5 Shockingly Dark Scenes Starring Iconic Kids' Characters
People go on and on about how wholesome and innocent the past was, yet they rarely mention the never-ending parades of brutal death porn that were old-timey cartoons. It turns out that destroying innocence was not invented by the Internet after all ...
Pluto's Judgement Day (1935): Pluto Goes to Hell for Serial Murder
In the wacky animated romp, Pluto's Judgement Day, Pluto the dog goes to hell. That's right: Pluto, Mickey's loyal pet and one of the few Disney characters who never talks or bothers anyone and just does dumb dog things, somehow earns himself eternal damnation.
Apparently God feels as strongly about pooper-scooping as our homeowners association.
So what sparked all this? Did Pluto snap and finally maul Huey, Dewey, and Louie into a downy pulp? Nope, Pluto is just shown chasing a cat, which is like half the reasons dogs exist. Well, that's enough to piss off Mickey, who warns Pluto that he's going to have to answer for his crimes on judgment day, which is really taking that pet-shaming meme to a whole new level.
Abandon all hope, all ye who dig through the garbage.
After Pluto falls asleep in front of the fireplace, a ghost cat coaxes him into cute animal Hades -- "yes, honey, your rabbit might burn in the lake of fire for chewing on the lamp" -- where Pluto is chained to a post and brought in front of a demonic cat jury. For the next five minutes, he is accused of various murders by the Cat-Devil. Oh, okay! We take it all back. Our goofy, non-Goofy dog pal does indeed have blood on his snout. The fact that Pluto had chased a cat under a steamroller and starved three kittens to death (Jesus Christ!) is plenty to warrant a guilty verdict, and the dog is sentenced to being burned alive.
After the kittens, we're gonna call this "tough, but fair."
Now, before the episode ends, Pluto wakes up, and we find out he's still safe in the living room. It was just his guilty conscience messing with him! The guilty conscience that he has after committing all those murders.
Chicken Little (1943): Hitler Kills Everybody
You remember the story of Chicken Little: a silly farm chick feels an acorn drop on his head and convinces everyone that the sky is falling, leading to mass panic. It's a classic tale about not giving into paranoia, or as Walt Disney saw it: fantastic source material for a wartime propaganda film.
Don't judge him; irony wasn't invented until 1964.
As with all versions of the story, the antagonist in Disney's Chicken Little (1943) is Foxy Loxy. Only here, he's not a bumbling kiddy villain. Instead, he's a cunning madman who plans to eat the entire farm with the help of his trusted psychology book ... which the studio originally wanted to be Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.
Is it too late to just let Foxy Loxy into art school?
They changed the book's title to the generic Psychology, but they didn't change the content. One of its passages says, "To influence the masses, aim first at the least intelligent," which is a watered-down version of Hitler's "All propaganda ... must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence." Another passage, "If you tell them a lie, don't tell a little one -- tell a big one," is actually a direct reference to the "big lie" propaganda technique coined by Hitler in Mein Kampf. Yes, thanks to the real-life tactics of the Third Reich, this anthropomorphic children's cartoon baddy is able to instigate panic among the residents of an adorable animated farm.
Apparently labeling the cave "Eastern European Appeasement" was too heavy-handed.
Luckily, the allies come along in the form of, let's say, a bunch of stubble-bearded sheepdogs and bomb Loxy's plan to hell and back. Oh, wait. No, the animals are all herded into a cave and Loxy puts on a bib and eats every motherfucking last one of them. He even lines up their bones together in a tragically cute wittle gwaveyard.
Damn, Walt. That is one big, flailing, screaming, logical leap to get from "don't believe everything you read" to "genocide against all the cute animals."
Sesame Street (1970): Kermit the Frog is an Emotionally Manipulative Sociopath
In the 66th episode of Sesame Street, Kermit the Frog talks about feelings using Styrofoam faces to represent different emotions. Then that zany Cookie Monster pops up and om-nom-noms Kermit's "happy" face prop, thinking that it's food.
After all the baked goods, some fat-free polystyrene insulation might not be such a bad idea.
Ha ha, what silly antics!
But there is a limit to the amount of shenanigans that the mind can bear, and you can actually see a levee break in Kermit's brain. In a split second, he goes from talking to the kids about being cheerful to berating the living shit out of his co-star. "You big, fat, stupid, rotten monster!" he shouts. "You are without a doubt, one of the nastiest monsters I've ever seen! And I'm so mad I'm going to tell all my friends how rotten you are, and nobody's going to ever play with you anymore. Nobody's going to even talk to you anymore!"
