Although the previous series/seasons got Crap Past The Radar, the 4th and final season of Brødrene Dal, Brødrene Dal og mysteriet om Karl XIIs gamasjer, takes the cake. There's swearing, kidnapping of a minor, verbal abuse, an episode where there's tons of bleeping (although they swear with no bleeping in the next episode). If it was ever to be shown outside Norway, it would have received an 18+ in most countries, as there's no Family-Friendly Stripper, but a real stripper; you can see her for yourself. Other examples make you wonder how it even managed to get aired, like one opening sketch that had the narrator sneak into the ladies' restroom (it's suddenly "okay" when he's the handsome narrator), one character believing one of the leads to be wearing women's underwear (he's a man), and suddenly an ending fit for a Crime Series, the narrator trying to make money selling underwear based on the brothers, a drunk general with a cabinet filled with alcoholic beverages, the bleeping part, just to mention a few.
The German teen drama Allein gegen die Zeit is aimed at teens and young adults. Yet, it can easily be compared to high-profile thrillers like 24. It's first season featured a school hostage taking, a fascist political conspiracy, attempted mass murder, an unvilified portrayal of ethnic gang members, police corruption, depression, gun violence and liberal swearing. The second season was even Darker and Edgier, throwing cruel and unusual deaths, terrorism, and lethal biological weapons into the mix. Especially jarring since KiKa is aimed at children younger than thirteen.
On seeing the script of Episode One of Children of the Stones, director Peter Graham Scott remarked, "And this is for children?"
Doctor Who is now fifty-plus years old and very much seen as a family/children's show in the U.K., but it's been violent from the very beginning. A BBC audience research survey conducted in 1972 found that Doctor Who was the most violent show it produced at the time! The show was especially violent during the first few Fourth Doctor seasons (12-14), consistently getting complaints and eventually forcing a Retool (for instance, "The Brain Of Morbius" (1976) features a man getting shot in the stomach with an explosion of blood, then crawling, dying, down a corridor).
Phillip Hinchcliffe, who was the producer (the term "showrunner" didn't exist) for the early Tom Baker seasons referred to above has said that he was being told by medical professionals that the series was helping children to articulate fears they hadn't been able to deal with, rather than give them new ones.
Season 22 (1985; first season for the Sixth Doctor) is notorious for this, showing such grim sights as someone having their hands crushed and several people being stabbed to death. This is lampshaded in "Vengeance on Varos". The violence and general mean-spirited nature of the proceedings effectively got the show cancelled for eighteen months.
Averted since 2005. To get the show restarted and get it adequately funded, Russell T Davies had to pitch it to the BBC as a drama rather than as "science fiction" or "children's programme". However, the spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007-2011) was explicitly aimed at kids. Although revival!Who doesn't shy away from grim themes and mature content, as noted below, it is still regarded as a family program by the masses in the U.K.
Current show runner Steven Moffat has written about how annoyed and insulted he is whenever people use the phrase "kid's show" as a derogatory thing. And he is very fond of proclaiming how much he enjoys terrifying children; it's basically his favorite part of running Doctor Who!
The Haunting Hour often has gruesome deaths, frequent moments of Getting Crap Past the Radar, and episodes that rely more on real-life scares along with the usual use of ghosts, ghouls, vampires, and freaky creatures. Then there are episodes like "Head Shot," "Sick," "The Cast," "The Weeping Woman," "Checking Out," "Red Eye," and "Terrible Love" that show that sometimes the scariest things we experience are real and the monsters we encounter are people with warped personalities (which "Head Shot," "Red Eye," and "Terrible Love" showed with all the subtlety of a bitch slap upside the head).
Ik Mik Loreland, the educational programme that traumatized an entire generation of Dutch children. It was specifically targeted towards six-year-olds to teach them to read and write. The plot involves Loria, a land where everyone loves reading and writing, and the one-eyed monster Carbuncle who can't do these things and gets so madthat he magics away everyone's ability to read and write, scattering the words all over the world. A girl named Mik takes it upon her to get them back and Carbuncle pursues her and attempts to stop her. Carbuncle was a frightening antagonist who regularly showed up in childrens' nightmares, and many of the locations Mik visited on her journey were creepy and bizarre. Every year when it was rerun, debates would erupt among parents and school teachers about the appropriateness of the show. According to Word of God, Twin Peaks was a major influence.
The Ink Thief has a very gothic style to it, even though it was mostly kid-oriented. Richard O'Brien's character was pure terror, though.
Maddigan's Quest is quite possibly the only children's show to have featured mind-altering drugs and cannibalism in the same episode. The series also contains child labour, implied sexual slavery (with slavers refusing to sell a baby to the Big Bad to be killed because she'd fetch a higher price as wife material), repeated attempts at infanticide, and Body Horror.
Spoofed in an early episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, in the “Storytime” sketch. Eric Idle plays a children’s show host reading a storybook; except the stories he tries to read take progressively more obscene turns...
-> Discipline? Naked... [turns book sideways] With a melon?
Time Force is especially the one with the most grown-up subject matter. In the future, Designer Babies are the norm, and the resulting mutants are outcasts and became criminals just to survive. The Starscream turns out to be The Starscream because Ransik betrayed him first in his previous identity because he couldn't see past his hatred of humans even when one had just helped him. You get a story about man's inhumanity to man, villains we created and mistreated but who went from La Résistanceand off the slope into The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized, and the Cycle of Revenge. Yes, this is the same show that once had as a villain's plot, "destroy the Pink Ranger's model parade float just to make her feel bad!" nine or so years previously.
