15 Temporarily Banned Episodes of Popular TV Shows
Fox has removed from its website a recent episode of Family Guy that showed mass deaths at the Boston Marathon. Over the years, a number of TV series have removed specific episodes from their rerun schedules. Some eventually return to the airwaves, while others may be serving a lifetime ban. Here are 15 examples.
1. Seinfeld, “The Puerto Rican Day”
Controversy: Flag burning, negative portrayal of Puerto Ricans
In this 1998 Seinfeld episode, an early escape from a Mets game leaves the troupe trapped in traffic among the celebrants of the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. After accidentally lighting a Puerto Rican flag on fire with a sparkler, Kramer stomps on the blazing flag before being attacked by a mob of Puerto Ricans, who eventually throw Jerry's empty car down a stairwell.
The National Puerto Rican Coalition didn't think it was appropriate that the flag was used as a prop at all, and Bronx Borough president Ferndo Ferrer, who is Puerto Rican, objected both to the vandalizing of a car and Kramer's comment that it "happens every day in Puerto Rico."
NBC apologized for the episode, and though it was only trumped in ratings by the series finale, "The Puerto Rican Day" wasn't included in initial syndication packages. By 2002, however, the episode had begun to appear in syndication on some networks.
2. Pokémon, “Beauty and the Beach”
Controversy: Male with artificial breasts
In “Beauty and the Beach,” Team Rocket enters a female beauty contest, during which James dons a suit with inflatable breasts—then teases Misty by blowing up his chest to twice its original size and showing it off. Unaired during the original American broadcast of the Pokemon series, “Beauty and the Beach” was promoted as a lost episode when it ran on Kids’ WB! in 2000. It was not included in the original American box set. When the episode aired in 2000, all scenes of James in a bikini—about 40 seconds total—were edited out.
3. Pokémon, “Electric Soldier Porygon”
Controversy: May cause seizures
“Electric Soldier Porygon” was broadcast once, in Japan on December 16, 1997. In this episode, Ash is required to go inside the poké ball machination to fix an error. When Pikachu shoots missiles with her Thunderbolt attack, a huge explosion creates red and blue lights that flash in a strobe light-like manner. Over 600 children were rushed to the hospital with “Pokémon Shock,” complaining of symptoms that included blurred vision, headaches, and dizziness; some even reported seizures and blindness (150 kids were admitted; the others recovered en route). After the airing of “Electric Soldier Porygon,” the show immediately went on a four-month hiatus.
4. The X-Files, “Home”
Controversy: Deformities, general disturbing of the psyche
Though The X-Files has never shied away from disturbing subject matter, there is something especially cringeworthy about the incestuous, deformed family in this episode. One sentence summary: quadruple amputee mother is caught breeding with her disfigured sons, thereby creating more disfigured children. Yup.
“Home” was viewed by 21 percent of households tuned to the tube when it aired in 1996. It was also the only episode of The X-Files banned from repetition on Fox. The fans wouldn’t take that, though, and in 1997, “Home” was voted the number one episode in a marathon on FX. Today, the episode is commonly regarded as one of the best of the series.
5. Gargoyles, “Deadly Force”
While pretending to use a gun in “Deadly Force,” Broadway accidentally shoots Elisa and attempts to cover up his crime. Although this episode was initially pulled from the rerun cycle thanks to objections by advisory groups, it was eventually re-aired after editors removed some of the blood from Elisa’s shooting. It has since been added to the DVD collection.
6. Married…With Children, “I’ll See You In Court”
Controversy: Too sexy
This Married…With Children episode aired for the first time in the United States a full 13 years after it was originally taped. The plot follows Peggy and Al Bundy as they first find a sex tape of Steve and Marcy Rhoades at a nearby motel, and then as they have sex while they are being recorded on tape. Both couples set out to sue the motel for recording them without their knowledge. The Rhoades are awarded $10,000, but the jury finds there is not enough proof the Bundys actually had sex. (Their video was much shorter than that of the Rhoades.) When they find themselves alone in the courtroom, the Bundys proceed to have sex in the courthouse … without realizing they are, again, caught on film.
