"No more teaching alphabets!Rule 43: The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt it. note An easy way to catch the audience's attention quickly when making a video is to turn the video into one big nostalgia piece that hearkens back to their childhoods. That way the channel-surfers will stop for a second and go "hey— isn't this...?" and by the time they've figured out that it's not, it's too late; you've got 'em. Of course, if your artist has any credibility at all then you won't want to do a straight pastiche. Instead, you'll want to parody the original work or genre, most typically by having the characters do things that would not be permissible in usual kids' shows. Not all videos do this, however. See also What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?, Sugar Apocalypse, Surprise Creepy, and Vile Villain, Saccharine Show. You might find the Depraved Kids' Show Host in one these.
Let 'em sell cigarettes!"
Let 'em sell cigarettes!"
— The Capitol Steps, "Bye, Bye, Big Bird"
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- Gali the Alligator, a parody advertisement for an action/suspense channel show the titular alligator slaughtering in a very gory way a children's show, all to a cheery tune sung by children that also has some very violent lyrics.
- Dumb Ways to Die, a 3-minute PSA about train safety, has cute animation and a catchy song, but it's actually about bad ways to kill yourself.
- The commercial for War Dragons starts off as a parody of Dragon Tales and other family-friendly depictions of dragons before the characters are terrorized by the dragons from the game.
Anime and Manga
- Bokurano. Bunch of kids on a trip find a giant robot in a cave, and are told to use it to protect the world. It gets worse. Much, much worse.
- From the same writer: Narutaru. Playful tomboy finds a cute little star-shaped creature with superpowers and develops a bond with it. Tragedy ensues when she encounters similar monsters bonded with other children who aren't so nice.
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt's art style would not look out-of-place on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network. Then the characters start talking...
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica starts out your standard cutesy Magical Girl fare. Then Episode 3 delivers its Cerebus Syndrome/Deconstruction double-whammy.
- Sword Art Online has an episode "Red-Nosed Reindeer" that sounds like it would be a sweet Christmas special. It's actually a tragedy. All of Kirito's friends die in front of him because of his mistake, and then he devotes a bunch of time and effort toward a rumor about a magical artifact that he could use to resurrect his girlfriend, only to find out he's six months too late. Then he receives a surprisingly cheerful message that she wrote before she died, telling him not to beat himself up too much because she had accepted long ago that it was only a matter of time before she met a violent end. Merry Christmas!
- Alan Moore did this to Superman in Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?, in which basically every joke villain in his gallery suddenly goes serious. To wit: Bizarro attempts the "perfect imperfect duplicate" by massacring citizens and committing suicide ("Superman... alive"), Toyman and Prankster kidnap, torture, and kill one of Clark Kent's coworkers and expose his secret identity during a news broadcast, an army of Metallos besieges the Daily Planet and forces Superman and his closest allies to withdraw to the Fortress of Solitude, Brainiac takes over Lex Luthor's body and allies with the Kryptonite Man and the Legion of Supervillains and kills Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, and Krypto the Super Dog. And the mastermind behind it all is Mxyzptlk. "Did you honestly believe that a fifth-dimensional sorceror would resemble a funny little man in a derby hat?" Superman kills him by ripping him apart between his own dimension and the Phantom Zone; then, in penance, walks into a room of Gold Kryptonite and then into the Arctic. At least the ending is happy. Moore also plays with this in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemenby solving a maze so a character can get a narcotic hit.
- Robert Crumb was influenced by the Funny Animal comics he read as a child, but he twisted this in his own work by including topics such as sex, drugs, bloody violence, vulgar language and politics. It inspired the Underground Comics movement where the innocence of comics as a children's medium was further subverted.
- The British comic Viz follows the format and style of popular kids comics from the UK, such as The Beano, but with swearing, gag penises and toilet humor.
- Steph Cherrywell's Widgey Q Butterfluff pokes fun at syrupy children's cartoons such as Strawberry Shortcake.
- Transmetropolitan has the kid's shows "The Sex Puppets," which is Sesame Street as hardcore porn, and "Anthrax Cat," which is Tom and Jerry as Gorn.
- Sam & Max is a series based on the comics drawn by the creator and his little brother when they were children, about a cuddly dog and an adorable rabbit-creature solving crimes in a bright, psychedelic and fantastical world. It's also a violent, deeply twisted, satirical Black Comedy.
- One story is set up like a nauseatingly cute children's story, with Sam tucking Max into bed and reading him bedtime stories. Sweetly, Max asks, 'What happens when we die?'. Sam answers by cheerfully smothering Max with his pillow.
- There's also make-and-do sections, not all of which are child-friendly. The Max head puppet is mostly okay, but suggests using it to 'put on terrifying puppet shows for the neighbourhood kids that will affect them later in life'. The paper dress-up dolls include things like a Censor Box for Max, labelled as "crude method of concealing Max's identity in his series of poorly-focused stag films", and are accompanied by creepy instructions like "What would be more enjoyable than dressing and stripping everyone's favourite pin-headed cartoon characters? Or anyone else, for that matter? Paste these pages onto heavy paper or plywood and cut them out with a hacksaw! NOW!" And then, there's the instructions for Fizzball, a game vaguely baseball-ish but involving raincoats and trying to make tossed beer cans explode by hitting them with axe handles.
- There's a whole story arc about pirates keeping manatee sex slaves (a play on the theory that the mermaid myth was inspired by sailors seeing manatees). It's played in as silly a tone as possible (complete with the pirates singing terrible love songs to them), but it's still really child-inappropriate.
- In The Sandman we have it when Doctor Destiny watches TV, as he drives the world insane - one of things he watches is a kids show in which the host suddenly decides there is no hope in the world and commits suicide, while teaching children how to effectively slit your wrists. Destiny couldn't stop laughing.
