It's no secret that Cartoon Network's radar system has a lot of screws loose in terms of airing dubious content...and not just on their primetime-to-late-night [adult swim] line-up. Their daytime original programmingnote all proudly push the limits of their TV-Y7 rating, and their imported theatrical cartoon shorts collectionnote , despite most being Edited for Syndication, pushes the limits of their TV-G rating. As of 2010, however, most of their original programming airs with a TV-PG rating in an attempt to "age up" the programming and get more ratings from their Periphery Demographic (older kids and parents who watch cartoons with their kids for either Moral Guardian or nostalgia reasons), even though the TV-Y7 for fantasy violence (FV) rating still appears on some of their programming (mostly their syndicated shows, like Tom and Jerry Tales and Pokémon, but The Amazing World of Gumballnote , We Bare Bears, and the 2016 reboot of The Powerpuff Girls are the current exceptions).
Whether it's classic cartoons or original programming (both in the past and nownote ), Cartoon Network's shows work hard to smash the stereotype that cartoons are kids' stuff, and the examples below are shining examples of this.
- Adventure Time
- The Amazing World of Gumball
- Camp Lazlo
- Class of 3000
- Codename: Kids Next Door
- Courage the Cowardly Dog
- Cow and Chicken
- Dexter's Laboratory
- Ed, Edd n Eddy
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
- Generator Rex
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
- The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack
- OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes
- The Powerpuff Girls
- The Powerpuff Girls (2016)
- Regular Show
- Steven Universe
- Sym-Bionic Titan
- What A Cartoon! Show
- The show may not have had a long life on Cartoon Network (started June 2001; ended November 2003), but it left behind a glut of crap that got past the radar. Any given episode has one or more of the following:
- The near-constant references to The Larry 3000's ambiguous homosexuality. By the time season two rolled around, you had episodes like "Day of the Larrys" and "Ex Marks the Spot" that pretty much tossed ambiguity out the window.
- Drug humor (season one's "Eli Whitney's Flesh-Eating Mistake" and season two's "Pasteur Packs O'Punch" had Larry acting drunk; in "Betsy Ross Flies Her Freak Flag," Betsy Ross and George Washington's army all have red-rimmed eyes and act like stoners. On top of that, there was a strange, white cloud around the "Magical Farm Place Farm").
- Black Comedy, in the form of several instances of child abuse and neglect being played for laughs (Otto's life in the orphanage as seen in "Eli Whitney's Flesh Eating Mistake" and "Orphan Substitute," Otto getting left behind on the island on "Hate and Let Hate" for most of the episode, an unnamed child getting a piano dropped on him during his birthday party on "The Clownfather," and Otto getting injured while Tuddrussell tries to be like a father to him in "Father Figure of Our Country.")
- Phallic and oftentimes autoerotic innuendo (Tuddrussell's laser gun magazine folding out like a Playboy centerfold on "Kubla Khan't"), among other scenes involving Tuddrussell's guns (cf. "Hate and Let Hate," where Larry gets a Personality Swap after accidentally firing off one of Tuddrussell's guns).
- Freudian imagery that some viewers wouldn't notice the first time around
- Lines of dialogue that come off as rather...risque.
- Some racial/ethnic stereotyping (Larry saying the orphans looked cute with their "black faces" [which they got from mining coal] in "Orphan Substitute"; Atilla the Hun portrayed as a Mort Goldman-esque Jewish stereotype in "A Thrilla at Atilla's")
- Even a couple of the titles were iffy, particularly "To Hail With Caesar" and "Big Al's Big Secret".
- Ben 10: Alien Force:Julie: Well, I'd better hit the shower.
Ben: Me too. Uh- I mean, uh...
- In Albedo's debut episode,, we are treated to this delightful exchange between Kevin and Gwen while Ben and Albedo are battling:Gwen: Find something to touch!
Kevin: Huh? (confusedly reaches hand toward Gwen before realizing what she actually means) Oh.
- Just minutes before, Albedo rattles off a few downsides to being human (Ben specifically), ending with "scratching myself in places I suspect are inappropriate!"
- In another episode, the team is on the moon, using spacesuits originally meant for an Arachnichimp, meaning they have an extra set of arms.Kevin: What am I supposed to do with the extra arms?
Ben: You never used to have problems using your arms. That's what the girls say!
Kevin: Which girls?
- Also, Rath, an Apoplexian, has an unusually large middle claw which becomes even larger when he's angry.
- In the second season finale, Azmuth revealed the Highbreed are all inbred and sterile.
- In Albedo's debut episode,, we are treated to this delightful exchange between Kevin and Gwen while Ben and Albedo are battling:
- In Ultimate Alien, Zombozo and Kevin fight with mallets, with Zombozo declaring "Mine's BIGGER than yours!", and Kevin replying "It's not the size that matters, it's how you use it!"
