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26 Previously Banned TV Episodes You Can Stream Right Now

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While there are any number of reasons why a specific episode of a television series might be pulled from the airwaves or from reruns (some of them innocuous), poor timing tends to be one of the biggest culprits. But as time passes, tempers simmer down and once-forbidden entertainment can make its way back into the mainstream. Or, more specifically, the main stream. Thanks to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, history-making—and controversy-causing—television is just a click away.

Were these 26 previously banned television episodes deserving of the backlash they received? Now you can judge for yourself.

1. HANNBIAL, “OEUF”

The fourth episode in Hannibal’s debut season (also called “Ceuf” because of a misspelling) was originally scheduled to air on April 25, 2013, a mere 10 days after the Boston Marathon bombings and just a few months removed from the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. While it was NBC that announced the decision to skip over the episode, in which former SNL star Molly Shannon plays a woman who brainwashes children into murdering other children, it was series creator Bryan Fuller who suggested pulling it.

“I didn’t want to have anyone come to the show and have a negative experience,” Fuller explained to Variety. “Whenever you [write] a story and look at the sensational aspects of storytelling, you think, ‘This is interesting metaphorically, and this is interesting as social commentary.’ With this episode, it wasn’t about the graphic imagery or violence. It was the associations that came with the subject matter that I felt would inhibit the enjoyment of the overall episode … It was my own sensitivity.” Though the missed episode did not cause any problems in terms of continuity, NBC did repackage the episode in a series of clips to run on NBC.com. Both iTunes and Amazon posted the episode in its entirety shortly thereafter.

2. FAMILY GUY, “TURBAN COWBOY”

The Boston Marathon bombing was also at the center of the issue surrounding this eleventh season episode of Seth MacFarlane’s animated hit. The problematic scene was a cutaway in which Peter Griffin is recollecting the year he won the Boston Marathon—by driving over the runners with his car. But this controversy was a retroactive one, as the episode had run on March 17, 2013, almost a full month before the tragedy. It didn’t take long for edited clips of the episode to pop up all over the Web, with the story that Family Guy had “predicted” the tragedy. MacFarlane took to Twitter in response, where he stated that, "The edited Family Guy clip currently circulating is abhorrent. The event was a crime and a tragedy, and my thoughts are with the victims.”

Still, the network was sensitive enough to the coincidence that they pulled the episode from Fox.com and Hulu and assured audiences that they had no immediate plans to rebroadcast it. However, it remains intact on Netflix.

3. FAMILY GUY, “PARTIAL TERMS OF ENDEARMENT”

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“Turban Cowboy” was hardly Family Guy’s first brush with controversy, nor is it likely to be its last. In “Partial Terms of Endearment,” Lois agrees to be a surrogate for a couple who are then killed in a car accident, leading Lois and Peter to discuss whether or not she should terminate the pregnancy. The episode was intended to be the series’ eighth season finale, and was broadcast in the U.K. in June of 2010, but Fox refused to air it. Ever.

In an interview with The New York Times, MacFarlane explained that “We’ve found in the last couple years that by taking serious stories that could be movies of the week on Lifetime or Oxygen, and doing a Zucker brothers-Airplane! take on them, they always make for really good Family Guy episodes. To us, it’s in the realm of what in the 1970s would be the edginess of the abortion episode of Maude. Times really have changed, and I think the network is making a decision that is, unfortunately, probably correctly based on people’s current ability to handle and dissect controversial narratives … It’s an issue that you read about in the papers all the time, like anything else. So that is fodder for political and social satire. There’s nothing about that issue that should be any different than doing an episode about gay marriage, or an episode about the oil spill.” In September of 2010, the episode was released on DVD and can be viewed on Amazon(for $9.99).

4. AND 5. MAUDE, “MAUDE’S DILEMMA: PART 1" AND “MAUDE’S DILEMMA: PART 2”

If you’re not familiar with MacFarlane’s reference to “the abortion episode of Maude,” it was an amazingly controversial two-part episode of the otherwise comedic series in which the main character (played by Bea Arthur) realizes that, at the age of 47, she is pregnant, and spends two episodes agonizing over whether or not she should keep the baby. The fact that it was 1972 and these episodes managed to make it on air is pretty amazing, particularly as they were broadcast about two months before Roe vs. Wade. And while the episodes weren’t banned outright, more than 30 of the network’s affiliates refused to broadcast them. But both episodes—parts one and two—are available on Amazon.

