Cartoons were a huge part of growing up, but while we were busy absorbing all that new knowledge and entertainment, some of the more adult themes that producers slipped in went right over our little heads. We always said we couldn’t wait to grow up, but these once-hidden facts about beloved cartoons will make us wish we were kids again.
Sometimes, actors simply don’t agree with a character’s morals. And this caused some hiccups for voice actor Casey Kasem when playing Shaggy in Scooby-Doo. The actor was asked to voice the lovable foodie and mystery solver for a Burger King advert in the late ’90s – but being a vegan, he refused and quit the show. Not for good, though, thankfully.
Yep, Kasem returned to play Shaggy in 2002. But only on one condition: Shaggy couldn’t eat meat. And if you’ve seen the more modern episodes, you’ll notice that the character is, in fact, vegetarian.
The best type of children’s cartoons are ones that parents can also enjoy. And a way to make that happen is to include some *ahem* adult jokes. Rugrats did this a lot – even though the show was about babies. Remembering how far producers took it is pretty jaw-dropping now…
The naughty stuff is everywhere – from Grandpa talking about “lonely space vixens” in front of the babies to Angelica drawing a suggestive nose and glasses set on a doodle of her elementary school teacher while in class. It’s amazing what producers got away with – and they’re far from the only ones.
Parents were delighted when they came across a cartoon that was educational and entertaining, which is probably why The Wild Thornberrys was so popular. Unfortunately, the wildlife-obsessed Thornberrys weren’t nearly as knowledgeable as we first thought.
Despite how it seemed, many of the animal facts on the show were not exactly scientifically accurate. For instance, remember that time Eliza said the Komodo dragon is the world’s largest reptile? That’s incorrect. It’s actually the saltwater crocodile. But despite these mistakes, fans fell in love with the series.
Who doesn’t love Winnie The Pooh? The real Christopher Robin, that’s who. The beloved fictional character was actually inspired by author A. A. Milne’s son, Christopher. While this sounds endearing, the son himself didn’t take it that way for most of his life.
The real Chris even said his father “had got where he was by climbing upon my infant shoulders [and] that he had filched me my good name and left me nothing but empty fame.” Ouch! Sounds like A. A. Milne might have been a better writer than a father, but harsh truths aren’t what kids expect from Winnie The Pooh. For heavier material, children tuned into programs such as the next show…
If you were a kid growing up in the ’90s, this farm home may look familiar to you. The house and its inhabitants were the inspiration for Courage the Cowardly Dog. The story goes that a couple lived in the now-abandoned property together with their dog in the middle of Nowhere, a real place in New Mexico. Scared yet? It gets worse.
Even more terrifying, the real couple reported countless supernatural occurrences, one after the other, until they suddenly disappeared, leaving the dog behind. If the TV show didn’t scare the pants off of you as a child, then the true story probably will. Still, even upbeat shows like Spongebob Squarepants have darker edges than most children realize.
Fans have come up with the idea that Spongebob Squarepants and his ocean friends are a result of nuclear testing. It seems pretty outlandish, but weird mutations could explain their unnatural appearances. And this theory gained even more traction when the creators of the show revealed that Bikini Bottom was actually inspired by the real-life Bikini Atoll.
From 1946 to 1958, Bikini Atoll served as a nuclear testing site in the midst of the Cold War. For all we know, with all that radiation, there may really be a small town of fish that walk on legs, wear clothes, and have a porous friend who lives in a pineapple under the sea.
Despite the Smurf family’s wholesome appeal, the truth behind one character, Smurfette, is far from simple. Have you ever wondered why she’s the only female in the village?
It’s actually down to a well-thought-out plot made by the evil sorcerer Gargamel. He created Smurfette to spy on the Smurfs and even drive them mad with jealousy over the blue little lady. Fortunately, she turned out to be good!
It’s no secret that art is hard, and hands are probably one of the hardest body parts to draw. That’s why cartoon characters typically have only four fingers. But that wasn’t good enough for one character from The Simpsons.
In the episode “Homer the Heretic,” Matt Groening and his band of creative animators agreed they’d add one more finger when drawing God. Homer didn’t seem to notice the extra finger on the almighty Father, but the rest of us sure did. Holy moly!
Animated kid shows and films have always been a great way to sell toys, but The Flinstones may have marketed to adults at the same time. An ad was released back in the ’60s with Fred and Barney leisurely smoking cigarettes while ignoring their wives who were busy with household chores. Wrong on so many levels!
You never see any smoking in the actual show, but maybe that’s because Wilma and Betty had a fit when their husbands wouldn’t help them around the house. They deserve some rest and relaxation, too! Of course, these ads were far from the most controversial aspect of The Flintstones…
The Stone Age couple’s habit of sleeping in the same bed rocked the ’60s quite a bit. It’s not a big deal today, but before the show aired, married couples on TV were usually shown sleeping in separate beds. And many real-life couples opted for twin beds back in the day, too.
