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 The first decade of the show, an actual mission of the show was 'Entertain the parents so much, they force the kids to watch!', 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.)
A Super Trope to Parent Service.
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The Kia Sorento 2014 space babies commercial features a very kid friendly and funny "Daddy, where do babies come from?" story. The rocket ships "penetrating" Earth's atmosphere will be very familiar to anyone who's had biology.
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.
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.
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.
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 "Du Lac"; 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 C.O.P.S.) 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.
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'...
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.
Come to think of it, every Pixar film has plenty of these.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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, butthisdoes!* kicks him in the groin*
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!"
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.
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..."
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: 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".
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.
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.
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.
The Discworld: Terry Pratchett is very fond of putting in sly allusions, usually to adult situations that the younger members of the audience might not get. In The Truth, for instance, William de Worde is faced with an insanitary cup of second-hand tea made from found ingredients (used teabags and a lemon slice found floating in the Ankh.) Not wanting to give offence to his beggar hosts, he reflects on
The eternal conundrum - to spit or swallow?
Of course, William is just talking about the tea. Any other allusion is in the mind of the reader.
Pratchett refers, with pride, to a teenage American reader who wrote to him, about Lords and Ladies, that he had to go to a dictionary to understand the description of the Elf-King as "priapic". He - and his mother - had thought the word was something Olde Englishe about maypoles and folk-dancing...
Speaking of Sesame Street, try to think of a Muppet production that doesn't include these. We'll wait.
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.
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: SVUparody.
"...The dialogue is sharp-edged, witty, and thematically skewed to adults."
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 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.
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.
"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.
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...
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."
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.
Not to mention they have a song called "The Clap."
Sadly, the Wiggles did not actually sing "The Clap." It's a spoof of the Wiggles by a group calling themselves "The Giggles."
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 13-17-year-olds. but still counts because most parents are forced to listen to the music their teenagers play when they travel in the car.
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?
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.
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).
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.
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 yellowSgt. 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 (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).
Some background animations in Pajama Sam: No Need To Hide When It's Dark Outside in the hallway filled with windows looking out into space. One of the windows, when clicked, shows a cheese floating by and a monotone voice says "I'm afraid I can't eat that cheese, Sam.", as well as the chair in the lab who spoke in lines that sounded like solutions from Clue.
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:
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.
In the first episode of late-90s ABC cartoon Pepper Ann, the titular character goes into Abe's Mall (with a big statue of Abe Lincoln out front) to buy some pimple cream. The names of various shops in the mall float behind her, including "John Wilkes Photo Booth," "Getty's Burgers," "Four Score and Seven Year Pets," and "Civil Wear."
The Sam and Max episode "Christmas Bloody Christmas" featured Sam and Max entering a prison shower room. Max sees a bar of soap on the ground, and bends over to pick it up, with a sign saying "Do not open until Xmas" over his rear-end.
The Recess episode "The Library Kid" featured the gang cornering said Library Kid in the Philosophy section, with Gretchen calling out "Head her towards the existentialists; there's no exit over there," a reference to Sartre's play. The actual opening looks like an elementary school version of Hogan's Heroes.
More than half the humor in Recess requires a high-school level of education to notice, much less understand.
The titles of some episodes like "Kids in the Mist".
Recess: School's Out has lots of references to various things. Among them, Ms. Finster yelling, "Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone!", and the song "Green Tambourine" (sung by Robert Goulet, no less) playing over the end credits while the kids danced in front of a psychedelic background.
Ms. Grotke was reading Beowulf out loud. And just happened to be reading the part where Beowulf rips Grendel's arm off and begins beating him with it.
The Halloween episode was a outright retelling of both Christine and Maximum Overdrive "Both adult horror novels"
In one of his silly songs, Larry the cucumber allows both a bank robber and a viking into his house and gives them each a cookie ("Because it's Christmas!"). He slams the door in the face of the guy from the IRS, complete with a Smug Smile.
Likewise, the episode of The Powerpuff Girls titled "Los Dos Mojos" included its own Holy Grail reference:
Mojo Jojo: That's all just well enough, because in reality there is only room enough in this world for one Mojo Jojo. One shall be the number of Mojo Jojos in the world, and the number of Mojo Jojos in the world shall be one. Two Mojo Jojos is too many, and three is right out!
Another episode referred to The Big Lebowski, when Professor Utonium laments a rug that "really tied the room together".
Hell, they once had The Mayor recite the "Strong Men Also Cry" speech, but replaced Bunny with Bellum.
