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Animation Age Ghetto

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Juuust in case the protagonist stuffing his hand down his girlfriend's shirt and flipping England's version of the bird didn't tip you off...

"This is clearly one of the year's best films. Every time an animated film is successful, you have to read all over again about how animation isn't 'just for children' but 'for the whole family,' and 'even for adults going on their own.' No kidding!"

Animation has the reputation of being a frivolous medium suitable primarily for children, ages 12 and under.

There are many sociological theories as to how and why this trope originated, but one of the most common theories is that it's a by-product of the rise of animation on television in the '50s and '60s with many adults disinterested in the low quality of many of these, and thus only kids being able to tolerate it, as well as television at the time being marketed as a way of keeping kids quiet and the rise of parental groups arguing for more government regulation on the content of these programs.

Once television animation became associated with children, the producers of animated shows began writing down to their presumed audience, which made animation outside the age ghetto less profitable than animation inside it. Anything considered safe for children can potentially be licensed out for merchandise, which is nearly guaranteed to sell, making many shows 30-minute commercials, FCC regulations permitting. The age ghetto paints older demographics as unprofitable.


These days, the ghetto appears to have all but completely collapsed, due to the successes of Japanese Anime as well as American shows as South Park, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Rick and Morty, Bojack Horseman and Futurama, though some of these shows' reliance on Vulgar Humor has led to a new misconception that adult-oriented works of animation are self-consciously tasteless comedies. Similarly, many people assume that All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles. However, in some regions of the world, such as Mexico and other Latin American countries, the ghetto is still alive and well.

The Internet also helped break the ghetto. Before Internet access became widespread, animated short films (which in general have mature themes) were only available in universities that catered towards that specific field, but the Internet helped many artists publish those projects for a mainstream audience. Similarly, anime aimed at adults was limited to science fiction conventions and college campuses, but now has a worldwide following. On the other hand, the Internet-based ghetto tends to reach the other way; thanks to animation's growing reputation as a medium for all demographics, many forum users sometimes express surprise that a well written show was made purely for kids or try to play up the Multiple Demographic Appeal to separate it from "other" kids' shows, thanks to the ghetto stereotype of "for kids = bad writing."


To a lesser extent, the same goes with animated feature films. Yes, there are pure kiddieville films made, but if you want to make big money in that field, you must appeal to adults at some level. Although this applies chiefly to films made out of 3D computer graphics as traditional 2D animation is still not taken seriously. Thus 2D is regarded as "dead" by the Western animation industry whereas 3D can serve as a compromise between animation and live action.

Associated tropes: All Animation Is Disney, Girl-Show Ghetto, Public Medium Ignorance, R-Rated Opening, The Dark Age of Animation, What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?, Sci Fi Ghetto. Contrast with All Adult Animation Is South Park and All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles.


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  • The cartoon advertising mascot Joe Camel was the subject of heavy controversy throughout his ten-year existence, because various anti-smoking activists believed that the campaign was targeting children. The campaign was only intended for adults, but there was genuine evidence that more children were aware of the Camel brand because of the ads; in any case, Camel bowed to the controversy and retired Joe in 1997.
    • In general, if a company has a cartoon mascot, that will make it more well-known among children, even if their product isn't intended for children. One of the best-known examples is the Geico Gecko.
  • In 1989, Anthony Hopkins narrated an animated awareness film for charity, showing what happens during the annual pilot whale hunt in the Faroe Islands. Despite the extremely disturbing visuals of screaming whales being harpooned, eaten, and the leftovers dumped on the beach to rot, the film received a PG rating in Britain simply because it was a cartoon. And then, as part of a campaign to get it played in front of Where the Whales Came, it got re-rated to a U.
    • There are two versions of this advert; one with a U rating and one with a PG rating.
    • According to the BBFC's archives, there is a difference of two seconds in running time between the two versions (the U version ran for 1 minute but the PG version ran for 58 seconds) and they were also released under different names; the U version was called 'Scream' and the PG version was called 'Faroe Islands'.

    Anime & Manga 
  • It should be noted that for decades, Japan itself held onto the idea that anime should all be kid oriented: wacky comedy, Merchandise-Driven shows, and heavily watered down manga adaptations were the name of the game. That lasted until the mid-to-late seventies, where the impact of Space Battleship Yamato and Mobile Suit Gundam proved that yes, you can make cartoon shows aimed towards adults.
    • Gundam itself suffered from this during the original TV series' run; despite the fact that the show featured adult themes such as realistic depictions of war, weapons of mass destruction, doomed romance and the death of several major characters, the show's sponsors insisted on publishing Gundam picture books for preschoolers - and then complained to the production staff that the books weren't selling. It was only late in the run, when the show started to build up a base of hardcore fans among teenagers and college students, that the franchise began showing signs of becoming the merchandising juggernaut we know and love today.
  • The Nielsen ratings for [adult swim] are often considered to be an example of this. While this trope is subverted for their comedy titles, it is sadly played straight for most of their Anime titles. After the revival of Toonami, this is starting to change though, with the front-running shows consistently getting excellent ratings, with Dragon Ball Super regularly beating out Family Guy in the 18-49 demographic.
  • In-universe example in The World of Narue. Kazuto's mother complains to him when he shows his girlfriend a magical girl anime series because, according to her, "cartoons are for kids". If you've seen the sort of Seinen magical series that the show is mocking, you'd disagree.
  • One of the reasons AKIRA was such a groundbreaking film was that it helped Anime break out of this in the West. It was by no means the first mature anime, but it was the first to receive enough attention outside of Japan. These days, a lot of Western people view or even expect all anime as being on that end of the maturity scale, though. Still, AKIRA may be found on display in some stores at the "Kids" segment, right next to SpongeBob SquarePants, thanks to employees not reading the box.
  • Space Adventure Cobra: In Puerto Rico, a Sunday Morning Kid's show aired four episodes of the Anime series, even though it features skimpy outfits, suggestive scenes and dialogue and people getting holes punched through them by Psychogun blasts. In every episode. Note: This isn't Values Dissonance; it was yanked off the air a month later without any public explanation once they realized what they'd done.
  • France used to have no problem with shows like the Club Dorothée broadcasting the likes of Fist of the North Star or Space Adventure Cobra in a time slot intended for kids; Dragon Ball Z used to in the 8 am or 10 am slot on TF1 back in the 1990s. This series sometimes has someone dying, bleeding to death, being dismembered, exploding etc., every other episode. This led to rather awkward dubbing from the voice actors, who had a hard time making the constant violence appear light-hearted, and to some protestations by parental associations. With the recent rehabilitation of animated media, much work has been put in making over the dubbing; anime is now viewed as a full-blown genre with its own specifications. Yet, censorship dies hard; Bowdlerisation still happens when the show's intended audience is too wide.

    France is actually an interesting example of too much acceptance; the quality of localization went from mediocre in the '80s, to decent in the 90's, to downright good in the late 90's and early 2000s; by the late noughties, however, the sheer amount of imported material, and more importantly money to make off of it, led to droves of rushed cash-in dubs bringing the average quality right back to mediocre.
    • In Naruto's case, the trope is played with. In France, they have no fewer than three French dubs, all from the same company: an uncensored one for adults based on the Japanese version, a mildly censored one for teenagers, and a heavily censored one for small kids based on the English dub. One can't help but wonder which dub they intended to aim at the Periphery Demographic, not to mention what said demographic consists of.
    • A French channel got into massive trouble when they aired Oniisama e... in the kids time slot. The show was cancelled after only 5 episodes. Was it maybe the lesbian subtext, the drug abuse or the suicide themes?
    • In 1988, France aired Cutey Honey, under the title Cherry Miel, in a kids time slot, while the show is basically the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Fanservice in anime. Funny thing is, while the opening theme was changed for the French dub, the visual side was left untouched, meaning that kids who watched the show back then got to see Honey being peeked at while taking a bath or having her breasts groped by Seiji.
  • In the UK, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, which was dubbed and titled G-Force: Guardians of Space, was a Saturday Morning Cartoon complete with assassination, monsters that only ate women, and some fairly spectacular violence. They also aired, not just Evangelion, but the Shinji and Kaworu Bath Scene, at 10 am.
  • Speaking of Evangelion, Peruvian TV station America Latina aired it back-to-back with Pokémon during the children's hour. It barely managed to make it to episode five before being swiped off the air.
  • In the American "Making Of" featurette for Princess Mononoke, the actors go on and on about how the film was not what they expected, and how it was deep not just for animation, but for actual movies as well.
  • Pokémon itself falls squarely into this trope, which is a frequent point of criticism for older audiences, including fans of the Pokémon games and other media. In fact, various artists hired for the more recent movies have explicitly stated their intention to perform for the children in the audience and essentially mentioned how very young children would enjoy the movies, with no mention of a Periphery Demographicnote  anywhere.
    • In its earlier days, Pokémon's head writer Takeshi Shudo made a conscious effort to subvert this trope. When the first Big Damn Movie was released, Shudo stated that he made the movie to entertain both children and their parents and guardians, and that he'd be "embarrassed" to hear from parents who'd only see the movie to take their kids. Of course, he was talking about the Japanese version, and this was promptly thrown away when the movie was released internationally. In fact, Shudo wanted the entire series to serve as a family anime and appeal to adults as well as children, but Executive Meddling prevented him from using the Parental Bonuses he wanted.
    • The Kalos seasons, which are Pokemon the Series: XY, Pokémon the Series: XY: Kalos Quest, and Pokemon the Series: XYZ, are often seen as a subversion of this trope, due to their greater efforts to engage older fans with their better plotting and character development along with the Mega Evolution side story specials. However, the English version is still widely considered to be inferior due to factors such as dialogue changes, music replacement and the voice acting itself; some fans accuse these changes of being a result of a "kids will watch anything" mentality, and therefore chalk it up to this trope. Furthermore, when a trailer was released for the Sun & Moon anime, it came under fire from older fans for seemingly regressing into this trope with a goofier style akin to Yo-Kai Watch. When the show actually came out, most of the fire died down, as the show managed to balance out hijinks and humor with mix-ups to series formula and surprisingly heartfelt arcs. In this case, the complainers ran into this trope on their own as well; they assumed that just because the show had Yo-kai Watch-style silliness and simplified designs, the season's writing would suffer for it.
  • Russian TV channel STS used to have an afternoon animated block, which is known to include Rurouni Kenshin and Fullmetal Alchemist right next to, say, Sonic X or DuckTales. Granted, it was yanked off air pretty quickly.
  • Just read this. Poor old Urotsukidoji. You'd almost think Popcultural Osmosis about its content would have protected it from this kind of bullshit by now.
  • A Portuguese TV channel aimed at kids, SIC K, frequently airs some less child friendly anime alongside the friendlier one the rest. They occasionally switch between Darker Than Black, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and Death Note, while it airs Dragon Ball consistently, two episodes a day. Slightly mitigated as most Portuguese parents today had grown up with shows like the aforementioned Dragon Ball, and, thus, they aren't as strict about what counts as acceptable.
    • For a better contrast, there's another Portuguese channel of the same type, Panda Biggs, aimed at at kids aged 10-15. Still, the most they get is Fairy Tail, Pokémon and, Justice League Unlimited which, while not Anime, serves to prove a point here.
  • For some time after the conclusion of Evangelion, when he was trying to make it as a director of "serious" films, Hideaki Anno lamented the death of the age ghetto in Japan in several interviews and cited the abundance of adult anime fans as proof of Japanese culture's degeneracy. He seems to have changed his tune somewhat in recent years, as he has gone back to working on anime.
  • The Irish DVD rental chain Xtravision charges €4 for a regular movie, but just 50¢ for kids’ movies — which include all anime.
  • A website called Acts of Gord has one section where this happens. Two children try to rent an anime named Ninja Scroll that, due to its nature, is not a "family film". So thus he has to allow the kids' dad to come in to rent the film and he complains about having to come in "Just so they could rent a cartoon". When they go home and actually watch a little of the movie, the father quickly comes back to castigate Gord for letting his kids rent "pornography".
  • This trope is why all manga published in Italy includes the disclaimer "The characters depicted in this publication are all of age, and besides, they don't really exist, they're simply drawings" — because someone protested about people getting hurt or killed and sexual content in a "children's book".
  • The Animation Age Ghetto in Mexico is so strong that if it's animated, then it's automatically for kids even if it's the first chapter of Elfen Lied! Maybe that was why several shows like Ranma ½, squarely and completely for teenagers, were aired on the kids' TV slot during The '90s.
  • Colombia suffers from this too. In Caracol TV aired Fullmetal Alchemist at the kid's schedule weekends 10:00 A.M or sorts. It roughly went to episode 5, even edited, until the network realized of what they got to. Then they moved it to the comfortable, 5:00 A.M in weekends... still edited. The same goes to Evangelion.
  • Parts of the United States still waver back and forth over this. In recent years, American bookstore chains started attaching slim sign disclaimers onto the Manga shelves with messages like "Some of these publications are not suitable for children", warding off any Moral Guardians that may complain about Yaoi Genre comics in the "kid's section". Barnes and Noble outlets have moved the manga and comic book sections farther and farther away from the shelves of children's books over the years. To put this into perspective, ten years ago, the Sailor Moon manga was shelved with children's novels like The Magic Treehouse series. The manga may have had poor translation, but wasn't covering up Haruka and Michiru's homosexuality and censoring some of the violence the way the anime dub did... Nowadays, most manga that include graphic violence or sexual themes have a parental advisory label on them as a permanent part of the cover, and may be individually shrink-wrapped so that kids can't take it off the shelf and flip through them.

    However, several American libraries merely assume that, unless it's something like Watchmen, all manga and comics in general are for kids and kids ONLY. It's not uncommon to see a kid friendly comic being placed right next to Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi. Most manga has a label on it saying whether it was kid friendly or NOT - 'course librarians tend to not notice. Then again, miscategorization of stuff happens quite a bit in libraries - Stephen King and The Wheel of Time books are placed in the Juvenile fiction section with the labels SAYING "Juvenile fiction" on them, as well as Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys books placed in adults section, when clearly, you can get away with having those in the juvenile section.)
  • Subverted and somewhat played straight in the Philippines. Until the 1960s-70s, perceptions on animation more or less followed American ones. The first influx of anime (eg. Voltes V, Mazinger Z, Daimos) in the country, however, helped weaken the Ghetto; Voltes V, in particular became a nigh revolutionary totem for Filipinos against the Marcos regime. Yet to this day, despite a solid otaku and comics community, the Ghetto stubbornly refuses to fade outright into irrelevance.
    • What makes the case of the Philippines more peculiar is the context behind the growing acceptance of anime and manga: by the 1960s and '70s, Filipinos' resentment towards Japan gradually began to fade away as younger generations became more willing to forgive their former invaders. In addition, they provided an alternative to the predominance of Western shows as well as reflecting elements of Japanese culture that are similar to their own.
  • The Animation Age Ghetto is surprisingly strong in Japan's next door neighbor South Korea. A horrifying example of this was that a Korean dub of Hellsing Ultimate was being sold in a Seoul bookstore... in the same section and shelf as Pororo the Little Penguin and Doraemon. Apparently, store owners just don't care if an oblivious Korean family confuses a mature anime for a children's cartoon...
    • And that's not even getting to the treatment of Axis Powers Hetalia, which was seen by some Moral Guardians as a nationalist propaganda piece, given the historical problems between Japan and Korea. This was also partly the reason why the anime abandoned its original TV broadcast plans for web-streaming.
    • Adult animation does exist in South Korea, however. Probably the best-known example is The King of Pigs, which was released in 2011 to critical acclaim worldwide. A gritty, tragic story that deals with institutionalized bullying and suicide, it is definitely not for kids.
  • In Germany most anime is broadcast between 10am and 3pm. This includes The Rose of Versailles, with its remarkably faithful translation. One of the rare occasions you can see cartoon young girls offering to sell their bodies, other women claiming to be the lesbian sex slave of the queen of France and kids getting shot while eating your lunch. Oh yeah, and for a short time they broadcast the rewritten Crayon Shin-chan at 10am. Kids probably rejoiced when Mitsy hysterically searched the whole house for her dildo.
  • A good number of anime fans believe that 4Kids Entertainment are firm believers of this due to their infamous Bowdlerisation and censorship. Of course, the company’s name kinda says it all. Then again, Japan does have a different perception of the animation medium, as mentioned in the details above.
  • This is probably the reason Ringing Bell is rather unknown in the West. It looks like a sweet cute movie about a baby lamb however it's essentially a Japanese precursor to the Star Wars prequel trilogy about revenge and lust for power. It doesn't help it was made in The '70s as well as the fact that it was based on an equally-dark storybook written by none other than the creator of Anpanman.
  • One of these VHS tapes in this tumblr photo is not like the others. Can you guess which one?
  • On, if you do a search for "manga" and look specifically under "Children's Books", you'll find the following manga: Neon Genesis Evangelion, Claymore, Ouran High School Host Club, Vampire Hunter D, Rurouni Kenshin, Rosario + Vampire, Death Note, Trinity Blood, Full Metal Panic!, Ranma ½, Pet Shop of Horrors, D.Gray-Man, Nana, InuYasha, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Future Diary, Monster, Bastard!!, Karin, Boys over Flowers, Hunter × Hunter, Great Teacher Onizuka, Those Who Hunt Elves, King Of Hell, Video Girl Ai and several unknown yaoi titles. Yikes. You'd think one of the biggest online retailers would be better then this...
  • This mentality is part of the reason behind the stillbirth of the Hungarian anime market. When the first commercial TV stations started showing anime at the end of the '90s, they all aired as a part of an afternoon children's block. Dragon Ball Z then, despite being tame compared to some of the series described above and having been dubbed from the heavily edited French version, shocked parents with its violence, and it had to be pulled when the ORTT (Hungarian FCC) deemed it too violent for children. It was to be re-rated as 18+ and pushed to a midnight timeslot, but since no one watched it then, the TV station simply canceled it. Its case was reevaluated in '02 and was given a 16+ rating, but the channel decided against continuing it because they wanted to aim all animated productions at children, reinforcing the "cartoons are for kids" notion. It took a decade for DBZ to get back on screens, this time in a teen and adult animation block on a UK-based channel that's more lenient with certifications.

