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Animation Age Ghetto
Juuust in case the protagonist stuffing his hand down his girlfriend's shirt didn't tip you off...

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

Animation has the reputation of being a frivolous medium suitable primarily for the children's age ghetto.

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

These days, the ghetto appears to have lost some strength. Any cartoon not on a broadcast network can defy the ghetto as much as their mission statements allow. The concept of the Parental Bonus also made a comeback; after enough PSAs on parents needing to know what their kids are watching, the networks finally figured out parents can be a demographic. The successes of shows such as South Park, Family Guy, and The Simpsons proved animated shows for adults can be profitable to the point where such shows exist within their own genre, fill entire viewing blocs (such as Cartoon Network's late-night [adult swim] and FOX's prime-time Animation Domination Sunday), and build entire careers.

These shows' tendencies to take Refuge in Audacity and Vulgar Humor, however, can make people think animation remains "immature" — even if it's not for kids — which doesn't help matters when it comes to breaking animation out of the Age Ghetto.

To a lesser extent, the same goes with animated feature films. Yes, there are pure kiddieville films made, but if you want to make the big money in that field, you have to appeal to adults at some level.

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


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • The cartoon advertising mascot Joe Camel was the subject of heavy controversy throughout his ten-year existence, because various anti-smoking activists believed that the campaign was targeting children. The campaign was only intended for adults, but there was genuine evidence that more children were aware of the Camel brand because of the ads; in any case, Camel bowed to the controversy and retired Joe in 1997.
  • Anthony Hopkins narrated an animated awareness film for charity, showing exactly what happens during the annual pilot whale hunt in the Faroe Islands. Despite the extremely disturbing visuals of screaming whales being harpooned, eaten, and the leftovers dumped on the beach to rot, the film received a U rating in Britain (equivalent to a G in the United States) simply because it was a cartoon.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Foreword: The case for Anime and Manga when dealing with the Animation Age Ghetto (without trying to deal with All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles) is as laughable as it is sad considering that so much anime that the West knows (shonen, almost completely)- while considered safe for kids or teens in Japan - could end up with R ratings in other countries, and yet countries such as Mexico, who are still deep inside the Age Ghetto, refuse to see it any other way than 'if it's drawn, it's for kids, even if there are exposed penises, exposed breasts, on-screen decapitations, and cluster F-bombs.' Anime is what students of the Age Ghetto (for and against) use to prove that there is, in fact, an Age Ghetto. Some of the outright funny/ridiculous/laziest examples occur when studios try dubbing out suggestive or offensive dialogue, but the show itself still features massive levels of sexual themes or gore — a character tries playing it off with 'cute' or 'cheesy' dialogue that suggests that the sword clearly impaling her and pushing her heart out through her chest is actually nothing more than a trick and she actually caught the sword under her arm.
    • Anime remains a hot button issue in the debate over the Age Ghetto thanks to the fact that Anime was never in the Ghetto to begin with, and that it only enters the Ghetto when dubbed to other languages. Also, many Western fans who use anime content as proof that it's not for kids, when in Japan it clearly was meant for kids. In general, Anime and Manga are oft set with kids media for the sole fact that they are animated, and this issue is only raised upon attempt to watch said anime or read said manga in front of parents, who think their kid is actually about to get a happy tale of talking animals and corny super heroes singing along to defeat obviously bad guys...
    • By the way, what most in the west don't know is that there is more than just shonen, but in terms of shipping it to the West, at least on major broadcasting, the ghetto prevents anyone from learning about this because executives/moral guardians are going to make it shonen. Any anime that isn't acceptable for kids and not set on a network that plays such stuff uncensored- or is acceptable for kids to an extent and has to be excessively censored- will suffer this. However, that particular aspect is not Age Ghetto- it begins with Bowdlerisation and continues from there.
    • The Animation Age Ghetto is however not that strong in Japan due to the fact that there was already a sort of Age Ghetto before it. In Japan there was already a strong difference between novels intended for kids, who were written in hiragana and novels intended for adults which were written in more adult languages such as kanji. One of the main reasons why Japanese consider hiragana to be for kids is because it's easier to read.
  • The Nielsen ratings for [adult swim] are often considered to be an example of this. While this trope is subverted for their comedy titles, it is sadly played straight for most of their Anime titles.
  • In-universe example in Narue No Sekai, Kazuto's mother complains to him when he shows his girlfriend a magical girl anime series because, according to her, "cartoons are for kids". If you've seen the sort of Seinen magical series that the show is mocking, you'd disagree.
  • Space Adventure Cobra: In Puerto Rico, a Sunday Morning Kid's show aired four episodes of the Anime series, even though it features skimpy outfits, suggestive scenes and dialogue and people getting holes punched through them by Psychogun blasts. In every episode. Note: This isn't Values Dissonance; it was yanked off the air a month later without any public explanation once they realized what they'd done.
  • France used to have no problem with broadcasting shows like Fist of the North Star or Space Adventure Cobra in a time slot intended for kids; Dragon Ball Z used to in the 8 am or 10 am slot on TF1 back in the 1990s. This show sometimes has someone dying, bleeding to death, dismembered, etc., every other episode. This led to rather awkward dubbing from the voice actors, who had a hard time making the constant violence appear light-hearted, and to some protestations by parental associations. With the recent rehabilitation of animated media (greatly due to an exponentially increasing fandom of anime), much work has been put in making over the dubbing; anime is now viewed as a full-blown genre with its own specifications. Yet, censorship dies hard; Bowdlerisation still happens when the show's intended audience is too wide.

    France is actually an interesting example of too much acceptance; the quality of localization went from mediocre in the '80s, to decent in the 90's, to downright good in the late 90's and early 2000s; by the late noughties, however, the sheer amount of imported material, and more importantly money to make off of it, led to droves of rushed cash-in dubs bringing the average quality right back to mediocre.
    • In Naruto's case, the trope is played with. In France, they have no fewer than three French dubs, all from the same company: an uncensored one for adults based on the Japanese version, a mildly censored one for teenagers, and a heavily censored one for small kids based on the English dub. One can't help but wonder which dub they intended to aim at the Periphery Demographic, not to mention what said demographic consists of.
    • A French channel got into massive trouble when they aired Oniisama e... in the kids time slot. The show was cancelled after only 5 episodes. Was it maybe the lesbian subtext, the drug abuse or the suicide themes?
  • In the UK, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (dubbed and titled G-Force: Guardians of Space) was a Saturday Morning Cartoon complete with assassination, monsters that only ate women, and some fairly spectacular violence. They also aired, not just Evangelion, but the Shinji and Kaworu Bath Scene, at 10 am.
  • Speaking of Evangelion, Peruvian TV station America Latina aired it back-to-back with Pokémon during the children's hour. It barely managed to make it to episode five before being swiped off the air.
  • Petit Eva: Evangelion@School. With the madcap antics of the video, the source material must be for kids, right?
  • Pokémon itself falls squarely into this trope, which is a frequent point of criticism for older audiences (including fans of the Pokémon games and other media). In fact, various artists hired for the more recent movies have explicitly stated their intention to perform for the children in the audience and essentially mentioned how very young children would enjoy the movies, with no mention of a Periphery Demographicnote  anywhere.
  • Just read this. Poor old Urotsukidouji. You'd almost think Popcultural Osmosis about its content would have protected it from this kind of bullshit by now.
  • A Portuguese TV channel aimed at kids, SIC K (the K standing for Kids), frequently airs some less child friendly anime alongside the friendlier one the rest. They occasionally switch between Darker Than Black, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, and Death Note, while it airs Dragon Ball consistently, two episodes a day. Slightly mitigated as most Portuguese parents today had grown up with shows like the aforementioned Dragon Ball, and, thus, they aren't as strict about what counts as acceptable.
    • For a better contrast, there's another Portuguese channel of the same type, Panda Biggs, aimed at (obviously) at older kids (10-15). Still, the most they get is Fairy Tail, Pokémon and, Justice League Unlimited which, while not Anime, serves to prove a point here.
  • Those who remember Canadian 9/11 conspiracy theorist Toobis may remember his rant on anime and its follow-up:
    Teenagers are watching cartoons instead of reading or going to the theatre. There is nothing intellectual about anime, and there's a reason universities have classes on Shakespeare and not on Japanese Por- err Anime.

    I'm not saying that people can't enjoy different forms of art.
    (Yet the rest of the article says otherwise.)
  • For some time after the conclusion of Evangelion, when he was trying to make it as a director of "serious" films, Hideaki Anno lamented the death of the age ghetto in Japan in several interviews & cited the abundance of adult anime fans as proof of Japanese culture's degeneracy. He seems to have changed his tune somewhat in recent years, as he has gone back to working on anime.
  • The Irish DVD rental chain Xtravision charges €4 for a regular movie, but just 50 cents for kids' movies — which include all anime.
  • A website called Acts of Gord has one section where this happens. Two children try to rent an anime named Ninja Scroll that, due to its nature, is not a "family film". So thus he has to allow the kids' dad to come in to rent the film and he complains about having to come in "Just so they could rent a cartoon". When they go home and actually watch a little of the movie, the father quickly comes back to castigate Gord for letting his kids rent "pornography".
  • This trope is why all manga published in Italy includes the disclaimer "The characters depicted in this publication are all of age, and besides, they don't really exist, they're simply drawings" — because someone protested about people getting hurt or killed and sexual content in a "children's book".
  • The Animation Age Ghetto in Mexico is so strong that if it's animated, then it's automatically for kids even if it's the first chapter of Elfen Lied! Maybe that was why several shows like Ranma ˝, squarely and completely for teenagers, were aired on the kids' TV slot during The Nineties.
  • Colombia suffers from this too. In Caracol TV aired Fullmetal Alchemist at the kid's schedule weekends 10:00 A.M or sorts. It roughly went to episode 5, even edited, until the network realized of what they got to. Then they moved it to the comfortable, 5:00 A.M in weekends... still edited. The same goes to Evangelion.
  • Parts of the United States still waver back and forth over this. In recent years, American bookstore chains started attaching slim sign disclaimers onto the Manga shelves with messages like "Some of these publications are not suitable for children", warding off any Moral Guardians that may complain about Yaoi Genre comics in the "kid's section". Barnes and Noble outlets have moved the manga and comic book sections farther and farther away from the shelves of children's books over the years. To put this into perspective, ten years ago, the Sailor Moon manga was shelved with children's novels like The Magic Treehouse series. The manga may have had poor translation, but wasn't covering up Haruka and Michiru's homosexuality and censoring some of the violence the way the anime dub did...

