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What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?

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That kid's sure going to enjoy the nice cartoon his mom and dad gave him for Christmas.

"When parents give Maus, my book about Auschwitz, to their little kids, I think it’s child abuse."
Art Spiegelman, regarding his comic book, which stars Funny Animals but itself definitely is not funny.

All fantasy, animation, space operas, fairy tales, anything with a cartoon and/or anime art style, everything with talking animals, anything with a child (especially if it's a girl) as the protagonist, superhero movies, Comic Books, and anything by a creator of children's media is okay for kids... right?

Well, sure — if you want to scar them for life, shove their hearts into a woodchipper, confuse them to an overwhelming extreme, or show/teach them words or other things they really shouldn't know yet.

If you pay attention, you will notice that many Fairy Tales are stories of murder, rape, and much worse. Several stories starring animals — particularly very old versions — are just as bad. Heaven forbid you especially if you come across medieval Dutch animal fables. The amount of sex (including rape), extreme violence, and glorification of crime will make the most NSFW thing that the Furry Fandom ever has produced look tame by comparison. Many people realize too late that animated films can be for adults only, even if "adult" doesn’t mean that it is an Animated Shock Comedy. Many people assume All Animation Is Disney, which is a risky thing to do as Disney, for the most part, outbowdlerized Bowdler.

The American 1970s-era rating label "PG" came with the warning, "Parental Guidance Suggested — some material may not be suitable for pre-teenagers." The last word was eventually changed to "children." The PG rating was somehow not clear enough, so a new "in-between" rating, "PG-13," was created as a stopgap between PG and R (which restricts audiences to 17 and older). Yet today, parents take their kindergartners to PG-13 movies anyway, due to there being no official age restriction. With Avoid the Dreaded G Rating being so prevalent, it is shocking to see how much the PG rating used to get away with. Additionally, films that initially targeted the PG rating are now getting PG-13 ratings; the PG-13 rating is extremely broad.

Many fairy tales were told to children to Scare 'Em Straight, though others were meant for adults. Over time, the focus has shifted from depicting horrible consequences of bad behavior to showing positive traits being rewarded. The older versions, especially those by The Brothers Grimm, offer ready-to-use Darker and Edgier for older audiences. Values Dissonance also applies across cultures, to the point where uninitiated fans insist that foreign kids' shows were really for teenagers or adults because their home country would never allow some of the content to be shown to anyone below that age.

The Internet, where anyone can be on and post anything on, has given a rise to this audience reaction. There are countless works online that appear to be innocent and kid-friendly in any way(s), and are easy for a kid to click on, but their content will be unpredictable and often only be made for teenagers or older. Often without Content Warnings. Fan Works of kid-friendly works are prone to this, because there will usually be a Periphery Demographic. Kids will still click on and see them just because it's about their favorite show, regardless of if the work is appropriate for them or not.

Thankfully, most kids who watch films not intended for their age grow up and don't have traumatized existences. They simply ignore what they don't understand, and when they do they will often love the film for showing those themes since they never saw anything that handled those themes before.

On this trope page, please list only things that have been commonly mistaken as being for kids. If it was meant for kids despite still having inappropriate content, then What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?.

See also Subverted Innocence. Can be a result of Misaimed Marketing. Audiences may receive an early warning with an R-Rated Opening. Animation Age Ghetto is the animation-specific subtrope (in that it's this trope applied to the entire medium). What Do You Mean, It's Not for Little Girls? is the Moe Seinen subtrope.


Examples

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    Advertising 
  • It's Happy Bunny combines a cute character design and bright colors with insults.

