Parents

Just kiss already: Cartoon characters who are totally secretly in love

A funny thing happens when you watch way too much children’s TV, like I do. You start to overthink it. Does Dora have a hearing problem? Why are there even conductors on the Sodor trains? And good gracious, why don’t Bob the Builder and Wendy just GET A ROOM already?

Call it taboo, call it the warped imaginings of a broken mind that has heard the “Hot Dog Dance” one too many times, but let’s call it like it is: Kids’ shows these days are dripping with Sam-and-Diane levels of unrequited love and sexual tension. In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are some of the worst offenders — or best, depending on your perspective:

1. The Man with the Yellow Hat and Professor Wiseman

Stop pretending that you’re not on a date just because you brought your monkey. And seriously, MWTYH, you found a lady who doesn’t mind that you bring a monkey on a date — lock it down. She’s smart, attractive, and tolerates your fetish for yellow clothes (even underwear: I know this because YOU HAVE BOUNDARY ISSUES. Stop asking your monkey to do your laundry.). You and the professor share a love of science and a deep denial about the basic rules of animal welfare. Put a ring on it before she wises up, Man with the Yellow Hat.

YouTube / Georgette Marvis
Curious George was curious... about why these two never got together.

2. Bob the Builder and Wendy/Handy Manny and Kelly

Hey, Kelly and Wendy, real girl-talk time: You can do better. You've both found success in typically male-dominated fields; you are tough but tender ladies who deserve better than playing second fiddle to construction equipment. True, your average Tinder date won't command an arsenal of sentient machines, but that might be a plus, if you think about it. What is it with craftsmen and an inability to commit? Take off the safety equipment ON YOUR HEARTS, Manny and Bob.

YouTube / Bob The Builder US
Bob the Builder and Wendy: "Can we fix it?" I don't know, Bob, is the inability to see the love of your life standing right beside you something that can be fixed?
YouTube / DisneyJuniorUK
Handy Manny and Kelly: Ola, Manny! Donde esta tu corazón?

3. Everyone in the Justice League Unlimited

Oh my god, does the Watchtower run on sexual tension? This is a cartoon show for ages 7+. I didn’t think I’d have to explain the concept of “love triangle” when we started watching. Batman and Wonder Woman, Green Arrow and Black Canary, Green Lantern and EVERYBODY… I realize that you all have perfect, Spandex-clad bodies but let’s take it down a notch, superheroes. No more co-ed “martial arts” training. Stop talking with your faces so close together. Everybody please take a cold shower and focus on saving the world.

YouTube / dreamerBros Videos
Oh no, Batman and Wonder Woman! Another super villain is threatening to destroy the universe! What should we do?
YouTube / Diana Themyscira
What's that, Black Canary and Green Arrow? Close talking while wearing very little clothing? Again? Um, OK....

4. Penny and Talon

If you haven’t seen Netflix’s reboot of “Inspector Gadget,” it’s delightful. But unlike these other shows where the sexual tension is a subtext noticed by my (possibly warped) mind, the spark between Good Girl Penny (Gadget’s niece) and Bad Boy Talon (Villain Claw’s nephew) is written right into the script. She literally talks about how attractive she finds him despite his evil ways. On a kids’ show. Because it’s never too early to teach children that good, rule-following girls will totally fall for handsome bad boys who are ultimately trying to destroy them. See also: my college dating experience, freshman through junior years. I’m waiting on royalties, Netflix.

NetFlix
You solve all of Inspector Gadget's mysteries, but still can't figure out why you're attracted to Talon, Penny?

5. Me and the Wild Kratts

I’m happily married. But at 6:30 am when my husband is still asleep and I’m up with the kids… mama’s going to explore some wildlife. And that’s not actually a euphemism, I have learned a ton about wildlife from this show. Don’t judge my massive crush on Chris and Martin. They’re educational AND adorable. There’s a goofy one and a serious one and they have unlimited access to cute animals to pet, so that's basically the perfect man. Show me a mom who hasn’t played a game of FMK (look it up on Urban Dictionary, but not at work, or while your kids are nearby) with Chris and Martin, and I’ll show you a liar with her yoga pants on fire. And yes I know there are three options in FMK and only two Kratt brothers. Sorry, Jimmy.

YouTube / Wild Kratts
The Wild Kratts: Hello, boys!
TODAY
The author, TODAY Parents Editor Rebecca Dube, with Martin and Chris Kratt backstage at TODAY. Is it wrong to say, "I could be the ham in that man sandwich" about children's show hosts? Oops, I think I just did.

Don't believe me? Just check out these clips.

Looking for ACTUAL kid-appropriate activities for Valentine's Day? Here you go:

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