Follow TV Tropes

Following

Harsher In Hindsight / Western Animation

Go To

Series with their own pages:


Individual examples:

  • In the Baseball Episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Jimmy scientifically lines his team's equipment with the talents of Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire. This becomes less amusing after the latter two got busted for using steroids.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin: In "Octopede Sailors", Grubby says he owes Captain Zelza his life for saving him during a shipwreck, which is shown in flashback form. Said flashback becomes really hard to watch after the passing of Will Ryan, Grubby's voice actor, especially knowing that he died of terminal cancer, which is impossible for someone to save a person's life from.
  • In Disney's 1925 Alice Comedy Alice's Egg Plant, Alice has trouble filling out an order of eggs when a Bolshevik chicken heads her hens on a strike. In 1941, the Disney studio would undergo a crippling strike, which Walt Disney, in his 1947 testimony to the House of Un-American Activities Committee, blamed on Communist sympathizers.
  • In All Hail King Julien, the main character's parents are said to have been killed by predators, but Maurice is protecting him from the truth and saying they simply went away to a farm. Later it's revealed they are actually alive and simply skipped town without telling anyone, abandoning their young son in the process. But at least they left Julien in the capable care of his attendant Maurice, right? Except on top of all that it's eventually revealed that Maurice is Julien's age, if not younger. Julien's parents abandoned two kids leaving one to have to learn how to take care of the other. No wonder Maurice seems a lot older than he actually is.
  • Animaniacs:
      Advertisement:
    • The short "Magic Time" features expies of Siegfried & Roy who mistreat their animals and wind up getting attacked by them at the end. Six years after it aired, Roy Horn got attacked by one of his own tigers.
    • Jokes towards 90s celebrities didn't exactly age well, particularly this line which was no longer true after 1994:
    Dot: "What's Christie Brinkley got that I ain't got?"
    Yakko & Wakko: "Billy Joel."
    • "A Quake, A Quake" is pretty funny, but the end line (which references the then-recent Lebanese Civil War) takes on a new Oh, Crap! meaning after 2006 and especially 2020:
    "We want to find some peace and quiet, so we're moving to Beirut"
    • The episode "Plane Pals" has an in-flight safety film that pokes fun at various potential in-flight disasters. A few years after the episode aired, one such scenario came true:
    "Welcome to Air Pacific, the Jolly Airline. Our deluxe 757 is equipped with a number of safety features to use in case of an emergency, such as our fuel tanks explode, and we crash like a fiery ball into the sea."
    • "Potty Emergency" has a scene where Wakko tries to use the women's restroom at a movie theater due to the men's room being out of order and gets kicked out. The controversy over transgender people and gender-specific bathrooms in the mid-2010s makes this moment cringe-worthy.
  • Advertisement:
  • Arcane: Jinx's introductory music video — upon release, it just showcased her Cute and Psycho personality, but Arcane reveals why namely, her accidentally killing her closest friends, her adoptive father, and prompting her own sister to disown her, driving her into the arms of an Evil Mentor. Even the scenes where she's bouncing from one position to another in a Smash Cut is shown to be her mind's desperate way of trying to deal with the trauma.
  • In a bad naming coincidence, the organization which the protagonists of Archer work for is named ISIS, the International Secret Intelligence Service. Among other things, they have engaged in counter-terrorism and espionage, unintentionally racking up high body counts and causing international incidents. The group is a parody of intelligence agencies, and allows the writers, usually through Lana or Mallory, to give their opinions on the fubared nature of covert geopolitics, and the horrible things that happen when said politics go wrong. Unfortunately, in early 2014, an organization known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, rose to prominence, the result of several geopolitical disasters in the Middle East. Among other things, they have engaged in terrorism and mass murder, purposefully causing an international incident and racking up a high body count. The trouble caused by the real life ISIS has led the creators to drop the name from the sixth season onwards.
  • In the Arthur episode "Binky Barnes, Art Expert," Arthur and Buster tell Binky that the school burned down, to which he replies, "Wow, great!" Several seasons later, the episode "April 9th" aired, in which the school actually did have a fire (it didn't burn down, but was closed for a few weeks afterwards). Binky has a far more concerned reaction to the fire in this episode.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In "Tales of Ba Sing Se", a clip is shown where Iroh is crying over the loss of his son. Before the episode was aired (but after the rest of the voice-overs for that season were completed), the voice actor for Iroh, Mako, died. As such, it was only appropriate that they include a tribute to Mako at the end of his story.
    • Iroh exasperatedly telling Zuko he'll never find the Avatar in the first episode. Once you know Zuko's whole backstory, it comes off pretty damn callous in a rewatch since he's offhandedly saying "Oh, just give up on ever returning to your homeland, family, and birthright and go to bed." To be fair, they had no legit indication at the time that it was anything more than a Snipe Hunt used to manipulate Zuko to keep him from turning face in his exile.
    • In "The Guru", Azula taunts to the Earth King when he learns that Long Feng was manipulating him by saying "It's terrible when you can't trust the people who are closest to you." It become dramatically ironic when latter, her own friends Mai and Ty Lee turn against her which causes a big Villainous Breakdown.
      • For that matter, Azula in her entirety. Seeing her breakdown and re-applying it to a lot of earlier behavior and antics really tell the story of the girl in a much deeper light than just brushing her off as a sociopath. Doubly so with age.
    • Hama passing down bloodbending to Katara doesn't seem like a big deal until The Legend of Korra, where two of the series' main antagonists are bloodbenders, and they don't need a full moon to bloodbend.
