Children's cartoons usually present idyllic worlds full of innocence and wonder. Even when there's some darkness, strife or conflict within them, the universes themselves are quirky, adventurous and just generally a hell of a lot more fun than this shitball we all spin around on. Except that's not always the whole story: If you dig a little deeper, you'll find that some kids' shows are actually taking place in dystopian hell dimensions that make our world look like Candyland.
6Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?: Life in a Shattered Economy
Scooby-Doo cartoons, in their many incarnations, are about four teenage friends and their dog who all travel around solving mysteries. The gang always ends up in some kind of spooky location where a seemingly supernatural monster is terrorizing the local population, but eventually, our heroes solve the mystery and reveal the monster to be a disguised criminal. So even when it seems terrifying, it all works out for the best.
It's not like the real world's justice system makes much more sense.
So, What's the Problem?
The criminals are all super-geniuses, and not one of them can make an honest living.
Almost every locale in the Scooby-Doo universe looks like the economy has just taken a nosedive. Even their nice "vacation" spots look like bad neighborhoods in Detroit.
"Gee, Scoob, it sure is spooOOOooky how many out of work mechanics this scene implies."
In the 25 episodes of the original Scooby Doo, Where Are You? cartoon, our gang comes across four deserted mansions, two abandoned castles and an empty ski resort, amusement park, ghost town, mine, Hawaiian village, airfield and mill. And of the 27 villains the gang encounters, 23 are motivated by monetary gain via theft, smuggling or land speculation. The Mystery Machine crew isn't running into domestic disputes or drug-related crimes. They are dealing exclusively with people who need money so badly that they voluntarily squat in the basements of abandoned houses for the off-chance of landing a paycheck. And if the villains don't need money, they need work. The remaining four motives? Winning a dog show, getting an acting gig, revenge for getting fired and a hatred of robots. Those who don't need money or work are acting out of a hatred for robots, the quintessential job stealer.
"Beep bop boop. No, I'm not union, why do you ask? Bop boop beep."
And Scooby-Doo villains are not run-of-the-mill criminals: They all have the uncanny ability to manufacture realistic monster costumes, project full-scale holograms and carve out high-tech hideouts in abandoned mineshafts. Many of them already had impressive vocational skills prior to their criminal lives -- three of the villains were PhDs, two were lawyers, one had the ability to produce near-identical forged paintings, one could repair boats, one was a magician, one was a stuntman and one could hypnotize people.
See that? That's the educational system, art world, maritime engineering and entertainment industries -- all in the toilet. Each of these villains showed creativity, intelligence, diligence and ambition. In our world, they would easily be employed, maybe even famous. But, in the universe of Scooby-Doo, it simply wasn't enough. The Scooby gang ran into a new, desperate genius every single week for decades. Either brilliance is simply run-of-the-mill in their universe, or else the entire economy has collapsed, and what we're witnessing is the death throes of society itself. Although there are signs that the sandwich ingredient and dog marijuana industries are booming, so it's probably the former.
With all the ghost pirates and ghost ships around, shipping must be in a bit of a slump.