Kids' show hosts. They laugh, they sing, they smile, they bring joy to children all over the world... at least, on the surface. But beneath that shiny, happy façade lies the Depraved Kids' Show Host, a character you would not, under any circumstances, want your children around.
Unlike his zany-go-lucky cousin, who's excitable but pretty nice off set as well, the Depraved Kids' Show Host is at the very least a Jerkass. When he's on air, he's Mr. Snuggles, happiest figure in Friendlytown. But when the cameras aren't rolling, he (and it's usually a man) is a sex, drug and gambling addict who drinks, cavorts, and swears enough to make a sailor blush. He smokes like a tilt, lashes out at techies, and above all, he absolutely hates kids. That, or he likes them a bit too much.
This trope plays on the irony of a jovial character who interacts with children actually being a horrible person. As such, it's related to Monster Clown and other like tropes.
This is especially popular in Real Life Urban Legends, the insinuations of which can ruin someone's career. For some reason, people just can't believe that a right-thinking adult would want to spend his life teaching kids manners and helping them grow as people. Fred Rogers would respectfully disagree; this is generally not Truth in Television. On the other hand, Fred Rogers wanted to be a kids TV presenter - many others only do it as a way into TV, and, as former kids TV presenter Dara Ó Briain attests, "those people are the most ambitious bunch of pricks you will ever meet." And he's a stand-up comic!
As the example of the late Jimmy Savile showed when his victims started coming forward in 2012, however, it is sometimes Truth in Television and when it is, it can put many fictional examples to shame.
See also Nice Character, Mean Actor; Villain with Good Publicity. He may also Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight. Contrast with "Contractual Purity", if the character in question is being restricted into living a wholesomely clean life by his employment contract. (In fact, a severe enough contract might end up creating a Depraved Kids' Show Host, when they get frustrated from being barred from acts that many normal adults are permitted to engage in). May exist in a Subverted Kids Show, but most often they're villains in regular shows. In real life, they cause the show to be Undermined by Reality. Surprisingly, not related to the Depraved Homosexual or Depraved Bisexual, although sometimes they overlap. Compare Repulsive Ringmaster, which is similar, only with a circus or carnival instead of a kids' show, and Evil Puppeteer, with a puppet show.
- Uramichi Onii-san loves to play with this trope. He's a miserable dreg outside of work, likes to bully his juniors on the show, and drinks and smokes constantly. On show, he's not much better— practically all the kids know about his personal issues and he complains about his life on live TV or gives out advice the kids really don't need to be hearing, often to worrying results. The thing is, he actually likes the kids he works with. It's just that life just keeps bleeding into TV.
- This is the backstory for the modern incarnation of the Superman villain The Prankster.
- The Sandman: "Hey kids, Dino the Dinosaur is trying to tell me something. Gee, Dino! I didn't know it was Terry Pteranodon's birthday today. Should we bake him a cake? And you want to tell me something else, do you Dino? We're all going to die. Dino says we're all going to die. Dino told me. He says we should slash our wrists now, and remember to slash down the wrist, boys and girls, not across the wrist." PLEASE STAND BY, WE ARE EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES.
- Crocky, a Barney parody in Robin. It's zig-zagged in the one issue centered around him, actually: ONE of the guys who played him used the suit as a disguise to knock over convenience stores, and later took a kid hostage, but the original actor was a wrongly-accused good egg who ultimately helped catch that guy.
- Another Batman story featured a kids' show presenter who was trapped in Gotham during No Man's Land. Becoming slightly unhinged, he developed a version of his show that was tailored to suit the borderline-apocalyptic ruins of the city. Not only was it unsuitable for the supposed target audience, but he was broadcasting to a society that mostly didn't have electricity.
- MAD did a typical kiddie show parody starring one Uncle Nutzy, physically based on rude stand-up comic Jack E. Leonard, running a show featuring mindlessly violent cartoons and boot-licking sponsor worship. At show's end he's on the phone with his wife, angrily admonishing her for letting their kids watch his show. This makes for a fairly obscure Shout-Out in UHF.
- Kyle Baker's The Cowboy Wally Show had a childrens' show hosted by Al Space, who "really, really really loved kids. A lot", with such essay competitions as "In 1000 words or less, describe how Amy Sue Sturdfetzer looked much older than 12".
- Viz has the character of "Roger Mellie, the Man on the Telly," a foul-mouthed alcoholic and perverted TV presenter who in several strips lands a job on kids' TV and inevitably reverts to type in front of the horrified audience.
- Clown from the Hellraiser comic series was originally a Saturday morning show host named Winky Dink who wound up becoming a Pseudo-Cenobite, charged with keeping the children who wind up in The Labyrinth occupied so they don't run amok, causing chaos. He does so through pretty disgusting ways (not entirely by choice though, since Leviathan punishes him if he does anything remotely pleasant). A later story reveals he'd been upgraded to a complete, overly-sadistic Cenobite at some point, having finally gotten his "routine" right.
- Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #4 featured Barney Stryker. On-air, host of Uncle Barney's Good Neighbor Hour. Off-air, possessed by a demon which fed on the suffering of children and responsible for the gruesome death of eleven kids.
