It's no secret that Cartoon Network's radar system has a lot of screws loose in terms of airing content that other channels would not consider appropriate for children and not just on their primetime-to-late-night [adult swim] line-up. Their daytime original programming (a lot of which take cues — and have crew members — from Nickelodeon's Nicktoons) all proudly push the limits of their TV-Y7 rating (and their imported theatrical cartoon shorts collectionnote Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, Tom and Jerry, the MGM cartoons Tex Avery made when he quit Warner Bros., and, in the earlier days and in some countries, the Woody Woodpecker/Walter Lantz cartoons, despite being Edited for Syndication, pushes the limits of their TV-G rating), though, as of 2010, most of their original programming airs with a TV-PG rating in an attempt to "age up" the programming and get more ratings from their Periphery Demographic (older kids and parents who watch cartoons with their kids for either Moral Guardian or nostalgia reasons).
Whether it's classic cartoons or original programming (both in the past and nownote though the CN Real days are loved by no one), Cartoon Network's shows work had to smash the stereotype that cartoons are kids' stuff, and the examples below are shining examples of this.
The Red Guy (apart from the fact that he's Satan. The pilot episode "No Smoking" established that he is the Devil and even has Cerberus, the three-headed hound of Hades, as a pet) was always a champion of butt-related puns ("Ben Panced", "Ivan Panced," "Larry Lackapants," "Baron von Neinlederhosen," "Officer Pantsoffski", "Rear Admiral Floyd", "Mrs. Barederriere," "Geraldo Rearviewa," "Professor Hineybottom," "C.D. Heinie," "Dr. Hiney," among many other pseudonyms), but he may have crossed the line in one episode where he involved himself with an island tribe called the "Asswipe"- pronounced "az-wee-pay" (but showed up quite clearly as "asswipe" on the closed captions).
In the episode "Ballerina Cow", Red Guy is a demolition man, but has to pretend to be a talent scout in order to recruit Cow into destroying his buildings with her dancing. He hands his business card to Cow, and under his title, it says, "HOMEWRECKER." Cow points this out and Red Guy's response, "That's my talent."
Perhaps the worst of these, though, was an episode where the Red Guy appears as a sensitivity training school teacher named Mrs. Beaver. Also, in terms of nudity-related puns, we have his character "Lance Sackless," the host of Canada's Most Idiotic Home Videos.
The literal carpet-munching Badass Biker women in the episode "Buffalo Gals." In fact, most of that episode was packed with lesbian undertones (the biker who takes Cow under her wing is named "Munch Kelly," her calling card is a carpet sample with the female symbol [the cross with a circle on top] on it, Mom telling Dad that they're not after him as they chew on the living room carpet, and the girls playing softball with Cow saying, "I'll pitch and you catch"). Sadly, the radar caught up with this episode. It was pulled from rotation and replaced with the episode "Orthodontic Police." It can now be seen on many video websites, including YouTube ()
This cartoon was packed to the brim with lots of characters having gay moments and many instances of gender confusion, such as "Confused," "Which Came First," the aforementioned "Buffalo Gals," and any time Dad alludes to either being less of a man than Mom or being a female to male transsexual. That "Buffalo Gals" was banned for mild lesbian undertones and everything other reference to gender confusion stayed really makes you wonder what the Cartoon Network censors' collective reason was behind this decision, though it has been said that "Buffalo Gals" was banned because a parent wrote in and complained.
In the "I Am Weasel" segment "Law of Gravity", as the lawyers are floating near the Big Ben, one of the men clearly says "bastards".
In the episode "The Girls Bathroom", Chicken sneaks into the girls bathroom at night to see what it looks like inside, with Flem and Earl outside. At one point, while in the bathroom, Chicken walks past a tampon machine and then tells the boys through walkie-talkies "You guys, I think they can buy cigars in here!", to which Flem replies "I knew it!".
In the same episode, Chicken's Dad says something among the lines of "Of course I've been in the girl's bathroom! Why, some of the best times of my lfie have been spent there! Oh I could tell you some stories!"
In one episode, Cow gets the idea that a boy doesn't like her because her horns are too small. She even wears a padded bra on her head to make them look bigger. The title of the episode is "Horn Envy".
Hillbilly Enzyme: Hey boy, you've got a purdy beak.
