children, and Larry 3000 intervenes relentlessly to prevent "imitable acts" and anything that could scare or traumatize kids from appearing onstage. The joke works on multiple levels: 1) The show itself lives and breathes on a very Machiavellian moral code. 2) The entire episode plays out as either a meta-commentary on the mediocrity that results from moralistic Executive Meddling (as shown with Larry) and the need to make kids' shows Merchandise-Driven (as shown with the greedy executive) or a personal view of how show creator Dave Wasson felt his show was being handled (which led to how it got Screwed by the Network), and 3) The Larry 3000 is exactly the kind of character that some real Moral Guardians would find objectionable.
  • ReBoot, in yet another parody, made fun of this in the episode "Talent Night". While auditions are being made for Enzo's birthday party, a binome named Emma rejects everything but the BSNP song, which spells out the nature of this trope while set to the tune of YMCA.
  • Parodied mercilessly in Futurama:
    • Bender, after becoming an overnight sensation in All My Circuits due to his criminal antics, realizes what an awful role model he is to children and starts his own anti-Bender protest group.

Bender: Bender should not be on TV! Who does he think I am?

  • And again, when the Mighty V-Giny Sattelite was about to "censor" the entire Earth - Farnsworth lead the crew on alerting people to act less immoral, claiming that "they will listen to rational folks like us" before emerging from the ship dressed in robes and holding signs with conservative messages and shouting stuff like "The end is near!" and "Repent!" The whole episode can be considered a Take That, including the ironic twist ending where the sattelite obliges Adam/Eve clad Leela and Zap to engage in intercourse like the biblical couple, with Fry afterwards begging for V-Giny to censor it. "APPROVED FOR ALL AUDIENCES." Then it flies away.
  • Parodied in an episode of Arthur, where the "Scare Your Pants Off" books (which have absolutely no relation whatsoever to Goosebumps) are in danger of being banned from the town library due to Muffy having nightmares after apparently reading one. It turns out that she was just eating a kind of ice cream that gave her nightmares before bed.
  • Stan Smith himself frequently plays this role on American Dad, at one point attempting to take over television airwaves to air only "clean" programming after his son calls him out for being a hypocrite for saying that masturbation is a sin, then doing it himself.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants had Mrs. Grizzlepuss, head of The United Organization of Fish Against Things That Are Fun And Delicious. They manage to outlaw Krabby Patties using the leverage Mrs. Grizzlepuss has with the police (since her husband is an officer), forcing SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs to sell them in a makeshift speakeasy. The problem is solved when Mrs. Grizzlepuss actually eats one of them, and and finds them delicious.
  • Histeria! mocked this endlessly, with the biggest Butt Monkey on the show being Lydia Karaoke, the network censor, as a member of the regular cast. While she tried hard to keep crap from getting past the radar, this show was the type that tended to get Toilet Humor past the radar with bulldozers and dynamite.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch lampooned this in one episode with the (fictional) Media Watchdog group Broadcasters Opposing Offensive Behavior. (Or B.O.O.B.) After giving Nick and Johnny a stern warning for the match with Tommy Lee and Ron Jeremy, their representative has the two arrested after Alanis Morissette celebrates her victory over Jewel by stripping naked in front of the cameras[2] In fact, this may have been meant to take a swing at Moral Guardians in general who, like the ones in the story, seem to view gory and graphic deaths in media as okay but nudity and sex in the same mediums as flat-out evil.

Real Life


  • A humorous KFC advert the UK was banned because of a record number of complaints. The reason? Three women sing with food in their mouths for comical effect, which, according to a large amount of Moral Guardians, promotes bad eating manners as a result.


  • Way back in 1971, Dodge introduced a car called the Dart Demon, complete with a cartoony pitchfork-wielding devil as its mascot. Some Christian groups complained and two years later the name was changed to Dart Sport.

Anime and Manga

  • This happened in the late 1990s with "Hentai FREE", which basically served as a way for ten-year-old fangirls to assure their parents and brag to themselves that their Sailor Moon fan site had nothing to do with those horrid articles about some boy in elementary school getting caught with hentai from the library.
  • In 1997, Sailor Moon Stars was dubbed in Italy. Also in 1997, Italian "psychologist" Vera Slepoy said "Sailor Moon makes little boys gay". Cue the Sailor Starlights (an alien boy band who revert to their true female forms to fight) becoming six people instead of three—with the alien boy band now calling on their twin sisters to fight. Due to this butchering, the series was subsequently banned in Italy for the next ten years by the author herself!
  • The TV broadcast of Axis Powers Hetalia was canceled due to a few very vocal South Korean busybodies taking umbrage at the portrayal of their country and characterizing it as a right-wing political tract. Thanks to Misplaced Nationalism, this has led to some truly nasty anti-Korean backlash from some fans. Korea wasn't scheduled to show up in the anime anyway!
  • In 1995, a doomsday cult, Aum Shinrikyo, released sarin gas in the Tokyo metro, killing around a dozen people. It soon came out that the cult disseminated some of its propaganda in the form of manga, and that its founder took some of his crazy ideology from sci-fi anime. This prompted a public backlash against anime and manga for a couple of years.
  • Heartcatch Pretty Cure: The Kokoro no Tane birth sequence had to be cleaned up in later episodes, because people complained that the fairies looked like they were wetting themselves doing it.
  • Japanese people claimed that Kirino Kousaka was a bad role model for younger children because she is a 12-year-old person who collected eroge games.
  • Go Nagai has, unsurprisingly, always been a favorite target of the PTA and other moral guardians, right from the start when his first major series, Harenchi Gakuen, became a nation-wide hit. They even went as far as having Shounen Jump, the magazine in which Harenchi Gakuen was serialized, banned in certain parts of Japan. When Shounen Jump finally gave in to the pressure and decided to cancel the series, Nagai took revenge in his own way by having all the characters viciously killed by the PTA.