- There's a Judge Dredd comic in which a kid's show host finds out that his wife (who played another onscreen character) is cheating with one of his assistants. He proceeds to teach the kids how to throttle someone to death, before Dredd bursts in and breaks it up.
- This is what happens in Challenge of the Superfriends the End as a result of the Legion of Doom encountering an Eldritch Abomination. From there, we get Mind Rape, Body Horror and Eye Scream, and finally what will become a Sugar Apocalypse in the Superfriends' world.
- Occurs in Scooby the Dreadnaught, which starts like your average Scooby-Doo story. Where the titular great dane has been replaced with a weaponized coffin from Warhammer 40,000. Hilarity ensues.
- Slave Bear of Care-a-Lot.
- That the fictional fifth and final season of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic appears to be one of these is a major plot point in Five Score, Divided by Four. Because Lauren Faust got the storylines from a humanized Twilight Sparkle, which included details of Discord's betrayal.
Films — Live Action
- The Groove Tube features "Koko the Clown", who acts like a sickeningly sweet kiddie-show host until it's "Make-Believe Time" and tells the kids to make the adults leave the room. He then sits down, lights a cigarette, and reads his viewers erotic literature, such as excerpts from Fanny Hill and de Sade's The Philosophy of the Bedroom. It adds to the effect that he selects passages his kiddie-viewers have specifically requested in letters.
- Peter Jackson's Meet the Feebles. A variation on shows such as Sesame Street and The Muppets, with the cast suffering through a LOT of personal problems, and a bizarre (and violent) twist ending.
- Ted starts off like this, with a little boy finding that his teddy bear has come to life as a Christmas miracle to be his best friend. It's played completely straight—possibly the neighbourhood bullies are crueller than they'd usually be in a film like this—until the teddy wanders into the kitchen, and the boy's parents immediately react by asking what the fuck that thing is, and threaten to shoot it. The boy and his bear become famous all over the world... then we Time Skip to a point where the boy is now an emotionally-stunted adult, still dependent on his teddy bear, who is a Former Child Star and incredibly hedonistic and crude. After this, the subversion is complete and it drops the pretense to focus on other gags.
- The Babadook features a pop-up book called "Mister Babadook". At first, it seems innocent as the Babadook seems to a goofy character. Then, it starts talking about the Babadook will stalk you and make it so you wish you were dead. The book gives both Samuel and Amelia nightmares. The book is also an Artifact of Doom that summons the Babadook, who turns out to be an Eldritch Abomination.
- Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book, by Shel Silverstein, written in classic children's-book style with Silverstein's characteristic art, is designed to help let all of Uncle Shelby's little friends get what they deserve. It contains ideas for fun activities like playing hopscotch with real scotch, and explanations of amazing things like how the friendly kidnapper has nice candy and a fast car and maybe if you tell him your daddy has a lot of money he will let you ride in his car!
- A Teddy Bear who comes to life to help a little girl is about as childish a cliche as you can have. Unless you've read anything by Mercedes Lackey.
- There's a book that looks like a children's picture book, has artwork like a children's picture book, and is written like a children's picture book, but it's called Go the Fuck to Sleep and is aimed at adults. Made even better by having freaking Samuel L. Jackson reading the audiobook. To make up for it, there is an actual children's version of the book called Seriously,Just Go To Sleep.
- I Want My Hat Back is what appears to be a children's book about a bear looking for his hat. It ends in the bear murdering the rabbit to get his hat back.
- Der Struwwelpeter is a series of poems featuring children who exhibit different vices such as picky eating or bad personal hygiene. All of the characters end up injured, sick or dead. There's also The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb, who gets his thumbs cut off as a punishment for, well you guessed it already. The book was written and illustrated in 1845 by the German psychiatrist Heinrich Hoffmann as a christmas present for his 3-year-old son, as he deemed classical childrens "silly". Earning the "expected" results from his son, other parents pressured Hoffmann to publish the book, which he eventually did under the title "Funny Stories and Lovely Pictures for Children aged 3 to 6".
Live Action TV
- The show TV Funhouse was built around this concept, featuring drinking, smoking, drug-using, psychotic puppets and parody cartoons like "X-Presidents" and "The Ambiguously Gay Duo" to great effect. It originated as a series of animated shorts on Saturday Night Live, though "Ambiguously Gay Duo" dates back even further, to the short-lived The Dana Carvey Show.
- Chappelle's Show had one sketch where puppets (voiced by the regulars of the show as well as Snoop Dogg) taught the kids about things like homelessness, drugs, masturbation, and STDs.
- Saul Of The Mole Men, which pastiches Sid and Marty Krofft shows of the '70s such as Land of the Lost and somehow borrows heavily from/straight out parodies the short lived 70s toku Dengeki! Strada 5.
- The cast of Rainbow, a British kid's show, recorded this joke segment which was obviously never meant to air.
- Life On Mars and Ashes to Ashes both have occasional children's programs from their time periods, altered in a way to comment on the plot. The most blatant example is their take on Camberwick Green, as seen here.
- Predating most of these, Andy Kaufman often affectionately invoked and subverted kids show tropes, particularly hosts, in his work. (He actually hosted a kiddie show in Boston in the 1960s, and acts such as "Mighty Mouse" were ones he had developed and perfected as a performer at children's parties in his youth — now presented to adults.) The most famous example of this on film would be his much-delayed-from-broadcast 1977 TV special, which climaxes with an actual, sincere interview with Howdy Doody (the original puppet and voiceover performer were used), but also has such segments as "The Has-Been Corner" and reveals that his Excited Kids' Show Host Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight. In his PBS Soundstage appearance, his alter ego Tony Clifton turns up as a puppet and literally kicks the butt of a Howdy Doody imposter, and a Winky Dink and You-inspired segment proves to be the key to his getting back to the show when he's banished to a desert island for "going too far". Plus, a friend recounts in the documentary The Real Andy Kaufman that Andy had broached the concept of a Christmas Special that would, among other things, have ended with a disaster involving a skydiving Santa whose parachute doesn't open...