    However, several American libraries merely assume that, unless it's something like Watchmen, all manga and comics in general are for kids and kids ONLY. It's not uncommon to see a kid friendly comic being placed right next to Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai. Most manga (at least published stuff) has a label on it saying whether it was kid friendly or NOT - 'course librarians here tend to not notice. Then again, miscategorization of stuff happens quite a bit in libraries - Stephen King and The Wheel of Time books are placed in the Juvenile fiction section with the labels SAYING "Juvenile fiction" on them, as well as Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys books placed in adults section, when clearly, you can get away with having those in the juvenile section.)
    • Related; there also exists a "book ghetto", in that people assume that if something is placed in the children's section, no one other than children would find any appeal in it. Harry Potter suffered this trope when some countries produced alternative covers that looked gritty, or people who removed the jackets of the art so they wouldn't be found to be reading -gasp- a children's book. Not to mention, you'd be surprised how many things happen in kids' books that get past the radar. R.L. Stine had some very Family Unfriendly Aesops in his books, some of his more teen-oriented books end up nearby stuff meant for ten-year-olds getting the hang of novels, Christopher Pike has been mistakenly put into the children's section, and there are some rather disturbing deaths in most Choose Your Own Adventure books. Tintin often finds itself in the children's section, though granted, it's rather "G"-"PG" rated, but most kids wouldn't really understand what Hergé was satirizing.
      • This is part of a wider problem with the way your local public library catalogs books. A lot of it is dependent on which budget was used to buy it, but there's also a lot of libraries that just duplicate the cataloging of another nearby library to save time/money. So one system messes up, so do the others. Cataloging books is harder than you'd expect. Libraries have small staffs and large collections. Catalogers can't read everything that comes in. So... yeah.
      • It should be noted that this doesn't apply to every library, and that it is changing- some libraries are starting to sort graphic novels and manga into their own section, and a rare few are sorting manga and comics into age-appropriate groupings.
  • Subverted and somewhat played straight in the Philippines. Until the 1960s-70s, perceptions on animation more or less followed American ones. The first influx of anime (eg. Voltes V, Mazinger Z, Daimos) in the country, however, helped weaken the Ghetto; Voltes V, in particular became a nigh revolutionary totem for Filipinos against the Marcos regime. Yet to this day, despite a solid otaku and comics community, the Ghetto stubbornly refuses to fade outright into irrelevance. Case in point: there remain Catholic Moral Guardians who still hammer down either the "Family-friendly ONLY" or "Think of the Children" rhetoric, in addition to equating hentai with child sexual abuse.
    • What makes the case of the Philippines more peculiar is the context behind the growing acceptance of anime and manga: by the 1960s and '70s, Filipinos' resentment towards Japan gradually began to fade away as younger generations became more willing to forgive their former invaders. In addition, they provided an alternative to the predominance of Western shows as well as reflecting elements of Japanese culture that are similar to their own.
  • The Animation Age Ghetto is surprisingly strong in Japan's next door neighbor South Korea. A horrifying example of this was that a Korean dub of Hellsing Ultimate was being sold in a Seoul bookstore... in the same section and shelf as Pororo the Little Penguin and Doraemon. Apparently, store owners just don't care if an oblivious Korean family confuses a mature anime for a children's cartoon...
    • And that's not even getting to the treatment of Axis Powers Hetalia, which was seen by some Moral Guardians as a nationalist propaganda piece. This was also partly the reason why the anime abandoned its original TV broadcast plans for web-streaming.
  • In Germany most anime is broadcast between 10am and 3pm. This includes Rose of Versailles, with its remarkably faithful translation. One of the rare occasions you can see cartoon young girls offering to sell their bodies, other women claiming to be the lesbian sex slave of the queen of France and kids getting shot while eating your lunch. Oh yeah, and for a short time they broadcasted the rewritten Crayon Shin-chan at 10am. Kids probably rejoiced when Mitsy hysterically searched the whole house for her dildo.
  • A good number of anime fans believe that 4Kids Entertainment are firm believers of this due to their infamous Bowdlerisation and censorship. Of course, the company’s name kinda says it all. Then again, Japan does have a different perception of the animation medium, as mentioned in the details above.
  • This is probably the reason Chirin No Suzu is rather unknown in the West. It looks like a sweet cute movie about a baby lamb however it's essentially a Japanese Watership Down. It doesn't help it was made in The Seventies.
  • Sonic X, while never intended for adults, DID have a lot more adult moments in its Japanese animé form. But when the aforementioned 4Kids Entertainment got their grubby, kid-friendly hands on it, real guns became lasers, and profanities (like 'Damn' and 'shit') were toned down even further in the American dub. Furthermore, dialogue which was Getting Crap Past the Radar in Japanese was often edited to be funny about something that wasn't sex, or just cut entirely. As well as this, Rouge the Bat had many cuts directly to her cleavage cut out. You can see a side-by-side comparison of other changes in this video.
  • One of these VHS tapes in this tumblr photo is not like the others. Can you guess which one?
  • On Amazon.com, if you do a search for "manga" and look specifically under "Children's Books", you'll find the following manga: Neon Genesis Evangelion, Claymore, Ouran High School Host Club, Vampire Hunter D, Rurouni Kenshin, Rosario + Vampire, Death Note, Trinity Blood, Full Metal Panic!, Ranma ˝, Pet Shop of Horrors, D.Gray-Man, Nana, InuYasha, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Mirai Nikki, Monster, Bastard (obviously from the title, not for kids), Karin, Hana Yori Dango, Hunter × Hunter, Great Teacher Onizuka, Those Who Hunt Elves, King Of Hell (again, read the title at least!), Video Girl Ai and several unknown yaoi titles. Yikes. You'd think one of the biggest online retailers would be better then this...
  • This mentality is part of the reason behind the stillbirth of the Hungarian anime market. When the first commercial TV stations started showing anime at the end of the '90s, they all aired as a part of an afternoon children's block. Dragon Ball Z then, despite being tame compared to some of the series described above and having been dubbed from the heavily edited French version, shocked parents with its violence, and it had to be pulled when the ORTT (Hungarian FCC) deemed it too violent for children. It was to be re-rated as 18+ and pushed to a midnight timeslot, but since no one would watched it then, the TV station simply canceled it. Its case was reevaluated in '02 and was given a 16+ rating, but the channel decided against continuing it because they wanted to aim all animated productions at children, reinforcing the "cartoons are for kids" notion. It took a decade for DBZ to get back on screens, this time in a teen and adult animation block on a UK-based channel that's more lenient with certifications.

    While anime was gaining a foothold in many other European areas, the canning of all anime series in the naughties has lead to the anime market becoming a strictly underground business in Hungary. The middle of the 2000s had another small anime-boom, but with similar results. InuYasha took DBZ's place as ORTT's whipping-boy, because it was again advertised as a kids' show (by the same channel that got into trouble with DBZ, even) and aired in an early-morning timeslot. Following its cancellation and the subsequent Network Decay of Animax, TV channels as a whole (apart from the above mentioned one) gave up on importing anime because they had no one to market them towards. "Anime" came to mean "kids shows not suitable for kids" to the general audience, and the occasional reruns of DBZ and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX are the sole reminders of a market that got stifled by the combined might of this trope, Moral Guardians and the Media Watchdogs before it could have even gotten off the ground.
  • Naruto, save for some minor edits, didn't suffer this problem when it originally aired on Cartoon Network. Years down the road, Disney XD decided to buy the broadcasting rights to the considerably more violent Sequel Series Shippuden. While Cartoon Network, especially in recent years, have no problem embracing their Periphery Demographic, Disney did not seem prepared for how violent the series would eventually get. It's disappeared from Disney XD's lineup and has since returned to Toonami with minimal edits.
  • Amazon very briefly carried titles from the company Project-H on Amazon Kindle, where any child could see the sexually explicit covers, listed as normal graphic novels right next to the Superman/Batman/Fairy Tail graphic novels. Understandably, they have all been removed from Kindle purchase (as well as a couple of boys love titles), though Skinemax-esque titles like Aoi House and Vampire Cheerleaders are still available.
  • This trope is actually responsible for the popularity of anime in the West. Most Western animation companies produce TV shows and movies aimed at kids. Despite Pixar's Multiple Demographic Appeal, their movies are still aimed primarily at children and families. The "adult" shows tend to be rather juvenile as well. People who are into animation and want animated shows with the depth and seriousness of quality live action series and movies often have no other choice but to watch anime, particulary Seinen anime.
  • This concept actually reached an all-new level in 2013 - Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion was submitted for the Oscars. Despite being objectively more 'artistic' (so to speak) than many feature films that have won Oscars in the past (containing reference to several pieces of classical literature, requiring competence in about 3 languages and a fictional, runic script just to understand the base content, being packed to the brim with symbolism, exploring some incredibly deep themes such as the nature of truth, memory, love,death and perhaps most poignantly sacrifice and containing elements of metaficition, which is really yet to reach films in any big way i.e. one could say (somewhat inaccurately) this film breaks new ground on the entire multinational film-making industry), according to the rumour mill, the judges did not even watch the film;one assumes because they they believed it childish or silly because it lied outside the traditional realm of the Oscars. Anyone who has watched the movie will tell you how incorrect that view is.

