The Most Controversial TV Episode From The Year You Were Born

What was the most controversial TV episode the year you were born? 

Some television shows intentionally provoke their viewers. South Park, for example, has been offering satire, parody, and commentary on politics, popular culture, religion, and numerous other topics for years. Other television shows have the best intentions but, occasionally, offer an episode that really misses the mark. 

Each year, controversial episodes of TV shows make their way to air. Whether it's the events of the episode, an unforeseen or unexpected death, or a simple error made in production, TV shows can keep viewers talking for days, weeks, or months. Shows that make statements about contemporaneous real-world events offer similar fodder for discussion. 

To get some insight into headline grabbing entertainment, Take a look at the most controversial TV episodes by year since 1970.


  • 1970: Hawaii Five-O, 'Bored, She Hung Herself'

    1970: Hawaii Five-O, 'Bored, She Hung Herself'
    Photo: CBS

    The plot of "Bored, She Hung Herself," the 16th episode of Hawaii Five-O's second season, featured yoga enthusiasts hanging themselves to, purportedly, benefit their health. After a viewer attempted to recreate the practice, only to die in the process, the episode was taken out of syndication and removed from all DVD collections. 

  • 1971: All In The Family, 'Archie Gives Blood'

    1971: All In The Family, 'Archie Gives Blood'
    Photo: CBS

    All in the Family ushered in a new era of television when it premiered and, during its first season, the show highlighted generational and ideological divides within the United States. Topics such as Anti-Semitism, economic strife, and sexuality accompanied discussions of racism like the one in episode four of season one. Archie Bunker, played by Carroll O'Connor, remains adamant that he'll only donate blood if he knows the recipient will not be a member of a minority group. 

  • 1972: Maude, 'Maude's Dilemma Parts 1 and 2'

    1972: Maude, 'Maude's Dilemma Parts 1 and 2'
    Photo: CBS

    The two-part episode of Maude took on abortion, as Maude Findlay (played by Bea Arthur) finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. As a 47-year-old woman, Maude and her husband, Walter, have to decide whether or not to keep the baby - as the nation awaited the US Supreme Court's verdict in the case of Roe v. Wade. Maude's daughter, Carol, tells her, “When you were growing up, it was illegal, and it was dangerous and it was sinister. And you've never gotten over that. ...When you were young, abortion was a dirty word. It's not any more.” After Maude makes her decision to terminate the pregnancy, Walter reassures her, “For you Maude, for me, and the privacy of our own lives, you’re doing the right thing.”

    The episode generated an estimated 17,000 letters from viewers, and 40 regional CBS affiliates refused to re-air the episode.

  • 1974: Upstairs, Downstairs, 'The Glorious Dead'

    1974: Upstairs, Downstairs, 'The Glorious Dead'
    Photo: ITV

    "The Glorious Dead" aired in the United Kingdom in 1974, although it didn't hit airways in the United States until 1976. The plot of the eighth episode of series four of Upstairs, Downstairs brings the horrors of war home to viewers as they watch multiple characters struggle with the grief of losing loved ones. When Rose finds out her fiance, Gregory, has been killed, she visits a medium, hoping to contact her lost love.