What Do You Mean It's for Kids?

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"Someone dies in the second episode of a kid's show?"
For children 5-12.

Whenever a show or movie aimed toward younger viewers has a large enough Periphery Demographic, many of the older fans will vocally argue that it isn't a "kid's show", and become offended when anyone says it is. This is tied heavily to the idea that anything for kids must be crappy, or lack appeal to adults.

One of the biggest causes of this is that, if a popular kids' franchise is over a decade old or so, the majority (if not the entirety) of its older fanbase loved it when they were kids, but are adults now. Unfortunately, this can lead to certain deluded fans thinking that the company should cater exclusively to them, thinking they are the only audience for this franchise. The sad, hard truth of the matter is that, often enough, you stop being the franchise's focus the moment you stop being a kid. Fortunately, there are plenty of fans who know this, and to be fair, plenty of these companies do like to give little bonuses to their older fans (some more than others).

The other main cause is that fans of certain works (or indeed entire mediums) have had to deal with people dismissing their interests as immature (and thus, by implication the fan themself) for years. This sort of stigma gets tiring real fast. It's much easier to argue for the "Adultness" of an individual work than to convince a skeptic of the concept that something can be equally appealing to adults and children. It shouldn't have to be this way, but it is.

In general, anime gets the worst of this treatment.

This can also lead to productions that are marketed to children but make us wonder if they were created for them (namely for potentially explicit content and/or serious and mature plots. While the latter is existent, the former is more common.) Namely, if these shows have an awful lot of Parental Bonus, Parent Service, and the like. Unfortunately, this can also bring Moral Guardians out of the woodwork if it seems to be blatant enough. This can also happen when something is given a G rating but has an awful lot of potentially explicit content.

This phenomenon can also occur due to Values Dissonance. For example, Once-Acceptable Targets are, by definition, no longer acceptable, and Real Life tragedies can make things Harsher in Hindsight, and different countries' Moral Guardians have different standards.

Often confused with What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?, where a work is commonly mistaken as being for kids even when it is not.

Examples of What Do You Mean It's for Kids? include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Values Dissonance plays a huge part in this category, as Japan has a much higher threshold than other cultures on what's not acceptable for kids. Pretty much any Shonen or Shojo Anime and manga falls under this category, especially some Magical Girl anime. This tends to happen because of the Japanese language's lack of true swearing, which results in some of the harsher words or interjections being translated into English as profanities; therefore, it's not uncommon to find an anime series that routinely uses the equivalent of "damn" or "shit" and was intended for children. Similarly, shonen deconstructions, those with Darker and Edgier contents, and those with a pessimistic viewpoint often falls into this trope and is often mistaken as Seinen.
  • When Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin was first brought to Finland, it received a terrible dub and had some scenes cut out. It got the rating of "seven years and older" despite copious amounts of Family-Unfriendly Violence and High-Pressure Blood (cutting out all of that would have been beyond Beyond the Impossible).
  • Sailor Moon. No, it was not only for teens in Japan; watch the commercials.
  • Toei held two all night Pretty Cure events at a movie theater for grown ups only due to a Japanese law that doesn't allow children to see movies after 8:00PM. They showed some Pretty Cure movies during this marathon.
  • American parents would be, to say the least, not pleased if they ever saw Keroro Gunsou although it's hugely successful amongst kids in Japan. It's even had its own Happy Meal toys.
  • The heavy amount of violence present in later episodes of Eureka Seven forced Cartoon Network to air the English dub on its Adult Swim block with a TV-MA rating. Similar to Keroro Gunsou, however, Eureka Seven is a show targeted for kids, as evidenced by its 7 A.M. Sunday morning time slot in Japan. Even the voice actors express their confusion over the timeslot during several of the more violent scenes in the Japanese DVD commentaries.
  • Black Butler. It has Seinen written all over it, but is published in a Shonen magazine. It contains violence and gore, murder, child abuse, sex (and in the Anime, rape), pedophilia, homosexuality, and questionable dialogue. To top it all off, its protagonists are Villain Protagonists who kill anyone who gets in the way of their goals. On the other hand, cooking competitions, dance lessons, boys put in fluffy dresses, lots of Ho Yay undertones with a cast full of bishonen, and a huge female fanbase might cause it to be mistaken for Shojo.
  • Death Note. It has all the makings of a Seinen series... but ran in Shonen Jump. Acknowledged by the authors who mention in their manga about manga the idea of writing otherwise Seinen stories in a Shonen magazine. It even seems like they support Shonen magazines having Seinen-like manga.
  • Zatch Bell actually does feature Victoream-Sama saying "very shit". Also, the Japanese version has this. It's not considered offensive in Japan.
  • Inu Yasha was aimed at boys in upper elementary or junior/high school, Shonen Sunday's target demographic. In the United States, it had to air very late at night on Cartoon Network and be aimed at a college age audience. The fact that a bare-breasted centipede demoness appear in the very first episode is something to say after all.
  • Speaking of which, ask any Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann fan in the United States and they will swear it's a show aimed for older teens and adults, which it is—in America. In Japan, the series aired at 8:30 A.M. on Sundays (the Japanese equivalent to Saturday mornings), directly competing against Toei's Pretty Cure franchise. Doesn't stop Simon and Kamina from being made of pure Badass though.
  • Something similar happened to Gao Gai Gar—Media Blasters promoted it as a Super Robot anime by Super Robot fans, for Super Robot fans. In reality, it was aimed at Japanese kids, and was only a success with the Periphery Demographic. Don't let the mecha-fans find out...
  • Ichinensei Ni Nacchattara plays with this Trope in its 28th chapter.
  • Fist of the North Star is pretty much textbook Gorn with blood and guts flying around and torture and Complete Monster villains... and it's also the Trope Maker for Shonen Fighting Series. It's also from the late Showa era; you probably couldn't get away with a lot of that in a modern Shonen series. Its modern iterations only do get away because of the Grandfather Clause. Japan had a few scares with an otaku serial killer and teen murders in the intervening 22 years, prompting more scrutiny from Moral Guardians.
  • Azumanga Daioh's sizable Periphery Demographic leads some people to believe it's a Seinen series—being aimed at teenage boys, it, along with Dengeki Daioh (where the manga appeared), are actually Shonen.
  • Anime News Network's reviewers have condemned Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch for sexually suggestive dialogue and scenes (read: light enough that kids wouldn't get it) as well as its aversion of Bloodless Carnage, even though it was originally published in Nakayoshi. The Anime sanitized a lot of these scenes anyway, but it's confusing that people who ought to know better would judge this way. (The same review also exemplified this trope's opposite, in that it stated that no-one that the reviewer deemed old enough to read the series would dare touch a cute Magical Girl manga.)
  • Arashi no Yoru ni is a movie about the arguably homosexual romance between two very close male friends of wildly different species, and the opening scene features a wolf violently and bloodily getting his ear torn off by a Mama Goat. To say nothing of prey-friend Mei begging carnivore-friend Gabu to eat him near the end. However, it's still a kid's movie—and a fairly gentle-hearted one at that.
  • Nana. With its fairly adult storyline and content, it runs in a Shojo magazine. Josei would have been more like it.
  • In regards to the new four part movie remake being made based on it, Hideaki Anno mentioned, briefly, that Neon Genesis Evangelion was intended for youths and even kids and how the message of the series was important for their ears more so than anyone else. You know, that show where a naked teenage girl grows to the size of a planet and then falls apart, another character has her mind horrifically invaded and essentially violated, and ended up squarely defining pessimism in the Super Robot genre. In the States, it was once the victim of the opposite trope, nowadays Evangelion is pretty much put on par with AKIRA, Legend of the Overfiend and violent anime/hentai in general. Japanese parents (and sponsors) were just as surprised at an afterschool Anime growing so violent and nightmarish so quickly, culminating in the movies being strictly R-rating level affairs. It may have been intended to be a kids program, at least the initial idea. The creator, however, suffered from depression problems, and he had something of a meltdown midway through the series. While the show had been dark before, there had at least been lighthearted moments, and characters seemed to be developing in a positive route; Things started to go downhill after that point, (much like a rolling stone hurling off a cliff into a pit of acid, lava, piranhas, and toenail clippings.) This article shows that kids in Japan do still watch Evangelion, regardless.
  • The magical-girl Anime series Princess Tutu is aimed to children in Japan, but it has a PG-13 level of violence, frightening scenes and some nudity.
  • Saint Seiya was aimed to children in Japan, as well in Europe and South America, having a lot of controversy due the huge amounts of violence, frightening scenes and religious/mythological references.
  • Many works of Go Nagai could be considered way too frightening and violent to be for children, but are aimed to children in Japan (Like for example: Dororon Enma Kun and Mazinger Z.)
  • It can be argued that this Trope, combined with Values Dissonance, is why Detective Conan (a.k.a., Case Closed!) failed when it was broadcast on Cartoon Network in the United States: it was too childish for [adult swim], yet too violent for Toonami. The aged animation style was the final nail in the coffin. In fact, this anime was aired during family hours in Japan.
  • Pokémon Special is in fact classified as a kodomo [1] manga. However, its strong sense of continuity and characterization, as well as occasional violence, has people convinced it's meant for an older crowd.
  • Quite a few of the other manga too, either due to violence or Fan Service. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure can be as violent as Special at times, and features dark themes like it, but can't be above Shonen.
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino's early career is littered with examples of shows that were marketed to kids but were not so kid-friendly in their content. His Zambot 3, which earned him the nickname "Kill'Em All Tomino", looks like a typical Saturday Morning cartoon, with a bunch a school age kids saving the day with a colourful Combining Mecha, but quickly turns into something much darker; the property damage and civilian casualties are depicted much more realistically than in the typical Super Robot show, the public turns against the kids and tries to murder them several times when it becomes apparent that they're the whole reason Earth is getting attacked in the first place, and most of the main characters die a bloody death in the finale. The original Mobile Suit Gundam had a similar effect at the time it first appeared, as the term Real Robot hadn't been invented yet and Humongous Mecha were still widely considered the stuff of children's programming, Mr. Tomino's earlier work not withstanding. And let's not even mention Triton Of The Sea or Space Runaway Ideon...
  • Related to the above, Gundam AGE is targeted to a younger audience than SEED and 00. Yet, despite its children's cartoon art-style, AGE has perhaps the darkest Gundam story this side of the Universal Century and it doesn't hold any punches when it comes to killing off characters and showing their death scenes. And that's before you get into having a main protagonist become a genocidal, if well-intentioned, maniac, the whole back-story for Vagan (also known as the Unknown Enemy), OR Desil Galette, who is quite possibly THE most evil character in the Gundam franchise.]]
  • Some of Osamu Tezuka's Anime and manga aimed at children/young teens tend to fall under this. The first episode of Kimba the White Lion for example can pretty much be summed up as one massive Break the Cutie for the eponymous character, and the ending for the manga and movie is one of the most infamous endings in the industry.
  • The American publication of Kare First Love (via VIZ) is rated T (13+) despite Aoi's consistent pressure on his girlfriend to have sex with him. Curiously, the series' rating never increases, even after it displays a rather explicit sex scene and a pregnancy scare resulting from an affair between an adult man and high school teen. Other manga published by VIZ has been marketed to older teens/adults simply for containing frontal nudity—such as Ranma ½.
  • Barefoot Gen, a semi-autobiographical manga series best known for its graphic depiction of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima, was originally published in Shonen Jump and aimed at kids, complete with intermittent history lessons throughout.
  • Maicchingu Machiko Sensei is an anime about a quirky teacher who helps her students through everyday problems such as bullies and school work. Sometimes, she takes them on wacky adventures as well. It was a show aimed at middle school children. Oh, and every episode featured the main character naked due to her students' pranks. And yes, Barbie Doll Anatomy was completely averted.
  • Kinnikuman originally started out as a parody of Ultraman complete with action and comedy being somewhat expected of a Shonen manga. Then, the series shifted from being just a parody of superheroes to a series about Professional Wrestling. Despite the comedy remaining in the series, there was notably a lot more violence in the show. For one, the wrestling matches couldn't really be called matches anymore, as whenever someone won, it usually meant that they won via killing the other person, complete with Family-Unfriendly Death for the defeated (One person actually got eaten alive by their opponent). Keep in mind that it was still considered a Shonen manga after the shift. The anime tried to tone down the violence, but a lot of it was still kept in.
  • The same can be said for the anime of its sequel Kinnikuman Nisei (known in the US as Ultimate Muscle). Despite being aimed at kids, it still follows in the footsteps of its predecessor with violence and loads of innuendo in both the original and the dub. The manga averts this trope, as it's marketed for adults.
  • Pandora Hearts is a shonen manga series similar to Black Butler. Like Black Butler and Death Note it probably would be more suited for a Seinen magazine, due to its violence, characters with violent and complex pasts (quite a few involving Eye Scream)and generally being quite a mature manga series.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman has a gender-bending villain, plenty of violence and death, and (in the first series) TWO attempts to destroy the planet. Its target audience was 6-year-olds.
  • Life may be a Shoujo manga however it's considerably more mature in nature than most shoujo. From the graphic nudity, sexual scenes, and gore.. It's no wonder Tokyo Pop changed it from being for "Older Teens" to "Mature". One scene in volume 6 involved showing two characters somewhat graphically having sex. It can easily be mistaken for a Josei manga.
  • Fate/Zero was shown on Japan's Kids Station channel. It features, amoung other things, a psyhopathic Serial Killer whose Servant is an even more psychopathic serial killer who brutally subverts Wouldn't Hurt a Child in his Establishing Character Moment. (we don't actually see it directly, but there is a cut to the wall splattered with huge amounts of blood afterwards, and it's made all the more horrifying by the fact that he deliberately gave the kid a Hope Spot before killing him.) As well as Assassin getting rather messily impaled through the head with a thrown lance. This is just the second episode.
  • Most western fans of Dragon Ball still insist that it's meant for adults, even though it is very clearly a kids' series.
  • Nothing could have prepared children for what came after Digimon Adventure 02... even the FoxKids ads weren't kidding around. And they were scratching the surface on how frightening Digimon Tamers could be, even to parents watching it with their kids.
  • ABC 3 in Australia lists Vampire Knight as a kids show and gives it a PG rating. That doesn't stop it from having violence and scenes of vampire biting that are intended to be highly erotic.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The Marvel Adventures line is written for the 5-12 kid demographic, but it seems designed to address most of the adult audience's criticism of the Marvel line: it has a much less confusing Continuity (though is fond of jokes absolutely drenched in continuity), steers away from the Wangst and bleakness the main line tended to indulge in, and sidestepped the whole Civil War fiasco completely. Marvel Adventures appeals to adults who liked mainstream Marvel comics from the 1960s to 1980s, IE when they were targeted to kids and teens. The fact that said period is largely considered to be the company's hey-day is a reminder that Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • The Boom Kids comics based on the old Disney Afternoon shows. Nothing outright offensive about the material, but, due to massive Continuity Porn, they'll only make total sense to people who've seen the shows—which Disney has barely aired at all in the past decade and not at all since 2006. If you're under 20, chances are you'll be confused from Issue One. Oh, and they also cost a dollar more than most comics.
    • To its credit, Boom Studios seems to have realized this. The worst offender, Darkwing Duck, no longer has "Boom Kids" anywhere on the cover (though it's likely still placed on the kids rack at comic book stores).
  • Regular Disney comics too. People only familiar with Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse from Classic Disney Shorts might be surprised at the comics adapting say, The Divine Comedy (twice, in fact).
    • Though, it should be noted that in many European countries, especially the Netherlands, Disney comics are so universally popular that the comics made just for those regions really aren't for kids anymore.
  • EC Comics. The entire company output qualifies, even after correcting for Values Dissonance for their being published in the 1950s, when ideas on "age appropriate" were a bit different.

