In some family-oriented shows and movies, instead of using completely made-up swear words, real but relatively mild cuss words, such as "hell" Note and "damn", will get promoted to the top of the swearing ladder. To make up for the situation, they may use a Bowdlerisation of it.
Contrary to popular belief, the words "damn" and "hell" are permissible in a G-rated film. For example, the 1971 movie Airport had both ("Where the hell are you?" and "You've always got some damn excuse!") and it still received a G rating, though movie-rating standards have changed since then. Planet of the Apes (1968) received a G rating, despite famous lines like "You damn, dirty apes" and "Goddamn you all to hell!" Even some G-rated animated features, such as Sleeping Beauty, The Secret of NIMH, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, have included mild swear words. However, it is worth noting that "Hell" can refer to the place and "damn" can mean condemnation to said place, and thus are not swear words even if such concepts are a little heavy for children. "Bitch" (the official term for a female dog - from which the derogatory use is derived) and "ass" (an alternate name for a donkey) almost never get such passes, unless it is explicit and obvious that the non-swear meaning is intended.
While "damn" is normally permissible, "goddamn" is considered blasphemous amongst many Christian sects and so might be seen as on par with "fuck", if not worse, resulting in literal examples of *Bleep*-dammit!. (This is particularly true in the US.) The M*A*S*H movie when shown on TV has had Sergeant Gorman's Catchphrase, "Goddamn Army" bowdlerised to "Damn Army".
Some words are considered acceptable in some cultures but not in others, and this may appear in G- or PG-rated contexts in one place, but generate complaint in others. For example, in the UK the word "bloody" is considered to be quite a strong swear word when used as an epithet; elsewhere it's not an issue. Also in the UK, the word "ass" is rarely used; instead, the word "arse" is used, and it's considered a mild swear. In North America, "arse" is sometimes considered a non-offensive variant of "ass" in the same context as using "heck" instead of "hell," though it depends upon the person.
The use of "Hades" as an old-fashioned synonym for "Hell" is theologically correct, in the right context, but is commonly misused in any context in which "hell" would work. Using Hades as Satan is never correct though. See The Underworld article for other terms that may be substituted in this manner in works based on other theological settings.
The kid-friendly variant of Bowdlerise. A favorite tool of the Badbutt, a G-rated badass. Another character type known for this is the Minnesota Nice. If the setting forces everyone to swear like this, you are looking at a Magical Profanity Filter.
Compare Country Matters, which is where a medium takes great lengths to avoid not general cuss words, but one word in particular which is seen as immensely offensive and explicit.
Contrast Cluster F-Bomb which is the exact opposite. See also Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head, Curse of the Ancients, Mondegreen Gag, Never Say "Die", T-Word Euphemism, Unusual Euphemism, Witch with a Capital "B", and the Wikipedia article on minced oaths.
This trope is about moments where swearing is deliberately censored or a replacement to a real-life swear word is used. The example subpages and folders below are not to list moments where you personally think that swearing would have looked cool, or for moments where you believe swearing would have improved a line.
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Films Animation
- Films Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Web Original
- Western Animation
- Real Life
- This commercial for Orbit gum, guaranteeing clean mouths. The slogan "It cleans a dirty mouth!" applies to a scenario where a wife and her husband's mistress argue passionately using such insults as "you cootie queen" and "lint licker".
- Travel site Booking.com loves copiously using "booking" as a sub for the F-bomb in their ads.
- The father turtle from one of the Comcast commercials says "fast" as a curse word, something his kid picked up. Stuff includes "Aw fast!", "What the fast?!", and "You're fasting kidding me!"
- This infomercial for the UK's Independent Television Commission about time-appropriate language on TV lampshades with gems like "these nasty handcuffs are really chafing you know!"
- There was an even older Orbit Commercial that used "Shut the front door!". Orbit commercials in general are known for their Unusual Euphemisms, including "Who are you calling a cootie queen? You LINT LICKER!", "What the French toast?", "Well, kiss my- ASHTON!", and of course, "I will pineapple slap your ASCOTS!" The whole purpose is to show that Orbit gum makes your mouth so clean that you won't say any dirty words.
