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Too Gruesome for Cartoon Physics

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Amusing Injuries are funny, that much is certain. Ash Face, The Door Slams You, and Forcibly Formed Physique are given in slapstick cartoons that predate television. However, there's a time when, to give a bit of Gallows Humor to a piece of media, a character's injuries go beyond an anvil to the head, a gun backfiring from a blockage in the barrel (finger or otherwise), or being sliced-in-half alive (and still living, without problems, visible gore/blood, or pain), to come back around to being realistic. So realistic is this injury that when a character sees it, it's offscreen, and they grimace at the sight or close whatever device or container the character got injured in. If the character does survive the ordeal, the next time the viewer sees the injured character, they may be completely bandaged up or in traction.

Can overlap with Gory Discretion Shot and Family-Unfriendly Violence. Aversions of this can sometimes be a cause of Realism-Induced Horror.

See also Take Our Word for It.

NOTE: This trope page is for few-and-far-between shocking examples that happen ONLY in animated slapstick cartoons as non-visible suggestions/off-screen.


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    Comic Books 
  • In one Donald Duck comic story, Donald scolds his nephews for using his power tools to try and make a birdhouse, saying that one has to be careful around power tools. However, he's so distracted saying this that he does something so bad to his hands that all we see is his shocked expression and his heavily bandaged hands.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a rare example, Garfield had this on February 23, 2014 where Jon tries to make a snow angel, but instead falls onto a garden gnome hidden in the snow.

    Warner Bros. 
  • In 1939's "Hamateur Night", Swami River, a middle-eastern performer, asks for a volunteer from the audience for his Indian Basket Trick. Egghead volunteers and gets into the basket, and Swami pierces it with a sword while he's inside. Instead of coming out unharmed as normally expected, Swami looks into the basket, and tuts in disappointment, strongly implying that he accidentally killed him. He then gives the basket to the usher, saying "...give this gentleman his money back."
  • In 1944’s "Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips", Bugs gives the Japanese soldiers grenades hidden in ice cream bars, they walk away to eat them and series of explosions occur, Bugs watches the explosions and shields his eyes at some of the offscreen carnage before driving away.
  • In 1951's "A Bear for Punishment", Junior Bear chases Henry Bear with a shredded (by accident) straight razor (for "a good-ol' shave for good ol' Pa, on good-ol' Father's Day") throughout the house-cave, resulting in a rather messy collision in one of the rooms, if the sound of crashing appliances is anything to go by. Junior Bear peeks out of the door saying that "...Pa won't talk to me. I nudged him, and I nudged him, but he's awfully still", and Mama Bear covers the cake she had been making for Henry with a white sheet. This is subverted, however, when Pa reaches out of the door with a tattered sleeve, pulls Junior in, and gives him a thorough beating.
    Junior Bear (with a pair of black eyes): Pa is all right now, Ma! [gets pulled back inside again to be beaten some more]
  • 1953's "Cat-Tails for Two" has Benny and George (both cats) chasing Speedy Gonzales (in a prototype design), in his debut cartoon, around a cargo ship. One gag involves Benny lifting a crate of Acme anvils by a rope, with George setting a chunk of cheese under it. When Speedy startles Benny by popping a bag of air, Benny lets go of the rope, Speedy runs to snatch the cheese, but George can't run fast enough to get out of the way of the crate. Benny looks under the crate, and can only turn away saying "Ohhhh...." with a downtrod horrified expression. This is subverted when George calls out for him, and he's now out from underneath, only a little worse for wear, with tattered fur and a ripped shirt.
  • In "Speedy Gonzales (1955)", the mice send a mouse named Manuel to try and outrun Sylvester to bring back cheese from a factory across the Mexico/U.S. border. The mice are shown cheering Manuel.. and suddenly stop as Manuel is presumably caught and eaten. Then the mouse holding Manuel's sombrero tosses it in a pile of other hats.
  • In 1956's "Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z", Wile E. Coyote purchases a "Triple Strength Battleship Steel Armor Plate", which the Roadrunner plows through like butter. Wile E. can only look down at where his torso used to be, and tiptoes off-screen, without turning to reveal the injury.
  • 1961's "Compressed Hare" has Wile E. Coyote attempting to get Bugs Bunny out of his rabbit hole. His final attempt has him building a 10-billion-volt magnet, which pulls not only a metal carrot (hoping Bugs would eat it and be attracted to the magnet), but all sorts of metal objects from around the world and even FROM ORBIT, including a giant rocket which crashes FULL LENGTH through the front door of his his cave and immediately explodes in an impressive display, cutting away immediately to Bugs watching the chaos.
  • In 1964's "Dumb Patrol", Yosemite Sam's plane falls out of the sky and crashes into the ammunition dump. All we see is Bugs watching the fall, then looking away as the screen shakes with the explosion.
  • In 1964's False Hare, the Big Bad Wolf and his child nephew want to catch Bugs Bunny for food. One of the gags involves an iron maiden rigged to close on Bugs after the wolf nephew runs out of a closet door after his uncle says "Now!". When Bugs tricks the Big Bad Wolf into getting in front of the iron maiden, he says "Oh, I get it now!", and the nephew busts open the closet door, with the iron maiden clamping down on the uncle. The nephew peeks inside, and only looks at the audience with a disgusted "Yeesh!" and a cringed look.
  • Animaniacs:
    • In the sub-episode "Bully for Skippy", when Slappy has had enough of the bully picking on Skippy, and his school teacher AND an FCC advocate against cartoon violence forbid Skippy and Slappy from doing any violence (cartoon or self-defense), she builds a machine that performs the violence on the inside, technically censoring it. Slappy then puts the bully, the teacher, and the FCC advocate through it, teaching them a lesson, and changing the bully's ways.
    • "The Ballad of Magellan" recounts the story of Ferdinand Magellan and his quest to find an alternate route to the East Indies. At the end, when Magellan is killed during his ill-fated stop in the Philippines, the death happens off-screen, with the Warner siblings only saying that Magellan "got hit by a spear".

