Nostalgia Trip: Remember when these cartoons were considered kid-friendly?

As Halloween is today and October, Blog’s unofficial Nostalgia Month, comes to a close, we thought we’d take a moment to appreciate HOW FUCKING CREEPY cartoons were in our childhoods. We went down memory lane, remembering all those nights when we slept with one eye open after watching Cartoon Network or a Disney Channel Original Movie that was a bit too dark. Then we thought… how the fuck was this considered suitable for children?! From inappropriate jokes to villains that occasionally still haunt us, here are some memorable spooks from the TV of yesteryear.

Invader Zim

S1E4: Dark Harvest
Firstly, I would like to point out that the creator of Invader Zim is also the the author of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac which features the exploits of, you guessed it, a homicidal maniac. In this particular episode Zim, an alien hidden among a human elementary school class, is afraid that his identity will be revealed. In order to convince everyone of his humanness, he systematically steals organs from the other children until he is gorged with squishy spleens. A cute touch is when a roll of small intestines pops out of Zim’s mouth and he slurps it back.

S2E29: The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever
A mechanical snowman tells the story of Zim being slowly engulfed by his evil Santa suit. Two million years in the future, a horrifying totalitarian Santa returns to Earth every year to terrify children. This episode literally RUINS CHRISTMAS. There’s even a song to celebrate Santa’s authoritarian rule so you can listen to it on your way to school!

Courage the Cowardly Dog

S1E7: King Ramses’ Curse
still have nightmares from the Middle of Nowhere. It was hard to pick just one episode that epitomizes how messed up this show was, as the Demon in the Mattress and Le Quack still haunt my childhood TV memories. But after asking some friends and rewatching some episodes myself, it was clear that King Ramses beat out all other villains that terrorized poor Courage for the title of most nightmare-inducing. What was it about King Ramses that freaked us out so much? Is it that we don’t see him until halfway into the episode, à la Jaws? Was it the eerie fog that preceded him everywhere and made us cringe with anticipation? Or was it the way he was animated, in a style that made him stand out against the vast nothingness of Nowhere, Kansas? All of the above. I can still hear “Return the slaaab” in the back of my head… But seriously, why didn’t my parents monitor what I watched on Cartoon Network?

Honorable mentions: S1E4, “The Demon in the Mattress”; S1E4, “Freaky Fred”; S1E9, “Everyone Wants to Direct”; S2E13, “The Tower of Dr. Zalost”; S4E7, “The Mask”. This dude also did a pretty good run-down what he considered to be the creepiest Courage the Cowardly Dog episodes, in case you needed more proof.

Ren & Stimpy

S3E8: Jerry the Bellybutton Elf
Every single person I asked about scary kids shows said “Ren & Stimpy” scarred them forever and ever. In this episode, Stimpy becomes BFF with Jerry the Bellybutton Elf by turning inside out (ew). Eventually, Jerry gets so angry that he tears his skin off and becomes a gigantic porkchop monster (um). Ren tries to help Stimpy by jumping into the bellybutton as well, and the giant porkchop eats them both (wat). Then an obese woman eats the bellybutton, killing them all (WAT). I can’t describe in words how horrible these images are. Plus Jerry is voiced by Gilbert Gottfried. <shiver>

S4E10: Insomniac Ren
This episode features LSD, an Edgard Allen Poe story, and wet dreams. Nuff said.

Disney’s Tower of Terror (1997)

While this is not a cartoon, it most definitely scared the crap out of me. I have this very distinct memory from when I was six years old. I was at my grandmother’s house for the afternoon and was watching Disney Channel, like any good six year old, when this movie came on. It was Disney Channel in the ’90s, what could possibly be so bad? I don’t remember what it was about it that freaked me out, but I couldn’t sleep for a week. It was probably the ghosts, the abandoned hotel, and the nice old lady that was actually a witch at the end (whoops, spoiler.) This past Halloweekend, as I locked myself up in New Dorm hiding from Hurricane Sandy (Cohen), I decided to face my fears and rewatch this movie. In retrospect, I’m probably more scared than I was before, because now I can see some seriously dark themes in this movie. Jealousy that drives a seven year old to plot to kill her younger sibling, childhood trauma making a person go insane, wanting to get it on with a ghost (maybe Ke$ha can speak to this one)… Yo, even Disney was grim back in the day.

Honorable Mention:
Him from The Powerpuff Girls

This doesn’t really need to be justified. Here’s 10 hours of Him turning.

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