Broadcast television operates under the scrutiny of the Federal Communications Commission, and while the FCC has to respect the First Amendment, it does ensure that obscene, indecent, or profane content does not reach child audiences. But most of children's programming regulation occurs internally, where the studios or broadcasters deem content inappropriate for children.
In the 1990s, an abundance of animated content was on television, but not all of it was created for children. And sometimes, the writers creating shows for kids crossed the line, producing episodes of normally kid-friendly shows that were anything but. While most of these incidents did not trigger FCC warnings, they did offend the delicate sensibilities of parents with their depictions of violence, sexuality, profanity, or blasphemy.
Some of the episodes of classic '90s cartoons on this list remain suppressed, while others were edited and rereleased, or even released outright. Vote up the banned episodes of 1990s cartoons you wish you could see.
Tiny Toons effectively rebooted the classic Looney Tunes characters, imagining new, juvenile versions of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and other Merrie Melodies creations. These "tiny" versions, including Buster Bunny, Elmyra Duff, Montana Max, and Dizzy Devil, attend Acme University, where they are taught by faculty made up of the Looney Tunes originals.
In a segment of the "Elephant Issues" episode, which first aired in 1991, Buster, Plucky Duck, and Hamton J. Pig engage in underage drinking and quickly learn how dangerous alcohol can be. Buster pressures Plucky and Hamton into trying beer, and everything devolves as the boys try to attend school while intoxicated, and later drive off a cliff, ascending to heaven with angels' wings.
Despite the moralistic tone of the episode, it was banned for many years.
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- Actors: Charles Adler, John Kassir, Tress MacNeille
- Premiered: September 14, 1990
- Photo: Cartoon Network
In Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter's mad-scientist character was forever at odds with his bubbly older sister, Dee Dee, which generated much of the drama in the cartoon. She consistently foiled his experiments, and in true family fashion, Dee Dee drove her younger sibling nuts.
While Dexter and Dee Dee's familial relationship consistently drove the plot of the cartoon, it never crossed the line into violence or deep-seated hatred. However, one particular episode, "Rude Removal," never made it on air due to such a tremendous amount of profanity that it seems unlikely the writers ever intended it to do so.
The profanity is bleeped, but it is so obvious the characters are cursing that the episode was never released. Adult Swim eventually released the episode online, though kept the swear words muted.
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- Actors: Kath Soucie, Jeff Bennett, Christine Cavanaugh
- Premiered: May 4, 1996
- Photo: Cartoon Network3
Dexter's Laboratory - 'Barbequor' (1996)
Dexter's Laboratory occasionally featured a segment starring Dexter's pet monkey (named Monkey) who was a secret superhero. In the "Dial M for Monkey" segment called "Barbequor," a supervillain called Barbequor threatens Earth. He is joined by his sidekick, Silver Spooner, a Silver Surfer parody with all the hallmarks of the flamboyantly gay stereotype.
The episode first aired May 19, 1996, but was soon banned due to either the offensive stereotype or because of the obvious copyright infringement on Marvel's Silver Surfer. Still, there are some out there who laud Silver Spooner as a gay cartoon icon.Want to see it?
- Photo: The Disney Channel
Disney's Darkwing Duck was one of the more popular shows that aired in the early 1990s, but the crime-fighting mallard soon encountered an enemy that offended so many people that the episode was banned.
"Hot Spells" features the titular character engaged in a battle with Beelzebub, who is depicted as the devil. Fittingly, the episode premiered on October 31, 1992. Because the devil attempts to steal Darkwing Duck's soul, it was pulled from rotation and remains firmly locked in Disney's vault.
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- Actors: Jim Cummings, Terence McGovern, Christine Cavanaugh
- Premiered: September 6, 1991