    • Zuko blowing off Toph when she tries to tell him about her unresolved issues with her parents, followed by her feeling disappointed that she didn't find a resolution to this central issue for her, becomes much harsher when The Legend of Korra reveals that Toph not finding a resolution to her issue with her parents affects her parenting of her own future daughters, which creates a host of emotional issues with them regarding her parenting.
    • In-universe, "Nightmares And Daydreams." An episode where Mai is trying to cheer up Zuko, who just stumbled out of a war meeting with his father and sister, but he doesn't mention what happened in there. He seems depressed over it, though. We later see that this was the meeting where the Fire Nation decided to burn the entire Earth Kingdom to the ground, turning its surface to glass and murdering every single person there.
    • In "The Earth King", Long Feng tries to keep King Kuei from trusting Team Avatar when they bust into his throne room by claiming that they're part of an anarchist group trying to overthrow him. Kuei's daughter Hou-Ting dies at the hands of an actual anarchist group in The Legend of Korra (in the very same throne room, no less).
    • Asami already was recognized as the show's cosmic punching bag during it's television run to the extent she was on the edge of the Despair Event Horizon near the end, but the "Turf Wars" comic finds one more way to twist the knife: she not only realized she was in love with Korra during the three years apart, but feared telling Korra in case she'd reject Asami so hard she'd never come back. Not only does that add more context to her outburst in "Reunion", but it also means she was quietly agonized over that secret on top of everything else going on with nobody to talk about it and not even sure she'd ever have the opportunity to open up whether Korra actually died in the blast or simply didn't reach out to Asami after it was all over. They really needed that vacation.
    • The season 3 episode "The Ember Island Players", about a Fire Nation play about the cast, which is about as hilarious a warping of reality as the Unalaq play. Then came The Last Airbender, where pretty much everything the actual Gaang had a "No. Just... No" Reaction to in the play was true of the movie's portrayal. The movie goes on to be considered In Name Only, universally reviled by fans, got a lukewarm reception at best by non-fans, derailed a lot of the cast's careers, and put a hitch in the 3D revival with it's last minute conversion and the Razzies that it won for it.
  • The second season of Avengers Assemble "The Arsenal" featured Stephen Collins as Howard Stark. The episode aired around the time TMZ leaked an audio recording of Collins admitting to now ex-wife Faye Grant that he had molested several underage children decades before.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!:
    • Early into "Who Do You Trust?", Clint taunts Tony for messing up his welcome speech to Carol, prompting Tony to mockingly threaten to fire Clint. Soon afterwards, Tony finds himself in a position where he must consider actually renouncing Hawkeye's membership, for possibly being a Skrull.
    • "Along Came a Spider..." has a gag in which Spider-Man tries to speak in a Badass Baritone, but fails so badly at sounding tough, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Clay Quartermain asks, "What's wrong with your voice?" Before this episode aired, Executive Meddling had the writers' first choice for Spider-Man's actor, Josh Keaton, dubbed over by Drake Bell, as synergy with Ultimate Spider-Man.note  After the airing, cue peeved Josh Keaton fans decrying Drake Bell's performance as inferior, and questioning the need to change an already-animated Spidey's voice. Eventually, even the head writer of EMH called it "pretty unnecessary" of Marvel to replace Keaton with Bell.
  • The Batman's second season episode "The Laughing Bat" involved the Joker trying to turn Batman into a copy of himself. Then comes Batman: Arkham Knight which saw a repeat of that plot thanks to the events of Arkham City. And then came Dark Nights: Metal, which turned it into a reality... or rather, an alternate reality with the introduction of The Batman Who Laughs.
  • The series finale of Batman: The Brave and the Bold was a very meta story that basically discussed the show and what kind of series may replace it. The possible sequel show is given a lot of friendly riffing, with predictions that it'll be animated with cheap CGI, be Darker and Edgier in contrast to Brave And The Bold's Lighter and Softer Reconstruction, that it would be Cut Short, and various other such jokes. Nearly every single prediction made about such a show ended up actually happening to the next Batman show, Beware the Batman, all the way down to the show getting Screwed by the Network just as it was Growing the Beard.
  • Most of The Boondocks episode "Thank You for Not Snitching" follows the militarization of a Neighborhood Watch group that targets young black children. Considering what happened to Trayvon Martin, this makes the episode harder to watch.
  • "Colonel Heeza Liar" was a recurring character featured in a series of Bray Studios shorts during The Silent Age of Animation. During his first run (1913-17), many of his cartoons had him getting involved in World War Inote , where he was bounced around, singed, or otherwise inconvenienced by enemy fire. When the US finally entered the war, any doughboys who saw the cartoons after being incessantly bombarded by German artillery would have found the Colonel's antics a lot less amusing.
  • One of Zurg's lines in the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command episode "Stranger Invasion" suddenly gets very disturbing after seeing Toy Story 3, when Andy's toys come very close to being burned alive in an incinerator.
    Zurg: And if I may remind you, no giant trash compactor! When heroes fall in, they always have enough time to figure a way out! Make it an incinerator!
  • Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) version of Michelangelo being among those trying to get through to Michael about his drug use. Another of Mikey's voice actors, Kirby Morrow, who voiced him on Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, died due to his own history of substance abuse.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch:
    • When Steve Irwin gets tail-whipped by Medusa, he rips his heart out and puts it back in, saying "What a stinger!" This is now seen in bad taste due to Irwin's real-life death after being stung in the heart by a stingray.
    • Siegfried getting attacked and killed by the tiger in Penn & Teller vs. Siegfried & Roy match became less funny when Roy was mauled by the tiger in Real Life.
