[[quoteright:247:[[Franchise/WinnieThePooh http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/toosmartfor_387.jpg]]]]
[-[[caption-width-right:247:Well... [[UncannyValley Those puppets]] are definitely one way to get the kids [[AccidentalNightmareFuel running like hell]].]]-]

->''"Kids, there's nothing more cool than being hugged by someone you like! But if someone tries to touch you in a place or in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, [[MemeticMutation that's NO GOOD]]! It's your body; no one has the right to touch you if you don't want them to. So what do you do? First, you say 'NO!' Then, you get outta there! Most important, you gotta tell someone you trust, like your parents, your teacher, a police officer."''
-->-- '''Franchise/{{Sonic|TheHedgehog}}''', ''WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfSonicTheHedgehog''

A VerySpecialEpisode with a moral about a very important issue: all adults that you don't know are ravenous, sex-thirsty child molesters waiting to lure you into the back of their white van with promises of candy and toys. This Aesop came along in TheEighties as child abduction and abuse, particularly in the wake of the 1981 abduction and murder of 6-year-old [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Adam_Walsh Adam Walsh]], became a national concern in the United States.

Of course, being childrens' TV shows, they have to discuss these issues in a way that's easy to understand, but without being scary -- which usually just ends up [[CluelessAesop being awkward]]. ''Really'' awkward. They can't mention any of the "worst" crimes (e.g., molestation) by name, so they generally stick to just kidnapping or "being touched in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable" (and, all together now, [[WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfSonicTheHedgehog that's nooooo good]]). Expect the most graphic euphemisms you can get onto suitable-for-all-ages television, such as the "bathing suit area."

For these reasons, the bulk of the show tends to be either about "safety tips" like never talking to strangers (which usually refers to strange ''adults'', mind you) and rejecting all forms of generosity, or about an evil kidnapper [[SpaceWhaleAesop and the more fantastical things he does to his victim]].

It's also worth noting that in the vast majority of child kidnappings and sexual abuse cases, the abuser is '''[[ParanoiaFuel someone the child knows and trusts]]''', usually because they have easy access to the child and, in custody cases (which are almost all kidnappings) the kidnapper has something to gain by kidnapping the child. Children are usually warned in these VSE's against strange men, but NOT against strange women. The fact that [[CluelessAesop this Aesop is based on faulty information]] renders it almost entirely useless, so it fell out of favor by the end of TheNineties. A couple of high profile cases where lost children ''actively hid from the people trying to find and rescue them'' as [[JustForFun/TelevisionIsTryingToKillUs they'd had it drilled into them that all strangers were dangerous]] and would kidnap them given the opportunity [[DiscreditedTrope put the final nails]] into the simplistic interpretation of this idea. These days, experts advise caregivers to warn their children against "[[http://safelyeverafter.com/tips.html Tricky People]]" rather than "Strangers," putting the focus on suspicious ''actions'' rather than on whether you know someone.

''Guaranteed'' to be [[CringeComedy utterly uncomfortable]], as happy-go-lucky, fun-loving characters are [[CluelessAesop forced to deal]] with a truly horrifying eventuality. May have the side effect of making some children unbelievably paranoid, especially if they themselves have had it happen by someone they know and trust. And Heaven have mercy on your psyche if the writers decide to disregard [[ScareEmStraight the "don't scare the crap out of the kids" part.]]

Compare DrugsAreBad, another favorite kids-show message in the 1980s.