Films -- Animation[edit | hide]

  • This trope is likely to be invoked (usually by Media Watchdogs, Moral Guardians or both; some of the latter likely including "concerned parents", but also some regular viewers as well) anytime an animated movie is given anything other than a G rating (since live-action movies are more ambiguous in this respect). As noted from some of the below examples though, it has also been known to be invoked in G-rated movies as well (such as the The Secret of NIMH).
  • Chirin no Suzu: Aw, look, it's a cheerful film about a cute little lamb... Until the second half of the film, whereupon it becomes a dark and depressing tale featuring revenge.
  • Disney's version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame totally goes here. Endlessly marketed to kids with cute dolls and toys and such... and then Frollo sings Hellfire. And he "accidentally" kills Quasimodo's mother and then tries to outright murder him as an infant, flat out saying he's going to send him to Hell. That happens just minutes into the film.
  • Heck, to a lesser degree, most of the Disney Animated Canon could go here. Most people think of violence as not kid-friendly, yet the vast majority of people (including Disney's marketing) consider these to be family or kids' films. Most of these films have a villain who tries to commit murder (and succeeds in the case of The Lion King) and ends up dead himself/herself by the end of the film.
  • According to Word of God, Ralph Bakshi said that in an interview he had kids in mind when making the film Wizards; the film itself contains a lot of family unfriendly content such as swearing, graphic violence, innuendo, and partial nudity. The German version of the film has a straight up 16+ rating.
  • Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole: A "PG" rated film by Zack Snyder with owls clawing and slashing each other apart, characters dying, bats tearing apart owls, impalements... And yet, it was aimed to kids.
  • The original Toy Story got this reaction when we get to meet Sid, who tortures and mutilates Toys.
  • |Toy Story 3. The characters all nearly die several times, much of the humor is over young heads, and a lot of kids get frightened and often even leaving during the Monkey Scene (A few theorized the 11-year Sequel Gap helped Pixar aim for a Darker and Edgier route). Not only do the toys almost die several times, they come to calmly embrace death at one point.
  • Transformers: The Movie features the mass slaughter of almost all of the major original cast. This one also fits Animation Age Ghetto.
  • The original Shrek has swearing and adult jokes and gruesome deaths. Yet kids seem to don't care.
  • Rover Dangerfield was Rodney Dangerfield's attempt at making a movie for kids. It had Las Vegas showgirls, drug-dealing mobsters, and a comic relief character's onscreen death, for which the title character is framed and nearly shot.
  • Chicken Run opens with Ginger's repeated attempts to escape from a place resembling a concentration camp. Minutes later, one of her friends is killed, and towards the end Ginger and Rocky only narrowly escape being beheaded (Ginger does it twice) and being cooked alive.
    • Not to mention seeing the corpse of the friend on the dinner table as the Tweedys finish eating her.
  • Rango, just like Shrek contains lots of adult jokes, some swearing, Family-Unfriendly Violence and huge amounts of Parental Bonus. Let's also not forget the word "bitch" is bleeped out by a hawk. But it's really fun reading the bad reviews of the movie by parents that show it to their four-year-old.
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven undoubtedly has to be Don Bluth's darkest film. It has relatively small "kid-friendly" scenes in between the controversial themes of gambling, first degree murder, theft, drinking, terrifying images of Hell and Satan, and the real clincher, Killing the main protagonist at the end. Which is unheard of in Western animation for children. Bluth's got GUTS.
  • The Secret of NIMH. That film is scary as an adult and it's still marketed toward kids. It's been pretty amusing seeing cheap reprints of the DVD with nothing but cute and cuddly box art.
  • The Land Before Time. You've got Littlefoot's mom getting a chunk of flesh bitten off of her by Sharptooth (it would've been more frightening without the Shadow Discretion Shot), the mega-quake that split Pangaea, and at one point, the heroes get stuck in a tar pit! Brr...
  • Where to begin with Fantastic Mr. Fox? Let's start with the fact that they manage to get away with saying "fuck" by simply exchanging it with"cuss" ("The cuss you are", "Clustercuss", "Scared the cuss out of me"). From there, it just gets better. Mr. Fox is a thief; the farmers want to kill Mr. Fox using switchblades and guns (which leads to Mr. Fox having his tail shot off), eventually leading to using excavators and explosives; there's incessant smoking from Mr. Bean, who makes alcoholic cider (and eventually goes batshit crazy); there are multiple injuries sustained by characters varying from scars to burns; Rat is electrocuted and killed by Mr. Fox; and the ending is of the bittersweet variety in which the animals homes have been destroyed and they now live in the sewers even though they have a food supply that could last them for decades.


Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • The Gamera films of the 1960s-1970s contained some of the most graphic "monster vs. monster" violence in movie history that's actually geared towards children. Yes, a film series that contained truly gruesome moments such as this was made for kids. You heard me! A company released videos of gruesome violence under the name Just for Kids Home Video!
  • George Lucas has maintained that Star Wars is intended for children. Some people point at the severed limbs, convoluted politics and economics, techno-babble, bio-babble, and other kid-unfriendly aspects to counter those claims.
  • Likewise, Lucasfilm's Indiana Jones series received some criticism due to the level of violence in the movies (particularly Temple of Doom, which, to be fair, features a guy getting a heart ripped from his chest), resulting in the creation of the PG-13 rating.
  • The Wizard (film) was definitely made and marketed with Nintendo-loving kids in mind... but the scenes of upsetting family drama, the incestuous Accidental Innuendo in the hotel scene, and Haley's cry of "HE TOUCHED MY BREAST!" make one wonder.
  • The Santa Clause is a film which shows Santa Claus falling off a roof and dying as a moment of Black Comedy.
  • Tron: Legacy. Considering that the 2010 Sequel has a Darker and Edgier plot and much more brutal deresolutions than the 1982 original,[2] one could easily be shocked that this film, unlike its predecessor, was intended for kids. This can't possibly be stressed enough. The movie is about as close to Gorn as you can get without showing any blood, the villain is essentially Hitler (and fucking terrifying at that), and there are a lot of references that would go straight over a kid's head... and somehow it still managed to get a PG rating, with Disney somehow not realizing that their movie was very kid-unfriendly and marketing it to young children. It's interesting to note its promotions on Disney Channel, as well as its Adidas apparel line, and its large collection of Toys, all of which are made and meant for children.
  • Tron itself came out before the PG-13 rating (1982), and while it was technically aimed at kids, it was much Darker and Edgier than the usual Disney fare. On its roster; brutal on-screen deaths (including a Boom! Headshot! with some gibs), Electric Torture (Clu 1.0 is tortured to death, Dumont and the other Tower Guardians come close to it), overt religious themes (more blatant than the second film's), a brief flirtation with a Love Triangle (or Threesome Subtext), snarky innuendo and a Shirtless Scene... Then there's the Deleted Scene that was obstensibly cut for pacing, but was quite obviously sexual in nature.
  • The Golden Compass, the film adaptation of the first book of His Dark Materials trilogy was marketed to children, and is considered a family film. But despite the Disneyfication process that suffered the adaptation (like removing most of the hardcore atheist rants), it still had lot of dark elements, like a very violent polar bear fight, people being shot, lots of killings and many other things... Such as the extremely heartwarming and uplifting ending scene which was left off the theatrical release.
  • Labyrinth has frequently been cited as this. Three instances of the word "damn," the heroine almost getting killed by many sharp, rotating blades coming at her down a tunnel, beings that can (and do) gleefully dismantle themselves before trying to decapitate said heroine, "villain" twice the heroine's age basically trying to seduce her, and Bowie's Magic Pants, and you try to tell us it's for children?
  • An even more explicit example would be The Dark Crystal, a fantasy flick with a dark atmosphere, creepy monsters, Family-Unfriendly Violence, lots of Nightmare Fuel Moments, and yet, it was aimed to kids.
  • Time Bandits, from Terry Gilliam, a adventure/fantasy flick starring a child. It features scenes of firing squads, a man getting crushed to death, nightmare creatures, and ends with the kid's parents exploding, all because they were idiots for touching the evil microwave and not listening to the child.
  • Mirror Mask: Many people compare this film with Labyrinth: Being written by Neil Gaiman is not surprising that most of the story is a complete Mind Screw that even the adults will find confusing...Also it is filled with some moments that are creepy as hell.
  • The same can be said about The Great Yokai War: A kid´s film directed by Takashi Miike (the director of Ichi the Killer). Of course, despite being clearly aimed to kids (many people compared the film with movies as Time Bandits or The Neverending Story) it still have lots of creepy moments, some innuendo, Family-Unfriendly Violence and lots of Black Comedy.
  • In the same line of the last example, the live-action film of the anime Yatterman made by Takashi Miike, was aimed to kids in Japan, but it was filled with innuendo, sex-related humor, profanity and one scene where one female-shaped robot starts acting like it were having an orgasm
  • Pirates of the Caribbean is a Disney franchise, and despite its subject matter, is generally considered family friendly, and isn't too violent or adult. Then there's that scene in the beginning of At World's End in which dozens of innocent people, including young children, are sentenced to death and hanged while singing mournfully. Sweet dreams, kids! Dead Man's Chest beat At World's End to the punch with the pirate prison scene, with the family-friendly image of a pirate screaming as a bird pecks his eye out.
  • Hocus Pocus, for reasons better stated on the page.

The Nostalgia Chick: The villains are three weird but assumedly child-friendly witches. And by that, I mean this movie was made for children.... I think.

  • Ghostbusters, anybody? There's some cussing, some innuendo, and early on in the movie, Peter actually asks the librarian if she's been menstruating (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Remember the joy of watching Back to The Future when you were a kid? Remember the scene where the second lead is gunned down by Libyan terrorists? They sure don't make 'em like they used to. On the other hand, when Marty found himself in 1955, he made it a point to try and save Doc from his future fate... and succeeds; it was more of an extremely delayed Disney Death. There's also Marty's plan to get George and Lorraine together at the dance involved him faking a rape attempt on his own mother, which was then broken up by a real rape attempt from Biff.

"If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're gonna see some serious shit!"

