TV stays relevant by pushing boundaries and, slowly but surely, breaking societal taboos. In the suffocating struggle for viewers and ratings, writers, directors and animators are rarely afraid to blur the line between appropriate and tasteless and the more 'out there' or shocking a show can be, the more it will grab the attention of viewers: A generous profit is sure to follow.
However, there are a number of popular TV shows that have failed to find a balance between daringly controversial and just plain inappropriate. It seems that it's all too easy to go too far. From racial slurs to offensive jokes to disturbing story lines, some television shows will do just about anything to grab headlines. Sometimes, the really extreme cases are caught by the censors, while on other occasions the really worst and most offensive controversies were the unforeseen result of poor timing, an accidental oversight or unintentional hidden meanings. A perfect example of this latter sort of controversy was a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode titled 'Earshot'. The episode featured gripping scenes of a school massacre and unfortunately for the show’s writers, the episode was due to air immediately after the Columbine massacre that shook the world. As a sign of respect to viewers and victims, the episode was pulled from the air for a substantial period of time.
Some episodes of the world’s most popular TV shows were so dodgy that they didn't even make it on air; check out our list of the 10 most controversial episodes of some of your favourite TV shows, to find out what didn't make the cut!
10 The Simpsons: ‘The City of New York VS Homer Simpson’
9 South Park: 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'
8 The Teletubbies: The Handbag Controversy
7 Tiny Toons: 'One Beer'
6 Star Trek: 'Miri'
5 Hannibal: 'Ceuf'
4 Family Guy: 'When You Wish Upon a Weinstein'
3 Married… With Children: 'I'll See You In Court'
2 Family Matters: Halloween Special
1 The X Files: 'Home'
The X Files' episode ‘Home’ is perhaps one of the most notorious episodes of a popular show ever to be screened on television. Aired in 1996, the extremely disturbing content shocked households around the world. The plot centred around an incestuous family: a quadriplegic mother who was having children by her three disfigured sons. The episode was banned from all networks. Although it was pulled from the air, it has gone down in television history as one of the X Files' most riveting moments.
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