- Day of the Barney Trilogy: wherein Barney the dinosaur is some incarnation of a demonic being that reappears every few centuries to wreak havoc. At the start of the fanfic, he held a special broadcast to persuade his young viewers to murder their parents and any other adults around, then inducted them into a cult. When any of them reached 13, he killed them (or worse). Flashbacks also show that he helped the Black Plague spread, and also saved Adolf Hitler during WW1 and set him on his path.
- Parodied in The Pokémon Squad. A scene features Henry and June finishing up a KaBlam! episode, and as the director says "CUT!", June proceeds to ask for her cigarettes.
- In Death to Smoochy every host is deranged, and the whole industry is backed by the mob. When pushed, even Smoochy reveals some anger management issues.
- There were plans for a sequel for William Lustig's Maniac!, which was supposed to follow such a character but it was scrapped due to its main star's untimely death. It sounded like a remake of The Psychopath (aka An Eye for an Eye). A short promotional video for the film is here. (WARNING: Gorn)
- Meet the Feebles is this trope dialed up to 11.
- Downplayed with Uncle Nutzy, a.k.a. George Newman in UHF. George, who works at Channel 62 which is experiencing financial difficulties, oversleeps and Teri berates him for no-showing at her birthday dinner, and the next day, "Uncle Nutzy" takes his jaded frustrations out on the kids:
George [dejectedly]: Hey, kids. Where y'wanna go? That's right. To Uncle Nutzy's Clubhouse. And boy, oh boy, are we gonna have big fun today. We're gonna have so much fun, we'll forget about how miserable we are, and how much life sucks, and how we're all gonna grow old and die someday.
"Little Weasel" Kid: I wanna go home!
George: Shut up, you little weasel! [pause] Okay. Right now, I'd like to show you one of my favorite cartoons. It's a sad, depressing story about a pathetic coyote who spends every waking moment of his life in the futile pursuit of a sadistic roadrunner who mocks him and laughs at him as he's repeatedly crushed and maimed! HOPE YOU'LL ENJOY IT!!
- Floop from the first Spy Kids film was a subversion. The movie paints him as the Affably Evil Big Bad almost immediately: his "Fooglies" are actually secret agents subjected to Baleful Polymorph, and he's building an army of super-powered robots to take over the world. However, it's later revealed that neither of those were his ideas, they were Mr. Minion's. Floop is too preoccupied with genuine concern for his show.
- Even before he turns, he clearly cares more about the quality of the show than about the plans of world domination. When he turns a spy into one of the creatures on his show, the first thing he comments on is how the new "character" will be a holiday rush favorite.
- Garfield: Well, actually a pet show host. While Happy Chapman may look like he lives up to his name, in reality he is very arrogant, allergic to cats, and wants a dog to star in his show to overshadow his more successful twin brother newscaster Walter.
Happy Chapman: Oh, please, what a know-it all! And everybody always said I was the handsome one, I was the smart one, and I was born first. But there you are "live from the Hague". And here I am working with this sack of dander on a dead-end regional morning show.
- Mr. Jingles from Jingles the Clown was the host of a children's TV show, as well as a Satanist and serial killer who butchered roughly thirty children before being shot to death by the police, though not before filming himself murdering his co-host (whose wife he was having an affair with) and most of the man's family. It's also mentioned that he was born of an incestuous relationship between his mother and grandfather, who the mother killed with a cleaver before committing suicide.
- Chuckles the Chipmunk (a.k.a., Leo Herman) from the theatrical and film versions of A Thousand Clowns is not so much depraved as he is egotistical, boorish, insulting, self-hating, neurotic, and desperately unfunny. He also, by his own admission, doesn't "get along too good with kids." (The self-named brand of potato chips he shills on his program is lousy too.)
- Koko the Clown from The Groove Tube. His show at first looks nice and wholesome, but during "Make-Believe Time" he asks for the adults to leave the room. After he's sure there are no adults watching, he then proceeds to stop talking in his high-pitched voice and starts reading excerpts from erotic literature.
- Somewhat meta example: Uncle Jingle, host of an insanely popular 'Net kids show in Tad Williams' Cyberpunk novel Otherland, is more or less a nice fellow, if heavily Merchandise-Driven. (In fact, he's actually played by actors working in shifts, since the show is on 24/7.) However, the character itself was inspired by the Monster Clown figure Mr. Jingo who haunts the Big Bad's nightmares.
- Shel Silverstein's "Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book".
- In High Society by Ben Elton, Tommy mentions that almost every children's TV presenter he has met was a heavy drug user, which he imagines is because it drives them insane to constantly have to act perky and cheerful for their audience.
- The demonic puppet hosts of "Smile Time" from Angel, though one of them Became the Mask and started to genuinely enjoy entertaining kids (didn't stop Gunn from beheading him).
- Cheers gives us Nanette Guzman (aka. Nanny G), Frasier's first wife. She had become a Raffi-style children's entertainer in the meantime. During a concert she gave, she started singing a song that Lilith immediately interpreted as sexual, but Frasier explained as being sung to a child... until the next line...
- She later reappears in Frasier having grown sick of being a children's entertainer, admits to not giving a damn about her young fans and wants to reconcile with Frasier yet again despite her being married. They end up almost sleeping together in the prop room before her show, but then the curtain rises while Frasier is still in her prop bed and Hilarity ensues.
