Parental Bonus

"The whole secret to the success of a cartoon like Animaniacs is to appeal both to the kiddies who like animated slapstick, and to the college kids who like the quick inside jokes clearly intended to sail over the toddlers' heads. Then, sometimes, they'll throw in a reference to fingering a man's anus."

A joke on a children's TV show that children of the appropriate age would likely never get, but which their parents would. Serves as a way to keep the adults and older kids entertained and usually takes the form of an homage to a movie or TV show that children would not normally be familiar with. This is the master trope to other "subliminal" tropes like a Double Entendre, Does This Remind You of Anything?, No Celebrities Were Harmed, or Getting Crap Past the Radar. It could also count as a Genius Bonus, since most children would have to be educated above their general age level to understand these.

Popularized by Sesame Streetnote , with characters like Sherlock Hemlock and the Count, and thus most common on educational shows. Surprisingly, the barely intelligible Cookie Monster seems to get the most Parental Bonus lines, at least in recent history: "Me undergo sea-change," etc.

Of course, a badly done Parental Bonus will entertain neither the kids nor the adults, and may terrify the latter that the former actually will "get" it...

Golden Age animated shorts, especially those from Fleischer Studios and Warner Bros., often had material which would be considered Parental Bonus today (if people still got the references), as they were intended for all audiences (see Animation Age Ghetto). As a result, many cartoons had numerous double entendres and pseudo-cameos which were expected to go over the younger viewers' heads.

These jokes also give the shows rerun value years later when the original viewers are old enough to get the jokes that once went over their heads: see Late to the Punchline. Might be Fridge Horror for some if they think the joke is disturbing and of course Freud Was Right, that supposedly lewd joke might just be Accidental Innuendo.

Contrary to the title, children of a certain age can get Parental Bonuses; most of them just don't watch shows that use them (with the exception of SpongeBob SquarePants and maybe Animaniacs) and therefore miss out.

A Super Trope to Parent Service. See also Getting Crap Past the Radar, as most of the time, a parent bonus joke will reference sex or something adult (like drugs, racism, violence, or another form of media [book, movie, TV show, etc] that is more popular with adults than with children).


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    Anime 
  • Lots of these are present in Kirby of the Stars, since the series has tons of Shout Outs in general.
  • An early example, Maicchingu Machiko Sensei (Humiliated Professor Machiko) was infamous for having the titular teacher end up naked in every single episode, often as a direct cause of her students groping her or otherwise destroying her clothing. Maicchingu Machiko Sensei was a kids show, and her students were 6 years old. It was so prevalent that she even turns up naked in the episode openings. Twice.

    Childrens' Entertainers 
  • TV presentation duo Dom and Dick explained to radio host Chris Evans about the part of their live show where they have a staged argument, appeal to their audience for support, and conclude
    There's a lot of Doms over here... which means over there there are a lot of Dicks.

    Comic Books 
  • In one issue of Gold Key's Pink Panther, the titular feline finds a laundry bag filled with money. "I've heard of filthy lucre, but I never knew it needed to be laundered!"
  • Marvel Comics' All-Ages title Marvel Adventures loves referencing older comics, concepts, and complex storylines that the target audience is generally completely ignorant of.
    • Marvel Adventures: Avengers 24 sneaks in a Simpsons ref, a "reverse-Napoleon complex", Spidey "needs a wife", Wolverine quoting Rorschach, and a surprising hint of Les Yay. In one comic.
    • They don't just reference other Marvel comics. Issue 3 of their Iron Man solo title featured Plantman as the villain. When he's not in his leafy armor, he's dressed in a suit, Homburg hat, and gardener's apron — that is to say, he looks like Peter Sellers as Chance the Gardener.
  • Tiny Titans, a non-canonical comics series for kids featuring many of the younger superheroes/sidekicks from the DC Universe as young children, is obviously aimed at young kids. However, the many, many references to either storylines from the "grown-up" books (such as the Battle for the Cowl, when they fight a cow that stole Batman's cape and cowl, or when Darkseid is their substitute teacher and gives them a surprise exam, which they pronounce a finals crisis!) and other media aimed at adults (such as the first two rules of Pet Club being "you do not talk about Pet Club" and "you do not talk about Pet Club") prove they were intended to be entertaining for parents as well. And they certainly are.
  • Calvin and Hobbes is full of this. Since Calvin has an unusually large vocabulary for a six-year-old and tends to discuss complex philosophy, reading the strip as a child and as an adult are completely different experiences.
  • Tintin features typical slapstick gags and exciting adventures children will appreciate. Adults can enjoy it for the satire on 20th century politics, exquisite story structures and beautiful art.
  • Astérix has a lot of general slapstick, running gags and situation comedy that both parents and children can enjoy. But it is as much a comic for adults as it is for children, with many puns, double entendres, satirical gags, cameos and references to classic literature, the Ancient Greek, Roman and Gaulish time period, francophone culture and 20th century society.
    • Virtually all the characters' names are some sort of pun, most of which wouldn't make sense to children (such as Vitalstatistix the chief, Getafix the reclusive druid and even one-off character like Crismus Bonus the Roman centurion).
  • Nero shares both jokes that children can enjoy as references to national and international politics and that were current when the stories were published in the newspapers.
  • Suske en Wiske is a children's comic that originally made a lot of jokes about Flemish-Belgian politics that only adults would get. Later most of them were removed from the later reprints, though occasionally some of them are still present.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) Scoots says she isn't sure she wants a picture of Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle on her flank for the rest of her life. Any parents or older readers with really unfortunate tattoos can probably empathize.