    • As such, it was refreshing to see that line appear in the Telltale video game intact.
  • We Bought a Zoo is perhaps the only PG-rated film to shoehorn in at least three uses of "shit" and one of "asshole". And it was marketed for kids.
    • Not quite. The Back to The Future films pulled that off. However, those were mid-80s to 1990. Ratings criteria have changed since then, so it's still surprising, nonetheless.
  • The Live Action Adaptation of The Cat in the Hat definitely qualifies: Despite it being based on a book meant for kids, the movie dealt with a lot of extremely crass humor and rather dirty things that should not be exposed to kids, to the extent that its almost as though the movie is actually missing a crap detection radar. It's also the main reason why there aren't any live action adaptations of the Dr. Seuss stories anymore.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. A story about a man who murders just about every character in the series trying to kill three orphans to get their inheritance. This includes characters being eaten alive, death by harpoon gun, and the untold unmentionables who didn't escape the hospital fire.
  • Fairy tales, and pre-20th century bed-time stories. Maybe some of them were designed to Scare'Em Straight, but still, some push it Up to Eleven, with both psychological and Body Horror many snuff films don't get even close to. An example for the psychological horror story: a tale by Andersen consists of nothing else than a lengthy description of the hypothermia-induced delirium a little girl suffers while she slowly freezes to death. About tales with Body Horror... too many to list. Fairy Tales were written for peasant children who grew up in rather a Crapsack World. What would be considered fit for them would be different then what is considered fit for modern suburban kids. Although it might be argued that even these generally have a stronger stomach then many adults realize. Some of them were originally written for adults. In these cases, it's What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?. Indeed, a lot of what we now consider to be for kids (Little Red Riding Hood, for example) were originally tavern stories adults told each other. They weren't told to children until much later.
  • Harry Potter. Some adult fans realize that Harry Potter is a children's book, and like it anyway, but there are a lot of fans who will consistently deny that it is anything less than the highest, most mature form of literature, and that it is most definitely not for kids. They are children's books. That doesn't mean that teens and adults can't enjoy them, certainly, but to insist otherwise is hopelessly inane. The Harry Potter example is so prevalent that some editions of the books have plain covers in dingy earth-tones (as opposed to the colorful fantasy illustrations that the "main" editions have) so that adult readers don't have to feel so embarrassed when they read it on the train. The idea that they're adult books is less ridiculous when you realize that Rowling herself has flip-flopped on this, first denying that they were anything but children's lit and then later claiming that she designed the books to "grow" with the audience, with the later books intended for a more mature audience than the earlier ones. See its entry on Audience Shift. About the time that third book came out, Rowling, when asked by Rosie O'Donnell if she was surprised at the books' success with adults, said that she originally wrote the books for herself and that she's obviously an adult, so the answer was no. Considering most children's books are written by adults, you think adults wouldn't feel they needed to justify reading a children's book in the first place... After all, if the author isn't embarrassed at having written, why should an adult feel embarrassed at reading it? One of the best example of this Trope is the Deathly Hallows film, which has a scene that caused major uproar (among Moral Guardians and parts of the fandom): Naked Harry and Hermione making out -- a vision which Ron sees as the locket shows his worst nightmares. Another is Bellatrix writting on Hermione's arm with a knife. Sure, we all know that Cruciatus is worse, but it is perceived as unreal. When Umbridge forced Harry to carve words into the back of his hand, it was also done with a magic medium, and therefore less visceral. Harry also grows into the world of moral ambiguity increasingly as the books progress and he ages, until a large part of the seventh reads more as a Deconstruction of the Kid Hero trope and associated character tropes than a straight fantasy climax. Especially the Dumbledore material.
  • The Saga of Darren Shan is a kid's book series, but the author himself says that he knows people both above and below the series' age demographics read them. And he gets a LOT past the radar:
    • Book two mentions marijuana (or some other herbal drug; it's not mentioned by name) and 'shrooms.
    • Book eight has a character who, though appearing to be fifteen (and probably around the same stage of puberty as any real teen), is really about 27, first outright saying that he wants to date said real teens ("That's the thing I love about high school girls: I keep getting older, they stay the same age") and then trying to do... something to his much-older teacher (who is very likely younger than him.)
    • Plus, the books are so violent and gory, it's not even funny.
  • The Demonata, also by the real Darren Shan, is another ultraviolent horror series involving demons. And just like the Saga, it's meant for kids. Among the not-so-kid-friendly elements:
  • The Hobbit, due to Tolkien's natural propensity for large volumes of text.
  • Coraline. Full of distinctly Freudian Nightmare Fuel, but the true creepiness of the book isn't always apparent to kids, who might see it as just a book about scary monsters.
  • Also from Neil Gaiman, the first page of The Graveyard Book involves a family being murdered, and the killer then going after the baby that crawled away. Other loveliness includes The Protagonist threatening to mentally torture school bullies, a man being hit by a police car, hangings, and a Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Basically, for those not familiar with his work, Neil Gaiman does not believe in talking down to kids. He has also reached the conclusion that children often enjoy horrific stories more than adults, which dovetails with his observation that, unlike adults, many children know no mercy when it comes to what happens to villains (cf. the deaths of many of the villains in beloved fairy tales).
  • Despite being fairly new to the kid's book scene, Brandon Mull is pretty good at this.
    • The Fablehaven series starts off very tame, like most other YA fiction, but when you get to, say, the extreme violence at the end of Book 2, the death-by-dissolving in Book 3, and Naverog's eventual fate (chomped in half, with his bleeding torso stump slumping to the ground), you start to wonder.
    • The Candy Shop War features the surprisingly vicious John Dart, who has no qualms about binding and gagging ten-year-olds or shooting people's legs almost clean off. Not to mention both books running on twice their allotted helping of Paranoia Fuel.
    • And as for The Beyonders? Well, it begins with a mass Suicide Pact and accidental mauling. From there, it's pretty much all downhill.
  • This troper sees kids reading The Hunger Games and even read it himself. Just so you know, it's about kids fighting each other to death on TV to be claimed victor.
    • He also knows a little girl that saw the bloody PG-13 movie based on the book.
  • Watership Down. Despite what one may think of the movie, author Adams wrote the original book as a bedtime story for his daughters, and has always maintained it was for children. In one edition's foreword, he even talked about how happy it made him to see kids enjoying it.
  • Warrior Cats. It's a series about a bunch of cats living in a forest which is marketed to ages 9–12 and decorated with colourful covers. But as for what's under the covers? As the title implies, there is a lot of fighting in these books, accompanied by pseudo-realistic (and often very graphic) violence. Pretty much every fight ends with every character involved bleeding from at least one gash, and on a few occasions cats have had their throats slit or torn open and bleed to death. And those are some of the average moments. The series goes on to feature cats having their eyes clawed out, getting run over by cars, being crippled, bleeding to death while giving birth, getting mauled by dogs, being ripped open and left to bleed to death nine times, being slaughtered by an Ax Crazy mountain lion, impaling a mountain lion with a stalactite, falling off cliffs and breaking their necks, getting crushed by trees, having their tails removed, having a wooden stake driven into their throat, drowning in a series of dark tunnels which they are forced to wander for all eternity, bleeding heavily from gashes in their stomachs, being tortured by extremely bloody nightmares, slowly bleeding to death after being severely wounded by a beaver's teeth, hearing another cat screaming in agony as his stomach is ripped open offscreen, etc. How these books being considered child-friendly has never been challenged by parents or bookstores for all these years is a mystery. Not to mention the fact that it covers themes like racism (although towards fictional races, which technically makes it okay), genocide, moral ambiguity, organized religion (Your Mileage May Vary on just how negatively it is portrayed), insanity, and war. Also, see the series' entry for Getting Crap Past The Radar.
  • The Varjak Paw books are marketed for kids, but are full of inhuman viewpoints, death, mutilation, starvation, general creepiness, and the implication that the Big Bad is taking cats and turning them into walking, talking Toys, or silent, deadly killing machines, somehow. Being illustrated by Dave McKean (as is Coraline, above) probably doesn't help much, either.
  • Wagstaffe the Wind-up Boy is a textbook example of What Do You Mean It's for Kids?? The amount of anger and nihilism that permeates this supposedly funny story is notable; nowadays you'd call it Black Comedy. Everyone is unsympathetic. This book was not written by happy humans. Furthermore, some of the scenes... well... The main character is pancaked by getting run over by a truck. There's illustrations. Amazingly he's still alive when two workmen try to scrape him into a bin bag. Later, after he's been rushed to hospital and the renegade doctor's team turns him into the wind-up boy, they discuss what to do with the left-over organs. "It'd be a shame to waste them on the dog - he's so young and tender." They eat his heart and pancreas. "And very nice it was too", she tells Wagstaffe.
  • Much Victorian literature is like this. While Victorians are stereotyped as a whole century of Moral Guardians, one can find more then a few surprises along the way. Including occasionally things that it would be hard to imagine in a modern children's story.
  • For example, while Christina Rossetti insisted Goblin Market was a children's poem, it's kind of difficult to ignore the Les Yay, to say nothing of the incest.
  • The Dragons slash Last Dragon Chronicles, with a side order of Mood Whiplash. The first book in the series plays out like a traditional kid's story, with squirrels and magic clay dragons, and would appear to leave no doubt as to who the target audience of the series is. The later books, however, run on Getting Crap Past the Radar (specifically, G-Rated Sex), with violence up the wazoo (including one horrifyingly dark Downer Ending), existential crises, and a great deal of speculation on the nature of the universe, which leads to some very messed-up stuff. However, the spinoff wears its kiddie-colors proudly.
  • Redwall. Cute furry creatures killing each other with swords, bows and arrows, spears, poison, and whatever else comes to 'paw'. Multiple instances of murder and torture, not all of it off-screen. Fantastic Racism that is by all evidence justified. Slavery, cruelty, major battles, and almost anyone can die.
  • Darkest Powers series is essentially the same as its dark, adult orientated The Otherworld sister series. It's somewhat toned down, basically just the sex and profanity taken out. Thus we have a series about teenagers trying to escape getting killed and one of them doesn't.
  • The Horrible Histories series, which is filled with Black Humor, Dead Baby Comedy-style jokes, and generally focuses on the grisly parts of history.
  • Alfie's Home, an attack on homosexuals thinly disguised as a story about a boy who was molested by his uncle. It has a massive Hatedom on Amazon. It includes the sentences "Some [kids] called me names like 'Sissy', 'Faggot', 'Queer' and 'Homo'" and "Now, I realize I'm not gay". And it was aimed at children. But don't take our word for it: That Guy With The Glasses will fill you in, along with the entire book's contents.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant is marketed to pre-teens. It features the charming adventures of Skulduggery and his young apprentice Valkyrie who spend their time searching for clues and engaging in witty repartee and- Oh Crap, did the Grotesquery just rip off someone's head? And, umm.... Darquesse? This is a kids book. You can't go playing football with people's brains.
  • The entire point of the Star Wars Expanded Universe series Galaxy of Fear was to be a horror series for kids. Body Horror and Mind Screws abounded to the point where the book that revolved around ghosts was the least scary of the twelve. Hell, they introduced a planet that eats people alive in the very first book. Other lovely highlights include worms that suck the marrow out of your bones so that the empty space can be filled with a serum that makes you an unwitting zombie, a machine that traps you in your own nightmares, forcible conversion into a B'omarr brain spider, swarms of beetles that eat you from the inside out, other humans who also think your flesh is tasty, and some of the sickest EvilScientists in the Star Wars universe. Good God, everywhere these kids go people die like flies! Special mention goes to the psychological trauma that goes with the question "If clones made of you have all your memories and think they are you, how do you know you yourself aren't a clone?
  • The Discworld kids' books.
    • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is deep (the rats are inventing their own morality as they go), terrifying (the rats face vicious terriers, powerful traps and a Mind Controling villain), and squicky (the "inventing their own morality" includes the idea that maybe they shouldn't eat other rats).
    • The Tiffany Aching novels have a pre-teen (to start with) witch facing various inhuman creatures, including the Queen of The Fair Folk (one of Pterry's nastier villains) and a being of pure hatred towards witches. To say nothing of more mundane problems such as teenage pregnancy (not hers). All the books also feature references to sex, which become steadily less coded as they go on. Interestingly, Wintersmith and I Shall Wear Midnight don't use the "smaller hardback" format of Maurice and the first two Tiffany books, although they're still listed as "for younger readers". Pterry's view is that all Discworld novels are aimed at anyone who understands the jokes.
  • Animorphs features a lot more violence and Nightmare Fuel than you would expect, despite being for kids.
  • Pretty much any book by Garth Nix that's labeled as "young adult" (as in, the stuff usually found in the kid's section). For example, there's the series that has living (often unfriendly) shadows, Mind Rape as capital punishment (even for minors!), Body Horror, and some rather intense war scenes. Then there's the one with Mind Screw galore, Body Horror monsters, mandatory brainwashing (more literally than the word is usually used) for children, and plenty of death abound. Oh, and the ending involves the destruction of everything everywhere ever. For those of you asking how this can possibly be meant for children, go and read the Old Kingdom books. You know, his teen series.
  • The Hunger Games: a series with decapitation, torture, suicide, mutilation, death by fire/mutant wasp venom, discussions of child prostitution, being buried alive and Mind Rape, among other things. It's marketed to preteens.
  • The Chronicles of Prydain contains death, zombies, human sacrifice and much more.
  • Someone Elses War is about Child Soldiers trying to escape the Lord's Resistance Army, erstwhile enduring unspeakable horrors no child should have to read about, let alone endure. Truth in Television, though, as there really are children going through this in certain parts of the world, even today.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • While more clear-cut kid-friendly than the family show Doctor Who, some episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures -- *cough* "Day of the Clown" *cough* -- are not the kind of thing you'd want to let children watch alone...
  • Doctor Who itself is considered family viewing, despite its dark tone of certain episodes and surprising amount of sexual innuendo and it is shown around the supper hour on a Saturday. Doctor Who is over 40 years old and neatly matches the second paragraph of this trope's description. It's very much seen as a family/children's show, but it's been violent from the very beginning. A BBC audience research survey conducted in 1972 found that Doctor Who was the most violent show it produced at the time (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_who). The show was especially violent during the first few Fourth Doctor seasons, consistently getting complaints, and the show was also so violent in 1985 that it got the show cancelled for 18 months. For instance, The Brain Of Morbius (1976) featured a man getting shot in the stomach with an explosion of blood, then crawling, dying, down a corridor.
  • iCarly has its own Les Yay and Getting Crap Past The Radar pages.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place has its own unique feature, a huge amount of Brother-Sister Incest innuendo. On top of that, it has Alex Russo. Not to mention the crap past the radar, the Nightmare Fuel (yes, it has Nightmare Fuel, the Wizards vs. Werewolves episode was rated PG, something that has never been done on Disney Channel before), the Fetish Fuel and there was much more. Before the trope was cut and locked, it had its own Incest Yay page. There weren't any other shows or mediums with their own Incest Yay page. Period. A character was also murdered on this show (and perhaps even more than one, some scenes were downright ambiguous when they involved Alex Russo). In a Disney Channel children show. Yeah.
  • Most Tokusatsu shows, most notably Super Sentai and Kamen Rider. The fact that there have been a few toku productions aimed exclusively towards adults (Shin Kamen Rider Prologue and Garo, to name a few) does not negate the fact that the vast majority are aimed towards children. (In fact, of those two listed productions, Shin is quite the Base Breaker for being aimed at adults! Well, more precisely, for being a Deconstruction.)
    • Super Sentai is especially surprising to some American audiences because of differences between Japan and the US. In Super Sentai, they make frequent use of blood, have characters actually die, and actually show guns. In the US, none of this could be shown on a kids show, so when Super Sentai is adapted into Power Rangers, these are used very rarely, if at all.
  • Then that means Toku is considered on US TV-G levels in Japan, but in America would be TV-PG-V. But if edited to Power Rangers levels, that would be on a TV-Y7-FV level (Power Rangers' default rating). Why can't there be a TV-G-FV for Toku aired uncut in the US, dammit?! Power Rangers has been around long enough for the fans of the original series to become adults and bring about a whole generation of complaints about how "kiddy" the new series are and how much better the first series was. Several individual Power Rangers series delve into this Trope by having things be really, really dark, to the extent that many viewers may mistake the target audience. For instance Power Rangers Lost Galaxy featured a villain's Start of Darkness that took her from Alpha Bitch to a Complete Monster using suicide bombers,[3] Power Rangers Time Force and Power Rangers Wild Force featured some pretty brutal onscreen death (the former, notably, even used the d-word for it), and the 2009 season, Power Rangers RPM, killed off 99% of humanity in a nuclear Robot War.
  • The Ink Thief had a very gothic style to it, even though it was mostly kid-orientated. Richard O'Brien's character was pure Nightmare Fuel though.
  • Maddigan's Quest is quite possibly the only children's show to have featured mind-altering drugs and cannibalism in the same episode. The series also contains child labour, implied sexual slavery (with slavers refusing to sell a baby to the Big Bad to be killed because she'd fetch a higher price as wife material), repeated attempts at infanticide, and Body Horror.
  • Ik Mik Loreland, the educational programme that traumatized an entire generation of Dutch children. It was specifically targeted towards six-year-olds to teach them to read and write. The plot involves Loria, a land where everyone loves reading and writing, and the one-eyed monster Karbonkel who can't do these things and gets so mad that he magics away everyone's ability to read and write, scattering the words all over the world. A girl named Mik takes it upon her to get them back and Karbonkel pursues her and attempts to stop her. Karbonkel was a frightening antagonist who regularly showed up in childrens' nightmares, while many of the locations Mik visited on her journey were creepy and bizarre. Every year when it was rerun, debates would erupt among parents and school teachers about the appropriateness of the show. According to Word of God, Twin Peaks was a major influence.
  • The Hamas-made kids show Tomorrow's Pioneers. It has death, murder, violence, promotion of hatred, and things that Westerners wouldn't really consider fit to be in a kids show.
  • Press Gang was aimed at children and teenagers, was frequently hilarious...and featured topics such as glue-sniffing leading to accidental death, child sexual abuse, a gun seige at a newspaper office, a gas leak resulting in a building blowing up (half of the episode was about one survivor, trapped in the rubble, trying to keep another alive until the rescuers could get to her...which didn't work), teachers having extramarital affairs, and so on. Storylines also focused on a suicide, a reporter coaxing a confession of manslaughter out of a half-blinded gang member over the phone, and a death by drug overdose (Lynda was not overly sympathetic). There's a reason that its co-creator and sole scriptwriter went on to become Executive Producer of Doctor Who...
  • On seeing the script of Episode One of Children of the Stones, director Peter Graham Scott remarked, "And this is for children?"


