Oh, how we love a cable network that airs TV-PG shows during the day on what is ostensibly a "children's entertainment network" and whose Standards and Practices Department is, at best, bipolar, and at worst, utterly incompetent. Whether you loved the Cartoon Network that aired classic cartoons, the Cartoon Network that currently airs original programming, or the Cartoon Network that aired a healthy combination of classic cartoons and modern favorites, this channel is known for shattering the Animation Age Ghetto, and these examples (past and present) are proof!
Specific shows include:
Much like Johnny Bravo, Time Squad, Regular Show, and Adventure Time, Cow and Chicken is also remembered for its ability to push Cartoon Network's envelope on what can and can't be shown to kids on cable TV. Though unlike most of the shows listed that only get crap past the radar because they're trying to emulate Ren and Stimpy, Cow and Chicken actually has some of Ren and Stimpy's writers, storyboard artists, and animators on the show (along with other writers who have done kids' cartoons that have a Peripheral Demographic, like comedian Steve Marmel, who wrote for The Fairly Oddparents), making Cow and ChickenCartoon Network's answer to Ren and Stimpy, only a little less gross and a little more focused on what's listed below:
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.
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 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 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".
There's an episode of Dexters Laboratory wherein Dexter and Mandark face off at each other in their giant robots, ready to destroy each other. They open fire with missiles from their crotches.
And there's another where Dexter and a nerdy friend of his, Doug (who, oddly enough, only appeared on the show in two episodes) are listening to a scientific program on tape while on the school bus. DeeDee, who's sitting behind them, unplugs their headphones from the tape player, so that the entire bus can hear the title of the next chapter: "Reproduction". DeeDee gasps in shock, then makes fun of them for listening to it. One kid on the bus even says "Yeah, well, that's the only way they'll ever learn about it."
At the end of the episode, they move on to the next chapter — "Photosynthesis."
In "Decode of Honor". There are two very hilarious moments:
Firstly, DeeDee and Dexter get in a fight over their decoders, inadvertently switching each other's code sheets. DeeDee leaves, delivering the zinger "But Dexter... your club is for big I-D-K-S-C's." Dexter translates the code, "I...D...K...S...HEY! I'm gonna tell Mom!" For those who only get it for face value, it's an anagram for "dicks".
The second comes as DeeDee attempts to complete a task on her list; get a tattoo. She sits down in the tattoo parlor beside a wall of potential tattoo designs, one of which is A HAND FLIPPING THE BIRD◊.
In one episode, a teacher openly fawns over a child in elementary school.
At the beginning The MovieEgo Trip, when Mandark sneaks into Dexter's house to steal the Neuratomic Protocore there's a shot of Dexter's parents' legs sticking up in the air, tangled together, with his mother moaning "Honey, I don't think that's gonna fit!" It then zooms out to show them playing Twister.
In an episode where Dexter and Dee-Dee have a snowball fight, Dexter tries to escape from the fight, referring to various areas of the field as bases. He takes cover behind a kissing couple and says to himself, "First base." to which the man replies, "You said it, brother!" Considering what metaphors the next three bases represent...
In a short clip, we see Dexter get a magazine in the mail. He then proceeds to race up to his room, into his lab, and goes deep into the maze of his workplace, somehow ending up in a submarine. Once he's deep underwater, he opens it up sideways to drool over a centerfold... of a wrench.
There's a lot of this in the episode "Dee-Dee and the Man", where Dexter "fires" Dee-Dee and ends up hiring a replacement "spastic sister"... in this case, a voluptuous blonde. Highlights include Dexter having to take a cold shower after the new Dee-Dee says "What does this button do?" in a seductive tone, and her response to Dexter asking to see her dance: "Okay, but it's fifty bucks extra!"
There was a short where the parents were playing Scrabble in the kitchen with the door closed, while Dexter and Deedee were listening at the door, and the parents' conversation sounded like they were cheating on each other (rather than cheating at board games, which is what they were actually arguing about), with horrified expressions from Dexter and Deedee. It was played for comedy, but still...
"Hamhocks and Armlocks" was an early episode that got a bit past the radar. For example, the waitress at the diner the family stops at is visibly smoking whenever she appears. Not a pipe or anything either, but an actual cigarette. Later, when Dexter is making a robotic arm for his dad, he has a choice of 2 decals to put on it: One that says "Back off!" and one with a metallic naked woman silhouette. He goes with the naked lady.
The (now banned) "Dial M for Monkey" short "Barbecuor" got 2 things past the radar that they really had no excuse for missing. The first is the villain's minion, a Camp Gay version of the Silver Surfer called the Silver Spooner (which actually got complaints from the people who created The Silver Surfer over using the character without permission). The second isn't as bad, though it still makes you lose faith in the censors (and possibly humanity, as censors are people too): at Monkey's birthday barbecue, the Infraggible Krunk has a little too much punch and needs Monkey to drive him home.
In "Ball of Revenge", Muriel goes into the basement and sees Eustace with various villains. Eustace says it's a "men's club", but when Muriel sees the Queen of the Black Puddle in the group, she assumes it's "one of those naughty men's clubs".
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.
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 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.