    Films — Animated 
  • Used in all of the Shrek films. For example, in the first one, Shrek sees Lord Farquaad's towering castle and remarks, "Do you think he's Compensating for Something?"
    • There are many references to University of Notre Dame in the movie as a handful of the people that produced the movie were "Domers" (Notre Dame graduates). The biggest example being the shape of the castle, which is exactly like that of the Hesburgh Library. Another reference is the town of Duloc; the University's name is University of Notre Dame du Lac, which refers to Mary, Our Lady of the Lake. The student guide/disciplinary manual is also called "du Lac". A third reference is Lord Farquaad. There are many quads on the ND campus, and there is a dorm that is in the middle of nowhere, i.e. on a "far quad". You can also see the outline of the famous golden dome of the university on the back of Shrek's vest.
    • "Farquaad" was also used as a way of getting as close as possible to fuckwad.
    • More relevantly, Shrek 2 has literally dozens of movie and TV refs, only a handful of which are going to be known to the kids. (The "Knights" show was a parody of COPS) The refs go back as far as the original B&W "Frankenstein".
      • Shrek 2 also had a bevy of modern pop culture references that would go over kids' heads: the best is the people running away from the Gingerbread Man who run out of one Starbucks Farbucks and into another Farbucks across the street.
      • And of course, the chase involving Donkey being referred to as a "White Bronco".
    • Please keep off of the grass. Shine your shoes. Wipe your....face.
      • Robin Hood's song "I like an honest fight and a saucy little maid / What he's basically saying is he likes to get laid -paid!
    • Blink and you'll miss it, but as the Fairy Godmother rattles off her list of fairy tales, she slips Pretty Woman in there.
  • Disney's Aladdin, thanks largely to the comedic genius of Robin Williams, works on every level humanly imaginable. Specific example: as the Genie is being tricked into getting Aladdin out of the cave, he gets very angry at Aladdin. Kids laugh because of his sarcastic tone and the ruse working; parents laugh because the speech is almost directly lifted from Taxi Driver. Kids are also unlikely to recognize the Genie's imitations of William F. Buckley, Peter Lorre, Carol Channing, Groucho Marx...
    • Aladdin's introduction scene also had what might have been a Les Miserables reference.
      • Definitely a 'Les Mis' reference, since Jasmine's song actor, Lea Salonga, was playing Eponine on Broadway in the same year.
    • There's a moment during the song "Never Had a Friend Like Me". During the song the Genie uses his magic to make a group of harem girls appear. Normally this would be (somewhat) harmless but when you consider both the way the girls were acting towards Aladdin and how Al himself reacted it seemed like one of the girls (the one in the middle to be exact) was giving Al a freaking lap dance. In addition the way Aladdin's hands are positioned it looks like he's groping the girl's ass, the scene in question is in 1:45-1:53. Could be viewed as Parent Service.
    • There's also a specific comment by Genie during Aladdin and the King of Thieves during the beginning of the scene where the infamous 40 Thieves rob the palace. When the stampeding elephants come towards the wedding which causes the ground to shake, Genie jokingly comments "I thought the earth shaking didn't start until the Honeymoon" you can guess what that means.
      • The line is even worse in the Finnish dub, which changes "honeymoon" to "marriage bed".
    • Genie makes a ton of references from old movies: Poltergeist, Alice in Wonderland (obvious), RoboCop... anyone else recognize the big blue robot as the ED-209?
    • He even references The Tale of One Thousand and One Nights with the first line in his intro song; "Ali Baba had them forty thieves, Scheherezade had a thousand tales". What's funny (and rather sad) is that most kids - or even adults - wouldn't register that both Aladdin and Ali Baba are stories that Scheherezade told during those one thousand and one nights.
    • "Arabian nights, like Arabian days, more often than not, are hotter than hot, in a lot of good ways."
  • In Hercules, Herc and Megara see the play Oedipus Rex. Hercules only had one thing to say about that: "And I thought I had problems."
    • Also a Basic Instinct reference. Megara talks about having weak ankles, uncrosses and recrosses her legs, and says, "Do you have a problem with this?... weak ankles, I mean."
    • Although this joke wasn't sexual, when Pain and Panic (disguised as children) are "trapped" underneath the giant rock, one of them yells, "Someone call IXII!"—the Roman numerals for 911.
    • And then there was the sundial salesman...
    • And Herc making sure to get a good look at Nessus' (a centaur's) body before calling him a 'sir'...
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame has a character say to his horse "Achilles. Heel." Think about that for a second.
  • Lilo & Stitch does a lot of referencing Elvis Presley (Lilo's a big fan), right down to having half the soundtrack be his songs. There's even a montage of scenes where they try to bring it down to the level of kid viewers by having Lilo try to teach Stitch how to be more like Elvis.
    • At one point when Stitch is misbehaving by destroying things, as he approaches and rips a painting by Lilo, she protests, "that's from my Blue Period!", a reference to Picasso.
  • Alice in Wonderland had one. The Queen is angrily interrogating the cards, demanding to know who painted the roses red. The ace blames the two. The Queen answers, "The deuce, you say?" Parents in the original 1951 viewing audience would have recognized, "The deuce, you say!" as their older generation's slang way of calling, "Bullshit!"
  • Come to think of it, every Pixar film has plenty of these.
    • In Finding Nemo:
      Gurgle : Do you guys realize we are swimming in our own sh-
      Peaches : Sh! Here he comes!
    • At the end of Toy Story 2, Buzz is having a hard time talking to Jesse. She does a skateboard stunt using a Hot Wheels car and track, and his fold-out wings pop out. Does This Remind You of Anything?
      • This certainly gives a new meaning to the "This Space For Rent" joke during the outtakes.
    • And in Toy Story, there's the line about Woody having "laser envy".
      • One of the very first scenes in the first movie is Slinky going on and on with his speech about how Woody is right and everyone should listen to Woody. Mr. Potato-Head takes off his mouth and taps it against his backside to visually suggest Slinky is an ass-kisser.
      • Bo Peep throws out a few; in the first, she suggests to Woody that she get "someone else to watch the sheep tonight", and in the second she gives Buzz a kiss, telling him to give it to Woody when they find him. Buzz says he doesn't think it'll have quite the same significance to Woody coming from him instead of Bo.