Comic Books

  • The Comics Code Authority. In the early 1950s, Dr. Frederic Wertham published a book called The Seduction of the Innocent, which was about how comic books were corrupting the youth at the time, which he backed up with many anecdotes. The agency sanitized American comics to an absurd point, so much that questioning authority and scary creatures were banned, and drugs and disabled people could not even be mentioned. It got to the point where a Spider-Man strip based around Harry Osborn overdosing had to be published without CCA approval, even though it dealt entirely with the negative effects of drugs, and had been requested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. This event is often pointed to as the beginning of the CCA's downfall. A series of drastic standards-changes followed, but it was already apparent that the CCA was unnecessary and soon their approval was not necessary for a comic to hit shelves. In January 2011, DC Comics and Archie Comics, the last two publishers participating in the Code, withdrew.
    • EC Comics, the publishers of Mad Magazine, shut down most of their comic titles after distributors refused to carry comic books without the Comics Code Authority stamp.
    • "Section 163, 1b of the Criminal Code of Canada made it a crime to print, publish, or sell a "crime comic"; this archaic law, created at the height of a moral panic and long ignored, was finally repealed in 2018.
  • In the Franco-Swiss comic Titeuf there was a school nurse with E-cup Gag Boobs. Thanks to Moral Guardians they've been reduced to C.


  • The National Legion of Decency was a censor group dating back to the Golden Age of Hollywood. In their heyday, they could effectively kill a film's prospects at the box office by condemning it or declaring it "morally objectionable." Their power began to wane in The Fifties as a consequence of two things: first, non-Catholics were no longer paying any heed to their declarations, and second, the Supreme Court's 1952 decision in Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson (the "Miracle Decision") to declare film a protected art form struck a huge blow against religious-based censorship. By The Seventies, they had largely faded into irrelevance, although it wouldn't be until 2001 before they were finally dissolved.
  • Many film critics decried The Wind That Shakes the Barley, a film sympathetic to the Irish Revolution, as anti-British propaganda, often without having even seen it. One such Moral Guardian even went so far as to compare the film to Triumph of the Will. As a result, quite a few English theatres refused to screen it. Although the film portrays the Black-And-Tan soldiers in a very poor light, any historian will tell you that yes, that's pretty accurate, and no, Barley is not propaganda.
  • The Chinese government is this on a regular basis. Some of their issues are understandable, if frustrating; e.g., a movie shown in a Chinese theater must have the villain - if they broke some law - be caught and/or face the consequences in the end, and movies that don't have this portrayal must either provide an alternate ending for the Chinese or not be shown in theaters at all. Others, however, can be pretty much summarized to suit heavily-biased Communist Party ideology. See also Banned in China.
  • What the PTC is to television, the Childcare Action Project (usually called by its acronym CAP) is to movies (with the exception of "effective"). Its founder, Tom Carder, appears to have chosen a pretentious acronym first and then built a rating system around that: "WISDOM," which divides the sins of movies into the categories "Wanton violence/crime", "Impudence/hate", "Sexual immorality", "Drugs/alcohol", "Offense to God", and "Murder/suicide". He then goes on to be incredibly verbose in justifying his system, with charts, no less. Note that whenever a score by his system goes completely against common sense, he, without exception, calls it "proof of the objectivity" of his system. He has a long, detailed explanation for watching movies that are rated as being only appropriate for adults. It basically amounts to "a few parents might take their kids to R-rated movies and I know better than them (and everyone else)".
  • The Dove Foundation has a similar approach to rating movies.
  • Less heavy-handed in his movie reviews is Dr. Ted Baehr. He rates films on a scale of + 4 for "exemplary" to -4 for "abhorrent", and classifies Shirtless Scenes as "upper male nudity".
  • In South Australia Family First MP Dennis Hood recently[when?] had a law passed, where all R rated films in South Australia have to either be placed in the 'adult section' of all video stores (in a similar fashion to porn titles) or have an entirely blank cover displaying only the film's name in small print and a note saying that the film may cause offense; furthermore, all studios are banned from advertising any R rated films on any medium.
  • The Australian Family Association is also responsible for many movie bans. Other than its requisite gay-bashing, it tried to get the OFLC to ban 9 Songs, Anatomy of Hell, Irreversible, Mysterious Skin and Shortbus. It was actually successful with Baise Moi and Ken Park.
  • are usually pretty good about not going overboard and giving people information to decide for themselves, but it was incredibly funny when they listed all the throat-slashing, rape, burning death, and a steamy kiss in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Also, they spent more time talking about the religious themes hinted at on the Evanescence album Fallen (apparently it might offend militant atheists or something) then the fact that most Evanescence songs are rather creepy - and that "Tourniquet" is about suicide and "Haunted" is about being stalked and raped!
  • The innocuously-named is a "[Christian] family guide to movies and entertainment," and can make for some fairly entertaining reading—unsurprisingly, they strictly condemn anything that seems to support "immoral behavior," "political correctness" (they objected to the identity of the bomber in Source Code, for example—and they hated Inside Job) or a "humanist" worldview, and particularly anything containing "Pagan" (i.e., anything other than Christian) themes. They're also given to occasional racism, like in their review of Eclipse in which they repeatedly refer to "Jakob" as "Indian" (although they praise the story's "strong moral values," such as the 'no sex before marriage' theme), not to mention more-than-incidental homophobia. It's worth a read.
  • Fans of Pixar's Toy Story trilogy wanted it to be the only trilogy on Rotten Tomatoes to have gotten a perfect 100% fresh rating across all three films, and when Toy Story 3 ended up being epic it looked like it would go this way. Then the film recieved two negative reviews bumping it down to a 99. While one was almost immediately written off as a troll that needed to get banned, the other was, you guessed it, a moral guardian that based his bad review on the fact he thought the film was too intense for its G rating.


