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  • Adventure Time: Past the post-apocalyptic backstory and severe psychological issues of many of the cast, the show is full of sexual innuendo, thinly veiled references to rape, murder, abuse, suicide, and genocide, and some viciously brutal violence. There are episodes with everything from dealing with a mentally ill loved one to abusive relationships, all wrapped up in the silly adventures of a boy and his dog, with innumerable serious, mature, or just horrifying themes slipped in without technically moving past what is appropriate for children. To a lesser extent, it also had stronger language than what's normal in kid's shows (words like "crotch", "fricking", "sexy" and "sucks" being common, especially in older episodes).
  • The Amazing World of Gumball has humour that's more accessible than some of the others on this page, but it still gets extremely dubious at times, containing scenes laden with sexual implications and violence. Besides having satire that's wouldn't be out-of-place on The Simpsons, there aren't many kids shows with a dead baby joke or characters constantly dying for a Running Gag.
  • The original Ben 10 series made heavy use of Bizarre Alien Biology to create characters with absolutely nightmarish designs, the sequels involved themes such as Nazi-esque attempts at genocide, powers with drug undertones and implied Serial Killers, and all four entries have at least one, if not multiple, cases of Vile Villain, Saccharine Show. By the time of Ultimate Alien, things had become so dark the writers decided to go Lighter and Softer in the next iteration in the franchise, as well as the reboot of the series in order to avoid making things too dark, but that didn't stop them from still having some dark moments, such as the destruction of the entire universe in Omniverse, the death of multiple Ben's also in Omniverse, and the evil Ben 10K's backstory in the reboot.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers could get shockingly dark at times for a show with such a Narmish concept. There are episodes centered around drug abuse (one of which has a character who overdoses and dies on-screen), gang violence (no less than four episodes), civil war, nuclear war, and AIDS. The show also wasn't afraid of showing graphic images of death and destruction.
  • Chowder is perhaps one of the few children's cartoons that averts Never Say "Die" For Laughs. The show can also sometimes contain Family-Unfriendly Violence.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog is packed to the gills with scary scenes, like the screamer girl from "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City", and the blue...trumpet...fetus thing from "Perfect". Probably the most controversial episode was "The Mask", where the villain was clearly a pimp who cruelly beat his two charges (who were as obvious a lesbian couple as could be shown on American's children's TV at the time). Also Katz, the most recurring villain of the show, is a thinly-veiled Serial Killer.
  • Cow and Chicken has a similar premise (and some of the same crew members) as The Ren & Stimpy Show and is almost as boundary-pushing as the aforementioned show, with stuff involving Chicken entering the girls bathroom and mistaking a tampon machine for a cigar dispenser, Cow stuffing toilet paper on her head to make her horns look bigger, and Cow receiving a note that says "I got crabs", complete with her pausing at the word crabs, and the infamous Banned Episode where Cow befriends a group of mannish-looking bikers who are heavily implied to be lesbians. Not to mention that one of the main characters was the devil, but they call him the "Red Guy" instead (though he was called "The Devil" on the pilot short "No Smoking"). He also has some risque names like "Officer Pantsoffski", "Ben Panced", "C.D. Heinie", "Lance Sackless", and the most suggestive, "Mrs. Beaver". The show also features some gender-bending between characters in addition to some Family-Unfriendly Violence and Black Comedy. And just like Johnny Bravo (see below), this was one of Seth MacFarlane's projects before Family Guy.
  • While every episode of Dexter's Laboratory has some adult jokes and/or content, it is suitable for children. "Rude Removal", though, is not, given the fact that it has censored swearing throughout and a rather unfriendly title card to boot.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy is a very good example of this. Despite the fact that every character on the show are children and/or preteens, it's still replete with enough adult humor to qualify for this, such as the episode with Eddy's magazines, and the Kankers "making love" to the Eds. It is also worth noting that the show is also created by the guy who made The Brothers Grunt and is more famous as an experimental animator of adult cartoons. note  The Movie also has quite a mature handling on Domestic Abuse with Eddy being beaten by his older brother that is not played for laughs and explicitly points out it's why Eddy behaves the way he does, which is surprising since this is a show that heavily features slapstick.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, unsurprisingly given its premise, lives off of Black Comedy, Family-Unfriendly Violence, more than a few instances of Demographically Inappropriate Humour (such as Irwin sucking a lemon to titillate Mandy), and disturbing imagery that makes Invader Zim look childish and tame in comparison. It's all Played for Laughs, but it can sometimes get disturbing nonetheless.
  • The setting of Infinity Train is essentially an otherworldly train that kidnaps anyone no matter their age and keeps them prisoner until they learn to improve as people, whether that takes weeks, months, or years. And don't expect to learn exactly how you're meant to improve, as you never learn why you were taken to begin with; you're expected to simply figure it out on your own. As for the plots themselves, they tackle everything from divorce and mourning the dead to identity and the worth of life, with the third season explicitly following the exploits of two cult leaders. Beyond the introspective themes the show is also rather jarringly violent. One episode in the second season outright involves a character being run over by the titular train and losing the lower half of his body, after which he spends the next few minutes dripping gore everywhere (although it isn't red) while admitting he's not long for this world, and is later killed outright by one of the protagonists. In the third season, which was moved to HBO Max perhaps for this reason, another unquestionably human character dies screaming while having the very flesh age off his bones with no discretion shot in sight. When talking about the possibility of a fourth season, the creator said it falling into this trope is one of the biggest issues execs have with the show.
  • Johnny Bravo is as goofy as most other Hanna-Barbara cartoons, but it's about an Elvis Presley-sounding Casanova Wannabe trying to score with women. Seth MacFarlane (the crown prince of black, cringe comedy) used to work on this show as a writer, so this should surprise no one.
  • There's an obscure series of shorts that aired on Cartoon Network called Ovni about an adorable alien who has adventures throughout various historical periods. Sounds innocent, right? Well, said alien typically dies multiple times in an episode complete with Alien Blood, and he doesn't die permanently because he instantly regenerates like a video game character.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: The series is meant for a young audience, and at first glance it really doesn't look like it's not. After a few episodes though, the large quantities of Surreal Horror, graphic Body Horror and dark humor were and still are more than a bit unnerving for its target demographic.
  • Over the Garden Wall is very dark for this network, with a villain that essentially embodies despair and possibly suicide, a shadowy being stalking two young children, hoping they'll give up so he can turn them into Edelwood trees and harvest their souls. It's stock full of Nightmare Fuel creatures that make even most Cartoon Network shows look tame.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): Word of God says it originally wasn't intended for kids (after all, its working title was The Whoop-Ass Girls), but the Animation Age Ghetto struck and he was forced to change it. The show itself is surprisingly violent given its artstyle, even having blood in some of the earlier episodes.
  • Regular Show. More sex jokes, frequent lethal use of weapons, and mild profanities ("crap", "sucks", even "pissed" note ) then you can shake a yardstick at. It's based on two short films creator J.G. Quintel made in animation school called "2 in the AM PM" and "The Naive Man from Lolliland", and while the latter is safe for family viewing (a single use of "hell" wouldn't faze most viewers), the former isn't — at least, by Cartoon Network's already selective standards. Finally paid off as by the 42nd Annie Awards it was put in the "General Audience" category along with The Simpsons and similar shows.
  • Robotomy has excessive violence, a lot of Comedic Sociopathy, some sexual innuendo, some mild swearing (mostly words like "crap," "sucks" or "screwed"). One of the show creators worked on Superjail! and it has the look and feel of a Superjail spin-off or companion show. The show was in fact so crude and violent no other station outside of the US wanted to air it, resulting in its very swift cancellation.
  • Samurai Jack was perhaps one of the darkest shows of its era in Cartoon Network, starting with the very fact that the villain is a malignant demon who turned the world into a bleak, dark, gloomy dystopia and commits genocide, carnage, presumed animal cruelty, torture (both physical and psychological) and slavery on a regular basis. And for a bonus, some episodes were entirely built around Nightmare Fuel; even the episodes not revolving around horror have scenes that are traumatic. Yup, it's frankly astounding it did not wind up in [adult swim] during its days. Ironically, the series' revival was aired on [adult swim], and their UK channel is posting clips of both the revival and the original series. The revived series could likewise fall under What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?.