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

    Comics 
  • In an extreme example, there have been cases as recently as 2000 where comic book specialty stores which had separate adult sections have been convicted for corrupting minors, even though children weren't allowed into those areas of the store. The basis of the case is that if it is cartoon art, then it must be for children. Oh, and by "convicted," we don't just mean "forced to pay a fine and stop doing it." Some of the defendants in "obscene comic book" cases have been forced to (1) undergo psychological counseling, (2) undergo "journalistic ethics" courses, (3) avoid contact with minors, and/or (4) be subject to unannounced raids of their houses to check to see if they're in possession of or in the process of creating "obscenity". First Amendment rights, anyone? Maybe it's time for you to go donate to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
  • A married couple made headlines after complaining about a couple of Batman comics one of their children had purchased. The two claimed that they were shocked to find blood and partial nudity in a medium aimed at children, even though that specific series was not marketed at kids.
  • This trope is the major reason Alias was cancelled, according to Brian Michael Bendis. In the wake of the big superhero movie boom, Marvel had grown nervous about kid-friendly characters like Wolverine and Spider-Man showing up in a book with drug abuse, sex crimes, graphic violence, and lots of F-bombs.
  • One of the reasons the Batwoman and The Question features in Detective Comics drew so much controversy was because some conservatives accused DC Comics of pushing a "homosexual agenda" on young kids. Never mind that Detective Comics is usually quite violent and like most Batman books, is generally not aimed at young children. And of course given recent strides in gay rights in the U.S., the idea of a lesbian superhero being "taboo" for children is itself a massive Base Breaker.
  • Newspaper Comics (and Web Comics) tend to subvert this. No one will ever look at you funny for saying that you read the comics section regularly. Despite this Newspaper Comics still have to be safe for children to read since the comics section is the first part that they get to read. On the other hand try telling someone you watch an Animated Adaptation of a Newspaper Comic.
    • The newspaper comic that most commonly runs into problems relating to this is Doonesbury. When it runs arcs dealing with highly controversial or non-kid-friendly topics, some papers will replace that arc with reruns or move the strip to the editorial page.
    • Although Webcomics usually subvert this trope, a lot of Web Comics readers who have children will show their children some of the Webcomics that they read even if the original creators didn't intend for them to be read by children. Though at least the parents know exactly what's in the Webcomics that they're showing to their children.
  • Partial example: Apparently some libraries put When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs in the children's section. It's a graphic novel in the same style as his books for children, but... it ends with the main characters dying horribly of radiation sickness. Although some libraries are aware of this trope and puts a big warning sticker for adults only.
  • In an unusual case of this, Robert Crumb, practically the patron saint of adult-oriented underground cartooning (and oh lawdy not at all for kids!), is somewhat cynical about the wave of "artistic" comic books and (I'm paraphrasing here) thinks comics should stick to their more proletarian roots.
  • Libraries that follow the Dewey Decimal System put all comics and graphic novels in the nonfiction section as books about art. Most libraries instead put them, along with manga, in a single subsection of fiction. This section is almost always inside the children's area, and no exceptions are made even for works that are specifically marked "for adults only" (e.g. Ghost in the Shell, which has a black banner to that effect on the cover of the American omnibus edition.) This is gradually being altered in some places. The San Francisco main library has three separate manga sections: children, adult, and teen.
    • The Flagstaff, Arizona public library has Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth—which features (admittedly offstage) rape, dismemberment, and cannibalism—in the YA comics section.
    • The London, Ontario Public Library Central Branch has similarly three age sections, but they are each placed in three locations with the children's graphic novels in the Children's library area, the teen ones in the Teen Annex on the first floor while the Adult books are placed on the third floor as part of the adult fiction collection.
  • A certain manga scanlation site used to have the following specifically-bolded intro: "In Japan people of all ages read manga, manga does not target younger audiences like American comics." The part isn't bolded now, but the wording of the intro hasn't been changed.
  • During the 1950's, the comic book industry was nearly destroyed. Why? A psychiatrist named Fredric Wertham (not entirely a bad guy, mind you, as he spoke out a lot against school segregation) noticed that a lot of the troubled boys he worked with described "reading comic books" as their favorite activity. Failing to take into account that pretty much every young boy at the time read comic books (not to mention failing to ask what kind of comics they read because comics, like regular books, have many different genres and sub-genres), he assumed that the comic books must've been the reason for their bad behavior. He published a book titled "The Seduction of the Innocent" and launched a crusade against comic books. There was even a Senate Hearing about it. Because of all the bad press, the comic book industry had to adopt The Comics Code. Few stores would even sell comics that didn't have the seal. To get the seal, the comic had to adhere to a lot of rules, many similar to The Hays Code for movies. The rules were so strict on the basis that comic books were only for children, and the rules made it so that comics had to be pretty kid-friendly to get the seal, and as a result, the publishing of "adult" comics either stopped or went underground because of the Code. The Code is now defunct, as just about every comic book company has stopped adhering to it. To his credit, Dr. Wertham didn't actually want the Comics Code Authority to be created—he just wanted comics to have some sort of rating system.
  • To mention in more detail, Tintin. This is actually a rather interesting example of the trope being zig-zagged. While you normally can find it around the same section as comic books, graphic novels, and manga, before it was put in the kids' sections somewhat frequently. The interesting part is that you actually can get away with putting Tintin books in the kids' section because at worst, the books would probably only get a "PG" rating. However, at the same time, kids wouldn't quite get all the political satire evident, later on (mis)interpreting it as a Parental Bonus.
    • However, libraries never stocked Tintin in the Congo or Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, mostly due to the Unfortunate Implications oozing out of every page. That, and Herge himself admitted he wasn't proud of them, and a lot of Tintin fans don't think they were that good either, so arguably you're not missing much.
    • The TV series was usually run at a timeslot that was appropriate for Nick Jr. However, as mentioned, they did not try to Avoid the Dreaded G Rating, instead embracing it. How many cartoons would teach the kids about drug smuggling?
  • Omaha the Cat Dancer is a subversion. It was rated for All Ages in New Zealand by a national censor bureau, with its sex and all, not because they didn't read it, but because they did and judged its truly mature depiction of relationships as quite acceptable material.
  • The reason behind the infamous One More Day reboot is firmly rooted to this. Joe Quesada firmly believed that a married Spider-Man could not attract a younger audience to the comic.
  • There's a story about Wendy and Richard Pini of Elfquest fame recieving a letter from a parent who was outraged at an issue of Elfquest that included a scene of an orgy, saying that her son read the comic. This is despite the fact that Elfquest was dark, sexual and violent from the beginning. She clearly was not paying much attention to what her kid was reading...

