TV isn’t always filled with puppies and rainbows. Today, we’re (cautiously) revisiting the most twisted and disgusting happenings that flooded our screens — and our nightmares — in 2023.
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Yes, we all might be better off not remembering The Last of Us’ fungal kiss of death or The Fall of the House of Usher’s gory acid shower, but where’s the fun in that? The list below isn’t all blood and guts, however. (Yay?) There’s also a rather revealing faux pas on Sex Education, Below Deck: Sailing Yacht’s human sushi tray (ick) and so much more.
A few quick reminders before you scroll down: The images below are pretty graphic, and some contain spoilers for your favorite shows. If you’re behind on any of the following, you might want to return later: 9-1-1, 9-1-1: Lone Star, Below Deck: Sailing Yacht, Bookie, Chucky, The Curse, Dave, The Fall of the House of Usher, Family Guy, Gen V, The Last of Us, New Amsterdam, Party Down, The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, Servant, Sex Education, Succession, Ted Lasso, The Walking Dead: Dead City, What We Do in the Shadows, The Wheel of Time, Wolf Pack and YOU.
Now for the fun (?) stuff: Scroll down for 23 of the year’s most disturbing moments. When you’re done, hit the comments to make your own additions to this list. Which 2023 TV moments do you wish you could unsee?
This one was a double whammy: After making us suffer through a character’s nightmare about her teeth falling out, the Fox procedural then made us watch that same character have (many!) tonsil stones extracted.
9-1-1: Lone Star
The word “frozen” used to bring to mind delightful thoughts of singing snowmen and queens with ice powers. Now, the word makes us think of Rob Lowe’s Owen Strand pulling a guy out of a cryotherapy machine, then accidentally shattering his chest while attempting CPR. (Oops!) Oh, did we mention that the poor guy was the husband of the woman Owen was sleeping with? (Double oops!)
Below Deck: Sailing Yacht
The crew on Bravo’s nautical reality franchise always goes to great lengths to make customers happy, but Gary took that to a whole new level when he became a human sushi tray for a special dinner. Not only were rolls of raw fish placed directly on his (clean, we’re hoping?) skin, but spicy wasabi was also served… on his nipples. Ours are tingling just thinking about it.
Seeing Danny’s indebted client fall to his death wasn’t as bad as hearing the way he splattered once he hit the pavement. But we don’t have a list of Things We Can’t Unhear, so allow us the liberty of dropping this here.
Nia Vardalos’ death scene was a masterclass in physical comedy, but we couldn’t help but wince at its sheer brutality. We can’t even decide which part was the grossest. The repeated slicing of Evelyn’s forearm with a butcher knife? The removal of her finger skin with a vegetable peeler? The head dunk into boiling water that melted her face? Actually, scratch that. It was definitely the peeler.
The Continental: From the World of John Wick
As disappointed as we were to see half of Katie McGrath’s face covered up in the precious few scenes we got of her, eventually discovering what exactly some hungry rats had done to her mouth when the Adjudicator was but a wee lass made a very strong case for “masking up”!
Emma Stone and Nathan Fielder’s Showtime series is constantly asking us to withstand high levels of cringe, but we almost couldn’t take this one: a prolonged peek at Whitney and Asher’s sex life, in which they both seemed to narrate a fantasy of Whitney having sex with another man while Asher controlled a vibrator for her. At least, that’s what we think we saw while shielding our faces from the screen.
The FXX comedy forces us to watch at least one scene through our fingers every season. This time around, it was an unforgettably gross moment in the Season 3 finale, when the overzealous fan holding Dave and Brad Pitt hostage — a wild sentence fragment unto itself — dropped trou and urinated right there on Dave’s carpet, paranoid that using the actual bathroom would give Dave and Brad time to escape. Much like the captives, we didn’t know whether to look away in horror or keep staring at the spectacle before us.
The Fall of the House of Usher
Prospero’s rager turned into the reddest of deaths when acid, and not water like he planned, rained down on the writhing mass of dancing partygoers. Melting your guests’ (and your own!) skin off their bodies while they scream, disintegrate and die? Ultimate party foul, Perry.
