Instances in which a writer, artist or other creator puts inappropriate content — stuff that directly violates the censorship standards they are working under — into their material with the deliberate intent to get past this censorship.
How this is accomplished may vary. The content submitted for ratings may be so offensive that the demands to cut it down end up missing things that would have otherwise been obvious (AKA the Censor Decoy). The creators may hide offensive content as Easter Eggs. Sometimes the Media Watchdogs are just asleep at the wheel. Such events can result in bad (or good) press for a work, or angry calls to a network or studio.
It is important to distinguish this trope from other tropes like Parental Bonus, Demographically Inappropriate Humour, Subtext, and Accidental Innuendo. In these cases, younger audience members are expected to miss the messages, but adults will read them loud and clear. Censors are usually fine with such things, so it's not a violation of media standards. Indeed, this is often a deliberate and widely accepted ploy to engage older audiences in what is nominally a family-friendly work. As such, it is not Getting Crap Past the Radar.
Compare Does This Remind You of Anything?. Contrast with Defying the Censors, in which the creators fight to have their controversial work shown to the masses; and Surprisingly Lenient Censor, in which the censors are more easy-going than the creators expect. See also Crosses the Line Twice, which can be the end result of gradually increasing the level of inappropriate content.
Important note for editors: To qualify for this trope, content must meet three criteria:
- The Radar: It must be in a medium and format where Media Watchdogs exist and actively censor content. Self-censorship does not count. Post-censorship, such as by advertisers on a webcomic, also does not count.
- The "Get Past" Part: The inclusion of the content must be intentional, and the creators of the work must be aware that it ought to be censored. Accidental Innuendo does not count.
- The Crap: It must be something that directly violates the criteria for the rating assigned. Innuendo and subtext do not count.
That last point means that, yes, examples will require citations. Citations can take any of the following forms:
- Citation, preferably with a link, of which rule was violated. Simply referring to the standard isn't enough — examples must state the exact clause. Note that standards change frequently, so make sure you're referring to the correct one.
- Cases where the creator describes how they circumvented the censors. Note that if a creator is merely surprised something got through, it belongs on Surprisingly Lenient Censor.
- Reports of censorship failure from investigative journalists working for reliable news outlets. Blogs, social media, and comment sections do not qualify.
- Works which get released, and are swiftly recalled for the specific purpose of either changing the age rating or removing objectionable content. Note that this does not apply in cases where the radar only gets involved if people complain after the fact, which is the case with most advertising as well as websites which host user-created content such as YouTube and FanFiction.Net.
- Many radio stations played Prince's "Erotic City" uncensored for over a decade, incorrectly believing the lyrics with the F-bombs to be "We can funk into the dawn" and "Thoughts of pretty you and me". One station was fined by the FCC in 1989 for playing it, but it wasn't until the 2000s that all radio stations switched to a version with either the F-bombs muted or another part of the song played over the offending lyrics.
- Mork & Mindy is the trope namer. As Robin Williams himself says in the documentary Pioneers of Television: Robin Williams Remembered, he would try to sneak all manner of things past the censors, frequently hiding dirty foreign jokes within Mork's gibberish alien languagenote .
- Schoolhouse Rock!: "Naughty Number Nine" was nearly unaired due to the fact that a recent television mandate at the time had issued a ban on cigarette commercials, and ABC didn't approve of the fact that the cat in the song smoked a cigar. However, the showrunners managed to get ABC to change their mind due to the fact that the mandate never prohibited smoking in children's shows, and that the cat was meant to be the villain of the song, thus dissuading children from being inspired to smoke. ABC relented, and "Naughty Number Nine" has gone completely unedited ever since.
- Warren Robinett famously subverted Atari's policy of not crediting programmers by hiding a room in Adventure, which was only accessible by a counterintuitive and circuitous sequence of actions. This started the tradition of Easter eggs in video games.
- Prior to 2011, whenever he had the opportunity to mention the name of Leicester City's ground on Match of the Day, Gary Lineker did so. It's called the Walkers Stadium, and Lineker advertises Walkers crisps on ITV; before 2011, the BBC did not allow any form of product placement, to the point of blurring logos on products that were incidentally present even if the manufacturer had not paid for them to be there.
- George Formby got the phallic imager of "With My Little Ukulele In My Hand" past the BBC in the 1930s.
- As described in The Rough Guide to Pink Floyd, the early single "Candy And A Currant Bun" was originally written as "Let's Roll Another One"; The BBC objected to the obvious drug reference of the title (as well as lyrics like "I'm high, don't try to spoil my fun"). The recorded version changed these lyrics, but somehow also slipped in "Ooh don't talk with me / please just fuck with me". Syd Barrett did slur the offending word a bit, making it sound more like "fock", whereas in "Let's Roll Another One" he was more clearly singing "please just walk with me".
- Sabrina Carpenter did this while performing on Radio 1's Live Lounge in 2023 by ad-libbing an outro for "Nonsense": ďIím American, Iím not British/So BBC, it stands for something different/This Live Lounge is so lit because Iím in it." That line was removed from the uploaded video.
- The series three opener of Sherlock, "The Empty Hearse". While the show is considerably more R-Rated than the majority of 12-rated programmes on the channel, it still clearly couldn't get away with a proper Precision F-Strike, so it sneaks one in- Mrs. Hudson asks Sherlock what Watson said to him discovering he was alive. Sherlock begins to say "Fu...", then Smash Cut to Watson, giving a patient a physical: "Cough."
- Australian poet Gwen Harwood submitted two poems, "Eloisa to Abelard" and "Abelard to Eloisa", to Bulletin. Those poems were acrostics; the first letter of each line spelled out "So long Bulletin" and "Fuck all editors". Somehow no one at the paper noticed this and the issue had to be recalled.
- Codename: Kids Next Door: According to a blog post by Mr. Warburton, he's surprised that they got away with the line "well, that figures" when Numbuh 86 is turned into a female dog (i.e. a bitch).
- Tony Cervone has stated that Velma in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated was written as a lesbian, which they made as clear as possible at the time but the showrunners were limited due to Executive Meddling, and the result was the best they could get away with at the time. She and Marcie do get together after the timeline reset.
- On 21 February 2017 episode of Jeopardy!, during the College Tournament, Stanford student Viraj Mehta displayed an extended middle finger for at least seven seconds, supposedly to illustrate his interview subject, the geometry of folded pizza slices. Mehta later confirmed on Twitter that his gesture was deliberate.
- The Ramones were forced to pull "Carbona Not Glue" off their 1977 album Leave Home due to a potential lawsuit - the makers of the cleaning solvent Carbona probably would not be thrilled with it being endorsed as an inhalant. The track would eventually be restored to reissues of the album, but well before then the band managed to slip in an unlisted live version on 1991's Loco Live.
- South Park:
Balzac was a writer.He lived with Allen Funt.Mrs. Roberts didn't like him,but that's 'cause she's a-Contaminated water,can really make you sick...
- In the original airing of the episode "Ike's Wee Wee", Mr. Mackey's "I don't need to take your right-wing authoritative bullshit!" was said unbleeped. It was caught immediately and bleeped on all subsequent reruns and even the Season 2 DVD release, only being restored in the HD remaster.
- As Matt and Trey confirmed in the commentary, "Something You Can Do With Your Finger" got away with using the word "cunt" uncensored in "Wendy's Cussing Song" despite being one of the few profane words considered too extreme to go unbleeped at the time. It helps that the song is based off subverting Curse Cut Short so it doesn't seem like she said "cunt" on paper. (The other swears she says in the song were already frequently said uncensored.)
- There is a similar joke in "Raisins" when Stan tells Jimmy to pass on a message to Wendy that she's a "continuing source of inspiration to him," but due to Jimmy's stutter, all Wendy hears before she storms off is "Stan says you're a cont-... Stan says you're a cont-... you're a cont-..."
- One of the reasons why Kenny is The Unintelligible is that his voice actor (Matt Stone) can easily get away with saying stuff that would normally get bleeped out on television.
- After many years of trying to write realistic language in comics, only to have the editors change words like "dick" to "dork" and to cut references to masturbation entirely, Neil Gaiman finally scored in The Books of Magic. Karen Berger wouldn't let him have John Constantine say "shit", so instead he says "felching heck!", which was apparently acceptable.
- Don Rosa has this to say in the "Making Of" section for Of Ducks, Dimes and Destinies:
"Often I put scenes in my stories that I know will not get past Egmont editor Bryon Erickson, just to give him a chuckle... or heart failure later on if he doesn't spot my mischief."
- In Disney's The Rescuers, during the scene where Bernard and Miss Bianca are flying aboard the back of Orville through the city, a small image of a topless woman is visible (for two nonconsecutive frames) pasted in the window of a building in the background. The 1999 Masterpiece Collection VHS tapes containing the image were recalled almost immediately, and all subsequent releases of the film have, of course, been edited to exclude the image. There have been many urban legends surrounding Disney movies and purported hidden risqué content, but this remains the only incident to have been clearly deliberate and of an unquestionable nature.