    Fan Works 
  • Agony in Pink, despite being based on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, is a Dark Fic with Gorn, so it is definitely not suitable for kids.
  • Fanon wikias have fan-made episodes of pre-existing series and fan-made original or spinoff shows. Unexpectedly inappropriate episodes and series crop up, and if you're lucky, it'll actually be intentional.
    • On the Nick Fanon Wikia, SuperSaiyanKirby Adventures presents itself as being a fan-made standard Nickelodeon show, albeit one with a Super Saiyan Kirby as the main character. Then there's the sequel, which involves drinking, swearing, and so much more! The original wasn't exactly the nicest either, with several characters having a bone to pick with Nick Jr. characters, with the main character claiming he got stuck in his Super Mode during the Dora War. Then there's the episode "Web and Brandon's Final Mission", which is directly based off of the "Cupcakes" fanfic.
    • Random-ness Wikia has a sitcom named The Bunker as well as this show, which has banned episodes posted on another wiki. The original contains subs.
    • SpongeBob Fan Wikia has SpongeBob: Infection, but despite it being based on a kids show, it certainly isn't. The show focuses on a zombie apocalypse destroying Bikini Bottom, and the main characters' efforts to stay safe and sane, and contains lots of blood and gore, as well as heavy thematic elements. You have to get through a disclaimer intended for parents that explains the content is 18+ and you have to click "Proceed" in order to read the article...only to be met by a much less subtle disclaimer at the top of the page explaining again that the content is R rated, summarizing the objectionable content, and making it clear that the admin team on the Wikia only accepts said content under careful consideration.
  • With Friday Night Funkin' having its own problems with a younger fanbase, the same can be said for the many works of the modding community. Said works include those based on various Creepypastas and horror media such as Sonic.exe(Vs Sonicexe), Suicide Mouse( Sunday Night Suicide, Wednesday's Infidelity), and Shadow-sana’s Super Horror Mario art (Friday Night Funkin': Mario's Madness)and mods like Friday Night Funkin' Soft that delve into themes of trauma and abuse. Other mods like Friday Night Funkin' HD further exhasperbate the problem with its cutscenes including heavier use of edgy and crass humor akin to Newgrounds' early days, with Week 4 being the Hotter and Sexier and the polarizing breaking point among fans. Even some of the far tamer mods like Doki Doki Takeover! can qualify due to the source material being the kind of genre not meant for a younger audience.
  • Amazingly enough, Calvin & Hobbes: The Series has an In-Universe example in the episode "Home Un-Alone", where Calvin believes that Child's Play (1988) is kid-friendly due to its title and the fact that it's rated R for "rainbow".
  • Even though Ghosts of the Future is a fan comic of Sonic the Hedgehog, a kid-friendly video game series, and created by Evan Stanley, who is now an official Sonic comic artist and writer, it is not for children. The comic starts off with Sonic and his best friends being bloodily massacred by a mind-controlled Shadow, which results in Sonic and Shadow enduring trauma and guilt. There's brutal violence and bloodshed, profanity, sexual innuendonote , and a brief, non-sexual, and partial nudity in the form of a female's exposed breasts. Nevertheless, little kids still read the comic and their parents even read it to littler ones, so Stanley added Content Warnings to the issue 17 incident.
  • The Murder of Me is a Sonic the Hedgehog fancomic whose creator, Gigi Dutreix, works on the official IDW comics, but it's not for children. It's a Cosmic Horror Story, there's plenty of blood, and the violence can get graphic. What did you expect from a comic with "murder" in the title?
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series is like the original anime if it had Seth MacFarlane as the writer.
  • From The Legend of Zelda franchise there's the fanfic Zelda's Honor. The story is anything but kid friendly and gives off a vibe akin to Game of Thrones and Berserk, complete with plenty of gore, violence, rape and other adult themes. Young readers thinking it would be okay to read because it deals with a kid-friendly franchise would be sorely mistaken.
  • Back in the day when it was first released, Resident Evil Musicals used to be criticized for its gore, violence and sex jokes. Many people forgot the series it was parodying was rated M to begin with.