PPG did an entire episode of Beatles references, "Meet the Beat Alls", which got an Emmy nomination.
At the end of that episode, Blossom tries out a quote of her own, fails, and dismisses it with "Oh, who cares? It's by some dumb old band anyway."
And in the movie, references to naughty words were stuck in, including an elongated sigh of 'Fffff...'
In the episode "Super Friends" the girls invite their new neighbor, a girl their age named Robin, over to their house, and they introduce her to Professor Utonium:
Bubbles: He made us in his laboratory by accident! Professor: Well, what can I say? Robin: Don't worry, Professor. I was an accident, too! [Cue surprised look on the Professor's face]
A similar joke occurred in the episode, "Gettin Twiggy With It" when Mitch Mitchelson, who lived in a trailer park with his grandma, takes the class hamster, Twiggy home and starts playing with her violently. When Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup catch him in the act:
Mitch: But it was an accident! Blossom: You're an accident!
Many sexual innuendo jokes relating to Ms. Bellum occur. One was when Ms. Bellum (actually Sedusa in disguise) came into the Mayor's office while he was writing something. She leaned on his desk revealing a lot of her cleavage. He looks up and breaks his pencil, and exclaims "Pencil go snap!"
Series creator Craig McCracken was fond of classic rock references in general. Two examples: an episode entitled "Mr. Mojo's Rising", and in another Ace of The Gangrene Gang shouts "Billy! Don't be a hero!"
Perhaps the most explicit example is Ms. Bellum's address: 69 Yodelinda Valley Lane. It's prominently displayed on her mailbox in several episodes.
The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy did an entire episode parodying God Emperor of Dune, the fourth book in Frank Herbert's Dune series, with Mandy as the God Emperor, Grim as Moneo Atreides, and Billy as the frequently-cloned-and-replaced Duncan Idaho. Another episode featured a nod to the classic black-and-white Classic Disney Short, The Skeleton Dance. Yet a third parodies the musical Little Shop of Horrors: Billy plays Seymour, bringing victims to the singing, brain-eating alien who stands in for Audrey Two. They also had a geriatric Dracula, who was quite obviously supposed to be Blacula.note Even better than that- he's Red Foxx They also had an episode entitled "The Prank Call of Cthulhu."
Another episode obviously references the Hellraiser movies with "Pinhead" who has bowling pins sticking out of his head and a rubik's cube look-a-like summoning him.
The episode with the Beauty Pageant had "gom jabbar" among the Pageant contests.
Mindy: It burns! It burns! ** When Mindy pulled her hand from the pain box, the judges said something along the lines of "that will cost her." Funny, because in the book removing your hand from the pain box while it works leads to instant death by the Gom Jabbar (a poisoned needle).
The show's full of them. Here's one where Billy reads an ad off of a cave wall.
Billy: For a good time, call — Someone else: Stop reading that!
Valentine's Day. In general. For one, the end of Mandy's episode was apparently a Grease parody, and let's not forget Grim's.
Malaria: What do you mean, you can tell when someone fakes?
Hurter Monkey: Billy and Mandy get a helper monkey who sounds like Kevin Spacey and even paraphrases the "simple life" speech from Se7en.
In the opening to the episode "Duck!," Grim dreams about being in his dream house with his dream wife. He suddenly realizes, and exclaims, that "this is not my beautiful house," and "you are not my beautiful wife!," and then wakes up to Billy saying "same as it ever was," repeatedly. This is a reference to the song "Once In a Lifetime" by Talking Heads, which had the lines as lyrics.
And the theme song that plays at the beginning of his dream is similar to that of The Munsters.
The whole show was a huge parental bonus. Heck, it's doubtful that kids would realize what happens when Grim takes people away.
In one episode, character's were being made horribly ugly and paper bags were offered to the victims to place over their heads. The character offering the bags commented that he only had paper bags left because the plastic bags were in greater demand.
In the episode "Wishbones", Billy wishes to be on a Jonny Quest parody. It even has the show's music playing at one point!
Chowder. For an example, in one episode, Endive wears mood fruit, fruit that changes color to reflect the wearers mood. I'm not sure, but I think the fact that most of the time, every part of it is a different colour means something...but I AM sure that when it changed to brown, which was acknowledged, HAS to mean something.
When Chowder learns how to write, they use a montage of pictures of him interacting with various letters. "R" is depicted as looming over him in a dark back alley, getting ready to do something that rhymes with "grape".