    While anime was gaining a foothold in many other European areas, the canning of all anime series in the naughties has lead to the anime market becoming a strictly underground business in Hungary. The middle of the 2000s had another small anime-boom, but with similar results. InuYasha took DBZ's place as ORTT's whipping-boy, because it was again advertised as a kids' show and aired in an early-morning timeslot. Following its cancellation and the subsequent Network Decay of Animax, TV channels as a whole gave up on importing anime because they had no one to market them towards. "Anime" came to mean "kids shows not suitable for kids" to the general audience, and the occasional reruns of DBZ and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX are the sole reminders of a market that got stifled by the combined might of this trope, Moral Guardians and the Media Watchdogs before it could have even gotten off the ground.
    • The station airing the aforementioned two series experimented with anime from 2012 to '15. They did everything to downplay the effects of this trope, but since their target demographic is people aged 18-49, and DBZ and GX only attracted viewers under the age of 30, they have also axed all potential future anime imports, arguing that anime just can't reach an older audience.
  • Naruto, save for some minor edits, didn't suffer this problem when it originally aired on Cartoon Network. Years down the road, Disney XD decided to buy the broadcasting rights to the considerably more violent Sequel Series Shippuden. While Cartoon Network, especially in recent years, have no problem embracing their Periphery Demographic, Disney did not seem prepared for how violent the series would eventually get. It's disappeared from Disney XD's lineup and has since returned to Toonami with minimal edits.
  • Amazon very briefly carried titles from the company Project-H on Amazon Kindle, where any child could see the sexually explicit covers, listed as normal graphic novels right next to the Superman/Batman/Fairy Tail graphic novels. Understandably, they have all been removed from Kindle purchase, though Skinemax-esque titles like Aoi House and Vampire Cheerleaders are still available.
  • This trope is actually partly responsible for the popularity of anime in the West. Most Western animation companies produce TV shows and movies aimed at kids. Despite the Multiple Demographic Appeal of Pixar and later-day Disney, their movies are still aimed primarily at children and families. The "adult" shows tend to be rather juvenile as well. People who are into animation and want animated shows with the depth and seriousness of quality live-action series and movies often have no other choice but to watch anime, particularly Seinen anime.
    • Even then, this trope settles in: as most of the anime that tends to get exported are generally made for a teen to adult audience, it colors the perception that anime is for adults while cartoons are for kids.
  • This controversial review of The Wind Rises seems to display this attitude, among other things wondering "how [Jiro Horikoshi's] family feels about having him immortalized with a biopic that's a cartoon", implying that there's something inherently inappropriate about touching on serious matters in animated films.
  • This review of Princess Mononoke dedicates its title, and the few first opening paragraphs, to drill it into the parents' heads that no, despite being an anime movie, this is not a Pokémon-styled movie to take your five-year-old children to. This is why Disney opted to release the dub under the Miramax Films label.
  • In many discussions of dating dealbreakers, perspective paramours being fans of anime or manga will often come up. These people seem to think that liking anything animated at all is a sign of immaturity.
  • Despite all of the anti-anime raids the country used to have The Netherlands is the biggest aversion of this trope to date, with heavy "manga-movies" such as Ghost in the Shell getting a rating as high as 12+. It seems that animated slash films were never released. Perhaps that explains why there was no controversy when this was published.
  • For the 86th Academy Awards, 19 animated features were submitted, including The Wind Rises, Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion and A Letter to Momo. If this link is any indication at all, the large majority of the voters didn't even watch them, let alone bother to nominate at all. Compare this kind of behavior to the one present in the Cannes film festival, where Inside Out won the price of jury for the best not competing film in 2015 without any need to submit itself whatsoever.
    • When Your Name failed to get a nomination while The Red Turtle which co-produced by Studio Ghibli got one for the Oscars 2017, this made many anime fans wondering if the voters have a bias on Studio Ghibli. But the real reason is that Funimation, who is in charge of the North American distribution of Your Name, failed to give the movie a wide release in the US and only showed it in one week in Los Angeles in order for it to be qualified in the nomination shortlist. The film did won an award for Best Animated Feature by the Los Angeles Film Critics Circle and got two Annie Awards nominations but without a wide release, the Academy voters are unable to see the film. Justin Sevakis shed some light on this matter.
    • Mirai of the Future is the first non-Ghibli anime movie to be nominated for the Oscars 2019. How it got nominated is due to being distributed under GKIDS, who have several Oscar-nominated Ghibli movies and other foreign animated movies under their belt.
  • Hayao Miyazaki is a notable exception. His critical reputation in the West is on par with the best live-action directors.
  • Bootleg and imported anime DVDs seem to suffer from this. Listings on eBay call Tokyo Ghoul and Parasyte: The Origin G-rated, an import DVD of infamous torture-wrestling ecchi ''Wanna Be The Strongest in the World'' is classified as suitable for four year olds on, and two English-imported hentai in Portugal were classified as suitable for 6 and 12-year-olds.
  • Subverted in the early 2000s in Belgium when an American dub Dragon Ball Z was aired in the 8-12am Saturday morning slots. It aired on 2BE, a network that at the time was well-known for relying on high-quality US-imported television and that aired shows such as ER, Cops and The Simpsons long before Dragon Ball Z was considered as an import. Most kids growing up at the time did not watch it. They probably wanted something a little different to keep appealing to their then rather dedicated demographic.
  • One illegal streaming site claims to host cartoons for children that have educational content. Said site contains anime like Attack on Titan, Diabolik Lovers, High School DXD, Junjou Romantica, and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. Someone did not do their homework.
  • Averted by the store f.y.e's website, which doesn't even separate anime into a separate genre like many other sites do.
  • On Amazon a review of a Kill la Kill body pillow stated that it was perfect for the family and the little kids. However, this may have been sarcasm.
  • TV Guide sorts shows into five categories: white for unclassified shows; yellow for movies; green for sports and blue for family shows. Because they air during Toonami, which is the adult-oriented anime block of a children's channel, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, uncut Naruto Shippuden and One Piece, Attack on Titan and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure have had their listings colored blue in the past few years of Toonami's run. While some of these errors have been fixed, some of them have not.
  • Astro Boy is one of the most iconic and historically important anime in Japan. In other countries though, it gets scoffed at due to its cute, Disney-inspired aesthetic and western styling. Some people don't even think it's an anime at first.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt was a huge Take That! to this trope even in its Japanese version, but the official English-language dub intentionally takes it Up to Eleven. Most of the art is done in a Thick-Line Animation style reminiscent of several Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon series from the later half of The Renaissance Age of Animation, but contains enough strong content to get it banned from broadcast in the US. Containing over 450 swear words in only 13 episodes, it also includes very strong sexual references, as well as Black Comedy referencing The Holocaust, abortions, rape, terrorism, and the Ku Klux Klan. Garterbelt is portrayed as an Ephebophile, and shown engaging sadomasochistic acts in which he is tortured by pre-teen altar boys. When Panty and Stocking work as Idol Singers, most of their songs are about sex, including themselves being raped, while the cover for their CD is extremely provocative to the point of bordering on porn. There's so much of that content, it makes South Park look like a kids' show.
  • Averted in the case of anime films in the U.S. When they are shown theatrically, it's mostly art-house cinemas that will show them rather than metroplexes.
  • Little Witch Academia, while also a show from Studio Trigger, is a lot more tamer in comparson, but still had some moments that wouldn't qualify it as a kids show, mainly due to the character of Amanda, as she swears every once in a while and even flips off the middle finger, which is enough to at least put it in PG territory...but Netflix, when they first released it subbed, blurred the middle finger, and when the dub first arrived, was once qualified having a PG rating, but instead rated it TV-Y7 despite the dub retaining the cursing and the middle finger no longer being blurred, which is rather bizarre as Netflix tends to avoid this trope.
  • In 2017, British-American kickboxer Andrew Tate tweeted that "anime fans over 15 are losers who'll never get respect from women", followed up with another tweet saying that "anime is for losers". Within two days his tweets gained universally negative feedback from both Funimation and the anime community.
  • Parodied in the Season 2 opener for Osomatsu-san: The boys in the original Osomatsu-kun TV show learn what their adult selves are like and are horrified with what they see, so they work hard to become better, more respectable people. Todomatsu achieves perfect properness, transcending animation to become a live-action character.
    • Not to say the show itself hasn't been subject to the same line of thinking. It's listed under the "kids" section of Hulu Japan, and some of its wearable merch comes in children's sizes.
  • The anime/manga focused magazines OtakuUSA and AnimeUSA are placed with magazines aimed at children in Kroger and Wal-Mart stores, despite the fact that the anime featured in them are usually aimed at least teenagers and above. There's also reviews for 18+ yaoi manga in every issue of OtakuUSA, as well as a J-List ad which shows the covers to several eroge games.
  • The BPO is a well-known group of Moral Guardians in Japan that send in complaints to any children's or all-ages show with objectionable content. Some of those complaints are for teen ecchi shows and anime running at Otaku O'Clock, a time when kids wouldn't even be watching. Naturally, one of the complaints sent to them is about how counter-intuitive that is.
  • Expressed from the opposite direction with some series that are made for adults: Josei anime like Rilakkuma and Kaoru or Seinen works like Strawberry Marshmallow or Is the Order a Rabbit? are often picked on by anime enthusiasts for not being "adult" enough. Just like children's media doesn't always have to be bright and cheery, adults' media doesn't have to always be dark and gritty.
  • To a lesser extent, this is also the primary reason behind Josei manga have more live-action adaptations over animated ones than seinen manga. The usual school of thought is that adult women would want to see their stories realized with real people, since animation tends to be made for the young adult crowd and lower.

  • This — not the expected copyright issues — is the basis for nearly any and all controversy over art exhibitions that depict subversions of classic cartoons, such as "Animatus" and "Splatter". With that in mind, see the very first line in this typical report on the latter.
  • It may be a stretch to call Spike and Mike animation festivals "art", but it's an even longer stretch to consider them kid friendly. That said, the notoriety of Spike and Mike's has never stopped woefully ignorant parents from bringing their children to what they believe to be a bunch of short cartoons that'll keep their kids entertained for a couple of hours. It's called Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Animation Festival for a reason.
  • So you wish to be taken seriously in art? Don't draw heavily stylized art that looks cartoonish (Animesque or not) because for some reason, it isn't mature, even if your artwork depicts mature and gritty situations. This is part of the problem that most people assume that "mature" entertainment is gritty and violent, and for some, that's only what they want. Sadly, this mentality has caused a lot of people to feel pigeon-holed into drawing ultra-realistic art despite finding stylized stuff more appealing...and how weird realistic art often looks if it's not done correctly.
    • Averted by Takashi Murakami and the "superflat" movement.
    • Should not be confused with people who encourage realistic art as a stepping stone to stylized art. The "know the rules before you break them" type of people.
  • Drawing was actually not considered to be a serious artistic medium throughout much of history. It always had a submissive role back then. The serious media back then were either painted or sculpted. It took until the beginning of the 20th century before a drawing was considered art by mainstream critics. If you want to go extreme you could even say that this page would not have existed were it not for the fact that animation was an important source of information and propaganda during World War I and World War II.

