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Moral Guardians
aka: Moral Guardian

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"There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation, which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue."
Erich Fromm

People, stereotypically either conservative Holier Than Thou Bible thumpers or touchy-feely liberals, who believe that children — or people in general, but especially children — shouldn't be exposed to what they consider to be excessive violence, "perverted" minorities, sex, foul language, alleged support for the "patriarchy", any negative depiction of somebody in an ethnic minority, laziness, etc. The exact mix of what they object to varies from group to group, but in any case, expect them to be portrayed as Indubitably Uninteresting Individuals who despise anything others find to be fun and exciting.

The term "Moral Guardians" specifically describes people who take this attitude beyond the pale as zealous, absolute purveyors of the moral code, and the arbiters of what is best for everyone. Usually, they are self-appointed, and in the case of groups, have been known to claim vastly larger memberships than they actually have.


They frequently complain to the nearest Media Watchdog, often using astroturfing to lend illusory weight to their complaints. If they gain enough influence, they can incite full-blown moral panics.

The Culture Police are sometimes Moral Guardians taken to a satiric and/or frightening extreme. The Bluenose Bowdlerizers are a form of Moral Guardians in our midst. Moral Guardians are often responsible for a work being Banned in China, or calling something a "Murder Simulator".

Very prone to Activist-Fundamentalist Antics, Black-and-White Insanity, and Condescending Compassion. Compare It's Not Porn, It's Art, sort of the inverse of this trope in which a character tries to pass off porn as a work of art.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Story Between a Dumb Prefect and a High School Girl with an Inappropriate Skirt Length: The High School Public Morals Committee, especially Vice President Kogori, is opposed to any "inappropriate student relationships". To Kogori that means pretty much any relationships or physical contact, while Sakuradaimon tries to rationalize that if the couple is really in love, the relationship can't be inappropriate, partially to justify his relationship with Poemu. When the school cultural festival announces its main event will be a prom-style dance, Kogori acts like a Drill Sergeant Nasty to the committee, charging them with preventing anything "impure" from happening (like *gasp* couples holding hands).
  • Shimoneta takes this trope to absurd levels. The series takes place in a dystopian Japan where inappropriate words, phrases and actions are monitored by PMs, and the law which prohibits the above is enforced by the Decency Squad.

    Comic Books 
  • Lampooned in this strip by cartoonist Quino.
  • The Watchdogs in Marvel Comics are an extremist satire. A terrorist organization at least partially led by the Red Skull, they oppose pornography, obscenity, sex education, abortion, homosexuality, and the teaching of evolutionary theory, but choose to express their beliefs through morally questionable (and outright evil) methods, including vandalism, arson, intimidation, assault, kidnapping, brainwashing, and murder, and are most often foes of Captain America.
  • The Crusader, a fundamentalist who believes that the church should become more active in fighting paganism and godlessness in modern society, is a satire. His methods are questionable at best, and include murder. His actions have led to his defeat (and usually humiliation) at the hands of Thor, the Black Knight, Nate Grey, Doctor Strange, and Wolverine, the last one costing him an eye.note  Since that defeat, he wised up, preferring to stay in prison than accept the Hood's invitation to participate in the Civil War.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the film Matinee, the in-universe film Mant (about a half man half ant) was protested by a couple of purported moral guardians for being obscene. The main character in the movie, a horror-movie-obsessed teenager, recognizes the protestors as character actors that have appeared in some of his favorite low budget horror films. When he calls them out on their identities, they admit that they were hired by the producer to stage a fake protest in order to make the film seem scarier and edgier than it is, under the rubric of there's No Such Thing as Bad Publicity. This is Truth in Television, as some low budget exploitation films of the time actually staged fake protests for the same reason, and because the idea that a film would be picketed by moral guardians would attract just the audience that they were looking for, as well as bringing a lot of attention to the film. In Matinee, it actually works, as we see people who would ordinarily never go to such a film deciding to see it in order to spite the moral guardians.
  • The church from Stations of the Cross sees pop music as corrupted by "Satanic rhythms." That sounds silly on paper, but when it leads to a fourteen year old being screamed at until she cries just because she wanted to go to a modern choir, it's difficult not to take seriously.

