Nine Cartoons You Wouldn’t Want Your Kids Watching

April 30, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Features

Cartoons – the shining, billowy beacon of innocence. For all the hopscotch, pigtails and conker fights, the one thing that typifies all our youths is those badly animated, sloppily dubbed 30 minute distractions your parents would literally have killed for.

But like a Mills to a McCartney, we adults quickly learn that just because something looks cute, doesn’t mean it can’t psychologically scar us for life.

So we’ve decided to run down the list of the cartoons that are guaranteed to traumatise your kids.


Ah, Happy Tree Friends. Home to the cuddliest, wuddliest little woodland creatures since the Ewoks got it on with Smurfette (how else would you explain Sulley from Monsters Inc.?) And yes, that was Ewoks.


What started as little more than a couple of demented flash-based internet shorts quickly gathered its own rabid fanbase and spawned a series of millions-selling DVDs that, on the face of it, couldn’t get any snugglier.



With a happy hardcore take on the Itchy and Scratchy theme tune, a score that consists of little more than giggly squeaks and a whole gaggle of doe-eyed, brightly coloured pandas, bears and squirrels, Happy Tree Friends harnesses the shock value of the WTF moment when each and every one of these walking cuddly toys is butchered in a number of elaborate and excessively graphic take downs.

Itchy and Scratchy have nothin’ on this. Absolutely brutal.


Ooh, Team America – Isn’t its puppetry great. Isn’t it clever. Aah, Wallace and Gromit – here, have a Bafta. Oh, and while we’re here, why not take an Oscar too. Plasticine stop-frame is so in this year.

Yet Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken, with over 5 years continuous output of meticulous stop-frame animation, is continually and almost universally ignored. Criminal in itself, until you realise that it’s all created using the coolest material known to man. Action figures, baby.

Appropriately enough originating from the brainchild of Dr Evil’s son himself, Seth Green, Robot Chicken rifles through every minor vestige of your childhood, exhuming anything that has somehow managed to remain virtuous and innocent before promptly defiling them straight in front of your eyes in an unrelenting scatter-shot procession of sketches.

Atreyu and Falcor from The Never Ending Story getting tanked up, Optimus Prime undone by the Transformer’s deadliest enemy ‘prostate cancer’, and arguably the greatest sketch of all – Mario and Luigi pootling off the traditional Mario Kart track on a rather unfortunate detour into Grand Theft Auto’s Vice City.


With STDs, hardcore drugs and heartbreak lurking just around the corner, it’s easy to forget that other debilitating, soul-crushing monster ready to pounce on your children the moment they head out into the big bad world.

Not Gary Glitter.


One look at Ally McBeal’s skeletal gangliness and incessant schizophrenic delusional rantiness should be enough to scare them for life, but Adult Swim’s superhero barrister Harvey Birdman does his darndest to promote the cause.

While not as violent, gory or disgusting as half the entrants on this list, Birdman goes down the Robot Chicken route of subverting and criminalising those innocent, sweet cartoons of yore. As lawyer to many a Hanna-Barbera character, Birdman regularly has to deal with the less tasteful underbelly of these icons’ lives – Scooby Doo busted for marijuana (that gigglin’ woof has NEVER felt natural), Muttley’s tourettes and Fred Flintstone’s somewhat dodgy ‘business’ activities.



For awesome lines and hair-brained characters, Zim is always a winner. Not only do you have Gir: the world’s stupidest Robot, fan of piggies and babies and protector of absolutely nothing, there is also the self-obsessed hero himself: Zim, a character with the most iconic cult voice since Darth Vader.

Let’s face it – the subliminal messages Invader Zim projects are hardly child friendly: Fry your friends! Replace their eyeballs with lasers, then harvest their organs and cross-breed them with a cow! Yeah! The show was even linked to the case of Scott Dyleski, who murdered his neighbours wife and denounced by US uber-Christian right wing scaremongerers- not exactly good publicity.

Still students and angsty teens everywhere have cottoned on to this cult phenomena and purchased DVDs and merchandise in abundance.


Never has the partnership of feline and canine been so utterly mental as with Ren Höek and Stimpson J. Cat. As a child, I considered the watching of Ren and Stimpy as something akin to an Olympic event. It was painful, but I knew it was for my own good. Just try watching the clip below and tell me you’re not grimacing whilst simultaneously chuckling with inane glee.

