Nickelodeon launched on December 1st, 1977. While they took their sweet time before creating their own cartoons, the studio is renowned for introducing the world to classics like The Ren & Stimpy Show and Rugrats. Offering a reasonable mix of animated and live-action shows, Nickelodeon garnered a reputation as one of the leading contributors to children's entertainment. Admittedly, nowadays, their flag is not mounted particularly high; but Nickelodeon was untouchable during the 90s. Nicktoons was EVERYTHING, and those earlier shows are unlikely to be forgotten.
In some cases, the studio might prefer if they were slightly less memorable. Sure, Nickelodeon can be classified as family-friendly, but they have pushed the envelope quite a bit over the years. While their modern shows tend to play it rather safe, classics like Rocko's Modern Life and Invader Zim were raunchy. Seriously, we have no idea how a few of these jokes slipped by the censorship committee. In today's PC landscape, Nickelodeon is really not allowed to subvert expectations. Actually, the writers still include an adult joke or two, they just need to be subtle enough to go over the heads of most parents.
Okay, that is enough stalling, let us get down and dirty with 25 disturbing facts Nickelodeon wants to bury.
Double Dare was THE coolest during the 1990s. The game show pit two teams against each other, with many prizes up for grabs. The series' greatest creation had to be GAK, a gooey slime that was often used during stunts. It became so popular, that side-stories were written showing the contestants trying to discover its secret recipe. Nickelodeon even sold GAK at toy shops. In a later interview, Marc Summer revealed that GAK was actually a euphemism for heroin, although that tidbit went over the heads of most people at Nickelodeon. Yeah, quite a few children asked Santa for heroin during the 1990s. Hopefully, their parents knew that they were referring to the toy and not the drug.
Helga's Parrot is an episode from season four of Hey Arnold! As suggested by the title, the parrot causes its owner quite a bit of grief. After Arnold asks Lila to work with him, Helga gets jealous and tries to relieve some stress via her diary. With Arnold firmly in her mind, she writes a poem detailing her undying passion for the object of her obsession, including a line about her trembling girlhood. As an adult, that line is as subtle as a brick to the face, but it should have gone over the heads of the majority of children. Still, we can just imagine an eight-year-old boy querying his mother about the meaning of "girlhood" and the ideal way to make it tremble. Helga G. Pataki knew what she wanted.
Spongebob Squarepants is a colorful series about anthropomorphic creatures living under the sea. We were promised laughs, a handful of innuendos, and an annoying Patrick Star. Instead, Nickelodeon delivered a nuanced looked into depression, as Squidward checks most of the boxes. The majority of people are familiar with clinical depression, as this mental problem is often depicted in films and TV. A lesser known type is walking depression, meaning that the afflicted person is capable of pushing forward with their day. Symptoms include low energy and hopelessness; two traits that Squidward possess in spades. Since it is not particularly overt, walking depression tends to go undiagnosed, as the person soldiers on by themselves. Sadly, the fact that Squidward is not getting any help might be the most accurate part.
Traumatic experiences can arise in the most unlikely of situations, a lesson that Carly Shay learned the hard way. In the opening episode of iCarly's fourth season, there is a strange back and forth about an encounter Carly had with a goat. It happened the year before, but the teenage girl is way too traumatized to talk about it. What the hell did this animal put Carly through? The series never expanded upon this mystery, preferring to leave it to the imagination of the audience. Thinking about this logically, possibly the goat mistook Carly's hair for dinner? From a quick search, goats do not seem to be particularly good at defending themselves, so it seems unlikely they would go on the attack. Well, it is funny to think about what could have happened.
Rocko's Modern Life was an Adult Swim series masquerading as a children's show. Seriously, the stories are stacked with risky jokes that are barely hidden. The most obvious example happened during the first season episode entitled Canned when Rocko ends up getting fired from the comic book store. Desperate to not starve to death, he tries out a string of new jobs, including a call center that deals with customers seeking out a specific service. No, this is not our dirty minds projecting onto Nickelodeon's cartoon, as they were pretty blatant. The motto of the company reads "Be hot, be naughty, be courteous." Rocko also answers the phone with a passionate "Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby," before realizing that he is talking to Mrs. Bighead. It is a small world after all.