!!Played Straight

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* There was a [[VerySpecialEpisode Very Special Comic Book]] starring ''Franchise/SpiderMan'' in which his next-door-neighbor kid was being molested by his (female) babysitter. In it, Spidey shares that ''he'' was molested, pre-superpowers, [[http://www.misterkitty.org/extras/stupidcovers/superhero2.jpg by someone who looked suspiciously like Uncle Ben]]. Spidey [[BizarroEpisode never references or even acknowledges this story in any other continuity]], but can you really blame him? Supposedly, the original draft of the story said the molester ''was'' Uncle Ben, with all the attendant {{Squick}} involved. One time when ExecutiveMeddling was used for good. Because [[SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped Some Plots Need To Be Censored]].
** It was packaged with a ComicBook/PowerPack comic about the Powers family helping a child who ran away from abuse in her immediate family. Both comics were reviewed by Dr. Scott of PoliteDissent [[http://www.politedissent.com/archives/982 here]].
* Taken to a truly weird level by one issue of ''ComicBook/SwampThing'' (one that predated the [[MyRealDaddy iconic]] Creator/AlanMoore run). Though the UsefulNotes/TheComicsCode still held some sway back then, ''Swamp Thing'' was emphatically ''not'' a series for children, and freely talked about children being abducted and killed by the stranger (the story was, in fact, RippedFromTheHeadlines of [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_murders_of_1979%E2%80%9381 the Atlanta child murders]]). The weirdness comes in when it turns out the killer is a [[NoCelebritiesWereHarmed very on-the-nose parody]] of ''[[Series/MisterRogersNeighborhood Fred Rogers]]'' - who was [[DemonicPossession demonically possessed]], but the narrative implicitly blames him for the murders anyways, because his show teaches little kids to treat every stranger as a friend.