  • Similar to Adventure Time, Steven Universe tackles many mature/darker themes once would not expect from a PG children's cartoon, like consent, toxic/unhealthy relationships, death, war, morality, guilt, self-hatred and self-esteem in general, and realistic mourning.
  • Sunday Pants was a short-lived anthology series and one of the network's first TV-PG rated originals. The show also had characters drinking (in one episode of Weighty Decisions, the angel claimed that the devil was drinking too much) and swearing (such as an episode where the angel says "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" and an instance in an IMP short where the titular imp says "dammit!" and "double dammit!"), which are most likely what led to its cancellation after a mere month on the air. No, this show did not air on [adult swim], but regular Cartoon Network.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan gets away with a fair amount of violence and an amazing amount of blatant fanservice, most memorably in Episode 10 when Kimmy does the "booty quake" dance to seduce Newton into doing her geometry test, with plenty of ass-shaking and bouncing, her dress strap falling off, and briefly pole dancing on a lamp.
  • Time Squad: On the outside, it was a funny, unassuming edutainment cartoon (that was more entertainment than education) about an orphaned history whiz taken in by a overly-macho time cop and his effeminate Robot Buddy to the future where, each episode, they go back in time to fix history. On the inside, it got away with adult jokes that were on par with Rocko's Modern Life, played up the Hilariously Abusive Childhood trope for laughs more than The Simpsons, and indulged in more homoerotic subtext than anything that Cartoon Network had aired at the time in the early 00's. All of this probably contributed to the 5am timeslot it got towards the tail end of its run.
  • While Transformers: Animated isn't as intense as Transformers: Prime below, it still dips into this territory. For starters, Megatron is now a much bigger threat in this continuity, and the first season establishes that not only is he a Manipulative Bastard toward Isaac Sumdac, but upon the restoration of his body, he delivers a powerful Curb-Stomp Battle to the Autobots and kills Starscream for his betrayal. In addition, the show features limb removal, violence (both on- and offscreen), an implied successful political assassination, Body Horror, torture, an Ax-Crazy prisoner who is after one of the main heroes, a deconstruction of questionable choices made by the heroes during the war, and Heroic Sacrifice. The show also doesn't shy away from killing off characters; in fact, in the Grand Finale, two of the main characters end up dead, and Word of God is that had a fourth season been greenlit, Ultra Magnus would have died of the injuries that Shockwave inflicted on him late in the third season.

  • The Season One climax for 101 Dalmatian Street, "The De Vil Wears Puppies", has Cruella return, seeking out her puppy fur coat again. It shows that Cruella is very abusive in her relationship to Hunter, in order to get him to do her bidding. What makes it especially dark is that she has a skinning machine which she intended to throw the puppies in, she uses Dawkins' doll to demonstrate to the puppies what it will do to them, and she tells Delilah & Doug that she is going to force them to watch her do this, before turning them into matching luggage.
  • Amphibia:
    • The series tends to have plethora of darker scenes and themes that continue to grow as the series progresses. Season 1 is tame in comparison, with a few things such as cannibalistic frogs, near-death experiences the main cast gets into, and more seriously, Sasha implying suicide when letting go of Anne's hand.
    • Seasons 2 and 3 is where things really get kicked up a notch. The blood and death imagery is more apparent, there's parental death and conflicts, themes of war, assassination attempts, and many more. What gets really worse is Andrias sending deadly weapons to Earth and the fact Anne, the Plantars and her family nearly die.
    • Then there's the events of both "True Colors" and "Olivia & Yunan". The former features Andrias attempting child murder by throwing Sprig out a window, trying to kill Polly for getting in the way, and the cherry on top: Stabbing Marcy. The latter is even worse somehow; there's the nightmare projection the characters suffer through, and the literal entire ending to the episode.
  • Big City Greens: The episode "Chipocalypse Now" has Chip Whistler and his Wholesome Squad coming this close to destroying the Greens' house and their legacy along with it, as well as a full-blown battleground. What really takes the cake of it is Chip going full-on psycho once he's banned from Big City, which almost culminated with him nearly killing Cricket and his whole family, and by chance, everyone who stuck up for them.
  • Big Hero 6: The Series:
    • Obake's suicide is quite dark. Then you remember it's a kid's show.
    • The scene where Karmi gets mutated into a monster seems straight out of a horror movie.
  • DuckTales (2017) is significantly darker than the original series. A few reasons why include the frequent use of black comedy, a frighteningly realistic depiction of emotionally abusive relationships with Magica forcing Lena to do her bidding, Donald and Scrooge being traumatized over Della Duck's supposed death and being very antagonistic to each other, and the violence is much more realistic.
    • In Season 2, Della Duck is revealed to have lost her leg when her spaceship crashed. Even worse, there's the implication that she had to cut off her own leg, since it was crushed underneath her ship, though no pain or blood is shown and she happily shows off her self-made prosthetic. In addition, viewers watch her grapple with 10 years of isolation on the moon, sending messages home that the audience knows her family never saw. Even after she gets home and happily reunites with her family, there are some subtle instances that her trauma from those events is still there.
    • In Season 3, "Fountain of the Foreverglades" featured the bad guy rapidly aging to death, a la Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and the family growing more fearful and paranoid after the reveal that F.O.W.L. was back and hiding in their midst.
  • In a similar vein to The Lion Guard (below), we have fellow Disney Junior series Elena of Avalor. While it definitely has enough light-hearted moments and happy endings (or endings where the positive elements are given more emphasis) to have it fit on the channel, it has a realistic take on trauma, the fact that the main antagonist succeeds in murdering Elena's parents, and its much tighter focus on serialized storytelling (its parent series, Sofia the First, has many of these elements, but they were more pronounced in later episodes and less in earlier ones). It's still definitely a children's series, but its subject matter is incredibly dark by the standards of a preschool series.
  • Gargoyles was Disney's first truly dark animated series, with surprisingly mature themes such as gun violence. In the first episode, Goliath performs an on-screen Bare-Handed Blade Block that leaves visible bleeding wounds on both palms. The episode primarily regarding Gun Violence hinged on explaining proper gun safety and pulled no punches as to what could happen even if a trained officer of the law was irresponsible with her service weapon (not storing it properly in this case). It likewise gave an excuse as to why the bad guys (and only them) have laser weapons, namely that they were stolen test weapons and were more military grade than police weapons grade and are more destructive and dangerous than service weapons (the series never once gave a police character a laser weapon as a service weapon).
  • Gravity Falls really stretches its TV-Y7 rating. The show is positively rife with Nightmare Fuel, bizarre imagery, and touches subject matter that is normally taboo in children's programming, whether it be for the sake of drama or for a joke. Adult jokes are prevalent and the show can get quite violent, compounded by the fact characters visibly shed blood in multiple episodes (though in the case of non-humans, it's not necessarily red). The show's characters are shown to be quite flawed for Disney protagonists as well; Stan and his brother are far from ideal role models and even Dipper and Mabel have engaged in unsavory behavior (although they usually learn from it). The show's a lot more mature than one would expect from it, especially considering it aired on Disney. The creators have joked about traumatizing children on occasion.
    • The series suffers from Serial Escalation as well. It started off as a relatively innocent cartoon about twins exploring an apparently sleepy city while staying at the tourist trap of their mysterious Grunkle Stan. Cue Season 2, which opened with the monsters being zombies, and then continues to evolve possessed brothers, a videogame girl wanting to keep Soos forever, a missing family member who's been traveling 30 years through different dimensions, dark pasts, Mabel losing hope and locking up in a Lotus-Eater Machine, and finally the end of the world.
    • Some specific scenes fall into this trope so thoroughly that they've been removed from some re-airings: the scene in Northwest Mansion Mystery where the animal heads on the walls start bleeding from their eyes and mouths and chanting "ANCIENT SINS", for instance.
    • The second season takes more liberties than the first season. The comedy is blacker, the jokes are crueler and there is notably more violence. The symbolic villain shift from Li'l Gideon to Bill Cipher is prominent.
    • Notably in regards to Nightmare Fuel, as of "Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future", the world has ended, an extra-dimensional demon-God has taken physical form, and the last thing we heard in the episode was the hysterical screams of the townsfolk as a dimensional rift to what is essentially Hell opened above them. In the next episode ("Weirdmageddon Part 1"), we find out that Dipper apparently went around during the apocalypse for three days without knowing if anyone he knew was still alive, a character gets the functions of all the orifices in his face rearranged (causing him to fall to the ground gurgling/screaming), and group of demons play a variation of Spin the Bottle called Spin the Person, where they spin a dead body and the spinner has to eat whomever it lands on.