- Paul Reubens' character Pee-Wee Herman had a Subverted Kids Show done with the Groundlings that eventually becoming a real one in Pee-Wee's Playhouse. After Pee-Wee's... incident in 1991, his real kids show completed the Circle of Life and became fodder for subversion, such as the In Living Color! parody ad for a Pee-Wee Herman doll with a motorized rapid-motion arm "so Pee-Wee can beat... this drum!"
- The Daily Show:
And that'll be... Our Little Secret.
- The series used to have a recurring segment called "News 4 Kids". Jon Stewart donned a cardigan, sat surrounded by stuffed toys and tiny plastic furniture and explained current affairs for the very young — in an incredibly cynical and depressing way, while smoking a cigarette and drinking from a hip flask. (They stopped making the segments in 2000 when Stewart quit smoking). They later started featuring Gitmo instead. Islamic Terrorist Elmo!
- Jon Stewart Jizz-Ams in Front of Children... uh, Jon Stewart Touches Children... oops!, Jon Stewart's Story Hole.
- The show also introduced a parody of School House Rock explaining the (non)importance of mid-term elections, explaining in cynical and graphic detail as to how corrupt the system really was.
- One Monty Python's Flying Circus skit has Eric Idle as a kiddie TV presenter who realizes the book he's reading is pornography barely disguised as a kiddie storybook.
Eric: Hello, children, hello. Here is this morning's story. Are you ready? Then we'll begin. (opens book, reads) "One day Ricky the magic Pixie went to visit Daisy Bumble in her tumbledown cottage. He found her in the bedroom. Roughly he gabbed her heavy shoulders pulling her down on to the bed and ripping off her..." (audience laughter)
- From Flight of the Conchords: "In the marmelade forest, between the make-believe trees, in a cottage cheese cottage, lives Albi... (Albi)... Albi... (Albi)... Albi the Racist Dragon!"
- One of those Top 50 Somethings shows on British TV had Sweep shouting "F**K OFF!" at the presenter. Now I know you can say it's just a beeping note but anyone who grew up with those characters always knows what it means.
- Look Around You. Look around you. Just look around you. Have you worked out what we're looking for?
- A recurring sketch on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In features a kid's show hosted by Uncle Al, the Kiddies' Pal. "Uncle Al had a lot of medicine last night!" was the hungover host's usual catchphrase.
- Saturday Night Live has a lot of sketches that are about screwed-up kids' shows or have premises that would make it a screwed-up kids show if it were played during the hours when kids may be watching.
- From the 1970s, there was Mr. Bill, a little clay guy who was constantly squashed, sliced, and otherwise tormented, often by the aggressive Mr. Sluggo. He got no help from his supposed friend Mr. Hands either. "Oh nooooooooo!" Later incarnations of Mr. Bill were actually pitched at kids as well as adults, without having to change things!
- From the 1980s, Eddie Murphy played a drinking, smoking, cynical Gumby ("I'm Gumby, dammit!") and Mr. Robinson, an inner city take on Mr. Rogers ("Here's how we answer the door in my neighborhood, children... WHATCHU WANT?!").
- In the 1990s, there was "Jingleheimer Junction", a show with Umberto Unity (Horatio Sanz), Katie Kindness (episode host Cameron Diaz), and Clara Caring (Ana Gasteyer), all of whom wore sweaters with the letters of their first names. Guess what happened when Freddy Friendship (Will Ferrell) joined the cast.
- The Season 24 episode hosted by John Goodman had "The Happy Smile Patrol," which combined this with the "Funny Aneurysm" Moment (another trope SNL is familiar with) with repeated news reports of the actors and actresses from the show involved in violent, horrific acts interrupting the broadcast.
News anchor: Once again: Teddy Tickles, Glenda Giggles, and Harry Hugs have now taken their own lives, after a killing spree that claimed, among others, Cuddly Kevy. A tragic, tragic day. We now return to "The Happy Smile Patrol".
- The 2000s brought us a one-off sketch on the Season 28 (2002-2003 season) episode hosted by Ray Liotta where one of the cast members of a Barney The Dinosaur-esque TV show has grown boobs during her hiatus and the director (and the actor in the Barney-esque costume) trying to do the show despite the actress's Gainaxing and the ensuing Accidental Innuendo.
- Season 33 had, in the Seth Rogen-hosted episode, a parody of The Muppet Movie in which their bus hits and kills a guy. When a cop (Kenan Thompson playing 1970s comic Nipsey Russell) pulls them over to question them, Zoot shoots him!
- The second time James Franco hosted (during 2009-2010's Season 35) had an SNL Digital Short featuring Franco as the special guest star on a children's show called The Tizzle Wizzle Show where the kid actors dance around in pajamas. It turns sinister when the knives and pills are handed out and the show ends with James Franco as the sole survivor of a dangerous murder-suicide game.
- The Reading Caboose, which mingled the tropes from children's shows with subjects from the Conspiracy Theory tropes page.
- A direct parody of Schoolhouse Rock ("Public School House Rock"), featuring musical grammar and vocabulary shorts such as "Expletives" (compare "Interjections", the original).
- "Tickle Me Emo", a skit where Elmo is a bratty, overdramatic, suicidal emo.
- The Sesame Street spoofs derive their humor for dealing with grown-up themes. Sesame Street is bought out and bulldozed by real estate developers, Bert is revealed to be a sexual predator, Big Bird has to be incinerated because he contracted bird flu...
- Primetime Glick featured a segment called "Tales from Lalawood," which featured Jiminy Glick telling children gruesome tales of celebrity murders, suicides, etc., told for the children with cute marionette puppets.