  • Ray Bradbury's dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 blamed these people for the slow chipping away at free speech that led to all books being banned. Naturally, the book has found itself challenged as often as Harry Potter, never mind the irony in banning a book about book banning.
  • The short story "The Toys of Peace" by Saki deals with this trope, and is based on an actual 1914 London newspaper story. In short, the Moral Guardians of the story are worried that giving young boys army figures and other war-themed toys would encourage them to be violent, so instead they propose "peace toys" which are miniature civilians in front of the civil buildings (i.e. the YMCA) holding the tools of industry. When the narrator presents these toys to his nephews, the boys simply adapt the buildings for their existing military figures and play war games anyway.
  • The Catcher in the Rye: The Jerk with a Heart of Gold main character finds the word "fuck" scrawled where young children can see it, and takes it upon himself to protect an innocent public by blotting it out. Censors reacted identically.
  • The Last Hurrah features Roger Sugrue, an upwardly-mobile, Harvard-educated Roman Catholic who pesters the Cardinal and makes it his personal business to decide what is and is not acceptable behavior for other Roman Catholics. The Cardinal, while he mostly agrees with Sugrue's assessment of such situations, nonetheless finds Sugrue to be an obnoxious ass in person.
  • This kicks off the main plot in Vivian Vande Velde's Heir Apparent novel. The titular character spends her birthday present (a gift certificate) on going to a virtual reality video game arcade that is presently being picketed by a group called the Citizens To Protect Our Children (who believes only in G-rated movie making and that libraries should only stock nice, friendly, uplifting books). Soon after she enters a game, the protesters break inside and damage the building's video game equipment, including the game she's in. She's only got a few hours to win before the game fries her brain, and, when she wakes up, the head of the company (who, like her, is a teenager) mentions that "they're going to get their asses fried for endangering the welfare of a minor."
  • Discworld:
    • In Monstrous Regiment. The old women of Polly's home village (and, presumably, a lot of other Borogravian villages too) are notorious gossips, and spread the word far and wide about anything they disapprove of, and mostly what they disapprove of is not behaving according to the stringent and arbitrary principles of their religion; this, in a nation which has abusive corrective schools for girls who don't adhere strictly to the lifestyle (not to mention, one occasion sees Polly reflect upon her family's old pastor, who felt that women were living embodiments of all that said religion forbids, and ought to be abused regularly just for the principle of the thing).
    • Averted with the eventual banning of Nanny Ogg's The Joye of Snacks, which was prohibited, not on moral grounds, but because it was found to trespass on the purview of the Guild of Seamstresses. Also, because the publisher's wife couldn't stop laughing about it.
    • There is a brief mention in The Truth of the Ankh-Morpork League of Decency, which writes letters to the Times, although we're not told the details. Given the nature of Ankh-Morpork, they presumably have their work cut out for them.
  • The subject of the short story Ado, which focuses on a Genre Savvy, Deadpan Snarker schoolteacher who wants to have the class read Hamlet. In this particular story, there's a moral group for just about everything, and they file complaints on lines in the story... resulting in it being cut down to about two out-of-context lines that the class is allowed to read. It heavily implies that it's the Moral Guardians themselves that are damaging children — there's a student whose parents actively protest, and she uses the protests to simply go outside and tan and avoid schoolwork. She's quite Book Dumb as she can't spell anything, and despises having to edit her signs later due to the protests of another group, wondering where "free speech" went.
  • In Midnight by Jacqueline Wilson, the heroine is a huge fan of a fantasy author/artist named Casper Dream. She mentions that his first book, about a fairy which appears in smoke clouds, was banned from shops because Moral Guardians were concerned that it encouraged children to smoke.
  • Monster of the Year: Myrna Smud, who serves as the antagonist, and her organization BAM!, aka "Billboards Are Monstrous". They've essentially declared war on anything that stimulates the imagination, which they claim will lead to crime.
  • Chocoholic Mysteries: G. Ann Vanderklomp, a former English teacher introduced in Book Bandit, has rather strong opinions about books and what kinds have "literary merit", and has been trying to enforce her views on everyone else — she publicly scolded a girl for reading a romance novel in the cafeteria, and did the same to another English teacher for letting a student do a book report on a Star Wars novel. She's such a stickler for it that she's been going through the books donated to the library for its collection and removing ones she finds objectionable, all because they aren't up to her standards — like Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, romance novels, or westerns by Zane Grey — and storing them in an old closet in the library basement.
  • Senator Granderson from The Enormous Egg is constantly trying to save America from various things, most recently comic books and firecrackers, and he's so good at getting people fired up that he often succeeds. When he learns about the existence of Uncle Beazley, the only living triceratops, he decides that living dinosaurs are a menace to society due to being ugly, outmoded, and un-American, and tries to pass a bill banning them.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Father Ted episode "The Passion of Saint Tibulus" features a delicious skewering of moral guardians: Ted and Dougal are tasked by Bishop Brennan to hold "a dignified protest" against the titular film, which, due to a legal loophole, is showing only in their (tiny, sparsely populated, and hard to reach) parish. Not only do they go and see the film themselves, their protest is an abortive farce (they handcuff themselves to the railings and subsequently lose the key), and because of the controversy caused by an "official" condemnation and protest by the Catholic Church, the film becomes the cinema's biggest seller ever, a cult classic, and reaches an audience of millions.
    Bishop Brennan: People are coming all the way from Gdansk to see the film!
  • Beautifully summarized in the first episode of Barney Miller. Barney's son comes in with a toy gun yelling "Bang", just as Barney is locking up his own gun in a cupboard. Barney gives him a short lecture about firearms being dangerous, gives him a toy truck to play with instead, and the kid holds it up and goes "Bang". Later he does the same thing with a slice of pizza.
  • The Muppet Show:
    • Sam the Eagle filled this role. At one time he delivered a speech about the immorality of animals who, under their fur, feathers, scales, etc., were walking around completely naked. His reaction as he realized he himself was a member of this sordid group was priceless.
    • They openly parodied censors in a Muppets Tonight sketch entitled NYPD Green where a censor keeps popping up to object to everything the detectives said (such as mentioning a "filthy dirtbag"...when the case was about a stolen bag of dirt). Eventually Kermit shuts off the camera to protect the audience from the dirty imagination of the censor.
  • Mary Whitehouse was parodied with Mrs. Desiree Carthorse in The Goodies, where she hired them to produce a "gender education" film. Despite it being censored to the point of ridiculousness (everyone and everything in the film was covered in white sheets), she still objected morally. At the end of the episode, she got her way, and all television was banned to stamp out "S-E (cross motions with finger)". The Goodies pointed out that, since there was no TV, everyone would be having sex anyway, so the episode ends with her running down the street, shouting into windows, "Stop it! Stop it!" The reason for the last was that Mrs W. had written to The Goodies complimenting them on their wholesome show, which annoyed them so much that they set out to offend her as often as possible from that point onwards.
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie:
    • Spoofed with a sketch where it turned out that "Perhaps the Mary Whitehouses of this world aren't as monumentally stupid as they appear at first, second, and twenty-third glance." A Running Gag on the show was that Stephen Fry would punch Hugh Laurie in the face, and there was a concern that people might emulate Stephen's behaviour... by punching Hugh. So instead, Stephen gave Hugh a pile of money, in the hope that all the impressionable people out there would imitate him.
    • One sketch had a Mary Whitehouse type figure objecting to the language in a previous sketch on the grounds that her children might have seen it...and it was only due to the good fortune that they hadn't yet been born that they hadn't seen it. What made this even more ridiculous was the fact that the bad language in the previous sketch consisted solely of Unusual Euphemisms. ('Cloffprunker')
    • They once apologised to the audience because MP and BBC Governor Sir William, now Lord, Rees-Mogg had forbidden them from performing a sketch with an Interplay of Sex and Violence. Sir William had written them a sketch they can perform instead that will promote common decency, family values and standards, entitled 'Bitchmother, come light my bottom.'
  • Parodied on The Young Ones in a sketch that pokes fun at the school series Grange Hill:
    Mr. Liberal: Don't you realize that the way you act is influencing millions of children to talk Cockney and be insubordinate?
    Student: Oh, come on, sir, don't be silly! Why, we're the only kids in Britain who never say "f—" {cut to next scene}.
  • In the first episode of Filthy Rich & Catflap, Richie tells Eddie to stop swearing incase children are watching the show. Eddie then turns to the camera and explains that Santa Claus doesn't exist.
  • Referenced in an episode of Bottom. After losing their television, Richie and Eddie decide to spend the evening playing chess instead which ends up in the usual mindless violence. As he's smashing Richie's head into the fridge, Eddie takes a moment to Break the Fourth Wall and point out to moral guardians who think that TV causes violence that in fact this particularly bout of violence is due to a lack of TV.
  • Marcia Langman on Parks and Recreation is a right-wing activist offended by everything, often for reasons based on Insane Troll Logic.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati addressed this in an episode, at a time when Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority was more active in media influence. In the episode, the station is approached by a similar minister, who gives Art Carlson a list of songs "we'd rather you not play" and threatens to start an advertising boycott if the station doesn't comply. At first Carlson agrees, but after the DJ's protest, he has second thoughts; he tests the group's motives by bringing them a copy of the lyrics to John Lennon's "Imagine" and asking if it, too, would be objectionable. When the minister says it would, Carlson decides to fight the group, even though it means the loss of several of the station's long-time advertisers.
  • On Alfred Hitchcock Presents, if the characters got away with a crime at the end of a story, Hitchcock would appear afterward to assure us and the nervous sponsors that the law had caught up to them and meted out justice. Then again, in one story about an alien invasion, he appeared behind bars, announcing that the aliens were very angry with him for exposing their Evil Plan in that night show.
  • The Partridge Family: A group of these shows up at the family's house in "My Son, the Feminist" to try to pressure them out of performing at a feminist rally. Shirley was previously on the fence, but she finds their narrow-minded, meddling behavior so infuriating that she decides to perform.
  • In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Obscene", a woman named Carolyn Spencer leads a media campaign against scantily-clad girls in movies and TV, her favorite target being a 16-year-old actress who plays a sexy and seductive spy character. Her son is secretly being influenced in the opposite direction by watching an obnoxious, misogynistic radio host, and ends up raping the actress after some encouragement from his hero.

  • Roger Waters, lyricist of Pink Floyd, savagely attacked Mary Whitehouse in a verse of "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" -
    Hey you, Whitehouse, Ha ha charade you are!
    You house proud town mouse,
    Ha ha charade you are
    You're trying to keep our feelings off the street
    You're nearly a real treat,
    All tight lips and cold feet,
    And do you feel abused?
  • Amanda Palmer's song "Guitar Hero" parodies the idea of a school shooting being inspired by a video game. Particularly, well, Guitar Hero. The song shows how easily any game can be compared to real life violence (with the help of some Incredibly Lame Pun lines such as "It's a hit!" and "There's people screaming, just like they should / but you don't even know if you're good..."). It is made extra poignant because Amanda lost some of her friends during a school shooting — and she refuses to blame it on any part of pop culture.
  • Insane Clown Posse has a song called "Terrible," and one of the verses is an obvious Take That! to Moral Guardians campaigning against music they deem unsavory.
    "Oh my god, we've gotta protest that!
    Some rock and roll ninja bit the head off a rat
    Let's march into his concert and chant 'em to hell,
    Cause he's so fuckin' TERRIBLE!
    Meanwhile his record sales double and triple,
    Cause of YOU whining bout him rubbing his nipple!
    Religious? Shit, you helped them bands
    Instead of helping them poor people eating outta them garbage cans.
    When your done with that, bitch, come protest me!
    Shit, muthafucka, I could use the money!"
  • "The Morality Squad" is a song by GWAR about a squad of Moral Guardians who attempt to destroy the band for being obscene. Part of the lyrics can be found on the quotes page.
  • Moral Guardians are probably the most common enemy type in Eminem's music, due to the ridiculous backlash he got for his violent music in the late 90s and early 2000s. Most of The Marshall Mathers LP is a swipe at music critics who claimed his music would cause moral degeneration of the youth ("Who Knew", "Criminal", "Bitch Please II"), as well as satirical Boastful Rap about his ability to corrupt children into turning evil with his music ("The Real Slim Shady", "I'm Back"), and one horror scenario based on the idea of what kind of broken weirdo would take his music literally ("Stan"). In The Eminem Show, he writes songs more sympathetic to the kind of people who relate to his music, who he views as having been failed by the same kinds of tutting white middle class authorities who are trying to get him censored ("White America", "Square Dance", "Sing For The Moment"). Even once the moral panic about him was virtually forgotten, it remains a part of his persona, reflected on in songs about his legacy like "Rap God", "Offended" and "Venom".

