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Avoid the Dreaded G Rating

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"I don't know why it's PG. We're getting in that stupid thing again where it's like, 'Oh, we gotta throw in a swear word or some kind of innuendo,' to be like, you know, 'Oh! We got the PG rating! So, see kids? You know, you don't have to think this is dorky or anything 'cause we have the PG, so we said something adult!'"

Movies may be art and intended by writers and directors to tell stories, but as far as the funders and distributors are concerned, films need to make money and get the biggest possible audience. Achieving this may involve lying about a movie's content, showing all the best parts, or (when it comes to family movies) changing the rating.

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Perception means a lot — R ratings tend to indicate something for adults (but not always). G ratings often indicate something for kids. In between are PG and PG-13 movies. So with a lot of otherwise perfectly clean, family-friendly movies, the word "damn" and/or "hell" might be added to the script, just to drop that dreaded G rating. The phrase "brief mild language" appearing as a content warning is a giveaway. At PG, the movie has a better shot at avoiding the "kid stuff" stigma that keeps teen or adult viewers away.

Adding a little swearing makes the film easy to edit for TV or airplane viewings without it interrupting the story. Sometimes stronger profanity is unnecessarily added, or the characters pay an irrelevant and fleeting visit to a strip club, or scenes are made more violent. Content is sometimes added to get an intentional PG-13 rating, or removed from a potential R-rated movie for the same reason. It's all about trying to get a certain audience to watch the film.

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Ironically, the average G-rated film makes more money than the average R-rated film, but maybe only because G-ratings are rarer. In the United Kingdom, the practice is sometimes known as "twelve-ing" or "fifteening" since many producers target the BBFC 12/12A or 15 ratings instead of the PG rating, which has gained a similar reputation as the MPA (Motion Picture Association)note  G.

Today in the United States, it's nearly impossible to get a G rating on any live-action or even All-CGI Cartoon movie without some serious negotiation. It apparently is to reinforce the Animation Age Ghetto; the MPA is more than happy to rate something as PG for "nothing offensive" because it's live action. Almost no live-action or CG-animated movies make it to theaters with a G rating anymore.

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It wasn't always this way. Since 1968, when modern MPA ratings began, the G rating has shifted and been significantly devalued. Originally, G-ratings were for movies for a "General" audience, not for "Grandparents and Goo-goo-babies", following the rationale of other countries' schemes, primarily that of the BBFC. Earlier G-rated films not only included violence, but sometimes even showed blood. Planet of the Apes (1968), released the same year the MPAA ratings started, was rated G, but you saw Charlton Heston's bare butt and heard "damned dirty ape" and "God damn you all to hell!" A few years later in 1971, Gone with the Wind was re-released with a G rating despite the racism, barely-off-screen sex, bloodshed, and a sea of dead bodies. The G-rated 1970 film Cromwell was a historical drama heavy on violence and death, including an on-screen beheading. But the rearrangement of the ratings system between 1970 and 1972note  largely put an end to that, with the notable exception of 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which was rated G despite featuring a couple of horrific deaths by Teleporter Accident, as well as references to sexuality.

Then in the early 1980s Moral Guardians protested about movies like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins and Poltergeist all receiving PG ratings despite their Family-Unfriendly Violence, and thus being seen by many young children who really shouldn't. After this, the MPAA introduced the PG-13 rating, so movies that would've been PG under the old standard became PG-13, with the more "mature" G movies now becoming PG. Thus, the demographic for films that remained G became very young.note 

Then in the late 1990s the MPAA became more lenient on what movies could show and still receive a PG or PG-13 rating, rather than an R-rating (a phenomenon referred to as "ratings creep"). However the requirements for the G-rating essentially remained the same. This created a crunch from both sides whereby movies were less likely to be rated either G or R, the effects of which became increasingly noticeable as the 2000s progressed, even as the latter part of the decade saw a glut of R-rated films.

Beginning in 2010 however, the MPAA reversed course and imposed stricter regulations over all its ratings after a decade of continued pressure from watchdog groups. This effectively killed the G-rating as a mainstream rating completely. Any offensive or aggressive language, any hint of sex or even romance, any Toilet Humour, and anything violent was out. Characters experiencing anything perilous or potentially upsetting at all became enough to kick a movie up to PG. Finding Dory was rated PG for... well, basically no reason ("mild thematic elements"). My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) being rated PG for "mild action" was probably the nail in the coffin. The PG-rating is now solidly synonymous with children's movies, with films that would previously have been rated PG now targeting the PG-13 rating.

Oscar Bait films often add some "stronger" content to get a PG-13 or R rating whereas their general tone would be that of a PG-rated film, as few films with this rating have won the Best Picture Award. (1968's Oliver! is the only G-rated film to win Best Picture, but it is also considered to be one of the award's weakest winners ever).

