11 TV Show Episodes So Controversial, They Literally Caused The Show To Be Canceled Or People To Be Fired

We all know about "banned" episodes – AKA, episodes that were pulled from airing due to being controversial or dark.

Corey and Topanga kissing on a bed labeled "banned boy meets world episode"

But as it turns out, some of these episodes were SO controversial that they literally killed the show or caused people to be fired. Here are some of the offending episodes!


1.Remember the kid's show Ren & Stimpy? It was pretty dark and raunchy for a kid's show — but one episode took the cake as the worst.

Ren and Stimpy
Nickelodeon / Courtesy: Everett Collection

I'm referring to the episode "Man's Best Friend,” in which George Liquor adopts Ren and Stimpy. There are multiple tobacco references as well as a scene in which Ren beats George with an oar.

Ren beating up George with an oar and standing over his beaten body in glee

This episode was banned from airing on Nickelodeon, and the show's creator John Kricfalusi was fired along with his team. It later aired on Spike TV. You can watch the episode here.

2.Dana Carvey's sketch show seemed poised to succeed, especially in its spot after the popular Home Improvement. But The Dana Carvey Show was cancelled after only seven episodes.

Dana Carvey on a stage on his show
Brillstein-Grey Entertainment / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Why? Well, many attribute it to the first episode — in particular, the very first sketch, which depicted then-president Bill Clinton breastfeeding babies, puppies, and kittens. In just the first few minutes, millions of viewers who'd stayed to check out the show after Home Improvement changed the channel or turned off the TV.

Dana Carvey as Bill Clinton pretending to breastfeed a baby

The show never recovered these viewers, and it was ultimately canceled. You can watch the sketch here:

3.I Dream of Jeannnie was an immensely popular sitcom in the 1960s about an astronaut who discovers a genie on a deserted island. Much of the show was focused on the relationship between the astronaut, Tony, and the genie, Jeannie.

Jeannie hugging Tony
NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

However, ratings began to drop after a certain episode, leading to its eventual cancellation. This TV episode, which even star Barbara Eden attributes to killing the show, is not inappropriate, but it was definitely controversial. It's the episode in which Tony and Jeannie get married.

Tony and Jeannie at their wedding
TV Guide / Courtesy Everett Collection

"It broke credibility," Eden told the Today show. Show creator Sidney Sheldon also wrote that it broke the sexual tension between the two, leaving the show nowhere else to go.

Eden on the Today show saying the marriage ruined the show because Jeannie wasn't human even though she thought she was, and Tony knew she wasn't
TODAY / YouTube / Via youtube.com

You can watch the wedding here:

4.Another show canceled due to a controversial yet not inappropriate episode is Felicity. While there were other reasons for the show's decline in ratings and ultimate cancellation, one factor that even the network admitted to was Felicity's haircut.

The WB / Courtesy Everett Collection

The haircut, which occurred in the Season 2 episode "The List," apparently "diluted" the image of Felicity and made it so viewers didn't relate to her as much.

Felicity getting her hair cut then saying she doesn't think it's bad, it's just a different look
The WB

You can watch the haircut scene here:

5.Saturday Night Live has had numerous controversial moments in its 46 year run, but one of the most controversial was when cast member Charles Rocket accidentally let the f-word slip in a Dallas-themed sketch in the eleventh episode of Season 6.

Rocket in character saying "I'd like to know who the fuck did it"

He was fired mid-season for his mistake. Two episodes later, the season ended early due to a writer's strike — and almost the entire cast was fired. Most notably, one of the few players who wasn't fired was Eddie Murphy.

Eddie in a press photo for the show
NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

You can watch the moment here:

6.Damon Wayans was also fired from SNL due to a single sketch. In the sketch, which occurred during Season 11, Episode 12, he was playing a straight-laced cop. In an act of protest, he decided to play the role as a stereotypically gay man.

Damon dressed as a cop thrusting his pelvis towards the suspect with his hands on his hips

Wayans went off script due to being angry over not being allowed to do the material he wanted to do, saying he knew he'd be fired for it. You can watch the sketch here:

7.Sitcom Heil Honey I'm Home! was canceled after just one episode in 1990. The show followed Hitler and Eva Braun as a classic husband and housewife who live next to Jewish neighbors.

Hitler and Eva

The show, unsurprisingly, garnered major backlash, and no more episodes aired. You can watch the episode here:

8.Another show canceled after just one episode was the reality series Who's Your Daddy, in which an adopted woman tried to figure out who her birth father was out of a group of men.

title screen for who's your daddy

The show faced a lot of backlash from adoption agencies, who found it exploitative and trivializing of adopted people's experiences, calling it appalling and destructive. You can watch a clip from the show here:

9.Today, we know Ellen Degeneres for her talk show, but back in the day, she had a sitcom called Ellen. In the show, her character dated men.

Ellen sitting on a couch in a press photo for the show
Bob D'Amico / ABC / Courtesy Everett Collection

However, shortly after Degeneres came out in real life, her character came out on the show in the episode "The Puppy Episode, developing feelings for Laura Dern's character.

Ellen and Laura in the puppy episode
Touchstone Television/ Courtesy Everett Collection

While the episode was groundbreaking and award-winning, there was a lot of backlash, and ratings declined for the next season (which some viewers thought concentrated too much on gay issues) until the show was eventually canceled.

Ellen's therapist (played by Oprah) asks if there's anything Ellen has connected with, and she says "susan"

However, the episode obviously was hugely important for the LGBTQ community. You can watch a montage/retrospective of the episode here:

10.Megyn Kelly has long been a controversial figure, and her talk show Megyn Kelly Today was no stranger to controversy. However, one segment in which Megyn defended blackface in the October 23, 2018 episode went too far.

Megyn says that people get in trouble for using blackface on halloween, but that it was fine when she was younger as long as you were dressing up as a character
TODAY / YouTube / Via youtube.com

After defending the use of blackface for Halloween costumes, Megyn later apologized, but the damage was done. She was dropped by her agency, CAA, and the show was canceled.

Megyn defends Real Housewife Luann for dressing up as Diana Ross for halloween and using blackface, saying it's not racist
TODAY / YouTube / Via youtube.com

You can watch her remarks here.

11.And finally, Fear Factor was known for its scary and disgusting challenges — but one challenge took it too far. NBC ended up pulling the episode "Hee Haw! Hee Haw!" in which contestants drank donkey semen and pee.

two women drinking donkey semen and urine
Fear Factor / YouTube / Via youtube.com

In fact, the stunt was so controversial that according to host Joe Rogan, this is why the show was cancelled.

Joe Rogan saying "This was the one that killed it. That episode killed it"
JRE Clips / YouTube / Via youtube.com

While it didn't air on TV, the clip was later uploaded to YouTube. You can watch the challenge here: