In some family-oriented shows, instead of using completely made-up swear words, actual but relatively mild cuss words, such as "hell" and "damn", will get promoted to the top of the swearing ladder. To make up for the situation, they may use a Bowdlerisation of it.
Contrary to popular belief, the words "damn" and "hell" are permissible in a G-rated film. For example, the 1971 movie Airport had both ("Where the hell are you?" and "You've always got some damn excuse!") and it still received a G rating, though movie-rating standards have changed since then. Even some G-rated animated features, such as Sleeping Beauty, The Secret Of NIMH, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, have included mild swear words. However, it is worth noting that "Hell" can refer to the place and "damn" can mean condemnation to said place, and thus are not swear words even if such concepts are a little heavy for children. "Bitch" and "ass" almost never get such passes, though "ass" is sometimes used as a joke when referring to a donkey.
While "damn" is normally permissible, "goddamn" is considered blasphemous amongst more conservative Christian sects and so might be seen as on par with "fuck", if not worse. (This is particularly true in the US.) The Mash movie when shown on TV has had Sergeant Gorman's Catch Phrase, "Goddamn Army" bowdlerised to "Damn Army".
The use of "Hades" as an old-fashioned synonym for "hell" is theologically correct, in the right context, but is commonly misused in any context in which "hell" would work. Using Hades as Satan is never correct though. See also The Underworld for other terms that may be substituted in this manner in works based on other theological settings.
In the UK "sod" and "bugger" are mildly obscene (not that most people across the pond know this) but permissible pre-Watershed — about as bad as to "hell" or "damn". (Not realizing that "bugger" is a swearword in the UK is not this trope, but something else entirely.)note In fact, to "bugger" someone is to commit "buggery", that is, either sodomy or bestiality. "Sod" is derived from "sodomite".
Also, bear in mind that something doesn't need swearing to be dramatic, nor does not swearing make something undramatic. In most cases, they are used for emphasis.
Please take in consideration when listing real life examples that there is nothing wrong with not swearing. On the same hand, there is nothing wrong with swearing. This page is not for pointing out how stupid you personally think censoring swearing is.
Note: This is a page for listing moments where swearing is deliberately censored or a replacement to a real world swear word is used. It is not a page to list moment where swearing would have looked cool, or for moments where you believe swearing would have improved a line.
The kid-friendly variant of Bowdlerise. See also Curse of the Ancients, Never Say "Die", T-Word Euphemism, Big Stupid Doodoo Head and the Wikipedia article on minced oaths. Contrast Cluster F-Bomb which is the exact opposite. A favorite tool of the Badbutt — the G-rated Badass. Another character type known for this is the Minnesota Nice.
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Travel site Booking.com loves copiously using "booking" as a sub for the F-bomb in their ads.
Anime and Manga
The Mega Man NT Warrior manga. The Viz translation creates some pretty damn ridiculous swearwords. Mega Man Hub Style is about to die unless he can pick himself up off the ground and can only mutter "dang blang!" However, a Bass who is simply incensed will preach about experiencing "Hell itself". This translation also uses vocabulary WAY beyond the target audience. "Pablum," "wanton"...
The later game translations also had some odd euphemisms, particularly "Pit Hockey". Even "heck" at least would've been alliterative. Zero: Curses! Dang! Rats!
In certain Internet versions of Fruits Basket, they took out the line "What the fuck?", which they said at least seven times in a row, and put in various other lines. Natsuki Takaya doesn't usually do this, but the translators apparently wanted to make it cleaner.
In the Slayers anime, "damn," "bastard" and "hell" are thrown around semi-liberally (a given, because "hell" is a part of the name of one Big Bad, Hellmaster Fibrizo), but they never go beyond. The biggest blurb is when the word "bitch" has the opportunity to pop up, but it doesn't, leaving many instances of awkward uses of "you son-of-a...". It is mentioned in an episode of NEXT, but only once and not in the aforementioned context. It's pretty clear that they go far beyond that in the Japanese version, if one knows the local profanity.
Even though the translated Light Novel series had some censorship, notably, they avert this trope and throw "shit" around frequently.
The Funimation dub of Dragon Ball Z abused this to hell. It was bit... odd hearing a brutal tyrant like Frieza saying "Oh my gosh". Or Goku watching something horrible happen and only being able to respond with "Guh...Darn it!" in Sean Schemmel's voice, no less. They even went so far as to change the writing on the T-shirts of demons in the afterlife so that instead of Hell (as in the place), they said HFIL, stating it was an acronym for "Home For Infinite Losers."
The Viz manga also has characters saying "darn" here and there.
Completely averted in the Hungarian dub of Soul Eater, with the teen heroes using a rich vocabulary of swears and profanity that would make even the creators themselves hide under the table, whenever they're seriously pissed. The fact that it's airing after ten PM may have something to do with it.
In Fullmetal Alchemist, after Al and Ed's battle at the 5th Laboratory, Winry comes to visit Ed at the hospital and tries to force him to drink his milk (which he hates). Al then tells Ed to "Shut up and drink the dumb milk." Entirely in-character, seeing as Al is a very polite young boy trapped inside a giant suit of Animated Armor.
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane has its teenage girl protagonists replace relatively mild "Omigod!" with "Omigosh!" whenever they get excited.
J. Jonah Jameson in most incarnations has an impressive vocabulary of mild swears ranging from "Poppycock" to "What in the dad-blamed Sam Hill?" Although in one comic by Peter David, when he gets repeated notes signed "F.N.S.M." (Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man), he mutters "I hate that F-n' S.M."
In Madman, the titular character can't bring himself to curse even in the most dire of circumstances.
Luke Cage: Hero for Hire - Luke promised his Momma he wouldn't swear. He just says things that sound kinda like usual swears, like "Sweet Christmas" and "Holy Spit!". He's been known to curse on rare occasion.
Nova never swears for the same reason. "Blue Blazes!" (his dad does it too)
Squirrel Girl seems incapable of anything harsher than "Good golly gosh!" During the GLX-Mas Special, she warned the readers that the comic contained inappropriate use of the word "flock." Partly justified because the use of the word "flock" involved Mr. Immortal screaming Flock You!, as a substitute for, you know, (sorry, I can't say with gentlemen present). Partly because Mr. Immortal was flocking with a flocking gun...
X-Men – Wolverine, whose vocabulary likely includes a lot of words The Comics Code would have looked askance at, has generally settled on "flaming" as a compromise. He once prepared to fight Sabretooth by announcing it was time to open a can of "kick-butt."
Seeing as, in more modern times, "flaming" refers, often in a derogatory way, to being flamboyantly homosexual, the change makes it worse. Instead of being a potty-mouth, now Wolverine sounds like a homophobe.
Mark Gruenwald's Justice League pastiche series Squadron Supreme did this constantly, being released before Marvel began releasing comics without Comics Code approval. The result is a dark, cynical deconstruction of the Justice League with no insults harsher than "Son of a fish!"
PS238 has Zodon, a evil genius attending a school for superpowered children. The staff janitor is a technical genius himself though and implants a chip into Zodon which forces him to replace swear words with harmless random words. If he tries to go into a stream of profanity he will begin speaking out the lyrics to show tunes.
Atomic Robo doesn't swear, tending to make use of more esoteric terms like "horsefeathers!" and "Cheese and Crackers!" Justified, since Robo was created and "grew up" before World War II.
Captain America - The Cap, being traditional American values on legs, never swears, though sometimes uses this trope.
[Captain America jumps onto an F-15 and smashes the cockpit. Understandably, the pilot expresses his surprise]
Captain America: Keep flying, son. And watch that potty mouth!
Some Fridge Logic there. Using the Lord's name in vain would be blasphemy, not "potty-mouth". For someone who is written as strongly Christian in the comics, you'd expect he would make the distinction.
Tintin - Tintin himself would use "Great Snakes!" As a sailor Captain Haddock's stream of abuse was, if not rude, then certainly inventive. His trademark phrases were "Billions of blue blistering barnacles!" and "Thousands of thundering typhoons!" When particularly angry, "billions of blue blistering barnacles in a thundering typhoon!" was heard.
When Herge originally designed the character, he wanted him to swear, well, like a sailor. However, the publishers wouldn't let him, so he came up with a bunch of creative euphemisms instead. It became one of the Captain's defining and most memorable character traits.
In The Powerpuff Girls story "Smart And Smarter" (Cartoon Network Block Party #59), Blossom alienates her sisters by trying to show how intellectually inferior they are to her. When she asks Buttercup what her motivation for fighting Mojo is, Buttercup replies, "Usually it's to beat the puckey out of him...but right now it's to get you to shut up!!
Knights of the Dinner Table usually spells "God" as "Gawd". They also frequently use amusing outburst like "Firk-Ding-Blast!" and "What the SAM FRICK?"
Several members of the Archer family in Archer And Armstrong speak like this. Even during a battle to the death they won't utter anything stronger than "goshdangit" or "flippin' bullcorn".
In the Harry Potter fanfic And I Swear, Ron casts a "Potty Mouth Reversal Spell" on himself to try and curb his swearing. It automatically translates everything he says into this trope (even when he's having sex with Hermione). He even says "Gosh darn it to heck!"
"You and your vagina are extremely slippery tonight. I hope you found my efforts satisfying."
"Mother loving cheese on a biscuit!"
In The Feel of Feelings Harry came out of an undeserved two-year stay in Azkaban a little loopy. When Hermione started dragging him by his foot after he expressed extreme reluctance to go shopping with her he yelled "Holy mother of sheep! What in the name of chickens are you doing? Cheese and crackers woman! Stop killing the brain cells that I have managed to preserve!"
Hivefled: Equius has become a little less repressed at the age of eight sweeps, to the point that he takes an obvious opening for a sexual insult towards Eridan, but still doesn't swear. The gang know something is horribly wrong when he utters the word "crud".
Another Homestuck fic, Shock Collar, renders Eridan unable to even do this; Equius makes the eponymous device to prevent Eridan swearing. Eridan eventually resorts to "Goodness!", which freaks everyone out.
cA: burn in hell
cA: GOD DARN I
cA: IT SETS OFF AT DARN
cT: D —> Of course
cA: im goin to find you and rip your intestines out through your a
cT: D —> Oh dear
Film - Animated
Several films use the word "hell" metaphorically to mean a very horrible place or situation in two Disney/Pixar films, Cars (McQueen laments to a tourist couple passing through Radiator Springs "Don't leave me here! I'm in hillbilly hell!") and Ratatouille (Skinner greets Linguini on the latter's second day on the job with "Welcome to hell!"), both of which are G rated.
Some films use hell literally. Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty: "Now you will deal with me and all the powers of Hell!" Frollo says hell about a dozen times, but it's always literal. His own song is called Hellfire.
Cars - In the clip at the end of the credits: "For the love of Chrysler!"
Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio calls Lampwick a "jackass" even before he knew about the whole "turning boys into donkeys" thing. He meant in the sense of "jerk" or "fool." (Incidentally, the two homonyms for ass are etymologically unrelated.)
Mansley: (finally snaps in fear) Screw our country! I wanna live... (tries to flee)
In Wreck-It Ralph, Fix-It Felix Jr. is a justified example of this trope, since swearing or being mean isn't in his code, so as a result, he can't swear or anything of the sort. An example is when Ralph attempts to break Felix out of jail. This line is spoken:
Felix: I don't have to do boo - forgive my pottymouth. I'm just so... so cross with you!
The Lion King has Timon censoring Pumbaa before he says the word "Fart." "Pumbaa! Not in front of the kids!"
As well as Timon about to say ass, before turning said word into a scream.
Timon: Why do I always have to save your aAAAGGGHHH!
Played straight and parodied in Madagascar. At one point a character says "Darn you! Darn you all to heck!" Later on this is parodied as a Parental Bonus. The protagonists are stranded on an island and a character makes a large "HELP" out of unsturdy tree trunks, and the right side of the P falls to the ground, forming "HELL". Because kids can't read...right?
Darla Dimple gets away with swearing in the German-language version of Cats Don't Dance, though not in the English. "I wouldn't have gotten all of this/If I hadn't learned to defend myself damned well!" This seems appropriate, considering herpersonality.
Rat: Our pens have turned to ink-sicles! Our assets are frozen!
In Back to the Future, Doc Brown uses "Great Scott!" whenever he's excited or surprised. In the second movie, Doc expresses his frustration with "Sir Isaac H. Newton". Also parodied somewhat when young George wonders if it's appropriate to swear when coming to Lorraine's rescue, to which Marty responds "yes, goddamnit, swear!"
At the beginning, Lorraine scolds Dave for saying "Goddamn it". Subverted in a few scenes, like when Biff chases Marty through Hill Valley in Part 1:
(Biff and his cronies look forwards, there is a manure truck in front of them)
Biff and Co.: Shit!
(Crashes into the truck and manure falls into the convertible)
In the third movie when Mad Dog Tannen winds up in a pile of manure the sheriff says "Get him out of that shit".
Doc: When this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're gonna see some serious shit.
In Hocus Pocus Max tells his mother that his day at school "sucked". He is then told to mind his language.
In Johnny Dangerously, Roman Moronie mangles all his cursing, resulting in words like "bastige" and "farging iceholes." In one scene, he says, "Thees ees fargin war!" Cue the Spinning Paper, the headline of which reads, "Fargin War."
Averted in the Speed RacerLive-Action Adaptation: The film keeps a PG rating despite having its fair share of cursing. They used "ass" and "damn" a bunch of times, and used "shit" twice - one had a Sound Effect Bleep in-movie because the character was on TV, but the other wasn't and was said by Speed himself, although it was hard to hear due to the car noises in the background. The Annoying Younger Sibling actually flips off the main villain.
In The Right Stuff, John Glenn is portrayed as being very averse to foul language. So much so that even if he wants to curse, he can't. Not even the word "damn"!
John Glenn: And most of all, I am sick and tired of being second to those... *struggles* ...those darn Russians!
Lampshaded in Oscar; Sylvester Stallone is having the worst day of his life, as he is walking through his house, cursing, he notices the Cardinal who is waiting for him, and immediately switches to non-offensive "swears".
Blazing Saddles plays this trope straight and then subverts it when Taggart gives us this gem:
Taggart: What in the Wide World of Sports is a-going on here? I hired you people to get a little track laid, not to jump around like a bunch of Kansas City faggots!
Bullet Proof Monk was originally going to have an R rating, during the switch to a PG-13 rating, one of the characters was renamed Mr. Funktastic from his previously, more offensive moniker. His original name is still noticeable where his necklace has been suspiciously affixed to his chest to cover up his tattoo.
Parodied in The Brady BunchMovie, which lampooned the goody-goodyness of the 70s show. When Mr. Brady confronts the villain, the bad guy, ready for a showdown, angrily threatens to "Kick your Brady butt!" The entire family, who are watching, gasp in absolute horror, with little Cindy crying, "Daddy, he said the B-Word!"
The films of Jared Hess, such as Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, do not contain any hard swear words, most likely due to Hess' Mormon faith. This gets parodied in Date Movie with a Napoleon spoof repeatedly saying "God"
Played with very amusingly in Zack and Miri Make a Porno; during their scene in the titular porno, Zack and Miri are (very badly) doing so cliche porno dialogue. Zack blurts out "I'm gonna fuck you with my pecker" and Miri crossly tells Zack that she's offended by that. Bemused, Zack changes the word 'pecker' to 'penis' to Miri's approval.
In Semi Pro, one character calls another a "jive turkey," and this is treated as the worst insult imaginable. The other characters try to defuse the situation by claiming he actually said "cocksucker".
In Mystery Men the Blue Rajah uses cutlery-related speech, which thereby extends to swearing like "What the fork?" It is done for laughs: he also uses actual curses more than any other character in the movie. For example, at one point he quite audibly mutters "Oh, shit." Plus cases of distinctly British cursing, like "bugger all." That could be a case of Did Not Do the Bloody Research, though.
The DVD release of Hot Fuzz included a feature entitled "Hot Funk: The TV Version", which takes some scenes from the movie that involve swearing and replacing them with typical TV edit dubs, leading to lines such as "What the funk?!" and "Aw, peas and rice!"
The impact of the scene in It's a Wonderful Life where George, filled with rage and self-disgust, rejects Potter job offer and tells him off is a little diluted by George's wrathful "Doggone it!"South Park showed us how these scenes might have gone without The Hays Code:
You-oo you just can't buy people, Mr. Potter, wuh— Why, you know what you are? You're a little bitch. That's right, you're a bitch, and I bet you'd like to suck it, wouldn't you?
Given the way Jimmy Stewart talked in real life, it isn't too far fetched to imagine him doing this in an out-take.
The Hairy Bird: "Up your ziggy with a wah-wah brush!" and "None of your floppin' buggies!"
The eponymous Mystery Team expresses pain and anger through childish euphemisms... usually.
Averted in the 1954 film version of Carmen Jones, though it took quite a bit of effort at the time to get the censors to pass Hammerstein's line, "Stan' up an' fight like hell!"
The 1962 movie The Music Man uses this, but is justified by its setting being 1912. This causes some great comedy when all the parents are terrified by their children using such foul words like "swell" and "so's your old man".
In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the crooked meat dealer is outwitted by a clever ploy Francie's mom told her to use, and responds "Sweet Jumping Christopher!"
Captain America in The Avengers. The single rudest he has ever used in his cinematic appearances was "bastard". He also used "son of a gun" rather than anything more expletive than that.
In The Cave, Piper Perabo screams memorably of the monsters coming after her that "They fly, they freaking fly!" Another case of sacrificed on the alter of the PG-13 rating.
In Aliens, when ordered not to use heavy weapons for fear of setting off a destructive chain reaction, one of the Marines shouts back at Ripley "Well, what are we expected to use, then; harsh language?"
They get to use "damn" as early as Chapter 3 in Book 1, and throw in "hell" when Cedric is about to be tortured by the Mind Controlled Krum in Book 4, but come Book 5, we get to drop the fucking F-Bomb and all we get is "EFFing" used at least twice if not more ("Enough...effing...OWLS!"). (second time was in Book 7, near the end I think) Also in Book 7, Hermione calls Ron an "arse," and Molly Weasley famously calls Bellatrix Lestrange a "bitch."
Context is all: these are British books. While "damn" and "hell" might offend some in the US, they are no longer at all offensive in the UK. "Arse" and "bitch" are both relatively minor curses, and "effing" is just a euphemism. As far as I am aware, there has been no outcry in the UK over the language in the books.
The children's book Library Lil has a Badass Biker gang use words like danged, lily-livered and tough cookies.
Parodied in Interesting Times. After Truckle the Uncivil is given a list of swearwords and their "civilized" counterparts, and being cut off every time he tries to use a word not on the list, he is finally reduced to shouting "Dang it all to heck!" "We've captured a f...a lovemaking pipe!"
Later in the book, when facing the Big Bad, he spends a few minutes consulting the list, after which he pronounces the Big Bad a "misbegotten wretch". Mister Saveloy, who wrote the list, is shocked.
In Reaper Man, the excess of life force causes Mustrum Ridcully to produce small, strange-looking creatures whenever he swears. He resorts to euphemisms to prevent this from happening, and eventually produces "the most genteel battle-cry in the history of Bowdlerisation: 'Darn them to heck!'" In the same book, one character suggests he use "Sugar!" like Mrs. Whitlow does. He responds, "She might say 'Sugar', but she means--"
Proving that there's nothing that won't offend someone, somewhere, concerned parents wrote Terry Pratchett about Tulip's preferred obscenity, worried that their children would start saying it. The author was quite baffled by this, especially because it's not a swear, and when used in the context of a swear, it's essentially a self-censoring profanity.
Mr. Tulip actually responds to a complaint about his constant profanity with "What? I don't ——ing swear!" at one point. I can only imagine Pratchett's response was much the same. One of the conspirators does manage to understand Mr. Tulip's censored swearing:
Mr. Tulip: It's not a ——ing harpsichord, it's a ——ing virginal! One ——ing string to a note instead of two! So called because it was an instrument for ——ing young ladies!
Chair: My word, was it? I thought it was just a sort of early piano!
Mr. Pin: A device intended to be played by young ladies.
It's said that Mr. Tulip has a speech impediment that prevents him from saying much more than "——ing."
In Monstrous Regiment, Shufti gives herself away as a woman when she says "Sugar!" instead of a proper swear. Polly internally tsks her about it when she realizes, 'Sugar! She doesn't swear either.' Later on, when Polly says "damn" in the middle of a sentence, Tonker tells her "Er... not damn. Not with the skirt on, Ozz."
Susan Sto Helit, a kindergarten teacher, realises she really must get out and meet more adults when, in the complete absence of any children, she says, "Does a bear poo in the woods?"
In Night Watch, we're introduced to a Night Watch sergeant with strict religious values, which stops him from swearing at recruits— or would do "if sergeants weren't so creative." He redresses the "regiment" they've acquired with "sons of mothers" and "you shower!"
Award-winning British young adults' novel Henry Tumour sprinkles profanities all over the place, including "fuck" - once in bold, very large print - with the teenage narrator explaining that this is just how teenagers talk, but that since there's one word he's not allowed to use in a kids' book he has to misspell it "cnut".
So someone is insulting someone else by calling that person an Anglo-Saxon king?
Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead. He changed every instance of the word "fuck" to "fug" because he had too much profanity. When Mailer later was introduced to Dorothy Parker, she allegedly greeted him by saying, "So you're the man who can't spell 'fuck.'"
"Fug" is a real word, funnily enough, meaning "stale air."
It was a word for smog in the late 19th century. Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg sometimes claimed that this was the origin of their band name.
In John Green's An Abundance of Katherines, Colin and Hassan both say "fug" instead of "fuck". When the character Lindsey asks (to paraphrase) "Why the fuck do you say fug?" they explain that it is a reference to Norman Mailer's The Good and the Dead.
In the Pagan series (it was his name), he used, "Christ in a cream cheese sauce".
Completely justified in Warrior Cats, since all the characters are cats with a different vocabulary, and therefore, different profanities than us humans, so it's understandable when a character exclaims "mouse dung!" or calls someone a "fox-hearted traitor".
The only time this gets ridiculous is when Tigerstar calls Firestar, his arch-enemy, a "stinking furball". When Ashfur called Squirrelflight a "faithless she-cat", he really meant "whore" (it works in context, and explains Hollyleaf's shocked reaction).
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy generally has characters using fictional profanities, such as telling people to "Zark off", or swearing to the great prophet Zarquon. Interestingly, it mixes in the occasional real swear word, although usually only for effect, such as when a character receives an award for "The most gratuitous use of the word 'Fuck' in a serious screen-play".
That last one was censored beautifully in the American release, where they changed it so that everywhere but Earth, the word "Belgium" is a terrible profanity. Also used in the original radio version. Belgium, the single worst swearword in the universe, brought up (appropriately) when the ship crashed into a 15-mile high statue of Arthur Dent Throwing A Cup At The Nutromatic Machine.
In Bloodhound and other young-adult fantasy novels by Tamora Pierce, the characters use "swive" instead of "fuck." What Pierce seems to have failed to tell her editors is that "swive" is an actual medieval English word that means the same thing as "fuck."
In Warhammer 40,000 novels, despite the rampant grimdark of the setting, it seems Tanith First-And-Only, who vary widely from Badbutt heroes to redshirts are trained to not only replace all instances of the f-word with "feth", but use it to replace every other curse word, and every non-curse insult (half-wit becomes "feth-wit".)
"Feth-wit" could actually be a replacement for "fuckwit", but unless Dan Abnettweighs in, its tough to be sure.
In the Young Jedi Knights books, Jacen Solo says "Blaster bolts!" when he gets frustrated.
In one of Outdoor Life humorist Patrick McManus' stories, he mentions that one of his hunting/fishing/camping companions dislikes another and insists on referring to him by a variety of "crude anatomical names". Throughout the rest of the story, the character in question keeps addressing the other as "you kneecap", "that elbow", etc.
White Court vampires say "Empty night" in contexts that suggest they consider it very "strong language". Not exactly Foreign Cuss Word or Pardon My Klingon. It's going to be the title of the final book of the apocalyptic trilogy, according to Word of God.
From the Vorkosigan series, Ekaterin doesn't like to give offence. After falling down 4 metres into a muddy river while wearing her best clothes (and a VIP falling in after her while trying to save her):
Ekaterin (faintly): Oh. Drat. Miles Vorkosigan: Madame Vorsoisson, has it ever occurred to you that you may be just a touch oversocialized?
Big Jim Rennie from Under the Dome has no qualms about murdering people or ordering arson or selling drugs or... you get the picture, but as ridiculous as it may sound, he won't swear. His favorite substitute for a swear word would be "cotton-picking" (as in "this cotton-picking short-order cook"), but he's also fond of using "rhymes-with-witch" instead of "bitch" or "clustermug" instead of "clusterfuck". And Rennie can't stand it, when people swear in his presence, either.
Annie Wilkes' favorite expletive in Misery is "Jeezly crow!" She also uses a number of other swear replacements, which is quite jarring when compared to her actions. She won't say "damn" but she's okay chopping off someone's thumb and serving it to them on a birthday cake...
Ender's Game ran afoul of "bugger" being somewhat obscene outside the US, leading to unintended humour where drama was intended. The author was unaware of the wider meaning of the word when he wrote the book; more recent books in the series refer to the species as the "Formics". Lampshaded in Ender's Shadow, where one Dutch nun comments that they shouldn't use the word "bugger" because it's a bad word in English, but maybe it's ok because I.F. Common isn't English (it is only 'mostly' English).
The Wheel of Time treats bloody and flaming as horrific curses. Many of the made-up curses in the books are based on these, such as the positively indecent blood and ashes!
As a matter of fact, this is how a Cluster F-Bomb is represented in the books:
Uno: All I'm bloody saying is that I bloody saw her, burn you. Just before we found the goat-kissing Halfman. The same flaming woman as at the flaming ferry. She was there, and then she bloody wasn't. You say what you bloody want to, but you watch how you flaming say it, or I'll bloody skin you myself, and burn the goat-kissing hide, you sheep-gutted milk-drinker.
In Eclipse, Bella describes having The Talk with her father as "beyond the seventh circle of Hades."
In the Doctor Who spinoff novels, the Eighth Doctor uses terms such as "sugarmice" and "poppycock". However, other characters do in fact swear from time to time. The Doctor is just quirky. Lampshaded: the Fifth Doctor says "you know, I wish there were times when I used expletives".
Fitz, possibly the most foul-mouthed character in the Eighth Doctor Adventures, does occasionally use minced oaths such as "Gordon Bennett". But he's from 1963, his mum raised him well when she was in her right mind, and he's basically a Nice Guy, so even though he smokes, drinks, wears leather, and has a Girl of the Week in almost every book, it seems believable his language would only be as vulgar as the situation warrants.
This trope is used unintentionally in a lot of older books, due to Values Dissonance. For example, Holden Caufield is often admonished for swearing when the worst thing he ever says is "goddamn" (granted, it was more serious at the time). Nowadays, it's funny for younger people to read because the swear is so mild.
The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death has a character named Flipping Hades Terwilliger, which is probably a nickname inspired by this trope.
Interestingly, she has no problem using the word "slut" and "aw, hell!."
Live Action TV
Prior to the late 1960s, virtually all television programs never permitted even so much as a hell, damn or ass on TV, except in religious contexts. (All three swear words are in various translations of the Bible.) That meant usually double-entendre was substituted, or the scripts rewritten to avoid even the suggestion. Little by little, TV dramas, usually gritty ones, began using mild profanities ... that is until potty-mouthed Archie Bunker broke the door wide open.
In a couple of episodes of Mathnet, George uses a phrase like "gosh darn" and then apologizes for "swearing" or "cursing."
Also done with the bailiff swearing in witnesses during George's trial for bank robbery:
Bailiff: "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you Gosh?"
In an episode of ALF, the alien of the title hurt himself while building something and went off on an angry rant about "the gosh darned thing", emphasizing as if he were cursing in pain. As the family stared at him in shock, he said, "I come from a polite society."
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not attempting to be family-friendly, but The Mayor often acts like an evil Howdy-Doody. He very, very rarely curses, and when confronted with the fact he was about one second from blowing up, his only comment was, "Well, gosh." This is made all the more jarring when you consider that by this time the Mayor had been transformed into a gigantic, people-eating snake-demon. His non-swears are there for the comedy value. Because swearing is rare for the Mayor, when he does swear we notice. It makes the scene in the hospital a lot more meaningful, when he calls Buffy a whore after putting Faith in a coma.
White Collar: In the promos for episode 2x14- "Payback", Neal is seen on a cell phone talking to his nemesis, Matthew Keller just after Peter is kidnapped by Keller's associates.
Neal: Dammit, Keller! This isn't a game!
However, in the actual scene in the show, the actual swear is the usually-taboo "Goddammit".
Considering how rarely the urbane character ever even uses mild cuss words, this is even more impactful and effectively conveys precisely how much Peter's kidnapping affected him.
And in contrast, Peter's character didn't even go that far in episode 3x11- "Checkmate", using the milder "Dammit, Neal!" when he finds out Neal had known where the treasure from the Nazi sub was all along, and that secret had gotten Peter's wife Elizabeth kidnapped by Matthew Keller, who wanted the treasure for himself.
Reality Is Unrealistic: HBO's sitcom Deadwood is set in the 1870s, but it used anachronistic swearing specifically to avert this trope. It may have gone too far in the opposite direction. Creator David Milch said they originally planned to use genuine 1870's profanity, but test audiences thought the characters sound too much like Yosemite Sam! The modern swearing was designed to capture the effect of period swearing.
Characters on Grange Hill never said anything stronger than "Flippin' 'eck!" This fact was parodied on The Young Ones, where, during a Grange Hill spoof featuring students with names like "Rucker" and "Sucker", Mr. Liberal criticises the boys for their bad influence on the youth of Britain, only to be told, "Come off it, sir! We're the only kids in the country who never say fu... [SCENE CUTS].
The Mormon and FLDS characters in HBO's Big Love use such culturally appropriate expletives as "goshdarn" and "Oh my heck!" While it may be culturally appropriate, generally only the Utah Mormons go in for "oh my heck" instead of "oh my gosh", lest they be labeled a "utard", which admittedly is a fairly offensive term all around.
iCarly: Many characters have a habit of using certain words as substitutes for words they cannot get past the radar (like the Shay siblings' "Shoosh yeah!"). Can be considered an Unusual Euphemism but most of the time, it's a bit surprising what got past the radar.
"Cheese and rice!" Spoken by the principal himself with the matching accent for the expression it sounds like.
Freddie's "This is serious chiz!" was controversial enough for some people on YouTube to claim that iCarly had used a swear word. Hilarity Ensues if any non-viewer of the show saw the video and thought the swear word is Sam's last name.
The Second Doctor uttered these constantly — "Oh, my giddy aunt!" "Great jumping gobstoppers!" "Oh my goodness me!" etc.
The Tenth Doctor's favorite minced oath is "blimey".
While, back in the late-80s era of the Seventh, you had such joys as Ace (the rebellious teen with a destructive streak) shouting "Gordon Bennett!" and "You toerag!", while hardened military commander Brigadier Winifred Bambera is heard exclaiming "Oh, shame" when things go wrong. The episode Paradise Towers also included some supposedly futuristic (and conveniently mild) invented slang and cursing, including "ice hot!"
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, when having to deal with both the Second and Third Doctors at once, explodes in rage at Second's repeated attempts to find his misplaced recorder. The Brig finally shouts that he doesn't have time for "standing around looking for some ''damn-fool flute!"
The New Series has had plenty of "what the hell"s, however. It has also started including "bloody" in times of extreme stress. Lampshaded by Ten in his final episode, where he chastises Wilf for swearing.
In "The Unquiet Dead", Charles Dickens used the variation on the minced oath "What the dickens" (which actually existed in William Shakespeare's time) with "What the Shakespeare?"
The Middleman - The Middleman himself speaks like he stepped out of the 1950s. He refuses to swear on the basis that, according to him, "profanity cheapens the soul and weakens the mind." Wendy's surprise when he says that Voyager 2 is "coming in hotter than the devil's wedding tackle" is genuine.
Characters in Father Ted use the word "feck", which is not a euphemism but an actual, if pretty mild, Irish swear-word without an obvious widely used British equivalent. And in a couple of episodes a sorely-pressed character cuts loose with an actual f-bomb.
In-show, feck is treated like "fuck" would be in the real world. When Ted goes on a picnic he meets an angry couple whose spot he has taken. Their tirade is along the lines of 'fup you, you fupping baxtard. This is our fupping spot'. When Ted looks at the couple in bafflement the man points to a sign at the edge of the picnic area saying 'No swearing'. Since the word feck was displayed on a billboard and complained about, there was an inquiry into the word and it was officially deemed not to be a swearword in early December 2008.
Lampshade Hanging when Mrs Doyle is shocked by a book she's reading: "'Feck this!' and 'Feck that!' 'You big hairy arse!' Feirce stuff. And the F-word, Father, the bad F-word. Worse than feck. You know the one I mean. F you, F your wife. I'll stick this F-ing pitchfork up your hole."
Subverted in the Bottom finale. When the Ferris wheel carriage they're stuck on starts to collapse, the following dialogue progresses [The italicized words were censored on television]:
Richie: Oh Blimey! Eddie: Oh my stars! Richie: Splice my sausages! Eddie: Cor, lummy! Richie: Christmas Pudding! Eddie: Blood and stomach pills! Richie: ...hey Eddie, we sure know how to swear, eh? Eddie: You ƒucking well hit the clit right on the nail there, you cunting bastard!
In Rowan Atkinson's "First Day of Hell" sketch, Satan says "You're all here for eternity, which I hardly need tell you is a heck of a long time."
Lampshaded in an episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! when a Marine playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare scores a satisfying kill and shouts "Oh dear!" Penn comments, "Oh dear? Oh, I'm so sorry you had to hear that. That's the kind of salty language you pick up in the service today."
Flight of the Conchords does this. In one of their songs, they self-censor the "motherfuckers" in the chorus by dropping the f. Both Jemaine and Bret are fond of saying "flip" as a curse, despite their liberally swearing friend Dave.
HBO sketch show Mr. Show featured Pallies, a parody of Good Fellas. In it, the swearing is switched to words such as "loopy nerd" and "Chinese dentist" and a middle finger is changed to a thumbs up. The movie is then shown to be presented as a morning movie.
J.D.: Sometimes you just gotta say "What the fudge." Elliot: That's not the line. J.D.: I saw it on a plane.
There's also Elliot's repeated "fricks", which come from growing up in a conservative household.
When JD got "so gee-darn pissed right now" at Dr. Cox for a misunderstanding with one of the interns.
"Bajingo, bajingo, bajingo, we must have looked at a million woman's bajingos today. I'm not even comfortable looking at my own bajingo." "Is it because it looks so much like a vagina?"
In the BBC comedy series A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie do a sketch parodying bowdlerisation and watchdog groups using the made-up obscenity "pimhole," among others. Everyone reacts with horror when Laurie invokes the fictitious words, then barely flinch when he actually cusses. The skit ends with a studio exec (Fry) confronting an outraged (over the use of "pimhole") female viewer and telling her to sod off.
Harry Enfield had sketch which parodied a foul-mouthed gangster film. The characters were arguing about something, but it wasn't entirely clear what, because every swear word was dubbed over. "Kiss my [knees], [muddyfunster]".
The episode "A Very Supernatural Christmas" features a pair of ancient pagan gods who pose as a heartwarming older couple, even while preparing Dean and Sam for sacrifice.
Dean: OW! You bitch! Madge: Oh my goodness me! Someone owes a nickel to the swear jar! Do you know what I say when I feel like swearing? "Fudge." Dean:I'll try and remember that! ... Dean: If you fudging touch me again, I'll fudging kill you! Madge: Very good!
In the episode "Ghostfacers," stronger profanity is bleeped out reality tv-style, and several of the bleeped words are clearly "fuck," which the brothers don't use in the show due to network rules. In fact, under the bleeps, there's a whole lot more profanity than usual for this show...which begs the question—wouldn't two men raised on the road by their ex-Marine father swear more than they do?
Sam and Dean generally use the word "freaking" where people in Real Life would use "fucking," due to aforementioned network rules.
Jon Stewart: There's something I'd like to say to the government officials in charge. (dubbed over voice: thank) You!
The only swear word in Star Trek: The Original Series was Kirk's line at the end of "The City on the Edge of Forever": "Let's get the hell out of here." Hardly unusual today, but as mentioned at the start of the folder it was practically a Precision F-Strike back then.
Dr. McCoy was fond of "Blast!" Well, at least until the movies, which somewhat expanded his vocabulary. He also asks Spock "Are you out of your Vulcan mind" in the 2009 film, which he used at least twice in the series ("Gamesters of Triskelion" and "Elaan of Troyius") and once in The Wrath of Khan.
Wrath of Khan had the same line; DeForest Kelley didn't play it for laughs like the 2009 version did.
On Good Eats, Alton Brown occasionally lets fly with "Goshdarn" or "Goshdarnit", and frequently uses "Oh bother!".
Alton Brown's travel show, Feasting On Asphalt featured a very few scattered uttering of "Hell" and "Damn." Brown himself though once expressed himself with a deeply heartfelt "Great Googly-Moogly!"
An episode of How I Met Your Mother featured a brief clip from Lethal Weapon to show the namesake of Ted's "Murtaugh List". It is so named because of the catch phrase that Danny Glover's character mutters throughout the four Lethal Weapon movies: "I'm getting too old for this s—" interrupted by Ted, who tells his kids, "Stuff. He says stuff."
At the end of the episode, the manager of the laser tag arena tells them "You're too old for this-" and Ted tells the kids "Stuff. He said stuff."
In the sitcom Red Dwarf, most profanities are replaced by the word "smeg" or a variant (such as "smegger" or "smeghead") which is supposedly an offensive word in the show. It is likely that smeg has an obscene origin (stick an 'ma' on the end), although the authors of the show claim it was invented separately.
Both the show and books occasionally use "goit" and "gimboid" as insults too. More conventional swearing and insults creep in from time to time ("bastard" is often used to describe Rimmer for example - even by himself! - and, infamously, the word "twat" was used once, in the episode Polymorph).
On CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, a nightclub security man is checking new arrivals for weapons, and his metal-detector wand beeps when he waves it near a young woman's groin. Her excuse is "My kitty's pierced".
The IT Crowd - "I'm at the end of my flipping rope!" "Moss! It's not like you to use that sort of language!" "Flip off!" "I've got a mother-flipping gun!"
In Just Shoot Me!, Nina dates a guy who thinks she's southern and does not smoke, drink or cuss, just like he doesn't. Yeah, right.
Done somewhat strangely in House. "Ass", "bitch" and "bastard" get thrown around pretty freely, and "screw you" is acceptable. So the cussin' feels a bit more authentic. What is odd though, is that everyone refers to House as an ass rather than an asshole. It is broadcast television and you're not allowed to say asshole.
Even cable does this for most of the shows. That said, Foreman did call House an asshole in the pilot episode, he just said it as he was closing a cabinet and looking away to address Cameron as he was saying it, making it Cuss cutaway.
In MacGyver, the title character's clean-cut behaviour extended to sometimes ridiculously mild cussing, including an actual "Gosh dang it!" in the pilot episode. An occasional "damn" or "crap" sometimes slipped through. Other characters were allowed to swear, subject to the limitations of that era's TV language restrictions.
Stargate SG-1 - Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell, when particularly annoyed, will exclaim "Mary and Joseph!" Given his delivery, he may as well have left the first name in. He had a very strict, Bible-believing Baptist grandmother, who would probably have trained him not to take the Lord's name in vain. They made up for it by allowing him to say "Shit" in The Ark of Truth.
Sam Carter uses "Holy Hannah" and "Oh boy", even when faced with what looks like certain death. When her father is introduced he uses the same phrases, and you can almost see the little lightbulbs going off in the other character's heads as they realize why Sam doesn't swear.
Done in the Battlestar Galactica remake series: they've substituted "Frak" for the f-word. Seeing as how it follows the story of a military vessel where humanity has been mostly wiped out, every single character uses this word at least ten times an episode. Ironically, the ratio of "Fraks" to other cuss words are incredibly disproportionate. "Frak" was used in the original series as well, just not nearly so much.
In the original 70's series, in addition to "Frak," "Frik" and "Felgercarb" were used as future profanity.
Veronica Mars - "Frak" is also used by Veronica through most of the 2nd and 3rd season, following a story revolving around a Battlestar Galactica fan.
Skins occasionally does this, particularly Harry Enfield's character. The best example was Chris' tirade against his former boss:
"He was a pitty boss and a pastard, and he could pucking shove his poof polo up his papseye...stupid prick!"
"I think one slipped through there."
He then continues doing this for swear words for the rest of the episode, and occasionally later in the series.
Also, she holds the F, so you have no idea what she's gonna say.
30 Rock. Lutz calls Liz a cunt. Pete and Frank try to come up with words that would be the male equivalent of that word i.e. "fundark". Also, "blerg".
A Running Gag has Kenneth seem to be mincing an oath, only for him to reveal that the word he thought of as unspeakable is completely inoffensive/inane. The most famous instance is this:
Kenneth, to Liz: "You're acting like a real C-word right now! That's right — a Cranky Sue!"
Played for laughs in Castle; Esposito has just called for background on a suspect who was stalking the victim and showed up at the hearing to issue a restraining order against him to call her a 'bitch'. However, just before he reveals the word, he realizes that Castle's teenage daughter Alexis happens to be present, and so censors himself by spelling the word in question out. This earns him a scornful look from Alexis and a helpful reminder from her father that she can spell.