This also has applied to higher ratings, namely "R" and an adults-only rating, originally termed "X", which was not copyrighted unlike the others as it was meant to be available to anyone that desired to avoid the scrutiny of the ratings process, but this ended up backfiring as the letter "X" soon became synonymous with pornography, which mirrored what was happening to the BBFC's equivalent (which was changed to "R18" in 1982). A controversial example of this was 1973's The Exorcist, which gained an "R" instead of an "X" because everybody involved was aware the latter rating was "box-office poison", especially for a large-budgeted film. By 1990, acclaimed films such as Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and sex, lies, and videotape were either assigned "X" ratings or went unrated, which caused an uproar among film circles large enough to force the MPAA to rename this rating to NC-17note  late that year, but exhibitors and the media were leery over it, and after the failure of 1995's Showgirls it largely fell into disuse, with filmmakers preferring to eschew the ratings system for works with strong adult content. (However, there have been isolated exceptions such as Shame and Killer Joe.) Meanwhile, theater owners began giving less and less space to R-rated films after 2010 (mostly to make room for tentpole blockbusters with PG or PG-13 ratings), which led many studios to release two versions of more "mature" films: a PG-13 one for theaters and an "R-rated" one for home video, an extension of the "unrated cuts" often used in the home releases of several R-rated comedies in the 2000s.

Later attempts to content-rate media in the U.S. and abroad used the by-now-obvious shortcomings of film rating systems as an object lesson. When U.S. television created its "parental guideline" ratings in the late 1990s, the "G is for Grandma" effect was mentioned specifically, and is almost certainly the motivation for the U.S. TV rating system having both a TV-Y rating and a TV-G rating: TV-Y is "specifically for kids", and TV-G means "nothing offensive."note  Similarly, the ESRB ratings for video games, needing to account for both content and playability, have both the "E for Everyone" rating and the "eC for Early Childhood" rating for younger players. The E10+ rating was introduced in 2004 after some games pushed the bar a little further earlier in the decade. Some of those lower-end E or E10+ games suffer as well, albeit to a lesser extent. Even though the video game industry is no stranger to edginess for marketing's sake, this trope is probably least common in video games. That said, "E for Everyone" changed from its original name, "K-A for Kids to Adults", specifically because games sold better among older gamers when the rating didn't have "kid" in it. eC was retired as a rating in 2018; like how G-rated movies turned out to do better direct to video, eC-rated games do much better as iPad or Android apps. (The Apple App Store uses its own rating system, which designates formerly eC games "ages 4+"; the Google Play Store uses the local video game system, so they're lumped together with the E-for-Everyone games in the US.)

See Rated M for Money, and for more information on the rating systems, see Media Classifications.

This is NOT about movies that just happen to have a high rating. It is only about when something clearly unnecessary and unneeded is added to bump the rating higher, because without it the rating would be lower than what the company wants. Also note that it's not always certain what caused a movie to get (or not get) a certain rating, as outside a few guidelines, the MPA ratings are a black box.