- Speaking of Orbit, there's this ad with Sarah Silverman. "I've got your lipstick all over my rim" is quite the thing to hear in a business meeting.
- Nutra Nail Gel started airing this spot on American television in fall 2013. It promotes the quick-drying nature of the product by depicting the ptifalls of standard nail polish. A woman looks down and disappointedly says "Oh, smudge"note . The last woman wakes up, looks down at her bed and says "Oh, sheet."
- Fresh And Easy grocery chain had a commercial that stated "Get your food the F and Easy way." However how it was said clearly sounds like it was saying "Get your food the Effing Easy way". The posters made it even more specific: "It's so F'in Easy!" Maybe that's why they closed down in 2015.
- The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You: Mimimi never uses any profanity, no matter how mild.
- Saiai Kinuhata from A Certain Magical Index. Justified in that while she was undergoing esper training, her mind was coded with Accelerator's thought patterns, who has a penchant for swearing. In her case, her mind automatically censors each swear, so instead of always cursing, she uses "super" or "ultra" as her default adjective.
- The MegaMan NT Warrior manga in the Viz translation.
- Mega Man Hub Style is about to die unless he can pick himself up off the ground and can only mutter "dang blang!" Bass who is simply incensed will preach about experiencing "Hell itself".
- This translation also uses vocabulary like "Pablum," "wanton"...
- The later game translations also had some odd euphemisms such as "Pit Hockey". Even "heck" at least would've been alliterative. Zero: Curses! Dang! Rats!
- Fruits Basket: In certain Internet versions they took out the line "What the fuck?", which they said at least seven times in a row, and put in various other lines. Natsuki Takaya doesn't usually do this, but the translators apparently wanted to make it cleaner.
- In the anime, "damn," "bastard" and "hell" are thrown around semi-liberally (a given, because "hell" is a part of the name of one Big Bad, Hellmaster Fibrizo), but they never go beyond. The biggest blurb is when the word "bitch" has the opportunity to pop up, but it doesn't, leaving many instances of awkward uses of "you son-of-a...". It is mentioned in an episode of NEXT, but only once and not in the aforementioned context. It's pretty clear that they go far beyond that in the Japanese version, if one knows the local profanity.
- Even though the translated Light Novels series had some censorship, they avert this trope and throw "shit" around frequently.
- Dragon Ball Z: The Funimation dub and the Viz manga have used this trope.
- We hear a brutal tyrant like Frieza saying "Oh my gosh".
- Goku is watching something horrible happen and responds with "Guh...Darn it!" in Sean Schemmel's voice, no less.
- They even went so far as to change the writing on the T-shirts of demons in the afterlife so that instead of Hell (as in the place), they said HFIL, stating it was an acronym for "Home For Infinite Losers."
- "Darn" is said in several places.
- The uncut dubs of DBZ and Dragon Ball Z Kai use both this trope and uncensored swears, often within the same episode. The dub of Dragon Ball Super then turns this trope on its head by almost only using actual swears, with neutered neologisms ("darn", "heck", etc.) being very rare if used at all.
- All of the English Dubs of Dragon Ball omit any swearing whatsoever for the neologisms. Its especially notable in the Funimation dub DVDs that themselves as Uncut and Unedited.
- Eyeshield 21: Hiruma's charming nicknames for people and things get this treatment in the Viz editions.
- Soul Eater averts in the Hungarian dub. The teen heroes use a rich vocabulary of swears and profanity that would make even the creators themselves hide under the table, whenever they're seriously pissed. The fact that it's airing after ten PM may have something to do with it.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, after Al and Ed's battle at the 5th Laboratory, Winry comes to visit Ed at the hospital and tries to force him to drink his milk (which he hates). Al then tells Ed to "Shut up and drink the dumb milk." Entirely in-character, seeing as Al is a very polite young boy trapped inside a giant suit of Animated Armor.