  • Handy Manny is a preschool cartoon, but the episode "Felipe's New Job" had one of the main characters try to commit suicide. We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried.
    Felipe: Maybe Manny should just melt me down and use me for scrap metal.
  • Fans of The Lion Guard have debated on why it is classified as a preschool aimed show and why it has a Y rating ever since its premiere. None of the fans deny that it's for kids, but the fact that it's aimed at preschool kids is stunning, given that the violence is sometimes a tad unfriendly to that target audience. There are some suggestive jokes, and we even see a dead body (which, although this happened in the movies it's based on as well, is still unusual), along with some of the Aesops being quite mature for children of that age. Overall, it's often agreed that the show would be better off with a TV-Y7 rating. Season 2 has Scar return from the dead, resulting in more blatant attempts to kill entire herds, multiple locations are turned to ash, and several major characters nearly wind up dead. Season 3 almost completely kicks the show out of typical preschool cartoon territory, as the opener has Kion explicitly bleeding, Ono loses his eyesight, Ushari burns to death, and Kion gets infected with a venom that causes him to start wrestling quite clearly with his darker instincts, along with the fact that, given this is a midquel for Simba's Pride that they do not appear in, guarantees the Guard does not come back, albeit due to voluntarily disbanding.
  • It's easy to forget, despite the horror-comedy (and sometimes outright horror) premise, themes, and audience generally skewing older, that The Owl House technically has a TV-Y7 rating. Some of the subject matter and themes the show tackles includes the trauma and effects of parental abuse, allegories for chronic illness, and the consequences and damage of cults, among many others. A lot of characters are also shown to have Dark and Troubled Past(s) and mental health issues, all of which are played straight if not outright Played for Horror, with Hunter specifically having multiple severe and extremely realistic panic attacks onscreen, and Luz falling into a deep depression that's implied to border on suicidal and is treated just as seriously.
    • The Reveal in "Hollow Mind" that Emperor Belos is a Witch Hunter named Philip Wittebane, and that the Day of Unity he's planning is a whole witch genocide, regardless of anyone's ages. It's also revealed that Philip likely murdered his brother, Caleb, due to him having a relationship with a witch, and that Hunter is the latest in a long line of clones of Caleb that Belos made to serve as his Golden Guards, all of whom were murdered after they found out the truth for themselves. After learning this, Hunter brokenly asks Belos what he did to his family, prompting Belos to declare Hunter a lost cause and try to kill him as well.
    • "King's Tide" is downright horrifying, as it shows everyone in the Boiling Isles suffering and slowly dying as the Draining Spell kills them, Amity having to abandon her father -not knowing if he will live-, King wandering through a cavern filled with the skeletons and masks of previous Golden Guards, Raine being forced to tear off Eda's arm, Belos mutating into a monster after Luz brands him, plus his eerily realistic attempt at manipulating Hunter and gruesome death at The Collector's hands followed by the kids forced to escape through the portal when King pulls a heroic sacrifice and arriving at Camila's injured and traumatized.
    • "Thanks to Them" takes it even further. As hinted at the end of the previous episode, Belos is revealed to be Not Quite Dead, with a piece of his remains having made it through to the Human Realm with the kids completely unaware, and possessing different animals until they are reduced to skeletons. Then he possesses Hunter through a tiny cut in his finger, complete with Body Horror, as well as causing him to mortally wound Flapjack, Hunter's Palisman and first real friend. The damage to Hunter's body afterwards is so severe that he almost dies, and only survives because Flapjack uses the last of his life to save him, and even then he is left with scars all over him. Keep in mind that he is still just a teenager. It also portrays Luz's depression over almost causing everyone's deaths by unwittingly helping Belos' past self as disturbingly realistic, with her at one point mentioning during a school class that if the hero makes so many mistakes then everyone would be better off without them, clearly projecting her own issues, which seems very similar to suicidal thoughts.
  • Pickle and Peanut, like Gravity Falls, really stretches its TV-Y7 rating, with lots of moments that are right on par with Cartoon Network's Regular Show. For instance, in the first episode, they get away with saying "skinny dipping". That alone makes you wonder how Disney could allow this show to air on their network.
  • Many parents believe that PJ Masks does not belong on Disney Junior due to the occasional acts of physical violence and the characters often calling their enemies' names (both of which are rarely seen in preschool cartoons), which they believe shouldn't be copied by the target audience.
  • Sofia the First eventually plays this straight in the series finale, "Forever Royal". The standout elements include the revelation that Sofia's father died at sea, and King Roland's wish for a family caused Queen Lorelei to die since her body couldn't handle it, Vor possessing the more sympathetic villain Prisma to do her bidding and being the first antagonist to actively try to murder Sofia, a scene that (from the parents' perspective) looks like Sofia is trying to commit suicide even though she's just trying to escape the boat with Amber and Minimus, and to top it off, Vor's death that's not too dissimilar to the Earth Queen's death on The Legend of Korra. This was still rated TV-Y by the way.
  • Daron Nefcy's Star vs. the Forces of Evil takes a similar route as Gravity Falls, starting out as a sugar-coated parody of the Magical Girl genre. By the second season it's started to become far darker though, with similar points made by the former; discussing Racism, Demonic Possession and deals with the devil, toxic relationships (with a boy who's literally the Prince of Hell), and a plethora of examples of Vile Villain, Saccharine Show.
    • Resident Knight of Cerebus Toffee takes the cake, being up there with cartoon villains such as The Lich, Him, Aku, and Bill Cipher in terms of how seriously he is portrayed. Crimes include murdering Queen Moons mother in cold blood and during the signing of the Monster/Mewman treaty no less, threatened to crush Marco to death if Star didn't destroy her wand, possessed Ludo, turns Mewni into an even bigger crapsack world than it already was, and has a thing for dressing in the bones of what seem to be dead Mewmans. His death is, while fitting, hardly anything better.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars was initially criticized for being too kid-friendly. It more than made up for it from the end of the first season and beyond. Brutal depictions of War Is Hell, Family Unfriendly Deaths, and a good amount of morally questionable moves by the traditional heroes turned it into one of the most fearless family-friendly animated programs in recent memory. A few early episodes included mild profanity in their initial broadcasts, though this was caught and bowdlerised for later airings. And once Maul finally makes his return, all bets are off.
  • Star Wars Rebels, in the same vein of Star Wars The Clone Wars. Some fans thought, based upon the early trailers, the character shorts released on YouTube and partially just because the show was produced by Disney, that it was going for a Lighter and Softer direction to the point it might become Denser and Wackier. Instead, it got Darker and Edgier as the first season progressed and when Tarkin showed up it got really dark, to the point of the trope question being sometimes asked without irony and a few complaints that some of the content really does exceed the show's TV-Y7 rating. The second season kicked off with Darth Vader rolling into town and reminding everyone why he is the terrifying ultimate badass of the Star Wars Universe. Then it introduced two new Inquisitors, both of whom are real pieces of work. And guess what? This show does not shy away from tropes like The Bad Guy Wins. Then there's the final episode of the second season, in which a much-loved supporting character performs a Heroic Sacrifice and (possibly) dies, not to mention the return of Darth Maul himself, who kills the female Inquisitor in a very violent way and slices off Kanan's eyes with a lightsaber.
  • In TRON: Uprising, the Programs' unusual way of dying (shattering into little decaying cubes) allowed them to get away with stuff that would definitely exceed the Y-7 rating otherwise. At least Once per Episode, someone ends up being smashed into cubes in some horrible way (shot, impaled, one Program bisected at the waist and still trying to crawl before "bleeding out"). We see Tesler's troops commit mass murder in a hospital. There's also the Iso genocide, nasty brainwashing, The Game Grid, and plenty of Cold-Blooded Torture (Dyson took a buzzsaw to Tron's face). Add a Big Good that is Covered in Scars, deeply messed up psychologically, and almost kills his apprentice for trying to talk him out of revenge. It's saying something when the animated series makes the discredited first-person shooter look downright fluffy by comparison.