* Besides the TropeNamer, there was also a book release titled "Don't Talk to Strangers, Pooh" that came out in 1998. It was part of a series called ''My Very First Winnie the Pooh''.
* A book about sex marketed to young people titled ''It's Perfectly Normal'' took a light and humorous approach to almost everything about sex using non-threatening cartoons to illustrate masturbation, homosexuality, conception etc. The chapter on child molestation gets a bit more serious. No cartoons other than the two animal mascots admitting that this is a difficult subject to discuss. Still, at least it's not a CluelessAesop.
* Referenced near the end of the book ''The Year My Parents Ruined My Life''. Katie decides to run away from her new home and attempts to fly back to California by herself. She decides to hitchhike to the airport, and is already sitting in a car with a man and wearing her seat-belt by the time she realizes it may not have been a good idea to take a ride with a stranger. Her fears are only amplified when she notices he's taking a different route and hears him say "I may need to zigzag." He quickly realizes that Katie's afraid of him and thinks it's the funniest thing ever.
-->"Oh, honey, you're ''scared!'' Of ''me!'' You took a ride with someone you don't know and now you've gone and scared yourself half to death! Honey, it's okay, I'm not a serial killer, I don't have a knife in the glove compartment -- check if you want, and I really do have three children of my own. And see, here we are, safe at the airport, and I didn't even have to zigzag."\\
"O-oh, uhm.."\\
"You're welcome, and don't you hitchhike anymore, okay?" ''(muttering)'' "Oh, my wife is going to ''laugh...''"
* Often used as an {{Aesop}} in various retellings of ''Literature/LittleRedRidingHood.'' Don't stop and talk to strangers, kids, or [[ScareEmStraight you could be eaten by a wolf.]] One of these retellings is the Creator/CharlesPerrault version, which was written in the 17th century and thus makes this trope OlderThanSteam.
* Zigzagged in the children's book ''It's Okay to Say No''. Some of the BigBad's were strangers, others were people the children knew. Also, there was a lot of ambiguous language, including "touched her in a way that made her feel 'very uncomfortable'", and "talking about love and sex" (which could be misinterpreted as TheTalk.)
** A similar book entitled "You Can Say No" is also about this, but it's played even more seriously (i.e. an uncle who apparently makes his niece strip and play "bad games" and a little boy who's missing and "foul play is suspected")
* There's a children's book entitled ''Never Talk to Strangers'', which basically tells readers not to talk to strangers and defines the word "stranger". It's to be noted that the main characters are humans and the strangers and family friends are all FunnyAnimal's.
* A book in the ''Literature/MillyMolly'' series, entitled "Oink", involves Milly and Molly learning that some strangers might steal Oink the pig.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The ''Series/BarneyAndFriends'' episode "Playing It Safe" contains a segment about stranger danger. Derek brings up the topic when talking about safety rules, which brings Baby Bop to ask about it as well. The kid cast then puts on a play of Little Red Riding Hood to teach her about not talking to strangers and, in traditional Barney fashion, it's followed by a song reinforcing the message.
* ''Series/TheBradyBunch'': The Season 2 episode "The Babysitters," where Mike teaches his 7-year-old son, Bobby, about never answering the door for a stranger. Although most such lessons are taught to children as early as age 3 or 4 and Bobby may have been a bit old for the lesson -- a point Robert Reed likely made to the producers -- he likely went along because the demonstration was effective and made its point. (Incidentally, Greg answers the door while Mike, thinking that Bobby is still at the door, is still playing the part of the crotchety old stranger. Turned out Mike outsmarted himself.)
* There were three ''Series/DiffrentStrokes'' episodes that were like this.
** One where Arnold's friend Dudley was molested by Gordon Jump. (Don't forget that scene where the bike store owner [[WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy wants the kids to scream real loud at his ass]].)
** Another where Arnold and Kimberly hitch a ride with a kidnapper who clearly intends to rape Kimberly.
** The eighth season opens with a two-part episode where Sam is kidnapped by a grieving father.
* Australia has for a while had the Safety House Program, where applicants stick the symbol on the letterbox only if they actually ''are'' safety houses. An education campaign back in the 80s had to remind kids to look specifically on the letterbox (not the door. And not on any cars). It came complete with a character, Clebo the Clown, and also a song that seems to have faded into obscurity, were it not for a few old memories of the lyrics:
-->''Look for the Safety house, Get to know the sign\\
The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety_House_Program friendly face inside the triangle]]\\
If strangers talk to you, here's what you should do\\
Just run up to the front door of the Safety House near you.''
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj4ak2WpLFM This sexual abuse video]], complete with an actor who plays his DirtyOldMan role [[LargeHam a little too well]]. At least the boy isn't ambiguous about "bad touch" and says the word "penis".
* The trope is referenced in the episode "What Fresh Hell?" of ''Series/CriminalMinds'', where the "Stranger Danger" programme is mentioned as probably being the single biggest enemy of child abduction cases in America, because after it was disseminated research showed that strangers were probably responsible for a minority of kidnapping cases. Far more often the abductor was friends, family, neighbours or someone at least associated with the family or child. [[spoiler:In this case, it was a local gardener who lived a few blocks away.]]
* In one of the animated "George" segments of ''Series/TheGoShow'', meant to teach kids about right and wrong via an animated preschooler named George, he gets lost in the supermarket. One variation on this scenario involves a strange man take him by the hand and George yelling, followed by the segment ending and the narrator discussing stranger danger. Another variation involves him talking to a woman in a police uniform, which the narrator says is okay despite technically counting as talking to strangers, the police are there to help.
* There's one segment on this featuring Fonzie from ''Series/HappyDays''.
* One episode of ''{{Series/Dateline}}'' covered this, showing a mother (via hidden camera) that her children were more than happy to receive a tour of an ice-cream van from a man they'd never seen before.
** To their credit, the girl ''did'' realize that they violated this trope not long after the van had pulled away, leaving the pair behind - her younger brother, unfortunately, was still focused on the free ice-cream they'd gotten.

[[folder:Puppet Shows]]
* The TropeNamer: the episode "[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDE-IWxU2-A Too Smart for Strangers]]" of ''Welcome to Pooh Corner'', a mid-'80s production where Franchise/WinnieThePooh and rest of the Hundred Acre Wood crew (of all people) teach children how to not get abducted and subsequently molested. It's actually pretty blunt, with repeated mentions of "private parts" and a (delicate) broaching of the subject of ejaculation. Particularly infamous for the scene that directly addresses child molestation and how to react to it. In ''song''. Despite being the TropeNamer, it's actually a slight subversion, as it does go into detail about how it can be people you know as well as strangers.
* ''Film/TrickyPeople'', a 1998 video produced by Nest Entertainment, is a rather serious PSA about sexual abuse and stranger danger... which stars a silly yellow [[Series/BarneyAndFriends Barney-esque]] dinosaur named Yello Dyno. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1qGYdlH8k4 Watch]] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YfoIEPIaQY it]] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcDqb9rZ3VE here]] (with snarky annotations).

