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We're an internet generation. As long as there's a vast, nearly infinite network of information at our fingertips, we're going to use it to dig up the upsetting secrets behind everything we know and love. Because that's who we are, dammit. So, while we're here, we might as well shatter what's left of your childhood nostalgia by telling you that ...

The Author Of Goodnight Moon Died Horrifically, Left Her Money To A Jerk Kid

Harper & Brothers

We all know Goodnight Moon, the paltry children's book parents read their kids with the hope that its repetitive blandness will hypnotize them into falling asleep. Goodnight Moon tells the story of an adorable bunny who for some insane reason thinks he needs to say goodnight to all the random crap in his room, such as a balloon, a brush, and a pair of mittens -- but apparently not the goddamn tiger skin rug he somehow owns.

Harper & Brothers
The bunny's classmate Tony was never seen again after a sleepover.

The Horrible Backstory:

Like finding out that Dr. Seuss' last words were, "I'm pretty sure it's not loaded," it turns out the author of this bedtime classic, Margaret Wise Brown, died both tragically and ridiculously. While recovering from an appendectomy in a French hospital, the 42-year-old Brown was eager to show the nurses how well she was, and she did so in the most French way possible: by doing the can-can. The result:

Jim Boone/Find A Grave
Whoever wrote her epitaph apparently wasn't too fond of her non-song output.

Yep, unfortunately, Brown's demonstration triggered an embolism that immediately killed her. But wait, there's more to this story! Being the special kind of person she was, Brown left the rights to the book to a 9-year-old boy who lived in her neighborhood. This would be a touching plot twist ... if that kid hadn't grown up to squander most of the $5 million the book raked in over the years, spending his life in and out of jail. By 2000, he had $21,000 to his name. In a Wall Street Journal article about him, he admitted to spending a lot of money on clothes, because he wears them only twice and throws them away when they "get all wrinkly and funky" (presumably, he spends nothing on deodorant).

Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
"All right, kids, it's been a week. Help me push this off the cliff. Goodnight, car!"

ALF Dropped The N-Bomb, Inspired A Kid To Microwave A Cat

Warner Bros. Television

If you grew up in the '80s, there's no chance you didn't encounter ALF, the wisecracking alien who we later found out was just using humor to mask the fact that he was the lone survivor of a nuclear holocaust. Even if you didn't watch the show, you couldn't swing a half-eaten cat without hitting some piece of shitty ALF merchandise, from board games, to trading cards, to fast food toys that, in retrospect, were probably a smokescreen for some kind of rodent infestation.

Burger King
"Take one per Whopper! P-Please!"

The Horrible Backstory:

Well, for starters, remember ALF's predilection for eating cats? You may also have noticed that those jokes were less frequent as the show went on. There's a reason for that. According to the performer behind ALF, Paul Fusco, the network "hated those jokes" -- not because their sense of humor had evolved beyond puppets pretending to murder adorable animals but because in real life "some kid put a cat in the microwave 'cause he heard ALF cooked a cat."

Warner Bros. Television
Oddly enough, a microwaved cat probably looks a lot like ALF.

Of course, a TV show can't necessarily be held accountable for its audience's actions, but luckily for those of us who still want our memory of ALF to be forever tainted, this blooper reel leaked online. In it, ALF repeatedly shouts the N-word, which unless there was some kind of Melmacian error in translation, is a pretty fucked-up thing to do. It turns out that the Michael Richards-esque outburst was a reference to a scene from L.A. Law; less defensible, however, is when ALF awkwardly hits on the teenage daughter of the family by lying back on a bed and saying, "Straddle me" ...

Warner Bros. Television
That lump down there isn't his foot.

... which would be repulsive for a human to say, let alone a furry, fecal-like puppet to blurt out. So, basically, what we're saying is, working on ALF was even worse than we thought, and we already thought it was pretty fucked-up.

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Legends Of The Hidden Temple Destroyed Kids' Lives


Soon to be a scripted TV movie for some unknown reason, Nickelodeon's Legends Of The Hidden Temple was a children's adventure game show in the vein of Indiana Jones, if Indiana Jones was about 200 percent more Short Round screaming.

And 500 percent more giant talking heads.