    Comic Books 
  • In an extreme example, there have been cases as recently as 2000 where comic book specialty stores which had separate adult sections have been convicted for corrupting minors, even though children weren't allowed into those areas of the store. The basis of the case is that if it is cartoon art, then it must be for children. Oh, and by "convicted," we don't just mean "forced to pay a fine and stop doing it." Some of the defendants in "obscene comic book" cases have been forced to (1) undergo psychological counseling, (2) undergo "journalistic ethics" courses, (3) avoid contact with minors, and/or (4) be subject to unannounced raids of their houses to check to see if they're in possession of or in the process of creating "obscenity". First Amendment rights, anyone? Maybe it's time for you to go donate to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
  • A married couple made headlines after complaining about a couple of Batman comics one of their children had purchased. The two claimed that they were shocked to find blood and partial nudity in a medium aimed at children, even though that specific series was not marketed at kids.
  • This trope is the major reason Alias was cancelled, according to Brian Michael Bendis. In the wake of the big superhero movie boom, Marvel had grown nervous about kid-friendly characters like Wolverine and Spider-Man showing up in a book with drug abuse, sex crimes, graphic violence, and lots of F-bombs.
  • One of the reasons the Batwoman and The Question features in Detective Comics drew so much controversy was because some conservatives accused DC Comics of pushing a "homosexual agenda" on young kids. Never mind that Detective Comics is usually quite violent and like most Batman books, is generally not aimed at young children. And of course given recent strides in gay rights in the U.S., the idea of a lesbian superhero being "taboo" for children is itself controversial.
  • Partial example: Apparently some libraries put When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs in the children's section. It's a graphic novel in the same style as his books for children, but... it ends with the main characters dying horribly of radiation sickness. Although some libraries are aware of this trope and puts a big warning sticker for adults only.
  • In an unusual case of this, Robert Crumb, practically the patron saint of adult-oriented underground cartooning (and oh lawdy not at all for kids!), is somewhat cynical about the wave of "artistic" comic books and (I'm paraphrasing here) thinks comics should stick to their more proletarian roots.
  • Libraries that follow the Dewey Decimal System put all comics and graphic novels in the nonfiction section as books about art. Most libraries instead put them, along with manga, in a single subsection of fiction. This section is almost always inside the children's area, and no exceptions are made even for works that are specifically marked "for adults only" (e.g. Ghost in the Shell, which has a black banner to that effect on the cover of the American omnibus edition.) This is gradually being altered in some places. The San Francisco main library has three separate manga sections: children, adult, and teen.
    • The Flagstaff, Arizona public library has Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth — which features (admittedly offstage) rape, dismemberment, and cannibalism — in the YA comics section.
    • The London, Ontario Public Library Central Branch has similarly three age sections, but they are each placed in three locations with the children's graphic novels in the Children's library area, the teen ones in the Teen Annex on the first floor while the Adult books are placed on the third floor as part of the adult fiction collection.
  • A certain manga scanlation site used to have the following specifically-bolded intro: "In Japan people of all ages read manga, manga does not target younger audiences like American comics." The part isn't bolded now, but the wording of the intro hasn't been changed.
  • During the 1950's, the comic book industry was nearly destroyed. Why? A psychiatrist named Fredric Wertham (not entirely a bad guy, mind you, as he spoke out a lot against school segregation) noticed that a lot of the troubled boys he worked with described "reading comic books" as their favorite activity. Failing to take into account that pretty much every young boy at the time read comic books (not to mention failing to ask what kind of comics they read because comics, like regular books, have many different genres and sub-genres), he assumed that the comic books must've been the reason for their bad behavior. He published a book titled "The Seduction of the Innocent" and launched a crusade against comic books. There was even a Senate Hearing about it. Because of all the bad press, the comic book industry had to adopt The Comics Code. Few stores would even sell comics that didn't have the seal. To get the seal, the comic had to adhere to a lot of rules, many similar to The Hays Code for movies. The rules were so strict on the basis that comic books were only for children, and the rules made it so that comics had to be pretty kid-friendly to get the seal, and as a result, the publishing of "adult" comics either stopped or went underground because of the Code. The Code is now defunct, as just about every comic book company has stopped adhering to it. To his credit, Dr. Wertham didn't actually want the Comics Code Authority to be created—he just wanted comics to have some sort of rating system.
  • To mention in more detail, Tintin. This is actually a rather interesting example of the trope being zig-zagged. While you normally can find it around the same section as comic books, graphic novels, and manga, before it was put in the kids' sections somewhat frequently. The interesting part is that you actually can get away with putting Tintin books in the kids' section because at worst, the books would probably only get a "PG" rating. However, at the same time, kids wouldn't quite get all the political satire evident, later on (mis)interpreting it as a Parental Bonus.
    • However, libraries never stocked Tintin in the Congo or Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, mostly due to the Unfortunate Implications oozing out of every page. That, and Hergé himself admitted he wasn't proud of them, and a lot of Tintin fans don't think they were that good either, so arguably you're not missing much.
    • The TV series was usually run at a timeslot that was appropriate for Nick Jr. However, as mentioned, they did not try to Avoid the Dreaded G Rating, instead embracing it. How many cartoons would teach the kids about drug smuggling?
  • Omaha the Cat Dancer is a subversion. It was rated for All Ages in New Zealand by a national censor bureau, with its sex and all, not because they didn't read it, but because they did and judged its truly mature depiction of relationships as quite acceptable material.
  • The reason behind the infamous One More Day reboot is firmly rooted to this. Joe Quesada firmly believed that a married Spider-Man could not attract a younger audience to the comic.
  • There's a story about Wendy and Richard Pini of ElfQuest fame receiving a letter from a parent who was outraged at an issue of ElfQuest that included a scene of an orgy, saying that her son read the comic. This is despite the fact that ElfQuest was dark, sexual and violent from the beginning. She clearly was not paying much attention to what her kid was reading...

    Comic Strips 
  • Newspaper Comics (and Web Comics) tend to subvert this. No one will ever look at you funny for saying that you read the comics section regularly. Despite this Newspaper Comics still have to be safe for children to read since the comics section is the first part that they get to read. On the other hand try telling someone you watch an cartoon series of a Newspaper Comic.
    • The newspaper comic that most commonly runs into problems relating to this is Doonesbury. When it runs arcs dealing with highly controversial or non-kid-friendly topics, some papers will replace that arc with reruns or move the strip to the editorial page.
    • Although Webcomics usually subvert this trope, a lot of Web Comics readers who have children will show their children some of the Webcomics that they read even if the original creators didn't intend for them to be read by children. Though at least the parents know exactly what's in the Webcomics that they're showing to their children.

    Films — Animation 
  • Ralph Bakshi made adult cartoons (with one of his films, Fritz the Cat, being pictured above) as an attempt to prove that animation wasn't just for kids, but his films still ended up being poorly received because of this (though a majority of them have been Vindicated by History). Others, such as Cool World, became the victims of Executive Meddling thanks to this trope.
  • Don Bluth holds the philosophy that animation can be both dark and lighthearted at the same time, and that children can handle more than most adults believe, just as long as you gave them a (relatively) happy ending; The Secret of NIMH is probably the shining example of that philosophy. Needless to say, studio executives don't feel the same way, which is why Executive Meddling forced him to essentially abandon this philosophy not long after All Dogs Go to Heaven; in fact, Bluth wanted to add darker elements to Rock-A-Doodle and The Pebble and the Penguin, but the studios wouldn't let him because they wanted the films to appeal more to kids.
    • Part of the reason that his last movie, Titan A.E., flopped was because the filmmakers didn't know whether to market it towards children or towards teenaged Sci-Fi fans (not even the VHS release was certain- you had a trailer for X-Men followed by a promo for Digimon, as Fox Kids still existed at that point).
  • Speaking of Titan A.E., it was accompanied by a number of other animated movies that attempted to break out of the Ghetto, including Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet. All of them were box-office failures. This was partly because at the time, the formulaic Disney movies of the 1990s had caused their target audience to become uninterested in animation, and partly because by then CGI films like Shrek were deconstructing and satirizing 90s-era films and thus were much more attractive.
  • Fantasia was actually one of the earliest and most notable attempts to break out of the Ghetto. It was released in 1940, at a time when Walt Disney was trying to prove that animation was every bit as "serious" a medium as live-action. As an artistic movie with a soundtrack of classical music, no real narrative, and some rather family-unfriendly visuals (it remains to this day the only film in the Disney Animated Canon to show naked breasts), it was aimed at a decidedly more adult audience that Snow White or Pinocchio. Unfortunately, it's box-office failure caused Disney to abandon plans for further movies in the same vein, and may even have indirectly contributed to the Ghetto as we know it.
  • As said by a talking cotton ball in a Don Hertzfeldt short, the intro for the theatrical touring festival The Animation Show:
    Talking Cotton Ball 1: An animated film is not just a random series of mindless, self-indulging, violent cartoon images meant only to be enjoyed by young children or people with mental handicaps, but is a serious, valid art medium all unto itself which the artist is free to explore the purity of the film medium, down to each and every single frame. The animated arts are—
    Talking Cotton Ball 2: (pointing) Roboooooooots!
  • Despite being made by Nelvana, a company known for more kid-friendly shows such as the Care Bears and Franklin, Rock & Rule isn't a kids' movie as it features scenes of drug use, sexual content, slight profanity, and even implied satanism. The film is more of young teens, however, as lot of this is pretty mild.
  • The animated movie Heavy Metal was ridiculously, obviously not for kids. Extremes of violence and sex were fairly common in the short, rock cc-based vignettes that made up the original. In the flop sequel years later, the vignettes and much of the music were done away with, and most of the violence and sex were removed, toned down to something in the general vicinity of a PG-13 movie, maybe pushing R at best. It seems that even when making a sequel to a blatantly adult animated movie, you still need to make it not too adult.
    • South Park did an episode where everyone indulging in a new drug craze (cat piss) went into the Heavy Metal world. They did a great job not only on the animation but on pointing out what makes things allowed or not. The entire design of the fantasy world was breasts - walls, chairs, vehicles, everything was made of breasts, none of it censored. The only breasts that were not allowed were the ones on the woman. When she takes off her top the camera cuts away.
  • This is the number one reason for the reputation of Watership Down. It's about cute fluffy rabbits, and Word of God is that the story is for kids, but nobody should let their children watch it alone because of its harsh depiction of nature and onscreen gore.
    • The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) still receives complaints to this day from angry parents who showed their children what they thought was a cute, bunny adventure movie. The film is also rated as a 'U' (meaning anyone can watch it) rather than the more suitable 'PG', which can lead to people thinking the film is harmless.
    • The Plague Dogs (from the same team) has less of a problem because "plague" is in the title of the movie; even with plague in the title, though, the marketers still try to make The Plague Dogs look like a kids' movie (for example, the poster for the The Plague Dogs reads "Escape to a different world and share the adventure of lifetime"), despite showing things like starving to death, while having crazy hallucinations and trying to avoid being shot.
  • Felidae tends to fall victim to this phenomenon for similar reasons. A movie about cute kitties, probably another Aristocats? Nope. It's actually more of a violent Film Noir. Director Michael Schaack isn't exactly famous for kid-friendly animation, but those who buy the DVD with the kitty on it certainly don't check if it was made by the same guy who also made movies of Werner and The Little Asshole.
  • One DVD of The Last Unicorn included commercials for shows targeted at young children (such as The Wiggles). While it's a cartoon movie about a unicorn, it's no My Little Pony...
  • According to an interview with the director of The Brave Little Toaster when the movie was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, several judges outright told the director that it was the best movie at the festival, but they refused to give that title to a cartoon because they thought the award wouldn't be taken seriously.
  • One of the very earliest animated films was Winsor McCay's The Sinking of the Lusitania. The kiddies must have flocked to it back in 1918. At that time, it should be remembered, the Ghetto as we know it didn't really exist yet. Adults were every bit as fascinated by the new medium as children were.
  • Coraline is for kids and rated PG, but it features eye mutilation. In fact, some countries would not have an animated movie being shown in the theatres if it's not kid-friendly enough.
  • 9 was quite literally forced into the ghetto against its will: not only did it have a decidedly gloomy aesthetic, a well-earned PG-13 rating and multiple advertisements stating that it was "not your kid brother's cartoon movie," inattentive parents still brought their young children to see what they ultimately had to leave midway through, when said child started wailing at all of the scary imagery.
  • The Black Cauldron: Disney intentionally made it to appeal to teenaged fans of fantasy novels in the '80s and they were actually afraid that it would be rated "PG-13" or even "R". Back in The '80s, producing an animated feature rated "PG-13" or "R" was unthinkable for Disney. This fear has also been blamed for the famously uneven tone.
    • Then again, Disney has a reputation for kid-friendliness and they've only released films rated higher than PG-13 under alternate labels. They created the Touchstone Pictures brand so they could distribute films, starting with 1984's Splash, that they couldn't release under the standard Disney label.
    • Until Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney didn't even release PG-13 films under its own name. And it was a big thing in 1979, when Disney released The Black Hole as a PG-rated movie, although more recently some video releases of live-action Disney movies from The '50s were rated PG.
  • Partly responsible for the pre-production demise in 1998 of a CGI-animated film by Rainbow Studios (which now does strictly video games and was acquired by THQ in 2001), variously titled as "Deadly Tide" and "Blue Planet". Since this was a violent action movie squarely for adults and older teens, it failed to garner enough funding, and only a promo trailer using the "Blue Planet" title was ever produced. The trailer both lampshades and thoroughly demolishes the Animation Age Ghetto, by having Lawyer Friendly Cameos of Buzz Lightyear and Flik engage silly antics, before being stomped on by a power-armoured soldier, and segueing into a rapid-cut action scene scored with White Zombie's "More Human Than Human", a song whose title, as well as some of the lyrics, were taken from dialogue in the movie Blade Runner.
    "Playtime's over. Let's kick some ass!"
    "No Cute Animals. No Friendly Toys."
  • This article about Tangled pretty much sums up the entire concept of the trope by categorizing viewers into 4 mindsets "Cartoons are simplistic twaddle for little kids" "That's pretty good... for a cartoon" "Movies come in all ranges of quality and whether it's animated or live-action shouldn't make a difference in how it's viewed" and "OMG PRINCESSES" (that one being exclusively filled by girls between the ages of 2 and 12). Odds are, if you're reading this page, you probably fall into category 3, and good for you.
  • A segment on ABC's Good Morning America on February 24th, 2011 discussed how no animated movie has ever won an Academy Award, on the basis that the Academy thinks that animated movies are always just for kids and only for kids, despite knowing that Oscar-winning actors and actresses have contributed to these films as far back as Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which even earned Walt Disney an Honorary Oscar. Despite being largely for kids overall, some films today have more adult themes and issues that kids wouldn't recognize, but the Academy refuses to see things that way.
  • In Rango... just for starters, it's a Spaghetti Western Affectionate Parody, with all the things such a thing needs (Family-Unfriendly Violence, mild swearing, and of course, jokes most kids wouldn't understand). No wonder lots of negative reviews go "this is not a kids' film" or "this isn't a family film".
  • Antz received guff from some critics who felt the film couldn't decide whether it was for kids or adults (the film included a rather graphic depiction of insect battle, a pinchful of mild cursewords, and one line with a ticked-off Z telling the princess that she could "just forget starring in any of [his] erotic fantasies" in the future). It doesn't help that it came out at roughly the same time as Pixar's A Bug's Life, which is very definitely meant for kids.
  • The Scandinavian DVD release of Beavis and Butt-Head Do America highlights the differences between rating systems in different countries very handily, with five different ratings for six different countries on the packaging and disc: The film is rated 15-and-up in Denmark and Ireland, 12-and-up in the UK, 11-and-up in Norway, 7-and-up in Sweden and 3-and-up in Finland, proving that repeated usage of "butt" and "ass" and words that start with those words + a Mushroom Samba + masturbation jokes + gunplay somehow translate in Scandinavia to "kid-friendly entertainment".
  • The Shrek series has a complex relationship with this phenomenon. All four films had many jokes that kids could not understand and were intended for adults, especially the first film - it even had a few curse words and they even made jokes ostensibly referring to a man's penis size. Then again, if you're under 10 years old, in which case, you'd see it as obviously just jokes about the guy's vertically challenged stature. Making matters worse is that Common Sense Media thinks it's appropriate for kids six and up, and that it was originally based on a book that actually was for kids. It says something about this trope when the series that prided itself on its all-ages appeal ended up being more heavily marketed to preschoolers in The New '10s than to all ages.
    • Like The Flintstones and The Muppet Show did back in their day, the first Shrek was meant to appeal to both children and adults without seemingly favoring one group over the other, with its edgy humor and pop-culture references giving it a grittier vibe than other animated movies at the time - especially the Disney Animated Canon, which had a reputation for being "squeaky-clean". However, as time went on and Shrek became a Cash Cow Franchise, marketing for the movies became more kid-focused even as the content of the movies was only slightly toned down. This caused the series to eventually gain a reputation of being "for kids", just like what happened to the Flintstones and Muppets. This is reflected in the evolution of the franchise's toyline: the first movie had a line of highly detailed collectibles by McFarlane Toysnote  that could be appreciated by both kids and adults (just like the movie), while the toylines for the sequels (by Hasbro and MGA) were far cheaper and more gimmicky, and no longer targeted the Periphery Demographic of action figure collectors.
  • The 2011 animated adaptation of The Adventures of Tintin makes strides in escaping the ghetto, with its frequent use of firearms, pools of blood, and the use of alcohol and drunkenness for comedic effect. And yet, it got a PG rating.
    • The film was initially being promoted under just the Paramount Pictures banner- until the Nickelodeon Movies logo suddenly started showing up in ads. You can just picture the Paramount executive screaming, "What are we doing, releasing a kids' movie without promoting it as such?!"
  • In Brazil and most of Latin America, the Animation Age Ghetto still goes very strong with nearly no sign of change. It's horrifying that the DVD of Dead Space: Downfall (a prequel to a video game that everyone knows isn't for kids) was in the children's section of a regional Blockbuster, with the cover image of a severed arm in space, placed just at eye height... to a five-year-old. The same could be found in other rental stores. Although the Brazilian rating system is very competent compared to most, being somewhat more strict but also more critical (the movie was correctly rated 18+ in a large black label, regardless of it being an animation, for "Murder, Mutilation and Cruelty", although neglecting to mention foul language and moral issues most likely because it wouldn't fit), most stores and consumers outright ignore it exists. The ones who do take notice of the ratings follow them blindly, forgetting they are just advice.
  • This was an issue when Beauty and the Beast managed to get a Best Picture Oscar nomination in 1991. Plenty of adults, including film critics, had heartily embraced it — it showed up on several critics' Top Ten lists for the year — and Disney, knowing what they had, cannily parlayed it into their Oscar campaign. Once it got its nomination, there were comments that it only showed how bad the live-action slate for the year had been, as if the Academy had been "reduced" to nominating it. Jokes were even made during the Oscar telecast about how a film consisting of "movable paintings" — as Billy Crystal put it in his opening number as host — was up against movies with live actors, who would surely be out of work if such movies continued to thrive.
    • It remains the only animated movie nominated for Best Picture in the period when five films per year received nominations, despite movies like Spirited Away and Finding Nemo getting more critical acclaim than almost any live-action film in their respective years. Some saw the Best Animated Feature in those years as a kind of backhanded compliment — a way to reward animated movies without acknowledging that they were good enough to compete with "real" movies.
    • The 2019 Oscars prefaced the Best Animated Feature nominees with a variation on C. S. Lewis's famous "When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness" quote, arguing that animation doesn't have to be hidden away because of its stigma and that its creators were able to put that youthful passion into their work — but it still carries the implication that it's inherently childish. Similarly, John Mulaney and Awkwafina's introduction to their categories had the pair talk about how they had no idea what to do on stage since they were new to presenting awards. Upon reading that they were presenting Best Animated Short Film first, they muttered about how they probably got "one of the good ones".
    • A similar case could be made for the 2 new Césars that were introduced in 2011, specifically César of the Best Documentary and César of the Best Animated Film.
  • This happens in-universe in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. All the children (except for one kid) in South Park go see "Terrance and Phillip: Asses of Fire", which despite being rated R and the poster stating nobody under 17 can see the film, is not for children. This makes the kids start cussing and imitating things done in the movie. Due to this, the parents of the children start to protest Canada. During their song, "Blame Canada", one mother calls Asses of Fire a cartoon, possibly a Shout-Out to the ghetto. Even the title was a big giveaway it wasn't for kids.
    • A few movie critics also reported seeing parents taking their kids to go see the movie. No doubt South Park's reputation completely evaded them.
  • Magic Adventures of Mumfie's movie, Mumfie's Quest, seems like a happy and cheerful movie about an elephant who wants to find an adventure. That is until they visit a prison-turned island run by The Secretary of Night, where the main character gets trapped in after stealing a magical gem towards the end of the film. Making matters worse is that in America, this was actually aimed towards children as young as two years old note , and due to this, many of them got nightmares about these things. Common Sense Media recommends the film for children 5 and older for this reason.
    • The post-movie episodes are actually tamer than the movie. If a toddler found the episodes before they found the movie, they may be in for a big surprise.
  • It's probably safe to say that the ghetto was enforced in Quest for Camelot, as it was originally intended to stay true to the source material, which happens to be an Arthurian lore-based novel written by Vera Chapman called ''The King's Damosel'' to the point where it would've gotten slapped with a PG-13 or even R rating, but Warner Bros. executives decided that a film like that wouldn't succeed, so they insisted that the film be toned down for a family audience. Ironically, those executives should've been careful what they wished for, as a decision like that caused an inversion of this trope by way of the film turning out to be a failure, as many people were pretty lucky to notice how much of a Disney knock-off it turned out to be.
  • Sausage Party can be summed up with a quote from the main page: "The biggest middle finger to the Animation Age Ghetto of the 21st century." Despite being probably the most child-unfriendly animated movie ever played in major theater chains—a fact made abundantly clear from the trailer, which barely scratches the surface of just how many lines it crosses—and additional content warnings posted by the theaters themselves, some parents have still obliviously brought their young children to see it...because it's an animated movie about talking food.
  • Many parents thought Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon (Movie Film For Theaters) was a kid friendly movie, and brought their kids to watch it. They were most certainly shocked to see this start up the film.
  • Despite subject matter more suited for pre-teens and teenagers, The Emoji Movie targets a very young audience with its cutesy characters/environments, a simple plot and having very little conflict. This also isn't helped by the fact that the movies it is accused of ripping off all broke out of the ghetto in their own ways. This is even reflected with the on-demand advertising, which says that it's good for a kids movie night even though G rated and PG rated animated movies are advertised as for families, as in not "just kids only", but for "both kids and adults". The film ended up turning the the ghetto on it head by being the first animated film to be nominated for and win....Worst Picture at the Razzies. note  So the film did actually break out of the ghetto like the films it was criticized for blatantly riding the coattails of...just not in the ways the studio likely intended.
  • Much like the aforementioned Mumfie, the Winnie-the-Pooh franchise has garnered a reputation for being a very kid-friendly franchise that's especially popular with preschoolers. With that in mind, whenever a more serious story is told with Pooh and company (such as Pooh's Grand Adventure, The Tigger Movie, and the live-action Christopher Robin), the movies often get a very mixed critical reception due to the perceived notion that more serious themes like the ones those films cover have no place in a franchise like Winnie-the-Pooh. Despite this, all three movies were for the most part very positively-received by Pooh fans young and old alike.
  • Averted by the National Film Board of Canada, which has produced and distributed hundreds animated short films that advance the medium of animation. Historically, it has helped develop and refine forms of animation such as drawn-on-film animation, pinscreen animation, computer animation, and sand animation. Important directors such as Norman McLaren, Caroline Leaf, and Ryan Larkin have been employed by the Board.
  • For some strange reason, Isle of Dogs was treated this way by some movie theater chains such as Regal, which either ran the trailer before kids' movies like Ferdinand, had trailers for kids' movies run before it (Regal showed the trailers for The Grinch and Show Dogs on their prints of the film), or did both things, despite the film not being what one would consider a kids' movie.
    • The same "kids' trailers on an animated movie aimed at older audience" also happens to Funimation's anime films, including the Dragon Ball Z films and Your Name, despite being aimed at teenagers, likely due to the ratings shift that created the Avoid the Dreaded G Rating trope.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In a DVD extra on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, one of the fake magazine covers for the Clash at Demonhead reads "BAM! POW! Comics aren't just for kids anymore!". It should be noted that that was a real news headline about a Batman comic.
    • Speaking of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, some IMDb users have called it a "kiddie movie" for the sole fact that it has flashy visuals and pee jokes. We're talking about a movie that has lots of swearing (although all F-bombs are bleeped with dial-up sounds), a scene where Scott is impaled by the final ex (there's no blood, but still...), Scott accidentally saying that he wants to give Knives a golden shower, slight sex-related talk, and a scene where one of the exes has an orgasm. Kids' movie indeed.
  • Despite the Oasis scenes which take up 75% of the movie being animated via motion capture, Ready Player One is marketed as an entirely live-action movie.
  • According to John Glover, who played Dr. Jason Woodrue, this trope was invoked by "Joel [Schumacher] would sit on a crane with a megaphone and yell before each take, 'Remember, everyone, this is a cartoon'. It was hard to act because that kind of set the tone for the film.". Anyone wonders now how Batman & Robin turned out to be like a movie of a "frivolous medium suitable primarily for children's entertainment"?
  • In some parts of Latin America, The Dark Knight was not only dubbed, but released with the equivalent of a PG-13 rating. It was even promoted in Kid Meals at some fast food restaurants. You can imagine the kind of Nightmare Fuel Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker might have inspired in the poor children that went to the theater thinking the were going to see a Batman movie.
  • In general, there's still a condescending attitude regarding many superhero films. The above-mentioned The Dark Knight received critical acclaim, and a lot of the positive reviews called it "A superhero movie for adults" and other things along those lines.
  • In Thank You for Smoking there was at a point a conversation shown in which the president of that time was saying that the cigarette industry now wants to manipulate children by showing them cartoons to show how cool smoking is. It becomes all the more hilarious if you realize that those cartoons were made for an adult audience.
  • Disney released Who Framed Roger Rabbit under Touchstone Pictures, their label for mature content (including PG-13 and R material at the time) — objectively defying this trope.
  • The anti-smoking special Smoke Alarm: The Unfiltered Truth About Cigarettes uses this in one of its segments. A fictional cigarette company creates a cool Funny Animal mascot aimed at the underage market. This references the controversy that mascots like Joe Camel were aimed at kids.
  • Matt Zoller Seitz's negative review of Aladdin (2019) discusses how this ghetto contributes to why The New '10s run of live-action remakes/variants on Disney Animated Canon films exists, even though many of them are regarded as inferior to their animated counterparts by critics and said originals are still kept in circulation.
    As is often the case with the recent Disney remakes, this one seems to adhere to the same misconception that affects the rest of the film industry, particularly where science fiction adventures, superhero narratives, and fairy tales are concerned: that if it’s animated, i.e. a “cartoon,” it’s somehow not a “real movie,” and thus not worthy of the automatic respect bestowed upon the most expensive and heavily promoted motion pictures, and not as validating to the people who’ve paid to see it. All of which is also strange, considering how CGI-dependent these sorts of movies are, even when they’re trying to make the mountains and buildings and tigers and parakeets made of ones and zeroes look as “real” as possible.
  • Somewhat tellingly, The Lion King (2019) is treated as a live-action remake by Disney and referred to as such in its promotional materials, despite being every bit as animated as the original feature (to the point TV Tropes itself files it under the Western Animation namespace). Real animals can't exactly talk, after all. The idea seems to be that the photorealistic CG of the remake is somehow easier to take seriously than the traditional animation of the original film, despite the 1994 movie being renowned as one of Disney's most emotionally complex stories.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bottom episode "Bottom's Up" features an inversion of this trope. Richie joins Eddie, who is watching a film. Richie comments about the cute furry anthropomorphic animated critters on-screen all with Species Surname: "It isn't very sexy, is it." This is proof that Eddie accepts that cartoons aren't just for kids as he was expecting something closer to X-Rated from the title ''The Furry Honey-Pot Adventure''. The only clue Eddie gets that no sex scenes will begin is because the caption "The End" appears on-screen.
    • He was equally disappointed with his purchase of Big Jugs, which turns out just to be a history of pottery.
      Eddie: Well, this ones got to be a sure-fire hit: Swedish Lesbians in Blackcurrant Jam!
      Richie: Yabba-dabba-doo! No, Eddie it's Swedish LEGENDS in Blackcurrant Jam MAKING!
      Eddie: Aww, come on, it's got to be dirty, it says "Swedish" on it!
  • An episode of My Family dealt with this when Ben was babysitting Kenzo when Janey went for a night out and she rented a cartoon for Kenzo to watch with Ben, however, when they are watching TV together, Ben plays the trope straight as demonstrated:
    Ben: It's about time that you developed a more mature taste in cinema. Tonight, we are going to watch serious hard-earned cinema, not a silly cartoon about a stupid talking rat!
    Kenzo: My cartoon won an Oscar, your films are overproduced re-makes and made by twelve-year-olds with short attention spans!
  • On one episode of Excused which aired on February 13th, 2012, two girls excused a 22-year-old guy, Sean because they doesn't want to sit in the couch and watch cartoons.
    Dianna: Hanging on the couch all day, I can't do that.
    Iliza: No.
    Lauren: I don't do cartoons.
    • After they picked him.
      Lauren: Watching cartoons is not a date, is a nightmare.
      Iliza: It's a nightmare, Sean's excused.
  • In an episode of Eight is Enough Tom takes his youngest son Nicholas to a screening of Snow White - he thinks it's the Disney version, but it's actually an X rated version. Tom hustles Nicholas out quickly with his hand over his eyes.
  • In an episode of Fringe, Walter is introduced to the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants. He is surprised the show is aimed at children, and found it "quite profound, for a sponge".
  • In an episode of Modern Family, Claire wonders if it's odd that their preteen son Luke has befriended their elderly neighbor. Phil rattles off a list of several movies about friendships between children and old people, to which Claire counters with examples of how each friendship ended badly... except for Up, to which her only rebuttal is to say "Cartoon." Best Picture nominee, critically acclaimed for being profoundly sad and heartwarming, and filled with plenty of peril she could have used as an example on par with any of the live-action films Phil mentioned, but she goes for simply calling it a cartoon. Of course, she could have simply meant that cartoons aren't exactly known for being realistic (and thus wouldn't apply to the real world), especially one where a guy can fly his house to South America by attaching a bunch of balloons to it.