- This is how the hidden Mickeys got started. Epcot was intended to be an adult-oriented section of Walt Disney World, at which alcohol would be served. As such, the higher-ups did not allow the company's classic characters to appear at Epcot, thinking it would be inappropriate. The imagineers responded by sneaking Mickey Mouse icons in wherever they could. The restriction is no longer in place, but the workers continue the tradition.
- On at least two occasions, the Darkwing Duck comics had dialogue in the floppies which was spicier than it should have been, and so it was removed from the trade paperback:
- Issue #2, when Darkwing sees the Crimebots being upgraded with accessories.
Darkwing: Now all those orders I filed for chains and cowboy hats make sense! All this time I thought someone had a unique way of enjoying the weekend.
- Issue #3 of the comic when Megavolt says "I bet he had a crappy office job all this time!" in reference to Darkwing. The good word was changed to "crummy" in the trade.
- Issue #2, when Darkwing sees the Crimebots being upgraded with accessories.
- The title of the DuckTales (2017) episode "The Beagle Birthday Massacre", a reference to the Valentine's Day Massacre, was eventually caught on Disney Channel's radar, who changed the title to "The Beagle Birthday Breakout". Disney+ still retains the original title, though.
- In Gargoyles, Fang exclaims "Kinky!" upon seeing Demona change from gargoyle to human. Greg Weisman himself admitted he wasn't sure how they got that one past the censors. Eventually, S&P did notice and the line was cut from reruns (but it's still present on the DVD).
- Ben Folds' "Rockin' the Suburbs," includes multiple uses of the word "fuck", starting low, quiet, and garbled, but each subsequent line is higher, louder, and more clear. The music video version doesn't start bleeping the word "fuck" until the last couple of repeats, so some slightly-garbled-but-unmistakeable uses of "fuck" are left uncensored.
- The Eurovision Song Contest does not allow cursing. Naturally, the occasional one slips out (one of the hosts in 2001 had a notable one when it looked like he broke the trophy), but it's usually avoided. Most recently, one of the backing dancers for the Dutch entry in 2018 seemed to be clearly screaming "Fuck yeah!" to the camera when they finally qualified.
- Beyond a similar instance when Belgium qualified (once again, it appeared one of the members of Hooverphonic exclaimed "Fuck yeah!" when they advanced), Italy's winning entry, "Zitti e buoni," had to change a lyric with the Italian word ''cazzo' (basically "fuck" - the lyric basically translates as "They don't know what the fuck they're talking about") and the phrase "toccarvi i coglioni" (literal: grab your balls, a crude version of 'knock on wood') to get past Eurovision standards. However, when Måneskin performed the song again after they won, frontman Damiano David sang the offending lines uncensored, knowing they couldn't be penalized now.
- "Nous les amoureux" ("We the lovers") by Jean-Claude Pascal, the song that landed Luxembourg its first Eurovision win in 1961. Its lyrics are about a relationship between the singer and a lover rejected by everyone else ("They would like to separate us. They would like to hinder us from being happy."), yet shows faith that will be accepted further down the line. As Pascal explained years later, the song was actually about a homosexual relationship, and knowing the topic would have been controversial in The '60s, the lyrics were deliberately ambiguous and avoided any reference to the lovers' genders so that the subtext slipped past listeners.
- There's a joke about a "Cleveland Steamer" in the Family Guy episode "Mr. Saturday Knight". What makes it even funnier is that the original joke used the less-vulgar term "half and half" which the censors wouldn't allow. In the DVD commentary, Seth said it was one of the most vile jokes they'd ever gotten away with, and that was mostly because the censors assumed that the writers had made the term "Cleveland steamer" up and didn't know it was an actual sexual term.
- In the Futurama episode "Bendin' in the Wind", when Farnsworth asks Fry if the VW van has a device that can slow down and speed up time, Fry holds up a bong, prompting a shocked look from Hermes. According to DVD commentary, the reason the censors didn't object to the scene was because the script referred to the bong as a "strange bottle."
- At the end of The Simpsons episode "Fraudcast News", Willie notes that the new tractors are all "shite". They got away with this in the first airing, but that line was cut in all subsequent broadcasts.
- The creators of Animaniacs have said in interviews that when they had a joke they thought the censors might object to, they would suggest an even more outrageous joke, making the intended joke seem tamer in comparison. It usually worked.
- Batman: The Animated Series occasionally found ways against BS&P's absolute rule against killing. As story editor Michael Reeves said in Animato magazine regarding the episode "Mudslide", which ends with Clayface slipping through Batman's fingers as he melts:
Since Warner Brothers was paying for the series, Fox could give suggestions, but we didn't have to take them. The only people we had to listen to was Broadcast Standards and Practices and their only flat-out taboo was that we couldn't kill anybody, and we even got around that a couple of times. In this episode Clayface went off that cliff and melted. He's dead.
- Victoria Smith in "'Ransacking the Language': Finding the Missing Goods in Virginia Woolf's Orlando" argues, with substantial evidence, that Orlando's sex change in Orlando: A Biography was done in order to insert a same-sex romance at a time when such a thing could never have been published; while lesbianism was not illegal in the UK at the time, it still wasn't socially acceptable.
- Wizard101 applies various rules to the text chat to filter out cursing, offensive language, and for some reason the word "Hell". Naturally, players figured out ways around this.
- Clever capitalisation (ex. HELLo), until this was fixed in a patch.
- In many cases it's as simple as changing a letter. There are quite a few players saying "crop".
- Players are not allowed to say "I hate you," yet "I hate ya" gets past the censor just fine.
- This set is clearly meant to be a Lockheed F-35 Lightning II strike fighter, but since it's labelled simply as a "Blue Power Jet" instead, it technically doesn't violate the company's non-violence policy.
- The V-22 Osprey set was an interesting case. Although in real life the V-22 is strictly a military vehicle, the LEGO version is depicted in civilian markings and makes no mention of its use as a vehicle of war. However, a German protest group pointed out that, as a licensed model, it would still be providing money to weapons manufacturers regardless, and LEGO withdrew the set in response.
- This set can be built into a jet fighter resembling a Sukhoi Su-15 as well as a twin-engine prop plane based on a Douglas A-26 Invader. Once again, neither is explicitly named, giving the company a degree of plausible deniability. The same is true of this set, which can be built into a Northrop F-5 Tiger or a De Havilland Mosquito.
- One of the Toy Story sets depicts the plastic soldier characters along with an Army Jeep. Ordinarily this would be a clear violation of the "no modern weapons" policy, but since it's based on Toy Story, as opposed to representing a real-world vehicle, it gets a pass.
- There is an entire theme based around the US Coast Guard, which is, legally speaking, a branch of the military. However, the Coast Guard's primary function is rescue and law enforcement, making it acceptable by the company's standards. That said, at least one of these sets contains a model that wouldn't be allowed in any other context— a rescue helicopter that is clearly meant to be a Sikorsky HH-53.
- This Wolverine cover. Kurt's obvious nudity aside, note both Wolverine's eyeline and the placement of the beer bottle. And it was intentional too, and to quote Greg Rucka, who once asked artist Esad Ribic about it:
Esad is a big, cheerful, man with a wicked sense of humor. He just looked at me. And then he smiled. And the smile got bigger. And bigger. And he said, ďAnd nobody at Marvel noticed!Ē And then he couldnít stop laughing.
- In the Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Dream On", you can hear Beavis mumbling "Fire, fire". This was after Beavis' catchphrase was bowdlerised (to "fryer, fryer") because of "Comedians", aka the episode of actual pyromania it was falsely accused of in Real Life.
- Brian Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino decided to work a same-sex romance in The Legend of Korra; as Koneitzko explains here, the higher-ups at Nickelodeon wouldn't allow an explicitly lesbonic relationship, but they were able to work it in through lots of subtle signs and hints, culminating in a final shot of Korra and Asami holding hands and gazing into each other's eyes as romantic music plays.
- The Oggy and the Cockroaches episode "(Un)Happy Camper" had a picture of a topless woman with cartoonishly-oversized breasts in the background, and first aired in 2013. Nobody noticed until 2015, when TMZ caught it; this even resulted in the show being cancelled on the American Nickelodeon despite improving ratings, and that particular episode being immediately removed from Nick's website.
- As described by writer Eric Trueheart in the first collection of scripts, the writers and animators on Invader Zim made a game of sneaking in a single frame of bloody GIR into various episodes without Nickelodeon noticing.
- The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "SpongeBob in RandomLand" contains a reference to the infamous Red Mist creepypasta, with Squidward opening a door only to be jump scared by an image of a less bloody version of the iconic Red Mist Squidward thumbnail. Oh, and instead of blood, the dark glow around his eyes is also dripping from his eyes, implying that he's bleeding ink instead. Unfortunately, it was soon replaced with an image of a baby Squidward crapping his diaper due to, in the words of Vincent Waller, "an S&P issue".
- Kings Of The Beach: A picture of a woman is shown on the password screen between stages. Both women appear twice and the former has covered nipples visible through her swimsuit. However, Nintendo's policies from 1988 officially revealed in the 1994 book Parent's Guide to Video Games state that it's forbidden to have sexually suggestive or explicit content.