    Films — Animation 
  • In Finland, while the channels that air The Simpsons treat it like an adult show and subtitle it, The Simpsons Movie was rated + 7 and dubbed. The visual contents were left intact, including Bart naked and animals tearing Marge's clothes. It was also rated similarly in many other countries.
  • Rock and Rule: THIS IS NOT A KID'S MOVIE!
  • Many of Ralph Bakshi's films were poorly received because of this, such as Fire and Ice. Others, such as Cool World, became the victims of Executive Meddling.
  • Don Bluth holds the philosophy that animation can be both dark and lighthearted at the same time, and that children can handle more than most adults believe, just as long as you gave them a (relatively) happy ending; The Secret of NIMH is probably the shining example of that philosophy. Needless to say, studio executives don't feel the same way, which is why Executive Meddling forced him to essentially abandon this philosophy not long after All Dogs Go to Heaven; in fact, Bluth wanted to add darker elements to Rock-A-Doodle and The Pebble and the Penguin, but the studios wouldn't let him because they wanted the films to appeal more to kids.
  • As said by a talking cotton ball in a Don Hertzfeldt short, the intro for the theatrical touring festival The Animation Show:
    Talking Cotton Ball 1: An animated film is not just a random series of mindless, self-indulging, violent cartoon images meant only to be enjoyed by young children or people with mental handicaps, but is a serious, valid art medium all unto itself which the artist is free to explore the purity of the film medium, down to each and every single frame. The animated arts are—
    Talking Cotton Ball 2: (pointing) Roboooooooots!
  • The animated movie Heavy Metal was ridiculously, obviously not for kids. Extremes of violence and sex were fairly common in the short, rock cc-based vignettes that made up the original. In the flop sequel years later, the vignettes and much of the music were done away with, and most of the violence and sex were removed, toned down to something in the general vicinity of a PG-13 movie, maybe pushing R at best. It seems that even when making a sequel to a blatantly adult animated movie, you still need to make it not too adult.
    • South Park did an episode where everyone indulging in a new drug craze (cat piss) went into the Heavy Metal world. They did a great job not only on the animation but on pointing out what makes things allowed or not. The entire design of the fantasy world was breasts - walls, chairs, vehicles everything was made of breasts, none of it censored. The only breasts that were not allowed were the ones on the woman. When she takes off her top the camera cuts away. Wall boobs, ok, woman boobs, uh uh.
  • This is the number one reason for the reputation of Watership Down. Hey, it's just cute fluffy rabbits, right? We can let our children watch it alone. WRONG.
    • The Plague Dogs (from the same team) has less of a problem because "plague" is in the title of the movie; even with plague in the title, though, the marketers still try to make The Plague Dogs look like a kids' movie. The poster for the The Plague Dogs reads "Escape to a different world and share the adventure of lifetime". Yeah, if you consider the adventure of a lifetime consisting of starving to death, while having crazy hallucinations and trying to avoid being shot.
  • Felidae tends to fall victim to this phenomenon for similar reasons. A movie about cute kitties, probably another Aristocats? Don't think so. Director Michael Schaack isn't exactly famous for kid-friendly animation, but those who buy the DVD with the kitty on it certainly don't check if it was made by the same guy who also made movies of Werner and The Little Asshole.
  • One DVD of The Last Unicorn included commercials for shows targeted at young children (such as The Wiggles). Yes, it's a cartoon movie about a unicorn, but it's no My Little Pony...
  • One of the reasons AKIRA was such a groundbreaking film was that it helped Anime break out of this in the West. It was by no means the first mature anime, but it was the first to receive enough attention outside of Japan (for a few decades, it was the only animated feature to make it into The Criterion Collection, back in the days of laserdisc). These days, a lot of Western people view or even expect ''all'' anime as being on that end of the maturity scale, though. Still, Akira may be found on display in some stores at the "Kids" segment, right next to Sponge Bob Square Pants, thanks to employees not reading the box.
  • The Brave Little Toaster: a great movie, but it does have some powerful images if you let yourself think about them. Mortality, finding God, salvation, self-sacrifice, the soullessness of modern culture, a number of cars singing a little song about how worthless they are as they wait to be painfully euthanized one by one...
    • According to an interview with the film's director, when the movie was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, several judges outright TOLD the director that it was the best movie at the festival, but they refused to give that title to a cartoon because they thought the award wouldn't be taken seriously.
  • A New York Times article decried Pixar's Up for not pushing enough merchandise. Notwithstanding note  the criticism against Pete Docter for his remark that they "make the movies for themselves", the entire article is under the assumption that an animated film must have tie-in toys for the children.
  • Titan A.E. Part of the reason that movie flopped was because the filmmakers didn't know whether to market it towards children or towards teenaged Sci-Fi fans.
  • One of the very earliest animated films was Winsor McCay's The Sinking of the Lusitania. The kiddies must have flocked to it back in 1918.
  • Coraline. Yes, it's for kids and rated PG. Yes, it features eye mutilation. No, some countries would not have an animated movie being shown in the theatres if it's not kid-friendly enough. You're welcome.
  • A ton of reports from fans of 9 have come in involving seeing young children at the theater for it. Those poor kids. Apparently PG-13 means nothing to a good amount of parents if it's not live action. It didn't help that the trailers shown before the film were for more family friendly movies. Ironically, there was an ad that aired on Cartoon Network that explicitly stated it was "not your kid brother's cartoon movie". The parents just weren't paying attention to that and the PG-13 rating.
  • The Black Cauldron. Disney intentionally made it to appeal to teenaged fans of fantasy novels in the '80s and they were actually afraid that it would be rated "PG-13" or even "R". An "R" rated cartoon?! NEVER!!!!
    • Then again, Disney has a reputation for kid-friendliness and they've only released films rated higher than PG-13 under alternate labels. They created the Touchstone Pictures brand so they could distribute films, starting with 1984's Splash, that they couldn't release under the standard Disney label.
    • Until Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney didn't even release PG-13 films under its own name. And it was a big thing in 1979, when Disney released The Black Hole as a PG-rated movie, although more recently some video releases of live-action Disney movies from The Fifties were rated PG.
  • The Triplets of Belleville got a PG-13 rating, with case of full-frontal female nudity from a character based on Josephine Baker, banana skirt and breasts exposed. However, considering that it was given an all-ages rating in France, this is more a case of Values Dissonance than anything else.
  • Partly responsible for the pre-production demise in 1998 of a CGI-animated film by Rainbow Studios (which now does strictly video games and was acquired by THQ in 2001), variously titled as, "Deadly Tide" and "Blue Planet". Since this was a violent action movie squarely for adults and older teens, it failed to garner enough funding, and only a promo trailer using the "Blue Planet" title was ever produced. The trailer both lampshades and thoroughly demolishes the Animation Age Ghetto, by having Lawyer Friendly Cameos of Buzz Lightyear and Flik engage silly antics, before being stomped on by a power-armoured soldier, and segueing into a rapid-cut action scene scored with White Zombie's "More Human Than Human", a song whose title, as well as some of the lyrics, were taken from dialogue in the movie Blade Runner.
    "Playtime's over. Let's kick some ass!"
    "No Cute Animals. No Friendly Toys."
  • So far, only two critics made negative reviews of Toy Story 3. One of those had only two complaints: he didn't find the 3D good enough, and considered it was too dark and overtly mature for young viewers. Needless to say, Internet Backdraft ensued. He even tried to defend himself.
  • This article about Tangled pretty much sums up the entire concept of the trope by categorizing viewers into 4 mindsets "Cartoons are simplistic twaddle for little kids" "That's pretty good... for a cartoon" "Movies come in all ranges of quality and whether it's animated or live-action shouldn't make a difference in how it's viewed" and "OMG PRINCESSES" (that one being exclusively filled by girls between the ages of 2 and 12). Odds are, if you're reading this page, you probably fall into category 3, and good for you.
  • A segment on ABC's Good Morning America on February 24th, 2011 discussed how no animated movie has ever won an Academy Award, on the basis that the Academy thinks that animated movies are always just for kids and only for kids, despite knowing that Oscar-winning actors and actresses have contributed to these films as far back as Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which even earned Walt Disney an Honorary Oscar. Despite being largely for kids overall, some films today have more adult themes and issues that kids wouldn't recognize, but the Academy refuses to see things that way.
  • Currently, SmokeFree.org is targeting recent animated films for... having characters that smoke in them. The fear is that the very young and presumably witless audience will immediately want to smoke or do drugs upon seeing a fictional character (regardless of alignment) do so. The specific films include Rango and The Illusionist. Even in at least one report, the clips they used were of the Bowler Hat Guy from Meet the Robinsons. You know, the villain of the movie who never even smokes over the course of the film. Yeah...
  • In Rango... just for starters, it's a Spaghetti Western Affectionate Parody, with all the things such a thing needs (Family-Unfriendly Violence, disgusting characters, swearing, and of course, jokes no kid would understand). No wonder lots of negative reviews go "this is not a kid's film" or "this isn't a family film".
  • Antz received guff from some critics who felt the film couldn't decide whether it was for kids or adults (the film included a rather graphic depiction of insect battle, a pinchful of mild cursewords, and one line with a ticked-off Z telling the princess that she could "just forget starring in any of [his] erotic fantasies" in the future).
  • The Scandinavian DVD release of Beavis and Butt-Head Do America highlights the differences between rating systems in different countries very handily, with five different ratings for six different countries on the packaging and disc: The film is rated 15-and-up in Denmark and Ireland, 12-and-up in the UK, 11-and-up in Norway, 7-and-up in Sweden and 3-and-up in Finland, proving that repeated usage of "butt" and "ass" and words that start with those words + a Mushroom Samba + masturbation jokes + gunplay somehow translate in Scandinavia to "kid-friendly entertainment".
  • The Shrek series is a good example of this. All four films had many jokes that kids could not understand and were intended for adults, especially the first film - it even had a few curse words and they even made jokes ostensibly referring to a man's penis size. Then again, if you're under 10 years old, in which case, you'd see it as obviously just jokes about the guy's vertically challenged stature. Making matters worse is that Common Sense Media thinks it's appropriate for kids six and up, and that it was originally based on a book that actually was for kids.
  • The 2011 animated adaptation of Tintin makes strides in escaping the ghetto, with its frequent use of firearms, pools of blood, and the use of alcohol and drunkenness for comedic effect. And yet, it got a PG rating.
    • The film was initially being promoted under just the Paramount Pictures banner- until the Nickelodeon Movies logo suddenly started showing up in ads. You can just picture the Paramount executive screaming, "What are we doing, releasing a kids' movie without promoting it as such?!"
  • In Brazil and most of Latin America, the Animation Age Ghetto still goes very strong with nearly no sign of change. It's horrifying that the DVD of Dead Space Downfall (a prequel to a video game that everyone knows isn't for kids) was in the children's section of a regional Blockbuster, with the cover image of a severed arm in space, placed just at eye height... to a five-year-old. The same could be found in other rental stores. Although the Brazilian rating system is very competent compared to most, being somewhat more strict but also more critical (the movie was correctly rated 18+ in a large black label, regardless of it being an animation, for "Murder, Mutilation and Cruelty", although neglecting to mention foul language and moral issues most likely because it wouldn't fit), most stores and consumers outright ignore it exists. The ones who do take notice of the ratings follow them blindly, forgetting they are just advice.
  • This was an issue when Beauty and the Beast managed to get a Best Picture Oscar nomination in 1991. Plenty of adults, including film critics, had heartily embraced it — it showed up on several critics' Top Ten lists for the year — and Disney, knowing what they had, cannily parlayed it into their Oscar campaign. Once it got its nomination, there were comments that it only showed how bad the live-action slate for the year had been, as if the Academy had been "reduced" to nominating it. Jokes were even made during the Oscar telecast about how a film consisting of "movable paintings" — as Billy Crystal put it in his opening number as host — was up against movies with live actors, who would surely be out of work if such movies continued to thrive.
    • It remains the only animated movie nominated for Best Picture in the period when five films per year received nominations, despite movies like Spirited Away and Finding Nemo getting more critical acclaim than almost any live-action film in their respective years. Some saw the Best Animated Feature in those years as a kind of backhanded compliment — a way to reward animated movies without acknowledging that they were good enough to compete with "real" movies.
  • This happens in-universe in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. All the children (except for one kid) in South Park go see "Terrance and Phillip: Asses of Fire", which despite being rated R and the poster stating nobody under 17 can see the film, is not for children. This makes the kids start cussing and imitating things done in the movie. Due to this, the parents of the children start to protest Canada. During their song, "Blame Canada", one mother calls Asses of Fire a cartoon, possibly a Shout-Out to the ghetto. Not to mention that the title was a big giveaway it wasn't for kids!
    • A few movie critics also reported seeing parents taking their kids to go see the movie. No doubt South Park's reputation completely evaded them.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie had SpongeBob and Patrick getting Drunk on Malts, violence and more bad stuff, in a manner similar to Shrek. However, unlike Shrek, Common Sense Media actually saw these themes and rated it a "pause" for kids aged 6 years old.
  • In the American "Making Of" featurette for Princess Mononoke, the actors go on and on about how the film was not what they expected, and how it was deep not just for animation, but for actual movies as well.
  • The Magic Adventures Of Mumfie's movie, Mumfie's Quest, seems like a happy and cheerful movie about an elephant who wants to find an adventure. That is until they visit a prison-turned island run by The Secretary of Night, where the main character gets trapped in after stealing a magical gem towards the end of the film. Making matters worse is that in America, this was actually aimed towards children as young as two years old note , and due to this, many of them got nightmares about these things. Common Sense Media recommends the film for children 5 and older for this reason.
    • The post-movie episodes are actually tamer than the movie. If a toddler found the episodes before they found the movie, they may be in for a big surprise.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In a DVD extra on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, one of the fake magazine covers for the Clash at Demonhead reads "BAM! POW! Comics aren't just for kids anymore!". It should be noted that that was a real news headline about a Batman comic.
    • Speaking of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, some IMDb users have called it a "kiddie movie" for the sole fact that it has flashy visuals and pee jokes. We're talking about a movie that has lots of swearing (although all F-bombs are bleeped with dial-up sounds), a scene where Scott is impaled by the final ex (there's no blood, but still...), Scott accidentally saying that he wants to give Knives a golden shower, slight sex-related talk, and a scene where one of the exes has an orgasm. Kids' movie indeed.
  • According to John Glover, who played Dr. Jason Woodrue, this trope was invoked by "Joel [Schumacher] would sit on a crane with a megaphone and yell before each take, 'Remember, everyone, this is a cartoon'. It was hard to act because that kind of set the tone for the film.". Anyone wonders now how Batman & Robin turned out to be like a movie of a "frivolous medium suitable primarily for children's entertainment"?
  • In some parts of Latin America, The Dark Knight was not only dubbed, but released with the equivalent of a PG-13 rating. It was even promoted in Kid Meals at some fast food restaurants. You can imagine the kind of Nightmare Fuel Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker might have inspired in the poor children that went to the theater thinking the were going to see a Batman movie.
  • In general, there's still a condescending attitude regarding many superhero films. The above-mentioned The Dark Knight received critical acclaim, and a lot of the positive reviews called it "A superhero movie for adults" and other things along those lines.

