22 Historic TV Moments That Would Be Deemed Too Controversial for Today’s Viewers

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Millions of people watch television shows daily. These shows range from sitcoms to reality TV to fantasy adventures, documentaries, and everything else under the sun. As society evolves, there is a shift from cultural standards and representation of certain marginalized sections. Inappropriate and offensive moments accepted a decade or two ago are widely criticized, causing a public outcry. These moments may have been historic but have aged like milk. Here are 22 historic TVTV moments that would be too controversial today.  

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Sansa Stark’s R*** Scene

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We all love Game of Thrones (or may even hate it) for various reasons, whether action, dragons, or fierce battles. However, during Season 5, in the episode of “Unbowed, Unbent and Unbroken”, Ramsay Bolton forces Sansa Stark to have intercourse while he makes Theon Greyjoy watch it. It was very insensitive.

Celebrity Big Brother, Punchgate

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It’s all fun and games until playful fights turn into serious accusations. Roxanne Pallet falsely accusing co-star Ryan Thomas of punching her. She accused him of punching her repeatedly in her ribs, which turned out to be a play fight of the show. These false accusations would cause a public outcry because of the trauma one has to suffer due to false allegations.

Seinfeld – Puerto Rican Day

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It is important to understand that due to hyperglobalization, respecting everybody’s culture is crucial today. In 1998, during one of Seinfeld’s final episodes, an accident occurred when Kramer set the Puerto Rican flag on fire and stomped it to put it out. This caused great outrage from the National Puerto Rican Coalition Government, which compelled NBC to remove the episode for a few years.

Ellen DeGeneres Comes Out

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When the TVTV star came out in April 1997, the news shocked everybody and was a big revelation considering the position of the LGBTQ+ people back then. This led to the loss of many sponsors. The aftermath would be very controversial for viewers nowadays, as these announcements should negatively impact anyone.

Spike tries to force Buffy

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With the #MeToo movement, consent and willingness to indulge with somebody are of the utmost importance. In an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer aired in 2002, Spike attempts to force Buffy into non-consensual love after she breaks up with him. This historic TVTV moment highlighted several socio-political issues under the surface and would be too controversial nowadays, sparking debates about its impact.

Lois Decides to Abort the Baby

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From racist jokes to the most vivid expressions that trigger people, Family Guy has always been a daring show, but Fox bans this episode from airing. While it is loved by numerous people globally for its witty humor, an episode in 2010 featured Lois agreeing to be a surrogate. The couple then died in an accident, which left her with the choice to keep or abort the baby. She chose the latter, which would spark a controversy today.

Bill Utters a Racial Slur

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Bill Maher has never been a stranger to controversy. He once compared his dogs to mentally disabled children. However, in 2003, during “Real Time with Bill Maher,” when he uttered the N-word. This occurred amidst an interview with US Senator Ben Sasse, after which Bill apologized the next day. Currently, such acts are never accepted, leading to cancellations on all platforms.

Mister Rogers Neighbour, Cold War

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From discussions ranging from racism to disabilities, Mister Rogers Neighbourhood, throughout its tenure, produced many controversial episodes. During a 1983 series, Fred Rogers often discussed the Cold War, which agitated children, setting an agenda related to fear and nuclear war. The episode car called “conflict” was temporarily removed due to the sensitive nature of the content.

South Park and the Prophet

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Humor and religious sentiments never get along, and upsetting sections of society can lead to fatal consequences. In 2010, South Park featured Prophet Muhammed and faced immense backlash for censoring the prophet in a bear costume. Nowadays, such acts, be it comic, would never be appreciated. Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone received many threats, which eventually led to the episode being removed.

Korean War Humor

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No one can understand the pain and suffering the families of martyred soldiers go through. They give up their life for the country or sometimes for the selfish ambitions of the cruel rulers who control them. M*A*S*H, with the help of practical jokes and rustic clowning, tried to neutralize the harsh realities of the Korean War. While it did not cause commotion back then, such acts will not be received well in a world where war is frowned upon.

Maude’s Abortion

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The American sitcom “Maude” revolved around a liberal lady who sometimes took matters in such a liberal sense that it offended a larger audience. The subject of abortion and the anatomy of the body are sensitive issues, with the conservatives having different political opinions. During one of the episodes, when Maude discovers she is pregnant, she opts for an abortion. This act received over 7,000 protest letters from the creators of the show.

Blame it on Lisa!