- Mexican clown Brozo's entire schtick is this; he's a depraved, homeless, bitter and a tad misogynistic. This is played for laughs... currently he has a The Daily Show type of program. Needless to say, Brozo was never supposed to be seen by kids to begin with.
- Shirty the Slightly Agressive Bear from The Late Show.
- Pate Biscuit from The Big Gig.
- The Happy Smile Patrol sketch from Saturday Night Live. Read a transcript here. It's guaranteed to make you laugh and gasp with horror simultaneously. The video in question.
- From Finnish sketch comedy, there's the legendary "Nasse-setä" who is chronically hung over, and irritated at the anatomically incorrect drawings kids send him, taking offense at exceptionally large nose holes and lack of an actual nose in one of them and coming to the conclusion that the kid who drew it is a lazy slob who doesn't bother to draw any noses, let alone blow them because "you can't possibly blow a nose like this neatly!". His Catch-Phrase was "Nasse-setä on harvinaisen vihainen!" [Uncle-Nasse is exceptionally angry!].
- Then there was Touko-Pouko from Studio Julmahuvi, the Show Within A Shows Butt-Monkey children's host with a severe case of lazy eye, hair resembling a clown's wig minus the silly colors and a deeply disturbed personality best demonstrated by randomly attacking a prop or a camera man with a war shout or diving out of the frame and suddenly jumping back in while wearing a wombat mask. In his segments he might be dressed as Tarzan, an indian, riot police, a ninja or an astronaut. His idea of a good home activity might also be making a soul out of barbed wire and silly putty and comment how "we all have one inside of us, a misshapen ugly lump like this".
- Germany's sketch show "Switch" parodies the host of an actual children show on public TV channel Kika sometimes, much in the same way as the Finnish one above. In one sketch he threatened to kill the show's mascot Uhu (a real-life owl) when the children don't call him and give him the credit card numbers of their parents because he wanted to get a better apartment. He also has an alcohol-problem.
- The Seattle sketch comedy show Almost Live! had a recurring sketch called "Uncle Fran's Musical Forest." Uncle Fran was a VERY bitter Deadpan Snarker who liked to sing songs about his ex-wives and ex-girlfriends ("Greedy Whores"), or parenting styles ("The Modern Day Dad...doesn't have a spine."). When his furry mascot objected to the content, he would beat the tar out of the puppeteer controlling it.
- Several of the characters in Greg the Bunny, in one respect or another. In particular, Warren is a heavy drinker and former drug addict with severe marital problems, while Junction Jack seems to be inspired by the aforementioned false rumours of Fred Rogers having been a sniper in 'Nam.
- An episode of Mathnet featured Vicious Vinnie, a villainous children's show host who taught kids incorrect information like that Chicago was the capital of Illinois.
- "Tia Penha" (Aunt Penha), one of the many characters of Brazilian Comedian Marcelo Médici, is a gender flipped version of this. But unlike other examples, she's an outright bitch even on air. She subverts upbeat children' songs by telling that everyboy died in the end and that everybody WILL die (your mommy included). She's also particularly fond of telling some truths about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Tia Penha: Today's show will be a little bit different for three reasons. First, Tia Penha doesn't like lies, second, Tia Penha doesn't like children and third, what Tia Penha really likes is money so let's start it quickly!
- Boxcar Burt, a briefly-seen in-universe host watched by Brak and Meatwad in an [adult swim] New Year's Eve sketch.
"Heeey everybody! I hope you're rockin' out! But if ya ain't rockin' out, I hope you're drunk! Just like Boxcar Burt! Now come back after the break you little brats, or I'll kick your asses in! (raspy Evil Laugh)"
- A man who played Dougie the Whale in one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. A complete jackass even onstage (at least to his backstage crew) and got into a fight with Will, in front of the child audiences no less.
- Laugh In often featured the demented "Uncle Al, the Kiddie's Pal!" who was usually hungover and kept cracking bad double-entendre jokes and running around like a maniac.
- SCTV had Muley's Roundhouse, featuring ol' Muley, who sulks and mopes throughout his program, in addition to critically ignoring the trains on his watch. This includes his criticism of the children's artwork sent to him: "These are the worst ones yet! You probably send the good ones to people you like!"
- It also had Officer Friendly, heavily implied to be both the actual local Melonville constable and a Dirty Cop. Despite his cheerful attitude, his "guests" were unruly local citizens in the holding tank. They'd initially refuse to chat, making him cut to a cartoon. On return, the guest would be heavily bruised but otherwise calm, polite, and seemingly happy to answer any question he asked.
- Two and a Half Men's Charlie Harper might qualify after he became a Children's Songs Star.
- Little Britain has the character of Des Kaye, the disgraced former host of a children's show called "Fun Bus." It's eventually revealed that he was fired because a child lost an eye while appearing on his show, and the Little Britain live stage show hints that Des's "Hide the Sausage'' audience participation game might also have had something to do with it ...
- Back in The '80s, an episode of Les Dennis's Laughter Show featured Les parodying then-CBBC host Phillip Schofield. Dennis's version of Schofield gets steadily more drunk, attempts to murder Non-Human Sidekick Gordon T. Gopher, and eventually has a prostitute/groupie in the studio who he tries to pass off as "Gordon's mum"! Bizarrely, Schofield himself, long after his CBBC career, was interviewed for Channel 4's Zippy & George's Puppet Legends, where he claimed that Gordon had a drink problem. This idea has since continued on the official Gordon T. Gopher Twitter, where the bio claims he's "Sober since 5/6/15".