  • MeMe Roth of the National Action Against Obesity claimed that Jordin Sparks was a bad idea for American Idol because she was overweight. She claims that eating cupcakes is the same as putting a gun into your mouth. She demands that the school her kids go to give permission slips in order for the kids to eat anything in the lunch menu.
  • Many grocery stores stopped selling the holiday-only Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor "Schweddy Balls" (derived from the infamous Christmas SNL sketch on the season 24 episode hosted by Alec Baldwin) because it was deemed too offensive to be viewed (and presumably eaten) by children by some groups, who campaigned to have it pulled from store shelves.


  • Back when Stephen Conroy was the Australian Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (ie. head government internet guy) he made plans, approved by the Federal Government which he was part of, to force mandatory censorship on the Internet at the ISP level for all Internet users in Australia, in which the government gets to decide what is appropriate and what isn't. Even worse, what is and isn't blocked will be kept secret (as a guide, it's very similar what China and Iran have in place). This despite the fact that every test conducted thus far has shown blanket filters to be complete pants when it comes to actually achieving anything, and almost unanimous, vitriolic opposition to the idea on all fronts. Following the 2010 Election, the filter is Deader Than Disco. The Labor Party could only remain in power by creating a coalition government with three Independent and one Greens MP. As all four of these men oppose the filter, and the Liberal/National Coalition has remained steadfast in their opposition to the filter, it's not even going to make it to the Senate. Hadn't stopped Conroy talking about it every chance he could get.
    • The only upside is that Australian managers aren't wussified and ISPs aren't shy of explaining in details what they think about these clowns.
    • France weren't as lucky as the filtering was adopted as part of the LOPPSI2 law. However, regarding the amount of material blocked, it's not that bad: unless you really search for nasty stuff (pro-terrorism, snuff, Holocaust denial...), you're fine.
  • The Child Online Protection Act represents an interesting case, a law passed in 1998 meant to stop kids from seeing porn. Almost the moment it was passed, the United States Supreme Court issued an order preventing the government from enforcing it due to arguments that it violated free speech due to its vague and broadly-determined definition of what "harmful sexual content by contemporary community standards" meant. Various attempts to remove the ban on its enforcement have been similarly struck down. This is why age verification on pornsites—when it exists at all—is so damned laughable: they'll never be prosecuted.
  • There's also the Children's Internet Protection Act of 2000, which requires all schools and public libraries to install filters on their computers in order to receive certain federal funds. It's been challenged by the American Library Association, which has a general policy of frowning on anything that restricts free access to information, but it was upheld by the Supreme Court.
  • In an example of a Fandom developing these from within, the Furry Fandom contains groups such as the now-disbanded Burned Furs and Improved Anthropomorphics, anthropomorphic enthusiasts who believe the community has been corrupted with many of its members' obsession with risqué media, and promote a "cleansing" of the fandom to a more pure, unadulterated state. Unlike many of the above, they aren't usually taken seriously, and their attempts at changing the fandom generally don't have much impact.
  • "Warriors for Innocence", a volunteer-based anti-pedophilia group who made news by encouraging Livejournal to temporarily ban over 500 accounts and communities, ranging from age-playing and incest fetish groups to child molestation victim communities to groups discussing fanfiction or Lolita to otherwise completely innocuous accounts who just happened to have the kind of buzzwords they were looking for in the profile. A complete summary of the event, termed "Strikethrough '07" (for the way that banned journals have a strike through their names) can be found here and here.
  • Wikia's crusade against Uncyclopedia, from the intrusive Content Warnings in 2012 (which caused a permanent split in the English-language community, now here and here) to their ultimately throwing dozens of Uncyclopedia projects under the bus in 2019. A long list of other wikis were destroyed by Wikia's efforts to delete any project which may offend the advertiser.
  • "Shit Reddit Says", a group on Reddit that links to and makes fun of posts they consider bigoted. Over time, however, it's become an ever more flanderized version of itself, poising itself at times as Reddit's Culture Police.
  • The phenomenon of the anti-shippers (or just "antis"), fans who oppose to shipping certain couples for moral reasons and will denounce any ships and works that don't uphold their "unproblematic" standards. There have been accusations of harassment and brigading against fan creators and even actual authors for of their ships and works allegedly promoting pedophilia, racism, abusive relationships, excessive lewdness, etc.; supposedly, they have also tried to involve actual authorities.


