Top 10 Unexpectedly Violent Moments in Cartoons
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu
WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
Well, these unexpectedly violent moments in cartoons escalated quickly. We'll be going over surprising moments of violence in television cartoons. Also, because some of these moments have importance to their show's plot, a spoiler alert is in effect. WatchMojo ranks the most unexpectedly violent moments in cartoons. Which violent cartoon moment shocked you the most? Let us know in the comments!
Well… that escalated quickly. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Unexpectedly Violent Moments in Cartoons.
For this list, we’ll be going over surprising moments of violence in television cartoons. Also, because some of these moments have importance to their show’s plot, a spoiler alert is in effect.
#10: Fruit Witch is Eaten
“Adventure Time” (2010-18)
Despite its whimsical tone and art style, “Adventure Time” frequently goes to some dark places. One of its most shockingly grisly moments happens when Jake the Dog and Finn the Human go exploring their father’s dungeon. In one room, a trio of enticing witches ask Finn to “partake of the fruit.” Angry at Jake and their dad for apparently mocking him, Finn decides to do so, only for Jake to stop him; shoving the apple into one of the witch’s mouths instead. This transforms her into a giant version of the fruit, leading the other two to devour their transformed sister and leaving behind bones. Cannibalism: totally kid friendly.
#9: Riff Tamson is Blown to Bits
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (2008-14, 2019-)
Violence is pretty frequent throughout “The Clone Wars” – after all, the show takes place during a prolonged, galactic conflict. But even with that in mind, the series isn’t without some surprisingly brutal content. One story arc sees young Mon Calamari prince Lee-Char ousted from his throne after his father’s assassination leads to civil war. The shark man responsible, Riff Tamson, is eventually killed by the prince while attempting to retake his planet. Tamson is killed with his own explosive daggers – and although it happens off-screen, his burned, severed head is shown soon after. Pretty graphic stuff.
#8: The Earth Queen Runs Out of Breath
“The Legend of Korra” (2012-14)
Given that it’s aimed at a teenage or even adult audience, “The Legend of Korra” has more instances of violence than most of our other entries. While it was tempting to choose the fratricide/suicide of Tarrlok and Aman from season 1, we went with this moment from two seasons later. The tyrannical Earth Queen is more of a hindrance than a help to Korra and company, but it’s still shocking and disturbing when the airbender anarchist Zaheer uses his powers to asphyxiate the monarch by pulling their air out of her lungs. Yikes!
#7: Enzo Loses an Eye
This early computer-generated show – fittingly themed around computer programs – may have initially been more bright and kid-friendly, but it grew darker and more serious as it went on. This is best exemplified in an episode where Enzo Matrix, the show’s former designated kid sidekick (and later, older badass), enters a game parodying the “Mortal Kombat” series. Despite some disturbing, “Fatality”-like defeats, the real kicker is when Enzo loses an eye during one of his matches. As violent as kids’ programming can sometimes get, the permanent loss of a body part is still something shows like these rarely delve into.
#6: SpongeBob is Beaten Up from the Inside
“SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999-)
This long-running cartoon has featured plenty of surprisingly violent and gross moments over the years, but our pick has to go to one of the most one-sided fights in the series. After finding Mermaid Man’s utility belt, SpongeBob gets into immediate trouble after accidentally shrinking Squidward. Unable to find a way to reverse its effects and not wanting word to get back to the superhero, the yellow sponge boy ends up shrinking nearly all his friends and the townsfolk of Bikini Bottom. Out of revenge, they go inside his body and attack his organs. Even if they work things out, we’d be hard-pressed to forget that kind of trauma.
#5: Beating Up Mojo Jojo
“The Powerpuff Girls” (1998-2005)
The Powerpuff Girls may have been made with sugar, spice, and everything nice, but that doesn’t mean everything they do is just as kind. One episode sees them hooked on candy to such a degree that they agree to work with their archenemy Mojo Jojo because the Mayor will reward them with sweets. However, when their green, large-brained nemesis steals the Mayor’s candy jar, the usually wonderful girls beat Mojo Jojo senseless; leaving his brain visible, his teeth cracked, and several of his limbs visibly broken. After a beating like that, it’s a wonder the intelligent ape ever challenges them again!
#4: Shuffling Orifices
“Gravity Falls” (2012-16)
Already more adult and violent than most Disney shows, “Gravity Falls” really goes all out with its three-part finale, “Weirdmageddon.” This sees the show’s demonic, triangular nemesis, Bill Cipher, invade the titular town with bizarre, extra-dimensional forces to enslave the world and make everyone playthings for his sadistic glee. While nearly everything Bill does elicits some kind of horror, one of his most creative and disturbing acts is to shuffle the orifices in the face of local smarmy rich man, Preston Northwest. It’s a brief moment, but this kind of body horror in a cartoon is pretty shocking nonetheless.
“Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2005-08)
“The Legend of Korra”’s predecessor pushed boundaries for what kids’ cartoons could be. While there were several notably violent moments in the show’s run, one of the most visceral occurs when Team Avatar investigates a town in the Fire Nation where residents are disappearing. As it turns out, the culprit is a waterbender, who has learned how to manipulate the water in people’s blood to control their movements like a puppet master. The loss of control of one’s body is a profoundly disturbing concept, and the jerking movements made by those being controlled only add to the creep factor.
#2: Kitty Attacks Courage
“Courage the Cowardly Dog” (1999-2002)
Already heavily influenced by the horror genre, “Courage the Cowardly Dog” is a show that’s no stranger to unexpected violence – for example, the title character’s dodgeball match to the death, or his owner being decapitated. However, our pick goes to the moment when a masked visitor to the farm, who happens to be a cat in disguise, attacks Courage. First beating him to a pulp with a sink, she then continues to repeatedly assault him. Despite his cowardice, Courage usually manages to escape the worst of the dangers he faces. But this time, he faces several grim – if cartoony – assaults.
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
“Steven Universe” (2013-)
Billy Loses His Face
“The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy” (2001-08)
Zim Steals Kids’ Organs
“Invader Zim” (2001-06)
#1: Bugs Bunny Straight Up Murders a Guy
“Looney Tunes” (1930-69)
The “Looney Tunes” franchise is known for its cartoon violence, with characters regularly receiving comically brutal injuries that would kill them in real life. However, one of the most unsettling moments of violence happens to someone we can’t even see. One short sees Bugs Bunny playing a concert on a piano. As he’s about to perform, an audience member coughs loudly. When it happens a second time, Bugs pulls out a gun and shoots him. There isn’t a yell or sound from him or the rest of the audience – that man is definitely dead! Gee, ain’t he a stinker?