- In universe, Jane from Coupling almost became this... she had the depraved part down pat, it was just the "Kid's show host" part that was up in the air... after all, her sidekick was a sock puppet named Jake the Truth-Snake.
Jane: I am not self-centered!Jake: Oh, shut up, you deluded bitch!
- Inverted by The State with "Blueberry Muffins in the Morning", a show proposed by Blueberry, a children's television producer who looks and acts like a clown in real life.
Blueberry: BECAUSE I LOOK LIKE A F***ING BLUEBERRY!
- Reno911 had an odd example. Reading Ron is actually a great host, who does his best to put his dark past behind him. Enter the Reno Sheriff's Department, who so thoroughly ruin Reading Ron's Police episode that it sends Ron into a cocaine fueled rampage on the roof of the station.
- Season 2 of The Armstrong and Miller Show has a recurring gag with the hosts of a children's TV program (a spoof of Blue Peter) apologizing to its viewers for various drunken, lewd, violent and illegal acts - in kid-friendly language.
Alistair: Yes, by collecting all those stamps and unwanted clothes, you raised nearly a million pounds towards a holiday center for disabled people in the New Forest.Tina: Now, Jason came up with an idea for making even more money from the amount you'd already raised.Alistair: He transferred that money into another bank account...Tina: And spent it on a large amount of special powder. This powder, like the holiday center, is designed to make people feel very happy...
- Ernie Kovacs was very fond of this trope. His character Uncle Buddy would allow kids to walk backwards blindfolded on the Staten Island Ferry railing. Another of Kovacs' characters, Mr. Science, could barely hide his exasperation toward his easily distracted kid helper Billy. Kovac's Hungarian chef character Miklos Molnar would show up to host a Howdy Doody knockoff show as "Buffalo Miklos". In addition to treating the Claribel knockoff with utter contempt, Miklos would get drunk, cut Howdy's strings, and yell at the kids in the peanut gallery to shut up.
- The short-lived Science Fiction series Special Unit 2 featured a children's show host (an ersatz of Barney the Dinosaur) who turned out to be a "Link" with a Pied Piper of Hamlin power.
- Sherlock villain, Psycho for Hire (And Fun!) Jim Moriarty is also a children's television presenter under an assumed name for the purposes of his evil plan to kill Sherlock Holmes, in a particularly creepy twist on his literary counterpart's cover identity as a math professor.
- Castle features "America's Dad", Bobby Stark, in the episode "Pretty Dead". While not guilty of murder, his off-air persona is a comically drug-addled, skirt-chasing, abusive man who bears no relation to his wholesome on-air characters.
- Played with in "Fool Me Once..." Dr. Stephen Fletcher is supposedly a lovable Arctic adventurer and wildlife expert who is presenting his adventures to little kids via web-cast from the wilderness. Instead, he's a con man faking the whole thing from his apartment, until he's murdered. Eventually it turns out that the con man really had a heart of gold: although he'd already gotten the money in advance, he put on a fun show for the kids long after he'd already gotten his money and even personally wrote replies to every kid who wrote him. He was quitting his con man ways out of love for his fiance, a woman he'd originally intended to con. So the lovable scientist is really a scheming conman who turns out to be murdered because he's redeemed himself... whew.
- In Living Color! loved this trope, with kiddie hosts who don't even try to hide the tons of personal issues that bedevil them from their viewers.
- Homey D. Clown (Damon Wayans) rants about The Man while ostensibly performing as a hired entertainer for kids.
- Candy Cane's (Alexandra Wentworth) various failed relationships become grist for her mill.
- Scary Larry (Jim Carrey) is a psychotic Vietnam veteran. (He also works as a mailman.) "This is the way we lock and load, lock and load, lock and load..."
- Pee-Wee Herman's arrest was the basis for a skit in which Pee-Wee (Carrey) sells a doll modeled after Paul Reubens's mugshot!
- Subverted with a skit in which Mister Rogers (Carrey) visits a store and hits on the female customers as a prelude to holding the place up, but the policeman brought in to stop him doesn't believe he's capable of such a thing, and he goes on to pick up a hooker with his ill-gotten gains. The subversion comes in the punchline: He's actually an excellent impersonator using the real deal's clean reputation to get away with his crimes!
- Captain Crocodile from The Monkees, especially after he worries that the band will become more popular than him!
- Made in Canada has Captain McGee, a jovial seafarer who, offscreen, is a compulsive sex addict and wife-swapper. In the episode "For the Children", his sex addiction is used by unscrupulous production executive Richard Strong to blackmail him into agreeing to a merchandise deal for his series.
- Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! gives us Pierre, who teaches kids fun activities including dancing (which involves moves such as "Get sexy, kids!," "Slap your face," and "Have a glass a wine. Don't worry, kids, I won't tell!"). Interestingly, the dancing sketch was Pierre's first appearance; in his later shows, he became less of a pedophile and got a lot more interested in his intended audience's dads, to the point where he uses meditation to hypnotize children into giving him "their dad's e-mail address."
- On an episode of Night Court, a clown played by Jack Riley is arraigned as "Mr.Frou Frou":
Clerk: The charges are gambling, disorderly conduct, inciting a riot, attempted assault, attacking an officer and resisting arrest.Judge: What, no lewd behavior?Clown: I was too drunk.