- Hetalia: Axis Powers: Canada instead of swearing, squeaks "Maple hockey!"
- In the Cluster F-Bomb fest that is the dub of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, the Daemon sisters' dialogue is far more refined in comparison. Notably, Kneesocks is the only major character that doesn't swear. (Scanty normally doesn't, either, but seeing the Mayor go One-Winged Angel was a bit too much for her to bare.)
- One Piece: In a scene from the 4Kids Dub, we have Dracule Mihawk cut down Zoro in a very broad diagonal stroke to his chest. Then we cut to Luffy who, in turn, screams "DARN YOOOOOOOOOOOU!!!" at Mihawk.
- Molester Man: Downplayed, but Molester notices that Loli actually says "gosh", one of the only times he's heard a girl say that IRL.
- This Doonesbury strip:
Sarah Palin Doll: After all, we're not just the party of "No" - we're the party of "Hell, No!"
My Little Pony: <Gasp!> What did you say?
Sarah Palin Doll: Oops... Sorry, My Little Pony - I meant "Heck, No!"
My Little Pony: Shouldn't that be "Heavens, No"?
Mister Potato Head: Who the hell cares?
- Dilbert: Playing with the trope through exaggeration, it features a demonic character, Phil, who is the "Prince of Insufficient Light" and "Supreme Ruler of Heck." Armed with a giant pitch-spoon, he is empowered not to damn people for eternity, but to "darn" them, usually for 15 minutes, or with an annoying, sometimes ironically appropriate, fate. Scott Adams claims he came up with the concept when the syndicate didn't allow him to use Satan as a character in the strip and that he is more pleased with the end result.
- Also, this strip.
- From Scott Adams' dilbertnewsletter: "I received an emotional letter of complaint after a strip in which Dilbert used the expression "jeepers cripes." The writer chastised me for using the Lord's name in vain. I can only pray that the almighty Gosh will not darn me to heck for offending his son, Jeepers."
- Calvin and Hobbes:
- Calvin uses minced oaths, like "by golly" or "darn". He states that this is because he doesn't know any swear words.
- In a Christmas comic strip, Calvin's dad stubs his toe and yells, "Slippin'-rippin'-dang-fang-rotten-zarg-barg-a-ding-dong!"
- The Far Side:
- One cartoon has Satan declaring to his minions, "To heck with you! To heck with all of you!" Justified, they are presumably already in hell. The "joke" of that cartoon was, he had overheard them calling him a wimp. Since he wasn't willing to say "hell", he kind of proved them right.
- Subverted in another comic, where a jungle explorer cursing out his colleague manages "curse you to hell" and seems pleased with himself for it.
- The Wizard of Id once had the King tell Sir Rodney to "go to heck."
- In Queen of the Universe, Spaniel Man can't even do punctuation swearing.
- Dan Dare and his friends liked to employ alliterative space-themed curses like "Jumpin' Jets" and "Great Galaxies".
- In Kapitan Bomba, Torpedo sounds like this, especially in comparison to the titular character. This is yet another reason for Bomba to accuse him of being homosexual.
- A tell tell sign that Sting is talking, even if you can't see him, is that he doesn't cuss. The closest he comes are "hell" and "pissed off". This persisted even when "Asshole" became a common Crowd Chant.
- Due to being on TBS in prime time on Thanksgiving Night, the worst threat Ric Flair could throw at Nikita Koloff during their Starrcade '86 match was "I'll kick your butt you son of a gun!"
- Kurt Angle during his initial pro wrestling debut for the World Wrestling Federation, during its "Attitude Era" no less, though it would later be averted in TNA.
- Matt Sydal was known for his tirades of G-rated cursing, even in the explicitly "Adults F-N Only" shows of Gateway Championship Wrestling, where profanity otherwise flowed freely. His reasoning was he wanted to do as little as possible to offend anyone who might otherwise buy his products.
- Stevie Richards wanted to enforce this and other forms of censorship during his "Right to Censor" run and succeed when he recruited former porn star Val Venis and former pimp The Godfather, who starting going by "The Good Father". Ivory had already talked in such a manner before and after Right To Censor though, while Venis and Godfather quickly reverted to their former ways after it was done.