  • Wander over Yonder just like The Powerpuff Girls (1998) has lots of risque humor and some black comedy in it including Wander playing spin the bottle with Lord Hater, Captain Awesome saying he’s going to take Lord Hater down to “Awesome Town” and then pointing at his crotch, and Peepers slicing open and killing a plant monster using the point on top of his helmet. It can also get surprisingly dark in decidedly non-comedic ways at times. The main villain Lord Dominator tries to slice through Sylvia with a giant power drill and make Wander watch as she tries to murder his best friend.

    First-Run Syndication 
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers has genocide, on-screen death, a Dating Catwoman (or at least shagging her) situation in "Renegade Rangers", slavery, torture, massive aversions of Never Say "Die" (with the on-screen body count to back it up)... even Robert Mandell admits the show's writing "flew over the heads of six year olds."
  • Several episodes of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, including the ones about prison (which had swear words in the original version; the new version censors the swear words) and gang violence (which had a young boy get killed in the crossfire of a gang war), had material that many parents would probably not want their kids to watch, at least alone. There was even an episode about a teen mother, which didn't go into detail about how babies were made. Parents were likely supposed to talk with their kids about sex and avoiding teen parenthood. Another episode dealt with STDs, and a doctor even mentioned a couple of the diseases by name. The same episode also had mentions of sexual intercourse, and Bill Cosby told the viewers that those words were something they should ask their parents about. Few kids' shows out there touch such heavy topics. In the Double Cross episode, George and his gang were clearly White Supremacists. Near the end of the episode, he launched into a blunt tirade explicitly condemning Latinos, Jews, Catholics, Italians, Asians, and Blacks. Fat Albert also visits Mudfoot and a Rabbi who tells him about the Nazis, Antisemitism, and the Holocaust.
  • Inhumanoids, a Merchandise-Driven horror series about monsters from Hell — we mean, "the fiery depths of the earth where nightmares begin" — attacking humanity. It was basically a Lovecraft Lite cartoon aimed, nominally, at kids, despite featuring dismemberments, people dying constantly, some turning into zombies and some gruesome imagery. The monsters, in particular, were very horrid, and one of the three main monsters called Tendril looked quite similar to Cthulhu.
  • Jem begins with the funeral of the main character's father and not too long later their foster home full of little girls gets bombed. Despite being aimed at little girls and being made to advertise toys, Jem featured many dark and mature themes. Infidelity, drug use, abusive parents, parental abandonment, suicide, depression... That's even ignoring the fact the characters are put in life-and-death situations essentially every episode. The creator wanted to push the envelope more, but the show was Screwed by the Merchandise and cancelled after three seasons.

    The Hub/Discovery Family 
  • Dan Vs. is a Black Comedy that would likely feel more at home on Adult Swim or Fox with the occasional themes of marital problems and murder (even rape) and a Heroic Comedic Sociopath as the protagonist. Yet swearingnote  and bloodnote  are non-existent in the show. That being said, Dan Vs. originated as a live-action adult sitcom, and was actually pitched to Adult Swim at first.
  • Transformers: Prime was touted by a director as "an adult Transformers series [he] wanted to make". When you get down to it, it's a miracle they got by with the main combatants all being robots, as this series features a number of themes on War Is Hell and would be pretty graphic if done with people. Other events and themes include kidnapping via internet spying, the Death of a Child almost occurring, references to chemical warfare, named characters being dissected or beaten to death by a protagonist's bare hands, Starscream facing brutal beatdowns on the hands of Megatron, and other serious issues like drug abuse or suicide via Heroic Sacrifice.

  • Following the premise of Centaurworld's first season, many noted how there's several... questionable things that happen in the series such as how the Mysterious Woman killed a ladybug centaur to use its blood as paint, Glendale's kleptomaniac behavior and her history with the law, a Very Special Episode discussing suicide, the Nowhere King's appearance, Wammawink's softcore merman magazine collection, and many, many more. Against all odds, it scored only a TV-Y7 rating.
  • The Dragon Prince takes place in a fantasy world where the characters have Grey-and-Gray Morality, one of the leads is a Child Soldier, and at least a few instances where blood is shown onscreen, yet it still has a TV-Y7-FV rating. note 
  • Kulipari: An Army of Frogs is a Netflix exclusive title with a TV-Y7-FV rating, yet there are a lot of depictions of violence, war, and death as a lot of the recurring characters were killed in the first season, not to mention the lack of clothing that the male frogs had.
  • One has to wonder if kids are even on the mind of the showrunners of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power given how dark and mature the show can get. Things like child abuse, death, post-traumatic stress disorder, and war crimes are played completely straight and explored in great detail. The psychological horror of season 4 is very intense for a "kids" show.
  • Super Giant Robot Brothers! somehow got away with Death as Comedy courtesy of reporters, civilians and other extra characters and even mild swear words such as "crap" and "screwed" (such as an instance of Shiny nearly swearing in episode 3 until being cut off by his creator and saying that he was going to say "shiz" instead).
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender definitely stretches its TV-Y7-FV rating, which isn't surprising considering the creators' previous works. It has scenes of torture (with one of the characters it happened to getting PTSD as a result), a surprising amount of violence that only passes because there is no onscreen blood, and quite a few side characters who die, some of those deaths being onscreen.

  • As Told by Ginger, especially compared to other Klasky-Csupo works, this cartoon delves into considerably more mature and deep topics. It's aimed at the middle school audience. The show deals with preteen and teenage issues in a frank and understanding way.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Avatar: The Last Airbender is a show about a war that has lasted for a hundred years, tearing apart families and nations and was begun with the genocide of an entire people. The protagonist, the 12-year-old last survivor of said people, assembles a team of Child Soldiers and trains to overthrow the Evil Overlord (who happens to be a shockingly abusive parent) that seeks to subjugate or kill anyone who isn't Fire Nation. The abuse of the 16-year old Starter Villain by his father, the aforementioned Evil Overlord, is depicted with very few punches pulled and always Played for Drama, with the physical mark of his abuse always visible and the psychological effects on him thoroughly explored. And the "Southern Raiders" episode in general, for its portrayal of war crimes, murder, revenge, and forgiveness, which doesn't go the way one might expect.
    • The Legend of Korra is a weird example because its content limitations are its biggest concession to its kid audience... and that's not saying much, given how disturbing its violence can get. Its characters have, at various points, committed Murder-Suicide, had a spirit ripped out of their eyes and throat, been graphically suffocated on-screen, accidentally blown off their own head, suffered mercury poisoning, been electrocuted to death, and crushed by a mecha, but that's not what makes it seem like the kid audience was an afterthought. Instead, the themes are what really makes it feel like adults and teenagers were the real target — not only does it tackle such controversial topics as child abuse, social inequality, terrorism and the less-than-helpful totalitarian governmental responses it can spark, anarchy and the dangers of revolution, political assassination (including depicting a successful one) and depression, it also gives a ton of focus to the 50-year-olds in its cast and their mid-life family issues. There isn't even a real kid perspective, because Korra's much more of a young adult than a teenager. She starts the show at 17 and ends it at 21. The only child characters in the show are Tenzin's oldest three kids because in this Generational Saga, all of the characters from the original show's grandkids are in Korra's age range or older. note  Even out of Tenzin's kids, Jinora (the oldest) is the only really prominent character out of the bunch.
  • CatDog looks pretty tame at first, as it didn't have quite as much demographically inappropriate humour as other Nicktoons of its time. However, it was also a pretty violent show with some very disturbing imagery, on top of nearing Family Guy levels of Sadist Show.
  • Danny Phantom not only breaks the Never Say "Die" rule, but many of the show's antagonists actively attempt to kill major characters, sometimes in the most disturbing ways possible, and in one episode it actually happens. There are copious amounts of Body Horror, and the motivation of the Big Bad is based around an unhealthy, stalker-like obsession with a married woman.
  • Hey Arnold!. The show features adult themes like an overkill (by Nickelodeon standards) of cursing and one of the darkest backstories of any main Nickelodeon character at the time (Helga, who is considered The Un-Favourite in her family in favor of her Stepford Smiler sister, has a verbally abusive father, and a mother who is clearly a depressed alcoholic).
