"We'd show you more, but we actually ran out of black bars."
The Censor Box is used to cover up an offending sight with something that obviously doesn't belong, less physically part of the scene than any sort of fig leaf
. Most typically, this is a heavy black bar or box, but sometimes bizarre stickers are used.
It's more glaringly obvious than Censor Steam
, and such a brutal way of keeping something hidden from audiences that it's often used for parodies of censorship. There are plenty of subversions where the characters acknowledge it as if it was a physical object in their world
. (Bonus points if they simply step around it to reveal that it was covering nothing offensive whatsoever).
A variation is for the bar to appear over a person's eyes
, rather than their "naughty bits". Rather than censoring nudity, it's used to censor identity (especially if it's someone who can't be shown on television due to legal reasons). This may be used when the subject in question is fully clothed, and is often used to Draw Around Trademarks
in order to show a famous person to whom the author doesn't have the rights while still maintaining Plausible Deniability
. This was also commonly done while showing parts in vintage porn magazines and older medical books.
Another, more recent, trend is to briefly place censor decals (often the program's logo or some mocking caption) over people's mouths when they say something that is bleeped out
. This may be for the "benefit" of lip readers, or purely for added humor.
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- The late-night Girls Gone Wild commercials will usually cover up the parts of the aforementioned girls with either their logo or, ironically, a big bar labeled "UNCENSORED!"
- An Australian animated ad for Red Bull was set in a nudist camp. There were black censor bars over everyone's genitals. One fellow had an exceptionally large censor box that rose as he drank his Red Bull.
- "Designer Imposters" Body Spray
- While largely obsolete now thanks to the Internet, many found it odd that advertisements selling pornography in magazines censored the images in the ads - because, after all, it was already in a porno mag. This was for two reasons: first off, the magazine may be softcore (simple nudes) but the advertising images hardcore (involving explicit sex)note , and secondly to ensure that people who already owned the magazine didn't just use the free picture and thus not use the ad to buy the product.
Anime and Manga
- In keeping with Japanese law, all hentai manga is censored. Works that don't get creative with their censorship will often have thin black strip censor boxes over the minimum required area to be censored. On men this results in a small black strip over 'part' of the head of the penis, and the urethra. On women, this strip covers the actual opening of the vagina (leaving all the messy bits). One wonders why they even have it at all. Still, its enough that it kills the allure for some people.
- Hayate the Combat Butler makes a running gag out of them, since it's a reference-heavy show in a early time slot. A genie holding up 'can't show this' and 'don't do this' signs is used to cover up everything from mild injuries to humans being sexually assaulted by a tiger.
- Naughty bits in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei often are obscured by a photograph of the bald head of Maeda-kun, the original Manga author's assistant who is also responsible for the blackboard gags. His expression and line of sight change depending on what he is covering up.
- Macademi Wasshoi has claymation versions of Tanarot appear to cover up the animated her whenever she does anything that might be considered too fanservicey. It ends up looking really weird.
- Nazo Koumori in Rosario + Vampire is a bat of many talents. Combat Commentator, Morph Weapon and Panty Shot censor when he needs to be. This leads to odd scenes where he's in two places at once as Kokoa's familiar and part of the censorship. Spoofed when Kokoa sits down on him only to find he's become part of her panties somehow.
- Later chapters of Hunter × Hunter involve certain scenes shaded out by big black spaces or boxes to cover up gruesome scenery.
- Inukami! applies most of its Censor Boxes to the males (usually Keita) in the form of blue elephants on parade. Said elephants are usually right around the crotch. There's a lot of manservice in Inukami.
- Parodied in Patlabor during the obligatory Hot Springs Episode. We see all the main male characters go into a communal shower, with black dots covering their modesty. Then, after they go behind a opaque wooden screen, they throw the dots over the top of the screen like towels!
- After some unintentional Clothing Damage in Black Cat (or rather, immediately as it happens), two cats appear holding signs that prevent the reader from seeing anything.
- In Eyeshield 21, Hiruma's spirited exchange with the coach of the American NASA Aliens football team is all in English and almost completely covered with the Shounen Jump logo, as is the "translation" on the next page.
- Shown on the image links page is Black Lagoon's somewhat ironic use of this trope during the anime's OP. The show itself has no such censoring at all, and depicts acts much more brutal than simply firing a gun at something offscreen.
- The identity-"concealing" version is used in Toradora! when classmates are "testifying" about the evidence suggesting that Ryuuji and Taiga are a couple — but the name of each witness appears below his or her image.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! does the "across the eyes" version when someone who totally isn't the KFC guy is shown.
