"O be careful little eyes, what you see,Perhaps someone is letting loose a torrent of profanity. Perhaps there's a streaker running past. Perhaps somebody is about to rip out somebody's heart. Whatever the case, there are children around, and they are being exposed to some highly inappropriate content. Quick! Cover their eyes/ears! This trope generally depends on the idea that Children Are Innocent, and furthermore, should stay innocent. Usually it's a parent who will do this. This can be played for laughs if the "innocent" kid still understands what's going on (cf. The Simpsons episode "Bart Sells His Soul" where Rod still repeats the offending word after Flanders covers his ears). For some, doing so may only make the "innocent" child want to see/hear the denied spectacle even more. Compare Not in Front of the Kid, Take Five, and "I Can't Look" Gesture.
O be careful, little eyes, what you see,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So, be careful, little eyes, what you see.
O be careful, little ears, what you hear..."
O be careful, little eyes, what you see,
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love,
So, be careful, little eyes, what you see.
O be careful, little ears, what you hear..."
— Popular Sunday School song
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- A Progressive Insurance ad has a mother doing this to her kid's ears as Flo explains how auto insurance and home insurance are 'bundled'.
- One of the older delivery bots is upgraded in one of Shaw Communications' ads. Bud covers Bit's eyes with his clipboard to prevent him from seeing the supposedly unpleasant upgrade process (which includes lots of mechanical whirring noises) and Bit moves up and down to peek around Bud's clipboard.
Anime & Manga
- A Running Gag in Chobits. Every time Hideki acts strange in public, a woman's voice can be heard telling a child "Don't look at him, honey."
- One episode of Tenchi in Tokyo has Ayeka, Sasami, Ryoko, and Ryo Ohki watching a soap opera. When the action onscreen starts to heat up, Ayeka blushes in embarrassment and covers Sasami's eyes, who then covers Ryo Ohki's eyes. Guess whose eyes were glued to the screen?
- In the A Certain Magical Index light novels, Brunhild Eiktobel puts to sleep a little boy she's been watching over when she senses danger. The last thing she needed was for the boy to see the ensuing carnage when her attackers struck.
- Mizore casually covers Yukari's eyes in Rosario + Vampire Capu2 after Ruby trips and exposes herself, while a confused Yukari tries to look around her hand.
- Ana Satsujin: When Rio licks the ice-cream off Kurosu's face in an amusement park you can see a mom covering her young son's eyes.
- A particularly horrifying example in Blade of the Immortal when Kuroi Sabato, the man who just killed her father in front of her, holds little Rin Asano close to his body and covers her ears to shield her from the sight and sounds of the rest of the Itto-ryu brutally gang-raping her mother.
Kuroi: Shut these eyes; close these ears, child. For what comes next transcends your sanity...
- Occasionally in Seitokai Yakuindomo, Tsuda will cover Mutsumi's ears when Shino says something more perverted than usual.
- In The Seven Deadly Sins, Merlin puts her hand over King Arthur's eyes (Arthur is 16 in this verse) when Meliodas starts groping Elizabeth in front of them.
- In the 1999 version of Hunter × Hunter, Tonpa covers Gon's eyes when Leorio checks Leroute's sex by grabbing her chest.
- In One Piece, when Franky is stripped of his speedo and forced to run down the street, we get a lot of yells for people to keep their kids from seeing him.
- An inversion happens in the chapter "The Most Bizarre Bizarro Of All" from the Bizarro Comics anthology. When a Bizarro starts walking on his hands and generally acting too strange even by Bizarro standards, all the children tell the adults not to watch or listen. (It is Bizarro World, after all.)
- In the Secret Invasion Runaways/Young Avengers crossover, Chase hastily covers Molly and Klara's eyes after they stumble across a television display showing footage of the Young Avengers apparently getting slaughtered by the Skrulls.
- Earlier, when the group goes to New York to prove Cloak innocent of attacking Dagger, Chase also covers Molly's eyes and tells her not to look when they watch a video of the attack. While it's not made explicit what happens, given the reaction of, "Oh God, is he...?" and the reveal that the real culprit was a Stalker With a Crush who seemed deluded into thinking Dagger was his girlfriend, one could only imagine.
