All The Ways Your Childhood TV And Movie Heroes Actually Taught You Horrible Life Lessons

List Rules
Vote up the movie and TV lessons that were just the worst for children.

Your parents might have been annoying as they constantly espoused their beliefs about the negative impact of movies and TV shows on children, but that doesn't mean they were wrong. Even Disney movies set bad examples - for example, Tangled is full of terrible lessons about how young girls should calculate their self-worth - but Disney is not the only source of negative ideals. There are a lot of horrible lessons from kids' movies and shows that were promoted and encouraged over the years.

On top of that, there are probably quite a few plain old bad habits picked up from TV shows you shouldn't have been watching as a kid. Sometimes, the lessons are so positively portrayed that you don't even notice how problematic they are for years afterward. Here are a number of movies and shows everyone was watching as kids that put certain characters on a heroic pedestal even if they had some seriously problematic traits. Vote up the worst lessons you learned from watching movies and television as a kid, then go unlearn those habits! 


  • In 1993 and for years afterward, young boys everywhere cheered Squints on as he was able to trick a girl into a position in which he could forcibly kiss her against her will in The Sandlot. American adolescents were awed and buoyed by his cajones. But that really shouldn't have been the takeaway because there's actually a term for what Squints did to Wendy Peffercorn: sexual assault. Oh, it's just a cantankerous kid engaging in some harmless shenanigans, right? Wrong. It really is the definition of assault, something that any parent would want to harshly dissuade their child from engaging in. Well, most parents. 

  • There are actually a number of things about The Goonies that make the beloved '80s adventure not remotely suitable for kids, like the name One-Eyed Willy; and the degrading, fat-shaming Truffle Shuffle; and Mouth giving the Latina housekeeper instructions on drug handling. Mouth was the cool kid, but he was also a terrible influence on young viewers. He had a couple questionable interactions with the housekeeper, in fact, another one being him warning her about the "sexual torture devices" in the attic. He also taunted Chunk, telling him he had pictures of his mom in the bath. Mouth actually set quite a bad example, but is still hailed as a hero to this day.

  • Among other problems with this 1993 animated Disney tale, the overall takeaway is that girls can fall in love with a guy at lightspeed (seriously, Ariel hadn't even talked to Eric when she decided, based on looks, that she was hopelessly in love) and that they should then go to great lengths to give up everything and pursue said guy. She completely gives up not only her voice but her ability to think and be in control of her own mind, relying on her pretty face to lure Eric in and have him ultimately save her. The Little Mermaid is not really the picture of independence for women, and it promotes unrealistic fairytale ideals as well.

  • Bart Simpson Showed That Being Cool Means Breaking All The Rules
    Photo: Fox

    Bart is the consummate cool kid, a ratchet skateboarder capable of standing up to bullies and causing general mayhem. But the issue is that Bart is essentially the protagonist of The Simpsons (or at least shares center stage with Homer). He's not presented as an antagonist; he's the hero. So it stands to reason that kids will see his troublemaking, his blatant disregard for school and rules, as tenets of coolness. This NBC News story from 1997 is about a fourth grade teacher who held Bart Simpson up as a model for how not to behave, and presented him as a negative role model. But if that teacher's not there to do that, the natural alternative is for kids to just view him in a positive light.

  • Kevin McCallister defended his house against two hardened criminals in 1990's Home Alone, instantly becoming a hero to children everywhere. But if you're a parent, you probably would prefer your kid does not internalize the idea that he or she is capable of waging war against mal-intentioned adults. It's why parents hammer into their children, more adamantly than most other lessons, how and when to call 911 and to stay away from strangers. Kevin gave kids false confidence in the worst way, making them believe they're capable of fighting adults, allowing them to envision a truly dangerous situation as a fun opportunity to display heroism. No, children. Seek authorities immediately or you might actually die. Of course, Home Alone is rife with other problems, all of which are conveniently but horribly overlooked for the sake of entertainment. 

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    Cher And Dionne From Clueless, Like, Totally Ruin Your Grammar

    Cher and Dionne from 1995's Clueless might not mark the actual birthplace of the "valley girl" accent, but they sure as hell perpetuated and disseminated its characteristic ineptitude of speech throughout virtually every middle and high school in the nation. It's the reason kids were inserting "like" after every third word spoken, which, for many, persisted years after. Thanks to these two spoiled, rich girls with almost no redeeming qualities, it suddenly became cool to speak like a moron. "As if!" you might dissent, but where did you get that hollow exclamation?