6. THE X-FILES, “HOME”

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Throughout its nine seasons, The X-Files was never short on creepy storylines or characters. (Remember Eugene Victor Tooms, the serial killer who could squeeze through any open space?) But the producers of this 1996 episode deemed the contents of “Home”—a standalone episode that dealt with murder, amputees, and deformities as the result of incest—as being “tasteless” and going “too far.” So Fox promised to never run it again, which didn’t sit well with fans of the show, who enjoyed the episde. A year later, FX ran an all-day marathon of fan favorite episodes, and “Home” came out on top. You can watch it on Netflix.

7. THE SIMPSONS, “THE CITY OF NEW YORK VS. HOMER SIMPSON”

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In the wake of 9/11, a handful of television series needed to be altered in order to avoid any reference or reminder of the attacks. (Sex and the City, Law and Order and The Sopranos even changed their opening credits.) And Fox made the decision to remove its season nine premiere, “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson,” from its rerun rotation. Though the episode aired four years before the tragedy, the fact that so many of its scenes took place at or around the World Trade Center led the network to pull it from the airwaves. Last summer’s #EverySimpsonsEver marathon on FXX was one of the few times it’s been aired uncut ever since. It’s also available on Amazon.

8. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, “EARSHOT”

In the spring of 1999, a week before Buffy the Vampire was set to broadcast “Earshot,” a third season episode that revolved around a school shooting, the tragedy at Columbine High School happened. The network acted quickly to pull the episode; it eventually ran in September, just before the start of season four. You can watch it on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.

9. HAVEN, “REUNION”

Just hours after the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School, Syfy’s Haven was scheduled to run an episode entitled “Reunion,” which revolved around a school shooting. So the network made the quick decision to replace Haven with an episode of Eureka, a move that engendered unanimous support from viewers. You can see the episode on Netflix and Amazon.

10. ARTHUR, “ROOM TO RIDE”

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The Peabody Award-winning animated series Arthur hardly seems like the kind of show that would court controversy. And it’s definitely not. But that doesn’t mean that all of the many big-name guests who’ve made appearances on the series over the years have been able to maintain squeaky-clean images. Case in point: disgraced former Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong, who visited Elmwood City in 2008 to talk about bicycling and being a good citizen—four years before he was stripped of his cycling achievements. Though PBS banned the episode from repeated viewings, you can watch it at Amazon.

11. THE TWILIGHT ZONE, “THE ENCOUNTER”

Two years before he boarded the Enterprise, George Takei appeared in what turned out to be one of The Twilight Zone’s most controversial episodes. In “The Encounter,” Takei plays Arthur Takamori, a gardener who offers his services to his neighbor, a World War II vet. There isn’t a whole lot of gardening in the episode, but there is a lot of talking—about war and, more subtly, Pearl Harbor. And race. Immediately, the episode drew the ire of many “Japanese-American and Asian-American civil liberties and advocacy groups,” said Takei. "So for that reason, CBS pulled that episode. And it has a unique distinction of being the only Twilight Zone [episode] that was aired only once. 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.” You can, however, watch it on Netflix.

12. THE BOONDOCKS, “THE HUNGER STRIKE”

Black Entertainment Television (BET) has long been a favorite target of The Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder—so much so that in 2008 he created an entire episode around an effort to gain momentum for a BET boycott, which he painted as being “destructive” to the African American community. Though the episode never aired on Adult Swim (and can’t be seen on Netflix), it was released on DVD in June of that year. And can be viewed anytime on Amazon.

13. – 15. BOY MEETS WORLD, “PROM-ISES, PROM-ISES,” “IF YOU CAN’T BE WITH THE ONE YOU LOVE,” AND “THE TRUTH ABOUT HONESTY”

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If you’re making a show about teenagers, it stands to reason that sex and alcohol are two topics you’ll likely encounter. But the fact that Boy Meets World did it—and then did it again, and again—didn’t sit well with the top mice at the Disney Channel. Three episodes in particular were removed from reruns: “Prom-Ises, Prom-Ises,” in which Corey and Topanga discuss whether they should have sex on prom night; “The Truth About Honesty,” another sex-themed episode,” and “If You Can't Be With the One You Love...,” where Cory and Shawn get drunk. No other network has seemed to have an issue with showing any of these episodes, nor does Amazon.