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    General examples 
  • In the United Kingdom, 15 is the most common rating for any film not specifically marketed as family viewing and (according to the IMDB) the most common rating overall (same with R in the US).
    • This is true, of 100 films around 60% will get 15 and 12A rating, 10% will get 18, 10% will get a U and 20% will get PG. Even the word "cunt" alone doesn't justify an 18, as both Kick-Ass and Shaun of the Dead feature the word and only get a 15 (mentioned by Simon Pegg on the commentary who bemoaned "15 rating horror" and then got one).
    • American-made films do occasionally suffer due to the differences in ratings between the United Kingdom and United States. This is because the U.S. ratings go from 13 to 18, and the UK system goes 12 to 15 to 18. While some R- or NC-17–rated films fall naturally into the 15 range, others get cut to force them into it, as it is deemed more profitable than 18. For example, the subway fight between Smith and Neo in The Matrix originally had the headbutts cut out of it in the UK version; however, the uncut version with headbutts intact was passed with a '15' certificate in 2006.
    • In the United Kingdom, the movie Spider-Man has been mis-associated with an overhaul of the BBFC ratings system. A large number of parents thought its 12 rating (legally enforced) was too high, and they wanted their younger children to be able to see it, leading some local councils (who have the final say on film certificates) to let the film be released as PG or PG-12. This coincided with the introduction of, and pretty much replacement in cinemas by, the 12A rating (still legally restricted to this age, and still labelled as just 12 for video, but adults may bring minors if they feel the film is appropriate). The first film to be rated 12A upon its original release was The Bourne Identity.
    • Also in the United Kingdom, the BBFC for a while offered a Uc rating for home video releases only, which indicated material particularly suitable for young children. It was abandoned in 2009 following reports that any child old enough to have any influence over what they watched was rejecting videos with that rating as obviously boring.
  • Inversion: In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many films that would certainly get a PG or PG-13 today were rated G. Examples include the gory Hammer Horror film Dracula Has Risen from the Gravenote , the first Airport movie, the 1969 True Grit movienote , the aforementioned Planet of the Apes (1968), The Italian Job (1969), and The Monkees' psychedelic Cult Classic Head. One of these films, The Andromeda Strain, even carried this content warning on the original poster: "Rated G but may be too intense for younger children." However, since the MPAA rating system had just been created, the G rating didn't have the "kids only" stigma yet; it still meant "for general audiences".
    • Even nudity wouldn't necessarily bar a movie from a G rating in the early years. The 1973 version of Tom Sawyer has a scene in which Tom and Huck go skinny-dipping, and their rears are briefly visible as they dive under the water.
    • Films made prior to the inception of the rating system (unless they were reissued later), tend to be rated G by default, partly because of oversight regarding the many changes on the system since 1968 and the perception that all pre-1960 films were family-friendly entertainment (an assumption not dissimilar to the Animation Age Ghetto). This even considering that several Code-era films contain content that would, at minimum, justify a PG and even, in some cases, PG-13. For example, biblical films like The Ten Commandments (1956) were actually quite violent, and crime films like The Maltese Falcon had their fair share of blood. Many movies from The Pre-Code Era have content that would guarantee an R rating—such as the first batch of Universal Horror films; various gangster movies like The Public Enemy and Scarface (1932); sexually provocative silent films like Metropolis and Pandora's Box; and the controversial M, Freaks, and The Mask of Fu Manchu. An attempt in the 2000s by anti-smoking lobbyists to have the R rating retroactively applied to any classic Hollywood film in which smoking is shown (with Casablanca often cited as the uber-example) was unsuccessful, however.
  • From 1991 to 2004, there existed a law where to make things easier for the BBFC, any relatively tame cinema ads would be rated U, while not all of them were that tame, and any material which would classify the ad as PG or up would instead give the ad a 15 rating. Any ad worthier of a different rating would be submitted as a regular film. For example, this advert for fashion magazine Don't Tell It depicts a man being repeatedly shot as he's about to reveal the publication's name. Its copious Gorn earned it an 18 rating without it ending up in the 'Film Advertisement' category.
    • A Crimestoppers ad earned both a U-rated release and an 18-rated release, which had teen cursing as opposed to the one which replaces such words with "mucking".
  • Related, a lot of independent movies seem to believe this. Kid-friendly independent movies are rather rare, causing the perception that a lot of indie flicks are either pretentious angst fests, homages to grindhouse movies, or overwrought dramas that have all the sex and violence that mainstream movies won't allow.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Manga Entertainment became notorious during the 1990s for generously peppering their dubs with profanity in order to get "18" ratings in Britain, with the results being quite often hilarious. The visual content of these dubs would've gotten them a higher rating anyway.
  • The original North American licensor for Sgt. Frog, ADV Films, intended on getting the show on a children's network like Nickelodeon. Once Funimation got the license, it was clear that they had no intent to do so, and tried their best to sell it to a modern anime fan by making sure it at least got a PG rating - while some of the show is almost better for it (episode 18 with Natsumi's bleeped Cluster F-Bomb works better than a Kansai accent for an American audience), sometimes it just feels gratuitous (on one memorable occasion Keroro says "pain in the ass" and the voice actor feels like he's forcing it). This didn't even work in Nova Scotia, where FUNimation's version still got a G rating. This is somewhat justified as the original Sgt. Frog manga was much closer to a PG-13 rating, but the anime was toned down to be more child-friendly. FUNimation's take on it might be trying to restore its original age rating to appeal to the manga's more diehard fans.
  • Inverted by Pokémon: The First Movie: it was rated G despite its strong violence and its disturbing themes and images. Ironically, it was given a PG rating in Canada, which is generally more lenient about movie ratings.
  • Sentai Filmworks definitely wanted to give the Gintama movie a high rating: the word "fuck" is used three times in the dub, as well as profanities like "shit" and "asshole", along with a few crude sex jokes. The sub (and the actual Gintama show) do not have this kind of language.
  • Averted by Paprika. The majority of the film is made in a PG or PG-13 matter (and was rated as such in most countries) - even when touching upon adult subject matter it keeps things discreet. There's also not a bit of profanity anywhere in the film - not even a "damn" or "hell". However, the movie got an R rating simply due to a few moments of non-sexual nudity and an image of a bloody corpse.
  • For years, FUNimation avoided profanity almost entirely in their dub for Dragon Ball Z, even in the uncut home video releases. That changed when they went back redubbed the first 67 episodes in 2005 (originally dubbed with Saban and Ocean Studios in 1996 with heavy censorship), marketing them as "Ultimate Uncut," and taking advantage of the later timeslot. Beginning with around episode 27 (earlier episodes mostly recycled the Saban scripts), PG-13 level obscenities were suddenly peppered into the script, including uses of "damn," "bastard," "give them hell," etc, despite the later episodes still having much cleaner language.