Music[edit | hide]

  • Kidz Bop. A short list of songs that have been featured within that make you go "What the hell were they thinking?":
    • Good Charlotte's "The Anthem"
    • Trapt's "Headstrong"
    • Hoobastank's "The Reason"
    • Britney Spears' "Toxic"
    • Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started" (the album version amounts to "Let's Get Retarded"!)
    • Bowling for Soup's "1985"
    • FloRida's "Club Can't Handle Me"
    • Cee Lo Green's "Forget You"
    • Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (which in the album version even has an F-bomb!)
    • The All-American Rejects' "Move Along"
    • P!nk's "Who Knew", "So What", and "Perfect".
      • Heck, most P!nk songs are just not appropriate for kids. The worst offenders: "Funhouse", "Fingers", "Stupid Girl", and "U and UR Hand".
    • Kevin Rudolf's "Let It Rock"
    • Katy Perry's "California Gurls"
    • Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out", despite the lyrics being okay, is actually based on a pretty morbid event where two lovers got shot.
      • Specifically, the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. That is to say, the song is about the shooting of the guy whose death caused a little incident known as World War I...
    • Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy actually called them on this, preventing "Dance, Dance" from being used for Kidz Bop 10 due to its sexual undertones.
    • There was a joke about how a Kidz Bop version of Nelly's Hot In Here would go.

It's getting hot in here
So put on some cool clothes
I am getting so hot
I'm gonna put a fan on

    • This is similarly done with K-Tel's Mini Pops Kids. For example, the lyrics in their version of Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" changes the line from "getting drunk" to "playing tag".
  • Two words: Hilary Duff. Some people assumed she was a children's musician because she was on Disney. Many little kids liked her and didn't know what she's talking about. Not to mention she had a squeaky-clean image-no tattoos or piercings, for starters. But have parents (or the kids) bothered looking at the lyrics to her songs?
    • Little Voice (When I see you I admit/ I start to lose my grip and all of my cool...all I really want is you/ But there are some things a girl won't do)
    • Metamorphosis (Come on and give me a kiss/ Come on, I insist)
    • Party Up (You roll me, you use me, you love me and then/ You wrap me up and reel me in and use me again)
  • Miranda Cosgrove. Same problems as Hilary (Although she's with Nickelodeon, not Disney). In fact, some of her songs reek of this.
    • What Are You Waiting For (Here I am, Take a chance/What are you waiting for/I'm telling you, As a friend/We could be so much more)[4]
    • Sayonara (Party, hands all over my body/Working out like karate/Tell me boy can we kick it now/Can you hold me down)[5]
  • Demi Lovato, At least in the R&B parts of her current album, Unbroken. Two songs in the album invoke this:
    • All Night Long (Don't make plans/Come on with me, we stay up all night long/I want you in, I want you bad/Let's keep the party going all night long)
    • Who's That Boy (Ain't no body know your name/But looking like you do could be fame/I could see us making ways/From the back of the club/To a bed in the shade)
  • Taylor Swift can, at times, suffer from the same problems as Duff, Cosgrove and Lovato,[6] what with such lyrics as "That's fine, I'll tell mine you're gay" (Picture to Burn), "She's better known for the things that she does on the mattress" (Better Than Revenge) and "You touch me once and it's really something. You find I'm even better than you imagined I would be" (Sparks Fly). Moreover, "Teardrops On My Guitar" and "Cold As You" both make use of "damn" (pretty mild, but still), while "The Way I Loved You" delivers a rather Family-Unfriendly Aesop and "Fifteen" hints at a friend's virginity loss.
  • The Spice Girls. The song "Two Become One" is about sex pure and simple with the chorus going "I wanna make love to you baby". Imagine a slumber party of 6-10 year old girls dancing around and singing those lyrics. Then there's "Holler" which contains lyrics about "fantasy rooms" and "start from the bottom and work your way up slowly". Then of course if you take the basic premise of five girls in Stripperiffic outfits posing provocatively you will get alarmed at the fact that little girls looked up to them.
  • S Club 7 fell into this category with their last album Seeing Double. Two songs in particular that stand out are:
    • "Hey Kitty Kitty" which contains the lyrics "Hey, kitty kitty, set me free. Why d'you wanna do what you do to me? So good at being bad, you blow my mind. Hey, kitty kitty, you're so fine"
    • "Do It Til We Drop." Bradley's raps were pretty unexpected for kids, but this song starts out with the line "Come on and play with me baby, like girls do" which is sung by Rachel and one line before the chorus that's repeated frequently is "I'm so high/I can't come down."
      • Imagine a couple of kids in the car with their parents singing along to those songs. At least one of the car crashes in 2004 had to have been caused by a situation like that.
  • A recent recall happened involving a Wal-Mart CD called Kids Favorites, in which it featured songs with absolutely explicit lyrics.
  • Béla Bartok's set of piano pieces For Children includes several based on Bawdy Songs with unprintable lyrics.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • This Trope was invoked in a Bloom County strip, where one character is going around telling everyone "the awful truth" about, well, everything. He comes to Steve, and says "The truth is, Knight Rider is a kid's show!" to which Steve replies. "Can't be. Can't &%^#ing be!"
  • Little Nemo. It's a whole nightmare world! Though this is more of a shift in what is acceptable for children. It was a lot more open at that time as shown with other so-called children's books during that time like The Wind in the Willows, which would almost be impossible to publish as a kid's book now. There's even a panel where Little Nemo, who is about nine at that point, is reading Gullivers Travels.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Depending on the incarnation, Starlight Express includes hate-motivated beatings, a Serial Killer villain, Domestic Abuse, marital infidelity, a young woman singing a solo about her favorite sexual experience, a retired prostitute, a character who maintains an equal-opportunity harem, an ocean's worth of sexual innuendo in general, and references to smoking, alcohol, and drugs. The show manages to get away with all these elements because the characters are anthropomorphic toy trains. The Las Vegas version of the musical, which featured the main female characters in showgirl costumes, actually wasn't intended for kids, but attracted family audiences regardless.