  • Bomani Armah's Read a Book, which is best described as "Anti-Krunk", raised a bit of a stink from parents over its harsh language and imagery being shown on BET's Rap City and 106 & Park where children could see it. Never mind the videos that actually show off that kind of content that show up before and after it, right?
  • People have brought young children to Gorillaz concerts. Not only does their music contain quite dark and mature themes overall, but their backstory is certainly far from child-friendly as well (self-proclaimed satanic bassist Murdoc Niccals should be enough of a clue).

    Puppet Shows 
  • Puppets in general suffer from this trope even more than animation. The success of Sesame Street ensured that puppet shows would generally be viewed as a medium for very young children, despite the show's Parental Bonuses. This trope was in fact Jim Henson's reason for making The Muppet Show, as he didn't want to be viewed as a children's performer; however, due to this very trope, The Muppets themselves have been fluctuating between catering to children and families/adults. Nowadays, most puppet shows, on television or otherwise, are aimed at the preschool crowd. The Muppet Show Muppets are currently the only truly "mainstream" puppets that cater to adults as much as children. Truly adult-oriented puppet shows, when they do exist, are almost inevitably parodies of children's entertainment, whether for comedy (as in Avenue Q) or for horror (as in Dead Silence).
    • Muppets appearing on Sesame Street was a Parental Bonus in and of itself, since they had been regulars on The Ed Sullivan Show and other big prime time shows. As a matter of fact, the puppets that evolved into Grover and Cookie Monster made their earliest appearances on Sullivan's show.
    • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance has received glowing praise across the board, especially its storytelling. Some very few critics found it "too gross / too scary for children" (similarly to the 1982 film) as if it was solely intended for them, which it clearly isn't.
    • Mystery Science Theater 3000 seems to be the one exception to the rule that puppet series aimed at adults are always parodies of children's works. It is aimed at adults and has a cast made up mainly of puppets, but the humor in it comes from the mockery of old sci-fi movies, not mere presence of the puppets themselves.
  • This attitude is averted in Taiwan, where one of the most popular Wuxia franchises is Pili, a long-running puppetry series with as much complexity and depth as any live-action or novel.

  • If a Broadway show comes out that's based on a non-Disney cartoon, animated movie or children's book, you can expect many people to refuse to see it because it is based on something for kids, thus resulting in the show closing. One example of this was the The Spongebob Musical, which closed after a year due to low ticket sales despite winning a Drama Desk Award and receiving glowing praise from critics. Another notable example was the the Tuck Everlasting musical, which only ran for a month and a half. However, this has been averted with Anastasia, which changed many plot elements from the movie to make the story more realistic, and Matilda, which ran for 4 years on Broadway and is still running in London.

