That’s Not Going To Fly: Banned Episodes Of Popular TV Shows
For years, a lot of offensive and graphic content has been aired in television series. There have been instances when shows have gone so over-the-line that an episode is pulled from the air entirely. Not only that, but even programs known to be family-friendly like Mister Roger’s Neighborhood have had some of their episodes taken off the air. See what some of these episodes were and if you were one of the lucky ones to catch it before it was banned.
“Home” – The X-Files
The X-Files was no stranger to pretty questionable subject matter that still probably keeps some people up at night. However, it appears that they might have really outdone themselves in an episode from the fourth season titled “Home.”
The episode followed a group of inbred individuals and their atrocities, receiving the harshest rating possible when it was first released. Yet, it was rarely shown again afterward, possibly because it was too much for many audiences to handle. Maybe this one was for the better.
“OEuf” – Hannibal
If you’ve ever sat down to watch Hannibal, you’ll know that it isn’t the kind of show that you want to eat your dinner while watching. Taking place before the events in The Silence of the Lambs, there’s no shortage of images, deaths, and mutilations that most people couldn’t even come up with if they tried.
The episode “OEuf,” featured children being trained to murder and was pulled at the request of the show’s creator, Bryan Fuller, who realized hours before it was set to air that the subject matter went too far.
“Comedians” – Beavis And Butt-Head
After watching just one episode of Beavis and Butt-Head, it’s clear that the show is very self-aware and doesn’t have a single qualm with being as raunchy as possible, pushing the limits while they were at it.
In the episode “Comedians,” the two friends try their hand at stand-up comedy, leading them to set the comedy club on fire and watching it burn from the street. Although it may seem harmless, it wasn’t the case after a 5-year old boy watched the segment and ended up doing the same thing to his family’s home that night.
“Encounters” – The Twilight Zone
Almost every episode of The Twilight Zone had either some kind of thought-provoking or mind-bending aspect to it, but that wasn’t the case in the episode “Encounters.” The show follows an American World War II veteran trapped in his attic with a Japanese American gardener.
Of course, people weren’t happy about this at all, especially with the racial insensitivity that was put on display. After receiving complaints, the episode was never aired on CBS again.
“Episode 0847” – Sesame Street
Going back all the way to 1969, Sesame Street is one of the longest-running children’s shows on television, known for its family-friendly content around the world. There was one episode, in particular, that was deemed too scary for children to watch.
In season 7, Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz reprised her role to come on the show. Shortly after airing in 1976, the show was flooded with complaints about traumatized children because of the episode. It was therefore taken out of syndication.
“Bored, She Hung Herself” – Hawaii Five-0
In an episode of Hawaii Five-0 that aired on January 7, 1970, one woman dies from apparent suicide when she was actually trying to master a yoga pose. Unfortunately, one viewer tried it for herself, which ended with the same results.
Today, the episode is now considered to be “lost” as it’s almost impossible to find, even in the DVD box set. Of course, if you’re diligent enough about it, you can probably find it somewhere on the Internet.
“Elephant Issues” – Tiny Toon Adventures
Tiny Toon Adventures was a show that featured younger versions of the original Looney Tunes cast that was family-friendly except for the episode “Elephant Issues” in the segment “One Beer.”
In the segment, a few of the characters find an unopened beer, showing them going on a drunken adventure that includes stealing a cop car and accidentally driving it off a cliff. While the message was supposed to be drinking is bad, the episode was aired just once before it was removed.
“Adopted” – You Can’t Do That In Television
You Can’t Do That On Television was a popular skid comedy show throughout the United States and Canada during the 1980s. While the show received some grief for a series of their sketches, the episode titled “Adoption” went over worse than most.
Understandably, people weren’t comfortable with the show making fun of kids that were adopted. The show was only aired twice in the United States before being banned shortly afterward. However, it kept running in Canada by bleeping out the profanity.
“Buffalo Gals” – Cow And Chicken
Just because a show is a cartoon does not mean that it is suitable for all audiences, which was the case for Cow and Chicken. In the episodes “Buffalo Gals,” it seems like the creators were trying to directly make fun of one specific demographic of women, covering almost every stereotype in the book.
They rode motorcycles, played softball, looked masculine, and liked to chew on carpets. Needless to say, after airing in 1998, the episode was gone for good.
