When we're children, we don't have any consideration for the world around us. We're the only thing that matters, and we may as well be the only thing that exists, which is why poor parents have to sit and watch the same stuff that we want to watch. It's not like they can bargain with us, hoping that they'll be able to have thirty minutes to watch what they want. Children are selfish monsters after all.
Well, don't feel too bad for your parents because it seems that maybe, they were having more fun than we ever realized. This is because there are a lot of jokes that were hidden in various children's shows and that probably went over your head when you were younger. Part of us thinks that this is the adult animators realizing that they can make things a little less painful for the parents being forced to watch.
However, there's also a major chance that it’s the animators rebelling against the boring work that they have to do by having a little bit of fun. As this list will prove, you could probably argue that this can sometimes get out of hand. You ready to have some of your favorite cartoons ruined?! Let’s go!
What you're currently looking at is Dexter asking his new assistant to dance for him. Anyone who's ever worked as an assistant could probably testify that this is a weird request, to begin with, but it's the assistant's response that really raises eyebrows. If you're an adult, it's clear that the woman is asking for more money because, rather than hiring an assistant, Dexter has accidentally hired himself a lady of the night. One thing we really like about this inside joke is that the artists have drawn Dexter as if he knows what's going on, which seems realistic. Sure, he may be a child, but he's also a total genius, so it's not surprising that he'd have some sort of idea what's going on here. The boy can deduce things for himself, so maybe he heard this and realized that he'd made a huge mistake.
So, one thing we're pretty sure of is that this image comes from the Rugrats spin-off All Grown Up, but one thing we're not sure of is how exactly the artists got away with this one. As you can see, this little visual joke is the most blatant on our list so far and probably stands out as the most scandalous on the entire list. While we're sure that the joke is supposed to be that they're taking a glance at what he's got hiding in his pants, we're also sure that there's got to be some sort of a context to this image that we've yet to find. What would be even funnier is if there was no context and the animators just wanted to see what exactly they could get away with. It's a show about teenagers after all, so who knows what else they could’ve gotten away with drawing if they had tried?
Now, Fairly Odd Parents was a pretty weird show that had a sort of humor that it kept to itself, with not many other cartoons sharing the same brand of humor. It was over-the-top, loud, and often crass, which would explain the image you can currently see. The show wasn't above making comments like this about what young boys get up to while they're alone in their room, and the parent characters were so stupid that the writers could get away with them being clueless about absolutely everything. We're not sure if there's any context to this image -- whether the kid needed the paper towels to mop up some mess he'd created with his fairy companions or the show literally was implying that he actually needed them to mop up a more unsavory mess. We know it’s not really worth thinking about at this point. You know what, let’s move on... quickly.
While we're sure that this, like the rest of this list, is merely a chance for the animators to get in a little joke behind the scenes, we wouldn't be surprised if it was a chance for some vegetarian working on the show to subliminally suggest to children that they should care what it is they're putting into their mouths. This is something that people don’t often think about, believing that if they’re putting into their children something that says “free range” or “organic,” then they’re doing enough, which often isn’t true. For some families, it’s up to the children to get onto the internet and take a look at the world of food. We’d like to think that this little joke even gave some adults a little food for thought, if you’ll pardon the pun. It's nice to think that a children’s television show could have a positive impact on the world.
You may be surprised to hear that having pretty much every child circumcised as a standard is not the norm in most of the Western world, with only parts of North America habitually taking part in the process. For most other places around the world, it's more of a serious step toward showing your devotion to a religion or tradition, with the only other time it's performed being when it's a medical necessity. For that reason, we wouldn't be surprised if even some adults in certain areas of the US didn't get this joke as they had assumed up until that point that this was just the standard procedure. At this point, if you weren’t aware that this sort of thing was uncommon everywhere else, you’re probably wondering why it’s so standard in the US. All we can say to this is that most of the world is probably wondering that as well.
One of the easiest and laziest ways to inject a joke into a show that's meant for comedy, whether it's for children or not, is to include a character who's actually stupider than anyone you could possibly meet in real life. That's what makes jokes like this so easy. This sort of misunderstanding would actually never happen in real life, which is fine when you're aiming your writing at children because they'll eat anything up, but adults are going to struggle with suspending their disbelief if you're going to get this basic with it. What do you think? Are you willing to let stuff like this slide? The only reason we’re flagging it up is that the innuendo is directly aimed at adults watching the show with their children, but there aren’t many adults who would accept this joke without feeling a little bit like they were being treated like children as well.
See, we can get why drug references like this can be thrown in for the adults because it quite possibly speaks to a youth that they once had while winking and nudging at the fact that these children they're watching the show with will have similar experiences as well. For us, there's a lot more thought that goes into something like this over a sexual innuendo, but then, that might be because we prefer drugs over sex, which wouldn't be a very solitary camp, to be fair. Not only is it a nice aside that can make older people laugh and feel nostalgic, but it also contains a warning message to any child who can figure out what's being joked about here. Especially in the more modern world, we reckon there's definitely less that you can slip past your kids now. How is it possible to keep anything secret with the internet at their fingertips?