Ren and Stimpy’s creator John Kricfalusi pioneered controversial cartoon-ography, even getting sacked for the high level of violence in the episode “Man’s Best Friend?. The show was also groundbreaking for featuring Stimpy’s First Fart – we are unsure whether it was the first animated fart ever, as we hear that Elmer Fudd had a touch of IBS and Foghorn Leghorn loved a good trump, but still it will always hold a special place in our hearts (and between our cheeks).


Ahh the harsh realities of life, what better way to tackle them than in a cartoon. Rape, incest, abortion, homophobia, racism, violence – don’t let it get you down. Laugh about it… or ummm… try to.

To say that Drawn Together pushes the boundaries of political correctness is somewhat of an understatement. DT dresses political correctness up in a gimp suit, beats it to within an inch of it’s life and then laughs in its puny little snot-nosed face. Toto, we are definitely not in South Park anymore. Drawn Together makes Cartman and the boys look like a choir of angels.

In this gloriously gratuitious display of viscious verbal diarrhoea, one may begin to understand just how extreme Drawn Together is (i.e. so extreme that Jack Osbourne would rather jump off a cliff in his soggy cr*p-filled panties than endure one episode).


“They fight, they fight, they fight, they fight, they fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight…?

The genius parody of Tom and Jerry from The Simpsons leaves me, I’m not afraid to say, in the same fits of hysterics as Bart and Lisa. I mean what’s not funny about a cartoon cat and mouse trying to kill each other in the most creative and horrible ways possible?

In my opinion, where Tom and Jerry didn’t go far enough, Itchy and Scratchy hop, skips and eviscerates past the taste line. Think Scratchy inadvertently eating his own stomach in ‘Oesophagus Now’ or being burned alive whilst hanging from his own entrails as in ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Lava?’. There seems to be no limit to the depths of sadism that the twisted mouse will inflict upon that unfortunate cat.

Apparently, behind the gore and pain there’s some subtle social commentary going on. Thankfully I’m always laughing too hard to see it.


Since bursting onto our screens in 1999 the fantastically offensive Family Guy has been cancelled not once but TWICE. But thanks to a legion of fans and massive DVD sales it was brought back both times by Fox.

Society will forever be indebted to the show that brought us an epic chicken fight, a barbershop quartet harmonising to inform a patient he has AIDS, and Peter’s obsession with the song “The Bird Is The Word.? Not to mention a twisted baby genius, a sex pest neighbour in the form of creepy “where’s my muscly armed paperboy?? paedo Herbert.

Not since South Park has a cartoon offended so many people so indiscriminately.


Given how impressionable kids are, you might want to hold off from introducing them to Beavis and Butthead – particularly their first ever episode ‘Frog Baseball’ – until they’ve fully grasped the concept of animal cruelty. There’s a reason why the diabolical duo became a hit among MTV-watching teens in the mid 90’s, and that’s because they are unbelievably obnoxious, sullen, nihilistic, crude, puerile, sexist and vulgar.

The pair spend most of their time trying (unsuccessfully) to score with chicks, berating musicians, trying to get high and occasionally becoming involved in capers that will invariably lead to one or the other being physically damaged.

Classic quotes include: “I like to blow up lizards”, “Eh heh heh, yeah”, and “I like to burn things”.

And, “Hammers are cool”. “Yeah, I like to take hammers, and just break stuff. Just break stuff.”

So there you go everyone…… Are we right? Are we wrong? More importantly, which of us is slightly more right than the others who are completely and utter off-base? Sound off below. And while we’re on the subject of abusing your childhood memories, make sure to check out the Top Five Family Animations That Have Caused Controversy. Or head to our review of HBO’s latest attempt at the adult animation crown The Life & Times of Tim.

Jen says:

To be honest most of those shows are either no longer on or are not intended for children to watch. I for one used to watch ren n stimpy. As for most of foxes line up. Me and my boyfriendagree it should not be on for children. As an adult i choose to watch mildly entertaining stupid cartoons. As for my child there is no way!

