Kids have dark sides too.
Not to mention, not all cartoon shows were made for kids, and all cartoon shows were made BY adults.
The following present some dark facts in the history of cartoons. Perhaps some will shock you. Perhaps you'll be expecting it.
But don't get animated either way. (Waka waka.)
Here were some of those answers.
Ren and Stimpy was an absolute nightmare for the people who worked on it. John K ordered them not to make the same face twice. Pretty, but it was hell for the workers because they were constantly drawing things.
John K was a nightmare boss. One of the producers had a sign on his wall labeled "John's knees" and invited people to kick it. By the time he left it was reduced to a hole.
They made several episodes that were just the animators ranting about how much of an a**hole that John K was.
Not A Creepypasta
The pilot of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy called "Trepanation of the Skull and You" tells kids that because of a mistake in evolution our skulls are too small for our brains, and that you should drill a hole in your skull as to grant the brain more space.
Which is then followed by Billy doing exactly that.
The whole thing looks like some cursed forgotten video tape.
Elmira In Real Life
Tiny Toons (early 90s) was allegedly canceled (replaced with Animaniacs) because some creepy guy was super obsessed. The whole article is insane and worth the read.
Certain individuals were hammering the voice actors, writers and animators with unwanted attention and (even less wanted) information on the prurient nature of their fixations. In other words, enough people were mailing WB's studios wanting to see Babs Bunny naked that it started to become something of a problem.
As one of these stalker fans, [Dennis Falk] was quite interested in Tress MacNielle. A legendary voice actress, she was not only the voice of Babs Bunny but is also well-known for roles in everything from The Simpsons and The Critic to the computer game Full Throttle. Falk, along with several others, somehow got hold of her contact information and started hammering her with obscene mail containing various sex fantasies about the characters she voiced.
Not Today, Satan
Not so much about the production, but there is an obscure animated movie called The Adventures of Mark Twain that is stop motion animated, and in one pretty f*ked up scene Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Becky are greeted by an angel who says his name is Satan. Except he looks nothing like a traditional angel, he holds a mask on a stick for a face which contorts into a demon and skeletal face at times.
He then has the kids sculpt a village with people and a castle out of sand, and Satan then brings them to life. The sand people get along but soon start fighting and Satan kills them by summoning lighting, causing an earthquake, etc. The kids are horrified, but Satan just nonchalantly says they can make more and waxes poetic about how life is a vision and we don't matter.
I can't really do justice describing how eerie it is, but if you look up disturbing kid's cartoons on YouTube, it'll pop up.
The Saddest Moment Of TV Ever
The voice actor for Uncle Iroh was struggling with Esophageal cancer and when he was singing leaves from the vine, his voice cracked and he sang with the emotion he had been carrying, making Irohs sadness all the more real. RIP Mako
One Of The Most Teachable Moments On TV
While this isn't necessarily a cartoon as it has live-action bits, but it still a tragic one. It was also a courageous move on the TV station's part. When Will Lee, who played Mr. Hopper, died, there was a dilemma for the cast of Sesame Sreet he was well-liked by both viewers and the cast. The cast knew children would notice, but it was also clear would've wanted them to move on. Despite objections, the show went on with the talk about death with Big Bird taking it hard. The adults spoke about the matter and how life has to go on, which Hooper would've loved. This was a brave move for a children's show since it was also educational... the main format.
The feedback they got was mostly positive, even earning a Daytime Emmy.
That's Not Very Puppy Of You
The villain in the film "Pound Puppies: The Legend of Big Paw" was voiced by George Rose, an accomplished stage actor whose roles had included the Major-General in Pirates of Penzance. Shortly after the film's release, he was beaten to death by his own adopted son.
A Cry For Help
The studio had to get someone else to sing "Soon You'll Come Home" in All Dogs go to Heaven because the voice actor, Judith Barsi, had such a traumatic home life because of an abusive, alcoholic father that she couldn't sing the song without having a breakdown.
She and her mother were murdered by him before the movie was released in a double-murder/suicide. She was only 10.
