Francine Clara Censordoll (FCC) is probably the only recurring character on Moral Orel that's all about making vicious attacks on the FCC. First she never procreates, considers her view of morality to be above all others (believing herself to be just as holy as God), is an enormous hypocrite, doesn't care about actual harm to people (in a un-aired script she's the one who orchestrated Orel getting shot) and, if it wasn't for Clay Puppington, would be the worst character on the entire show.
Ever subversive, American cartoons are rife with jabs at their resident network's Media Watchdog. A few examples:
During the first two seasons of Reboot (which is actually a Canadian show, but the concept is the same), several jokes were made at the expense of ABC's Broadcast Standards and Practices Department (BS&P). These include a weapon that fires life rafts being labeled "BSnP Approved", and a thinly-disguised parody of the Village People singing a song to the tune of "YMCA" about the BS&P.
And during the third season, once they had cut ties with ABC and moved to syndication (giving them much more control over their own show), one can see a tombstone in a game that reads "Here lies the Mainframe Joint Venture, an unholy alliance."
When Beavis And Butthead did away with Beavis' pyromania-induced Catch Phrase of "Fire! Fire! Fire!" they replaced it with him shouting "Water! Water! Water!" whenever he saw a large body of it as a not-too-subtle jab at the censors. When Senator Fritz Hollings (D- S.C.) tried to cite the pair as a bad influence on kids, but misidentified them as "Buffcoat & Beaver", the animators used it as an in-joke, coming from the mouth of a prison inmate.
In an episode involving Burger World, Beavis can be heard screaming "Fryer! Fryer! Fryer!" after he dumps all the patties on the grill.
Similarly, while they were watching the video for Rollins Band's "Liar", Beavis began to chant: "Liar, liar! Liar, liar, pants on — whoa."
In another video segment, they watch the music video to Wax's "California", which shows a Man on Fire. Beavis is totally overwhelmed with delight that he couldn't say anything intelligible, and when Butthead questions him, he didn't even remember what happened.
The Beetlejuice cartoon also spoofed ABC's Broadcast Standards and Practices in one episode, where a bossy fairy-godmother figure named Goody Two-Shoes, sent from the Bureau of Sweetness and Prissiness (BS&P), ordered the gang to clean up their act, and eventually used her magic to briefly turn the show into a syrupy Sitcom à la Leave It to Beaver.
The Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Washingtoon" dealt with a media watchdog destroying Acme Acres to prevent the further existence of funny cartoons. Of course, this is a show that openly mentions network censors in the theme song, so...
One episode of The Fairly OddParents! featured Vicky being arrested by the FCC for using the word "moron" on the radio. (Apparently it's okay to use that word on TV, but not on the radio.)
The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! series features a regular character known as The Censor Lady who constantly butts in to demand the characters behave in a more kid-friendly fashion.
In an episode of Animaniacs, two network censors objected to every violent act the Warner siblings did and showed them a parody of The Smurfs as how they want them to act. Later on, Attila the Hun attacks them, and the censors try to win him over with kindness. It doesn't work.
Another episode had a B-plot in which the show's characters are berated for being too violent, and Slappy Squirrel had to build an IKEA constructed machine to remove on-screen violence by making it offscreen - only Slappy made it even more violent than it was originally planned and used it against the lawyer/attorney/whatever who forced her to use it. (Incidentally, the A-plot was Skippy Squirrel trying to stop bullying through nonviolent means and utterly failing at it.)
One mainstay of the show was the Wheel of Morality, spoofing And Knowing Is Half the Battle. When Wakko and Dot complain about it and ask whose stupid idea it was to include morals, Yakko informs them that it was the Fox Kids execs.
In Histeria!! there was recurring character, much like The Censor Lady, named Lydia Karaoke, who showed up every time someone said or did something inappropriate.
One episode featured David Farragut delivering his famed "Damn the torpedoes!" line at the Battle of Mobile Bay (and yes, he did say "damn"), at which point Lydia Karaoke appeared, trying to convince the Admiral to try out "darn the torpedoes" and "I have a problem with the torpedoes."
In one Freakazoid! short, all scenes that would have shown the characters fighting were replaced with calming stock footage (some fish in a tank, etc.). The meddling executive (voiced by Ben Stein) calls it "soothing Relax-O-Vision".
The original Looney Tunes shorts would often make fun of The Hays Code, the restrictive regime of self-regulation that defined what could and couldn't be done in films until the early 1960s. Furthermore, the writers and animators would often put material into the cartoons specifically to be cut, the idea being that the censors would cut the obviously over-the-top stuff and leave the borderline material that the animators really wanted in. Sometimes, though, the sacrificial material was unexpectedly left alone. In one example, a dog suffering from flea-bites starts dragging his rump around Elmer Fudd's house. The animators threw in a line where the dog breaks the Fourth Wall to tell the audience, "I'd better stop this, I might get to like it!" That line was meant to be sacrificed but the whole sequence was left in.
Yakko Warner would later respond to the same demand with, "We'd love to, really, but the Fox censors won't allow it."
The Ren & Stimpy Show: The creators of Ren and Stimpy did not want to create an "educational" series. This stance bothered Nickelodeon. As the show grew in popularity, parent groups complained that Stimpy was subject to repeated violence from Ren. Other sources for complaint were the toilet humor and harsh language.
The episode "It Hits the Fan" was meant to push the limits of censorship, since the characters utter the word "shit" 162 times, even using a counter at the bottom of the screen to indicate exactly how many times it was said. The plot of the episode itself spoofed the hooplah over the use of the phrase "Shit happens" on NYPD Blue: overuse of the word "shit" following its appearance on the Show Within a ShowCop Drama ends up spreading a horrible plague and letting loose a dragon, which is battled by the ancient Knights of Standards and Practices.
