There have been all sorts of reasons to ban episodes of TV shows that have been fully produced – maybe they’re offensive, perhaps they infringe on other copyrights. Sometimes they even infringe on legitimate health concerns. Sometimes these episodes weren’t allowed to originally air. Most of the time they were only allowed to air once and never shown again in reruns or syndication. Sometimes the episodes were edited. Below are eleven examples of kids’ TV show episodes that have become banned at one time or another, ranging from classic Warner Bros. to imported shows from abroad to basic cable tween shows and anything in between.
“The Censored Eleven” – Merry Melodies and Looney Toons
The Censored Eleven is the unofficial title of 11 cartoons that Warner Bros. decided to ban in 1968. In 2001, Cartoon Network planned a 49-hour Bugs Bunny marathon intended to air every episode including these at 3am with a disclaimer. But at the last minute they opted to honor the ban as well as not air several others – “Any Bonds Today,” “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips,” and “Herr Meets Hare.” These episodes were all banned because they’re very racist. Bugs dressing in blackface, racist caricatures of Asians,
“Stokey the Bear” – Rocky and Bulwinkle
This 1959 episode had a Dudley Do-Right story that featured a parody of Smokey the Bear and the Federal Government was not happy about it. In 1961, they threatened the animators with copyright infringement and jail time and according to one of the animators, confiscated the actual film. The show’s sponsor panicked and demanded the masters be destroyed. Fortunately, it never came to that but for a long time they were not shown in any reruns.
“Conflict” – Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
All five episodes, for a week in November, 1983, of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood dealt with an ongoing nuclear arms race in Puppetland. Good King Friday becomes convinced that Corny the Beaver is stockpiling nuclear weapons and begins having his handyman and people create bombs as well as appointing Generals for a potential war. Ultimately, it is learned that Corny was making parts for a bridge and King Friday makes peace with Corny. The episode was made at the height of the Cold War and people were very scared about a potential nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Mister Rogers explained at the end of the week that “Rules are very, very important. Not just for games but for all things. Even big things like countries. Countries have to have rules to protect people, too. And someday you’ll be helping to make the rules for your country. I trust that you’ll make the best kind you know how.” Nevertheless, the episode was considered very scary for its target audience of young children and, unlike other episodes of the show, was never rerun.
“One Beer” – Tiny Toon Adventures
This episode explicitly had Buster Bunny break the fourth wall and tell the audience they were addressing the dangers of alcohol. He, Plucky Duck and Hamton Pig then share a beer and get intoxicated. They go on to steal a police cruiser and drive it off a cliff. It crashes in a cemetery and explodes, killing all three who are then seen as angels rising to heaven. It aired once in 1991 but was banned from all future reruns. You can now only find it on DVD (or, of course, somewhere online now but that wasn’t the case back in the 90s).
“Flying Dupes” – Talespin
This episode, Talespin’s final one, aired once in 1992 and was immediately pulled from the episode lineup for reruns. Disney considers it officially banned although it did air once in 1999 on Toon Disney, although the belief is this was a mistake. The main character, Baloo, unknowingly transports a bomb on his plane from an arms manufacturer looking to create a war between two countries and profit off of the resulting war. The terrorism theme is pretty harsh, even for the more innocent pre-9/11 times.
“Man’s Best Friend” – Ren & Stimpy
This episode was originally created to be a season 2 episode of the Nickelodeon show that would have aired in ’92 or ’93 but Nickelodeon deemed it offensive and pulled it. Creator John Kricfalusi credits it with what led to Nick firing him from his show at the end of that season. It later was used in John’s 2003 return to the show, Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon on Spike TV. The exact details of what Nick found so offensive in this episode of a show with frequent potty humor and violence isn’t on the record but the consensus is that Ren’s vicious beating of his owner George Liquor with an oar is what kept Nick from airing it.
“Deadly Force” – Gargoyles
This episode only aired once in 1994. It was the 8th episode of season 1. Broadway, one of the titular good guy Gargoyles, accidentally shoots his friend, police officer Elisa, with her gun when he plays with it for fun. It was pulled from the rerun schedule but eventually the episode was edited to remove any blood and it went back into circulation.
“Double Trouble/Dial M for Monkey” – Dexter’s Laboratory
In 1996, this episode aired a single time but never again in reruns. A segment of the show is called Dial M for Monkey and parodies superheroes. This episode featured a drunk version of the Hulk and a version of the Silver Surfer, called the Silver Spooner, that many believed portrayed him as a homosexual stereotype.
“Electric Soldier Porygon” – Pokemon
This episode of Pokemon was only aired once, in Japan, on December 16, 1997. It was never exported to the U.S. or other countries. The explanation is entirely reasonable. It featured a scene with flashing lights that led to at least 685 reported seizures. In the episode, Pikachu uses his electric blasts to blow up some missiles that explode with red and blue lights in a strobe pattern, utilizing two animation techniques: paka paka and flash. Supposedly it was very intense with many people complaining of dizziness and nausea. The show went on a four month hiatus to be sure they didn’t do that again.
“Beauty and the Beach” – Pokemon
This episode originally featured villain James dressing up as a girl in a swimsuit when it aired in Japan. He inflates his fake breasts very large and teases hero Misty that some day maybe she’ll get boobs like this. Apparently this was all too controversial for the U.S. and all scenes featuring James and teammates in his costume were completely edited out of the version that broadcast stateside.
“Mister Skinnylegs” – Peppa Pig
This episode originally aired November 10th, 2004 in the UK. It involves Peppa Pigg befriending a spider. At first she is afraid of it but Daddy Pig explains that it can’t hurt her. The episode was never aired in Australia because they have so many venomous spiders that it was deemed not to be good advice for children there.