Truffles' snarky remarks towards her nearly dead relationship with her husband, Mung. During Panini for President, when the two were watching her on stage:
Animaniacs also had an episode where the Warners were out to buy their psychiatrist, Dr. Scratchensnif, a birthday present. One asks about buying something from a store called Oedipus Rex, and another remarks, "Nah, his mother wouldn't like it."
A different store sold 'Freudian Slips'. "No, he makes his own."
Animaniacs was also famous for hiding vulgar jokes. At the beginning of the song Wakko's America, the Warner Siblings are playing a Jeopardy-style game show, wherein Wakko is asked how much he wants to wager on the daily double. He responds, "I'll blow the wad," eliciting surprised looks from Yakko and Dot.
A running gag was Yakko lampshading a Double Entendre by implying it was enough to get the show cancelled.
Teacher: Yakko, do you know how to conjugate? Yakko: Who, me? I've never even kissed a girl! Teacher: No, no, it's easy. Here, I'll conjugate with you. Yakko: (to camera) Goodnight, everybody!
The Warners open up a bust of Freud like a Pez dispenser. Dr. Scratchensniff: Stop playing with my bust! Yakko: ...Goodnight, everybody!
The best Yakko lampshading has to be during "Baloney And Friends" where Yakko expresses a preference for chasing after the just-exited "cute girls" (the "Princess of Props".)
Baloney: What "cute girls"? Yakko, I don't know what you mean! Yakko: (to camera) There's a shocker!
And let's not forget how The Brain spoke exactly like Orson Welles.
A writer described that cartoon as "a $900,000 inside joke."
Not so much a parental bonus, but Maurice LaMarche (The Brain's voice actor) sent up the same famous Frozen Peas recording session in an episode of The Critic, throwing in fish stick advertisements into a videotaped living will. "They're even better when you're DEAD!"
Also, there was a THX-1138 reference in the intro chalkboard scene.
There was actually a lot of No Celebrities Were Harmed - style casting in the show, ranging from the obvious (The Goodfeathers) to the easy-to-miss (Katie Kaboom's dad spoke like Jimmy Stewart).
The Warners parodied a World War 2 "good citizenship" film, where ladies donated their nylon pantyhose to be made into parachutes. Who came to pick up the huge barrel of nylons? J. Edgar Hoover.
One that surprisingly slipped past the censors:
Yakko: (dressed as a detective) Dot, look for prints. Dot: (now carrying the musician Prince) I found Prince! Yakko: No, no, no. Fingerprints. (Prince puts on a wide grin) Dot: (beat) I don't think so. (Throws Prince out the window)
When Yakko becomes king of Anvilania, he tends to be more (not-so-subtly) interested in his gorgeous female Prime Minister than running the country, even when the threat of war hangs over them.
Prime Minister: (impatiently) Sire! Yakko: (suggestively) Wait 'til we're alone. ** Then there was the time the Warners met Beethoven:
Beethoven: I am Ludwig von Beethoven! Vorld famous composer und pianist! Yakko: (startled) You're a WHAT? Beethoven: A PIANIST! Yakko: * smooch* ...Good night everybody! Beethoven: (confused) But that is vat I am! A pianist! Yakko: I think we heard enough out of you. [Yakko literally washes Beethoven's mouth with soap]
Animaniacs also had the "Rita & Runt" sketches, which often parodied Broadway musicals (but of course; Rita was played by Bernadette Peters!). These are all far funnier after having seen the musicals being parodied.
Minerva Mink: All right. Give me the bird! Dot: We can't. This is a children's show.
This one predates the Animaniacs by several decades, first appearing (probably) in a Babbit and Catstello cartoon from the late 40s. "If the Hayes Office would only let me, I'd give him the bird all right."
There's also the episode where the trio ends up in Czarist Russia? They meet Rasputin, who has a toothache, and needs dental work. Yakko remarks, "looks like he needs a little anesthesia!" ... and the Czar's daughter comes out and hits Rasputin on the head with a mallet. Dot even says afterwards, "Obscure joke, ask your parents."
Of course, after Anastasia, this pun isn't so obscure anymore.
The episode "Hot, Bothered and Bedeviled," where the Warners ended up in Hell (but obviously they couldn't say that). When they meet the Devil and realize where they are, Wakko dashes for a spiral staircase, comes out on Earth, gathers up a snowball, and runs back down the stairs, only to watch it melt rapidly upon setting it down on the ground. "Boy, they were right! It didn't have a chance."
Hey Arnold! used the phrase "Snowball's chance" repeatedly in the episode "Stinky Goes Hollywood".