Hey Arnold! is one of those shows that should be watched multiple times, at different points in your life. While there is enough content to entertain most children, the best jokes are only for the eyes of adults. Chocolate Boy was forbidden from eating chocolate by his parents, but his nanny helped to keep him supplied. When the latter leaves, Chocolate Boy turns to the sweet candy for relief. Frankly, this character is a straight up addict, showing symptoms associated with drug addiction. His whole reason for existing revolves around chocolate, and he goes through withdrawal after trying to kick the monkey. While Chocolate Boy managed to stay clean for a short period, he is shown with chocolate smeared over his face during Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie.
Shows with villains as the protagonist are quite rare, especially among children's entertainment. Movies like Despicable Me and Megamind might feature "bad" guys as the heroes, but their story tends to revolve around turning them good. Invader Zim was an entirely different beast. Zim is an alien sent to infiltrate the human race, with world domination serving as the final goal. While Zim is rather naive and stupid, he is villainous to the core. The segment Bad, Bad Rubber Piggy follows the alien as he uses time travel to repeatedly maim the child version of Dib, resulting in the temporary death of the boy. That is insanely dark for a children's show, and the protagonist only reverses the process after it backfires spectacularly.
CatDog was among the last of the 90s cartoons created by Nickelodeon, but they went out on a high. With a similar aesthetic to The Ren & Stimpy Show, CatDog centered around strange anthropomorphic animals, including the titular hybrid. The jokes were not quite as mean-spirited as a few of the earlier cartoons, but the creators were not afraid to take the stories down a darker path. CatDogumentary introduces Mr. Bottomleaner, a business-minded armadillo who commissions Lola to create a documentary. Failure is not an option, as he pretty much threatens to kill her. At first, this might seem like an exaggeration, but Mr. Bottomleaner has a room filled with stuffed birds; so, Lola would not be his first. In this world, birds are presented as people, so Lola's boss is a serial killer.
Speaking of creepy characters, few are capable of inducing nightmares quite like Sanjay and Craig's Huggle Bunny. Huge and pink, he is a carnival entertainer that is never seen without a mask. After being introduced in the episode Heightmare, he shows up without any rhyme or reason to follow Sanjay and Craig. Usually, Huggle Bunny is accompanied by a rather unsettling soundtrack, and he loves nothing more than to dance with glow sticks. Huggle Bunny is such a terrifying creation, that some horror movies could learn a thing or two from Sanjay and Craig. The title characters are unable to ditch their stalker, as he always seems to know where to find them. Also, he is right behind you.
You Can't Do That on Television helped established Nickelodeon as a potentially fun channel, as the Canadian comedy sketch show was successful enough during the 80s. Predating Double Dare's GAK by a few years, You Can't Do That on Television included sketches that ended with the actors getting slimed by a green substance. From the safety of our living rooms, the ritual seemed pretty enjoyable and exciting, but those who actually went through it might have thought differently. The green slime's recipe changed multiple times throughout the show's run, but it never stopped being disgusting. Originally, it was a mixture of gelatin powder, water, and flour; although, oatmeal was eventually thrown into the mix. At other times, they added green dye to cottage cheese and called it a day.
SpongeBob SquarePants is currently in its eleventh season, so the animators have had more than a few opportunities to include a gag or two directed towards adults. Thankfully, they have time and time again proven to be up to the challenge. In order to avoid angering the parental gods and advertisers, most of these type of jokes are far from obvious. At best, they might suggest that SpongeBob is watching a program oriented towards adults, but they would not dare to outright show nudity. If you believed the latter, then prepare to kiss your innocence goodbye. At one point, a random fish shows up with an extra fin. Despite wearing a shirt, he decided that pants were not needed for today. Look hard enough and you can hear the screams of a thousand furious mothers.
Sam Puckett was the tough chick on iCarly. She loved to eat and was not afraid to get rough with the boys. Jennette McCurdy proved to be a capable actress, as she lost herself in the role of Samantha. Somewhat disappointingly, McCurdy was not really all that similar to Sam, and the role made her hate ham. During an interview with RadioFree.com, the teenage actress revealed that, during the first episode, she was forced to eat so much of the salty meat, that her stomach revolted. While the experience was not totally terrible, as McCurdy does enjoy ribs and meatballs, she could have done without the ham and Cheez Whiz.