    • Monsters, Inc. gets two for the price of one. The Abominable Snowman is clearly a riff on the "Bumble" from the Rankin/Bass Productions Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special, and also scores an extra for this exchange between himself and Mike:
      Snowman : Care for a snow-cone?
      Mike : Eccchh!
      Snowman : Oh, don't worry. It's lemon.
    • In Ratatouille, during Linguini's flabbergasted attempt to reveal his secret (that his cooking skills are actually thanks to a rat's instructions) to Colette, the moment that he says that he has a "...tiny, little..." she takes a split-second glance downwards.
      • Not to mention when she mentions to the press that he calls his inspiration his "little chef". His reaction shows that they were clearly not on the same thought pattern there as he tries to hush her about keeping private things private.
    • WALL•E has about five dozen 2001: A Space Odyssey references. Also, "Stay The Course"
    • A Bug's Life, in the carnival scene...
      Fly: Hey, cutie! You wanna pollinate with a real bug?
    • If you pay attention to the very beginning of Cars, you'll notice the two red Miatas flashing their headlights at Lightning McQueen.
      • Lightning McQueen's name, in and of itself, qualifies. The target demographic of the film won't know who Steve McQueen is, much less have seen Bullitt.
      • At the end of the first race McQueen is talking to the rusteez representative explaining why he doesn't have head lights. McQueen: Well, you know, race cars don't need headlights, because the track is always lit. Dusty Rust-eze: Well, so is my brother, but he still needs headlights!
      • Lightning's rival Strip "The King" Weathers is an even bigger one: The car is a near replica of Richard Petty's racecar, he shares the same nickname and number of championships as Petty, and the spinning crash in the final race is a Shout Out to the one Petty suffered in the 1988 Daytona 500. Oh yeah, and Petty actually provided the voice.
      • The Cameo from the hosts of the radio show "Car Talk".
      • Towards the end McQueen has a wonderful exchange with his agent in one of the most fascinating Actor Allusion and Parental Bonus ever. If you still don't get or remember why it is absolutely hilarious take a look at this clip and this sound clip from Cars (sorry couldn't find the video).
      • It gets better: in the UK release, Jeremy Clarkson voices Harv.
    • What about the scene in The Incredibles where Syndrome has everybody then realizes that Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl are together. It culminates with him looking at the kids and adding "and got busy!"
      • Every single instance of Helen dragging Robert back into the house when he shaped up. Most obvious one, the scene where only her arms are to be seen...
    Frozone: *while Syndrome's robot is attacking the city* "We are talking about the greater good!"
    Honey: "I am your WIFE! I am the greatest GOOD you're EVER going to get!"
  • In Flushed Away a fridge is lifted at one point to reveal a cockroach casually reading. And what is he reading? Why, Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis of course!
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation:
    Buster: I can't marry all three of them, that's bigamy!
    Big Daddy Boo: No, that's big 'a me!
    ** Which is itself a direct lift of an old Marx Brothers joke (from Animal Crackers, specifically).
  • From G Force: "Yippe-ki-yay, coffeemaker!"
  • One of the reasons Shark Tale failed with critics was because it was so overloaded with references to adult gangster films that they couldn't see how it would appeal to children. However, the chances of an adult understanding all the references is still slight.
  • A Goofy Movie has Goofy mentioning mambo king Xavier Cugat, a relatively obscure reference for such a movie.
  • Rango, among several other references, has a short scene in the beginning of the movie where the protagonist lizard Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) crashes into the windshield of a red sportscar with in it two characters that are unmistakably Raoul Duke (also Johnny Depp) and his attorney from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
  • The productions of Illumination Entertainment seems to love referencing the ongoing global economic crisis, as Despicable Me references Lehman Brothers while The Lorax mentions the book (and eventual movie) Too Big to Fail.
  • Wreck-It Ralph has some video game characters that most children would not recognize. The scene where Q-Bert is left homeless will hit hard for older viewers, but children won't get why their parents are sobbing because they won't know who he is. Also, most small children have not yet played Street Fighter, and the Metal Gear reference will only be funny to older viewers and those who have played MGS.
    • During the Bad Guys Anonymous meeting, Kano mentions that being good guy isn't about what you do for work but that being good is all in your heart, as he is saying this he tears the heart out of a zombie sitting beside him, making a reference to his Fatality move from Mortal Kombat where he tears his enemies heart out and hold it high in the air.
  • Madagascar has a Twilight Zone joke ("It's a cookbook!"), a Planet of the Apes joke ("You had it all and you burned it up! Darn you! Darn you all to heck!"), and an American Beauty joke (Rose petal scene vs. steak scene).
    • Plus a Moulin Rouge! reference right before the characters are shipped off to Africa.
    • Not to mention a Cast Away joke. "Shut up, Spalding!"
    • The sequel has a great one near the end: "Ramming speed!!"
  • Penguins of Madagascar has the Running Gag of Dave saying a minion's name and then an order that coincidentally happen to sound similar to a celebrity's name. Also, Skipper's reaction to Kowalski saying the plane they're on is going to Paris;
    Skipper: France!? Forget it! Not with their tax laws!
  • Minions features endless homage to the culture and music of the 1960s, being set mostly in that period, as well.
  • In addition to Getting Crap Past the Radar, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water also has a reference to the The Shining when Plankton entered Spongebob's mind and met two popsicles.
  • Zootopia: The Shout-Out to both the Godfather and Breaking Bad hopefully go over the heads of the kids in the audience.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The "patty cake" scene from Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a double subversion. Jessica Rabbit and Marvin Acme were actually playing the game patty cake, but that's basically the Toon equivalent to screwing.
    • There's plenty more where that came from. Dolores' line about having to "shake the weasels", for instance.
      • "Dabbling in watercolors, Eddie?"
    • Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of the kings of this trope.
      Eddie (singing): I'm through with taking falls / and bouncing off the walls / Without that gun, I'd have some fun / I'd kick you in the... (falling vase hits him on the head)
      Roger: ...nose!
      Smartass: Nose? That don't rhyme with 'walls'.
      Eddie: No, but this does! * kicks him in the groin*