By all accounts, children shouldn't see Raging Bull or Goodfellas yet one of the recurring segments was called Goodfeathers and usually homaged those types of movies.
One definitely for the parents: Boris, wearing a metal mouse costume in his role as the Big Cheese, details his plan to take over whole U.S. of A. He holds up a book. The title? "Mice Kampf."
Bullwinkle would sometimes have entire plots that were parental bonuses. An entire episode could be spent spoofing college football or modern art. Bonus points for the jokes being nowadays both mature and dated. How many modern kids are gonna get a joke about the payola scandal?
The creepy doctor that Chuckie visits in named Dr. Lector.
In another episode, while the children are looking for one of the children's favourite toy, they open up a drawer full of favourite things, and start pulling things out. On the screen can be seen a photograph of a woman.
At the beginning of the home movies episode, when Stu starts showing an incredibly boring home movie, Didi's father picks up the phone and says "Hello, Dr. Kevorkian?"
One of my favorites comes from the episode in which Dr. Lipschitz visits:
In the episode "Give and Take", Chuckie cannot stop playing with Tommy's new inflatable toy, called "Boppo". Phil says: "A kid his age should be playing with his friends, not sittin' in his room Boppin' his Boppo!"
And the movies Grampa brought home one night, 'Reptar Come Home', 'Reptar Redux', and ... 'Lonely Space Vixens'
In one episode, Tommy goes through a naked phase, where he refuses to wear his clothes. After talking the twins into following suit, he looks down at Lil and says "Lil. Can I ask you a question?"
In the series All Grown Up!, the episode titles were frequently references to pop-culture that was probably above the target-audience's head, but nearly all were easily relatable to the episode, anyway. The exception would be the episode "Wouldn't It Be Nice", an episode where several characters (including Susie and Angelica) pretend to be married, which only makes sense if you know the song. The odds on the target audience being familiar with the source material is slim.
Seriously....lip shitz (the bullSHIT psychologist...is called...lipschitz...you know...as in shit comes out of his mouth.
Another Lipschitz example: In "Naked Tommy," Didi cites him to Betty, and she snaps back with, "Don't start with that hippie Lipschitz, Didi! ... The 60's are over, and WE LOST!!!"
In the Time Travel episode of The Fairly OddParents, after Fairies In Black erased everyone's memories of events, the main characters were requested not to interfere in "the re-election of President McGovern". The show as a whole was saturated with an ever-increasing amount of Parental Bonus. The very first occasion would have to be way back when it was still on Oh Yeah! Cartoons:
Timmy: Oh magic nine-ball, will Mom and Dad come home early? "Titanic! Director's cut?!" They'll be there all night!
One that sticks out is Dad's obsession with Eggnog in every Christmas episode.
There's an episode where Cosmo and Wanda lose their wands at the beach. In searching for them they find, among other things, Elvis and the Holy Grail.
Timmy's Dad: * Pushing Timmy out the door* And that's everything you need to know about where babies come from!
Timmy: But what's the machine for?
Timmy's Dad: We'll tell you when you're older, son.
The intersections in Fairy World almost always are the names of famous magicians (like the intersection of "David" and "Copperfield")
Adam West voices Adam West as Catman, who is obsessed with the role he played on a 60's live-action show; his attacks are punctuated with large on-screen sound effect bubbles.
Jay Leno portrays the comic book superhero "The Crimson Chin".
Cleft (Timmy): Thanks, CC! You saved me! Chin: No, Timmy. You saved me— from myself! Boy, that was schmultzy. Who did you say writes my comic books? Cleft: Some 40 year old guy who lives with his mom. Chin: Any money in it? Cleft: (points to his caption balloon) Lives with his mom.
Jorgen von Strangle, the Schwarzenegger fairy (no, they didn't actually get ahold of the governator for the role).
Ben Stein plays a race of bland, boring, industrious pixies.
And just general grown-up friendly silliness
Wanda (after Cosmo slightly alters her hair color in a fight): I'm not a summer; I'm a winter!
Cosmo:I don't get it. If you're not married to her, why is she trying to kill you?
Timmy Turner: I'm huge, I hurt people, and I'm misunderstood! Cosmo: Just like the IRS!
And don't forget:
Wanda:Oh no, now he's evil AND a genius! Cosmo: Just like Dr. Phil!
Then there was the first Wishology episode. The minute that Timmy's dad popped open his case full of "goodies", I was on the floor.