  • Invader Zim was more grotesque than most of Nick's other works, featured things like children summoning demons and a disturbing amount of body horror (including one kid getting his eyes plucked out), and was created by a man who wrote a comic series about a homicidal maniac. It's kind of in between this and its sister trope, very clearly meant for a young teen audience, but for whatever reason Nick shoehorned it in a block that was otherwise targeted at a different demographic that the show was completely inappropriate for. That said, it's still questionable for even the intended demographic - while it's toned down from JCV's comics, it's basically a hair away from Squee in terms of content, which is very solidly meant for adults.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: While not as dark as say Invader Zim or inappropriate as most 90s Nicktoons, the show frequently averts Never Say "Die", the main robot character frequently gets destroyed to the point of Body Horror, and there is a lot of adult humor in the show, such as sex jokes and references to classic sci-fi and pop-culture none of its target audience would get. Plus, some of the villains range from a blatant communist (the episode he's from includes the hammer and sickle symbol in the title) to a gang of fishwomen that resemble dominatrices to a depressed group of dumped loners who has a member with a visible noose on his neck after an implied failed suicide attempt.
  • Pig Goat Banana Cricket: It's basically The Ren and Stimpy Show for a new generation, containing varying levels of Family-Unfriendly Violence, Black Comedy, and censor-dodging. Though it's a fairly tame example of this compared to some of its fellow shows.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show was the Trope Codifier for Grossout Show and was filled to the brim with horrifying Gross Up Close Ups, Family-Unfriendly Violencenote , and sexual references, yet was one Nickelodeon's flagship series. At one point, they even had a song about being hanged!
  • Rocko's Modern Life, while tame compared to Ren & Stimpy, still has its moments. Social satire runs rampant throughout the series, some of the adult humor is flat out extreme and ridiculous (going as far as showing Rocko working at a sex hotline), a few of its worst innuendos got banned from even the DVDs, the episode "Leap Frogs" was banned for being too sexually sleazy, there were two episodes (one of which was also banned) that revolved around Heffer going to Hell (albeit referred to as "Heck"), a lot of crazy and disturbing stuff happens in general, there is often serious abuse going on between characters, and the theme song shows what a sick mockery Rocko's childhood was. Not to mention that it could get pretty violent (such as a scene where a bull's arms fall off while lifting weights, with blood and meat coming out of them).
  • Sanjay and Craig takes full advantage of the Gross-Up Close-Up whenever possible (though this was toned down in the second season). The show seems to love Black Comedy jokes as well, one of which implies that Craig, an anthropomorphic snake, ate a hamster's family.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: There's a huge amount of disgusting violence (most notably from episodes like "The Splinter" and the infamous toenail scene from "House Fancy") and Nightmare Fuel, especially in the seasons between the first and second movies, as well as all kinds of dirty references ("Patrick, your genius is showing!" "Where?!"), SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs thinking they murdered the health inspector and trying to hide the body from police (It Makes Sense in Context), and SpongeBob and Patrick raising a child like a married couple in one episode.
    • Even among all this, three episodes in particular- "One Coarse Meal", "Demolition Doofus", and "Ink Lemonade" - really stand out and seriously make you question how any of it was allowed on a show aimed at children. The actual plots of these episodes, respectively and without exaggeration, are "Mr. Krabs discovers that Plankton is terrified of whales since he thinks they eat plankton, so he dresses up like Pearl and psychologically torments Plankton to the point that he attempts to get run over", "SpongeBob injures Mrs. Puff so badly that she ends up with a ruptured inflation sac (i.e. is permanently disfigured) and, in a fit of insanity, tries to actively murder Spongebob," and "Patrick engages in increasingly disgusting and violent ways of tormenting Squidward so he can make lemonade with his bodily fluidsnote ."

    PBS Kids 
  • On Wild Kratts, so far, we've heard talk of cannibalism, seen a Secretary bird kill a snake (complete with minor blood spillage), saw a coyote marking Martin-the-Tree as his territory (although we just saw the wet spot and not the genitals nor the stream), seen animals frozen alive with full consciousness still intact, saw T-Devils eating an ambiguous dead thing… are we sure this is on PBS? The brothers actually ended up naked in one scene, though their modesty was covered up by gigantic leaves.
  • Liberty's Kids covers topics such as war, and several characters are killed off, including one of the main character's cousins. It also has no qualms with covering slavery, with one of the main characters being a former slave.
  • Redwall is based off the books of the same name — but shies away from virtually none of the Family-Unfriendly Violence that makes its source material so infamous (see its entry under Literature for more details on the books), instead simply hiding behind Gory Discretion Shots and Bloodless Carnage to obscure characters being tortured, maimed, stabbed, and killed in a variety of awful ways with the deaths of named characters in almost every episode. Even then, the show didn't always employ its discretion shots; characters were shot dead with arrows and stabbed fully onscreen numerous times (the bloody aftermath of Cheesethief's death and Badrang being gutted with Martin's sword being just two instances of this) and even threw in a few moments of gratuitous cursing in the first season that wasn't even in the source material.
    • What makes this even more astonishing is the fact that Redwall aired on PBS at all. While it can be argued that shows like Wild Kratts and Liberty's Kids have to cover some disturbing topics as a result of their educational subject matter (i.e. the unsavory aspects of American history, the sometimes violent and scary parts of nature), Redwall doesn't. In fact, it's one of the few—if not the only— non-educational cartoons ever to air on PBS (though it is believed that it did have a slight aesop of Reading Is Cool, thus allowing it a free pass). Given PBS's normal aversion to violence in its cartoons, it's odd that this would be the exception.
  • Some early episodes of Adventures from the Book of Virtues contain mild violence and even murder. Yes, this is a PBS show.
  • Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum and its accompanying book series Ordinary People Change the World can slip into this territory at times due to covering topics not a lot of other preschool shows/books do such as racismnote , slaverynote , sexismnote , war,note  etc, to the point where Moral Guardians and Heteronormative Crusaders deemed the series inappropriate for kids. Also, in the I Am Madam President special, Berby dies and drifts off into space. You read that right, a PBS Kids show killed off one of its main characters. She did come back though.

Canadian animation targeted toward kids falls into this category from time to time, due to Values Dissonance between Canada and its southern neighbour. While the dissonance usually comes in the form of Canadian kids' cartoons being allowed to use very light curse words (like "crap" and "suck") and more crass material that would probably get an American cartoon pulled off the airwaves (including Demographically Inappropriate Humour), these examples get much more intense than that.
  • 6teen has casual (if mild) swearing, frequently mentions sex, has a running gag in an episode where Jonesy made a clay bowl that resembles a breast (with characters mockingly calling it the "Boob Bowl"), an entire episode dedicated to the girls having their first periods (all Played for Laughs), an adult gay cowboy trying to date Jonesy, an entire episode where Nikki wears a tag that reads "ASS MAN" when being an assistant manager (they call her out on it constantly), and a 45 minute long Zombie Apocalypse episode that plays it completely straight (there's no blood and it's a comedy, but they're not shy about the death and horror aspect either). It got a G rating in Canada, while it was heavily mangled and censored by PopGirl in the UK and Cartoon Network in the US. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the creators of this series would go on to create Total Drama.
  • Angela Anaconda, despite airing on a kid's channel and having kids as the main characters, isn't kid-friendly considering that Angela's imagination spots are very sadistic and sociopathic even by kid's show standards and there was even an episode where Angela and her friends try to spy on their teacher when they find out that she and her husband were nudists.
  • Carl²: Although the show aired on a kid's channel it contains inappropriate and rather suggestive humor with one episode where Carl swears at his enemies in an intercom when he thinks that it's the last day on earth and another episode where Carl drinks a bottle of piss after mistaking it for a bottle of lemonade.
  • Fred's Head puts nearly all the others here to shame with things like swearing, handling of mature situations outright, and other non-kid friendly material. Unsurprisingly, the show wasn't renewed for a second season.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes is a Black Comedy cartoon with the implication that its setting, Miseryville, is Hell, as seen through the demonic populace, the heat and lava everywhere, and the usage of misery as a euphemism for eternal damnation. The setting being Hell would have been outright stated, too, had the creators had their way, but you still have to wonder what sort of twisted mind would try to make a show about Hell for a kids channel.
  • Pig City contains very questionable and rather suggestive humor and jokes with one episode involving the characters mistaking a piece of crap as a meteorite and another episode where they go inside a train and one of the pig's pants flies off and we see his buttcrack. A character in the first episode also calls someone a "retard".
  • Rescue Heroes was based off a preschool-aimed toyline by Fisher-Price but deals with serious situations such as house fires, extreme weather conditions, and many, many other major emergencies that you couldn't possibly try to tell a preschooler about.