Live-Action TV

  • The Parents Television Council is an unabashedly conservative group that masquerades as a nonpartisan organization, and has gone after a large number of targets since its founding in 1995. Almost every single current primetime network series has been given the highest possible rating on their website. In their mind, if a show has any form of sexual content in it, it's automatically pornographic. The group is almost singlehandedly (it has some help from the American Family Association) responsible for the recent[when?] tightening of "decency" regulations for broadcast TV in the wake of the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, better known as "Nipplegate". They've been known to take special aim at anyone who shows what they consider insufficient respect to conservative Protestant Christianity, and are currently[when?] intensifying efforts to bring cable TV under the same kind of regulation as broadcast. They have a strong lobby in Washington[when?], and have been known to use astroturfing methods in their campaigns to censor and suppress content of which they disapprove. The PTC's favorite targets for indecent content on TV: all three of Seth MacFarlane's cartoons (especially Family Guy).
  • mediawatch-uk (capitalization correct; definitely not to be confused with Australian TV show Media Watch) is, roughly speaking, the British equivalent to the Parents Television Council. Formerly the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, it was founded in 1965 by Mary Whitehouse and claims a membership of 40,000 (counting dead members and anyone who sends letters to them). It espouses an aggressively conservative view of proper TV content and has advocated making the possession of pornography a crime punishable by jail time.
  • National Coalition of Television Violence, an ally of Pat Pulling. Its founder and a research director Dr. Thomas Radecki, home-brewed theologist of Fundamentalist Christian strain bent on "investigating" Satanism and what he called "research". The latter included reviewing book reviewers and condemning those who "may not have been as sensitive to violence as they should have been", as well as reviewing "book covers of popular paperback books randomly selected from the shelves" in a bookstore to see how many of them he can call "violent". Yes, he freely admitted he used to judge a book by its cover. He warned about kids not knowing the difference between fantasy and reality and quoted a novel (Mazes and Monsters by Rona Jaffe) as a real document.
  • The Ig Nobel Prize ceremonies have a V-Chip Monitor on stage, who steps in to censor potentially offensive lectures or demonstrations.
  • Power Rangers has been fighting this since Day 1. People were complaining that the shows violent content was encouraging children to hurt themselves, and a rumor began that a kid died while he was playing Power Rangers with his friends (in fact, many countries censored or simply refused to broadcast the show because of this; in a cute twist of irony, until 2011 the only place where the show was still outright banned was New Zealand, where it's been filmed since 2002). Nowadays, with the internet and violent video games, Power Rangers looks rather quaint by comparison, so Moral Guardians tend to just live and let live.
  • Kamen Rider Amazon was canceled because of the Moral Guardians, apparently due to the fact that fights would end with the monster losing a limb or lots of blood as opposed to blowing up.
  • Gilmore Girls was originally developed through Family Friendly Programming Forum’s (FFPF), and continued to receive funding from them. (Hence the The “Changes Everything” ad campaign.) How many shows can say they got approval from both the FFPF and NOW's Primetime Report?
  • Father Ted was subject to criticism from those who viewed it as Anti-Irish. Many of these guardians were English people of Irish descent, a fact Graham Linehan thought to be a Wallbanger. Many also felt that the Catholic Church in Ireland was portrayed in a bad light. Gleefully parodied with their protest of an obscene film (The page image above) which only makes the film more popular.
  • Degrassi the Next Generation (which is mainly an ensemble drama) has had problems with this, in true Media Research Failure fashion. In the early part of the series, Moral Guardians were convinced that Marco, a gay teen, was the main character of the series. Later they thought this role belonged to yet another gay character, Riley Stavros. While in reality (so to speak), they were both relatively minor characters.
  • This was one of the major reasons MTV's version of Skins was canceled. People were going onto forums and speaking out against it as "child pornography". The actors were never filmed below the waist, and the most "explicit" form of "sex" shown was dry-humping.
  • Round the Twist was almost banned in its home country Australia at the time of its premiere because it contained a lot of things deemed Harmful to Minors, such as death, nudity (including references to genitalia), underwear, incest (Kissing Under the Influence), mild sex references (and one episode -- "Lucky Lips"—centered on a magic tube of lipstick that attracts females... and not just human females, either), and your typical gross-out humor staples (body odor, Toilet Humor [both urination and defecation] and plenty of vomit). It also had trouble being exported to Britain because of such subject matter.
  • Glee received getting a surprising amount of flak by Moral Guardians during its time on the air. While the show never tried to be shy about risque content, its similarities to a popular film series aimed at children led a lot of people to initially (and some still do) believe the show was targeting children. Some of the particularly ridiculous criticisms were over risque magazine photoshoots featuring the actors who played teenage characters, even likening it to "pedophilia"...even though the actors in question were in their mid-twenties when they did the photos! Pretty much all the criticism of the show's "inappropriate" content come from people who don't realize that the show is made for older teens and young adults.


