Life is a completely different world when you’re a child: structures seem larger, adults are scarier, and anything can be made into a toy. While the world around us may change as we get older, we are left with one constant and that is our everlasting love for television. From the second we laid eyes on the magical black box with gigantic knobs and bright moving colors, we knew the fancy gizmo was going to be with us for the rest of our lives. A few of us grew up watching shows with a strong lead puppet like Howdy Doody or Thunderbirds. Others spent their Saturday mornings glued to the tube gagging at the wacky antics of the Looney Tunes and Scooby Doo. That leaves the rest of us with shows like Rugrats and Hey Arnold! Regardless of the decade (or century, for that matter) that you grew up in, television played a big part of your childhood.
Children’s TV can be used to teach early lessons like sharing, being friendly, or how to defeat any enemy that crosses your path. What many don’t seem to notice – at least, not at a young and innocent age – are the hidden adult ideas interwoven within each episode. It’s almost as if the writers knew we’d go back to our once-beloved scheduled programming for a quick whiff of nostalgia to just be shocked by a subtle innuendo. Here are 15 examples of writers giving their now older audience a good shiest.
15. Barney Rubble Has Three Heads
The first penis joke was probably made when cavemen went to the bathroom together, only to realise one was bigger than the other. Just imagine the kind of drawings the literal man caves were plastered with: dinosaurs with gigantic peckers, rock formations in the shape of a man’s pebble, or even the subtle, “hard as a rock” line plastered everywhere. The case holds true in the classic animated TV show, The Flintstones. While The Flintstones is primarily viewed as children’s television, it was the first animated show to broadcast on Primetime television so it had to be engaging for children and adults alike. In a classic scene, Fred and Barney walk into a costume store where Fred roasts Barney with a poke at his height, “How about another head?” Barney retorts back with this classic topper, “What am I going to do with three heads?”
14. Transformers: Robots That Are Pretty Racist
Unfortunately, racism was alive in America well before TV came around. The new form of communication just made it easier for the idea to reach a new generation of people. From stand-up comedians to prime time TV dramas, every source of entertainment had something to say about who was better than whom. With the growing popularity of Saturday morning cartoons amongst America’s youth, TV writers began to tackle their personal agendas. The Transformers was an animated extension of a popular toy line that aired during a time of high racial tension. In an episode that takes place in the fictional Middle Eastern city of Carbombya (pronounced Car-Bomb-Ya), the Autobots are sent to the oil-rich city to rescue the president from the deceitful Decepticons. The whole episode was meant to poke fun at the conflict that was happening in Libya during the 1980s.
13. Daddy’s Dirty Magazines
Men have had, and always will have, a fascination with women. We love how they smell, how they talk, and especially how they look. Most of our day-to-day lives are spent just thinking of the idea of women. The idea of having one in paper form makes life a little easier. Playboy, the epitome of all things nude, has been around since the 1950s. The magazine features an interview, a news article, and tons and tons of b–bs (or so I hear). Men have been stashing these tasty treats in drawers, shoe boxes, and under mattresses for generations so it is no surprise that the idea of dirty magazines have made it into children’s bedrooms. The most famous example of this comes from an episode of Ed, Edd, and Eddie. We find the gang hanging out underneath Eddie’s bed. They are browsing through a skin mag from his father’s secret stash.
12. Talk About Foreskin
Writers make jokes about circumcision at just about any opportunity they get, even if the material requires some snipping. From subtle jokes in TV shows all the way to premier stand-up comedians, there are no shortages of the bit. As many other forms of blue humor, writers like to lightly lace their work off color material. Rugrats was a popular TV show that ran from August 11, 1991 to August 1, 2004. The show follows a group of toddlers and their adventures in day-to-day life. Since most circumcision procedures are made on newborns, it makes complete sense that the writers slice a few references into the show. In one episode, a newborn is surprised with the fact that her umbilical cord is gone. A new born boy next to her exclaims that she’s lucky that all she’s missing is the cord.