- There's also an incident where Konoka tries to cover the screen when Jack Rakan starts doing something improper with a pair of stolen panties.
- Ichiban Ushiro No Daimaou uses Hexagonal Speech Balloon with things like "Don't look" or "Maybe next time".
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: It appears in If the Angels Wore Swimsuits to cover various naughty bits as the starfish Ghosts replace bits of clothing, as well as in HELP! We are Angels when Panty is singing about a delicious crotch.
- Similar to the Patlabor example above, Urusei Yatsura had an episode set at a sento using black dots for censorship, where the black dots were suspended from crane-arms held by Kabuki stagehands.
- In the anime adaption of Toradora!, Minori mentions she saw something black when Kitamura dropped the towel covering his pride.
- The Comp Ace manga adaptation of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha has a bar over the eyes of somebody who's definitely not the Dragonlord.
- The anime of Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls has ink splatter covering what needs to be censored. The same effect is also used throughout the series to show clashing powers, Scene Transitions, and other stuff, so it's far less intrusive than censoring often is.
- Gintama typically uses this to cover the eyes of celebrities and characters from other media. It's also been used to block some especially offensive scenes, such as Kondo apologizing to the viewers by humiliating himself via posing in a fashion that emphasizes his groin while completely naked.
- Done in the broadcast version of Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai. to the point where many consider it watchable. Some times half of the screen is covered, often during fight scenes.
- In Chapter 12/Episode 4 of Donten ni Warau, when Soramaru returns from infiltrating Gokumonjo, Tenka awaits him at the gate to the shrine wearing only an open kimono flying dramatically in the wind, while the family crest strategically censors whatever else might be flying in the wind.
- Used in the U.S. version of the French comic book Sillage (Wake in English). In the first issue the heroine Nävis/Navee is living as a kind of Jungle Princess, wearing only a pair of briefs. Conveniently for the censors she has a set of white bars tattooed on various parts of her body, one of which just happens to be across her breast. So for the US edition all they had to do was paint her breast tattoo black, and presto!
- Used in Empowered for comedy.
- The first time Judge Dredd's helmet is removed his face is covered with a white censor bar.
- A Richie Rich comic book cover has a big dollar bill on the shower door covering Richie's midsection when he shows himself taking a shower in a non-Fanservice-y way.
- In the Fourth Wall Mail Slot associated with the Homestuck fic Cultstuck, Blade Dancer's uncovered eyes and (in a flashback image) symbol are covered up with censor boxes, because the members of the Cult of the Signless strive to hide all clues as to their blood colors (which include eye color and personal symbols).
Live Action TV
- There was a Bobcat Goldthwait special called Is He Like That All the Time? where he did stand-up comedy in a large communal shower explaining that his jokes are funnier in the shower just like people's singing is better in the shower. Everyone in the shot has the black rectangle. Bobcat's starts spinning like a propeller near the end and he flies off the screen.
- Parodied in the MA Dtv sketch "Boys Gone Wild." Men, mostly overweight, flash their chests for the camera and their nipples are black-boxed.
- The Joe Schmo Show played the Madtv gag above straight (probably).
- The Middleman uses them to cover people's mouths while they're swearing.
- Played for extra comic effect near the end of the show's run (in "The Clotharian Contamination Protocol"), when our heroes receive a staticky, blue-tinted video transmission from another planet. The speaker uses a naughty word (actually, he's quoting an Earth catchphrase), and naturally he gets a censor box... except, hilariously, the box is part of the transmission, complete with static and blue tint.
- Subverted in a You Can't Do That on Television sketch where two boys are behind black boxes. Says one to the other, "I guess it's so no one can see our shorts." They then step to one side, revealing — shorts.
- The Daily Show once referred to some sort of gory/sexual footage which couldn't be shown because "they don't make black bars that big".
- In the Devil Fish episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the MST3K logo was used to prevent viewers from getting an unwanted look up a male character's shorts.
- X-Play has often censored violence, gore, and nudity in games they review with little kitten heads. Adorable mewing kitten heads.
- Hey, at least they censor the violence, too, rather than just the nudity.
- In a Welcome Freshmen (Hi There Is No Such Thing as Notability!) sketch, two boys got the censor box and discuss how creepy it is, then ran off stage, carefully covered themselves, leaving the censor boxes just hanging there. Then as if realizing what just happened, the boxes zoomed off after them.
- America's Funniest Home Videos uses a rubber duck.
