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Passenger: Enough is enough! I have had it with these gosh-darned snakes on this gosh-darned plane!

Steward: Language, sir!
Irregular Webcomic, No. 1861.

In some family-oriented shows, instead of using completely made-up swear words, actual but relatively mild cuss words, such as "hell" and "damn", will get promoted to the top of the swearing ladder.

Contrary to popular belief, the words "damn" and "hell" are permissible in a G-rated film. For example, the 1971 movie Airport had both ("Where the hell are you?" and "You've always got some damn excuse!") and it still received a G rating, though movie-rating standards have changed since then. Even some G-rated animated features, such as Sleeping Beauty, The Secret of NIMH, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, have included mild swear words. However, it is worth noting that "Hell" can refer to the place and "damn" can mean condemnation to said place, and thus are not swear words even if such concepts are a little heavy for children. "Bitch" and "ass" almost never get such passes, though "ass" is sometimes used as a joke when referring to a donkey.

While "damn" is normally permissible, "goddamn" is still considered a Christian taboo, particularly in America. The MASH movie when shown on TV has had Sergeant Gorman's Catch Phrase, "Goddamn Army" bowdlerised to "Damn Army."

The use of "Hades" as an old-fashioned synonym for "hell" is theologically correct, in the right context, but is commonly misused in any context in which "hell" would work. Using Hades as Satan is never correct though. See also The Underworld for other terms that may be substituted in this manner in works based on other theological settings.

In the UK "sod" and "bugger" are mildly obscene -- equivalent to "hell" or "damn" in the US. Hence, in pre-Watershed non-children's dramas or comedies, "sod" and "bugger" stand in for "fuck" and "wanker." (Not understanding that "bugger" is a swearword in the UK or "damn" is a swear in the US is not this trope, but something else entirely.)[1]

Reduced-strength swearing can severely undermine dramatic scenes, especially if strong language would be natural under the circumstances. If it is explained that the character actually used a different word, see Narrative Profanity Filter.

Occasionally, this is justified: there are some characters (and some people) who simply don't swear. Although not swearing in situations where there is no reason not to (especially if you say other things instead) will get you odd looks, there are some people who don't swear, even when the situation warrants it. Other cases, this is used intentionally to create an Incredibly Lame Punny swear ("For the love of Chrysler!").

See also Curse of the Ancients, Never Say "Die", T-Word Euphemism, and the Wikipedia article on minced oaths. Contrast Cluster F-Bomb which is the exact opposite, but can be just as annoying. A favorite tool of the Badbutt -- the G-rated Badass. Another character type known for this is the Minnesota Nice.

Examples of Gosh Dang It to Heck include:

Anime and Manga

  • Canada in Axis Powers Hetalia, instead of swearing, squeaks "Maple hockey!"
  • The Funimation dub of Dragonball Z abused this to hell. It was bit... odd hearing a brutal tyrant like Frieza saying "Oh my gosh." Or Goku watching something horrible happen and only being able to respond with "Guh...Darn it!" in Sean Schemmel's voice, no less. They even went so far as to change the writing on the T-shirts of demons in the afterlife so that instead of Hell (as in the place), they said HFIL, stating it was an acronym for "Home For Infinite Losers."
    • The Viz manga also has characters saying "darn" here and there.
  • Hiruma's charming nicknames for people and things get this treatment in the Viz editions of Eyeshield 21.
  • In certain Internet versions of Fruits Basket, they took out the line "What the fuck?", which they said at least seven times in a row, and put in various other lines. Natsuki Takaya doesn't usually do this, but the translators apparently wanted to make it cleaner.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, after Al and Ed's battle at the 5th Laboratory, Winry comes to visit Ed at the hospital and tries to force him to drink his milk (which he hates). Al then tells Ed to "Shut up and drink the dumb milk." Entirely in-character, seeing as Al is a very polite young boy trapped inside a giant suit of Animated Armour.
  • The Mega Man NT Warrior manga. The Viz translation creates some pretty damn ridiculous swearwords. Mega Man Hub Style is about to die unless he can pick himself up off the ground and can only mutter "dang blang!" However, a Bass who is simply incensed will preach about experiencing "Hell itself". Note that this translation also uses vocabulary WAY beyond the target audience. "Pablum," "wanton"...
    • The later game translations also had some odd euphemisms, particularly "Pit Hockey." Even "heck" at least would've been alliterative. Zero: Curses! Dang! Rats!
  • In the Slayers anime, "damn," "bastard" and "hell" are thrown around semi-liberally (a given, because "hell" is a part of the name of one Big Bad, Hellmaster Fibrizo), but they never go beyond. The biggest blurb is when the word "bitch" has the opportunity to pop up, but it doesn't, leaving many instances of awkward uses of "you son-of-a...". It is mentioned in an episode of NEXT, but only once and not in the aforementioned context. It's pretty clear that they go far beyond that in the Japanese version, if one knows the local profanity.
    • Even though the translated Light Novel series had some censorship, notably, they avert this trope and throw "shit" around frequently.
  • Sonic Adventure: "Or else what, ya big loser?"
  • Completely averted in the Hungarian dub of Soul Eater, with the teen heroes using a rich vocabulary of swears and profanity that would make even the creators themselves hide under the table, whenever they're seriously pissed. The fact that it's airing after ten PM may have something to do with it.
  • The 2012 NickToons series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opens its final season with sayings based on each of the Turtles' personalities, in Raphael's case, "Ah sewer apples!"

Comic Books

  • Atomic Robo doesn't swear, tending to make use of more esoteric terms like "horsefeathers!" and "Cheese and Crackers!" Justified, since Robo was created and "grew up" before World War II.
  • Captain America - The Cap, being traditional American values on legs, never swears, though sometimes uses this trope.

 [Captain America jumps onto an F-15 and smashes the cockpit. Understandably, the pilot expresses his surprise]

Pilot: Jesus!

Captain America: Keep flying, son. And watch that potty mouth!

  • One Far Side cartoon has Satan declaring to his minions, "To heck with you! To heck with all of you!" Possibly Justified, they are presumably already in hell.
  • The Irredeemable Ant-Man lampshades and justifies this trope: SHIELD operatives are trained to say "Blast!" instead of "Damn!" to avoid offending anyone in the field.
  • Knights of the Dinner Table usually spells "God" as "Gawd". They also frequently use amusing outburst like "Firk-Ding-Blast!" and "What the SAM FRICK?"
  • Luke Cage, Hero for Hire - Luke promised his Momma he wouldn't swear. He just says things that sound kinda like usual swears, like "Sweet Christmas" and "Holy Spit!". Of course, he's been known to curse on rare occasion.
  • Played perfectly straight in Madman, in which the titular character literally can't bring himself to curse even in the most dire of circumstances.
  • No one swears in Marvel Adventures, the all-ages version of the Marvel Universe, but cursing is alluded to...

 Captain America: For the record, I didn't say that.

Storm: What did you say?

Captain America: I can't say with ladies present.

