When people think of cartoons, many still tend to look at them as a safe space. They believe they can set their kids down in front of any old animation and everything will be fine. But that ship sailed a long time ago. Nowadays, animated TV shows might be the sickest and most adult-humored shows on television. In many ways, animators can get away with much more sadistic humor because there’s a greater perceived distance between animation and real life. Truth be told, rude cartoons are nothing new. Animators have always had dirty minds, they just used to hide it better. Hidden or not, there were always raunchy things in animations and risqué premises. Watch an old Disney movie if you need proof. While most animators were busy trying to find out how crude they could go and still get it by the censors, not everyone was successful. This list is made up of all the shows that the censors didn’t like.
Times are always changing. What is allowed today would never have been allowed 50 years ago on television. That goes both ways though. Much of the racism and prejudice from yesteryear is frowned upon in these times. So, to keep it fair for all ages, we’ve decided to include shows and episodes from several different decades. Some of these shows were banned for specific reasons, whereas some were pulled without any explanation going public. We can give our best guesses to fill in the blanks, but no one can say for sure what happened. Some episodes on this list are available in bootleg form, but most have never been released or have been heavily edited. Here are 15 Banned Cartoon Episodes That Will Never See The Light of Day.
15. The Censored Eleven
When people think of banned cartoons, many think of a group of old cartoons called “The Censored Eleven.” In 1968, The United Artists took a look at all cartoons in syndication and decided to withhold 11 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons from airing in the future. Since that time, these 11 cartoons have only been shown on bootleg DVDs and artistic presentations in galleries and arthouse theaters. While some of these films, like the next entry, have been hailed as artistic, albeit racist, masterpieces, as crazy as that sounds, others are just nuts. Take “Angel Puss,” for example. In this cartoon, a blackface-style African-American boy is paddling down the river talking about how he has to drown a cat. When he tries to do the job, the cat tricks him and convinces him that he has completed his task when in fact the cat escaped. When the boy finds out he has been duped by the cat, however, he kills it with a shotgun. Now, racism aside, this cartoon is way too dark for kids these days. Even for adults, this type of animal cruelty doesn’t fly anymore.
14. “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips”
When “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips” was first made in 1944 as a wartime propaganda short, it was a hit. It even passed the United Artists test and was aired on television after 1960, meaning it was not named as one of the censored 11. In 1991, this cartoon was released as part of a laser disc package and no one complained. But then it was released on VHS and it was no longer a secret. The racist and stereotypical depiction of Japanese characters was a major no-no. Animators had long been mocking the Japanese in their cartoons but this one was the final straw. Each package that included this episode (and 11 others) were pulled out of circulation. Though you can find bootleg copies of this cartoon still, it will never be aired on television or released on home media again.
13. Garbage Pail Kids
If you were around in the 80s, you probably remember the Garbage Pail Kids. These were trading cards and stickers that parodied the Cabbage Patch Kids. The Garbage Pail Kids were sometimes gross, violent and deformed, but people liked them. In 1987, a television show was made and CBS ordered a season and heavily promoted it. However, right before it aired, the show was pulled. Apparently, there were quite a few protests in which anti-violence television groups fought to keep these weird kids off the air. They spoke about the unsavory themes in the show and how some of the characters mocked various disabilities and handicaps. So, the entire season was canned. Though it aired in some European countries, it never saw the North American airwaves and never will.
12. Chester Cheetah
Everyone knows Chester Cheetah, the Frito-Lay’s Cheetos mascot. Well, he almost had his own show. For years, ever since Chester was first designed, there were talks of an animated show. Fox even took on the production rights and got to work putting it into action. The first two episodes were made, but nothing ever got on the air. Apparently, as the talks about the show gained steam and got more public, different parent groups got their undies all in a knot. They started protesting about airing a half hour commercial for Cheetos and the networks pulled the plug on the show. Parents feared that for 30 minutes each day, their fat little kids would get fatter by watching a talking cheetah talk about how tasty Cheetos are. The kids would then eat Cheetos everyday and touch the walls with their grubby orange fingers. Oh, the humanity. Even the two episodes that were made have never been released, so we’ll never know what could have been.
11. Gremlins Pilot
After the enormous success of the first Gremlins movie, the networks started listening to a pitch for an animated cartoon based on the film. There was a lot of interest and a pilot episode was made. However, there were two factors working against the Gremlins cartoon, two things that kept it off the air. One, there was a lot of violence in the film. Like a lot. Watch that movie again if you’ve forgotten and imagine being a kid watching it for the first time. We were a crazy bunch back then. Parents were scared about how that violence would translate in a cartoon, so they complained. The other factor was that Gremlins 2 was a bust in theaters. This is really the only factor that mattered. Once that sequel bombed, no network wanted to touch a cartoon about it. This is why we never got it.
10. Blues Brothers Cartoon
Back in 1997, there was supposed to be a Blues Brothers cartoon. Eight of the 13 episodes in the first season were created by Film Roman, the guys who do The Simpsons. But they never aired. It was never released why the episodes never made it to TV or why they never leaked, but we can only assume that the network was scared that kids would associate the cartoon with the film. Since John Belushi was doing enough cocaine to kill an adult elephant on the set of The Blues Brothers that film has always been associated with rampant drug use. Yet, now that enough time has passed, the animated show is being talked about once again. It sounds like it will be coming out for real this time. Though we expect that this will be a much different show that what was originally planned.