- Miss Martian covered Beast Boy's eyes in an issue of Young Justice when Zatanna kissed Nightwing.
- A post-9/11 Blondie strip parodied the, um, excesses in airline security by having Dagwood have to repeatedly go through a metal detector, with the operator making him take off more clothes each time. He's in his underwear and the machine is still beeping when another guard comes up and tells the operator that the machine's broken. Cut to Dagwood on the plane begging the flight attendant to let him put his clothes back on before take-off, with a mother covering her kid's eyes elsewhere in the panel.
- This Heathcliff strip had a mother covering up her son's ears while a flock of birds are angrily swearing at Heathcliff, with the mother saying "Don't listen to the birds, honey".
- In a Garfield strip, when Garfield is watching TV, and hears that "viewer discretion advised", he covers Pooky's eyes.
- In chapter 33 of Magical Troubleshooting Crossover Fighting Federation Ultra succubus Morrigan strips herself naked in an attempt to distract Wolverine during a match. Combat Commentator Hiroshi covers guest commentator Sana's eyes, which she protests, since she has the same basic anatomy as Morrigan.
- In Threads of Time an alternate-universe female version of Harry Potter covers baby Harry's eyes when she realizes that there's a porn movie on TV.
- In "Wayne Manor", part of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Hearts series, when eight-year-old Bruce Wayne's parents start getting flirtatious:
Bruce made another face of disgust, sticking out his tongue and scrunching up his nose. Half as a joke, Alfred put a hand in front of Bruce's eyes. He seemed to appreciate it.
- In All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird, during the game of Wicked Grace, Mahanon grabs Cullen's surcoat and throws it over his "little sister" Victoria's head before Cullen can remove the rest of his armor. It's worth mentioning that Victoria is twenty-one years old (and romantically involved with Cullen to boot)!
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- In the 1994 remake of Angels in the Outfield, Roger covers up JP's ears when George Knox starts swearing during the game.
- In Spy Kids, the parents ask the kids to shut their eyes before beating up a bunch of Mooks.
- In Hot Fuzz, Nicholas covers a child bystander's eyes when one of the bad guys impales himself on a model building.
- In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, after Mike says "I hate chocolate," Grampa George begins to rant, "Well it's a good thing you're going to a chocolate factory, you ungrateful little-" At which point Charlie's ears are covered by Mr. Bucket, and we hear nothing until he removes them. Fair guess that it's swearing.
- In The War of the Worlds, Ray Ferrier blindfolds his daughter and tells her to cover her ears and sing her calming song so she won't see or hear as he kills Ogilvy.
- Used in the movie Old School, where Vince Vaughn's character sets up a system where he tells his child "earmuffs," and the kid will cover his ears, allowing adults to say what they will.
- Done in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the hilarious things being first that the scene isn't really worth an eye-covering anyway (a dancer in a leotard), and second that the youngest brother whose eyes are being covered is not a child.
- In Silent Hill, Rose tries to cover Sharon's eyes and ears as a cult is horribly, gorily slaughtered by the vengeful Alessa.
- In the trailer for the 1991 film adaptation of Naked Lunch. The film itself (which is still a Mind Screw in it own right) is more of a Pragmatic Adaptation with the most nausea-inducing content of the book left out, which the director noted to be "unfilmable".
William S. Burroughs: When I started writing Naked Lunch... people offered their opinions. "Disgusting" they said, "pornographic", "unamerican trash", "unpublishable". Well, it came out in 1959 and it found an audience. Town meetings, book burnings, and an inquiry by the States Supreme Court. The book made quite a little impression. Now thirty years later Hollywood, in its infinite wisdom, has turned it into a movie. Thirty feet tall, in living color. Cover your eyes, America, run for your lives!
- The Name of the Rose. When Inquisitor Bernado Gui catches a peasant girl inside the monastery, he declares her a witch and rips open her clothing to expose her breasts, causing the monks to avert their gaze in horror or cover their eyes. One monk does both, covering an eye and closing the other, which he quickly opens again for a peek.
- Liar Liar has Mrs. Cole's children get this treatment from their caretaker when their mother's sex tape is played at the trial.
- Averted in Best Seller. Meechum's daughter has been kidnapped by the Big Bad, but is rescued by Professional Killer Cleve. He tells her to look out the window; she doesn't and watches horrified as he shoots her guard with a silenced pistol.