American censors pulled “I’ll See You In Court” before it could ever air, though the episode did premiere in the rest of the world. In 2002, FX ran it for the first time in the US—though still not in its entirety, as the network redacted four especially raunchy lines.
7. TaleSpin, “Flying Dupes”
Also the last episode in the series, “Flying Dupes” was immediately pulled after its initial airing. The main plot surrounds Baloo, who is unknowingly transporting a bomb on the instruction of an arms factory that wishes to create a war between two countries, Thembria and Cape Suzette. The episode was shown again on independent stations (and once on Toon Disney in 1999, presumably by accident).
8. The Simpsons, “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson”
Controversy: Taking place near Ground Zero
After Barney gets the Simpsons' car stranded in New York City, Homer and family must travel there to retrieve it. There are horrible drivers, a wonderful khlav kalash street vendor, and a hilariously frustrating attempt by Homer to find a bathroom within the World Trade Center.
But its inclusion of the WTC meant four years after its original airing, the episode would be pulled for years. It seems the networks are starting to realize we can handle it, though, and the episode has now worked its way back into syndication.
9. The Twilight Zone, “The Encounter”
An American World War II veteran encounters the Japanese-American George Takei in this 1964 Twilight Zone episode. Japanese-Americans lodged complaints after the episode’s official airing, which included slurs like “You dirty little Jap!” Like other banned episodes, this one was omitted from American syndication, but it aired without event in other countries. Today, it is included in DVD sets and on Netflix.
10. Ren & Stimpy, “Man’s Best Friend”
Controversy: Dog-on-man violence
Ren & Stimpy is, as a general rule, pretty gross. Though boogers and idiocy never seemed to be a problem with the censors, Ren beating up his new owner with an oar was apparently enough to get this episode yanked off the air for 11 years.
11. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Earshot”
Controversy: School violence
Sometimes, television shows are guilty of nothing more than bad timing. In this episode of Buffy, a student is seen loading a gun. When you keep watching, of course, you realize along with the characters that the student, Jonathan, is not loading his rifle to shoot other students, but to kill himself. “Earshot” was originally scheduled to air a week after the shooting at Columbine High School took place, but in the aftermath, the WB decided to just run an old episode of Bad Girls. “Earshot” did not air on American television until five months later.
12. Tiny Toon Adventures, “One Beer”
Controversy: Underage drinking, DUI, death
In this episode, the three main characters—all of whom are underage—somehow manage to get more drunk off of one beer than I have in my entire adult drinking life. Buster, Plucky, and Hamton then proceed to steal a police car and drive off a cliff while running from the cops. Landing in a cemetery, we then see the souls of the newly deceased boys rise up to heaven.
Of course, in the last seconds of the episode, the boys come out to say they are alive and well, and they explain they put you through the horror of the episode just so you could see why drinking is uncool. The episode was too much for the U.S., but has re-aired in Canada.
13, 14, and 15. Boy Meets World, “Prom-ises, Prom-ises,” “The Truth About Honesty,” and “If You Can’t Be With the One You Love…”
Controversy: Teenagers want to have sex
Boy Meets World tackled a number of serious issues and had plenty of hard-hitting moments (oh, Shawn! Your dad!), but for some reason—and usually, that reason was sex—three particular episodes were singled out and never replayed on the Disney Channel after the show’s initial run. In “Prom-ises, Prom-ises,” Cory and Topanga contemplate losing their virginity on prom night; in “The Truth About Honesty,” sex is likewise the culprit; and in “If You Can’t Be With the One You Love…” underage drinking earned the ax. All three episodes were included in reruns on ABC Family and MTV2.
Note: This article originally appeared in January and was updated April 17.