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You have fond memories of your childhood and all the books, music, films, tv series and other clean fun you enjoyed back then, in those more innocent days.

But then, either while you are still a child or when you become an adult, some of these precious childhood memories are suddenly crushed. It turns out that a person you always trusted before has a darker side. You suddenly discover a circus clown smoking a cigarette between takes. It can be that friendly children's TV show host who is suddenly arrested for criminal deeds. Or those child actors you enjoyed seeing on the screen turn out to be drug addicts or start a career in the adult industry, or far worse. Or maybe you find out that your favorite children's author mistreated his own children badly.

There's something unsettling about this. Something that was so sweet and innocent back then now leaves a bitter, unpleasant space in your memories. You lose your naiveté and suddenly the world you've once experienced as carelessly joyful becomes far more disturbing. After all Children Are Innocent so when this illusion is destroyed it really is unnerving and even traumatic.

This is often a source for comedy too, since destroying something childishly innocent can be funny as well. Whether it are toys, cartoon characters or Santa Claus: add violence, sex, drugs or other disturbing matters and you will either shock or amuse people.

The same goes for people, films, characters, rock stars,... you admired as a child or a teen, but as Time Marches On start doing things that often destroy all your idealistic illusions about everything that was great about them. This is mostly about seeing previous idols "selling out" as they and the fans age. Not to be confused with Childhood Memory Demolition Team, which is about a precious object from your childhood being threatened to disappear.

Compare Broken Pedestal and Growing Up Sucks.

Examples of Crushed Childhood Memories include:


  • Lewis Carroll: The beloved author of Alice in Wonderland, an imaginative children's classic, had a disturbing interest in photographing little girls, sometimes naked (though this wasn't an uncommon practice at the time; see Values Dissonance).
  • Belgian children's author Gie Laenen, on the other hand, was convicted twice, in 1973 and 2005, for sexual abuse of minors.


  • Hergé, creator of The Adventures of Tintin, worked for a newspaper in the 1940s which collaborated with the Nazis. In fairness, he later renounced his ties with Fascism.
  • In 2010 beloved Belgian comic strip artist Willy Vandersteen of Suske en Wiske turned out to have drawn anti-Semitic cartoons for the Nazis during the Second World War.


  • Many of the Our Gang (The Little Rascals) child actors had a problematic adulthood and died in tragic circumstances. Most of them never earned anything of their successful film career in the 1930s.
    • Robert E. Hutchins ("Wheezer") died just short of age 20 when his Army Air Corps plane crashed on landing during a training exercise.
    • Norman Myers Chaney ("Chubby") died at age 22 of a glandular ailment.
    • Matthew Beard, Jr. ("Stymie") died at age 56 after a life of poverty, serving time in prison and drug addictions.
    • Scott Beckett ("Scotty") committed suicide by barbiturate overdose after a tragic adulthood with divorce, violence, alcohol, drugs and crime problems.
    • Carl Dean Switzer ("Alfalfa") was shot at age 31.
    • Jay R. Smith ("Jay") was stabbed to death at age 87 by a homeless man he befriended.
    • Darwood Kaye ("Waldo") was shot by a hit-and-run driver at age 72.
    • Wiliam Laughlin ("Froggy") died at age 16 when his bicycle was hit from behind a truck.
  • Bobby Driscoll, child actor famous for his roles in many Disney films such as Song of the South, Treasure Island and the voice of Peter Pan never managed to recover from his success as a child actor. As a teen he became addicted to heroin and marijuana and was arrested several times, also for disturbing the peace and assault with a deadly weapon. He died penniless.
  • Drew Barrymore: the sweet two year old in E.T. was already a smoker before she was nine years old, and a drug addict by 13.
  • Lindsay Lohan: The cute eight-year old in The Parent Trap remake started having problems when her mother Dina started letting her drink while she was still underage, then she became more known for her party-girl image then being an actress over the next several years, but it was her 2nd D.U.I. arrest in 2007 that really shocked people.
  • Nearly every film adaptation of a popular TV show or cartoon show you used to enjoy as a child will be called an utter bastardization of everything that made the original show great. The general population often takes it better than the Hatedom makes it out to be, though.
    • This also applies to sequels, Expanded Universe material, etc. made years after the original, kid-embraced work was made. Even if the original creators are involved, there's no guarantee the now-adult fans won't be distraught over the continuation's quality; just ask George Lucas, who experienced this kind of backlash with the Star Wars prequel trilogy and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.