We’ve seen Peter Griffin take on a variety of strange body types over the years, but few have been as visually jarring as the coke-ravaged frame he sported in the screenshot above. The weirdest part? This isn’t even the only time this season that Peter has gotten hooked on a destructive drug. Thank God this show isn’t big on continuity, otherwise he’d have a rough road ahead of him.
The Boys spinoff certainly followed in the footsteps of the mothership series, delivering so many bloody and grotesque scenes that it’s difficult to pick just one. But if we have to narrow it down, even an exploding penis cannot top the Episode 5 sex scene in which a supe uses his vibrating fist to make his partner orgasm via the dolphin-esque blowhole on her back. We can’t even show you the moment, so take a look at Andre and Cate’s “WTF?” reactions instead.
The Last of Us
We’re not sure why Tess wasn’t psyched when this infected sidled up to her and planted a big, tendril-filled, literal kiss of death on her in Episode 2 — he seems like such a fungi!
To be fair, we didn’t actually see all of the gruesomeness of when Max, Helen and co. amputated their wilderness guide’s leg in the forest to save her life. But just the sounds of the bone breaking and her guttural screams were enough to make us shudder.
Ron Donald may not have been very phased by his completely destroyed finger, but we’re siding with Henry’s feelings of shock and horror here. Needless to say, we really wish Ron had taken a beat (and a deep breath) before picking a fight with the back of his van.
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City
The image of a drunken Heather Gay puking in a plastic bag can’t be unseen, but it’s the sound of her violent hurling that really haunts us. Who knew such an iconic, elegant woman could not just toss her cookies, but so ferociously heave them? And what was that other liquid spilling onto the floor?
If there’s one series that reliably makes the cut year after year, it’s Servant. This time, some poor cult member (he probably deserved it) had his eye plucked out by a bird. It would’ve been easier to stomach had the bird gotten its snack from a cadaver, but this guy was alive and screaming while the flying predator snatched his eyeball from its socket. Gross to the max.
Sooo, we’re going to not include a photo of Otis’ flaccid penis here, but do we wish we could unsee that unsightly image? A thousand times, yes. But let’s face it: Of course Otis accidentally flashed a photo of his member for his entire school to see! It simply wouldn’t be Sex Education without some cringeworthy humiliations.
Heading into the series finale’s game-changing board vote, Roman fretted anew over why HE couldn’t be CEO. Kendall exerted dominance over his kid bro by pulling him in for a hug so purposely tight, it popped the stitches of the forehead wound Roman sustained during the street assault. Love hurts, the song tells us, but Kendall’s flex here was inhumane.
The opening scene of Ted Lasso’s Season 3 (series?) finale gave us one shock after another: Did Ted and Rebecca sleep together?! Oh, wait, no they didn’t. But now Coach Beard is here, and he’s in a thong! Of the three, that last one has haunted us the most, followed closely by the mental image of whatever Beard and Jane were doing in Rebecca’s guest bedroom the previous night.
The Walking Dead: Dead City
Leave it to the sewers of Manhattan to spew forth what is arguably the grodiest walker in the franchise’s history, a moldering behemoth made of fused-together zombies. Or at least zombie parts. (And we thought the rats were bad!)
What We Do in the Shadows
Laszlo’s experiments to figure out why Guillermo couldn’t become a vampire went horribly awry when he combined Guillermo’s DNA with a number of animals, resulting in hideous hybrid creatures that were part man, part beast. It was tough enough just looking at them, but when they started talking and calling Guillermo “daddy”? We’d rather sit through an all-day accounting lecture from Colin Robinson than endure another minute of that.
The Wheel of Time
Everyone’s favorite reincarnated Dragon edgelord got BUSY this season with the totally not-evil innkeeper next door. So the absolute last thing we expected was to see Rosamund Pike send something akin to a pike right through the poor woman’s chest while they were at their, ahem, busiest. Not sure how Rand is expected to carry this trauma over to another bed anytime soon…
Imagine waking up in the hospital, only to discover a bloody ram in the bed next to you. Then imagine a bloody claw ripping its way out of the bloody ram’s bloody stomach. Now try not imagining it — we bet you can’t! Welcome to our nightmare.
We’re not looking to kink shame anyone (golden showers are your prerogative!), but we also could have continued existing just fine having never seen Lukas Gage giggling with delight while taking a stream of hot pee to the face. Joe didn’t know what he was walking in on, and neither did we.
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