Mature Children's Work
A work targeted at young kids that covers subject matter considered more suitable for teens/adults.
Better Name Needs Examples Description Needs Help Description Needs Help Already have? Already have? Motion To Discard Motion To Discard

(permanent link) added: 2013-04-12 13:47:41 sponsor: shoboni edited by: Hero_Gal_2347 (last reply: 2014-08-16 21:37:33)

Add Tag:
As of this thread: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=1365770276048940100&page=1#12

I'm putting in a suggestion for a trope where something is aimed at kids, but really shouldn't be. Basicaly, when Word of God says they intended something for kids, and it's marketing to them when it's really not that child friendly.

-__

So, you sit down to watch a show, and it's full of Nightmare Fuel like a town full of ghouls created by a toxic spill luring in new families to feed on them, Snuff Film makers brought back as zombies trying to claim new victims, or maybe some Paranoia Fuel like a creature that takes the form of a loved one to feed on you and drain you to a withered husk

Or maybe even that hot little number of a mouse-girl dancing on stage.

Wow, that was something, but wait. Does that rating say TV-Y7? That can't be right, there's no way this is a kids show. Well, it is and you've stumbled upon this trope. Sometimes the fact they're supposed to be writing for kids doesn't stop a writer from pulling out the full arsenal of mature themes, and it's not limited to TV shows either. For further reading see Getting Crap Past the Radar, and Parental Bonus, as large amounts of either can lead to this trope happening.

Some things to think about when adding examples:

  • Mind the rating, nothing over PG is this trope(this can be shakier for movies before the PG-13 rating was implemented, so mind that too)

  • Make sure the show was actually created for kids and it's not just a case of Misaimed Marketing(when a toy company thinks it's a kids show), or What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?(when a network or dub company thinks it's a kids show) This trope only applies if it was intended for kids from the start.

  • Be wary of YA novels, some of those are marketed at older High-School students.

  • Just because a Manga or Anime is Shounen or Shojo, doesn't mean it goes here. Works classified as such can range from the equivalent of G to PG-13. So be mindful of the specific works rating before adding it here.


Examples

Anime & Manga
  • Fist of the North Star was originally a Shōnen manga in the 80's about a martial artist in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, killing countless evildoers in incredibly gory ways. Of course, as it aged, the target audience also shifted from young kids to an older audience while largely remaining the same.
  • Magi - Labyrinth of Magic: Is a Manga with an Anime adapatiation directed at kids (aired at a 5:00 PM time slot just after school in Japan). It discusses such mature topics as slave trading, high interest banking and loans, the economics and politics of Monarchies versus free Republics, and also war.

Film
  • George Lucas says he made Star Wars for kids, and it is popular with kids for its cool effects and over-the-top, slightly cartoony feel, but parents would do well to remember that A New Hope alone includes A) the murder of two separate groups of innocent civilians by state forces (the Jawas and Luke's aunt and uncle), B) justifiable homicide by one of the main cast (Han gunning down Greedo in the cantina), and C) the state-ordered destruction of a heavily populated Earth-like planet. Also worth noting, the majority of the Star Wars Expanded Universe is aimed at teens to adults and is not this trope.

Western Animation
  • Batman Beyond: It's a kids show and a direct sequel to the wildly popular Batman: The Animated Series. However, the girls wear somewhat scandalous clothes, the series touches upon a more modern and realistic take on gang violence, drug use, pollution, and completely averts Never Say "Die". There's also a lot of adult humor—just the kind that would fly over most kids' heads. That didn't stop The Hub from censoring some of it when they got the television rights, though.
  • Once Upon a Forest has numerous mature scenes: the escaping gas blackening and crumpling plants in seconds, a badger couple lying dead in their burrow, a child badger lying in bed dying, and a mentor figure recounting how his parents were gassed to death as "pests."
  • The first film by former Disney animators Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy is The Secret of NIMH, which is rated G. It's the story of a mother mouse struggling to save her family from the farmer's plow, featuring mostly cartoon mice, rats and a crow. However, there's a swordfight among the rat characters that leaves two dead. It also shows four mouse children sinking to their doom in a mud pit

Examples from What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?. May or may not work here; pick out whichever ones that do.

    Comic Books 
  • 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, steers away from the Wangst and bleakness the main line tended to indulge in, and sidestepped the whole Civil War fiasco, and the rest of the dueling-author messes 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. (Also, forget the 80s; Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man has the Blonde Phantom as a Recurrer. Remember her? No? Ask your grandparents.)
    • Interestingly, as much as Darker and Edgier is considered a good thing, it is quite lighter than the mainstream comics. It turns out that if you tell a good story, people will enjoy it over a poor one that has more blood, sex, and swearing.
    • Played strangely with Superior Spider-Man, which indulges in every excess contemporary comics are wont to indulge in (Doc Ock stealing Peter Parker's body, then jacking off in it?) - but the writer has gone on record as saying that he wants kids to read it.
  • 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. Even back then, however, Moral Guardians raised plenty of objections that their comic books were inappropriate for kids; EC strenuously resisted censorship until The Comics Code went into effect.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) is promoted as an all-ages comic, though the series thus far has been a little darker than one would expect from a series where most of the covers feature cute, colorful ponies, as noted in the NightmareFuel section.

    Fanfic 
  • My Little Unicorn preaches that things like love and tolerance are actually worthless and only brutal force can lead to true happiness. Characters get Killed Off for Real in rather brutal ways for little kids, and there are certain sexual innuendos to be found in the entire story. Yet the author proclaims that the fanfiction is way better entertainment for kids than the actual show it rips off of.
    • The best example for it may be a chapter of the sequel, in which Fluttershy is in the hospital to be operated on. A changeling slips in and tries to kill her by cutting her open and letting her bleed to death.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • 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 Gulliver's Travels.

     Roleplay 
  • Dino Attack RPG is a fun family adventure on a family-friendly website with death, destruction, genocide, drugs, alcohol, sexism, smoking, homophobia, unstoppable cosmic horrors, child abuse, murder, betrayal, torture, and religion, among other things.

    Theater 
  • 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 
  • 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 
  • 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 should be noted just how much of Simon Furman's work fits into this category. When the writer of the bloodbath the Marvel Generation 2 comics became calls something too dark, you know you've taken Darker and Edgier Up to Eleven.
      • Furman was specifically concerned about the "For Kids" part of this trope. He was very much about darker, more fatal Transformer stories, but he was explicitly writing with an older audience in mind than the cartoon series are marketed towards.
    • 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. A sunny kids' show is not what you'd imagine it would look like..
  • Nerf Brand products. Oh hey, a bunch of foam dart blasters for the children! Oh, wait, why are they moulded with adult-sized grips? Why all the realistic magazines, Gun Accessories, and tacticool gear? And then you get to the anti-materiel rifles, belt-fed machine guns, and fully-automatic carbine-type blasters. Clearly someone in the Nerf design team is either a weapons nut or is ex-military.
  • 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.

    Webcomics 
  • 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 "Flushing the Soul" arc seems to belie that.