  • Sonic Shorts was watched by children due to its cartoony animation and the fact it's a Sonic the Hedgehog fanwork. However, they are intended for teenage audiences, or sometimes more mature audiences, especially the Sonic Shits series, with some skits having profanity, Black Comedy (including Black Comedy Rape), unrealistic blood, and/or sexual humor, including a beautiful glimpse of Eggman's bulge.
  • Most of MugiMikey's Sonic the Hedgehog fan animations, despite their crude cartoon look and occasional family-friendly thumbnails and premises, are not kid-friendly. They're Animated Shock Comedies with strong profanity, overt Vulgar Humor, and Black Comedy, such as Bloody Hilarious situations and Black Comedy Rape. While His History Revealed: A Dr. Robotnik Biography is serious contrasted to his usual output, it's still not kid-friendly, having a bit of profanity and dealing with serious themes such as infertility from injury, death, especially the gory death of Eggy the puppy, Parental Neglect, losing one's virginity, and the horrifying aspects of war.
  • SmashBits Animation may produce parody animations of kids' favorite video games, such as Super Smash Bros., Undertale, Sonic the Hedgehog, Cuphead, and Roblox, but they really aren't kids' material, with swearing and vulgar humor. This audience reaction is allegedly why their channel was terminated for a while.
    We're not making children's content. We're not targetting kids. We're an adult comedy channel. SmashBits Animation makes video game adult comedy animations. We-We've made ourselves to be like [adult swim] of video game parody animations.
  • A Very Potter Musical. Team StarKid said that a lot of people took their kids to the show because it's Harry Potter the Musical. They mentioned having to cut down the YouTube version of the show to a PG-13 level. They had to put a FOR MATURE STARKIDS ONLY!!! label on Me and My Dick. Didn't stop some of their younger fans from watching it.
  • While the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic series "The Berylverse" has always had adult themes in it, it wasn't until the brutally-realistic EQUESTRIA GIRLS-meets-actual teenage reality Seven Days in Sunny June stories that this trope kicked in high gear.
  • Friendship is Witchcraft has both been mistaken for a kid's work and as an actual incarnation of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. It's an adult-aimed parody with a lot of jokes that are, at minimum, aimed at older children.
  • Sonic the Comic – Online! is a Fan Sequel to a kid's comic that ended in the early 2000s, however it's aimed at fans who grew up with the story (or at least got into it as an adult). It usually keeps to an Original Flavor, though some issues can get graphic (such as when Tekno underwent a Sanity Slippage and tried to kill a villain).
  • Tokimeki PokéLive! and TwinBee is a Pokémon, Love Live!, Tokimeki Memorial, Sonic the Hedgehog and TwinBee crossover note . It may seem child friendly because a large amount of the source material has been aimed at least partially at young audiences, but PokéLive! is actually aimed at older teen/adult fans of the franchises involved. It has various dark/frightening moments, some profanity, and Fridge Horror as part of certain backstories, and is overall more mature than most official entries in the franchises involved.
  • Sophie Feher's Fan Animation to the song "The Ballad of Sara Berry" from 35MM: A Musical Exhibition has the art-style of a kid's cartoon, but it's not a kid-friendly animatic. It's a Murder Ballad about an Alpha Bitch who murders her classmates over not being crowned Prom Queen.
  • This is a recurring issue in Fan Vid communities. Many of these videos reside on websites that don't have proper content rating systems, some are based on kid-friendly works, and some don't even specify what video and/or audio sources they use, which can lead to odd surprises. Further muddying things is that editors of all ages are sometimes present in the exact same communities, that some of the adults make content suitable for all viewers, and some kids dabble in Age-Inappropriate Art (either deliberately or accidentally). Some of the most spectacular examples use imagery from childrens' movies such as The Lion King (1994) and Ferngully The Last Rainforest - there is a large community of people who edit such movies into oblivion, and the results sometimes incorporate content from visually similar but more mature works such as Felidae; even when those works aren't included, they can still contain mature themes and scenes staged by creatively editing G-rated sources, or outright use fanart. As a result, every once in a while you'll see a 10-year-old commenting that they watched a video which really was not intended for them, even if said video did include a content warning.
