Whether they realize it or not, parents leave their children in the care of cartoon writers for several hours every week--which is about as wise as telling your kids that a candy-dealing leprechaun lives at the bottom of the swimming pool.
For every wholesome lesson about sharing and togetherness, there's at least one deeply disturbing reference they've managed to slip past the censors. And some times, it's not exactly subtle.
#6. Animaniacs - Fingering Prince
The whole secret to the success of a cartoon like Animaniacs is to appeal both to the kiddies who like animated slapstick, and to the college kids who like the quick inside jokes clearly intended to sail over the toddlers' heads. Then, sometimes, they'll throw in a reference to fingering a man's anus.
For example, we have the episode "Hercule Yakko"--an oblique reference to Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot that no child would get--where the Warner siblings act as detectives on board a cruise ship as they look for a stolen diamond. Right off the bat Yakko is making a Charlie Chan joke, a reference to a racist detective serial from the first half of the 20th century that we're guessing not even the college kids caught.
But then Yakko tells Dot to "dust for prints." She returns with pop musician and noted enemy of the Internet, Prince, who for some reason is hanging around on a children's cartoon luxury liner.
Yakko tells her, "No, finger prints." Dot and Prince share an awkward glance, before she says, "I don't think so" and tosses Prince through a port window, where he presumably drowns. That's right: The whole joke is she misheard the instructions as "finger Prince."
We believe this is the first time in the history of children's entertainment that they've broached the subject of a cartoon character going knuckle diving in a pop star's asshole. If some other show blazed this trail first, be sure to let us know in the comments.
#5. Pokemon - Man Boobs
There are a few Pokemon episodes that haven't made it to American shores for various reasons, either because they're a little too seizure-inducing, a little too violent or just racist enough.
The show's kind of fucked up.
In Beauty and the Beach, Team Rocket enters a "Beach Beauty and Pokemon Costume Contest" as part of their ill-defined nefarious scheme to kidnap Ash's Pikachu so it can power a doomsday device. And because it makes more sense than anything else in the history of the show, this means the male character James has to throw on a pair of giant breasts for the swimsuit portion.
What kind of swimsuit competition allows two people who are clearly adults to compete against children is unfortunately never explained. Scenes from the uncut Japanese episode have found their way to YouTube but are unfortunately in Japanese with no subtitles.
The episode was broadcast in America one time, but all of James's boob scenes were cut, which somehow makes the episode even less intelligible. If you're out there and you speak Japanese, be sure to never transcribe this for us. We like it better this way.
#4. Cow and Chicken - Carpet Munching
Cow and Chicken is a program best known for desperately trying to be Ren and Stimpy but succeeding mostly in being humorless and annoying. Proving that above all else it recognizes its audience, the show's episode "Buffalo Gals" aims straight for the kids' funny bones with jokes about terrifying lesbian bikers.
The episode opens with Cow and Chicken coming down for breakfast with their parents, who it is important to note are both human beings that evidently lost their arms in some kind of accident because they use their feet to do everything. Then a fierce female motorcycle gang called the Buffalo Gals suddenly bursts into the house, with no explanation as to why they selected this particular home or why they chose to invade it at 8 a.m.
Once inside, they promptly drop to their knees and begin to... chew furiously on the carpet.
If you're from a part of the world with different lesbian slang, or have just led a very sheltered life, the whole "carpet munching" thing is a reference to female oral sex. Apparently the writers were also afraid that simply showing the action would be too subtle a joke, so first we get the main characters mistaking the bikers for men, calling one of them "sir," at which point they introduce themselves as "the Buffalo Gals." Then Mom explains that this group of bikers with butch haircuts "randomly bursts into people's homes and chews on their carpet."
Where other shows are happy to throw out some nod-and-wink innuendo for the grownups, Cow and Chicken devoted pretty much the rest of the episode to it. The group invites Cow to one of their softball outings...
GET IT BECAUSE LESBIANS PLAY SOFTBALL
...where she can learn about "pitching" and "catching" which, while being another gay joke, is used here to insult the wrong gender. Jesus, guys, if you can't keep your 80s stand-up comedy gay stereotypes straight, how are the children supposed to learn?