  • Silverwing was a kids' show, but was based off a young adult novel, and there's pretty heavy themes such as death and racial persecution, plus "guano" is used as a stand-in word for "shit" at least once.
  • Fresh TV's third series Stōked aired on a kid's channel (i.e. Teletoon) despite the fact that the show contains crude sexual references and nudity. And yet despite the inappropriate and rather suggestive content, the show was rated G in Canada.
  • Supernoobs: At first glance, this show does look and seem innocent with its light tone and setting and has a U.S TV rating of TV-Y7-FV. However, the show features a lot of violent battles in almost every episode not to mention a lot of Nightmare Fuel. The starting premise even has a group of kids accidentally dragged into an intergalactic war and fight in it. In addition, there are references to war, murder, genocide, and bioterrorism laced all over the show (and the main alien characters are implied to be suffering from PTSD).
  • It's almost unbelievable that Total Drama is from a children's channel, with all of its swearing (some bleeped, some not), sexual references and nudity (both male and female), and the fact that all the campers are underage and yet act and sometimes even look just like adults. And even despite all of that, it got a G rating in Canada.
  • Total DramaRama, despite being a Lighter and Softer spin-off of Total Drama, still contains dark and suggestive content like its parent series with one of the running gags being Cody dying or getting injured in nearly every episode he appears in and another episode involving a creepy and pervy middle-aged fairy called the Fart Fairy who asks all of the kids if he can smell their farts.
  • Toad Patrol. Every year, toad children have to go through a rite of passage of sorts. They have to brave several dangers, including various predators, to reach a magical portal before the end of summer. If they don't? They turn into toadstools for (supposedly) all eternity! This was a show that was made for younger kids.

    Warner Bros. 
  • 2 Stupid Dogs, despite ostensibly being aimed at children, features a strip club ("Door Jam"), incestuous make outs (The Brady Bunch parody in "Family Values"), teens "rocking" the backseats of their cars ("At the Drive-In"), and a depiction of the female reproductive system ("Scirocco Mole"). Even more surprising that it was created by Hanna-Barbera, whose name is synonymous with safe, kid-friendly cartoons.
  • Animaniacs (and its brethren Tiny Toon Adventures, Freakazoid!, Histeria!, Taz-Mania, and even non–Warner-produced Earthworm Jim) gets this a lot, with its near-ubiquitous use of demographically inappropriate and social humor. It's a completely different show through an adult lens, as many current adults who first saw it as kids in the '90s can attest. The Minerva Mink shorts in particular fell squarely under this, with all the blatant Fanservice they got away with. Unsurprisingly, they only produced two shorts featuring her out of concerns that she would attract Rule 34 (which she did anyway).
    • The 2020 reboot also fits here comfortably. Just like the old show, the show is full of hidden sexual humor and biting satire (perhaps even more so, since Hulu is more lax than Fox Kids or Kids' WB! regarding content). Actual swearing isn't unheard of, either; "hell" has been used more than once. There's a reason why it's rated TV-PG this time around. Season 2 takes it even further; it includes a passing mention of incest, has Pinky commit murder (albeit unintentionally), Julia's twisted mind in general, a character slowly dying on-screen, the Warners themselves dying at the end of three episodes, and no sugarcoating on slavery and genocide.
  • The entire DC Animated Universe. While technically meant for kids, the DCAU from the very beginning had been just as popular with teens and adults due to the good action, clever writing, interconnected story, partial comic book accuracy, multi-series continuity, surprisingly dark themes, great animation, excellent art style, and generally taking its audience seriously. Many Cartoon Network DC shows have yet to live up to it (apart from maybe Young Justice (2010)) due to being much more kid-friendly. Fortunately, this was very likely why the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line was launched, which was made as the Spiritual Successor to the DCAU (especially the DC Animated Movie Universe), and caters specifically to that Periphery Demographic, and their old demographic as adults, with a Darker and Edgier yet still well-done style to match. However, Lobo (Webseries) and Harley Quinn (2019) avert it all for adults-only cartoons with strong profanity, sexual humor and graphic violence.
  • Justice League and its successor Justice League Unlimited were the last shows to be created for the DC Animated Universe, and its creators must have just thought "fuck it" and decided to try and get away with as much as humanly possible, especially when Unlimited was put on the Saturday night Toonami block, which at the time was still technically a children's programming block. There were vague allusions to people having sex, having sex behind some boxes, phone sex, human women having sex with gorilla men, skimpier costumes for the ladies and other people commenting on them, innuendos about impotence and Hide Your Lesbians, a villain eating oysters very suggestively, Green Arrow and Black Canary really getting into wrestling each other, an intentionally uncomfortable You Are a Credit to Your Race comment, and implied violence like Superman murdering Lex Luthor with his Eye Beams.
  • Looney Tunes Cartoons is considerably Bloodier and Gorier than the originals, which were largely blood-free despite their heavy slapsticknote . Highlights include incredibly detailed organs being stuffed into a mummy's mouth (and said mummy throwing them back up), Bugs deflating into a horrific abomination, the incredibly detailed animation of Gossamer's foot, and numerous other scenes of Family-Unfriendly Violence. This does make sense, however. Looney Tunes was never explicitly made as a children's series in the first place and was probably as comparatively violent as this one is to audiences in the 40's and 50's.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: Unlike its contemporaries, it doesn't have much salty language (aside from Yosemite Sam saying "this blows" in the episode "Newspaper Thief"). But gun violence is often used (a B-plot in one episode is about Yosemite Sam being so reckless with guns that he made a petition to get them back), censor-dodging happens often, an entire episode is dedicated to Bugs Bunny suffering a drug addiction (albeit Played for Laughs), there can be a surprising amount of Fanservice (especially in "Casa de Calma"), and then we have a lot of Lola's behavior.
  • While somewhat cleaner than the magazine, MAD is nonetheless filled to the brim with Demographically Inappropriate Humour (with frequent sexual humor and actual swearing; the fourth episode actually had bleeped usage of "fuck" during the "Rejected Toy Story Characters" skit), jokes involving popular characters being severely injured/killed, and the like. It's a wonder that Cartoon Network aired the show uncensored, let alone for four seasons.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is pretty much Scooby-Doo if it wasn't so campy and 1960s. Despite being rated TV-Y7-FV, the show includes moments of death, extreme violence, Black Comedy, and the season one Big Bad being revealed to have kidnapped Fred from his birth parents and threatening to harm him if they ever came back for him. To make things crazier, the Greater-Scope Villain is an Eldritch Abomination that the gang had to kill in order to save the universe. Not to mention an abnormally high amount of Stuff Blowing Up very realistically, up to the point where near the end of the series, roughly half of Crystal Cove is gone.
  • On the whole, Teen Titans (2003) is pretty kid-friendly overall, but it does have moments of this at times with storylines involving the end of the world, blackmail when Slade threatens to kill the Teen Titans unless Robin becomes his apprentice, a few instances of Mind Rape, and some frightening imagery.
  • Teen Titans Go! is often criticized for being too kiddie (though the bright colors and attractive artstyle makes this criticism not hard to come by). The show's TV-PG rating is there for a reason though, as this show is rife with Black Comedy and Comedic Sociopathy, parental bonuses are frequent (with some so old that they could've counted as these in the 2003 series), Never Say "Die" is rarely, if ever, played straight, and there are a bunch of risque jokes throughout the series.
  • Young Justice (2010) has implications of Twincest, many references to and depictions of murder, and doesn't shy away from the severe mental strain that is put on Child Soldiers. One of the protagonists' favorite tactic is Mind Rape, and it is played out for maximum shock value. The subplot in "Beneath" heavily implies that the mother of one of Jaime Reyes' friends is being physically abused by her boyfriend. The same episode also reveals that Queen Bee is essentially running a child-trafficking ring where innocent teenagers are kidnapped and sold to aliens who use them for experimentation. The show's subsequent revival on streaming services would more clearly push the show towards an older demographic as the darker themes continued to intensify and include more visceral injuries on some characters.

Just like with Teletoon, YTV's animation targeted toward kids tends to fall in this category from time to time, usually due to Values Dissonance between Canada and its southern neighbour. See Teletoon's folder for more information on the whole thing.
  • Beast Wars. Despite the toyline and therefore the show being ostensibly aimed somewhere around the 8-12-year-old boys slot, the show features clever writing, complex characterizations, and surprisingly mature takes on themes such as warfare and revenge, with a healthy dose of Killed Off for Real to match.