"Shut the front door!" is also used on Castle as a stand in. It does a wonderful job of completely dispelling the mood of suspenseful moments.
Yes Minister - Nobody can make "Gosh" more convincing and sincere than Bernard Wooley (as played by Derek Fowlds). It's almost a Catch Phrase.
The kids on Gossip Girl usually go with "eff". As in "don't eff with an effer" and "oh my effin' God."
There's a North American commercial for Orbit sugarless gum where the slogan "It cleans a dirty mouth!" applies to a scenario where a wife and her husband's mistress argue passionately using such insults as "you cootie queen" and "lint licker".
While LOST has "Son of a bitch!" as the catchphrase of a character, the most offensive word there is crap ("I don't want your piece of crap CD from your piece of crap band."). Many times it's easy to see the writers were aiming for worse words ("Now, you could do what you normally do when someone asks for something — tell me to screw off.").
In a DVD Commentary, Jorge Garcia reveals the shooting script has curse words, and requires this from the actors (in his case, he mostly makes Hurley yell).
Averted with panache on QI. There's nothing quite like Stephen Fry swearing in his usual crisp diction. The writers are also fond of historical but still obscene words like "arsewisp".
Sandi Toksvig: Why do we need swearwords when you've got knockhole?
Rich Hall: Cruithne is the earth's second moon? Then why aren't there any romantic songs with the word Curithne in it?
Stephen Fry: Because it was discovered in Nineteen Ninety goddamn Four!
Since testing the myth that swearing can increase your tolerance for pain, which involved the team doing a control experiment where they shouted out ordinary words while enduring pain, MythBusters often plays with this, though they aren't shy of swearing (which gets censored in any case).
Adam Savage: Fudge! Puppies. Baby hippo.
They did the myth "You can't polish a turd", except that they were not allowed to say turd, or crap, or (obviously) shit. So Jamie listed the things they were allowed to call it, which ranged from "dung" to "poopies."
In Porridge, a UK sitcom set in a prison, the writers came up with the word 'Naff/Naffing' for the inmates to use as an expletive. It made front-page headlines when Princess Anne told a troublesome photographer to "Naff off!"
This infomercial for the UK's Independent Television Commission about time-appropriate language on TV lampshades with gems like "these nasty handcuffs are really chafing you know!"
Barney Miller occasionally had this problem. Usually a character about to swear would simply be interrupted, e.g. "Oh, who gives a flying f—" "WOJO!" However, when Ron Harris spoke about his belief that a civil action filed against him and subsequent judgment for the plaintiff were racially motivated, he was allowed to say "You are looking at one mad nigger! but "They won't suck another nickel out of this bad motor scooter."
Keith Olbermann has taken to using fairly salty language. He's been heard to lambast the city of New York for allowing major streets to be blocked off for the shooting of a "god damned Batman movie", and called Congressional candidate Rick Barber a "god damned liar" — but when excoriating the VP of Fed Ex for his lackluster response to this, Keith bellowed "BOLSHOI!"
Monty Python's Flying Circus: In a sketch where John Cleese and Graham Chapman play two old ladies watching TV (after the BBC caused their radio to explode on cue), they notice that there is a penguin on the TV. Cleese repeatedly asking about the penguin. Peeved, Chapman ad-libs "Intercourse the penguin!"
Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory will combine this with Sophisticated as Hell. Although more of a Deist or perhaps Agnostic, due to his Christian upbringing he is never shown swearing, and despite the mildness of the words such as "poop", "heck", and "poppycock", he will actually apologize for his language.
At Howard's bachelor party, Sheldon tries to engage in typical bachelor party behavior, including alcohol and swearwords.
Sheldon: (takes a sip of alcohol). Jeepers, that's yucky!
Leonard: Whoa, it's a little early to start dropping J-bombs, don't you think?
In one episode Penny says, "Holy crap on a cracker!"
Crosses over into Curse of the Ancients territory on M*A*S*H. When Colonel Potter first arrives, Klinger shows up in full drag with a laundry list of why he should get a Section 8, Potter replies "Horse hocky!" (Hocky is a quaint old southern American expression for manure.)
Potter had a couple stand-ins for 'bullshit'. Like, "Mule fritters!" Potters mild swearing may seem perplexing since he's spent virtually his whole adult life in the military but it marks him as the old soldier since none of the other characters swear at all. Also, there is usually at least one lady present in the form of Major Houlihan.
Omar Little is the only character in The Wire, who makes a point of avoiding profanity.
Nobody who remembers Alice could forget Flo's Catch Phrase, or what as-yet-unacceptable-for-broadcast phrase it really stood for:
Kiss my grits!
On an episode of Night Court, an extremely overwhelmed and frustrated Christine screams an exasperated "DARN IT TO HECK!", which is probably the closest that her character ever came to actually swearing.
The song "Love You" by Jack Ingram built around this trope: "Love you, love this town / Love this motherlovin' truck that keeps breakin' lovin' down". As the song puts it, "There's some words that some words just have to replace."
You can go to H-E-Double-Hockeysticks and eff yourself
'Cause I'm so flippin' gosh darn
Sick of all the s-words you put me through
Red Like Roses Part II from the RWBY soundtrack has a subversion and plays the trope straight within a stanza of each other.
No way in Hell that I could ever comprehend this!
Now I'm trapped inside a nightmare every single f'ing day!
Def Leppard's "Let's Get Rocked"... Replace all instances of the word "Rock" with "fuck" and the song makes sense...
Duran Duran's "UMF", off the 1993 album The Wedding Album, dances around what "UMF" stands for by not explaining what it means but rather phrasing it in a less explicit way ("Making love to the ultimate mind").
Hilariously done in the Lil' Jon song "Get Low," where in the radio edit the lyric "To all skeet skeet motherfucker, to all skeet skeet goddamn" is changed to: "To all skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet, to all skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet." ("Skeet" is a slang term for ejaculating onto someone, which to many is a lot more inappropriate than the words it replaced).
The MockumentarySons Of Provo features a made-up Latter-Day Saints boy band. Among their songs, is Dang, Fetch, Oh My Heck, with the chorus: ''Dang, fetch, oh my heck / What the holy scrud / H-e-double-hockey-sticks / That's frickin', flippin' crud!" It is... far too catchy.
Weezer has a slight tendency towards this at times: "Pork And Beans" has the repeated line "I don't give a hoot about what you think", while "Brightening Day" has "they don't give a spit". On the other hand, "god damn" and "bitch" have shown up in multiple songs.
Heavy D & the Boyz's song "Don't Curse" lampshades this trope, including several instances of cursing cut short and replaced with other words, leading to one of the few raps you'll ever hear where a verse contains the phrase "Aww, shucks!"
Benny Bell's "Shaving Cream."
Two versions of the Charlie Daniels Band's "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" made airplay in 1979. The album edition had the last line of the last verse "I done told you once you son of a bitch, I'm the best there's ever been." The single release for AM pop stations changed it to "'Cause I told you once you son of a gun, I'm the best there's ever been."
Gregg Allman's 1988 solo hit, "I'm No Angel" has the line, "So you don't give a darn about me".
Parodied in John Lennon's 1973 Mind Games closer, "Meat City".
"Chicken-suckin', mother-truckin' Meat City shook down U.S.A."
Sarah Palin Doll: Oops... Sorry, My Little Pony - I meant "Heck, No!"
My Little Pony: Shouldn't that be "Heavens, No"?
Mister Potato Head: Who the hell cares?
Dilbert: Playing with the trope through exaggeration, it features a demonic character, Phil, who is the "Prince of Insufficient Light" and "Supreme Ruler of Heck." Armed with a giant pitch-spoon, he is empowered not to damn people for eternity, but to "darn" them, usually for 15 minutes, or with an annoying, sometimes ironically appropriate, fate. Scott Adams claims he came up with the concept when the syndicate didn't allow him to use Satan as a character in the strip and that he is more pleased with the end result.
Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes uses minced oaths, like "by golly" or "darn". He states that this is because he doesn't know any swearing words.
In a Christmas comic strip, Calvin's dad stubs his toe and yells, "Slippin'-rippin'-dang-fang-rotten-zarg-barg-a-ding-dong!"
One The Far Side cartoon has Satan declaring to his minions, "To heck with you! To heck with all of you!" Justified, they are presumably already in hell.
The "joke" of that cartoon was, he had overheard them calling him a wimp. Since he wasn't willing to say "hell", he kind of proved them right.
In Paint Your Wagon, "They Call The Wind Maria" includes the line, "And now I'm lost, so goldurn lost." The same character (followed by others) sings "who gives a damn" in another number with less potential to become a song hit.
The Odd Couple: Spoofed in the play and the movie version when Oscar complains about a cryptic note that Felix left for him, which was signed "F-U". "It took me awhile to realize that 'F-U' meant 'Felix Ungar.'"
Played for laughs in The Book of Mormon. Being Mormons, the missionaries can't swear at all; in I Believe, Elder Price belts "And dang it!" and "By Gosh!". Completely subverted at the end, though, when Price announces "You know what, guys? Fuck him!"
Every last buggin' gang on the whole buggin' street,
On the whole ever-mother-lovin' street!
In "Without You" from My Fair Lady, Eliza tells Henry to "go to Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire!"
In Mega Man X: Command Mission, X yells "Ooooooh Shoot!" when he's critically hit. The delivery is begging for a stronger word. This is a bit weird since Massimo gets away with a cut-off curse in a cut scene:
Massimo: Feeble Massimo? Grrrrrrrrrrrr! You sunnova— (and that's how it was spelled in the subtitles)
The Monkey Island series of computer games spoofs this tendency by referring to the once-again-resurrected LeChuck as a "Zombie Demon Ghost Pirate From Heck" in the third and fourth games. This is purely for the Rule of Funny, though, because they're clearly allowed to use the word ("Alright then, 'ROLL! ROLL through the gates of hell.' Must you take the fun of out everything?").
Averted in Act III, however, when Guybrush tells Herman Toothrot, "How do I get off this [bleep] island?"
In one of the "neutral zones" in Bionic Commando, talking to a certain enemy agent would result in him telling you to "Get the heck out of here, you nerd!" One gets the feeling the No Swastikas deal wasn't the only bowdlerisation to happen in this game. That said, it's also averted in the same game, where Master D mentions the word "damn." And since this is followed by a gory animation of you shooting him in the face, it gives the impression that the whole final battle had gotten crap past the radar.