  • Despite being a kid friendly series, many Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers fanfics are not meant for kids. They often go to places that the show would never dare go to and read like epic thrillers. Rhyme and Reason and Of Mice and Mayhem are easily the two best examples.
  • While there are plenty of fan games out there based on the kid-friendly Pokémon series, a number of them aren't all that suitable for kids for various reasons. For just two examples, there's Pokémon Uranium (with a plot that centers around nuclear meltdowns and fallout and the consequences thereof) and Pokémon Insurgence (which not only features a lot of violence and Body Horror, but also has a difficulty curve more suited for competitive Pokémon players than casual fans or kids) — and keep in mind those are two of the tamer examples.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • For people who only think of The Bible as only "Jesus and the Ten Commandments," they could be in for quite a shock. The Old Testament includes laws about slavery, and has stories of blood, gore, pre-meditated murder, incest, rape, and genocide. There's also the sexually charged Song of Solomon, Ezekiel and his vulgar metaphors, and the entire story of Samson.
    • Noah's Ark is often presented as a charming adventure fable for kids - in fact, some research shows it's the one most common Bible stories to tell children by a long shot. What is a more enduring image in childhood than the animals skipping into the Ark by their appointed twos? But, presented as a children's story, it skips over the dark fact that the reason for the Great Flood was that humanity had become so irredeemably horrible (potentially even having children with demons) that the only solution was to drown virtually the whole of humanity like rats in a barrel. It certainly omits the Biblical revelation that the first thing Noah did after finding dry land again—probably perfectly understandably—was to get incapably rat-arsed drunk and pass out.
    • Samson is also one of the most common stories presented to children. While he's sometimes presented as the original superhero, a glance at the text will show he's more so the Ur-Example of a '90s Anti-Hero. Bible media for children will often focus on his super strength, rather than the fact that he's a tragic character whose pride leads to his capture and death.
    • The New Testament isn't exactly kid-friendly either. Hell and eternal suffering are introduced, a handful of the notable prophets are tortured and executed, and go surprisingly willingly. Plus, a certain character is nailed to a cross. There is also the fact it all ends with the utter ruin and destruction of the entire world. Now granted, there is the light of hope that is Second Coming and ultimately the world is remade,but there is also the tragic side of tons of people who still perish horribly and then go to Hell.
    • The Apocryphal books aren't usually found in Protestant Bibles, but Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians include them in their canons. However, they are no less troubling than the Old Testament:
      • The story of Susanna from the Catholic version of the Book of Daniel. The video says it's for kids, but a courtroom drama about lust, rape, and defamation that ends in execution is far from a children's story.
      • There's also one for Tobit, a story about God's providence through the angel Raphael. However, the B plot is about a demon of lust who murders a poor woman's husbands not once, not twice, but seven times in a row.
      • The Books of Maccabeesit has an Animated Hero Classic although the beginning of the story where Mattathias murders a fellow Jew on an altar is not exactly kid-friendly. No wonder Martin Luther decided to remove them. Also the bit where an entire Jewish family is gruesomely tortured to death by Antiochus (and it's described in detail).
  • Classical Mythology is taught in classrooms. Granted, often it's a bare-bones, watered-down version — but recounting stories like that of Aphrodite's birth (she was born from Ouranos' nads, which were chopped off by Cronos and thrown into the sea), or that Zeus and Hera were both brother and sister and husband and wife, has to be difficult for teachers of twelve-year-old students. Parodied in Misleading Cases in the Common Law, in which a Classics master at a British public (i.e. private) school is charged with providing obscene material to minors.
  • Despite the lack of evidences, many scholars and historians theorize that most Nursery Rhymes were originally written as political satire.note 