Theme Parks[edit | hide]

  • In the 2011 Dance Off With the Star Wars Stars, which is for children, Darth Vader performs C. Lo Green's "F**k You!" (or at least the radio edit) during the freestyle half of the show.


Toys[edit | hide]

  • Transformers. There are fans who insist that Hasbro and Takara should only make big, expensive Toys for the adult collector market and ignore those little kids who buy the toys to play with. Some have actually complained about Transformers Animated because it has humor and plots aimed at pre-teen kids, which are the Target Audience of almost all Transformers incarnations.
    • Hasbro actually tried a line of big, expensive Toys for the adult collector, and it didn't sell well enough to keep it going for too long. Turns out the adult collectors are a smaller piece of the pie than they thought, and kids are in fact the primary consumers of Toys. Who knew?
    • It's become worse with the release of GI Joe: Resolute. More than a few fans are wanting a Transformers series in the same vein due to it.
    • Transformers scribe Simon Furman complained about this Trope in regards to the dark Beast Machines.
    • It's a bit understandable, though, if you look at the premise devoid of context: Two factions of a race of alien war machines come to Earth, their war having gone on so long that battling for the resources our planet can give them to continue the war effort is more important than the war itself. The weakest of them has enough power to slaughter dozens of human soldiers and come away with nothing more than a badly-scratched paint job. At best, their feelings towards us are paternalistic, and they look down with a combination of pity and admiration on those of our species who see it as their sworn duty to defend us from them. At worst, they find us repulsive and enjoy slaughtering us when they have a chance.
  • G.I. Joe as a whole gets this treatment, actually. Because it happened in the comics, there are those older viewers/readers who think that every TV show and movie—past, present, future, and otherwise—should use real bullets instead of (the Hasbro-mandated) lasers, and that there should be more onscreen deaths simply because of the military nature of the concept and toyline (which goes all the way back to the 1960s or 70s; i.e., before the "Real American Hero" era). Aside from the aforementioned Resolute, the closest the fans got to a version of Joe they wanted was probably the live-action movie. Nonetheless, it's still a family franchise, even if the fans think it should be otherwise.
  • LEGO. Have you ever met someone who has outgrown those silly little blocks?
    • The LEGO Group is a funny case though, as it is aware of its older fans and does things like adding Shout Outs to older series (such as Classic Space) or continuing series from the 1980s, like Space Police and Pirates. It also produces sets marketed at adult fans, starting with Cafe Corner; fans seem to be rather aware of the true target of their hobby (with exception of a few complaints over Bionicle).
    • It is worth noting that LEGO bricks were originally sold as a tool for architects to create models of their future works with.
    • And now they're ending the BIONICLE line, because they think the story is too long for the younger kids to enjoy. Older fans are not pleased.
    • The adult fandom does not lack the occasional guy that complains about sets - specially colors or the lack of a realistic military theme - being too childish lately...
    • The properties they choose to adapt for the LEGO Adaptation Games and toys also skew towards PG-13 rated titles. Star Wars and Harry Potter are initially PG material (with the later, darker ones being PG-13) but we also have the Burton/Schumacher Batman films (all PG-13), the Pirates of the Caribbean films (likewise) and the Indiana Jones series (first two are PG, but only because PG-13 didn't exist, and Temple Of Doom was partially responsible for its creation).
  • While not a big deal back in the 1960s when they were made, post-modernism pretty much guarantees that these bad boys won't be seeing a revival: Meet the Ding-a-Lings!
  • For a short period of time, there were vibrating Harry Potter broomsticks in toystores. Which were enjoyed fondly by... well... all ages, until it was brought to the companies attention that not everyone was riding the broom pretending to play Quidditch...
  • Speaking of Mike Mozart, there's this Dora the Explorer-licenced AquaPet. It's rather...interestingly shaped
  • Buzz Lightyear sippycup—so that's what "To infinity, AND BEYOND!" really means...
  • For years Barbie has been accused of this (not to mention Bratz), and we'll just leave it at that.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • There was a minor Internet Backdraft over the fact that one of the guys working on the Sonic games in the run-up to Sonic the Hedgehog 4 stated that their main demographic was children. This was because the fandom was already accustomed to the darker plots of Sonic Adventure 2 and Shadow the Hedgehog, and a shift towards a younger demographic was quite jarring. After the release, it's kind of died down.
  • Some attribute the commercial failure of Shantae to this, among other factors. Shantae's cutesy, colorful graphics, goofy humor, and a definitely present twinge of Girls Need Role Models certainly suggest it's a kid's game. The problem is, it's also strangely... sexy for something aimed at kids, and also more difficult than your average kid's game.
  • Some people are rather disappointed that Epic Mickey only got an E rating, despite the fact that it's Disney and y'know it stars Mickey Mouse. On the other hand, it seems quite clear that it will be chock full of Nightmare Fuel in general. In fact, the game's creator, Warren Spector (Yes, that Warren Spector) says that he wants kids to play this and be terrified.
  • The first Ratchet and Clank game is rated T... and is the tamest in the series.[7] After the E10+ rating was invented, subsequent games were labelled as such despite increasing rates of violence and innuendo.
  • Magical Starsign starts as a cute, fluffy game but once the second act starts things swiftly go downhill. There's too much horrible stuff going on here to list it all without taking up pages, but to sum it up: The main plot is about bringing mages to a planet where just being there turns them into into gummy-like inanimate blobs to be used as fuel for a space worm.
  • While Pokémon games are sometimes accused of being children's games (though one might challenge that fact given how much they sell), it started to get considerably darker in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, with the story of Cyrus attempting to awaken Dialga/Palkia and obliterate the world because it contained "flawed" constructs such as emotion, in order to create a "perfect" world where he could rule. But it gets turned Up to Eleven in Pokémon Black and White, which features Ghetsis. Click on any of those four links and Ctrl+F him just to see how frightening and "kid-friendly" his misdeeds are. Then there's all of the complex ways your team can be customized, some of which have their existence disavowed by Game Freak. Effort Values in particular.
    • If one limits oneself to core games, the above statement is accurate. Throw Colosseum into the mix, and Cipher wrecks the kid-friendliness a generation early.
  • There's a game called Dog's Life for PlayStation 2. It's premise seems nothing bad. A cute game where you play as a dog trying to rescue his damsel-in-distress from a dog catcher, with some Toilet Humor and anatomically correct dogs (only in the CG, though) added in. By the end of the game you learn the whole thing was a plan by the creepy cat food maker Ms. Peaches, who wants to make dogs into her cat food. You have to save Daisy from being killed, and in the end Ms. Peaches dies in a gruesome matter (and she says one word of mild profanity). This game was rated 3+ in Europe, but T in North America.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Technically any webcomic ever could be this, since there are laws about letting anyone under 13 years old use the Internet unless supervised by a parent or guardian.
  • Sonichu is nominally intended to be a children's comic, aimed for kids between the ages of 7 and 14...but that certainly doesn't stop its author from inserting scenes of bloody, brutal violence (up to and including a scene of a young girl mutilating a defenseless criminal with a pair of giant drills) and (supposedly) titillating sex (with an entire chapter dedicated to showing off the main characters' sexual anatomy). Needless to say, no children even read the comic in the first place.
  • The creator of Liltoon once had an on-site notice stating that his comic is suitable for readers aged 10 and up, but the recent "Flushing the Soul" arc seems to belie that.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Batman: The Animated Series and the DCAU in general, which comprises Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, and Justice League. Especially Justice League! Interestingly enough, Batman: The Animated Series briefly received a Prime Time slot shortly after it premiered on weekday afternoons, after there was a general critic outcry of "What Do You Mean It's for Kids?" Sadly, the primetime slot fell quickly to the Animation Age Ghetto.
  • Young Justice and Batman: The Brave And The Bold. Despite being aimed at kids, both can be pretty violent (several superheroes such as B'wana Beast and the first Black Canary are killed over the course of TBATB) and contain a fair amount of double entendre. The Young Justice episode "Bereft" and the Brave and the Bold episode "The Mask of Matches Malone!" are rife with examples.
    • More recent episodes of Young Justice have been rife with Getting Crap Past the Radar, implications of Twincest, and the episode "Failsafe" which featured, among other things, three characters committing suicide for the sake of the mission and everyone dead at the end. Thankfully it was All Just a Dream...
    • Episode 18, "Secrets", go even further than that: The Villain-of-the-Week, Harm, is discovered to have murdered his little sister in order to wield an Infinity+1 Sword and initially shows no remorse for the deed. How did the protagonists find this out? Because the ghost of the little sister leads them to a makeshift grave in his back yard!
    • "Coldhearted" had an intended regicide/nepoticide of a preteen queen by delaying a heart transplant. Complete with two false announcements of her death. This was after the show switched to a Saturday morning Timeslot
    • "Agendas" brought in the Geoff Johns retcon of Superboy having Lex Luthor and Superman as daddies.
  • In the same vein as Batman, Gargoyles. Though the comics are another story... Like the issue with Elisa in a nighty, expecting Goliath for a midnight rendezvous? Or, from the original series, Demona murdering innocent humans by turning them into stone and smashing them?
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: This has one of the biggest smut followings ever for a Nickelodeon show. Episodes like "The Beach" and Sokka's Ready for Lovemaking pose in "The Southern Raiders" didn't exactly help things, either.
    • The "Southern Raiders" episode in general, for its portrayal of murder, revenge and forgiveness. It doesn't go the way one might expect.
    • The creators didn't exactly help matters in that regard—particularly with Blue Spirit/Azula, given that the Blue Spirit is Zuko.
    • Also the Air Nomad genocide.
    • Although, for the amount of potentially lethal abilities in the series, we only see freakin' Jet (though even Sokka said that it was really unclear) and (kind of) Aang get killed onscreen. And for all the use of knives, daggers and swords, nobody actually gets directly hurt by them. Mai has her moments, but Sokka's finest swordfighting moment after Piandao was against a melon.