- Steve L. Kent in The Ultimate History of Video Games discusses how Nintendo's censors went out of their way to censor things that could even be considered offensive from the NES port of Maniac Mansion (which Douglas Crockford corroborates here). They went through all of that trouble to have the creators remove even some innocent things... and completely missed the fact that you can put a hamster in a microwave and essentially nuke it, then give the exploded remains back to its previous owner! They fixed this only in the international release, when it was too late to revoke it from the original US port.
- Jim Davis has openly stated that he intentionally made Garfield inoffensive and uncontroversial in order to appeal to the widest possible audience. However, even he couldn't resist the urge to occasionally slip in something against the rules.
Davis: This was sent in as a joke. I combined drugs, sex, and gambling into one strip... breaking a copyright law in the process. It went through! The joke was on me.
- Garfield gets high on catnip and wakes up in Atlantic City with a Barbie doll. In 20 Years and Still Kicking!, Jim Davis admits that he didn't expect it to be published.
- This was the most notorious, but not the only one. In this 1979 strip◊, Garfield openly says how much he loves all the sex and violence on TV.
- Sitting in a paper bag makes Garfield feel like a dirty magazine.
- One of the bonus strips that bookends the comic collections◊ of Jon's Scariest Dates includes Señorita Del Fuego, who is a handpuppet with lipstick. When this one was reprinted in Garfield's Guide To Everything, Señorita Del Fuego was nowhere to be found; from this, we can infer that she shouldn't have appeared in the first instance, either.
- On a few occasions, a Yu-Gi-Oh! card has been released that had to be swiftly changed when Upper Deck Entertainment or Konami realised they had missed something.
- The stripperiffic Harpy Lady, whose original outfit only had two strips of cloth covering her breasts. The censored version has a shirt underneath.
- Harpie Girl originally featured a very detailed look at her very large, shapely posterior. The censorship was missed in the first run and was fixed later, but it was too late. It's harder to find the censored version.
- After its initial release, the card "After Genocide" was renamed to "After the Struggle".
- When Skweek was ported to the Amstrad CPC, the programmers for their own amusement made a version where Skweek would tell the player to "Go fuck your mother" upon completing a level. Somehow, this version was released in the UK, and had to be quicky recalled when the publisher realised what they had done.
- The Life of …mile Zola: Someone who wasn't familiar with the Dreyfus Affair might wonder why Captain Dreyfus was selected to be the fall guy based on apparently zero evidence. The reason, of course, was that he was Jewish. Warner Brothers head Jack Warner, himself a Jew, insisted that Dreyfus's religion not be discussed in the film. However, when the General Staff is trying to figure out who the traitor is, Dreyfus's personnel file shows "Religion: Jew". The Minister of War's finger is pointing to that line as someone offscreen says snootily "I wonder how he ever became a member of the General Staff." The Minister of War then says "That's our man."
- Even though Animal Jam has moderation, it didn't always catch players performing what resembled sexual acts (a male animal jumping on a sleeping female animal used to be a common sight) and arranging furniture to spell out profane words. This resulted in complaints from parents; see this news report for an example.note
- Yasujiro Ozu was generally thought to be a conservative who valued Japanese tradition and old-style values, which is why his films are so typically "Japanese", as opposed to Akira Kurosawa who made more West-friendly movies. Lars-Martin Sorensen in his book Censorship of Japanese Films During the U.S. Occupation of Japan: The Cases of Yasujirō Ozu and Akira Kurosawa observes that Late Spring, made in 1949 when the United States was occupying Japan and American censors were controlling Japanese films, seems to have a carefully hidden message decrying Western values. Note the scene where Noriko and a friend cross a bridge on bicycles, while a sign saying "Drink Coca-Cola" in English is prominent in the foreground. This is often cited as a dig at Western commercialism.
- Brazilian singer/songwriter Chico Buarque's song "Apesar de você" snuck past the Brazilian military dictatorship's censors by using subtext to hide its true message ("we're really angry at you for being so evil and I'm going to be celebrate the inevitable day comes that the people destroy you") as the love song of a jilted man. The censors only picked up on it after the release, and ever after they paid extra-close attention to the guy's songs, rejecting perfectly innocent songs of his for imagined reasons.
- Chinese laws (as well as South Korea's Game Rating and Administration Committee) forced Girls' Frontline to censor various T-DOLL artworks for being too revealing. This also applies to the English version, but in certain versions (Korean notwithstanding) there exists what is effectively a Cheat Code to get an uncensor patch, which MICA Team refuses to confirm or deny the existence of. This involves constructing a T-DOLL using 522 Manpower, 320 Ammo, 404 Rations, and 137 Parts, then immediately force-closing the game. If done correctly, the game will download and install additional files on startup, which will restore the original uncensored artworks.
- During World War II, the Irish government censored new media severely in order to maintain an image of neutrality. When Germany fell to the Allies, the editor of the Irish Times arranged seven photos of Allied commanders in a rather unusual layout — specifically, they formed a giant V for Victory sign, celebrating the Allied victory.
- Army pays lip service to the idea of the patriotic duty of Japanese citizens, and the duty of Japanese parents to give their sons to the Emperor, but the ending sends a very different message. Maka's anxiety about her son going off to war has already been established by a shot of her silently weeping as Shintaro gives her a massage. In the last scene she is sweeping up the house as the sounds of the soldiers marching to the train station can be heard. Suddenly she crumples to the floor. Maka dully recites the five principles of the soldier. Then she snaps out of her fugue and goes on a desperate dash through the neighborhood to the parade route. A sobbing, grief-striken Maka manages to see her son one last time before he marches away. The film ends with her praying. It seems safe to presume this was not what the Japanese government had in mind when it commissioned this film.
- The reason why Japanese porn is censored is due a widely accepted loophole in Article 175 of the Penal Code of Japan that bans "obscenity". Since what is considered obscene is left vague, many have interpreted it to mean that genitals cannot be shown uncensorednote . This is also where the phenomenon of "tentacle porn" comes from— makers of drawn and animated pornography in Japan, wishing to remain compliant with the penal code, replaced genitalia with more absurd things.
- Even so, a lot of creators get away with showing virtually (or even straight-up) uncensored genitalia, especially in doujinshi circles, usually by thin black bars that barely cover anything, or light mosaic pixellation, under the pretense that they are abiding by the law by doing the bare minimum. Even in non-hentai series, they can get away with showing genitalia if they are whited out, outlined, or are crudely drawn.
- However, the infamously explicit ecchi To Love Ru Darkness has repeatedly shown vaginas in the reflections of things such as eyes and faucets. This is especially glaring considering the manga was serialized in a Shōnen magazine, Shueisha's Jump Squarenote .
- Verwitterte Melodie, made in Germany in 1942, is regarded as containing a subtle anti-Nazi message.
- First, there's the record, a jazz tune. The Nazis, famously, hated jazz.
- Two of the bugs stumble across a broken garter strap, which is Getting Crap Past the Radar on one level—some vigorous sex was happening near that record player, apparently—and not very Nazi-friendly on another level, as bonking to jazz music in a meadow was hardly the thing that proper Nazi maidens were supposed to do.
- Two of the bugs who dance together are ladybugs, and hence have been interpreted as a lesbian couple.
- Then there's how all the various bugs and other small animals of the meadow—frogs, hedgehogs, etc—work together to play the music on the record. A multicultural group of people working together and living in harmony was not a Nazi-friendly message.
- Army brass suspected John Huston of making a covertly anti-war film in the form of The Battle of San Pietro. Huston replied that if he ever made a pro-war film, they could shoot him.
Ratings agencies and classification boards
- The TV-Y7 rated Nicktoons airing of Dragon Ball Z Kai left in Future Android 18 yelling "Now I'm pissed!", the kind of "infrequent coarse language" that warrants a TV-PG rating at minimum.
- The Transformers episode "Roll for It" includes some Japanese text from the production crew. Roughly translated, it reads "to "Gah, I need a woman. Ain't there any hot babes around? Let's call it a day, get home quick and hit the sack. Hey, Habara, did you pop your cherry yet?note Let's go hit a Turkish bathnote some time"." This is the sort of thing that warrants a TV-PG rating, rather than the TV-Y7 it got.
- Beast Wars managed to get away with a fair amount. Like G1, it was rated TV-Y7.
- In "Double Dinobot", there is ciphertext that reads "hey ian, go fuck yourself". The word "Fuck" alone is enough to warrant at least a TV-14 rating.
- In the episode "Feral Scream Part 1", Megatron curses "Fuck" after being attacked by Cheetor, covered by only the barest of distortion. This should have warranted a TV-14 rating.
- After Silverbolt's illegal flirting with Blackarachnia:
Rattrap: So, uh, where ya' been, bird-dog?
Silverbolt: Uh, scout patrol...
Rattrap: Oh, yeah, yeah, scoutin' the enemy, yeah. Find any new positions?
- Genuine double entendres don't mandate anything higher than TV-PG, but this was still rated TV-Y7.
- Mainframe Entertainment also used codes to sneak dirty words into ReBoot. In Season Two, as a Take That! towards the network censors, the words "Fuck you, Broadcast Standards!" are written in Mainframe's skybox in binary; like Beast Wars, ReBoot is rated TV-Y7, which does not allow for saying "Fuck".
- The episode Painted Windows has Hexadecimal's mask scream "Damn you!" at Bob during her Villainous RRoD, something also not allowed in TV-Y7 shows.