  • This ad for Clarence is a lot less funny after the creator was fired from Cartoon Network over allegations of sexual assault. However, the episode where this scene came from, "Slumber Party", did eventually air unaltered.
  • Code Lyoko:
    • The first season was Strictly Formula — XANA tries to attack the Lyoko Warriors or do something to force them to act. The Lyoko Warriors fight and Jeremie hits the Reset Button to undo any damage and prevent the events from happening. The protagonists learn that when they do press the Reset Button, XANA gets stronger — meaning that literally all of the victories in Season 1 were at best pyrrhic, and that by forcing them to hit the Reset Button, XANA can attack them in more direct ways.
    • The gang's overall treatment to Sissi once the viewer sees the prequel episodes. It turns out their coldness towards Sissi wasn't because of her Alpha Bitch tendencies, but because she "betrayed" the group in a past event by consulting her father when XANA tried to attack her. Worst of all, because she was too afraid to go into Lyoko, she never remembered what happened when the gang hit the Reset Button — thus the gang was distrustful of Sissi for things she never did!
  • A dropped pilot for Constant Payne has a scene where the daughter squeezes a balloon plane in between two buildings, shattering the windows. This came out in 2001 and is a theory for why the pilot didn't pass (though in reality, it was because the creator was pushing for unionization in the animation industry).
  • The Critic:
    • One episode has a banner advertising the New York City Marathon, which Jay later runs in, with the slogan "It's More Fun to Run When it's Not From a Gun". Terrorism at a marathon was unthinkable until the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 that left three dead and more than two hundred and fifty injured, making this one hit a bit close to home.
    • Jokes about Doris' smoking habits are this ever since her voice actress, Doris Grau, died in 1995 from respiratory failure. A notable one is when she blows a smoke cloud of an evil figure telling her that her time is coming soon.
    • There's more than one joke at the expense of Dudley Moore and his apparent drunkenness and resemblance to his Arthur (1981) character. Two years after the show ended, he was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy, a disease in the same family as Parkinson's.
  • In Disney Sing Along Songs-Disneyland Fun, Roger Rabbit panics in front of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, pleading "P-p-p-please! Slow down! Slow down!" as if he were on the ride. 13 years later, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad incident happens. Further, Roger Rabbit's ride has also been responsible for an accident.
  • Drawn Together:
    • The show's portrayal of Bill Cosby became much less funny after the accusations of sexual assault against him were brought into light.
      • The episode "Unrestrainable Trainable" has Captain Hero investigate the city under attack from a giant midget (which later turns out to be his inbred son), with one of the evidence of destruction being a giant reservoir of banana pudding being drained. Bill Cosby is seen standing over it, saying that he's just another unemployed sexual predator without it.
      • Then there's the episode "Foxxy and the Gang Bang/Toot Goes Bollywood", where Toot challenges Foxxy to stop having sex and viceversa. In Foxxy's plot, she tries to find out the reason for her heavy sexual appetite, and tracks it back to memories of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids expies sexually assaulting her when she was young, later turning out that the memories were fake and implemented by Wooldoor.
    • Spanky's crude and perverted behavior becomes quite creepy for Latin American viewers after his voice actor Luis Daniel Ramírez was accused of sexual harassment by other voice actresses, resulting in him getting banned from several dubbing studios.
  • From Duck Dodgers:
    • The episode "The Menace of Maninsuit" (first aired in 2004) had Dodgers fight the titular kaiju on the Japan-like planet of Nippono in a mecha, who eventually crashes into a nuclear power plant and comments on how it's a bad idea to have one near the ocean. The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, along with the subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster, show how it's a bad idea.
    • "Samurai Quack" has one gag where Dodgers carves his way through countless robots, but pulls back from striking a human because he can't get away with that with a Y7 rating (a jab at how Samurai Jack got away with plenty of violence because it was directed towards robots and not organic beings). Then Season 5 of the latter show aired, it is no longer rated Y-7, and Jack brutally slashes the throat of one of the (very human) Daughters of Aku, whom he had assumed was just another one of Aku's robotic minions.
      • Likewise, Achoo's (Aku's) spoof of Darth Vader's iconic We Can Rule Together scene doesn't sound as hilarious when the 9th episode of Season 5 had shown that the daughters of Aku being the ''literal'' Daughters of him.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • The episode "From the Confidential Case Files of Agent 22!" ends with Scrooge telling Webby that she can call him "Uncle Scrooge". Five episodes later in "The Last Crash of the Sunchaser!", Scrooge, furious at the kids when they blame him for Della's disappearance, angrily tells her that she's "not family".
    • One to rival moments in Gravity Falls happens right out of the gate, from the first episode Woo-oo! Not five minutes in, Donald asks Scrooge if he can watch the boys "without losing them". This would at first appear to be harmless snide, until the revelations in the episode above; that Scrooge had already lost Donald's sister.
    • A meta example comes up with "Last Christmas". Russi Taylor, who voices young Donald in the episode, would die over 7 months after the episode aired. In essence, this was the last time she'd be involved in a DuckTales project.
    • Another meta example with "The Duck Knight Returns!", which focuses on the fall of Jim Starling and everyone losing respect for him. At the same time the episode aired, Jim Cummings, Starling's voice actor, was the subject of allegations of domestic and animal abuse by his ex-wife which damaged his reputation.
  • In the Duncanville episode “Undacuva Mutha”, Annie burns various police-related DVDs, including PAW Patrol. Fast forward to June 2020, and some people began criticizing police-related media, PAW Patrol included, in wake of the George Floyd protests, because some of them portrayed cops in a positive light.
