Now that most of the series come to us through streaming , and that times have changed a lot, we are not used to certain limitations (or, directly, censorship) that very often happened on free-to-air television a few years ago. Of course, it is not the same to schedule a controversial episode that will be broadcast throughout the country in prime time than to make that same episode available to users and let whoever wants to see it see it.. Or could Netflix series like ’13 Reasons Why’, with its controversial depiction of teen suicide and rape, have aired differently? That does not mean that traditional television does not dare with strong or risque series, but of course they will think twice depending on what topics.

At least, this is demonstrated by these dozen censored episodes in such iconic series as ‘The X-Files’, ‘Seinfeld’ and even ‘Sesame Street’ . We will not find here the best Netflix series of 2022 nor the most awarded Netflix series or others so recent: it should be noted that most of these cases that we are discussing happened in the past (although not so distant) in which we understand “censor ” for “taking out of circulation”, that is, burying the episode and labeling it ‘ out of service ‘‘ so that it does not re-air in future reruns of the series in question. Even so, many of them are already available for streaming through platforms such as the best series on Amazon Prime Video, HBO and more, although others were so terrible that they cannot even be found that way.

From the best miniseries and short series to great television classics that are among the best comedy series of all time, the titles on this list will surprise you because of their great weight in our popular imagination. There’s ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, which is not only one of the best vampire shows but also a classic teen fantasy that has stood the test of time. In this article we explain in detail how, when and why these episodes were censored on television and how we can read it from our present . We are sure that you did not know all the cases.

If you’ve already read our other most controversial topics (like the characters who didn’t deserve to die on their shows or the most hated characters on shows in all of history), it’s time to dive into this collection of unsavory episodes. . Do you agree with the controversy they generated?

One of the best episodes of ‘Files X’? The most controversial? The scariest? Much can be said about ‘Home’, one of the most commented episodes in the history of the series , and which, in effect, was censored after its first broadcast on television on October 11, 1996 and was not broadcast again on Fox (yes in other chains later).

Why is found mainly in its theme, incest, and the graphic nature of its development, which includes beatings to death, beheadings, and many shootings. The episode, the second of the fourth season, shows us three violent brothers (and one of them is, in turn, the father of the other two) who are willing to do whatever it takes to protect their isolated way of life. It did not air again for the next few months after strong fan reaction , but it was soon embraced as one of the most unique and interesting episodes of the series.

It’s not at all surprising to find ‘South Park’ on this list. The animated series has been characterized since its inception for not mincing words, for making a joke of any subject and analyzing American society in a deep and painful way. But it took until its 14th season to see a censored episode , and, of course, it had to do with religion.

In the episode ‘200’ (one of the best episodes of ‘South Park’), we see Tom Cruise teaming up with a group of ‘celebrities’ and threatens the town where the series is set to sue them if they don’t deliver the Prophet Muhammad . The story was supposed to continue in episode ‘201’, but the group Revolution Muslim posted a threat of violence if the episode aired . The Comedy Central channel did not play it and censored all appearances of the character of Muhammad by placing a black box on top of the image and beeps over some dialogue. Even so, the episode was never broadcast on television, although it is accessible by other means.

Puerto Rican Day (‘Seinfeld’)

When this episode of ‘Seinfeld’ (which today is counted among the best comedy series on Netflix) aired on May 7, 1998, the Puerto Rican community in the United States could not remain silent. In it, we see the protagonists in a traffic jam caused by the Puerto Rican Day celebrations in New York, and their anger ends up being transferred to the image of Kramer taking a Puerto Rican flag and setting it on fire . We also see partygoers engaging in violent behavior and vandalizing Jerry’s car, images that eventually become associated with negative stereotypes of Latin Americans.

The protests even went so far as to physically demonstrate at the gates of Rockefeller Center, for which NBC eventually issued a public apology and decided not to rebroadcast the episode , pulling it out of syndication and burying it for years. The episode was seen again first with a montage where the flag scene had been cut, and later in its entirety.

The encounter (‘The Twilight Zone’)

The cult series ‘The Twilight Zone’ also had an episode so controversial that it ended up being censored from television. Beyond its stories focused on mystery, the supernatural, and terror, the series also dealt with controversial issues, as was the case with ‘The Encounter’ , broadcast in 1964.

The story follows a World War II veteran who is trapped in an attic with a Japanese gardener. After its broadcast, CBS received numerous complaints about the use of racist terms and hate speech in the dialogue, as well as the fact that the plot echoed the false rumor that Japanese Americans helped in the attack on Pearl Harbor . It was not broadcast on the channel again, although it could be seen later on SyFy, in addition to the domestic format and, now, ‘streaming’ in what is one of the best horror anthology series of all time.

Through the Force (‘Star Trek: The Original Series’)

If ‘Star Trek’ (one of the best science fiction series in history) has always been characterized by something, it is by reaching places where no one has been able to go, whether that was the first interracial kiss in the history of American television or the invention of the mobile in fiction before it was made in real life. However, it has also had its share of controversy. In the 21st episode of its second season, titled ‘By means of force’, Captain Kirk, Spock and company travel on a planet subjected to a regime very similar to that of Nazi Germany . Wow, they had the swastika and everything.

Unlike the rest of the episodes on the list, it was not censored in its original country (the United States), but in Germany , where it did not sit well that Nazi symbology was exhibited in this way, nor that the tyrant on duty appear very favored and the Nazi system was sold as very efficient. The episode was censored in 1968 and took a whopping 28 years to air on German television.