- In the Able Team novel "Justice By Fire", The Mole tries to set up a Salvadorean refugee family for a death squad, but Able Team jump him the moment he walks in the door. The mother holds her children to her chest so they won't see The Mole being brutally interrogated; when one peeks anyway, she pulls a blanket over their heads.
- In Extraordinary*, the protagonist's friend does a variant of this, though she isn't a child. When she wakes up after being knocked out by the villain, he sits in front of her and holds her shoulders in place, instructing her not to turn around. When he tells her it's okay, she turns to look and realizes why he didn't want her to see what was happening behind her. The villain has just literally been ripped to shreds, and birds were eating his remains. By the time the protagonist is allowed to look, all that remains is his hat.
- In Friends, Ross walks in with his son Ben just as Phoebe starts cussing out a game machine. He immediately dives to cover Ben's ears before shouting "Phoebe!" to get her attention and make her stop.
- There's a House episode where the mother of a preteen girl covers her daughter's ears so she won't hear the word "masturbation".
- An episode of Get Smart had Max communicating with a trapped Chief via Morse code. After Max bungles his rescue, Chief sends out some angry sounding taps. Max responds with "Watch your language, Chief. There is a lady present." When the angry taps continue, Max covers 99's ears.
- In an episode of Bones while discussing the case of the week in front of Booth's young son, Booth covers his son's ears and makes him sing a little song while the adults talk.
- In Ugly Betty Justin is repeatedly told to put his headphones on during the second episode, when he is still rather young.
- In one episode of Full House where it's learned Rebecca is expecting, the family congratulates Jesse, only for Jesse to think they're talking about a gig he got and say he couldn't have done it without lots of 'practice', resulting in Danny covering DJ and Stephanie's ears.
- On M*A*S*H, in the scene where Hawkeye walked into the mess tent naked to prove everyone in camp was so jaded they wouldn't notice. When the camp does notice, a soldier can be seen playfully covering the eyes of one of the nurses.
- In Atlantis, Hercules covers Pythagoras's eyes when Jason walks into the house naked.
- The Andy Griffith Show had Barney Fife get his foot run over by a clueless driver, who has to be told to get his car off of Barney's foot. Barney then tells Opie, who is standing nearby, to cover his ears as he chews out the driver.
- Game of Thrones:
- One episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has Buffy telling Dawn to close her eyes, so Dawn doesn't see the oncoming death scene.
- In the first episode of Raising Hope, Jimmy has a one night stand with a woman who he doesn't know is a murderer. After she's caught, she phones him up later to tell him that she's pregnant. When she meets in at prison, she says there's no way they'll send a new mother to the electric chair. Cut to Jimmy and the baby sitting in the viewing box for the execution chamber. Jimmy covers the baby's eyes when the switch is thrown.
- In an episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Derek slaps his hand across a little girl's eyes as he shoots a guy in front of her.
- Rome. When Pompey is betrayed and murdered on his arrival in Egypt, his wife, watching aghast from a vessel offshore, covers the eyes of her children so they won't see their father decapitated.
- Ray Stevens' comic song The Streak has the repeating gag of the elderly couple who are inevitably there when the town is menaced by the nude running man. Interviewed for TV:
Reporter: Once again, your action news reporter in the booth at the gym, covering the disturbance at the basketball playoff. Pardon me, sir, did you see what happened?
Witness: Yeah, I did. Half time, I's just goin' down thar to get Ethel a snow cone. And here he come, right out of the cheap seats, dribbling, right down the middle of the court. Didn't have on nothing but his PF's. Made a hook shot and got out through the concessions stand. I hollered up at Ethel, I said, "Don't look, Ethel!" But it was too late. She'd already got her a free shot.
- If Jack, known for her unusually foul mouth in Mass Effect 2, survived that game's endgame, in 3 she turns up as a teacher and makes a special effort not to swear in front of her students. Joker teases her that her Swear Jar could fund the war effort by itself. At which point Jack tells the kids to cover their ears and the scene cuts away.
- In an advertisement showcasing the Nintendo Switch's parental controls, Bowser does this to Bowser Jr when the section discusses about setting age restrictions, presumably because Jr was playing a game above his age rating.