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Nathaniel says:

You guys have obviously never watched Hellsing Ultimate.

blah says:

i’m surprised by the number of ones i’d forgotten about, like south park until you mentioned it on here (maybe because of sleep deprvivation)
and i thought you would have a lot more adult swim shows on here
happy tree friends goes too far to a point that it’s stupid but still cute
robot chicken is good sometimes but it can be weird
i had never seen harvey birdman but heard of it and that video isn’t working though i would like to see it eventually
i never thought of invader zim as being something like this, but i watched that video of it and i thought it was very hard to hear
like invader zim, i was never sure if ren and stimpy was violent or anything like that, and i think you made that clear but that video wasn’t working either
i’d never heard of drawn together and i think it’s too much like robot chicken
itchy and scratchy (treehouse of horror) was probably the worst thing about the simpsons but i have wondered if it has any episodes not from the simpsons
i forgot about family guy too (most of it sucks now)
also forgot beavis and butthead too, never seen any of it from tv but i love beavis and butthead do america
you should have put shin-chan on here
and dr. tran (but that’s only a few really short online videos)

Jenna says:

You neglected to mention that one-season sleeper……The Oblongs–13 episodes of pure genius.

Never have nuclear waste, social disparity, sexual addiction, physical deformity and elder abuse been so hilarious.

Best. Cartoon. Ever.

adultswimaddict says:

Superjail is indeed one of the goriest/best cartoons (for adults) out there. I wasn’t allowed to watch Ren & Stimpy or Beavis & Butthead as a child, and look at me now, I’m completely obsessed with Aqua Teen Hunger Force, I have a tattoo of Bender (Futurama) on my right forearm, and I’m going to be an art teacher full time and a cartoonist if I get lucky. I can only hope that my cartoons shock and disturb people, otherwise, what’s the point? It would just be another boring cartoon on Nick or Cartoon Network that ends up getting canceled after the first season.

The Oblongs is another one that should be on here. A quadriplegic dad, a wig wearing, bald, alcoholic, sex fiend mother, Siamese twins, a daughter with a huge tumor growing out of her forehead, and I don’t even KNOW what’s wrong with the other son Ollie, but it’s something serious. OH and the theme song explains how the family was in a chemical spill and that’s how they ended up that way. Surprisingly though, my friends five year old loves the show and doesn’t catch any of the bad stuff somehow. Oh the media and children.

Eye.P,Freely says:

Family Guy sucks now. It use to be funny,now it’s just more junk based on shock value like Robot Chicken. Blech!
I agree with the choices as your list is based on what we would not want our kids watching. I found Harvey Birdman to be hilarious at times though but yes having kids watch it would really confuse them. Flintstone as a crime boss was funny,but could confuse kids who had seen The Flintstones.
As for the “brain damaged rubbish Hanna-Barbera used to make.” said by one very sad pathetic person before? Well those were the great 70’s where we didn’t have all the pathetic violence and no-brain shock-value only garbage of today’s shows,video-games and movies.
After all when a writer is a no-talent hack they go for shock value and just throw everything else away. Seth MacFarlane we’re talking about you!
Best cartoons for kids? Well we probably wouldn’t want to watch them,because they’re too filled with happy things and very nice people. But you know what? Let the kids be kids and watch the “too nice” cartoons. They’ll grow up too fast anyway.

Mike Hunt says:

Drawn Together was pure genius. Thank god the dvd has Karaoke for songs like Black Chicks Tongue.
It is sadly missed.

wtf says:

why the hell is family guy on there its genius, my 7yr old loves it, as does my mom, its good, funny and has not only the bird is the word skit, but the rock lobster song

f*ckin genius

Nerdy Blog says:

Those would be bad for children, but bad cartoon values are everywhere. Even that show Doug was surprisingly racist.

tmac says:

You should check out Superjail on Adult Swim for a place on this list (and not in a fun way, either). It’s the cartoon version of gore porn. The inmates on the show are constantly stabbing and decapitating others. One episode had the inmates being turned into homicidal babies.

Jess says:

That Harvey Birdman clip sums up how crap it is this show was cancelled. How many of these other cartoons have ever been that clever?!

Stu says:

How the hell can you leave off South Park?!

eoinmonkey says:

To be perfectly honest, apart from Family Guy, which is a foul mysogenist piece of sh*t, Id rather my kids watched ANY of the above than the kind of plastic-toy selling horsesh*t I grew up with, or any of the c*ckpunching brain damaged rubbish Hanna-Barbera used to make.

Nina says:

Let’s not forget (and while not technically a cartoon, it deserves a mention)… Meet the Feebles