    Comedy 
  • The Credibility Gap's "I, Othello" (from their album The Bronze Age of Radio) spoofs this. It plays like a radio ad for what sounds like an erotic porn flick, then it concludes with "A Zodiac Picture, rated GP."

    Fan Works 
  • Averted in Curse of the DualShock, rated PG. Although the pups are from the Y-rated series PAW Patrol, it crosses over with E 10+ video game Minecraft, which contains some mild cartoon and fantasy violence.
  • Despite the Sonic X fanfic Don't Keep Your Distance carrying a "T" rating on FanFiction.Net, there's little non-kid-friendly content to speak of besides a few minor and forced sexual jokes, main character Paint bleeding mildly from injuries in one scene (with little apparent consequence), and a scene where two minor characters are apparently taking some type of unnamed depressant drug together. It's more than likely that this has to do with T ratings inherently attracting more visitors than the more modest "K+". In general, many fanfic writers will give their stories T ratings to attract more readers, while avoiding M because FanFiction.net filters out M-rated fics by default.
  • Diamond in the Rough, based on the film Aladdin, has two uses of "hell" and "prick" putting it slightly out of Disney territory.

    Films — Animation 
  • Averted with The Last Unicorn. Anyone watching the film these days is shocked to find the film has a G rating.
  • The sole content descriptor for the movie of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is "brief mild language". This was an attempt to nudge the movie towards an older audience.
  • While Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker wasn't rated, it's hard to imagine the solitary Precision F-Strike dropped by the main character being put in for any reason but the attitudes behind this trope. Besides one part with the main character's girlfriend in her skivvies, there's not a lot in the way of objectionable content.
  • The Powerpuff Girls Movie was originally going to get a G rating, but Craig McCracken wanted it to be PG-13. He and the studio compromised on a PG.
  • Allegedly Titan A.E. was originally given a G rating so the producers, not wanting to offend their target demographic, older kids and teens, added a brief shower scene to bump it up to PG. Not that it helped.
  • Inverted in the case of Rio. Early promotional material said it was rated PG. Fox responded by pushing the film's release back a week (with only three months to release, no less) and edited it down to G by reanimating a pivotal scene. Despite this though iTunes (to this day no less) mistakenly rates the film PG.
    • Blue Sky Studios actually deserves credit for inverting this trope. They were specifically aiming for G's, not only on Rio and its sequel, but also on Horton Hears a Who! and The Peanuts Movie. Except for Rio at first, as well as Epic (2013), they've been successful at earning G ratings without their box office performances being threatened.
    • Played straight(er) with their Cash Cow Franchise Ice Age. The first film was a comedy with lighthearted moments, but some dark and intense ones to balance it out. Many of the scary moments in the film would justify the PG rating it got. The second film was initially rated G, but was appealed and got a PG for mild language and innuendo, a rather unusual move for a kids' movie. By the time the next three films came out, PG became the default and all the other films were rated as such.
  • Despite some nudity, drug use, mild profanity and frightening images, and the fact that it is decidedly not a kids' movie, Rock & Rule managed to only get a PG rating when it was first released. This can be attributed to the PG-13 rating not existing at the time (it was first introduced in the following year).
  • In an inversion of this trope, Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island had to have about five minutes trimmed off in its UK release to avoid a 12.
  • Don Bluth wanted The Secret of NIMH to have a PG rating to appeal to a larger audience (and the fact that it has more frightening scenes than most of the Disney Animated Canon combined). Defying all logic (and one "damn"), the MPAA gave them a G. Then again though, there's another reason it was rated 'G'...
    • Bluth later inverted this trope for Rock-A-Doodle. The part where Goldie poured wine down Chanticleer's throat would have given the film a PG rating, so that was changed to soda to ensure it got a G. Bluth also had to tone down some of the Grand Duke's misdeeds such as removing the scene where he cooks a baby skunk into a pie.
