aka: Bowdlerization
The overly blatant portrayal of sexual symbols on this statue's underwear really goes against the grain!

"It's been a week, dude. You came back from the [hurt] after I [destroyed] you and sent you to [Hades]. That stuff was cut. For, uh... time."
Joel, to the no-longer-dead Phil, after retooling Bonus Stage as a kids' show

This page has been deemed Too Inappropriate by the Moral Guardians so they have set up a Family Friendly Substitute.

To BowdlerizePronunciation  means to alter existing programs, plays, etc. so they are less rude and/or offensive. Commonly, this takes the form of swapping "curse" words for less effective euphemisms. The term is used in a negative sense, by those who think the alterations are often done with a ridiculously high fear of lawsuits and/or need for political correctness.

While some changes may seem reasonable for broadcast (editing out blood splatter, a character being riddled by bullet holes, or a Cluster F-Bomb), some are less forgivable (changing beer to water, editing out a cigarette even from a bad guy's hand, changing a six-round revolver to a water gun or slingshot, or whenever a situation presents itself where death should be a given, it's always avoided or explained away).

Extreme cases involve editing out emotions like sadness (even when it makes perfect sense for emotions to be shown), removing entire episodes or seasons, or causing a plot hole to develop.

Named after Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), who first did it on The Bible and William Shakespeare's plays; for instance, changing Ophelia's drowning from suicide to accident. It's worth noting that Bowdler himself created his "Family Shakespeare" versions as a way to introduce Shakespeare's plays to audiences who would otherwise be barred from experiencing them at all, and actively encouraged people to seek out the originals. Sadly, this cannot be said of most modern Bowdlerisers. Before him, the French Duke of Montausier published "ad usum Delphini" versions of works for the Dauphin (heir apparent) of France. "Ad usum Delphini" is now a synonym of this trope.

Cultural Translation can often contain elements of Bowdlerization. See T-Word Euphemism for a mild form of bowdlerization. See also Cut-and-Paste Translation (which specifically refers to Bowdlerization in translated works and refers more to the final product than the process) and Disneyfication (which generally goes further, in not only removing content, but adding new, "kid-friendly" content). See Bluenose Bowdlerizer for when it happens here on the wiki.

The inverse of this trope is American Kirby Is Hardcore. Yet another related trope is Bleached Underpants, where a creator self-censors his work to appeal to a broader audience. There is also a Censored Title, for when a work seems to be Bowdlerized, but only the title is for marketing purposes.

Tropes which often or always arise from Bowdlerisation include:

  • Adaptational Modesty: An adaptation makes a character's usual dress sense much less revealing than in the original, or tones down or cuts incidents involving characters being naked or partially-clad.
  • Bikini Bar: Strip clubs and other sex establishments have the workers in relatively "innocent" skimpy clothes (usually a bikini) rather than being naked, topless, or in some kind of overt fetish costume.
  • Black Blood and Made Of Bologna: Covering up extreme gore and blood through digital editing or redrawing the carnage so it's less shocking.
  • Clean Dub Name
  • Digital Bikini: Using digital editing to add clothes to naked people or to make someone's clothes less revealing. Can be used in conjunction with Bikini Bar, though it has also been used in conjunction with bath and shower scenes (at least when Cartoon Network aired anime), hot springs episodes, or any scene of half-naked characters in a locker room-type setting (both animated and live-action).
  • Edited for Syndication: Most of the bowdlerization does occur after a TV show is put into syndication or makes its rounds on the international market.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Replacing realistic weapons with more fantastic or less lethal (often ridiculous, in the case of One Piece) ones.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Replacing alcohol with non-alcoholic drinks (usually juice, soda, or water) and hand-waving the drunken behavior as "acting crazy" or "being a jerk".
  • George Lucas Altered Version
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Replacing sensitive words with their "safer" variants ("damn" to "darn", "hell" to "heck", "ass" to "butt" or "rear", etc). Witch with a Capital B is the same thing, only it focuses on toning down the word "bitch".
  • Never Say "Die": Characters can't mention anything about death and the afterlife because it may be too upsetting; even ghosts might be seen as too creepy for kids. In many cases, the word "kill" can never be used, even if it's in a comedic context.
  • No Smoking: Characters can't enjoy a cigarette (be it tobacco or marijuana — or, in extreme cases, crack cocaine or meth), lest more impressionable viewers imitate what they see.
  • No Swastikas: Removing racist imagery (usually swastikas or anything having to do with Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime).
  • Orwellian Retcon
  • Positive Discrimination: The villain or Butt Monkey can't be a member of a race, ethnic group, religion, or social class that has historically been persecuted. Even when the group the hated character represents hasn't been persecuted, this trope may still come into play if the group the character represents wields a lot of power in society and threatens a boycott of the work. (However, if a character becomes a villain because of persecution, that's usually okay to show.)
  • She's a Man in Japan, Get Back in the Closet, and Hide Your Lesbians: Changing a gay, lesbian, or transgender character into a heterosexual or cisgender character (and turning their gay or lesbian relationships into heterosexual ones) for less tolerant audiences.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Not necessarily Bowdlerisation, but can be if the result is to make the body count of an originally violent work significantly lower, or zero.
  • Too Soon: Editing, delaying, or banning something (mostly TV shows and movies) due to the plot being similar to a real-life current event that may be considered "in bad taste." "Funny Aneurysm" Moment is similar, but only applies to past media that somehow "predicts" future bad events.
  • Translation with an Agenda
  • We All Live in America: This involves the removal of what Carl Macek called "ethnic gesture". It might be as subtle as obscuring onscreen kanji characters or changing the names of people and places. The story may also be said to be set in an ambiguous location that is never named but clearly everyone speaks English. Taken to extremes, the dubbed script is filled with American pop culture references that were not in the original. Scenes of uniquely Japanese (or at least Eastern) conventions are edited out such as Shinto temples, eating of traditional Japanese food such as ramen and sushi, Pachinko parlors, the board games Shoji and Go, or the Tokyo tower.


Alternative Title(s):

Bowdlerize, Bowdlerized, Bowdlerization, Bowdlerised, Bowdlerisation, Bowdlerisations