- In Weird Science, there is an early episode in which Gary orders Lisa to be naked for him. She does, and there are censor bars covering her "rude bits". It quickly becomes clear that Gary and Wyatt are seeing the censor bars, same as the audience: apparently this is a safety feature because actually seeing Lisa naked would ruin Gary and Wyatt for normal women....
- Played with frequently in Japanese comedy shows, like Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende. Often, the censored part (usually a man's butt or genitals) is covered by their own face superimposed over their crotch.
- Adam of MythBusters saved the show's editors the expense of pixellating people's mouths by constructing a physical "censor visor" that cursing participants in a myth-test ("Does swearing increase one's ability to tolerate pain?") could wear to obscure their mouths. Being Adam, he decorated the plastic strip with cuss-substitute wingdings.
- In another episode, animal heads (and their respective bleats) were used to censor dangerous ingredients from an explosives recipe. Lampshaded when the narrator explained that you'd get a violent reaction if you "add Donkey to Rooster"
- Adam once had a moment where he explained what happens when you mix "blur" with "blur".
- American Idol conspicuously uses its own logo as the censor box.
- Series/Dog Eat Dog did the same when contestants gave their all in Strip Quarterback and Strip Darts.
- Canada's Worst Driver fittingly uses a stop sign. Sister show Canada's Worst Handyman respectively uses animated duct tape.
- The Late Late Show sometimes uses flags accompanied by a Sound Effect Bleep of Craig saying an expression from the corresponding flag, most frequently France ("Oooh-la-la!"), Spain ("Ay caramba!"), Australia ("Crikey Dingo!"), Italy "Wassacominago!"), and even a gay pride flag ("Uh oh~")
- A Japanese "reality" show called Susunu! Denpa Shonen featured, for over a year, a man (nicknamed Nasubi) locked in an empty apartment and only living off of prizes won by entering sweepstakes. People did not believe the show was real, so the producers started streaming him live over the Internet, 24/7. The problem was, he had not won any clothes yet (except some women's underwear), so the producers hired a team of 50 people to make sure his naughty bits were always digitally covered with an eggplant graphic ("nasubi" means "eggplant").
- Top Gear's trip into self-parody: To make this enormous firework, you will need: a plastic tube, a wooden stick, a box of smaller fireworks and a pair of pixelated hands. Clarkson is very clearly seen pouring the gunpowder from the smaller fireworks into the plastic tube. Later referred to as the cruise missile, it takes out the windows nearest building.
- Full Frontal had a sketch about a pre-coital French couple that used a variation in which subtitles appeared as white text on a black bar. The bar covers the woman's breasts whenever either of them speaks and it becomes apparent that the man is aware of this on some level because he just keeps talking and talking. The woman calls him out on this, and he explains that he has to keep talking to cover up her naughty bits. "But we're on SBS!note " she exclaims. "But, aren't you ever embarrassed by nudity?" the man asks. The woman replies, "Sometimes". At this point the bar is covering the man's penis, and it starts to stretch...
- It used to be standard practice whenever atlases were imported to South Korea for the bookstore staff to take black markers and cross out the phrase "Sea of Japan" on all the maps before releasing the atlases for sale.
- Medical journals use this method to conceal the identities (eyes and/or faces) of subjects whose illnesses or injuries are displayed in photos, thus preserving privacy.
- Zero Punctuation features censor bars in order to depict nudity due to the minimalist art style.
- The censored boxes are also often covered in witty text. When Yahtzee describes something as "being stretched wider than a catamite's rectum," the censor box covering nearly the entire screen reads "IMAGE VERY CENSORED". Similarly, the aftermath of trying juggle babies and chainsaws at the same time is covered up with, "THE BABY IS FINE THE BABY IS OKAY".
- Similarly, when JesuOtaku reviews ecchi stuff, she'll use black censor bars with amusing blurbs on them like "Bombs away!" and "There's side-nipple under me!"
- A piece of video art by performance artist Pina Bausch featured a shot of a topless woman sitting in a room with a censor box over her eyes.
- Head Injury Theatre movie review site often shows scenes too graphic for the German Web site's editor-imposed UK-15 rating... censored with little white circles stating NO.
- In The Spoony Experiment, there was this scene on the movie called "Clones of Bruce Lee" in which several women were seen baring their breasts on a beach. There was a huge censor box advertisement covering them from the shoulders down that read, 'Revolution of the Mask, by Linkara!'.
- Used in The Nostalgia Critic's review of Red Sonja, when the naked dancing woman appears.
- Then amusingly used again, when The Nostalgia Chick reviews Showgirls, where she covers up the womens boobs...with Boobies (don't worry, it's not dirty)!
