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11 TV Show Episodes So Controversial, They Literally Caused The Show To Be Canceled Or People To Be Fired

So *that's* why Fear Factor ended.

We all know about "banned" episodes — aka episodes that were pulled because they were controversial or dark.

Corey and Topanga kissing on a bed labeled "banned boy meets world episode"

But as it turns out, some of these episodes were SO controversial that they literally killed the show or caused people to be fired. Here are some of the offending episodes!

1. Remember the kids show Ren & Stimpy? It was pretty dark and raunchy for a kids show — but one episode really took the cake.

Ren and Stimpy

I'm referring to the episode “Man's Best Friend,” in which George Liquor adopts Ren and Stimpy. There are multiple tobacco references, as well as a scene in which Ren beats George with an oar.

Ren beating up George with an oar and standing over his beaten body in glee

This episode was banned from airing on Nickelodeon, and the show's creator, John Kricfalusi, was fired along with his team. It later aired on Spike TV. You can watch the episode here:

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2. Dana Carvey's sketch show seemed poised to succeed, especially in its spot after the popular Home Improvement. But The Dana Carvey Show was canceled after only seven episodes.

Dana Carvey on a stage on his show

Why? Well, many attribute it to the first episode — in particular, the very first sketch, which depicted then-president Bill Clinton breastfeeding babies, puppies, and kittens. In just the first few minutes, millions of viewers who'd stayed to check out the show after Home Improvement changed the channel or turned off the TV.

Dana Carvey as Bill Clinton pretending to breastfeed a baby

The show never recovered these viewers, and it was ultimately canceled. You can watch the sketch here:

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3. I Dream of Jeannie was an immensely popular sitcom in the 1960s about an astronaut who discovers a genie on a deserted island. Much of the show was focused on the relationship between the astronaut, Tony, and the genie, Jeannie.

Jeannie hugging Tony

However, ratings began to drop after a certain episode, leading to its eventual cancellation. This episode, which even star Barbara Eden credits with killing the show, is not inappropriate, but it was definitely controversial. It's the episode in which Tony and Jeannie get married.

Tony and Jeannie at their wedding

"It broke credibility," Eden told the Today show. Show creator Sidney Sheldon also wrote that it broke the sexual tension between the two, leaving the show nowhere else to go.

Eden on the Today show saying the marriage ruined the show because Jeannie wasn't human even though she thought she was, and Tony knew she wasn't

You can watch the wedding here:

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4. Another show canceled because of a controversial yet not-inappropriate episode is Felicity. While there were other reasons for the show's decline in ratings and ultimate cancellation, one factor that even the network acknowledged was Felicity's haircut.


The haircut, which occurred in the Season 2 episode "The List," apparently "diluted" the image of Felicity and made it so that viewers didn't relate to her as much.

Felicity getting her hair cut then saying she doesn't think it's bad, it's just a different look

You can watch the haircut scene here:

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5. Saturday Night Live has had numerous controversial moments in its 46-year run, but one of the most controversial was when cast member Charles Rocket accidentally let the f-word slip in a Dallas-themed sketch in the 11th episode of Season 6.

Rocket in character saying "I'd like to know who fucking did it"

He was fired mid-season for his mistake. Two episodes later, the season ended early because of a writers strike — and almost the entire cast was fired. Most notably, one of the few players who weren't fired was Eddie Murphy.

Eddie in a press photo for the show

You can watch the moment here:

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6. Damon Wayans was also fired from SNL because of a single sketch. In the sketch, which occurred during Season 11, Episode 12, he was playing a straitlaced cop. In an act of protest, he decided to play the role as a stereotypically gay man.

Damon dressed as a cop thrusting his pelvis toward the suspect with his hands on his hips

Wayans went off script because he was angry over not being allowed to do the material he wanted to do, and says he knew he'd be fired for it. You can watch the sketch here:

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7. The sitcom Heil Honey I'm Home! was canceled after just one episode in 1990. The show followed Hitler and Eva Braun as a classic husband and housewife who live next to Jewish neighbors.

Hitler and Eva

The show, unsurprisingly, garnered major backlash, and no more episodes aired. You can watch the episode here:

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8. Another show canceled after just one episode was the reality series Who's Your Daddy?, in which an adopted woman tried to figure out who her birth father was out of a group of men.

Title screen for Who's Your Daddy

The show faced a lot of backlash from adoption agencies, who found it exploitative and trivializing of adopted people's experiences, calling it appalling and destructive. You can watch a clip from the show here:

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9. Today we know Ellen DeGeneres for her talk show, but back in the day, she had a sitcom called Ellen. In the show, her character dated men.

Ellen sitting on a couch in a press photo for the show

However, shortly after DeGeneres came out in real life, her character came out on the show in the episode "The Puppy Episode," developing feelings for Laura Dern's character.

Ellen and Laura in the puppy episode

While the episode was groundbreaking and award-winning, a lot of the response was negative, and ratings declined for the next season (which some viewers thought concentrated too much on gay issues) until the show was eventually canceled.

Ellen's therapist (played by Oprah) asks if there's anything Ellen has connected with, and she says "susan"

However, the episode obviously was hugely important for the LGBTQ community. You can watch a montage/retrospective of the episode here:

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10. Megyn Kelly has long been a controversial figure, and her talk show Megyn Kelly Today was no stranger to controversy. However, a segment in which Megyn defended blackface in the Oct. 23, 2018, episode went too far.

Megyn says that people get in trouble for using blackface on halloween, but that it was fine when she was younger as long as you were dressing up as a character

After defending the use of blackface for Halloween costumes, Kelly later apologized, but the damage was done. She was dropped by her agency, CAA, and the show was canceled.

Megyn defends Real Housewife Luann for dressing up as Diana Ross for halloween and using blackface, saying it's not racist

You can watch her remarks here:

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11. And finally, Fear Factor was known for its scary and disgusting challenges — but one challenge took it too far. NBC ended up pulling the episode "Hee Haw! Hee Haw!" in which contestants drank donkey semen and pee.

two women drinking donkey semen and urine

In fact, the stunt was so controversial that according to host Joe Rogan, this is why the show was canceled.

Joe Rogan saying "This was the one that killed it. That episode killed it"

While it didn't air on TV, the clip was later uploaded to YouTube. You can watch the challenge here:

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