Every now and then a show crosses a line in the sand and gets one of its episodes banned. Sometimes it’s for good reason, such as a health issue.
Sometimes the ban is based on current events and unfortunate timing. Sometimes there’s no good reason at all, and occasionally a show even willingly bans its own episodes!
From adult favorites to children’s cartoons, shows from all over the spectrum have found themselves on the wrong end of society’s sensibilities and been subjected to censure. Some even ended up censored on later releases on DVD and digital platforms.
These 10 episodes were banned from televisions across the world for reasons ranging from the reasonable to the insane, and I for one am delighted to share them with you!
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Movies That Have Been Banned Around The World
If you have a child at home, you probably already know about Peppa Pig, the spunk little piglet who’s show revolves around teaching kids wholesome lessons about life and how to deal with fears. She’s also been the subject of many internet jokes and memes, bringing joy to people far beyond her typical audience.
Of course, as you guessed by her inclusion on this list, she also happens to have a banned episode.
The 2004 episode “Mr. Skinnylegs” is a seemingly harmless episode advising children not to be afraid of spiders, as they are more scared of you than you are of them, and won’t hurt you. Normally this message would be fine, and rings true enough…Unless, of course, you live in Australia.
In 2012, and again in 2017, the Australian Broadcasting Company banned the episode from airing on the Australian version of Nick Jr because of its “inappropriate message”. While to someone from the US or the UK, this might seem crazy, it’s important to note that Australia is home to massive, incredibly poisonous spiders such as the Redback Spider and the Sydney Funnelweb.
[WARNING: The above clip may trigger seizures.] Everyone knows Pokemon, the extremely popular game where you collect and battle cute little monsters to make them bigger and stronger. It also spawned many spin offs, several shows, a Japanese comic (called a manga), a card game, and tons of merchandise.
With such a massive, family friendly franchise, it’s hard to imagine they could do anything so bad they would get themselves banned from the airwaves, right?
Well, you are half correct! It wasn’t the story content of the episode, so much as the visuals. “Electric Soldier Porygon”, featuring the man-made Pokemon ‘Porygon’, had flashing and strobing lights to simulate a cybernetic explosion. This display caused over 600 children to need a trip to the hospital as the lights caused various illnesses ranging from nausea to seizures to temporary (but frightening) blindness!
Team Rocket couldn’t have come up with a better nefarious plot!
The X-Files has never been one to shy away from horrible things. Monsters, mutants, and mayhem (oh, my!) abound in this show, both the original and the 2016 continuation. So it’s really no surprise that they would have found themselves on the wrong end of the banning stick when, in 1994, they released the episode “Home” onto TVs across the nation for the first time.
In the episode, a deformed baby is found buried in a baseball field in Mayberry, Pennsylvania. Mulder and Scully arrive (as is customary) to investigate, and soon uncover something much more awful than a monster or alien invasion: a family of inbred monster men whose matriarch, lacking arms and legs, lives under a bed in the family home.
The episode was so disturbing and received such strong backlash that it was immediately banned from the airwaves and received only one rerun, in October of 1999.
There’s nothing that really brings back the feeling of childhood quite like Sesame Street. The muppets, friendly kids, and reassuring adult characters bring back a feeling of safety and gentle nostalgia that wraps you in its arms like a warm hug.
There could be nothing worth banning about the show, right? I mean, it’s recommended showing to pre-school aged children as a primer for kindergarten, so surely it couldn’t be harmful!
Yet, in May of 1970, the state of Mississippi took a rather different view of the show. Citing its fully integrated cast of diverse characters and how that might clash with the views of the average Mississippian, the state of Mississippi actually banned the show from playing on state channels for 22 days.
While the ban was eventually reversed, it left a mark on the history of the show and the state.
Ah, the ’90s. Was there ever a better time for television? The answer is yes, but that’s neither here nor there. If you were a fan of cartoons in the late ’90s, you probably watched Cow And Chicken, a show about a pair of siblings, a heifer named Cow and a rooster named Chicken.
As was the style of the time, the cartoon was often crude, hiding adult jokes in plain sight and making various jokes about bodily functions, both human and animal.
