Wacky, mismatched foster family sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" got in more than one solidly preachy episode during its run. Perhaps the most skin-crawlingly memorable, however, was this two-parter from season five about child molestation. After befriending Mr. Horton, the jolly owner of a local bike shop, Arnold (Gary Coleman) and his friend, Dudley, drop by the man's apartment after school one afternoon, where Mr. Horton promptly attempts to get them drunk, talk them out of their clothes, and take shirtless photographs of them.Luckily, the police sabotage this seductive milieu just in time, and the episode closes on a somberly out-of-character Conrad Bain delivering a message to the viewing audience about the dangers of sexual predators.
All in the Family was a controversial show in its own right, and broke ground for its portrayal of series issues that had never before been tackled on TV. But in one very special episode, some raised their eyebrows at a plot addressing sexual assault quite in this way.
In "Edith's 50th Birthday," Edith is at home while her family is planning a birthday party for her. A stranger knocks at the door claiming to be a police detective and Edith lets him inside. Then, he viciously attacks her and threatens to rape her. Luckily, the birthday cake she had in the oven catches on fire and smoke billows out from the kitchen. She throws the cake and him and he flees.
In this season one episode of "Family Ties," sophisticated 15-year-old Mallory finds herself dealing with a little more sophistication than she can handle when her father's co-worker and family friend, "Uncle" Arthur, makes a pass at her. Horrified and ashamed, Mallory keeps the incident secret, hoping to just move on and forget it ever happened.After Arthur moves in for a second attempt at a family gathering, however, Mallory breaks down and tearfully confesses to her parents, who confront Arthur, sternly telling him to keep away from their underage daughter and to "get some professional help," while Arthur whines pathetically about feeling "crazy" since his divorce. (For some reason, they don't... you know... call the police or anything, which they should. But whatever.)