    • "Nice booby trap."
    • Not to mention Jessica's breasts making boinging sounds twice when she visits Eddie's office.
    • There's a scene where Eddie fires some toon bullets at a fleeing assailant, who ducks down an alleyway. The bullets stop, wonder "which way did he go?", and proceed to go in the wrong direction. Eddy comments "Dum-dums!"
  • Enchanted has quite a bit of this as well.
    Morgan: Remember, when you go out not to put too much makeup otherwise the boys will get the wrong idea and you know how they are...
    [off Giselle's wide-eyed look]
    Morgan: They're only after one thing.
    Giselle: What's that?
    Morgan: I don't know. Nobody will tell me.
  • The Cat in the Hat movie attempted this, with questionable results. Apparently, the writers' idea of Parental Bonuses are almost PG-13 level double entendres; see here.
  • In the Jim Carrey version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Grinch as a young boy looks in at a Christmas party where people are dropping keys into a fishbowl; indicating this was a swingers party.
    • Seconds before the keys are dropped into the fishbowl, a pair of Whos walk across the window, a man giving a woman a * ahem* "Reverse Piggy Backride".
    • In another scene, babies fall from the sky in baskets with umbrellas, a variant upon the Stork myth. A man sees a baby outside his own house, and joyously shouts to his wife that the baby is here, only to realize "He looks just like your boss..."
  • 101 Dalmatians (Live-Action Adaptation): Roger tells Cruella that Anita is pregnant...
    Cruella: Well, what can I say? Accidents will happen.
    Roger: We're having puppies, too.
    Cruella: (gasps) Puppies! You have been a busy boy!
    • To say nothing about this little exchange in the cartoon, after Pongo and Perdita return with the 99 puppies...
      Anita: But where did they all come from?
      Roger: Oh, Pongo-boy, you old rascal!
  • In Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, as Wonka searches for the button on the Three-Course-Dinner Gum machine, he offhandedly asks "Button, button, who's got the button?"
    • Dexter's Laboratory pulls a similar joke when Dee Dee is, of course, left standing next to a button unattended.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest has a deliciously subtle one when Tia Dalma finds the Black Spot (an omen of death) in Jack Sparrow's palm:
    Gibbs : The Black Spot!
    Ragetti : The Black Spot!
    Pintel : Black Spot!
    Jack Sparrow : My eyesight's as good as ever, just so you know.
    • Which is a very roundabout way of making a connection between palm sores, masturbation, and the myth that it causes blindness.
      • It's also an indicator of syphilis (which Johnny Depp has more or less confirmed Sparrow as having, probably a contributor to his eccentric nature), which can damage eyesight.
      • There's a very subtle one in the same movie. The sailors going on the Flying Dutchmen chant "Pull out your eyes, Apologize, Apologize". Any James Joyce reader will recognize this from Dante's introduction in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • Scooby-Doo had one that is very easy to miss out on:
    Woman on Plane tells Shaggy her name is Mary-Jane.
    Shaggy: Mary-Jane? That's my favorite name!
    • For those who don't get it, Mary-Jane was an old-timey slang term for marijuana.
    • The "hot box" scene. Soon after the team "breaks up" at the start of the movie, the following scene shows the Mystery Van with a whole lot of white smoke billowing out of it. Cut to inside, and you see that Shaggy and Scooby simply have a miniature barbecue that is letting off a lot of smoke.
  • In Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Chance the dog is chewing a shoe and offers a piece to Sassy the cat. She replies "No thanks, I'm not into leather".
    • In Homeward Bound: Lost in San Francisco, Sassy wakes up and finds herself laying next to that runt dog with fleas. Sassy recoils in disgust and says, "Yuck!" The dog responds, "That's not what you said last night!"
  • Non-joke example: In The Monster Squad, after the kids have been to Scary German Guy's place and he turns out to be quite the good guy despite his scary exterior, the leader of the titular group mentions that he "sure knows a lot about monsters." Scary German Guy's response: "Now that you mention it...I suppose I do." And as the kids leave, we're shown a reveal on Scary German Guy's arm of a numbered tattoo that the adults of the audience will recognize as a concentration camp identification tattoo, signifying that this guy indeed knows a great deal about monsters.
  • In Fred Claus, Santa demonstrates the power of the snow globe to his brother, Fred, who's visiting some part-time work. Fred then asks if he could use it to check on the Swedish Women's Swimming Team, to check if they were doing anything "naughty".
  • Space Jam had a little Pulp Fiction reference in the end basketball game...
  • The Wizard of Oz had many lines what would be funny to adults but not children.
    Dorothy: We've brought you the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West. We melted her.
    Wizard: You liquidated her, eh?
    • The line spouted by the Scarecrow when he received the Th.D. degree, which was a hashed up version of the Pythagorean Theorem:
      The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.
    • The wizard awarding the Lion a medal called the Triple Cross.
    • The Scarecrow and the Wizard:
      Scarecrow: I've got a brain! How can I ever thank you enough?
      Wizard: Well, you can't.
    • The Scarecrow to Dorothy:
      Scarecrow: Of course some people do go both ways.
  • The Santa Clause has quite a few of these.
    • When Scott picks up Santa's bag and he's lifted into the air:
      Charlie: Woah! You're flying!
      Scott: It's okay, I'm used to it. I lived through the 60's.
    • Speaking of druggie-references, in its sequel, The Santa Clause 2, Santa Claus/Scott Calvin and Bernard, when learning about Charlie's addition to the Naughty List, gives this exchange:
      Bernard: It's... Charlie.
      Scott: Sheen? I thought he straightened out.
  • Annie (2014) has a clever way of referring to someone as a prostitute, which flies right over the heads of any kids in the audience.
    Miss Hannigan: [approaching limo] Hi there!
    Stacks: I'm sorry, I am not interested in temporary companionship.
    Miss Hannigan: What!?
    Stacks: God has a path for all of us! Yours should be taking you away from the car.
  • Casper has the three Big Uncle Bully ghosts singing, "It's my party, and I'll die if I want to." It references an old song by Lesley Gore.
  • At the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Mikey plays the song "So Happy Together" for April, which is obviously yet another example of his crush on her. The band that performed the song: The Turtles.
  • A few examples dotted throughout Paddington, the most darkly notable of which is the origin of the flowers Mr Curry presents to Millicent, which are heavily implied to have come from an accident memorial, given he found them tied to a lamppost.