    Web Original 
  • Neopets is a rather weird example in itself; nowadays the target demographic audience is definitely for young children- but when this popular site first started out, it was mostly used by college (or university) students years ago. There are still remnants of this material from that time (such as the Ski-Lodge Mystery plot) floating around, waiting to be prime scariness for any children who happened to stumble across them.
  • This trope is discussed in the Cracked articles 10 Great Books For (Traumatising) Children and 8 Weirdly Sexual Products You Won't Believe Are for Kids.
  • The creator of the fanon SpongeBob spinoff Warriors of Bikini Bottom claims the show is intended for middle school age and up, but that doesn't stop it from having characters discussing their sex lives (and on occasion, even having sex), swearing in the transcripts, and having various gory fights.
  • Doctor Steel's whole concept for "The Dr. Steel Show" was that of a kid's show that was just a little bit... warped. He also had a song, supposedly for a proposed kid's show, called "Smokey the Kid-Loving Trout" (graphic for this song on his website showed a stinking hobo-like anthropomorphic trout, complete with stogie, walking with children).

    Other 
  • 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.
  • People in the United States who don't come from a part of the country where a large percentage of the population is of Mexican (or possibly other Latin American) descent might feel this way about the most popular confections for children in those regions. Chicano children go wild for sour and/or spicy treats such as sal limon (a sour citrus powder with salt), Chinese candy (bitter plums rolled in a sour powder), Lucas (a chili/sour citrus powder mixture either consumed by itself or sprinkled on top of fresh fruit), and whole sour dill pickles.
  • 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.

Anime:

Values Dissonance plays a huge part in this category, as Japan has a much higher threshold than Western cultures on what's not acceptable for kids. 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. If not that, it's usually due to violent content; graphic violence doesn't have anywhere near the social stigma in Japan as it does in the rest of the world (where it has been theorized that blood and gore in the media may desensitize children to committing violent acts in real life).

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 out of the question).
  • Sailor Moon. No, it was not only for teens in Japan; watch the commercials. The first season finale deserves special mention where four of the Sailors are brutally killed (they get better). Reportedly so many children were upset about the deaths that they made themselves sick. For the US dub, the deaths were censored by implying that they were merely being held prisoner and the two part finale was edited into one episode.
  • 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.
    • The show itself is primarily known for its abundance of martial arts fighting, not normally seen in magical girl anime aimed at a young audience.
  • American parents would be, to say the least, not pleased if they ever saw Keroro Gunsou presented as a kids program, although it's hugely successful amongst kids in Japan. It's even had its own Happy Meal toys.
    • The anime is a lot more kid-friendly than the manga, though both have the same target demo (probably 4th to 8th graders). Of course, very few kids are going to get the ubiquitous Mobile Suit Gundam references, especially not things like Keroro dressing up like Char Aznable's voice-actor.
  • 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 Shōnen 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 Shōjo (Demographic).
  • 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.
    • The author does mention in Death Note: How to Read, however, that the story would've taken a different path if it ran in a seinen magazine, exploring the morality involved in using a Death Note and how society responds to it rather than putting the cat-and-mouse chase between Light and L at the front.
  • Zatch Bell! actually does feature Victoream-Sama saying "very shit". Also, the Japanese version has this. It's not considered offensive in Japan.
  • InuYasha was aimed at boys (no, really) 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 GaoGaiGar — 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...
  • Fist of the North Star is textbook Gorn with blood and guts flying around and torture and sick villains... and it's also the Trope Maker for Shōnen 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. And, in America, it sometimes gets lumped in the 18+ section because of the perverted teacher, but, then again, perverted teachers hitting on eleven years old in Japanese Children's shows is just of of those things anime fans have just come to accept.
    • The anime received an MA rating in Australia purely because of the aforementioned teachers (according to Madman).
  • 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 Shōjo (Demographic) 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. Complete with brutal murders; complex plots involving suicide, drugs and business dealings; and of course copious amounts of sexual tension.
  • Pokémon Special is in fact classified as a kodomo manga. However, its strong sense of continuity and characterization, as well as frequent use of violence and even occasional deaths, has people convinced it's meant for an older crowd.
  • 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 a really dark story 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 even Desil Galette.
  • 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 ˝.
  • 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.
  • The anime anthology Grimms Fairy Tale Classics was clearly aimed towards small children. However, it contains many scenes of intense cruelty (such as a princess being falsely accused of killing her baby in the episode "The Six Swans", and Cinderella's stepmother locking her in the attic while she goes to have Cinderella's magic tree chopped down), as well as semi-frequent use of violence and sinister-looking creatures like goblins. The darkest episode was perhaps "Bluebeard", which features the title character killing his wives and nearly kills the most recent one until her brothers save her. Much of the dark imagery was toned down for the English dub, but the show was still quite dark considering its target audience. The catch? This show was aired on Nick Jr., which is known today for very sugary shows such as Dora the Explorer.
  • 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, among other things, a psyhopathic Serial Killer whose Servant is an even more psychopathic serial killer who 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.
    • It is of note, however, that the series was aired after midnight, which is generally reserved for more adult titles.
  • Most western fans of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z still insist that it's meant for adults, even though it is very clearly a kids' series.
    • It can get pretty violent, including one scene of bloody impalement, but that's probably Values Dissonance. Apparently Frieza's...shenanigans are one of the most commonly cited reasons by Moral Guardians that DBZ is not for kids.
    • Between that, the nudity, and some blatant sexual content, it's pretty easy to argue that the series is inappropriate for children, whether or not they are the intended audience in Japan.
  • Digimon Tamers, Digimon Tamers, DIGIMON TAMERS. Especially notable since its prequels had their share of darkness, but nowhere near its level.
    • Case in point: The first episode had two seperate Digimon killing and eating another one, and to make matters worse, Digimon who die that way are never reborn. Other highlights include some of the most horrifying and brutal battles in the series' history, one of the hero's Digimon being eaten and thus permanently killed (by a former friend, no less), someone trying to commit suicide, at least two Heroic Sacrifices, a good chunk of the Digital World and its residences being deleted, one of the Digimon getting stabbed nearly to death and thrown into a sea of deletion while his/her Tamer/s can do nothing but watch, a heart-breakingly Bittersweet Ending, and naked children with Barbie Doll Anatomy. The absolute worse offender, however, is a sweet little 10-year-old girl getting mind fucked by an Eldritch Abomination for at least a week. If the title didn't have "Digimon" attached to it, you'd think it was intended for high school students, but no, it's aimed at kids around that girl's age.
    • Also Digimon Savers. It like Tamers, less mindfuck, but less shy about detailed violence or blatant fanservice.
  • The gory, sexually-charged, profanity-laden anime series Deadman Wonderland was used as the flagship title for the revival of Toonami as part of [adult swim]. All signs point to this being a Seinen series. But in reality, it's a Shōnen series whose original manga version was serialized in the same anthology magazine that housed significantly tamer series such as Angelic Layer (which is actually aimed at children in the United States), Nichijou and Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel.
  • Attack on Titan may be one of the most relentlessly serious, dark, violent, and horrifying manga in recent memory, easily on par with some of the grimmer Seinen out there, and yet it runs on Kodansha's Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine.
  • Itsudatte My Santa's original printing was recalled for having the wrong rating on the package, TV-PG instead of TV-MA. Despite that, nobody complained even before its recall, plus that it was serialized on a Shonen magazine.
  • Hunter × Hunter (the 2011 version) airs at 11:00 on a Sunday, a time slot meant for kids. Despite this, it somehow manages to br even more gory and violent than most late night shows, especially the recent Chimera Ant arc. Anyone who's able to read Japanese comments for the episodes will find a lot of comment asking how they managed to get away with all the violence in a Sunday morning timeslot without getting taken off the air. However, it is serialized on Weekly Shōnen Jump.
  • Read or Die Rehabilitation is more risque than its Seinen counterparts Read or Die and Read or Dream, yet is serialized on a Shōnen magazine.
  • Franken Fran is serialized in a Shonen magazine, but it is full of Gorn, graphic BodyHorror, nudity and other sexual scenes
  • Eiichiro Oda repeatedly claims that his series One Piece is aimed at children. It is read by people of all ages in Japan and mostly young adults in the west. Oda does a pretty good job at keeping it family-friendly, however, counting aside the violence and Fanservice that's become standard in anime.
  • The majority of anime produced in Japan, is meant for people aged 6-17 (Animation Age Ghetto is just as strong there as in America, so you'd hide your anime posters just as well). The reason many Americans believe the medium is primarily targeted to adults is because cartoons in there country often have little violence, blood, sex, or swears. In Japan, the censors and ratings are arranged a tad bit differently then in most western countries.
    • In general, the term anime means nothing more then "cartoon" or "animation" in Japan.
  • Blockbuster once had a point where they rated every anime "Youth Restricted Viewing", even relatively kid-friendly titles like Tenchi Universe, Project A-Ko, KO Beast, heck, even Grave of the Fireflies was getting slapped with this rating; basically, every anime that wasn't Pokemon; however, Blockbuster's system for the "Youth Restricted Viewing" rating was all messed up; on your account, you either had to allow it all or none of it. So, you either can have none of the anime section, or you can have all of it, including the hentai, with the same rating, showing no difference between the two; you could end up with a "Youth Restricted Viewing" title that has a "damn" or two and maybe a drop of blood, or you could end up with an also "Youth Restricted Viewing" hentai that has everything but the kitchen sink in it, with no warning. Rather difficult system if you've got a young kid into anime, so it's no wonder they went out of business.

Film:

    open/close all folders 

    Films — Animation 
  • 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). It has also been known to be invoked in G-rated movies as well (such as the The Secret of NIMH).
  • Watership Down is often used as an example of mature animation, but it was intended for all ages, despite the mutilations and disturbing imagery.
  • 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. Oh, and Sanrio of Hello Kitty fame made this, believe it or not.
  • Disney's version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame goes here. Endlessly marketed to kids with cute dolls and toys and such... and then Frollo sings Hellfire, which is all about his lust for Esmeralda. There is no ambiguity about the nature of his feelings for her. 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.
    • 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 16+ rating.
  • Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole: A "PG" rated film by Zack Snyder (the man who brought you 300 and Watchmen) 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, though that's nothing compared to Toy Story 3. 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).
  • 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 mild cursing, sex-based adult jokes that most kids would laugh at, but not know why it's funny, and gruesome deaths. Yet kids seem to don't care. Then there's Shrek the Third with Fiona's pregnancy, in which sexual elements are also emphasized.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 has genocide, mental trauma, and Parental Abandonment as main plot points.
  • 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 POW 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.
    • Seeing the corpse of the friend on the dinner table as the Tweedys finish eating her.
    • In the UK, Chicken Run had to be edited to remove a character knitting a noose and a reference to Literal Ass Kissing.
  • Rango, just like Shrek contains lots of adult jokes, some swearing (i.e.: the word "bitch" bleeped out by a hawk) Family-Unfriendly Violence and huge amounts of Parental Bonus. But it's really fun reading the bad reviews of the movie by parents that show it to their four-year-old kids.
  • 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.
  • The Secret of NIMH. That film is scary no matter what age you are, but 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.
  • Anastasia is another one of Don Bluth's darkest films. There are moments of death, extreme violence, dark peril, Stuff Blowing Up very realistically, ghostly spirits and corpses, not to mention the death of Rasputin, involving him melting into a skeleton that crumbles into dust.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • An American Tail: The Treasure Of Manhattan Island features loads o Police Brutality, including officers being paid under the table by corrupt factory owners, deliberately starting a race riot and burning every "mouse house and rat hole" to find someone they're after (sound familiar?).
  • Trailers for The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists made it look like a nice little movie about silly pirates doing silly things. While this is technically true, there's more to it than that. It includes Black and Gray Morality (to the point that almost no one in the story is completely good), the onscreen deaths of two minor characters and many near-death moments, very blatant Ho Yay, innuendos which don't even try to get past the radar and jokes that will go right over little kids' heads.
  • ParaNorman is not only a zombie movie, and thus rather gory, but it milks its PG rating for all it's worth. And The Reveal about the identity of the "witch" (she was an 11-year-old girl who was hanged for speaking with the dead and, underneath 300 years of rage and bitterness, is still just a scared child who wants to see her mother) is really dark.
  • Frankenweenie, an Animated Adaptation of a short film that Tim Burton made back in the mid-80's, has some very horrifying, violent, and disturbing scenes. Yes, that is expected in a Tim Burton movie, but none of his other animated films are anywhere near as violent as this one (except for 9). And it got a PG rating from the MPAA, and is being marketed toward kids at Subway through mainly making it about A boy and his undead dog.
  • The 2007 animated film El Arca is a Spanish film. Which is a very loose animated film based on Noah's Arc. The film mostly focused on the animals on Noah's Arc. The film contained a sex scene, a strip club at the beginning. A big breasted panther named Panthy. And a fight scene which at one point shown blood. This film was a kid's film.
  • This was a contributory factor to the American release of Robotech: The Movie not going any further than it did; midway through the film, a rape comes close to being depicted (to say nothing about the violence also present in the source material'').
  • Disneys The Great Mouse Detective has the villain's Mooks cheerfully singing about murdering women and children (by drowning them, no less), a 19th-century version of a striptease, and the villain goes Ax-Crazy when his Evil Scheme falls through, and he straight up tries to kill the hero with his bare hands-er, paws.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • 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 (particuarly 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 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 originalnote , 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. 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 trying to seduce her, and Bowie's Magic Pants, and you try to tell us it's for children?
  • The Dark Crystal, a fantasy flick with a dark atmosphere, creepy monsters, Family-Unfriendly Violence, lots of scary 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.
  • MirrorMask: 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 creepy moments.
  • The same can be said about The Great Yokai War: A kid's film directed by Takashi Miike (the director of Ichi the Killer). 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).
    • Not to mention ghost-on-man sex and/or blowjob. Also, Pecker has no dick.
  • 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.
    • The first sequel isn't much better, starting with a Groin Attack on Marty Junior. Of course, the cherry on top is the alternate 1985 where Biff is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who murdered George in cold blood, forced Lorraine into marriage and breast implants, sits in a jacuzzi with naked women, and has turned Hill Valley into a hellhole.
    • Part III has Buford hanging Marty, threatening Clara with rape, and attempting a slow death by bullet on Doc. Plus there's Doc's (implied) one night stand with Clara.
  • We Bought a Zoo is perhaps the only PG-rated film to shoehorn in at least three uses of "shit" and one of "asshole". However, it was marketed as a light-hearted family film.
    • 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 (examples include the Cat calling a soil-covered gardening implement a "dirty hoe" and the original name of the S.L.O.W., the Super Hydraulic Instantaneous Transporter) 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. Sadly, it was also a point of contention for Theodore Giesel's estate. The film was such a slap in the face to the original story that all plans on making live-action adaptations of the Dr. Seuss stories have been barred. The animated stuff, however, is still acceptable.
  • Over in Italy, Malena is considered a family film. The uncut version has gratuitous female nudity in half the scenes, has plenty of scenes of the young boy masturbating, scenes of domestic violence, the 12-year-old protagonist sleeping with a prostitute twice his age and the climactic scene of the women in the town graphically beating up Malena in the street.
  • Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, the Darker and Edgier sequel to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Take a lighthearted, family-friendly Totally Radical comedy and add lots of terror along with a Played for Laughs—yet still effectively morbid—Disney Death plotline, heavily ramped up profanity, sexual dialogue and incest references, and quite a few instances of Ho Yay as well, and you've got something that probably didn't sit nearly as well with the original film's target audience.
  • Matilda has a bunch of kids getting hammer-tossed out of windows, first-graders getting packed into a closet with rusty nails and adults downright insulting childrens' intelligence and calling them hurtful names. Then again this is Roald Dahl we're talking about. On the upside, the abuse isn't that severe and the protagonist does win in the end. On top of that, it's a family film, so the violence is mainly for the adults, no matter how cruel it may seem.
  • Camp Nowhere had talk of the titular camp being a former hippie commune, complete with a laughing mention of all that it entailed. The movie also had kids cursing, buying beer with an adult's help, lying to their parents and the authorities, and stealing money. In the end it never makes it clear what the lesson is, and the promotional posters were ridiculously risque compared to the movie proper.
  • Cop Dog, described in its summary as "a heartfelt tale about a boy and his dog who set out to solve the death of the young boy's father." The cutesy cover and PG rating must signify that it's targeted to a younger audience, right? Well, turns out that not even a quarter of the way through the movie, the dog is run over by a car, and it's not one of those things where the kid comes home from school and the mother has to break the bad news to him, no. We actually get a chase scene in which the dog dies. That's right, the dog is dead for most of the movie, and the whole movie is about fulfilling the dog's final desire, which is solving his master's murder, so that he can cross over.
  • Return to Oz is meant to be seen as a kids' adventure film, yet there are the infamous scenes such as shock therapy, Dorothy's friends Taken for Granite, and of course, the Gnome King.
  • The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. While the film is rated PG, the titular Garbage Pail Kids are abominations that vomit on people, wet themselves, fart in people's faces, get into fights, steal and damage property, and are willing to threaten people with switchblades. There is also a subplot of a young man who looks to be at least 12 being in a relationship with a young woman who is clearly in her 20s. It is filled with violence, profanity, near-nudity, and scatological scenes; and infamously contains a Broken Aesop that people should be judged on their behavior, not their appearance; despite all the Garbage Pail Kids hateful and near-criminal actions. The Moral Guardians of the time protested the film and successfully managed to get it pulled from theaters because of all this.
  • The Lone Ranger is probably one of Disney's darker films, as the PG-13 is pushed pretty far in regards to the violence.