  • Paramount originally wanted South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut to be rated PG-13, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone said they wouldn't make it unless it was rated R. In an inversion of this trope, Terrance and Phillip were originally going to sing "Mother Fucker", which got the film an NC-17 rating. To make it rated R, the song was changed to "Uncle Fucker". Trey and Matt said the change made the song funnier. Matt and Trey also said that the ping-pong ball scene was edited too in order to avoid the NC-17 rating. Originally, Winona Ryder actually was shooting ping-pong balls out of her vagina instead of just looking like it.
    • Inverted again with Team America: World Police. The original cut received an NC-17 rating but a scene depicting graphic puppet sex was cut down to ensure an R.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie has one use of "damning" (not in a profane context, but the intent is obvious), one apparent use of "jackass", one use of "freaking", and jokes such as SpongeBob and Patrick getting drunk on ice cream in order to give the film a PG rating.
    • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water: No profanity this time, but some "mild rude humor" such as a scene with a woman in a bikini laying on the beach, SpongeBob accidentally mooning Patrick, a censored curse word, and some trippy, drug-induced sequences (including a direct 2001 reference) seem to have been added for the PG rating.
    • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run: "Crappy" is said twice and Squidward describes SpongeBob as being "freakin' annoying" to give the film a PG rating, with a content descriptor of "mild language" for the first time in the film franchise of the show, all with no dolphin chirps to censor it out (Although, in all fairness, in the US, "crap" and "freaking" are less profane than in the UK, some even going as far to treat them as playground insults, due to Values Dissonance).
  • The infamous line "Oh shit, what are we gonna do now?" from the 1986 The Transformers: The Movie was there to give it a PG rating (and "Open, damn it, open!" may have served that purpose too). This was reportedly in order to force parents to accompany their children to the theater, so they would know which toys to buy. Like Star Wars, this didn't work in the UK, where it got a U rating (though the line is missing from some DVD versions).
    • The Family Home Entertainment video release of 1986's The Transformers: The Movie included Ultra Magnus's "Open, dammit, open!", but lacked Spike's "Oh shit".
    • Oddly enough, despite the film including profanity to bump up the ratings, one of the songs in the soundtrack, NRG's "Instruments of Destruction," had some of the lines rerecorded to edit out comparatively mild words - "iron birds of foreplay" was changed to "iron birds of fortune," "violent seduction" to "violent eruption," and most bafflingly "iron tools of torture" to "iron tools of torment." Granted, the first two (particularly the first) could be argued to have been cut because they were of a sexual nature, but torture to torment is just... weird. The band later rerecorded the song again with all the lyrics replaced with a loop of Spike's infamous line, as a protest to the changes they were forced to make.
  • A good deal of modern Disney films are now getting a PG rating for something that would have gotten a G in the '90s, notably Tangled, Frozen (2013) and Big Hero 6.
    • Moana fits this as well, but to make it squarely in the PG range, a jarring Curse Cut Short, in this case, Moana herself shouting "You lying, slimy son of a-!" after Maui traps her in a cave is added in. You can even see her beginning to mouth the next word.
    • Home on the Range got a PG for this one line alone, right around the time the G-rating was falling out of fashion:
      Maggie: Yeah, they're real. Quit staring!
    • It's theorized that part of the reason the hand-drawn Disney films such as The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh (2011) didn't make as much money as the CGI Disney films like Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph is because the hand-drawn films were rated G, while the CGI films were rated PG, and thus audiences believed that the CGI films would have more adult appeal in them than their hand-drawn counterparts.
  • Averted with Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Aside from the main female protagonist doing a pole dance, the entire theme of the movie focuses on lust and sin, with the plot centering around an elderly, genocidal judge obsessed with a young woman. The ending has him trying to burn her alive for refusing to have sex with him. It got a G anyway.
    • In Australia, most G rated films simply state "For General Audiences" on posters or VHS/DVD covers, without any additional ratings advice. The Hunchback's home release on video was rated "G" but with an added tag of "Some scenes may be unsuitable for very young children". Later re-releases on DVD and Blu-ray have been bumped up to PG.