“Conflict” – Mister Rodgers Neighborhood
Although nobody would ever assume that an episode of Mister Rogers was too much for television, the episode “Conflict” apparently was. This week’s episode covered topics such as war and bombings, and was only aired the week of November 7-11, 1983, and again in 1996, when the potential for war was high.
While initially made to help children understand the Cold War, people took it the wrong way and it was banned.
“The Puerto Rican Day” – Seinfeld
In this 1998 episode on a show not really about anything, four friends have to deal with the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in downtown New York.
After being aired, NBC received its fair share of complaints regarding the burning of the Puerto Rican flag in the episode and the way the Puerto Ricans were portrayed. It was so bad that there were even protests by angry fans outside of the Rockefeller Center, leaving NBC to remove it from syndication and hide it as far away as possible.
“Flying Dupes” – TaleSpin
TaleSpin was a popular animated show during the 1980s, and although it usually featured positive themes, this was certainly not the case for one episode. This was the series finale in which Baloo delivers a package to the Thembrian High Marshall.
While this may seem pretty straightforward, the twist is that the package actually contains an attack. After being aired for the first time in August 1991, it was banned and never shown on The Disney Channel again.
“Episode 29” – The Amanda Show
The Amanda Show was a comedy sketch series featuring Amanda Bynes that aired on Nickelodeon. While the show was innocent enough, one episode was pulled for being too closely related to current events.
This was in Episode 29 during the sketch titled “The Lucklesses,” about a family with the worst luck ever, whose house gets hit by an asteroid and destroyed. It was first aired on March 17, 2001, but was pulled after the 9/11 attacks.
“Partial Terms Of Endearment” – Family Guy
In the show’s eighth season, there was an episode that just went too far. Lois agreed to carry a friend’s baby for them, but after they pass away in a car crash, she and Peter have to decide whether they are going to keep the baby or not.
Although Family Guy has been known to push the limits in terms of offensive content, Fox decided that this was too touchy of a subject and decided to pull the episode. However, it can still be found on the Season 8 DVD.
“Windy City” – Mike & Molly
Not known to be controversial whatsoever, an episode of Mike & Molly was temporarily banned due to nothing other than the weather. During the time when the episode “Windy City” was supposed to air, about tornadoes and bad weather, tornadoes were currently ravaging the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Kansas.
Out of respect, CBS temporarily banned the episode, and rescheduled to air once tensions surrounding the dangers of tornadoes weren’t running so high.
“201” – South Park
201 was part of a now-notorious two-part episode of South Park, with the second half of the episode even undergoing major changes before it was ultimately banned. The episode made direct fun of Tom Cruise, but that’s not even close to what got the show into trouble.
The real problem was the episode’s depiction of the prophet Muhammad among other religious figures, who was pictured in “200,” with the animators attempting to hide the character in “201,” although it did little to help.
“Promises, Promises” – Boy Meets World
Considering that one of the main plotlines of Boy Meets World is about Cory and Topanga’s relationship as they grow up throughout the years, it’s easy to assume that things might start getting hot and heavy as they got older.
Well, in the episode “Promises, Promises,” Cory and Topanga almost get intimate at prom, something that might be fine for any other network, but not the family-friendly show. So, it became one of the three episodes that were pulled from syndication.
“Dial M For Monkey: Barbequor” – Dexter’s Laboratory
Dexter’s Laboratory was one of the most popular shows on Cartoon Network in the 1990s but found itself in trouble during the segment called “Dial M for Monkey: Barbequor” that aired on May 19, 1996. In the episode, two superhero parodies named Silver Spooner and Barbequor make an appearance.
However, the show received complaints that the Silver Spooner was a stereotype. There were also complaints about the character Krunk’s supposed off-screen behavior. The segment was then removed on all formats of the show.
“Electric Soldier Porygon” – Pokémon
For the most part, television episodes are banned due to content deemed too inappropriate for the public, although that wasn’t what happened in the episode “Electric Soldier Porygon” in Pokémon.
The episode was banned after one sequence showed so many rapidly blinking red and blue lights that it caused hundreds of hospitalizations in Japan due to reports of headaches, seizures, and more. The episode was cut after that and was never aired anywhere else in the world.
“Earshot” – Buffy The Vampire Slayer
In Season 3 of the hit teen vampire show, Buffy discovers a student’s plan to commit a dangerous plot aimed towards his classmates. After discovering the student, she learns that he was only planning to hurt himself, both not-so-great scenarios.
