Ruined Childhood is a slang term used to describe a nostalgic subject that has been marred by a new discovery or an implication of suggestive nature, either in the image or video itself as well as comments. To a lesser extent, the term can be also used to describe a fan's disappointing reception of a highly anticipated sequel to a classic work. This concept can be applied to almost anything with nostalgic value including toys, cartoons, movies, and games. However, it should not be confused with Rule 34, which is the act of simply making something pornographic.
The phrase was used online as early as December 2001 in a petition to have George Lucas hand over his position of director on the third Star Wars prequel film to Peter Jackson, who directed the Lord of the Rings movie franchise. This campaign was launched in response to Lucas allegedly “ruining” the fans' childhood memories of the Star Wars through his prequel works, which were met by poor reception upon releases. The petition received 7487 signatures. The next year, the phrase "ruined childhood" was used on Something Awful to describe a Photoshop Phriday contest in which users changed titles of classic literature and comics into sexual innuendos, attempting to change how people thought of the content, similar to One Letter Off Movie Posters.
The phrase appeared again in reference to the Star Wars prequels in 2003 when a user on the Star Wars Community forums started a thread titled "Raped childhood support group" for people to share their disappointment after seeing The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. "Raped childhood" was first defined on Urban Dictionary on October 11th, 2004, again with a Star Wars mention. In 2009, the phrase was used in reference to Power Rangers and Back to the Future. It also has been used to describe alternate theories about the universes of Pokemon and Rugrats.
On October 27th, 2011, the single topic blog Ruined Childhood was created, pairing images of nostalgic television shows including the Simpsons and Rugrats with rap lyrics. As of March 2012, the blog has over 53,000 followers. These types of images can be found on the Tumblr tags for "raped childhood" and "ruined childhood."
On January 24, 2011, humor site Cracked compiled 17 photos that appeared whimsical to a child with their behind-the-scenes counterparts, spoiling the magic of several famous movie scenes and television setups.
In mainstream media
In October 2008, the American adult comedy animated television series South Park referenced the phrase in the episode The China Probrem, depicting George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg raping a Stormtrooper and Indiana Jones, respectively.