  • The association between Disney and the "G" rating led Jeffrey Katzenberg to deliberately invoke this for the Dreamworks Animation films, either by including a bunch of dirty jokes or having a lion getting a low blow and a zebra nearly uttering a Precision MF-Strike, or featuring a shark being Killed Off for Real.
  • A weird aversion happened with two movies based on adult animation in Quebec: there, both Beavis and Butt-Head Do America and The Simpsons Movie carry a G rating, despite the source material not being for kids.
  • Pixar originally averted this trope, but began to play it straight by the late 2000s, beginning with Up for their original films and Finding Dory for sequels of G-rated films. Forbes discussed the latter's case. Before this, the only PG-rated Pixar film was The Incredibles, which featured heavy violence and adult themes to justify it. However, in 2011, Cars 2 got the G rating, despite having intense violence on par with The Incredibles. In 2017, Cars 3 was also rated G, despite having slightly more mature content than the first film. In 2019, Toy Story 4 also received a G rating, though it was a bit Lighter and Softer than the previous film, which was also rated G in early 2010, just before the MPAA changed its rules.
    • Inside Out was originally going to be given a G, but the producers decided to add several little things to bump it up, most notably a joke involving The Bear and a scene with a Sound-Effect Bleep.
    • Like its predecessor, Incredibles 2 earns its PG rating by portraying more mature content including the drinking of alcohol by primary characters, considerable action-related violence, and dialogue. Evelyn Deavor utters "hell", "crap" and "I'll be damned". Violet says "Boys are jerks and superheroes suck." There are also at least three utterances of "Oh my God!" A Curse Cut Short with Frozone's "What the?!" and Bob says "I eat thunder and crap lightning!".
  • The closest Illumination Entertainment had to get a G rating was The Lorax, and that's rated PG due to brief language (O'Hare sounding like he said the word "dammit") and a brief scene with a woman in a bikini.
    • The Grinch almost seems like a G-rated film, but a suggestive shot that appears when the Grinch is working out, as well as a joke involving Cindy's invention accidentally removing her friend's costume, might have been added to bump it up to PG.
    • Then came The Secret Life of Pets 2, where words like "pissed" and "turd" are briefly exclaimed by characters.
  • Inverted with Sausage Party. The movie came close to receiving an NC-17 rating, mainly because of a piece of Lavash's pubic hair being visible at the end of the food orgy. But after his scrotum was digitally shaved, it was reassigned with an R, which is what the filmmakers were aiming for in the first place. This, of course, is saying a lot considering what did make it into the final film unaltered.
  • Averted for the most part with the films of Laika. While they are all rated PG, they contain many scary moments and adult themes across all five, more in line with "traditional" PG films. Many reviewers are quick to note the films are "not for young children". The only times this was sort of played straight were with The Boxtrolls and Missing Link. While The Boxtrolls was rated PG for the predictable "action, some peril and mild rude humor", it is mostly benign, at least in comparison to their other work. Missing Link, with a similar PG for "action/peril and some mild rude humor," is arguably even more benign than that, with a lighter tone and fewer scares.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) is the first piece of the franchise to ever receive a PG rating in the U.S., for "mild action", keeping it in line with most children's animated films rather than risking a G rating. This is especially notable given that the source series has never been rated above "TV-Y", even at its most intense.
  • Teen Titans Go! To the Movies added uses of the words "darn", "damn" and "hell", as well as Raven mentioning Libyan terrorists as a nod to Back to the Future, to bump it up to PG. Though it's downplayed in that the show it's based on is rated TV-PG.
  • Watership Down added Kehaar saying "PISS OFF!" and "Damn", just to absolutely make sure that an animated film based off a novel by a part-time animal rights activist featuring adorable animals engaging in gory violence wasn't shown to small children. It didn't work in the UK, where it got a U rating, while the US passed it off with a much less lenient PG rating.
  • Inverted with The Land Before Time. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg wanted, and got, a G rating because of their concerns with certain scenes being too intense for young children. About 11 minutes of completed footage, mainly from the Tyrannosaurus Rex attack scene, were cut from the final release.