16. REN AND STIMPY, “MAN’S BEST FRIEND”

Truth be told, cartoons have been loaded with violence since way back in the earliest Looney Tunes days. And Ren and Stimpy is one cartoon that certainly never shied away from some pretty extreme violence. But season two’s “Man’s Best Friend” seemed to push the limits of what even Ren and Stimpy deemed as standard. When the titular duo are adopted by a drill sergeant-like new owner, George Liquor, Ren reaches his breaking point and beats George’s face in with an oar. In slow-motion, no less. Which is apparently just the kind of enthusiasm George was looking for, as the episode ends with the three of them celebrating. Nickelodeon wasn't feeling joyous at the end of that one, and refused to air it. But you can see it on Amazon.

17. SEINFELD, “THE PUERTO RICAN DAY”

Seinfeld was never much for sentimentality. (Larry David even imposed a strict “No Learning, No Hugging” policy.) But its second highest rated episode of all time was also its most controversial (and not, it’s not “The Contest”). It’s “The Puerto Rican Day,” in which the gang has trouble making their way home after a Mets game because of the city’s annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. In the midst of their antics, Kramer accidentally lights a Puerto Rican flag on fire and when a mob breaks out, Kramer states that “it’s like this every day in Puerto Rico”—which National Puerto Rican Coalition president Manuel Mirabal called an “'unconscionable insult” to his community. The network offered a swift apology to anyone insulted by the episode’s humor and removed it from the rerun schedule and its initial syndication deal. But in 2002, the episode made its way back to television, and is also on Hulu.

18. THE POWERPUFF GIRLS, “SEE ME, FEEL ME, GNOMEY”

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In season six, The Powerpuff Girls put on a rock opera in “See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey,” but it only ever aired in the U.K. While rumors swirled that it was because the episode contained some communist undertones, it was later revealed that the real reason for the episode’s ban was because of its use of strobe lights, which could cause some kids watching it to have seizures. It is, however, on DVD—and Amazon.

19. BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD, “HOME IMPROVEMENT”

At this point, it’s almost easier to identify the episodes of Beavis and Butt-head that weren’t either heavily edited or temporarily banned from the airwaves. The complaints against the cult classic MTV cartoon typically fell into one of four categories: drug use, extreme violence, animal cruelty, or criminal behavior. The duo’s “Fire, fire, fire” catchphrase was also often taken to task; in 1993, the series was blamed in the case of a five-year-old who set his house on fire, killing his younger sister. Season two’s “Home Improvement,” which you can see on Hulu, is yet another episode that was pulled, largely because it shows the guys sniffing paint thinner.

20. DARIA, “FAT LIKE ME”

Beavis and Butt-head spinoff Daria didn’t attract as much controversy as its predecessor, but many episodes were also heavily censored in reruns. And one episode in particular, season five’s “Fat Like Me,” didn’t run at all on Teen Nick (formerly known as The N) because of the negative correlation it depicted between weight gain and loss of popularity. You can see it on Hulu.

21. - 25. STAR TREK, “MIRI,” “PATTERNS OF FORCE,” “PLATO’S STEPCHILDREN,” “THE EMPATH,” AND “WHOM GODS DESTROY”

For an iconic sci-fi series, Star Trek sure could manage to get the censors all riled up. Particularly in the U.K., where Star Trek was considered family programming. As such, it prompted the BBC to announce that, “After very careful consideration a top level decision was made not to screen the episodes entitled '[The] Empath,' 'Whom Gods Destroy,' 'Plato's Stepchildren,' and 'Miri,' because they all dealt most unpleasantly with the already unpleasant subjects of madness, torture, sadism, and disease. You will appreciate that account must be taken that out of Star Trek's large and enthusiastic following, many are juveniles, no matter what time of day the series is put into the programme schedules.”

In the case of season two’s “Patterns of Force,” Nazi undertones led to the episode being banned in Germany until 2011. But the series, in its entirety, can be streamed via Netflix.

26. STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, “THE HIGH GROUND”

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Not to be outdone, in 1990 Star Trek: The Next Generation paid tribute to its predecessor’s pot-stirring ways with “The High Ground,” which made an offhanded prediction that Ireland would be united in 2024. Initially, an edited version was shown in the U.K. but the episode was banned completely in Ireland until 2011. But like the origin series, this one, too, can be seen on Netflix.

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Amazon Is Reportedly Working on a Home Robot
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If you feel as though Amazon’s various Echo devices, Dash buttons, Kindle readers, Prime boxes, and other products have left you needing even more of the shopping giant’s presence in your life, you’re in luck. According to reports, the company is working on a robot that could soon be locomoting around your home and collecting terabytes of data in the process.