But that TV convention soon went extinct. The creators of The Flintstones decided to show that Fred and Wilma loved each other too much to be apart – even while they were sleeping. What a romance for the ages!
Even the most classic cartoons have their dark pasts, and Looney Tunes is no exception. Having been a pop culture staple since the 1930s, the cartoon included dark racist references. This was pushed by war propaganda and, of course, racist creators.
In 1968, United Artists bought all the cartoons from the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s, and picked out the worst, most inappropriate segments to hide away forever. This small collection is called “the censored eleven.” You can look up snippets online, but you’re better off just taking our word for it. They’re pretty bad.
’90s kids loved the action-packed hit The Powerpuff Girls, but if their parents knew what these girls were originally called, the show would probably never have seen the light of day. The trio started their crime-fighting adventures in a McCracken student film at CalArts where they were first known as The Whoop-Ass Girls. But why?
The original backstory was a little less family-friendly. Rather than being made up of sugar, spice, and everything nice — plus Chemical X — The Whoop-Ass Girls were made from one thing only: a can of whoop-ass! That’ll pack a punch!
You can’t have a kids’ show without kids, right? Well, as it turns out, voice actors for children’s cartoons are typically fully grown adults — the nerve! Then again, it’s hard to hire underaged children with all the legal guidelines and pressure that comes with the job. Still, one show dared to do the impossible! That was Hey, Arnold!
The reason why the characters seemed so authentic is because they were. Real kids used their incredible voice-acting talents to bring Arnold, Gerald, Helga, and all their school friends at P.S. 118 to life. And even though puberty meant producers had to recast several times, we’d say the effort was worth it in the end.
One of the most troubled characters from Hey, Arnold! is Helga’s mom, Miriam. Although she isn’t in too many scenes, what we do see is a lethargic, unorganized, and probably depressed parent struggling to raise her child.
The only times when she seems really happy are when she’s talking to her daughter and when she’s making “smoothies.” That’s a pretty clear red flag that Miriam is a secret alcoholic. We think someone needs an animated therapist – or just AA, for that matter.
King of the Hill was a show that broke the mold for animated series. It became so popular that King earned two finales to wrap up the show. The first happened after Fox made the decision to cancel it, but the network soon took notice of how popular the axed sitcom had become.
Looking at that trend, executives decided to greenlight King for another three seasons. Though it can be a little taboo to continue a show when it already reached its “end,” the gamble proved to be a success.
South Park has never held back on shocking its audience in the greatest ways possible, but some of the biggest twists come from the character Eric Cartman. During the 24 seasons that the show has been on the air, this little troublemaker has committed pretty much every crime known to man.
Murder, theft, arson, prostitution, cannibalism, war crimes, hate crimes — you name it, and Cartman has done it. They must have some shoddy justice system in the fictional Colorado town because the heinous junior never seems to get locked up.
It didn’t take long for audiences to fall in love with Bob’s Burgers, but that probably wouldn’t have happened if the creator, Loren Bouchard, had had his initial say. Bouchard first imagined the family as cannibals — yes, you heard right — and the burger joint was going to be a cover for their peculiar lifestyle.
Fox managed to shut the idea down, for the most part. If you recall in the pilot episode, Louise spreads a rumor that the family’s burgers are made of human flesh. That was the creator’s way of sneaking the idea in. It was just a rumor in the end, though, and we’re all grateful for that.
Audiences may be too distracted by the heavy plot to notice a lost detail in Bojack Horseman. None of the animals have tails! The anthropomorphic characters are pretty detailed otherwise. At first, there was a big disagreement about it among producers.
Animators tried drawing Bojack and other animal characters with tails, but no matter what they did, it just didn’t look right to them. So they nixed the tails – though not without a couple of fun references to the fact.
A theory behind a Jetsons-Flintstones crossover episode is shattering history. People seem to think that the reason these families meet is because they’re living in the same timeline — just in different societies. And the more you think about it, the more this theory sounds even less crazy. The technology they have in The Flintstones is pretty advanced, and before you say “it’s a cartoon, they’re being creative,” consider this.
In The Jetsons, they never fly below the clouds. What’s hiding down there? The cartoon conspiracy theorists believe it’s a post-apocalyptic zone that left people in a new Stone Age. Maybe that’s where Fred and Wilma are living, or maybe it’s a little more like Mad Max: Fury Road.
The Disney classic Aladdin takes us on more than just a magic carpet ride; it taught us to be truthful to who we really are. Now you can throw all that BS out the window because it’s possible that Genie manipulated Aladdin throughout the entire movie. Everyone seems to forget all about the merchant at the beginning of the film who was selling the lamp.
When he sees that we aren’t interested, he offers up the “true story” behind it, but it was confirmed by the director himself that this guy is the same character as the lovable Genie. A coincidence? We think not! The genie is either tricking Aladdin into buying the lamp or just spinning a tall tale to make us want it.