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Early Bloom County stories parodied (and mocked) guys like this with Otis Oracle, a caricature of right-wing extremists. Otis was the Miles Gloriosus of such folks, holding book-burning parties (he had to buy the "objectionable" material himself in order to burn them) and the banning of The Roger Tory Peterson Guide to Penguins due to its portrayal of penguins in cohabitation. (His case fell apart in court when his "expert witness" claimed the Earth wasn't round.) He was a hypocrite too; in one strip touching a young lady's knees while clearly drunk, then blaming the lady for tempting "the inner demons of sin in men" (this got him little but a fat lip) and woke up drunk and naked at a New Year's eve party. He was one of many characters eventually written out of the strip around 1984.
    • Hilariously subverted in another storyline: Opus' girlfriend's mother (who never liked him to begin with) sics the local priest on him, hoping to get some outrage because Opus is part of a death metal band. But the priest turns out to be a very nice fellow with an excellent sense of humor, and he actually likes Opus' music (saying of the song "Let's Guillotine Grandma", "Something to slip into the hymns next Sunday!"). The end of the series shows the mother very upset as the priest tries to gently calm her down.
  • In Calvin and Hobbes Calvin finds some of their reports "very disturbing" — where's all the terrible stuff he's supposed to be seeing?
  • FoxTrot: This is a Running Gag with Andy; it's practically formula that if she starts up some kind of moral crusade, the crusade will end either with her completely rejecting it once it begins to inconvenience her, or being sucked in by whatever she was crusading against. Examples include:
    • Andy becoming a member of the group MAGG (Mothers Against Gory Games) and only allowing Peter to play MAGG-approved games, which include Nice City, Pacifist Man, Resident Good, and Eternal Lightness. She also complains at one point about how Donkey Kong is not wearing pants.
    • Andy buying a "MomVo", which does things like shutting down the TV after showing a certain amount of cartoons, or forcibly changing the channel from "trash TV" to PBS. Eventually she gets rid of it when it blocks out her soap operas too ("You should have seen how fast she yanked the cables," Jason remarks).
    • Andy objecting to the Doomathon II game that Jason gets for Christmas, only to end up getting addicted to it.
  • Zits brings this up occasionally, usually with Jeremy's parents, Walt and Connie, filling the roles.
    • One strip has Connie preaching (quite literally) to Jeremy while watching TV, dressed in a New England Puritanical Era outfit speaking in manner from the time. In the last panel, Jeremy says, "Don't be such a prude, Mom, it's just an episode of South Park.
    • One strip has Jeremy listening to music with his headphones replaced by garbage cans in one panel and toilets in the next with Connie making comments on the side about the content.
    • In one strip, Walt gets angry at a song Jeremy is listening to, resulting in this exchange:
      Walt: Did I hear what I think I just heard?!
      Jeremy: Dad, it's just a song lyric.
      Walt: Don't give me that! I'm sick of this new music that's nothing but drugs and sex!
      Jeremy: You mean like, "Lay Lady Lay", "Lucy in the Sky", "Purple Haze", "Brown Sugar"?
      Walt: Hey, that's different! Those are classics!
      Connie: Ouch. One point for the teenager.
    • Subverted when Connie hears some of the content of Jeremy's music and wants to have a look through his CD collection, resulting in Jeremy going off on a rant, only for Connie to declare that the music is fine.
  • One early Dilbert comic has Dilbert invent a chip that censors out anything that could possibly be offensive from television. After it's installed, the only thing the TV will show is the Weather Channel, at least until they started showing coverage of a hurricane, at which point the chip censored that station out too for the perceived violence. Dogbert then ordered that the chip be removed from the television.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Parents Television Council has affected at least one of their targets in a way they probably didn't intend: their targeting of WWE SmackDown! inspired WWE to create a stable called "Right To Censor" (universally referred to as RTC), a group of Moral Guardians who set out to combat sex and violence in WWE programming... literally, by beating the hell out of anybody who they deemed too offensive for TV. Even the other heels hated them.
  • CM Punk's heel character spends a lot of time chastising the audience (or other wrestlers) on their debauched and indulgent lives full of drugs and partying, while saying his life of purity and abstinence makes him "better than you". In WWE he takes this to a cult-like level by leading around a troupe of "converts" who accept and endorse the hardline Straight Edge way while doing anything Punk demands.
  • Drew Gulak's Campaign For A Better Combat Zone are political activists against violence, who also condemn CZW for promoting mistreatment of officials and mismanagement. Drew and the supporters of his campaign also take up more general "moral" stances, combating "cultural degeneration", promoting "women's rights" and "denouncing criminality".
  • Chikara went into a hiatus after it was prevented from running shows out of their own training facility, the Wrestle Factory, because neighborhood activists found, among other things, that the shows detracted from the "complexion of the community". When Chikara made its return, it did so eight blocks away from the Wrestle Factory, in St. John’s Lutheran Church.
  • Kevin Kelly and Mr. Wrestling III often act as such on Ring of Honor, programs, chastising wrestlers for doing anything vaguely illegal or saying anything deemed profane. Steve Corino, on the other hand, openly supports acts that could be considered genuinely evil, and even III lets up if the moral violation in question will result in trouble for BJ Whitmer.
  • Ashley America runs a "news report" in which she denounces overuse of women on wrestling shows as wrong, as well as speaking out against employment of Indians.

    Stand-up Comedy 
  • Mary Whitehouse, now deceased, was 'honoured' by comedians Newman and Baddiel, who ironically named their 1990s sketch/stand-up series The Mary Whitehouse Experience.
  • Monty Python took their own swipe at Mary Whitehouse in a live performance which happened to fall on Michael Palin's 30th birthday. As it also happened, Eric Idle's mum was a dead ringer for Ms. Whitehouse, and when the troupe brought her onstage to present Palin with a cake and flowers, he promptly thanked "the old bag herself for coming out," and stuffed the flowers into the cake.

  • In Molière's Le Misanthrope, Arsinoé is a prudish old woman who seeks to limit Célimène's pleasures, largely because she is jealous of her love with Alceste. Tartuffe from the play with the same name is also morally censorious, at one point draping a handkerchief over Dorine's overly exposed bosom (though he is, of course, a complete hypocrite, and tries to seduce Oronte's wife behind his back). Molière suffered a great deal from Real Life Moral Guardians.
  • The unseen Mrs. Grundy, in Thomas Morton's play Speed the Plough, in which Dame Ashfield continually worries, "What will Mrs. Grundy say?" of each development, has passed into everyday speech as the embodiment of prudery and censorship.