- Road Rovers was rated TV-G, which means "no strong language". At one point, discussing Russian names, Blitz, Colleen, and Exile used the example of "Sonov". Add that to the patronymic suffix "-ovich" and you'll see why that song got cut for later airings, and is suspected by fans to be part of the reason it was cancelled. See the video here.
- Black Hole High got away with using the word "crappy"; it's rated TV-Y7, which does not allow cursing of any kind.
- Power Rangers Time Force was rated TV-Y7, so no cursing was allowed. In the original version of the finale The End of Time, we hear the Cyclobots talk for the first time. It sounds like nonsense robot talk...until you run it backwards. They say, "You are the size of a fucking condo."note to Ransik and "You bitch, that's too much money."note Disney took notice and in later airings, that backmasked speech was recorded with "You, sir, are the size of a condo."note and "That's too much money."note
- Despite Restaurant: Impossible's TV-G rating, "damn", and in rare cases "pissed" often are used.
- In the Little Witch Academia episode "Discipline", there's a picture of comments on a website with a design similar to Tumblr. One of the comments on the website is "Piece of shit game, piece of shit referee." Also, one of the comments Croix was looking at related to the Wild Hunt in "Stanship Take Off!" said, "Wow! people actually believe in this bullshit". This warrants at least a TV-PG rating, but Netflix gives it TV-Y7.
- The animated film Saava: Heart of a Warrior features a song during the credits that contains the words "ass" and "motherfucker", the latter of which is spoken/sung in a way that's impossible to miss. Netflix, clearly taking no notice of this, gave the movie a TV-Y7 rating.
- Even bowdlerised, Rurouni Kenshin has some stuff that goes beyond the TV-Y7 rating it received when aired on Toonami. Naturally, it found an audience with older viewers, to the extent that producer Sean Akins later realised they should have put it on [adult swim]:
- A shocking amount of blood was left in.
- Sanosuke's "Damn it! That guy's totally off his rocker." was left intact in episode 6.
- A train robber got to yell "Damn it! What are those guys doing?" in episode 22.
- In The Noddy Shop music video "Special" (which was made for an investor in the series and was not meant for public consumption), Johnny Crawfish sings lyrics that suggest Intercourse with You and also uses the word "hell". The show itself is rated TV-Y, which usually doesn't allow these sorts of things.
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Roadside Attraction", When Darlene is talking to Stan after she traps him in her web, she tells him that "This time, you're the one getting used for your body", referring to the fact that she's going to eat him. Simply referencing the act of using another person for selfish purposes would have been fine, but specifying that it's for their body leaves little wiggle room for non-sexual interpretations. Afterwards, "Allow me to slip into something more horrifying." before she transforms, a parody of the famous "Slip into Something More Comfortable" line often used right before a nude scene/sex. In America, this episode was rated TV-Y7.
- Invader Zim got various ratings, but none higher than PG, which doesn't allow serious cursing. The writers still managed to backmask in the word "fuck", as seen here.
- FLCL somehow only got a G rating upon its initial video release despite being jam-packed with nudity and double entendres that go far beyond "brief" and "infrequent". It seems like someone actually bothered to watch the DVD, because that release was upped to PG.
- Beast Wars was rated a reasonable PG... but the episode "Double Dinobot" has the message "hey ian go fuck yourself" written in a substitution cipher. Having a "fuck" would normally garner an M rating.
- In the episode "Feral Scream Part 1", Megatron curses "Fuck" after being attacked by Cheetor, covered by only the barest of distortion. This should have warranted an M rating.
- ReBoot had the exact same thing happen. Like Beast Wars, it was rated PG. In season 2, Mainframe's skybox has "Fuck you, Broadcast Standards!" written in binary.
- Black Hole High got away with using the word "crappy"; it's rated G, which does not allow cursing of any kind.
- Power Rangers Time Force was rated G, so no cursing was allowed. In the original version of the finale The End of Time, we hear the Cyclobots talk for the first time. It sounds like nonsense robot talk...until you run it backwards. They say, "You are the size of a fucking condo."note to Ransik and "You bitch, that's too much money."note Disney took notice and in later airings, that backmasked speech was recorded with "You, sir, are the size of a condo."note and "That's too much money."note
- Invader Zim was rated PG, which doesn't allow serious cursing. The writers still managed to backmask in the word "fuck", as seen here.
- Black Narcissus is dripping with the kind of innuendo the BBFC was not OK with in 1947:
- The Old General mentions importing plenty of sausages for the nuns to eat.
- When the nuns first meet Mr Dean, Sister Clodagh says she wants to talk to him on business. He responds "I don't suppose you want to talk to me about anything else", prompting an offended look from Sister Briony.
- Mr Dean says of the Old General "he too is a superior being", again getting a scandalised look from the nuns.
- When Mr Dean asks Clodagh to take in Kanchi and the nun is studying the young woman, he watches the pair of them with barely disguised amusement and almost lasciviously asks "You're sure there's no question you're dying to ask me?" practically daring Clodagh to demand whether Kanchi is his lover. She refuses to ask, so the viewer never finds out either way.
- The Young General mistakenly says he'll study physics "with the physical sister".
- Sister Clodagh says of her former beau Conn "I had already shown that I loved him", which seems to imply that they had premarital sex. As she is Irish, it's possible Clodagh fled the Magdalene Laundries where she could have been sent as punishment.
- When National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was released in the UK, the middle word in "Danny FUCKIN' Kaye!" was changed to "DANCIN'" to get a PG rating. The Blu Ray is uncensored, but is still rated PG; while standards change, the guidelines at the time still only allowed "mild bad language" in a PG release.
- The Transformers is rated G, but a few episodes manage to subvert the restrictions.
- "Roll for It" includes some Japanese text from the production crew. Roughly translated, it reads "to "Gah, I need a woman. Ain't there any hot babes around? Let's call it a day, get home quick and hit the sack. Hey, Habara, did you pop your cherry yet?note Let's go hit a Turkish bathnote some time"." The G rating specifically does not allow any form of sex or nudity.
- "Kremzeek!" has a naked woman on the Hojoni billboard.
- Beast Wars managed to get away with a fair amount. It was rated C8+, an even more restrictive category than G.
- In "Double Dinobot", there is ciphertext that reads "hey ian, go fuck yourself". C8+ says "No profanity".
- In the episode "Feral Scream Part 1", Megatron curses "Fuck" after being attacked by Cheetor, covered by only the barest of distortion. C8+ shows are meant to have no profanity.
- After Silverbolt's illegal flirting with Blackarachnia:
Rattrap: So, uh, where ya' been, bird-dog?
Silverbolt: Uh, scout patrol...
Rattrap: Oh, yeah, yeah, scoutin' the enemy, yeah. Find any new positions?
- As with the G rating, C8+ does not allow any form of sexuality.
- ReBoot was rated PG in Nova Scotia and G in Manitoba. Evidently the ratings agencies couldn't read binary, or they'd have noticed that Mainframe's skybox says "Fuck you, Broadcast Standards!"
- The episode Painted Windows has Hexadecimal's mask scream "Damn you!" at Bob during her Villainous RRoD.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks got a G rating despite a couple of references to sex; any sexual allusion is supposed to be an automatic PG.
- In the episode "Sploosh", Brittany's character at one point asks Jeanette (as the mermaid), "Are mermen sexier than human men?"
- Even better from "Simon Seville, Superstar", Simon is asked if he considers himself a sex symbol (bonus, Alvin does a more-or-less simultaneous and very loud gasp with the word "sex", just to confirm this trope). Simon demurs cutely and says "No... Only if glasses are sexy". When told that they are "very attractive", he pulls out ones that are older and even more noticeable.
- Rugrats got a G rating. For the most part, it's perfectly innocuous, but in the episode "Reptar's Revenge", there is a nude pinup on the side of the carnival owner's trailer.
- Invader Zim was rated PG in Ontario, which doesn't allow serious cursing. The writers still managed to backmask in the word "fuck", as seen here.
- The CBFC is known to have accepted bribes in exchange for awarding valuable U ratings to movies which warrant higher classifications.
- The 2014 hockey documentary Red Army was rated PG by the MPAA despite including one use of the word "cocksucker", which usually results in an automatic R-rating. The film was rated "15" in the UK, which is also automatic for that word. Also, the film was rated G in Alberta, even though G-rated documentaries are usually only allowed "some limited and mild coarse language" in that province.
- In an interview, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman say that the American censor was concerned about Pussy Galore's name in Goldfinger, but they persuaded him to let them leave it in by taking him out to dinner and claiming to be big supporters of the Republican Party.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit: The original cut of the movie had three frames showing that Jessica's dress hiked up to show that she was not wearing underwear, something far beyond what the film's PG rating would permit. Once laserdisc made frame-by-frame viewing possible, this crept out from Under the Radar and was later edited — first by digitally putting white panties on Jessica, then by elongating the skirt so everything is covered.
- In 1974, Captain America first encountered the Committee to Regain America's Principles, a villainous organization whose acronym violated the ban on "[p]rofanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings" in the 1971 revision of the Code.