* [[http://www.freerangekids.com/and-speaking-of-perv-o-mania/ This Toys R Us receipt.]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* More than a few examples of these Very Special Episodes have been dug up by ''[[http://www.everythingisterrible.com/2009/06/there-are-so-many-ways-to-kidnap-kids.html Everything Is Terrible]]''.
* Referenced occasionally by WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic. Justified as it's his job to smash the NostalgiaFilter of all this stuff, but you've got to wonder why his [[ParentalNeglect parents]] suddenly decided to care enough and make sure he knew about stranger danger.
* ''WebVideo/DVDRHell'' has covered a couple of these, including the trope namer. Brad's reaction to the song about molestation is a classic.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The TV version of ''Literature/TheBerenstainBears'' story is actually a bit more nuanced. The BumblingDad decides to ScareEmStraight, until Sister Bear is [[ParanoiaFuel reduced to a terrified wreck who doesn't want to leave the house]]. The CloserToEarth mother (as always) has to reassure Sister Bear that there are dangerous strangers out there, but you can't be paranoid like that. In some ways, the book made it creepier because the newspaper pictures were in black-and-white, and you had time to read the text and let it sink in. And to top it all off, you got to see Sister's wide-eyed expression at the same time.
* And then there's that infamous ''[[WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfSonicTheHedgehog Sonic Says]]'' quoted above...
-->'''Sonic:''' Kids, there's nothing more cool than being hugged by someone you like! But if someone tries to touch you in a place or in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, that's no good. It's your body; no one has the right to touch you if you don't want them to. So what do you do? First, you say 'No!' Then, you get outta there! Most important, you gotta tell someone you trust, like your parents, your teacher, a police officer.
* Less well-known, but no less awkward, is a [=PSA=] starring [[WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse1983 He-Man]] and [[WesternAnimation/SheRaPrincessOfPower She-Ra]] of all people. [[HarmfulToMinors It really brings the awkward]] when it acknowledges that kids are abused by people they know already. Interestingly enough, Melendy Britt revealed at a convention in the early 2010's that she remembered hearing about a little girl who revealed to an adult that she was being abused. [[TropesAreTools The girl revealed it because she learned from She-Ra and He-Man that it was okay to tell an adult and not feel shame]].
* A ''Franchise/CareBears'' episode (partially included [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gDLG5SpPec here]]) went for the related message of "don't go out in public without an adult". Bright Heart disobeys Champ Bear and goes down to Earth by himself. The message is undermined by the fact that the "danger" he encounters comes in the form of Shreeky (who, ironically, ''is'' a child and a human one at that) and Beastly. Of course, Shreeky and Beastly's attempts to kidnap Bright Heart are thwarted at every turn by their own stupidity. So the BrokenAesop is "don't worry about kidnappers -- they're idiots." Although the intended Aesop was "don't go skiing alone, because if you get hurt, no one will be there to help you" but they have used this trope in at least 2 episodes.
* ''WesternAnimation/GetMuggsy'' subverts this. Although the plot does briefly stop for Muggsy to give a lesson on strangers (complete with the "bad touch" kind of stuff), the lesson also says that some strangers (e.g., authority figures) are more trustworthy.
* There's an [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbkDCdPM2fk Australian cartoon]] featuring a kid being lured into a hotel bed by a pedophile, but instead of having the kid rescued at the last minute or fading out on an already-creepy-enough-thanks image, it shows [[DisneyAcidSequence the pedophile melting into the blanket, which then melts into a stripey blanket-printed ocean that jostles the kid around awhile, then a close-up on the kid's face as he weeps a single tear, which melts into the next scene]]. Thanks for clearing that up, guys.
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW7iD1gaEbg My Body Is My Own]], an adaption of an 80's children's book.
* ''WesternAnimation/MillyMolly'' had the episode "Wags", which is this but for ''dogs'', in which Wags learns to be cautious around strangers after being captured by a "bad stranger".
* The PSA at the end of the ''WesternAnimation/{{MASK}}'' episode [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojlWCFtqVeY "The Ultimate Weapon"]] had Matt Trakker warn his son Scott that hitchhiking is dangerous because you'll never know who will pick you up. He even states that it's possible the person who picks up Scott's friend could be a child molester. Fortunately, Scott convinces his friend to walk with him and his dad.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Anime/CowboyBebop'': "Lesson, lesson... If you see a stranger, follow him!"