And in an early episode with Mr. Crocker, as he ponders a trap that will either reveal once and for all that Timmy has fairy godparents to save him, or leave him dead...
Crocker: If he survives, it means fairy godparents! And if he dies, I have tenure!
The second episode with Anti-Cosmo has a Silence of the Lambs reference.
Anti-Cosmo (sitting behind a glassed-in cell):Hello, Clarise! Wanda: Clarise? Anti-Cosmo: So sorry, can't see a thing without my monocle.
The Autobot science team is composed of Wheeljack, whose face greatly resembles a roboticized version of a certain walrus-faced mythbuster, and Perceptor, whose computerized voice resembles that of physicist Stephan Hawking.
The episode that begins with SpongeBob watching a dancing live-action sea anemone on his TV, with a goofy entranced look on his face, leaning toward the screen. When Gary comes in and meows at him, he panics and immediately changes the channel and comes up with a hasty excuse for what he was really watching.
The episode with the squeaky boots is a parody of Edgar Allan Poe's short story The Telltale Heart.
Let's see, there's Ned and the Needlefish, an obvious reference to Hootie and the Blowfish; an episode titled "Krabby Road", like The Beatles' album Abbey Road; the episode "Lost Mattress", where, at the end of the mattress shopping montage, Spongebob goes to reach for a switch in the dealer's hand, who closes it sharply and makes Spongebob laugh, a reference to Pretty Woman; and some episodes which feature court cases use the theme from The People's Court.
A musical bonus: In the episode where Patrick becomes smart when he switches his brain with brain coral, he mentions a clarinet piece by "Cornelius Bumpfish". Someone on the writing team must like Steely Dan, whose clarinetist was a man named Cornelius Bumpus.
In one episode, Patrick dressed in drag and Squidward called 'her' "his Rubenesque beauty".
"You're a man, Spongebob, and it's about time you acted like one. First, puff up your chest. Then, say 'tax exemption'. Now you must adopt a taste for free-form jazz."
How many people in Kim Possible's target demographic would recognize the character Ron is channeling in this screenshot? ◊
Not to mention in the episode where they had to have mentors and Ron's happens to be a secret agent, Ron starts using a Scottish accent as a reference to Sean Connery as James Bond. This was exceptionally cool for older folks who always see Connery as Bond rather than the more recent actors like Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.
Yin Yang Yo! has several, not the least of which is Yang saying "Ah, pellets!" in place of stronger language.
Yin: Yang, where do you think Carl the Evil Cockroach has gone? Yang: The Booby Trap factory, which is safe for you because you don't have bo- Yin: Hold that insensitive remark!
Yet another Hawkgirl example is in the episode "Shadow of the Hawk"
Carter Hall staring at Hawkgirl's backside
Carter Hall: I missed the dress.
Hawkgirl:*seductive voice* You didn't miss it last night.
Possibly the most blatant example occurs in the episode where Flash and Luthor switch bodies. Tala, who had been trying to seduce Lex for a while, leads him (actually Flash) into the bedroom to "rest". Shortly after the door closes, we hear him happily chirp "Hey, that's not restful."
How about in the episode "Epilogue"? That was a pretty impressive one.
Amanda Waller: Bruce's DNA was easy enough to obtain. He left it all over town. Terry McGinnis: [raises eyebrow] Amanda Waller: Not remotely what I meant!
A pretty infamous one:
Princess Audrey of Kasnia: I'm a world class party girl. I intend to go out with a bang. Several, if it can be arranged.
Of all the rides in Disneyland proper, "It's A Small World" is the safest for small children, and its Tastes Like DiabetesEar Worm is nothing short of notorious. So it was a shoutout to plenty of long-suffering parents when Scar gave the song a great big Take That.
In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Cave of Two Lovers," the Gaang meets up with some extraordinarily 60s Hippie-ish, guitar playing nomads with vocal characteristics of The Stoner. When the cave group is traveling, their leader shouts "The tunnels, they are a-changing!" How many kids in the target demographic got that reference?
Even better, the leader of the nomads was named Chong.
Also, in the episode "Sokka's Master," Piandao is voiced by Robert Patrick, who plays the T-1000. A Shout-Out to sword arms is involved.
When choosing their vacation spots, Sokka tells Toph she hasn't worked with them long enough to choose her vacation.
All of the violence is normally something a child would not understand.
