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Writers who have to deal with censors on a daily basis love nothing more than to make fun of those corporate bastards who ruin their fun, usually by slipping in something that they hope the censors wouldn't notice.
This trope, on the other hand, is the inverse of that, where the writers allude to something that would upset the censors, but then let the characters break the fourth wall by acknowledging the censors themselves, and how the censors wouldn't like what the characters are about to do. Usually this involves pleading to the work's intended age group, its timeslot or sometimes even the parent company.
Usually shows up in cartoons, sometimes as a form of Parental Bonus. The difference between this trope and Getting Crap Past the Radar in general is in implying that they could do something to upset the censors, but won't. In older cartoons this was usually done as a reference to the Hays Code, but in other media it can also reference the Comics Code and the Electronic Software Ratings Board. Occasionally this can be done without breaking the fourth wall, when the characters are in the company of someone who shouldn't be exposed to naughty language.
Ironically, when this trope appears by itself, it also means that discussing the subject must be allowed, but showing it is not.
Compare Too Hot for TV.
- In Yakitate!! Japan, just as one character is about to reveal his genitals to complete a pun, others tackle him, pleading that the show would be cancelled if he showed his junk on the air.
- Bleach anime episode 200. Captain Mayuri revives his lieutenant Nemu with what appears to be "sexual healing". Uryu Ishida complains that what he did can't be shown on TV (the anime was originally shown on TV in Japan).
- When Chizuru becomes one of the Karakura Rangers, Uryu (as the commentator) notes that only one of her attacks can get past the censors.
- In the first episode of Lingerie Fighter Papillon Rose "New Season". Papillon Rose was about to do her "Pinky Vibrator" attack from the original hentai-themed OVA, but Rama stops her before she can say the full name, claiming that the censors won't allow them to do that any more.
- At one point in the Mahou Sensei Negima manga, a panicked Konoka readies a censor image and protests that children are reading the comic when Jack Rakan begins getting a bit too perverted. Played for Laughs because the series is a hot-and-sexy PG-13 at best.
- At several points in Kodomo no Omocha, Babbit interrupts Sana -- or complains too late, after the fact -- that she's doing something that isn't allowed in a children's anime.
- Episode 34 of Fushigi Yuugi has Miaka stripping down to her underclothes for a test of her strength in an icy cave, and says that "this is as much as the broadcast code will allow." (In the manga version, she simply said "this is as much as you get!" implying she simply didn't want Tomite and Hikitsu to see her naked.)
- In one Pearls Before Swine strip, the characters discuss various topics you can't discuss on the comics page. No fourth wall in this strip, folks.
- In Inspector Gadget, the talking car has to go out of its way to remind Gadget to wear a seatbelt because "It's a Disney movie!"
- The Marx Brothers' At The Circus: Groucho needs to get some stolen money back from Peerless Pauline, who has put it into Victoria's Secret Compartment.
There must be some way of getting that money without getting in trouble with the Hays Office.
- The Lion King, during "Hakuna Matata" (counts as both Curse Cut Short and Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion):
Pumbaa: And I got downhearted / Every time that I...
Timon: Pumbaa! Not in front of the kids!
Pumbaa: Oh. Sorry.
- Road to Morocco, title song:
I hear this country's where they do the dance of the seven veils
We'd tell you more, but we would have the censor on our tails
Woody: The word I'm searching for, I can't say, because there's preschool toys present.
- In The Three Stooges film Gypped in the Penthouse, a beautiful woman takes Shemp's ring and hides it in her cleavage, leaving Shemp with a problem:
Shemp: There must be a way to get that ring back without getting in trouble with the censors.
- My Name Is Earl: On one episode, Darnell explains that a Show Within a Show in the episode had to censor profanity because the FCC doesn't allow curse words until after 10PM. Joy looks at her watch, then says "Douchebags."
- The kids' show You Can't Do That on Television reveled in this.
- Just Shoot Me, "How the Finch Stole Christmas"
Narrator: He expressed his displeasure with color and flair
Using words that our censors would not let us share.
- In Episode 45 of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the Bishop and Brigadier try to settle down and talk about their deep feelings for each other. They conclude that there's not much they can do about it on television, even though "they are a lot more permissive these days than they used to be."
- Played with on the Top Gear Ground Force. After Jeremy Clarkson destroyed James May's shed for the umpteenth time, May paused to ask Clarkson what time the program airs, and more specifically whether or not it's beyond the Watershed. Upon confirming that it is, he starts to scream "You're a f--" but gets cut short by a hard cut over to Richard Hammond.
- Played with on The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert interviewing Cee Lo Green regarding his profanity-laden single:
Stephen Colbert: My guest tonight has a hit song, the name of which I cannot legally say on air. So I dunno how the (bleep) he's gonna sing it.
Stephen Colbert (later): This is the family show. We can't have you dropping the F-bomb here. Could I recommend a couple other words you could say instead of (bleep)?
- Cee Lo ultimately agrees to replace "Fuck you" with the far-more positive "Fox News".
- The radio edit replaces the Fuck You with "Forget You". It could also be an example of this trope, an artist preferring to change his song himself before the real censors can leave it a mass of bleeps or blank space.
- The Myth Busters have run up against this more than once. For instance, when testing if it's possible to polish a turd, Adam starts the show by dutifully listing all the euphemisms for "turd" that they're not allowed to use (which, of course, were all bleeped out). In another one, they were testing if swearing helped to deal with pain; Adam made mouth guards to help the censors out by keeping people's foul mouths from needing to be blurred out - "Blurs are expensive, but bleeps are cheap!".
- The Monkees had an episode where Peter unknowingly sold his soul to the Devil. After learning the truth:
Peter: Guys ... I'm scared. I don't want to go to (bleep).
Mike: Well, I have to admit, (bleep) is pretty scary.
Mickey: But you know what's really scary? You can't say (bleep) on television.
- Another episode, in a semi-Western setting, showed a saloon girl coming on to Mickey. He hissed, "Not now, this is a family show!"
Peter Furler: It might behoove me to be heaved/ Head out like a human comet-
Larry the Cucumber: Uh, guys, you might not want to rhyme with "comet"
- Eric Idle, on Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album, sings "I Bet You They Won't Play This Song on the Radio".
You can't say **** on the radio
Or **** or **** or ****
You can't even say
"I'd like to **** you someday"
Unless you're a doctor with a very large ****
- In Georges Brassens's song Gare au Gorille, a couple of young women are watching a gorilla in his cage, looking at "A precise point that my mother rigorously forbade me to name here". The song ends on a similar note.
- Voltaire's "The Dirtiest Song That Aint."
- Crash Tag Team Racing has this as one of Neo Cortex's taunts: "I'd hit again, but this game is only rated E." For futher context, the game is actually rated E +10.
- In No More Heroes, Jeane doesn't want to tell Travis about her Dark and Troubled Past, because it's awful enough to jack up the age rating on the already M-rated game even further.
- As a compromise, Travis agrees to fast-forward through the story so the audience wouldn't be subjected to it. For those of you who are curious enough...
- In Banjo-Tooie, Banjo stops another character from swearing by reminding him that "this is a family game."
- In Doom RPG, picking up the BFG displays a message that says "We'd tell you what this stood for but this is a family game."
- In Captain SNES, a bunch of pirates are terrified of invoking the wrath of the Nintendo Censorship Gods by saying "Pussy" in reference to a cat. Later, Alex is believed to have killed the Nintendo Censorship Fairy with a massive Cluster F-Bomb.
- An episode of U.S. Acres on Garfield and Friends had the wolf disguise himself as a businessman, where he convinced everyone on the farm, except for Orson, to procrastinate their jobs. Whenever he mentioned procrastination, the characters would respond with, "You can't talk about that on a kid's show!"
- Looney Tunes, "A Tale of Two Kitties":
Babbit: Give me the bird! Give me the bird!
Catstello: If the Hays Office would only let me, I'd give him the bird all right.
- On Rocko's Modern Life, "To Heck and Back":
Heffer: Wait a minute. Heck? Don't you mean...
Peaches: (covers Hef's mouth) Censors!
- The cartoon Dino Babies had "Will you cut it out, this is a kid's story!" as a Once an Episode catch phrase (although it was being applied to a story they were telling to each other rather than the show itself).
- Animaniacs is full of these, in addition to the one on top of the page:
Buster & Babs Bunny: Buster and Babs Bunny. No relation.
Noah: Let's hope not, it's a children's show.
- Duck Dodgers features this in an episode that spoofed Samurai Jack. Samurai Duck nearly slices somebody in half, until he says, "Not a robot!" They both agree that thankfully, humans cannot be killed on a show in this age rating.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle used to do variations on this. A lot. Here's an example:
Rocky: Gosh, Bullwinkle, what kind of games can you play with girls anyhow?
Bullwinkle: (Boy, this really is a kid's show.) Parcheesi, of course!
- And another:
Boris: I could swear...
Natasha: Not on this program, dahlink!
- From Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy:
Eddy: I'd swear, but standards won't let me.
- Par for the course, even Earthworm Jim plays with this, in an episode where Psycrow gets a brief job as a cartoon writer:
Editor: You cannot say this word in a cartoon!
Psycrow: What word?
Editor: Uh... I-- I can't say.
- Max from Sam and Max Freelance Police uses a variation along the lines of "I never dreamed we could have this much fun and still be suitable for young viewers!".
- During a skit about the human body, Sam thoughtfully informs us that they're not allowed to show blood when discussing the function of the heart, since it's a children's show. Of course, he says this in front of a completely red background
- Family Guy does this in "The Road to Rhode Island":
Brian: We may pick up some college girls, and picnic on the grass.
Stewie: We'd tell you more, but then we'd have the censors on our ass.
- Also on the Family Guy "Road To..." episode where Stewie and Brian travel to London to see Jolly Farm, there was Stewie's line about Brian during their "We're Too Different to Ever Be Pals" song: "And you get a kick out of stroking your..." Brian cuts him off with the old, "You can't say that on TV" line, but the trope is subverted (and a played straight version of the Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion trope) when Stewie tells Brian that the word he was about to say was "ego."
- Several House of Mouse episodes feature "The Censor Monkeys," a trio of monkeys with a big red button on their table, and characters trying not to upset them.
- Histeria! had a version where they didn't try to dodge the censor; rather she would actually come out "onstage" and complain from time to time to similar effect. Of course, this means they actually got to say the things the censor objected to - the list includes the quotes "War is hell" and "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead"; and a discussion of the toilet's inventor Thomas (snicker) Crapper.
- On Road Rovers, when sicking Muzzle on some bad guys for some offscreen violence:
Hunter: Well, there goes our G rating!
- Re Boot had a set of binaries dressed like The Village People singing the following set to the tune of YMCA:
Cause we're living with
And it's more fun to play
In a non-violent way!