The most inappropriate PG movies of all time

Remember the good old days when most mainstream movies only had PG and R ratings? Probably not, but the PG-13 rating actually wasn't created until 1984, which meant that for decades, there was a pretty major gap between "family friendly" and "adults only." For some reason, the movies on this list didn't quite make the R rating—even though looking back, there were plenty of reasons they could have (and probably should have) come with a little more of a warning for unsuspecting parents.

Sixteen Candles (1984)

Sixteen Candles is a classic, but it really doesn't belong in the PG category. In the first half of the movie alone, there's a full closeup of Caroline Mulford's (Haviland Morris) breasts, as well as a side shot of her completely nude. There's also some rather crude language and other racy situations, including a boy betting he can have sex with a girl and asking her for her undies. Aside from plentiful depictions and discussions of sex-crazed adolescents, Sixteen Candles also contains one of Hollywood's more offensive racist caricatures of the '80s: exchange student Long Duk Dong. None of this is to say it's a bad movie—quite the contrary. But if it had come out just a few months later, there's no way it would have avoided a PG-13.

Jaws (1975)

Jaws came out long before PG-13 was even an idea, but even for its time, this is one horror classic that looked and felt like an R. The bloody shark attacks leave a trail of gore that's highly inappropriate for kids, including a girl's hand showing up on the beach missing one finger, a blood-covered leg floating in the ocean, and blood clouds in the water (just to name a few examples). There's also a ton of inappropriate language and profanity, as well as some brief nudity and mildly inappropriate sexual humor. But even putting the visuals and inappropriate language aside, there's still the fact that Jaws would be scary to any young child, especially in its unbearably tense final act. How it earned a PG remains one of the many mysteries of the MPAA.

Poltergeist (1982)

We'll wait a moment while you pick your jaw up off the floor. Yep, Poltergeist is rated PG—and really, there's no reason why it should have earned anything less than an R. There's all kinds of adult stuff in here, from the mundane (scenes depicting adults smoking pot and a teenage girl flipping off a construction crew) to the flat-out terrifying (a boy being attacked by a clown doll and a man pulling the flesh right off of his face). The fear factor alone of Poltergeist warrants an R rating. Not that we think there's any way you'd consider pulling it out for family movie night, but it bears saying: there's no way your kids should be allowed to watch this .

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is an undeniably great movie, but we're not so sure it's appropriate for young audiences. For starters, there's some questionable language, including quotes like "The problem is I got a fifty-year-old lust and a three-year-old dinky," and use of the loaded phrase "sugar daddy." There's also Eddie's alcoholism, and the fact that he's frequently shown taking a swig from a bourbon bottle. How about a baby smoking a cigar? There's also a quite disturbing scene depicting Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) melting. Some of the movie's content is also considered misogynist, including use of terms like "dumb broad," and let's not forget Jessica Rabbit's eye-popping cleavage.

Ghostbusters (1984)

The most inappropriate thing about the first Ghostbusters movie would likely be the scene in which Dan Aykroyd's character is shown awakening to find a ghost unzipping his pants—at which point the camera cuts to his face making an expression that's an unmistakable allusion to the ghost making him happy in a very grown-up way. But that's not all. There's also a ton of swearing, alcohol and smoking, and adult language, like when Dana (Sigourney Weaver) says "I want you inside me" to Venkman (Bill Murray). There are also a few scary situations that young audiences may find difficult to watch—you know, as tends to be the case in movies about ghosts.

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

It's a story about a little kid (Barret Oliver) caught up in the story of another kid on a great adventure. Kids love it, in part because it doesn't sanitize things or shy away from the gritty parts of Atreyu's (Noah Hathaway) epic journey. Like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, there's death, violence, and heartbreak. But nothing in Middle-Earth or Westeros is as scary as the scene in which Atreyu's beloved horse Artax unexpectedly—and slowly—drowns in the appropriately named Swamp of Sadness. (There's also the incredibly creepy amorphous force known only as "the Nothing.")

Grease (1978)

Nearly 40 years after its original release, Grease is still a sleepover staple, and the stage version is probably being performed this weekend at a high school near you. At it's heart it's a simple story about two people who find true love once they get out of their own way and stop listening to their friends' terrible advice. It's also a story about how, in order to get someone to like you, you have to change everything you are. That's not the best message to send to kids—and it's all the more unseemly for a PG-rated, kid-friendly movie to demonstrate that idea by ending with a previously chaste teenage girl making herself over with a leather catsuit, smoking a cigarette, and calling her boyfriend "stud" before she gyrates with him in the "Shake Shack." This is to say nothing of many other questionable moments in the film: Rizzo's (Stockard Channing) entire character arc is about reconciling a teenage pregnancy scare with wanting to be free with her sexuality, and in "Summer Nights," Danny Zuko's (John Travolta) friends implore him to tell them in explicit detail how "far" he got with Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) at the beach. Heck, the crude, sexist lyrics to "Greased Lightning" alone warrant a stricter rating.