    • Hell, the entire show is about a one-hundred year war with the Big Bad being an Evil Overlord, Complete Monster, and one of the best examples of an abusive parent in animation.
    • The season finale is about preventing said Complete Monster Big Bad, who has gained a massive two-day power boost, from immolating several hundred MILLION people and every living thing outside of the Fire Nation.
  • To continue the tradition, the marketing for The Legend of Korra is aimed for people old enough to have Facebook and Twitter (so, 13+), yet the show is being placed during the Saturday morning line-up aimed at 2-11 year olds.
    • Word of God has it that the show is Darker and Edgier , yet the series is being placed in a timeslot for younger kids!
    • After airing, the show has plenty of these moments, but a certain scene at the end of Episode 4 takes the cake. While Amon (probably) didn't actually do anything to Korra when she was unconscious, her reaction to the ordeal is as if he did.
    • Episode 6 might possibly have the most blatant depiction of a terrorist attack ever put on children's television.
    • Episode 8 has numerous allusions to the Red Scare, Mc Carthyism, the internment camps for Japanese during World War II, the Nazis rounding up the Jews, and modern day tactics against terrorism as the benders start to oppress the non-benders, imposing curfews on them, arresting any who complain about it, and arresting those who have any prior association to members of the Equalists.
  • Freds Head goes one step further than the above shows with things like swearing, handling of mature situations outright, and other non-kid friendly material. Unsurprisingly, the show wasn't renewed for a second season.
  • It's almost unbelievable that Total Drama Island is for kids, with all of its swearing, sexual references and nudity (both male and female) and the fact that all the campers are underage and yet act and sometimes even look just like adults.
    • Two episodes in, and Total Drama World Tour has probably outclassed several shows on this page.
    • The show was originally aired on Teletoon in the evening, around 8:00 PM, and it's never been in any of the channel's children's blocks. The execs who created the show in the first place clearly considered its main audience to be teens and adults.
    • Canadian cartoons tend to be more lenient than those in the United States when it comes to objectionable content. Granted, it's clearly not meant to be watched by young children, but it manages to retain a simple G rating on Teletoon for the most part (does get the occasional PG). However, it doesn't help much that the TD characters are featured in the North American version of Skatoony, an animated game show aired at elementary-age children.
  • As far as Nicktoons go, Invader Zim and Danny Phantom shared a common fate: they were both marketed towards boys seven and up but their darker tone attracted quite the Periphery Demographic, mainly college students. The 7-to-11 audience, which Nick wanted for those two shows? They paid more attention to SpongeBob SquarePants. This has led to the widely-held belief that the former was cancelled for being "too scary" for kids.
  • Animaniacs (and its brethren Tiny Toon Adventures, Freakazoid!, Histeria!, and even non-Warner-produced Kids WB show Earthworm Jim) gets this a lot, with it invoking every type of Parental Bonus, from the occasional Parent Service, to the abundant pop cultural references that your average 8-year-old wouldn't get (the Goodfeathers, anyone?) It's a completely different show through an adult lens, as many a current teen/20-something who first saw it as a kid in the '90s can attest.
  • So is Rocko's Modern Life. Hard to believe they got half that crap past the censors (in fact, much of it was removed from subsequent airings).
  • And The Powerpuff Girls. Word of God says it originally wasn't intended for kids (after all, its working title was The Whoop-Ass Girls), but the Animation Age Ghetto struck and he was forced to change it. The original intent becomes more and more obvious later in the series.
  • Looney Tunes: Let's think, the frequency with which real guns appear and are used to hurt, crossdressing, the injuries sustained by Coyote, extreme sexual harassment (most of which can be found in the Pepe Le Pew cartoons), the politically incorrect humor, the pop culture jokes that kids wouldn't get (but their parents and grandparents would), the racial stereotyping (both the ones that had been edited and the ones that were left in due to being Acceptable Targets or the censors falling asleep at the switch), and the sometimes rather dark nature of the episodes.
  • Canadian animation targeted toward kids tends to fall in this category from time to time, usually due to Values Dissonance. For example Jimmy Two-Shoes, which has the implications that the setting's in hell.(which would have been stated out right had the creator has his way.)
  • The Ren and Stimpy Show: The original show has a lot of stuff is that is edgy even by modern standards, mostly a crapload of Nightmare Fuel, Nausea Fuel, Ho Yay, Family-Unfriendly Violence, and even getting away with showing the phrase "go to hell" onscreen (even though the "hell" part was censored out rather crudely)... and yet, it was aired in Nickelodeon. Plenty of scenes have been cut in the recent airings on Nicktoons. While Ren and Stimpy contains too much gay innuendo to list it all, it's mostly the Nightmare Fuel that was most disturbing. For starters, one episode features a pretty long and elaborate scene of Ren pondering killing Stimpy. It leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination—he sees a red line forming on Stimpy's neck and mutters "just one quick twist...". The DVD box sets currently have parental advisory labels on them. The Web site commonsensemedia.org rates the show as unsuitable for viewers below 16.
  • Adventure Time seems to be trying to beat Time Squads record with the amount of sex jokes it can get away with. Cue the gratuitous amounts of Double Entendres, Subtext, Visual Innuendo, Innocent Innuendo, and That Came Out Wrong.
  • Inhumanoids, a Merchandise-Driven horror series about monsters from Hell—we mean, "the fiery depths of the earth where nightmares begin"—attacking humanity.
  • Hey Arnold!. The show features adult themes like an overkill (by Nickelodeon standards) of cursing and the darkest backstory of any Nickelodeon character (Helga, who is considered the unfavorite in her family in favor of her Stepford Smiler sister, has a verbally abusive father, and a mother who is clearly a depressed alcoholic).
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy: Not only because the main premise is about two kids that became friends with Death Itself, but also because the show depicts a series of grotesque situations quite unusual for a children´s show.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: G-rated drugs in the forms of candy and maple syrup, stories full of bizarre, dark events that would make Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events blush, and animation that makes Ren and Stimpy's look sane and on-model.
  • Time Squad: On the outside, it's a show about an orphaned history whiz taken to the future by a Time Cop and his Robot Buddy to help them fix the past. On the inside, there's rampant Ho Yay and Belligerent Sexual Tension (most of which is centered around the Ambiguously Camp Gay Robot Buddy the Larry 3000), subtle, yet excessive sexual imagery, obscure Parental Bonus and Genius Bonus moments, drug humor (Betsy Ross Flies Her Freak Flag had George Washington's army acting like stoners; Larry has acted drunk on two occasions), and the jarringly cavalier take on child abuse and endangerment (cf. Otto's childhood in the orphanage and some of his adventures with Buck and Larry).
  • Regular Show has possibly managed to outrival all previous Cartoon Network shows made by the actual channel in the first episode (and possibly even most 90's Nickelodeon shows like Ren and Stimpy and Rocko's Modern Life), managing to get hell and shit past the radar (...sorta), and Mordecai and Rigby even say pissed, which is outright shocking compared to the normal level of American censorship on children's programming. In the second episode alone, they manage to get past a reference to testicles with gum-BALLS to replace it. Yet it was promoted constantly on a Labor Day weekend marathon. For kids. Either that or Getting Crap Past the Radar to the extreme. According to this quote from a band in the series promoting it's reunion tour on television: "THAT'S OUR DEMOGRAPHIC, GET OVER IT!"
  • Robotomy: Excessive violence, a lot of Comedic Sociopathy, some sexual innuendo, some mild swearing (mostly words like "crap," "sucks" or "screwed"), the fact that one of the show creators worked on Superjail...
  • MAD: Most of its parodies are of movies and TV shows that wouldn't be considered "children's entertainment" (i.e. CSI: Miami, The Social Network, House, Two and A Half Men, The Bourne Identity, Jersey Shore, ER, Cloverfield and—probably the biggest one thus far -- District 9) often mashed up with movies and TV shows that would be considered "children's entertainment" (Sesame Street, iCarly, Bob the Builder, Kung Fu Panda, etc.). It's no wonder fans have compared this show to Robot Chicken (though it is said to be the Spiritual Successor to the FOX sketch show, Mad TV, which wasn't a kids' show to begin with, but had plenty of Subverted Kids Shows during its 14-year run).
  • The Simpsons
    • Parodied and lampshaded in episode "Brother's Little Helper." In the beginning of the episode, Springfield Elementary School has Fire Safety Day where the Springfield Volunteer Fire Department arrives for the occasion, and the SVFD also hosted a show demonstrating the bad uses of Fire. Despite the fact that the audience in question are elementary school kids, most of the content of the skit is anything but kid-friendly. For one thing, the main characters mentions that they have just arrived back home from a pot-party (indicating that they had some pot at a party that the majority of it consisted of smoking pot) and briefly smoke a cigarette in order to "make the night complete". And they snuggle in bed, until "Mad Dog" drops his cigarette on his pants. Did we mention that the main characters are supposed to be based on hippies? Oh, and here's the kicker, the actors who play the main characters are some of the most religious and prudish people in Springfield, Maude and Ned Flanders. Because they were trying to shoehorn a Drugs Are Bad message into their fire safety show. They juxtaposed drug use with a character too stupid to do anything when his pants are on fire.
    • The Simpsons constantly lampshades this trope, especially in the Itchy and Scratchy shorts and The Krusty the Clown Show.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog is packed to the gills with Nightmare Fuel, like the screamer girl from "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City" and the blue...something from "Perfect". It ran for four years, being cancelled due to being "too scary", which wasn't too groundless of a reason.
  • Fans of Transformers are particularly notorious for this when it comes to the cartoons (and movies, even.) There is a sizable portion of the fandom that truly believes that the original 1984 cartoon was well-written and made for adults, despite the obvious flaws and the clear documentation that it was basically a 30 Minute Commercial. Later series were decried as being "dumbed down". Transformers Armada, for example, was decried because it was "too kiddy" and featured "those annoying Armada kids." Every series since that time has received the same cry of "too kiddy" or "too dumbed down." In particular, Transformers Animated was decried because of the design of the characters. Already, criticism is pouring in for Transformers Prime even though fans have not yet had a chance to watch an episode.