    Video Games 
  • Foreword: When dealing with video games, it should be noted that here we are dealing with an aversion and perhaps even with an inversion. Once consoles that were able to feature live-action scenes such as the Philips CD-i and the 3DO came out with commercials saying that the consoles could program Live-Action, many were at first calling this "The future of gaming", even though the consoles they were on had a high price and few bought them. While the technology was new and exciting at first, it quickly delved into "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny territory because their gameplay was usually very limited, and that the voice acting was horrible. This, coupled with the huge budget needed to make such a game (Ground Zero Texas, a Live-Action game on the Sega CD, cost 2 million dollars to make) and poor reviews (the aforementioned Ground Zero Texas got a score of 20% on Sega16), led quickly to the death of the genre. Nowadays, admitting to wanting live-action in a video game is like saying that you want your game to be horrible. This still does not prevent the medium from having its own age ghettoes, as seen below.
  • Console gaming in general was this. Back when the Nintendo Entertainment System was released, with success, there was a clear distinct line between gamers who played on computers (who were the adults) and people who played on the NES (who were the kids). Perhaps this is one of the reasons for Nintendo of America's strict guideline policy before the ESRB rating system. The Japanese version of the NES was even called the Family Computer, and Famicom games generally typically targeted younger, less literate players than games made for Japanese home computers such as the MSX.
    • SEGA noticed this trend and took it to its advantage when putting the Genesis on the shelves in America (think of Genesis Does What Nintendon't). It had as a consequence that Nintendo became labeled as a kiddy brand and SEGA as the brand that manly people play.
    • What contributed to Nintendo's "kiddy" image in Western territories was Nintendo forcing 3rd party developers to censor graphic/mature content themselves if they wanted their games on Nintendo's consoles. Mortal Kombat was the more infamous example where the SNES version replaced the blood with sweat(?) and severely toned down the fatalities. Nintendo has more or less dropped their stance on censoring games over time, but a lot of people to this day still believe that Nintendo only makes games for children and act completely shocked whenever a mature rated game from a third party company is released on a Nintendo console.
      • This is slowly shifting as of the release of the Nintendo Switch, which emphasises a more teen audience in its marketing compared to the heavily "fun for all the family" marketing of the Wii and the much less successful Wii U, as well as one of the big third parties committing to the platform being Bethesda, a publisher well-known for "mature, hard-core" violent titles, with games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, DOOM (2016) and Wolfenstein: The New Order (and its sequel), and Nintendo basically having Bayonetta as a console-exclusive franchise at this point. It's difficult to argue that Nintendo is kid-focused at this point when it's actively courting games and developers of all stripes.
  • If a game is rated "E," "E10+," or sometimes even "T" (in other words, not Rated M for Money), expect this to happen — you'd be surprised how much of this "Filthy Casual" hatred can actually be described as Animation Age Ghetto. You'd be more surprised at how many of the people doing this aren't even old enough to play T-Rated games.
    • Averted in Germany, where the USK rating system is taken so seriously, that younger people who want to play 18+ (or 16+, 14+ and 12+, for that matter) rated games need to show their identity card if they want to buy a game to show that they are adult, unless they're accompanied by one. Guess that kids didn't want to get through this tedious and annoying process, which explains why in that country, that problem is almost non-existent.
    • The United States did the same for M-rated games, requiring an adult's ID card to purchase such a game. This ultimately did not work as well as hoped: Teenagers who wanted these games resorted to fake ID cards (which are VERY common in the United States), and more relevantly, children who couldn't pass themselves off for adults asked their clueless parents to go buy the game for them. These parents treat video games as simply a babysitter to plop their kids down in front of and keep them occupied and out of their hair for the day, and will either assume they don't need to pay attention to what their kids are playing because "video games are for kids" and therefore couldn't possibly contain any kind of Harmful to Minors content (and if they ever find out, expect them to flip a switch and turn into Moral Guardians on par with Jack Thompson himself, screaming "How dare they sell this game to kids!"), or be fully aware of said content from the get-go and just not give a shit. Thus, they would continue to buy M-rated games for their kids repeatedly.
    • Now that Digital Distribution has come online, it has become even harder to verify consumers' ages; the biggest hurdle they'd probably have to pass is a screen that says "Enter birth date here", which can be easily falsified. This has been mitigated by console and distribution software creators adding parental control options for online game purchases and access, but, again, many parents ignore these.
    • This can also apply to any game that is Rated M for Money, but doesn't have sufficiently "realistic" graphics to satisfy the discerning tastes of the 12-year-old who wants to show off how mature and grown-up he is by saying big boy words over the microphone. Not convinced? Just ask Overstrike. Oh wait, you can't.
    • When Xbox Avatars (a.k.a. Miis for the Xbox 360) were first introduced, there was much complaining from the "won't play anything not rated M" crowd, claiming that their mature gaming machine was ruined by the presence of cartoon people, and that having to look at them before playing a serious, mature deathmatch was too much of a mood killer.
  • Media hatred is Nigh Invulnerable. In Spain, it has recently concentrated into video game hate... with similar arguments to the ones displayed in this trope. One would think they simply erased every mention of "cartoon" and replaced it with "videogame" in their declarations. Sigh.
  • A large number of Kirby games tend to be admonished by reviewers for their cutesy presentation, overlooking how complex or downright terrifying they can be later on, much to the chagrin of fans.
  • The entire justification by Michael Atkinson for why Australia didn't have an R rating available for video games until late 2012, despite the very vocal objections of the hundreds of thousands of mature gamers in Australia.
  • RPGs (especially JRPGs) get this a lot. Many of them are purposely made to go around the "T" rating specifically because, contrary to popular belief, that's actually the widest range of marketability for games, but unfortunately, because of the beliefs from the Animation Age Ghetto, many people dismiss those "Animu" RPGs as being kiddy, especially because they're not Rated M for Money. Never mind how many of these "kiddy" looking games are actually Crapsaccharine World based games - and it's not making an effort to hide how crappy the world is. Popular WRPG games are not as subjected to this, although you'll find that developers tend to emphasize their Darker and Edgier parts at times to avoid this. Dragon Age: Origins for instance, proudly admits it is a "Dark Fantasy Role-Playing Game".
    • This even happened with the Persona series. Part of the reason some people actually paid attention to 3 and 4 was because they were rated "M". Course, the "M" rating didn't stop people from seeing the use of primary colors in the graphics and then dismissing it as another kiddy RPG from Japan - never mind the fact the former heavily involves repeated simulated suicide and the latter is a whodunit with heavy psychological themes, especially with regards to sexualitynote .
    • Is it a coincidence that Shin Megami Tensei in general became better known after YouTube became more populated?
    • The Tales series may suffer from this. Especially Symphonia, Abyss, and Vesperia. So, we have subjects like racial discrimination, vigilante murder or even accidentally killing an entire town full of people both of these were actually committed by The Hero of all people and Utopia Justifies the Means being thrown around from every angle... Perfectly suitable for children who are under the age of twelve. In addition, the Tales Series relies a lot on deconstructing a lot of cliches. This is so much of a case as "too violent/sexy for kids" as it is "Would kids actually understand this stuff? It takes an adult watching some scenes to notice some of these themes...or actually be familiar with the cliches being deconstructed.
    • Xenosaga gets this from some quarters, mainly due to its very cartoony art style. Of course, aside from how nobody younger than high-school age is going to get the umptillion references to Gnosticism that form the basis for the of the major supporting characters (who briefly joins the party) is addicted to the neural tissue of bioroids. And then he gets gunned down by one of his allies, merely because it's not her job to keep him, personally, alive. You know, for kids!
      • That is in the first five hours (tops) of the game. By the end of the game, there is the infamous "Ma belle peche" scene, wherein a very scary villain intimidates into submission and then "hacks" one of the Ridiculously Human Robots (who is also an endearing party member most players have at least some fondness for) in what amounts to an onscreen, compellingly-acted metaphor for child rape. How this game managed to avoid the M rating it so richly deserved is a mystery for the ages.
    • Pokémon is one of the biggest sufferers of this trope outside of America, mostly because the entire franchise, headlined by the animenote , was strictly for children in its early days. As the Periphery Demographic grew, they became increasingly aware of the "Pokémon is for kids" stigma. As such, Game Freak has recently begun to make a conscious effort to abolish the Ghetto by establishing Pokémon as a hipster-friendly all-ages franchise, and by downplaying the role of the anime, essentially the only part of the franchise that still abides by the Ghetto itself.
  • It's probably worth mentioning Team Fortress 2. The game uses highly stylized art reminiscent of a Pixar film which, coupled with bright colors, apparently makes it look "cartoony". This is contrasted by large amounts of blood, players gibbing upon explosion, and a mild level of swearing. You can occasionally run into 7 or 8-year-old kids online whose parents obviously didn't pay attention to the rating. Speaking of online, as a multiplayer game with voice and text chat, it's very common to hear even more inappropriate language than what was originally put in the game—there's a reason the ESRB warnings state that "online interactions are not rated".
    • And in some of the "Meet the Team" shorts, there are even more intense depictions of violence than in-game (such as BLU Spy's head exploding in graphic detail, and BLU Soldier having a hole blown through his chest). In addition, there's the scene in "Meet the Spy" where we see suggestive photos of RED Spy and Scout's mother and, hell, just about all of "Meet the Pyro".
  • A more specific example is the presence of Sprite graphics in games today (With the exception of downloadable games), which are dismissed by review sites as dated and rarely taken as seriously as 3D models.
  • If any game uses any form of stylized graphics, expect people to dismiss it as being "kiddy". Heck, people have even criticized World of Warcraft's graphics for looking like something out of a Disney Movie, and Diablo III and League of Legends were criticized for not being "Dark" enough. All because Blizzard doesn't believe that Real Is Brown...and there's a great deal of horror in both franchises.
    • When it comes to Diablo III...complaining about the game not being "Dark" enough when the trailer featured a barbarian being ripped in half. Yes, totally for children.
    • The most common complaint about the World of Warcraft expansion, Mists Of Pandaria is the fact that the areas are brightly colored and features a lot of talking animals, starring the talking pandas, the Pandarens. Many people even took one look at the Pandarens and jumped headlong into the idea that Blizzard ripped off the concept of Kung Fu Panda (despite the Pandaren being introduced in Warcraft 3, which was released years before the first Kung-Fu Panda movie). This despite the fact that the expansion is not too much lighter in terms of story than the others.
  • Although Mortal Kombat fits this trope, the game WAS originally being marketed at children, particularly when it was ported to home consoles in 1993. This was one of only a handful of instances where the censors actually had a valid point on the matter.
  • While Viva Piñata is a Sleeper Hit, Microsoft wanted the game to be its answer to Pokémon, but it didn't work out. Why? Well, the game looked like a children's game but actually comprised challenging Nintendo Hard sim management tasks that kids, and even some adults, just couldn't handle.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker got hit by this because, and only because, the game featured brightly colored textures, a cel-shaded lighting system, characters with cartoony proportions, and cartoony slapstick humor, thus even some of the most die-hard Zelda fans hated on this game. Common criticisms included "This game is for kids only!" the sole reason that the game was cel-shaded. One fan reviewer even called it "C-quality Disney garbage," even though said "Disney garbage" is actually considered to be some of the greatest animation of all time, and along with classic Japanese animation, almost certainly contributed to the development of the art style. The game's detractors didn't notice the dark backstory (which involves the gods having to flood the world to prevent the Big Bad, Ganondorf, from taking it over, because the hero of legend is no longer around, with Ganondorf being left unchecked to wreak havoc upon the world otherwise) or the infamously violent ending (which involves Ganondorf's head being impaled with the Master Sword). After the game received immense critical praise both in Japan and in America, gamers gradually warmed up to the game, and today it is considered a modern classic.
    • A few years later, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was announced, with a Real Is Brown aesthetic that was the opposite of Wind Waker. As such, the game completely averted this trope and was hyped much more heavily pre-release than Wind Waker, with many people believing that it would be the greatest video game of all time. The game ended up with the same sort of immense critical praise that Wind Waker got, but is slightly less liked by the fanbase, with some fans criticizing the graphics as "dull" and "gritty". This shows that two games of roughly the same quality can elicit very different audience reactions if one of them suffers from this trope.
  • The Super Smash Bros. series. While the games are largely family-friendly, they bring together a stable of Nintendo and other game characters representing all sorts of different aesthetics and demographics, and seem to not prioritize any specific age group over others. Despite this, every other fan and gaming journalist is quick to label the series as a "children's series", largely because many of the constituent series - such as Super Mario Bros., the most prominently-represented and the franchise's namesake - are cartoonish family-friendly series that themselves suffer from a reputation of being "for children". The more colorful artstyle of the fourth game ended up invoking this trope even further. This is despite one of the characters featured being freaking Bayonetta.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The series regularly struggles with this trope. The games are cartoony, family-friendly, and made to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible. As such, the series often gets slapped with the "kiddy" label despite the creators' intentions. According to the late Satoru Iwata, the perception of Mario as a "childish" franchise was a problem that Nintendo wasn't too pleased about, and they actively worked on having the franchise appeal to all age groups.
    • One of the composers of Super Mario Galaxy was hit with this trope when he composed music for the game with a "cute" and "kid-friendly" feel, based on his impressions of Mario and his series. Koji Kondo rejected the music, asserting that "Mario is cool" and that Mario games are "cool adventure games" at their core. Kondo himself never viewed the character as "cute", and kept this in mind when composing music for the series through the years.
  • Splatoon fans are very familiar with this trope. As a colorful, family-friendly series loaded with adorable, cartoony character designs in a genre dominated by Rated M for Money gorefests aimed at teenagers and adults, it attracts a lot of bile for being "immature" and "for kids" and is generally not taken as seriously as its contemporaries. This sentiment tends to greatly annoy the Splatoon fanbase, as both games go out of their way to appeal to players of all ages with their addicting gameplay and surprisingly deep characters—not to mention a reputation for Surprise Creepy almost on par with Kirby.
  • This happened with the initial wave of 3D M-rated games that came out during the advent of the fifth generation of games (which began in either 1995 or 1996 depending on where you lived). One particular example is the original Resident Evil, which was, in fact, one of the very first M-rated games - after all, it's not easy to forget the violence, cannibalism via zombies and other undead critters, scientific exploitation, betrayal, and gripping, horrifying death scenes (Kenneth anyone?). To top it all off, the main characters are an elite SWAT-Expy team. Alas, the thought that games were a form of "children's entertainment" was firmly stuck into marketers' and parents' heads, which resulted in a good deal of eight year olds buying the game. This is ironic in hindsight, given that far more violent games had been released during the 8 and 16-bit eras, and while Moral Guardians came after a few of them, namely Mortal Kombat, many violent games escaped the parental radar, mostly because a lot of them were either Bowdlerised or released on less mainstream gaming systems.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day. It has cute squirrels on the box, and it has lots of Toilet Humor. Perfect game for kids, right? Nope. There's lots of sexual content, swearing, blood/gore, and an opera-singing turd. And yet, there were still quite a few small children who ended up playing it, despite the huge disclaimers on the cover stating it wasn't for children, placed there because it was anticipated people would mistake it for a kids' game.
  • While gaming is seen as perfectly normal for adults these days, hardcore gaming is still seen as "immature." This belief might stem from the fact that kids, teens and college students generally have more free time to spend on hardcore games than people with kids, mortgages and jobs do, which is why the latter tend to play casual games.
  • Part of the reason why The Wonderful 101 sold so poorly, was due to the general public passing it off as a "kiddie" game due to its cute appearance. While the game is somewhat family-friendly, it has quite a bit of dark content, especially later into the story.note 
  • The Commodore Amiga and the Atari ST were never really taken seriously by mainstream business computer users in the U.S. because of their association with gaming, barring creative people like artists and musicians.
  • At the height of the moral panic over video game violence in the '90s, Sierra founder Ken Williams repeatedly pointed out that most of the people who bought and played games were adults. The company was no stranger to controversy with adult-oriented games like Leisure Suit Larry and Phantasmagoria.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has vivid colors that make locales and characters pop out, which caused a lot of people to dismiss it as a childish MMORPG or trying to copy off the art style of World of Warcraft. Look past the bright colors and you got a very dark game that is not afraid to openly show you just how grim the world is (post The End OF The World As We Know It recovery, genocide, conquering lands and converting its people to the side of The Empire, etc). Other grim themes that are more subdued or subtle are acknowledged in game as well, such as slavery, prostitution, and racism. Even the Lalafell race, which look like a race of children, can exhibit very adult behavior and some even use their childish looks to exploit people.
  • Take a sip every time an r/entitledparents story involving video game consoles, particularly handheld ones, being stolen, or an attempt thereof being made, includes the entitled parent claiming the rightful owner is too old to own this expensive electronic device because it only exists to play video games. Take another sip when the game the rightful owner was playing is completely inappropriate for children. Actually, maybe just take a sip for the latter, or just don't use an alcoholic drink, else you'll probably poison yourself. There has been one story where an EP claimed the 15-year-old submitter was too old to own a computer, because apparently personal computers can't run anything other than video games.