- Steve Gerber included a sentient space turnip named Phelch in Howard the Duck Vol. 1 #2; felching is the practice of using a straw to retrieve one's own sperm from a partner's orifice. As such, Phelch's name violates both the profanity clause and the ban on "sex perversion or inference to same".
- Firestorm (DC Comics) did the same thing as Captain America with the Coalition to Resist Atomic Power.
- There's a crazy amount of nude Storm appearances in 70s X-Men comics. The Code was on its second revision, which did not allow any form of nudity.
- A Legion Of Superheroes story from a 1973 issue of Superboy has Dream Girl, who is unmarried, sleeping in a bed large enough for two people, and Dave Cockrum draws a human-shaped bulge under the blanket next to her and the top of a blond head of hair peeking out from under the blanket. For context, the Comics Code forbade any indication that extramarital sex exists at this point (this restriction stopped being enforced in the 1980s and was outright removed in 1989).
- According to inker John Totleben regarding Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #22, Woodrue's dilated pupils, in the close-up panel after he tastes the Swamp Thing's tuber, are a deliberate if covert indication of drug use, still forbidden under the then-current version of the Comics Code unless depicted as a "vicious habit." (Totleben states further that Woodrue's subsequent use of an EEG device was a smokescreen for the real method by which he tapped into the Green.) When DC began releasing the title without the Code's seal of approval, it freed the creative team to make the tubers' psychedelic properties more explicit and give them a recurring role in the series.
- In Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #37, when John declines Emma's offer to spend more time in bed with her, she asks whether she's ever told him what her father says about Englishmen; he responds "Yes, you did; "no, we're not; and if I ever meet your dad I'm going to chin him." The implied word after "not" is, of course, "gay," which in 1985 was the sort of "inference" to "sex perversion" which the Code forbade.
- The 1981 Betty and Veronica story "Saved by the Bell" contravenes the Marriage and Sex section of the 1971 revision. Right at the start of the story, Betty loudly says that Archie is "SEXY!" She's anxious around him, because his "touch does weird things to my body." They start making out, and while the story doesn't go beyond kissing due to Jughead interrupting things, it really does look like they were going to have sex — and this isn't even portrayed negatively, the way Cheryl's promiscuity was. Sure, Betty is relieved that Jughead interrupted them, but this is portrayed as normal teenage awkwardness rather than a problem with sex per se.
- The Avengers:
- During the 1978 Korvac saga, Korvac and Carina fuse their bodies into one in a very sexual manner, the narration describing Korvac "as he softly slips between the delicate folds of Carina's soul". The panels◊ show the two naked, in a sexual pose, and Carina apparently having an orgasm. This is pretty strongly in violation of the Sex and Costume sections of the 1974 revision.
- In Avengers #125 (1972), While the Avengers are fighting an alien invasion from Thanos, there's a panel showing a busted alien ship falling toward the street. Some civilians are fleeing the scene and in the background, a theater marquee is visible. A civilian partially obscures the marquee with his arm as he runs away, but it's apparent the movie is Deep Throat; based on the timing, this is much more likely to be a reference to the porn movie and not to the informant on the Watergate scandal.
- The Amazing Spider-Man #299 is today known almost entirely for being the debut of Venom, but it also managed to slide by the Comics Code's restriction on "salacious illustrations". Peter is down because of being unable to apprehend Chase, so MJ raises his spirits have having him take some nudie photos of her◊.
- Banjo-Tooie: The boss fight against Lord Woo Fak Fak (no, this isn't about his name) has you shooting at his boils, which billow blood into the water. Blood is actually taboo in E-rated games according to ESRB standards, and usually results in an automatic T-rating. Previous games have even had to make changes due to this rule (a notable one is Ocarina of Time, where a Coughing Up Blood scene turned into a Vomit Indiscretion Shot), yet somehow, Tooie got away with it.
- Cave Story's commercial release managed to get away just fine with a barely-subtle Optional Sexual Encounter and a hidden pair of women's panties without so much as an "Innuendo" flag from the ESRB.
- Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled patched in microtransactions a few weeks after launch. This allowed them to sell a lot of copies without having to include the In-Game Purchases content warnings mandated by the ESRB.
- In order to ensure that D was published in the form he wished, Kenji Eno resorted to actual fraud. First, he developed the game with no story line, concealing the cutscenes from his own staff, then submitted a 'clean' version to the board for approval. He then deliberately submitted the master late, knowing that he would then have to deliver it by hand to the U.S. manufacturers. That gave him time to 'switch' the clean disc with the version he intended, bypassing the censors completely!note
- The American PS2 release of DanceDanceRevolution EXTREME includes "Highs Off U (Scorccio XY Mix)", a song that has a Precision F-Strike in its rap verse. In spite of this (especially given "Highs Off U" is one of the game's default songs), the game got an E rating.
- Dokapon Kingdom: The game is rated a mere E10+, and yet it still manages to get away with the King saying, "assolutely flabulous." The fact that this line is used in the very last cutscene of a game that approximates 30+ hours makes it rather easy for ratings boards to not find out about it.
- Quite infamously, in Kingdom Hearts II and II Final Mix, it's possible to maneuver the camera underneath Kairi's skirt and find a fully-rendered pair of panties with a little bow, despite the ESRB rating not including descriptors for any suggestive content. The Radar did eventually catch on to that one—the panties are no longer present in the HD remasters.
- Kirby's Dream Land 3: The True Final Boss, Zero, is a giant eye with a red iris who shoots blood at you as an attack, and later rips the iris out of its body in a gory manner to keep fighting. Once you defeat the boss, it explodes in a shower of blood. The game is rated K-A/E, most likely because reaching the boss requires going out of your way to find it. It took 15 years for the ESRB to catch on with the Compilation Rerelease Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition, which is rated E10+ with a content warning for "animated blood". However, standalone re-releases of Dream Land 3 are still E-rated, despite the game contents being mostly unchanged since the 1997 release.
- Jan's Heroic Suicide in Lufia: the Legend Returns has him bleeding out onscreen, making this one of the few (if not only) instances of blood in the series. The game also has a few mild instances of swearing, including one from Seena after Jan's death and Daos' subsequent fight. It's rated "E" for everyone.
- The Shin Megami Tensei subseries Devil Children had two entries localized by Atlus as the DemiKids series. While they are Lighter and Softer than the main series, as the E rating would have you believe, they still contain Succubi and Incubi — without as much as a "Suggestive Themes" descriptor — despite both demons being highlighted in ratings information for SMT titles with higher ratings. And yes, the Incubus in DemiKids still has the same "phallic-shaped torso" that catches the ESRB's eye every time.
- Jelfonzo in Splatoon 2 wears a different T-shirt each day. On Tuesdays, he wears one with Inkling text that reads "Fuck You". Splatoon 2 is rated E10+, with no content warnings for language.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, the police station's description of the Ham-mer robot states that it "goes well with... a nice Chianti", which is a type of wine produced in Tuscany. Not too bad by itself, but the ESRB rating does leave out the "Alcohol Reference" label for some reason.
- Voez was temporarily pulled from the Nintendo eShop in the US and rerated from E for Everyone to T for "Mild Blood, Partial Nudity" in regards to some previously overlooked content.
- In Wild Woody, there is a convoluted Easter Egg that has a naked, breast-hanging mermaid (NSFW link!). Wild Woody is rated K-A, the equivalent to today's E; we're guessing the only reason it wasn't rated higher is that nobody at the ESRB managed to find that particular secret.
- In the The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, a hidden Easter Egg generates a character called a Cukeman, who says strange, nonsensical things. These were different in every translation, and in the original German translation, he says things like "Give me your juice, I'll give you mine..." and "Never without a condom!" The original Game Boy version of the game was released in 1993, a year before the USK was formed. Consequently, the German version's lines were changed for the 1998 DX re-release. In the 2019 Nintendo Switch remake, the Cukeman's lines were changed in all regions to be cryptic foreshadowing instead.
- Tex Avery's The Shooting of Dan McGoo has a town named Coldernell, which sounds almost exactly like "colder than Hell"; the Hays Code specifically forbade the word Hell.
- Avery did the same thing in the Chilly Willy short "I'm Cold", in which Chilly lives in a village called "Colder'nell"
- Almost everything Driftwood says to Mrs. Claypool in A Night at the Opera thumbs its nose at the Sex section of the Code. A few cracks are still on the outrageous side.
Driftwood: You're willing to pay him a thousand dollars a night just for singing? Why, you can get a phonograph record of 'Minnie the Moocher' for 75 cents. (Pause) For a buck and a quarter, you can get Minnie.
- A Thousand Clowns found ways around the restrictions on nudity in the Costume section: Nick's "favorite toy" is Bubbles, a battery-powered electric statue shaped like a topless hula dancer whose chest "lights up". Even Albert appears to have a "strange interest" in Bubbles...
- In A Woman's Face, Torsten ogles two women dancing with each other during a very drunk get together. Yes, the Code also forbids "[d]ances which emphasize indecent movements"
- Advise & Consent has a few moments due to Otto Preminger barely bothering to do his job.
- An attractive woman is seen leaving a senator's hotel room first thing in the morning, wearing the same Little Black Dress and mink stole she was presumably wearing the night before. The majority leader then enters, finds the senator still in his bathrobe, and gently suggests that perhaps a senator should project more stability by getting married.