- The Angel episode "Smile Time" involved a children's TV show being used by evil demonic puppets to suck out the life force of the children watching the show (at one point, the demons get into an argument over whether this constitutes quality edutainment). While investigating, Angel ends up being turned into a puppet himself. And can still kick Spike's butt (although admittedly Spike was a bit too busy laughing his ass off to put up much of a fight...)!
- Biffovision, an aborted BBC series by the co-creator of Teletext's surreal gaming magazine, Digitiser, sees the traditional Saturday-morning magazine show given a surreal and overtly adult twist.
- Goodness Gracious Me, an English TV sitcom did a skit called "Skipinder the Punjabi Kangaroo" which took sections of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and used a Gag Dub to portray him as bigoted, sexist and foul mouthed with a thick Indian accent.
- The Game Show Fun House was an actual kids' show. Its Spin-Off College Mad House... not so much. They basically replaced the kids with college students, made the stunts risque, and changed the names of the obstacles in the house to things like "Roommate from Hell".
- In Germany, Die Sendung mit der Maus is a favorite model for this. Like this parody from the German show RTL Samstag Nacht (yep, it's the Transatlantic Counterpart of Saturday Night Live): "Hello dear kids! Today we'll show you how to turn your hamster into a nice doorstopper, how to drill a hole into the wall to watch your big sister taking a shower, and how to burn down a home for third world refugees."
- German late night Harald Schmidt Show had a recurring segment featuring sock puppets Bimmel und Bommel explain each letter of the alphabet by citing deadly diseases and mass-murdering dictators beginning with said letter, along with crude sexual references.
- Brian Conley did a famous (in the UK) series of sketches poking fun at the tropes of kids' TV presenters, "Nick Frisbee and Larry the Loafer", which feature both age-inappropriate material and the audience going 'ooh' when Larry (a squirrel puppet) is beaten by Nick, to which he responds "IT'S A PUPPET!!"
- In Living Color! went to this well more than once. The Candy Cane Show had a female presenter who couldn't hide her neuroses (about relationships, aging, etc.) behind her perkiness, and The Scary Larry Show was hosted by an unstable Vietnam veteran/postman who had a similarly shell-shocked buddy as a sidekick.
- RuPaul's Drag Race often includes putting one of these on as part of the competition of its Drag Queen competitors, with the aim to of course cram as much innuendo as possible into the sketches.
- SCTV had "Mrs. Falbo's Tiny Town," a parody of children's television where Andrea Martin plays a naive kids TV show host with John Candy has her dumb jester clad sidekick who do insane things that almost get them killed like visiting a populated maximum security prison. In the final, Cinemax-produced season, alcoholic Happy Marsden hosts a children's show called "Happy Hour" live from a local tavern.
- The rationale behind casting Tom Baker as the narrator in Little Britain. With his distinctive voice being fundamentally linked to the childhood of a large chunk of the audience, he spends his role babbling in a similar tempo and vocabulary to that used by the Doctor he played. Of course, what he's saying is invariably obscene, bigoted, sexually depraved or any combination of the above.
- Black Mirror:
- An in-universe example in "The Waldo Moment" - Waldo is a character from a segment on a late-night satirical show where a cartoon bear interviews various celebrities in a set designed to look like one from a children's show, where he uses a lot of foul language and crude humor. There is a certain amount of subtle Stylistic Suck applied.
- "15 Million Merits" is shot, acted and written in a way that Pastiches the revival series of Doctor Who, which Charlie Brooker admits he loves. But not only does no Doctor figure show up, but the love of the hero's life gets Brainwashed into a life of happy sex slavery...
- Dutch television is notorious for this, especially shows from the progressive channel VPRO. In the 1980s they had an actual children's show called Theo en Thea in which the presenters explained topics such as drugs, prostitution and homosexuality to actual children, but in a fun and comedic way. Despite complaints of many parents this show remained broadcast in the children's timeslot and was a hit with kids and adults alike!
- Another gem of Dutch childrens' television: Purno De Purno. With characters such as the "Kittelaar" (a Dutch word for clitoris), politically incorrect gags about sex, homosexuality and bodily functions, political commentary and very suggestive imagery. Most likely Dutch TV shows back then were very good and Moral Guardians feared that they would get flamed if they attacked those shows so they flamed anime instead.
- A Spring 1994 episode of the French children's variety show Jacky Show became a quite accidental example and caused a bit of a scandal when singer/actress Mallaury Nataf performed her single "Fleur Sauvage". As clearly seen in a brief video, she was wearing a very short dress, twirled a bit too energetically and ended up performing a Marilyn Maneuver that flashed both sides and showed she wasn't wearing any panties under her tights. Miss Nataf herself, however, claimed some years later that the video in question is not from the live broadcast but a separate performance after the show.
- Lily Allen's "Alfie" is set in a brightly-colored house that looks like the set of a children's show, but is offset by a rude little hand puppet smoking joints, masturbating and generally being horrible.
- The video for Will Young's "Who Am I?" digitally inserts him into a number of old children's shows, including Blue Peter.
- Kate Nash's "Pumpkin Soup" is set in a children's TV set, with certain homages to Bewitched visible...
- The set for the music video of Hard 'n Phirm's "Pi" is "Zap", which apes the TV show "Zoom".
- The video for Lostprophets' "A Town Called Hypocrisy" features the band as characters in a parody of kids shows such as Playdays or Playbus called "Town Time", intercut with a debauched cast party.
- Dizzee Rascal's "Dream" is a spoof of British children's shows in the 50's, with a miniature Dizzee interacting with puppets atop a piano, presided over by a grandmotherly looking woman.