Speaking of fingers, this is quite possibly the most famous example of a cartoon slipping in -- if you'll pardon the pun -- a rather raunchy joke that you hope would go over the head of the target audience. As we've said, we're not huge fans of the whole sexual innuendo thing, so this one doesn't hit us as hard as it clearly does some other people on the internet, but we felt it definitely deserved a place on this list just because of how infamous it's become. If we’re being honest, we never really watched Animaniacs, so we don’t know how insane this sort of thing is when taken in the context of the show because it’s a pretty adult joke, but then, how crazy was the show known for being anyway? As we said before, Fairly Odd Parents was pretty crass and adult anyway, so maybe Animaniacs was as well.
To be fair, this sort of stuff is pretty mild. Depending on what sort of upbringing you have as a child, there's a huge chance you'll see adult males reading the real-world version of this sort of stuff, so this will just seem like a fairly standard joke. Not only that, but there are certain places in the western world like the UK where they put these sorts of images in the front of their newspapers, so if it's good enough for your Dad, we don't see why it can't be good enough for a cartoon duck. We're not prudes or anything, but we do think it's pretty sad that some children's first foray into their sexuality and what the opposite sex looks like is some grotty mag that their Dad is reading in front of them. That sort of stuff shouldn’t really be allowed, if you ask us.
Ed, Edd n Eddy was actually well known for these little background gags centered on the fact that the three main characters were young boys who clearly hadn't figured themselves out yet. Any adult male remembers that time, and it can really be a struggle, so we imagine the writing and animation teams saw this as a chance to get some humor out there about this difficult time. However, they were working on a children's show, so they couldn't just come right out and say it; they had to come up with some covert ways to fit the jokes into the show. One of the boys is a total paranoid and worries about things being clean, along with everyone following the rules and everything having its proper place. This is exactly why his parents know that leaving this sort of note in the bathroom will definitely work with their son. If you can't make it out, it says, "Don't Touch Yourself."
We don't know about you, but we reckon this might be our favorite joke on this entire list. Not only does it speak to something that might be true of the actual audience, but it also points itself out to the audience through the professor's reaction. While some of the others just make the joke and move on, the writers and animators decided that they'd rather linger on the moment, thereby letting the adults have their laugh but also making the children curious. This is smart because it means that many parents were having some awkward conversations not long after this scene, and we think this was definitely done on purpose. What do you think? Are we just reading way too much into what's essentially a joke on a children’s television show, or are these guys trying to have as much fun with the family dynamic as we think they are?
This one actually really surprises us, if we're being honest. This is the sort of cheeky gag you'd expect to see in a live-action superhero film, not amongst the animated episodes of everybody's favorite comic book heroes. We're not sure why, but this sexual innuendo about how long the Flash can last in bed just jars with the tone of an animated superhero show, if you ask us. Don't ask us why we think it fits better in any other form of animated show, but it just feels like it does. Does anybody else know what we're getting at? We reckon it might have something to do with the fact that superheroes are sort of seen as these pure characters fighting for nothing more than good in this world, but then, we suppose that just isn't what superheroes are anymore. Maybe we’re just getting too old for this world?
Is it just us, or are there a lot of jokes on this list that are about some form of mature alone time, whether the person having the alone time is an adult or not. It's odd to think that while the children watching these shows will have had no idea what people were laughing at, they also wouldn't even notice how uncomfortable their pubescent brother or sister felt because of the joke. Was that just us? There was a period of time in our lives when we would rather watch a sex scene with our parents around than have to handle the concept that they knew what we were doing in our bedrooms at night, let alone that they were once in that position as well. Maybe if the concept came up more than in just television shows, people would feel more comfortable about jokes like this one. Teach your kids about adult time is what we’re saying.
One of the greatest things about another writer being allowed to mess with a world or characters in a world that somebody else created is that it allows these writers to breathe new life into what have otherwise become old characters. This obviously isn't always for the best, but it does allow for moments like the one above that took place in one of the live-action Scooby Doo films which had a completely different tone to the original cartoon. While it's long been a running joke that Shaggy's character is a stoner, it's obviously never been confirmed by the cartoon that was intended for children. However, the live-action films were more of a comedic romp, which allowed the writers to play around with the idea while giving a nod to the original. For those who are still too innocent to understand this joke, Mary Jane is a slang term for Marijuana.
It's only as we got older that we realized that just because something is drawn in a cartoonish style or is animated doesn't mean that it's happy or for a younger audience. In the past few years, we've found ourselves enjoying a whole host of animated entertainment that's directly aimed at an older audience. That being said, you'd be surprised by how many of your childhood television shows tried to get pretty dark as well, including the famous Tom & Jerry. Seems unlikely, doesn't it? Well, one episode of Tom & Jerry saw the two enemies losing their girlfriends and becoming so depressed that they decided they'd rather die together under a train than go on without the ones they love. Pretty bleak, right? Even if you saw this as a child, the full weight of what was happening on the screen probably wouldn't hit you as much as it would if you had seen this as an adult.
Sources: Wikipedia; IMDB; Daily Mail