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Things only adults notice in Dexter's Laboratory

With four seasons and a television movie throughout its seven-year run, Dexter's Laboratory was a wildly successful staple for many kids of the '90s. The show became one of Cartoon Network's most successful programs and the series has even been represented with a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Not only has it done well among its child audience, but many older viewers have praised the show for its charming visual style and fun action sequences. Additionally, it's been nominated for multiple awards and won an Annie Award as well as an OFTA Television Award for Christine Cavanaugh's voice-over performance as Dexter.

Considering the show's fast-paced humor, zany characters, and strange scenarios, it's no wonder that Dexter's Laboratory became so popular among young viewers. However, hidden inside of this seemingly innocent children's program are plenty of inappropriate jokes that are likely to go unnoticed by the show's primary audience. For those looking to find some of the more suggestive jokes you may have missed growing up, here is a list of things that only adults will notice in Dexter's Laboratory.

Dexter may have replaced his sister with an adult dancer

While Dee Dee is known for her spirited, boisterous personality, she is equally known for her destructive antics. Time and time again, Dexter finds his lab at the mercy of Dee Dee's roughhousing, and more often than not, the lab is left in ruins. In the episode "Dee Dee and The Man," Dexter finally has enough of her destructiveness and fires her. Initially, Dexter revels in his newfound solitude. He finds himself much more productive without Dee Dee around, but ultimately without his sister, Dexter is lonely. To fill the void, Dexter has the brilliant idea to have auditions for a replacement older sister.

After a slew of failed applicants, Dexter comes upon Candi, a beautiful woman with exaggerated curves, pouty lips, and luxurious blonde hair whom he is obviously attracted to. Ignoring the fact that it's pretty that creepy Dexter decided to hire a sexy woman to play the role of his older sister, he now has to teach Candi how to fill the position of Dee Dee correctly. One of Dee Dee's loves is dancing, so naturally, Dexter asks Candi to dance. Misunderstanding the context of Dexter's request, Candi responds, "50 bucks extra." Based on Candi's reply, it's likely that Candi is no stranger to these sorts of requests, and she was expecting to give a very different type of performance than Dexter intended.

An inappropriate anagram

Like most siblings, Dexter and Dee Dee are constantly at each other's throats over even the most minuscule things. In "Decode of Honor," they each receive a decoder ring as a prize at the bottom of a cereal box. The decoder allows them to solve tasks that will reward them with admittance to the Action Hank and Pony Puff Princess fan clubs, respectively.

Each feeling that their own club is better than the other, they begin to argue about whether Action Hank or Pony Puff Princess has the superior fan club. The two argue back and forth  culminating with Dee Dee's assertion that "Your dumb club is for big I-D-K-S-C!" Using his decoder ring to translate the anagram, Dexter replies, "Hey! I'm gonna tell mom!" Even though the anagram isn't terribly hard to spell out, for young kids watching, it's likely the quip flew right over their head and went completely unnoticed. However, for adults coming back to watch Dexter's Laboratory years later, Dee Dee's joke is very clearly spelled out.

Dad's Trophy

The episode "Nuclear Confusion" features some pretty high stakes. Dee Dee steals the power source to Dexter's lab which, unknown to her, will result in the destruction of the Earth. Dexter must save the world by returning the power source, but to do this, he has to play into one of Dee Dee's childish games. She won't willfully hand over the power source. Instead, she leaves a series of clues for Dexter to follow that lead to the next clue.

The clues themselves are mostly innocent, such as one of their mom's pies. However, one clue, in particular, is a bit... problematic. After finding the second clue, Dexter is sent to the neighbor's house, where he is greeted by the neighbor lady. At first, Dexter isn't exactly sure where in the house to look, but when the neighbor bends over, the clue reveals itself. Written on the back of her pants in frantically drawn sharpie are the words, "Dad's Trophy." 

This is Dee Dee's hint to check their dad's literal trophy, but the subtext is that the neighbor lady is their dad's trophy. In other words, their dad has the hots for the neighbor lady and likely creeps on her. While that is creepy in and of itself, there is another question that just begs to be answered: How did Dee Dee manage to write the clue on the neighbor without being noticed?

The babysitter's phone call

Dexter's babysitter Lisa only appears in the episode "Babysitter Blues," so she's an easy enough character to forget. However, when rewatching the series, careful viewers may realize that Lisa has a bit of a juicy conversation that they have overlooked when they were younger.

After Dexter's parents leave, Lisa calls her boyfriend Jeff on the phone. Though we can only hear Lisa's side of the conversation, it's pretty clear that something interesting is going on in their teenage circle of friends. Lisa says, "She didn't? She did? But they're not in love like us." Based on the context clues it's pretty easy to figure out what Lisa and Jeff are discussing. It sounds like one of their friends has started fooling around with their significant other, and they aren't the only ones. Indeed, Lisa and Jeff appear to be doing much the same thing. Kids watching this scene likely just thought Lisa and Jeff were talking about normal mushy relationship stuff, never knowing just how right they were.