- Rather than a kid's show, Muse's "Invincible" featured the band on an amusement park ride obviously modeled after the It's a Small World ride. The ride shows a very abbreviated history of man, with an unsettling focus on wars; after the September 11 recreation, everything goes completely insane.
- Serj Tankian's 'Empty Walls' video takes place at a day care (where he seems to perform) rather than an actual show. And then the little kiddies start acting out America's 'War on Terror' on each other..
- Green Jello/Jelly's "Little Pig, Little Pig"
- Inverted on Rob Zombie's I'm Your Boogieman music video for The Crow: City of Angels in which the framing device (a 1950's-esque children's show a la Ghoulardi) is relatively harmless compared with the bits of the movie and Rob Zombie singing....
- Kanye West has pictures of TEDDY BEARS on his first three rap albums.
- The bear going cartoon didn't help much.
- Primus's video for "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" has them in kids-show appropriate cowboy costumes and animations of Winona with a pet beaver to lyrics like "Wynona loved her big brown beaver and she stroked it all the time." It was so well-executed that not even the kids caught on.
- While Kunt and the Gang never fit the Depraved Kids' Show Host archetype, much of his music fits into this trope; examples include "Fucksticks," "Gentleman's Wash," "I Was Pissed Out Of My Head" and "Wank Fantasy," which sounds like The Wiggles' evil twins broke into their recording studio.
- Later double-subverted: as part of a campaign to get "Fucksticks" played at the Royal Wedding, he issued a family-friendly version aimed at small children.
- Taken to Crosses the Line Twice extremes in "Sexy Kids", in which he is actually singing in the persona of Real Life Depraved Kids' Show Host Jimmy Savile justifying his hundreds of child rapes by blaming it on 'sexy kids'.
- In Germany, The Smurfs song by Vader Abraham (Vader as in Dutch for "father", not the Star Wars one) is a popular target for this.
- The Paul and Storm song "Epithets" is a Schoolhouse Rock-inspired tune (specifically, a pastiche of "Interjections") about the most common applications of shouting profanity.
- Similarly, "Pirates and Emperors."
- It's The Bad Ronald Show! (a.k.a. Bad Ronald's video for "Let's Begin")
- The video for El-P's "The Full Retard" stars both El himself, and a Muppet who kills people (including a little girl!) and injects himself with heroin.
- The video for Alice in Chains' "The Devil Puts Dinosaurs Here" revolves around one of these.
- Imagine Dragons' video for "Radioactive" is kind of a live-action Darker and Edgier, Bloodier and Gorier Pokémon pastiche, with adorable fluffy Cartoon Creature monsters duelling in an apocalyptic cockfighting ring, surrounded by grimy criminals betting on them.
- Miley Cyrus' performance at the 2013 VMAs used a lot of this as part of her Former Child Star persona. For instance, she showed up with her hair in two little childish topknots, and was wearing a teddy bear leotard - the teddy's face had bloodshot, unfocused eyes and was sticking its tongue out lasciviously. She also had teddy bear-costumed backup dancers, portrayed by twerking black women with big butts, while singing a song about partying on molly and coke. And that's just the start. In short, despite being a star marketed towards children for most of her career, her performance in that show absolutely should not be viewed by children. Or anyone else.
- AWOLNATION's music video for "Kill Your Heroes" takes the form of three children watching a Mister Rogers' Neighborhood parody entitled Awol's Fun Time.
- The music video for Mastodon's Deathbound is that a solar eclipse has caused everyone in Magicland to go Ax-Crazy while demons rise from the earth and aliens invade, destroying the world.
- Melanie Martinez's work could best be described as Subverted Kid's Music. The songs' scores typically sound like lullaby-esque pop music, and with her cute outfits and song titles like "Dollhouse", "Tag, You're It", and "Milk and Cookies", a parent could plausibly mistake her for a children's entertainer. Except those songs typically have surprisingly crude lyrics, and even when they don't, the themes are often dark or mature. (The aforementioned songs alone are about a Stepford Smiler's dysfunctional family, a woman getting kidnapped, and the same woman killing her kidnapper, respectively.) The fact that her work runs on Ambiguous Innocence doesn't help.
- Peter Jackson's Meet the Feebles is a Muppets-style musical comedy in which puppets have sex, do drugs, and commit mass murder with a machine gun.
- In a similar vein: Team America: World Police, which was done as an Affectionate Parody of Thunderbirds.
- The internet's weekly live broadcast The Funday Pawpet Show (once described as "Th eMuppets as they would be presented by Monty Python") has in big letters on its website THIS IS NOT A KID'S SHOW!
- Wonder Showzen parodies Sesame Street and the like. Sketches have included a George W. Bush-inspired "Middle America" muppet castrating the cast, a sexual affair between the letter P Muppet and a pile-of-feces muppet, "interview" segments in which actual children "report" on various things out in the big wide world — and ask the folks there questions about their sex lives, and an entire episode parodying Hee Haw, packed full of offhand jokes glorifying domestic violence, inbreeding, and situational homosexuality.
- What makes Wonder Showzen even more on the nose in terms of this trope is the fact that its original title actually was Kids Show.
- Greg the Bunny is the result of someone asking "if puppets did live amongst us, what would it be like?" It follows the daily exploits of the writers and actors on a kid's show, but demonstrates how the puppets aren't kid-friendly behind the scenes. There's swearing, "anti-puppetism", drinking, and lots of sex.
- The show's second pilot on IFC included strong implications that one of the cast members was a rapist.
- The Sifl and Olly Show is a borderline example. While it does have sock puppets, songs and "educational" skits it was generally less interested in corrupting something pure than it was having fun with it's own unique brand of weirdness.
- Crank Yankers employs Muppet-type characters to enact prank telephone calls, which are usually of a decidedly non-family-friendly nature.