    Video Games 
  • Fallout 2 has Ethyl Wright, the matriarch of New Reno's Wright crime family (a literal crime family) who leads a one-woman crusade against the city's vices (while her husband controls the alcohol trade behind her back) and displays Condescending Compassion to the tribal Player Character. If the player chooses to tell her the truth about her family's livelihood while persuading her to take matters into her own hands, she'll roll up her sleeves (revealing very muscular arms) and storm off to smash up their stills herself. Despite being Played for Laughs, her actions actually help lead to the Golden Ending for the city.
  • The Hot Coffee incident was spoofed by Jak X: the unlockable Hot Coffee video features Daxter and Tess drinking coffee, before Daxter looks at the screen and asks, "What?"
  • In a delightfully caustic Take That! to the good decade or so of Moral Guardians complaining in the franchise's history, the villains in Pokémon Black and White are a gang known as Team Plasma, a polarizing group that aims to forcibly separate people from their Pokémon for the same reasons as real Moral Guardians intend with pretty much everything. For good measure, they're dressed as literal Knights Templar and their logo resembles the Chi Rho. They're almost entirely hypocrites; only one of them, their Puppet King leader N Harmonia, has any actual altruism behind this motives. The leader who is actually pulling the strings, Ghetsis, intends to use Pokémon to dominate a world where no one else is allowed to use them, and the grunts are just casually cruel and support Ghetsis' intentions.
  • In Saints Row 2, one Mayhem sidequest has Intrepid Reporter Jane Valderama state that a lawyer named Zach Johnson (a clear parody of Jack Thompson) is stealing airtime from her, and asks that the Boss causes enough destruction for her to report on.
    The Boss: Does he have a lot of support?
    Jane: Not really, but the guy makes a big enough ass out of himself that whenever he pulls some stunt, people listen... and if people are watching him, they're not watching me.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • South Park:
  • Given quite a Take That! in Phineas and Ferb. In one episode taking place in a Bad Future, it is revealed that Moral Guardians essentially destroyed society by going to Knight Templar extremes and eliminating all traces of fun and creativity.
  • Parodied by House of Mouse, which featured the Censor Monkeys... who, at one point, received a safe to the head. The safe was dropped after the monkeys decided that disguising the violence with novelty sounds was an acceptable compromise. When the safe hit, it sounded like a squeaky toy being squished. One of them even opens the safe and sticks his arm out to show everyone they're ok.
  • An episode of King of the Hill (Hilloween) had a Christian one of these move into Arlen and get the town's police to cancel Halloween after "Satanists" (Hank & Bobby egging her house) "ran over my cat" (which she did herself while chasing them down in her car). The Halloween-loving (Christian) Hank took it upon himself to end the nonsense.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Parodied to the point of deconstruction when, after Maggie hits Homer with a mallet—seriously injuring him—after seeing the same thing on "Itchy and Scratchy", Marge leads a movement to get violence in cartoons banned. They succeed in getting "Itchy and Scratchy" retooled as a cute cartoon in which the titular cat and mouse are best friends who do things like share homemade lemonade on the porch. But then the group objects to Michelangelo's David touring the city because of its nudity. Marge, a lover of fine art, is not offended by the statue and she thinks children should see it up close because it's a masterpiece. On a television interview, she is challenged with regards to the hypocrisy of calling for the banning of one form of expression that is found objectionable and not another; as she's unable to answer, her protest is reversed.
    • Subverted by Seymore Skinner's mother (In "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes") who calls down to Seymore on his computer demanding to know "Are you looking at naked ladies?!". When he answers no, she yells back "Sissy!".
  • Family Guy: Peter started his own TV station, called PTV, which is filled to the rife with very crude and lewd programs. After Lois sees the "Side Boob" hour, she gets offended, and even when Brian points out that it is still the parent's ultimate responsibility to prevent their kids from seeing this. Because of this, she called in the FCC, where they censor Quahog, forcing them to go to DC to significantly weaken the FCC's power. (This was in the version that aired on TV.) In the uncut version on DVD, the reason why is give more detail: one of the PTV shows that Peter made, a Jackass expy called "Douchebags" (featuring a segment called, "I Dare You to Crap Off Of That") had Peter being dared by Cleveland to poop off the side of a highway, onto another highway. Peter does so, and the poop lands on Lois' car, causing it to crash, she gives Peter a tonguelashing, pointing out that Stewie is now deeply traumatized from the car crash (even moreso with the attempts to wipe it off), and then calls the FCC.
  • Parodied in the Time Squad episode "Child's Play," in which William Shakespeare is under the control of a stereotypical greedy agent who forces him to write plays for children and Larry 3000 intervenes relentlessly to prevent "imitable acts" and anything that could scare or traumatize kids from appearing onstage.
  • ReBoot, in yet another parody, made fun of this in the episode "Talent Night". While auditions are being made for Enzo's birthday party, a binome named Emma rejects everything but the BSNP song, which spells out the nature of this trope while set to the tune of YMCA.
  • Parodied mercilessly in Futurama:
    • Bender, after becoming an overnight sensation in All My Circuits due to his criminal antics, realizes what an awful rolemodel he is to children and starts his own anti-Bender protest group.
      Bender: Bender should not be on tv! Who does he think I am?
    • When the Mighty V-Giny Satellite was about to censor/destroy Earth because of this immoral content. Farnsworth lead the crew on alerting people to act less immoral, claiming that "they will listen to rational folks like us" then emerging from the ship dressed in robes and holding signs with conservative messages and shouting stuff like "The end is near!" and "Repent!". The whole episode can be considered a Take That! to the Moral Guardians, including the ironic twist ending where the satellite obliges Adam/Eve clad Leela and Zap to engage in intercourse like the biblical couple, with Fry afterwards begging for V-Giny to censor it. It is instead "APPROVED FOR ALL AUDIENCES." Then it flies away.
  • Parodied in an episode of Arthur, where the "Scare Your Pants Off" books are in danger of being banned from the town library due to Muffy having nightmares after apparently reading one. It turns out that she was just eating a kind of ice cream that gave her nightmares before bed.
  • Stan Smith himself frequently plays this role on American Dad!, at one point attempting to take over television airwaves to air only "clean" programming after his son calls him out for being a hypocrite for saying that masturbation is a sin, then doing it himself.
  • Histeria! mocked this endlessly, with the biggest Butt-Monkey on the show being Lydia Karaoke, the network censor, as a member of the regular cast. While she tried hard to keep crap from getting past the radar, this show was the type that tended to get Toilet Humor past the radar with bulldozers and dynamite.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch lampooned this in one episode with the (fictional) Media Watchdog group Broadcasters Opposing Offensive Behavior. (Or B.O.O.B.) After giving Nick and Johnny a stern warning for the match with Tommy Lee and Ron Jeremy, their representative had the two arrested after Alanis Morissette celebrates her victory over Jewel by stripping naked in front of the camerasnote . In fact, this may have been meant to take a swing at Moral Guardians in general who, like the ones in the story, seem to view gory and graphic deaths in media as okay but nudity and sex in the same mediums as flat-out evil.
  • Moral Orel often has in the background a number of picketers protesting a movie, led by Frances Clara Censordoll, who can find anything offensive. For some context, her Establishing Character Moment was her burning 'only the Jewish parts' of the Bible at a book burning. The episode "Offensiveness" centers around her and her attempts to mold Orel into a Moral Guardian just like her. This backfires on her as Orel starts protesting her Trademark Favorite Food, eggs, and she's forced to either fight to get her favorite food banned or be exposed as a Hypocrite.
  • Parodied in an episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, where a scene with a firebreathing dragon gets interrupted by the appropriately named Miss Cutitout who wants to edit the scene out on the account that fire is dangerous and should not be shown to young children. Scrappy-Doo and Flim-Flam proceed to guilt trip and completely humiliate her by pointing out that the dragon would be without a job, making him unable to care for his children.
  • Animaniacs: HOO BOY, where do we begin? The show basically reveled in insulting Moral Guardians at every given moment. This show, with its Looney Tunes-style humor, came out at a time when Moral Guardians started to grow rampant when it came to cartoons with said style, and considering how this show loves to poke fun of society...
    • "Valuable Lesson" involves two television executives (one being a Wallace Shawn caricature) interrupting an otherwise normal Warner cartoon about them harassing Attila the Hun and taking them to two test rooms where they observe kids watching this show and other kids watching an Expy of The Smurfs.
    • "Bully For Skippy" has Slappy Squirrel being unable to use her usual cartoon slapstick to help Skippy deal with a bully after new television guidelines about educational programming had been written.
    • Even the revival series has one of the variable openings be "parents will complain-y!" complete with Wakko scissoring a letter from a Moral Guardian in half.
  • Danny Phantom: Sam's parents, Jeremy and Pamela Manson, are stereotypical conservative parents, who protest against things they find "objectionable, immoral, or obnoxious". This puts them at odds with Sam, because not only is she a goth who is into the things they loathe (such as Circus Gothica), but she's also friends with the son of two eccentric ghost hunters.

    Real Life 


  • A humorous KFC advert from the UK became the most controversial advertisement in the country in 2005. The reason? Some people sing with food in their mouths for comical effect, which Moral Guardians stated promoted bad eating manners as a result.
  • An ad involving a blind footballer accidentally punting a cat up a tree received complaints for being "offensive to blind people".
  • In the late 2000s, Frubes (the Transatlantic Equivalent of tube yogurt brand Go-Gurt) aired some advertisements that featured anthropomorphized characters based on the yoghurts having their heads ripped-off by a child, followed by the tagline "Rip their heads off and suck their guts out!". These advertisements lasted until 2012, when parent groups in the UK protested online about how the motto could "scare children" (despite the fact that the Frubes characters did not show even a slight bit of gore). The motto was later changed to "Rip them open and suck them up!" later that year before the entire motto was discarded.


  • Way back in 1971, Dodge introduced a car called the Dart Demon, complete with a cartoony pitchfork-wielding devil as its mascot. Some Christian groups complained and two years later the name was changed to Dart Sport.

Anime and Manga

  • This happened in the late 1990s with "Hentai FREE", which basically served as a way for ten-year-old fangirls to assure their parents and brag to themselves that their Sailor Moon fan site had nothing to do with those horrid articles about some boy in elementary school getting caught with hentai from the library.
  • In 1997, Sailor Moon Stars was dubbed in Italy. Also in 1997, Italian "psychologist" Vera Slepoy said "Sailor Moon makes little boys gay". Cue the Sailor Starlights (an alien boy band who revert to their true female forms to fight) becoming six people instead of three — with the alien boy band now calling on their twin sisters to fight. Even more interesting is the fact that due to this butchering the series was subsequently banned in Italy for the next ten years by the author herself!
  • The TV broadcast of Hetalia: Axis Powers was canceled due to a few very vocal South Korean busybodies taking umbrage at the portrayal of their country and characterizing it as a right-wing political tract; thanks to Misplaced Nationalism, this has led to some truly nasty anti-Korean backlash from some fans. Korea wasn't scheduled to show up in the anime anyway!
  • In 1995, a doomsday cult, Aum Shinrikyo, released sarin gas in the Tokyo metro, killing around a dozen people. It soon came out that the cult disseminated some of its propaganda in the form of manga, and that its founder took some of his crazy ideology from sci-fi anime. This prompted a public backlash against anime and manga for a couple years.
  • HeartCatch Pretty Cure!: The Kokoro no Tane birth sequence had to be cleaned up in later episodes, because people complained that the fairies looked like they were wetting themselves doing it.
  • Japanese people claimed that Oreimo's Kirino Kousaka was a bad role model for younger children because she is a 12-year-old person who collected eroge games.
  • Go Nagai has, unsurprisingly, always been a favorite target of the PTA and other moral guardians, right from the start when his first major series, Harenchi Gakuen, became a nation-wide hit. They even went as far as having Shonen Jump, the magazine in which Harenchi Gakuen was serialized, banned in certain parts of Japan. When Shonen Jump finally gave in to the pressure and decided to cancel the series, Nagai took revenge in his own way by having all the characters viciously killed by the PTA.
  • In 2002, Cardcaptor Sakura had a kids' meal promotion at Taco Bell, but the American Family Association complained that the Clow Cards looked like tarot cards. The complaints came in when the promotion was scheduled to end, so it is unknown if the complaints had any effect.

