12 of the Most Controversial Episodes in TV History

9. Family Guy – “Partial Terms of Endearment”

Family Guy could have a “most controversial” list of its own. However, an episode entitled “Partial Terms of Endearment” ruffled more than a few feathers back in 2010.

Never one to shy away from provocative issues, Family Guy dove into the abortion debate with this episode when Lois decided to act as a surrogate. She ends up getting pregnant, only to have both parents of the baby die in a car accident. As Lois does not want to raise someone else’s child, she looks into abortion, while Peter takes a pro-life stance. In the end, the couple goes through with the abortion.

Due to its controversial subject matter, Fox chose not to go through with airing the episode. The network did release it as a standalone DVD, but “Partial Terms of Endearment” didn’t even make it to syndication and is not found on Netflix along with Family Guy’s other episodes.

8. South Park – “200 & 201”

What was it about 2010 and adult animated series? Much like Family Guy, South Park is known for its fair share of controversial episodes — and it hit the motherload that year.


To celebrate its 200th episode, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone pushed the limits of controversy thanks to their depiction of the Islamic prophet Muhammed during “200 & 201.” The plot centered around Tom Cruise, public enemy number one at that time for South Park, looking to overtake the power that Muhammed possessed.

Death threats poured in all around the world against South Park creators and Comedy Central. While the show did end up being broadcast, the network censored the voice and any representation of Muhammed, due to all the controversy.

7. Twilight Zone – “The Encounter”

As they say, time heals all wounds, and while some controversial shows on this list aren’t so controversial anymore, when they were aired, they were all the scandalous rage. Such is the case for the Twilight Zone’s “The Encounter.” It centered around a Japanese-American who found out that his boss fought in World War II. A supernatural factor within a sword results in a fight between these men, and both end up dying.

Broadcasted in 1964, the episode raised eyebrows within Japanese-American viewers, as it was seen to have racial overtones. In fact, it was so controversial that it took over five decades for the episode to be rebroadcasted, with it airing again in 2016.

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