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Top 10 Darkest Moments in Kids' Shows

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Andrew Tejada
Script written by Andrew Tejada Maybe youngsters should change the channel for this part. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for Top 10 Darkest Moments in Kids’ Shows. For this list, we're taking a look at the most mature and disturbing moments from TV shows aimed at young audiences. Since some of these dark turns will discuss important plot points, a spoiler warning is in effect.

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Top 10 Darkest Moments in Kids’ Shows

Maybe youngsters should change the channel for this part. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for Top 10 Darkest Moments in Kids’ Shows.

For this list, we're taking a look at the most mature and disturbing moments from TV shows aimed at young audiences. Since some of these dark turns will discuss important plot points, a spoiler warning is in effect.

#10: Zim’s Organ-Filled Body

"Invader Zim" (2001-06)

The alien Zim tries his best to blend in with humans on earth. But when he is sent to the nurse’s office, his rival Dib points out that the alien lacks human organs. Zim decides to steal as many organs as he can to fool the nurse. The scenes of the alien hunting down his fellow students would fit perfectly in a horror film. On top of that, the stolen organs are replaced with objects that disfigure the bodies of his victims. But in the end, it’s Zim’s bloated body that succeeds in both fooling the nurser and unsettling any kids who see it.

#9: Apocalyptic Hometown

“The Powerpuff Girls” (1998-2005)

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup spend a lot of time using their powers to save the city of Townsville. When they get a vacation after a day of kindergarten, they eagerly race home. However, they move fast enough to accidentally travel fifty years into the future. They discover their absence has ruined the city while their creator and friends have been twisted beyond recognition. It leads up to a scene where everyone in Townsville, including the new evil overlord, blames them for leaving. We bet younger audiences were thankful for just having chores, because this sequence gave the heroic kindergarteners a heavy dose of responsibility.

#8: Covering Up Murder

"SpongeBob SquarePants" (1999-)

Who hides a dead body under the sea? Spongebob and Mr. Krabs thought they did. The duo attempts to get revenge on a health inspector with a disgusting burger. Before he takes a bite, the inspector chokes on a fly. Believing the burger killed him, Spongebob and Krabs try to bury the body in secret. This entry might’ve ranked higher if the health inspector had actually died. In reality, the inspector keeps getting knocked unconscious, leading to a series of darkly hilarious scenes. Despite the humor, the idea of the innocent Spongebob carrying out and covering up a murder took this series into some dark waters.

#7: Batgirl’s Death

"The New Batman Adventures" (1997-99)

Barbara Gordon lives a dual life as both the daughter of the Police Commissioner and the heroine, Batgirl. Her split identities come to an end when the villain Scarecrow surprises Barbara and pushes her off a building where she falls to. The death itself is surprisingly realistic and scary, especially the sound of her landing on the hood of a car. And the fact that it’s her father’s car adds another layer of horror. Fortunately, it’s later revealed that Barbara’s death was a hallucination caused by Scarecrow’s fear gas. Although we know it’s fake, the death of Batgirl may have looked and felt all too real to kids.

#6: Robin's Invisible Enemy

"Teen Titans" (2003-06)

Some people can’t escape their past. After Robin looks at a mask of his defeated nemesis Slade, he begins to see the villain everywhere. Robin becomes obsessed with trying to capture his foe, but keeps getting beat up. When he asks his teammates for help during a fight, they reveal that Slade isn’t there. Robin’s struggle against an invisible enemy who keeps hurting him has strong parallels to real life mental illness. If the show’s younger audience didn’t get the metaphor, then the sight of their hero beaten and desperate was still hard to watch. Either way, this imaginary foe left a dark mark.

#5: The Earth Queen Suffocates

“The Legend of Korra” (2012-14)

“The Legend of Korra” may have played for kids on Nickelodeon, but it had plenty of mature moments for its older fanbase. One of its darkest scenes came from Zaheer, a villain who could manipulate air. Zaheer aims to rid the world of Avatar Korra. When Earth Kingdom soldiers capture Korra, he convinces the Earth Queen to deliver the avatar into his clutches. But after their deal falls apart, Zaheer suffocates the queen by bending the air out of her lungs. Her red face and literal grasp for air are nightmare-inducing images. It’s a horrifying execution that’s sure to disturb younger viewers with its absolute brutality.

#4: Lost & Nearly Scrapped

"Thomas & Friends" (1984-)

Getting lost can be scary at any age. For a train, it can be deadly. After tank engine Stepney works into the night, he gets confused by fog and takes a wrong turn that takes him into a scrapyard. While his passengers run for help, two diesel engines come along and force him into a smelter shed to destroy him. Is the message here that getting lost can lead to a horrible death? Or that bullies can do whatever they want to a defenseless person? Judging by Stepney’s terrified voice, the message doesn’t matter. He wanted to live and fans wanted a lighter episode.

#3: Steven’s Rapid Aging

"Steven Universe" (2013- )

All Steven wants to do is celebrate some birthdays with his magical gem family. But when their lack of enthusiasm for parties makes him feel old, his magical powers begin to age him. By the end of the episode, he’s an old man on the edge of death. Seeing Steven withered and helpless is a horrifying sight. The moment becomes even more tragic as he tries to come to peace with his impending doom. If any viewers have watched an elderly loved one struggle through health issues, this scene may look all too familiar. Aging is inevitable, but it doesn’t always have to look this bleak.

#2: Fatal Overdose

"Captain Planet and the Planeteers" (1990-96)

The Planeteers have had to deal with more than just environmental issues. In one episode, the Planeteer Linka goes to visit her cousin Boris, only to find that he is hooked on a street drug called Bliss. Although she refuses his offers to sample Bliss, he sneaks a pill into her food. But his cruel deception isn’t the darkest part. Boris is later offered an entire bottle of Bliss if he’s willing to kill Planeteers. Once the pills arrive, Boris swallows all the drugs at once, overdoses and dies. Linka is left without a cousin and kids are left with a grim message about drug use.

Before we turn to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Dani Falls Apart

"Danny Phantom" (2004-07)

Ed’s Monstrous Transformation

"Ed, Edd n Eddy" (1999-2009)

Consequences of Drinking

"Tiny Toon Adventures" (1990-95)

#1: Extinction Event

"Dinosaurs" (1991-94)

Series finales don’t get much darker than this. “Dinosaurs” was a kid-friendly sitcom about the daily life of talking prehistoric creatures. In the last episode, Charlene Sinclair discovers that a bug species was killed off by a corporation’s poison. When the company responsible is exposed, they place her father Earl in charge of fixing things. However, his attempts to solve the problems keep causing ecological disasters and irreversible damage to the environment. By the end of the episode, there’s no food, no sun and no hope left. This series was supposed to be a comedy, but there’s nothing funny about its depressing ending.

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