#2. Quick Porn Jokes in Rugrats and SpongeBob SquarePants
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
In the early '90s, Nickelodeon aired a show called Rugrats alongside the more grown-up Ren & Stimpy Show, presumably because they thought the goofball sweetness of the former would cancel out the coarse insanity of the latter like rubber boots in an electrical storm. Parents loved Rugrats because it was a violence-free, family-friendly show about childhood naivety. Children loved Rugrats in spite of all that.
But Rugrats still managed to deviously slip some things in under the radar. In one episode, Grandpa Lou rents some movies for the titular infants to watch. In addition to two age-appropriate films starring the kid's favorite atomic dinosaur, Reptar, he also whips out a copy of his "personal favorite" movie, Lonely Space Vixens, to which he adds, "That's for after you go to bed."
And now you're wondering what that NickToons logo is made of.
We can safely assume that most of the kids watching this episode didn't pick up on the connotation here, because until you reach puberty, Lonely Space Vixens just sounds like a movie about intergalactic fox hunting. But the gag strikes every adult viewer square in the forehead with the disquieting mental image of a loopy septuagenarian sitting on the couch with the lights off, pummeling his aging, rickety erection while a gang of babies are sleeping in the next room. Further adding to the discomfort is the knowledge that this is Grandpa Lou's favorite film, which means the Rugrats' parents have entrusted their care to an elderly pornography hound.
And then we have SpongeBob SquarePants, which makes its second appearance on this list. In one episode, SpongeBob is intently watching live-action footage of a sea anemone wriggling back and forth. When his pet snail enters the room, SpongeBob quickly hits the remote and stammers, "I was just looking for the sports channel!" like his boss walked up to his cubicle and he's desperately trying to close Snapchat.
Why would SpongeBob be so ashamed at being caught watching a nature documentary? Well, for anyone older than 12, it's pretty clear that SpongeBob was watching the sea-dwelling invertebrate's version of pornography. Look at his goddamned face -- the only thing that could make his arousal clearer would be if the crotch of his square pants suddenly sprouted a boxy Minecraft tower.
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
"Just be glad we didn't use the Squidward and tentacles gag we originally had."
#1. Barney Makes a Dick Joke on The Flintstones
Warner Bros. Animation
Sure, The Flintstones were known to peddle cigarettes on occasion, but that can't really be held against them considering everyone in the 1960s smoked like an elderly divorcee by the time they were in second grade. The jokes on The Flintstones rarely got more sophisticated than blatant chauvinism and using woodpeckers as typewriters. That is, except for the time they quietly slipped a thunderous dick joke into an episode right under everyone's nose.
In the episode, Fred and Barney take a trip to the costume store, as cavemen are wont to do. Fred asks Barney what kind of costume he's going to get. Barney replies that he'll buy something that makes him look tall, so Fred suggests he buy another head. Barney retorts, "What do I need three of them for?" (The second head, of course, being his penis.) They then break into hysterical fits of laughter, because 95 percent of this show was Fred and Barney cracking themselves up.
That's right -- the guys are sharing a yarn about Barney's throbbing, bulbous cock helmet in a puzzling example of getting a pretty explicit gag past the infamously hard-nosed censors of the 1960s. The show's producers even had the balls to follow it up with the laugh track, just to make sure everyone watching caught the joke.
Warner Bros. Animation
"We wanted to have him pull off his hair revealing him to be an anthropomorphic dick, but we went over budget."
The truly baffling thing is, there is absolutely no other way to interpret what Barney said. That means some Standards and Practices guru watched the episode and either A) got the joke and put it on the air anyway because they thought it was too funny to pass up, or B) didn't understand the joke at all and thought Barney was just spitting gibberish all over Bedrock in a way that amused both Fred and the prerecorded studio audience. But at least they resisted the temptation to throw in an anal rape joke.
Matt Pass is a comedian in New Jersey, and you can follow him on Twitter. Cole Norton can be found in your dreams and on Twitter, as can Dennis Fulton. Jeetesh comes from the mystical lands of India, and you can send him a friend request on Facebook. Carolyn can be found on her blog or on Twitter.
For more grossly inappropriate content in children's media, check out 17 R-Rated Easter Eggs You Never Noticed in Disney Movies.
Related Reading: Our cartoons still aren't nearly as hardcore as France's children's cartoons. They feature cannibalism like it ain't no thing. And if that's not crazy enough for you, let this North Korean cartoon explain how geometry can help you defeat America. Since we've already taken things to a depressing place, check out the dark origins of these lovable children's characters.