When most people picture classic cartoons, they think of cute characters, fun songs, and maybe some light, folksy racism. What you may not remember is how often they took careful aim at childhood innocence and shot it right between the eyes. Because those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it, here are some examples of some truly insane, child-ruining pieces of classic animation.
8 Mickey Mouse And Pluto Become A Madman's Experiments
Mickey Mouse is the likable but otherwise nondescript ruler of the Disney universe. He's not a cauldron of rage lunacy like Donald Duck, a calamitous buffoon like Goofy, or a subtle reference to male erotica like Chip n' Dale. Mickey is just kind of there, waving and squeaking. It's almost as if he's suffered some kind of unspeakable mental trauma. And we think we found that trauma in the 1933 Disney short The Mad Doctor.
The story begins with Pluto being dragged away from Mickey's home by a dark hooded figure. The fear in Pluto's eyes and body language is so lovingly animated that it makes us wonder how an experienced dog murderer found the time to become a Disney animator, because that's clearly what happened here:
"I can't quite get the panic right. Bring in another model dog!"
After Pluto is captured, the abductor pulls off his hood to reveal himself as the Mad Doctor, a deranged man with plans to attach Pluto's head to the body of a chicken, a complicated surgical procedure requiring a bloody hand saw and absolutely nothing else.
Honestly, every part of this equation is equally confusing.
In one of the more surreal sequences of horror in the history of cartoons, the Mad Doctor hangs Pluto on a hook and cuts his shadow in half with a pair of scissors. Pluto is forced to watch as his shadow's corpse hangs limply from the ends of a fork, as if half of his soul is now dead. It's equal parts body horror and existential crisis, like Salvador Dali making a flipbook to describe weeks of penis torture.
Things don't turn out much better for Mickey, who stumbles into a trap and finds himself strapped to a gurney beneath a relentless saw blade, with a single blinding spotlight in place to illuminate his final shrieking moments.
Luckily, all those crunches paid off for Mickey.
In the end, it turns out it was all a dream, which honestly doesn't do much to soften the crippling blow Disney has dealt to the world's children. To give you a sense of how disturbed everyone was by this cartoon, The Mad Doctor was banned in Great Britain and Nazi fucking Germany. That's right, this cartoon was so terrifying that it freaked out the Nazis. The Mad Doctor character was brought back for the Epic Mickey video game series, but that seems less an artistic decision than the result of a failed exorcism.
7 Felix The Cat Knocks Up A Girl, Commits Suicide
Years before Mickey Mouse invaded every home in America and spent the next half century stoutly refusing to leave, like some falsetto vampire, Felix the Cat became the first cartoon merchandising bonanza. He was on everything from tie pins to bombers to radiator caps, an impressive feat made doubly so by the fact that Felix died a lonely, bleak death in his debut cartoon:
In the 1919 short Feline Follies, Felix (who at this point was named "Master Tom") looks more like some kind of dog monkey than a cat, so he has to game twice as hard to score a date with the neighbor's cat:
"Hey, baby. You like poorly drawn, indeterminable animals?"
While Felix and Girl Cat are out on their date, Felix's house gets destroyed by mice, because he left the door open or something:
Magical, color-changing mice.
Felix is ashamed at his failure as a mouse hunter, so he decides to move into his new girlfriend's house, where, much to his surprise, he is greeted by over a dozen of his offspring. Felix's first date went super well, is what we're saying.
This cartoon would later be adapted into a human in the form of NBA great Shawn Kemp.
Felix immediately books the hell out of there, partially to avoid responsibility and partially because he's clearly put his barbed penile spines into some kind of ultra-fertile witch cat and wishes to escape before the ritual is complete. Even after beating a successful retreat from his litter of bastards, the specter of fatherhood proves to be too great for this soon-to-be beloved icon. Felix, despondent over the prospect of raising all of these offspring, makes a decision. He finds a gasworks and a hose, then sucks down the darkest possible solution to all his problems.
Cut to black.
Okay, sure, 1919 was a bit of a depressing year, what with World War I and the Spanish Flu, so it's understandable that a cartoonist might be going through a bit of a Cure phase. Even so, who the hell thought an imitable, casual suicide was a fun way to end a cartoon? Was that the banana peel of 1919? Those kittens grew up seeing Felix on gum wrappers and billboards, thinking, "Hey, that guy looks exactly like my deadbeat father, who chose to kill himself rather than love any of his children!"