The beauty of children’s cartoons is that they cater to all ages. However, when we are kids, we simply cannot process the complex themes these cartoons portray. As kids, we enjoy them for their characters, that’s all. It is only when we grow older and we look back on these shows do we realize that sometimes the themes might have been mature, inappropriate, or just dark AF.

We found a Reddit thread where people were discussing the children’s cartoons that had the darkest themes. The answers will make you look at the shows with a completely new perspective. Warning: the answers will also strip the show of its innocence. Here are 16 children’s cartoon shows that had the darkest themes. Read on.

1. “Courage The Cowardly Dog immediately comes to mind, but not sure if it’s ‘dark’ or just creepy.” – PM_ME___IDK_WHATEVER

children's cartoon
The New York Times

2. “If I recall correctly, Popeye spent most of his time beating the crap out of Brutus for repeatedly trying to rape Olive Oyl.” – laundryandblowjobs

cartoon for children
Games Radar

3. “Pinocchio is extremely dark, especially for a 1940 movie, and REALLY especially if you are at all familiar with the original source material. For example, that Pleasure Island guy gets paid for turning boys into donkey slaves, he enjoys every second of it and gets away with it scot-free.” – plato318

children's cartoon with dark themes
Literary Hub

4. “Adventure Time alluded to the ‘mushroom wars’ of the past, which were likely mushroom clouds from a nuclear war, suggesting that this fantastical world was the new mutations from our post-apocalyptic future.” – das_goose

dark children's cartoon
The New Republic

5. “The reason he’s ‘The Last Airbender‘ is because they literally genocided his entire race.” – AdamBombKelley

dark cartoons

6. “Casper was the ghost of a dead little boy.” – flipping_birds

dark cartoon

7. “Bambi. There’s no villain and no evil with a face who can be defeated. Fires start because of human carelessness and Babmi’s mom dies because hunters kill. And then there is the brutal nature, so humans are just one of many variables outside of the characters’ control. Characters can’t get any justice when something bad happens. That is simply the reality they live in.” – _Norman_Bates

Bloody Disgusting

8. “101 Dalmatians is about an old woman who wants to kill and skin puppies to make a coat. That’s pretty dark.” – ATXKLIPHURD

101 dalmatians

Also Read: Here Are 20 Amazing Animated TV Shows for Adults That Make Growing Up Worth It

9. “Nobody has said The Real Ghostbusters yet? Some of those ghosts were legit terrifying.” – StriderXF3

Slash Film

10. “The Smurfs. An evil wizard tries to kidnap an entire village of little people to enslave them to steal gold, and presumably children, from the nearby villages. The only thing that makes it for children is that the Smurfs are nice.” – myenfplife


11. “Peter Pan used to freak me out as a kid. He just kidnapped little boys and convinced them that they didn’t need a family. Then when Wendy came along, he decided she would be the mother to all of his kidnapped ‘children.’ Honestly, the entire premise was just really gross.” – CJgreencheetah

peter pan
Wired Italia

12. “Majority of Ben 10 is pretty dark. Most notably in Ultimate Alien and Alien Force. They had episodes involving trafficking, prison injustice, self-sacrifice, Stockholm Syndrome, etc.” – EvasiveCilantro_63

Ben 10
We Got This Covered

13. “Duck Tales. Huey, Dewey, and Louie are triplet boy duckling cartoon characters who are Donald Duck’s nephews. The boys’ mother sends them to stay with Donald after they exploded firecrackers under their father’s chair which sends him to the hospital. In the comics and animated shorts, the four of them live happily together in the fictional city as their practical joke killed their father, and they were abandoned by their mother.” – Anonymous

duck tales

14. “Maybe not the darkest, but looking back even with what we can ignore as toon physics, a disturbingly larger number of Scooby-Doo villains either turned out to be wanted criminals and/or were content with murder to keep their secrets.” – MGD109

scooby doo

15. “Ed Edd n Eddy was about a group of kids trying to scam all their neighbours, often traumatizing them to get enough money for jawbreakers. Don’t forget the trailer park sisters being very creepy with the kisses and whatnot they forced on the boys.” – CamQueQues

ed edd n eddy

16. “Dragon Ball Z. Gohan has to watch his dad get murdered by his uncle, then gets kidnapped by his dad’s last huge rival. Then, has to spend months living in the woods on his own and he is like 5. Gohan blasts off into space with his dad’s best friend and a few others to go hunt for the other set of Dragon Balls on a foreign planet that is being invaded by a space overlord.” – itsfish20

dragon ball z
Wallpaper Flare

Which other children’s cartoon would you add to this list?

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