Arthur (1981)

Just because a movie is given an okay-for-kids rating it doesn't mean that it's actually something they'd actually be interested in seeing. What little kid would want to sit through the original Arthur, a movie about two fairly sad middle-aged people (Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli) falling in love? Despite sharing a name with the beloved PBS series based on Marc Brown's books about kid aardvarks, some well-meaning parent or confused child might have popped this one in the DVD player a few times, and it's certainly not kid-friendly—it concerns an obnoxious alcoholic (Moore) who's literally falling down drunk throughout the movie. Sometimes the drunkenness is played for laughs, and sometimes for tears. Speaking of which, there's one scene where Arthur is in bed with a prostitute, and she talks about how she was molested as a child.

Airplane! (1980)

It's entirely possible that the jokes fly at such a rapid pace in Airplane! that the ratings board at the MPAA simply didn't notice the movie's literally dozens of wildly inappropriate-for-PG moments. Then again, a fairly high percentage of the movie's most memorable bits are at the very least mildy filthy. For example, flight attendant Elaine (Julie Haggerty) blows up the inflatable pilot…with a nozzle located at its crotch. Captain Oveur (Peter Graves) asks a little boy visiting the cockpit if he "likes gladiator movies" and if he's "ever seen a grown man naked." And a stressed-out Steve McCrosky (Peter Graves) mentions that he's picked the wrong week to give up smoking, drinking, sniffing glue, and amphetamines.

Watership Down (1978)

Watership Down is an animated movie about cute little bunnies. But it is decidedly not a movie geared toward tiny tots—the target audience for both animated movies and bunnies. Based on the novel by Richard Adams, it's about a bunch of rabbits who, attacked by predators, must escape their warren—and find a new home while avoiding more attacks by other animals (and humans). They're unsuccessful on the latter count, and the deaths of many fuzzy bunnies are depicted in bloody, gory detail. To cite a few examples: A rabbit caught in a snare coughs up blood. Another one has its ears torn off. Yet another is shot and has a bloody bullet hole in its leg for the rest of the movie. Some other rabbits are even hit by a train. But that's all just a prelude to the extended bunny blood fiesta that serves as the film's climax, which includes one rabbit tearing the throat out of another rabbit, leaving a pulpy mess with blood pouring out of what used to be its neck.

Return to Oz (1985)

The Wizard of Oz is one of the greatest family-friendly classics of all time. It stands to reason that its long-awaited sequel would be just as charming and kid-appropriate, but Return to Oz might as well have been a sequel to Pan's Labyrinth. Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) is sent to an insane asylum for what Auntie Em thinks are delusions about the Land of Oz, and her treatment includes restraints and electroshock therapy. When she escapes back to the Emerald City, she meets Mombi, a headless witch who rules over the land. Even the good guys in Return to Oz are creepy—particularly Jack Pumpkinhead, a guy with a…pumpkin for a head. While there's some scary stuff in the original Oz (the Wicked Witch of the West, for example), the hokiness of old-fashioned, circa-1939 special effects takes away some of the sting. Not so with the much more sophisticated and realistically rendered special effects and puppetry available to filmmakers in 1985.

The Bad News Bears (1976)

Baseball-loving kids might want to check out this classic Little League comedy from the '70s. But their parents might be sent leaping for the "off" button, starting with the entire premise of the movie, which is that Coach Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) is an incorrigible alcoholic who drinks while coaching games, as well as while driving his charges around (and he even gives them beer at one point). But the main unseemly, not-quite-PG stuff in The Bad News Bears is the language. While an utterance or two of the F-word would've led to an "R" rating, the movie carefully skirts the usage of that particular word, opting instead for two dozen or so other cuss words, primarily uttered by the kids, who are also seen smoking and gambling.

Gremlins (1984)

How many parents back in '84 took their kids to see Gremlins assuming it was going to be some kind of live-action Care Bears type thing based on the poster of fuzzy and adorable Gizmo? Little did they know that Gizmo was the good Gremlin…and Stripe was the bad one. Very, very bad. In addition to general kid-terrifying monster mayhem, a Gremlin gets chopped up in the kitchen, a Gremlin gets caught in a blender, and another one is killed in a microwave. For all that, perhaps the most disturbing thing in the movie (again, allegedly for kids) is Phoebe Cates's character's speech about how Santa isn't real.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

The second Indiana Jones movie adopts a significantly darker tone than the Saturday serial throwback style of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Temple of Doom garnered a PG rating despite some deeply unsettling set pieces, many of which involve children. Kids are slave workers in a mine, for example, which might not be as big a deal as the eating of monkey brains…or a scene in which the Thuggee high priest Mola Ram (Amrish Puri) rips a man's still-beating heart right out of his chest.

After Gremlins and Temple of Doom were released, the MPAA created the PG-13 rating. (Steven Spielberg, who produced Gremlins and directed Temple of Doom, takes credit for the idea.) Before PG-13, the ratings system considered all children, from babies up to 17, to essentially be the same audience. A PG-13 rating acknowledged that there was some middle ground between young viewers…as well as in movie content.