    Web Animation 
  • Happy Tree Friends is a cartoon about cute forest animals, but it has so much graphic violence, little kids shouldn't go near it with a ten foot pole.
  • Parodied in the Strong Bad Email "for kids", when Strong Bad responds to an email proposing a Strong Bad children's show by describing exactly why he shouldn't be dealing with small children. As for Homestar Runner at large, the stated intent according to The Brothers Chaps is that, while the material is family-friendly, the cartoons are no more for kids than cauliflower is for llamas.
  • wileyk209zback's YouTube Poop:
    • This trope i parodied in "DW At Her Brattiest!". Towards the climax of the video, DW wants to go to her friends' birthday party at the movie theater. We learn that the movie they saw was Fritz the Cat, spoofing the fact that in the original episode, DW wasn't invited to the party in the first place.
    • Another poop of his, "DW Is Addicted To Surfin' Bird!", ends with DW, who is a preschooler, receiving a VHS tape of Family Guy as a present from Mama Luigi.
  • The creators of RWBY had to release a journal midway through Volume 3 to remind and warn viewers that it was not a kids show in anticipation of the show becoming much Darker and Edgier. RWBY itself probably counts as an aversion, being quite possibly the closest thing ever created to an American equivalent of shonen anime.
  • Ironically, this is the reason behind both GoAnimate's success with kids and the infamous "grounded" videos. The platform was made for businessmen and educators to explain things through animated characters, but once the younger Periphery Demographic kicked in, it was branded as a kids site by the public, which the site owners tried multiple times to shake off. The "grounded" videos are frequently made by those kids, often having Caillou or Dora the Explorer characters in them... but since those shows are made for younger kids, the video makers turn the protagonists into brats and put them through all kinds of horrifying mishaps because "baby shows" are inherently bad to them and need to be punished.
  • True Tail: The main reason for the reboot:
    Though our original story was good, and we loved mixing our simplistic shape-based art with a mature story line, we found it nearly impossible to pitch this concept to any animation studio. With this new version we have a more lighthearted tone that gives us the chance to bring humor and energy into the series. We are still making an action adventure show, but it will just be a little less serious.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Cartoon Brew frequently defies this, and even made an entire post discussing the topic, "How Can We Make Adult Animation Truly Adult?" It even mentions the trope page and website by name, although it dismisses both as misguided and narrow in their scope of "adult" animation.
    Neil Emmett: The site prides itself on covering as broad a range of fiction as possible, emerging as a sometimes fascinating form of populist, open-access media scholarship. In theory, this would make it the perfect place to cover lost gems of animation, but in practice it has many blind spots. There is little discussion about (Jan) Svankmajer or (Yuri) Norstein, while juvenile mediocrities such as Disney's Gargoyles are treated as masterpieces on a par with the television dramas of Dennis Potter and David Simon. TV Tropes has a page devoted to what it calls the Animation Age Ghetto, which gives a reasonable if scattershot overview of the subject. The page's "examples" section, however, consists in large part of people filibustering about how their favorite superhero cartoons never caught on. The main reason that most of these cartoons never attracted adult audiences, of course, is that they are simply not for adults. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with having guilty pleasures. The humorist Stephen Fry summed things up well: a fan of Doctor Who, he commented that "every now and again we all like a chicken nugget." As he continued, however, "If you are an adult you want something surprising, savory, sharp, unusual, cosmopolitan, alien, challenging, complex, ambiguous, possibly even slightly disturbing and wrong. You want to try those things, because that's what being adult means." The ever-enthusiastic geek demographic certainly does not see animation as being merely for children. But it suffers from an inverted snobbery, with more inventive or experimental animation dismissed as "pretentious" or "arthouse", and from a view of the medium that is built largely on nostalgia for beloved childhood cartoons. Even dedicated animation enthusiasts can overlook much of the best work which is out there: perhaps it is in human nature for audiences to stick to the films which they think they might enjoy rather than try anything new.
  • Portrayed in this So... You're A Cartoonist? strip.
  • Gaia Online, being primarily an anime fansite, gets this a lot, despite having several measures to prevent under-thirteens from getting on the site. As a result, they often have to deal with parents upset that Li'l Precious has a half-naked succubus draped on their avatar.

    In the early days, when it was still known as Go-Gaia, the main page featured a link list with clearly-labeled links to adult-content websites. This was eventually removed after multiple complaints from users about being restricted to submission of PG-13 content on a site whose main page flaunted porn.
  • This list of the 10 Most Disturbing Cartoons is an inversion of this trope. It does acknowledge that cartoons can appeal to adults and warns explicitly to not let your kids see them. What qualifies it as an inversion though is that it lists children cartoons such as Wakfu that, according to the logic of this article, can not appeal to children because they have disturbing content. It seems that the writer does not know that kid horror movies exist.
  • One Twitter response to an article about mature cartoons inverts the trope, saying that cartoons are made "by, for, and starring adults" and that kids were only "welcome" to watch. The article itself played it straight, lumping in all-ages fare like Carmen Sandiego and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with adult works like Bojack Horseman and Love, Death & Robots with the argument that kids aren't the target because it's mature.
  • This trope is part of the reason This Very Wiki has the What Do You Mean, It's (Not) for Kids? pages in the first place, since people will be surprised if a mature or violent animated series is aimed at kids, and if a risque animated series isn't. The trope name is also invoked for Iyashikei and teen or adult-focused Edutainment without any objectionable content, under the pretense that anything nonviolent or educational has to be for kids and that adults wouldn't appreciate it.
  • Deconstructed in tamago2474's review of The Simpsons Skateboarding, in which he recounts his childhood memories of struggling to play this installment of The Simpsons games. Because he hadn't yet developed the ability to discern quality, which this trope relies on, he internalized his experiences in playing the game, blaming himself — rather than the game — for being unable to play it. The lack of a developed taste didn't prevent him from having an unsatisfactory experience with the game, and in fact may have made it worse, since he wasn't able to rationalize that it was simply a bad game. When applied to the animation industry, one could see how this trope lingered for so long (and continues to in some parts of the world): while children may be willing to watch bad cartoons, their experiences with them would likely make them dismissive of animation as they become older, which in turn will lead to children being the only audience of future cartoons.

    Web Videos 
  • CLW Entertainment: In his 2014 review of Doraemon, he says Doraemon is a dumb show for babies that he shouldn't get obsessed with. After he watches two episodes of it, he becomes obsessed with it. invoked
  • Probably unintentional on the writers' part, but one installment of I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC included a scene in which Rorschach claims to "appreciate" Marvel allowing children to choose between "the latest Pixar film or a [PG-13] movie about a razor-clawed human death machine." This may indicate that they thought Pixar's latest film at the time, WALL•E, and the film they released the same year as Watchmen and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Up, were strictly kiddie fare.
  • Cracked:
    • It kinda pushed into this territory with this article, where some of the entries aren't technically for kids, but even thinking Watership Down and The Plague Dogs are "children's animation" is insane to a ridiculous degree. Of course, this being Cracked, this is almost the standard.
    • They did it again at this article. Apparently the concept of "appealing a different demographics than usual" is completely foreign to them.
  • The Nostalgia Critic: In his editorial Are Kids Shows Better NOW Than Ever? refutes this viewpoint about both past shows and present shows. Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons are still well remembered because they appealed to both kids and adults. Kids shows today are exploring subject matter that was unimaginable in previous decades.
  • SuperMarioLogan is designed for adults, however it has a huge Periphery Demographic of children because it's a puppet show based off of Super Mario Bros.. It's gotten to the news where mainstream news has discussed the channel and called it essentially "deceptively inappropriate", despite the fact it was always intended for mature audiences.

