These surprisingly violent Nickelodeon shows prove not even children’s cartoons are exempt from the depraved minds of animators itching to live out their homicidal fantasies on their characters. Filled with murder, mayhem, and enough dismemberment to scar children for life, these shows are not only some of the most memorable cartoons ever created, but also among the most popular and financially successful shows on the beloved children’s network.
“Invader Zim” What happens when a children’s network asks the creator of a popular, if not disturbing comic called “Johnny the Homicidal Maniac” to produce a cartoon show? The answer is a surprisingly violent Nickelodeon show called “Invader Zim,” which ran for one season in 2001 and followed a small green alien named Zim as he attempted to singlehandedly conquer Earth. Aided by his moronic robotic dog, Gir, the show was characterized by dark, cyberpunk style animation from the bizarre hand of animator Jhonen Vasquez and featured children getting their eyes ripped out, being killed be rubber pigs, and even eaten by a giant hamster. The show’s most famous episode had the bat-shit-crazy premise of Zim stalking his fellow classmates at school and stealing their organs, integrating them into his body so that he appears more human. The episode allegedly inspired Scott Dyleski to kill Pamela Vitale in 2005.
“The Ren & Stimpy Show” Leave it to Nickelodeon to green-light a cartoon aimed at children about a mentally unstable Chihuahua named Ren and his absentminded feline roommate, Stimpy. Created by animator John Kricfalusi, “The Ren & Stimpy Show” featured some of the most disturbing imagery ever drawn. The show played out like an acid-induced nightmare from Kricfalusi’s college days and included everything from sexual innuendos and fully developed bikini-clad women, to some incredibly graphic scenes of violence that included a now infamous scene in the episode “Man’s Best Friend” in which Ren takes insane joy in brutally beating overweight character George Liquor unrecognizable with an oar. Nickelodeon found the episode so violent that they actually fired Kricfalusi and quickly banned the episode from ever being aired.
“Spongebob Squarepants” One of the most surprisingly violent Nickelodeon shows still on the air, this twisted underwater cartoon follows an innocently stupid anthropomorphic sponge and his dimwitted friend, a starfish named Patrick. On the air for nearly a decade, the show is a cash cow for Nickelodeon and without a doubt one of the most annoying shows ever to plague a stay-at-home parent’s nightmares. Throughout its tenure on Nickelodeon, the happy-go-lucky Spongebob has killed an entire flock of scallops, cut out the heart of his neighbor Squidward, broken Squidward’s neck, and even pulled off Squidward’s head. Characters are routinely blown up, burned, crushed, and have even had their skin melted off all in the name of the joyous, good-natured “nautical nonsense” promised in the show’s theme song.