- We got this gem in "Computer Games":Humongosaur: Um, one of my balls fell off.
- We got this gem in "Computer Games":
- While I Am Weasel was cut from the same cloth as Cow and Chicken, it was very light on dubious content. However, that isn't to say that the show was completely clean. The Red Guy from Cow and Chicken was still there and still had names that referred to his state of undress (Lance Sackless, Cleo-Pantless, Tallulah Bottoms, etc), the episode "I.R. Bush Pilot" has Weasel as an OB/GYN and a pilot (making the title one of the most sexual puns ever made on a Cartoon Network show that wasn't on [adult swim]), and "This Bridge Not Weasel Bridge" had a line about a worker who was coming home to his wife and the son he never knew he had (possibly because his wife had him with another man).
- Lampshaded in the episode "I.R. in Wrong Cartoon" where I.R. Baboon points out The Red Guy doesn't wear any pants and Weasel replies "Boy, the stuff they get away with in cartoons these day is just disgusting!"
- My Gym Partner's a Monkey had one right in the opening sequence!Adam: Going to this school is a pain in the-Jake: ADAM!Adam: What? I was going to say "neck".Jake: Oh, that's OK then.
- Though this one is probably a very minor case since the initial word the rhyming scheme implied was only "butt" (the preceding line was "... I don't know what.")
- In "Flesh Fur Fantasy", Windsor Gorilla had his classmates draw nude pics of him in a human costume.
- In "Animal School Musical", Adam gets hit in his "Lower stomach area" when it's pretty clear where the ball actually hit him. And later on, when Ingrid Giraffe starts forcefully kissing Henry Armadillo dressed as Adam, he says he feels funny in his "lower stomach area".
- The obscure Mike, Lu & Og has its own page here. For example, "Losing Lancelot" has Mike and Og going out on a boat to save Lancelot from sharks and Margery thinks the two are "too young to go out on a boat alone". Plus, we see Og run without his loincloth on in "Hot Couture" (though we only see his butt). Not to mention that the What A Cartoon pilot doesn't give backsides to Lu's bra and Og's loincloth.
- The nanoscopically short-lived series of shorts, Sunday Pants, might be seen as an example of the censors doing their job. However, twice, the word 'damn it' were shouted by characters, on prime time. It's arguable that the censors probably did this just for laughs and that the series was ending anyway. Since then, Sunday Pants has never been mentioned or even acknowledged by Cartoon Network.
- Ninjago - In the episode Snakebit, this happens literally: the second S in the "Ed n' Edna's Scrap and Junk" sign fails to light up for a moment. Wait for it...
- Robotomy! Far too many examples to list, but all you need to know is that the people behind ''Superjail!" worked on it and, despite some intervention from Standards and Practices, the show got away with a lot, mostly rude language ("sucks", "screwed," and "sexy" were said a few times), drug parallels (the "Field of Screams" episode had a performance-enhancing drug), mild sexual content (including one episode that featured a cross-dressed robot hooker), and over-the-top cartoon violence.
- Joey to the World sadly didn't get past the radar (in one of the rare times that Cartoon Network's censors actually did do a competent job at monitoring content — that wasn't found in a Looney Tunes cartoon). The Cartoonstitute short was credited as being "created by Cartoon Network", and they were putting it as a candidate for a comedy series...sadly, theories have it that the creator didn't know he was supposed to produce something for children, and the end result was something that would have had a nice home on [adult swim].
- A lot of animated commercials featured risque jokes:
Daphne: "His constant talking about double-d made me a little uncomfortable. *looks at chest* How am I supposed to compete with that?"
- In a promo featuring Ed from Ed, Edd n Eddy on a date with Daphne from Scooby-Doo, Ed keeps on mentioning how he loves Double D on his date. He's referring to his friend Edd but Daphne thinks he's talking about breasts.
- A Superfriends and The Powerpuff Girls crossover promo had Wonder Woman tell the girls "You girls are developing into quite the superheroes" after being rescued. Bubbles innocently replies with "Some day we'll be as developed as you!" Aquaman and Wonder Woman notice the Accidental Innuendo, and so do the villains as they begin laughing. Wonder Woman then covers her chest in embarrassment.
- Another Powerpuff Girls promo has Mojo Jojo confronting a real gorilla. When the gorilla stands up, Mojo comments with "It isn't fair. He gets all the girls!"
- For a while, there were a series of commercials called "Wonder Woman's Golden Lasso of Truth", where she would catch another cartoon character and have them reveal something about themselves, often with some kind of innuendo. For example, one time, she caught Shazzan who said, "My ears aren't the only things that are pierced". He then laughs. Another involved her catching Richie Rich, who said, "Money can very easily buy you love... and lots of it!", as he turns his face to reveal the other side is Covered in Kisses.