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Comic strips as a whole arguably suffer from this even more than even animation due to newspaper censorship. There are many adult newspaper comics such as The Boondocks, Doonesbury, and Pearls Before Swine who, despite their design, are intended strictly for adults and not suited for people of all ages. They often frequently get censored when covering more touchy subjects.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • It's (partly) unintentional here. When it began to be touted as popular entertainment in about the 1940s, pro wrestling was family-friendly. The faces always did the right thing, the heels were evil But Not Too Evil, and moral ambiguity was never created. This pattern began to break down once "Arab" wrestlers such as The Sheik and Abdullah the Butcher began staging deliberately gory matches (the equivalent of "Hardcore" matches today) and the heel characters actually began to be depicted as Lovable Rogues and competent enough in the ring not to have to resort to cheating all the time. All bets were off once the "Attitude Era" got underway in the late '90s and sex and violence (and even the occasional dollop of Satanism) actually became the selling points — but parents still took their children to the shows!

    In the late 2000s, WWE tried to steer itself back toward more family-friendly entertainment, due to John Cena's kid-friendly appeal, the Chris Benoit tragedy, and Linda McMahon's repeated failed political campaigns, but even that seems to be over nownote , although WWE programming is still rated TV-PG in spite of a growth in slightly edgier content.
  • WCW Thunder is a unique case. While its U.S. broadcaster TBS aired the show on Thursdays at 8:00 PM, it was aired in Indonesia on Indosiar on Sundays at noon 00:30 PM local time, where children usually spent their time watching television with their parents. Keep in mind that during the Monday Night Wars era, the content of pro wrestling was getting progressively edgier (mainly thanks to the influence of ECW), meaning the families tuning in to watch were greeted with wrestlers hitting each other with chairs, baseball bats and the like while peppering promos with swearing and with female valets wearing skimpy clothes acting suggestively around them — all of which the Indonesian censors didn't even try to go after.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Board games are commonly assumed to be fun toys for children and families, not minding hobbyist board games intended for teenagers and older, or adult party games with R-rated content. To deter this, many adult party games have "ADULT" or "MATURE" printed clearly in large font, and some US publishers put notices like "THIS PRODUCT IS NOT A TOY, NOT INTENDED FOR USE OF PERSONS 12 YEARS OR YOUNGER" on board games with heavy subject matter (example given from this — apparently the title didn't give it away, nor the face-eating aliens, brutally beweaponed killing machines, and human skull motifs on the cover).
    • This Games Workshop commercial. Parents probably loved hearing about how their kids read the lore, and found out about such delightful topics as the Dark Eldar. Not to mention the ultra-violence, Catholic Space Nazi "protagonists", constant warfare, and everything about Chaos in general.
  • Bunnies & Burrows is a game based loosely on Watership Down and is chock full of cute little player controlled rabbits being brutally eaten by predators, ravaged by disease, and otherwise struggling to survive. Gamers thought it was for kids because it has talking rabbits, kids were disappointed when they found out there were no wizards slinging fireballs for 50,000 damage. It has, however, become a Cult Classic among those who understand this is not a kids' game.
  • Rifts. Every book in the series has a stern warning at the very beginning the game is not for children and contains graphic violence and sexual references. Even so the publishers still get complaints from parents who think it's family friendly like Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Despite being based on a children's tv series, the age rating for Power Rangers: Heroes Of The Grid is 14+. This is not because the game features objectionable content, but rather because the rules of the game are really complex for Power Rangers' intended demographic.
  • Actually this trope and Moral Guardians gave rise to the RPG Disclaimer genre. Which The Escapist gaming advocacy site has a decent collection of here. Includes examples like:
    • The minimalistic from Nephilim. 1st page "This Game Is Not Real" 2nd page "You Are".
    • The aforementioned Palladium (Rifts / TMNT / After The Bomb / etc.) one which is pretty standard.
    • The one from Over the Edge which should be read aloud before every game session.
    • And the absolute anti — the "Claimer" from Human Occupied Landfill. Begins with: "This Game Will Fuck You Up. We Swear. [...]"
  • The Flintstones had a board game in 1961 titled "The Modern Stoneage Game". Yet surprisingly, it was a bit too complex for most children, having a board, cards, and a cribbage-like peg board for scoring. The box itself even said "For ages 8 to Adult". Then again, as the Western Animation entry for this says, The Flintstones was originally intended for adults. Most if not all of the later board games based on the Flintstone franchise were definitely more kid-friendly.