Moreso than just violence, there's a fair amount of complex military strategy and reflections of the effect of wartime on nations that your average kid of the 6-11 demographic isn't going to get. It's one of the rare uses of Parental Bonus that's not really used for humorous, pop cultural, and/or sexual effect, where the Bonus to speak of is the increased complexity of the setting, which has actually converted a fair number of parents or older siblings to become a Periphery Demographic.
Aside from all the inside jokes, the plot is so complex that adults are likely to catch on more then most kids.
George Shrinks has the titular character, at one point, tell a bee to go pollinate itself.
One episode of Cow and Chicken had a gang of butch female bikers (Cow even calls one of them "sir") who crashed into people's homes and literally munched on their carpets. The episode was never aired again because the censors caught onto this.
In the first episode of Doug, Doug is tricked by Roger into searching for fictional creatures called "neematoads". While searching in the marshland, he spots Roger laughing at him and realized he's been fooled. Doug's dog who became covered in mud approached Roger, convincing Roger that it was a neematoad. The episode ends with Roger searching in the marshland for neematoads. There is no such thing as neematoads, though there is such a thing as nematodes. And considering that both Doug and Roger were barefoot while searching, they definitely found some...
And how many kids were they expecting to get all of The Silence of the Lambs references in the episode "To Mar a Stall"?
One episode of Arthur featured the characters all writing stories for a TV show's story contest (the stories themselves written by kids, or so it says at the end), which were then played out using the Arthur characters in the animation style of other cartoons... including South Park, Beavis And Butthead, and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.
In the episode when Buster is diagnosed with asthma, Arthur accidentally induces an asthma attack when he's reading an old, dusty joke book with Buster. The following exchange with his father ensues:
Arthur: This is all my fault! Mr. Read: How could it be your fault? Arthur: It's because I showed him those dirty books! That's what made him sick. I just know it! (Confused look on Mr. Read's face)
In one episode there was a band called "Binky" that looked and sounded suspiciously like ABBA. They had the same amount of popularity and were even from Europe.
In another episode, when The Brain and Sue Ellen are going to do a science project, Brain imagines himself explaining that he managed to resurrect a dinosaur at a science seminar. Said dinosaur turns out to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and the audience is understandably scared. Brain then tells them to stay a bit. The Tyrannosaur is then given a microphone and then recites a Groucho Marx joke ("So one day, I woke up in the morning and I found an elephant in my pajamas. How the elephant got in my pajamas, I'll never know.").
In the Opera episode Muffy is reading an Opera guide called The Barber of the Valkyries
Arthur has had a lot of these, and a number of very subtle ones. In one episode where Sue Ellen and D.W. stumble upon Muffy's old nursery playroom, there's a sled in the background with Rosebud on it.
Derek Blunt, in the Darkwing Duck episode "In Like Blunt" is a parody of Derek Flint (who is, in turn, a parody of James Bond). The episode title is a parody of the second Flint film In Like Flint (which is, in turn, a parody of the phrase "In Like Flynn"). It's unlikely kids would get any of these references except Bond.
Darkwing did this all the time. Take the episode "Twin Beaks": the alien cows claim to be from the planet Larson, on "The far side of the galaxy." The Far Side was created by Gary Larson, who made more comedic use of milk cows than Earthworm Jim.
Far Side references were used in other episodes as well. The very first episode in fact has Bushroot being harassed by two fellow scientists, "Dr. Gary" and "Dr. Larsen."
"Trading Faces" gives us this little gem.
J. Gander Hooter: But FOWL High Command must surely realize that one hundred trillion dollars is difficult to come by! Steelbeak: Hey, read my beak; tell them to raise some taxes. Eh heh heh, like they need an excuse, right?
In one episode, Mac was frustrated because Bloo left him (clearly behaving more like a husband whose wife just left him than a little boy whose BFF just left him). To make it even better, Mac goes to an ice cream parlor right afterward.... and everybody who watches the show knows that he reacts to sugar like others react to drugs. The following scene looks... ripped out of a relationship-drama movie.
In Partying is Such a Sweet Soiree, Bloo tells Mac what they got for their party: "...and on the 6th floor, Ring around the Rosey, If you know what I mean..." Mac answers: "Not really." Bloo: "Yeah, me neither." And just a few minutes later, Mac gets into a pretty extreme form of the Mushroom Samba. Sugar seems to contain ecstasy in the FHFIF-universe, at least for Mac. "High" doesn't even come close to describe sweet little Mac's behaviour for the rest of the episode.