  • Tom and Jerry:
    • In "The Two Mouseketeers", after Tom fails to save the King of France's banquet, at the end of the short, Jerry and Nibbles, while walking outside the castle, can only watch as a guillotine blade is raised, and then dropped. (Implying that Tom was executed.)
    • Subverted in "Little School Mouse", and Played for Laughs. Nibbles peeks under a mechanical paw after working it too enthusiastically (from a demonstration that Jerry gives), and for a brief second, when Nibbles lifts the paw up to check on him, Jerry can be seen as flat as a sheet of paper (but none worse-for-wear otherwise) underneath before Nibbles slams it back down from surprise.
    • In "Mouse Trouble", Tom hides in a gift box in order to ambush Jerry. However, the mouse grows suspicious of the mysterious present and decides to impale it with several giant pins (with Tom trying his absolute darnedest to keep quiet), before sawing it in half. Finally giving in to his curiosity, Jerry peeks inside the package, but quickly pulls his head out with a horrified expression, gulps in shock, and holds out a sign reading "Is there a doctor in the house?", as the scene fades to black. The next scene shows Tom with an open first-aid kit, and wearing several bandages, with one even wrapped around his torso.
    • The infamous "Blue Cat Blues" opens with Tom sitting on a railroad bridge, eyes bloodshot and fur matted, for reasons unknown. Jerry then offers a Whole Episode Flashback explaining that Tom fell in love with a beautiful cat that demanded expensive presents, leading him to repeatedly borrow more and more money until he literally sold himself into slavery to appease her, only for the cat to dump him for someone else. He's now at the end of his rope, and Jerry laughs that he'd never allow that to happen to him—and then immediately sees his own mouse girlfriend driving around with another guy. Jerry's appearance becomes just as haggard as Tom's, and he goes and sits next to the cat, with both staring wordlessly off into the horizon. And why are they sitting on the bridge? They've been Driven to Suicide. The final moments of the short have a train's whistle gradually getting louder and louder...and then we cut to black. Talk about your Downer Ending.
    • "The Karate Guard" is the usual episode where Jerry keeps summoning Spike as a bodyguard, but this time as a samurai. At one point, Tom, from outside, grabs Jerry (eating cheese) through a window. When Jerry rings his gong, Spike is summoned right behind Tom, as he pulls out his sword. It cuts back to Jerry's P.O.V. where we see Tom shocked, hear a wet plop, and Tom gently puts Jerry down and the cheese back in his hand, and closes the window before falling. Even Jerry looks unnerved.
  • Tex Avery MGM Cartoons
    • "Batty Baseball" (1944) has two instances.
      • An irate spectator is yelling "Kill the umpire! Get'im outta there! Kill the umpire!" and suddenly a gunshot rings out and the guy looks pale. He and the rest of the spectators then stand up and doff their hats as the now dead umpire is taken out of the stadium offscreen.
      • There is a Running Gag of a catcher jumping in front of the batter as he's swinging, narrowly avoiding getting hit by the bat. At the end of the cartoon, the camera suddenly zooms in on the batter as he swings and there's a loud, crashing sound. The announcer declares a moment of silence, and as Taps plays, the catcher's soul is shown floating up to heaven, carrying a sign that reads "Sad ending, isn't it?"