Similar to the above example, but thrown against the MPAA, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut was originally designed to test just how far they could take an R-rated movie before it became NC-17. The answer was made clear in the film: "Remember what the MPAA says: Horrific, deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don't say any naughty words! That's what this war is all about!"
The MPAA also made them change the original title, "South Park: All Hell Breaks Loose" because of the word 'hell' (having "Hell" in the title would have meant the trailers could only be shown accompanying R- or NC-17–rated movies; at the time, movie trailers were either G or R, there was no PG or PG-13 middle ground). The implications of "Bigger, Longer, and Uncut" were hilariously lost on them.
Also, Parker and Stone followed the examples set by Looney Tunes and The Gong Show — every time the MPAA would mark a scene as unacceptable, they would replace it with something even worse. If their accounts of making the movie are to be believed, the MPAA would nearly always approve the more offensive revision. Apparently they don't care what you replace the offending scenes with, just that they're replaced. Maybe they were afraid that if they complained about the "improved" version, the result would be even worse than that.
According to interviews, Matt Stone and other writers spent hours bickering back and forth on the phone with executives during the production of "Cow Days" to determine just how many times they could get away with having Cartman say "Sucky sucky five dolla!" (thinking he is a Vietnamese prostitute) without the episode being censored.
In the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Gee Whiz" Meatwad and Frylock watch a mock PSA about network censorship that ends with the line "By following standards and practices you're guaranteed to make a mediocre product that no one can relate to." In fact, gags aimed at censorship liberally sprinkle the episode, ending with a No Fourth Wall moment at the end where Frylock and Master Shake angrily ask the camera if the censors liked it. The answer: "ACCEPTABLE!" This take on the episode emerged after a previous version was rejected for being too offensive. The plot circles around Meatwad believing that a mysterious image on a billboard, which he thinks looks like Jesus, has gotten him pregnant; in the episode as aired, the characters circle the Jesus Taboo by using the term "Gee Whiz", thus the episode title.
Later, ATHF would have an episode called the "Dickisode". Prior to censoring the word "dick" was said 53 times, and there were 4,437 visible "dicks" (4.93 a second). All of the offending objects were covered with NTSC test bars.
This is spoofed in Drawn Together when Wooldoor, Xandir, Spanky Ham, and Captain Hero celebrate Wooldoor's questionable show being aired despite censorship. They toast to the show being aired and to freedom of speech, each chiming in random vulgarity. The conversation ends with Captain Hero giving a long and detailed description of him mutilating, disemboweling, and molesting a pig while the others watch in awe and horror.
The Family Guy episode "PTV" revolves around and spoofs this concept — after a Wardrobe Malfunction during the Emmy Awards leads to all TV being ridiculously censored, Peter launches his own pirate station that features everything that viewers miss. When Lois gets fed up with it she alerts the FCC, but comes to regret it when they arrive in town not only to shut down the station, but also to censor real life. "His chin kinda looks like balls. Should I censor that, too?" They even strap a sensor to Peter that turns his farts into Stephen Wright jokes. (Watch as Peter strains, but hears: "I spilled spot remover on my dog, now he's gone.")
And who does the episode say is in charge of the FCC? Cobra Commander. He's the one who orders them to censor television.
In the commentary for the episode "Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater", it is mentioned the original skit for the DeBeers commercial parody involved the woman going all the way down off screen, followed by the slogan "She'll pretty much have to". When the FCC wanted to censor it but the writers wanted to keep it, they argued about how far down she can go for it to still be appropriate, even down to which EXACT FRAME does "too far" begin.
Parodied in one of the earlier Halloween episodes of The Simpsons, where the cartoon figure of a network censor is stabbed to death while crossing out parts of the script, with the episode rating going up with each stabbing, eventually reaching "TV-666". Whilst his demise is bloody, the sentiments he utters during his murder ("Oh what the fudge! Oh Jiminy Christmas! Darn it!") are far from offensive.
Taken to greater Strawman levels than usual in the episode "You Kent Always Say What You Want".
In the episode where Homer takes to medicinal marijuana, they weren't allowed to show him putting a joint in his mouth. Of course, this is mocked on one of the commentaries as "So kids won't find out about that mysterious last step."
In an episode of MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch, the show's hosts, Johnny Gomez and Nick Diamond, were arrested by the Broadcasters Opposing Offensive Behavior (B.O.O.B.) for showing offensive content on the show, namely airing an illegal "cockfight" fight between Tommy Lee and Ron Jeremy (both of which were in their chicken suits).
Parodied in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Raging Bully", where school bully Buford van Stromm challenges Phineas to a fight. Phineas and Ferb even build a boxing ring outside the Googleplex Mall... and then the ringside announcer tells Phineas and Buford, "In no way should this ensuing fight contain the image of potentially harmful, hurtful, or psychologically disturbing physical acts that could be found imitable by an impressionable child viewer" (quoting Disney's Standards and Practices policy word for word). This is much to the disappointment of Buford, who has to settle for a thumb-wrestling match.
Beakman's World: Fear of the Media Watchdogs was one of the contributing factors as to why the show saved answering the most popular question sent into the show, "Why do we fart?", for the very last segment, after the show was canned for good. After all, they couldn't cancel the show twice...or could they?
Similar to The Gong Show and Looney Tunes examples, this was the method Bruce Timm and Paul Dini used to outwit the censors with their work on the DC Animated Universe. If they made a sequence that got banned, they would take it and replace it with something worse. They never noticed. The Joker's Joker Toxin was invented entirely because the writers were mad about not getting to show Joker actually kill people.