In the episode Store Wars, the group passes by the window display of a store for women's underwear. Bloo walks right past it, but 8 year old Mac takes a glimpse while smiling in a pretty strange way. Adult woman Frankie and female imaginary friend Coco look at it interested and coward Eduardo covers his eyes in horror.
That show had a Blues Brothers reference of all things. And not just any Blues Brothers reference, they almost quoted verbatim the most famous line of the movie:
Bloo: It's a hundred and six blocks to Mac. I've got a full bladder, half an idea where I'm going, it's Tuesday and I'm wearing sunglasses. Frankie: Hit it.
A random character with Morrisey-esque hair talked entirely in altered Smith's lyrics.
On a similar note, in the episode "Nightmare on Wilson Way", after Eduardo becomes a zombie, Bloo mutters "Well, Ed is dead." "Ed is Dead" is the name of a Pixies song.
They also parodied the Death Star trench run. No, not Luke's, Red Leader's. And in an episode that Blu gets fantastically rich, he sails around inside the house on a tiny steamboat. It's name: The Bloosatania. And then there was Arthur Dent trying to Hitchhike to Magrathea...
As well as two nerds named Douglas and Adam, one of which wears white shirt with a large '42' printed on it.
ReBoot is full of these, with constant references to pop culture (both American and British) and computer terms. Whole episodes would do this, notably the homage to The Prisoner, "Number 7". To the hordes of little kids who didn't know The Prisoner existed, the plot was a terrifying mindfuck full of creepiness. The end of Series 2 even had references to the Blitz of London; as a result of a war in the sky, the Binomes shelter in Tube stations, and Binomes resembling the Women's Auxillary Air Force are working as spotters in the War Room.
Don't forget the cabin from Evil Dead!
Also don't forget the season 3 recap at the end, performed by the Mainframe Players in the style of Modern Major General.
There was also the season 2 episode Bad Bob, to say nothing of season 3's masterful lampoon of Star Trek.
Although Wonder Pets is usually rather light on Parental Bonus, the episode "The Wonder Pets Save the Beetles" is filled with non-stop references to a certain rock band...
The Beetles were voiced by two of the performers of Broadway's "Beatlemania."
And "The Wonder Pets Save the Rat Pack. Not only are the guest characters based on Sinatra, Davis, and Martin (with dead-on voice acting), but Elvis Presley and Raoul Duke can be spotted in a crowd. They also make reference to songs like "Come Fly With Me" and "My Way". The music is also styled after them.
The more recent episodes of Wonder Pets are chock full of Parental Bonus - Save the Vixen, a noir style episode guest starring Lauren Bacall, and full of nods to the films, Save the Skunk Rocker, full of references to classic punk and Save the Rock Lobster, a B52s inspired episode, in particular.
Donkey Kong Country had a scene where Diddy utters the phrase "the only thing worse than a bruised banana is a bruised butt." Yeah.
The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack in the episode "Whale Times." Bubbie meets a whale names Harvey, and they like each other. Bubbie isn't that kind of whale though. Also with that comes an innocent-Flapjack comment after they realize Harvey kidnaps people from other giant creatures, "Harvey sure does get around."
Ruby Gloom makes a rather obscure Beatles reference in the episode "Beat Goes On", when Frank cries out "I got blisters on my fingers!". Frank is quoting Ringo Starr, who says exactly the same thing (in the same tone of voice) at the end of the song "Helter Skelter".
Codename: Kids Next Door has entire episodes based on parental bonuses. Apart from parodies of such non-kiddie friendly films as Terminator (Operation FUTURE), Soylent Green (Operation HOME), Minority Report (Operation CRIME), The Empire Strikes Back (Operation SNOWING), and the Alien franchise (Operation LICE), there are e.g. Operation POINT where the kids try to find out what teenage couples do to "become adults" up at "The Point" on Saturday night They roller skate together. What did you think they did? and Operation SUPPORT where Nigel and Hoagie decide that bras must be secret weapons ("Battle Ready Armor!!") and sneak into Abby's sister's bedroom to steal some for themselves. They're right.
Then there's an episode based on Isaac Asimov's book Fantastic Voyage, in which 4 ate a brussels sprout and the rest of the team got shrunk to retrieve it (Operation SPROUT).
And then there's Operation RECRUIT, which is more or less a direct parody of The Matrix
And Operation ARCHIVE, which is a direct parody of the Animatrix segment "The Second Renaissance".
Numbuh One dresses up as a Borg in the Halloween episode and even says "You will be joinified."
Actually, Numbuh One himself is kind of a parody of Captain Picard. I mean, bald Brit who's in charge and says "Numbuh One" a lot...who does that remind you of?