  • A few lines in Ed, Edd n Eddy sound more unsettling after the Grand Finale reveals Eddy's abusive relationship with his older brother.
    • In the very first episode.
    Edd: Should we feel guilty about Jonny's predicament?
    Eddy: Nah! You know what they say: a little childhood trauma builds character.
    • In "Ed... Pass it On", Kevin and Rolf seem thoroughly terrified of Eddy's brother, including Eddy himself at the end of the episode. Come The Movie, we now know there was a good reason for them to be terrified.
    • "Ed In a Halfshell" involved Eddy being pretty mean to Jimmy (and wedgying him repeatedly) to teach him how to be an effective scammer. When Ed and Edd call him out on this, Eddy retorts that he's just teaching Jimmy the way he was taught by his brother.
    • "An Ed is Born":
    Eddy: "No more beatin' up little Eddy, eh, big brother?"
    • Certain episodes can fall under this after watching Big Picture Show. Learning that Eddy was only pretending to be a jerk to earn friendship after years of abuse from his brother, it is legitimately hard to watch episodes like "Smile for the Ed", "The Good, the Bad and the Ed", etc.
      • Basically, the general feeling towards the movie is it's one of the best things to ever come out of the franchise. However, if you like the episodes of the series and want to continue to watch them without any problems, do not watch it, due to making a large portion of the series episodes, especially the ones where the Eds suffered Disproportionate Retribution (especially for Eddy) much harder to watch.
    • Really, the whole show is harder to watch for some viewers in an age where the long-term effects of bullying are taken much more seriously, especially since most of the kids in the show are in fact harmful stereotypes of children.
  • The Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Very Special Episode about sexual molestation becomes much harsher in light of Bill Cosby's numerous accused sexual assaults and eventual conviction for sexual assault.
    • At the end of on one episode, the real Bill Cosby talks about the consequences of ending up in jail and telling the audience what it's like. On September 25, 2018, Cosby was convicted of sexual assault and was sentenced to between 3 to 10 years in prison.
  • Futurama:
    • One of the stations in the New New York tubeway system was given as "J.F.K., Jr. Airport". After the real-life John F. Kennedy, Jr. died when his private plane crashed, the line was replaced with "Radio City Mutant Hall".note 
    • The line in the first episode about the Stop & Drop Suicide booths being "Americans' favorite suicide booth since 2008" becomes a bit wince-worthy in light of 2008's economic meltdown and the invention of an actual suicide machine in the same year.
    • In the pilot, Fry's reaction to realizing that his parents and everyone he's ever known died hundreds of years ago is a triumphant "Ya-hoo!" As the series continued, episodes such as "The Luck of the Fryrish," "Jurassic Bark" and "Game of Tones" explored Fry's relationships with the family he left behind and showed how profoundly he, and they, were affected by the loss, leading to the show's most infamous Tear Jerkers.
    • In "The Lesser of Two Evils", the main characters visit a theme park modeled on 2000s New York. There's a brief scene where the stock market drops from about 11,000 to 7,200, similar numbers to the real life 2008 crash.note  Considering that the scene was supposed to be a "distorted history" take on the crash that started the Great Depression; that makes this a sort of bizarre life imitating art imitating life.
  • One of the recurring characters in the U.S. Acres segments of Garfield and Friends was Aloysius Pig, an Ink-Suit Actor version of comedian Kevin Meaney. In his final episode, "Kiddie Korner", the gang tries to find a wholesome nursery rhyme that won't offend him. During one part, Aloysius says "More death, to say nothing of high cholesterol!" in reaction to Orson showing him Humpty Dumpty. On October 21, 2016, Kevin Meaney died in his home of a heart attack, which is sometimes caused by a diet that's high in cholesterol.
  • The G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero episode titled "Cobra Quake" involves G.I. Joe trying to stop Cobra from causing an artificially created earthquake to destroy Tokyo. In 2011, an 9.0 magnitude earthquake actually hit Japan. Because of this, The Hub suspended airing this episode on its channel until further notice.
  • Godzilla: The Series In the episode "Future Shock", Randy Hernandez says "Who's been playing dominoes with the World Trade Center?" due to having time traveled to a Bad Future.
  • In Hey Arnold!: At the end of "The Flood", as floodwaters surround PS 118, Principal Wartz stands on the roof of the school singing, "Way down yonder, in New Orleans..." This became a lot less funny after Hurricane Katrina caused extensive flooding and damage in New Orleans in 2005.note 
  • The relationship between demon dragon and Big Bad Shendu and his son Drago in the final season of Jackie Chan Adventures starts carrying more weight when the real Jackie Chan became estranged from his own son Jaycee, which culminated in Jaycee being arrested for drug possession, which in the People's Republic of China could have given him the death penalty. The relationship between the cartoon Chan and his niece Jade falls into this as well, and the strained relationship between Shendu and his own siblings has the possibility of qualifying.
  • Kaeloo:
    • In Let's Play House, Mr. Cat is tasked with playing the role of the father in a game of house and plays the role by to physically abuse the children for minor infractions (or in some cases, making up a reason to hit them), smoking all the time, neglecting his family in favor of watching sports and going to the bar, and only caring about having sex with his wife. A few episodes later, we learn what kind of family Mr. Cat actually grew up in, which strongly suggests that the actions he played in the father role might have been Mr. Cat's actual views of what a father is like and not just him using the game as an excuse to be a bully as usual.
    • In Episode 35, Kaeloo claims she's leaving and moving somewhere else as a result of Mr. Cat not confessing to something he did. Mr. Cat, not wanting her to leave, confesses, and then Kaeloo reveals that she was lying to get him to confess and then harshly punishes him for what he did. We later learn, in Episode 52, that Mr. Cat has already lost several loved ones, meaning that Kaeloo leaving in Episode 35 would have added to that number, which is probably why he confessed. And then he found out he was being emotionally manipulated and got punished for that.
