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Subverted Kids Show / Western Animation

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  • The Ur-Example of western animation: Tex Avery MGM Cartoons, at the start of the Screwy Squirrel cartoon "Screwball Squirrel" we see a lovely forest scene and a cute squirrel picking up acorns. Then Screwy Squirrel appears and asks him what kind of picture this is going to be? The squirrel says it will be about him and his "cute, furry friends in the forest", whereupon Screwy groans "Oh, no, not that!" and takes him behind a tree where he beats him up.
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  • Many Hanna-Barbera cartoons turned into Adult Swim ones, such as Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law and Sealab 2021.
  • Also from Adult Swim, Moral Orel, which is based on Leave It to Beaver with the art style of Davey and Goliath.
  • The show Robot Chicken breathes and lives in this trope. It would take at least half a page to list children's shows that it "corrupted".
  • G.I. Joe: Resolute, that aired on Adult Swim, is a rather rare serious-minded example of this trope. To be more specific, it took the no-blood, nobody dies G.I. Joe and took things more seriously, named characters dying and Vipers being slaughtered by the dozens.
  • The Simpsons provides some in-universe examples:
    • The Itchy & Scratchy Show is a parody of cartoon violence, most notably from The Golden Age of Animation, by making it extremely gory in a way that would never be permitted on air for actual children in our universe. An episode had Marge and other mothers call out the show's content and demanding it to be overhauled into a non-violent, more kid-friendly version. It actually drove kids away from the TV and play outside, but by the end of the episode differences in media and art censorship led the show to return to its gory roots.
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    • Krusty the Clown tends to accidentally follow this trope. Usually he is seen smoking on air or making sarcastic comments about stuff, not caring about the children's well being. Then again, he does show Itchy and Scratchy...
      Krusty: Hey Hey, kids! Watch my show and I'll send you this book featuring me in a variety of sexually explicit positions.
      (Krusty is being dragged off by executives)
      Krusty: What? Hey! It's not really me; I used a stunt butt!
      • Bart even has the Krusty the Klown Home Pregnancy Test.note 
      • In the episode "White Christmas Blues", Krusty mentions that he's always drunk or high when The Itchy and Scratchy Show is on. When he finally watches an episode sober, he's horrified and kills the feed.
      • During his anniversary show, Krusty watches an old clip of him singing "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" by The Doors and is shocked.
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    • In "Blame It on Lisa", the family visits Brazil, where Marge asks Bart what he's watching on local TV (the material in question featured scantily clad women wearing tassels dancing around giant letters and costumed animals). Bart responds with "kids' show" (a parody of real life Brazilian children's series Xuxa).
    • The Happy Little Elves usually averts this, as it's intended to be a cheesy type of show with no subversive tone or content. During the production of The Simpsons's pilot episode, however, animation director Kent Butterworth somehow had the idea to have a bear graphically maul an elf. When the production cut of the episode was shown to the producers, needless to say, they were appalled with the bear scene and left it out of the finalized episode.
  • Family Guy will do this in their "cutaway gags", sometimes featuring kids shows and other material often associated with juvenile audiences.
    • One example would be Elmer Fudd not only successfully shooting Bugs Bunny (to bloody effect), but watching as the hare writhes in agony before snapping his neck.
    • Also, the time when Sesame Street and Homicide: Life on the Street melded together to bring something with graphic adult situations and brought to you by the letter H.
    • One of the most noticeable would be when the show had a Cold Open of Stewie destroying Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in a dream sequence. Even though the dream Rogers still got the last laugh, it's one of the few gags in the show's history that Seth MacFarlane has openly apologized for.
  • The pilot episode of the Black Dynamite animated series features a thinly-veiled parody of Sesame Street that had fallen into crime and disrepair, with the Kermit the Frog equivalent manipulating children to give him money.
    • Then Mister Rogers went insane from gangster-themed Executive Meddling and turned his last show into an Afrikaner Child Soldier gang holdout.
      Black Dynamite: How was I supposed to know the nicest, most friendliest man in the world, was actually a crazy psycho-maniac?!
  • The Beetlejuice episode "Uncle B.J.'s Roadhouse" was a parody of Pee-wee's Playhouse.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • There's the episode "Neighbor Hood", about a children's TV show host who entreats his young viewers to send the show "happy paper" from their parents' wallets to keep the show's stars alive and happy (a nod to what Soupy Sales pulled in the early 60s on his kids' show). This season 5 episode was originally planned for the first season but the staff feared a lawsuit from Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers' Neighborhood) as it paralleled his show a bit too closely. It was given to DC Comics as issue #7, "Remote Controlled," and then refurbished as this episode.
    • The original prototype short was this. "Whoopass Stew" was never meant to be a kids' show, yet is drawn in the same little girl show inspired style, with a kids show narrator, as the show proper. The show itself was going to be this, but since there's no equivalent to Adult Swim at the time, it became a kids show. Ostensibly, what with the violence and all.
  • Triptank is an animated Sketch Comedy show that loves pulling this with some sketches starting out rather harmless and cutesy and then someone gets slighted and...let's just say retribution ends in blood and death the majority of the time.
  • Rick and Morty:
    • The series does this in "Rixty Minutes", where interdimensional TV shows include a Lucky Charms parody commercial featuring zombie-like children gruesomely disemboweling the Lucky expy, and a somewhat cruder version of Garfield.
    • In "Total Rickall", an episode about parasites that plant memories in your mind to convince you to give them your trust to take over planets, Summer's imaginary friend, Tinkles, turns out to be an alien parasite. She is shot with a laser and turned into a dead alien.
  • South Park:
  • Pib and Pog is a Self-Parody by Aardman Animations (yes, those guys), featuring two cute claymation creatures in a pre-school children's show that rapidly descends into them committing tit-for-tat acts of graphic ultraviolence on each other.
  • Scooby-Doo of all shows has one in the form of ScoobyNatural. Despite the franchise having gone into dark places before, and having the same art style as some of the later entries, this is not a kid-friendly episode due to its swearing, and much gorier violence. The fact it's a crossover with the clearly adult Supernatural adds to this.
  • VH1 ILL-ustrated featured a spoof of the Nickelodeon show SpongeBob SquarePants called SpongeBong HempPants, which featured foul language and adult themes in addition to portraying SpongeBob as a green-skinned stoner.
  • Drawn Together revolves around Expies of (mostly) kid's cartoon characters being put on a reality show in the raunchiest situations you can think of.
  • Short-lived series What It's Like Being Alone is a claymation about an orphanage of rejected kids, with a lot of violence, drinking and swearing.
  • The Adult Swim pilot Pibby starts off looking like a typical saccharine preschool show, then a few seconds in is invaded by a Digital Abomination that consumes Cartoon Network and Hanna-Barbera characters and corrupts them into glitched monstrosities, whereas Pibby will learn what it means to grow up while teaming up with new friends along the way to save the world.