And there's Operation DUCKY that was a parody of Moby-Dick in a ginormous bathtub with a giant rubber ducky and a Captain Ahab Expy who talked like William Shatner.
Operation COUCH- most of it, especially Emperor Dave.
Thomas the Tank Engine has an episode titled "Escape", where Oliver is saved from scrap. The music that plays while he's being spirited away from the diesel area is clearly based on the famous tune from The Great Escape.
As quoted above, Phineas and Ferb. Very little of what makes the show good can be properly understood by the target demographic.
The Phineas and Ferb special "The Summer Belongs To You" had the gang stop in Paris. While in it, Phineas gawks at the Moulin Rouge. What is the Moulin Rouge?
Also, in "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo" when Candace's time travel causes Doofenshmirtz to take over the world, he sings a song called, "It's a Charmed Life". One of the lyrics is "Everyone else is the proletariat and baby I'm the bourgeoisie! Look it up Joe!" Most kids, in fact quite a few adults, do not know those words.
In one episode, when Perry tapped on Doofensmirtz's window and then disappeared offscreen, Doofenshmirtz opened up the window and made a rather fantastic literary reference...
Who's that tap-tap-tapping on my window? Is it that pesky raven again? Stupid raven....
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius had a good number, being another Nick show. Anyone recall that episode where Cindy and her friends were having a garage sale, and Sheen finds a bra and proclaims it to be an Ultra Lord Double Barrel Slingshot?
"I don't know, Sheen, if that's the case, then my mom has a lot of Ultra Lord Double Barrel Slingshots..."
Not to mention the Friz herself. As many a disgruntled cosplayer has noted, Ms Frizzle is stacked.
In the episode where they go to space, they are going past Uranus. Arnold jumps into his cousin's lap, to which she says, "Uranus doesn't do a thing for me, so please get off!" Arnold replies, "Sorry, Janet, but I have to stay on top of the situation."
In "Gets Ready, Set, Dough", while the class is stuck in an oven, Phoebe says, "At my old school, we never got baked."
When Ms. Frizzle is put on trial for taking Keesha's cucumber ("In A Pickle"), her prisoner number is 24601.
On an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, Buster, Babs, Plucky, and Hamton go on a treasure hunt. They find it buried under trees shaped like an X, and later, as they're fighting over the treasure, Plucky gets caught in a tree. As his treasure pours out of his bag into Hamton's, Hamton notes "The trickle-down theory", which would require quite a bit of knowledge of economics.
There's also the scene in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit where Wallace's contraptions go wrong and he ends up naked except for a box around his waist. The box reads, "Caution: may contain nuts." Come to think of it, the whole film is basically a Whole Plot Reference to every cheesy low-budget British horror film trope ever, until the climax where they end up doing an extended King Kong parody.
Most kids who don't live Oop North will probably wonder why exactly Gromit is so enthusiastic about throwing that bomb in the direction of Yorkshire, too. (Wallace's frantic yell of, "there's a bomb in me trousers!" is... probably a different trope.)
Not really a funny one, but in one episode of Batman Beyond, Barbara Gordon comments that people finding out about her past may jeopardize her husband's run for re-election. Younger children would probably not understand that (why would anyone hate Batgirl?)
Atomic Betty: In Season 2, Episode 17 "Extreme Makeover" (featuring the villain Bombshelle), Betty's mom is trying her old dancing clothes and Noah walks in. She asks him to watch her performance for a while and dances. After she finishes, there's a shot with a dumbfounded Noah at the door, looking at Betty's mom raised leg on the foreground. Noah, being a little kid, has a different reaction (he almost throws up - of course, Betty's mom choice of bright pink gym clothes might have something to do with it).
DuckTales is another series that frequently employed this. Some examples include one episode where Scrooge is jailed in their version of The Alcatraz, another episode has Scrooge holding a luxury blimp cruise that not only has a character based on Norma Desmond but also shoutouts to notable media figures, and another episode features Scrooge butting heads with a slimy rancher named J.R.
Adventure Time seems to be an experiment to figure out exactly how much crap one can get past the radar in 11 minutes. There's a reason it has its own Radar page; there are also copious jokes/comments that would go over children's heads and aren't inappropriate enough to go on that page.
Teen Titans has the creepy Slade, whose behavior toward Robin, Terra, and Raven is vaguely pedophilic. There's a reason the Foe Yay page for Western Animation refers to this guy as "the Amber Alert from hell."