- This is the first American movie with a scene inside what is obviously a gay bar; while the Code never specifically mentions homosexuality, it does forbid "sex perversion", under which homosexuality would have fallen in 1962.
- In a mild Precision F-Strike, Dolly jokingly refers to herself as "an old bitch" in one scene.
- One of the professors in Ball of Fire devoted their work to sex education, and even refers to it by name. In a movie from 1941.
- Bedlam: When Nell is introducing herself to John Wilkes, he makes clear that he expects more than Compensated Dating with his companions; if she lives with him she'll have to put out. He isn't gross about it, though, and they shake hands and part as friends.
- A Reasonable Doubt:
- Tom says he "had to" marry Patty, implying it's because she claimed to be pregnant, something a film wouldn't openly say then.
- Susan also makes a just barely veiled request for sex.
Susan: But I feel like dancing now.
Tom: All right. Where?
Susan: I've never seen your apartment.
- The two lead characters in Breakfast at Tiffany's are more or less prostitutes, but the film never openly admits as much.
- At the very beginning of Bringing Up Baby, David says he's sure that the bone he's holding goes in the Brontosaurus's tail. His fiance gives a smile and says "we tried it in the tail last night. It didn't fit."
- In Detour, Vera suggestively lays a hand on Al's shoulder and says "I'm going to bed." When Al brushes the hand off, she stalks away in a snit.
- Buzzy in Having Wonderful Time makes a proposal of sex with Teddy that is surprisingly frank; "scenes of passion" were permitted only when essential to the plot.
Buzzy: When I like a girl, and a girl likes me, I think it's only fair to suggest we get together, if you know what I mean.
- In It's a Wonderful Life Harry, a white man, flirts with Annie, a black woman. While Played for Laughs, the Hays Code forbade mixed-race relationships until 1956.
- Love Affair was controversial on concept. Its story was tampered several times by different people, from the censors to the French embassy. But notably, the leading lady being hit by a car that causes her paralysis was added to justify keeping the affair in the movie because she "needed redemption" (the womanizing leading man was already being redeemed through her love).
- Mandalay was produced before the Hays Code took effect but was released afterward. Michael Curtiz took it upon himself to sneak as much "objectionable" content as possible for the sake of art, so there are several examples of this. You can read this article for the full story.
- The steamy scene at the bathtub between Tanya and Tony, who are unmarried. Or even the fact they are living together without wedding rings on their fingers. The former was allowed thanks to a Modesty Towel and a Discretion Shot. The latter, well, probably because of the unique limbo the film found itself in.
- The true nature of the "Jardin d'Orient" is technically never stated. Curtiz's boss wanted the scenes to make it look like more of a nightclub and a gambling house than a brothel. Curtiz still shows women in less than prudish attires and has this exchange that is just short of explicit:
Tanya: All these girls. What are they?
Tony: Just like cafe girls anywhere.
Tanya: You mean...?
Tony: I mean exactly that my dear...
- The Tramp in Modern Times gets high on cocaine while in prison. It's not referred to as cocaine, only as "nose powder", but there's no other way to interpret that scene! While the Code at the time only specifically forbade portrayal of the drug trade, using drugs in prison plausibly falls under that.
- Patrick McGilligan's biography Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light describes how the infamous kissing scene in Notorious ingeniously circumvented the rule against "excessive and lustful kissing". The censors defined "excessive" as "longer than three seconds", so Hitchcock had Alicia and Devlin embrace, kiss each other, nuzzle a little, chat softly about making arrangements for dinner, kiss again, nuzzle, kiss again...
- There were concerns that censors would object to Taylor's cry of "God damn you all to hell!" in Planet of the Apes. The problem was avoided when the producers and Heston explained that the phrase was not an expletive. Rather, Taylor was, literally, calling on God to damn the entire human race for destroying civilization.
- Towards the end of the shower scene in Psycho, when Marion reaches out and grabs the shower curtain, the naked breasts of body double Marli Renfro are visible in the background out of focus. (Picture here◊, possibly NSFW).
- Reap the Wild Wind: In Loxi's song, one of the lyrics is "son of a", and all the ladies gasp. But the next line is "shiny, briny blue". While there's no actual cursing, they Code did explicitly forbid the phrase "son-of-a".
- Reckless got in a joke about sexually-transmitted diseases despite coming out in 1935, just the year after the MPDA started enforcing the Code.
Ned: Did you catch anything?
Mona: We didn't fish!
Ned: Did you catch anything?
- The 1936 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet included much of William Shakespeare's signature dirty jokes and bawdy humour. We guess the fact that one does not mess with Shakespeare is the only reason the movie was able to get the line "for the bawdy hand of the [sun]dial is even now upon the prick of noon" past the censors, especially given the obvious joy with which John Barrymore hits the word "prick"; the Nurse even registers a wickedly delighted reaction, acknowledging it to be an obvious sex joke.
- The C-plot of Separate Tables involves Charles and Jean, a young dating couple who are staying at the hotel and, because they aren't married, have to deal with disapproving looks and gossip from the likes of mean Mrs. Railton-Bell. Charles for his part is a medical student who is cramming for an anatomy exam, while Jean keeps pestering him for sex.
Charles: How can I possibly mix anatomy with romance?
Jean: Well, that shouldn't be too difficult.
- It's strongly implied, and among the production crew outright stated, that Norma in Sunset Boulevard has been using her pet monkey as a surrogate lover. Which means that the unfortunate Joe caught her on the rebound.
- When the title character of Suzy gives a broke showgirl some money, she says it's from her rich uncle. When the showgirl expresses surprise that Suzy has an uncle in London, she says "I haven't got any relatives anywhere, but I got a rich uncle." In other words, she has a sugar daddy.
- The Americanization of Emily got away with all sorts of things due to the Code being on its last legs in 1964
- While it actually show Charlie and Emily having sex, but later confirms that they did by having Emily fret over the possibility that she might become pregnant.
- The line "You're a bitch!"
- One of Bus's girls is rousted from bed naked when Charlie bursts in to complain to Bus. She's complaining and scrambling for a sheet when Bus tells her to stand at attention. So she does, standing at attention naked while Charlie complains about his orders.
- Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon makes a sly reference to Holmes' cocaine habit. Holmes, captured by Moriarty and stalling for time, suggests to Moriarty that instead of just shooting him, he should try something "more creative" —like inserting a needle into his vein and slowly drawing out all of his blood. In response to this suggestion, Moriarty snidely quips:
Moriarty: The needle to the last, eh, Holmes?
- The English version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame never says that Frollo is a priest, but he does live in a cathedral and wear robes that look like they could be priest's robes. He's identified onscreen as an alchemist, but he did practice alchemy on the side in the original novel. All in all, it seems like the filmmakers are trying to make it so that the audience will infer that he's a priest, but without tipping off the censors.
- Gloria, the girl at Nat's Bar who likes Don in The Lost Weekend, is strongly implied to be a prostitute. She keeps meeting total strangers at Nat's for dates, and she tells Don that she broke "a business date" to see him.
- The Maltese Falcon dodges the rule against "sex perversion" by only subtly implying the homosexuality of Wilmer Cook and Joel Cairo. Cairo kisses his phallic cane lovingly at one point. Spade refers derogatorily to Wilmer as "the gunsel", both in the movie and in the book. "Gunsel" was Yiddish slang for a a male passive sexual partner, but not many people knew that. As the slang was all but forgotten, it was re-imagined as slang for a gunslinger or a gun-toting hitman.note
- The Voice of the Turtle has a lot of wink-and-nudge dialogue about how Olive Really Gets Around. When Sally offers her a drink right before Olive is about to go out with Ned, Olive says "Hard drinks make me weak. I'm saving my weaker moments."
- At the start of The Whole Town's Talking, Jones wakes up and tells his pet bird that he had a wonderful dream about Miss Clark, but tells the bird that itís too young to know all the juicy details.
- In the DVD Commentary on To Catch a Thief, they talk about how they kept cutting to the fireworks so that they could draw out the kiss longer.
- You Nazty Spy! mentions the "Giva Dam", and has a whole lot of cursing in Yiddish.
- The title character of Young Cassidy innocently wonders how Daisy affords an apartment as an only sporadically-employed chorus girl. She lets him know that she is either a kept woman or a full-on call girl by saying "I have an uncle as well," and giving him a Meaningful Look.
- Melanie in Gone with the Wind has to strip naked so her nightgown can be used to mop up the blood of the dead soldier. While her nudity is covered by angles and objects, the Code still forbade any nudity whatsoever. Not to mention, of course, that it contained quite possibly the most famous use of the word "damn" in an expletive sense in any Hays Code-era film.
- The song "Ain't There Anyone Here For Love" in the film version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has Jane Russell, in a low cut top, with a bunch of half-dressed guys at the gym who steadfastly ignore her. The Celluloid Closet presents this as a textbook case of subverting the Code, and offers an alternate reason why she's ignored.
- Naughty Marietta (1935): Marie, scrambling to avoid getting forced into a casquette girl marriage, obliquely tells the governor that she used to be a prostitute.