Helga Pataki might not be the most pleasant teenager to be around, but she deserves a bit of leeway due to her unstable home life. Miriam Pataki was once a world-class swimmer, before deciding to get married. The life of a housewife does not seem to suit Helga's mother, as she spends her days sulking around the house and drinking smoothies. Maybe we are reading into things, but smoothies are a metaphor for alcohol, right? Miriam tends to slur her words and has an unhealthy attachment to her blender. At times, she passes out on the couch with no idea of how she got there. Hey Arnold! was not afraid to show a realistically dysfunctional family. All things considering, Helga dealt with the situation pretty darn well.
Newsflash - Avatar: The Last Airbender is bloody amazing and should be studied at animation college (are those a thing?). The action-adventure series hits the right balance between comedy, heartfelt drama, and over-the-top battles. There is something for everyone, including historians who specializes in World War II. The Fire Nation is rather similar to a real-life fascist government that rose to power in the mid-1930s. We do not blame you for being skeptical, as the internet loves nothing more than to describe someone as a Nazi, but the similarities are rather striking. The people in power both employed nationalist propaganda and indoctrination into the everyday lives of their subjects, resulting in a brainwashed nation that strives for supremacy. The air-nomads were also subjected to genocide, similar to the events of the Holocaust.
Danny Phantom ran for three glorious seasons, which is about ten less than it deserved. Created by Butch Hartman, the superhero animated series followed the adventures of the titular character, who's trying to balance a life of crime-fighting with school. As the son of two ghost-hunters, Danny was no stranger to danger. Unfortunately, teenagers are prone to making dumb decisions, and the 14-year-old boy is peer-pressured into visiting the mysterious Ghost Zone. Surprise-surprise, things go belly up, resulting in Danny becoming half-ghost. Let that final line sink in. Danny's superpowers are a side-effect of his half-hearted death. Danny Phantom is practically a zombie, which explains why he can turn invisible or become intangible. Every time the teenager accessed his powers, he was creeping towards the white light at the end of the tunnel.
John Kricfalusi was the twisted brain behind The Ren & Stimpy Show, a deranged cartoon that featured prominently on Nickelodeon during the early 90s. Alongside Rugrats and Doug, Ren & Stimpy was the first original animated series commissioned by the network. Inadvertently, these characters will always be associated with Nickelodeon, even when a spiritual sequel launches on a completely different network. Eventually, Kricfalusi went too far and was fired by the network, although he revived his creation in 2003's Adult Party Cartoon. The stories were incredibly disgusting, and the series only lasted for a handful of episodes. Despite Nickelodeon having nothing to do with this version, it is not unusual for gags from this spin-off to be credited to the original. To be fair, The Ren & Stimpy Show pushed the envelope quite a bit, but it always stopped short of being TOO outrageous.
Where to even start with this episode? At times, CatDog could get pretty disgusting, but nothing compares to the events that transpire during the Fishing for Trouble segment. Long story short, Cat eats Dog's goldfish Veronica, before entering the latter's mouth to try and retrieve his pet. The majority of the segment happens within Dog's stomach, but the real "OH MY GOD" moment occurs towards the end of the plot. Veronica mutates into a huge humanoid talking fish, and he gets revenge by swallowing CatDog. This segment is stacked with grotesque imagery and terrifying twists, resulting in one of the strangest endings to any cartoon. For those who want to give this episode a try, we recommend bringing a barf bag along for the ride.
This might come as a surprise, but Gary the Snail and Patrick star are related. A quick look at this family tree shows that they are first cousins. This little tidbit throws SpongeBob SquarePants' world into chaos, as why is Gary allowed to be treated as a pet? Patrick has independence, but his first cousin is no better than a dog? Is this common with all snails? Are they practically slaves within this universe? Also, this tidbit makes the terrible Pet Sitter Pat episode a hundred times worse. For those fortunate enough to not have seen this monstrosity, Patrick is put in charge of Gary and proceeds to practically abuse him. At one point, he contemplates throwing salt on the snail. This was bad enough when he was SpongeBob's pet, but Patrick is actively hurting his cousin. There is a fine line between stupidity and sociopathic behavior, and Mr. Star falls within the latter.