    Live Action TV 
  • Bottom's Up features an inversion of this trope. Richie joins Eddie, who is watching a film. Richie comments about the cute furry anthropomorphic animated critters on-screen all with Species Surname: "It isn't very sexy, is it." This is proof that Eddie accepts that cartoons aren't just for kids as he was expecting something closer to X-Rated from the title ''The Furry Honey-Pot Adventure''. The only clue Eddie gets that no sex scenes will begin is because the caption "The End" appears on-screen.
    • He was equally disappointed with his purchase of Big Jugs, which turns out just to be a history of pottery.
    Eddie: Well, this ones got to be a sure-fire hit: Swedish Lesbians in Blackcurrant Jam!
    Richie: Yabba-dabba-doo! No, Eddie it's Swedish LEGENDS in Blackcurrant Jam MAKING!
    Eddie: Aww, come on, it's got to be dirty, it says "Swedish" on it!
  • An episode of My Family dealt with this when Ben was babysitting Kenzo when Janey went for a night out and she rented a cartoon for Kenzo to watch with Ben, however, when they are watching TV together, Ben plays the trope straight as demonstrated:
    Ben: It's about time that you developed a more mature taste in cinema. Tonight, we are going to watch serious hard-earned cinema, not a silly cartoon about a stupid talking rat!
    Kenzo: My cartoon won an Oscar, your films are overproduced re-makes and made by twelve-year-olds with short attention spans!
  • On one episode of Excused which aired on February 13th, 2012, two girls excused a 22-year-old guy, Sean because they doesn't want to sit in the couch and watch cartoons.
    Dianna: Hanging on the couch all day, I can't do that.
    Iliza: No.
    Lauren: I don't do cartoons.
    • After they picked him.
    Lauren: Watching cartoons is not a date, is a nightmare.
    Iliza: It's a nightmare, Sean's excused.
  • In an episode of Eight Is Enough Tom takes his younges son Nicholas to a screening of Snow White - he thinks it's the Disney version, but it's actually an X rated version. Tom hustles Nicholas out quickly with his hand over his eyes.
  • In an episode of Fringe, Walter is introduced to the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants. He is surprised the show is aimed at children, and found it "quite profound, for a sponge".

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

    Video Games 
  • Console gaming in general was this. Back when the NES was released, with success, there was a clear distinct line between gamers who played on computers (who were the adults) and people who played on the NES (who were the kids). Perhaps this is one of the reasons for Nintendo of America's strict guideline policy before the ESSRB rating system.
    • Sega noticed this trend and took it to its advantage when putting the Sega Genesis on the shelves in America (think of Genesis Does What Ninten Don't). It had as a consequence that nintendo became labeled as a kiddy brand and sega as the brand that manly people play.
  • If a game is rated "E," "E10+," or "T" (in other words, not Rated M for Money), expect this to happen — you'd be surprised how many of this "Casual" hatred can actually be described as Animation Age Ghetto.
    • You'd be more surprised at how many of the people doing this aren't even old enough to play T-Rated games.
      • Averted in Germany, where the USK rating system is taken so seriously, that younger people who want to play 18+ (or 16+, 14+ and 12+, for that matter) rated games need to show their identity card if they want to buy a game to show that they are adult, unless they're accompanied by one. Guess that kids didn't want to get through this tedious and annoying process, which explains why in that country, that problem is almost non-existent.
      • The United States did the same for M-rated games, requiring an adult's ID card to purchase such a game. This ultimately did not work as well as hoped: Teenagers who wanted these games resorted to fake ID cards (which are VERY common in the United States), and more relevantly, children who couldn't pass themselves off for adults asked their clueless parents to go buy the game for them. These parents rarely pay attention to what their kids are playing and treat video games as simply a babysitter. Thus, they would continue to buy M-rated games for their kids repeatedly.
  • Media hatred is Nigh Invulnerable. In Spain, it has recently concentrated into video game hate... with similar arguments to the ones displayed in this trope. One would think they simply erased every mention of "cartoon" and replaced it with "videogame" in their declarations. Sigh.
  • The entire justification by Michael Atkinson for why Australia didn't have an R rating available for video games until late 2012, despite the very vocal objections of the hundreds of thousands of mature gamers in Australia.
  • RPGs (especially JRPGs) get this a lot. Many of them are purposely made to go around the "T" rating specifically because, contrary to popular belief, that's actually the widest range of marketability for games, but unfortunately, because of the beliefs from the Animation Age Ghetto, many people dismiss those "Animu" RPGs as being kiddy, especially because they're not Rated M for Money. Never mind how many of these "kiddy" looking games are actually Crapsaccharine World based games - and it's not making an effort to hide how crappy the world is. Popular WRPG games are not as subjected to this, although you'll find that developers tend to emphasize their Darker and Edgier parts at times to avoid this. Dragon Age: Origins for instance, proudly admits it is a "Dark Fantasy Role-Playing Game".
    • This even happened with Persona. Part of the reason some people actually paid attention to 3 and 4 was because they were rated "M". Course, the "M" rating didn't stop people from seeing the use of primary colors in the graphics and then dismissing it as another kiddy RPG from Japan.
    • Is it a coincidence that Shin Megami Tensei in general became better known after YouTube became more populated?
    • The Tales series may suffer from this. Especially Symphonia, Abyss, and Vesperia. So, we have subjects like racial discrimination, vigilante murder or even accidentally killing an entire town full of people both of these were actually committed by The Hero of all people and Utopia Justifies the Means being thrown around from every angle... Perfectly suitable for children who are under the age of twelve. In addition, the Tales Series relies a lot on deconstructing a lot of cliches. This is so much of a case as "too violent/sexy for kids" as it is "Would kids actually understand this stuff? It takes an adult watching some scenes to notice some of these themes...or actually be familiar with the cliches being deconstructed.
    • Xenosaga gets this from some quarters, mainly due to its very cartoony art style. Of course, aside from how nobody younger than high-school age is going to get the umptillion references to Gnosticism that form the basis for the setting...one of the major supporting characters (who briefly joins the party) is addicted to the neural tissue of bioroids. And then he gets gunned down by one of his allies, merely because it's not her job to keep him, personally, alive. You know, for kids!
      • That is in the first five hours (tops) of the game. By the end of the game, there is the infamous "Ma belle peche" scene, wherein a very scary villain intimidates into submission and then "hacks" one of the Ridiculously Human Robots (who is also an endearing party member most players have at least some fondness for) in what amounts to an onscreen, compellingly-acted metaphor for child rape. How this game managed to avoid the M rating it so richly deserved is a mystery for the ages.
    • Pokémon is one of the biggest sufferers of this trope, mostly because the entire franchise, headlined by the animenote , was strictly for children in its early days. As the Periphery Demographic grew, they became increasingly aware of the "Pokémon is for kids" stigma. As such, Game Freak has recently begun to make a conscious effort to abolish the Ghetto by establishing Pokémon as a hipster-friendly all-ages franchise, and by downplaying the role of the anime, essentially the only part of the franchise that still abides by the Ghetto itself.
  • It's probably worth mentioning Team Fortress 2. The game uses highly stylized art reminiscent of a Pixar film which, coupled with bright colors, apparently makes it look "cartoony". This is contrasted by large amounts of blood, players gibbing upon explosion, and a mild level of swearing. You can occasionally run into 7 or 8-year-old kids online whose parents obviously didn't pay attention to the rating. Speaking of online, as a multiplayer game with voice and text chat, it's very common to hear even more inappropriate language than what was originally put in the game—there's a reason the ESRB warnings state that "online interactions are not rated".
    • And in some of the Meet the Team shorts, there are even more intense depictions of violence than in-game (such as BLU Spy's head exploding in graphic detail, and BLU Soldier having a hole blown through his chest), there's the scene in Meet the Spy where we see suggestive photos of RED Spy and Scout's mother, and the entirety of Meet the Pyro could traumatize a small child for life.
  • A more specific example is the presence of Sprite graphics in games today (With the exception of downloadable games), which are dismissed by review sites as dated and rarely taken as seriously as 3D models.
  • If any game uses any form of stylized graphics, expect people to dismiss it as being "kiddy". Heck, people have even criticized World of Warcraft's graphics for looking like something out of a Disney Movie, and Diablo III and League of Legends were criticized for not being "Dark" enough. All because Blizzard doesn't believe that Real Is Brown...and there's a great deal of horror in both franchises.
    • Which brings it to Complaining about Shows You Don't Watch levels when it comes to Diablo III...complaining about the game not being "Dark" enough when the trailer featured a barbarian being ripped in half. Yes, totally for children.
    • The most common complaint about the World of Warcraft expansion, Mists Of Pandaria is the fact that the areas are brightly colored and features a lot of talking animals, starring the talking pandas, the Pandarens. Many people even took one look at the Pandarens and jumped headlong into the idea that Blizzard ripped off the concept of Kung Fu Panda (despite the Pandaren being introduced in Warcraft 3, which was released years before the first Kung-Fu Panda movie). This despite the fact that the expansion is not too much lighter in terms of story than the others.
  • Although Mortal Kombat fits this trope, the game WAS originally being marketed at children, particularly when it was ported to home consoles in 1993. This was one of only a handful of instances where the censors actually had a valid point on the matter.
  • While Viva Pinata is a Sleeper Hit, Microsoft wanted the game to be its answer to Pokémon, but it didn't work out. Why? Well, the game looked like a children's game but actually comprised challenging Nintendo Hard sim management tasks that kids, and even some adults, just couldn't handle.
  • Probably the most famous video game example of the trope is The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Because, and only because, the game featured brightly colored textures, a cel-shaded lighting system, characters with cartoony proportions, and cartoony slapstick humor, even some of the most die-hard Zelda fans hated on this game. Common criticisms included "This game is for kids only!" the sole reason that the game was cel-shaded. One fan reviewer even called it "C-quality Disney garbage," even though said "Disney garbage" is actually considered to be some of the greatest animation of all time, and along with classic Japanese animation, almost certainly contributed to the development of the art style.
    • Apparently the game's detractors didn't notice the dark backstory (which involves the gods having to flood the world to prevent the Big Bad, Ganondorf, from taking it over, due to the fact that the hero of legend is no longer around, with Ganondorf being left unchecked to wreak havoc upon the world otherwise) or the infamously violent ending (which involves Ganondorf's head being impaled with the Master Sword).
    • After the game received immense critical praise both in Japan and in America, gamers gradually warmed up to the game, and today it is considered a modern classic.
  • This happened with the initial wave of 3D M-rated games that came out during the advent of the fifth generation of games (which began in either 1995 or 1996 depending on where you lived). One particular example is the original Resident Evil, which was, in fact, one of the very first M-rated games - after all, it's not easy to forget the violence, cannibalism via zombies and other undead critters, scientific exploitation, betrayal, and gripping, horrifying death scenes (Kenneth anyone?). To top it all off, the main characters are an elite SWAT-Expy team. Alas, the thought that games were a form of "children's entertainment" was firmly stuck into marketers' and parents' heads, which resulted in a good deal of eight year olds buying the game.
    • This is ironic in hindsight, given that far more violent games had been released during the 8 and 16-bit eras, and while Moral Guardians came after a few of them, namely Mortal Kombat, many violent games escaped the parental radar, mostly because a lot of them were either Bowdlerised or released on less mainstream gaming systems.
  • Conkers Bad Fur Day. It has cute squirrels on the box, and it has lots of Toilet Humor. Perfect game for kids, right? Nope. There's lots of sexual content, swearing, and blood/gore. And yet, there were still quite a few small children who ended up playing it, despite the huge disclaimers on the cover stating it wasn't for children, placed there because it was anticipated people would mistake it for a kid's game.
  • The EUR/JPN versions of the Parappa The Rapper Spin-Off Um Jammer Lammy probably counts. It takes place in the same universe as PaRappa, must be happy and kid-friendly as well, right? It is...up until the cutscene for Stage 6, in which Lammy slips on a banana peel, lands on the hard, concrete sidewalk and dies, and ends up in Hell. Once there, she meets pop diva Teriyaki Yoko, who threatens to clobber her to death with a guitar before Lammy reminds her that she's already dead. Yoko then hands her the guitar and tells her that she'll bring Lammy back to life only if she wins the song. The song even has some lyrics involving Satan, especially in PaRappa's side-story, in which Yoko says that she wants to have dinner with him. We should remind you that this game got a 3+ rating in Europe, for "violence that is set in a cartoon, slapstick or child like setting". The USA version altered and re-animated the cutscene to make it "kid-friendly", because they didn't want to include Hell or an on-screen death of a main character in a children's game, and feared that it would get a T rating if it were kept in.
    • One should keep in mind that the majority of Europeans are atheist. It should be obvious that hell is not an issue for those people.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Cartoon Brew frequently strives to avert this, and even made an entire post discussing the topic, "How Can We Make Adult Animation Truly Adult?" It even mentions the trope page and website by name, although it dismisses both as misguided and narrow in their scope of "adult" animation.
    Neil Emmett: "The site prides itself on covering as broad a range of fiction as possible, emerging as a sometimes fascinating form of populist, open-access media scholarship. In theory, this would make it the perfect place to cover lost gems of animation, but in practice it has many blind spots. There is little discussion about (Jan) Svankmajer or (Yuri) Norstein, while juvenile mediocrities such as Disney’s Gargoyles are treated as masterpieces on a par with the television dramas of Dennis Potter and David Simon. TV Tropes has a page devoted to what it calls the Animation Age Ghetto, which gives a reasonable if scattershot overview of the subject. The page’s “examples” section, however, consists in large part of people filibustering about how their favorite superhero cartoons never caught on. The main reason that most of these cartoons never attracted adult audiences, of course, is that they are simply not for adults. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with having guilty pleasures. The humorist Stephen Fry summed things up well: a fan of Doctor Who, he commented that “every now and again we all like a chicken nugget.” As he continued, however, "If you are an adult you want something surprising, savory, sharp, unusual, cosmopolitan, alien, challenging, complex, ambiguous, possibly even slightly disturbing and wrong. You want to try those things, because that’s what being adult means." The ever-enthusiastic geek demographic certainly does not see animation as being merely for children. But it suffers from an inverted snobbery, with more inventive or experimental animation dismissed as “pretentious” or “arthouse”, and from a view of the medium that is built largely on nostalgia for beloved childhood cartoons. Even dedicated animation enthusiasts can overlook much of the best work which is out there: perhaps it is in human nature for audiences to stick to the films which they think they might enjoy rather than try anything new."
  • Gaia Online, being primarily an anime fansite, gets this a lot, despite having several measures to prevent under-thirteens from getting on the site. As a result, they often have to deal with parents upset that Li'l Precious has a half-naked succubus draped on their avatar.

