We are here on the Blind Side, You wouldn’t think your child’s emotional stability could be in danger watching an innocent cartoon. But in some cases, you might be wrong. Whether the creators have a hidden agenda, we’re not entirely sure, but adult themes are becoming increasingly prevalent within previously ‘child friendly’ viewing options. From the apparent suicide pact between Tom and Jerry, to the violent demise of Power Rangers favorite, here are 15 Surprisingly Dark Series Finales in Kid-Friendly Shows.
15. Tom and Jerry
An American animated series, launched by creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera in 1940, Tom and Jerry marked the childhoods of many.
In its original run, there were 114 episodes produced, with the last in 1958. After the cartoon studios closure, Tom and Jerry was revived for another 13 episodes for Rembrandt Films, becoming the highest-grossing animated short film series between 1961 and 1962.
It’s true that everyone loves Tom and Jerry, but very few remember how the original series ended.
What was considered the shows final episode, “Blue Cat Blues” is said to symbolize the end, as it was the last one that MGM Studios ever made.
Slightly controversial and quite obviously disturbing, this episode wasn’t suitable for its intended audience, and here’s why.
Containing flashbacks and narrated by Jerry the cat, the usually humorous cartoon takes a dark turn, with Jerry clearly depressed, having been ditched by his long-time crush for a rich black cat named Butch.
Tom reacts badly to the situation, with the episode ending on the train tracks as, quite obviously depressed, he appears to be contemplating taking his life, and Jerry, his faithful companion, sits at his side.
The whistle of the train approaching leaves viewers questioning if the pair change their mind at the last minute or are killed by the fast-moving locomotive.
Not considered suitable for younger viewers, this controversial episode aired just once on Cartoon Network Southeast Asia, before it was banned. No surprises there!
14. Power Rangers Turbo
Pair over-the-top action sequences, giant robots and pyrotechnics to rival even those of WWE SmackDown, and you have the Power Rangers. Dressed from top to toe in brightly colored costumes, with spark-inducing swords, this show was a hit with kids right across the globe.
Tuning in to view their heroes fighting their evil foes, the young and young at heart hung off every word uttered, and action taken by their beloved Power Rangers, until the Power Rangers Turbo episode that went down in action-hero history as traumatizing a generation.
Essentially the season ends with a two-part finale that sees the Rangers completely outgunned and, on the run, following the successful destruction of the beloved Megazords by evil Divatox and her army.
With their base reduced to rubble and their turbo powers useless, the Rangers are lucky to escape alive.
Another of the Ranger’s enemies, Dark Specter, calls Divatox into space against her will. They follow in the hopes of finding Zordon, their closest ally and mentor, and stopping the villains.
Zordon ends up sacrificing his life for the Rangers and the good of mankind, ordering Red Space Ranger Andros to kill him.
His death releases a powerful wave of goodness across the galaxy, and all evildoers become good.
Seen as the ultimate paragon of goodness and heroism, Zordon’s death was like that of Transformers Optimus Prime, but for ‘90’s kids.
With an ending depicting real-life events, Dinosaurs’ Sinclair family became extinct in 1994.
Set in 60,000,003 B.C. in Pangaea (but with a modern touch), the beloved Sinclair family captured the hearts of their audience, delivering powerful and ethical messages, with a light-approach.
‘Changing Nature’, the series finale, had the Sinclair family embroiled in a misfortunate as a result of environmental neglect. The episode aired on July 20, 1994 and saw the family enjoying a picnic while they wait for the return of the Bunch Beetles.
The beetles never return, having been eradicated, due to the dinosaur’s building a plastic fruit factory over their swamp breeding ground. This environmental irresponsibility leads to disastrous consequences.
Vines, normally eaten by the Bunch Beetles, start growing out of control and Earl’s solution is to poison them. The poison kills all plant life on Pangaea, and ultimately the dinosaur family.
In the final moments of the episode, Earl admits his mistakes, apologizing to the family for taking nature for granted, and the show ends for the last time.
Considered one of the bleakest series finales ever, it makes you wonder how close this ‘made for television’ ending was to the real-life events.
12. ALF (Alien Life Form)
American sitcom television series, ALF featured a sarcastic, yet friendly extraterrestrial as its main character.
The alien, nicknamed ALF (an acronym for Alien Life Form) crash-lands into the garage of the Tanner family having descended from his destroyed home plant of Melmac.
Claiming to be planets only survivor, he can speak fluent English.
Initially, the Tanners aren’t too happy housing a wise-cracking character, eager to dine out on their pet cat, but after a short discussion with a member of the Alien Task Force, they decide to keep him safe.
Primarily a humorous show, the series concludes with an uncharacteristically dark episode, where ALF is captured by mysterious government agents.
Two surviving Melmacians had contacted ALF and he decides to return with them to help colonize a new planet.
The Tanners take ALF to the meeting place under the cover of darkness, however the Alien Task Force arrives before he can make his escape.
The credits roll as he is hauled off, leaving viewers imaginations scrambling for answers.
Worse still, the episode wasn’t meant to be the finale, just a cliffhanger for the next season.
The show was cancelled, leaving its viewers in suspense until ABC aired Project ALF, where he escapes the lab. However, he never did catch up with his Melmacian or the Tanners again, so it’s hard to say which ending is worse.
11. Little House on The Prairie
One of the most popular shows of the 1970s, Little House on the Prairie was a wholesome family show about the Ingalls family of Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Set in the 1870s and 80s, the show was based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Initially, the Ingalls family included Charles, his wife Caroline, and their three daughters Mary, Laura, and Carrie. The family expanded to include new baby Grace, son Albert was adopted in season five, and birth siblings Cassandra and James were adopted in series seven. A third son, Charles Junior died as an infant.
Many of the show’s episodes focused on the Ingalls’ second daughter Laura and other family and community members, with Little House on the Prairie primarily depicting what life was like in a small agrarian community in the late 19th century.
By its final season, series ratings had slumped to an all-time low, with the introduction of drug dependency, child abuse and unsuitable plots for children, Little House on the Prairie was destined for disaster.
The show ended with an hour-long special, featuring a scheming railroad tycoon who buys up all the land in Walnut Grove, ordering the immediate evacuation of all its residents. Their cries of protest are met with an army unit who force them out.
One resident is so upset, she starts trashing her own home, inspiring others to follow her example and the whole town is eventually blown up.
Just one house remains, the little house on the prairie.
This bizarre ending was said to be the culmination of the show being cancelled and the set needing removed. Rather than dismantle it, they decided to blow it up! Two birds, one stone and all that.
Before Sam Raimi took on Spider-Man, he was responsible for creating the world’s first television series to feature an African American superhero as the main character. Scientist Dr. Miles Hawkins starts out as unlikely hero, having been shot in the spine by a police sniper during a riot, whilst attempting to rescue a child.
Left paralyzed from the waist down, Dr. Hawkins is determined to expose what he believes to be a conspiracy against the black community and invents a powered exoskeleton, allowing him to walk again.
The suit also provides him with a range of superhuman abilities and access to non-lethal paralysis-inducing darts that can be fired from the wrist. The Dr. assumes the persona of a vigilante, known as the ‘M.A.N.T.I.S’ (Mechanically Augmented Neurotransmitter Interactive System), fighting for justice for himself and others.
The show aired for just 22 episodes and concluded with the, less than satisfying finale, ‘Ghost of the Ice’.
Our hero M.A.N.T.I.S. goes into battle against an invisible dinosaur that has threatened to wreak havoc on humanity. Determined to save human life, he has no option but to blow both himself and his girlfriend, Officer Leona Maxwell, up to eliminate the creature.
Following this ultimate sacrifice, his apprentice, Robin Colcord, is left to bury him in an unmarked grave, as viewers are left to watch an outline of a dinosaur, still moving and roaring in the smoke from the explosion.
Was our hero’s death all for nothing? We will never know.
An American animated superhero television series, with a group of teenagers as the hero’s, Teen Titans aired for a total of five seasons from 2003 to 2006.
With plenty of action and humor throughout the series, the youthful superhero’s last hurrah was a far cry from what viewers had come to expect from their anime-inspired favorite.
Having achieved a near-perfect balance of grit and humor during its five-season run, the feature length finale was intended to tie up loose ends, however it simply left fans baffled and rightfully so. The initial final episode, ‘Things Change’, was said to have left viewers hanging, so a second final episode, ‘Trouble in Tokyo’ was created.
The episode begins with the Titans returning home to discover all their favorite shops have closed, and Beast Boy’s sometimes girlfriend Terra, thought to have been turned to stone in Season 2, reappearing.
With no memory of her past life, Beast Boy goes to great lengths to try and help her remember her relationship with both him and the Titans.
Terra begins to avoid him, and he tries to hunt her down, but instead comes face-to-face with the Titans’ nemesis, Slade.
Beast Boy takes down the robot and tries one last time to remind Terra of her past. He fails to make any impact on her, the pair part ways and the credits roll for the final time, effectively exposing young waters to one of life’s harsh realities – a lost love.
8. 3rd Rock from the Sun
Considered something of an anomaly, this American sitcom was known for its bawdy humor, and award-winning acting.
3rd Rock from the Sun starred John Lithgow, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, French Stewart, and Kristen Johnston as four aliens from a galaxy on the Cepheus-Draco border, posing as humans.
The four, Harry, Tommy, Sally, and Dick Solomon, live in the fictional town of Rutherford, Ohio and work alongside unsuspecting humans, including Dr. Mary Albright.
Things quickly spiral out of control when Dick falls in love with Mary, who finds his childish behavior repulsive.
Later in the series, she begins to find his naivety endearing and falls in love with him.
Dick reveals to Mary that he and his family are all aliens, and when they decide to leave Earth, she asks to go with them. She soon realizes she can’t go, and Dick sets about erasing her memory, so she can forget him.
He delivers a blow to her neck, rendering her unconscious, and the episode concludes with her lying lifeless on the ground.
7. David the Gnome
A Spanish cartoon that aired on American TV from 1986 through to the early 2000’s, ‘The World of David the Gnome, follows garden gnome David and his wife Lisa, the dutiful caretakers of the forest they live in.
The pair look after the forest’s inhabitants for centuries, as gnomes can live up to 400 years, but unfortunately for David and Lisa, 400 years is the cut-off point for a gnome. Our delightful duo, having reached 399, become aware of their impending death.
What was once a harmless cartoon, suitable for children across the generations, takes a depressing turn, as the pair take one final trip to the Mountains of Beyond to cross peacefully over to the other side.
David, Lisa and fellow quad-centenarian, Casper, head to the mountains to die. Accompanying the trio is David’s faithful friend, Swift the Fox.
Once they reach the mountains, he wishes them a tearful farewell, watching as they die and turn into trees.
6. Mighty Max
Pocket-size toy action figures and playsets called Mighty Max, reached British toy stores in 1992 and were quickly followed by the popular television series.
Unlike the cheap plastic toys of the same name, the American animated action/sci-fi had a surprisingly rich backstory and mythology.
Considered one of the most violent children’s shows of the 90’s, Mighty Max featured the hideous magical monster Skullmaster who systematically killed off a good portion of the shows cast members, and often in a blood-thirsty fashion.
Adventurous pre-teen Max is the main character of the show, which starts off with him receiving a statue, covered in hieroglyphics. Inside the statue is an ancient, teleportation-enabling baseball cap that allows him to do battle with Skullmaster.
The show follows Max on his adventures through time and space, with each episode concluding with a ‘Moral of the Day’ segment.
Full of dark moments, Mighty Max came to an even darker conclusion, when in its final episode, Skullmaster kills Max’s friends, a prophetic fowl named Virgil and a Viking named Norman.
Convinced it could be the end, Max has no option but to travel back in time to escape certain death, and relive the entire adventure, perhaps hoping for a better outcome.
It’s hard to imagine it, given how techno-savvy our youth are today, but back in the 1990’s, semi-educational television shows were needed to teach them the basics of technology.
One of these programs formed part of ABC’s Saturday morning lineup.
ReBoot showcased computer-generated visuals that were a first for TV animation and reflected the world of computer systems and viruses through the adventures of a Guardian named Bob and his friends Enzo and Dot Matrix.
Their job was to keep the inner world of a computer system, known as Mainframe, safe from viruses; Megabyte and Hexadecimal.
After seven years, the series’ finale, ‘Crouching Binome, Hidden Virus,’ ended the show, bringing with it a shockingly dark cliffhanger, that kept fans guessing as to whether the show would make a comeback.
Megabyte – a trojan horse virus, and the show’s big baddie, outwits Bob, Enzo and Dot Matrix, infecting the Principle Office and determined to hunt them all down.
Gaining access to the good guys’ lair, Megabyte infests every program in existence, destroying the world of the show and the heroes are helpless to stop it.
Although a resolution was said to have been planned, unfortunately for fans, it never made it to the big screen.
A popular and well-known superhero with a sad back story, like that of Batman, Superman: The Animated Series was produced by WarnerBros. Animation and followed the famed comic-book character as he sought to bring down super villain Darksied.
Although the series was known for its mature storylines, each was configured to suit the younger audience, until the series’ two-part-conclusion, when things took a turn for the worst.
‘Legacy’, features Darkseid being uncharacteristically cruel, brainwashing our hero into thinking he too is a villain. He sends the Kryptonian to destroy Earth and Superman ends up as a fugitive, on the run from the military.
If that’s not bad enough, the villain of the hour enslaves the people and tricks them into choosing him as their leader.
Superman is seen as the bad guy, but it’s not his fault. Brainwashed by Darkseid, he unleashes death and destruction on Earth. After Supergirl is nearly killed trying to stop him, Lois Lane appears and breaks his trance.
Reality hits Superman, just as a kryptonite missile lands, leaving him and Supergirl assumed dead.
The pair survive and Superman awakes in a military prison, awaiting a lethal injection of kryptonite to be delivered by none other than Lex Luthor and General Hardcastle.
The Man of Steel fights them off, and escapes with Lois and Supergirl in tow.
The trio find their way back to Darkseid’s palace for a final, extremely violent confrontation, where Superman almost kills him.
Unfortunately, Darkseid’s oppressed followers who are unaware that he has brainwashed them, ensure he is okay and make life difficult for poor Superman who feels deflated and hopeless.
Lois reassures him that he will earn their trust back, ‘one person at a time’.
3. Digimon Tamers
Basically, a one-hit wonder, Digimon Tamers formed part of a fad that started and was outlasted by Pokemon, depicting cute animals as magical fighting monsters trained by children.
Unlike Pokemon, Digimon stepped over the line, horrifying its young audience with a final episode, rivalling that of many adult-orientated television series.
The show featured digital creatures and young children becoming best friends as they worked together, waging war against the evil D-Reaper.
In the final episode the various Digimon and their human companions prevail against evil, sending D-Reaper back into the digital world from where he had come. Sadly, this tactic only works because the Digimon are sucked into oblivion as well.
One by one, the cute little creatures disappear forever. The children are devastated, none more so than the real-life versions watching in horror from their living room.
2. Ed, Edd, and Eddy
Designed to resemble classic cartoons from the 1940s to 1970s, Ed, Edd and Eddy attracted an audience of 31 million households and was broadcast in 120 countries.
The show revolved around three friends living in Peach Creek Estates. With no adult supervision, the trio spend their days scamming their peers out of money to buy ‘Jawbreakers’, their favorite sweets.
Boasting plenty of feel good factor, Ed, Edd and Eddy, bought every kid’s dream to life, which makes the original ending so wrong.
The show was supposed to end with Season 4’s episode ‘Take This Ed and Shove It, where the con artist of the group, Eddy creates a scheme to secure jawbreakers. Unfortunately, he loses them, and they are locked inside a cupboard. When he tries to open it, he suffers a head injury, waking years later, as an old man.
Bewildered, he soon realizes that every other character has aged as well.
No matter what he tries to do, he can’t escape the truth that he will never be young again, and his life is over. Grim!
Fortunately, the show was renewed, so this ending wasn’t the series finale for long.
American animated television show Camp Lazlo ran for five seasons, comprising 61 episodes and a four-hour long television special, ‘Where’s Lazlo?’
The series follows Lazlo, a spider monkey who attends Camp Kidney, a Boy Scout-like summer camp with Scoutmaster Lumpus, the caretaker.
In the finale episode Lumpus is seen stripping naked and talking about the freedom of not wearing clothes. Instead of discouraging his naked frolic, people are seen encouraging him, and worse still, joining in!
Just when madness appears to be taking over, someone who looks like Heffer Wolf from Rocko’s Modern Life steps in claiming Lumpus is an imposter. The real Lumpus has been locked in a basement for months.
If you can get over the naked dancing, the real caretaker being locked in a cupboard, and the fact that this program is meant to be suitable for children, you’re more open-minded than me!
Content that is aimed more at the adult viewer than the child, continues to sneak its way into old time favorite cartoons, action hero movies and previously comedic sitcoms. It might pay to keep an eye on what your little treasure is watching, who knows what they might learn! Also, check out our other cool stuff showing up on screen right now. See you next time!