    Toys 
  • Subverted with Bandai's S.H. Figuarts line (as well as its sublines, Ultra-Act and S.H. MonsterArts) which is more geared towards adults even if most of the properties are based on children's shows such as Dragon Ball Z, Kamen Rider, the Ultra Series and Super Sentai. With most figures hovering around 3,000-8,000 yen, the prices certainly would scare off some parents from getting these for their kids. Their most expensive figure Machine Itashar from Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger (which does fit under this trope) costs about 10 times what normal figures cost. To wit, S.H. Figuarts models modeled after adult-oriented shows, like Akibaranger and Kamen Rider Amazons, fit this trope very well.
    • Amazon has tons of negative reviews for the figures, claiming that when they give them to kids, they "have too many pieces" or they "fall apart easily".
  • As mentioned multiples times here, any movie with the slightest potential for merchandising will probably have toys made for them. Often regardless of the film's actual rating.
  • Hot Toys figures definitely qualify under the above statement category although given their ultra realistic figures and hefty price tag, few would mistake these as children's toys.
  • Alien action figures: Free Facehugger with each Alien! It gets better. There's now Chest Burster plush toys. Yes, cute cuddly plushies of an alien fetus that violently erupts from one's chest causing horrible death.
  • A rather fanservicey G.E.M. Figure of Angewomon was banned from being sold in the west by Digimon's rights holders, and preorders were even cancelled. Why? Because it went against Digimon's "child friendly image". Even though said figure was intended for adult collectors in the Periphery Demographic and cost over a hundred dollars. Kids wouldn't even be seeing the figure since it wasn't going to be sold in any retail stores.
  • From Germany, here are some plushies with mental illnesses. And Die Anstalt, the accompanying Flash game, even gives them backstories that explain the root of their neuroses, which actually increases their Woobieness. And the game also features numerous themes that would never pass in a kid-friendly work:
    • Right from the start, there is a "no nooses" sign in the waiting room where you choose which toy to treat, so we already have a suicide joke and the game's not even started.
    • One of the patients, Sly, is a brightly colored toy snake. Sounds like the kind of toy you'd give to a child, but the cause of his issues is revealed to be that his rattle was emptied out and used to store recreational drugs. Because explicit references to drug use are totally appropriate for kids.
    • Another patient is Lilo, a hippo with a zipper mouth that can be used as a backpack. And one of the items stored within him is a condom.
  • Behold, Mori Chack's Gloomy Bear. Cute pink bears with blood covered claws.
  • Blade of the Immortal trading cards and figurines are also commonly found in the toy aisle in Japanese markets. It's a toy that comes with candy so it must be for kids, right?
  • At the Takashi Murakami show in LA, they had a lot of (rather expensive) plushies like cute, smiley flowers and cute, flowery skulls. And then there's Kiki...
    • They're all artworks in their own right too, so don't remove the wrappers!
  • Collector's action figures in general; after all, no parent in their right mind would get their child a Dr. Manhattan or Marcus Fenix action figure.
  • Some of the early Spawn merchandise released in 1994 were obviously meant to be played with for kids despite the comics featuring a large amount of violence, gore, nudity and a child killer. Even Spawn (1997), a movie that deals heavily with Heaven and Hell and the oncoming apocalypse and Clown making sex jokes, had various toys marketed towards kids.
  • There is a community of artists who make handmade teddy bears, referred to as artist bears, that are made for adult collectors and definitely not children. They are usually made of mohair with glass eyes and either wood or metal joints in the style of pre-World War II teddy bears, and they can cost hundreds of dollars. They are often made with small parts that a little kid could choke on, and also, due to the material, they cannot be put in a washing machine. Artists usually have a label on the tag or certificate and on their website that the bears are not intended for children under 14. On forums dedicated to bear artists and collectors, occasionally someone will post that non-collectors will think they're the same as regular teddy bears that you can buy in a store.
  • Numerous people on Amazon.com have the habit of complaining that the "High Grade" Godzilla figurines made by Bandai are "too small for children" or how they have to "put the figurines together with too many small parts that kids can lose" or something similar. Never mind the fact that said "High Grade" figurines are meant to be collectible figurines for G-Fans to, well, collect and put on display on shelves NOT for children to play with.
  • Four out of the six Terminator movies are R-rated, all are violent and scary... yet it inspired Terminator Minimates.
  • Burger King's "Kids' Club" meals included toys based on the Twilight film Eclipse... which was rated PG-13 and not aimed at younger kids at all.
  • Little kids like stuffed dolls, right? Behold, the Chucky doll.
  • While My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is definitely for kids, a lot of the merchandise is made specifically to appeal to the Periphery Demographic, with quality and price to match. The 2013 comic-con exclusive DJ PON-3 figure actually had a disclaimer on the box stating that it was made specifically to be a collectible figure and not a toy.
  • Barbie is normally a toy for young children. However, there are many collectible lines meant for people at minimum in their mid-teens.
  • FunkoPop has numerous collectible figurines from works meant for adult audiences despite the figurines' 3+, 8+, or 14+ labels.
  • There's a LEGO set of 123 Sesame Street, including minifigures of characters such as Elmo, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster. However, it is not meant to be built by the age group that watches Sesame Street: it's a large, challenging build composed of over a thousand pieces, created for (and by, as it's a LEGO Ideas set) adults who grew up watching the show (with nostalgia being one of its main selling points) and the show's Periphery Demographic. The box labels it as an 18+ set, in case you thought it was a good birthday present for your PBS Kids-addicted toddler.
  • Transformers: Later Titan Class figures fall into an odd mix of this and What Do You Mean, It's for Kids? They are massive and unwieldly for even an adult to play with, and as such have been labeled for ages 15 and up since War for Cybertron: Kingdom Autobot Ark. Yet, Hasbro employees have noted that these figures are still designed with children in mind.