- In the Eagleheart episode "Silly Sammy", the titular villain (played by Ben Stiller) is a kids show host that brainwashes children (and Brett) into eviscerating their caretakers, removing their organs, and sending them to him. While he claims this is to help a sick character on the show, its actually to supply Sammy's organ smuggling ring.
- The Dinosaurs episode "Georgie Must Die", essentially a Take That! toward Barney & Friends, portrayed Georgie the Hippo as a greedy scumbag using the persona of a kindhearted kids' show host as his cover who only cares about getting lots of money from his merchandise.
- Sonny Shine, real name Louis Sheinberg, from Happy!. The flamboyant host of a popular children's TV show is actually the criminal mastermind Mr. Bug. His public performances are a way of gathering children in large groups so one of his underlings can abduct the ones who wander away from their parents as part of a human trafficking ring.
- Lucifer (2016): Subverted with the lead actor of a kids' show who's investigated for murder. While it is a case of Nice Character, Mean Actor, it's revealed that he'd come to hate the job and is only trying to get fired so he'll be free of his contract.
- In 31 Minutos a secondary character is Tio Horacio, the animator of a children's program of the 70s, he is not exactly a pervert but a greedy swindler who is hated by his former collaborators because he owes them money. Also in his program he stated that children who were left-handed were abnormal and that they had to be forced to use their right hand.
- Power Rangers Dino Thunder downplayed the trope in the episode "It's a Mad Mad Mackerel" with the Funky Fisherman, a kids' show host who is shown to be bossy and ill-tempered off-camera, but by the end of the episode learns to change his attitude.
- Taken to its ultimate conclusion by The Burkiss Way's "Childrens Favourites with Uncle Hitler."
"HELLO CHILDREN, EVERYVHERE! Und today, der first record ist der request from Norman und Edith Carruthers, for their little son Villie! Vally Vhyton, mit der disken kiddiewinks: DER RUNAWAY TRAIN! Unfortunately, ve haf some bad news for you! Der BBC Record Library cannot manage der aktual recording by Vally Vhyton! So! Inshtead, ve haf decided... TO INVADE POLAND!"
- In Radio Active, one presenter was "The kiddies' favourite, Uncle Mike Stand." In later series, he was stated to be in prison for molesting children.
- Back when Imus in the Morning was still on the radio, they had "Wilford Brimley's Christmas Message" every year, in which Wilford Brimley, who was the real-life spokesperson for Quaker Oats in the 80's and 90's, would supposedly stop by the station to present a message to "all the little boys and girls" that inevitably veered off into horrifically inappropriate rhapsodies about the sexual uses of oatmeal.
- Comedian Justin Edwards has the character Jeremy Lion, an unsuccessful children's entertainer who comes on stage drunk, uses nightmarish puppets and costumes in his acts, used to entertain himself as a child with "a box of matches and a kitten", and makes references to his sad depressing life. On one occasion, he had to sell the puppets he used in his act and used cans and bottles of alcohol as replacements, which he ended up drinking every couple of seconds.
- In one of their sketches, the French comedian trio "Les Inconnus" portray the team from "Club Dorothée", a very popular French kid show from the 80's, as this, harshly fending off a kid asking for an autograph once the camera is off by threatening him to call the show host Dorothée (the kid is frightened by this).
- While he's never explicitly stated to be a kids' show host, this is pretty much the shtick of Stephen Lynch. A lot of his songs sound as if they were written for children ... at least at first, before they turn either dark or depraved.
If you could be a super hero, would you be Justice Guy?
Making sure people get what they deserve, especially women who lie.
Like if a wife left her husband with three kids and no job
To run off to Hawaii with some doctor named Bob
You could kill them and drain them of blood so they die
... especially Bob ...
Then you would be Justice Guy.
- He leads into that song by saying that he did play for children at school assemblies. "They eat this shit up, they love it!"
- As alluded to above, Dara Ó Briain has riffed on his former career as a kid's show host in this fashion. The way he describes it the behind the scenes world of children's television is, if not exactly depraved, then certainly full of bitchy competitiveness.
- One of George Carlin's earliest bits (back when he and Jack Burns were partners, even) was "Captain Jack and Jolly George," where the two titular characters encourage some very family unfriendly behaviour (heroin usage, alcoholism, implied prostitution), in an Excited Kids' Show Host Under Sixes tone of voice.
- Urban legends adore this. Quick, think of a kids' show host! Got one? At some point, you've probably heard the rumour that he's a convicted child molester who's on the show as part of his community service,note some sort of deranged murderer, or a drug addict. Some notable examples of this trope (courtesy of Snopes):
- Fred Rogers was a heavily tattooed, cold-blooded sniper (or possibly a child molester).
- During the Golden Age of Radio, a legend was created whereby a local children's radio host named Uncle Don uttered the comment, "That ought to hold those little bastards!" after one of his shows. Uncle Don was the genial grandfatherly type gent who would read a bedtime story for children at 7 p.m. (local time), after which he said a gentle good night ... until the night where after his show he snarled the infamous remark, unaware his radio mike was still on and could clearly pick up his statement; the story goes on to claim that a flood of calls to the radio station's management resulted in Uncle Don's swift cancellation and his dismissal from radio. The legend has been told about many radio and television performers over the course of several decades, and predates Uncle Don's career by a few years.