  • Michael Jackson: If you grew up with this childishly innocent entertainer during the 1970s and 1980s the child abuse accusations in the 1990s and 2000s came as a really disturbing shock.
  • Bing Crosby: The crooner with the gentle voice whose song "White Christmas" is still a staple of the holiday classics? Well, according to a book by one of his sons Crosby regularly beat his children and was an advocate of marijuana!
  • The Mamas And The Papas: Lead singer John Phillips died in 2001, but in 2009 his daughter Mac Kenzie claimed that her father has an incestuous relation with her.
  • Hearing songs you enjoyed and emotionally connected with when you were young being misused in commercials.
    • Or being covered and sampled by extremely commercial pop artists for young ignorant audiences.
  • Seeing rebellious rock and pop stars getting older is often a very disappointing spectacle. Old age destroying their youthful appearance is one thing. But some of them still try to act the part and come over as being pathetic poseurs, while others simply want to be accepted by the mainstream and start to do stuff that is really square, unhip and/or a betrayal of their past beliefs.
    • Bob Dylan, the most famous protest singer of his generation who wrote intelligent criticisms of organized religion and religious fanaticism like "With God On Our Side" performed in front of Pope John Paul II in the late 1990s.
    • Johnny Rotten of the anarchic punk band The Sex Pistols making TV commercials.


  • Different Strokes: Child actress Dana Plato died of a drug overdose. She lead a troublesome teenage life even before that.
    • Child actor Todd Bridges had similar drug problems. Thankfully, he fared better than Dana, ultimately kicking his drug habit. He's still alive to this day.
    • And of course, there's all of Gary Coleman's issues.
  • Paul Reubens, the star of Pee-wee's Playhouse was the most popular children's show TV host during the 1980s, but in 1991 he was Caught With His Pants Down in a porno theater, which destroyed his career.
  • Family Matters: Actress Jaimee Foxworth, who play Judy Winslow in the series, had a brief career as a porn star after the show.
  • Eight Is Enough: Child actor Adam Rich, who played Nicholas Bradford was later arrested for his cocaine addiction and shoplifting.
  • Full House: Child actor Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie Tanner) later became addicted to alcohol and methamphetamines.
  • If you ever saw The Muppets characters being performed by their puppeteers it can be very shocking to actually view with your own eyes they aren't real at all.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: This show was one of the most innovative, anarchic, unconventional and subversive comedy shows ever. Yet for all its ground breaking achievements the main cast merely made and performed more traditional comedy in their post-Python career. Even embarrassingly unfunny sitcoms and films where they play the kind of safe, bland, uninspiring and conventional comedy that they originally used to rebel against.

Western Animation

  • Walt Disney: The world's most beloved and celebrated provider of clean, innocent fun for children had several dark sides to him.
    • There's the fact that Disney was a chain smoker. He even died of lung cancer.
    • Disney has been accused of being an anti-Semite and a racist, even though proof of this remains a matter of debate.
    • He destroyed the careers of several of his former animators by accusing them of being left wing sympathizers during the 1940s-1950s anti-communist Witch Hunts.
  • Often spoofed with Krusty the Clown in The Simpsons, who is often smoking or doing other disturbing things which children might find shocking.
  • Der Fuehrer's Face: Even though this is an anti-Nazi cartoon produced as a propaganda film during the Second World War it features Donald Duck in a Nazi uniform, saluting Adolf Hitler for most of the film. Even though it eventually turns out to be a nightmare it is still pretty disturbing. And this official Disney cartoon even won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short!
  • All the direct-to-video sequels to some of their most beloved and classic films that Disney released in the 2000s. Every quality film you used to enjoy now has an inferior sequel.
  • Bugs Bunny 's racial slurs in the anti-Japanese World War II cartoon "Bugs Bunny Nips The Nips" (1944) where he violently defeats many Japanese soldiers and at one point even names them "monkey face" and "slant eyes".
    • His brief transformation into an Afro-American singer in the cartoon "Any Bonds Today?" (1942) has also been viewed as shockingly racist, while Bugs actually imitates singer Al Jolson, who was known for his blackface make-up while performing.
  • Judith Barsi, the child actress who provided the voice of Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven and of Ducky in The Land Before Time never lived to see the premiere of the 'All Dogs' film. She was shot dead in 1988, together with her mother, by her abusive father, who committed suicide after his horrible crime.
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