    Literature 
  • A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels feature numerous plot devices to get the characters to travel in space and time and even into their own bodies, most of which are based on real scientific concepts. This makes reading them as a kid and as an adult two very different experiences.
  • In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, courage takes the form of a liquid. Or, at least, the kind of courage that "makes you forget you are afraid" does. Or so the Wizard claims.
  • An in-canon example occurs in one of the Amber Brown books, which are written specifically for elementary-school kids. When Amber, her mom, and her mom's boyfriend are about to start baking, Amber claps her hands and goes "Alright, let's start some preheating!" Her mom and Max look at each other, laugh, and refuse to explain. Amber narrates how annoying that is.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events. By. The. Truckload. Just a few examples:
    • 99% of the characters' names are literary references, especially the inhabitants of the island in The End.
    • Mr. Poe had two sons named Edgar and Albert. Just guess that one.
    • Similarly, the two Quagmire triplets that the Baudelaires meet first are named Isadora and Duncan.
    • In The Reptile Room, the Baudelaires are told not to let the Virginian Wolfsnake near a typewriter.
    • The whole plot of The End is one big Bible reference/commentary.
    • The titular festival of The Carnivorous Carnival is called Caligari Carnival.
    • Stephano, Dr. Georgina Orwell, Vice Principal Nero, Coach Ghenghis, Esme Squalor...
  • A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh has many jokes that will go straight over your average five-year-old's head.
  • Louise Rennison's Withering Tights, a 2010 novel aimed at 14-year-old girls, has a scene that's a mashup of An American Werewolf in London, Withnail & I, and the Monty Python's Flying Circus milkman sketch (the "some of them are very old" punchline is identical).
  • In the Rainbow Magic series (for girls under 10 years old), the king and queen of Fairyland are named Oberon and Titania, the names of the fairy king and queen in A Midsummer Night's Dream. To drive the point home, the kingdom has an annual party called the Midsummer Ball.
  • Harry Potter, oh so much. From literary and historical and mythological allusions to names significant if you have just a smattering of Latin or French or German. Not to mention the social satire. One could—and several people have—write a book.
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, some of the characters' names are references to celebrities.
  • In one of the Sam Pig books by Alison Uttley, Irish labourers give the pigs some gifts. One of them is a bottle of cream ... only it's a brown colour and when Tom Pig tastes a little he splutters and says "They have queer cows in Ireland". Uttley does not explain to the child audience what Irish Cream actually is.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Try to think of a Muppet production that doesn't include these. We'll wait.
    • In particular, The Muppet Show almost always did Actor Allusions about their current guest stars.
      • And then there's the episode in which Miss Piggy sings an old music hall song about a woman left at the altar by her fiance, dressed for the occasion in a wedding dress with a large pillow shoved up the front. The significance of the abandoned bride's expanded waistline is left for the viewer to fill in.
      • Jim Henson would have said that the Muppet Show wasn't aimed at kids in the first place.
    • Most of the sketches in Sesame Street had slapstick and word-play for the kids, with parody as the Parental Bonus. And occasionally even some wordplay that was clearly not for the kids:
      Count von Count: Ah-ha-ha! I am the best counter since Formica!
    • Sesame Street once did a parody of Waiting for Godot. After a while, the tree walked out because it was too confusing.
    • Another Sesame Street parody had a couple's car break down, forcing them to run through the rain to the door of a castle. The couple? Count von Count...and Susan Sarandon.
    • How about Katy Perry's sketch on Sesame Street with the naughty dress parodying "Hot and Cold"?
    • Will Arnett was on an episode doing illusions.
    • Similarly, Fraggle Rock played hard and fast with parody and social satire. One episode, for example, depicted a villain trying to take over the Rock with a very direct reference to Pink Floyd's The Wall.
    • It has been argued that Sesame Street owes its success to "entertaining the parents so much they forced the kids to watch."
    • They even did a parody of the Old Man Spice Commercial "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like", teaching kids the word "on". It even skips "The tickets are now diamonds" with the clam biting Grover's nose. At the end, Grover says, "I'm on a horse!" but it is a cow, and he corrects himself after the cow moos.
    • They did one teaching about the letter M...via a Law and Order: SVU parody.
    • They even parodied the very adult Game of Thrones with Game of Chairs, turning the Succession Crisis into a game of musical chairs and making a lot of Gallows Humour.
    • Dinosaurs, another show from the Jim Henson Company, also does this. And is even lampshaded in this scene. Complete with Aside Glance.
    "...The dialogue is sharp-edged, witty, and thematically skewed to adults."
    • The British Sesame Street spin-off The Furchester Hotel is literally based on this; how many pre-schoolers have heard of London's exceedingly upmarket Dorchester Hotel? The wild chaos of Monster Tea-Time is also a reference to the Dorchester being known for its very posh afternoon tea.
  • The Ghostwriter episode "Am I Blue?" was an homage to Star Trek fandom. Another episode had flashback scenes that resembled 1930s film noir.
  • The absolute king of this trope was Square One TV, which had an average of a Parental Bonus a minute. Sketches parodied everything from Max Headroom to Pac-Man, and the musical numbers were always a style spoof (like the country-western "Nine, Nine, Nine" or the glam-rock "Angle Dance"). Each episode ended with a mystery called Mathnet, an elaborate (and sometimes disturbingly true-to-form) parody of Dragnet, where agent Kate Monday (later changed to Pat Tuesday) flashed her calculator as a badge. In one "Mathnet" sequence, we hear a voice over an airport intercom: "Will Miss Amelia Earhart please come to the front? Miss Earhart, we have your luggage."
    • Mathnet has a large enough Periphery Demographic that it was shown as a stand-alone program during primetime.
    • The music video that started with some teenage girls noticing that their friend's relationship must've gotten serious as they saw a "diagram" in her purse... That one might actually qualify as Getting Crap Past the Radar.
  • The Electric Company was full of these, most notably "Easy Reader" and "Fargo North: Decoder".
    • The 2009 remake is full of these too, at seen in the pilot episode running on PBS. There was a character named Rebus wearing a shirt with "RE + " and a picture of a bus (does that count as a meta-rebus?), a sketch involving a dog known as Jack Bowser, and several references to the original series.