    Web Comics 
  • An Epic Comic at first, it looks like a mere kids' comic book with kid-friendly iconic villains. However, later on, it introduces characters from really raunchy franchises, violent video games with people blowing up with blood everywhere, and even the Nostalgia Critic.
  • Awkward Zombie has a cutesy art style, but many of the jokes involve M-rated video games.
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl seems can pass as a kid's material because the cutesy art style, however the sexual undertones, sexually suggestive content, and lots of swearing proves that it's not exactly for kids. Not to mention a few chapters after December Arc turn the whole series being an emotional roller coaster.
  • Blade Under Mask is set in a Japanese inspired world inhabited by anthropomorphic bugs and is about Nae, a female mantis becoming a geisha, who begins to suffer Nightmare Fuel-induced hallucinations. The art style could be mistaken for being aimed at children, but it really isn't due to scenes like Nae's adopted mother striking her with a bamboo stick, her adopted brother having a threesome with two female moths and her touching herself after that.
  • The authors of Girl Genius felt it necessary to explain the comic is for older teens and up. For readers who skip the New Reader page, the blatant Fanservice is probably a clue.
  • Homestuck may seem innocuous — it's a webcomic about kids playing a videogame, after all. But that's only if you overlook the frequent and creative usage of very foul language (Karkat Vantas is the best example of this), bloody violence (Dirk rather infamously manages to get decapitated more than once), the repeated sexual references and jokes, and occasional mild nudity. Not to mention the abstruse subject matter, characters, and plot details. It got to the point where the official Twitter account gave the comic an M rating.
  • Jix is about a blue furry alien, but has mild cussing and various comics filled with copious amounts of cartoony gore...and partial nudity from time to time from the human character.
  • Lackadaisy contains gorgeous art of furry cat people with often enormous and adorable kitty eyes (the author admits she was influenced by Disney films like Bambi as a child)- and they earn their keep by bootlegging, people-hacking, and general classy dirty-handedness. Even the cutest member of the cast turns out to be one of the craziest.
  • Lookism, a seemingly Gag and Fighting Series. About a fat young man who becomes a Bishōnen with a heroic build when he sleeps, who still is a nice guy and befriends "loosers" at his new school while a Bishōnen and defies the Fat Bastard and Beauty Equals Goodness tropes. Has fun characters and lots of color. And… it contains loads of smoking, an attempted rape, a lot of realistic violence, horrifying bullying including forcing victims into Shameful Strip, a really creepy stalker, and more.
  • At first glance, it would seem safe to assume that The Noordegraaf Files would be OK for kids to read, with bright colors, teenage heroes, and a cartoonish artstyle. However, you'd be wrong. While the first three chapters are fine for readers of any age, by chapters 4-5 blood is spilled, and adult themes such as Parental Abandonment and Cold-Blooded Torture are discussed. While the comic is still quite lighthearted in tone,(despite many characters having very dark and troubled pasts), it still shouldn't be read by anyone younger than 13 due to the more serious nature of some topics brought up.
  • Several posters in the Giant In The Playground forums were offended by sexual content in an Order of the Stick comic, on the grounds that "children read this comic". So, apparently it's okay for kids to watch stick figures kill each other in various brutal ways (including committing genocide), but masturbation jokes are just going too far. Never mind that anyone who's mature enough to realise it's a masturbation reference probably has first-hand experience of the activity. (Making this especially egregious is that the author made a point of including PG-13 material in several early strips, for the specific purpose of establishing early on that the comic would not be shying away from such matters.)
  • The creators of Penny Arcade did a sketch about the possibility of children reading their work. Elsewhere, they mention being invited to a school to give a class on drawing — they went, and enjoyed it, but they made damn sure to cut the URL from the make-your-own-comic templates that they handed out.
    • One comic is a fictionalized account of Gabe meeting a kindergartner whose favorite game was Slender. In The Rant for this comic, he rails against this trope, criticizing parents who buy violent, profanity-filled, and/or scary games for their underage kids just to shut them up.
  • Sleepless Domain follows a similar path to Puella Magi Madoka Magica in that it starts off appearing like a standard cutesy Magical Girl story, only for reality to quickly come crashing down around the protagonists in the worst way possible. Much of Sleepless Domain is dedicated to how Undine and Tessa try to move past the traumatic event of the rest of their team getting slaughtered during a routine mission.
  • Slightly Damned: Don't let the comic's cutesy art style and comedic moments fool you. Between the surprising amount of blood, violence, and foul language, the horrors of Hell, a violent, Knight Templar angel society, a main character dealing with depression, suicidal thoughts, and Self-Harm issues, villains on both sides who Would Hurt a Child, a demon army's brutal onslaught of scores of innocent people, and Heaven's blatant use of Child Soldiers (with one of them shown getting brutally killed), it's made very clear that this is NOT a webcomic for young children to read.
  • Twokinds gets heavily hit with this. Despite NSFW content, most parental advisory sites still rate it "kid friendly". The fact that NSFW content only appears later in the comic may have something to do with that.
  • VG Cats looks like a cutesy comic about two Funny Animal cats who go on adventures in various video games. Strong profanity is common and there is explicit sexual humor.
  • xkcd, even with the disclaimer at the bottom of its website, gets hit by this because there are people out there that think just because there are stick figures means it's safe for kids. This especially happens with the comic book "xkcd: volume 0".

