Dennis the Menace TV Poster Image

Dennis the Menace

In '80s cartoon, curious kid finds more trouble than before.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The show in meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive messages

Some mixed messages. Dennis and his crew sometimes fight bad guys. But he is also sometimes hailed as a hero when he was, in fact, doing something he shouldn't have.

Positive role models

Dennis' curiosity and interest in the world around him may be seen as a positive, but it usually gets him into trouble. He sometimes breaks the rules and doesn't have much adult supervision.

Violence & scariness

Lots of slapstick and fantasy pratfalls that don't affect anyone permanently.  Most of the violence comes either from Dennis' misadventures or in the catching of bad guys.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that in this pumped up version of the original Hank Ketchum cartoon Dennis leaves the domestic realm to play in tanks, catch bank robbers, chase kangaroos, and even fly a rocket ship. Dennis sometimes gets hailed as a hero when he was, in fact, doing something he shouldn't have been. And despite some mild violence and big mistakes, there are never any negative consequences.

What's the story?

Back in the 1950s, when cartoonist Hank Ketchum first drew him, Dennis Mitchell was just an over-eager 5 year old with a gift for making his grumpy neighbor Mr. Wilson crazy. In this animated version from 1986-88, Dennis is still causing Mr. Wilson all kinds of physical and emotional pain, but in much larger ways, through adventures catching bank robbers and messing around in an army tank.

Is it any good?


Taking Dennis' adventures outside the realm of normal kid experience hasn't really done much for the character.  Dennis is still, fortunately, a good-hearted kid. Yet in pumping up the action, the cartoon loses much of its original charm and becomes too much like other cartoons in which kids fight bad guys and fly in space. If your kids can tell the difference between fantasy violence and real violence, it's mindless fun, but don't expect much else.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about cartoon pratfalls and violence.  Why do people sometimes laugh when we see someone fall?

  • Parents can ask their children if they think Dennis is doing the right thing when he plows ahead with whatever scheme or interest he has. Why do they think Dennis never seems to get into any real trouble?

  • Families: Do you think kids' television always need to teach a lesson, or is it OK to watch for pure entertainment value?

TV details

Premiere date:September 22, 1986
Cast:Maurice LaMarche, Phil Hartman
Genre:Kids' Animation
TV rating:TV-G
Available on:DVD

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Parent of a 12 year old Written byWeeklybob December 18, 2010
Why would you even want to watch this show or do a review on it?!?!? It's so JUNKY! I don't understand why some people appreciate cartoons that were made in the 80's and 90's!!! Do YOU????
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
Safety and privacy concerns
Kid, 9 years old April 16, 2011

1986 Classic bring good fun

Weeklybob YOU SUCK! SO BADLY! Dennis the Menace is an American animated series produced by DIC Entertainment (with season 2 co-produced by Crawleys Animation), based on the comic strip by Hank Ketcham. The young blond boy with a cowlick and a mischievous personality, Dennis the Menace, gets into numerous scrapes and adventures with his dog Ruff and his friends Joey, Margaret, Gina, Tommy, PeeBee and Jay. Dennis is an impulsive, angel-faced little devil who is always getting into scrapes whom end up tormenting his hapless next-door neighbor, Mr. Wilson (though Dennis always means well). Dennis finds himself involved in all kinds of wild adventures (some of which are fantasy-based like the international espionage and trips into the past stories) but always manages to save the day. The series was originally aired in syndication in the U.S., distributed by The Program Exchange. The second season aired on Saturday mornings on CBS. Each half-hour show consists of three six or seven minute shorts. The show was sponsored by General Mills.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models