- At the Chikara event From Zero to Hero (& Castagnoli), November 12, 2006, Delirious ended Incoherence (himself and Hallowicked)'s promo by parodying Booker T's infamous botched promo from WCW Spring Stampede 97, saying, "Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, we coming for you, n-word!". That is, Delirious actually said "n-word," not the actual word Booker T had mistakenly said nine years earlier.
- CHIKARA's commentators would call Delirious' top rope splash to his opponent's back, which was normally called Shadows Over Hell, "Shadows Over Heck" or "Shadows Over Hades."
- Mary Elizabeth Monroe (Ring of Honor's Kelly Klein) was very reluctant to use any words considered swears and would never initiate them in conversation, in an effort to maintain a "rated G" image.
- The Peacock Party Boy Dalton Castle swears with long outdated swears like "deuce" and "dickens".
- A trait displayed by those who joined Drew Gulak's Campaign For A Better Combat Zone, including Kimber Lee, who around the same time was dropping cluster f bombs in WSU (It Makes Sense in Context, sort of).
- Heidi Lovelace almost always stops her cussing at the word's first letter, even in front of what are supposed to be adult audiences because children could still be watching, d-word! Most commonly with the b-word, which when asked she insists is "broad". So you know it was a big deal when she started cussing at the referee to end a match in Absolute Intense Wrestling as Shayna Baszler destroyed Annie Social.
- Similar goes for Lovelace's Buddy System Tag Team partner Solo Darling. "Cheese And Rice!"
- Pretty much enforced in CHIKARA, since the fans will actually boo wrestlers who curse, as Tommy Dreamer found out at King of Trios 2010 Night III, April 25, 2010. He cut a promo where he praised the CHIKARA wrestlers and said that he wanted to face Dragon Dragon since "that shit was awesome!" The crowd booed him for this and Dreamer apologized, saying, "that stuff was awesome!" The event was held at the former ECW Arena in Philadelphia, where Dreamer made his name, and which had seen its share of Cluster F-Bomb promos.
- Tim Hawkins' routine on "Christian Cuss Words" combines a crowd-sourced list of family-friendly swears with a bit of Motor Mouth for extra chuckles.
- Lenny Bruce, while at a show where he was being watched by cops waiting to arrest him for obscenity, replaced the word "cocksucker" with "blahblah." He then proceeded to do the entire routine using this euphemism, somehow making his bowdlerisation seem even ruder (and funnier) than the thing it replaced. This included asking the entire audience "including you cops at the back... have you ever had your blah blahed?"
- In Paint Your Wagon, "They Call The Wind Maria" includes the line, "And now I'm lost, so goldurn lost." The same character (followed by others) sings "who gives a damn" in another number with less potential to become a song hit.
- The Odd Couple: Spoofed in the play and the movie version when Oscar complains about a cryptic note that Felix left for him, which was signed "F-U". "'F-U' meant 'Felix Ungar.'"
- Played for laughs in The Book of Mormon. Being Mormons, the missionaries can't swear at all; in I Believe, Elder Price belts "And dang it!" and "By Gosh!". (The Ugandans, by contrast, swear copiously.) Then at the end we have the payoff. Price announces "You know what, guys? Fuck him!"
- From West Side Story, one gol-darned tough street gang:
Here come the Jets, yeah, and we're gonna beatEvery last buggin' gang on the whole buggin' street,On the whole ever-mother-lovin' street!
- In "Without You" from My Fair Lady, Eliza tells Henry to "go to Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire!" (This is actually a Call-Back to Henry's diction exercise about pronouncing aitches.)
- In the play Rain, Sadie Thompson calls the Reverend a "psalm-singing son of a—", ending her sentence in an Angrish scream.
- In Man of La Mancha, Aldonza tells the leering Muleteers, "I spit in the milk of your 'little bird.'" This is a minced rendering of a common Spanish insult for which "spit" is not the correct translation.