- Steve from Blue's Clues committed drug-induced suicide, a rumor probably started when he played a drug addict on Law & Order.
- Barney is a crack dealer. Also, he committed suicide. In his costume! He swore at a kid that stepped on his foot. On live national TV.
- Comedian Soupy Sales has also been a victim of urban legends fitting this trope, most often those where he supposedly tried to sneak the word "fuck" into his comedy bits on his children's TV show Lunch With Soupy Sales. The most common example is Soupy and Fang reciting the alphabet, but Fang forever identifying the letter "F" as "K," and finally a frustrated Soupy admonishing the puppet, "How comes every time I see 'F,' you see 'K'?" On the other hand, the story about how he once instructed his young viewers to get the "funny green pieces of paper" out of their parents' wallets and purses and send them to him happens to be true.note
- In Poland, there's a well-known anecdote which claims that the host of the live kids' show Mis z okienka ("Bear in the Window") once said "And now, dear kids, you can kiss the bear's ass!" during credits, unaware that the show was still on air.
- Walt Disney seems to attract a lot of these in an attempt by people to show the supposed "dark side" of the Uncle Walt persona he showed off on Walt Disney Presents. Depending on who you ask he was either a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a Satanist, an anti-semite, a fascist, a Nazi sympathizer, a secret communist, a pedophile, a conspirator who helped fake the 1969 moon landing for the U.S. government with Werner Von Braun and Stanley Kubrick, a faux-American whose friendship with Salvador Dalí proved that he was secretly Spanish, an eccentric who froze himself in a tube under Disneyland until the day came when science could revive him and cure his lung cancer...
- Supposedly, Tinky Winky of the Teletubbies was replaced for standing on a rabbit and swearing. There was also a rumour that he attacked somebody with his purse.
- Equally supposedly, one of the people on Bananas in Pajamas was replaced after drunken brawling. This detail often appears in these stories, probably because you can replace an actor in a suit more easily than another kind of host.
- Blue Peter's long-running presenter Valerie Singleton has been "outed" far more times than she would care to count as a closet lesbian. This would have been a very big thing in the 1960's and 1970's when childrens' TV presenters were contractually required to be squeaky-clean in every conceivable respect. For some reason the rumours started spreading and never stopped, despite the fact that what Val really was keen to keep hidden was a long heterosexual affair with fellow presenter Peter Purvis - something the BBC would have sacked them both for. Valerie Singleton is probably a case of a lesbian who never was - perhaps because there were more sniggers in the idea that a morally upright children's TV presenter, a woman popularly thought of as being more saintly and clean-living than Mother Theresa, did have a big disreputable secret life to keep concealed.
- Not officially confirmed, but Italian singer Cristina d'Avena is said to hate children, despite having a long (since 1982) career in shows with singing children, and as singer/songwriter of cartoon themes note . It's possibly justified by the fact that her career is exclusively child related: the only other work she's done with music has been Christmas carols, and her only acknowledged acting role has been a cartoon character in a real life short series.
- Similarly to the urban legends about Valerie Singleton, scurrilous stories persist that the squeaky-clean eponymous presenter of long-running French kids' show Club Dorothée had a shameful past involving appearing in porn, both lesbian and straight, and that she had a backstage drugs problem. There appears to be absolutely no truth in these tales and they probably emerged for the same reasons as the innuendos about Valerie S - that it's funny to imagine a children's TV presenter doing wholly inappropriate things when not on camera, things that don't sit well with being a sort of "nanny" to the nation's children. It is also the case that the production company responsible for Club Dorothée and many other hit French series was run by a man who left a lot of resentment and bad feeling in his wake and attracted a reputation for dictatorial management combined with shoddy underhand dealings: attacking AB productions' hit show with damaging rumours would have been a way, for many bruised and resentful people, to get back at Jean-Luc Azoulay.
- Played for laughs in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice with the final Diez Gentleman. A rare female example.
- Captain Cutlass from Critical Depth was a nautically-themed kids-show host turned actual pirate.
- Crotchy the nutsack from Postal 2.
- In Ace Attorney, Matt Engarde is a children's show actor (specifically, the protagonist of in-universe tokusatsu The Nickel Samurai) who goes to great lengths to preserve his "fresh as a spring breeze" image. Like most other defendants, he carries a tragic secret. However, unlike every other defendant, he is in fact guilty of the crime he's accused of. He's a sociopath who drove his ex-girlfriend to suicide just to piss off his rival Juan Corrida, and later hired an assassin to murder Corrida while he videotaped it with a secret camera, all so he could blackmail said assassin. And he was entirely willing to frame his agent, Adrian Andrews, so he could get away scot-free. His rival, Juan Corrida, wasn't much better.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship did a comic about a Depressed Kids Show Host who ended up committing suicide: "Gee Golly Jeepers!"◊ Notably, it is no longer on the original PBF site.
- Used for a oneshot gag in Ghastly's Ghastly Comic, with plushophiliac Bunny Boy violating a stuffed rabbit in front of the audience. "What kind of world is it where it's okay to buy toys for children but bad to teach them how to play with them?"