Power Rangers Samurai was nearly a Shot-for-Shot Remake of the Darker and EdgierSamurai Sentai Shinkenger, but occasionally, the endangered-kid-of-the-week would have a less tragic story (Dad is never around vs. Dad died in a Monster of the Week battle we didn't see.) leading many to cry "Bowdlerization" and "Ruined FOREVER" at first. However, why is the dad not around? Work? Or "never around" just means "out all day for two or three days 'cause he's looking for the perfect birthday present" or something like that? Nope, he's in the military, busy with a little something we like to call The War on Terror. Other cuts to Shinkenger footage are more surgical, less "turn the bad thing into kittens and rainbows" and more "get the bad thing past the radar while keeping its impact." The past team who sealed Master Xandred, Jayden's dad included, still died, and apparently a car with a guy in it being crushed is okay if it happens quickly enough. Deker's and Dayu's story is very different from Juzo Fuwanote revealed to be a mass-murdering Blood Knightbefore he was a Gedoushuu (Nighlok) and Dayu Usukawa note jealous that the man she loved married another, she burned down the wedding. Her would-be love's soul being trapped within is what makes her shamisen - there's such a thing as a harmonium and that ain't it, Tzachor! - so important to her. but it's a doozy on its own, and as such it's much more tragic than Shinkenger when in the end they cannot be saved. When Dayu dies in the same manner as her Shinkenger counterpart, she doesn't resist at all because she just wants to be with Deker again. Also, the especially torturous effects of Knight of Cerebus Akumaro Sujigarano's (Serrator's) monsters on the populace remain. Victims perpetually feel like you're starving to death and food makes it worse? Stays. People's souls placed in inanimate objects, still conscious? Yup. Bug critters force their way into your mouth and while they're in you feel mind-numbing agony? Ditto.
Press Gang was aimed at children and teenagers, was frequently hilarious... and featured topics such as glue-sniffing leading to accidental death, child sexual abuse, a gun seige at a newspaper office, a gas leak resulting in a building blowing up (half of the episode was about one survivor, trapped in the rubble, trying to keep another alive until the rescuers could get to her...which didn't work), teachers having extramarital affairs, and so on. Storylines also focused on a suicide, a reporter coaxing a confession of manslaughter out of a half-blinded gang member over the phone, and a death by drug overdose (Lynda was not overly sympathetic). There's a reason that its co-creator and sole scriptwriter went on to become Executive Producer of Doctor Who...
From 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.
Aired in syndication and not heavily promoted, Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad got to fly under the radar. Lots of the things the Monster of the Weekdid to people could get kind of dark. All water faucets suddenly spew hydrochloric acid! Your wristwatch takes control of your hand and you nearly choke yourself to death while the monster laughs about how you're going to die! Kilokhan also once pulled a Venjix, taking over nukes and nearly causing World War Three. Oh, what about the Christmas episode where Kilokhan finds out who Servo is, transfers himself to Sam's computer, and outright kills him with an electric blast? Malcolm, Kilokhan's sidekick until Kilo tried to pull a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on him, is told to Take Up My Sword, but when he tries to transform, only the Servo wrist device is pulled into the digital world, and Servo—Sam within as always—activates. Sam defeats Kilokhan with a Dangerous Forbidden Technique, but doesn't know if he'll ever be able to return to his human form and departs into the information superhighway for parts unknown. Apparently, unexpected renewal is what kept this from being how the series ended. (More episodes were made, but the second full season that was talked about didn't come, so it actually gets No Ending, the last episode being one just like any other.)
Considering this article, nothing beats the Dutch children's program Theo En Thea (1985-1989). This controversial kids' show talked about topics that some parents (mostly overprotective ones) wouldn't see as fit to discuss with young children, such as prostitution, drug abuse, and sexual harassment. Despite all objections the show was both a hit with kids and adults alike!
The Hamas-made kids show Tomorrow's Pioneers. It has death, murder, violence, promotion of hatred, and things that Westerners wouldn't really consider fit to be in a kids' show.
Super Sentai is especially surprising to some American audiences because of differences between Japan and the US. In Super Sentai, they make frequent use of blood, have characters actually die, and actually show guns. In the US, none of this could be shown on a kids' show, so when Super Sentai was adapted into Power Rangers these were used very rarely, if at all. On the other hand, in Japan it's a common viewpoint among those who have seen both Super Sentai and Power Rangers that Power Rangers is actually more mature, because the lack of wacky humor is more noticeable than the toning down of violence.
Even when taking cultural standards into consideration, the Kamen Rider franchise's run from 2000 to approximately 2004-2005 is largely characterized by its ability to introduce mature tropes into the series. Kamen Rider Kuuga, for example, is one of the few Tokus that has gotten away with depicting the murder of minors. The peak of this renaissance can generally be agreed to exist between Kamen Rider Ryuki and Kamen Rider 555 which both subvert the traditional Rider Vs Monster scenario in their own ways. After four years of Kamen Rider Double's more light-hearted formula, Kamen Rider Gaim steered the creative direction of the franchise back to that earlier period... via "Urobutchery;" it has a lengthy Nightmare Fuel page for a very good reason.
Like Disney Channel, Nickeleodeons own sitcoms such as iCarly, Victorious and Sam & Cat have a surprising of amount of risque jokes and humor.
Supergirl is promoted as a more family-friendly alternative to the glut of Darker and Edgier superhero shows currently on TV, and has a dedicated fanbase of young girls. That said, the show tackles mature topics, has the occasional sexual innuendo, and a fair amount of violence, including a rather shocking moment during the season 1 finale when J'onn rips a female villain in half. Being that she's an alien capable of taking her own body apart, this isn't as gory as you'd think, but you still see her two halves after and she does definitely die. At the same time, Supergirl is shown making her first kill as she burns a an enemy Kryptonian's eyes out.