    • In "Let's Play Scaredy Cat", Mr. Cat makes a Your Mom joke to Kaeloo, which causes her to feel "as mad as mad can be". In a later episode, we see her family, and... her mom isn't there.
    • Also in "Let's Play Scaredy Cat", Mr. Cat's reaction to Kaeloo needlessly screaming and scaring him is to ask her if she's trying to kill him. "Let's Play Justice Masters" has him be been diagnosed with unhealthy amounts of stress by an actual doctor; him dying of a heart attack or something similar at the time was not entirely out of the question.
    • A minor example: in the Circus Episode, Kaeloo keeps trying to force Stumpy to be a clown in the circus, which he refuses despite her constant pushing; a later episode reveals that he has coulrophobia, an intense fear of clowns and starts panicking the moment he sees a clown.
    • In Episode 130, Mr. Cat tells Kaeloo that as a girl, her job is to cook, which greatly angers her. In the comics, we find out that Kaeloo goes out of her way to wake up early and make him a nutritious breakfast every day.
    • Like most comic relief cartoon characters, Stumpy the squirrel is often made fun of by other characters or placed in dangerous or unpleasant situations for the audience's amusement. The Season 3 premiere revealed that he's genuinely hurt by this, because it makes him feel like his friends don't care about him enough to help him out of bad situations or treat him with respect and love.
  • There is a not-so-untrue Urban Legend about a King of the Hill episode and a Columbine survivor who was hiding during the shooting and wrote a love note she intended to give to a friend after realizing how close she was to dying, but the friend turned out to be one of the perpetrators. "Wings of the Dope," the episode with Buckley's angel, aired two weeks later and watching it helped the girl realize she didn't need permission or approval from anyone to mourn her loss (or the loss of what could have been had she spoken up sooner). In the episode, when Hank is tired of everyone talking about the angel and tries to get Luanne away from him, he says:
    "I'm sure with his help you'll do just fine. You'll pass the test and he'll have finished his good deed and there'll be no need for him to come back to Earth again. And if you do see Buckley's angel again, it will actually be an evil angel of death."
    • In another episode "That's What She Said"note , Hank's co-worker makes inappropriate jokes and remarks in the workplace, much to Hank's chagrin. The episode, which aired in 2004, might be a little cringy to watch now in light of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement which both deal with sexual harassment and toxic workplaces.
    • In the episode "Happy Hank's Giving", Hank packs a smoked turkey in a box which is mistaken for an explosive by the bomb squad and blown up. Considering that the episode aired two years before 9/11, the episode might be uncomfortable to watch.
  • The short-lived Comedy Central series Legends of Chamberlain Heights had a 2016 gag where NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. Come January 2020, this might be one of the worst non-9/11 example of this ever. Thankfully, the creators pulled all clips and encouraged the Internet to keep it buried.
  • The Legend of Korra: The Show Within the Show flanderizes Unalaq, the Big Bad of book 2, in an effort to get people to realize that he was indeed the bad guy by showing him as an Omnicidal Maniac. This became unfunny In-Universe when it turned out that Unalaq was indeed such after becoming the Dark Avatar.
  • Little Rosey was one among many Celebrity Toons and Spin-Off Babies featuring a no doubt slightly unrealistic portrayal of Roseanne's childhood. Considering her later incest allegations and the fact that the character Buddy was based on Tom Arnold and the ugly, bitter end to their marriage, it's best to pretend this never happened — and not because it was a bad cartoon.
  • The Loud House had quite a few things that became a bit awkward ever since Chris Savino's firing from Nick following accusations of sexual harassment and threats of industry blacklisting that goes as far back as 2004, such as:
    • Two newspaper gags featured in both "The Loudest Yard" (where one of the headlines is "Savino Indicted") and "Health Kicked" (with one of the headlines being "Savino Trial Takes a Turn");
    • Lincoln's attitude towards his crush Cristina in "Making the Case", such as attempting to kiss a picture of her and showing it his chest hair, when it's made clear she doesn't reciprocate his feelings and is so uncomfortable about it that she changes classes (or even schools);
    • Hugh being stalked and harassed by the lovestruck sisters in "Study Muffin";
    • And finally, Clyde's repeated cringeworthy pining after Lori. It's likely not a coincidence that this recurring gag was dropped after said firing.
  • Moral Orel's early episodes in general. The show got considerably darker around the middle of the first season and put a lot of focus on how miserable most of the main cast are. A lot of these traits (Clay's drinking, Blobert'a Stepford Smiler tendencies, etc.) are still present in the early episodes though. They're just played for laughs and not explored very deeply. Making those scenes a little cringe-worthy if you watch them after you've seen season 2 and especially season 3.
  • The "Bright Lights" series of My Little Pony 'n Friends featured a pop star, modeled after Michael Jackson, whose manager stole shadows as a form of Applied Phlebotinum. Years later, Jackson began to face accusations of taking indecent liberties with children.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • The episode "Trade Ya": Twilight Sparkle decides not to sell her books, saying that just because they don't need to be read again doesn't mean they don't possess value; they're a part of her history and what made her who she was, and were quite precious. Four episodes later in "Twilight's Kingdom", they along with the rest of the Golden Oak Library were destroyed by Tirek.