11. Tom Loves Trains
Early cartoons were chock-full of adult themes. One popular show that stirred up quite the controversy was Tom and Jerry. In its early production, Tom and Jerry was criticised for its racial stereotypes and glamorisation of smoking. The show often featured blackened faces with exaggerated features like large lips and bow-tied hair, depicting what was once seen as a stereotypical black person. By nature, the show is mindlessly violent: there are often scenes where Tom is decapitated, sliced in half, or electrocuted. Aside from the shows entertaining antics, it is riddled with several dark themes. One of the most popular adult-only idea was its poke at suicide. In an episode where both Tom and Jerry lose their lovers to a superior being, the story ends with the destructive duo sitting on railroad tracks. The very last sound we hear is a roaring locomotive racing near to end their misery.
10. Ernie And The “O” Dealer
I don’t think any show involving talking puppets should be shown to any child, ever. Enter: Sesame Street. It gave us memorable characters like Elmo, Big Bird, and the kind-of-creepy Cookie Monster. Sesame Street was created to prepare children for pre-school and was backed by actual child development research. That is all fine and dandy if done correctly. Believe it or not, there’s actually a warning that comes with its pilot season stating that the episodes are not made for today’s young children. The best example is in an episode where Ernie learns about the letter O. We find him walking the streets and is confronted by a strange man wearing a trench coat. His whole demeanor screams, “Arrest me, I like boys!” but that’s merely sub-text. What’s inescapable is the fact that the creepy sounding hooligan actually tries coaxing Ernie into buying the O for a nickel. It’s a shame drugs don’t have that kind of street value any more.
9. Number One Radio T*t
Blue humor was the stable for many stand-up comedians of the 60s & 70s. Richard Pryor became the spokesperson for shock comedy. Much of his material was focused on off-color bits like sex, drugs, and racism. He helped kick start a blue humor explosion. Several forms of entertainment followed suit. The children’s TV show The Muppets was created as a program that could entertain both a young and older audiences. Its episodes had no shortage of what can be considered blue humor. In a musical bit titled, “The Tit Willow”, Rowlf the Dog and Sam the Eagle sing to the audience a song about a bird and tree. The song features words like “t*t” (obviously) and “d*ck” (here we go again). The song got so busty that Sam the Eagle requested for a replacement to finish the bit for him.
8. Daffy Wants To Duck
Men and women alike have been using their sexuality to manipulate the opposite sex since the forbidden fruit was still forbidden. It is a foolproof tactic with positive results. Whether it is a politician using his looks to win over America, a scandalous intern trying to win over a politician, or a member of the general population just trying to get out of a speeding ticket. In the Looney Tunes Episode “The Wise Cracking Duck”, Daffy Duck dukes it out with a hunter named Meek. Their quarrel ends with a shotgun barrel pointed right at Daffy Duck. Daffy duly pulls a page out of the book of humanity and begins walking around seductively. As the music intensifies, more of his feathers come off revealing his precious meat. At the end of his strip tease, he gives the man a peck on the cheek that leaves him red with flattery.
7. Give Him The Finger, Or Two
The 90s was a weird time. Gone were the days of fighting for something. Those battles were already won. A lot of people had a lot of time on their hands so new ideas and concepts were always being invented. Whether you were an engineer, musician, or writer something had to be created. The 90s were a time of exploration and expression. For children’s TV, this was huge. Cartoons were more than brute American passion. Different plot lines were being explored. Then in 1993, the gem Animaniacs was born. Inspired by the Looney Toons and Mickey Mouse, Animaniacs was at the forefront of the Animation Renaissance. The show tested the waters to see how far cartoons could actually go. In one great example, Yakko is playing detective and asking Dot to dust for fingerprints. In this classic play on words, it is easy to tell that Dot does not quite understand what he is asking.
