Did These Sitcoms Cross The Line? A Look At Episodes Considered 'Too Hot For TV'

List Rules
Vote up the shows whose comedy crossed the "line" at the time they aired.

Nowadays, TV shows and their stars can easily step into hot water thanks to a bad tweet, a mistimed plotline, or a controversial concept. But in the not-so-distant past, a show really had to cause a brouhaha for networks, critics, and audiences to take notice.

Here are a few spicy episodes of TV sitcoms that caused quite a stir at the watercooler when they aired. 


  • Episode In Question: Pilot

    Air Date: March 12, 1996

    Controversy: On paper, the show couldn't lose. Dan Carvey's popularity at the time, coupled with a writer's room that included Louis C.K.,  Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Robert Smigel, Charlie Kaufman, and Spike Feresten, gave the show a strong pedigree and a lot of promise. But the first five minutes of the variety sketch show featured President Bill Clinton breastfeeding assorted babies and animals, which Carvey said gave people "the wrong message about the show." 

    Result: The show was canceled after eight episodes. 

  • Seinfeld
    2
    115 votes

    Episode In Question: "The Puerto Rican Day" 

    Air Date: May 7, 1998

    Controversy: When Jerry and his pals get caught in New York City's annual Puerto Rican Day Parade, Kramer accidentally burns a Puerto Rican flag. Outcry against the flag burning from the Puerto Rican community was significant. 

    Result: The episode was initially pulled from syndication, but has since been returned to rotation. 

  • M*A*S*H
    3
    128 votes

    Episode In Question: "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"

    Air Date: February 28, 1983

    Controversy: The series ended on a sad and controversial note as the comedy reminded viewers for one final time that war is hell. In the episode, Hawkeye (Alan Alda) suffers a mental break after witnessing a woman smother her baby in an attempt to keep the child quiet.

    Result: About 106 million viewers tuned in to watch the tear-jerker series finale. The episode is still talked about today. 

  • Maude
    4
    131 votes

    Episode In Question: "Maude's Dilemma"

    Air Date: November 14, 1972

    Controversy: At age 47, Maude (Bea Arthur) finds herself pregnant. Airing in 1972, this episode made for landmark television because the main characters had an open conversation about the dangers of pregnancy and the possibility of termination. 

    Result: Many affiliates refused to air the episode due to threats from advertisers. At the end, it did air, but with limited sponsorship. The episode can now be watched via streaming. 

  • Episode In Question: "I’ll See You in Court"

    Tape Date: January 6, 1989 Air Date: June 18, 2002

    Controversy: The crude comedy of Married... with Children often pushed the edge of what was considered good taste. This episode dealt with the central characters of the show having their sexual escapades recorded without their knowledge. The show was taped and intended to air, but censors pulled the episode at the last minute.

    Result: The episode did not air for 13 years, when it debuted on FX. The episode rejoined the season eventually and is now available to stream

  • The Fosters
    6
    110 votes

    Episode In Question: "Now Hear This"

    Air Date: March 2, 2015

    Controversy: When it aired, the ABC Family show featured the youngest same-sex kiss in television history. It caused a flurry of tweets at the time, but all in all, was praised by the LGBTQ+ community. 

    Result: Showrunners defended the kiss, with creator Peter Paige stating: "If people want to judge it I think maybe they should watch and see how carefully, delicately, and chastely it was handled."

    The show ended its run in 2018, but its spinoff Good Trouble is still making waves. The episode is still in sydication and streaming.