The best part of the show was always the final round, the Temple Run, in which the winning team had to frantically navigate an insane series of obstacle-filled rooms, climbing ladders, solving puzzles, running through hamster wheels -- all while avoiding the Temple Guards, masked men who jumped out and fucking grabbed you. Say what you will about Alex Trebek, at least he never attempts to wrestle anyone away from the podium while they're trying to answer a question.


Good thing the mobile game adaptation dropped this part, or our bathroom trips would be way more stressful.

But it was all in good fun, right? The adults involved probably knew what they were doing.

The Horrible Backstory:

Nope! If all this looks intense and scary, that's because it fucking was. One contestant burst into tears after repeated Temple Guard attacks at the end of a 12-hour shoot, and to this day is "deathly afraid of things popping out of closets and doors."

This wasn't an isolated incident, either. According to host Kirk Fogg, the show had to shut down "every once in a while" because of "kid meltdowns" -- sometimes involving "hysterically crying in the middle of the temple." The worst incident came when one kid got so upset she started crying, then puked in the Pit of Despair, which seems as appropriate a place as any.

"Kids! You can't lose your shit here. This is the Pit of Despair!"

The final round was so insanely hard, only 32 out of 120 teams won the grand prize. According to Fogg, this was because the show didn't have the budget to award more than eight prizes per season -- so putting these kids through hell was their way of ensuring the show came in under budget, presumably so Nickelodeon could put more money toward dousing random celebrities with putrid green slime.

The Inventor Of Operation Never Saw Any Royalties, Couldn't Afford A Real-Life Operation

Milton Bradly

Operation is the classic board game that teaches you to have the steady hands of a surgeon while neglecting other abilities that are kinda important to the medical profession -- such as administering anesthesia so the patient's not watching the procedure with an expression of abject horror. Or, hell, maybe sparing them the indignity of being buck naked the whole time, for some reason.

Milton Bradley
Next time, just wait out the brain freeze.

The Horrible Backstory:

The game was invented back in the '60s by a college student named John Spinello. Either because he wasn't super business-savvy or just didn't think the naked clown torture game would be all that popular, Spinello sold the game to a toy firm for a mere $500 and the promise of a job. Not only did he not get the job, the deal also meant that Spinello wasn't entitled to royalties to the wildly popular game, which was sold to Milton Bradley and has since spawned movie tie-ins that are as lucrative as they are nonsensical:

Milton Bradley
Although this would at least explain what happened to R2's ability to fly.

To make things worse, as if his life were being written by a high school creative writing student, recently the creator of Operation actually needed an operation but sadly couldn't afford it. Looking to help pay his medical bills in the same way Zach Braff funds his inane vanity projects, Spinello's friends crowdfunded the procedure, raising well over the $25,000 goal. Even Hasbro (who owns Milton Bradley) helped out by allowing Spinello to use images of his own creation during the campaign. For free! They also ended up buying the game's original prototype for an undisclosed amount, though we're gonna go ahead and guess it was less than the $40 million Spinello's idea has made for other people so far.

John Spinello
The Prototype. Originally, you were supposed to operate on the T-1000.

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The Creator Of The Troll Doll Was Screwed Out Of Billions

DreamWorks Animation

Troll Dolls: those lovable, genital-less toys with the face of Clint Howard and the hair of Phil Spector.

DreamWorks Animation
And the dick of actual internet trolls (none).

Back in the '90s, you couldn't find an office desk or car dashboard that didn't feature at least one of these miniature naked creatures staring back at you with its black, soulless eyes. They even popped up briefly as a Saturday morning cartoon that thankfully cut into their gleeful exhibitionism by giving them some damn clothes.

DreamWorks Animation
For those who thought The Smurfs weren't edgy and daring enough.

The Horrible Backstory:

The story of the Troll Doll goes all the way back to 1959, when Danish woodcutter Thomas Dam, who couldn't afford a Christmas present for his daughter, fashioned the first Troll as her gift. Undercutting the sweetness of its origin somewhat, the Troll's "ugly face" was carved to resemble a butcher Dam owed money to, and this was his revenge -- so it was really both a beautiful Christmas gesture and a backhanded "Fuck you."

Thomas Dam
Now imagine that thing holding a butcher knife and never sleep again.