6. Chopping Wood
Wood is pretty essential to everyday life. It’s used anywhere from heating a home all the way to being milled into a practice torpedo for the military. The process of chopping down trees to acquire said wood has grown vastly since the industrial era. Before the introduction of gasoline to fuel chainsaws, most logging was done with brute American muscle. This birthed what we call the “Lumberjack Culture” and has been a popular source of material for writers of any genre. While the action of cutting wood has been seen in many cartoons of many different decades, no one did it better than Ren and Stimpy. The Ren and Stimpy Show premiered in 1991 as one of the three original Nicktoons. The show was criticized by many for containing jokes and actions not suitable for a young audience. The image pretty much sums up why.
5. Hide Your Pecker
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? That’s right. He’s yellow and wears square pants. SpongeBob Squarepants has been a part of any kid’s life who was born after 1995. The show has everything to be a hit: a catchy theme song, quirky characters, and memorable dialogue. The show follows SpongeBob, a yellow sponge, throughout his adventures in the fictional (I hope) sea floor city of the Bikini Bottom. Some supporting characters are Patrick Star and Sandy Cheeks. The show is full of subtle adult humor and often draws in audience members of all ages. Some popular themes used have been: disaster, insanity, and suicide. In the Episode, Spongebob and Patrick set off on an adventure when Spongebob drops one of the best one liners of all time.
4. We Might Be Miracles, But Not All Of Us Are Planned
Made with sugar, spice, and everything nice, The Powerpuff Girls have been empowering America’s female youth since 1998. The show features three girls, each with their own superpowers. The main antagonist is an evil monkey named MoJo JoJo. The show was popular for poking fun at common superhero themes and ideas, putting a satirical twist on each battle. As kids, we often wonder where we actually came from. Was it the stork who delivered us to our parents’ door step? Maybe we were just the product of mom eating too many watermelon seeds? Then we hit middle school and learned that the process was a lot sweatier. Then we started to wonder if we were actually planned or if dad just got lazy. The Powerpuff Girls did a great job at appealing to our young and curious minds by dropping this subtle masterpiece.
3. I Was At Woodstock
Football head! Hey Arnold! was one of the three original Nicktoons that launched in the mid-nineties. The show follows an elementary aged boy and his adventures living city life where he resides with his grandparents in a boarding house. Hey Arnold! was popular because it was relatable. We’ve all had an encounter with a school bully at least once in our lives.
For those of you unaware, Woodstock was an outdoor music festival that took place in 1969. It was ultimately a place for young adults to gather, listen to popular music, and experiment with the most mind altering drug they could find. Those who lived through it had great stories to tell, including Arnold’s grandfather. Take a look at this subtle one liner where Arnold’s grandfather takes us back to a fuzzier era.
2. Call Rocko For A Good Time
Rocko’s Modern life was another one of those paradigm shifting cartoons. It was often pushing the envelope of what was allowed to be showed to children. Throughout the show, Rocko encountered many relatable dilemmas and often came up with quirky ways of solving them. A phenomenon that was pretty main stream in the 90s was Hot Chat lines. In some cases they were even promoted by phone companies because they helped cut down on the spread of AIDs. It’s no wonder writers wanted to get this idea in the minds of children as early as possible. Here is how Rocko solved an issue in his life and promoted self sex all in one scene.
1. Spongebob, Man To Many
Don’t drop the soap! This classic prison joke has been popular in entertainment since the first inmate in the shower decided to get frisky with the poor soul who was just a little too clumsy. The idea was made popular by the movie Escape from Alcatraz starring Clint Eastwood. Since then, the joke has been made all over the world by secure and insecure males poking fun at their comrades. Spongebob has definitely been known to touch on more inappropriate ideas and actually features a lot of bear naked butts in the show. Spongebob has done everything from watching sea p–n all the way to watching a suicide. Some could describe his relationship with Patrick as lightly homosexual, which would explain a lot of the subtle adult jokes found throughout the series. Maybe Patrick has dropped the soap a few times himself.