Children shows are supposed to be the answer to every parent’s prayers. Flip a switch, set your child in front of the TV, and then leave to do other things, knowing that your kid is being entertained and distracted. But, sometimes, parents sit down with their kids to watch a beloved show and are often surprised by what they see. The creators of these kiddy shows are clever and sly; they like to see how much they can slip past the censors and the younger members of the audience. The children might not pick up on the double entendres or nods at the more adult content, but the parents sure do. These tongue-in-cheek jokes can range from low humor like bodily function jokes to the sexually explicit, but are forever hidden in ways that aren’t easy to discern. These top nine inappropriate shows intended for children might be good fun for the youngsters but when adults sit down to watch, there are some clever winks just for them.
The hit children’s show ran for nine full seasons and over ten years. It was a hit with parents and children alike. Focusing on a group of toddler best friends and their many adventures, the cartoon was a ratings powerhouse and seemed innocuous enough. But there was one character that served as a foil to the idea of an innocent and sweet family. Grandpa Lou was the live in grandfather of Tommy Pickles, the head of the baby gang. He often babysat the kids and provided them with entertainment. But in one moment that managed to slip past the censors, Grandpa Lou lets the babies—and audience—know what he gets up to at night. Showing a set of videos to the babies, Grandpa Lou shows one off in particular: Lonely Space Vixens, which is for after the babies go to bed. With a half naked alien woman on the cover, Grandpa’s wiggling eyebrows and a quiet chuckle from Lou, there is little doubt that the video in question is for “adults.”
8. . iCarly
iCarly may have been a show designed for pre-teens and teenagers, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t really push the envelope when it came to sneaking more raunchy topics past the censors and unsuspecting eyes. The number of breast and bra jokes alone make us raise our eyebrows. But consider these following examples: in the episode “iBust a Thief” one of the younger characters is seen reading a fake book called “nifty shades of beige,” his eyes wide as he reads. This is an obvious reference to the popular S&M series “Fifty Shades of Grey.” How about the episode “iLost my Mind” in which Spencer is looking for olive oil only to be reminded that he left it in the bathroom. You can let your imagination figure out why. And finally the episode, “iDate Sam and Freddie” where Gibby continuously speaks about her love of “pini’s.” We don’t think we need to explain that one.
7. The Powerpuff Girls
A favorite cult kids show, the Powerpuff Girls got away with tons of adult themed content, particularly of the sexual variety. Take for example the episode “The Boys are Back in Town” in which kisses from the girls, that used to be the weakness of the boys, make the boys bigger and more powerful. The girls later discover that the key to stopping the boys is threatening their masculinity, which causes them to shrink in size. There is also a one-eyed monster that rises up in the episode. Or how about the character Sara Bellum, who is only ever seen from the chest down, drawing considerable attention to her breasts. Outside of sexual innuendo, there is drug abuse (“Mojo Jonesin’” and “Candy is Dandy”); examples of foul language that are cleverly masked and accidental pregnancies.
Like iCarly, Victorious was known for managing to slip more mature content into their show. The show may have been designed for a bit of an older crowd, but most of the jokes are so ribald that only the parents in the room will understand. For example, in the episode “A Christmas Tori,” Jade makes a deliberate boob joke about her cup size growing from an A to a D. How about when Jade wants to get slapped by a sausage in “Cat’s New Boyfriend.” Finally the lyrics to the song “Give It Up” from the episode “Freak the Freak Out” (already pretty raunchy) in which Tori sings about taking boys for a ride and how she is in control. There is an obvious stick shift metaphor here.
5. SpongeBob SquarePants
This cartoon quickly became a favorite among older crowds, perhaps in part due to its more explicit nature. One of the longest running innuendo jokes is that SpongeBob lives in Bikini Bottom and where does he work—the Krusty Krab, located in the heart of Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob’s next door neighbor, the long suffering Squidward, has a rather interesting face—in that it resembles male genitalia. And of course the clarinet-playing squid is one of the few characters in the show to not wear pants. There is a long standing belief that in the episode, “No Free Rides,” Spongebob calls Mrs. Puff a rather naughty word by saying “See You Next Tuesday,” as he departs. There is also a reoccurring joke that SpongeBob enjoys sea-porn, flipping through channels to find an anemone swaying in what would be (to SpongeBob) rather suggestive manner. When his snail Gary comes into the room, SpongeBob quickly changes the channel, trying to cover his guilt and embarrassment.
4. Ed, Edd, n Eddy
In later seasons, the popular cartoon show would be less subtle in their explicit nature such as in your face jokes about sextants and snow jobs. But earlier seasons of the show were not clean cut. For example, masturbation was one of the biggest inside jokes on the show. Eddy’s room is littered with crumpled up tissues and magazines that have named like “Jiggy Jiggy” and “Chicks Galore.” The naughty magazine bit was a joke that ran over several episodes throughout the series. In one episode, we are treated to an inside view of a bathroom, where the parents have cleverly put reminder notes. One of them reads: don’t touch yourself.
Animaniacs was not a kids show. Yes, it was a cartoon and children watched it, but it was not a kids show. Known for double speak, winks at the more mature audience, and deliberately joking about making the FOX censors cry, Animanaics got away with a shocking amount. The characters in the show, particularly Yakko, would break the fourth wall and say “good night everybody!” which was always code for having done something that would make the censors cringe and it was time to move on. A famous example of double speak: Yakko instructs Dot to look for “fingerprints” and Dot finds pop artist Prince, when Yakko emphasizes “FINGERprints (Finger Prince),” Dot looks at the camera slyly and says, “I don’t think so.” And of course, the running “Hellooooooo Nurse” gag whenever a sexy female was in the room.
2. Rocko’s Modern Life
How this show managed to stay on air with the amount of adult jokes in every single episode, we’ll never know. Where do we even begin? Rocko and Heffer’s favorite restaurant was called the Chokey Chicken (the censors eventually caught this one), the two friends once went to a demo-pit where you could “jack all you want,” sausages in pockets, Rocko works at a telephone sex-hotline, episodes set in Hell, and in one episode Heffer is “milked” and while you don’t see the actual milking, the sound effect of slurping and sucking coupled with Heffer’s face of sheer delight is enough to let you know what is happening. When it comes to Rocko’s Modern Life, the list of wildly inappropriate things goes on and on, including the famous No-Tell Motel and Mrs. Bighead’s attempt to seduce Rocko in “Leap Frogs,” both episodes were later cut when the series went into reruns.
1. Ren and Stimpy
Ren and Stimpy caused quite the controversy during the 1990s. It was known for being more adult than it claimed, and presented everything from sex to language to dirty jokes in cartoon form. Ren and Stimpy have long been suspected of being homosexual partners and there are many scenes full of longing looks, getting naked together, and various pieces of dialogue that add to that suspicion. There are sly plays on words like a dinosaur called “Homo Gigantis Erectis” or Stimpy declaring himself to be a sword swallower in one episode. There are also various instances of nakedness and occasionally blood spatter, which is considered too gory for children.