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''FanFic/YouGotHaruhiRolled'', [[HumanoidAbomination Kuyou]] somehow ends up trapped in a cardboard box, and, in a parody of Creator/EliezerYudkowsky's "AI in a Box" thought experiment, is reduced to begging passers-by to let her out. Shortly afterwards, [[HisNameReallyIsBarkeep Imouto]] and Miyoko walk by, and Kuyou tries to persuade them to release her. Miyoko is all set to do it, but Imouto refuses, bringing up this trope. So Kuyou is forced to stay in the box until a rainstorm ruins the cardboard. According to [[WordOfGod the writer of the fic]], his incarnation of Miyoko is a NightmareFetishist, so that may have something to do with her willingness to release Kuyou.
* Parodied to hell and back no fewer than three times in ''WebVideo/DragonBallZAbridged'' during the Namek Saga, all three involving Gohan.
-->'''Gohan:''' ''[after insanely creepy comments]'' I need an adult...

* ''Literature/JourneyToChaos'': Nosiop, a poison master, has a habit of testing his recipes on the unsuspecting. He offers a piece of candy to Zettai, the pre-teen daughter of one of his guild fellows, and they have this exchange.
-->'''Zettai''': Dad told me not to take candy from strangers.
-->'''Nosiop''': I'm not a stranger. I work with your dad all the time.
-->'''Zettai''': That's what he told me you'd say.
-->'''Nosiop''': More for me. ''*eats the candy*''
-->'''Zettai''': You mean it wasn't poison?
-->'''Nosiop''': Of course it wasn't. I don't poison the kids of my co-workers. ''*Noisop gives Zettai a second piece of candy, and, just before she eats it*'' That one might be poison.
-->'''Zettai''': ''*Stomp on his foot*''

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* On ''Series/ThirtyRock'', when Kathy Geiss put the moves on Jack, he recounted it to Liz, saying "she touched me in my swimsuit area" and "it made me very uncomfortable".
* In ''Series/TheGeorgeLopezShow'' episode "Max's Big Adventure", Max has a school play about this that has two kids being approached by a man in a ConspicuousTrenchcoat asking them where their parents are. The play is about as good as one would expect, leading George to think that Max doesn't really know about stranger dangers and testing him. The episode as a whole is more of a deconstruction of this trope.
* In ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'', Ted is stranded when his friend Robin happens to show up in her white news van, leading to this jokey exchange:
-->'''Robin:''' Need a ride, cowboy?\\
'''Ted:''' Sorry, I don't get in vans with strangers.\\
'''Robin:''' Mmm, too bad. I've got candy.\\
'''Ted:''' ''[very excitedly]'' Candy!
* A recurring sketch on ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' during the 2013-14 season has a public service officer come to a classroom to teach about stranger danger, but the kids misinterpret everything he says, making them want to find vans during recess because the people inside might have candy.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In the game ''VideoGame/EvilGenius'', when you successfully kidnap someone from America, you hear a radio announcement about the crime, which includes advice that people take steps "such as not taking candy from strangers."