She was also the voice of Ducky from Land Before Time. Her tombstone reads, "Yep! Yep! Yep!"
What A Dark Moment Of Disney
In Disney's Gargoyles, Goliath believes his entire clan is either dead or turned permanently to stone, and he asks the Magus to turn him to stone forever as well. Yes, there were improbable terms to break the curse ... but effectively, he was committing suicide. He knew he was among the last of his kind and did not know if he would ever wake up again.
He left behind a rookery full of eggs (the next generation) when he did so.
Also, in City of Stone, Demona smashes statues that are humans turned to stone -- she kills people on screen in a Disney cartoon.
Lots more examples from Gargoyles, but those two stick out.
War, War, What Is It For?
When the Wind Blows is a movie that uses a bright palette and pleasant childhood aesthetic to tell the story of nuclear attack aftermath could-bes.
It follows of an awfully gullible elderly couple with an overzealous trust in their government as they go on with their lives after the strike, which progressively gets worse as they succumb to radiation poison.
Sounds bad? The pamphlet they seem to rely on is real and it's just as out of touch and unsettling. It has been suggested that it's actual purpose is of allowing for a better clean-up after you're dead.
See also here.
But His Middle Name Is Entertainment!
IDK if this counts but Chuck E. Cheese is canonically an orphan who doesn't remember his own birthday but loved celebrating other orphan's birthdays. One day, when Chuck grew too old to stay at the orphanage, he moved to New York City after leaving the orphanage,.and was sad, lonely and homeless. He decided to sleep in a pizzeria because he liked the smell of pizza and the music on the radio. The pizza shop owner eventually caught him and tried to kill him and the only thing that saved him was his the pizzeria owner thought he was a good singer and gave him a job singing in his restaurant.
In one episode Spongebob and Mr. Krabs thought they killed a man went to a cemetery to bury the body got a ride from the police and put the body in the trunk then in the Krusty Krab freazer BUT turns out only knocked out THEN the police beat him becase they thought he was a zombie
What A Weird Time For Those Commercials
When they aired daytime cartoons during the summers when I was a kid, during the commercial breaks mixed in with the ads for Polly Pocket and Transformers there would be tons of ads for antidepressants. What kid is going to ask his doctor about antidepressants?
They weren't for the kids. They were for their miserable, unfulfilled, stay-at-home parents.
We Love Our Racist Past
I remember watching Tom and Jerry as a kid. And Jerry's Mexican cousin came to visit.
He was every racist stereotype. But worse, he came in singing "La Cucaracha"
"La cucaracha, la cucaracha
Ya no puede caminar
Porque no tiene, porque le falta
marijuana de fumar."
Yes, the line about marijuana to smoke was really in there.
Years later I thought maybe I had imagined it. But then I caught the episode again. By then I had a DVR and rewound and watched it many times to be sure. Yup, it's in there.
Kicking Butt And Taking Names
I remember reading an interview with an animator who worked on the original She-Ra back in the 80's, made by Filmation that there was some rather weird arguments from the producers over She-Ra not being lady-like enough. Like a proper lady shouldn't pick up and throw a tank, despite the fact that's the literal point of the character, the most powerful woman in the universe. And there's an actual clip of her throwing a tank in the opening credits. Of course there was a lot of push back from the artists and directors that She-Ra should be kicking all kinds of @$$, and hurling tanks around.
I noticed in the last season of the new She-ra there's a scene where she's throwing tanks around and someone admonishes her for it saying "We don't throw tanks at our friends." I can't help but wonder if that was a nod to the old She-Ra and the hard time they got for tossing tanks around.
Yet We Never Bat An Eye
I know it's nothing to suprising and the show has a final season that is based around this but in Steven universe he is literally a young boy who has to save the universe and it seems all fun at first but he literally has his body destroyed over time and held together by his gem half and also his mom literally ruined his life and almost caused him to die on several occasions and he had to establish peace on a planet where most people wanted him dead also he literally never cared for himself through the whole thing till the point where he abandons himself for so long that he literally turns into a giant monster