    Western Animation 
  • Brazilian conservatives have attacked Super Drags, accusing it of "perverting children"... simply because it is a cartoon. Even a cursory glance at the actual animation shows that this is aimed at adults, and there is a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode to drill it in further in case you don't get it. That said, many of the show's morals, like acceptance of who you are, that conversion therapy is ineffectual at best and torture at worst, and that beauty doesn't matter, should in fact be taught to children, and some of the staff members have isolated those scenes on YouTube.
  • In a peculiar example, Max Fleischer, while never saying animation could only be for kids (in fact making some raunchy adult oriented animation himself, such as the Betty Boop series), was strongly against the idea of animation trying to emulate other mediums like fine art on their own terms in order to gain artistic respect, believing that direct cartooning is an art in itself and was only handicapped by trying to stray from it. He expressed his sentiments in a letter to one of his animators, Shamus Culhane, who recalled this in his biography:
    "During the span of years from 1914, I have made efforts to retain the 'cartoony" effect. That is, I did not welcome the trend of the industry to go "arty". It was, and still is, my opinion that a cartoon should represent, in simple form, the cartoonist's mental expression. In other words the "animated oil painting" has taken the place of the flashiness and delightfulness of the simple cartoon. In my opinion, the industry must pull back. Pull away from the tendencies toward realism. It must stay in its own backyard of "The Cartoonist's Cartoon.". The cartoon must be a portrayal of the expression of the true cartoonist, in simple,unhampered cartoon style. The true cartoon is a great art in its own right. It does not need the assistance or support of "Artiness." In fact, it is actually hampered by it."
  • Despite the Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry DVDs having a warning on the DVD cases that they may not be appropriate for younger viewers (due to the outdated references and racial stereotypes that often get edited when aired on television), it still doesn't stop stores from placing them in the kids section.
  • SWAT Kats jumps to mind. Running from 1993 to 1995, It was among the earlier western attempts at breaking the ghetto, and, in spite of the many problems that popped up because of that, the series went on to become a hit and garnered high ratings, and the creators even recently concluded a Kickstarter campaign to bring the show back.
    • From the same period, Universal's Exosquad, which was set in the future where humanity is fighting essentially "World War II in space with giant robo-suits". The show had complex plots, characters that got killed, and using the Terran-Neosapien conflict for un-preachy lessons about racism and the horrors of war. It got cancelled too, but not because of content—despite the clout and muscle of Universal Studios backing it, it often got shafted by local stations (it was syndicated) to crappy timeslots like 4AM.
  • Though how it happened is... let's just say sad, it's also amusing that the only animated shows on FOX that survive are comedies for the older crowd.
  • In Italy, if it's cartoon art, then it must be targeted to children, bloody battles, dismemberment and sexual innuendo notwithstanding. Which is weird, considering how established the Italian market for adult comic books is.
  • The censor board from France, before the 1990s, just automatically flagged animation for kids without even watching a single episode. To this day, we still don't know why.
    • Probably in part because France has the same baffling problem as Italy, above. While Franco-Belgian Comics have pretty much always had large segments intended solely for adults, the cartoon series they make are almost universally children- or family-oriented even to this day (which led to some problems in the early days of the 90's anime craze, which is probably why they changed their tunes).
    • Then again, it is the French censor board. The same censor board that thinks that Fifty Shades of Grey is 12+ worthy and that did not have an 18+ rating prior to the release of Baise Moi (the latter of which is redlinked due to not fitting the 5P standards on This Very Wiki ). It is ultra-rare for animation in general to be worse and what is worse is quite often not released in France to begin with.
      • The French Censor Board already had an X-rating before, of course. A 18+ rating is the equivalent of an American NC-17 (but much more rarely given ; most NC-17 films are rated 16+ only in France).
  • Invasion America, one of the only primetime animated dramas produced in the United States, folded after one season without any plot resolution. It's worth noting that the reason Invasion America aired in primetime in the first place was because it was Screwed by the Network; It was intended to air on Kids' WB!, but was seen as too dark, so the network burned it off on primetime instead and didn't renew it.
    • Æon Flux, another American primetime animated drama, didn't fare much better. It lasted for three seasons, but only had sixteen episodes— and six of those were five-minute shorts. The Movie starring Charlize Theron didn't help at all.
  • When Batman: The Animated Series was released, critics praised the mature storytelling and vibrant art style, saying it was "wasted on weekday afternoons." They thought it could easily grab the attention of a more adult audience. When Fox put this to the test, giving the show a prime-time slot, it flopped miserably.
    • This was likely due to the show being a forerunner for more adult-targeted animation. Being one of the first, besides The Simpsons, it helped to break the public perception of cartoons as being only for kids and paved the way for other shows. Anime had a similar transition that took at least a decade before it started appearing more prevalently on television.
    • Bruce Timm and his co-producers have commented many times in interviews and on DVD commentaries that they very much doubted they would be allowed to get away with some of the things they did in the "Timmverse" if they tried them today. The other installments in the DCAU have received similar praise.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series is a continuation of the live-action Star Trek: The Original Series, with Gene Roddenberry at the helm, scripts by many of the same writers, and the original cast (except Walter Koenig) providing voicework. It aired in the 1970s on Saturday morning — anything not kid-friendly in those slots was literally forbidden back then. The show was presented as a direct sequel to Star Trek: The Original Series and took itself just as seriously as the original, with no concessions to its possibly younger audience. Stories included an episode about religious intolerance titled "Jihad", and another in which Nurse Chapel gets a whiff of Harry Mudd's love drug and tries to jump Spock's bones (or at least as close to it as TV would allow back then). It was well received enough to earn the franchise's first Emmy Award. This is remarkable when one considers that the company that made it, Filmation, to at least some extent actively encouraged the Animation Age Ghetto, as they felt it their civic duty to act as agents of social uplift for the kids, and not to scare or puzzle them too much.
  • Teen Titans was directed toward teenagers, but the animated series was aimed at kids. Though Lighter and Softer then the DC Animated Universe shows, Teen Titans still managed to strike a balance between standard Saturday Morning Cartoon fare and more mature storytelling.
    • At one point in time, Teen Titans Go!, which was spun-out of a series of shorts based on the original series and which falls into the ghetto more than said series, was one of the most-watched shows amongst kids 2-5, having ratings on par with Sofia the First and PAW Patrol. It has an attractive artstyle with super-deformed characters, bright colors, catchy songs and often airs during the early morning hours when toddlers would usually watch TV. Despite all of this, it's ostensibly aimed at older kids and has some scary scenes, references to things the target demographic might be too young for (for example, there were entire episodes based on The Breakfast Club and The Goonies), some hidden innuendos and episodes meant for people who grew up on the original Teen Titans series.
      • Since the success of TTG, current CN president Christina Miller has been accused by fans of enforcing this trope. Cartoon Network's current programming almost strictly emphasizes comedies aimed towards younger children and heavily downplays any content for teen's and young adults.note  Not helping matters is the channel's treatment towards its more acclaimed shows and Miller's previous involvement with HIT Entertainment, which produces television shows aimed at preschoolers. Much of these accusations is simply the result of Miller being a Scapegoat Creator. The network's favoritism towards comedies was well under way before Miller's tenure, as a number of the network's more serious-toned shows were cancelled under predecessor Stu Snyder. Snyder himself was also accused of subscribing to the Ghetto during his tenure, on top of being the catalyst for the network's ill-fated move into live-action. Nonetheless, Cartoon Network Studio's involvement with shows like Close Enough and the adult-oriented final season of Samurai Jack note  indicate that not everyone at Cartoon Network is against making mature cartoons for older audiences.
  • Young Justice, while having little to do with its namesake comic, has a much more mature feel. Real guns are frequently used (although lasers are also shown), there are fairly complex running storylines, innuendo-laced jokes are made, characters are killed, and there are also allusions to real world political situations such as in North Korea and the Middle East (albeit with obvious stand-ins). It's made all the more baffling since the series was aired on Saturday mornings rather than a prime time slot, where more adult-oriented content like The Clone Wars was usually placed on Cartoon Network.
  • A similar occurrence took place to a much greater extent, especially in the later seasons, of Static Shock. The Milestone Comic on which it is based can be best described as an Amazing Spider-Man with a black hero, twice as much angst, and 10 times more contemporary content (sex, gay-bashing and visual gang warfare were but a few of the series's recurring focal points). While the beginning of the animated series is close enough to its source material, it became more and more child-oriented as time went on. Family-Friendly Firearms was in full effect by the middle of the series even though real guns were seen and used in the series' premiere. There is another example of a non-laser gun when a bullied kid steals his father's gun with the intention to kill his tormentor; he ends up being knocked to the ground by some students with the gun going off and hitting his friend Richie in the leg. Richie doesn't bleed, but you can tell he is in serious pain. Later on, we find out he could've died if the bullet struck any higher.
  • Since the creators believed that WB would not go for a dark animated series, the original pitch for Justice League had a Lighter and Softer tone with a modified version of Young Justice acting as kid sidekicks to the JLA. When the show was instead picked up by Cartoon Network, the sidekicks were ditched and the show's tone was made closer to that of the earlier DCAU cartoons. Bruce Timm has gone on record stating that he's relieved the original idea never came to fruition.
  • The producers of Spider-Man: The Animated Series had a list of requirements to keep the show family-friendly. Some were animated staples such as laser guns and not mentioning "death", "die", etc.; but some were utterly ridiculous ("Caution that when Spider-Man lands on the roof, he doesn't harm any pigeons.").
  • Subversion: the UK — specifically, Channel 4 — has exhibited a hefty amount of adult animation for TV.
  • Daria aired on The N, which at first shared a channel with preschool channel Noggin. Episodes shown on The N were frequently censored to remove any references to things like sex, drinking, or other "mature" content (Despite this, the show is rated TV-PG). What makes this particularly infuriating is that Degrassi, (a teen drama which is TV-14) The N's most popular show, deals with these kinds of topics all the time.
  • Sky One used to air Family Guy and Baby Blues as part of their Saturday Morning line-up, along with kids stuff in the early part of the decade. They, uh, did not last long. Though in the latter's case, please note that the comic strip was family-friendly.
    • The same thing happened to the former on a FOX affiliate during a Sunday afternoon children's block, where it aired right after Garfield and Friends. Even worse, they slapped an E/I rating onto it! Thankfully, they moved the syndicated airings to a time when most kids would be eating dinner and/or preparing for school the next day.
    • In-universe example: Brian once told on Adam West for watching cartoons because he was an adult.
  • Fox used to air The Ripping Friends, which before used to air on Spike TV when they attempted to make a block for adult animation (which got cancelled after a month), on Saturday morning. It is basically The Ren & Stimpy Show on steroids (it is created by John Kricfalusi...). Cancellation and a spot on [adult swim] at 11:00 PM ensued. Guess they figured adults would appreciate all the poop and booger jokes more.
    • Ren & Stimpy (particularly Adult Party Cartoon) got hit quite hard. Notably, the latter was intended to be as disturbing and inappropriate for children as humanly possible, but somehow ended up briefly getting a 'Y7/C8' rating.
  • The Simpsons is revered for being an animated show enjoyed by both children and adults, but in the British "100 Greatest Kids' TV shows" poll on Channel 4 (which wasn't very democratic since the 100 shows were picked by the channel in the first place; the public were simply putting them in order, so to speak) the number 1 spot was taken by The Simpsons. The people on the show's constant pleas that it belonged there because it appealed to all ages really held no ground considering there are plenty of other shows that kids can also enjoy despite them being made for adults that didn't make the list. Once again, it seems to be the old argument "It's animated, that means kids must like it!"
    • In Brazil, TV Channel Rede Globo decided to start airing The Simpsons at noon, right after the morning cartoon block. Not very good, but at least The Simpsons was acknowledged as a separate entity from the block; and the time slot could be watched by adults and teenagers. But then they changed their minds and started airing it inside the cartoon block. It's quite a shock to see The Simpsons being aired right after The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, to say the least.
    • In Colombia it's aired Saturdays 2:00 - 3:00 P.M to this day, severely edited. It's more a case of Executive Meddling since it seems they know that the show has some things not meant for children, but they do it anyway because they know adults and teenagers love it anyway and it's not bad to get more audience.
  • One of the few real exceptions to this trope on American television is King of the Hill, which has always stayed out of the ghetto by focusing almost entirely on adult-oriented humor. And we don't mean "excessive raunchiness and Black Comedy" Adult, we mean "the normal and instantly relatable stuff grown-ups have to deal with day-to-day" type of Adult. Kids and teens, who were at first drawn in by the "from the makers of Beavis and Butt-Head" marketing, found the show boring and stayed away, but the adult audience kept the show running for 13 seasons.
  • Invader Zim deserves a mention. Nickelodeon specifically asks Jhonen Vasquez to make a show for older children, but then they wound up marketing it between SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents. Predictably, it only lasted a season and a half. (Ironically, Nick later opted to whore it out in crossovers meant for said other shows' target demographics).
  • Bell TV will categorize any animated series as "Children", regardless of its rating. End result, cartoons such as those in the future with automated suicide booths and vending machines labeled "Refreshing! Crack", with frequent decapitation and dismemberment, oft-horrifying imagery, cannibalism, a severely debauched clown... and Toki are labeled as "Children".
  • Every movie in the DC Universe Animated line has a sticker on the case saying "The First-Ever Animated (insert subject of movie here) Movie Rated PG-13!", as if nobody would watch the movie otherwise (which, sadly, is probably the case). It technically isn't even true for Batman: Gotham Knight, since Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker was rated PG-13 eight years before.
  • Some people would say that Looney Tunes deserve a special mention in this case. They're aired on Boomerang and clearly marketed to young children - despite the gratuitous amounts of various types of guns, smoking, alcohol, violence, general cruelty and lots of World War II references - things that are not passable even in modern TV-PG rated Cartoon Network shows (perhaps excluding the violence). On the other hand, you can find most of those in a G-rated film (Beauty and the Beast has Gaston carry a gun, drink beer, and literally stab the titular Beast in the back, while An American Tail depicts smoking). Perhaps these commentators are simply underestimating American culture's ideas about what's kid-friendly?
    • It's worth noting that Looney Tunes and its many contemporaries were originally created with an adult audience in mind, being shorts that were run before feature films in theaters. They picked up their huge following (and association) with young audiences thanks to syndicated reruns on television starting in the 1950's.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender won a Peabody award (very unusual for a cartoon) for its character development and respect for war's consequences. However, the finale has been criticized for a perceived "immaturity" in the resolution of Aang's moral dilemma by having him rediscover anti-bending, and not take a harsh choice. However, it was representative of the character's personal struggle, and the creators planned this out from the beginning of the series.
    • The sequel series has been consistently getting high views in older age groups, even managing to beat out some Prime-Time shows in viewership. Despite this, its marketed at a slightly lower age group than its predecessor.
    • Interestingly, part way through season 3, the show was pulled from air, and only made available to watch online. While some feel that this was merely an example of continuing Screwed by the Network, many others suspect that Nickelodeon was trying to distance the show from its younger-skewing series due to it becoming increasingly dark and violent, as well as the fact that Korra ends the series in a relationship with another woman, something virtually unheard-of in Western animation.
  • This was the source of the Executive Meddling behind The Powerpuff Girls. It was originally intended for a more mature audience, but was dialed back at the producers' request (necessitating a name change from the original title, "The Whoopass Girls"... exactly.) Its original intent is still somewhat clear, however.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars launched an assault on the Ghetto, apart from a few specifically kid-aimed episodes.
    • When the show began airing in Hungary, it was in turn met with an assault from the Moral Guardians of the former National TV Authority ORTT. Its scenario followed almost step-by-step the dilemma of Dragon Ball Z from a decade earlier — show airs on a Sunday-morning cartoon block, ORTT riots, forces the TV station to give it an R rating, TV station decides to cancel it instead. Granted, The Clone Wars is a very violent series that had nothing to do in that timeslot, but given that the ORTT's charges against it included portraying aliens in an anthropomorphic manner, it's clear that neither party was particularly right in the head. Thankfully, Cartoon Network later picked up the rest of the series.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is possibly the strangest subversion of this trope in existence. Despite the fact that its primary demographic is grade-school girls, the showrunner did everything she could to make it enjoyable for the parents of said grade-schoolers. And thanks to a couple of blog posts condemning the show essentially sight unseen, it managed to catch the attention of 4Chan and later snowballed into the sub-cultural phenomenon that it is today.
    • Despite Lauren Faust's intentions, though, there are people who believe that all fans of the show older than the intended young audience are creepy Manchildren simply because of the presence of ponies. There's also bronies who are highly insistent that they're the new primary demographic and can get rather resentful whenever things intended to appeal to, well, young girls show up in the show or the toyline, even to the point of denying the idea of the show being popular with the primary demographic for whatever reason. This is not the place to discuss whether they are right or wrong. Don't get any ideas.
    • Lauren Faust targeted the show at girls between 5 and 12 (as opposed to earlier incarnations of the series targeted at ages 4 to 7) and their parents, both mothers and fathers. Nickelodeon Germany premiered it one year after The Hub. But when it did, it did so right after the pre-school Nick Jr. block, back to back with Dora the Explorer, and with a dub fit for the target audience of Dora the Explorer which goes up to 5. Later, Nickelodeon Germany pushed the show into the Nick Jr. block where it has been residing ever since. Also, it has only ever been placed into time slots in which only pre-school kids would be able to watch it but neither its target audience nor bronies and other fans of any age. All of this despite Nickelodeon Germany getting a load of requests from bronies to run the show in the first place, which probably should have been a sign that it would work better and be accepted on a later time slot. The same "preschool show" treatment is given to the show in Canada, where it airs on Treehouse TV... complete with censorship, mainly whenever the word "loser" is used in some episodes note . This is despite the show being rated TV-Y in America, which means the content is intended to be acceptable for all children.
    • The show is rated TV-Y, which is the rating that many of its contemporaries also have, and they're very clearly marketed as preschool shows. They have one thing in common in that, even though they have a large audience appeal, TV-Y rated shows can't escape the stigma of being only for preschool kids.
  • RCN network in Colombia aired American Dad! during morning weekends, along with things from Disney. Moral Guardians screamed and the show didn't survive a month.
  • Again in Colombia, Caracol network used to air Ranma 1/2 and Cardcaptor Sakura uncensored, with the announcement saying that those two shows were specifically for children. They still air The Simpsons and Futurama, and still announce the programs as specifically for children. No one has said anything about it whatsoever.
  • The creators of The Critic blame its short run on ABC on this trope. The show was the only animated series in the network's lineup, and aired on a night of family friendly comedies (an audience The Critic clearly was not aiming for.) The ironic result that was viewers dismissed the show as kid's fare despite it being the edgiest thing ABC showed all night. The show parodied this by ending an episode with Jay breaking the fourth wall and wishing "a special good night to all of you just tuning in to watch Home Improvement!" This was followed by wacky cartoon music and an iris-out effect reminiscent of old Looney Tunes shorts.
  • In 2011, the Parents Television Council was shocked to discover that cartoons broadcast by night-time on the programming block called "[adult swim]" are, in fact, inappropriate for children. Gee, who would have thought?
  • Jeph Loeb admittedly believes in gearing Marvel cartoons to children, hence his efforts to invoke this with the single-episode storylines and comedic overtones of Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers, Assemble!. Never mind the acclaim their respective predecessors, The Spectacular Spider-Man and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, received by also appealing to Marvel Comics' adult fans.
  • For Yahoo's new web series Electric City with Tom Hanks, on the advertisement that was on the front page, Yahoo felt the need to also put "(Contains adult themes.)" so no parent would put it on saying "Cartoons!"
  • Mighty Max: You may think this 1990s show is aimed at kids and that it firmly belongs in this trope. You would be wrong. It has on-screen deaths, averts Never Say "Die", features blood a couple times, and contains a lot of horror. How it got away with this is a mystery.
  • Stripperella: It totally shows characters strip dancing, and is lucky to have at least 13 episodes, because most of the nudity is filtered. Besides the fanservice, it survived due to it focusing more on comedy.
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast: It may look like a cartoon talk show for kids, but it's really one of [adult swim]'s animated shows, and it's rated TV-14.
    • It doesn't help that earlier episodes made before the TV ratings existed were a bit tamer than what would come later in the series. For example, in "Spanish Translation", the only inappropriate thing is Kevin Meaney saying "Oh my God!" twice and talking about Communist spies.
  • A few parents who watched Garfield and Friends believe that just because Wade frequently crossdresses as female characters whenever stories are told and once kissed his friend Roy in such a role that the show is inappropriate for any child under the age of ten.
  • The Transformers series tends to invert the usual rules for this trope. For example, take some of the American series, note that even the Lighter and Softer Transformers Animated includes what's basically implied to be a living weapon, abandonment and a Black and Gray Morality. Compare the various Japanese series. Even at its darkest, the series had a clear Black and White Morality. This is due to the Japanese view of living robots as "Immature".
    • The various dubs also take a role in this, take for example Blackarachnia generally being turned from a darker character that not only acts as a Token Evil Teammate post Heel–Face Turn but later roles have her as a self-hating mutant and a walking pile of UST and basically a stalker all get turned into various version of Genki Girl.
  • The Animatrix has a warning on the package saying it has adult content, is based on an R-rated film, and is not meant for kids.
  • Despite MTV's much-maligned move away from music videos starting in the 90's, the network deserves credit for being one of the first in America to avert this trope. Its various animated shows—Beavis And Butthead, Daria, Celebrity Deathmatch, Æon Flux, among others—were all geared towards older audiences and did not shy away from swearing, violence, or sexual references.
    • Æon Flux in particular deserves mention for being one of the very few primetime animated dramas produced in the United States, and the only one to last more than one season.
  • Phineas and Ferb is often seen as a "kids show" because it's on Disney Channel. This is often a defense of the show when Marvel fans complained about the crossover and a claim made by the haters but Word of God states that the show is actually aimed at adults but doesn't exclude children as an audience.
  • At least particially responsible for the brief runs of both Spawn and Spicy City, which aired on HBO and were decidedly not at all child-friendly. Both were critically acclaimed (Spawn even won an Emmy) but received little viewership and were Short-Runners as a result. It didn't help that the HBO Animation logo was somewhat "whimsical."
  • While he does occasionally do films meant for young audiences, Bill Plympton's relatively small reputation and distinct visual style have kept him out of this trope, as those familiar with his work know perfectly well that his stuff is not for kids. Nevertheless, someone felt compared to write "NOT FOR CHILDREN" in huge white letters on the poster for his 2001 feature Mutant Aliens, which features generous amounts of onscreen sexual intercourse, defecation and gore.
    • The Tune was very popular among children, mostly because it lacked his trademark political incorrectness (boasting a single, brief shot of nudity). Bill didn't seem to mind.
  • Belgium used to be a big offender of this trope until the mid-2000. The main reason why the trope stopped being in effect after that in the country is due to the national success of South Park. Which is kind of odd for a country that has the same problems as France and Italy and where all of the only available anime is shonen (although seinen and shoujo manga is available there). One Belgian animator even managed to get on a local newspaper for proposing a new adult animated comedy for Comedy Central.
  • Gravity Falls is a show that airs on Disney networks. Tote bags of it were once given out in Subway Kids Meals, and a few children's chapter books have been published. All this, despite the fact that the show contains unprecedented amounts of Nightmare Fuel, violence, death, Black Comedy, and a teeny bit of risque humor. As such, several parents have complained about the show's content, and Disney themselves hardly make any merchandise for it (aside from the aforementioned tote bags and books) because it's not for little kids - or at least, not for children as young as many of their shows skew towards.
    • The "cutesy merchandise for little kids" phenomena is bizarrely played with in the case of the official activity book "Dipper and Mabel's Guide to Mystery and Nonstop Fun", published during early season 2. The basic idea is that the twins found an old blank book lying around, and Dipper decided to write adventuring tips for whoever finds it next, while Mabel added "fun" pages about things such as a monster fashion show and instructions on how to make your own paper pet. Although the book is very silly and the writing of it is probably not canon, a lot of the things mentioned in it are canon, and some cryptograms in the book turned out to foreshadow major events from later in the show. Also, the adventure sections mention blood rain and have a page for figuring out if you're possessed by a demon, and there's a part where Dipper passes out and then wakes up to find that Bill Cipher wrote some spooky stuff in his book and he can't get rid of it no matter what he does.
  • Miraculous Ladybug was originally pitched as an animesque cartoon aimed at teenagers. However, when networks weren't interested, they turned it into a computer-generated cartoon aimed at younger audiences. However, it has still gained a Periphery Demographic with a significant cult following. Granted, some of them do wish the original pitch had been picked up. . .
  • Ever wonder why Regular Show has so much sexual innuendo, dark humor, and the use of mild swearing? It was originally going to be an [adult swim] show, but Adult Swim at the time had no room in its schedule for a new show, and it was aired on daytime Cartoon Network instead.
  • The Real Ghostbusters, which began airing in 1986, was one of the first and most valiant attempts to break out of the Ghetto. It worked to some degree, for a time, until Executive Meddling kicked in. It helps that its parent film was one of the least kid-friendly movies to be mistaken for being for kids to come out of the 80s.
  • The animated version of Watership Down is an infamous example amongst British audiences. Brought out in the late 70s and often broadcast on TV at Christmas time, a cartoon about talking bunny rabbits having an adventure seems like the perfect thing to stick in front of the kids for a couple of hours, right? You could not be more wrong.
  • Kaeloo has been noted for its ability to entertain both kids and adults, but a lot of people tend to believe that it is a kids' show and it is broadcast as a kids' show despite all the adult jokes in it.
  • While they tend to serve as a middle ground for both kids and adults, animated action shows are the frequent victim to this stigma. It's all too easy for parents and Moral Guardians alike to rip a network a new one over a show's violent content or themes. Many shows had to either tone down the content or be moved to a later time slot, if not outright canceled.
    • It's also worth mentioning that because of how expensive action cartoons are in general, most of the shows produced for television tend to have less of a chance in longevity. Their main source of revenue is from merchandising and video sales, which don't always sell for various reasons despite the show's popularity. note  It's easier for networks to produce animated comedies because they're less expensive, binge-friendly, and more likely to turn a profit from kids without any hassle from their parents or watchdogs. Even when a network does produce an action action, it's always the more darker, serious-toned, and older-skewing series that get the least support, in contrast to shows wholeheartedly aimed at children (a la Teen Titans Go!).
  • This website claims that Bob's Burgers is a children's show. While the series does have a few great messages about family, and is a lot more tame than your typical FOX cartoon, Bob's Burgers is anything but a kids show.
  • The Crumpets is mainly identified and distributed as a children's show, and it's a loose adaptation of a line of French Picture Books. Looking deeper, it isn't exactly a kid-friendly show when it happens to contain parental sex, nudity, animal harm (like birds getting shot), suicide jokes, a substance addiction crisis that encompasses children, mild profanity, and grown-up topics like adultery and money. In season 3, many of these elements became mild or nonexistent.
  • TV Guide UK once classified Our Cartoon President as a children's show because of the word "cartoon" appearing in its title. Because of this, kids' shows such as Horrid Henry and The Amazing World of Gumball appeared as recommended, and it was also recommended to several shows aired on Cartoonito note  like Fireman Sam and Curious George. The show itself actually has tons of vulgar language and several examples of Black Comedy. The listing would later be corrected and is now categorized under the correct label of "Comedy".