In the first Devil May Cry title, Dante tells a boss to "flock off". It sure sounds like a tame version of a certain other expletive that starts with "f" and ends with "ck". On the other hand, he just could have been punny, since said boss is a giant bird.
Bayonetta also borrows the "Flock off, feather-face!" line. Somewhat amusing, considering the number of times the F-bomb has been dropped by that point, and throughout the rest of the game.
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance - The otherwise excellent English localization was tarnished somewhat by the use of the word 'dang.' Seeing as the game's plot involved genocide, racism, and a touch of implied homosexual lust, it seems odd that they decided to dumb down the language. Actually, a lot of otherwise good Nintendo games fall victim to this.
It is particularly jarring when the commander, in danger of being slaughtered along with his friends and family at the hands of the villain, growls "dang it!" However, if Ike dies on Endgame, he says "damn". My goodness. The games also use archaic slurs like "cur" or "dastard". The character Marcia has used the following words as expletives: crackers, chestnuts, mutton chops, horsemeat, jerky, and barnacles.
In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. 'Dang' is replaced with 'damn'. The guard after the second mission, who says, "Moldy onions! Where'd they go?!"
In God Hand, demonic guitarist Ravel yells "Rock off!" after getting trashed.
Angel from Borderlands 2 is reluctant to swear and quick to correct herself if she lets a cuss word slip. That's because of the control her father, Handsome Jack, has on her. Just before she dies, she makes a point of averting this trope and straight-up calling her dad an asshole.
"You were supposed to see Quazar Live in Concrete with Beatrice. Of course, that was before you got busted back down to Janitor and assigned to this dad-blasted heckhole of a mother-talking spaceship!"
Also used in Space Quest IV, when Roger is held captive by the Latex Babes of Estros.
In Final Fantasy VII Cid replaces any instances of fuck/motherfucker/possibly even cunt with #@^!&(#^&$(^($!!!. Hell/damn/shit/ass are said liberally.
Final Fantasy X has a wonderful example. Rikku has just had her entire hometown blown up and the team is flying away in an airship. Wakka tries to comfort her by saying 'Boom! Like happy festival fireworks, ya?'. Rikku says 'You can cram your happy festival, ya big meanie!'
Final Fantasy X-2 has its share of swearing; ass, damn, bastard, from everyone except Yuna. The closest she gets to swearing is, "Oh, poopie". Rikku actually scolds her for saying something so vulgar. And Yuna was copying Rikku!
Apparently, mentioning excrement at all was too much for Kingdom Hearts II. Instead, Yuna says "Oh, foofie".
The Spyro the Dragon games can get a little ridiculous at times with this. Such as Moneybags's gem after you chase him down: "Drat! *pant pant* Double drat! *pant pant* Drat drat drat drat drat drat!"
Initially, most of the classes in Team Fortress 2 did not swear very much in-game, at most using "damn" and "hell" note Which is quite appropriate, given that the game is both set in the 60's and utilizes several 60's media tropes (such as Film Noir for the Spy). The Pyro (well, as far as we know) and Medic still do not swear. Class updates have provided at one line for the other classes in which they swear, usually some form of "ass" or "son of a bitch." Some class-specific examples:
The Engineer used to be notable for going on G-rated blue streaks involving words like "damn it", "dagnabit" or other similarly mild phrases in keeping with his educatedSouthern Gentleman personality. In Meet the Engineer, he comes up with euphemisms like "structurally superfluous new behind" and "motherhubbard." After his update, he started swearing for real ("I'm wolverine mean, you son of a bitch!" "I just beat on your sneaky ass like a mule, boy!").
In contrast, the Scout has always been foul-mouthed, making liberal use of "ass" and "dumbass" even before the class updates. Even though he usually says "freakin'" or "frickin'" in-game, he uses "fucking'" in Meet the Scout and Meet the Pyro (although censored).
The Spy, generally, didn't swear except for one instance of "shit" (in French). He's become more foulmouthed after his update, and also uses "fuck" in Meet the Spy (censored like in Meet the Scout).
In Darkest of Days, your CO/buddy Dexter breaks out the following whilst you flee from a German Prison:
"Time to make like shepherds and get the flock outta here!"
In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, after your first (and only) mission with Larxene, when you talk to Demyx, he says "Man, why's Larxene gotta be such a witch all the time?" We all know what he meant at that point, but apparently Demyx is so lazy, he can't even bother to swear. Averted in the Game Boy Advance version of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories where Axel says "It's about time you gave me one hell of a show!"
Depending on how you've role-played Mass Effect's Commander Shepard, s/he can be a hard-bitten ruthless mass-murderer, but will keep their dialogue PG. Squadmembers, on the other hand, have no restrictions whatsoever.
Well, Shepard is a Commander after all. But in the sequel s/he and everyone else got more liberal with their language in order to fit with the Darker and Edgier story. To be fair, that had more to do with the fact that you were dealing with a lot of criminal scumbags. And Udina. Guys like Anderson were still quite clean about their language.
Rome: Total War measured your popularity. One was, "When a plebeian greets you on the street, the second word is usually 'off'."
In many SNK games, the English translators tend to use "Hades" instead of "Hell". Especially so in the Samurai Shodown series (which creates some Fridge Logic when you think that Far Eastern warriors should not have any knowledge of Greek mythology whatsoever).
Rugal: Even with my new power, I lost. What? My body...????? No... to meet such a fate! But I'll be back... you jerks!
Chrono Cross plays the trope almost completely straight. They drop the ball with "bugger": Kid uses it liberally, possibly being unaware it is a swear word.
In the 1st Degree presents Inspector Looper, who tries so hard not to swear. When Ruby put a Lampshade Hanging on it, Looper had to explain that her tyrant of a mother told her to stop swearing. She does say "And I don't want any crap this time" to Tobin when she was interviewing Tobin. Does "crap" count as a minced oath or not?
Sgt. Moody: "Ender, I'd find that funny if I wasn't freezing my can off!"
The XBLA re-release of Guardian Heroes features such gems as "Holy schnitzel", "Mother bucket", and "Son of a cyclops".
Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War has P.J. shout "DANG IT!!" just before he gets shot down. Unusually for this trope, he sounds genuinely furious, and this is the only time P.J. really loses his cool.
Ace Attorney both plays this straight and subverts it as well. A lot of the time, characters will use "heck" rather then hell and "darn" for damn, but not always. Usually, the absence of a swear is in a moment when it doesn't really call for it, while swearing will appear when the characters get frustrated. Examples of both straight plays and subversions are listed below in.
Lotta: Well, heck, I scanned the whole lake.
Phoenix: (Dammit! I was so close!)
Phoenix: (What the heck is this?)
Lang: Quercus Alba...You BASTARD!
Ace Attorney manages to get across it's dramatic scenes while still limiting it's swearing to the very occasional "damn", "hell", and one of swears like the last of the above examples. Ace Attorney pretty much is the the perfect example of the fact that swearing isn't required to make a scene dramatic or tense.
The Chapman Brothers purposefully avoid harsh language in Homestar Runner because they think "cute flash cartoons shouting obscenities" are a tired cliché. They also attribute Strong Bad's popularity to his trademark overuse of the word "crap". "Crap" was almost the site's trademark word for awhile before they got sick of it and stepped it down. Liberal use of "freaking" and "hella" when appropriate.
Strong Sad did say "damn" in one Halloween episode, but it was used in the religious sense ("... and if you answer wrong, you get eternal damnation, but if you answer right you get a Twizzler?").
Used and subverted by Yahtzee in his Zero Punctuation reviews, often at the same time. What he says is much dirtier than what appears on the screen. His comment Halo Wars's mission timers was written as "What arbitrary silliness", contrasting with "Bull fucking shit." A rebuttal to Moral Guardians decrying videogames is captioned "No, and I consider your argument misinformed," but he says "No, and go fuck yourself, you ignorant scaremongering cockbags."
Lampshaded with Grace and her No Social Skills nature, in El Goonish Shive. Once, when something went wrong, she let off a long string of "Crud"s before apologizing for her choice of language. In fact, when she used the word 'dammit', everybody was stunned. Seen again when Elliot sheds his superhero form by changing into a more "mild-mannered" one.
Gunnerkrigg Court flirts with this trope. Most of the time, the harshest cusses we hear are "damn" and "hell", even from characters who would presumably have a more colorful vocabulary. The characters react realistically (namely, not at all) to this mild swearing, while the author facetiously reproaches characters in the comment section below the comic for their language. The result of all this is that the few times that harsh language is used, it's genuinely startling.
Kat is among those with the colorful language; amazingly, she's also the character to have used to strongest curse to date. Even if it averted.
The So Bad, It's GoodDoomcomic, despite being rather violent and gory (having been made during the Dark Age) uses this trope. The closest it gets to a swear word is "sunova..."
Done in kind an unusual way in Cwen's Quest where the heroes all have censored swear words like $%#& but the villains use stand-in words and phrases like "Frex!!!" and "Lords of Darkness!", though the word "ass" does get through unedited.
Lampshaded with this exchange
Ace: ...so Knives would like to know why the frex they are dead!
Ace: It's a faerie word Sven. Figure out what it means yourself, asshat.
In Penny and Aggie, when the devout, gentle Katy-Ann suspects her boyfriend has gone back to binge-drinking, she calls two of her friends for help. When Brandi says she's reluctant to get involved in others' relationship conflicts, Katy-Ann shouts, "Brandi, just get the heck over here!" A stunned Brandi thinks, "Holy f#$%, she just cursed at me."
Equius Zahhak of Homestuck sticks to genteel curses like "fudgesicles" unless he's extremely flustered, and berates others for foul language, believing it to be a habit of the lower classes. He was once embarrassed for having used, "shoot." Jane is similarly mild in her expletives, although unlike Equius she doesn't really care about her friends swearing.
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja almost never uses swearing, the exception being an occasion utterance of "jackass". In a recent issue, a NASA employee shouted "AAAA what the flarking heck!?" when his printer shorted out.
Both played straight and averted in Bob and George. Most of the time the characters will use minced oaths or be censored outright, but every so often something will happen that one character (usually Roll) can only respond to with a hearty "fuck".
Linkara of Atop the Fourth Wall. Subverted in that he does curse, he just doesn't use the "more colorful four letter words" to prove that he doesn't need them to be funny. You can hear him curse a few times in Behind The Scenes videos. This is saying something compared to nearly all of his colleagues.
