12 of the Most Controversial Episodes in TV History

In this day and age, mostly everything that airs on television offends someone out there who is watching. Still, throughout history, there have been TV episodes that have pushed the boundaries for network and audience alike; causing a wave of scandal, outrage, and backlash from activist groups and other organizations.

What makes the below 12 episodes in TV history so controversial? Read on and see for yourself.

12. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood – “Conflict”

How did one of the kindest men in television history hit this list? Well, in 1983, Mr. Rogers decided to dive into the world of nuclear war, presenting a week-long storyline regarding the Land of Make Believe and nuclear war. The puppet leader of the fake area, King Friday, began stockpiling weapons and pondering about the subject of war.

Insanely enough, the story was created to help children process a television primetime movie that had recently aired called The Day After. While the good intentions were there, the reception was not good as many parents viewed “Conflict” as far too dark for children. Despite the backlash, PBS took their time removing the episode series from the regular Mr. Rogers syndication rotation, axing it in 1996.


11. NYPD Blue – “Nude Awakening”

NYPD Blue was a very provocative series for its time, with controversy following it from the moment it first aired in 1993, when John Kelly (played by David Caruso) showed off his naked rear end in the very first episode. While NYPD Blue audiences became accustom to male buttocks on the show, in 2003, the drama decided to showcase some equality and aired a seven-second shot during the episode called “Nude Awakening”, where Detective Connie McDowell’s (played by Charlotte Ross) naked butt was shown.

The complaints from viewers poured in, and upon investigation, the FCC proclaimed that ABC had broadcasted indecent content during the show’s primetime slot. The network was slapped with a $1.2 million-dollar fine in 2008. However, three years later, they would get that money back after a federal court overturned the ruling thanks to free speech advocacy.

10. Skins (U.S.) – “Chris”

Speaking of naked buttocks, when MTV dove into the remake of a British series known as Skins, the show received huge backlash when an episode aired in 2011, showing the rear end of a 17-year-old boy, leading to accusations around child pornography. While no charges were ever laid, sponsors pulled advertisements and the show suffered in the long run, only lasting a single season on MTV.

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