- Shadow Teddie in Hiimdaisy hosts Shadow Teddie's Existential Kid's Korner, which is actually fitting given the TV setting and his mascot-like appearance. He declares that "The Word of the Day is... Futile! As in 'Your futile existence has no meaning'," asks a main character if she knows any other words that begin with F (Fsteak), and then skips through a field with the main characters while they all sing "Your futile existence has no meaning." And then he says he's going to kill everyone in the room. Cue sad faces.
- It's the Tie! had this as the punchline for the strip "Glossophobia", where a man nervous about speaking in front of the audience considers and heartily accepts the option of pretending that his audience is naked, the final panel revealing that he's to perform in a dinosaur costume and that his audience consists of children.
- Bobble the Clown of the SCP Foundation mixes this trope with Monster Clown to frightening effect. For starters, he's an Eldritch Abomination, and anyone over the age of 10 who tries to watch his show gets knocked out instantly. Most of the time, he's just an Affably Evil character who cheerfully teaches children how to become arsonists and cannibals, but in one "episode" he lets his facade slip and he just glares at the kids for a half hour straight. Long story short, he's pissed that the foundation is blocking his "show" from being aired.
- Taken Up to Eleven by Mickey the Dick of Wacky Game Jokez, 4 Kidz!. He literally does not give a single shit about the show or anyone watching it (since he's being forced to host it against his will). He swears, drinks beer, makes sexual comments, insults the viewers, and assaults his coworkers all on camera. And his bosses still air the footage, completely uncut.
- In the flash game Pico vs. Bear from Newgrounds, Pico takes on Big Brown Bary, the host of one of his favorite shows. Bary forces the other residents to labor to his benefit, and is suspected of molesting his daughter Hoe-Joe. His costars are equally messed up.
- Homestar Runner: The Strong Bad Email "for kids" sees Strong Bad imagining himself hosting a kids show in which he challenges kids to play "Where's The Cheat?". The problem is he doesn't show the kids a lot of respect, as we first see when he gives them an "F-minus-minus" because one of them said "Christopher Columbus" instead of "The Cheat". Immediately after, he gets increasingly frustrated when the kids try to tell him where The Cheat is hiding but only give vague answers like "He's over there!", leading him to start freaking out.
Strong Bad: Look, The Cheat is behind the freakin' box! HE'S BEHIND THE BOX! I'LL KILL YOU! I'LL KILL ALL YOUR DOGS!
- Absolute Billion's Youtube Poop titled The Gradual Mental Traumatization of a Kids' Show Host is about Steve from Blue's Clues undergoing serious Sanity Slippage.
- The Creepypasta 1999 features one of these as the owner of a local television station. "Mr. Bear," as he is known, is a Satanist and a Misanthrope Supreme who uses his TV station to get kids to come to his house under the pretense of being a special guest star, only to drag them out into the woods and burn them alive as a sacrifice to Satan.
- Depraved doesn't even begin to describe Doofy the Dragon, the host of the titular Show Within a Show from SuperMarioLogan. In his show, Doofy has slaughtered animals, promoted drug usage, hosted a mass suicide, and has a knife as a prize in his cereal.
- Total Drama's Chris McLean is a teenage show example. Unlike most examples, he's openly sadistic and cold-blooded as the host of a reality show full of teenagers.
- The Simpsons: Krusty the Clown: When the cameras are rolling, he's the zany clown kids love! In his off hours, he's cynical, in debt to the mob, willing to do anything to his show for money, lewd, rude, addicted to everything, treats his biggest fan (Bart) like crap (despite the numerous things Bart did for Krusty — i.e., clear him of a robbery charge, reunite Krusty with his rabbi father, and save his show from cancellation with a celebrity-packed comeback special), and is more of a Jerkass than post-season 9 Homer Simpson. And still manages to be one of the good guys in comparison to his sidekick, Sideshow Bob, although he's Wicked Cultured and has a decent side. Speaking of which, Krusty also treated Bob extremely poorly back when he was a sidekick, which lead to Bob framing Krusty for said robbery so that Bob could be the one in charge of the show. Of course, considering that Itchy and Scratchy is on his show, that's not very surprising.
- Krusty's first TV appearance on a Tracey Ullman Show-era Simpsons short called "The Krusty the Clown Show" sees the clown portrayed as boorish and having a normal voice, wearing normal hair and no face makeup. His over-the-top characteristics were not added until the show was picked up for a series and the season 1 episode "Krusty Gets Busted."
- Gabbo and his puppetteer, who briefly got Krusty kicked off the air in "Krusty Gets Kancelled"; Bart produced a film of Gabbo referring to the kids as "little S.O.B.s.", which didn't quite work — it actually caused a public outcry until Kent Brockman made the same flub while reporting the Gabbo story, everyone got angry at HIM, and instantly forgot about Gabbo. His ratings actually went up when all was said and done. (In the world of the Simpsons, it's true that the Viewers Are Goldfish.)
- Of course, next time that Gabbo and his puppeteer appeared on the show, they had become a very poor (and that is figurative and literal-Gabbo has deteriorated to the point he's falling apart) vaudeville act. It is somewhat implied that the second time Gabbo was caught being a jackass after the above episode, he didn't dodge the bullet.
- Lately Krusty has begun acting depraved even on air.