One such joke crossed the line however, and ended with the episode being banned from the airwaves after just one airing! The episode, titled “Buffalo Gals”, was about a group of female bikers who wore buffalo head helmets, played softball, and broke into peoples houses to chew up their carpets. The episode, being chock full of innuendo as it was, aired once, and then was never seen again.
We all knew Family Guy was going to show up on this list sooner or later. How could it not, being one of the raunchiest, grossest adult cartoons of all time? You would think, given its history, that banned episode would revolve around Herbert the Pervert, or perhaps something to do with Quagmire’s many exploits (and exploitations).
It seems however that the straw that broke the FOX’s back wasn’t Quagmire or Herbert or even one of the many gross and outlandish adventures of Stewie, but instead an episode that tackled abortion and pro-choice vs pro-life views.
“Partial Terms Of Endearment” focused on Lois’s decision of whether or not to get an abortion after the couple she was going to surrogate for die in a car accident. The episode handles the topic in typical Family Guy fashion, with many jokes and jests at both sides of the argument. The episode was too much for FOX Network, however, who pulled it from airing before it could even run. While you can still get it on the DVD box sets, the episode is banned from public airtime.
Remember Amanda Bynes? ’90s Kids grew up tuning into her sketch show on Nickelodeon after school, watching her and her co-host Drake Bell put on a variety of sketches, mock interviews, and physical comedy bits for our collective amusement.
The ill fated banned episode, simply titled “Episode 29”, featured a skit called ‘The Lucklesses’, about a family with absolutely abysmal luck trying to go about their day, with various disasters culminating in their house being hit by a meteor.
The episode had the unfortunate luck itself of airing in March of 2001, just 6 months before 9/11. The episode was subsequently pulled from the air for fear of it resembling the Tower attack too much and was never shown in the US again.
Those Lucklesses really couldn’t catch a break, could they?
A beloved jewel of the 1980s, the well known sitcom Married With Children often used crude humor and remarks to tickle the funny bone of its home audience. For the most part, they were successful, but apparently one woman wasn’t laughing in January of 1998, when the show aired an episode titled “I’ll See You In Court”.
The episode shows the main characters suing the owner of a local hotel for filming their…intimate time, we’ll call it, without their permission. It also features a mention of homosexuality, and a woman removing her bra. While today that’s a big nothingburger, in the 1980s it was apparently so shocking that a Michigan woman had to start a letter writing campaign to FOX Network and its advertisers, demanding the episode be pulled and complaining of its disgusting and shocking contents.
Eventually, under pressure from its advertisers, FOX acquiesced to her demands, pulling the episode from the air.
Is it any wonder that a show titled “You Can’t Do That On Television” would get at least one of its episodes banned? According to one of the show’s creators, Geoffrey Darby, it was very much a surprise.
The episode in question, titled “Adoption”, was about a couple who, as you may have guessed, had several adopted children. The children were poorly treated, but in a funny way as per the rules of comedy, slime was dumped on everyone, the audience laughed.
Or rather, the audience became quite upset, as the episode ended up pulled from the channel after many complaints were made. Darby himself notes that the episode went “too far”, and was pulled after airing “maybe once”.
South Park is the Holy Grail of offensive shows. Parodying and mocking anyone and everyone without limit or concern of consequence, South Park has been a stronghold of pure expression for 23 years, refusing to compromise on its jokes or values.
Until, that is, episode 201. Following directly on the heels of the story line of Episode 200, 201 was to feature the Super Best Friends, a team of religious icons acting as super hero’s, fighting against Tom Cruise and other celebrities looking to destroy the town of South Park and become exempt from criticism or ridicule.
The episode was most notable for featuring Muhammad, the prophet of Islamic faith who is not allowed to be depicted in any form. The episode, doing just that in reaction to the backlash to Muhammad’s previous appearance on the show, netted the network and creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker threats to life, limb, and bank account. While Stone and Parker would have gladly braved the storm for their art, the network was not convinced to do the same, and the showed was aired once, heavily edited, and then never again, even stripped entirely from digital platforms.
About The Author: Deana Samuels lives with her girlfriend and no cats, and has recently acquired a massive collection of Hello Kitty dolls and memorabilia. She hopes to one day achieve her dream of filling an house with plastic balls, like a Mickey D’s ball pit.