  • Nodwick - Piffany, whose language is so comically mild that you know it's serious when she says "darn" or "crud."
  • Nova never swears for the same reason. "Blue Blazes!" (And his dad does it too.)
  • PS238 has Zodon, a evil genius attending a school for superpowered children. The staff janitor is a technical genius himself though and implants a chip into Zodon which forces him to replace swear words with harmless random words. If he tries to go into a stream of profanity he will begin speaking out the lyrics to show tunes.
  • In Queen of the Universe, Spaniel Man can't even do punctuation swearing.
  • Rogue Trooper uses hell! as its curse of choice. This continued even after 2000 AD started to use proper swearing.
    • However, in some parts of the world (America specifically), it is still proper swearing (albeit very mild).
  • Spider-Man
    • Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane has its teenage girl protagonists replace relatively mild "Omigod!" with "Omigosh!" whenever they get excited.
    • Spider-man's J Jonah Jameson in most incarnations has an impressive vocabulary of mild swears ranging from "Poppycock" to "What in the dad-blamed Sam Hill?" Although in one comic by Peter David, when he gets repeated notes signed "F.N.S.M." (Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man), he mutters "I hate that F-n' S.M."
  • Mark Gruenwald's Justice League of America pastiche series Squadron Supreme did this constantly, being released before Marvel began releasing comics without Comics Code approval. The result is a dark, cynical deconstruction of the Justice League with no insults harsher than "Son of a fish!"
  • Squirrel Girl seems incapable of anything harsher than "Good golly gosh!" During the GLX-Mas Special, she warned the readers that the comic contained inappropriate use of the word "flock." Partly Justified Trope because the use of the word "flock" involved Mr. Immortal screaming Flock You!, as a substitute for, you know, (sorry, I can't say with gentlemen present). Partly because Mr. Immortal was flocking with a flocking gun...
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mirage - In the early black and white issues, clots of Frank Miller-esque gore flew in all directions, but the characters' swearing was limited to heartfelt cries of "Dung!"
  • Tintin - Tintin himself would use "Great Snakes!" As a sailor Captain Haddock's stream of abuse was, if not rude, then certainly inventive. His trademark phrases were "Billions of blue blistering barnacles!" and "Thousands of thundering typhoons!" When particularly angry, "billions of blue blistering barnacles in a thundering typhoon!" was heard.
  • World War Hulk had this exchange between The Hulk and his father-in-law.

 General Ross: Hulk! Why won't you die already?!

Hulk: That's your job!

Ross: Not ding-dong likely, you crazy monster!

  • X-MenWolverine, whose vocabulary likely includes a lot of words the Comics Code would have looked askance at, has generally settled on "flaming" as a compromise. He once prepared to fight Sabretooth by announcing it was time to open a can of "kick-butt."
    • Seeing as, in more modern times, "flaming" refers, often in a derogatory way, to being flamboyantly homosexual, the change makes it worse. Instead of being a potty-mouth, now Wolverine sounds like a homophobe.

Fan Fiction

  • In the Harry Potter fanfic And I Swear, Ron casts a "Potty Mouth Reversal Spell" on himself to try and curb his swearing. It automatically translates everything he says into this trope (even when he's having sex with Hermione). He even says "Gosh darn it to heck!"

 "You and your vagina are extremely slippery tonight. I hope you found my efforts satisfying."

"Mother loving cheese on a biscuit!"