The Greatest Freakout Ever videos on YouTube star a Spoiled Brat who throws many temper tantrums and generally destroys something in the process. Despite all the damage he causes, he never actually cusses and actually threatens to tell on his brother for doing so, implying that cussing is the only form of misbehavior that actually upsets their parents. Although his dad and grandmother swear quite a bit.
In his crossover with Captain S, the Nerd was forced to tone down the language due to The New Adventures of Captain S being a G-rated show. Needless to say, it's weird as hell hearing the normally foul-mouthed Nerd saying things like "What a buttload of crud."
He does get to swear normally at the end of the episode, though it's bleeped out.
Raocow swore a lot more in some of his earlier videos, and still at times lets a swear past when stressed (usually in French), but even when that happens, they're generally not that strong. Any other time, however...
Raocow: Oh, pumpernickel.
Kikoskia often says "Fiddlesticks" and the like. Out of hundreds of videos, he's sworn twice.
Much like the Let's Players above, SlimKirby tends to avoid strong swear words. He drops a Precision F-Strike from time to time, but it's a rare occurrence.
A Very Potter Musical parodies this trope. In the canon of the first musical (set in the "second year" for Hogwarts students), every character swears, our hero even dropping the F-bomb once. However, in the sequel (or really the "prequel," seeing as it's set in the FIRST year of the students at Hogwarts), when Professor Lupin swears, the children cover their ears and gasp until he replaces it with something less obscene.
Olan Rogers never uses a more vulgar word than "crap", and his videos are much funnier for it.
Prior to the advent of FOX's animated cartoons – particularly, The Simpsons and Family Guy – swearing in cartoons was very rare. For instance, during The Golden Age of Animation, whenever a character expressed disgust or contempt for someone or a given situation, they would utter something nonsensical, such as "Rackin-frackin' rickin'-rackin' ... " and so forth.
The ill-tempered Yosemite Sam was particularly prone to this trope, using nonsensical euphemisms for his heavy swearing. This takes center stage in the 1960 cartoon "From Hare to Heir," where longtime antagonist Bugs Bunny – in a 17th century English setting – informs Sam that he will inherit 1 million pounds if he can keep his temper under control; the wascally wabbit then tests Sam's anger management skills by annoying him with multiple small favor requests, with the penalty for losing his temper at 300 pounds per offense. This frustrates Sam so much he tries to run outside to rant and rave, although Bugs also deducts for these instances as well! Eventually, Sam tries to set up Bugs' doom, but they all end with Sam "rackin' frackin' rickin' rackin'" himself to the wrong end of things. Eventually, Sam does find a way to manage his temper ... too late, as he loses his inheritance.
Yosemite Sam often used the phrase "rassen-frassen"; this is actually Yiddish, meaning "gnawed by rats".
Played with when Sideshow Bob is meeting his parole board. He describes prison as a "urine-soaked hellhole", when one of the board members objects and says he could have just as easily called it a "peepee-soaked heckhole". Sideshow Bob cheerfully withdraws his choice of words.
However now that they can include so much showings in earlier slots now get edited to heck and back. The writers are able to sneak some past through which only the sharp eyed viewers can see. Like one store with a sign reading "Sneed's feeds and seeds — formerly Chuck's". If you don't get it, consider that Sneeds rhymes with feeds and seeds — now consider what rhymes with Chuck's using the same starting letters.
Naturally Ned Flanders is a walking parody of the trope: "Son of a diddly". It's very noticeable when Ned loses it: "Oh-hell-diddly-ding-dong-crap!"
Krusty the Clown's suggestion to the Red Hot Chili Peppers for toning down their song "Give It Away" on his comeback TV special: "Instead of saying 'What I got you got to get it, put it in you,' how about 'What I'd like, is I'd like to hug and kiss you?'". Parodied in that the Peppers love this suggestion.
In "Bart Sells His Soul," a stressed-out Moe finds himself unable to keep his temper and language in check at his new family restaurant.
Moe: (to a little girl complaining her soda's too cold) Your teeth hurt? Your teeth hurt?! Well, that's too freakin' bad. You hear me? I'll tell you where you can put your freaking "sodie" too! (All the customers gasp) Todd: Ow, my freakin' ears! Ned: Well! I expect that type of language at Denny's, but not here!
From Bart's Nightmare in that same episode: "Bart sold his soul, and that's just swell. now he's going straight to—hello operator, give me number nine..."
In Season 17, Mr. Burns says "dream on, bitch" to Rich Texan.
Parodied in the episode "Pygmoelian", where a character clearly says "What the fudge?" but is still bleeped.
Lampshaded in ''Dog of Death with this exchange:
Marge: Bart, I know you're upset.
Bart: Darn right I'm upset!
Marge: Bart, watch your language! Oh wait, you did...sorry.
Adventure Time does it so much there's at least one example per episode. Although Finn has a knack for using random words for expletives, he still occasionally says "butt" even when he's known to use other less direct alternatives.
Hilariously done on Histeria! (the "Lincoln" episode), when Lydia Karaoke (the Network Censor) interrupts a bit about the Battle of Mobile Bay, when Admiral David Farragut famously said "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" Lydia suggests, perhaps "Darn the torpedoes", or "I sure am having problems with these torpedoes". In reply, David sends her on a special 'scouting mission' ahead...floating back on the wreckage, she decides that maybe he was justified in saying that word.
Rocko's Modern Life went one further in an episode where Hell was referred to as Heck (and the sign that said "Welcome to Heck" actually said "Hell", but the letters "ck" were painted over it), and when Heffer started to say "Don't you mean He-" he gets silenced, as though the word was too strong to be heard in a kid's show.
The episode "A Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic" actually uses the phrase "oh my God" twice, once by a TV show Heffer is watching at the beginning of the episode, and again by Heffer himself at the end of the episode. However, this trope is played straight in every other episode.
Similarly used in an episode of Pinky and the Brain wherein the characters visit a fiery place very self-consciously named "Hades." Lampshaded as Brain celebrates over a trap door, finally saying as it opens "What am I saying? I'm in hell!" (Though he is cut off before pronouncing the "L" as his shout trails off.)
Robot Devil: Sorry Bender, you agreed to this when you joined our religion. If you sin, you go to robot hell...for all eternity!
Bender: Ah, hell. I mean, heck! Heck!
Robot Devil: It's all right, you can say that here.
Also parodied in other places with Farnsworth's... unique expressions. "Sweet Zombie Jesus!" Which makes it all the stranger when the "Jesus" part is muted when it's Edited for Syndication.
Also parodied with the character of Mom, who seems to enhance her curse words in random ways, causing them to become more comedic. "What the sweaty hell?" — "Jam a bastard in it, you crap!"
Also occurs with some of Hermes's expressions which often rhyme ("Sweet gorilla of Manila!") or involve a green snakes, sugarcane, and trucks "I'm hungrier than a green snake in a sugarcane field" though these do not always take the place of swears.
The old lady who uses nonsense words like kirjigger "You young whats-a-callit... idiot"
In the early episodes Fry would annoyingly say "crud".
Very closely danced around in Justice League and its sequel; usually, a character comes very close to saying hell (or, in the case of one minor creep, ass) in the manner of "Go to hell", but are interrupted just as they're about to say the word. In a clever subversion, in the episode "The Balance", Zatanna speaks the word hell, but backwards (she can only use her real magic by saying what she wants it to do in reverse, like a record played backwards, thus the word is indecipherable to the uneducated ear; besides which, it was a literal reference to Hades).
Superman himself once replaced the word "fucking" in a particularly frustrated rant against Luthor with "flipping". Hawkgirl, the show's number one source of Getting Crap Past the Radar frequently finds herself interrupted when she's about to throw in a swear word. Many other characters use "bites" or "stinks" in place of "sucks", etc.
Justice League Unlimited does this in a unique way, by having all curses be cut off before finished (or be turned into horrible puns - GL's "kiss my axe" has one bleeding out the ears for a while), in an attempt to make the show Edgier. Not darker, just edgier. You get a few bad ones, and a few gems, such as:
Dove: How about you calm down, and I'll let you go Thug: How 'bout you kiss my (Dove twists his arm) a-aaargh.
This trope actually results in greater comedy in the episode "Kids' Stuff." When all the adults on earth are sent to another dimension, Copperhead hysterically exclaims "It's Judgment Day, and we've gone to the bad place! The bad place!"
In one episode Wonder Woman helps a princess get away from a boring party, much to the dismay of the princess' bodyguards. Upon realizing that they've lost the princess, one bodyguard exclaims: "Poop!" Possibly averted: the "Poop!" in question was said in a different language and subtitled for the audience; given that translations aren't always exactly precise, there's no way of knowing the severity of the term for excrement he used: a certain four-letter word in English ALSO means "poop".
Weirdly, Batman: The Animated Series actually had Batman reply "the hell it isn't" at one point. It was changed for repeats and DVD though, so it's sadly lost.
In Danny Phantom, Vlad Masters uses various candy-related words to express himself. ("Oh, cheeselogs!") The [English] teacher Lancer uses book titles. ("Great Gatsby! What's going on?")
Codename: Kids Next Door, especially with Numbuh 4, who replaces nearly every possible swear word with the word "crud", leading to phrases such as "why the crud not?"
In Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Frylock scolds Meatwad for using "hell," "damn," & "ass." Both Frylock and Meatwad use actual cuss words, but they're beeped out by other sounds from the Episode.
In the episode of George Shrinks when George's prized "Zooper Car" is stolen, A very ticked off George states he will find it "Wherever the heck it is." His father then proceeds to scold him for saying the word "heck". What world does this family live in?
It could perhaps be because George's younger brother Junior is at the age where he's saying a few words and some short sentences; it could be because they don't want Junior to pick it up and want to get George out of the habit to help prevent that.
Averted in the 5th episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, with two instances of "hell" from the Clone troopers ("What the hell was that?!" and "Like hell you did!"). On the second airing, however, both were bowdlerised, causing the latter to sound as if the trooper saying it was conceding; the exact opposite of what he meant.
In the episode "Christian Rock Hard", Cartman meets a Christian metal band who describe their music as "hardcore". Cartman sarcastically comments "Yeah, you guys are real hardcore", to which one of the band members responds "You bet your gosh-darned rear end we are!". Jonas did it too.
Butters says "gosh dang it to heck". When he throws his baseball cap to the ground in frustration, he exclaims, "Son of a biscuit!" This tendency makes it all the more hilarious when he becomes a pimp and starts throwing around "bitches" and "hoes", though to be fair, he doesn't seem to understand what those words mean.
"All About Mormons" contains a more subtle example where Butters refers to Gary, the new kid, as a peckerface, though quiet and in the background. He also tells the rest of the gang to "suck on [his] weiner" in "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerBalls.