    • The Season 1 episode "Owl's Well than Ends Well" involved Spike having an insane fit of jealousy over Twilight seemingly replacing him with an owl, cumulating in him running away because he felt she didn't love him anymore. The Season 3 premiere "The Crystal Empire" puts his actions in a new light, as we find out that Twilight no longer needing him is Spike's worst fear.
    • Season 1's "Griffon the Brush-Off" ended with Gilda ditching Rainbow Dash as her friend. Four seasons later, the events of the episode is re-explored, and we learn that griffons literally have no concept of friendship, putting everything involving Gilda in a much different light. Rainbow Dash is the only friend she's ever had, and she has little idea how to reconcile that with Rainbow having other friends. They become friends again in the end of the episode.
    • In Season 1's "Look Before You Sleep", Twilight says that she's never had a sleepover before and calls out Applejack and Rarity when their bickering almost ruins her first slumber party. The Season 5 episode "Amending Fences" puts the whole episode in a different perspective when we see that Twilight had friends in Canterlot and her context implies that she never had a sleepover with any of them. It becomes even worse when we see that Twilight leaving Canterlot left an emotional scar on her old friend Moondancer.
    • In the Season 1 episode "Call of the Cutie", Scootaloo tells Diamond Tiara she's 'stuck being stuck up' as a Shut Up, Hannibal!. We find out much later that she's literally stuck, as her mother was browbeating and emotionally abusing her to be a stuck up Rich Bitch like her.
    • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Comic Book Issue 74, when Zephyr Breeze appears, he and Fluttershy's relationship seems to be much better than it was previously, with the two having affectionate nicknames for each other and playfully joking around. She even calmly helps pull him out of a panic attack. Come Season 9 episode "Sparkle's Seven" when Fluttershy mentions him to Spike, she says that he (Zephyr) could learn a lot from Spike about being a good little brother.
    • Season 1's "Call of the Cutie" sees Scootaloo tell Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon they're "stuck being stuck up". "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" reveals Diamond Tiara's mother is practically abusing her to act like a proper 'rich pony', which basically translates into being a stuck up snob to anyone beneath her, meaning Scootaloo was more right than one would think.
    • The Season 1 episode "Over a Barrel" has Fluttershy's memetic statement of her desire to be a tree. In Season 7's "A Health of Information", she is one of the victims of the "Swamp Fever" disease which ends with turning into a tree.
    • Happened with the Season 2 episode "Hurricane Fluttershy". Fluttershy pretends to be sick to get out of training, painting spots all over her body and calling her ailment "pony pox". In Season 7's "A Health of Information", the same colored spots turn out to be one of the symptoms of the aforementioned "Swamp Fever" disease.
    • The Scootachicken jokes which originated in Season 1's "Stare Master" became considerably less funny when it turned out that in Season 4's "Flight to the Finish", Scootaloo has trouble flying in canon and Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon tease her for it.
    • A lot of the various Spike gags became somewhat sadder in hindsight after "Equestria Games" revealed he has serious self-esteem issues.
    • The episode "Amending Fences" does this to the very first episode. The Establishing Character Moment of Twilight brushing aside a party invite to focus on her studies with Nightmare Moon's imminent arrival? Turns out the party that she was invited to was for an old friend of hers named Moondancer, and by snubbing it and moving to Ponyville without even saying goodbye it effectively ruined the entire pony's life. Moondancer's scene where she breaks down and delivers a tear-filled reason you suck speech is easily the most heartrending thing the show has ever produced.
    • Season 5's Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep? had Big Macintosh turning himself into an Alicorn princess during the Dream Sequence. It was seen as nothing more than a funny gag at the time... then later that season, Brotherhooves Social reveals that Big Mac developed an inferiority complex as a result of Applejack becoming a hero of Equestria and being adored by his baby sister Apple Bloom, while he was ignored. This puts his dream in a very different light.
  • A lot of Over the Garden Wall. Wirt blames his brother for getting them lost because he feels that Greg's antics are what caused them to fall into the pond where they're both currently drowning. He eventually gives up on attempting to get home and lies down on the ground to sleep, i.e. loses the will to live.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • In "Summer Belongs to You", Doofenshmirtz's evil plan is to drop a giant water balloon on Tokyo to flood out the Annual Good-Guy Convention. This was almost a year before the infamous quake in Japan that caused massive flooding.
    • In "Unfair Science Fair Redux (Another Story)", Candace finds herself stranded on another planet and feeling more beloved there than on Earth. This was played for laughs. Candace Against the Universe would also have Candace being on another planet where she feels more beloved there than on Earth. But this time, it isn't played for laughs.
    • Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars makes plenty of jokes about the Death Star's thermal exhaust port, comparing it to a Self-Destruct Button multiple times. Less than three years later, Rogue One would be released, revealing that the thermal exhaust port weakness was intentional, and that many people died to obtain the death star plans.
  • Pinky and the Brain did a Self-Parody—"Pinky and the Brain and Larry"—where a Temporary Scrappy joins the main cast. Not so funny after the series was made into the much reviled Retool, Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain.
  • Pixar Shorts:
    • Knick Knack: Now that John Lasseter's history of sexual misconduct has come to light, ultimately resulting in his resignation from Disney/Pixar, Knick Knack's premise of the snowman pursuing an attractive, swimsuit-clad women feels a lot skeevier. Worse if you know that he has previously stated that it was created by the staff to "blow off steam" (though if it's any consolation, it was Lasseter's idea to remove the woman's comically oversized breasts).
  • The Powerpuff Girls: In "Powerpuff Bluff", a gang of impostors commit crimes dressed as the girls, leading to a scene where a SWAT team bursts into Pokey Oaks Kindergarten to apprehend them while firing their machine guns all over the place. After the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, this scene becomes much harder to stomach.