  • Used excessively in the 1993 movie Airborne.
  • The main kid in the Angels in the Outfield remake is berated by his foster parent for saying "shut up" at the dinner table.
  • In Back to The Future, Doc Brown uses "Great Scott!" whenever he's excited or surprised. In the second movie, Doc expresses his frustration with "Sir Isaac H. Newton." Also parodied somewhat when young George wonders if it's appropriate to swear when coming to Lorraine's rescue, to which Marty responds "yes, goddamnit, swear!"
    • At the beginning, Lorraine scolds Dave for saying "Goddamn it". Subverted in a few scenes, the scene that comes to mind being when Biff chases Marty through Hill Valley in Part 1, when Biff and his cronies get covered in manure. "When this baby hits 88 miles an hour, you're gonna see some serious shit!"
    • For another Just for Pun, in the third movie when Mad Dog Tannen winds up in a pile of manure the sheriff says "Get him out of that shit."
  • In Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles, this trope is played straight and then subverted when Taggart gives us this gem: "What in the Wide World of Sports is a-going on here? I hired you people to get a little track laid, not to jump around like a bunch of Kansas City faggots!"
  • Parodied in The Brady Bunch movie, which lampooned the goody-goodyness of the 70s show. When Mr. Brady confronts the villain, the bad guy, ready for a showdown, angrily threatens to "Kick your Brady butt!" The entire family, who are watching, gasp in absolute horror, with little Cindy crying, "Daddy, he said the B-Word!" Mike then goes on to say that the villain can kidnap his wife, threaten his family, and steal his horse...but when he uses that kind of language in front of his children, he's crossed a line. Later, he corrects Peter when Peter almost says "architects kick butt."
  • Bulletproof Monk was originally going to have an R rating, during the switch to a PG-13 rating, one of the characters was renamed Mr. Funktastic from his previously, more offensive moniker. His original name is still noticeable where his necklace has been suspiciously affixed to his chest to cover up his tattoo.
  • Several films use the the word "hell" metaphorically to mean a very horrible place or situation in two Disney/Pixar films, Cars (McQueen laments to a tourist couple passing through Radiator Springs "Don't leave me here! I'm in hillbilly hell!") and Ratatouille (Skinner greets Linguini on the latter's second day on the job with "Welcome to hell!"), both of which are G rated (except Cars was rated PG in the UK).
    • Some films use hell literally. Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty: "Now you will deal with me and all the powers of Hell!" Frollo says hell about a dozen times, but it's pretty much always literal. Not to mention that his own song is called Hellfire.
  • Averted in the 1954 film version of Carmen Jones, though it took quite a bit of effort at the time to get the censors to pass Hammerstein's line, "Stan' up an' fight like hell!"
  • Cars - In the clip at the end of the credits: "For the love of Chrysler!"
  • The Doors are asked to replace the word "Higher" with "Better." Based on a real incident behind the scenes on the Ed Sullivan Show.
  • In the 1950s-set Far From Heaven, the main character admonishes her child for saying "shucks." There is later a Precision F-Strike from another character.
  • Galaxy Quest - When Jason turns around and realizes what Gorignak is, "Oh Darn." His mild language is probably due to years of having to tone it down for the TV show in the first place.
  • Alan in The Hangover is crude in many ways but not with his language:

 Phil: God damn it!

Alan: Gosh darn it!

Phil: Shit!

Alan: Shoot!

  • The Hairy Bird: "Up your ziggy with a wah-wah brush!" and "None of your floppin' buggies!"
  • Subverted in the Harry Potter movies. Ron's Catch Phrase was "bloody hell" as early as the Mirror Of Erised scene in the first movie, then in the fourth movie, Harry and Ron's little not-speaking period officially begins with Ron muttering "Piss off" as they fall asleep the night after the Champions for the tournament are announced.
    • Don't forget Draco's little gem in the first movie:

  Draco: Did you see his face? If the fat lump had given this a squeeze, he would remember to fall on his fat arse.

  • In Mel Brooks' High Anxiety, Dr. Thorndyke (Brooks' character) is holding a conference on penis envy when one of the attendees brings his kids, forcing him to switch to "pee-pee" and "voo-voo."
  • In Hocus Pocus Max tells his mother that his day at school "sucked". He is then told to mind his language.

 Winifred: Oh, cheese and crust! He's lost his head!

  • The polite epithets used in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
  • The DVD release of Hot Fuzz included a feature entitled "Hot Funk: The TV Version", which takes some scenes from the movie that involve swearing and replacing them with typical TV edit dubs, leading to lines such as "What the funk?!" and "Aw, peas and rice!"
  • The impact of the scene in It's a Wonderful Life where George, filled with rage and self-disgust, reject's Potter job offer and tells him off is a little diluted by George's wrathful "Doggone it!" South Park showed us how these scenes might have gone without the Hays Code:

 You-oo you just can't buy people, Mr. Potter, wuh. Why, you know what you are? You're a little bitch. That's right, you're a bitch, and I bet you'd like to suck it, wouldn't you?

 Mansley: You mean we're going to...

Rogard: To die Mansley! For our country!

Mansley: (finally snaps in fear) Screw our country! I wanna live... (tries to flee)

 Rat: Our pens have turned to ink-sicles! Our assets are frozen!

 John Glenn: And most of all, I am sick and tired of being second to those... *struggles* ...those darn Russians!

 There's a word for you ladies, but it isn't used in high society--outside of a kennel.


 Mr. Tulip: It's not a ----ing harpsichord, it's a ----ing virginal! One ----ing string to a note instead of two! So called because it was an instrument for ----ing young ladies!

Chair: My word, was it? I thought it was just a sort of early piano!

Mr. Pin: A device intended to be played by young ladies.

 Harry: Holy shit. Hellhounds.

Michael: Harry, you know I hate it when you swear.

Harry: You're right, sorry. Holy shit. Heckhounds.

 Molly: Not my daughter, you BITCH!! *kills Bellatrix*

 Ekaterin (faintly): Oh. Drat.

Miles Vorkosigan: Madame Vorsoisson, has it ever occurred to you that you may be just a touch oversocialized?

Live Action TV

 Kenneth, to Liz: "You're acting like a real C-word right now! That's right — a Cranky Sue!"

  In the original 70's series, in addition to "Frak," "Frik" and "Felgercarb" were used as future profanity.

 Richie: Oh Blimey!

Eddie: Oh my stars!

Richie: Splice my sausages!

Eddie: Cor, lummy!

Richie: Christmas Pudding!

Eddie: Blood and stomach pills!

Richie: ...hey Eddie, we sure know how to swear, eh?

Eddie: You goddamn well hit the clit right on the nail there, you cunting bastard!

 Willow: But why is she acting like such a bee eye tee see eightch?

Giles: Come on Willow, we're a bit old to be spelling things out.

Xander: A bitca?

 Freddie: Oh, my go-

Mrs. Benson: You better end that with gosh.

Freddie: Dear gosh, please make her leave.

  Bailiff: "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you Gosh?"

 Tom Servo: It's Jean-Claude Van Damme!

Mike: Nah. He's more like Jean-Claude Gosh Darn.

  Adam Savage: Fudge! Puppies. Baby hippo.

 Sandi Toksvig: Why do we need swearwords when you've got knockhole?


Rich Hall: Cruithne is the earth's second moon? Then why aren't there any romantic songs with the word Curithne in it?

Stephen Fry: Because it was discovered in Nineteen Ninety goddamn Four!

 J.D.: Sometimes you just gotta say "What the fudge."

Elliot: That's not the line.

J.D.: I saw it on a plane.

 "He was a pitty boss and a pastard, and he could pucking shove his poof polo up his papseye...stupid prick!"

"I think one slipped through there."

"...stupid punt."

 Bailey: Gosh darnit! Where are all the shrimp?


 Dean: OW! You bitch!

Madge: Oh my goodness me! Someone owes a nickel to the swear jar! Do you know what I say when I feel like swearing? "Fudge."

Dean: I'll try and remember that!


Dean: If you fudging touch me again, I'll fudging kill you!

Madge: Very good!

 Jon Stewart: There's something I'd like to say to the government officials in charge. (dubbed over voice: thank) You!


 Ain't that a bee with an itch

Ain't that a mother trucker

You can go to H-E-Double-Hockeysticks and eff yourself

'Cause I'm so flippin' gosh darn

Sick of all the s-words you put me through

So F-U

 Here come the Jets, yeah, and we're gonna beat

Every last buggin' gang on the whole buggin' street,

On the whole ever-mother-lovin' street!

Newspaper Comics

 Sarah Palin Doll: After all, we're not just the party of "No" - we're the party of "Hell, No!"

My Little Pony: <Gasp!> What did you say?

Sarah Palin Doll: Oops... Sorry, My Little Pony - I meant "Heck, No!"

My Little Pony: Shouldn't that be "Heavens, No"?