  • On multiple occasions, the women's magazine Take A Break campaigns on social issues, but it's obvious that they did not do the research on these issues. Also, their agony aunt Katie tends to be guilty of this on multiple occasions, causing moral panic sometimes.
  • A supermarket in Arkansas caught some flack when they used their "family shield" to cover a magazine cover that had Elton John, his husband and their new infant son in order "protect young shoppers", but eventually reversed their decision when they received complaints.


  • The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) were the infamous self-appointed moral crusaders against any kind of fun in music in the 1980s, formed by Tipper Gore and other wives of influential people when she was scandalized by lyrics to the Prince song "Darling Nikki" (a full account of the history behind the PMRC is given on Jello Biafra's spoken word recording High Priest of Harmful Matter). Their aim was soon set at the LA glam scene and metal in general, but although they lost influence, many others eventually took up the moral crusade against metal music, with equally stupid arguments ranging from a (false) accusation of backward lyrics in Judas Priest songs to blaming the 2007 Virginia Tech killings on the fact that the killer wrote a play which had the same name as a Guns N' Roses song. Many metal bands have written songs about the PMRC and censorship -- Megadeth in particular have written several. Even more infamous was the day the PMRC called Dee Snider, front man for Twisted Sister, to testify, expecting him to make himself look foolish and further promote their cause. Snider showed up still in makeup from the previous night's show, hair teased and huge, dressed in ripped and torn clothing, possibly even hungover, with his notes in a crumpled wad. However, appearances are deceiving: Dee Snider is a very literate and eloquent man, with a strong sense of the poetic. He proceeded to verbally abuse the entire PMRC, up to and including implications that Tipper Gore was a closet sadomasochist, visibly angering Al Gore to the point of near incoherence. This was possibly the most epic defeat ever handed to the PMRC.

I was the poster boy for every thing that's wrong with the society! Let’s cut to twenty-five years later, okay? I’m still married. None of my kids have been busted for drug possession. Can Al and Tipper Gore say the same thing? I don’t think so – oh, snap!

  • There was a documentary about "the evils of rock and roll" called "Hell's Bells," which claimed that rock'n'roll makes children prone to violently killing people and that rock musicians are possessed by the Devil when they write and/or perform their songs. Among other things. Apparently it was over seven hours long. There was a sequel, released in 2001, titled "Hell's Bells 2." It suggested that many rock bands promoted LaVeyan Satanism through their general attitude, even though most of the bands they described probably had little to no actual knowledge of LaVey.
  • During the '80s there was a fellow by the name of Michael Mills who had a radio show devoted to finding Satanic messages in rock songs. Among the bands he accused of corrupting its listeners were the usual suspects like Kiss and Led Zeppelin but he also included a few head-scratchers like ELO, Bow Wow Wow, and of all people, Dan Fogelberg.
  • The verse "Superman that ho" of Soulja Boy's hit "Crank Dat" was thought to be about a depraved sex act. This caused lots of backlash from Moral Guardians everywhere thinking the song was promoting sexual acts. Turns out, that that's not what he intended and the meaning is based on an Urban Legend anyway.
  • Eels' Daisies Of The Galaxy was a fairly unlikely target for this sort of controversy: When promotional copies were given out at an event at the Democratic National Convention, both a New York Post article and the official site for George W. Bush's election typified it as "a compact disc clearly marketed towards children containing offensive language". The evidence it was being "marketed towards children" was that the cover art was drawn in a style reminiscent of a children's storybook, while the main things that were cited as offensive were the song title "It's A Motherfucker" and the lyric "when I grow up I'll be an angry little whore" (from "Tiger In My Tank"). In reality, the album is pretty tame for having a Parental Advisory sticker: "It's A Motherfucker" is a song about missing someone that happens to have the album's Precision F-Strike, and in context the phrase "angry little whore" was clearly being taken entirely too literally.