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Subverted in [[http://web.archive.org/web/20091123065520/http://cityofreality.com/2009/08/01/01-01-monsters/ this strip]] from ''Webcomic/CityOfReality''.
* ''Webcomic/CinemaSnobReviewsFrozen'' (a fan comic where ''WebVideo/TheCinemaSnob'' reviews ''Disney/{{Frozen}}'') spoofs this with Snob thinking Kristoff asking Anna about strangers will lead to this. He begs the film not to do it, and is very relieved when Anna's joke answer is all there is.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Double-subverted in a cutaway of ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy''. Peter as a child is proposed some candy by a strange man in a van if he gets in. Peter declines the offer because his mom said he shouldn't. The newspaper reveals that another boy got in the van and got a life worth supply of candy much to Peter's jealousy. The next day, Peter receives the exact same offers and gleefully agree. He gets no candy and gets molested.
* Ralph Wiggum from ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' misunderstood these, and thought his shoulder was his "special area."
** In another episode, Homer attempts to remember all the advice his father gave him when he was a kid.
--->'''Abe:''' Homer -- you're dumb as a mule and twice as ugly. If a stranger offers you a free ride, I say take it!\\
'''Homer:''' [[HilariouslyAbusiveChildhood Lousy traumatic childhood!]]
** In ''The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show'', Marge agrees on letting her kids roam around alone for a while in a shopping mall, under the condition that they be careful. Only they completely disregard her advice mere seconds later by leaving together with a total stranger... [[spoiler: Subversion! Turns out he was just a friendly marketing researcher, gathering children for a Itchy & Scratchy survey. [[RichInDollarsPoorInSense Asking nicely apparently isn't Roger Meyer, Jr's strong suit]].]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'':
** Parodied, of course, with a counselor who asks if Father Maxi had stuck anything up the kids' butts. The counselor avoids the word "penis" though, asking if he had stuck anything "of his" up there, which just confuses them.
--->'''Stan:''' Like... money?\\
'''Butters:''' You mean, like, a goldfish?
** There are at least two other episodes of ''South Park'' that [[{{Pun}} touch on]] the subject, but the closest to this trope is probably "Child Abduction Is Not Funny". Tweek is nearly abducted by a man who dresses up as the Spirit of Human Kindness and tries to convince him that these sorts of morals are just paranoia. ([[FridgeBrilliance And they partly are...]]) Later, the town's parents kick the children out of town for their own safety(!?) -- after hearing on the news that parents are most likely to abduct their own children.[[note]] Which is true - except it's generally a divorced or otherwise estranged couple that this happens with, NOT a molestation/rape-driven kidnapping[[/note]]
** And then there's "Wacky Molestation Adventure", where the kids frame their parents for molesting them and they're arrested and sent to a facility to "cure" them of their sexual urges. While the kids form colonies of their own now that they're alone, the parents undergo brainwashing procedures that end with them believing that they actually did molest their kids.
** And, of course, who can forget "Sexual Harassment Panda"? ("When I see one little panda pulling down another little panda's underpants, [[MemeticMutation that makes me a saaaad panda]]!") Naturally, the kids grossly misinterpret his lessons to the point where anything a friend does that they don't like counts as "sexual harassment," and this eventually leads to a rash of time-consuming lawsuits. In the end, the mascot is forced to change his name to "Don't Sue People Panda."
** [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] in this scene from "Mecha-Streisand" where a disguised Barbara Streisand offers the boys a ride in her car.
--->'''Kyle:''' Wait, isn't there some rule about not getting into cars with strangers?\\
'''Cartman:''' No, not when money's involved, stupid!
* An odd version happens in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic''[='s=] fifth season finale, "The Cutie Re-Mark". In an attempt to avert ForWantOfANail and get the filly Rainbow Dash to perform the Sonic Rainboom, Twilight flies up to join her and tells her about everything. However, since Twilight is still one with NoSocialSkills and ''all of time/space'' is on the line, she comes off as incredibly creepy, causing Rainbow Dash to fly away and allow ForWantOfANail to hit again.