Mister Potato Head: Who the hell cares?


Video Games

 Sgt. Moody: "Ender, I'd find that funny if I wasn't freezing my can off!"

  "Time to make like shepherds and get the flock outta here!"

 Massimo: Feeble Massimo? Grrrrrrrrrrrr! You sunnova-- (and that's how it was spelled in the subtitles)


"Watch your mouth, young man!"

"Monkey knuckles!"

"Watch your mouth, young man!"

 "You were supposed to see Quazar Live in Concrete with Beatrice. Of course, that was before you got busted back down to Janitor and assigned to this dad-blasted heckhole of a mother-talking spaceship!"

 Roger: "Let me go, b-buh-wuh... witch!"

 Fox McCloud: [after Pigma escapes with the Aparoid Core Memory they've been trying to get] Stop! Pigma! [[[Beat]]] Dang! [kicks the ground]

Web Animation

Web Comics

 Ace: Knives would like to know why the frex they are dead!

Sven: Frex?

Ace: It's a faerie word Sven. Figure out what it means yourself, asshat.

 Doomguy: Sweet Christmas! Big-mouthed floating thingies!

 David McGuire: Oh, man. I just had a character say, "crap." There go my chances of there ever being a Gastrophobia Nicktoon?8222;¢.

 Gary: I'm gonna funk his ship up. That melon farmer won't walk again...Now kiss off.

 Dr. Crane: Exploding Planets! Dr. Gregor ffinch!

Dr. Finch: Why, Maximilian Crane! I'd know your moronic expletives anywhere!

  (one fiend to another): It's part of our new 'Family Friendly' policy.

Web Original

 Raocow: Oh, pumpernickel.

 Super Skarmory: Holy... pickles.

  Sursum Ursa: He's completely batfrakked!

Western Animation


 Aang: Aw, monkeyfeathers.

 Smurf 1: She smurf'd me!

Smurf 2: No smurfin' way!

Smurf 1: Yeah!

Smurf 2: Shut the smurf up!

Smurf 1: I smurf you not!

Smurf 2: Right in the smurfin' parking lot?

Smurf 1: SMURF yeah!

 Zap: "You're going to be meeting with their leaders, the Brain Balls. We don't know much about them. But they've got a lot of brains, and a lot of... chutzpah."

Bender: "These chairs are a real pain in the...waddya call it? Lower back! Yeah, that whole region!" Granted, he's rigged to a bomb which will explode if he says the a-word, but he doesn't know that.

 Dove: How about you calm down, and I'll let you go

Thug: How 'bout you kiss my (Dove twists his arm) a-aaargh.

 "Dam!" "Gunther!"

 Timon: Why do I always have to save your aAAAGGGHHH!

 Marty: Oh, Sugar honey ice tea!

 Him: As you raced through time, the whole world went to HECK!

 Max: From heck's heart, I stab at thee! For Pete's sake, I spit my bad breath at thee!

  ...about a pair of likeable law enforcement types who don't take crap (oops! we mean guff) from anybody.

 Moe: (to a little girl complaining her soda's too cold) Your teeth hurt? Your teeth hurt?! Well, that's too freakin' bad. You hear me? I'll tell you where you can put your freaking "sodie" too!

(All the customers gasp)

Todd: Ow, my freakin' ears!

Ned: Well! I expect that type of language at Denny's, but not here!

 "Oh my glory, you're right!"

"And they kill clean! Don't let dames get in the way!"

"Double dammit!" "Hank, you said the double-d word!"

Real Life


  1. In fact, to "bugger" someone is to commit "buggery", that is, either sodomy or bestiality. "Sod" is derived from "sodomite".
  2. Which is quite appropriate, given that the game is both set in the 60's and utilizes several 60's media tropes (such as Film Noir for the Spy)
  3. Still mildly "blasphemous", as blue is the color of the Virgin Mary.
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