Marie: Surely you have room in New Orleans for a girl who doesn't want to become a housewife, who likes to be charming and pleasant?
- In the Looney Tunes short '"A Tale of Two Kitties," Babbit forces Catstello up a ladder to raid a bird's nest, despite the latter's protests and obvious fear of heights. When Catstello hesitates at the top of the ladder, Babbit shouts up at him to "Give me the bird! Give me the bird!", prompting a Lampshade Hanging from Catstello.
Catstello: "If da Hays Office would only let me, I'd give 'im the bird, alright!"
- The Woody Woodpecker 1941 short "The Screwdriver" has Woody openly mocking and harassing a police officer, as well as getting away with it in the end by having the cop thrown in the nuthouse. This is odd, considering the Hays Code rules explicitly forbid Karma Houdinis, particularly when it came to mocking the law.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Chipwrecked and 4: Road Chip were both rated G despite drug references; Ian in Chipwrecked mentions "one time Snoop started a blaze just using two carrot sticks!" and the "Uptown Munk" number in Road Chip mentions "white gold", better known as cocaine. The G rating does not allow any drug references at all outside of an educational context.
- Banjo-Tooie: The game starts with Banjo, Kazooie, Mumbo Jumbo, and Bottles gambling by playing poker with each other. Because gambling is outright illegal in the U.K., video games that include gambling in them are almost always guaranteed to earn a PEGI 12+ rating, but even with it being rereleased multiple times, Tooie has always managed to maintain a consistent PEGI 3+ rating, despite the gambling being shown off in the first three minutes of the game.
- Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled patched in microtransactions a few weeks after launch. This allowed them to sell a lot of copies without having to include the In-Game Purchases content warnings mandated by the PEGI.
- Rabbids Go Home was rated 7 at launch, and swiftly withdrawn to be rated 12 due to "potentially offensive content".
- Jelfonzo in Splatoon 2 wears a different T-shirt each day. On Tuesdays, he wears one with Inkling text that reads "Fuck You". Splatoon 2 is rated 7, with no content warnings for language.
As with American TV ratings, the decision of whether or not to apply the label is decided internally by the publisher, who have considerable discretion in whether or not to apply it. Fortunately, they are aware that lyrics can have multiple interpretations, and are not particularly concerned about double entendres or cursing that is hard to make out. It should also be borne in mind that the sticker only applies to the audio and not to the music video.
- Kid 'N Play intentionally subvert the "Parental Advisory" stickers in their album Funhouse by creative use of interludes. The lyrics themselves are completely devoid of curses or suggestive lyrics, but the studio outtakes and conversations used as interludes are definitely not suitable for children. Despite this, Funhouse has never received a "Parental Advisory" sticker either; which was even lampshaded in one of the interludes when the duo and their producer Hurby Azor were going over the tapes:
Hurby: Yo, what are y'all gonna do with this shit, man? I could get in trouble with these tapes man!
Kid: It goes on the damn record, in between the thing, man! The shit we tried to do on the last one!
Play: The only things you don't put on the tape is when Hurby comes into the room, 'cause whatever's on there is scandalous shit!
- Try saying the title of Britney Spears' "If U Seek Amy" fast. Not too bad? How about with context: "Love me, hate me, say what you want about me but all of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if you seek Amy." The album it was on escaped the Parental Advisory label, and nobody noticed the pun until after it was released, forcing Britney to record a cleaned-up version for radio broadcast.
- Mark Ronson's 2015 album "Uptown Special" also doesn't feature a parental advisory warning, despite "Feel Right" containing the F-word.
- Lady Gaga's debut album The Fame has large amounts of innuendo. While that doesn't seem to mandate a sticker nowadays, there's a very audible Precision F-Strike in the chorus of Poker Face, in a sexual context, which was missed because it is not in the official lyrics. Most of the radio stations didn't notice it either until KISS.FM called her on it.
- Radiohead's album Pablo Honey to this day has no Parental Advisory sticker on it, despite being widely distributed AND bearing an incredibly famous and explicit lead single.
- Tori Amos' Boys for Pele includes the lyrics "slag shit", "starfucker just like my daddy", and "peace, love, and a hard cock" in just one song. And there's no Parental Advisory sticker. However, radio stations did refuse to play "Big Wheel", since she chants "I am a M-I-L-F" in it.
- Listen carefully to the chorus of Extreme's "Get The Funk Out" and you may notice that the word "funk" is very obviously missing the N.
- "Addicted" by Simple Plan - according to Pierre Bouvier, the point of the song was to be the first band to get the word "dick" on to Much Music. "I'm a addic-dic-dic-dic-dicted to you." Another lyric is "I'm a dick. I'm addicted to you." This is hidden by the conceit that it's a hiccuped line: "I'm addic-, I'm addicted to you."
- The Bloodhound Gang released a song called "Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo". If you don't speak the phonetic alphabet, look at the acronym.
- The Smashing Pumpkins' single "Zero" from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness includes the line "Bullshit Fakers", yet no Parental Advisory sticker.
- The B-52s' "There's a Moon in the Sky (Called the Moon)" - When Fred sings the line "can't get no atmosphere tonight", the girls clearly sing 'can't get no fuckin term tonight' in the background. This line is not printed in the official lyrics.
- Despite having many sexual songs and songs with explicit tags, they somehow got away with the clean edit of their untitled/self-titled CD only having the f-words scratched out in the lyric book.
- "Feeling This" is stated by Word of God to be about sex and has an obvious F-bomb. No Parental Advisory sticker.
- According to vocalist John Hall, King Missile were a bit irritated at the fact that their album Happy Hour had a parental advisory label on the cover... So for their Self-Titled Album, they tried to avoid this by sneaking any cursing past their record company: "on the lyric sheet we submitted to Atlantic, we changed all the curse words to acceptable words, figuring nobody would listen to the record, and we [would] get away with not having a warning label. This actually worked!"
- The Offspring sing "MY FRIEND'S GOT A GIRL/BOYFRIEND AND S/HE HATES THAT BITCH/DICK!"
- Sugarland's song "It Happens" sticks a "ssssh" before the title.
- The Kenny Chesney / George Strait duet "Shiftwork" draws out the I and almost completely elides the F, and includes the line "A big ol' pile of shiftwork".
- In 1992, Joe Diffie got "Ships That Don't Come In" to #1 despite having the lyric "we bitch about a dollar" in it. This is pretty much the only mainstream country song ever to have that word in it.
- As described in Icons of Rock, during the production of We're Only In It For The Money, the label asked that Frank Zappa remove one verse of "Mother People" due to offensive language. Zappa complied, but also added a short sound collage piece called "Hot Poop", which was just the offending verse from "Mother People" played backwards. This was cut from a later pressing that also re-edited several other songs for censorship purposes.
- The song "Paper Bag" By Goldfrapp starts with the words "No time to fuck". Despite this the album has no warning label.
- The entirety of 'Meet your Master' by Nine Inch Nails seems to be about gay BDSM. They probably couldn't be much more blatant about it if they tried...
- The Primus song "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" isn't about Wynona's vagina, it's about her rodent. However, it should have gotten a Parental Advisory sticker for cursing and references to cocaine use.
- Van Halen's 1991 album, "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge". What's that spell?
- The Dev song "In the Dark" practically had no radar:
On my waist, through my hair. Think about it when you touch me there. Dancing in the Dark. Open my body up and do some surgery. I wanna taste it, taste it, feel it, feel it, shove it in there, oh yeah."
- Bowling for Soup:
- "My Wena" is about masturbation; Wena is the singer's penis.
- They also had a very odd case with "Almost". There's one censored version out there where the words "drunk" and "14" get censored in the first line, but the word "slut" is left uncensored in the very next line.
- Maroon 5's "Harder To Breathe" is sexually explicit:
- Clutching your pillow and writhing in a naked sweat,Hoping somebody someday'll do you like I did!
- Kesha song 'C U Next Tuesday' uses the phrase perfectly innocently, but look at the capitalized letters in the title.
- Ludo has "Whipped Cream", all about the odd antics that a person taking advantage does.
- Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" got lyrics about drug use past the radar for months, as "Dancing with Molly" sounds like "Dancing with Miley". Since she confirmed the lyrics it's become censored.
- The Bruno Mars song 24K Magic contains multiple uses of "shit" (as well as "bitch" but that's easier to get away with) but neither the single or album named after it have a Parental Advisory warning.
- In the song Bottoms Up by Trey Songz and Nicki Minaj, Nicki clearly says
"If a bitch try to get cute
I'mma stomp herThrow a lotta money at her then yell
Fuck her, fuck her, fuck herThen yell fuck her "
- "Knocking at Your Back Door" by Deep Purple. Think about the possible meanings of the title... yeah, it's about anal. As quoted in The Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time, Ian Gillan says the band actually wrote the song with this in mind, seeing if they were even able to get away with it and get a song on the airwaves with such a dirty message. And it worked.
- Aerosmith hung a lampshade on it with the title track of the album "Just Push Play", where the chorus says, "Just push play, *beep*ing A! Just push play, they're gonna beep it anyway." Except for the last chorus, when they actually change it to "Fucking A! Just push play, they're gonna *beep* it anyway."