    • Some of the songs were done by Tom Lehrer, who thankfully refrained from some of his better known works like Wernher von Braun, The Old Dope Peddler and I Hold Your Hand in Mine (which he has had requests from adults not to perform). There were still a few Parental Bonuses in his Electric Company songs, though.
  • Beakman's World delights in old-school Parental Bonus references, which most frequently pop up in the Beakmania introduction, where every dance referenced by Beakman is an actual dance.
  • One episode of Zoobilee Zoo was a direct parody of My Fair Lady.
  • In Hannah Montana, the father (played by Billy Ray Cyrus) is often heard saying things like, "Oh, my achy-breaky back!" He and other characters also frequently mock his former mullet hairstyle.
    • Also notable is the episode in which Miley pretends to be a Hannah Montana impersonator, where Billy's character Robbie Ray Stewart dons a mullet wig and introduces himself to a nosy reporter, saying "hi, I'm Billy Ray Cyrus".
  • In the end video of the iCarly episode "iMeet Fred", one character sings "I buried Paul."
  • The Nanny had its share of these; so much so, you have to wonder if they were ad-libbed.
    Maxwell (at headshot) You're sitting on John Malkovich.
    Fran: I don't hear him complaining.
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Revenge of The Slitheen" Maria's divorced mother asks her ex-husband if she can have the double bed size duvet as he won't need it having a single bed. Her mannerisms and delivery of this line is enough to make older viewers think she's making fun of his sex life.
    • Continuity Nods to Doctor Who (new and classic) and Torchwood also count.
    • "Love and Monsters". A man and an animated concrete slab containing a talking head have a "bit of a love life". Figure that out for yourself.
    • As RTD put it, it was "good old-fashioned British smut".
    • And in Tooth and Claw, "[The servants] were bald, athletic, your wife's away..I thought you were just happy."
    • In "The Doctor Dances", the Ninth Doctor switches Jack's sonic blaster with a banana without Jack catching on. Funny enough on it's own, but funnier for those parents that recognize the joke from the Buster Keaton short "The High Sign".
  • Pee-Wee's Playhouse was loaded with enough of this that it was resurrected... on ADULT SWIM. Watch any episode with Miss Yvonne and you'll come across some.
    • The show's original run was so popular with adults that a few episodes were broadcast during primetime.
  • This is referenced within The Office (US). Michael brings in a tape from a kids show he was on. There's an interview segment with a cat puppet called Edward R. Meow. While most of the staff laughs and notes that it's clever, Michael still doesn't get it.
  • Rainbow once played this trope for laughs: [1] . Sadly, this was a gag episode that was never intended to be viewed by children, but it's still hilarious.
  • In an episode of Suite Life on Deck, Woody sees London's rich friend and says "She's hot. Does she have any interest in "woodworking"?
  • In Balamory PC Plum often sings a song that starts off as a parody of Gilbert and Sullivan, and ends up as a parody of Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Super Sentai has a few, (or more like a lot in recent series). A few examples...
    • In the first episode of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, Ian is reading a menu containing items such as Juicy Steak and Juicy Hamburgers. He then asks Amy out on a juicy date.
  • Power Rangers RPM had a non-sexual example in the fact that the planet had been razed in a nuclear holocaust. They outright showed that it was razed, but only the parents would connect the dots on the clues that Venjix had used nukes.
    • Power Rangers has slipped in a few (not really for parents, but for older fans.) In Dino Thunder, one character uses the phrase "ankle biter," a bit of Aussie slang for a small child. The only people who got that joke are the older fans who know that the show has been filmed in New Zealand since 2003.
    • The original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers threw one in that may have been aimed at even older viewers than parents. Through time travel, the villains had claimed an Old West town as their own, and had renamed it Zed-and-Ritaville. The monster of the week then quipped to the ancestors of the modern Rangers, "Too bad I have to waste you away again in Zed-and-Ritaville." Children watching would not have remembered Jimmy Buffet and "Margaritaville." Even their parents might have been too young. But their grandparents...
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood included a puppet named Donkey Hodie who lived in a windmill.
  • Horrible Histories has plenty of these. How many kids are going to realise that the Dick Turpin song is one big pastiche of Adam and the Ants Stand and Deliver?
    • In fact, there was enough Parental Bonus that it made the leap from CBBC to prime-time BBC One (with Stephen Fry as presenter).
  • Referenced in How I Met Your Mother in an episode where we see the children's TV Robin starred in as a teenager. It's wall to wall sex jokes, including the song "Two beavers are better than one.".
  • The smash success of the 1966 Batman series was based on this, with kids tuning in for the superhero adventures while their parents enjoyed the Lampshade Hanging and parody of superhero tropes.
  • Between the Lions often bases musical numbers on songs well outside the experience of its target audience, such as a song about the importance of breakfast to the tune of "Roadhouse Blues".
    • The guy responsible for that show he did the same thing for Sesame Street with such numbers as "It's Hip to Be a Square."
    • And let's not forget "How I miss my X." Literally, it was a puppet version of the letter "X."
  • Tweenies often did this. A highlight was when they imagined travelling in a spaceship returning various aliens to their home planets, which became a parody of Star Trek.
  • On Teletubbies Laalaa, Po and Tinky Winky take it in turns to dance in Laalaa's frilly piknk tutu. When Dipsy is offered the skirt he shouts "Run Away".
  • On Degrassi: The Next Generation, almost any appearance by a character from the original series counts as a Parental Bonus. Teenaged and younger viewers have no idea why this character is supposed to be interesting or important; only the viewers who were around in 1990 remember.
  • Victorious turned over an episode to The Breakfast Bunch, an homage to The Breakfast Club, (tacos replaced marijuana as the tried-for-the-first-time vice), and a segment of the surreal "April Fool's Blank" included an Expy of the 70's Match Game, with eerily good set and costume design [2] and correlation of characters to the show's typical panel; then lampshaded that no kid in the audience would understand the reference.
    • Sam & Cat dipped into this pool often. A key intersection mentioned in multiple episode was Shields and Yarnell, also the names of a mime duo that was a regular on 70's TV. Another episode has senior citizen Nona's mention that past lovers include pro basketball legend Bob Mc Adoo and the poet laureate of 70's game shows Nipsey Russell.