    • In Screwball Squirrel (1944) near the end Screwy tricks Meathead into walking in front of a moving train, he turns around, steps off the train and gets hit, it then cuts to Screwy’s reaction and he comments how gruesome it is, Meathead later comes back covered in bandages.
    • In Wags To Riches (1949) Spike at one point rigs a shotgun to the bathroom doorknob that will go off when Droopy enters, Droopy goes in and comes out without triggering the gun, Spike tries it and it blasts his head off, offscreen, he reaches for a censor bar and uses it to cover his headless body so the audience doesn’t see the gruesome results.
    • The Peachy Cobbler (1950), a spoof of The Elves and the Cobbler, has a similar set up to the catcher gag above. Two elves are nailing a heel on a shoe, with one placing his head over the nail as a guide to the other who is holding the hammer. As in the previous cartoon, the camera zooms in on the hammering elf's face as he hits his mate's head with a shattering sound. The elf looks shocked, then sweeps up the remains, which sound like broken glass.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • "Donut Unto Others": Homestar competes with Bubs' Concession Stand in making donuts, where Homestar's donut stand is a simple cardboard box with a window cut out of it and a built-in sign labeled "Do-Nots", as well as a working heated deep-fryer. Near the end of the cartoon, Strong Bad, acting as the health inspector, slaps a post-it note marked "F" on the side of the box, knocking everything over. We never see the results it has on Homestar explicitly, we just hear him yelling in pain.
    • In the Strong Bad Email "privileges", The Cheat runs off to do something involving a drill to Strong Sad in order to get a point on his "Gold Plus Membership" scorecard.
      Strong Sad: (distantly, off-screen) Ow! Both my face and hands!
    • In "origins", Strong Bad suggests that Strong Sad received his navel because of a new drill that Young Strong Bad received for his birthday.
    • In "the chair" Strong Bad has said in the past that his mask is a part of his body, yet he takes it off, but only behind the obscured view of his new chair "Lé Restige", with gurgling noises akin to a painful movie-effect transformation.
    • In "hremail3184", it's implied that Homestar Runner has been doing his parallel email show to Strong Bad's since 2001, as he's completely drained of hosting vigor. Strong Bad is so frustrated that he yells for several gardening tools from Marzipan to hit Homestar over the head.
      Strong Bad: GAHHHH! I can't takes it no more! Someone hand me a rake!
      (someone hands him a rake from offscreen, and he hits Homestar over the head with it)
      Homestar Runner: RAAAKE!
      Strong Bad: Someone hand me a shovel!
      (someone hands him a shovel from offscreen, and he does the same thing again)
      Homestar Runner: SHOVELLL!
      Strong Bad: Someone hand me a garden weasel! note 
      (someone hands him a garden weasel from offscreen, and he does the same thing again)
      (A CENSORED bar covers the majority of Homestar's face, with bruises, cuts, and a small stream of blood visible from behind the uncovered parts.)
      Homestar Runner: (calmly and affectionately) Aw, a weasel.
    • Played for Laughs in the sole spinoff comic of Teen Girl Squad, "4 Gregs", in which the eponymous 4 Gregs muster up the courage to go to a varsity football game, where the football players (because of them focusing on playing the game) are powerless to bully them. Unfortunately, this only works up until half-time, punctuated by the mischievously laughing players surrounding the 4 Gregs, followed by a splash screen that says "EXPLICIT WEDGIE!!!" with only underwear flying about.

