Controversial cartoons episodes are sincere (but sometimes still entertaining) reasons behind the controversies caused by high-profile cartoons, as with a singular episode on this list which resulted in the hospitalization of hundreds of children.
Race, religion, sexual orientation, and a myriad of other social “concerns” are often considered hot-button issues that many mediums steer clear of. Some animated television shows and cartoons. However, are willing to risk viewer disdain by facing the subjects head on.
These 10 episodes of your favorite cartoons push those controversial boundaries – and they’re not all South Park and Family Guy!
10. “Dial M for Monkey: Barbequor” – (Dexter’s Laboratory)
Just how controversial could an episode of a cartoon as harmless as Dexter’s Laboratory really be. Especially one that spoofs Marvel’s galactic metallic surfer – Silver Surfer? Originally aired on May 19th, 1996. The 4th episode of the “Dial M for Monkey” segment featured a character that apparently pushed Cartoon Network’s limits on sexuality. The spoof character, The Silver Spooner, was viewed as an obvious homosexual stereotype.
With his outward flamboyance and love for Judy Garland. Rumor has it, the episode was banned because the character was too controversial for the youthful crowd. Other rumors have it that the episode was pulled at the legal behest of Marvel.
9. “Beauty and the Beach” – (Pokemon)
For a show with a central focus of taming and training wild animals for use in arena battles. Controversy isn’t entirely a new concept. Even more shocking than PETA’s own views of Japan’s Pokemon. Though, was an episode that veered off the typical plot points to include a beauty contest. It’s there that things take an odd turn.
The villainous James of Team Rocket enters the beauty contest sporting a pair of oversized inflatable breasts and mocks the slightly less busty Misty. The episode, which aired in 1997 in Japan, was banned for 3 years in the United States before finally being dubbed over and released in 2000. Showing the awkwardness of James wearing an impressive inflatable chest.
8. “Blame It on Lisa” – (The Simpsons)
The Simpsons is well known for its fool hearty humor and unique take on social issues. While the show’s writers often use enough tact to avoid being offensive. This 2002 episode pushed some boundaries. The episode sees the titular family traveling to Rio de Janeiro. Brazil in search of an orphan that Lisa had been sponsoring. Sparking a slew of off-beat stereotypes that Brazilians were none-too-pleased with.
From mixing up their culture to depicting Rio de Janeiro as a city rife with kidnappings, street crime, and rat infestations. The episode did little to win over a Brazilian audience. Riotur, the tourist board of Rio de Janeiro even threatened Fox with lawsuits. Citing potential damages to an $18 million tourism campaign the board ran in the United States prior to the episode airing.
7. “Flying Dupes” – (TaleSpin)
Aint nothin’ more fittin’ for a children’s cartoon like TaleSpin than allusions to terrorism and bombings. No, wait is that right? Maybe that’s why the 1991 episode of The Disney Afternoon cartoon was yanked from the rerun line-up after its initial airing. In “Flying Dupes,” Baloo is given the job of delivering a package to the Thembrian High Marshall. Unbeknownst to the big dopey sloth bear.
The seemingly innocent package is a bomb being delivered on behalf of a failing bomb factory in Thembria that’s simply trying to revitalize its business by starting a war? A little heavy-handed for a children’s cartoon. The episode remained off the air until an alleged slip-up on Toon Disney in 1999.
6. “With Apologies to Jesse Jackson” (South Park)
As promised, we went as long as possible without mentioning the rather obvious – an episode of South Park. Kicking off the 11th season in March of 2007 was “With Apologies to Jesse Jackson,” an episode that snuck in 43 uses of the “N-word,” completely uncensored.
Though the organization Abolish the “N” Word, which is associated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Praised the episode for helping educate the power of the word. The Parents Television Council was a little less forgiving. Surprisingly, as controversial as the episode sounds, the PTC seemed to be the only group to openly speak out against the episode.
5. “Bloody Mary” (South Park)
South Park’s “Bloody Mary” certainly does earn its place on this list of controversy. Especially in the eyes of the Catholic faith. Amongst the plot of an alcoholic seeking a cure for his disease. A statue of the Virgin Mary begins to bleed from its rear. The alcoholic in question, Randy, seeks out the miracle of the bleeding statue. Douses himself in rectal blood in order to cure himself.
Alas! Things get worse with the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI. Who determines the blood is coming from the Virgin’s nethers. In only the most sensitive way, the Pope claims this is no miracle. As “chicks” bleed all the time. Of course, the episode is a commentary on “weeping statues” and the power of belief. But Trey Parker and Matt Stone made no friends in the Catholic community with their crude take.
4. “One Beer” (Tiny Toon Adventures)
What antics could Buster, Plucky, and Hamton possibly get themselves into that would lead to the banning of an episode of such an innocent cartoon? Well, possibly after a few too many cold ones and a long day of work. The minds behind the perky cartoon decided to tackle the issue of under-aged drinking and drunk driving.
The trio stumble upon a bottle of beer and, with the full intention of showing the “evils of alcohol,” proceed to get drunk. What follows is a twisted version of how dangerous and bad alcohol can be as the three head to ACME Looniversity. Drive away their female counterparts, steal a police car, and drive off the top of a mountain to a graveyard below to their deaths. No, really. To their deaths. Is it a wonder that this lighthearted gem was banned?
3. “Tonsil Trouble” (South Park)
So it didn’t take long for South Park to show up for a 3rd time. But we promise it more than deserves the #3 spot. For the 11 seasons leading up to this March 2008 premiere episode. The show has pulled zero punches. If it tackles an issue. It does so with absolutely no qualms over who it may offend. In “Tonsil Trouble,” those that miss the overall message may be taken aback by the central theme of the AIDS virus.
After Cartman contracts HIV during a blood transfusion, the episode launches into a controversial spiral that all-but hints at the miraculous healing power of money. The episode features long-time HIV spokesperson Magic Johnson. Who has survived as long as he has by sleeping on a pile of cash. Though the episode continues the show’s off-beat way of sending a message, it does so with the highly controversial “Gay disease.”
2. “Partial Terms of Endearment” (Family Guy)
There are few shows that rival South Park’s brash nature, but Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy is pretty high on that list. Topping the show’s most controversial episodes is Partial Terms of Endearment. A brave – or possibly foolish – attempt at bringing the topic of abortion to animated television.
After Lois becomes the surrogate mother for a couple. That later dies in a car accident, Lois and Peter go down a slippery slope of deciding. Whether to abort the fetus or bring it into the world for adoption. While the episode has been defended by its writers as being an “intelligent discussion of a very difficult subject. The Fox Broadcasting Company banned the episode from airing anyways.
1. “200” (South Park)
Aired in 2010, “200” served as a milestone episode for the 14th season of the world’s favorite raunchy animated series. It also served as a massive and completely intentional slap in the face to Muslims. As the episode focused around the prophet Muhammad. Depictions of Muhammad in other mediums sparked threats and riots in Muslim communities, causing Comedy Central to disallow images of Muhammad on the network.
After the episode aired, the show’s creators, Parker and Stone. Received threats of retribution from the Revolution Muslim organization in New York. There’s even a possible link to a 2010 car bomb attempt in Times Square. In creation of “200,” South Park’s showrunners sought to comment on the strict restrictions placed by the Muslims on criticisms of the Muslim faith and beliefs. In response to the backlash the show received, many, such as The Daily Telegraph writer Douglas Murray, believed the episode’s point was proven.
But what happened when the jokes weren’t so subtle and censors took notice? It was promptly banned, oftentimes before it ever saw the light of day.