Comic Books

  • The Comics Code Authority. In the early 1950s, “Dr.” Frederic Wertham published a book called The Seduction of the Innocent, which was about how comic books were corrupting the youth at the time, which he backed up with many anecdotes. The agency sanitized American comics to an absurd point, so much that questioning authority and scary creatures were banned, and drugs and disabled people could not even be mentioned.
    It got to the point where a Spider-Man strip based around Harry Osborn overdosing had to be published without CCA approval, even though it dealt entirely with the negative effects of drugs, and had been requested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. This event is often pointed to as the beginning of the CCA's downfall. A series of drastic standards-changes followed, but it was already apparent that the CCA was unnecessary and soon their approval was not necessary for a comic to hit shelves. In January 2011, DC Comics and Archie Comics, the last two publishers participating in the Code, withdrew.
  • In the Franco-Swiss comic Titeuf, there was a school nurse with E-cup Gag Boobs. Thanks to moral guardians they've been reduced to C.

Film — Animation

  • Fans of Pixar's Toy Story (at the time) trilogy wanted it to be the only trilogy on Rotten Tomatoes to have gotten a perfect 100% fresh rating across all three films, and when Toy Story 3 ended up being epic it looked like it would go this way. Then the film received two negative reviews bumping it down to a 99. While the one by Armond White was almost immediately written off as a troll that needed to get banned, the other was, you guessed it, a moral guardian, Cole Smithey, who based his bad review on his opinion that the film was too intense for its G rating.
Film — Live-Action
  • The National Legion of Decency was a censor group dating back to The Golden Age of Hollywood. In their heyday, they could effectively kill a film's prospects at the box office by condemning it or declaring it "morally objectionable." Their power began to wane in The '50s as a consequence of two things: first, non-Catholics were no longer paying any heed to their declarations, and second, the Supreme Court's 1952 decision in Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson (the "Miracle Decision") to declare film a protected art form struck a huge blow against religious-based censorship. By The '70s, they had largely faded into irrelevance, although it wouldn't be until 2001 before they were finally dissolved.
  • Many film critics decried The Wind That Shakes the Barley, a film sympathetic to the Irish Revolution, as anti-British propaganda, often without having even seen it. One such Moral Guardian even went so far as to compare the film to Triumph of the Will. As a result, quite a few English theatres refused to screen it. Although the film portrays the Black-And-Tan soldiers in a very poor light, any historian will tell you that yes, that's pretty accurate, and no, Barley is not propaganda.
  • The Chinese government is this on a regular basis. Some of their issues are a bit understandable, if frustrating (a movie shown in a Chinese theater must have the villain — if s/he broke some law — be caught and/or face the consequences in the end, and movies that don't have this portrayal must either provide an alternate ending for the Chinese or not be shown in theaters at all), but others can be pretty much summarized to suit heavily-biased Communist Party ideology. See also Banned in China.
  • What the PTC is to television, the Childcare Action Project (usually called by its acronym CAP) is to movies (with the exception of "effective"). Its founder, Tom Carder, appears to have chosen a pretentious acronym first and then built a rating system around that: "WISDOM," which divides the sins of movies into the categories "Wanton violence/crime", "Impudence/hate", "Sexual immorality", "Drugs/alcohol", "Offense to God", and "Murder/suicide". He then goes on to be incredibly verbose in justifying his system, with charts, no less. Note that whenever a score by his system goes completely against common sense, he, without exception, calls it "proof of the objectivity" of his system. He has a long, detailed explanation for watching movies that are rated as being only appropriate for adults. It basically amounts to "a few parents might take their kids to R-rated movies and I know better than them (and everyone else)".
  • The Dove Foundation has a similar approach to rating movies.
  • Arguably less heavy-handed in his movie reviews is Dr. Ted Baehr. He rates films on a scale of + 4 for "exemplary" to -4 for "abhorrent", and classifies Shirtless Scenes as "upper male nudity".
  • In South Australia Family First MP Dennis Hood had a law passed, where all R rated films in South Australia (eg: Pulp Fiction, Apocalypse Now, etc) have to either a) be placed in the 'adult section' of all video stores (in a similar fashion to porn titles) or b) have an entirely blank cover displaying only the films name in small font and a note saying that the film may cause offense, furthermore all studios are banned from advertising any R rated films (such as the ones mentioned) on any medium.
  • The Australian Family Association is also responsible for many movie bans. Other than its requisite gay-bashing, it tried to get the OFLC to ban 9 Songs, Anatomy of Hell, Irréversible, Mysterious Skin, District 9 and Shortbus. It was actually successful with Baise Moi and Ken Park.
  • are usually pretty good about not going overboard and giving people information to decide for themselves, but it was incredibly funny when they listed all the throat-slashing, rape, burning death, and a steamy kiss in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
  • The innocuously-named is a "[Christian] family guide to movies and entertainment," and can make for some fairly entertaining reading—unsurprisingly, they strictly condemn anything that seems to support "immoral behavior," "political correctness" (they objected to the identity of the bomber in Source Code, for example—and they haaaated Inside Job) or a "humanist" worldview, and particularly anything containing "Pagan" (i.e., anything other than Christian) themes. They're also given to occasional racism, like in their review of Eclipse in which they repeatedly refer to "Jakob" as "Indian" (although they praise the story's "strong moral values," such as the 'no sex before marriage' theme), not to mention more-than-incidental homophobia. It's worth a read.
  • What MovieGuide is for the US, What Is Good (originally Nauchi Horoshemu/Teach Good) is for Russia. The project's rules of "a good film" are basically Russian localisation of The Hays Code (specifically, any portrayal of something. Russian in a "negative" light makes a film "bad"). They even go so far as to attack R-rated flicksnote  as unsuitable for children. Because of their incredibly rigid outlook, combined with shades of paranoia and conspiracy search, they make quite an amusing reading — if you know Russian, of course. Oh yes, and they seem to have a crusade against Disney in particular.


  • MeMe Roth of the National Action Against Obesity. She claimed that Jordin Sparks was a bad idea for American Idol because she was overweight. She claims that eating cupcakes is the same as putting a gun into your mouth. She demands that the school her kids go to give permission slips in order for the kids to eat anything in the lunch menu.
  • Many grocery stores stopped selling the holiday-only Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor "Schweddy Balls" (derived from the infamous Christmas SNL sketch on the season 24 episode hosted by Alec Baldwin) because it was deemed too offensive to be viewed (and presumably eaten) by children by some groups, who campaigned to have it pulled from store shelves.


  • Stephen Conroy, the former Australian Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (ie. head government internet guy) had made plans to force mandatory censorship on the Internet at the ISP level for all Internet users in Australia, in which the government gets to decide what is appropriate and what isn't. Even worse, what is and isn't blocked will be kept secret (as a guide, it's very similar what China and Iran have in place). This despite the fact that every test conducted thus far has shown blanket filters to be complete pants when it comes to actually achieving anything, and almost unanimous, vitriolic opposition to the idea on all fronts. This ultimately went nowhere following the 2010 election, where he was met with stiff opposition.
  • The Child Online Protection Act represents an interesting case, a law passed in 1998 meant to stop kids from seeing porn. Almost the moment it was passed, the United States Supreme Court issued an order preventing the government from enforcing it due to arguments that it violated free speech due to its vague and broadly-determined definition of what "harmful sexual content by contemporary community standards" meant. Various attempts to remove the ban on its enforcement have been similarly struck down. This is why age verification on pornsites—when it exists at all—is so damned laughable: they'll never be prosecuted.
  • There's also the Children's Internet Protection Act of 2000, which requires all schools and public libraries to install filters on their computers in order to receive certain federal funds. It's been challenged by the American Library Association, which has a general policy of frowning on anything that restricts free access to information, but it was upheld by the Supreme Court.
  • In an example of a fandom developing these from within, the Furry Fandom contains groups such as the now-disbanded Burned Furs and Improved Anthropomorphics, anthropomorphic enthusiasts who believe the community has been corrupted with many of its members' obsession with risqué media, and promote a "cleansing" of the fandom to a more pure, unadulterated state. Unlike many of the above, they aren't usually taken seriously, and their attempts at changing the fandom generally don't have much impact.
  • "Warriors for Innocence", a volunteer-based anti-pedophilia group who made news by encouraging Livejournal to temporarily ban over 500 accounts and communities, ranging from age-playing and incest fetish groups to child molestation victim communities to groups discussing fanfiction or Lolita to otherwise completely innocuous accounts who just happened to have the kind of buzzwords they were looking for in the profile. A complete summary of the event, termed "Strikethrough '07" (for the way that banned journals have a strike through their names) can be found here.
  • "Shit Reddit Says", a group on Reddit that links to and makes fun of posts they consider bigoted.
  • The term "social justice warrior" mockingly refers to this trope among internet users, stereotyped as teenagers and young adults who use social media to engage in Activist-Fundamentalist Antics.