Episode 0847 (‘Sesame Street’)

It is hard to believe that a series like ‘Sesame Street’, a pillar of children’s and family entertainment, can have a censored episode. But it is like this. And it’s all the fault of the Wicked Witch of the West . In one of the episodes of the seventh season of the beloved series, Margaret Hamilton , the actress who played the witch from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ from 1939, appeared as a guest of honor.

So far so good, but it turns out that his appearance in the episode was “too terrifying” for the boys and girls who were watching it on television. Almost 40 years have passed since the movie that made her famous, but the witch’s evil auras seem to continue to be transmitted across the screen. After it aired on February 10, 1976, numerous letters from parents complaining that the episode had traumatized their children reached the studio . So the producers decided not to rerun the episode in future reruns of the show.

Turned into a cult series in just three seasons, ‘Hannibal’ has also had its controversial moments. Well, it’s a series that turns a cannibalistic serial killer into one of the coolest and most charismatic characters on television (courtesy of Mads Mikkelsen ), how he won’t have controversial moments. But the only episode that has been censored in its history was due to when it was supposed to air. Sometimes the timing is not ideal .

After the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, NBC decided to withdraw the episode titled ‘Ugh’, in which Molly Shannon played a woman who trains her son to kill other children. The episode was never broadcast on television, but it was later available in streaming and in home format. “With this episode, it wasn’t about graphic imagery or violence. It was the associations that came with the subject matter that I felt would prevent the overall enjoyment of the episode. It was my own sensibilities… We want to be respectful of the social climate in the we’re in right now,” showrunner Bryan Fuller said at the time .

Partial Terms of Endearment (‘Family Guy’)

Another series that knows how to provoke the anger of numerous groups through offensive jokes is ‘Family Guy’. But Seth McFarlane ‘s series never had as many problems as with the episode titled ‘Partial Terms of Endearment’, in its eighth season. In it, Lois agrees to be a surrogate mother to two friends , but when they die in a car accident, she has to decide if she wants to keep him or have an abortion.

Although it is true that Fox gave the series enough leeway to touch on controversial issues, the issue of abortion was (and still is) too sensitive to risk angering its more conservative audience, usual for the television network. They weren’t going to like seeing in this episode not only Lois finally having an abortion, but also the satirization of pro-life propaganda. The episode was not broadcast on free television, but it was included in the domestic format of the series.

Prom-ises, prom-ises (‘Me and the world’)

The Disney-owned ABC channel was not going to allow one of its great teen series of the 90s to deal with topics like alcoholism or sex. After airing on other networks and finally moving to the Disney Channel, some episodes were not liked at all. The episodes ‘Promises, Promises’, ‘If You Can’t Be with The One You Love’ and ‘The Truth About Honesty’ were pulled from circulation for various reasons.

For a series like this, and a company like Disney, the simple innuendo was too much. Of course, these episodes didn’t show anything incredibly explicit, but you could see mentions of sex, losing virginity, the possibility of minors drinking alcohol, etc. They already had to be convinced that they didn’t want any of that in the series to eliminate, in a series about the adolescent experience, the prom episode. Disney did not reair those episodes, but they did pick up when the series was syndicated on other channels like ABC Family and MTV2.

Earshot (‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’)

As we’ve already seen several times on this list, sometimes reality doesn’t go well with fiction . ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ also suffered one of those moments in which the sensibilities that were being lived in the world did not match an episode like ‘Earshot’, which shows the heroine played by Sarah Michelle Gellar acquiring powers to hear the thoughts of those around her and thus finding out that a classmate from her high school is preparing a massacre.

Bad luck wanted the episode to be scheduled for broadcast just a week after the Columbine High School massacre, which occurred on April 20, 1999 and claimed the lives of 13 students. That the series could show just a few days after the traumatic event a plot of shootings in a school environment was too much. ‘Earshot’ was censored at that time, although it would end up being broadcast in September of that same year, at a safe distance from the tragedy.

Porygon (‘Pokemon’) Computerized Soldier

Surely many remember an episode of ‘The Simpsons’ in which the main family sees something on television that causes them to have an epileptic fit. The truth is that it was inspired by true events: the legendary series ‘Pokemon’ had to deal with the consequences of its eighth episode of the first season, entitled ‘Porygon Computerized Soldier’, which caused strong reactions among the public. It is not a controversy about its themes, but a danger to health.

Broadcast on December 16, 1997, the episode, which contained an entire festival of red and blue lights, caused over 600 seizures and photosensitive epileptic seizures due to its visual effects . Consequently, it was withdrawn from circulation and buried so that it would never be broadcast on television again. In fact, the series stopped airing in Japan for four months and even the chains introduced new rules so that something like this would not happen again.

Bored, She Hung Herself (‘Hawaii 5-0’)

With that title, we can already imagine what this episode of the classic ‘Hawaii 5-0’ was like. Broadcast on January 7, 1970, it showed yoga aficionados suffocating themselves because they believed it had health benefits . In the episode, the detectives have to investigate the death of a woman who, trying to practice this technique, hanged herself and caused her death.

After airing, a viewer attempted to replicate the technique seen in the episode with tragic results , and the news ended up causing the episode to be blacklisted from future syndication of the series, as the network feared this incident could lead to a major controversy. In fact, it is a lost episode of the series, which cannot be found on its official home formats.