25 Previously Banned TV Episodes You Can Stream Right Now

Gillian Anderson in The X-Files
Gillian Anderson in The X-Files
Fox

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, hearts begin to heal, 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, Amazon, and iTunes, history-making—and controversy-causing—television is just a click away (though sometimes it'll cost you a couple of dollars).

Were these 25 previously banned television episodes deserving of the backlash they received? Now you can judge for yourself.

1. Married… With Children // "I’ll See You in Court"

Running afoul of censors was a pretty regular occurrence on Married… With Children. In fact, some might say that was the very reason why the show enjoyed an 11-season run. At a time when other networks were intent on showing what a perfect nuclear family looked like, Al and Peg Bundy were the complete antithesis of the American Dream. Sure, the couple tolerated each other, but barely. The series’ never-ending onslaught of crude jokes were typically aimed squarely at a member of the Bundy family, yet none of it seemed to affect them or change their bad behavior. And audiences loved them for it. Well, most audiences.

In 1989, during the show’s third season, an episode entitled “I’ll See You In Court” sees Al and Peg decide to spice up their love life by spending the night in a hotel. Ever-helpful neighbors Steve and Marcy Darcy recommend they spend the night at a hotel that they like to frequent for the very same reason, but it turns out that the hotel owners are secretly recording their guests’ carnal trysts. So the Bundys and the Darcys decide to take the hotel to court, where they’re subjected to a series of embarrassing questions about their love lives—not to mention those videos. Though it’s all relatively tame by today’s comparisons, some critics of the show felt the story line took the series’ signature crudeness to new depths and initiated a letter-writing campaign. Eventually, Fox caved to the complaints and pulled the episode from the schedule and any syndication lineups (though it was seen overseas). It wasn’t until 2002 that the episode—minus a few particularly controversial lines—aired on American television (this time on FX). It’s now been reinstated back into its place in the series’ regular lineup.

Where to watch it: Hulu

2. Hannibal // “Oeuf”

The fourth episode in Hannibal‘s debut season (also known as “Œuf”) was originally scheduled to air on April 25, 2013, a mere 10 days after the Boston Marathon bombings and just a few months after 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 told Variety in 2013. "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.

Where to watch it: Amazon Prime

3. Family Guy // "Partial Terms of Endearment"

In Family Guy's “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.”

Where to watch it: Amazon

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.

Where to watch it: Amazon

6. The X-Files // "Home"

The X-Files has never been short on creepy storylines or characters. 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 episode. A year later, FX ran an all-day marathon of fan favorite episodes, and “Home” came out on top.

Where to watch it: Hulu

7. The Simpsons // "The City Of New York Vs. Homer Simpson"

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. The #EverySimpsonsEver marathon that aired on FXX in 2014 was one of the few times it’s been aired uncut ever since.

Where to watch it: 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.

Where to watch it: Hulu or Amazon

9. 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. “Home Improvement,” is yet another episode that was pulled, largely because it shows the guys sniffing paint thinner.

Where to watch it: Amazon

10. 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.

Where to watch it: Hulu

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,” Takei said. “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.”

Where to watch it: Hulu or 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, it was released on DVD in June of that year.

Where to watch it: Amazon

13., 14., And 15. Boy Meets World // “Prom-Ises, Prom-Ises,” “The Truth About Honesty,” And “If You Can’t Be With The One You Love”

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 since.

Where to watch them: Hulu

16. 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.

Where to watch it: Hulu

17. The Powerpuff Girls // “See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey”

In season six, The Powerpuff Girls put on a rock opera in “See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey,” but it only ever aired in the UK. 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.

Where to watch it: Hulu

18. Arthur // “Room To Ride”

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.

Where to watch it: Amazon

19. Star Trek: The Next Generation // “The High Ground”

In 1990, Star Trek: The Next Generation paid tribute to its predecessor’s pot-stirring ways with “The High Ground,” which made an off-handed 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.

Where to watch it: Netflix

20. 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.

Where to watch it: Netflix or Amazon

21., 22., 23., 24., and 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 program schedules.”

In the case of season two’s “Patterns of Force,” Nazi undertones led to the episode being banned in Germany until 2011.

Where to watch it: Hulu or Netflix

An earlier version of this story ran in 2015.