9. The Legend of Calamity Jane
While Canada got a full season of The Legend of Calamity Jane, this series was pulled from the US after only a few episodes. Though no reason was given publicly, most assume it was because of the adult content. First of all, the violence was intense for a kid’s show. Secondly, the s*xual content was rather advanced as well, showing quite a bit of skin and adult situations. Thirdly, a lot of the action took place around a saloon and featured heavily racialized characters. Not a good mix for a kid’s show. These days, most episodes can be found, but there are still a couple, one for sure, that are impossible to track down. It’s unclear if these were simply lost or if these episodes were the worst of the bunch.
8. The Pokemon Three
There are three episodes of Pokemon which were not shown in the US for different reasons. Though two of these can be found, one is only available in an edited format. These three are: “Holiday at Aopulco,” “Legend of Dratini,” and “Electric Soldier Porygon.” In “Holiday at Aopulco,” James cross-dresses and wears inflatable breasts. This was enough to have the episode banned outside the US. It has been re-edited and released. “Legend of Dratini” was banned because of random gun use, allegedly. There is also a scene in which Jesse seduces a man, so that might have something to do with it. The last episode, “Electric Soldier Porygon” almost ruined Pokemon altogether. This episode has never been aired again after its first and only showing because it causes seizures. Not just one or two seizures either. This episode caused 700 kids to get sick. Many of them had seizures. Some vomited. It was not good marketing.
7. The Young Astronauts
The Young Astronauts was a show that was meant to air on CBS Saturday mornings in February 1986. Sadly, just days before the show’s pilot was set to kick off, the Challenger Shuttle launched and exploded on live TV. Considering that The Young Astronauts cartoon was designed to profit from the Challenger flight, this show was cancelled. Ain’t nobody in the country wanted to even think about space, let alone deal with kids having problems in space. Even more tragically, who knows how much a show like this could have influenced a generation of future astronauts? Instead, we just watched a horrifying space launch failure.
6. South Park – 200 and 201
South Park is a show that has never backed down from controversy. In fact, the show thrives on it. So, when they took on Mohammad and censorship in the episodes “200” and “201,” no one was really surprised, but we were all kind of really surprised. After the episodes aired, however, the Comedy Network decided to pull the episodes from their website and not allow them to be streamed. They would air them again, but with heavy edits, including the entire conclusion of the episode. These episodes are still not available in their unedited format and many countries have banned them altogether.
5. Beavis and Butthead – “Comedians”
The episode of Beavis and Butthead called the “Comedians” doesn’t seem all that bad. It features Beavis and Butthead trying their hand at stand-up comedy. Beavis tries to juggle flaming newspaper in his act and ends up burning down the joint. This episode was later heavily edited and then banned altogether after a five-year-old boy in Ohio tried to replicate this scene and ended up burning down his trailer and accidentally killing his baby sister. When asked about where he learned to play with fire, the boy blamed Beavis and Butthead, the mom blamed the babysitter and the episode was banned.
4. Dexter’s Laboratory — “Dial M For Monkey: Barbequor”
The “Dial M For Monkey: Barbequor” episode of Dexter’s Laboratory is one that is encircled by rumor. Some say it was banned in the US, Canada, Latin America and the UK because the character, Spooner (a Silver Surfer type character) was a flamboyantly gay stereotype. Well, that’s half true. Spooner was super gay and incredibly offensive to the gay community, but that’s not why the episode was banned. Well, that’s not the only reason. It’s possible that it had something to do with it. Still, it was more because the character was a blatant copyright violation. The character was a mockery of The Silver Surfer and the Dexter’s Laboratory network feared that Marvel would sue their pants off, so they pulled the episode. Now, even on the DVDs, this episode has been replaced with a non-gay, non-superhero rip-off episode to ensure there’s no fallout.
3. Cow and Chicken – “Buffalo Gals”
At its best, Cow and Chicken is a strange show. At its worst, it’s a pretty offensive thing to behold. Well, the episode called “Buffalo Gals” was the show’s most offensive. In the episode, the Buffalo Gals are members of a biker gang made up of thinly veiled lesbians. They are led by Munch Kelly and they specialize in breaking and entering jobs. Rather than stealing from these homes they invade, however, the Buffalo Gals break in to “chew on their carpets.” There are other crude metaphors in there as well, such as when the gals compare the carpets to the drapes and discuss pitching and catching while playing baseball. When the usually very relaxed Cartoon Network refuses to air an episode, you know you crossed the line and Cow and Chicken did it with this one.
2. Mickey and Minnie Mouse “Tape”
Even though this story is almost certainly not true, we’re including it because it’s awesome. The story goes that, when Walt Disney was turning 35, the Disney guys decided to throw him a party, Disney style. So, they put a surprise party together and two animators got to work on a Mickey and Minnie s*x tape that they would show Walt for fun. The party started. They yelled surprise and the animators pressed play or wound up the moving picture machine, whatever the hell they used to watch films on back in 1935. Walt watched. After the film had finished, Walt stood up laughing and complimenting everyone. He then asked who made the film. The two animators showed themselves, probably thinking they were going to get a promotion. Once he had identified the culprits, Walt immediately fired them and asked that all known copies of the tape be burned.
1. “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs”
The title of “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs” tells you pretty much everything you need to know about why this racist cartoon was banned. But, the thing is, many hail it as a true work of art. For those who can see beyond the racism of the time, the content of the film that isn’t racist, especially the music, is thought to be some of the finest in animated films. The exaggerated features of all the black characters and the sexualization of the Coal Black character is what got this film banned. Though it won’t ever be aired on television again, many different film historians have been fighting to get it back in circulation, at least on certain collections. You can find edited, partial and bootleg copies around quite easily though, if you wanted to see what all the fuss is about.
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