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Banned Wagon: Taboo TV In Different Eras

Once upon a time, nudity on basic cable and naughty words during primetime was not only a no-no, but was enough to get your show banned from multiple airings. In some cases, these infractions could be as small as a little implied racism or a simple case of incest.

Obviously, this was way before the American Horror Story ever made it to the Emmys.

Here is a look at a few infamous episodes through different eras and why they stirred up controversy.


The 1960s

The Twilight Zone

“The Encounter” (Season 5, Episode 31 – 1964)
Why was it banned: Racism

Featuring a pre-Trek George Takei as a Japanese gardener who begins a long conversation with a WWII vet about war and race. Asian-Americans took offense to the way Takei portrayed the character of Arthur Takamori, and because of public outcry, the episode was pulled from rotation.

“It’s never been re-aired. It’s never enjoyed a re-run. And shucks darn, I missed out on my residuals on that one,” said Takei.

Can I watch it now?: Yep. It’s on Netflix and Hulu. It’s also part of the box set.


The 1970s

Hawaii Five-O

“Bored, She Hung Herself”  (Season 2, Episode 16 – 1970)
Why was it banned?: Suicide, dangerous yoga techniques

This “lost episode” features the accidental death of a young woman by strange hanging yoga techniques. On one particular tribute to Angelfire, it states that Joan Tyler (wife of showrunner Leonard Freeman) once mentioned that a viewer accidentally died in an attempt to re-enact the technique used on the show.

Can I watch it now?: Sure. It’s available on CBS All Access.



“Maude’s Dilemma”  (Season 1, Episode 9 – 1972)
Why was it banned?: Abortion

Bea Arthur’s feminist hero was the bane of Archie Bunker’s existence: an outspoken, working woman in a pantsuit. But in 1972, she became the center of controversy when the 47-year-old decided to end a her pregnancy by choice, a first for a primetime character. Maude’s abortion was never referred to again in any future episode, nor was the episode replayed in any rerun.

Can I watch it now?: Relive the controversy on Amazon today!


The 1980s

Married With Children

“I’ll See You In Court” (Season 3, Episode 10 – 1989)
Why was it banned: A disagreement over the content of the episode, which was about a sex tape, between the show’s producers and the network. As a result, the episode didn’t air again until 2002.

Honestly, as with most MWC episodes, the premise is a bit silly. The Bundys want to spice up their marriage, they check into a seedy motel, find a sex tape, accidentally make a sex tape, hijinks ensue. But it was the ‘80s, so this was all new ground.

Can I watch it now?: Sure. You can find it pretty easily most anywhere. It’s almost adorable in it’s ‘80s innocence.


The 1990s



“Flying Dupes” (Season 1, Episode 65 – 1991)
Why was it banned?: Terrorism

OK, hold the phone. The adorable Jungle Book-inspired toon featuring Baloo as a pilot had a terrorism plot?

Yes. Yes, it did.

In this kid-friendly part of the Disney Afternoon, Baloo is unknowingly delivering a bomb. So…yeah. We can see why Disney was eager to yank this one from rotation.

Can I watch it now?: Check it out for yourself practically everywhere on Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Video and YouTube, just to name a few.


Tiny Toon Adventures

“One Beer” (Season 2, Episode 3 – 1991)
Why was it banned?: Cartoon characters drunk driving and dying. Chew on that for a sec.

Probably one of the more infamous toons of all time, Buster, Plucky and Hamton find a beer, get drunk, steal a cop car, go on a joy ride and die in an accident. Warner Bros. were shocked when parents called in after this episode aired.

The ‘90s were a troubling time for animation.

Can I watch it now?: After a long period of silence, the Hub finally aired this episode in 2013. It’s also available on the DVD set and on YouTube.


The X-Files

“Home” (Season 4, Episode 2 – 1996)
Why was it banned: Take your pick: incest, inbreeding, deformities and a good old fashioned baby burial to start off the episode right.

Probably one of the most memorable episodes of The X-Files the didn’t involve Scully and Mulder hooking up. The episode centered on the Peacock family, a pack of brothers/husbands and their mother/wife who carry on a long, long family tradition of keeping the bloodline “pure.” The disturbing episode kicks off with the burial of the latest Peacock member, an unnamed baby with so many birth defects it was difficult to identify as human.

Can I watch it now?: Yes. Both on Netflix and the DVD set, as well as the regular rotation of reruns once again, not to mention YouTube.



“The Puerto Rican Day” (Season 9, Episode 20 – 1998)
Why was it banned?: Racial stereotypes and a bonus flag burning


Written by Larry David, episode features Kramer accidentally burning then stomping on a Puerto Rican flag, thus forcing NBC to apologize to viewers who were appalled by the net’s insensitivity. Thus to avoid future apologies, the Peacock yanked the episode from future repeats.

Can I watch it now?: Yes. It’s on both YouTube and on Hulu.


Boy Meets World

“Prom-ises, Prom-ises” (Season 5, Episode 22 – 1998)
Why was it banned?: Underage sex

Everyone’s favorite teen ‘90s couple Cory and Topanga wanted to bone on prom night, but they didn’t. Apparently, this was a bit too spicy for the Disney couple, who shelved the episode for a few decades.

Also banned for similar reasons: “The Truth About Honesty”

Can I watch it now?: Hell, yes. Now you can watch it everywhere. YouTube, Hulu, Amazon, iTunes…take your pic.




Masters of Horror

“Imprint” (Season 1, Episode 13 – 2006)
Why was it banned?: How much time do you have?

Directed by true master of Japanese horror Takashi Miike, best known for the hard-to-watch Audition and so-violent-it-borders-comedy Ichi the Killer, this hour-long is difficult to sit through for the more delicate natures. Even for a cable show.

The story of a man searching for a lost love is just a cover what a rabbit’s hole of dark depravity that the viewer will never see coming. Featuring ghastly torture, deformities, incest, rape and a hands-on abortion, Imprint will definitely leave its mark on you.

Can I watch it now?: Catch it on Amazon Video and iTunes…if you dare.



“Oeuf” (Season 1, Episode 4 – 2013)
Why was it banned: Timing.

The cannibal centric show was already doing a bang up job of making murder look beautiful, however this particular episode featuring children murdering families came on the heels of the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting. Considering the nature of national tragedy, a decision was made to yank the episode before it aired.

Can I watch it now?: Yes. This episode was always available, just not at that moment given the sensitivity of the time.




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