  • The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper, is well known for this. In 2008 it led a successful campaign to force social networking site Facebook to remove an application which allowed users to virtually "shank" (knife) friends. It also led a moral crusade in 1992 against the horror movie Child's Play 3 which, it was argued, was responsible for the murder of 2-year-old James Bulger because the family of one of the 10-year-old killers had rented the movie shortly beforehand. Police could find no evidence of this and said so in a press statement, but the newspaper led a nationwide campaign for anyone with a copy of the film to destroy it and for shopkeepers to remove it from shelves. Child's Play 3 was later suggested as a possible inspiration for another murder, which allowed The Sun to say "See? We were right."
  • The Daily Express, with an equally vitriolic attitude towards immigration, asylum seekers and the European Union. Has a particular fixation with conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Princess Diana, and is known as the "Di-ly Express" in Private Eye. It should be noted that the Express and it's stablemate The Star are both owned by millionaire porn baron Richard Desmond, who is behind many of the X-rated TV channels on British television. This hasn't changed their moral stances and promotion of "family values" at all
  • The Daily Mail is another Right Wing Tabloid in a similar vein to the Daily Express and is infamous in the UK for "raging" over many moral issues including Immigration, Education, Video Games, Television content, The Daily Express, and so on.

Tabletop Games

  • Patricia Pulling, mother of Irving "Bink" Pulling (who committed suicide on June 8, 1982), alleged that her son's suicide was caused by roleplaying games, a common accusation of the time (Irving Pulling was noted to be having troubles fitting in at school, and wrote "Life is a Joke" on a blackboard at school shortly before his suicide). Pulling tried to sue the principal of the high school her son attended, then got a private investigator certificate and formed B.A.D.D. (Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons), testified as a self-proclaimed expert in "occult" and D&D, and riding a wave of "cult crimes" scare, produced handouts for police that contained erroneous or outright false statements (such as claiming that 8% of Richmond, Virginia citizens were Satanists; she came to this conclusion by estimating 4% of teens and 4% of adults, and adding the result. And a list of fantasy role-playing games, some of which weren't fantasy, or role-playing games, or at all). She has an objection to Tunnels and Trolls that it used rolls of three six-sided dice, so here must be something Satanic. Somehow she was allowed to get away with everything up to unauthorized and re-edited reprinting of newspapers articles and even was hired to give testimony in a court of law. Pulling died of cancer in 1997, and the anti-RPG backlash more or less died with her.
  • Jack Chick, of course, had a rather famous tract about how Dungeons & Dragons leads to suicide and satanism.
  • The Swedish book De övargivandes Arme (Army of the Abandoned) from 1997 claimed that role-playing was secretly a front for neo-Nazi indoctrination and training in guerilla warfare. Although the book's arguments were mainly of the Hitler Ate Sugar variety (e.g. that White Wolf sounded kinda Nazi-ish), it did provoke a couple of MPs to demand age codes on RPGs, before the debate died down.
  • As part of Early Installment Weirdness, Magic: The Gathering included many references to the real world, classical mythology and/or religion. That faded partly because of a devotion to their own world-building and intellectual property, but also to placate Moral Guardians who didn't like upside-down burning pentagrams appearing in card art. The different is particularly glaring between one printing of the card Unholy Strength and another, in which the art of the later version is missing the pentagram that takes up the entire background of the picture but is otherwise identical.


  • Theatre has a long history of being banned or closed in the Christian world for reasons of immorality. John Calvin and Oliver Cromwell come to mind, as do most Puritan sects, but most forms of theatre (Church commissioned morality play being the exception) were banned throughout most of the Middle Ages. Arguments explaining why theatre is evil and/or useless go back at least as far as Plato, and the opposition dates back at least as far as Aristotle.
  • Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, regarded as the first true feminist play, was criticized for challenging traditional gender roles and the sanctity of marriage, with most criticism being aimed particularly toward the female protagonist, Nora, who leaves her husband and children behind in order to start a new life of self-discovery at the end of the original play. The ending was criticized so much that an alternative version of the play was performed, with Nora giving her husband a second chance and staying with him at the end of the play. Nowadays, all performances of this play use the original ending. Ibsen, who was not happy with being forced to write an alternative ending to the play and considering it a travesty, included a pointed Take That to his critics, in that the "happy" ending is only achieved thanks to the husband bullying and emotionally guilt-tripping his wife into staying through their children, and the wife makes it very clear that she considers staying A Fate Worse Than Death.