Bloomberg reports that Amazon is currently working on development of the robots under the project name “Vesta,” after the Roman goddess of hearth and home. The speculation is that Amazon wants to finalize a design that would allow the robot to move from one room to another and utilize an on-board camera to acquire information about their human companion. Those familiar with the project believe that it might be a kind of mobile Alexa, Amazon’s current AI interface that allows people to order products and acts as a kind of universal remote for the home.

With a camera and wheels, a portable Alexa might be able to be more proactive in checking for bathrooms low on toilet paper or kitchen cupboards that might need more packaged goods. It might also be able to respond to commands when its owner has moved to an area out of Alexa’s reach.

The size, features, battery life, price, and adorableness of the robot are all still unknown. If the project continues to move forward, it might be beta-tested in Amazon employee homes in late 2018, before coming to market in 2019.

[h/t the Verge]

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9 'Scientific Mysteries' the Internet Loves, Debunked
John Fielding, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
John Fielding, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Whether it involves aliens, moving rocks, or crop circles, no one loves a scientific mystery like the internet—even if that "mystery" was solved years ago using all of the rigors of science. Here are 10 so-called mysteries that the global online community can't bear to part with, debunked once and for all (we hope).

1. KUMMAKIVI BALANCING ROCK // RUOKOLAHTI, FINLAND

The "Mystery": This so-called "strange rock" is a balancing act comprised of two rocks, one teetering precipitously on top of the other. Locals of ancient yesteryear, apparently perplexed to discover that the top rock was in no danger of sliding off the bottom rock despite the extremely small point of contact between them—and was, in fact, too heavy to be moved at all—decided giants tossing boulders explained the phenomenon. "And it's true," one theorist wrote: "There is still no exact scientific explanation, but contrary to the laws of physics, the stone stands quite firmly and human strength is not enough to move it."

Science Says: It's not true, actually. Geologists put forward a much more likely cause for this balancing rock and the countless others that exist worldwide: Melting glaciers deposited them where they currently squat.

2. FAIRY CIRCLES // NAMIBIA

geographic features called fairy circles in namibia, created by termites and plants
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The "Mystery": Are they footprints of the gods? Barren patches caused by a dragon's fiery breath? Marks left behind by UFOs? All of these ideas were perpetuated by the internet after tour guides in the region passed them on to tourists, according to The New York Times. The scientific community was pretty sure the dirt circles found in the Namib Desert were none of those things, even though they were hard-pressed to come up with a more logical explanation—until recently.

Science Says: Research published in 2017 suggests that they're the work of colonies of termites, which clear circular patches around their nests; the barrenness of these shapes is possibly enhanced by plants as they stretch their roots to reach scarce water—which prevents other plants from growing in the process.

3. KLERKSDORP SPHERES // OTTOSDAL, SOUTH AFRICA

klerksdorp sphere
Robert Huggett

The "Mystery": These grooved spheres have been the subject of many strange theories, most revolving around the existence of intelligent aliens who made the pod-like trinkets—which apparently can rotate on their axes—using intelligent alien technology and otherworldly metals some 3 billion years ago. Virtuescience.com has proposed a whole host of theories about the spheres' uses, including ancient ammunition, messages from space, and currency.

Science Says: Geologists have a more tempered explanation for how the spheres came to be: They're concretions—little balls of rock that have grown around a core object—of the minerals hematite, wollastonite, or pyrite that have hardened over time in nests of volcanic ash or sediment. The myth of alien metalworking skills was debunked back in 1996, but it still resurfaces every once in a while.

4. WEBDRIVER TORSO // YOUTUBE

The "Mystery": The Webdriver Torso YouTube account has been freaking out the internet with its videos for several years. Commentors posited that the videos—which were usually 11 seconds long and featured colored rectangles moving around on a white screen—were spy code, alien code, or recruitment searches for expert hackers. At the channel's peak, videos were uploaded as often as every two minutes.

Science Says: Google revealed in 2014 that they were simply video clips the company had created to test the quality of YouTube videos. "We're never gonna give you uploading that's slow or loses video quality, and we're never gonna let you down by playing YouTube in poor video quality," the company told Engadget in a statement/Rickroll. "That's why we're always running tests like Webdriver Torso." Conspiracy theorists, however, pointing out that videos had been uploaded elsewhere before Google took credit for the channel, continued to suspect darker intentions. One reddit user posited in 2015 that Google "could … have a secret agenda." Maybe Google wants this chatter to continue: Even today, googling "Webdriver Torso" will yield an easter egg.