    Literature 
  • Life, the Universe and Everything features the "Award for the Most Gratuitous Use of the Word 'Fuck' in a Serious Screenplay", a reference to this trope. It's also arguably an example, as the word "fuck" is rarely used in the books otherwise. As the radio adaptation was broadcast at 6.30pm, there was always a convenient starship engine roar whenever the award in question was discussed.
    • The American edition of the book uses the word "Belgium" instead. It is still a reference to this trope, since the text explains that "Belgium" is the vilest swear word imaginable on every planet in the galaxy...except Earth.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The tendency of rap music to do something similar was lampshaded in one episode of Bones, where Booth offers to charge a rapper with a crime—that would be dismissed in short order—to increase his record sales, as long as he cooperates.
  • Just like Peter Morgan's aforementioned The Queen, the Netflix series The Crown (2016) fits this trope. The series is a character study about Queen Elizabeth II, but with some edgier content (namely, some medical gore and occasional nudity) - no worse than most TV-14 rated cable dramas, though. A crude limerick in the first episode that uses a certain swear word, and a Precision F-Strike in the fifth, take the series as a whole into TV-MA territory despite its benign nature - certainly compared to other original series with TV-MA ratings on the service. (The latter moment, of course, would've likely kept the series in solid TV-14 territory were it not for the former moment.)
    • Season 2 is very much the same, except for Episode 7, which contains several scenes of the Queen’s photographer brother-in-law, Tony Armstrong-Jones, cheating on his wife, including a fairly lurid threesome with a married couple. It’s telling that this episode, Episode 1 of Season 1 (the one with the limerick), and Episodes 4 and 7 of Season 4 are the only episodes of The Crown rated 15 by the BBFC; all of the other episodes are either rated PG or 12.
    • Season 3 was rated TV-MA for almost no reason. The only possible bits of offensive material are the overall tense opening of the "Aberfan" episode, and one use of "shit" in the final episode.
    • Season 4 is much the same, with only a Cluster F-Bomb in "Fagan" and another use of "cunt" in the final episode veering towards TV-MA territory.
  • High School Musical: The Musical: The Series probably dropped in "damn" and "hell" to push it into the TV-PG rating, though otherwise, it's no worse content-wise than its G-rated film predecessors. Young children may find it too boring and the meta-humor may be lost on the current generation of Disney Channel kids, so this is somewhat understandable.
  • Parodied on the Saturday Night Live movie trailer parody The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders, a home invasion horror movie as done by Wes Anderson. Despite all the scenes of violence and gore, it's still rated "G".
  • Despite its crude title, Schitt's Creek is a fairly wholesome comedy about inclusion and acceptance in a small town. The F word is used in some episodes, which is understandable because its native country of Canada has looser standards about swearing on television, but other than that, there are some sexual references that are no worse than most modern TV-14 sitcoms and no violence, so it remains a mystery as to why it is rated TV-MA.
  • "Children of the Gods", the pilot episode of Stargate SG-1, has a scene that features several minutes of full-frontal female nudity. This comes as a shocker to the audience, as another character was previously shown in similar circumstances, but the audience only sees her back above the waist. Apparently, this was done solely to appease Showtime, the network the show originally aired on, because "premium cable channels have to have nudity." The explicit nudity was cut when the series went to syndication and in its Channel Hop to the Sci-Fi Channel, as well as when the pilot episode was recut into a feature-length Direct-to-DVD film, but is retained on the DVD collection of the series.
  • Ratings used for home video releases of TV series in Canada tend to be far more permissive than those used in the US, sometimes to the chagrin of viewers. Girls, Shameless (US) and Outlander are examples of extremely sexually explicit series that air in the US with the TV-MA rating, yet in Canada get only a 14A (and in Quebec a 13) rating. It's not uncommon to even come across TV-MA shows with a PG rating.
  • Canadian network TV broadcasts often pump up the ratings based upon the time an episode airs. For example, most episodes of Supergirl (2015) and Once Upon a Time, because they tend to air (depending on time zone) around the 9 PM mark carry 14+ (the Canadian equivalent of TV-14) despite these shows usually never including content stronger than PG; in particular, Supergirl (which is usually rated TV-14 in the US) is promoted as family-friendly.
  • Subverted by Ellen. When Ellen DeGeneres and her character Ellen Morgan came out in 1997, ABC rated every subsequent episode TV-14 and aired a disclaimer before every episode warning for "adult content" as well, regardless of any actual subject matter. This certainly did not help the show's ratings and it was canceled after one more season. Within a few years, syndicated repeats of the series were rated TV-G.
  • For some reason, Buzzr's replays of Match Game and Tattletales with their PG-laced content of double entendres, innuendos and adult dialogue, are aired with a TV-G rating. The 1979 show Whew! even started on Buzzr with a TV-G even though the show's "bloopers" (clues contestants must correct to advance) are rife with NSFW material. It has since been rebranded as TV-PG.