We now know who the real monster here is.
Kermit basically threatens to burn Cookie Monster's life for this transgression, which is a bit out of line for the kooky, friendly puppet show we all know and love. Cookie Monster then begs Kermit not to do it, before breaking down crying. This scene, in all fairness, does a pretty good job teaching children what psychological abuse looks like. Hey, this is a learning show, after all. But as it turns out, Cookie Monster's breakdown was the real plan all along -- this is how Kermit shows kids what "sadness" looks like. He manipulates, berates, abuses and terrifies his friends in order to exploit their fragile emotional states just to prove a point to a kid three fingers deep in his own nose. Patrick Bateman ain't got shit on Kermit the Frog.
It's not easy being mean.
Related: Kermit Is With Us, You Guys
Scaredy Cat (1948): Satanic Sacrifice and Suicide
In Scaredy Cat, a Merrie Melodies short, Porky Pig and his cat Sylvester move into their new home. Porky loves the new digs and can't wait to get some sleep. Sylvester, however, is scared of the place from the moment he walks in and witnesses a ritualistic mice procession escorting a tied-up, terrified cat with the obvious intention of chopping its head off:
You never see this cat again.
You know you're in for a knee-slappin' good time when your Saturday morning cartoons lead right off with devil worship. Sylvester runs to warn Porky, who of course does not believe him and orders the cat back into the kitchen. Like a good Lovecraftian protagonist, rather than return to the torture and madness downstairs, Sylvester produces a gun, and tries to take his own life.
"Sylvester, you look like you've just seen a deep-eta ... I said a deep-eta ... a great old one."
Rather than live with a suicide on his conscience, Porky allows Sylvester to sleep in the room. The mice come back, and what follows is some pretty standard cartoon violence where no one really gets hurt ... until they finally lower the sleeping Sylvester into the basement where the freaky cult-mice do things that clearly break his mind and rend his sanity asunder.
That's not hair dye.
The shell-shocked, obviously traumatized Sylvester once again tries to warn Porky of the madness that lurks beyond the mouse hole. Porky goes to the kitchen to investigate and is captured by the rodent Satanists. Thankfully, the threat of having his meal ticket decapitated is enough to give Sylvester the courage he needs to run back inside the house, save Porky, and chase the mice away ... except the mouse executioner makes one last appearance and brains Sylvester with a giant mallet.
You'd think "never trust a cuckoo clock" would be conventional wisdom for most cartoon characters.
And that's it. End of episode. We're forced to conclude that two of our beloved cartoon buddies were ultimately raped to death by knives.
Garfield Comics -- Garfield Starves to Death, Murders an Old Lady
Since 1978, Garfield creator Jim Davis never really strayed from the strip's winning formula of lazy + cat = $$$. Until Halloween 1989, when Davis finally decided that this grumpy cat story needed an infusion of bleak, existential terror.
In the 1989 Halloween special, Garfield wakes up to find his home abandoned and his family gone. He has familiar visions of Jon and Odie, but those turn out to be hallucinations. Did they ever exist? Were they just figments of poor, lonely, scared Garfield's imagination? The answer, it turns out ... is irrelevant, because, either way, Garfield is starving to death in an abandoned building! But here's your happy ending: according to the strip's final message, Garfield's nutrient-deprived mind will make up a more pleasant reality to wrap itself in, allowing him to die nuzzled in the warm blanket of insanity.
Damn. We played the "Lovecraftian Hero" joke card too early.
And then there's the comic collection Garfield: His 9 Lives (1984), which features nine different versions of Garfield, including one where he's a normal house cat named Tigger.
Normal is a relative term in Charnok, the Shadowland of Weeping Blood.
The story, titled "Primal Self," is about a tabby who wanders through his home as supernatural entities manifest themselves all around him. As the story progresses, the primal darkness catches up with Tigger, overtaking him and turning the lovable fuzzball into a vicious, feral cat.
His last coherent thoughts were about how Mondays are probably to blame for this.
But when he wakes up, it turns out that it was all just a dream!
... A dream that has broken him inside. The last panel shows a possessed Tigger jumping his elderly owner with ancient bloodlust in his eyes. And, yeah, it's never outright stated that he kills the old lady, but ...
He totally kills the old lady.
For more terrifying bastardizations of our childhood, check out 5 Horrifying Details Hidden in Classic Children's Cartoons and The 7 Most Unintentionally Nightmarish Children's Characters.
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