5. SAILING STONES // DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA

Sailing stones of Death Valley National Park
Thomas Hawk, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The "Mystery": Known alternately as sliding, walking, or moving rocks, for more than 100 years these so-called "living stones" have seemingly slid across the floor of a dry lake bed all on their own, leaving trails of their movements—and causing plenty of speculation. Magnetic force is one popular theory, along with psychic energy and the interventions of alien spacecraft. Some claim a 700-pound stone named Karen disappeared for two years, only to somehow reappear again.

Science Says: In 2014, scientists studied the situation and discovered that the stones move when the lake bed they rest on becomes covered with rainwater that freezes overnight into a sheet of ice; when the ice melts, it pushes the rocks here and there—assisted by Death Valley's powerful winds. (No word on what Karen's been up to, though.)

6. NAZCA LINES // NAZCA, PERU

Aerial view of a geoglyph representing a Duck or a Dinosaurius at Nazca Lines
Martin Bernetti, AFP/Getty Images

The "Mystery": If conspiracy theorists like aliens, they love ancient aliens. When it comes to the Nazca lines, they speculate that ancient astronauts from outer space drew almost 1200 geometric, animal, and plant shapes in a vast, arid plateau on Peru's Pampas de Jumana. Ranker.com also purports that the designs were made by humans, "most likely to signal extraterrestrials," and possibly to provide a runway for their space ships.

Science Says: The truth—which has been known since at least the 1940s—is that the figures were created 1500 to 2000 years ago by the Nazca people, who removed rocks and/or a portion of topsoil to create an image in negative. At first, scientists believed the figures were astronomical symbols, or an early sort of calendar, but later research indicated the drawings were used ritualistically, in ceremonies involving the quest for scarce water.

7. BERMUDA TRIANGLE // ATLANTIC OCEAN

aerial view of bermuda

Peter Burka, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

The "Mystery": Three hundred ships and planes, all supposedly sunk or gone missing in the same general area in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean: The Bermuda Triangle (so-named by pulp writer Vincent Gaddis in 1964) has had conspiracy theorists of all stripes spouting endless theories for years. Atlantis! Alien interventions! An opening in the fabric of the universe! Attack by sea monsters! A popular theory in the 1970s involved magnetism wreaking havoc on navigational devices, and one more recent theory suggested that bursting bubbles of methane gas were responsible for missing craft. Online speculations, like this one from BuzzFeedBlue, attempt to stoke the (nonexistent) fire.

Science Says: This has been settled for decades—there is no mystery. In 1975, librarian turned investigative author Larry Kusche unearthed the actual facts: Some "missing" vessels were simply made up; some sank far from the Triangle; and others along the route—which is still heavily trafficked today—fell prey to the region's frequent bad storms.

8. CROP CIRCLES // BRITAIN

The "Mystery": A lot of otherworldly meaning has been ascribed to these designs squished into fields of wheat, rapeseed, and barley. Once again, aliens—mathematical-genius aliens this time—are said to be responsible for them, hiding complicated messages in the circles' sometimes intricate imagery. Others suggest they're spiritual centers that beam energy. In the video above, a farmer who found an intricate crop spiral in his field says, "I don't know what caused it, but I'm not sure that it was made by people."

Science Says: The truth is simple, and perhaps disappointing, which may explain why the alien theory never seems to die: The circles are made under cover of darkness by people, sometimes with the permission of the farmers whose land they're created on. They use measuring devices, rollers, and other low-tech gear to push patterns into grain.

9. ATA THE MUMMY // ATACAMA, CHILE

The "Mystery": When a small, oddly shaped, strangely featured mummy was discovered in Chile's Atacama Desert in 2003, some on the internet called it proof that beings from space had once lived among humans—and perhaps even mated with them. The mummy had 10 ribs instead of the typical 12; a strangely sloped head; and at just 6 inches long, was fetus-sized, but its bones were as dense as a child's. Some thought that the 9 percent of the mummy's DNA that didn't match the human DNA they compared it to was further evidence of its non-human origins. As UFO/ET conspiracy theorist Steven Greer says in the above clip, "Is that all computer read error? Maybe. Is it what's called DNA junk? Perhaps. We don't know."

Science Says: Testing of Ata's genome destroyed these theories, proving that Ata was 100 percent human and died, likely in utero, from genetic defects. Many of these mutations related to bone development, explaining her missing ribs and thick bones. Exposure to nitrate-contaminated drinking water may have been a factor in her deformations as well. And that 9 percent genetic difference? Standard contamination of a mummy that was exposed to the open air.

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