Playboy is one of those publications that have reached universal accessibility. Sure, it is designed for adults, but who does not know about the existence of the magazine? Unsurprisingly, children's shows also love to reference Hugh Hefner's popular spread. Rocko's Modern Life was not going to hesitate to include an innuendo, and this joke is pretty hilarious. During a rather slow day, a construction worker reads the latest issue of Playslug. In the meantime, he has a firm grip on an erect lever that is adjacent to his lower abdomen. For hesitant parents who have no idea how to talk to their children about masturbation, it might be best to just show them this episode from Rocko's Modern Life.
Didi Pickles serves as Tommy and Dil's mother in arguably Nickelodeon's best-animated series, Rugrats. She was a home economics teacher and child psychologist, although she is mostly shown as a housewife. Physically, with the exception of her messy pink hair, Didi's appearance was nothing particularly out of the ordinary. Apparently, the teacher was living a double life, and even her voice actress was left in the dark. One day, Melanie Chartoff was invited by the animators into the men's rooms to see some rather promiscuous drawings of Didi. Covered in leather and holding a threatening whip, Tommy's mother is a firm believer in discipline. In this case, Stu was the one in desperate need of a bit of education.
Here is a series that went slightly under the radar, as ChalkZone is barely ever mentioned among the Nickelodeon greats. Lasting for four seasons, this is a generally creative show about a teenager who can visit a strange world known as the ChalkZone. The premise is that anything drawn and erased on a blackboard becomes real. The idea is borderline fantastic, and the animated series is worth a watch for those seeking something a bit different. There is a scene in the eighth episode of season four that felt rather mean-spirited. Actually, that is an understatement. Piece O' Cake sees the birth of a sentient cake, who is a rather interesting individual. The heroes step into the ChalkZone, before slowly eating her. To make matters worse, they sing while doing it.
Dude, what is your fascination with torturing children? Why are there multiple entries dedicated to this type of scene? Was Invader Zim really a children's show? Nickelodeon did not wait long to demonstrate that this animated series was made of a different ilk, as the second episode features a scene right out of a horror movie. Scared that his lack of friends will give away his alien status, Zim tests a few lonely children to see who would serve as his bestie. Keef is the lucky winner, but Zim quickly tires of the child. Unable to take a hint, Keef starts to stalk Zim, prompting the alien to take extreme measures. The audience bears witness to a gruesome surgery were Keef's eyes are removed and replaces with robotic ones, allowing Zim to control his mind. Remember, Invader Zim was meant for kids.
What were Jamie Shannon and Jason Hopley on when they conjured up Mr. Meaty? Actually, never mind, because there is no way we can handle it. Despite only lasting for 20 episodes, this acid trip is destined to be forever on repeat within the nightmares of millennials. Puppets can be rather unsettling, but Mr. Meaty took that concept to the next level. The story centered around two lazy teenage boys who worked at a fast-food restaurant, but that description does not do the show justice. There are almost too many terrifying moments to mention, and it is best to avoid Mr. Meaty. Just to give an example, the episode Schnozzola involves a scene where a girl's nose is burned off and eaten by a rat. Also, Parkerina somehow found a way to make the transformation scene from An American Werewolf in London seem a thousand times worse.
Just because Rugrats centered around a group of babies does not mean the content was written for toddlers. Created by Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó, and Paul Germain, this early Nickelodeon original ranks highly among the best cartoons ever created. The characters were memorable enough that a sequel set in their teenager years was commissioned. Rugrats was not designed only for children, as there are dozens of innuendos that nobody under the age of 13 should be able to understand. Our personal favorite involved Grandpa Lou and a particular type of video. In the season 2 episode Grandpa's Date, Lou rents out a few movies to entertain the toddlers. He also picks up a flick entitled Lonely Space Vixens, which is only for him. We are no experts, but that does not sound like a Disney movie. At best, it is a banned Looney Tunes short.
Oh, Hey Arnold!, this list could easily have consisted of innuendos taken just from you. As to spread the love among other Nicktoons, we will have to cherry-pick the raunchiest jokes. This moment of madness happens during The Eating Contest, where the children sit in front of a "Try My Sausage" sign. Maybe this is just the cynic talking, but there probably is not a fancy little restaurant at the back of that alley. The cast never references the advertisement, so, this joke was purely for bored adults. While children would be too focused on Arnold to notice the sign, anyone who has gone through puberty is unlikely to forget it. Screw the rest of the episode, we want a follow-up on the sausage guy.