    In the early days, when it was still known as Go-Gaia, the main page featured a link list with clearly-labeled links to adult-content websites. This was eventually removed after multiple complaints from users about being restricted to submission of PG-13 content on a site whose main page flaunted porn.
  • Portrayed in this So... You're A Cartoonist? strip.
  • Probably unintentional on the writers' part, but one installment of I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC included a scene in which Rorschach claims to "appreciate" Marvel allowing children to choose between "the latest Pixar film or a [PG-13] movie about a razor-clawed human death machine." This may indicate that they thought Pixar's latest film at the time, Up, was strictly kiddie fare.
  • Happy Tree Friends is a cartoon about cute forest animals, but it has so much violence, little kids shouldn't go near it with a ten foot pole.
  • Parodied in the Strong Bad Email "for kids", when Strong Bad responds to an email proposing a Strong Bad childrens' show by describing exactly why he shouldn't be dealing with small children. As for Homestar Runner at large, the stated intent according to The Brothers Chaps is that, while the material is family-friendly, the cartoons are no more for kids than cauliflower is for llamas.
  • Cracked kinda pushed into this territory with this article, where some of the entries aren't technically for kids, but even thinking Watership Down and The Plague Dogs are "children's animation" is insane to a ridiculous degree. Of course, this being Cracked, this is almost the standard.