    Music 
  • The Wiggles, an Australian children's music group, has done covers of songs by The Beatles. Including 'Octopus's Garden', fittingly as one of their mascots is Henry the Octopus.
  • The Bedrock song. Oh, the Bedrock song. Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and (of course) The Flintstones, for parental bonuses in rap songs, this takes the cake. In this case it's not really intended for kids, but teens,note  but still counts because most parents are forced to listen to the music their teenagers play when they travel in the car.
  • The Cartoon's "Didlee Dee". Children will hear a catchy, nonsensical song to dance to, and it's only their parents who get what the song is actually about.

     Theme Parks 
  • At Disney Theme Parks, many places serve alcoholic beverages for adults. In fact, Drinking Around the World is a popular activity for older guests at EPCOT.
  • This happens the third version of the Disney World ride Journey Into Imagination in the smell lab. A slot machine is seen, and it rolls to reveal 3 Figments dressed as skunks. Then, they all say "Congratulations! You win one scent!", and Figment releases an unexpected aroma.
    • Yeah, why would they have a slot machine on a ride intended for toddlers in the first place?
  • The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios is filled with references to old movies that parents will likely appreciate.

    Theatre 
  • In Pokémon Live!, James delivers a joke about employment benefits and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

    Video Games 
  • General Pepper from the Star Fox series. Think about it. If you don't get it, here's another clue for you all: in the Star Fox comic in Nintendo Power, Fara asks why Pepper didn't do something. His answer? "I was only a sergeant then..."
  • In EarthBound, the Beatles references never end: the Runaway Five, a yellow submarine, a set of default names for Ness & co. (in the Japanese version), and an explicit reference to "Yesterday" (in the English localization; an NPC has Ness fill in the blank — "...the Beatles song, ___terday" is filled in with "Yes" or "No").
    • A couple more: when Nessie takes Jeff across the lake, the musical score is very obviously the opening mellotron from Strawberry Fields Forever. Also, one of the NPC's in Onett will ask you to "Finish this famous Beatles song —-terday" with a yes or no prompt.
    • On the topic on the Runaway Five, not only is the design of the lead singers reminiscent of the Blues Brothers, but a certain hotel newspaper (as reported by the bellboy) claims that band member Lucky (modeled after Jake Blues, played by John Belushi) was seen in congress, an elaborate reference to John Belushi's role as John "Bluto" Blutarsky in National Lampoon's Animal House, in which the aforementioned character goes on to become a senator.
    • Oh, and the New Age Retro Hippie's theme sounds a lot like Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode." As does Rockin' K.K. from Animal Crossing.
    • No one can forget Peaceful Rest Valley- or should I say, Grateful Dead Valley. Home to a strange cult in a familiar outfit, with a strange obsession with the power of a certain color....
    • The Happy Happy Cult can be taken two ways: either as a reference to Blue Meanies, or the KKK. Or both.
      • Or Scientology.
    • One of the enemies is called Diamond Dog.
    • The Dungeon Man's theme, after he joins your party, is based on 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'.
    • The music that plays when Jeff rides in the Sky Runner is taken from a song by The Who.
    • The thing with EarthBound is that these are less likely to be intended as a Parental Bonus, so much as being thrown in because those involved (mainly Shigesato Itoi and the composers) really, really liked this stuff (the entire franchise is specifically named after a Beatles song, for god's sake!).
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door was just loaded with somewhat suggestive material, to the point that it's a wonder they managed to get such low age ratings. It got a 3+ rating in Europe and an E rating in North America (the "E-10+ " rating didn't exist at the time).
    • Including a nude scene for Princess Peach. She was invisible at the time.
    • Goombella was a walking Parental Bonus as well. Many of her tattle-analyses did this (or broke the fourth wall). Oh, and the Goomba-Gang that tried to hit on her plays real nice.