    Other 
  • Netflix in the UK used to automatically give a G rating to anything that wasn't rated by the BBFC. This included Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rick and Morty and even It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. They eventually changed this so that they instead give generic "ALL", "GUIDANCE", "MATURE" and "ADULT" ratings. (With the shows mentioned getting "GUIDANCE", "MATURE" and "ADULT" ratings, respectively.)
  • Several stories on Not Always Right show that some parents believe "animation" automatically equals "suitable for children".
    • Ditto films about "superheroes" (read: Watchmen) or fairy tales (Pan's Labyrinth).
    • For everything said on the sister page about people in an adult Periphery Demographic who can't accept that some of the shows they like are for kids and will remain that way, it's worth noting that it cuts from both ends. You also have some Moral Guardians who see every show that isn't "kid-friendly" as an attack on children, rather than just for a different demographic.
  • A picture book for adults parodies "Goodnight Moon"-type children's books, and real parents' frustrations with children refusing to sleep; under the title "Go the Fuck to Sleep". (It's got cute illustrations of a mom and baby tiger.) Even funnier is the story one Amazon reviewer tells: she bought this book, and in her absence her husband picked it up, thought it was a children's book, and read it to their little son, censoring out all the bad words. It's now their son's favorite bedtime book. You can watch it here, as narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. This example turned into a subversion, though, when the author of Go the Fuck to Sleep released an amended version with all the bad words changed (entitled Seriously, Just Go to Sleep), so parents and little ones can enjoy it together.
  • At VidCon 2016, a game of Funemployednote  was played between Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, Emma Blackery, and Comicstorian. Before the game, Markiplier announced that they were not allowed to curse or scream during the game, to the annoyance of the other players. However, the group quickly found out that several cards were less child-friendly than any curses they could have been saying, as the cards mentioned things like "Uncontrollable Libidos" and "Wet Dreams".
  • Several Halloween costumes that many parents would not want little kids to be wearing.
  • Several Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards nominees are definitely not kid-friendly and some will wonder why they were nominated in the first place. Examples include countless PG-13 movies nominated for and won Favorite Movie and related movie awards over the years, The Simpsons and Twilight (both have been nominated several times before), and Markiplier, nominated in 2018 and 2019.
  • The American cable network ABC Family has run into this issue many times. Formerly a family-friendly channel originated by evangelist Pat Robertson, ABC bought the network and gave it the name ABC Family. An urban legend denied by the network is that the purchase agreement required the name "Family" to stay in the name of the network. And for a number of years, the programming on the network was considered family- and kid-friendly. As time went on, ABC Family started to attract criticism from parents and moral guardians over its airing of programming that was not considered family-friendly, either due to controversial subject matter or sexual content (Pretty Little Liars is one example). In 2015, the network announced it was rebranding as Freeform, which was indicated in media coverage as a sign the network was moving away from its family-friendly origins fully.
  • Back in The '80s, Tom Rubinitz, a gay art-film maker, made some incredibly silly and mind-screwy videos loaded with Double Entendre. His most famous being "Pickle Surprise". Years later, when it went viral, a family posted a home movie of one of their little ones who was utterly delighted with the silly Pickle Man and his antics and reciting a summary of the whole video note . It's precious but the child obviously did not grasp the point of the video or the raciness of the material note ...he just saw colorful silliness with bouncy music, a sparkly pickle man and sandwiches note .

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