Dark enough as the episode was, to make matters worse, it was scheduled to air just a week after a similar incident at a Colorado high school in 1999. The WB quickly pulled the episode, although it was later aired, with not everyone being happy about it.
“The City Of New York VS. Homer Simpson” – The Simpsons
Although The Simpson’s episode “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” is a fan-favorite to many, that didn’t stop it from being banned and now rarely played years later. The basis of the episode is that Homer goes to New York to get his car after it has been impounded after a night of dreaming.
However, the episode features numerous shots of the Twin Towers with Homer making numerous threats toward the city. So, after the 9/11 attacks, the episode was banned.
“Patterns Of Force” – Star Trek
Although Star Trek is a science-fiction program, the show’s writers always managed to slip in some relevant social commentary, which helped make the show relatable and interesting.
However, this didn’t work out in the episode “Patterns of Force,” when the lead characters are dressed in Nazi paraphernalia, and the only reason the villains were the way they were was that they were brainwashed. Unsurprisingly, this particular episode was banned in Germany not long after it aired.
“The Ricardos Visit Cuba” – I Love Lucy
In the episode, Lucy, Ricky, and Little Ricky travel to Cuba in order to get on the good side of Uncle Alberto, who had hoped that Ricky would marry a Cuban woman.
While there was no issues with the episode first aired in the 1950s, after the United States relations with Cuba went south in the early 60s, the episode was reconsidered. Although there wasn’t any real controversial material, the episode just didn’t feel appropriate at the time.
“Boston” – Aqua Teen Hunger Force
In 2008, the creators of Aqua Teen Hunger Force made an episode that was a parody of a marketing issue they had for their feature film that had the Boston police believing homemade Lite-Brite displays were actually explosives.
The who fiasco ended up costing $2 million in fines and settlement fees. However, although the marketing tactic for the film worked, the parody episode was later taken off the air when there was an actual terrorist attack in Boston that used an improvised explosive.
“Hee Haw! Hee Haw!” – Fear Factor
Fear Factor earned its reputation for having its contestants perform unbelievable stunts and consuming things that are only in most viewer’s nightmares. While the show certainly pushed the limits, the episode “Hee Haw! Hee Haw!” was not only taken off the air but resulted in the cancellation of the show.
In the episode, three sets of twins had to choose between drinking the only two liquids that you can collect from a donkey. You can imagine what happened after that.
“The High Ground” – Star Trek: The Next Generation
In this episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the characters visit the planet of Rutia IV in which “a generation of peace has ended with terrorist attacks by Ansata separatists who are demanding autonomy and self-determination for their homeland on the western continent.”
Although masked by science fiction, it was clearly inspired by the Irish Troubles, with the episode first airing just months after an IRA terrorist attack. Because of this, the episode wasn’t aired in the UK or the Republic of Ireland.
All Of Derrick In Germany
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, the Munich-based detective show Derrick was a major hit throughout Germany and was broadcast in 102 countries around the world.
The show would go on to syndication until it was completely taken off the air in 2013 after it was revealed that actor Horst Tappert, who played Derrick, had lied about his service during World War II. It turns out that he was actually under the command of the Waffen-SS, which was something the network didn’t want to be associated with.
“Mister Skinnylegs” – Peppa Pig
Although Peppa Pig is a children’s cartoon, it has had its fair amount of controversy over the years, including the episode “Mister Skinnylegs.” The episode follows the family that befriends a spider to show that spiders aren’t inherently bad creatures. While this may seem harmless, it wasn’t for the children of Australia, which is home to some of the most poisonous and dangerous spiders in the world.
So, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation banned the episode. Yet, it was accidentally aired, and the network received complaints from parents before ABC removed it.
“Living In Harmony” – The Prisoner
In the episode “Living in Harmony” of The Prisoner, protagonist Number 6 is placed in a virtual reality simulation of the Old West while trying to get him to take on the role of the town sheriff.
However, the episode was rumored to be banned for a number of reasons, such as the portrayal of mind-altering controlled substances and supposed commentary on the Vietnam War when Number 6 refuses to pick up his gun and fight to defend the town.
“Stokey The Bear” – Dudley Do-Right
Considering it was a children’s cartoon, things didn’t go over well with the U.S. Forest Service after the Dudley Do-Right episode “Stokey The Bear” featured a hypnotized Stokey the Bear going around and setting things on fire.