Dam ended up selling the dolls door to door, and what eventually came to be known as Good Luck Trolls turned into his own business. Sadly, though, Dam screwed up the international copyright, leading to an epidemic of legal Troll knockoffs when a U.S. court ruled that the error made the Trolls public domain. If you don't think this sounds like a big deal, consider that just a few years later, even JFK had caught Troll-mania.

Dam still kept cranking out Trolls, but he earned "only a small percentage of the estimated $4.5 billion made from Trolls throughout the world," according to the N.Y. Times. Dam died in 1989, the same year the U.S. joined the Berne Convention, "which paved the way for individuals and companies to gain copyright and patents abroad that they held in their home countries" -- further proving that the "good luck" component of the dolls was complete and utter bullshit.

Ecco The Dolphin Was Inspired By A Scientist's Insane, Drug-Fueled Experiments


Video game fans likely remember Ecco The Dolphin, the legendary Sega Genesis game that begins with you controlling a dolphin performing fairly typical aquatic activities ...

Such as swimming alongside fish or generally staying the fuck away from Japan.

... before going completely batshit crazy, with Ecco using a psychedelic time machine ...


... to fight nightmare-inducing giant aliens.

If they hired H.R. Giger to make a Flipper video game, this is probably how it would have turned out.

So, yeah, it's awesome.

The Horrible Backstory:

According to this Vice article, Ecco was likely inspired by the work of scientist John C. Lilly. Back in the '60s when this kind of thing presumably made sense, Lilly was hired by NASA to look into whether it was possible to communicate with dolphins. While this may sound like an adorable waste of time, the logic was that such a venture could contribute to our ability to understand any potential extraterrestrial life. Lilly's research involved flooding a house in the Caribbean, filling it with dolphins, and even allowing one female researcher to regularly jerk off a male dolphin named Peter.

Dr. John C. Lilly
"So long, and thanks for all the fucking."

Later in life, Lilly began experimenting with ketamine, more commonly known (presumably to the chagrin of Kellogg's) as Special K. When ketamine alone didn't do the trick, he also experimented with dosing himself inside a sensory deprivation tank, which inspired the book Altered States. While in this state of extreme fucked-upness, Lilly thought he was contacted by aliens called the "Earth Coincidence Control Office," who at one point he believed stole his penis. And say, what is "Earth Coincidence Control Office" as an acronym?


A Tweet from the creator of Ecco The Dolphin confirmed that this wasn't all a coincidence, meaning that the game really was inspired by a man who was cool with allowing regular dolphin handjobs but decidedly not cool with extraterrestrial castration.

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Peanuts Creator Charles Schulz Traded The Real Snoopy For Gravel

20th Century Fox

Even more than 60 years later, Charles Schulz's Peanuts characters are still famous for their beloved Christmas special, new feature film, and for turning the Today Show crew into a gang of terrifying mutants.

We're gonna need about $5,000 for the psychiatrist.

The Horrible Backstory:

Fans of the strip will be delighted to know that there was, in fact, a real Snoopy owned by Schulz. Less delightful: He traded the dog away. For "a load of gravel."

The Milwaukee Journal
"We also traded Woodstock for some ketchup packets and Linus for a soiled napkin."

Thankfully, readers were spared a comic where Snoopy vanishes but Charlie Brown suspiciously has a new gravel-filled driveway. Or a Christmas special where Charlie realizes that the true meaning of the season is getting a sweet deal on large quantities of tiny rocks.

If that isn't enough to depress you, the inspiration behind Charlie Brown's unrequited love, the little red-headed girl, probably will. In real life, she was Schulz's red-headed girlfriend, Donna Johnson. Because romance is so often like having a football pulled away at the last minute, Johnson rejected Schulz's marriage proposal, choosing another man.

Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center
And the Great Pumpkin? Died of esophagus cancer.

So Charlie Brown's obsession over his crush isn't just a cute childhood story; it was an outlet for deep-seated regret -- he even peppered the stories with inside jokes for Johnson. "It was the story of his life and mine," she later stated. Of course, if they had ended up together there was always the very real possibility that he'd trade her for some gravel, so maybe she made the right choice.

J.M. McNab co-hosts the pop culture nostalgia podcast Rewatchability, which can also be found on iTunes. Follow him on Twitter @Rewatchability.

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