    Western Animation 
  • Despite the Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry DVDs having a warning on the DVD cases that they may not be appropriate for younger viewers (due to the outdated references and racial stereotypes that often get edited when aired on television) still doesn't stop places like FYE from placing them in the kids section.
  • Older cartoons with racially insensitive material are hit particularly hard by the ghetto. Live-action movies of similar vintage like Gone with the Wind or Breakfast at Tiffany's are readily available on DVD with little in the way of condescending and apologetic disclaimers, the regular malady of the handful of lucky classic cartoons that get released at all. Luckily most of them are becoming Public Domain. It helps that those films are considered classics, though, especially Gone with the Wind.
  • SWAT Kats jumps to mind. Running from 1993 to 1995, It was among the earlier western attempts at breaking the ghetto, and, in spite of the many problems that popped up because of that, the series went on to become a hit and garnered high ratings.
  • Exact same time period, the Saturday morning version of Sonic the Hedgehog (known by fans as SatAM to differentiate it from the syndicated The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog) similarly subverted the ghetto. Unfortunately, it fell victim to the decline of Saturday Morning Cartoons in general; many markets pre-empted it from the start in favor of Saturday morning local news. A third season was in the works, but would never see the light of day.
  • Though how it happened is... let's just say sad, it's also amusing that the only animated shows on FOX that survive are comedies for the older crowd.
  • In Italy, if it's cartoon art, then it must be targeted to children, bloody battles, dismemberment and sexual innuendo notwithstanding. Which is weird, considering how established the Italian market for adult comic books is.
  • The censor board from France, before the 1990s, just automatically flagged animation for kids without even watching a single episode. To this day, we still don't know why.
    • Probably in part because France has the same baffling problem as Italy, above. While Franco-Belgian Comics have pretty much always had large segments intended solely for adults, the cartoon series they make are almost universally children- or family-oriented even to this day (which led to some problems in the early days of the 90's anime craze, which is probably why they changed their tunes).
  • Invasion America, the only primetime animated drama produced in the United States, folded after one season without any plot resolution.
  • When Batman: The Animated Series was released, critics praised the mature storytelling and vibrant art style, saying it was "wasted on weekday afternoons." They thought it could easily grab the attention of a more adult audience. When Fox put this to the test, giving the show a prime-time slot, it flopped miserably.
    • This was likely due to the show being a forerunner for more adult-targeted animation. Being one of the first, besides The Simpsons, it helped to break the public perception of cartoons as being only for kids and paved the way for other shows. Anime had a similar transition that took at least a decade before it started appearing more prevalently on television.
  • Bruce Timm and his co-producers have commented many times in interviews and on DVD commentaries that they very much doubted they would be allowed to get away with some of the things they did in the "Timm-verse" DC animateds if they tried them today. The other series of the DCAU have received similar praise.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series is a continuation of the old live-action Star Trek: The Original Series, complete with Gene Roddenberry at the helm and the original cast providing voicework (except Walter Koenig). It aired in the 1970s on Saturday morning — anything not kid-friendly in those slots was literally forbidden back then. Even then, they treated the show as a complete sequel to Star Trek: The Original Series, including continuing the themes of the show. Heck, they even had an episode about religious intolerance called — I kid you not — "Jihad"! And an episode where Nurse Chapel gets a whiff of Harry Mudd's love drug and tries to jump Spock's bones (or at least as close to it as TV would allow back then...) As it is, it was well received enough for it to earn the franchise's first Emmy Award in its history. It's particularly odd when one considers that the company that made it, Filmation, to at least some extent actively encouraged the Animation Age Ghetto, as they felt it their civic duty to act as agents of social uplift for the kids, and not to scare or puzzle them too much.
  • Despite the fact that the Teen Titans source material was directed toward teenagers, hence the title, when the comic was adapted into an animated series, many aspects were either severely watered down or removed altogether to make it suitable for a solely juvenile audience. The quote from above comes from response to criticism that the series as a whole expressed an overly childish nature.
    • The struggle between doing a quality show and watering it down lent a schizoid flavor to the show. You would, for instance, have the angsty and adult Raven plot arc, and in the middle there would be an episode featuring that Bat-Mite ripoff.
    • Its successor Young Justice, while having little to do with its namesake comic, has a much more mature feel. Real guns are frequently used (although lasers are also shown), there are fairly complex running storylines, innuendo-laced jokes are made, characters are killed, and there are also allusions to real world political situations such as in North Korea and the Middle East (albeit with obvious stand-ins). It's made all the more baffling since the series was aired on Saturday mornings rather than a prime time slot, where more adult-oriented content like The Clone Wars was usually placed on Cartoon Network.
  • A similar occurrence took place to a much greater extent, especially in the later seasons, of Static Shock. The Milestone Comic on which it is based can be best described as an Amazing Spider-Man with a black hero, twice as much angst, and 10 times more contemporary content (sex, gay-bashing and visual gang warfare were but a few of the series's recurring focal points). While the beginning of the animated series is close enough to its source material, it became more and more child-oriented as time went on. Family-Friendly Firearms was in full effect by the middle of the series even though real guns were seen and used in the series' premiere. There is another example of a non-laser gun when a bullied kid steals his father's gun with the intention to kill his tormentor; he ends up being knocked to the ground by some students with the gun going off and hitting his friend Richie in the leg. Richie doesn't bleed, but you can tell he is in serious pain. Later on, we find out he could've died if the bullet struck any higher.
  • Since the creators believed that WB would not go for a dark animated series, the original pitch for Justice League had a Lighter and Softer tone with a modified version of Young Justice acting as kid sidekicks to the JLA. When the show was instead picked up by Cartoon Network, the sidekicks were ditched and the show's tone was made closer to that of the earlier DCAU cartoons. Bruce Timm has gone on record stating that he's relieved the original idea never came to fruition.
  • The producers of Spider-Man: The Animated Series had a list of requirements to keep the show family-friendly. Some were animated staples such as laser guns and not mentioning "death", "die", etc.; but some were utterly ridiculous ("Caution that when Spider-Man lands on the roof, he doesn't harm any pigeons.").
  • Subversion: the UK — specifically, Channel 4 — has produced a hefty amount of adult animation for TV.
  • Daria aired on The N, which at first shared a channel with preschool channel Noggin. Episodes shown on The N were frequently censored to remove any references to things like sex, drinking, or other "mature" content. What makes this particularly infuriating is that Degrassi, The N's most popular show, deals with these kinds of topics all the time.
  • Sky One used to air Family Guy and Baby Blues as part of their Saturday Morning line-up, along with kids stuff in the early part of the decade. They, uh, did not last long. Though in the latter's case, please note that the comic strip was family-friendly.
    • In-universe example: Brian once said "I see a grown man watching cartoons" referring to Adam West.
  • Fox used to air The Ripping Friends on Saturday morning. It is basically The Ren & Stimpy Show on steroids (it is created by John Kricfalusi...). The show is dirty, filthy, and hilarious. Cancellation and a spot on [adult swim] at 11:00 PM ensued. Guess they figured adults would appreciate all the poop and booger jokes more.
  • The Simpsons is revered for being an animated show enjoyed by both children and adults, but in the British "100 Greatest Kids' TV shows" poll on Channel 4 (which wasn't very democratic since the 100 shows were picked by the channel in the first place; the public were simply putting them in order, so to speak) the number 1 spot was taken by The Simpsons. The people on the show's constant pleas that it belonged there because it appealed to all ages really held no ground considering there are plenty of other shows that kids can also enjoy despite them being made for adults that didn't make the list. Once again it seems to be the old argument "It's animated, that means kids must like it!"
    • In Brazil, TV Channel Rede Globo decided to start airing The Simpsons at noon, right after the morning cartoon block. Not very good, but at least The Simpsons was acknowledged as a separate entity from the block; and the time slot could be watched by adults and teenagers. But then they changed their minds and started airing it inside the cartoon block. It's quite a shock to see The Simpsons being aired right after The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, to say the least.
    • In Colombia it's aired Saturdays 2:00 - 3:00 P.M to this day, severely edited, to say the least. It's more a case of Executive Meddling since it seems they know that the show has some things not meant for children, but they do it anyway because they know adults and teenagers love it anyway and it's not bad to get more audience.
  • Totally averted by King of the Hill, which has always stayed out of the ghetto by focusing almost entirely on adult-oriented humor. And we don't mean "excessive raunchiness and Black Comedy" Adult, we mean "the normal and instantly relatable stuff grown-ups have to deal with day-to-day" type of Adult. Kids and teens, who were at first drawn in by the "from the makers of Beavis and Butt-Head" marketing, found the show boring and stayed away, but the adult audience kept the show running for 13 seasons.
  • Invader Zim deserves a mention. Nickelodeon specifically asks its creator to make it a show for older children, but wound up marketing it between Sponge Bob Square Pants and The Fairly OddParents. Predictably, it only lasted a season and a half. (Ironically, Nick later opted to whore it out in crossovers meant for said other shows' target demographics).
  • Bell TV will categorize any animated series as "Children", regardless of its rating. End result, cartoons such as those in the future with automated suicide booths and vending machines labeled "Refreshing! Crack", with frequent decapitation and dismemberment, oft-horrifying imagery, cannibalism, a severely debauched clown... and Toki are labeled as "Children".
  • Every movie in the DC Universe Animated line has a sticker on the case saying "The First-Ever Animated (insert subject of movie here) Movie Rated PG-13!", as if nobody would watch the movie otherwise (which, sadly, is probably the case). It technically isn't even true for Batman: Gotham Knight, since Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker was rated PG-13 eight years before.
  • Some people would say that Looney Tunes deserve a special mention in this case. They're aired on Boomerang and clearly marketed to young children - despite the gratuitous amounts of various types of guns, smoking, alcohol, violence, general cruelty and lots of World War II references - things that are not passable even in modern TV-PG rated Cartoon Network shows (perhaps excluding the violence). On the other hand, you can find most of those in a G-rated film (Beauty and the Beast has Gaston carry a gun, drink beer, and literally stab the titular Beast in the back, while An American Tail depicts smoking). Perhaps these commentators are simply underestimating American culture's ideas about what's kid-friendly?
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender won a Peabody award (very unusual for a cartoon) for its character development and respect for war's consequences. However, the finale has been criticized for a perceived "immaturity" in the resolution of Aang's moral dilemma by having him rediscover anti-bending, and not take a harsh choice. However, it was representative of the character's personal struggle, and the creators planned this out from the beginning of the series.
    • The sequel series has been consistently getting high views in older age groups, even managing to beat out some Prime-Time shows in viewership. Despite this, its marketed at a slightly lower age group than its predecessor.
  • This was the source of the Executive Meddling behind The Powerpuff Girls. It was originally intended for a more mature audience, but was dialed back at the producers' request (necessitating a name change from the original title, "The Whoopass Girls"... exactly.) Its original intent is still somewhat clear, however.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars launched an assault on the Ghetto, apart from a few specifically kid-aimed episodes.
    • When the show began airing in Hungary, it was in turn met with an assault from the Moral Guardians of the former National TV Authority ORTT. Its scenario followed almost step-by-step the dilemma of Dragon Ball Z from a decade earlier — show airs on a Sunday-morning cartoon block, ORTT riots, forces the TV station to give it an R rating, TV station decides to cancel it instead. Granted, The Clone Wars is a very violent series that had nothing to do in that timeslot, but given that the ORTT's charges against it included portraying aliens in an anthropomorphic manner, it's clear that neither party was particularly right in the head. Thankfully, Cartoon Network later picked up the rest of the series.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is possibly the strangest subversion of this trope in existence. Despite the fact that its primary demographic is grade-school girls, the showrunner did everything she could to make it enjoyable for the parents of said grade-schoolers but thanks to a couple of blog posts condemning the show essentially sight unseen, it managed to catch the attention of 4Chan and later snowballed into the sub-cultural phenomenon that it is today.
    • Despite Lauren Faust's intentions, though, there are people who believe that all fans of the show older that 8 are Manchildren simply because of the presence of ponies. There's also bronies who are highly insistent that they're the new primary demographic and can get rather resentful whenever things intended to appeal to, well, young girls show up in the show or the toyline, even to the point of denying the idea of the show being popular with the primary demographic for whatever reason. This is not the place to discuss whether they are right or wrong.
    • Lauren Faust targeted the show at girls between 5 and 12 (as opposed to earlier generations targeted at ages 4 to 7) and their parents, both mothers and fathers. Nickelodeon Germany premiered it one year after The Hub. But when it did, it did so right after the pre-school Nick Jr. block, back to back with Dora the Explorer, and with a dub fit for the target audience of Dora the Explorer which goes up to 5. Later, Nickelodeon Germany pushed the show into the Nick Jr. block where it has been residing ever since. Also, it has only ever been placed into time slots in which only pre-school kids would be able to watch it but neither its target audience nor bronies and other fans of any age. All of this despite Nickelodeon Germany getting a load of requests from bronies to run the show in the first place, which probably should have been a sign that it would work better and be accepted on a later time slot. The same "preschool show" treatment is given to the show in Canada, where it airs on Treehouse TV...complete with censorship, mainly whenever the word "loser" is used. This is despite the show being rated TV-Y in America, which means the content is intended to be acceptable for all children.
  • RCN network in Colombia aired American Dad! during morning weekends, along with things from Disney. Moral Guardians screamed and the show didn't survive a month.
  • Again in Colombia, Caracol network used to air Ranma 1/2 and Cardcaptor Sakura uncensored, with the announcement saying that those two shows were specifically for children. They still air The Simpsons and Futurama, and still announce the programs as specifically for children. No one has said anything about it whatsoever.
  • The creators of The Critic blame its short run on ABC on this trope. The show was the only animated series in the network's lineup, and aired on a night of family friendly comedies (an audience The Critic clearly was not aiming for.) The ironic result that was viewers dismissed the show as kid's fare despite it being the edgiest thing ABC showed all night. The show parodied this by ending an episode with Jay breaking the fourth wall and wishing "a special good night to all of you just tuning in to watch Home Improvement!" This was followed by wacky cartoon music and an iris-out effect reminiscent of old Looney Tunes shorts.
  • In 2011, the Parents Television Council was shocked to discover that cartoons broadcast by night-time on the programming block called "[adult swim]" are, in fact, inappropriate for children. Gee, who would have thought?
  • Jeph Loeb admittedly believes in gearing Marvel cartoons to children, hence his efforts to invoke this with the single-episode storylines and comedic overtones of Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble. Never mind the acclaim their respective predecessors, The Spectacular Spider-Man and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, received by also appealing to Marvel Comics' adult fans.
    • Though in the case of Avengers, that was more of a Periphery Demographic situation. Adults were watching the show, but the ratings weren't that hot, especially among kids. Ya know, the target audience that makes up the majority of the viewership on a children's network. Bruce Timm has discussed this before on Kevin Smith's broadcast, when he talked about how Batman: The Animated Series was ReTooled in its second season due to there being too many adult viewers and not enough kids watching.
  • In 2010, Rugrats, despite the target audience being older people, was shown on Nick Jr in the UK, and continues to be until this day. Although, bear in mind, the show had reruns on the Nick Jr. block in the US back in 1995, but did not last long. This example isn't as bad as all the other examples, seeing that the show's for all ages, and is rated TV-Y in America.
  • For Yahoo's new web series Electric City with Tom Hanks, on the advertisement that was on the front page, Yahoo felt the need to also put "(Contains adult themes.)" so no parent would put it on saying "Cartoons!"
  • Mighty Max: You may think this 1990s show is aimed at kids and that it firmly belongs in this trope. You would be wrong. It has on-screen deaths, averts Never Say "Die", features blood a couple times, and contains a lot of horror. How it got away with this is a mystery.
  • Stripperella: It totally shows characters strip dancing, and is lucky to have at least 13 episodes, because most of the nudity is filtered. Besides the fanservice, it survived due to it focusing more on comedy.
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast: Oh look, it's a cartoon talk show for kids! WRONGO! It's really one of [adult swim]'s animated shows, and it's rated TV-14.
    • When the show first premiered, the TV ratings didn't exist yet, and the show was a bit tamer. For example, in "Spanish Translation", the only inappropriate thing is Kevin Meaney saying "Oh my God!" twice and talking about Communist spies.
  • One Common Sense Media review of Garfield and Friends was under the impression that the show was inappropriate for children under 10 because of a scene in the Snow White episode where Orson and Roy kiss Wade. Actually, what happened was that Wade was forced to be Snow White because "wild coyotes" were over the hills, and Orson was stupid enough to let THIS happen to Wade.
  • The Transformers series tends to invert the usual roles for this trope. For example, take some of the American series, note that even the Lighter and Softer Transformers Animated includes what's basically implied to be a living weapon, abandonment and a Black and Gray Morality. Compare the various Japanese series Even at it's darkest, the series had a clear Black and White Morality. This is due to the Japanese view of living robots as "Immature".
    • The various dubs also take a role in this, take for example Blackarachnia generally being turned from a darker character that not only acts as a Token Evil Teammate post Heel-Face Turn but later roles have her as a self-hating mutant and a walking pile of UST and basically a stalker all get turned into various version of Genki Girl.
  • The Animatrix has a warning on the package saying it has adult content, is based on an R-rated film, and is not meant for kids.
  • Despite MTV's much-maligned move away from music videos starting in the 90's, the network deserves credit for being one of the first in America to avert this trope. Its various animated shows—Beavis And Butthead, Daria, Celebrity Deathmatch, Ćon Flux, among others—were all geared towards older audiences and did not shy away from swearing, violence, or sexual references.
  • Phineas and Ferb is often seen as a "kids show" because it's on Disney Channel. This is often a defense of the show when Marvel fans complained about the crossover and a claim made by the haters but Word of God states that the show is actually aimed at adults but doesn't exclude children as an audience.
  • The Spawn animated series was critically acclaimed (it even won an Emmy), but suffered poor viewership throughout its run. In total, only 18 episodes were produced.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants has a huge fanbase of toddlers, even though Nickelodeon stated that it was inappropriate for their age group. This could be for one of four reasons: it's the first show after Nick Jr ends, merchandising aimed at toddlers, ads for the show air during Nick Jr programming, and it being the only thing on after Nick. Jr's channel becomes Nick Mom on Nicktoons Network.
  • Most of Cartoon Network's output since 2011, including Adventure Time, Regular Show, MAD, and Steven Universe, would fit more on [adult swim] than on normal Cartoon Network. Why? All these shows have had instances of sexual humor, Black Comedy, gross-out humor, pop culture jokes that will go over kids' heads, and swearing (nothing major; just rude uses of the words "sucks," "screwed," and "blows"). Despite this, they are aired during hours where children can be watching — at least in America. Other countries have edited these three shows to be more kid-friendly (and, in the case of Regular Show, banned episodes due to content). It's telling that all four shows are rated TV-PG.
    • On the other hand, children's activity books (with very kiddie-level puzzles like word searches, fill in the blank stories, etc.) exist for Adventure Time and Regular Show at least.