- Eerie Cuties had a scene where Maria, misinterpreting a little incident between Layla and Brooke, "soothes" the girls by happily giving them Too Much Information from her own... fond memories. Brooke covers Nina's ears.
- In Yamara, a dark elf mother covers her son's eyes when the tour they're on visits an erotically-carved temple. Ironically, the tour members had already been tortured as part of their visit, but the boy's mom doesn't mind that, only the raunchy art.
- In Flaky Pastry, Sister Mona makes a little boy turn around before going Holy Retribution on Zintiel.
- In Brawl in the Family, the Halloween specials usually begin with Adelaide warning the audience to "send the little ones to bed early", before tuning in.
- In Hoofstuck, Sparkler covers Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle's eyes after they hear Rainbow Dash shout something about baby-making.
- Whateley Universe: When fighting an enemy that is wielding a pair of magical artifacts called Agamemnon's Balls in There's No Place Like Poe (Part 4):
"Quit playing with your balls! There's children present!" The Cajun girl shielded Vasiliy's innocent eyes.
- In the Christmas Episode of Carmilla the Series, LaFontaine does this to Laura while they're watching a grisly death. Which is pretty funny, considering the fact that not only is the death caused by Laura's own (vampire) girlfriend, Laura told said girlfriend to kill the person.
- Bronies React: Spoofed in the video for the season 4 finale of Friendship Is Magic, by Nowacking putting a hand before her potted plant when Tirek destroys the Golden Oak Library.
- In a flashback episode of Adventure Time, Simon is trying to find some chicken soup for the sick Marceline. They come across an ambulance, which Simon hopes will have some. Upon only finding clam soup in the vehicle, Simon looks at the back door and sees that it's a clambulance. Simon tells Marcy to cover her ears before unleashing his wrath on the door.
MOTHER MOTHER MOTHER MOTHER MOTHER MOTHER MOTHER!!
- The Boondocks:
- In "Ballin'", Sarah covers Jazmine's ears when Tom starts swearing, after the basketball team he is coaching not only loses, but he misses the opportunity to have a "miracle" win.
- In "I Dream of Siri", Sarah covers Jazmine's ears again when Uncle Ruckus starts talking about female anatomy.
- In an episode of Braceface, when Sharon accidentally comes across a pornographic website, she covers the eyes of the cat sitting on her lap.
- A Running Gag in The Fairly OddParents! involves someone covering another person's eyes and shouting "Shield your eyes!" when something disturbing happens.
- Family Guy:
- Peter takes Stewie to the bar with him, and Quagmire is about to tell a story of what he did with some women last night. Peter covers Stewie's ears so he won't hear and we see some very strange pantomime on Quagmire's part, but hear none of it thanks to Peter.
- During the show's first run, Lois would have Meg take Stewie up to his room before starting on serious conversations that she thought too mature for him to witness.
Brian: Here, baby, I'll show you the channel Lois doesn't know about.
Lois: Brian, would you— Chris, look away! Meg, take Stewie upstairs!
Stewie: Wait, wait. That man seems to have suffered a rather serious snake bite.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In "The Secret Snake Club", Grim attempts to log onto a website for the titular nerds, but he misspells it and ends up logging onto what is implied to be a porn site. He ends up trying to cover the computer screen, claiming "this isn't for children to see".
- King of the Hill does this often whenever Hank and/or Peggy don't want Bobby to hear anything remotely adult, but instead of covering his eyes and/or ears, they usually tell Bobby to go somewhere else.
- In "Hank's Dirty Laundry," Peggy tells Bobby to get out of the house after Peggy thinks Hank is masturbating to a porno flicknote .
- In "Ceci N'est Pas Une King of the Hill," Hank orders Bobby to get in the truck when one of the artist shows him a sculpture known as "Industrial Penis #5"
- The same thing happens in "My Hair Lady" when Bobby goofs around in "Hottyz" hair salon.
Bobby: [to store clerk] Which hair gel do you suggest for my hair type: Virgin or Dirty Girl?
Hank: Bobby, truck!
- Taken to extremes on "Harlottown" when, after Hank and Peggy pick up a pair of porno actors who are stranded on the road, Hank leaves Bobby with John Redcorn in his house.