  • The Lion and Lamb Project is the counterpart for children's toys. The main problem with their crusade against immoral toys is the massive amount of Did Not Do the Research involved in their tirades; the group constantly claims that various toys were marketed at children simply because of the "Ages 3 and Up" approval rating on all toys (which is the result of a safety test, not a demographic statement). They went straight into Media Research Failure territory by claiming that a Transformers toyline was clearly designed to tie in to The Matrix despite the fact that the two franchises have no corporate connection and only shared the unimportant background premise of a background Big Bad draining energy from living beings. Their lists of "recommended" toys make it clear that they think that toys are never, ever made for anybody older than 4 or so despite the blatant pandering to collectors' markets in many toylines. Their website has not been updated in years, possibly due to the increasing irrelevance of physical toys.

Video Games

  • In the 1990s, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice forbid sales of the Carmageddon series and the first Grand Theft Auto. But in the 2000s they entered Culture Police level by banning Bully, ("doesn't let children to be educated properly", according to the judge who ordered the ban) Counter-Strike ("violence stimulation") and EverQuest ("subversion of social order").
  • Fallout 3 was originally going to have morphine as one of its chems, but a complaint about the portrayal of morphine in the game from Australian Moral Guardians got it changed to Med-X while still coming in rather recognizable syringes. The way it was portrayed? As an extremely potent but dangerously addictive painkiller... which is kind of what morphine is.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series is a repeated target of Moral Guardians. Several entries have been denied release internationally, including in parts of Japan. This came to a particularly explosive head in San Andreas when hackers discovered a disabled sex minigame (dubbed "Hot Coffee") that led to Jack Thompson (again) patrolling the media with his anti-gaming theories, as well as facetime from numerous lawmakers including Senator Hillary Clinton, who proposed laws to restrict the sales of certain games. Clinton and Thompson even appeared together several times to fight against the game.
  • Jack Thompson is a self-appointed crusader against video games, and apparently blames them for every evil affecting American society except possibly global warming and the common cold. Before that he was involved in efforts to censor music, specifically rap. He has a history of rabid overreaction to his pet issue-of-the-moment, vitriol towards more rational persons on any side of that issue, and legal threats to anyone who disagrees with him (his lawsuits have expanded to include the Florida Supreme Court as a target). However, he was considered to be relatively harmless, as his rants cost him his credibility and, eventually, his license to practice law; with more important people making threats against video games, Thompson was merely the most visible and possibly the most entertaining.
  • The UK has Keith Vaz MP, a man of sublime intellect, unimpeachable personal integrity, a champion of free speech and common sense. (Beat) Hang on...
  • Eternal Forces managed to cause offense on both sides. The non-religious community objected because they saw it as conservative Christian propaganda, and the Religious Right disliked the game because it portrayed the faithful as trigger-happy vigilantes.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman studies how video games can train people to kill. He cites tactics used in shooting games, desensitising gamers to killing and portraying it as a reward and enjoyment as evidence.[3] For the record, he's also quite fond of citing reports on video game violence that cite him as their primary source.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 was given an R18+ rating in Australia for, among other reasons "high-impact violence" and "piles of bodies lay about the environment". The problem with this? Australia did not have an R18+ rating for games, meaning that any game which would rate over an MA 15+ is "Refused Classification". Valve submitted a censored version of the game to the classification board, which was eventually passed with an MA-15 rating. The amount of censoring required is so ridiculous, though, that at times it looks like a completely different game. Valve had also resubmitted the original for reconsideration, but it was just given another dose of refused classification. In a case of third time's the charm, they were finally able to get an uncensored version released there.
  • The release of Bully on the PS2 (renamed Canis Canem Edit in the UK, at least in part over this fuss) was accompanied by a "ban this game" campaign led by disgraced former Cabinet Minister Keith Vaz. This mainly occurred during the game's development, as upon release such detractors were left with egg on their face when Bully turned out to be fairly wholesome, due to the fact that the path to victory is playing morally, being a good student and taking down the titular bullies. This was pretty much what caused the Jack Thompson media flareup to finally die down. Bully: Scholarship Edition has since been released in the UK under its original title.
  • The original Manhunt received much controversy over how the game practically reveled in the violence the player could commit. This led to the game being banned in several countries. The sequel received the same treatment, including such notable names as Hillary Clinton and Jack Thompson attempting to get the game restricted in the United States. The game still had to be recut because the ESRB gave the first cut an Adults Only rating, thus leading to retailers refusing to carry it and Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all denying the games release on their platforms. Even after the M-rated cut made it shelves, the same moral guardians sought to have the game re-rated and pulled from store shelves. The game's sequel, Manhunt 2, was actually banned in Ireland and in the UK; though without any kind of controversy associated with the sequel, at least not on a level comparable to that of the original.
  • The guardians had another video game field day with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. More precisely, the Wham Level "No Russian", where you play as a CIA agent going undercover with terrorists massacring an entire airport. Predictably, they took the level out of context and claimed the whole game to be a terrorism simulator on that alone. The twist is, putting the stage within context is a gigantic spoiler... one that would make the guardians' heads implode: The whole massacre was planned by the true Big Bad, US Army General Shepherd, as the beginning of his utterly vile, corrupt and insane Batman Gambit to begin a horrific war between America and Russia so that he can instill total American supremacy upon the world and get his name down in history as a (false) war hero. The German Moral Guardians actually took some action and forced the developers to punish the player for shooting the civilians in that level with a Game Over in the German-language version. This also resulted in Steam (and the game won't run without it) forbidding players who bought the German-language version (and the conveniently country-coded CD key with it) to download any other languages for it, which is possible for every other game out there. The infamous level was cut from the Russian release. Nevertheless, a parliament deputy proposed to ban the game, because his teenage son was apparently outraged by the level. The Russian publisher, 1C, responded with a sarcastic open letter, inquiring why the politician would buy his son a pirated game and ignore the "18 and over" mark on the front cover.
  • The Pokémon franchise has had to bear probably the greatest onslaught of Moral Guardians. Not only did various Moral Guardians accuse it of promoting satanism and witchcraft (due to the game's premise of being able to control "superpowered creatures"), but it also was accused of promoting gambling (to the point where some NPCs were changed from being called "gambler" to "gamer") and "cockfighting" (despite the fact that the in-game point of Pokémon is friendship and teamwork rather than "use your monsters to beat up the other guy's monsters").
  • The newest Medal of Honor game has been banned from stores on military bases for allowing gamers to play as the Taliban. While this is a question of sensitivity, you could play as Nazis in the previous installments. This may be a case of Too Soon.
  • The Church of England criticised the Play Station 3 game Resistance: Fall of Man, which included a gunfight in Manchester Cathedral. Amusingly, when the Church demanded that Insomniac change the game to not depict Manchester Cathedral, Insomniac reportedly laughed at them, and began pointing out the numerous other things that the Church did not have a problem with, including the violent depictions of murder. The Church was, sadly, not suitably chastised. Also funny: the Church's argument was—at least in part—that Insomniac didn't get their permission, which made the whole thing look more like a copyright dispute than a case of moral outrage. (Needless to say, having been built in 1215, Manchester Cathedral isn't subject to copyright of any kind.)
  • Believe it or not, even Portal 2 has been the target of Moral Guardians, with claims that it is offensive to adopted children, somehow completely ignoring that the entire point is that the obvious antagonists - who also make fat jokes - are the ones making the claims.
  • Family Friendly Gaming, a review website that attempted to analyze video games and other media "from a family-friendly (read: conservative Christian) perspective." Short of downright demonizing the media itself, Family Friendly Gaming followed many of the guidelines of the stereotypical Moral Guardian. Of special note is the review for Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, where it becomes increasingly obvious that the reviewer has never heard of Homestar Runner.
  • In light of Gamergate, a number of groups and individuals have either been accused of being Moral Guardians or shown their true colors. Among the most notable cases being that of Feminist Frequency and its supporters, who express concern over supposed sexism and misogyny in the industry and gamer culture while increasingly incorporating the video game violence angles of Jack Thompson and Dave Grossman.