Not only was the episode glorifying arson, but the federal agency also claimed that the character was a rip-off of Smokey the Bear and threatened to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement. So, the episode and all of the prints were ultimately destroyed.
“I’ll See You In Court” – Married…With…Children
Married…With …Children had a slue of legal issues during its time on the air ranging from controversies and boycotts, mostly due to its misogynistic humor and other crude content. However, the episode “I’ll See You in Court” supposedly took things too far.
The episode focuses on a motel that secretly films its patrons being intimate, with Peggy and Al finding a tap of their neighbors and eventually suing the motel for filing themselves being together. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t seen as appropriate for the network.
“Imprint – Masters Of Horror
Masters of Horror was a Showtime anthology series of one-hour movies that was met with impressive reviews upon its debut back in 2005. The show was known for being over-the-top, considering its name, but the episode “Imprint” had to be taken off the air.
Directed by Takashi Miike, the episode was considered to be far too graphic in both visuals and themes and was never even released to the public for fear of the backlash the network would receive.
“Spychangers To The Rescue” – Transformers
With a show about robots that can turn into other machines, it seems unlikely that the show could ever be controversial. Yet, the show experienced some issues when it came to the episode “Spychangers to the Rescue.”
Airing on April 26, 2000, in Japan, the show featured the threat of a generator exploding that would release poisonous gas. Yet, for the episode’s premiere in the United States on September 13, the episode had to be changed because it was thought to be too similar to the recent 9/11 attacks.
“iRue The Day” – iCarly
In the episode “iRue the Day,” the show features the return of the character Nevel, who threatens to blackmail Carly ad her friends after hacking into their website.
The episode went on to be aired in 2007 but was pulled years later after the 2014 Sony hack, with the network believing that it could be seen as glorifying hacking. Yet, after everything blew over, the episode was free to be shown on the air again.
“Party It Up” – Shake It Up!
“Party it Up” was an episode from Season One in which the characters CeCe and Rocky sneak out of the house to attend a party that a supermodel is at. During the episode, several jabs are made at eating disorders which did not sit well with audiences, including Demi Lovato.
She was so offended that she took to Twitter and criticized the show for poking fun at such a serious disease that she had suffered from. The episode was then removed and returned after the scene had been removed.
“S-Out” – Bottom
Bottom as a British sitcom that stars Edmondson and Mayall as Edward Elizabeth as two pranksters with no jobs or money and their experiences in Hammersmith, West London. Although the show was known for its crude humor, one episode of the show was taken off the air for three years on account of bad timing.
In the episode “S-Out,” the two characters spend the night on Wimbledon Common, which unfortunately coincided with the rel murder of Rachel Nickell in the same area.
“See Me, Feel Me, Gnome” – The Powerpuff Girls
While Cartoon Network’s The Powerpuff Girls is about as innocent as it gets in terms of children’s television, one of the episodes managed to get banned. This was “See Me, Feel Me, Gnome” in which the girls are manipulated by a gnome into trading their powers for peace In the city.
The episode was shortly pulled with some claiming that it was attempting to demonstrate communism. Others, however, say the ban was a result of one of the hippies looking like Jesus.
BraceFace – Busted
In the Canadian-Chinese-American animated show Braceface, an episode was pulled for more than obvious reasons. In the episode Busted, Sharon wishes that her chest area was larger so that she can appear to be older and more mature.
So, she buys a special bra with a pump in it to make her chest seem bigger, with the pump eventually popping. This episode never stood a chance and was taken off the air as fast as possible.
“Big Brother Caillou” – Caillou
Caillou is a Canadian children’s educational show that follows a four-year-old boy named Caillou and how he experiences the world. And otherwise harmless show, the episode “Big Brother Caillou” sparked some serious controversy.
In the episode, Caillou sadistically pinches his baby sister to the point that she bursts into tears. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Caillou is never punished for his actions, with his father’s only response being why he had pinched his baby sister.
“Mr. Ratburn And The Special Someone” – Arthur
In the first episode of the 22nd season of the animated show Arthur, the character Arthur and his classmates try to find out who their teacher, Mr. Ratburn, is marrying; unable to believe that teachers have lives outside of school.
In the end, it turns out that Mr. Ratburn is gay and is marrying another man. Although the episode was considering to be groundbreaking for many, the episode was banned in Alabama for featuring a gay marriage.