- In another episode Hank and Peggy order Bobby to leave the living room while a tampon commercial plays on TV and to come back when it's over.
- The propane convention episode has a mother covering her child's ears when Hank goes on a drunken rant denouncing Buck Strickland as a "bastard".
- In an episode of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, when Flapjack accidentally revealed that he faked a muteness curse so Captain K'nuckles can take him to a fair, the captain gets very mad and tells Flapjack to cover his ears. When he does, K'nuckles starts spewing unintelligible swears. After K'nuckles tells Flapjack he can take his hands off, a carnival barker awards him for his swears.
- In Mike Tyson Mysteries, "A River Runs Through It Into a Heart of Darkness", Mike does this to Yung at the end of the episode when the Earth extends its penis into the moon.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In episode "Flutter Brutter", a mare does this to her foal whenever she hears Fluttershy shout the word "peeved". The same mare does it again when Rainbow Dash uses it a few moments later.
- In "The Cutie Map – Part 1", the adult ponies of Our Town cover the ears of foals when the Mane Six have a bout of bickering.
- An episode of Peter Pan & the Pirates had Hook spouting some strong insults at Peter, prompting Wendy to cover Michael's ears. One of the pirates decides Hook's language is too strong by even pirate standards and covers the cabin boy's ears.
- The Simpsons:
- Ned Flanders does this to one of his sons in an episode after Moe loses his temper and repeatedly uses the word "freakin'". The boy cries "Ow, my freakin' ears!"
- A variation where Bart is sent to a religious school and is asked by the teacher to recite a poem. Bart complies with "Beans, beans the magical fruit! The more you eat the more, you toot!" Cut to Bart fleeing the furious mob, with the teacher yelling "Avert your eyes, children! It may take on other forms!"
- "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" Has Homer telling Bart and Lisa to go outside before he unleashes an Atomic F-Bomb.
- Another instance occurs when Santa's Little Helper gets into a greyhound racing circuit and manages to jump She's The Fastest. Bart and Lisa are confused by what's going on, with Bart thinking SLH is trying to jump over STF and can't quite make it. Marge groans and covers their eyes the moment she catches on to what's actually happening.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants, SpongeBob indulges in some Innocent Swearing over the PA system of the Krusty Krab. Among the shocked customers, one octopus mother uses her arms to cover up her children's ears, and manages the fifth by sticking a soda cup over his head.
- In the Steven Universe episode "Coach Steven", Pearl tries to cover Steven's eyes when Garnet and Amethyst start to fuse, which involves some mildly suggestive dancing including pelvic thrusting.
- In Transformers Prime, Bulkhead tells Miko to look away as he rips out a Vehicon's fuel pump. It's different for robots obviously, and she watches and declares "Cool!"
- Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa: In "Thoroughly Moo-Dern Lilli", when the dance-off between Lilli and her rival Sadie Wowcow devolves into a Cat Fight with their daring showgirl costumes being torn apart, the Dakota Dude is quick to cover Tagalong Kid Cody's eyes.
- The Yogi Bear Show: The Yakky Doodle segments, where his protector and best friend Chopper (a bulldog) would ask Yakky to cover his eyes and ears whenever Chopper got ready to pound one of the duckling's antagonists – usually Fibber Fox or Alfie Gator, who were looking for a quick meal – into a lifeless pulp. Said beatings always happened off-screen, with Fibber, Alfie or any other antagonist screaming and yowling off-screen (implying they are suffering severe punishment), although the aftermath was shown.
- The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings posters (for when the new NC-17 rating was issued in 1990) had illustrations for each rating; the one for "PG" (Parental Guidance Suggested) included a woman covering (presumably) her daughter's eyes — the implication being that "some material may not be suitable for children." The PG-13 rating had the father covering one of his son's eyes, while the girl — still with both eyes covered — also covered the eyes of an anthropomorphic rabbit. (The rabbit, BTW, humorously appears in the NC-17 portion of the poster... wearing dark sunglasses!)
- In one scene from Little Miss Sunshine, the adults in the van were having an obscenity-filled conversation while young Olive listened to music on her headphones. The director made sure that nine-year-old Abigail Breslin, who played Olive, had the music on her headphones loud enough that she actually couldn't hear the conversation.