There comes a moment in the life of every child when you find out your parents are just people: Maybe you saw your dad getting intoxicated, or being racist, or committing mass murder. Nobody's perfect, is our point. As we've covered once before, this includes your favorite childhood characters, because for every pop culture icon, there's at least one obscure episode where they can be seen doing exactly the things we just mentioned. For example ...
#6. Popeye Straight-Up Shoots a Dude in the Head
When he's not pimping fried chicken and weight-gain supplements or weaning children onto a cancer-ridden tobacco-smoking life with candy cigarettes, Popeye seems like a pretty cool guy. Sure, he's kind of an attention whore, but wouldn't you be too if you had that impressive physique?
His achievements are an inspiration to grossly deformed people everywhere.
The problem is, when a character has been around for as long as Popeye, he's bound to have some skeletons in his closet (mostly super racist ones). In Popeye's case, that would be the literal skeleton of the dude he shot in cold blood at the end of the cartoon short "Happy Birthdaze" from 1943. To be fair, it was a different time, and killing people for no reason was more socially acceptable.
The short, which you probably won't see aired on Cartoon Network anytime soon, begins with Popeye talking a young sailor out of committing suicide.
Always a fun way to start a kids' cartoon.
Popeye, not wanting his fellow sailor to blow his brains all over the ship, invites him to his birthday party. Unfortunately, the troubled man is really annoying, so like anyone else would, Popeye plots to beat on him with a baseball bat, because apparently Popeye is Joe Pesci in Casino.
"You think I'm funny now?"
"But Popeye, that's Joe Pesci in Goodfe- AGH!"
After the whole party has been ruined, Popeye ends up stuck in the basement furnace with his new friend. When the guy starts enthusiastically singing "Happy birthday to my pal," Popeye finally gets him to shut up ... by shooting him in the goddamn head. Seriously. We see a flash in the dark accompanied by a loud bang, and then dead silence.
"Your life I will finish, cause I eat my spinach, it's first-degree hom-i-cide!" *bang* *bang*
And that's it. This cartoon ends with a murder. That's the punchline. Apparently, every Popeye cartoon since this one has been set in Popeye's deranged imagination as he lives out his life sentence in jail. At least that explains the Robin Williams movie.
#5. Winnie the Pooh Was a Huge Dick in His Comic Strip
As anyone who grew up watching or reading the adventures of Winnie the Pooh can tell you, there was usually very little douchebaggery in the Hundred Acre Wood; the place was completely asshole-free (literally and figuratively, since stuffed animals don't poop). In fact, everyone was so damn nice all the time that it was almost unnerving.
However, the good-natured tone of the books and cartoons didn't translate very well into the official comic strip, where Pooh inexplicably acts like a giant dickhead.
We don't laugh at you, Eeyore.
And we mean all the time. That was his personality -- he was a shithead. They did strips about Pooh bullying his friend Piglet without provocation not once:
"Let's see if you can tumble down a cliff right."
There's not even a joke there. He's just being Winnie the Shit for no reason.
But all the time:
"You know what that means."
"Aw, geez. I'll get the gimp mask."
Yes, apparently Winnie's favorite pastime when the cameras aren't rolling is making his friends feel like shit. This seems like some kind of underground comic created by a vengeful ex-Disney animator, but it's not. The comic strip, which was syndicated in newspapers from 1978 to 1988, was actually a licensed Disney property, overseen by Disney staff, who you would think should know that Winnie the Pooh's ability to not act like a dick all the time was pretty much the core concept of the character.
It gets worse. Here he is tormenting poor clinically depressed Eeyore:
They couldn't fit in an extra panel to show Eeyore hanging himself with his tail.
There are many more examples of the lovable cartoon bear emotionally abusing everyone. If these are supposed to represent Christopher Robin's play sessions, it's no wonder the kid's only friends are his stuffed animals. The strip continues to be reprinted today, and will presumably continue to do so until a Disney employee finally opens a newspaper and reads it. But hey, at least we can rest easy knowing Pooh did eventually get exactly what was coming to him:
This was followed by a 10-strip series of just Pooh screaming, over and over.
#4. Mighty Mouse Gets "Happy" From Snorting a Mysterious Powder
CBS Television Distribution
In an era where superheroes, cute CGI animals, and a profound lack of originality are Hollywood's biggest assets, it seems strange that no big studio has scooped up the rights to Mighty Mouse, the classic cartoon character who combines the best features of Mickey Mouse, Superman, and Andy Kaufman. Seriously, how come we haven't seen a big-budget revamp of the muscular flying rodent yet? That might have to do with a little incident from his scandalous past.
That's an episode of the 1987 Mighty Mouse relaunch, Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, where our hero is seen snorting a strange powder. Within the context of the show, it's explained that this is a pulverized flower he purchased from an adorable tramp. You know how people do that, right? Buy flowers, turn them into powder, and snort them? Hell, some of you are doing that right now. But this was the '80s, so cocaine was in everyone's minds. Literally.
CBS Television Distribution
He wanted to snort it so badly, he even grew nostrils.
That's pretty much what happened when a family in Kentucky saw the episode and started a controversy, labeling Mighty Mouse a drug fiend. The show's producer, Ralph Bakshi, explained that the character "was happy after smelling the flowers because it helped him remember the little girl who sold it to him," but it was a little hard to believe him, considering said producer also directed the X-rated Fritz the Cat film. As a result, the three-and-a-half seconds exposing Mighty Mouse's unusual nasal activity were excised from future broadcasts ... but not the DVDs, so you can still see them on YouTube.
It also didn't help that there were other disturbingly adult elements in the program: A dream sequence in another episode includes a gag about two characters getting intimate in the shower and the implication that Mighty's girlfriend birthed his nemesis' love-child, resulting in a cow/mouse abomination.
CBS Television Distribution
That, or Mighty and his girlfriend were cousins.
But that's the kind of "nod and wink" joke you can insert into a cartoon and be confident it will sail right over everyone's heads (and animators do that all the time). Everybody finds it way less funny when your subtle "for grown-ups" joke involves a cartoon character chasing the blues away by hitting the ol' nose candy.