The show may not have had a long life on Cartoon Network (started June 2001; ended November 2003), but it left behind a glut of crap that got past the radar. Any given episode has one or more of the following:
Drug humor (season one's "Eli Whitney's Flesh-Eating Mistake" and season two's "Pasteur Packs O'Punch" had Larry acting drunk; in "Betsy Ross Flies Her Freak Flag," Betsy Ross and George Washington's army all have red-rimmed eyes and act like stoners. On top of that, there was a strange, white cloud around the "Magical Farm Place Farm").
Black Comedy, in the form of several instances of child abuse and neglect being played for laughs (Otto's life in the orphanage as seen in "Eli Whitney's Flesh Eating Mistake" and "Orphan Substitute," Otto getting left behind on the island on "Hate and Let Hate" for most of the episode, an unnamed child getting a piano dropped on him during his birthday party on "The Clownfather," and Otto getting injured while Tuddrussell tries to be like a father to him in "Father Figure of Our Country.")
Phallic and oftentimes autoerotic innuendo (Tuddrussell's laser gun magazine folding out like a Playboy centerfold on "Kubla Khan't"), among other scenes involving Tuddrussell's guns (cf. "Hate and Let Hate," where Larry gets a Personality Swap after accidentally firing off one of Tuddrussell's guns).
Some racial/ethnic stereotyping (Larry saying the orphans looked cute with their "black faces" [which they got from mining coal] in "Orphan Substitute"; Atilla the Hun portrayed as a Mort Goldman-esque Jewish stereotype in "A Thrilla at Atilla's")
Even a couple of the titles were iffy, particularly "To Hail With Caesar" and "Big Al's Big Secret".
In the second season finale, Azmuth revealed the Highbreed are all inbred and sterile.
In Ultimate Alien, Zombozo and Kevin fight with mallets, with Zombozo declaring "Mine's BIGGER than yours!", and Kevin replying "It's not the size that matters, it's how you use it!"
We got this gem in "Computer Games":
Humongosaur: Um, one of my balls fell off.
The Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Busted" has Bloo, after an unsuccessful attempt to glue together Madame Foster's stone bust of herself together again using toothpaste after he breaks it, stating, "A bust this big needs ample support!"
In a later episode, Coco tries to get a single room after Eduardo already asked for it. When Mr. Harriman claims that Eduardo needed it more, Frankie starts to object and is about to explain, why a girl can't share a room with three boys when the scenario just switches. Once we are back at Harriman's office, he's sweating and utters something along the lines: "I-I-I never knew there were so many... special "needs" for women.... Ms. Coco gets the room." Frankie Foster smiles delightful and a bit mischievous. We are left to guess, what she just told him about girls... Not that we couldn't guess.
Not to mention that they slipped in these lines...
Bloo: No, sheets!
Bloo: No, sheets. Sheets, bed sheets.
Wilt: Yeah, that's really sucking! (Referring to a vacuum cleaner sucking in Bloo)
Eduardo: *Sigh* There's no pleasing this guy.
Joey to the World sadly didn't get past the radar (in one of the rare times that Cartoon Network's censors actually did do a competent job at monitoring content — that wasn't found in a Looney Tunes cartoon). The Cartoonstitute short was credited as being "created by Cartoon Network", and they were putting it as a candidate for a comedy series...sadly, theories have it that the creator didn't know he was supposed to produce something for children, and the end result was something that would have had a nice home on [adult swim].
While I Am Weasel was cut from the same cloth as Cow and Chicken, it was very light on dubious content. However, that isn't to say that the show was completely clean. The Red Guy from Cow and Chicken was still there and still had names that referred to his state of undress (Lance Sackless, Cleo-Pantless, Tallulah Bottoms, etc), the episode "I.R. Bush Pilot" has Weasel as an OB/GYN and a pilot (making the title one of the most sexual puns ever made on a Cartoon Network show that wasn't on [adult swim]), and "This Bridge Not Weasel Bridge" had a line about a worker who was coming home to his wife and the son he never knew he had (possibly because his wife had him with another man).
The obscure Mike, Lu & Og has a few moments. For example, "Losing Lancelot" has Mike and Og going out on a boat to save Lancelot from sharks and Margery thinks the two are "too young to go out on a boat alone". Plus, we see Og run without his loincloth on in "Hot Couture" (though we only see his butt). Not to mention that the What A Cartoon pilot doesn't give backsides to Lu's bra and Og's loincloth.
The nanoscopically short-lived series of shorts, Sunday Pants, might be seen as an example of the censors doing their job. However, twice, the word 'damn it' were shouted by characters, on prime time. It's arguable that the censors probably did this just for laughs and that the series was ending anyway. Since then, Sunday Pants has never been mentioned or even acknowledged by Cartoon Network.