- Rugrats had a rare female example in Miss Carol, the host of "Miss Carol's Happy House." When Angelica gets the chance to audition for her show, she overhears Miss Carol's assistant Stephanie saying the new "Fun Phrase" for the show. Miss Carol comments that the real Fun Phrase should be—well, something unseemly. Angelica, being a three-year-old, assumes that Miss Carol actually means that, and eventually ends up on the show with nothing else to say, so... Hilarity Ensues—along with an Engineered Public Confession (Angelica gets Miss Carol to repeat the dirty phrase on air)—and the show eventually becomes "Miss Stephanie's Happy House."
- Robot Chicken had a parody of this when Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? host Kevin Shinick (voicing himself) goes crazy after finding out his girlfriend is cheating on him. He drives them to her house and makes them memorize the day they met, the day she said she loved him. The skit ended with him crashing his car and dying. This is more amusing when you realize that A. Schinick was actually a writer, creative director, and voice actor for Robot Chicken, and B. Most fans of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego disliked Where in Time...', so this dark bit of Adam Westing was well received by those that caught on.
- In The Secret Saturdays, the Big Bad, V.V. Argost, actually has his own TV show, of which the Saturdays' young Genre Savvy son Zak is a fan. Unusually for this trope, Argost is the same on-camera as he is off-camera... a Faux Affably Evil Large Ham with a fondness for weird monsters.
- Family Guy
- In "Road to Europe," it is revealed that the characters on Jolly Farm Revue, a show Stewie likes, are Depraved Kids' Show Hosts. Mother Maggie turns out to be a foul-mouthed Child Hater (her American counterpart seems to be quite more decent), while Pengrove Pig is a Dirty Old Man who draws obscene pictures inside the magic tome prop.
- Season 10's "You Can't Do That On Television, Peter" had Peter host his own risqué "children's" program, "Petey's Funhouse," where all of his material is clearly unsuitable for children's ears (and in the real world, would have him jailed if not at least banned from television forever). Later, when Peter and Lois are arguing about devoting all his time on the show, Peter makes a sick, perhaps (unintentionally) very revealing if not very dark comment about himself: "I can have all the 3-year-old girls I want!"
- Binky the Clown from Garfield and Friends qualifies, although he was the same on and off camera. Sidney the Dinosaur was a better example in his episode.
Garfield: Third time this week. He's lost it.
- This◊ example from the comic strip, where Binky rants about how he's stuck performing on TV in a clown suit while on the air.
- Also in the comic there was Binky's rival Uncle Roy who had his own Shady◊ Side.
- In The Mask, recurring crime boss Lonnie the Shark's original day job was as the costumed host of the kids' show "Barnaby".
- Potato Head Kids: The episode "Small Potatoes" was framed around "Pee Wee" Small, a cantankerous, frustrated children's TV show host who hates his job and children even more. He is forced to give free tickets away to his show, and when the Potato Head Kids show him up on his own show, he fires them.
- The Powerpuff Girls had a children's show host as the Villain of the Week pretending one of his co-actors needed "happy paper" (money) to cheer up. Bubbles, who always watched the show, and believed it, rounded up all the money she could find, until Blossom and Buttercup managed to expose the truth. This is a Shout-Out to Soupy Sales (though Sales said it as a joke and didn't think any kids would actually do it).
- Quacky the Duck from T.U.F.F. Puppy. Averted in his first appearance, but played straight after he undergoes a FaceHeel Turn due to his show getting canceled.
- In The Fairly OddParents! film Channel Chasers, one of the Bland-Name Product shows is a Blue's Clues parody called Clint's Hints. The Steve analogue is visibly insane.
Steve Expy: Hi kids, I'm Jeff! Ignore the shaving cut and the five o'clock shadow. I'm really a kid just like you!
- In the Fireman Sam special "Alien Alert", we have Buck Douglas, a television presenter of the TV show "Alien Quest". Lots of fans love him, even Norman Price, and want to be on his show. But, when fans are not around and/or he's off screen, he dresses up like an alien and remote-controls toy UFO's, starts fires (both by accident), and sends a huge space signal to outer space to surprise everyone in Pontypandy. Although, he's not that mean, he's not even against "The Hero Next Door", nor his fans. He feels sorry for what he has done after Fireman Sam caught him and showed his fans that he's a mean person.
- The Evil Con Carne episode "Everyone Loves Uncle Bob" had Hector Con Carne attempt to commandeer a children's show in order to mold the children of the world into his future soldiers. His plan fails because the children like the old host Uncle Bob better and Uncle Bob himself isn't the least bit happy about Hector taking over his show and attempting to corrupt his audience.
- Played with in Black Dynamite, where Fred Rogers is portrayed as both a soft-spoken Friend to All Children as well as a brutal Papa Wolf who lives up to the urban legends of being a badass commando whenever a child is about to come into harm. Upon learning that PBS intends to use his name to sell unhealthy snacks and merchandise to his audience, he proceeds to murder them and kidnaps the children in his audience to train them as his personal guerrilla unit. After Black Dynamite makes him realize that he himself has corrupted the youth, he proceeds to snap his own neck (which he somehow survives).
- The teaser to the Sheep in the Big City episode "Daddy Shearest" has Sheep watch a children's show hosted by a man in a turtle costume. The man asks the audience if they see the doggy and starts angrily yelling at them when he doesn't get an answer.