American television audiences love two things: shows that push the envelope, and complaining about popular shows that push the envelope.
While some episodes of our favorite shows were pulled off the air for racy humor, others were just victims of bad timing.
Looking back decades later, it can be hard to believe these 10 episodes were so controversial:
1. Seinfeld – “The Puerto Rican Day”
One of the highest rated episodes of the hit comedy show was also its most controversial.
When Kramer (that incorrigible scamp) accidentally sets a Puerto Rican flag on fire during the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade, a riot breaks out and Jerry’s car is trashed.
The flag burning, Kramer’s attempt to stomp the fire out, and his infamous line – “It’s like this every day in Puerto Rico!” – got the episode pulled after just one airing.
It eventually resurfaced with the flag burning cut out, but didn’t air in full again until four years later.
2. TaleSpin – “Flying Dupes”
Disney’s totally bizarre Casablanca send-up starring Baloo from The Jungle Book went out with a bang, in a final episode that was immediately removed from reruns.
The plot involved Baloo delivering a secret package, which turned out to be a mail bomb. Disney reran “Flying Dupes” in 1999 (probably by accident) but since then it has only been seen on DVD.
3. Tiny Toon Adventures – “One Beer”
Ironically, the show was trying to deal with serious topics on their “Elephant Issues” episode when one joke landed them in hot water.
The “One Beer” sketch followed Buster, Hampton and Plucky as they found a beer bottle, got drunk, stole a cop car, crashed it, and killed themselves.
Okay, when you write it all out like that, it sounds pretty serious.
The episode never ran on Fox again, and was almost left out of the DVD set 2013, until fans demanded it be included.
4. Pokemon – “Electric Soldier Porygon”
There were actually a number of episodes of this popular kids show that never aired in Japan. Usually because they featured guns, or characters in drag.
But the most infamous was “Electric Soldier Porygon,” which left hundreds of Japanese children suffering from “Pokemon Shock” caused by bright, flashing lights.
While reports of the episode causing seizures were overblown, it sent 150 children to the hospital, and was quickly pulled off the air.
To this day, bright scenes – like Pikachu’s lightning attacks – are still dimmed in Pokemon games, TV shows, and movies because of the famous incident.
5. The X-Files – “Home”
When this controversial episode first aired, 21 percent of American households were tuned in. But there’s no telling how many of them changed the channel in disgust before the end.
In case you’ve purged “Home” from your mind, it followed Scully and Mulder as they investigated a family of incestuous, mutated rednecks. Not so different from an average episode of The Jerry Springer Show.
While Fox refused to rerun the episode, fans demanded it, and it was finally featured in a X-Files marathon on FX.
6. Beavis and Butthead – “Comedians”
If you were a fan of MTV’s mind-numbing teenage duo, you probably remember the backlash involving the third season episode “Comedians.”
After their comedy careers fizzled out, the pair set a comedy club on fire to watch it burn. The episode allegedly inspired a 5-year-old boy to copy them, setting his house on fire and killing his baby sister in the process.
MTV did continue to air “Comedians,” but in a later time slot with every reference to fire cut out (which was a pretty big trim).
7. Married With Children – “I’ll See You In Court”
Leave it to the Bundys to get one of their episodes pulled off the air for more than a decade. Of course, it wasn’t the first or last time Married With Children rubbed censors the wrong way.
The episode that proved to be too much for Fox featured Steve and Marcy being taped having sex at a motel. When they take the motel to court, Al and Peggy try to get in on the action.
Unfortunately, their tape is “too short” to earn them damages.
Incredibly, the episode didn’t air on American TV until 2002, 13 years after it was supposed to, when the show was long over.
Even then, four lines were still cut from the episode.
8. You Can’t Do That On TV – “Adoption”
The classic kids show didn’t attract much controversy – unless you were seriously offended by slime.
But the “Adoption” episode from season eight rubbed people the wrong way. The episode centered on a pair of crappy parents who mistreated their adopted children, which was enough to keep it from airing more than once in America.
Making light of adoption? You really can’t do that on TV.
9. The Amanda Show – “Episode 29”
While the aftermath of 9/11 was a lot for American children to deal with, network censors got a little ban-happy removing shows with related content from the airwaves.
In an episode of the Nickelodeon sketch show, a harmless skit featuring the cursed family named the Lucklesses featured the family’s home being hit by an asteroid.
Despite airing a month before 9/11, this was apparently close enough to the famous terrorist attack to keep the episode from airing on TV ever again.
10. Cow and Chicken – “Buffalo Gals”
We’ve pointed out some cases where writers try to sneak adult humor into kids shows before. But they’re not always very subtle.
The infamous “Buffalo Gals” episode introduced Cow and Chicken to the titular, all-female biker gang.
In case you haven’t caught on, the Buffalo Gals love to play softball, and are shown literally eating the carpet in Cow and Chicken’s home.
Cartoon Network was not amused at the adult humor. Even on Netflix, “Buffalo Gals” is still not included with other episodes of Cow and Chicken.
Do you remember watching any of these episodes?