For one of the items on this list, you'll see how a single butt led to an entire show being canceled. For another, underage drinking was tackled by showing beloved cartoon characters dying in a drunk driving accident. Television has had some truly wild moments, and these are a few I can never forget.
1.Tiny Toon Adventures — To teach kids not to drink, the three main characters get drunk, steal a police car, drive off a cliff, and die.
2.South Park — Depictions of Muhammad result in the censoring and banning of episodes, as well as backlash from religious communities.
3.Skins — Claims of underage sexualization lead to brands pulling their advertising and the show's cancellation.
4.NYPD Blue — The show's pilot leads to a discussion between ABC and the FCC over whether audiences can handle booty.
Earlier on this list with Skins, we saw how a single butt can topple an entire show. Well, the butt strikes back in the pilot episode of NYPD Blue, which had more nudity than TV audiences were used to at the time. Thirty of Fox's affiliate stations wouldn't even air the episode.
The show's violence was also called out by some, but asses really were the topic of conversation. ABC and the FCC literally got into a censorship battle over whether a scene in which Charlotte Ross is shown nude from behind counted as "too indecent."
ABC argued that “buttocks are not a sexual organ” due to “common sense," which is hilarious. Then, the FCC put the "butt" in rebuttal, responding to ABC that: "We find that the programming at issue is within the scope of our indecency definition because it depicts sexual organs and excretory organs — specifically, an adult woman’s buttocks." No one knows how to talk dirty like the FCC.
5.Duck Dynasty's star makes a homophobic statement.
6.Paula Deen admits to the use of racial slurs.
7.Kid Nation — The infamous show about kids running a town without adult supervision was, shockingly, controversial.
8.Angel — Charisma Carpenter's character was killed off the show after the actress became pregnant.
9.Seinfeld — Puerto Ricans are stereotypically depicted, and Kramer stomps on a burning Puerto Rican flag in the second-to-last episode.
10.The Ren & Stimpy Show — An episode in which Ren beats an abusive father-figure gets the show's creator fired
11.The Simpsons — "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" is pulled from syndication for five years due to the World Trade Center being heavily featured.
"The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" originally aired in 1997, but after the 2001 terrorist attacks, it was pulled from syndication. The episode didn't start playing again until 2006, but even then, it was edited to remove certain jokes focusing on the Towers.
Showrunner Bill Oakley later said, "It's on the only episode of any series ever that had an entire act of World Trade Center jokes."
Oakley also donated a hand-drawn cel of the two towers from the episode to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The museum's curator, Alexandra Drakakis, called it a "hilarious and tender" donation.
12.Married... with Children — The only episode of the show Fox never aired revolved around the main characters being filmed while having sex.
Married... with Children was always raunchier than your average sitcom at the time, and the show had already gotten Fox in hot water after its episode "Her Cups Runneth Over." A woman named Terry Rakolta even attempted to start a boycott of the show because of that episode.
While Rakolta was appearing on talk shows and demanding Married... with Children be taken off the air, Fox decided to play it safe with another potentially dicey episode: "I'll See You in Court."
Fox never aired "I'll See You in Court" due to its sexual content. Main characters Al and Peg go to a motel to try to add some flair to their love life. They discover a videotape on which their neighbors are having sex, then have sex themselves only to discover they've also been filmed. They sue the motel, and Al and Peg wind up having sex again in the empty courtroom at the end of the episode.
Wait a minute, a '90s show featuring sex? We know what that means! That's right, our old pals the Parents Television Council named Married... with Children the worst show of 1995 to 1997.
13.Power Rangers — David Yost's onset harassment leads to him walking off set in the middle of shooting.
David Yost played Billy Cranston/Blue Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Power Rangers Zeo, though he left before Zeo was completed. Yost says the reason for his departure was relentless bullying from "creators, producers, writers, directors" due to Yost being gay.
In the clip below, Yost discusses his exit.
Interview with David Yost
14.Felicity — Series star Keri Russell cuts her hair around the same time ratings decline, and it is wrongly assumed her pixie cut tanked the show.
15.Gilmore Girls — Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino exits before the final season due to lack of support from the studio.
16.Pokémon — One episode causes roughly 600 Japanese kids to have "headaches and convulsions and breathing problems," and the episode is never aired again.
17.Dallas — An entire 31-episode season is ret-conned as a character's dream when Patrick Duffy leaves the show then decides to come back.
18.Charmed — Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano's tension
Throughout Charmed's first three seasons, there was lots of tension between Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano. The feud came down to Milano and Doherty simply being two different personalities, which Milano commented on when Doherty left the show after three seasons.
"I think it’s hard when you put two very different people together. I’m very laid-back and passive. I have my Buddha. I come in here and meditate. [Shannen’s] got a lot of energy, she’s very headstrong, she wants to get the job done. I think it’s unfortunate that she left, and that she needed to bad-mouth everyone involved and the audience. She sounds really angry. I just hope I didn’t contribute to that anger."
"I would say we are cordial. You know, I could take responsibility for a lot of our tension that we had. I think a lot of our struggle came from feeling that I was in competition rather than it being that sisterhood that the show was so much about. And I have some guilt about my part in that."
19.Mister Rogers' Neighborhood — Mr. Rogers talks about the danger of nuclear war and mutually assured destruction.
Mister Rogers would often touch on grownup topics such as divorce, racial equality, and anger management in ways that are accessible to kids. In 1983, during the Cold War, the show aired a five-episode series called "Conflict" that dealt with the dangers of nuclear weapons.
In the episode, King Friday VIII begins stockpiling bombs after hearing that Cornflake S. Pecially is doing the same. But when Lady Elaine Fairchilde and Lady Aberlin travel to Pecially's kingdom, they discover that the citizens are building a bridge, not bombs. The show highlights how a misunderstanding almost led to needless violence.
Maybe it's not fair to include this episode on this list, because "Conflict" was praised by teachers for introducing the idea of miscommunications leading to violence. But I think it shows how a controversial subject can be handled successfully if you have the magic of Mr. Rogers.
What are the craziest moments in TV history you remember? Let me know in the comments!
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