Web Comics

  • Some years back, a "fandom secret" image circulated Tumblr claiming that somehow, Homestuck glorifies and encourages an unhealthy lifestyle of internet use, and it deserves to be rebelled against. Thankfully it's pretty much restricted to just the one image with no (known) large concerted effort against the series, and everyone - including several members of Homestuck's art and music teams - just took the piss out of the claims mercilessly.

Western Animation

  • Moral Guardians are the reason the Looney Tunes cartoons have been banned and heavily censored from television to the point that they're rarely shown on TV (though the invention of home video and Internet file sharing also contributed to this), going as far back as the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Because of the Shout-Out to the brony fanbase where they had Derpy speak, parents thought the writers were making fun of disabled people. "The Last Roundup" has already been pulled from the iTunes store and possibly from the Hub's rotation. Early in February 2012, all of the "Derpy" merchandise at We Love Fine was renamed to either "Ditzy" or some generic name. Hasbro was apparently pressuring WLF to take them down, as well as having Apple take The Last Roundup' off of iTunes. In mid-to-late February 2012, "The Last Roundup" was put back up onto iTunes store, but Derpy has an entirely different voice and her eyes are no longer screwed up, and Rainbow Dash doesn't name her anymore. Looks like we can forget about a Derpy episode.
  1. Or maybe that's just how Jeremy viewed her. The strip tends to have a lot of Imagination Spot gags.
  2. This was reference the real Morissette's video for "Thank You," where she walks around a town completely naked, covered by her Godiva Hair and a Censor Box
  3. It's no coincidence either that he's often credited for coining the term "murder simulator."