  • The Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2017) series has lots of darker episodes, a few edgy adult jokes, some teen situations, and massive child abuse from Mayor Shellbourne towards his son Gil even to the point where he puts him in dangerous situations and does not care if he's okay.
  • While Mysticons is considered a kids show (at least by Canadian standards) it had a lot of dark elements along fairly mature messages and situations that might be difficult for some kids to understand.
  • Mainframe's first show, Reboot, starting from the second season and only gets worse from therenote  featured a forcible fusion scene with parallels to rape (Brother–Sister Incest rape, to boot), many, many deaths, two children being mistaken for dead and forced to wander the universe for years while time flowed differently for them, The Corruption of surrounding systems, and finally the end of the world, not to mention several very fanservicey designs. In Daemon Rising, there is also a Brainwashed and Crazy cult of Guardians that have been Mind Raped into suicide bombers (a fact the show does not shy away from, even showing on-screen deaths).
  • Shadow Raiders is a nihilistic Cosmic Horror Story aimed at kids. On top of that, worlds get destroyed regularly, Never Say "Die" is downright averted, plenty of characters do die, the Beast Generals are horrifying villains (one of them even Mind Rapes Tekla with the image of her planet being destroyed), the heroes kill as many innocent people as the Beast Planet and are completely incapable of ever beating it, and the CGI falls into Unintentional Uncanny Valley territory.

  • The Animals of Farthing Wood: The first-two seasons are infamous for having many graphic deaths and Nightmare Fuel inducing scenes. Even when The BBC released the first season as an three-parter film on VHS, it was rated U despite keeping the many graphic deaths intact. This is probably the reason why the third season became Lighter and Softer due to the European censorship rules getting a lot stricter than what it used to be when the first-two seasons were in production before then.
    • This was probably also the reason why all three seasons were rated PG when they finally came to DVD in the United Kingdom in 2016.
  • Babar, an animated series based on a childrens' book series, has the Five-Episode Pilot: Babar's mother is shot by The Hunter, The Old King dies from eating a poisonous mushroom, and the Hunter is burnt alive by the fire he caused (all while shouting how he'll destroy all the animals), with Babar confirming that the Hunter died for real in a later episode. Beyond that, the later episodes tackle with subject matter such as Babar and his friends being picked on because they look different, two episodes where Cornelius and Pompadour believe an assassin is out to kill Babar, an elephant-hating general sending Celesteville and Rhinoland to war, and Flora nearly dying from being bitten by a poisonous snake. As the series was produced by Nelvana, the series largely aired on preschool networks, such as Qubo in the US and Treehouse TV in Canada.
  • Code Lyoko: Tons of tentacle mind rape. One case of actual tentacle rape from vines. All of the times Aelita died, nearly died, attempted suicide, or had a clone die. All the cursing in Code Lyoko: Evolution. All of the Fanservice. Aelita seeing her mother kidnapped and her father murdered, on screen. Aelita suffers from flashbacks and hallucinations. Then there was the time Jeremie started acting suicidal and reckless to further his work. X.A.N.A. made so many murder attempts onscreen that it can be turned into a drinking game. Franz Hopper went completely insane, as shown through a video diary. And a ton of other horrors.
  • Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids can really get gruesome at times with the tone and subjects being pretty dark, despite the fact it is aimed for kids, complete with not shying away from showing blood and having character deaths.
  • John Dillermand is a Danish kids' show... about a man with an extendable penis. Enough said really. Although it should be noted that Denmark is much more lax regarding sexual content than the Anglosphere is.
  • Kaeloo was never aired in the USA, and for good reasons. The characters use extreme violence (the characters own guns, bazookas and the like), and since Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, they have also died Family Unfriendly Deaths due to the violence. They abuse drugs (both G-Rated Drugs and regular ones), alcohol, and tobacco. There are plenty of sex jokes and even a few moments where its two main characters, who are in love, try to sexually harass each other. There is also tons of Black Comedy, mentions of infidelity, implications of some characters being bisexual, and some religious references.
  • Miraculous Ladybug has a pretty fair amount of fanservice for a cartoon aimed at elementary schoolers. It could be due to Values Dissonance, as it's a French-Japanese production. It could also be because it wasn't originally aimed at that young of an audience, but due to the Animation Age Ghetto they lowered the demographic. Also, the main forces of antagonism are represented through what basically boils down to the possession of innocent bystanders by the Big Bad, some of which actively try to kill other civilians (remember this show breaks the Never Say "Die" rule), and this can happen to anyone at any time when they feel unhappy. Not to mention how unsubtle the show is about the portrayal of unideal parent-child relationships, especially with the revelation that Gabriel Agreste emotionally manipulated his own son.
  • PAW Patrol is a show aimed at preschoolers, and airs on Nick Jr.. Despite the overall preschool-friendly tone, there have been countless times where the characters who need help could have died if the PAW Patrol hadn't saved them in time. The episode "Mighty Pups, Charged Up: Pups vs. the Copycat" in particular features the threat of Adventure Bay, the show's main setting, being crushed by a meteor if the PAW Patrol fails to stop the supervillain Copycat. Moments like these would be more appropriate for regular Nickelodeon (aka, big kids), rather than for preschoolers. It got to the point where PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie was given a PG rating for mild action/peril, rather than a G rating like most movies based on preschool shows (including the first movie).
  • Puppy in My Pocket: Adventures in Pocketville, despite being given a TV-Y7 rating in the United States, has been aired on Cartoonito, a preschool-targeted channel, in some countries such as Germany, likely because of the countries' looser standards even though there are several preschool-unfriendly scenes. This show has its fair share of depictions of animal abuse in the scenes showing Ava trapped in the Pet Buster's abusive mill and other strays undergoing the same experience (heck, the Pet Buster even pulls out a whip when training them), Zull and Gort getting into pawfights, sometimes even with the Royal Guards and in one instance a very tiny but noticeable stream of blood appears, and attempted murder was committed by Eva by trying to pry a large tree branch on top of Ava to crush her. You could say that this is a case of "what do you mean, it's for little kids?" since it seems more appropriate for older kids than preschoolers, making it downplayed.
  • Wakfu:
    • There's probably a good reason why the show wasn't picked up across the Atlantic until Netflix picked it up. Ranging for all the really dark themes (like genocide, the loss of families, some of the more Nightmare Fuel-filled moments, accidental cannibalism), fanservice and innuendo; in fact, the show is used for the main image of the Mating Dance trope. The English dub even makes liberal use of the word "Hell" rather than Gosh Dang It to Heck!. Part of it can be attributed to Values Dissonance, due to looser broadcast restrictions in France (Same goes for Code Lyoko above).
    • And then Season 3 came along, which is about the point where even the creators themselves admitted they were pushing the bounds of what they could get away with "for kids" even by France's looser standards. And by their own admittance, to go along with how much of the Wakfu fanbase have grown into teens and young adults since the original release, they want to take the show to even darker and more mature places with Season 4.
  • What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown! was undoubtedly one of the darkest Peanuts specials. Snoopy has an Acid Reflux Nightmare about being a sled dog during the Yukon Gold Rush, where he's abused by his master and tormented by his fellow dogs. Snoopy eventually snaps and fights his way to become the "alpha dog", only for his dream to end when the sled falls into a frozen lake and Snoopy is dragged screaming to certain doom. There's little in the way of laughs, aside from the scene at the beginning where Charlie Brown tries to make Snoopy pull a sled, and a scene where Snoopy visits a saloon in a Yukon boom town and goes through some humiliating slapstick scenes.
  • The Crumpets, an obscure show from France, is surprisingly dark in several episodes despite its colorful aesthetics, adorable characters and (loosely) being based on picture books for young children. It got away with sex jokes, nudity, swearing, suicide attempts or threats, a brief mass shooting attempt where the kids appear to bloodily die in darkness but survive, rampant animal cruelty, a strongly implied tentacled monster on human rape, and the kids and their neighbor becoming addicted to a homemade anti-addiction gas remedy, in addition to sensitive topics like homosexuality, infidelity and religion. It's safe to presume it took pages from Kaeloo (they share a network and few writers). Nonetheless, the third season toned down much of these elements before the next season raised some back.
  • In Thomas & Friends, there are frequent racial undertones with the steamies vs. diesels rivalry, as well as allusions to engines being scrapped, complete with train "carcasses" in the background. At least in the classic seasons. By the time of Season 8, the show was softened to appeal to a preschool audience, shifting from the all-ages demographic that seasons 1-7 aimed for. Even after that, there were specials like Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure with Sailor John being shown to be a homicidal maniac, a manipulator, and a frighteningly realistic abuser towards his boat Skiff and Journey Beyond Sodor, where Frankie gleefully exploits her workers, and Thomas nearly dies by falling into a cistern of molten slag. The Big World Big Adventures movie and seasons make the show even more childish, but they managed to get away with Baz and Bernie threatening to kill Sonny in Marvelous Machinery.
  • TUGS is a sister show to Thomas & Friends. It may be about cartoony-looking talking tugboats, but it is much Darker and Edgier than Thomas. Special mention goes to the episode "Munitions", which features a horrific fire and explosion. It kills Big Mickeynote , causes a petrol barge to explode, almost kills Ten Cents, and a results in a naval tanker being horrifically torn apart. This was ultimately why it failed to find a market in North America; it was too violent for younger kids, but big kids wouldn't watch a show about talking boats. Thus, it had to be heavily toned down for Salty's Lighthouse.
  • The Legend of Calamity Jane is a dark, gritty cartoon about Calamity Jane that is quite violent, sugarcoats its themes less than some live action cowboy films with overt mentions of racism, death, and even the Civil War, and not only uses actual guns but even has characters get realistically shot and worry about gangrene. The series also has some sexual allusions, such as Jane having avoided an Attempted Rape in the past and the heavy implications that she lives in a brothel. Heck, the series begins with Jane narrowly saving a Native American man from being hanged.
  • Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue: Kids who grew up in the nineties will remember this Scare 'Em Straight anti-drug special as "the one that promised all your favourite cartoon characters in one place, then gave you Body Horror nightmares".
  • Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure counts, given that Granny tells Franklin and Samantha how her home, parents, and items were burned to the ground when she was little, she herself falls terminally ill before her eightieth birthday (with Franklin even expressing his fear that she'd die), and Snail is treated as an eagle-hatchling snack (with implications that he would have been devoured if it weren't for Franklin and Samantha to save him).
  • Downplayed with Blinky Bill. While it is for children and family-friendly enough, The ABC reran it on the network's preschool programming block ABC4Kids in the early 2010s, despite several scenes that aren't exactly preschooler-friendly, such as Marcia asking Blinky if she should bash Danny in "Blinky and the Red Car", Ma holding Danny and Shifty's heads underwater during "Blinky Bill's Fund Run", Daisy (a teenager) flirting with Blinky, Flap and Splodge (all of whom are children) in "Blinky and the Film Star", and Basil, the villain of Season 3 who had been chasing Blinky, Nutsy and Flap around the world through its entirety, getting carted off in a straitjacket for multiple crimes (including arson) in the season's finale.
  • There were many Pingu scenes which felt questionable for a children's show (particularly in the older episodes), including one where Pingu was slapped by his mother, and another where blood dripped out from Pingu's beak from an injury. Not to mention a couple of episodes were banned from airing due to literally invoking Nightmare Fuel ("Pingu's Dream").
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): This adaptation was already a good deal darker than the 1987 show and much closer to the original Mirage comics, but the series establishes how dark it is going to be by ending the first episode with the Shredder personally executing a punk for failing offscreen. Then the third episode establishes how Hun and The Shredder punish Baxter Stockman: by removing his body parts every time he failed, ultimately reducing him to a brain, an eyeball and some neuron tissues in a big jar. The show just kept getting progressively darker with each season, ultimately resulting in more and more nightmarish images, heavier psychological themes and Body Horror elements, to the point that one completed episode was banned, one episode was axed before it could be completed and one entire season was temporarily banned with the intention to release it straight to DVD and the TV version airing a Lighter and Softer Soft Reboot season instead. And the show was produced by 4Kids Entertainment, a company infamous for censoring dark anime.
  • Fantomcat is a little-known British cartoon made by Cosgrove Hall, better known for Danger Mouse and Count Duckula, except Fantomcat was considerably Darker and Edgier, with mild swearing such as "damn" and "hell", some aversions to Family-Friendly Firearms, Family-Unfriendly Violence and deaths, religious themes and Nightmare Fuel. Yet it got rated U by the BBFC.
  • The Three Friends... and Jerry is basically this Swedish-German-British cartoon about a 10-year-old named Jerry and his three friends. Despite airing on kids' channels and blocks worldwide, the show has an abundance of kid-unfriendly content, such as sexual references, racial stereotypes, offensive language, incest, and morally questionable actions. Because HIT Entertainment distributes the show worldwide and they had a stake in Sprout, this show was actually on Sprout's on-demand service in its early years. Sprout was a preschool network. The Three Friends and Jerry is essentially Europe's version of South Park (the show was actually pitched to Comedy Central at one point, but rejected for being too similar to South Park).
  • The Adventures of Donkey Ollie is a Christian program meant for a young audience. Despite this, it does not shy away from depicting violence, gore and otherwise "mature" topics. One arc has a group of slavers kidnapping children to put them to work in the fields, whipping them if they underperform in the smallest way. The fourth episode has Ollie get mauled by jackals and his bloody wounds are put on full display for the audience. The Annotated Series frequently wondered if the show was even meant for its target audience.
  • Around the 80s and 90s, there have been animated family friendly shows that are based on non kid friendly stuff which included Robocop, Police Academy, Toxic Avenger (referred to as Toxic Crusader), The Mask, Rambo, just to name a few.

  • The Simpsons:
    • Parodied with The Itchy & Scratchy Show. Featuring the titular cat-and-mouse duo, The Itchy & Scratchy Show is an over-the-top violent animated segment played within The Krusty the Klown Show, which is for children and is popular with that demographic. In The Itchy & Scratchy Show, Itchy the Mouse gorily mutilates Scratchy the Cat to death in almost every episode. Bart and Lisa Simpson find it hilarious. This led their mother, Marge, to form a concerned parent's group to ban the show. Though the show had been bowdlerized in-universe a few times, the bowdlerization would later be lifted every time. Krusty lampshades this in "White Christmas Blues" when he has to block violent images due to modern sensitivity; at first, he's reluctant, but then he catches a glimpse of the show:
      Krusty: (horrified) Oh my god! I've never watched one of these sober! I have to get this bloodbath off my kids' show!
    • In "Selma's Choice", Duff Gardens is a family-oriented amusement park that happens to be centered around a brand of beer.
    • Another in-universe example is in "Blame It On Lisa", when the Simpsons travel to Brazil, Bart finds himself enjoying the local children's educational program Teleboobies in which a shapely woman uses her chest complete with nipple tassels to teach the concepts of "clockwise" and "anti-clockwise".
      Marge: Bert and Ernie left it to the imagination...
  • Futurama:
    • Apparently children are a key demographic for the Soap Within a Show, All My Circuits.
    • In "Yo Leela Leela", there are two examples at the awards show:
      • A Dora the Explorer parody called "Dora the Destroyer", which depicts Dora and Boots as soldiers carrying machine guns.
      • The Adventures of Pit Bull and Scaredy Squirrel, which appears to be an Itchy & Scratchy-esque chase cartoon, judging by the pool of blood visible on the title card.
    • "Saturday Morning Fun Pit" has three segments parodying Saturday Morning Cartoons from The Dark Age of Animation, which are shown in-universe to be aimed at children. It doesn't exactly stop them from having inappropriate content, especially the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero parody (which Nixon's head has to cut off mid-broadcast and switch to a PSA because it eventually devolved into a complete bloodbath).
  • Adventure Time: In "Jake The Dad", Jake starts reading a Black Comedy picture book he loved as a child to his own kids and is shocked at how much darker it is than he remembers it (specifically, the book's plot revolves around foxes eating babies).
  • Regular Show: In "Dead at Eight", Mordecai and Rigby read Thomas (Death's baby son, not the intern) a children's picture book called "The Soul-Sucking Death Worm".
  • Garfield and Friends: In the U.S. Acres segment, "Kiddie Korner", Aloysius demands that Orson and his friends perform family-friendly Nursery Rhymes. Unfortunately, since the gang plays them straight, they inadvertently reveal all of the violence, starvation, and death that the rhymes contain, and Aloysius won't stop griping about it.
    Roy: Boy, this is the most violent episode we've ever done!