  • While TV Tropes itself has averted this for the most part, there have been complaints by some users of the site as well as critics of the site simply because Animation works and tropes are cataloged. A number of these complaints can be summarized as "why does this site catalog these stupid kids cartoons instead of "proper literature"?" and such. Of course, this is why the There Is No Such Thing as Notability rule apparently never crosses any of these folk's minds to actually add whatever works and tropes they so want to see here.note 
    • This trope is at least part of the reasoning behind the Animated Film/Live-Action Film (tellingly often just "Film") split - because how dare kiddy cartoons be treated as on equal footing with live-action entertainment? (Of course, a lot of it is simple clarity: Is an animated feature "Film" or "Western Animation"?)
  • Likely not intended; but TiVo suggestions, if left on, would often give you suggestions based on what channel you recorded. If you recorded something off the [adult swim] block, it wouldn't be uncommon to see it suggesting stuff for younger audiences.
    • Netflix tends to do this as well.
  • When Phenomena debuted in Norway in 2002 was the country in a belief that video games, animation, and fantasy books had to be for kids. Due to this Phenomena was first given a 10-12 rating but when Gyldendal(the publisher) removed their 10:12 imprint and gave it a 9+ rating. Despite this are there an obvious Date Rape, some more implied rapes, gruesome violence, talk about drugs, Blackand Gray Morality, and more. Since then more fantasy has been created in Norway and despite some being milder and others being Hotter and Sexier with Unfortunate Implications did they get 13+ ratings from the start, but Phenomena still stuck with 9+ despite being Darker and Edgier, not unlike another that suddenly got a lot more mature. The same mistake would happen again with the spin-off Picture Books which are even gorier containing lots of blood, Cold-Blooded Torture, scalping, and a character crossing the Moral Event Horizon and becoming an Extreme Omnivore... with a rating of 8+, right in the age of rapid nightmares where the slightest Uncanny Valley character can give nightmares.
  • The 1988 book Animation From Script To Screen is a good example of how an analysis of Western animation can both try to avert this trope and end up reinforcing it. It's written by James ("Shamus") Culhane, an unsung legend in the history of animation, who worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Pinocchio, and Dumbo, as well as many other features for Disney. Culhane had an encyclopedic knowledge about animation (as well as other subjects) and pretty eclectic tastes: he praised Ralph Bakshi and Richard Williams (head animator for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which was a big movie hit at the time), ridiculed the commercially-driven dreck on Saturday morning TV, and tried to present animation as a serious art form indebted to (among others) Michelangelo and Sergei Eisenstein. He even warns writers for cartoons never to target children only, because only if you write for adults will you be completely uncondescending. However, his prejudices toward his own profession still show through at times. He assumes that most animators aspire to make people laugh - which would be fine, except that it implies that cartoons cannot inspire any emotion other than hilarity. He also writes that "very subtle acting may never be possible to meet in this medium." (If only Culhane, who died in 1996, could have lived to see the "performances" of the characters in the Pixar and DreamWorks movies!)
  • Quick: What channel on cable television, at the height of its popularity, delivered the most shows where the characters were either animated or had a cast consisting of at least 50% puppets? If you guessed Cartoon Network, you would be wrong. The answer was the Sprout Network,note  a 24 hour preschool channel which had 100% animated or puppet broadcast. Even the live segments always had at least as many puppets as people. The only questionable exceptions were Barney, The Wiggles and Teletubbies, which have significant numbers of characters in full-body puppets, but do not always meet the 50% mark.
  • Back in 2012, the Polish television channel Polsat had an advert that announced the showing of several CGI films. How does the advert begin? "Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound. These cartoons have enthralled children through the years. In the twenty-first century, cartoons are both for children and for adults!" Because everything animated made before Pixar and Shrek is kiddie fare... granted, if the only cartoons you know from before 2000 are Hanna-Barbera cartoons, it's not surprising you're holding that kind of an opinion.
  • Also as of March 2012, main Italian network RAI is currently the biggest offender of this trope. To clarify, while animation on RAI used to be far more prominent throughout The '90s, after the Turn of the Millennium animated shows started to appear at a progressively smaller rate, until they were completely confined within an early morning timeslot. Then, in the mid-2000s, the RaiGulp channel, aimed at a younger demographic, rose to fame as the "safe place" for animation in general, and most arrows were pointing to a fairly brighter future: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Code Lyoko, Ruby Gloom, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Wolverine and the X-Men, The Spectacular Spider-Man, any good show, you name it. Then, however, things went downhill at the beginning of The New '10s, where "kid [soap] operas" like Grachinote  started overshadowing animation at an alarming rate, culminating in live-action series getting the spotlight and nearly all animated shows being confined to an after-midnight timeslot. With Avatar: The Last Airbender among them.
    • RAI then subverts this trope only around Christmas, where it becomes the equivalent of the Golden Age Disney Channel on steroids. Yeah, the same network that nearly denies the existence of animation as a medium, does the complete opposite in mid-December by nearly running a marathon of the entire Disney Animated Canon.
    • Yet again, RAI made a new channel, Rai 4, which would be composed of anything that doesn't fulfill RAI's canon on TV series. This channel includes a small late-night section for anime such as Code Geass and Mawaru-Penguindrum. This didn't stop the Moral Guardians for trying to ban this rather small part of the channel because the anime clearly weren't for kids, regardless of the time they were actually broadcasted.
    • And they subverted it once more with their badge of idents in September 2016, which have been somewhat begrudgingly compared to Cartoon Network idents.
  • The cable provider Verizon FiOS seems to think that, just because anime series like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Cowboy Bebop, Deadman Wonderland, Bleach, Casshern Sins, and Fullmetal Alchemist air on Cartoon Network (when in fact they air on [adult swim], the channel's Watershed hour), they can be categorized as "children's shows".
    • This has become less prevalent over time thanks to the more generic "animated series" description, including having separate "Cartoon Network" and "[adult swim]" sub-sections in their On Demand service. Verizon and other providers still have issues dealing with networks that nominally cater to children during the day and adults during the night in regards to "suggestions" that pop up, however; switching from Nick Toons to CN at 1 PM is safe, but not so much at 1 AM...
  • According to People magazine The Simpsons episode "The Longest Daycare" and all the animated shorts nominated for Oscars are ways kids can "get into the spirit of awards season". WTF?! See Oscar-Nominated Animation Shorts Gets No Respect in People Magazine on Cartoon Brew.
  • Science museums have the same problem, being seen as mainly for children. Adult science enthusiasts have to settle for books, magazines and TV programs like Nova, which don't offer the hands-on experiences that museum exhibits do.
  • Something Awful considers fans of "children's shows" and anime as creepy, socially-moronic nerds, and its userbase won't hesitate to tell you that, outside of the less goony subboards. Posting about anime unironically out of the dedicated anime subboard usually warrants at least one annoyed goon, mockery, and/or a probation.
    • Similarly, discussion of Japanese games and cartoons in 4chan, outside of /a/ or /jp/ (and even in them), can and will get the random troll sparking a flame war over people liking this "weeaboo shit".note 
    • This has notably changed massively in recent years, as anime becomes more mainstream; while certain aspects of anime are still ripe for mockery, many goons are openly anime fans, and Dragon Ball discussion has a habit of horribly derailing threads.
  • In Hungary, there's a catch-all term used for all animation: "mese", or "fairytale" in English,note  which makes the position of animated shows much worse, as "mese" is traditionally a word that describes children's fiction. But even Hungary produced adult themed animations (e.g. a rather grotesque take on Snow White satirizing the communist state). This semantic inconsistency has lead to some people coming to regard "mese" as a term only applicable to softer, more kid-friendly and generally fantasy-themed productions, but most still use it as a synonym of "animation" anyway.
  • A rare written example: Harry Potter had this happen a little bit - they were originally written for children, but have a sizable Periphery Demographic. Some countries actually published more "Grown-up" covers to make adults feel less ashamed about it. This mentality has drastically started to reduce.
    • Harry Potter was designed to "grow up" with the audience. The earlier books were basically children's books, while the later ones (book 4 onwards), were aimed more at teenagers.
  • Roger Ebert deconstructed the ghetto in his review of Princess Mononoke, pointing out that animation can tell certain stories much better than live-action.
  • The Criterion Collection struggled with this trope for years; owing to Disney and other major animation studios keeping their top-drawer material to themselves, for many years the only animated feature in the collection was AKIRA, and only on laserdisc. In The New '10s the wall came down: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Watership Down, and Fantastic Planet have all become part of the collection.
  • Averted in many political propaganda films. As it is at times easier to exaggerate the flaws and successes in animation more so than in live-action plenty of politicians use the medium to fulfill their status quo in personal reunions, as evidenced by the amount of animation in stuff such as ''Education for Obedience''. It is however played straight during election campaigns where animation is rarely used. This has probably to do with the fact that it might be important to see who you are voting for. The heavy usage of this medium during World War I and World War II is however a big reason why animation is taken as a serious medium by historians, especially because there is a decent flood of it because it was an easy source for those who could not read.
  • Turner Classic Movies rarely shows animated material. There's nothing in their rules against it so they have shown animation, and have covered a far larger swath of it than most people recognize exists: silent-era shorts, classic MGM and Warner Bros. shorts, the two features of the Fleischer Brothers, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, Heavy Metal, B-level Disney Animated Canon titles like The Reluctant Dragon, Twice Upon a Time, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Studio Ghibli films have all been covered. But in part since the channel is about the last place in North America to extensively show pre-1970 films, foreign-language films, silent films, etc., animation has to compete with all of those live-action films for airtime!
  • A college textbook about restaurant marketing claimed that family-friendly restaurants such as Applebee's and McDonald's only advertise on channels that show cartoons (never mind the fact this is clearly untrue).
  • The American Film Institute zigzags the trope with their published lists. Animated films are represented on several of their lists, including two on the most recent Top 100 (Snow White #29, Toy Story #99). But many of these are in low placements and lost amidst many live-action American Films. Including animation as a "genre" on their Ten Top 10 lists indicated their level of apathy by lumping an entire medium together as a distinct genre. On their year end best-of lists, PIXAR in their heyday had all their films listed for their years, along with Shrek in 2001, Happy Feet in 2006, and Coraline in 2009 (alongside Up to boot). In 2015, animation returned to their lists with Inside Out and Zootopia the year following. But these still barely made the cut and only one per year seems to suggest the ghetto is still strong. You may have also noticed most of these awarded films are Disney movies, which is its own separate issue. Though this may be justified a little, since as far as America was concerned, Disney pretty much held a monopoly on the medium until about the 70s.
    • The TV section is no better. The Simpsons and South Park, both adult shows, are the only animated programs to have been listed in their TV section. And no animated show has been on there since 2002!
  • It's worth mentioning that while the Ghetto's stigma has died down in the west with the airing of adult animation on television, there still exists people who, while acknowledging that not all of them are made for kids, still refuse to watch cartoons of any kind on their own time as they find the medium in general "immature".
  • Strangely, in the United States, studios are on board with producing adult-oriented cartoons for TV, DVD, and the web given their success on these platforms, yet they're still hesitant on producing such cartoons for theaters for reasons unknown. This is possibly because of major studio execs thinking adult animation is still a niche medium that won't bring in the same type of success as they do on other platforms. This is the reason why Sausage Party's success at the box office has many in the industry excited as they believe it could finally lead to a wave of theatrically-released adult animation from Hollywood.
    • As of 2018, this appears to finally be happening. In the space of just two years, no less than three successful adult animated movies have been released in American theaters: the aforementioned Sausage Party, the Polish/British/American co-production Loving Vincent, and the stop-motion Isle of Dogs. A number of other adult animated films are planned for the near future. They include America: The Motion Picture (a satirical take on the founding of the United States being produced by Netflix), an animated horror movie called To Your Last Death, an R-rated comedy called Fixed directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, a film adaptation of Bob's Burgers, a sequel to The Simpsons Movie.
  • On a related note, many have criticized the rating system of the MPAA, which has a history of assigning films with mismatched ratings without rhyme or reason. One example being the 1975 animated film Coonskin which received an R rating by the association when the director's previous titles earned an X rating for having much of the same content as the latter. Granted it's worth noting that a film's rating doesn't always accurately reflect its content and instead indicates the audience best suited for it, but this only leads us back to the ghetto since most audiences would still associate most live-action PG movies as being for adults over animated films.
  • Up until 1998, Billboard had this problem when classifying CDs and VHS tapes based on adult-based animation. For example, The Simpsons CD "Songs In The Key Of Springfield" was classified as a "Kid Audio" CD alongside CDs featuring traditional children's songs and music from Barney & Friends, and VHS tapes of Beavis and Butt-Head were listed alongside tapes based on Sesame Street and The Land Before Time.
  • An assignment in a Scholastic Storyworks magazine revolves around this trope. A girl named Hannah wants to play Fortnite and writes a letter to her parents, who won't let her play it because it's violent. She tells them that she isn't concerned about the game's violence because it's a cartoon and she's old enough to watch them.
  • 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die: Of the 1222 movies that have at some point been included as of the 2019 edition, only 20 (i.e. 1.6%) are animated. It has been argued that this trope is the reason the Toy Story trilogy only received one entry to cover all three movies whereas every movie of original Star Wars trilogy each got its own entry.
  • As a result of being fined for violating COPPAnote , YouTube made this into an official policy of sorts (in effect as of January 6, 2020); while you can manually mark your video(s) as not being suitable for children under 13, an automatic system scans all videos for typical signs of it being made for children, which includes bright colors and 2D animation. If it is marked as being suitable for children but it's determined as being an attempt to gather their info, one can get fined for up to $42,000. And if this article is to be believed, things have already gone sideways...

Alternative Title(s): Cartoons Are For Kids


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