    • Then there's Fahr Outpost, a snowy region populated by bombs who wear bearskin hats. Their mayor speaks broken English peppered with 'da's and vehemently denies the existence of a superweapon on the base.
    • Among the less radar-dodging examples, the whole of Chapter 6 is a spoof of English detective novels and one of the supporting characters from Chapter 5 is a pirate named Cortez.
  • The Battalion Wars series of games is chock-full of references to nearly everything under the sun.
    • The countries are The Theme Park Version of real countries:
      • Western Frontier: (Cold War U.S.A.), overanxious, obsessed with sports, ever vigilant of the Tundran Bear, led by a man named Herman.
      • Tundran Territories (Cold War U.S.S.R.): red uniforms and armour, vehicles look thrown together, condemns Frontier decadence.
      • Solar Empire (Japan): Better technology than anyone else, like quoting Sun tzu, fight for honour.
      • Anglo Isles (Great Britain): Use yellow Sgt. Pepper-class submarines, one of their leaders is named Windsor.
      • Xylvania: Full of German and vaguely German accents, a nation determined to return to power after a defeat.
    • Kommandant Ubel of Xylvania is a muscle-bound thickhead with dreams of becoming "governator".
    • M17s, KA-74s, Humbugs, etc. in unit descriptions. Most of the Frontier units with names are references to a real-world American military vehicle of some kind.
    • Some of the mission names, like "Bridges over the River Styx", or Herman's Heroes.
  • Ape Escape. The third installment had movie-and-TV making as its conceit, so this involved parodic Homage Shots of such kid-friendly things as The Exorcist, Psycho, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, Apocalypse Now, Django, and Titanic (1997) (to name just a handful), as well as games parodying Mortal Kombat and Metal Gear. The names of the monkeys, in the UK localisation at least, often reference people in the movie industry (there's monkeys called M. Clayderman, D. Elfman, Ricky Ger V and Culkin, for just a handful of examples). Not only that, but some of the Simian Cinema shorts have a 'clean meaning' that the kids will find funny, and a 'dirty meaning' the older demographic will find funny (the one with the nude monkey telling the other nude monkey 'the ancient secret to keeping warm' before flossing between her legs with a towel as demonstration comes to mind).
  • Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure was a Mission-Pack Sequel to THPS 4. Here's a few of Zerg's moves, word for word:
  • Humongous Entertainment. Oh boy, where to start? Pajama Sam's superhero references, SPY Fox's James Bond references, Backyard Sports's 80s references (most pros were kids then)...all more likely to grab parents than kids.
  • One of the dragons in Spyro informs him of his "density . . . I mean, destiny", an homage to George McFly's pathetic attempts to pitch woo in Back to the Future.
  • The Crash Bandicoot series tends to aim its Shout Outs at older players. Apart from the fact that getting all the name jokes requires a GCSE-level understanding of everything from Victorian literature to thermodynamics, level titles in Warped include 'Tomb Wader', 'Area 51', and 'Eggipus Rex'.
  • Stephen Fry's narrations in LittleBigPlanet contain innuendo and jokes that children won't get. "Here you can choose how erect your piston is. No smirking back there." Also the fact that some of the Licensed DLC is usually from titles for higher ages such as Metal Gear Solid and God of War.
  • Sly Cooper has little jokes and pickup lines tossed in that have steadily built the series' adult fanbase. Here's an example:
    Carmelita: FREEZE!
  • The Sega Superstars series is made to please gamers of all ages. The children play them for the Sonic and Super Monkey Ball characters, while the teens and adults play them for the classic Sega characters like NiGHTS, Beat, Ulala, and Ryo Hazuki. Most children will be asking their parents, "Daddy, who's the guy with the headphones and goggles? Who's the pink-haired girl? Who's the guy on the motorcycle?" And so on.
  • MySims Kingdom has this mostly in its Task and Scroll names. For example, an early Task is called Gears of Where?, and completing it gets you a scroll called Solid Gears of Metal.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ParentalBonus