  • Thomas Bowdler published versions of William Shakespeare and Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire edited to be more appropriate for Victorian-era women and children, inspiring the word bowdlerise/bowdlerize. Bowdler did that for the sake of appeasing other Moral Guardians, and actually urged people to seek out the original copies. It's rather like in-house censoring for the sake of allowing something to be published/broadcast.
  • Cutting Edge Ministries, home of the most massively convoluted Harry Potter Moral Guardianship ever. This is the site that drew some sort of evil monstrous connection between Harry's green eyes, green icing on a birthday cake, green ink on an invitation, Professor McGonagall's green cloak, and the unsourced assertion that green "is Satan's favorite color".
  • America (The Book) was banned from Wal-Mart for containing cut-out paper dolls of naked Supreme Court Justices. The reader was encouraged to cut out their robes and restore their dignity. Jon Stewart's first book, Naked Pictures Of Famous People, was also criticized for having naked Abe Lincoln on the front, and some later editions of the book have text-only covers.
  • The Obcene Publications Act of 1959, intended to stop the publishing of obscene material. Penguin Books was taken to court in 1960, in order to prove that Lady Chatterley's Lover had significant literary merit to warrant being published. The not guilty verdict led to a greater degree of freedom for explicit material being published in the UK.
  • The title and the cover illustration of Hop on Pop has led to a complaint towards the Toronto Public Library by a moral guardian who thought that the book "encourages children to use violence against their fathers" as it depicts a pair of anthropomorphic bear cubs jumping on their father's belly. The head librarian dismissed this complaint as frivolous given that the book actually condemns such an act.

Live Action TV

  • The Parents Television Council is a conservative, nonpartisan group that has gone after a large number of targets since its founding in 1995. Almost every single current primetime network series has been given the highest possible rating on their website. In their mind, if a show has any form of sexual content in it, it's automatically pornographic. The group is almost singlehandedly (it has some help from the American Family Association) responsible for the recent tightening of "decency" regulations for broadcast TV in the wake of the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, better known as "Nipplegate". They've been known to take special aim at anyone who shows what they consider insufficient respect to conservative Protestant Christianity, and are currently intensifying efforts to bring cable TV under the same kind of regulation as broadcast. They have a strong lobby in Washington, and have been known to use astroturfing methods in their campaigns to censor and suppress content of which they disapprove. The PTC's favorite targets for indecent content on TV: all three of Seth MacFarlane's cartoons (especially Family Guy). Buffy the Vampire Slayer was listed as part of their top ten worst, most offensive shows for, among other things, Buffy sacrificing herself to save the world. The PTC equated this to suicide, something she should not have done even if it meant the entire universe being destroyed in torment.
  • mediawatch-uk (capitalization correct; definitely not to be confused with Australian TV show Media Watch) is, roughly speaking, the British equivalent to the Parents Television Council. Formerly the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, it was founded in 1965 by Mary Whitehouse and claims a membership of 40,000 (it counts dead members and anyone who sends letters to them). It espouses an aggressively conservative view of proper TV content and has advocated making the possession of pornography a crime punishable by jail time.
  • National Coalition of Television Violence, an ally of Pat Pulling. Its founder and a research director Dr. Thomas Radecki, home-brewed theologist of Fundamentalist Christian strain bent on "investigating" Satanism and what he called "research". The latter included reviewing book reviewers and condemning those who "may not have been as sensitive to violence as they should have been", as well as reviewing "book covers of popular paperback books randomly selected from the shelves" in a bookstore to see how many of them he can call "violent". Yes, he freely admitted he used to judge a book by its cover. He warned about kids not knowing the difference between fantasy and reality and quoted a novel (Mazes and Monsters by Rona Jaffe) as a real document.
  • The Ig Nobel Prize ceremonies have a V-Chip Monitor on stage, who steps in to censor potentially offensive lectures or demonstrations.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers has been fighting this since Day 1. People were complaining that the show's violent content was encouraging children to hurt themselves, and a rumor began that a kid died while he was playing Power Rangers with his friends (in fact, many countries censored or simply refused to broadcast the show because of this; in a cute twist of irony, until 2011 the only place where the show was still outright banned was New Zealand, where it's been filmed since 2002). Nowadays, with the internet and violent video games, Power Rangers looks rather quaint by comparison, so Moral Guardians tend to just live and let live.
  • Kamen Rider Amazon was canceled because of the Moral Guardians, apparently due to the fact that fights would end with the monster losing a limb or lots of blood as opposed to blowing up.
  • Gilmore Girls was originally developed through Family Friendly Programming Forum’s (FFPF), and continued to receive funding from them. (Hence the “Changes Everything” ad campaign.) How many shows can say they got approval from both the FFPF and NOW's Primetime Report?
  • Father Ted was subject to criticism from those who viewed it as Anti-Irish. Many of these guardians were English people of Irish descent, a fact Graham Linehan thought to be a Wallbanger. Many also felt that the Catholic Church in Ireland was portrayed in a bad light. Gleefully parodied with their protest of an obscene film which only makes the film more popular.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation (which is mainly an ensemble drama) has had problems with this, in true Cowboy BeBop at His Computer fashion. In the early part of the series, Moral Guardians were convinced that Marco, a gay teen, was the main character of the series. Later they thought this role belonged to yet another gay character, Riley Stavros. While in reality (so to speak), they were both relatively minor characters.
  • This was one of the major reasons MTV's version of Skins was canceled. People were going onto forums and speaking out against it as "child pornography". The actors were never filmed below the waist, and the most "explicit" form of "sex" shown was dry-humping.
  • Round the Twist was almost banned in its home country Australia at the time of its premiere because it contained a lot of things deemed Harmful to Minors, such as death, nudity (including references to genitalia), underwear, incest (Kissing Under the Influence), mild sex references (and one episode — "Lucky Lips" — centered on a magic tube of lipstick that attracts females... and not just human females, either), and your typical gross-out humor staples (body odor, Toilet Humor [both urination and defecation] and plenty of vomit). It also had trouble being exported to Britain because of such subject matter.
  • Glee has been getting a surprising amount of flak by Moral Guardians. While the show never tried to be shy about risque content, its similarities to a popular film series aimed at children led a lot of people to initially (and some still do) believe the show was targeting children. Some of the particularly ridiculous criticisms were over risque magazine photoshoots featuring the actors who played teenage characters, even likening it to "pedophilia"... Even though the actors in question were in their mid-twenties when they did the photos! Pretty much all the criticism of the show's "inappropriate" content come from people who don't realize that the show is made for older teens and young adults.
  • At the height of its popularity, Growing Pains suffered from this when the show's lead-actor Kirk Cameron became a born-again Christian. Kirk started to enforce his beliefs onto the show's producers, which in turn led to many problems. Scenes and dialogue that contained suggestive content had to be cut, and Kirk even got co-star Julie McCullough fired for once posing nude for Playboy. The show was eventually cancelled when Kirk started to call the executive producers "pornographers" after they tried to go against his decisions.


  • On multiple occasions, the women's magazine Take A Break campaigns on social issues, but it's obvious that they did not do the research on these issues. Also, their agony aunt Katie tends to be guilty of this on multiple occasions, causing moral panic sometimes.
  • A supermarket in Arkansas caught some flack when they used their "family shield" to cover a magazine cover that had Elton John, his husband and their new infant son in order "protect young shoppers", but eventually reversed their decision when they received complaints.