- In The Music Man, Tommy Djilas frequently says "Jeely Kly." The movie version makes it "Great honk!"
- In The Mikado, Ko-Ko's sarcastic echo of Nanki-Poo's "The flowers that bloom in the spring" features the line: "Oh, bother the flowers that bloom in the spring." (The Captain's "I Am" Song in H.M.S. Pinafore mentions "Bother it" as an acceptably mild form of cursing, in contrast to the "big, big D" which he does later use explicitly.)
- In the Cartoon Hooligans episode "What If Superman Got Sick?!", when the Justice League starts beating Superman up for peeking into the women's locker room of the JLA headquarters, Green Lantern says "What the frog, Superman!"
- Homestar Runner: The Chapman Brothers purposefully avoid harsh language in because they think "cute flash cartoons shouting obscenities" are a tired cliché. However, they still make hidden references to profanities in some of their work:
- They attribute Strong Bad's popularity to his trademark overuse of the word "crap". "Crap" was almost the site's trademark word for awhile before they got sick of it and stepped it down.
- There is liberal use of "freaking" and "hella" when appropriate.
- Strong Sad said "damn" in one Halloween episode, but it was used in the religious sense ("... and if you answer wrong, you get eternal damnation, but if you answer right you get a Twizzler?").
- One they forgot to remove is in the SBEmail "comic". In the Used 45's box is a copy of Mudhoney's "You Stupid Asshole", which got censored in the DVD release. This is the strongest swear word to appear on the site proper.
- At one point in the DVD commentary of the sbemail "Winter Pool", Strong Bad talks about liking a story about a woman who had a student named "Shithead".
- Played for Laughs in "Cheat Commandos - Commandos in the Classroom": The Cheat Commandos are getting ready to watch "Pony Fights 2", but Gunhaver is concerned that all the swearing will be too much for Reynold to handle. Reynold attempts to prove him wrong, and utterly fails:
Reynold: Oh, I can handle it. Why, I can even swear a cuss myself! Ahem. Diaper biscuits!
- Yahtzee is Playing with a Trope in his Zero Punctuation reviews. What he says is much dirtier than what appears on the screen. His comment on Halo Wars's mission timers was written as "What arbitrary silliness", contrasting with "Bull fucking shit." A rebuttal to Moral Guardians decrying videogames is captioned "No, and I consider your argument misinformed," but he says "No, and go fuck yourself, you ignorant scaremongering cockbags."
- This is used to make a point in his review of Bayonetta 2: "I like my swearing, but in the wrong place it brings down the whole gosh-darn tone. You cunt."
- Pimp Lando has its title character's catchphrase, "What the foo?!?"
- DEATH BATTLE!:
- Invoked for humor by Deadpool in his match against Deathstroke. "Now where is that son of a gun, I'm going to show him what-for, I swea- *gets shot in the head* -OW!" Death Battle (and Deadpool) generally have no problems swearing elsewhere in the video.
- And again by Deadpool in his match against Pinkie Pie. When he notices a army of Pinkie Pie clones rushing towards him, goes "Oh, what the", then notices the TV-Y7 logo, before finishing off with "-heck".
- Gridiron Heights has Philip Rivers constantly doing this while trying to act tough. He averts this with a Precision F-Strike when attacking a vision of Eli Manning from 2004.
- If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device: While the Emperor is certainly not shy about cursing up a storm under normal circumstances, the vox-hailer equipment used for podcasts has a built-in censor that bleeps out anything rude with an excessively loud truck horn. Thus, to keep up his swearing streak and vent his anger he needs to resort to this instead, which amuses both his Custodians and Rogal Dorn.
- Something About: Parodied in "Something About Donkey Kong Country", where King K. Rool attempts to say "you damned dirty ape!", only for his "damned" to be replaced by a "darn" said by a text-to-speech device that doesn't match the voice from the rest of the sentence. A picture of Kirby shows up on the bottom with the text "Kirbo Says; There will be no swears in my Christian channel!"