    Other 
  • While TV Tropes itself has averted this for the most part, there have been complaints by some users of the site as well as critics of the site simply because Animation works and tropes are cataloged. A number of these complaints can be summarized as "why does this site catalog these stupid kids cartoons instead of "proper literature"?" and such. Of course, this is why the There Is no Such Thing as Notability rule exists...it apparently never crosses any of these folk's minds to actually add whatever works and tropes they so want to see here.note 
  • Likely not intended; but TiVo suggestions, if left on, would often give you suggestions based on what channel you recorded. If you recorded something off the [adult swim] block, it wouldn't be uncommon to see it suggesting stuff for younger audiences, Nickelodeon, or Toon Disney.
  • The 1988 book Animation From Script To Screen is a good example of how an analysis of Western animation can both try to avert this trope and end up reinforcing it. It's written by James ("Shamus") Culhane, an unsung legend in the history of animation, who worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Pinocchio, and Dumbo, as well as many other features for Disney. Culhane had an encyclopedic knowledge about animation (as well as other subjects) and pretty eclectic tastes: he praised Ralph Bakshi and Richard Williams (head animator for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which was a big movie hit at the time), ridiculed the commercially-driven dreck on Saturday morning TV, and tried to present animation as a serious art form indebted to (among others) Michelangelo and Sergei Eisenstein. He even warns writers for cartoons never to target children only, because only if you write for adults will you be completely uncondescending. However, his prejudices toward his own profession still show through at times. He assumes that most animators aspire to make people laugh - which would be fine, except that it carries the Unfortunate Implication that cartoons cannot inspire any emotion other than hilarity. He also writes that "very subtle acting may never be possible to meet in this medium." (If only Culhane, who died in 1996, could have lived to see the "performances" of the characters in the Pixar and DreamWorks movies!)
  • Quick: What channel on cable television delivers the most shows where the characters are either animated or have a cast consisting of at least 50% puppets? If you guessed Cartoon Network, you would be wrong. The answer is the Sprout Network, a 24 hour preschool channel which has 100% animated or puppet broadcast. Even the live segments always have at least as many puppets as people. The only questionable exceptions are Barney and the Wiggles, which both have significant numbers of characters in full-body puppets, but do not always meet the 50% mark.
  • Back in 2012, the Polish television channel Polsat had an advert that announced the showing of several CGI films. How does the advert begin? "Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound. These cartoons have enthralled children through the years. In the twenty-first century, cartoons are both for children and for adults!" Because everything animated made before Pixar and Shrek is kiddie fare... granted, if the only cartoons you know from before 2000 are Hanna-Barbera cartoons, it's not surprising you're holding that kind of an opinion.
  • Also as of March 2012, main Italian network RAI is currently the biggest offender of this trope. To clarify, while animation on RAI used to be far more prominent throughout The Nineties, after the Turn of the Millennium animated shows started to appear at a progressively smaller rate, until they were completely confined within an early morning timeslot. Then, in the mid-2000s, the RaiGulp channel, aimed at a younger demographic, rose to fame as the "safe place" for animation in general, and most arrows were pointing to a fairly brighter future: Avatar: The Last Airbender , Code Lyoko, Ruby Gloom, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Wolverine and the X-Men, The Spectacular Spider-Man, any good show, you name it. Then, however, things went downhill at the beginning of The New Tens, where "kid [soap] operas" like Grachinote  started overshadowing animation at an alarming rate, culminating in live action series getting the spotlight and nearly all animated shows being confined to an after-midnight timeslot. With Avatar: The Last Airbender among them.
    • RAI then subverts this trope only around Christmas, where it becomes the equivalent of the Golden Age Disney Channel on steroids. Yeah, the same network that nearly denies the existence of animation as a medium, does the complete opposite in mid-December by nearly running a marathon of the entire Disney Animated Canon.
    • Yet again, RAI made a new channel, Rai 4, which would be composed of anything that doesn't fulfill RAI's canon on TV series. This channel includes a small late-night section for anime such as Code Geass and Mawaru-Penguindrum. This didn't stop the Moral Guardians for trying to ban this rather small part of the channel because the anime clearly weren't for kids, regardless of the time they were actually broadcasted.
  • The cable provider Verizon FiOS seems to think that, just because anime series like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Cowboy Bebop, Deadman Wonderland, Bleach, Casshern Sins, and Fullmetal Alchemist air on Cartoon Network (when in fact they air on [adult swim], the channel's Watershed hour), they can be categorized as "children's shows".
    • This has become less prevalent over time thanks to the more generic "animated series" description, including having separate "Cartoon Network" and "[adult swim]" sub-sections in their On Demand service. Verizon and other providers still have issues dealing with networks that nominally cater to children during the day and adults during the night in regards to "suggestions" that pop up, however; switching from Nick Toons to CN at 1 PM is safe, but not so much at 1 AM...
  • According to People magazine The Simpsons episode The Longest Daycare and all the animated shorts nominated for Oscars are ways kids can "get into the spirit of awards season". WTF?! See Oscar-Nominated Animation Shorts Gets No Respect in People Magazine on Cartoon Brew.
  • Science museums have the same problem, being seen as mainly for children. Adult science enthusiasts have to settle for books, magazines and TV programs like Nova, which don't offer the hands-on experiences that museum exhibits do.
  • Something Awful considers fans of "children's shows" and anime creepy, and its userbase won't hesitate to tell you that, outside of the less goony subboards.
    • Similarly, discussion of Japanese games and cartoons in 4chan, outside of /a/ or /jp/ (and even in them), will occasionally get the random troll sparking a flame war over "weeaboo shit"note 
  • In Hungary, there's a catch-all term used for all animation: "mese", or "tale" in Englishnote , which makes the position of animated shows much worse, as "mese" is traditionally a word that describes children's fiction. But even Hungary produced adult themed animations (e.g. a rather grotesque take on Snow White satirizing the communist state). This semantic inconsistency has lead to some people coming to regard "mese" as a term only applicable to softer, more kid-friendly and generally fantasy-themed productions, but most still use it as a synonym of "animation" anyway.
  • A rare written example: Harry Potter had this happen a little bit - they were originally written for children, but have a sizable Periphery Demographic. Some countries actually published more "Grown-up" covers to make adults feel less ashamed about it. This mentality has drastically started to reduce.
  • Roger Ebert deconstructed the ghetto in his review of Princess Mononoke, pointing out that animation can tell certain stories much better than live action.

Americans Hate TingleGhetto IndexAudience Alienating Premise
What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?Rated I for Index    
Aluminum Christmas TreesPublic Medium IgnoranceBeam Me Up, Scotty!
Angst AversionAudience ReactionsApplicability
All Anime Is Naughty TentaclesAcceptable Hobby TargetsCosplay
The Alleged CarTurn of the MillenniumAuto-Tune
Animated AdaptationThe Dark Age of AnimationBand Toon
Animated AdaptationThe Millennium Age of AnimationAnimesque
Americans Hate SoccerDouble StandardA Million Is a Statistic
Fritz the CatImageSource/Animated FilmsGulliver's Travels
Animated AdaptationThe Renaissance Age of AnimationAnimation Bump

alternative title(s): Cartoons Are For Kids
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