    Music 

    Video Games 
Despite the forbidden-fruit appeal of M-rated games, this trope is rare in gaming — the "E" rating just doesn't carry the kiddie stigma that "G" does. This is mainly because, despite the rise of T and M-rated offerings at the Turn of the Millennium, Nintendo has remained a major player in the industry. Most of its franchises are E-rated, with their most popular (namely Super Mario Bros. and Pokémon) being among the best-known and most successful video game franchises of all-time. As such, most examples happen for somewhat obtuse reasons:
  • Custom Robo for the Nintendo GameCube: aside from some periodic flirting by the resident womanizer character, and some robot-on-robot violence, there is absolutely nothing in the game that warrants a T rating. There IS, however, a massive amount of reading/text involved in the story, and several of the battles can get quite challenging, so presumably it would be frustrating for younger gamers to get through. Custom Robo Arena for the Nintendo DS, however, only got an E10+ despite similar a setup (though in fairness, the E10+ rating didn't yet exist when the GameCube Custom Robo was first released).
  • Aside from the occasional innuendo or heavy themes that kids wouldn't understand, the Updated Rereleases of Final Fantasies I through VI have almost entirely clean translations. Presumably for reasons pertaining to this trope, these translations also have several (very) occasional PG-level swear words - enough for the ESRB to complain about, but used sparingly enough to market the games towards general audiences.
  • Basically nothing in Knytt Underground would warrant anything higher than an E rating. It owes its M rating to the entire existence of the character Cilia, whose apparent first - and only - language is Cluster F-Bomb.
  • Bionic Commando Rearmed could've been a T-rated game if it didn't show not-Hitler's head graphically exploding into bits just like in the NES original, but the developers insisted on being faithful.
  • Psychonauts features a few tiny uses of red blood (most noticeable example is when you step on the lungfish in Lungfishopolis, who will be laying in a big puddle of blood) and a few awkward curse words, presumably to bump the game up to a T rating. Without them, there's very little in terms of objectionable content in the game to justify a rating higher than an E or E10+, but the themes it deals with are heavy and/or creepy enough that marketing the game to kids wouldn't have really worked. They just needed to add things the ESRB would actually object to.
  • Inversion: Shadow the Hedgehog was going to get a Teen rating because of blood and a depiction of Maria being shot on-screen. This was on top of the Darker and Edgier story, swearing, and gun use, as the game was intended for older fans. The recent introduction of the E10+ rating gave SEGA an easy out after a backlash to the reveal. The blood color of the alien enemies were changed to green and human enemies merely get incapacitated without bleeding. The game ends the flashback of Maria being shot as soon as we hear the gunshot, the intro cut out a scene where a soldier was shot, and the swearing was cut to down to a load of forced "damns."
  • The Wonderful 101 would've easily gotten an E or E10+ rating if it weren't for Pink, Vijounne, and Immorta's boob/butt/crotch close-ups, a penis innuendo ("Compensating for something, Baby Blue?"), and swearing ("hell" uncensored, and a couple of stronger ones bleeped out). But due to how hard the game is, and due to the mature themes the game deals with, the developers had to add in content that would keep the ESRB from rating it E or E10+.
  • Splatoon. The main draw of the game, the multiplayer campaign, consists entirely of two groups of cute squid-people trying to paint more of an area than the other. The single-player campaigns do play with darker plot elements, but never explore the ideas of war or genocide that spring up deep enough to lose its child-friendly edge. There is hardly any morally objectionable content beyond the use of cartoony, unrealistic weapons. The games are rated E10+ for "Cartoon Violence", thanks to the characters exploding or melting upon death.
  • Inverted by an Ikki Tousen game originally set to be released in the US entitled Shining Dragon. The distributor was gunning for a lower rating, and ended up ultimately canceling the release out of fear the M rating would impact sales.
  • After the first two SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters games got E ratings, the third one was given a T thanks to some highly sexualized costumes seen on the cards.
  • Furi probably would have gotten a T or even an E10+ rating if it wasn't for a single F-bomb dropped in the game. The fact that early trailers stated it was rated T means they probably added it to the game to invoke this trope.
  • Little Dragons Café is a cute, brightly colored game where you're a kid running a cafe because your mother is ill. Despite being no worse than Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon, it has a "E10+" rating for Mild Fantasy Violence and Language. This "language" refers to a few "Damn it"'s by Maurice.
  • The Forza Horizon series actually went increasingly Lighter and Softer with its content over time, likely to bring in a wider audience, yet each subsequent entry has garnered higher and higher praise. The first Forza Horizon was released with a T rating for drug reference, language, and suggestive themes, mostly in its radio dialogue and soundtrack, despite that what is there in the game is pretty tame compared to other T-rated games. Horizon 2 brought it down to E10+ for mild lyrics, mild suggestive themes, and mild violence. Horizon 3 was the first entry to get an E rating, only being hit with descriptors for mild lyrics and mild violence, and Horizon 4 shook off the descriptors altogether, although it led to Playground Games having to release an update that censored lyrics from several songs and even removed one song entirely.

    Webcomics 
  • Tailsteak wrote a comic on the stinger to his hypothetical movie; said stinger consists of him in person saying a wall of swear words to boost the movie's rating up from PG to PG-13.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Obviously parodied in the fake preview for the non-existent Pac-Man live action movie, where a character uses the obligatory "damn".
  • Channel Awesome:
  • Due to YouTube's COPPA settings, which puts limitations on any videos it deems "for kids"note  using extremely arbitrary algorithms, some content creators have proposed dropping F-bombs so that they can get away with not marking their videos as for children.
  • Inverted by How It Should Have Ended. While their parodies are for general audiences, they tend to avoid hard swearing, such as using "poop" in place of "shit" or "crap". In the Deadpool (2016) parody, they let the titular character be his foul-mouthed self, but censor the f-bombs.

    Western Animation 
  • Word of God states that High Guardian Spice was intended for younger demographics, but Crunchyroll forced the script to include cursing and blood to advertise the show as for "mature audiences". As a result, a lot of the occasional profanity, violence, and dick jokes came off as incredibly forced and clashed jarringly with the rest of the show, which otherwise stayed true to its original family-friendly intent—especially when compared to other Crunchyroll shows.


Alternative Title(s): Rated C For Cash

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