- The German Freitag Nacht News did Bernie und Ert (later Bullzeye), which took the Ho Yay in Ernie and Bert and cranked it Up to Eleven. With darkrooms and gimps suits.
- Mongrels, a BBC Three show about a bunch of urban puppet animals; swearing, sex, inbreeding and all sorts of unsavoury shenanigans.
- Fur TV
- Hale And Pace did a sketch of this once. Among the attractions were a counting game where they "took away" friends with a handgun, not to mention the letters of the day were... P! M! and T!
- Tomorrow's Pioneers, a Palestinian show (specifically made by the radical Hamas group) where they indoctrinate kids to hate Israelis and become Suicide Bombers. Here, for example, is a video in which a Mickey Mouse clone named Farfour cheats on a school test, then blames it on Jews. Later, due to Disney threatening legal action, Farfour was killed by a member of Mossad (Israel's even-nastier version of the CIA), whom he calls a terrorist. Farfour was replaced by a bee named Nahool, who taught children not to abuse animals... by hitting cats and picking them up by their tails, and throwing stones at lions. Later, Nahool died of a disease when Israeli authorities refused to allow him passage to Jordan for surgery, and his replacement Assoud (a guy in a Bugs Bunny suit) was killed by Israeli bombing. The next presenters, Nassur and Sarara, managed to survive until the end of the program's run.
- The Israeli version of Sesame Street, Rechov Sum Sum, is generally much milder in comparison, though it has featured Muppets as members of the Israeli Defense Force, and they make no bones about how they are packing mad heat.
- George Carlin and Jack Burns did a skit called "Captain Jack and Jolly George", or what it would look like if a pair of beatnik hippies got their own kids' show. Needless to say, it's not really for children. And then George Carlin went and played "Mr. Conductor" on the American version of Shining Time Station. He then went on to do a stand-up routine on parenting (entitled "Fuck the Children") in which he tells parents "And remember, this is Mr. Conductor talking; I know what I'm talking about."
- Robin Williams plays a Mr. Rogers-esque kiddie show host in a segment of one of his early stand-up specials. He puts a hamster in a microwave ("Pop goes the weasel!") to demonstrate to kids how "we're all going to die from radiation", much to the disgust of the show's director.
- Dog Sees God is this trope applied to Peanuts. Somehow, teenaged Charlie Brown manages to suffer even more than he did as a kid.
- The Avenue Q Broadway stage musical (origin of the infamous song "The Internet Is for Porn", among others), is a blatant parody of Sesame Street... with swearing, drinking, smoking, and sex. The writers have described it as "if Sesame Street taught adults how to live". Believe it or not, the show actually won three Tony awards: Best Score (Music & Lyrics), Best Book, and Best Musical.
- Also, many cast and crew members were, at one point, in Muppet productions.
- Also setting the show apart (and key to its success and acclaim) is that it doesn't run on pure cynicism or subversion. You actually care about the characters, and its ultimate life lessons (as found in "The Money Song" and "For Now") are actually uplifting pieces of advice.
- This show just might be a subversion of a subversion... one of the creators said something to the effect of "What we're doing, we're not subverting Sesame Street at all. Sesame Street itself is a subversive show."
- Brian Henson's Stuffed and Unstrung is an attempt to do this by the Jim Henson studio.
- Conker's Bad Fur Day. The game's original concept, Twelve Tales, would have been more appropriate to general audiences; however, after the gaming press accused Conker of being yet another cutesy Rare platformer in the vein of Banjo-Kazooie, Rare decided to completely rewrite the scenario to include more sex, violence, swearing and Toilet Humor. What it would have been can be seen in the GBC game Conker's Pocket Tales. In fact, the only thing that seems anything like the original Twelve Tales concept that's left in the game was the fire-farting dragon, which really isn't any worse than some of the jokes snuck past the radar in Donkey Kong 64 and Banjo Kazooie.
- Eversion starts out as happy, colorful, smiley all around, and quickly begins turning into a big old pile of Nightmare Fuel with pools of blood, black clouds of death slowly engulfing the world, and those demon hands that start popping up out of nowhere!
- The original Higurashi: When They Cry titles had graphics that◊ looked very Super-Deformed and bright. If you ignore the intro and its implications of murder, the first several minutes of the novel looks like a typical Slice of Life visual novel about friendship and school, maybe a little harem mixed in. The series is a mystery-murder well-known for its Gorn and Nightmare Fuel.
- The Reality Warper Peacock from Skullgirls lives this kind of life; thanks to cartoons negatively influencing her already tortured and unstable mind, she became a foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, highly dangerous thug who travels with an equally dangerous ensemble of living objects including an anvil and two bombs, and most of her attacks involve cartoony physics and gags that have a very realistic degree of killing power.
- The character of Monokuma in Dangan Ronpa, a horrible, but hilarious scheming murderer, played in the Japanese version by the voice actress for Doraemon. The famous Let's Play of the game notes that Doraemon's voice virtually is childhood in Japan, and Japanese players invariably have a huge reaction as soon as Monokuma starts speaking.
- One Order of the Stick features the Empire of Blood's grim version of an overcommercialized and over-hyped parade, including dark parodies of Sesame Street characters (Little Roc, Hurt & Burnie, etc). Inverted with Felix the Mensch, a benign counterpart to Oscar the Grouch.
- Homestuck has an in-universe example with The Squiddles, a sickeningly-adorable cartoon that the kid protagonists remember. However, it turns out that the squiddles are actually humanity's subconscious representation of the Horrorterrors. This is especially apparent in the last song from the Squiddles album, "Let The Squiddles Sleep (Ending Theme)". You will never hear "LET'S BE TANGLE BUDDIES!" again without shivering.
- Hell Homestuck itself sort of counts. It's got a bright and cartoony art style and the basic premise sounds like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon (some kids play a video game that turns out to be able to change the world) so it initially looks like a kid's comic. Than you reach the first f-bomb...