- In his review of The Room, the Critic uses a censor item that's also a Visual Pun: he places a cartoony donkey's head over Tommy Wiseau's ass.
- In this video, a naked blonde resizes the censor boxes in front of her.
- The /tg/ Image Board tends to use censor bars with "HERESY!" written on them, when they bother to.
- When James Rolfe was reviewing Orgy Of The Dead as part of his Ed Wood-a-thon, there were a lot of topless girls in there, so he covered their breasts with Bela Lugosi's face.
- Brows Held High
- Covers naked women with the torso of the Venus de Milo, in a fairly epic bit of mockery. Though one time he used the Hottentot Venus for a somewhat more Rubenesque woman.
- The Exterminating Angels review featured lesbian sex censored with a The L Word poster, among other creative censor boxes.
- He does this for pretty much everything racy. Tits get the bird (though he apologized once for using a swallow in its place), ass gets a donkey's head, pussy gets a cat's, ejaculate gets either mayo or milk, etc. At one point, he struggled to find something for "foot job" before finally throwing on a foot with glasses, tie and suitcase.
- And then there was the time he reviewed Up With Dead People and could only do a red censor box with "FUCKING A STOMACH WOUND" on it.
- And a Wii controller for, well... guess.
- The Cinema Snob has to use it regularly, considering some of the movies he reviews. See the Caligula review for a prime example.
- In Space Quest III, if Roger fails to get off the Conveyor Belt-O-Doom and falls into the meat grinder, a box labeled "NOT A PRETTY SIGHT" pops up as he is "shredded like an Iran-Contra document".
- In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a large "Censored" box will cover Indy when he changes his clothes. It also shows up if he gets killed in some violent way, usually accompanied by a pool of blood appearing at the bottom.
- The Guy Game uses it as a gameplay mechanic: do poorly and the in-game breasts are covered by boxes. Do slightly better and it's switched to pixellation. Do nigh-perfect and there's no censorship. (It's not worth it.)(Yes it is, go get 'em!)
- In the Police 911 series, the eyes of criminals in their portraits are censored out, not unlike in Japanese television broadcasts. When you fight them, their faces are pixellated.
- In Revolution X, when a player runs out of life, a big "CENSORED" bar appears over their part of the screen.
- In Secret Agent Clank, if Ratchet loses his Modesty Towel in the showers, he gets one of these. Also applies to the more humanoid enemies.
- Deadpool has a small box cover a certain part of him when using a toilet. He then grabs and stretches the box to be much larger.
- In Heroine's Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok, the Huldra's breasts and genitals are covered by black censor boxes. Like pretty much everything in the game, it gets lampshaded.
- Housepets! are naked all the time. Except for their collars. In this comic Bino holds a censor bar over the offending area.
- Florence Ambrose of Freefall has five when Helix looks at her, emphasizing that she's more based on lupine physiology than a lot of anthropomorphic animals are on their respective source animals.
- Sluggy Freelance censor-boxes a "graphic depiction of peeled eyeballs".
- Shows up in Cross Time Cafe here, though the viewer is left wondering just exactly what is going on behind that box. Keep in mind, most of the characters in that box are canids...
- The Cyantian Chronicles: A male fox's "naughty bits" are covered by a black censor bar saying "We Have a Shivae-13 Rating To Maintain!"*
- Used all throughout this VG Cats comic, with the bar's message starting off as 'Naughty Bits Bar', then continually changing, including things like '18 or Older', 'Quit Looking' and 'No Way'.
- Used to humorous effect in later chapters of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, when the titular character's profane utterances and gestures are covered up by idiosyncratically subtitled black boxes.
- Used in The KA Mics here & here.
- Living With Insanity uses them often to an amusing degree when you realise how small the box is.
- Last Res0rt uses a censor box, once, to cover up a chibi-fied Jason's genitalia during an in-comic recap.
- Super Bikini Girls, in a way.
- Roommates has fun with Censor Boxes. Not only do they happen a lot, but seem to be Metafictional Devices the characters can interact with.
- Used when characters shower in MountainTime, though, being stick figures, there really isn't anything to cover.
- In Jerkcity, censor boxes are more often used to redact dialogue as though the comic were a sensitive document, but sometimes are used in the more traditional way, over a character's crotch. Sometimes in an upward diagonal. It has also been used to obscure characters' eyes, including Pants, whose nine eyes were individually covered.