10 Sweet Facts About Napoleon Dynamite

© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox
© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

ChapStick, llamas, and tater tots are just a few things that appear in Napoleon Dynamite, a cult film shot for a mere $400,000 that went on to gross $44.5 million. In 2002, Brigham Young University film student Jared Hess filmed a black-and-white short, Peluca, with his classmate Jon Heder. The film got accepted into the Slamdance Film Festival, which gave Hess the courage to adapt it into a feature. Hess used his real-life upbringing in Preston, Idaho—he had six brothers and his mom owned llamas—to form the basis of the movie, about a nerdy teenager named Napoleon (Heder) who encourages his friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez) to run for class president.

In 2004, the indie film screened at Sundance, and was quickly purchased by Fox Searchlight and Paramount, then released less than six months later. Today, the film remains so popular that in 2016 Pedro and Napoleon reunited for a cheesy tots Burger King commercial. To celebrated the film's 15th anniversary, here are some facts about the ever-quotable comedy.

1. Deb is based on Jerusha Hess.

Jared Hess’s wife Jerusha co-wrote the film and based Deb on her own life. “Her mom made her a dress when she was going to a middle school dance and she said, ‘I hadn’t really developed yet, so my mom overcompensated and made some very large, fluffy shoulders,’” Jared told Rolling Stone. “Some guy dancing with her patted the sleeves and actually said, ‘I like your sleeves … they’re real big.'"

Tina Majorino, who played the fictional Deb, hadn’t done a comedy before, because people thought of her as a dramatic actress. "The fact that Jared would even let me come in and read really appealed to me," she told Rolling Stone. "Even if I didn’t get the role, I just wanted to see what it was like to audition for a comedy, as I’d never done it before."

2. Napoleon's famous dance scene was the result of having extra film stock.

At the end of shooting Peluca, Hess had a minute of film stock left and knew Heder liked to dance. Heder had on moon boots—something Hess used to wear—so they traveled to the end of a dirt road. They turned on the car radio and Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat” was playing. “I just told him to start dancing and realized: This is how we’ve got to end the film,” Hess told Rolling Stone. “You don’t anticipate those kinds of things. They’re just part of the creative process.”

Heder told HuffPost he found inspiration in Michael Jackson and dancing in front of a mirror, for the end-of-the-movie skit. But when it came time to film the dance for the feature, Heder felt "pressure" to deliver. “I was like, ‘Oh, crap!’ This isn’t just a silly little scene,” he told PDX Monthly. “This is the moment where everything comes, and he’s making the sacrifice for his friend. That’s the whole theme of the movie. Everything leads up to this. Napoleon’s been this loser. This has to be the moment where he lands a victory.” Instead of hiring a choreographer, the filmmakers told him to “just figure it out.” They filmed the scene three times with three different songs, including Jamiroquai’s “Little L” and “Canned Heat.”

3. Napoleon Dynamitefans still flock to Preston, Idaho to tour the movie's locations.

In a 2016 interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, The Preston Citizen’s circulation manager, Rhonda Gregerson, said “every summer at least 50 groups of fans walk into the office wanting to know more about the film.” She said people come from all over the world to see Preston High School, Pedro’s house, and other filming locations as a layover before heading to Yellowstone National Park. “If you talk to a lot of people in Preston, you’ll find a lot of people who have become a bit sick of it,” Gregerson said. “I still think it’s great that there’s still so much interest in the town this long after the movie.”

Besides the filming locations, the town used to host a Napoleon Dynamite festival. In 2005, the fest drew about 6000 people and featured a tater tot eating contest, a moon boot dancing contest, boondoggle keychains for sale, and a tetherball tournament. The fest was last held in 2008.

4. Idaho adopted a resolution commending the filmmakers.

'Napoleon Dynamite' filmmakers Jerusha and Jared Hess
Jerusha and Jared Hess
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

In 2005, the Idaho legislature wrote a resolution praising Jared and Jerusha Hess and the city of Preston. HCR029 appreciates the use of tater tots for “promoting Idaho’s most famous export.” It extols bicycling and skateboarding to promote “better air quality,” and it says Kip and LaFawnduh’s relationship “is a tribute to e-commerce and Idaho’s technology-driven industry.” The resolution goes on to say those who “vote Nay on this concurrent resolution are Freakin’ Idiots.” Napoleon would be proud.

5. Napoleon was a different kind of nerd.

Sure, he was awkward, but Napoleon wasn’t as intelligent as other film nerds. “He’s not a genius,” Heder told HuffPost. “Maybe he’s getting good grades, but he’s not excelling; he’s just socially awkward. He doesn’t know how much of an outcast he is, and that’s what gives him that confidence. He’s trying to be cool sometimes, but mostly he just goes for it and does it.”