- Dolan comics are about Donald Duck, except he's Ax-Crazy and gruesomely kills/abuses other cartoon characters.
- In Jen Babcock's C'est la Vie, dogsbody character Louis Lamoureux gets his big break into television - inside the Reading Rabbit costume, which, as the name implies, means he has to turn kids on to the magic of books by reading stories to them. But some of the kids have other ideas...
- Similarly, in the very first couple of episodes of the comic, anti-heroine Mona Montrois establishes her character as a cynical snarker by getting sacked from a nursery teacher job. She tells the kids the fairy-tales as they originally were, short of froth, glamour and happy endings...
- This is a major theme in Youtube Poop.
- While kids' shows aren't the only thing used in YTP, they are one of the main things in it, and the comedic effect of editing things to sound vulgar is a lot more noticeable when the source material itself is for children. This is taken Up to Eleven by YTPs of Edu Tainment shows like "Dr. Rabbit's World Tour."
- A common theme is to apply Censored for Comedy to clips of perfectly innocuous kid's shows (most often Sesame Street), with no edits whatsoever besides the addition of Sound Effect Bleeps. The effectiveness varies, but in some cases it's astounding how filthy this one device alone can make a clip from a kid's show, with this clip of The Count singing about how much he loves to count being a prime example, and one of the few that works well without being a tiny fragment completely out of context.
- Captain SNES: The Game Masta, a web-based series that emulates Captain N: The Game Master and similar video-game themed shows of the late '80s.
- Bert is EVIL!
- Happy Tree Friends, features a lot of fluffy forest animals who all die incredibly violent deaths each episode. The official websites had labels reading "CARTOON VIOLENCE" and "not appropriate for children under 12" all over it back when it still had its own website, but there were still parents complaining about their six-year-olds stumbling upon it.
- Retarded Animal Babies, which crosses the line twice as much with Gorn and porn. Sometimes, but not always, funnier.
- An inversion, taking the very serious Watchmen and turning it into an 80s saturday morning cartoon. Beware.
- And the animation studio's slogan? "Touching your inner child"....
- Newgrounds takes great pride in doing this. Pico vs. Bear parodies the famous Bear in the Big Blue House as a depraved drug abuser with a suspected history of child molestation.
- Lemon Demon's Song of the Count (Censored).
- I'm on a Boat (Feat. Ponyo).
- Doctor Steel's webisodes of The Dr. Steel Show are done in the style of kids shows but are quite subverted. Also his song, Smokey's Theme, ostensibly the theme song for a kid's show about a cigar-smoking trout who loves children.
- The famous Candle Cove Creepy Pasta uses this as its premise, but utilises it more for shivers than laughs.
- "Lost Episode" and "The Truth Behind [show]" creepypastas do the same thing, describing an episode with horrific Deranged Animation and putting forward theories that the characters are based off dead people respectively.
- LoadingReadyRun has a recurring gag where a Mr Roger's-like host is seen reading the end of a children's book and then giving a moral to the story such as "never go outside".
- Brazilian Tumblr Porra, Maurício! gets panels from Monica's Gang and sees them as perverted content. Among the running gags are Jeremiah having a Gag Penis (as well as having him and Taka as Memetic Molesters), Bucky being Ambiguously Gay, and resident Big Eater Maggy being portrayed as a junkie. Though sometimes it's just "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?" (such as this◊, where Chuck Billy's girlfriend Rosie Lee reveals somehow her face changed to Leonardo DiCaprio's - It Makes Sense in Context)
- The webcomic Clarissa is about a little girl living with her happy, seemingly perfect, family. It appears to be nothing that you wouldn't see in a newspaper or on a kids network. It just happens that everyone is a Stepford Smiler and that her father rapes her at night. It's played for laughs. The darkest laughs ever.
- Doobl at first looks like a fairly standard Christian webcomic (with lame yet frequent bible jokes), but when a Death by Newbery Medal storyline comes up, Neek tells Doobl that animals don't have souls. After reading the bible to verify, Doobl begins to degenerate in both faith and family-friendlyness. Soon, Doobl becomes a jerkass and starts spewing profanity. Humi, up until this point an exception to Reptiles Are Abhorrent, studies the bible in an attempt to save Doobl, only to become just like him. It goes From Bad to Worse the moment Humi discovers his penis...
- From College Humor: "ConquistaDora the Explorer". ConquistaDora teaches children how to enslave and conquer the tribes of the new world for the royal kingdom of Spain.
- Don't Hug me I'm Scared by This Is It starts off like a kid show, with a talking notepad singing to some puppets about being creative. It goes downhill from there and ends with the puppets doing art projects with and cutting up a cake made from human organs, and painting the word "DEATH". The last line of the song, appropriately enough, is "Now let's all agree to never be creative again". The second video has the puppets learning about time, before learning that eventually, everyone runs out of it as they slowly rot alive.
- The SCP Foundation plays host to SCP-993, a cartoon show called "Bobble the Clown" broadcast by an unknown station. Anyone over the age of ten suffers a splitting headache and falls unconscious when trying to watch the show; anyone under the age of ten is subject to watching Bobble teaching them how to do horrible things, like kidnap an ordinary suburbanite and cook his flesh, stalk and murder a London woman, or torture a prisoner of war. Alarmingly enough, Bobble is aware that the SCP Foundation is trying to keep his show from being broadcast, and has produced an episode showing kids how to release several of the Foundation's more dangerous specimens and murder the researchers keeping him contained.
- The "Counting Song" by Adam Buxton begins like a song teaching numbers to young children and suddenly turns in an increasingly desperate rant against the life as an adult.
