5 Childhood-Ruining Appearances from Famous Characters
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 ...
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.
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.
Mighty Mouse Gets "Happy" From Snorting a Mysterious Powder
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.
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.
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.
Tintin's Animal-Torturing Hobby
The most impressive thing about Tintin isn't that his adventures have been translated to 70 languages, or that he's still popular after 85 years despite lacking boobs and superpowers: It's that he has a comic so offensive that we've now gotten two articles out of it. We've told you all about the shocking amount of racism in 1931's Tintin in the Congo. Now gather around and let us tell you about the animal torture. Here he is exploding a rhino:
"Oh, I don't want to take the horns. I just want to take the lives."
If you can't make it out from the panels, Tintin is hunting a rhino by employing the little-used technique of drilling a hole in the animal's back, inserting dynamite in said hole, then blowing the poor creature into a billion pieces. But that wasn't an isolated incident -- here's a scene where he shoots an ape, skins it, and wears its flesh as a costume:
He did the same to Captain Haddock in Tintin Makes Everyone Pay.
Yeah, we don't care what decade or century it is, we assure you that scene gave someone nightmares. But maybe it's less creepy after being translated?
Oh, and note that, not one page later, Tintin is having a conversation with another monkey. He killed an intelligent being with a family and friends. Shit, even Tintin's freaking dog can talk in this comic -- the implication being that all animals can.
And in the strip, they all sound more articulate than any black person he encounters.
Again, this book is just filled with this stuff. It's like a Saw movie. Even when he's not slaughtering animals, Tintin still takes the time to fuck with nature:
"I'd stay to watch you starve, but I have snakes to cut open."
Superman Kills a Petty Thug in an Anti-Smoking PSA
In the early '80s, the British government took on the daunting task of somehow trying to convince kids that smoking doesn't look cool. Thus, they created a multimedia campaign seemingly designed to teach kids that if cancer doesn't kill them for smoking ... then Superman will.
In one of the TV ads, Superman faces off against a new villain: Nick O'Teen, a presumably Irish rogue bent on getting kids hooked on cigarettes, which really doesn't seem so bad in the grand scheme of villainy.
Nick O'Teen's application was rejected by the Legion of Doom, and those guys let the Penguin in.
Superman arrives to apprehend the villain (and we're using the term loosely, seeing as he's committing a misdemeanor at most), then takes him to the authorities and makes sure he gets the mental help he needs -- or that's what would happen if Superman could be bothered to fill out the paperwork. He can't, so instead he just throws the guy into orbit.
"If any of you kids inhaled, I'm gonna need you to come here for a moment."
If the shock didn't kill Nick O'Teen, something tells us the fall probably did. Lex Luthor gets a slap on the wrist for plotting to destroy the Earth, but if you try to give cigarettes to kids (for free!), then it's a terrifying death for you. And just to show you that this was completely deliberate and not an animator losing his mind, a comic made for the same campaign showed the same scene:
"Up, up, and asphyxiate!"
Superman doesn't even stop to consider the circumstances that might have led Nick O'Teen to peddle cigarettes before murdering him (what the fuck was he supposed to do with his life with a name like that, anyway?). Both the ad and the comic end with Superman crushing a handful of cigarettes and telling kids to lay off that shit, which might be a bit hypocritical of him, considering the following panel:
"Smoking ONE cigar is bad. Seven at the same time is perfectly fine."
But remember: If you smoke, Superman thinks you're a loser who deserves to die. Cue John Williams fanfare!
Bill and Ted's Terrible, Homophobic Adventure
The below clip probably doesn't make much sense without context, so we'll cut to the chase and tell you what it's about: That's Bill and Ted, the affable '80s time-traveling slackers, telling Superman to "man up" after he turned gay and naturally lost his fighting abilities.
If that looks like a play some fraternity dudes put on, it isn't -- that's an officially sanctioned Bill and Ted show. More specifically, the clip comes from Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure, a 2013 live show at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, because there's nothing scarier than realizing that your favorite childhood movie came out almost 25 years ago.
Or five years ago in Keanu time.
While the idea of a Bill and Ted live show isn't inherently terrible, there was something ... off about them in this production. "Alec Baldwin Twitter rant" off. The show finds Bill and Ted traveling to Oz (from that famous Halloween movie, The Wizard of Oz), encountering an assortment of pop-culture icons along the way, including Superman, who is turned gay by a witch and immediately takes off his clothes and starts dancing. A mentally scarring YouTube search reveals that "gay, dancing Superman" has been a staple of Universal's Halloween shows since at least 2006. (And yes, there's a Bryan Singer joke.)
"Be excellent to each other" doesn't include sexual minorities.
In addition to insulting gay people, Bill and Ted stand idly by while Disney's Wreck-it Ralph declares his intention to rape Nicki Minaj and then simply abducts her -- if you think a "wreck-it" joke about her asshole isn't involved, then you aren't getting just how loathsome this show is. Another example of the show's "edgy" material involves Michael Jackson coming back from the dead just to hit on Justin Bieber. Classic Bill and Ted!
We'll remind you now that Bill and Ted had an excellent cartoon and an excellent children's breakfast cereal. Perhaps we're supposed to believe that going to hell and back scarred them more than we knew, or that finding out you're the saviors of mankind when you're a teenager is just too much to handle. Or maybe, just maybe, the only message here is that whoever wrote this shit is a horrible person and should probably stay away from the inevitably depressing sequel.
J.M. McNab writes and podcasts for Rewatchability.com. You can also find him on Twitter.
Related Reading: Did you know that Doug is actually schizophrenic? Or that Betty Boop tortured and tried to kill a dog? And those are just American cartoons. It's when you go overseas that things really get nuts.
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