  • The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) were the infamous self-appointed moral crusaders against any kind of fun in music in the 1980s, formed by Tipper Gore and other wives of influential people when she was scandalized by lyrics to the Prince song "Darling Nikki" (a full account of the history behind the PMRC is given on Jello Biafra's spoken word recording High Priest of Harmful Matter). Their aim was soon set at the LA glam scene and metal in general, but although they lost influence, many others eventually took up the moral crusade against metal music, with equally stupid arguments ranging from a (false) accusation of backward lyrics in Judas Priest songs to blaming the recent Virginia Tech killings on the fact that the killer wrote a play which had the same name as a Guns N' Roses song. Many metal bands have written songs about the PMRC and censorship — Megadeth in particular have written several. Even more infamous was the day the PMRC called Dee Snider, front man for Twisted Sister, to testify, expecting him to make himself look foolish and further promote their cause. Snider showed up dressed in ripped and torn clothing, with his notes in a crumpled wad. However, appearances are deceiving: Dee Snider is a very literate and eloquent man, with a strong sense of the poetic. He proceeded to eloquently verbally abuse the entire PMRC, up to and including implications that Tipper Gore was a closet sadomasochist, visibly angering Al Gore to the point of near incoherence. He also finally managed to come off as more respectful than the comittee members themselves, when he pushed back on their referring to Tripper Gore as "Senator Gore's wife" and insisted on referring to her by her name, effectively underscoring the point he made about being against sexism. This was possibly the most epic defeat ever handed to the PMRC.
  • There was a documentary about "the evils of rock and roll" called "Hell's Bells," which claimed that rock'n'roll makes children prone to violently killing people and that rock musicians are possessed by the Devil when they write and/or perform their songs. Among other things. Apparently it was over seven hours long. There was a sequel, released in 2001, titled "Hell's Bells 2." It suggested that many rock bands promoted LaVeyan Satanism through their general attitude, even though most of the bands they described probably had little to no actual knowledge of LaVey.
  • During the 80's there was a fellow by the name of Michael Mills who had a radio show devoted to finding Satanic messages in rock songs. Among the bands he accused of corrupting its listeners were the usual suspects like Kiss and Led Zeppelin but he also included a few head-scratchers like ELO, Bow Wow Wow, and of all people, Dan Fogelberg.
  • The verse "Superman that ho" of Soulja Boy's hit "Crank Dat" was thought to be about a depraved sex act. This caused lots of backlash from Moral Guardians everywhere thinking the song was promoting sexual acts. Turns out, that that's not what he intended and the meaning is based on an Urban Legend anyway.
  • Eels' Daisies Of The Galaxy was a fairly unlikely target for this sort of controversy: When promotional copies were given out at an event at the Democratic National Convention, both a New York Post article and the official site for George W. Bush's election typified it as "a compact disc clearly marketed towards children containing offensive language". The evidence it was being "marketed towards children" was that the cover art was drawn in a style reminiscent of a children's storybook, while the main things that were cited as offensive were the song title "It's A Motherfucker" and the lyric "when I grow up I'll be an angry little whore" (from "Tiger In My Tank"). In reality, the album is pretty tame for having a Parental Advisory sticker: "It's A Motherfucker" is a song about missing someone that happens to have the album's Precision F-Strike, and in context the phrase "angry little whore" was clearly being taken entirely too literally.


  • The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper, is well known for using Think of the Children! in various campaigns to boost circulation. Examples include a successful 2008 campaign again Facebook to force the removal of an application which allowed users to virtually "shank" (knife) friends, and a 1992 campaign against Child's Play 3, which they tied to the murder of a toddler by two boys. Hypocritically, however, they had no problems publishing topless pictures of sixteen and seventeen year old girls in their popular "Page Three" section from 1970 up until 2003, when a change in the law banned topless pictures of anyone under eighteen.
  • The Daily Express, with an equally vitriolic attitude towards immigration, asylum seekers and the European Union. Has a particular fixation with conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Princess Diana, and is known as the "Di-ly Express" in Private Eye. It should be noted that the Express and its stablemate The Star are both owned by millionaire porn baron Richard Desmond, who is behind many of the X-rated TV channels on British television. This hasn't changed their moral stances and promotion of "family values" at all.
  • The Daily Mail is another Right Wing Tabloid in a similar vein to the Daily Express and is infamous in the UK for "raging" over many moral issues including Immigration, Education, Video Games, Television content, The Daily Express, and so on.
    • One particularly noteworthy attack was the Ban These Evil Games front page from back in 2004, when they linked a child's murder to video gaming in general, describing them as "Poisoning Young Minds." They were irritating enough that Radiohead recorded a song making fun of them.
    • The Daily Mail has also spearheaded a campaign to "Ban Internet Porn", restricting "porn" at the ISP level but not actually specifying exactly what they want to ban other than implying that all porn is extreme, underage or bestiality and watching porn turns you into a pedophile serial killer. Of course, browsers should still display their site's galleries of scantily-dressed young women.

Professional Wrestling

  • Mexico City's mayor, Lic. Ernesto Uruchurtu, banned professional wrestling from television, despite CMLL cutting out all blood and prohibiting Gimmick Matches. Pressure from them also lead to La Nazi changing her name to La Comandante.
  • When TBS standards and practices ordered Vince Russo to cut down on the violence in WCW, he responded by repackaging the former West Hollywood Blondes (Lodi and Lenny Lane) as a Right To Censor ripoff called Standards & Practices as a Take That! against TBS. The twist was that S&P secretly loved the sex and violence they supposedly opposed, and that's why their valet Ms. Hancock (Stacy Keibler) would do sexy dances on the commentary desk while Lodi and Lenny "censored" the ring. This lasted about a month, with Ms. Hancock becoming the Smurfette Breakout and Lodi and Lenny getting taken off TV and getting repackaged yet again.
  • New York Post writer Phil Mushnick hated professional wrestling. He wasn't content to just not watch it, he wanted to stop everybody else from watching it. When billionaire Ted Turner donated to charity, Mushnick said he would have done better to close down WCW. He was behind the media assault on steroid use in professional wrestling and, despite the likes of Vince McMahon being cleared, Mushnick still claimed he was guilty. He claimed all fans are mentally challenged and equated parents letting their children watch it to abuse. Tragedies such as the unrelated death of Brian Pillman were used by him to spearhead taking down all wrestling promotions.

Tabletop Games

  • Patricia Pulling, mother of Irving "Bink" Pulling (who committed suicide on June 8, 1982), alleged that her son's suicide was caused by roleplaying games, a common accusation of the time (Irving Pulling was noted to be having troubles fitting in at school, and wrote "Life is a Joke" on a blackboard at school shortly before his suicide). Pulling tried to sue the principal of the high school her son attended, then got a private investigator certificate and formed B.A.D.D. (Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons), testified as a self-proclaimed expert in "occult" and D&D, and riding a wave of "cult crimes" scare, produced handouts for police that contained erroneous or outright false statements (such as claiming that 8% of Richmond, Virginia citizens were Satanists; she came to this conclusion by estimating 4% of teens and 4% of adults, and adding the result. And a list of fantasy role-playing games, some of which weren't fantasy, or role-playing games, at all). She had an objection to Tunnels and Trolls because it used rolls of three six-sided dice, so there must be something Satanic. Somehow she was allowed to get away with everything up to unauthorized and re-edited reprinting of newspapers articles and even was hired to give testimony in a court of law. Pulling died of cancer in 1997, and the anti-RPG backlash more or less died with her.
  • Jack Chick, of course, had a rather famous tract about how Dungeons & Dragons leads to suicide and satanism.
  • The Swedish book De övargivandes Arme (Army of the Abandoned) from 1997 claimed that role-playing was secretly a front for neo-Nazi indoctrination and training in guerilla warfare. Although the book's arguments were mainly of the Hitler Ate Sugar variety (e.g. that White Wolf sounded kinda Nazi-ish), it did provoke a couple of MPs to demand age codes on RPGs, before the debate died down.
  • As part of Early-Installment Weirdness, Magic: The Gathering included many references to the real world, classical mythology and/or religion. That faded partly because of a devotion to their own world-building and intellectual property, but also to placate Moral Guardians who didn't like upside-down burning pentagrams appearing in card art. The difference is particularly glaring between one printing of the card "Unholy Strength" and another, in which the art of the later version is missing the pentagram that takes up the entire background of the picture but is otherwise identical.
  • In 2003, Brazilian TV show host Gilberto Barros made some TV reports for his TV show Boa Noite Brasil, claiming that the games Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic: The Gathering were Satanic, calling Yu-Gi-Oh! "The Devil's Card Game". On 5th June 2003, he dedicated his whole time slot to that subject, and the next day, thousands of children across Brazil had their cards confiscated, torn apart or burned by worried parents and teachers. He kept doing similar reports on video games as well, like Carmageddon. However, he would later say he was sorry for his reports and reveal he only did them for the ratings, but only after departing from TV and moving to radio.note 


  • Theatre has a long history of being banned or closed in the Christian world for reasons of immorality. John Calvin and Oliver Cromwell come to mind, as do most Puritan sects, but most forms of theatre (Church commissioned morality play being the exception) were banned throughout most of the Middle Ages. Arguments explaining why theatre is evil and/or useless go back at least as far as Plato, and the opposition dates back at least as far as Aristotle.
  • Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, regarded as the first true feminist play, was criticized for challenging traditional gender roles and the sanctity of marriage, with most criticism being aimed particularly toward the female protagonist, Nora, who leaves her husband and children behind in order to start a new life of self-discovery at the end of the original play. The ending was criticized so much that an alternative version of the play was performed, with Nora giving her husband a second chance and staying with him at the end of the play. Nowadays, all performances of this play use the original ending. Ibsen, who was not happy with being forced to write an alternative ending to the play and considering it a travesty, included a pointed Take That! to his critics, in that the "happy" ending is only achieved thanks to the husband bullying and emotionally guilt-tripping his wife into staying through their children, and the wife makes it very clear that she considers staying A Fate Worse Than Death.


  • The Lion and Lamb Project, an organization active from 1997 to circa 2011, was this towards children's toys. The main problem with their crusade against immoral toys was their massive lack of research involved in their tirades — the group constantly claimed that various toys were marketed at children simply because of the "Ages 3 and Up" approval rating on all toys (which is the result of a safety test, not a demographic statement). They went straight into Cowboy BeBop at His Computer territory by claiming that a Transformers toyline was clearly designed to tie in to The Matrix, despite the fact that the two franchises have no corporate connection and only shared the unimportant background premise of a background Big Bad draining energy from living beings. Their lists of "recommended" toys made it quite clear the people behind the project thought toys were not designed for people who aren't kids, despite the blatant pandering to collectors' markets in many toylines. Possibly due to the increasing irrelevance of physical toys, their website became inactive around 2013, and stayed this way until a Swedish gambling company by the name of LionLamb bought the domain.