The Twister innuendo

In the made for television film Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip, there is a bizarre scene involving Dexter's mom and dad. For a few seconds, both of Dexter's parents are offscreen, except for their legs. Their legs are straight in the air and intwined with one another, implying they are partaking in some adult activities offscreen. That would be suggestive enough, but on top of that is the added moaning and grunting. Dexter's mom even says "Honey, I don't think that's gonna fit." 

It's soon revealed that Mom and Dad were playing an innocent game of Twister all along as opposed to something a little more scandalous. Though Dexter's Laboratory is filled with its fair share of adult humor, between the suggestive positioning and dialogue, this is probably one of the more overt examples in the series. Mom and Dad's game isn't exactly subtle, but as long as they attach the name Twister, it looks like the censors didn't lose any sleep keeping the apparent innuendo.

Private time

Dexter's Laboratory can get strange, even for a children's animated cartoon, and the episode "Filet of Soul" really exemplifies the show's quirkiness.

In the episode, Dexter and Dee Dee's pet fish Fishy dies of exhaustion, and they have to flush him. Dexter fails to properly send-off Fishy, and this results in his departed pet returning with a host of other angry spirits to wreak havoc on their home. Now responsible for banishing the angry spirits, Dexter and Dee Dee spend the night expelling Fishy and his fiendish friends.

You would think the weirdest part about an episode involving a dead pet goldfish returning to haunt a family from the afterlife would be about the supernatural fish, but no. The strangest part is actually Dad randomly showing up in a pink robe to have private time in the bathroom. After Dexter and Dee Dee banish Fishy back to the Sewer Beyond, Dad comes bursting into the bathroom and says, "How many times have I told you? Early morning is daddy's special bathroom privacy time." Now to be fair, Dad really could just want some private time in the bathroom. But considering just how many adult jokes are slipped into this show, it's pretty safe to say there's probably a double meaning here.

Mandark's family is into cannabis

Dexter's arch-nemesis Mandark causes Dexter plenty of headaches throughout the show. Similar to Dexter, Mandark is also a boy genius with a lab. Due to their competing egos, Mandark and Dexter find themselves always in competition with each other. Though Mandark has plenty in common with Dexter, he has a fairly strange family situation that makes him stand apart from his genius counterpart.

Mandark, otherwise known as "Susan," was born in a hippie commune. His parents, Windbear and Oceanbird, are unconventional free thinkers. In the episode "Mountain Mandark," Mandark's parents believe their son is too engaged with science and want him to explore nature and the outdoors. They take away Mandark's gadgets and force him to participate on a nature hike, much to his chagrin.

Mandark's parents are stereotypical hippies, so it's not entirely surprising that there's a weed joke thrown into the episode. At one point during their hike, Mandark's mother stops by what appears to be a marijuana plant and says "There's a cornucopia of sustenance to be harvested from our great, giving earth." To an average child watching, the plant looks like an ordinary bush, but for older viewers, there's no question that Mandark's mom is referencing a very different type of herb.

A flour deal

Drugs and children's programming aren't exactly a match made in heaven. Typically animated shows try to steer clear of controversial topics such as drugs unless they are attempting some drug PSA. Dexter's Laboratory takes the opposite approach by cracking jokes.

The episode "Beard to be Feared" begins simply enough: Dexter builds a device called the "Beard-A-Tron" that allows him to grow a beard and become more rugged looking. Almost immediately after growing his beard, Dexter is mistaken for the hero Action Hank and prompted to stop a group of villains causing trouble. Though Dexter tries to set the record straight about his mistaken identity, the police escort him to the criminal group.

Once Dexter is thrown into action, we see one of the criminals cut open a bag of flour, saying "I can assure you it's 100% pure." This statement is quickly followed up with a joke about how the group will be "rolling in dough." Based on the comments about purity and making bank as well as the white, powdery nature of flour, it's safe to say the criminals are actually using a code word for cocaine.

Rude Removal

Dexter's Laboratory managed to pass a lot of risqué content through the censors, but not every adult joke was given the green light. In fact, the episode "Rude Removal" was banned in its entirety. For years the episode was considered lost until it resurfaced at select animation festivals; it was then streamed for wider audiences on Adult Swim's YouTube channel in 2013, though the video has since been removed.

So what makes "Rude Removal" so obscene? The entire premise of the episode is about foul language. In the episode, Dexter invents the Rude Removal System, a machine that allows him to remove rudeness from Dee Dee. Ultimately, his invention backfires, and instead of removing Dee Dee's negative attributes, Dexter accidentally splits himself and Dee Dee into separate rude and well-mannered halves.

The polite halves are overly kind and speak with over-the-top British accents. The controversy surrounding the episode comes from Dexter and Dee Dee's rude halves which, by contrast, spout profanities throughout the episode. Though the swearing is censored with bleeps, the content was dicey enough to rattle censors and keep "Rude Removal" from ever airing on television.