    Western Animation 
  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • In the episode "Jellyfishing", two examples happen:
      • Squidward gets his tentacles tangled in his bike pedals and careens off of a cliff, bouncing off the rocks on his way to the bottom, where he inexplicably explodes offscreen in a mushroom cloud. In the next scene he's in, Squidward is completely bandaged up from-head-to-toe in a motorized wheelchair.
      • While Jellyfishing, Squidward finds the mother jellyfish, while Spongebob and Patrick cheer him on. Offscreen, he is immediately and extremely powerfully shocked. Spongebob and Patrick can only say "Oohhhh..." in terrified awe at the sight. The next time we see Squidward, he's in a motorized hospital bed in a full-body cast.
    • In "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy IV", SpongeBob repeatedly zaps Squidward, whom SpongeBob accidentally shrunk, with Mermaid Man's utility belt in an attempt to return Squidward to normal. While we see a few of the results of the belt on Squidward (such as having a bunch of eyes appear on his head, being set on fire, his skin disappearing, and being snipped in half with a pair of scissors), after a certain point the shot changes to SpongeBob as he continues to use the belt and reacting in shock and horror to the various transformations/injuries Squidward experiences as Squidward himself either screams hysterically or emits inarticulate gurgling noises off-screen, heavily implying that they are even more horrific and/or painful to Squidward than the ones viewers were previously shown. By the time Squidward finally tells SpongeBob to stop, Squidward is mostly intact but covered in burn marks (not to mention still small).
    • Subverted (as in the injuries are seen on-screen in graphic detail) in several episodes, such as the infamous "toenail-ripping" scene from "House Fancy".
  • In The Simpsons episode "Homer's Enemy", Frank Grimes goes so insane at Homer winning the Nuclear Plant design contest that his final act is to grab a pair of live high-voltage power terminals, which immediately electrocutes and fries him. Homer and the rest of the plant staff can only cringe in disgust. (And this is considering Homer has fallen down Springfield Gorge, gotten hit by lightning, hit by baseball bats, etc.)
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Around the climax of "Operation: M.O.V.I.E.", Numbuh 4 confronts Toiletnator in the projection room of a cinema where villains are meeting up. After a brief scuffle, he turns on a film projector and causes Toiletnator's toilet paper to get pulled into the projector's spinning reel, along with him too. We don't see what's happening to him, but we do hear the unmistakable sounds of tearing flesh and shattering bones and see Numbuh 4 recoiling at what he sees, and it's obviously not a pretty sight. Somehow, Toiletnator survives and gets launched out fully intact.
  • Dave the Barbarian: Invoked in "A Pig's Story". After enslaving the show's narrator, Chuckles rewrites the episode's script so that his minions can deliver a gruesome beatdown to the heroes. However, the storyteller refuses to narrate the new tale, as it's "far too violent for a family show". As a result, the villain changes the script once more, so that the minions do "non-specific but presumably very unpleasant things off-camera" to the heroes instead.
  • The cast of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic are no strangers to slapstick, and the aspiring stunt-flyer Rainbow Dash is no stranger to comedic crash landings. Several episodes involve Rainbow crashing through windows, smacking into obstacles, or even flying at full speed into the side of a mountain, and being no worse for wear by the next scene. But the episode "Read It and Weep" involves Rainbow Dash dealing with the boredom of spending several days in the hospital. So the plot-inciting crash, apparently worse than any she's had before, happens completely off-screen (with the impact including a Sickening "Crunch!"), and we only get to see the worried reactions from Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight Sparkle.
    Pinkie Pie: So much for dazzling...


Video Example(s):


Mouse Trouble

Jerry decides to impale a package containing Tom with pins and even saw it in half... a decision that he would later regret and haunt him for the rest of his life when he looks inside and is treated to the unpleasant sight of the horribly mangled cat.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / TooGruesomeForCartoonPhysics

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