Video Games

  • In the 1990s, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice forbid sales of the Carmageddon series and the first Grand Theft Auto. But in the 2000s they entered Culture Police level by banning Bully, ("doesn't let children be educated properly", according to the judge who ordered the ban) Counter-Strike ("violence stimulation") and EverQuest ("subversion of social order").
  • Fallout 3 was originally going to have morphine as one of its chems, but a complaint about the portrayal of morphine in the game from Australian Moral Guardians got it changed to Med-X while still coming in rather recognizable syringes. The way it was portrayed? As an extremely potent but dangerously addictive painkiller... which is kind of what morphine is.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series is a repeated target of Moral Guardians. Several entries have been denied release internationally, including in parts of Japan. This came to a particularly explosive head in San Andreas when hackers discovered a disabled sex minigame (dubbed "Hot Coffee") that led to Jack Thompson (again) patrolling the media with his anti-gaming theories, as well as facetime from numerous lawmakers including Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who proposed laws to restrict the sales of certain games. Clinton and Thompson even appeared together several times to fight against the game.
  • Jack Thompson is a self-appointed crusader against video games, and apparently blames them for every evil affecting American society except possibly global warming and the common cold. Before that he was involved in efforts to censor music, specifically rap. He has a history of rabid overreaction to his pet issue-of-the-moment, vitriol towards more rational persons on any side of that issue, and legal threats to anyone who disagrees with him (his lawsuits have expanded to include the Florida Supreme Court as a target). However, he was considered to be relatively harmless, as his rants cost him his credibility and, eventually, his license to practice law; with more important people making threats against video games, Thompson was merely the most visible and possibly the most entertaining.
  • The UK has former politician Keith Vaz MP, a man of sublime intellect, unimpeachable personal integrity a champion of free speech and common sense. (Beat) Hang on...
  • Eternal Forces: managed to cause offense on both sides. The non-religious community objected because they saw it as conservative Christian propaganda, and the Religious Right disliked the game because it portrayed the faithful as trigger-happy vigilantes.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman studies how video games can train people to kill. He cites tactics used in shooting games, desensitising gamers to killing and portraying it as a reward and enjoyment as evidence. For the record, he's also quite fond of citing reports on video game violence that cite him as their primary source.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 was given an R18+ rating in Australia for, among other reasons, "high-impact violence" and "piles of bodies lay about the environment". The problem with this? Australia does not have an R18+ rating for games, meaning that any game which would rate over an MA15+ is "Refused Classification". Valve submitted a censored version of the game to the classification board, which was eventually passed with an MA-15 rating. The amount of censoring required is so ridiculous though, that at times it looks like a completely different game. Valve had also resubmitted the original for reconsideration, but it was just given another dose of refused classification. In a case of third time's the charm, they were finally able to get an uncensored version released there.
  • The release of Bully on the PS2 (renamed Canis Canem Edit in the UK, at least in part over this fuss) was accompanied by a "ban this game" campaign led by disgraced former Cabinet Minister Keith Vaz. This mainly occurred during the game's development, as upon release such detractors were left with egg on their face when Bully turned out to be fairly wholesome, due to the fact that the path to victory is playing morally, being a good student and taking down the titular bullies (plus, unlike what they claimed, there were no firearms in the game and nobody dies). This was pretty much what caused the Jack Thompson media flareup to finally die down. Bully: Scholarship Edition has since been released in the UK under its original title.
  • The original Manhunt received much controversy over how the game practically reveled in the violence the player could commit. This led to the game being banned in several countries. The sequel received the same treatment, including such notable names as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jack Thompson attempting to get the game restricted in the United States. The game still had to be recut because the ESRB gave the first cut an Adults Only rating, thus leading to retailers refusing to carry it and Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all denying the games release on their platforms. Even after the M-rated cut made shelves, the same moral guardians sought to have the game re-rated and pulled from store shelves. Meanwhile, the game was banned in New Zealand and Australia and was given the film rating of R in the Canadian province of Ontario.note  The game's sequel, Manhunt 2, was actually banned in Ireland and in the UK; though without any kind of controversy associated with the sequel, at least not on a level comparable to that of the original.
    • Interestingly enough, under the premiership of Dalton McGuinty, Ontario would later become the second jurisdiction in North America to make the ESRB legally binding after neighboring province Manitoba did so. Yes, moral guardians in Ontario are more successful than their American counterparts, despite not being as vocal.
  • The guardians had another video game field day with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. More precisely, the Wham Level "No Russian", where you play as a CIA agent going undercover with terrorists massacring an entire airport. Predictably, they took the level out of context and claimed the whole game to be a terrorism simulator on that alone. The twist is, putting the stage within context is a gigantic spoiler... one that would make the guardians' heads implode: The whole massacre was planned by the true Big Bad, US Army General Shepherd, as the beginning of his utterly vile, corrupt and insane Batman Gambit to begin a horrific war between America and Russia so that he can instill total American supremacy upon the world and get his name down in history as a (false) war hero.
    The German Moral Guardians actually took some action and forced the developers to punish the player for shooting the civilians in that level with a Game Over in the German-language version. This also resulted in Steam (and the game won't run without it) forbidding players who bought the German-language version (and the conveniently country-coded CD key with it) to download any other languages for it, which is possible for every other game out there.
    The infamous level was cut from the Russian release. Nevertheless, a parliament deputy proposed to ban the game, because his teenage son was apparently outraged by the level. The Russian publisher, 1C, responded with a sarcastic open letter, inquiring why the politician would buy his son a pirated game and ignore the "18 and over" mark on the front cover.
  • Pokémon has had to bear a particularly nasty surge of Moral Guardian complaining. Not only did various Moral Guardians accuse it of promoting satanism and witchcraft (due to the game's premise of being able to control "superpowered creatures"), but it also was accused of promoting gambling (to the point where some NPCs were changed from being called "gambler" to "gamer") and "cockfighting" (despite the fact that the in-game point of Pokémon is friendship and teamwork rather than "use your monsters to beat up the other guy's monsters").
  • One Medal of Honor game has been banned from stores on military bases for allowing gamers to play as the Taliban. While this is a question of sensitivity, you could play as Nazis in the previous installments.
  • The Church of England criticised the PlayStation 3 game Resistance: Fall of Man, which included a gunfight in Manchester Cathedral. Amusingly, when the Church demanded that Insomniac change the game to not depict Manchester Cathedral, Insomniac reportedly laughed at them, and began pointing out the numerous other things that the Church did not have a problem with, including the violent depictions of murder. The Church was, sadly, not suitably chastised. Also funny: the Church's argument was—at least in part—that Insomniac didn't get their permission, which made the whole thing look more like a copyright dispute than a case of moral outrage. (Needless to say, having been built in 1215, Manchester Cathedral isn't subject to copyright of any kind.)
  • Adoption advocates and parents of adopted children criticized Portal 2 for remarks uttered by the antagonists that were deemed offensive to adopted children.
  • Family Friendly Gaming, a review website that attempts to analyze video games and other media "from a family-friendly (read: conservative Christian) perspective." Short of downright demonizing the media itself, Family Friendly Gaming follows many of the guidelines of the stereotypical Moral Guardian. Of special note is the review for Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, where it becomes increasingly obvious that the reviewer has never heard of Homestar Runner.
  • Dead Island:
  • Saints Row IV was refused classification in Australia because of rape (an alien probe gun being in the game) and drug use. The censors apparently are fine with rape as this was allowed as DLC but they were still very angry at drugs in the game, but eventually allowed an MA rating once the mission involving them was removed.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Moral Guardians are the reason the Looney Tunes have been banned and heavily censored from television (to the point that they're rarely shown on TV, though the invention of home video and Internet file sharing also contributed to this), going as far back as the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Because of the Shout-Out to the brony fanbase where they had Derpy speak, parents think the writers were making fun of disabled people. "The Last Roundup" has already been pulled from the iTunes store and possibly from the Hub's rotation. Early in February of 2012, all of the "Derpy" merchandise at We Love Fine was renamed to either "Ditzy" or some generic name. Hasbro was apparently pressuring WLF to take them down, as well as having Apple take "The Last Roundup" off of iTunes. In mid-to-late February of 2012, "The Last Roundup" was put back up onto iTunes store, but Derpy has an entirely different voice and her eyes are no longer screwed up, and Rainbow Dash doesn't name her anymore.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Moral Guardian, Moral Watchdogs


Mary Whitehouse

Infamous real life moral guardian Mary Whitehouse appears in puppet form on Spitting Image to declare her outrage against the show after its first ever episode aired the previous week.

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