Literature:

  • 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.
  • The Gone series by Michael Grant was made with teenagers in mind, but the books contain such extreme violence that a warning is actually required. Features such characters as a sadist with a whip hand, evil talking coyotes who want to end all human life, a girl who can make people see all sorts of unholy terrors, and so on. The fourth book contains people coughing up their organs, and bugs eating people from the inside out. The less said about the last book, the better. It's easy to see why there aren't movies of these books...
  • 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 writing 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 very nature of the one book = one school year ratio forces this. Even if there were no magical elements at all, 18-year-old graduating high school seniors face very different issues than 11-year-old sixth graders.
    • Though Rowling's The Casual Vacancy makes all her previous books look like fluffy bunnies, even the darker ones.
    • She's also had to point out to those that say the first book was much lighter than the others that it does open with a double homicide and the attempted murder of a defenceless infant.
  • 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 Protagonist advocating smoking.
    • The same protagonist later witnessing the graphic (and well-described) aftermath of a demon summoning gone wrong.
    • The twelve-year-old protagonist fantasizing about his uncle's sexy best friend.
    • Said uncle's sexy best friend also, at one point "accidentally" spills milk all over her shirt, and calls the narrator in to help her out of it.
    • And, by book five, it all starts to go downhill.
  • The Hobbit, due to Tolkien's natural propensity for large volumes of text.
    • The book is hardly all that wordy book. However, it can't be common for a children's book to feature a 50-year old bachelor as the main protagonist.
  • Coraline. Full of distinctly Freudian terror, 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Phenomena: While the main series is dark enough already it is with it's strangely 9+, is Azur's spin-offs said to be for younger children. The first 4 books are filled with suspense, he's banned from his home and he's kidnapped and tortured, in the 5th book his brother is seen covered in the blood of innocent people, in the 6th he, himself, is seen covered in blood of innocents eating of an uncensored torn off leg complete with a Slasher Smile, on the cover! Worse still, the books are illustrated so you can see his suffering on every page.
    • The Jolsah's spin-offs meant for the same age group, aren't much better, it even features a mad man that wants to cut things of Jolsah while alive and an evil man wearing an elf's scalp which the other guy cut off so if they do something bad the elves are blamed. It's not even an horror series!
  • 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, 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 oriented 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, Black 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 includes the sentences "Some [kids] called me names like 'Sissy', 'Faggot', 'Queer' and 'Homo'" and "Now, I realize I'm not gay". And it's a picture book, so it was aimed at toddlers. 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, a la Goosebumps. 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 Mad Scientists 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?
    • Special mention to the constant Adult Fear of having lost your entire family but one, and having that one constantly in danger.
  • 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, or at least not the wobbly green bit, but the eyes are fine).
    • 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. The last book begins with an abusive father beating his pregnant daughter into a miscarriage, and nearly being lynched by his disgusted neighbours. 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". Terry's view is that all Discworld novels are aimed at anyone who understands the jokes.
  • Animorphs features a lot more violence and horror 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.
    • Descriptions of the author's next book are interesting too: Year of the Jungle — about her childhood during The Vietnam War — is picture book for four-year-olds.
  • The Chronicles of Prydain contains death, zombies, human sacrifice and much more.
  • Someone Else's 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.
  • This is a large part of the reason why In the Night Kitchen by the late Maurice Sendak was banned from various school libraries and children's book shops, alongside Unfortunate Implications: The child protagonist Mickey loses his pajamas for some reason and ends up naked for a substantial chunk of the story, with his nudity uncensored.
  • 1997 children's adventure book Haunted Castle definitely fits this trope. Due in part to the amazing art of artist/writer Leo Hartas, complete child-friendly scenes such as demented, crumbling paper-mache clones of the protagonists, a man being crushed feet-first by a garden roller while still alive and swimming through the guts of a gigantic fish are all brought to your children's nightmares!
  • Anything written by the late Robert Cormier would count here, especially The Chocolate War and Fade (two books that frequently make it to "frequently banned books" lists) but not limited to those two books. His novels were specifically written for older children and preteens but are about anything from (terminally ill) children being used as live guinea pigs to a young boy with amnesia who's being marked for death as soon as he regains his memory.
  • The Stephen King book The Eyes of The Dragon was written at the request of one of King's children, who wanted him to write a children's book. However, that didn't stop King from including, among other things, a Sex Scene. While for the most part it is tamer than King's other books, there's still a lot in there to scar a child for life.
  • The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, so you think this is a fun for young teens novel series? not quite, the titular character is just a fourteen year old by manipulated to work for MI6, he then endures many horrific things over a single year. This series can be considered the Neon Genesis Evangelion of Spy Fiction.
  • John Bellairs wrote gothic horror novels intended for children full of all sorts of subtle Nightmare Fuel.
  • Roald Dahl's Esio Trot:
    • Mr. Hoppy, a Shrinking Violet who is in love with the woman below his balcony, Mrs. Silver, impresses her by buying many tortoises and using a mechanical gadget to take Mrs. Silver's tortoise Alfie up to his floor and send a larger tortoise down, to make it look like Alfie is growing bigger (Mrs. Silver was complaining that Alfie had only grown three ounces in the eleven years she had owned him). This impresses Mrs. Silver enough to give Mr. Hoppy the courage to ask her to marry him, and she accepts. In short, a man gets what he wants through lies and deception.
    • Mrs. Silver once tells Mr. Hoppy that if he can make Alfie grow bigger, she'll be his slave for life. This raises quite a few eyebrows.
  • Most of the people getting up in arms over the blunt descriptions of puberty and other "naughty" things found in The Diary of Anne Frank are forgetting the fact that the book was written by, you know, a 12-year-old girl dealing with things every 12-year-old girl goes through (well, minus the whole Nazi thing).
  • The Choose Your Own Adventure books were sold to kids as offering the ability to play the title role in a kid's adventure book. They are, however, remembered for the terrifying endings that arise when incorrect choices are made, with some books even giving detailed descriptions of being eaten, shot, stabbed, poisoned, torn to bits, electrocuted, immured, trapped in tortuous time-loops forever, and so on. These older books are generally no longer considered suitable for children, although the creator of the series - Edward Packard - said in an interview in 1981 that in his experience children enjoyed the exaggerated deaths.