- In the Blernsball episode of Futurama there is a machine that censor-boxes reality in a men's changing room. It gets accidentally knocked off and all the bars disappear, which means the men have to cover themselves up manually except the one guy with his back towards the camera, who proudly proclaims, "I win."
One of the recurring background characters include a naked couple with black bars over their genitals. Careful observation will reveal that they're actually wearing see-through ponchos with black bands in the appropriate places.
- Rocko's Modern Life uses stereotypical black censor boxes to cover Rocko's nudity on several occasions, including one where a censor actually appears on screen and places the box himself. This, despite Rocko not wearing any pants most of the time.
- In another episode, Heffer and Philburt make a home movie of Rocko (which includes a scene of him naked) and it becomes an international sensation. Rocko gets sent a box of censor bars for autographs, and Hef and Philburt have a ball putting them on each other like stickers.
- The Venture Bros. tends to use black bars instead of pixellation for censorship. Used rather cleverly when a man's penis morphs into Henry Killinger, the censor bar seamlessly transforming into his black coat.
- Also used to hilarious effect in a strip club. The dancers hadn't finished stripping and weren't actually showing their parts, but the censors still thought they were showing too much. Rather than redesign the costumes, the animators just slapped some black bars on them, which turned out to be funnier anyway.
- In "Home Is Where The Hate Is" The Monarch, Sgt. Hatred, and Dr. Venture all have censor bars covering their genitals as they hang out in the hot tub (Not that there's really that much to see in the uncensored version). Dr. Venture's bar inexplicably (and hilariously) shrinks right before he gets in.
- Played with in the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Falling Hare", in which the front gate sign of an unnamed Air Force base is censored to keep classified information from being discovered by the enemy ("Number of planes: Censored. Number of men: Censored.") The last line was censored for more traditional reasons ("Men's opinion of Top Sergeant: CENSORED!!!").
- The TV edit of The Simpsons Movie had a Censor Box that read "European Version Only" digitally laid over the bare hedge during the "Bart's naked skateboard ride" sequence note .
- One episode of the series parodied this with a newscast about "nudist camps for animals", which showed a horse and other animals with black bars over their privates.
- Parodied in Family Guy when the FCC begin to censor real life after shutting down Peter's tasteless cable channel. FCC G-men are poised to cover naked people with black cardboard cut-outs (with one G-man asking if he should censor Peter's chin since it looks like a pair of testicles).
- South Park encountered some in episode 201 to obscure all appearances of Mohammed.
- Adventure Time had logs to cover the privates of characters who end up naked (as seen in the episode "Wizards"). Originally, they were going to be beavers.
- Some instances of censorship in Superjail utilize these. Most of the time, there is actually some type of content drawn underneath that the censors objected to (whether actually rather explicit or not), although at least two instances ( Alice's genitalia in "Vacation", as well as the inmates first glimpsing Alice and the Mistress having sex in "Stingstress") were always meant to be censored as a gag, and nothing was actually meant to be drawn or animated beneath them.
- "Hot Chick", in a first for the show, had the Warden going about with full-frontal nudity. To try to make the censored version look funnier, the Warden's censor box is a bit long and even spins about in one scene. It's uncensored in the DVD, although it's not all that impressive. The episode also included a censor box at the end to obscure Hunter's breasts, although all other scenes let her undetailed body remain exposed (this was most likely because her breasts were pressed against crystal, creating dark spots that vaguely resembled nipples). It too is uncensored on the DVD, although nothing is really under it.
- "Gay Wedding" underwent a bunch of censor boxes for its broadcast airing, as well as some pixellation employed. Alice grinding against Jean was edited , Paul with his face against a stripper's crotch was covered up with a large censor box (making it look dirtier than it was), and a shot of Paul's mouth seen through a glory hole was also covered up with a box.
- Season 3 had some last-minute censorship employed when the Standards and Practices department got cold feet on some of the shots in episodes just before they were broadcast. An inmate being torn apart and devoured by dogs in "Superfail" had a HUGE censor box (even reading "Censored" in bold red letters) stamped over the scene to obscure the violence, while Alice's bulge received the same treatment during her wrestling scene. An inmate snorting cocaine in "Sticky Discharge" had the same treatment done to obscure the act. Unlike the season 2 DVD, the season 3 DVD used the edited copies of the episodes (complete with the censors and bleeped cursing) even though its label claimed all episodes were uncensored.
- Played for Laughs in The Amazing World of Gumball. In Darwin's dream about being naked at the mall, a censor box is shown over his feet, as shoes are the only things he typically wears. Since Gumball came into the dream with him, he's naked but doesn't have his own box and tries to take Darwin's.