- Done a few times on Homestar Runner. The Strong Bad Email kids' book has Strong Bad "write a children's book." Which means he steals a book called "Everyone Is Different" from his brother and turns things like "Some people are very tall. Quincy is very tall." into "Some people are very tall and merciless. Quincy is destroying San Antonio" with a black Sharpie.
- Another Strong Bad Email suggests that Strong Bad get his own children's show. He then explains why he's not 'cut out for that kind of sugarjob.'
Strong Bad: The Cheat is behind the freakin' box! (Record Needle Scratch) He's behind the box!! I'll kill you! I'll kill all your dogs!!!
(cut back to Strong Bad in front of the Compy)
Strong Bad: So, you can see how that might be less than pleasant. What with all the letter writing and the angry mothers and the subsequent stringing me up in town square for all to see.
- One of the shorts released as "Decemberween in July" has Strong Bad giving the same treatment he did to "Everyone is Different" to a holiday-themed kids' book called "That Time Of Year".
- Another Strong Bad Email suggests that Strong Bad get his own children's show. He then explains why he's not 'cut out for that kind of sugarjob.'
- Uncle Ray's House IS a fictional show that would be appropriate for little ones. But there's a Twist Ending that makes this innocent video this trope.
- Gold Digger creator Fred Perry takes the "You Are a Pirate" song from LazyTown and animates it his way in a NSFW way.
- Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy includes one episode where Wile E. Coyote finally kills that Roadrunner. And then has an identity crisis as he doesn't know what to do with his life after that.
- This is the central element in the "Almighty Loaf" meme, which takes a talking loaf of bread from a direct-to-video Christian-themed children's show, and turns it into a demonic harbinger of evil who speaks with the voice of the Lord of Darkness himself:
- Tex Avery: At the start of the Screwy Squirrel cartoon "Screwball Squirrel" we see a lovely forest scene and a cute squirrel picking up acorns. Then Screwy Squirrel appears and asks him what kind of picture this is going to be? The squirrel says it will be about him and his "cute, furry friends in the forest", whereupon Screwy groans "Oh, no, not that!" and takes him behind a tree where he beats him up.
- Many Hanna-Barbera cartoons turned into [adult swim] ones, such as Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law and Sealab 2021.
- Also from [adult swim], Moral Orel, which is based on Davey and Goliath.
- The show Robot Chicken breathes and lives in this trope. It would take at least half a page to list children's shows that it "corrupted".
- G.I. Joe: Resolute, that aired on Adult Swim, is a rather rare serious-minded example of this trope. To be more specific, it took the no-blood, nobody dies G.I. Joe and took things more seriously, named characters dying and Vipers being slaughtered by the dozens.
- Krusty the Clown from The Simpsons tends to accidentally follow this trope. Usually he is seen smoking on air or making sarcastic comments about stuff, not caring about the children's well being. Then again, he does show Itchy and Scratchy...
Krusty: Hey Hey, kids! Watch my show and I'll send you this book featuring me in a variety of sexually explicit positions.
(Krusty is being dragged off by executives)
Krusty: What? Hey! It's not really me; I used a stunt butt!
- Bart even has the Krusty the Klown Home Pregnancy Test.note
- On the episode premiering December 15, 2013, Krusty mentions that he's always drunk or high when The Itchy and Scratchy Show is on. When he finally watches an episode sober, he's horrified and kills the feed.
- The Itchy & Scratchy Show is a parody of cartoon violence, most notably from The Golden Age of Animation, by making it extremely gory in a way that would never be permitted on air for actual children in our universe.
- Family Guy will do this in their "cutaway gags", sometimes featuring kids shows and other material often associated with juvenile audiences.
- One example would be when Elmer Fudd not only successfully shooting Bugs Bunny (to bloody effect), but watching as the hare writhes in agony before snapping his neck.
- Also, the time when Sesame Street and Homicide: Life on the Street melded together to bring something with graphic adult situations and brought to you by the letter H.
- One of the most noticeable would be when the show had a Cold Open of Stewie destroying Mr. Rodger's neighborhood in a dream sequence, even though the dream Rodgers still got the last laugh, it's one of the few gags in the show's history that Seth McFarland has openly apologized for.
- The pilot episode of the Black Dynamite animated series features a thinly-veiled parody of Sesame Street that had fallen into crime and disrepair, with the Kermit the Frog equivalent manipulating children to give him money.
- The Beetlejuice episode "Uncle B.J.'s Roadhouse" was a parody of Pee-wee's Playhouse.
- The Powerpuff Girls:
- There's the episode "Neighbor Hood", about a children's TV show host who entreats his young viewers to send the show "happy paper" from their parents' wallets to keep the show's stars alive and happy (a nod to what Soupy Sales pulled in the early 60s on his kids' show). This season 5 episode was originally planned for the first season but the staff feared a lawsuit from Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers' Neighborhood) as it paralleled his show a bit too closely. It was given to DC Comics as issue #7, "Remote Controlled," and then refurbished as this episode.
- The original prototype shorf was this. "The Whoopass Girls" was never meant to be a kids show yet is drawn in the same little girl show inspired style, with a kids show narrator, as the show proper.
- Triptank is a animated Sketch Comedy show that loves pulling this with some sketches starting out rather harmless and cutesy and then someone gets slighted and...let's just say retribution ends in blood and death the majority of the time.
- Rick and Morty:
- The series does this in "Rixty Minutes", where interdimensional TV shows include a Lucky Charms commercial featuring zombie-like children gruesomely disemboweling Lucky, and a somewhat cruder version of Garfield.
- In "Total Rickall", an episode about parasites that plant memories in your mind to convince you to give them your trust to take over planets, Summer's imaginary friend, Tinkles, turns out to be an alien parasite. She is shot with a laser and turned into a dead alien.
- For a brief period American television showed the Brazilian children's show with its blond host "Xuxa". It had beautiful young women scantily clad as toy soldiers doing flips.