Live Action TV:

  • 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 nearly fifty 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. Not to mention the crap past the radar, and the Nightmare Fuel, the Fetish Fuel and there is much more. Before the trope was cut and locked, it had its own Incest Yay page. A character was also murdered on this show,and perhaps even more than one, since some scenes were downright ambiguous. In a Disney Channel children show. Yeah.
  • In general, Disney's more recent sitcoms have been pushing the envelope. Add to that Shake It Up (jokes about & references to twincest, child labor, breast attacks, Erotic Eating, stripteases and pubic hair, a Running Gag about a main character's lack of a figure & a now-pulled anorexia joke) and Jessie (innuendo, Parenthetical Swearing, curses cut short, last second word swaps and a recurring Stalker with a Crush character who exhibits Troubling Unchildlike Behavior).
  • 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. On the other hand, in Japan it's a common viewpoint among those who have seen both Super Sentai and Power Rangers that Power Rangers is actually more mature, because the lack of wacky humor is more noticable than the toning down of violence.
    • Even when taking cultural standards into consideration, the Kamen Rider franchise's run from 2000 to approximately 2004-2005 is largely characterized by its ability to introduce mature tropes into the series. Kamen Rider Kuuga, for example, is one of the few Tokus that has gotten away with depicting the murder of minors. The peak of this renaissance can generally be agreed to exist between Kamen Rider Ryuki and Kamen Rider 555 which both subvert the traditional Rider Vs Monster scenario in their own ways.
  • 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. How kiddy? Well, Power Rangers Lost Galaxy featured a villain's Start of Darkness that took her from Alpha Bitch and Daddy's Little Villain to using suicide bombers, 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.
  • Aired in syndication and not heavily promoted, Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad got to fly under the radar. Though "destroying" the heroes came up as a villainous goal a lot just 'cause it's how bad guys talk, Never Say "Die" wasn't in effect, and some of the things the Monster of the Week did to people could get kind of dark. All water faucets suddenly spew hydrochloric acid! Your wristwatch takes control of your hand and you nearly choke yourself to death while the monster laughs about how you're going to die! Kilokhan also once pulled a Venjix, taking over nukes and nearly causing World War Three. Oh, what about the Christmas episode where Kilokhan finds out who Servo is, transfers himself to Sam's computer, and outright kills him with an electric blast? Malcolm, Kilokhan's sidekick until Kilo tried to pull a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on him, was told to Take Up My Sword, but when he tried to transform, only the Servo wrist device was pulled into the digital world, and Servo - Sam within as always - activates. Sam defeats Kilokhan with a Dangerous Forbidden Technique, but doesn't know if he'll ever be able to return to his human form, and departs into the information superhighway for parts unknown. Apparently, unexpected renewal is what kept this from being how the series ended. (More episodes are made, but the second full season that was talked about doesn't come, so it actually gets No Ending, the last episode being one just like any other.)
  • The Ink Thief had a very gothic style to it, even though it was mostly kid-oriented. Richard O'Brien's character was pure terror, 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?"
  • The German teen drama Allein gegen die Zeit is aimed at teens and young adults. Yet, it can easily be compared to high-profile thrillers like 24. It's first season featured a school hostage taking, a fascist political conspiracy, attempted mass murder, an unvilified portrayal of ethnic gang members, police corruption, depression, gun violence and liberal swearing. The second season was even Darker and Edgier, throwing cruel and unusual deaths, terrorism, and lethal biological weapons into the mix. Especially jarring since KiKa is aimed at children younger than thirteen.
  • Knight Rider is often stereotyped as a kids' show because it has one hero and his super cool super car, but the first season itself is loaded with episodes about politics, corrupt police, framed murder charges, a lover implicated in soliciting crime and the murder of a sleaze magazine owner- plenty of murders in the first season. The pilot is surely not for kids. Plenty of gunshots fired in the show actually hit- and a few kill. Contrast that with The A-Team which has only two casualties in the whole run and almost none of the shots hit.
  • The Haunting Hour often has gruesome deaths, frequent moments of Getting Crap Past the Radar, and episodes that rely more on real-life scares along with the usual use of ghosts, ghouls, vampires, and freaky creatures. Then there are episodes like "Head Shot," "Sick," "The Cast," "The Weeping Woman," "Checking Out," "Red Eye," and "Terrible Love" that show that sometimes the scariest things we experience are real and the monsters we encounter are people with warped personalities (which "Head Shot," "Red Eye," and "Terrible Love" showed with all the subtlety of a bitch slap upside the head).

Music:

  • Kidz Bop. A 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"
    • Nicki Minaj's "Starships"
    • Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven"
    • FloRida's "Club Can't Handle Me"
    • Rihanna's "Diamonds" ("...what's a song with the word 'moonshine' in it doing on a kids' music compilation??")
    • fun.'s "Some Nights" (which drops the F-bomb at one point)
    • 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".
    • Kevin Rudolf's "Let It Rock"
    • Enrique Iglesias' "Finally Found You"
    • Jessie J's "Domino" (which even starts with the words "I'm feelin' sexy and free")
    • Katy Perry's "California Gurls"
    • Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out", despite the lyrics being okay, is actually based on a pretty morbid event: 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 One...
    • 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 Kesha's "Tik Tok" changes the line from "getting drunk" to "playing tag".
  • 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 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.
  • Michael Jackson toes the line between this and What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids? He started out as a squeaky-clean child performer with the Jackson 5, a group that got their own Saturday morning cartoon, and as an adult cultivated a family-friendly Friend to All Children image. He narrated an E.T. storybook album, made Captain EO for the Disney Theme Parks, contributed songs to the first two Free Willy movies, and frequently pushed messages of nonviolence, peace, and charity in his work. His 1993 Super Bowl halftime performance ended with him surrounded by hundreds of tykes as he sang "Heal the World". He was well aware that he was a hero to kids. Yet much of what he aimed at them was less than family-friendly by conventional standards.
    • His most famous solo song, "Billie Jean", is about an affair that may or may not have yielded a child. Similar "evil woman" songs appear on other albums.
    • "Thriller" and its spiritual successors have horror themes that are extensively played out in the "Thriller" video and the short film Ghosts.
    • In Moonwalker, the longest segment of the film is "Smooth Criminal", in which he plays himself as a superhero saving kids from an extreme version of The Aggressive Drug Dealer. The song itself is about a woman's murder, and in the Gangsterland dance segment featuring the song, he beats up or outright kills several people before whipping out a tommy gun to shoot at the villain's mooks. In the climax, he transforms into a robot (later spaceship) and mows down mook after mook without a care in the world. Note that there was a tie-in book for kids for this film, and it had to Bowdlerise the story quite a bit by leaving out the darker lyrics of "Smooth Criminal" and the mass killings (with the exception of the Big Bad's demise).
    • His crotch-grabbing dance move. He was doing this as early as the video for "Bad", but the video for "Black and White" made it infamous. This was because the clip was hyped for its kid-friendly, high-tech special effects, a prominent role for Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin, and even cameos from Bart and Homer Simpson. (The Simpsons has always had a lot of kids in its fanbase despite being aimed at adults.) Families really didn't expect the video to end with a long, music-free sequence of him dancing, grabbing his crotch, and smashing up a car and storefronts. In fact, director John Landis tried to talk him out of the crotch-grabbing, pointing out that his fanbase was full of kids, but was overruled. In the subsequent public outcry, press speculated that he ended the video this way because there's No Such Thing as Bad Publicity, while Jackson himself claimed he meant no offense at all.
    • After he was accused of child molestation in 1993, his work became Darker and Edgier and was no longer pushed to families, but he still presented himself as a Friend to All Children and his fans and estate push him as that to this day. It's come to the point that the fan-assembled video for the posthumous track "Behind the Mask" included a shot of a pint-sized Jackson fan grabbing his crotch.
  • The French children's song "Alouette", when translated, is about plucking a bird's feathers off. It has been featured on everything from Dora the Explorer to Barney & Friends. One children's show, The Alvin Show, got past the true meaning of the lyrics by singing different English lyrics.

Video Games:

  • 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 having the game creators acknowledge Sonic as mainly a children's franchise was shocking to some of the online fanbase (which tend to skew older). After the release, it's kind of died down.
    • Shadow the Hedgehog was purposefully intended for older fans. It was originally going to have a T rating, but backlash for giving Shadow his own game and intentionally making a Darker and Edgier installment (despite fans requesting that Shadow get his own game since Sonic Adventure 2/Sonic Heroes and requesting for a Darker and Edgier installment for...a while) led to SEGA/Sonic Team censoring it to fit for the E10 rating. Arguably, this shift led to the final product being torn between which group of fans it was trying to appeal to, succeeding at neither.
    • The inclusion of E102 Gamma in Sonic Adventure, Tails' and Eggmans' mech sections in Sonic Adventure 2, and Shadow's weapon of choice in Shadow the Hedgehog were intended to appeal to a segment of Sonic fans who had apparently been demanding gunplay in Sonic titles. While Gamma and the Sonic Adventure 2 mech sections were average at best, the inclusion of guns in Shadow's game lead to the single biggest complaint people have about the title. Make of that what you will.
  • Some attribute the commercial failure of Shantae to this, among other factors. Shantae's cutesy, colorful graphics, goofy humor, being on the kid-friendly Game Boy Color, 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.
  • The first four Ratchet & Clank games are rated T. After the E10+ rating was invented, subsequent games were labeled as such despite increasing rates of violence and innuendo.
    • Hell, even Insomniac states that the games aren't meant for kids. They say their audience is 18-34 year olds.
    • Hello, the main focus of the game is guns, which bullets, and destruction (The seventh game is even named "Tools of Destruction". Really kid-friendly there, Insomniac). The titles of some games are very sexual (Going Commando, Size Matters, Quest for Booty, Up Your Arsenal , Full Frontal Assault), and there are references to blowjobs, sex, boobs are shown.
    • "A Crack in Time" was originally supposed to be called "Clockblockers".
    • "All 4 One" was supposed to be called "4-Play".
      • The trailer for the upcoming movie has acknowledged (more or less) that the franchise is in fact, meant for families.
  • 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.
  • The Pokémon games are considered all-ages rather than strictly for kids, but still have a situation similar to some of the games here. The plots of the games can run rather dark and complicated for games meant to be appropriate for kids, and some hidden mechanics- effort values and individual values, for starters- are rather complex and draw a large Periphery Demographic to the Pokemon competitive scene. Of course, this is rather mitigated by the fact that the player can easily ignore the story and hidden mechanics in favor of making the funny monsters battle each other for the most part.
  • Don't forget about Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team where you have to save the world from an impending comet while fighting against a Gengar that accuses you of being a cruel traitor that was cursed for selling out his own Pokemon. That's upped about 500% in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Time and Darkness. The plot of the game is that you have to change the future because, as it is, it is a world of complete and utter darkness, where the sun never rises and the wind never blows. Besides that, innocent Pokemon get kidnapped, you have extremely freaky visions and, above all else, this whole game is a suicide mission. That's right. You die at the end and you know you're going to die. Chew on that. Finally, in the rerelease of Time and Darkness, they have mini-stories. And each one of those has a bad part, but the worst is probably in the last one, when one of the antagonists plans to suck your soul out of your body (think dementors), possess you, and go to the past in your body to convince people he is you.
    • Let's not forget that in the post-credits story, the Big Bad disguises himself as a good guy, visits you in your dreams, and tells you that the world is going to end, that it's all your fault, and that you and your partner should kill yourselves.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity appears to be Lighter and Softer... until you get betrayed by a fake damsel in distress, learn that the Big Bad is an omnicidal nihilist who has murdered potentially dozens of other humans summoned to stop him, see one of your allies frozen into a block of ice and shattered into pieces and fight a non-Pokemon Eldritch Abomination composed of hopelessness, mistrust and despair. Definitely kid-friendly.
  • 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 by a long line of increasingly violent implements. And in the end Ms. Peaches holds both of you at gunpoint, spouts a bit of profanity, and eventually ends up falling into the now-defunct machine and getting caught in a comically large can as she curses you. And then her machine detects an error in the canning process, draws her back, and brutally dismembers her to fit her into more standardized cans while speaking in edgy salesperson-like voice, even using her name as if it knows for a fact it's killing it's creator. This game was rated 3+ in Europe, but T in North America.
  • Brain Dead 13 is a game where the protagonist gets to die in all sorts of graphically violent ways, which has made it extremely hard to understand why this was given a K-A rating note  then. (Some could argue that "it's because it looks so silly" but many of the deaths were not exactly all that light nevertheless so in other words the fact that this game was given a K-A rating might be considered to be really... baffling to put it mildly.)
    • Then there's the whole issue with Vivi the vampiress and her... titillating appearance, figures and Male Gaze... and one suggestive magazine in the Freeze-Frame Bonus that can be too suggestive for children, yet we may never understand why all of these are totally safe for kids with a K-A rating! Very subtle, ReadySoft.
      • What's even stranger is that Japan's game rating organization (pre-CERO) slapped each box of the game (exported from America) with an "all ages" (全年齢, zen nenrei) rating on a green sticker, hoping that its audience of children would be less sensitive to mind-numbing bloodless violence and sexuality than America's children (due to cultural differences). The proof is in the pudding here.
    • The iOS port thankfully averts this by ramping up the rating to a 12+, which could be an equivalent of either a "Teen" or an "Everyone 10+" rating.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has a dungeon and a sub-dungeon that include zombies, mummies, hands sticking up out of acid, walls made of skulls, really long arms that grab you, frightening music, and a creepy miniboss.
    • Castle Town while Link is an adult is a ghost town infested with zombies.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is arguably the darkest game in the Zelda series, with its themes of death, apocalypse, and corruption. Yet it was rated E for Everyone.
    • The game's U.S. commercial features millions of people all over the world watching (on jumbotrons) one person play Majora's Mask while the moon slowly descends upon the Earth. At the very end of the commercial, the announcer states that the game is "E for Everyone" in an incredibly dark voice.
  • Similar to the Brain Dead 13 example, Super Metroid had Crocomire's horrific death, and it got a K-A rating. Then when it came to Virtual Console in 2007, it still kept its Everyone rating.
    • On the subject of Metroid, Metroid: Fusion is full of this trope. You begin with the story being that Samus was nearly killed by a parasite called the X, and you're dropped right into the BSL Research Station, which is, as far as you know, completely devoid of human life thanks to the X. But we're just getting started here. Early on you have to navigate a series of eerie unlit corridors because there's been an explosion in the quarantine room. Turns out it's just a Hornoad-X, but if you explore a bit you find a room completely frozen. If you decide to continue further inside, despite the damage you take from the cold (you've been injected with Metroid DNA) you see Ridley (Who was supposed to be dead) frozen in a block of ice. Play farther into the game, go down the Main Elevator, and what appears to be Samus bursts into the shaft. Then it startlingly zooms right in on 'her' face, revealing that it's some kind of mimic. You later find out that this mysterious entity is called the SA-X, and that it's tracking you. You also can't even hope to kill it yet. You are told to run if you encounter it. Have fun! Oh, and it DOES catch up with you. As if all that wasn't enough, there's a boss called the Nightmare. It's been flying through the background of the damaged area of the ARC Sector, startling you the first few times it happens. Then you fight it. It has a creepy mask, and when you damage it enough the mask breaks, revealing its disgusting alien face that, as you damage it further, begins DRIPPING. Rated E, for everyone!
  • Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc has all sorts of sexual innuendos, Globox getting drunk, and the swamp hag using the word "pervert".
    • Rayman Origins is also well known for making the fairy girls (all of them) absolutely blatant sex-objects, complete with Hartman Hips, Jiggle Physics, Suave voices (albeit in pig-latin), porno-like music when you save them and the trailer shows Rayman using his hair to blow Betilla's skirt up...also, Betilla created him, so that technically makes him his MOM. Just to top it off, the manual describes Betilla as a badASS.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door had some very questionable dialogue, a female ghost who is completely naked (granted, she has no nipples or vagina, but still), Princess Peach as an Invisible Streaker, demonic possession, and Hooktail chewing up Toads while they are still alive. The rating? E.
  • Baitianinfo is a locally popular Chinese browser game developer with games having familiar gamplay. But what went wrong? There is a cutscene in one of their games in which a character is thrown off a building with small amounts of blood gushed from him. Although predominantly Chinese, the same game has a cutscene with "WTF" in one of the NPC dialogue during a quest. And their games often has Satanic symbols around used as a generic magic symbol. The targeted age audience? 7-14.
  • Ni No Kuni is in a similar boat to Wind Waker in that it uses colourful anime-style graphics (specifically, it was animated by Studio Ghibli) despite it dealing with some surprisingly dark themes. The main character (who's only 13 by the way) watches his mother die of a heart attack only a few minutes into the game, and the eponymous 'other world' is very clearly a Crap Saccharine World with everyone living in fear of an Evil Sorceror who can effortlessly Mind Rape anyone who even thinks about standing up to him. Then there's Myrtle's story in the real world, which gives a surprisingly realistic view of how domestic troubles can traumatize kids psychologically. Oh, and Drippy pretty much drops G-rated equivalents of Cluster F-Bomb all over the place.
  • Dawn Of The Dragons is a Flash browser game that's marketed to children on kid-friendly sites like Kongregate with the promise of high fantasy and relatively simplistic gameplay. The premise is simple enough - a farmhand rises to become a champion. How that champion gets there, though, is brutal and unapologetic:
    • Text and images show enemies being dispatched in a number of gruesome ways (having their throats slit, being impaled by multiple swords, being decapitated, main characters being covered in gore and viscera). Several of these deaths are described with paragraphs going into detail about the minutiae involved, and how the main characters stand back to watch someone they've just sliced open bleed to death.
    • In "Peril of the Pumpkin Patch", two children are spied on and chased by creature with a flaming jack-o'-lantern for a head. His victim, the girl, has her head mounted on a pike (that is also seen in one of the chapter images), which is subsequently used to terrorize the residents of a local town.

Western Animation:

    open/close all folders 

    Cartoon Network 
  • "The Looney Tunes Show": In the episode, "The Shell Game", Cecil Turtle scams Bugs and Porky into giving him money in exchange for cracking his shell. When Bugs and Porky find out he was wearing a fake cracked shell, they decide to report it to the police. Then Cecil holds up a gun, a real gun with actual bullets in them. If it weren't for Bugs noticing he bought Daffy's broken recliner, the two would've been dead.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, which is pretty much Scooby Doo if it wasn't so campy and 1960s. Despite being rated TV-Y7-FV, the show includes moments of death, extrme violence, Black Comedy and the season one Big Bad being revealed to have kidnapped Fred from his birth parents and threatening to harm him if they ever came back for him; to make things crazier, the Bigger Bad is an Eldritch Abomination that the gang had to kill in order to save the Universe. Not to mention an abnormally high amount of Stuff Blowing Up very realistically, up to the point where near the end of the series, roughly half of Crystal Cove is gone!
  • Adventure Time: Where to begin? First off, there's this incredibly dark backstory that would be consider dark even for an adult show. Early seasons definitely got a lot of crap past the radar, but then came Season 3, in which the show took a turn for the darker. Sure, it appears kid friendly on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you get a post apocalyptic land created by a bomb that fell on our Earth, created an Omnicidal Maniac that murdered billions, tore a chunk out of the Earth, and that's not getting started on Simon Petrikov and his disturbing past. Let's not forget how morally ambiguous the characters are, with Jerkass moments for most of the main cast, and whatever is going on with Peppermint Butler.
  • Even better is Regular Show. More sex jokes, frequent lethal use of weapons and mild profanities ("crap", "sucks", even "pissed") then you can shake a yardstick at. Justified, as Regular Show is based on two short films J.G. Quintel made in animation school called "2 in the AM-PM" and "The Naive Man from Lolliland." While "The Naive Man from Lolliland" is safe for family viewing (the one use of the word "hell" wouldn't phase most viewers), "2 in the AM-PM" isn't — at least by Cartoon Network's already selective standards.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & 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 look like a bowdlerized Grimm's fairy tale, and animation that makes Ren and Stimpy's look sane, on-model, and beautifully animated (as in "Disney during the 1950s" or "Disney when it got good again in the late 1980s thanks to The Little Mermaid" beautifully animated).
  • Time Squad: Here's an apt description of the show: on the outside, it was a funny, unassuming edutainment cartoon (that was more entertainment than education) about an orphaned history whiz taken in by a Time Cop and his Robot Buddy to the future where, each episode, they go back in time to fix history. On the inside, it had more Ho Yay than the original Star Trek, got away with more adult jokes than Rocko's Modern Life, played up the Hilariously Abusive Childhood trope for laughs more than The Simpsons and South Park combined, and seemed to indulge in more homoerotic subtext than anything Oscar Wilde has written. Is it any wonder that Cartoon Network aired it at five in the morning during its final years?
  • Robotomy: Excessive violence, a lot of Comedic Sociopathy, some sexual innuendo, some mild swearing (mostly words like "crap," "sucks" or "screwed"). Justified, as one of the show creators worked on Superjail and it has the look and feel of a Superjail spin-off or companion show.
  • 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 District 9, among others) often mashed up with movies and TV shows that would be considered "children's entertainment"note  (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, MADtv, which wasn't a kids' show to begin with, but had plenty of Subverted Kids Shows during its 14-year run).
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog is packed to the gills with scary scenes, like the screamer girl from "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City" and the blue...something from "Perfect". It ran for four years and got canceled for being too scary, which isn't too surprising. What is surprising is that it took four years for Cartoon Network to realize this. Nightmare Ned also got canceled for being too scary for kids, yet that got yanked after half a season. What exactly is the difference between this and Courage? Parental complaints, or is this yet another example of Cartoon Network's censors being dense?
  • Johnny Bravo is about an Elvis Presley-sounding Casanova Wannabe trying to score with women. Seth MacFarlane (the crown prince of black, cringe comedy) worked on this show before Family Guy, American Dad!, Ted, and The Cleveland Show, so this should surprise no one.
  • Teen Titans was pretty kid-friendly overall, but it did have moments of this at times with storylines involving the end of the world, Blackmail when Slade threatens to kill the Teen Titans unless Robin becomes his apprentice, and a few instances of Mind Rape. Not to mention Raven's demonic heritage would make some religious parents and viewers scared.
  • Young Justice: 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....
    • "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.
    • The season finale revealed that the Speedy shown in the series was actually a clone of the original, who had been abducted by the Light shortly after his debut. A mind-controlled Batman informs the teenage protagonists in no uncertain terms that one of their peers was probably murdered three years before at the age of fifteen. The Stinger then reveals that, while Speedy is alive, he's been frozen in a Cadmus pod for the last three years and he's missing an arm.
    • Season 2 raises the stakes even more. We're explicitly told that Aquagirl, Ted Kord and Marie Logan were all killed during the five year gap. Especially shocking since Aquagirl was a minor, at least when we were first introduced to her.
    • "Alienated" ends with the explicit deaths of a number of Kroloteans, who are killed in a massive explosion. A later episode explicitly shows that Aqualad blames himself for the incident, as he was faced with the Sadistic Choice of saving either his friends or the Kroloteans.
  • "Depths" sees Aqualad impaling Artemis through the stomach with his sword, complete with blood around the wound, though this however is later revealed to be an elaborate fake-out. Another episode also reveals that Red Arrow and Cheshire had a kid together at some point during the Time Skip.
  • The subplot in "Beneath" heavily implies that the mother of one of Jaime Reyes' friends is being physically abused by her boyfriend. The same episode also reveals that Queen Bee is essentially running a child-trafficking ring, where innocent teenagers are kidnapped and sold to aliens who use them for experimentation.
    • One of the protagonists of Young Justice favorite tactic is Mind Rape. And it is played out for maximum shock value.
  • The Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode starring the Doom Patrol Kills them all.
  • 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.

    Nickelodeon 
  • 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.
      • They're not the only ones who get killed- just the only ones who's bodies we see. Numerous mooks as well as Hahn, Combustion Man, and Zhao all clearly die, but we don't get to see their remains because they were either blown up, drowned, fell off a cliff, or crushed.
    • The show is about a 100-year war with the Big Bad being an Evil Overlord and one of the best examples of an abusive parent in animation.
    • The season finale is about preventing said 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.
    • There's also an allusion to Prison Rape in the episode The Boiling Rock.
  • 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 presumably 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, McCarthyism, 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.
    • The whole show could be considered a walking What Do You Mean It's For Kids, with scenes like Amon taking away Lin's bending (which is staged like an execution), the Asami/Mako/Korra love triangle, and overall dark and political storyline.
    • And the season finale served only to blow all these examples out the water in showing Tarrlok electrocuting the gas tank in his boat, killing himself and his brother Amon in a Murder-Suicide while Amon was happily telling him that they were going to start a new life in peace. And unlike the above examples which were only hinted at heavily in subtext, this was explicitly shown.
      • The season finale, though not explicitly showing it, makes Korra look like she is contemplating suicide. Wrap your head around that.
    • The finale included Animal abuse, child abuse, and several implied deaths (and two outright shown deaths). It's a wonder how this show is rated Y7-FV, when it should be PG-V.
    • Tahno's "private lessons", anyone?
  • As far as Nicktoons go, Invader Zim and Danny Phantom shared a common fate: They were both marketed toward boys 7 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 ''Invader Zim'' was cancelled for being "too scary" for kids.
    • The irony is that SpongeBob SquarePants, with episodes like "Ghost Host", is itself What Do You Mean, It's for Kids? material.
      • Not to mention that "Karate Island" basically has SpongeBob and friends being tricked into buying timeshares, complete with Bruce Lee references.
      • ...Including a French character called The Tickler. Yes, a condom reference.
    • Back to the top, note that Danny Phantom did have darker concepts to it but was comparable to (or, in some cases, lighter than) Marvel and DC programs from that time. Invader Zim was more grotesque than likely any of Nick's other works, featured things like children summoning demons and a disturbing amount of body horror, and was created by a man who wrote a comic series about a homicidal maniac.
  • 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).
  • Parodied at the end of the very first Treehouse of Horror episode. Homer thinks he cannot sleep because the stories told on the show were scary, but Marge says that they are just "kids stories", when clearly, some of them weren't intended for kids in real life.

    Teletoon 
  • 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.
  • 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.)

    Warner Bros. Theatrical 
  • 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 films.
    • Counterpoint: The Looney Tunes cartoons weren't created for children back when they were theatrical cartoons. Yes, the writers had to watch for content due to The Hays Code, but that was mostly because people back then saw Hollywood as a corrupt cesspool (which, to some extent, still is) and feared the movies they created would influence people. Regardless, the Looney Tunes shorts were pretty much for all ages when they were in the theaters. Then television and syndicated packages came along, and the shorts were marketed as children's entertainment (by selling the characters as toys, by editing and banning the cartoons for content, and, worse of all, by making kiddie remakes of the characters for TV, as seen with Space Jam, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Baby Looney Tunes, Loonatics Unleashed, and, to a lesser extent, The Looney Tunes Shownote ). It's only when you've been exposed to the kiddie, over-marketed version of Looney Tunes, then exposed to the uncut, uncensored version of them from their theatrical days that you seriously begin to question whether or not the cartoons are appropriate for kids, but for people who grew up with the unedited versions, this thought never crosses their minds.

    First-Run Syndication 

replies: 239

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy