The Powerpuff Girls is for kids … or so Cartoon Network would have us believe. It’s true that for the most part, Powerpuff Girls is aimed at its target audience, but there are moments when it’s not aimed only at young kids and makes some subtle nods to a more adult crowd.
They have more than a few jokes that are only funny if you’re at least double-digits in age and at least one episode that maybe should have been saved for a more adult viewership.
10 Apocalypse Now, But With Broccoli
It’s every kid’s worst nightmare: eating your veggies. At least that was the kids’ of Townsville’s worst nightmare before the broccoli started fighting back. This is a great episode on its own (it was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program), and it only gets better when the adults in the room recognize exchanges like ‘The horror … the horror …” from a kid who ate 47 broccoli in the line of battle and Blossom’s response, “Sit out, solider. You’ve seen enough action,” from Apocalypse Now.
While it’s not the first cartoon to use adult media as an inspiration point, it is one of the most drastically different interpretations of a classic.
9 No Singing!
It’s the Powerpuff Girls’ “birth” day, and everyone’s invited (even though the girls never really seem to actually age), from good guys and bad guys to everyone in Townsville. A Powerpuff birthday party has all the aspects a regular birthday party might – party hats, cake, presents … and singing Happy Birthday. Or not.
The group starts the usual line, but Bubbles immediately stops them – supposedly to get to the presents faster, but in fact, it’s because at the time, Happy Birthday was under strict copyright and couldn’t be reproduced. Instead of dealing with a lawsuit, Cartoon Network sidestepped the issue altogether.
8 Boogie Nights On The Deathstar
There are several allusions to Star Wars peppered throughout the series, but the most obvious (and funniest) is the thrilling conclusion of the episode ‘Boogie Frights,’ whose episode title in and of itself is another nod to a movie for grownups, Boogie Nights.
Except here, instead of the Death Star and Darth Vader, it’s an evil disco ball (really) and the Boogie Man. Professor Utonium fills in for Obi-Wan Kenobi, granting Blossom (instead of Luke) the ability to destroy the monstrous disco ball and save everyone from the scariest villain of all: the comeback of 70’s fashion.
7 Cat Man Don’t
Mr. Mayor! Everyone knows cats lick themselves to bathe, but, uh, there’s nothing clean about this shot. From the positioning of The Mayor to the pleased look on the cat’s face, it’s safe to say that while kids could’ve chalked this up to the Mayor’s usual goofy antics, any adult watching this scene probably hoped against hope their kid wouldn’t ask too many questions.
6 Ms. Bellum Lives WHERE?
Ms. Bellum’s whole aesthetic is somewhat questionable for a kid’s show, from her entirely unrealistic body proportions to the fact that her face is never seen in its entirety (and only partially seen one time). In fact, it wouldn’t be hard to make the case that Ms. Bellum is an adults-only joke as she is.
This theory is supported by her address, pictured in an episode where she gets kidnapped. We’ll let the joke play out between the reader and Urban Dictionary, but the Cartoon Network censors must have been asleep at the switch for this one.
5 Accidents Happen
Some kids have a mommy and a daddy. Some kids only have one or the other. Some kids have two mommies or two daddies. Some kids were made in a lab explosion … and some were accidents, like the girls’ new friend, Robyn.
She says as much to Professor Utonium, who obviously understands exactly what she means – even if Robyn and the Girls don’t actually seem to get it.
4 Villainous And Rude!
Even if it’s about superheroes, when it comes to a kids’ show, there are some obvious hard-and-fast rules: no blood, no swearing, no nudity and no rude gestures … right?
Apparently, Roach didn’t get the message. After falling off a building, he clearly manages to give the Girls the finger (in spite of only having four of them to begin with). It’s only for a second and without any context, no kid would get it, but the adults in the room probably don’t blame the villains for feeling a little irked at the kids who always foil their plans.
3 An Offer the PPGs Couldn’t Refuse
This was another goofy homage/parody episode, but this time to another classic: The Godfather. Kids may have just thought it was an oddly dramatic episode or figured the weirdly stilted dialogue and strange outfits were part of the joke, but adults would recognize Mojo creating his own mafia (the mo-fia) and making the Mayor “an offer he can’t refuse” as allusions to film.
While the plot itself, which is centered on “cooties,” doesn’t have much to do with the classic, the dialog and staging is an obvious nod.
2 The Beat-Alls
The name says it all: villains disguised as a would-be British Invasion band. It represents a team-up of the show’s core villains: HIM, Mojo, Fuzzy Lumpkins (the only one who canonically plays an instrument, even if that instrument is a banjo), and Princess Morbucks.
Nearly every line in this episode is a Beatles reference of some form or another, which were nearly guaranteed to go over young kids’ heads. But everyone loves a team-up, so it works for all age levels.
1 Members Only
There’s a lot to unpack in this episode. Unlike some of PPG’s other jokes, it’s not subtle, it’s not blink-and-miss-it. Quite literally, this entire episode is full of adult humor that points to male anatomy jokes. It’s full of every euphemism, barely-hidden innuendo, and the sort of raunchy humor that would make even a sailor blush. Between the shape of the weapon used and the sexist villain’s constant references to “measuring manhoods against each other” and “feeding off expulsions of manliness,” is it any surprise the Girls defeated him by merging together … into a giant, flaming cat?
It’s nothing short of a miracle that this episode ever saw the light of day. Still, between the eyebrow-raising jokes, it ends on a good note: the international club of supermen, after rejecting and ridiculing the Girls when they tried to join them, end up forming the Society Of Associated Puffkateers when the Girls save the day where they could not.
NEXT: 10 Scenes From Classic Cartoons That Didn’t Make It Past Censors
My Wife And Kids: Janet’s 10 Best Quotes, Ranked
About The Author