Why did they stop showing real guns in kids' cartoons, and do you think it's for the best?

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Peter Paltridge

Too Hip For Spielberg
Staff member
Sep 24, 2003
Stars Hollow
It's not a "new" thing, guns have been a trial-basis thing in kids cartoons since the 90s, and prior to that, weren't allowed at all outside of old theater shorts. People used laser guns instead.

Garfield and Friends would often substitute pies wherever guns were supposed to logically go. 4Kids would paint guns out of anime or they would add little laser sounds to the weapon firing. The Fox Kids censors would only allow guns on Batman: The Animated Series because they viewed it as a "period piece."

You could claim the rise in gun violence plays a role, but all it's really done is reinforce the status quo.


Animation Student
Mar 29, 2008
Seattle Area, WA
When you think about it, it's all about context. Imagine if you will, a western movie parody without the six-shooters. Gunfighting is an integral trope of the western genre, and is pretty much expected in a western movie parody.

In that case, I think it's permissible.

Terror of Death

Active Member
Aug 1, 2007
I think it's a combination of certain children's series trying to skew even younger and the judgment of whoever happens to be in charge of standards and practices at the time.

Most of the modern versions of series like Ben 10, TMNT, Transformers, Marvel and DC heroes have increased the focus on comedy and adventure and less on high stakes action and drama. They still have serious moments at times but realistic firearms wouldn't really fit the lighter tone they often go for.

Then you have standards and practices who are just as inconsistent as the mpaa & esrb. Each network/channel has their own individual set of guidelines on what type of content is okay for each show but that often changes depending on who's doing the judging at the time. One person might have no issue with guns being shown, the other might be fine with a gun being shown but not fired, and another person might not be okay with guns at all. There are numerous of cases of films, television, and games with the same age rating have widely different levels of censorship when it comes to certain content.

As for whether realistic firearms not being depicted in children's shows is for the best, ultimately any benefits it might have is kind of negligible at this point in time. Any kid with a phone, computer or console has literally hundreds of options to choose from when it comes to videogame shooters. Even series where shooting isn't the primary means of gameplay sometimes give the player the option to use a firearm. Not to mention all the live-action films, shows, comics, novels and music that show or mention gun violence. Only the most sheltered of kids will not have consumed some piece of media that involves gun usage.

I personally don't believe kids should be shielded from seeing guns in media or playing violent games but with the increase of mass shootings in America each year one can make the argument that the entertainment industry has opened pandora's box.

Rick Jones

Staff member
Feb 27, 2008
177A Bleecker Street
I was watching a episode of Darkwing Duck last week and was really surprised to see how much gunplay was in it.

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