- The lyric sheet of Pearl Jam's 1993 album, Vs shows the words "get out of my lucky face" for the song "Leash." However, Eddie Vedder is clearly singing the lines "drop the leash, drop the leash/get out of my fuckin' face" in the song's chorus. (Several other songs on "Vs." also contain the word "fuck," including "Blood" and "Go," making "Vs." one of the most profane albums not to receive a parental-advisory label.)
- Monroe always Sleeps in the Nude, but could not say so bluntly in radio and TV interviews in the 1950s (operating under similar restrictions to the Hayes Code). Prying interviewers hoping to get a titillating rise from their audiences would regularly ask her about her nightwear. She had pat answers depending on how she was asked. "What do you wear (at night/etc)?" was answered with "Chanel No. 5" (A popular perfume). If asked "What do you have on at night?" her answer was "The radio".
- In an issue of Deadpool by Daniel Way, the inner voices are very impressed with how they got him to say "dick" uncensored by reinterpreting it as slang for "detective".
- The Viz strip Sweary Mary'' is built around this trope; her entire schtick is trying to dodge censorship so she can swear as much as she wants. In her last appearance she finally achieved her life's dream of being allowed to swear on the cover, but lost her voice and was ridiculed by the other characters.
- In A Face in the Crowd, part of the rebranding for Vitajex that Rhodes masterminds involves hinting as much as possible for TV in The '50s that it boosts one's sex drive.
- In A League of Their Own, the newsreel montage implies that Mae is able to get away with the nickname "All the Way Mae" thanks to the assumption that it's a reference to her base running skills.
- Man of Iron: The opening scene shows a harried Winkel trying to figure out how to get news reports about the Gdansk strike past the censors.
- Morning for the Osone Family: Ichiro explains how he tried to couch his anti-war essay in general terms while letting the message come through subtly. It was good enough to get past the censors but not good enough to keep him from getting arrested.
- Addams Family Values: During the Thanksgiving play, Pugsley is dressed up as a turkey for a musical number. His lines in the song consist of saying "Eat Me" twice. Amanda's parents, who are in the front row, react slightly.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit: A subtle joke in the opening sequence has a Show Within a Show example of Getting Crap Past the Radar: the brand name on the oven is "Hotternell" — while the film's PG rating would certainly allow for language as mild as "hell", The Hays Code that was in effect during the film's period setting would not. This is actually a combination of this trope, and a Shout-Out: Tex Avery, in that same period, managed to get away with including an Alaska town labelled as Coldernell in one of his shorts, and the Roger short in production is very much in Avery's style.
- The Celluloid Closet: One of the central themes of the movie is how creators got crap past the radar and introduced homoerotic and Ambiguously Gay gay content past censors. One of the most jaw-dropping examples is Jane Russell's "Ain't There Anyone Here for Love" number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a whole sequence in which muscular dudes wearing nothing but swim trunks dance and twirl and do backflips, while Russell's character sings about how she can't get any of them to pay her any attention. The homoeroticism couldn't be much more overt, but because none of the men actually touch each other, it got past 1953 Hays Code censors. Some clear gay bars are depicted too, including drag king acts, but as nothing's explicit it went through censorship.
- In Jinx High, the spring dance at the high school starts off with a Maypole dance, and Diana recognizes the specific form of the dance as the Sex Magick variant instead of the "standard" fertility rite (which would be bad enough in the Bible Belt). note
- In Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72, under Rumsfeld, the film industry was highly censored, but some filmmakers were able to sneak in some anti-Rumsfeldian themes. Back to the Future featured an ending in which Marty discovers that his alteration of the past wrote him out of existence, which was an attempt by Spielberg at drawing a metaphor about Rumsfeld's Orwellian alteration of history. The movie It's a Wonderful Life is used to convey another anti-Rumsfeld message by drawing comparisons between Rumsfeld and Mr. Potter, but its history as a beloved American classic means that these themes were ignored by censors.
- In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Darcy and a silly girl have a discussion about how little she knows about balls. She, of course, is talking about a dance, and Elizabeth seems to be the only one who realizes that Darcy is "flirting with impropriety".
- In The War That Came Early, a campaigner for FDR compares the 1940 election, where Democrat FDR runs against Republican Willke and third-party candidate Landon, with the 1912 election, in which Democrat Wilson ran against, and defeated, Republican Taft and Bull-Moose (Teddy) Roosevelt. In so doing, he says that, once again, a Democrat is running against a Republican and a Bull-something. Peggy, who is attending the rally, reflects that the speaker is implying what cannot be said directly in a public forum, that Landon is bullshit.
- In Legally Blonde, Fran feels it's this that law professors say "sub-poena" all the time.
- In The Vampire Files, set in 1930s Chicago, an in-universe example would be the art of Evan Robley. From nearly any angle and distance, his paintings appear as colorful, abstract works respectable enough for the sensibilities of any censor of that era; when viewed from exactly the right spot, however, they're revealed to be detailed self-portraits of Evan's favorite body part.
- An in-universe example in Erica Jong's How to Save Your Own Life (not for kids!). Swear words, obscene words, body parts/functions etc. aren't allowed on vanity license plates. Isadora has a license plate that says "Quim," which is an (obscene, comparable to "cunt") old English term for vagina.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Mushroom the Fool produced the unsanctioned narrative of the Dance of the Dragons, a war of succession between the Targaryen kings, with trash, sex, treason and murder included. It's a remarkable thing that with all their power, the Targaryens were not able to purge his book.
- Chappelle's Show: Dave comments after his first "A Moment in the Life of Lil' Jon" skit that Lil Jon does this when the song "Get Low" plays on the radio, since it contains the word "skeet".
Dave: And you know what the most dope thing about "skeet" is? White people don't know what it means yet. When they figure it out, they're going to be like, "My God, what have we done?"
- El Caso does this quite a bit, since this is a newspaper dealing with censorship. For instance, in episode 4, Jesús hands Aparicio an article and tells him to change the front page behind Cabrera's back... just minutes before the paper goes into the rotary.
- In Upper Middle Bogan, Edwina arranges for the school orchestra to play "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?", and she uses her bassoon to toot in time to "No way, get fucked, fuck off!" at the appropriate point.
- The Get Down: To show the graffiti writers that he hasn't sold out, Zeke incorporates different tags and pieces into his speech at Ed Koch's rally without letting the politicians or other adults realize what he's talking about. Even more impressive is that he's doing it on the fly.
- Parodied in season seven of Gilmore Girls. Paris and her fellow pre-meds try to order a corpse cake for their graduation party. However, Hartford bakeries draw the line at dead people pastry, so they have to settle for an erotic cake of a naked man instead.
- A visual example in The Big Bang Theory has Sheldon Cooper displaying, in an argument with Leonard Hofstadter, what a highly-educated idiot he is. The camera angle frames Sheldon against a whiteboard covered with the usual abstract advanced mathematical equations. It's no accident that just to the right of Sheldon's face, a set of extravagantly-bracketed equations are drawn in such a way that they resemble the classic toilet wall cock-and-balls.
- Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! does with the commercial for Dick Dousche's Cleaning Rag.
Dick Dousche: Thank you. I'm Dick Dousche. That's my real name... that's the only way we can get away with this.
- Principal Humbugger's name is obvious to the real audience of Hatchetfield,, but apparently the makers of Santa Claus Is Goin' to High School are sneaking through the obscene word "bugger" to their tween audience.
- On the ABC reboot of Press Your Luck, host Elizabeth Banks reacts this way to a Whammy animation where Tammy Whammette gives birth to a bag of money.
Elizabeth: I have no idea how that Whammy got approved by Standards and Practices.
- Peter, Paul and Mary have this to say in "I Dig Rock n' Roll Music"
But if I really say itThe radio won't play itUnless I lay in between the lines
- Voltaire's song, The Dirtiest Song That Ain't is about this trope and parodies it, though whether it will ever actually get past the radar is (intentionally) doubtful considering how heavy the implications are.
- The writers of the (non-existent) cartoon that Punk Rock Saves the World is "based on" knew that censors would try to water down the subversive elements of the punk genre, so "they worked very hard to disguise the message in such a way that the message would go over the network censors' collective heads."
- Lee Mack has a bit about his grandmother.
Lee: Did you ever do that thing when you were a kid where you try to swear in front of your nan, to try and impress your mates? We'd do that. How many swear words can you get in without Nan noticing? It'd be like "Anyone f'coffee now? Anyone fo' coffee? Is it half a cup? Haaaaalf a cup? Hm?"
- In Something*Positive, a frustrated Donna tells Rory that "if I had just sucked we'd not be having this entire conversation" - being five, he doesn't get the joke.
- In Skin Horse, Nick discovers that he can get swears past his profanity filter if it doesn't recognise them. Unfortunately (for him) it learns.
- In Sword Art Online Abridged, to act out a particular scenario, the players have to resort to flicking mayonnaise as a substitute for... other fluids, since this is supposedly a kid's game.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd gives us a funny example:
AVGN: Whoever came up with this is an ass*BEEP*!!!...Ass....Hole?....Ass*BEEP*! Television makes a lot of sense.
- Ted in Nightmare Time thinks he's doing this when he refers to his mustache as a "bush-brush", but clearly isn't.