Actually the entire second book Butters made in the episode is filled with them.
Played with in the car wash episode of Phineas and Ferb. Phineas overuses the word 'dang', then decides that he's not street enough to pull it off. "It's the Black Knight! And his hounds of heck!"
Kim Possible - Kim's teacher Steve Barkin mitigates his blasphemy by saying "Cheese and crackers!" The worst Drakken says is "Oh, snap."
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers maxes out at "gosh", "darn", and "heck". Monterey Jack's "a pain in the Outback" is one of the more creative examples.
The Hungarian word for "shit" has really gotten out of the bleeped-out zone in recent years, and it is more and more common to hear it in even cartoon dubbings. For example, Eddy from Ed, Edd n Eddy casually uses the word in one episode. Even though words like "damn" or "hell" can be used freely, this still came completely out of the blue.
Dean and Hank of The Venture Bros. are famous for using unusual substitutes for curse words. They even chide each other if they use real curse words. This gag has been toned down in later seasons of the show.
"Oh my glory, you're right!" "And they kill clean! Don't let dames get in the way!" "Double dammit!" "Hank, you said the double-d word!"
In an episode of The Flintstones after an argument with Barney, Fred goes on with his usual muttering of "racking fracking" and ends the rant with "Damn!" which shocks Betty and Wilma.
Space Ghost Coast to Coast had an episode wherein the characters began cursing at each other, only for the more offensive words to be replaced by a computerized voice saying something else entirely. Zorak:Bring it on, you son of a (computerized voice overlaps) carpenter!
That example is also Fridge Brilliance as it can be perceived as a blasphemy (Jesus was the son of a carpenter) and ironically more offensive than the uncensored line would have been.
Inverted: Friz Freleng's 1940 cartoon "The Hardship Of Miles Standish" has a scene of a cockeyed Indian plunking an Indian ahead of him with a bow and arrow. The plunked Indian turns angrily and mouths—but does not say out loud—"Goddamn son of a bitch!" There was rumor that the Indian actually voiced it but was silenced in the final print.
The Daffy Duck cartoon "Draftee Daffy" has Daffy escaping from the little man from the draftboard via a rocket, whose trajectory takes it and him straight to hell. Daffy as he sniffs around and observes:
Daffy: What's cookin? This place looks like..(garbled gasp)! It is (garbled gasp)! I am in (garbled gasp)!
A Woody Woodpecker cartoon from the late 50s had Woody getting three wishes from a leprechaun woodpecker. After the first two wishes get Woody in trouble:
Woody: Hold it, buster. I've still got one more wish comin'.
Leprechaun: Oh? And what might that be?
Woody:GO TO BLAZES!!! (the leprechaun descends to hell, greeted by the Devil, who had been expecting his return)
Averted and parodied in the Dan Vs. episode "The Gym", Dan uses the word 'hellbent', and a gym android says that he'd prefer Dan used the word 'heckbent'.
Gizmo in Teen Titans, practically to G-rated Sir Swears-a-Lot levels. He pseudo-swears so often that he successfully gives off the same foul-mouthed impression that he'd give off if he were swearing for real.
Sometimes people who work around children try to temper other people's language. In the 1970s, one school district in the US dealt with a demand that the book Making It With Mademoiselle be removed from the shelves of the high-school library. An assiduous investigation, in the form of actually opening the book, revealed that it was a volume of sewing patterns from the editors of Mademoiselle, a fashion magazine.
ESL teachers of adult learners are often split on the topic of just how clean your speech needs to be in class. On the one hand, teachers should be professional and this includes appropriate language; on the other, part of teaching your students about usage includes vulgarity (so they at least know just how bad other people's language is). Most teachers settle for keeping their own vocabulary G-rated but not censoring students.
Making matters worse, textbooks written for ESL teachers in training are largely silent on the topic. One assumes that lessons on correct usage of vulgarity and profanity are not condoned, though.
Foreign languages have their own equivalents of this trope. In particular, oaths that refer to religious imagery were often "sanitized" into nonsense.
In German, "Gottes Blitz" (God's Lightning) became "Potz Blitz."
Otherwise, it is averted in general German media. Religious swearing is much less of a deal than in English-speaking countries, and can be uttered in elementary schools without consequences. Even "Scheisse", the German pondon of "shit", while not very sophisticated, is never censored, and is used in media regularly; even on KIKA (the public children's TV channel).
Similarly, the Dutch "godverdomme" ("God damn it/me," same root as "goddamn") often becomes "potverdomme" —or simply "verdomme" (which still means "damn" and is a Dutch equivalent of the "shit" expletive).
More clean-mouthed Dutch change it further into "potverdorie" or "verdorie". As a word, it's meaningless, but sounds close to the original.
The word "shit" in the Netherlands is a much milder word there than in English speaking countries and can be seen as the equivalent of "damn".
"Sacré Dieu" (Holy God) became "sacrebleu."note Still mildly "blasphemous", as blue is the color of the Virgin Mary. Similarly, "Par Dieu" ("By God") became "Parbleu".
In Belgian French, "Nom de Dieu" (for God's sake) often becomes "nomdedjeu," "nomdidju", and other variants. Gaston Lagaffe's Prunelle is notorious for it.
"Nom d'un chien" ("name of a dog") is another old-fashioned form.
The Russian "Blyad"(technically "Whore", but used more like "Fuck") becomes "Blin" (Pancake) in front of sensitive ears.
"Khuy" ("cock") becomes "Khren" ("horseradish").
"Yebat'" ("fuck") becomes "Yeteet'" or "Yedreet'" (nonsensical erratives, the latter probably derived from the word for "tough, healthy" or "kernel").
Russian has quite a lot of inventive obscene cursing, and most of it has at least one "heck" form, sometimes many and often quite picturesque. In a nutshell, any word, I mean any, starting with "yo" (including loanwords and mispronounced "ya" words), can be a euphemism for "yobana mat'". But religious curses are never "hecked", they are considered very mild by themselves.
Québecois is ripe with this, too. Crisse de tabarnac de calisse! This is actually considered very obscene, for a more "Gosh Darn It To Heck" name, try "Crime de tabeurslak de caline!" It doesn't mean anything but it's still used.
The Polish swearword of choice is very often "kurwa" (meaning "whore", but contextually the same as "shit" or "fuck" in English), and is vulgar enough to be censored on TV. Poles wanting to avoid offending delicate sensibilities often use "kurczak" which means "chicken".
In Argentina was once usual the euphemism Me cache en dié for Me cago en Dios ("I shit on God"). The euphemistic form even made it to a tango's lyrics.
In Spain "Me cago en la mar" (I shit in the sea) has "Me cachis en la mar." In some areas that is shortened to "cachi la mar."
In Spain, many cuss words have similar euphemisms, though "joder" (fuck) probably is the word with the most substitutions: "joer," "jope," "jolín," "jolínes," and more.
Also, "Te Jodiste", as in, "You're fucked", has been shortened to "Tejo" — which is the first person present tense of knitting (equivalent to I knit", or "I'm knitting").
In Mexico many people tendo to finish any phrase with Chihuahua, the name of a Mexican state, when not intending to use the real word: chingar, which is used as "fuck".
Italian has "cavolo" ("cabbage") as a euphemistic form of "cazzo" ("cock"—no, not a rooster—but more like "fuck", as in "what the fuck" or as an interjection).
The Finnish curse "perkele" (euphemism for Satan, originally the name of a pagan thunder god) often gets corrupted mid-sentence into "perjantai" ("Friday") if the speaker realizes there are sensitive ears present. This was parodied in the Finnish amateur film Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning, where the main character Pirk uses "Oh, Thursday!" as a curse.
Similarly in French, "Merde!" ("Shit!") will occasionally change to "Mercredi!" ("Wednesday!") mid-word and "putain!" ("f**k ) to "purée" ( "mash !") or "punaise!" (drawing pin !)
In Arabic subtitles/dub for any foreign movie, any Cluster F-Bomb gets invariably swapped with the generic "Tabban" ("Curse!"), which is a cause of great amusement for many Arabic-speakers (anyone with a middle-school education in the Arab world speaks either English or French, and often both). Oddly enough there are many insults with thinly-veiled sexual overtones which get spared by Rule of Funny, in local productions.
In English, 'fucking' is increasingly being replaced with 'freaking'.
In most cases, Japanese swears ARE this trope already. Words often translated as "bastard/son of a bitch, etc" ("temee, omae, konoyaro, koitsu", etc.) literally just mean "you/him/her/that guy", etc. but with aggressive/hostile implications. Sometimes a "dirty mouth" in Japanese is defined by HOW something is said, not WHAT is said, (compare "nani o yatte ru no?" to "nani yattenn da?" Both lit. "what are you doing", but the latter implies an intent closer to ".. the fuck you doin'?") These words and turns of phrase occupy the same position in the Japanese vernacular as harsh swear-words in English, but due to the lack of sexual and religious expletives, they lack the taboos cursing does in the West, and hearing them in manga and anime aimed at kids is pretty common. This of course creates a dilemma for translators, as these expletives are used very liberally in a media where their rough English equivalent would not be considered appropriate.
Some words, such as "kuso" (lit. "shit, crap") do directly translate, but are still not treated with the level of taboo seen in the West.
Many Utahn members of the LDS church use rather odd substitutions for curse words, including "Oh my heck!", "Oh my gosh" or "holy heck". Stranger ones include "Biscuits", "Fridge it", and "Snap".
Heck, Mormons period have a tendency to abstain from swearing! Justified, though, because the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth, which all Mormon youth are given to read and follow as a guideline, specifically admonishes readers against using swearwords, among other things.
Survivor contestant Neleh Dennis was known for saying "oh my heck" all the time, clever editing made it look like a Verbal Tic, which we can't really be sure it's not.
When asked for his opinion of Ted Bundy, Charles Manson called him a "poopbutt".
"I have three things to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases caused by malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. [dramatic pause] What's worse is that you're more upset about the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night."
In the United States Air Force Basic Military Training program, the instructors aren't allowed to use profanity. So they develop a weird alternate vocabulary that lets them get the same ideas across without actually swearing. It's fairly common to hear an instructor screaming "WHAT THE PISS, CLOWN?! IS THAT HOW WE DO IT NOW IN THE AIR FORCE?!!"
In Dilbert, an officer in command of a sniper team says "oh, shoot" after hearing bad news, provoking the team to fire, prompting him to say it again, causing more fire. Then he lampshades it by saying "I've gotta come up with a new swear word".