    • As a subversion of this trope, when shows like Beast Machines were released, containing themes that were obviously adult-oriented and even occasionally deeply mystical, the fandom at large reacted negatively, claiming the show was "too dark" and needed to lighten up.
    • Similar to its sequel, Beast Wars, although mostly considered light-hearted, contains episodes such as "Code of Hero" and "Transmutate" that contain shocking deaths and occasionally touch on deeper themes, such as euthanasia. Dinobot in particular speaks of suicide in the most vocabulary intense speech in any Transformers speech to date, and Rattrap often gets slag past the radar. In addition Fox Kids edited episodes to remove excessive violence (it didn't help much).
    • And after Prime has been finally released, some argue that it's actually too violent for children to watch. Most of this violence comes from surprisingly graphic robot gore, but a human character has also been tortured with an Energon prod, and at least one lifeless human body has been sighted. As of Episode 23 it showed Raf, the youngest of the three children seriously wounded and near the point of death. It's fitting this trope to a T. It actually has it's own Nightmare Fuel page.
  • Star Wars the Clone Wars is an interesting example of this Trope at work: While the first season had some serious episodes (Rookies, Tresspass and the Ryloth trilogy), it played more towards the children's demographic. Once Cad Bane showed up, the series ostensibly took a turn for the dark in season 2, including Cad Bane torturing a Jedi to death, showing the heroes essentially using Mind Rape on a prisoner while a young child watches, a story centered around deserters in wartime, Boba Fett's vengeance quest against Mace Windu and Anakin using his force choke on a Prisoner to gain information. They even got away with using very mild profanity in the first broadcast of Rookies (edited out in subsequent viewings) and, in a cut scene from the season 3 opener, Asajj Ventress kisses a clone right before she ignites her lightsaber through his stomach. And then there's the Savage Opress and Mortis trilogies too...
  • The Hub's Dan Vs looks like a show that got lost on its way to [adult swim].
  • Some of the Classic Disney Shorts can be particularly dark, with the "Chicken Little" short (not to be confused with the more recent movie) being a particularly glaring example: The fox eats all the chickens in the end, and when the narrator Lampshades that this isn't what happens in his book, the fox says, "Don't believe everything you read, brother," while playing with the dead Chicken Little's yo-yo. Perhaps even more disturbing is that the fox made a graveyard out of their wishbones.
  • Delilah and Julius is like a Darker and Edgier Kim Possible, despite the colorful art style. The villains routinely deal in semi-realistic viral, biological and nuclear threats, Never Say "Die" is definitely not in effect and the two leads, while sharing a deep and mature friendship based on mutual respect of each other's abilities, are also very aware of each other's impressive physical attributes due to their spy training. There's plenty of suggestive flirting between the two leads and their foes, some rather brutal fight scenes (Julius seems fond of slamming mooks' faces into glass) and occasional blood.
  • Johnny Bravo is about an Elvis Presley-sounding Casanova Wannabe trying to get laid (and failing).
  • Code Lyoko is laced with teenage sexual frustration, has quite a lot of Fan Service, is rather dark and has at least one attempted suicide. And the main couple are a 13-year-old boy and a girl who is chronologically 24 but biologically 14. The characters are also compelled by circumstances to commit multiple felonies (identity fraud, trafficking in nuclear materials, trespassing on military facilities, etc.), any one of which could easily result in a prison term of decades, if not life or death.
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers typically ran with stuff like Mind Rape, genocide, slavery (even on the part of the good guys—the team's Lancer was implied to have less than full civil rights), several rounds of Nightmare Fuel, a really painful I Want My Beloved to Be Happy, implied sex between Goose and crime boss Daisy O'Mega, and averted Never Say "Die" entirely. This was during 1986. Even series creator Robert Mandell admits that, while he's proud of his work, he probably went a little too Darker and Edgier for the toy-buying set.
  • Recess. A lot of the jokes in the show would go over the target audiences' heads, and there was a LOT of stuff in the show that the Disney censors missed (a transexual refrence, aversion of Frothy Mugs of Water, a vibrator joke, etc.), making it a hit with adults. While it was a show for kids, obviously, at times, it seemed more like a nostalgia trip for adult viewers who remember their elementary school experiences.
  • The Parental Bonus references in Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated are getting so ridiculous that you have to wonder whom they're really writing for. And that's not even getting into the casting running from standard geeky parent friendly to very out there. You have to love a show on Cartoon Network that casts a recurring character voiced by an actor best known for Andy Warhol's Dracula and several Lars von Trier films. It's also rather shocking that this show contains extreme violence compared to previous Scooby-Doo shows, and yet still contains a TV-Y7-FV rating! (While its sister show, The Looney Tunes Show, is much tamer, yet got a TV-PG rating!)
  • Sonic Sat AM. A genocidal madman owns the world, Lasers are NOT set to stun, more than one character dies, and Bunnie is a pervert...
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 has a lot of fighting in it - a lot more than the 80s cartoon. And it's a lot darker. There's torture, death, near-death, obvious pain, and the turtles get nearly killed more than once. The turtles also use their weapons a lot more. There's no blood and, on the whole, we see Foot ninja generally display signs of life once they're taken down, but for sure it's a lot closer to the Mirage comics than the 1987 cartoon.
  • The Michael Sporn cartoon called Whitewash. The cartoon in question is about racism, but the screenwriter saw it fit to aim this at children.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes has more violence, dark themes, and Character Development than most viewers expected from a Disney XD show. For example, one episode features the Avengers having to thwart Ultron's plan to kill all of humanity with giant missles, while attempting to move on past The Mighty Thor's apparent death. Meanwhile, Ant-Man struggles to grasp with the fact something he created for peace (he originally built Ultron to act as a non-lethal prison guard) may lead to society's destruction.
  • Similarly to DCAU and Avengers, there is Greg Weisman's The Spectacular Spider-Man. While some people were put off by the simplistic and "childish" character designs, it turned out to be a very mature, intriguing character-driven show. With elements such as a father injuring and framing his own son and likeable characters suffering mental breakdowns, story arcs involving drug abuse, love triangles, gambling addictions, and gang wars, and many Nightmare Fuel moments and adult innuendos, this unfortunately short-lived Spider-Man series was definitely not made with only kids in mind.
  • Surprisingly My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has quite a large amount of Getting Crap Past the Radar. Most of these instances are Parental Bonus, but with the target demographic being young girls, sometimes the things that they slip in are just baffling. The very inappropriate jokes/topics are mostly conveyed with almost blatant suggestion. The inclusion of the references or jokes are due to the always-in-touch-with-the-fan-base staff, who recognize the rapidly growing Periphery Demographic of adult viewers. Some highlights:
    • Mention of alcohol or puns/jokes involving alcohol are very much fair game, with ponies almost blatantly pouring themselves a cocktail, or when the character Spike falls asleep with his head in the punch bowl, Pinkie Pie says that the punch has been "spiked".
    • Also the many, many references to movies,games and in one case, a song, that kids in no way should be watching (Ex: Metal Gear Solid, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Bridesmaids, and even The Big Lebowski).
    • In addition, some of the episodes can get pretty creepy, and could terrify kids for a while. (Ex: Twilight going very insane in "Lesson Zero", and boy, is it creepy; even adults get terrified by that episode.) Some of the episodes also can get a little dark. Let's not forget that one episode randomly deals with advanced politics as well as famine, war, etc.
    • They mostly get past the censors with all this because Hasbro pretty much remains hands-off on the show, as it does very well, thanks in part to the Periphery Demographic. While this isn't the absolute best example of the trope, anyone who sees the evidence can agree that it fits it pretty well. Indeed, the sheer amount of Fandom Nods -- especially in Season 2 -- can make it very easy to forget that it's a show with an intended demographic of 8- to 12-year olds. Take Derpy Hooves being namedropped in "The Last Round-up", for example—how many pre-teens have even heard of the "derp" meme?
  • SpongeBob SquarePants, despite having a reputation as a kid-friendly series, certainly qualifies. There's a lot of gross violence and Nightmare Fuel (especially in the later seasons), and an more than a few dirty jokes and Ho Yay, including Spongebob and Patrick married and raising a child in one episode!
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: While this trope was arguably frequent, a particular example is the AIDS episode, where the doctor outright mentions unprotected sex.
    • Not to mention the Drugs Are Bad episode, where Linka's cousin becomes addicted to said drugs, gets Linka addicted as well, then throws himself through a window and dies, either from the blood loss of cutting open his arms on the glass or from overdosing, it's never really made clear.
  • Let's just say Dan Vs.. airs at 7/8 in the evening for a reason... While it's demographic is general, it's on the Hub which directs its shows to families and young children, making Dan vs. a very shocking contribution thanks to its' sexual jokes, violence, misanthropy and heck... we even see blood! The show also makes pretty racy references to such events as 9/11 and Clocktower shooting.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Bubblegum/candy cigarettes—and also, licorice pipes, chocolate cigars, candy cigarettes, and the infamous "Hippy Sippy". Aside from the last item, these are still sold today (although often with bowdlerised names like "candy sticks"). Even a few of the most ardent anti-smokers still feel a little pang of nostalgia for these, and feel kind of torn at the idea of taking them off the market.
  • This al-Qaeda jihadist film, supposedly.
  • With all the controversy surrounding them, it's easy to forget that breasts as a source of milk are intended for use by babies.
  1. children's
  2. Many of the arena deaths, for example, dismemberment and splatter easily compare with similar scenes in Gladiator, possibly being a nod to Scott's epic, only swapping dissolving luminescent cubes for real blood and gore.
  3. this was 1999, naturally, there is no way that would have flown after 2001
  4. This song hints of the theme of Their First Time.
  5. The song's theme is Intercourse with You. 'nuff said.
  6. She's not with Disney or Nickelodeon, although she's commonly associated with the former (she's frequently played on Radio Disney and appeared on an episode of Take Two With Phineas and Ferb).
  7. Although it would later be rerated E10+ when it was remade in HD