Just as in real life, there are some really dysfunctional families in the cartoon world. And while some animated characters are innately odd, a fair number of them are saddled with horrible cartoon parents who never should have considered having kids in the first place.
Whether they're forcing their kid to act as a human lawn gnome, suggesting that it would be fine for their kid to end themselves, or just being overly permissive - or completely neglectful - examples of extremely poor parenting abound in the cartoon world.
So let's rank the worst cartoon parents, and hope their children don't exhibit the same horrible parenting techniques when they eventually have their own kids!
To sum up the parenting style of Family Guy's Peter Griffin, look no further than the patriarch's own words: "I just hate being around the kids."
Peter would rather hang out with his drinking buddies than his family, and when he is around his three kids, he's hardly a paragon of virtue. Lois Griffin, meanwhile, has admitted that she never wanted to be a mother, and often seems detached from her children's problems. The Griffins' marriage is extremely dysfunctional: Peter has a drinking problem, and Lois has not only cheated on him multiple times but also compels him to make love against his will on several occasions.
If the Griffins were a real-life couple, Child Protective Services would have come banging on their door years ago. The main target of their mistreatment is their oldest child, Meg, whom they tried to abandon as an infant by leaving her at a fire station. Meg has been fired at by her father and had her existence temporarily erased by God (at Peter's request). At one point, her mother gives her some pills and a Sylvia Plath novel, then walks away saying, "Whatever happens, happens" - in response to Meg being upset about not being invited to a party.
Peter and Lois don't treat their sons Chris and Stewie much better, which could explain why Stewie has attempted to off his mother more than once. Lois refers to Chris and Stewie as "dummy and big head," and deliberately makes Chris the target of hazing on his first day of high school. Peter gives his toddler son steroids because he is embarrassed when Stewie gets beaten up by a little girl; he tries to marry Chris in order to take his grandfather's inheritance; and neither parent seems to notice or care that Stewie keeps getting drunk.
The Griffins actually had four kids, but Peter Jr. did not survive his father's ignorance.
Cinderella's villainess is cruel, manipulative, and a major narcissist. Lady Tremaine's actions are driven by her jealousy of others (especially her beautiful, sweet stepdaughter) and her need for power and prestige. She is never physically aggressive towards her stepdaughter; instead, she treats Cinderella like a servant in her own house and never gives her any kind of affection.
She doesn't treat her own daughters much better, even though she spoils them in the hope that she can mold them in her own image. Lady Tremaine expects total obedience from Anastasia and Drizella, and can be quite nasty to them when they don't give in to her. She clearly doesn't care about her daughters' happiness; she simply wants to marry them off to men of noble blood or those who are otherwise high on the social ladder.
Lady Tremaine is often quite subtle in her manipulation of both Cinderella and her own daughters, which results in Anastasia and/or Drizella doing her dirty work for her. When Lady Tremaine points out that Cinderella has used some of Drizella's beads and one of Anastasia's sashes to make a gown for the ball, her daughters angrily rip the dress to shreds, resulting in Lady Tremaine achieving her goal (Cinderella being unable to attend the ball because she has no suitable gown) without appearing to have treated her stepdaughter cruelly. Instead, her daughters come off as the villains.
Of course, she gets her comeuppance when she is unable to stop Cinderella from trying on the glass slipper and getting her "happily ever after" with Prince Charming. She does try her best to do so, though, by locking Cinderella in her tower room.
It's not a good sign when neither of your parents bother to show up for your birth (how is that even possible?). But that's what happens to Phineas and Ferb's Heinz Doofenschmirtz. Although Mr. and Mrs. Doofenschmirtz dote on their younger son Roger, they neglect and humiliate Heinz. They even go as far as disowning him, leaving Heinz to be raised by a pack of wild ocelots.
Of course, things aren't any better when he does live with his parents. Mrs. Doofenschmirtz is so sure that her second child is going to be a girl that, when it turns out to be a boy (Roger), she makes Heinz wear the dresses she has made. When Mr. Doofenschmirtz wins a puppy in a poker game, he names the dog "Only Son" and says it's like the son he never had.
When the family has their lawn gnome repossessed, Mr. and Mrs. Doofenschmirtz force Heinz to take its place. The kid isn't allowed to move, eat, or sleep, and he's so lonely that his only friend is a balloon named Balloony. When Balloony flies off one night, Mr. Doofenschmirtz's strict no-moving policy means Heinz can't even try to retrieve it.
With parents like Mr. and Mrs. Doofenschmirtz, is it surprising that Heinz grows up to be a mad (albeit bumbling) scientist determined to take over the world?
Of all the bad parents in South Park, Stephen and Linda Stotch may be the worst. Even if they didn't have a kid, they'd be a dysfunctional couple; Stephen continually sneaks out to hook up with other men, and Linda might be mentally unstable. When she learns about her husband's secret lifestyle, her response is to pack her son in the car and drive it into the river. The couple then files a police report claiming that Butters has been kidnapped, and when the boy returns home after surviving his mother's attempt to off him, the Stotches take him for a demon spawn and chain him up in their basement. But hey, at least they feed him... with the remains of a woman that Mr. Stotch slays.
Although they have been shown to occasionally care about Butters, neither Mr. nor Mrs. Stotch ever accepts responsibility for what happens to their son. Stephen convinces his wife that it isn't their fault that Butters is beaten up by a bully right outside their house - even though he refuses to let his frantic son back into the house to escape a pummeling. And when Butters inadvertently causes problems in the neighborhood, Stephen dismisses the idea that he and Linda's bad parenting is the reason why their son gets in so much trouble.
In fact, Mr. Stotch claims he and his wife are "awesome" parents.