  • The already creepy scene of Blossom, Bubbles and Allegro twerking in The Powerpuff Girls (2016) episode "Painbow" (mind you that Blossom and Bubbles are minors) becomes even harder to watch when Julia Vickerman's, who wrote the episode, aforementioned history of making pedophilic comments came to light three years after the premiere.
  • The Real Ghostbusters episode Janine's Genie has a scene where mischievous ghosts hijack a passenger jet and the Ghostbusters narrowly prevent it from crashing into multiple buildings, including the World Trade Center.
  • The Recess episode "Bonky Fever", where Mikey's obsession with Bonky is played like a drug addiction, became this after Mikey's voice actor Jason Davis was arrested on drug charges. He's now dead as of February 16, 2020.
  • The Season 5 of Rick and Morty eventually confirmed that Rick's backstory from the Season 3 opener, "The Rickshank Rickdemption", wasn't so fabricated after all. The Diane of the replacement universe has also died by the start of the series, and he really did lose his Diane and Beth at a young age.
  • Rugrats: Many things related to Chuckie and his father following the episode "Mother's Day":
    • "Chuckie vs. the Potty" has Chuckie describe getting potty-trained as "the worstest thing that's happened to me since my mom put me on the bottle." Perhaps she put him on the bottle because she knew she was dying.
    • Remember when Chas was crying at Ben and Elaine's wedding in "Let Them Eat Cake"? There's a chance it's bringing up painful memories of losing his wife.
    • In "My Friend Barney," Chuckie having an imaginary friend is not too far off from how real-life children, and even adults, who are coping with loss often have imaginary friends so they can talk to someone as if they were physically present.
    • There's also "Dummi Bear Dinner Disaster," which makes a passing remark about Chas going to see a psychiatrist. If you think about it, it is implied that with the death of Melinda, the only thing preventing him from losing his sanity completely is their son Chuckie.
    • In "Chuckie's Wonderful Life," Chuckie sees that, without him, Chas' sanity is completely broken: he's unemployed and lives in poverty, with empty pizza boxes for furniture and a sock puppet as his only friend. Considering that he's lost his wife and Chuckie is their only son, this is justified... and heartbreaking.
    • The episode "Reptar 2010" has Imagine Spots where Reptar versions of the kids tear up New York City, the last one having Phil and Lil tear up two buildings that resemble the World Trade Center.
    • The episode "Let Them Eat Cake" is set during a wedding, during which Stu sees that Chas is crying and tells him, "Get ahold of yourself, Charles. It's just a wedding." Fast-forward to "Mother's Day" and we learn that Chas is a widower. What previously seemed like a good-natured joke about how sensitive Chas is has become downright tragic; there's a chance he was in fact weeping as he thought of his deceased wife.
  • The Sam & Max: Freelance Police episode "Fools Die on Friday", originally aired in 1997, is about a terrorist who hijacks an aircraft and almost crashes it into a tall structure in New York City. Of course, the aircraft is a blimp, the terrorist is just a mildly insane loser, and the crash (into the Statue of Liberty) is averted. But the overall plot and dialogue still parallel 9/11 enough that it makes the episode harder to laugh at. The episode was not shown on Gametap when they began streaming the series in 2006, but it is fully present on the DVD release.
  • Scooby-Doo has always had lots of jokes around Shaggy being addicted to some kind of drug, and Scooby Snacks containing (or being a metaphor for) some sort of substance, but they all took a sour note when it came out in 2016 that Bill Lutz, the original writer for the first season, was an alcoholic around the time of writing, and that the addiction was so bad, it broke up his marriage (his wife was alcoholic as well, but was able to recover), estranged him from his family, and caused him to die of liver failure only two years after the series premiered. One almost wonders if ‘Scooby Snacks’ had a personal and not-so-innocent (and not-so-funny) connotation for him.
  • The plot of Batman's appearance in Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? episode, "What a Night, For a Dark Knight!" involves The Joker trying to gain access to Bruce Wayne's bank accounts to fund his crimes — like he successfully did in the lead-up to The Joker War.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
    • The Season 3 finale where Adora loses all sympathy for Catra due to her self-destructive tendencies and denounces her actions as unforgivable is harder to watch after the release of the first half of Elena of Avalor Season 3, where Aimee Carrero's character Elena finds out about her cousin Esteban's past treachery and also loses sympathy for him, and his self-destructive tendencies cause all bridges to be burnt between them regardless of how badly he wants to be forgiven. In other words, both of Aimee Carrero's characters will be dealing with a fallout with an estranged loved one around the same time.
    • After Season 4, it's jarring to realize that the Etherian Horde was a more humane offshoot of Horde Prime's galactic army, which is staffed by drone-clones who are not permitted free will, individuality, or even names. For all of its evil actions and human rights violations, the Etherian Horde allowed its soldiers to have individuality, free will, friendships, and leisure time, and never practiced the kind of mental violation that Horde Prime inflicts on his clones.
    • Several of Hordak's lines and physical details are harsher in hindsight after the revelations of "Destiny, Part 2".
      • In Hordak's flashback in "Huntara", if one looks closely, one can see that the other clones have green eyes, in contrast to Hordak's red eyes. "Destiny, Part II" shows what those green eyes and red eyes signify.
      • In "The Price of Power", Hordak tells a unit of Horde soldiers that "There is nothing I do not know," meaning that his minions should never even try to lie to him. This line is much more ominous after "Destiny, Part 2", after Horde Prime forcibly enters Hordak's mind and learns all his secrets. There is nothing Horde Prime does not know about his clones.