6. The title sequence featured several different sets of hands..

Eight months before the theatrical release, Fox Searchlight had Hess film a title sequence that made it clear that the film took place in 2004, not in the ’80s or ’90s. Napoleon’s student ID reveals the events occur during the 2004-2005 school year. Heder’s hands move the objects in and out of the frame, but Fox didn’t like his hangnails. “They flew out a hand model a couple weeks later, who had great hands, but was five or six shades darker than Jon Heder,” Hess told Art of the Title. “If you look, there are like three different dudes’ hands—our producer’s are in there, too.”

7. Napoleon Dynamite messed up Netflix's algorithms.

Beginning in 2006, Cinematch—Netflix’s recommendation algorithm software—held a contest called The Netflix Prize. Anyone who could make Cinematch’s predictions at least 10 percent more accurate would win $1 million. Computer scientist Len Bertoni had trouble predicting whether people would like Napoleon Dynamite. Bertoni told The New York Times the film is “polarizing,” and the Netflix ratings are either one or five stars. If he could accurately predict whether people liked the movie, Bertoni said, then he’d come much closer to winning the prize. That didn’t happen for him.

The contest finally ended in 2009 when Netflix awarded the grand prize to BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos, who developed a 10.06 percent improvement over Cinematch’s score.

8. Napoleon accidentally got a bad perm.


© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

Heder got his hair permed the night before shooting began—but something went wrong. Heder called Jared and said, “‘Yeah, I got the perm but it’s a little bit different than it was before,’” Hess told Rolling Stone. “He showed up the night before shooting and he looked like Shirley Temple! The curls were huge!” They didn’t have much time to fix the goof, so Hess enlisted Jerusha and her cousin to re-perm it. It worked, but Jon wasn’t allowed to wash his hair for the next three weeks. “So he had this stinky ‘do in the Idaho heat for three weeks,” Jared said. “We were shooting near dairy farms and there were tons of flies; they were all flying in and out of his hair.”

9. LaFawnduh's real-life family starred in the film.

Shondrella Avery played LaFawnduh, the African American girlfriend of Kip, Napoleon’s older brother (played by Aaron Ruell). Before filming, Hess phoned Avery and said, “‘You remember that there were no black people in Preston, Idaho, right? Do you think your family might want to be in the movie?’ And that’s how it happened,” Avery told Los Angeles Weekly. Her actual family shows up at the end when LaFawnduh and Kip get married.

10. A short-lived animated series acted as a sequel.

In 2012, Fox aired six episodes of Napoleon Dynamite the animated series before they canceled it. All of the original actors returned to supply voices to their characters. The only difference between the film and the series is Kip is not married. Heder told Rolling Stone the episodes are as close to a sequel as fans will get. “If you sit down and watch those back to back, you’ve got yourself a sequel,” he said. “Because you’ve got all the same characters and all the same actors.”

This story has been updated for 2019.

Harry Potter Fans Are Waiting 10 Hours or More to Ride Hagrid’s Roller Coaster

Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando

Muggles will do anything to be a part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Universal Orlando opened up its newest ride this week at its version of Hogsmeade, the village that surrounds Hogwarts castle. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure takes wannabe wizards and witches on a twisting, high-speed flight through the mystical Forbidden Forest.

Diehard fans began waiting overnight outside the park in anticipation of the ride, and it looks like just about everyone had the same idea. At 8:30 a.m. on opening day, the line was already eight hours long, and quickly stretched to 10 hours long by 10:30 a.m., CNN reports.

The line is worth the wait for many fans of the franchise. As Potterheads already know, Rubeus Hagrid, beloved friend of Harry Potter and the gang, has a special affinity for mysterious creatures. So who better to see the beasts of the forest with than the half-giant?

Participants on the ride can choose to sit in Hagrid’s sidecar or in the driver’s seat. The winding track includes appearances by some of our favorite wizards, like Arthur Weasley, and creatures benevolent and otherwise, such as Cornish pixies, massive spiders, and the three-headed dog, Fluffy.

Fans aren’t the only ones wanting to experience the ride. Some of the stars of the film series had a little reunion in Orlando this week to celebrate the opening, including Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood).

Unlike the fans, however, they have magic (fame) to keep them from having to wait in 10-hour lines.

Happy riding, Potterheads!

[h/t CNN]

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