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The Simpsons often crossed the fine line between humor and respecting the cultural heritage of other nations. One of their episodes, “Blame it on Lisa, ” featured the Simpsons visiting Rio De Janeiro in Brazil, which they depicted as a horrible city filled with crime and poverty. This nearly resulted in the Brazilian tourism board suing FOX for airing the episode as it defamed their city. People would cultivate a similar reaction if such episodes were aired today.

Super Bowl XXXVIII Halftime Show

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We all love a sweet break during our Super Bowl matches to refresh ourselves, whether with a pop performance or stunts. However, one incident during the Super Bowl XXXVIII Halftime Show did not go as expected. On 1st February 2004, there was a wardrobe malfunction in which Justin Timberlake accidentally tore Janet Jackson’s clothes, exposing her breast to several people. This incident, famously known as the ‘nipplegate’ incident, would stir much controversy.

NYPD Blue’s Undressed Awakening

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An episode of NYPD Blue showcased actress Charlotte Ross, who played Detective Connie McDowell, semi-undressed with a shot of her buttocks as she entered the shower. Many deemed it inappropriate, while others defended it in the 10 pm slot category. Nonetheless, as many children watch these shows, such explicit content is unappreciated. The FCC fined ABC Network $1.4 million for airing this episode.

The X files – Home

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This episode of the X files is a life-changing moment because once you see it, there is no forgetting. With vivid imagery and graphical content, this episode was about the investigation of the “Peacock” family by FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. This family of murderers consists of three brothers, and it is later revealed that one of them is the biological father of the other two. Familial relations is prevalent, and the mother is restrained under the bed, only to be taken out for s**. This moment was banned for its disturbing content, and such infamous content will never air again in modern times.

The Day After

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Events like the Chernobyl disaster, the Bhopal Gas tragedy, and the generational suffering of the Japanese people after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki disaster melt our hearts. The movie “The Day After,” directed by Nicholas Meyer, showcased the disastrous effects of a nuclear attack on the small town of Lawrence, Kanas. This moment made many people lose their sleep for days and was filled with graphical content portraying the destruction and radiation sickness. These catastrophic effects would be controversial for their gore and disturbing elements, especially in the TVTV format.

Snooki gets punched

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This controversial punch occurred during The Jersey Shore’s fourth episode when Snooki was punched by Brad Ferro. The confusion occurred during a typical night out when the pair misunderstood about drinking. Snooki accused the man of taking her friend’s drink, which led to the punch being published in the episode. This sparked outrage from the public towards the production house, which utilized that clip for publicity.

Magnum PI

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The period when women were viewed as weak characters has changed with their empowerment, even in pop culture. In Magnum P.I., Tom Selleck played a charming private investigator who used to solve mysterious murders and complex cases. However, throughout his investigations, women were portrayed as weak and desperate characters. This representation of women would cause a lot of controversy in contemporary times and may not align with today’s principles.

Tom Cruise Jumping on Oprah’s Show

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No one would ever expect a personality like Tom Cruise to be jumping around, especially on national television. When he was invited to promote his movie War of the Worlds, he jumped all over the place. Later, people learned that it was his enthusiasm when asked about his then-girlfriend, Katie Holmes. However, many people who saw the episode on the surface found it really weird and made memes about him.

Hannah’s Suicide

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The Netflix Series “13 Reasons Why” topped the charts but also faced criticism for the suicide of Hannah Baker. This show is popular among many teens, and the portrayal of a high school student like Hannah ending her life sparked significant controversy. The show soon led to an explicit warning by Netflix, and Hannah’s mother finding her daughter’s body ignited conversations about mental health.

Sinead O’Connor vs the Pope

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On 3rd October 1992, during “Saturday Night Live,” Sinead O’Connor, in her performance, tore up a photograph of the Pope, John Paul II. She sang Bob Marley’s song, “War,” and announced that the real enemy was the Church and Catholics. This hurt many religious people who did not take this rebellious gesture well. O’Connor was banned from NBC and suffered a lot of criticism, which had a massive toll on her career.

Miley Cyrus’s Provocative Performance

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Miley Cyrus is no stranger to controversy. During the 2013 MTV Video Awards, Miley Cyrus delivered such an energetic performance that it was labeled as provocative. This ceremony, viewed by countless people on television, witnessed Miley twerking suggestively and using a foam finger on Robin Thicke. This skyrocketed the channel’s views but was criticized for inappropriate behavior.

Author: Ali Van Straten

Title: Journalist

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