      • In "Razz", Hordak tells Shadow Weaver, "If you have failed to condition [Catra] properly, you have no one but yourself to blame." In "Destiny, Part 2", Horde Prime arranges for Hordak to be "reconditioned". Hordak thinks of childrearing as conditioning because he himself was not raised, but was conditioned as a mass-produced clone.
      • Hordak's first outfit looks like standard Evil Overlord attire. Viewers later learn that this armor was a clone uniform which Hordak had colored black and red. The other clones wear white and gray versions of the same armor, minus the cybernetic augmentation on Hordak's arms.
      • In "Light Spinner", Hordak is holding still while machinery performs maintenance on his ports. A piece of machinery scrapes his back, causing him to swat at the equipment in pain. He retrieves the piece of machinery he swatted across the room (a cable with prongs on the end), and his expression goes from wide-eyed to tired and shameful. "Destiny, Part 2" reveals that Horde Prime's "dreadlocks" are actually cables with prongs on the ends that he uses to interface with his clones. The broken cable probably reminded Hordak of Prime.
  • In the Sofia the First episode "Mom's the Word", Sofia is upset about having to share her mother with her stepsiblings for Mother's Day, and she sings about how she misses being alone with her mother. Ariel Winter's relationship with her mother was so bad that she was emancipated over a year after this episode's release date.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil
    • Whenever we saw someone mention St. Olga's School For Wayward Princesses, it'd usually be accompanied by a Cutaway Gag of a hilariously out-of-place conveyor belt dragging someone screaming into a dark, shadowy castle. It was funny, until we saw what St. Olga's was really like...
    • In "Game of Flags", Star complains that her mother, Queen Moon, was allowed to join the game of Flags when she was Star's age, and Moon replies "I did a lot of things you won't be doing." Fans speculated that Moon was a Former Teen Rebel, until the season 3 episode "Moon the Undaunted" revealed Moon became queen at a young age when her mother was killed by Toffee, then a rogue monster soldier, during the signing of a peace treaty. Not only that, Moon was driven to make a Deal with the Devil with Eclipsa, Queen of Darkness in order to learn a dangerous dark magic spell in order to defeat Toffee and put a stop to his rebellion.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In the tie-in comic "No Sympathy", Agent Kallus arrests two young and disillusioned Imperial officers, including a former student of his, because they tried to defect to the rebels. In "The Siege of Lothal", he and Darth Vader assassinate Minister Maketh Tua because she tried to defect, and frame the rebels for it. The events of "The Honourable Ones", however, wind up triggering a Heel–Face Turn for him, which ultimately leads to him becoming a mole and later defecting from the Empire, with extremely strong parallels to what Tua and the two young officers tried to do. Which puts his earlier actions in a far harsher light than they already seemed, and it's entirely probable that he knows this.
  • Tex Avery MGM Cartoons: Blitz Wolf, a Wartime Cartoon, features the Three Little Pigs blowing up Tokyo after an overly long gun barrel gag.note  This was three years before two Japanese cities (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) really would be blown to pieces — with atomic weapons. Tokyo itself was also bombed by incendiary weapons.
  • The Transformers: At the end of "Only Human", which takes place in the then-future year 2006, "Old Snake" laments that "they simply don't make terrorists like they used to..." as the episode's villains are taken away. Even beyond 2006, real life has proven that they do make terrorists like they used to.
  • The Transformers: Rescue Bots episode "Tip of the Iceberg" contained what happened to be a heartwarming moment when Dr. Morocco handed the Burns family a painting of Chief Burns' grandfather. "Changes" revealed that that he didn't do it out of any kindness, but as a way to sneak in a spy camera so he could spy on the family and the Rescue Bots.
  • Twelve Forever being all about being a kid forever seems a bit icky now that Julia Vickerman's history of making pedophilic comments has come to light.
  • Season 4 of Ultimate Spider-Man features a lot of heartwarming moments with the Scarlet Spider where he learns to trust others and open up to Peter, his friends, and Aunt May — which became a lot less so in with "The New Sinister 6, Part 1", where it was revealed that he was really The Mole for Doctor Octopus, meaning those moments were really him playing Peter to make his betrayal hurt worse.
  • Uncle Grandpa had a gag in "Pizza Eve" involving an awards show where Uncle Grandpa wins every single award. The gag ends with Uncle Grandpa telling the stars of the other Cartoon Network shows that they're not getting picked up for another season. Not long before this episode aired, it was established that no new Uncle Grandpa episodes would be made anymore and the crew had already been fired. Whoops.
  • The name of an animated series became this. The name of the Cartoon Network series Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? didn't really have as much meaning outside of telling us the main protagonist's name, initially. Unfortunately, the series was a Short-Runner, and seemed to have been cancelled just as swiftly as it was greenlit. Fans are now asking the titular question in a very literal and serious sense, to the point where doing so is a Memetic Mutation.
  • The Wild Thornberrys contains an episode where Eliza meets a pack of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Eliza claims that there has never been a single human in North America killed by a wolf. The deaths of Kenton Joel Carnegie and Candice Berner, who were both killed by wolves in North America (Carnegie was Canadian, Berner was American), make this quote hard to stomach.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: In the episode "Enter the Dragon" one of Dojo's attempts to convince Omi to release him from the cage is by disguising as an older woman (among other things) and saying that he's Omi's mother, something he doesn't fall for, knowing that he's an orphan. Then comes the episode "Omi Town", which not only shows how serious his parental issues is, but falls for a real trap. When he thinks he finally found his true parents, they turn out to be robots built by Jack Spicer and made to look like Omi's possible relatives with the Moby Morpher.

Top