Most of us grew up watching some kind of cartoons when we were kids. Often times these cartoons involve children or teenagers fighting crime or going on adventures, sometimes without any parents in sight.
And while we might have been jealous of some of these character’s adventures, it turns out a lot of them had pretty tragic backstories we just never thought about. Their lives weren’t quite as magical and picturesque as they seemed.
The character of Casper the Friendly Ghost has appeared in various comics, television shows, cartoons, and even a live-action film over the years. Harvey Comics, which produced large amounts of Casper comic books, stated that Casper is a ghost boy from ghost parents. However, the 1995 live-action Casper film offered a different explanation. In this film, Casper remembers that he died from pneumonia when he was 12 after playing outside in the snow for too long. To make matters worse, Casper’s father was declared insane after spending the rest of his life trying to invent the Lazarus, a machine that would bring the dead back to life.
2. Timmy Turner
Every child who watched The Fairly Oddparents no doubt thought that Timmy was the luckiest kid on earth. After all, he was granted two magical fairy godparents who could essentially give him anything he wanted. However, children are only granted fairy godparents if they are miserable or unhappy. Timmy suffered from neglectful and moronic parents who were too self-concerned to see that the baby sitter they hired constantly tormented him. Timmy was also bullied at school, not only by his fellow classmates but incessantly by one of his teachers, Mr. Crocker.
3. Harley Quinn
Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel was once a respected psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. Gotham City Sirens #7 stated that Harley chose this profession to try to understand her own dysfunctional family. While working at Arkham, she began treating the Joker and consequently fell in love with him through his lies and deceit. The Joker always mistreated Harley and eventually threw her into the same vat of chemicals he had fallen into. Thus Harley Quinn was born.
4. Chuckie Finster
When Chuckie and Chas Finster were introduced in Rugrats, it didn’t go unnoticed that Chuckie’s mother was nowhere to be seen. This fact was ultimately ignored until season 4, in the episode “Mother’s Day.” In this episode, it is revealed that Chuckie’s mother Melinda died of a terminal illness shortly after Chuckie’s birth. Chas finally shows Chuckie pictures and other mementos of Melinda in a truly heartwrenching episode.
5. Odie The Dog
In some of the earliest Garfield comics from the 1970s, Jon Arbuckle had a roommate named Lyman, who was Odie’s original owner. However, Lyman was an unpopular character and eventually left the comic strip altogether. Lyman’s exit from the comics is never really explained, but apparently, he didn’t take Odie with him. His ownership passed to Jon since then, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that Lyman abandoned his pet.
Casual fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles might not know just how the turtles, and their kung fu master Splinter, became giant anthropomorphic animals. Splinter was originally a normal-sized domesticated pet rat. He belonged to esteemed ninja Hamato Yoshi and was able to learn kung fu from watching his owner. Yoshi was eventually killed by Oroku Saki, the man who would become Shredder. Splinter then hid in the sewers until a traffic accident involving mutagenic ooze transformed himself and the turtles into mutant versions of themselves.
Babar is a television series based on Jean de Brunhoff’s original Babar books from the 1930s. The story goes that Babar’s mother was killed by poachers. Eventually, Babar is taken in by a nice Old Lady in the city, who hires him a tutor and teaches him the ways of “civilized life.” Babar eventually returns to the realm of the elephants and becomes king. In the book, Babar also marries his cousin Celeste, but thankfully the tv series skipped that detail.
Smurfette was originally created by Gargamel to infiltrate the Smurf village and create chaos. She was abandoned in the forest and found by Hefty Smurf, who brought her back to the village. Smurfette caused trouble on Gargamel’s orders until she was eventually discovered and taken to Smurf Court. After Smurfette confessed and repented, Papa Smurf transformed her into a real Smurf, and her black hair turned blonde.
9. Huey, Dewey, And Louie
Huey, Dewey, and Louie are Donald Duck’s adorable nephews, but whatever happened to the triplets’ parents? An exact explanation is never really given but the few theories we could come up with are pretty bleak. In a 1937 comic, Dumbella Duck sends Donald a letter before the boys arrive, stating that their father is in the hospital because “A giant firecracker exploded under his chair.” Could the boys have planted the firework and accidentally caused their own father’s death? Or did their parents just leave them with Donald and never come back for them?
10. Turbo Teen
Honestly, the whole plotline of Turbo Teen sounds like a nightmare. During a thunderstorm, Brett Matthews swerves off the road and crashes into a secret government laboratory, where he and his sports car are exposed to a molecular beam. The beam merges Brett with his car and gives him the ridiculous ability to morph into a sports car when exposed to extreme heat, and back into a teenager when exposed to extreme cold. Even the cartoon characters seem to realize that this is a hellish superpower. One of the reoccurring subplots of Turbo Teen is the gang’s quest to return Brett to normal.