In May 1970, Mississippi's Commission for Educational Television voted 3-2 to ban Sesame Street in the state. According to a source who wished to remain anonymous, "some of the members of the commission were very much opposed to showing the series because it uses a highly-integrated cast of children." The source believed that "we are not ready for it." This was 1970. Keep in mind that the Supreme Court ended segregation in public schools in 1954, and the Civil Rights Act outlawed segregation everywhere in 1964. National negative media attention caused the commission to reverse their decision, and Sesame Street returned to television screens the following month.
While we are on the topic of PBS kids shows.... Mister Rogers' Neighborhood courted controversy with a week-long series of episodes that focused on war and bomb threats. The episodes originally aired for a week in November 1983, and were meant to coincide with The Day After, an ABC made-for-TV movie about the aftermath of a Soviet nuclear attack, set in the American Heartland. It was meant to help children who might have seen the movie cope with what they saw. PBS removed them from rotation in 1996.
This cult classic Disney cartoon series from the early 1990s featured characters from The Jungle Book and saw them running a freighter airplane business in the jungle. The last episode of the series, "Flying Dupes," featured pilot Baloo delivering a parcel. Unbeknownst to Baloo, the parcel contains a bomb, but it is being sent by an arms factory trying to create war between two countries, so he should have guessed something nefarious was going on. The episode aired once, on August 8, 1991, and was immediately pulled from circulation. It did make it to air one more time, in 1999 on Toon Disney, but it is presumed that was an accident.
This British cartoon geared towards pre-school aged children had an episode that encouraged not to be afraid of spiders, because they can't really hurt you. Good advice in Britain; bad advice in Australia, home to dozens of different types of venomous spiders. As such, the Australian government banned the episode.
"Man's Best Friend"
A cartoon whose bread and butter was jokes about smelly bodily functions starring a stupid cat and an angry dog is expected to draw some controversy. Series creator John Kricfalusi didn't have trouble with Nickelodeon's standards and practices when the show started in 1991 - at least, not at first. When a second executive was added to oversee the show, things got rough. S&P wanted to edit or discard episodes; John K. had to alternate between "crazy" episodes and "heartwarming" episodes. Things got progressively worse until the episode "Man's Best Friend" in season two. In that episode, George Liquor adopts Ren and Stimpy as his new pets and his insanity eventually leads to Ren beating him up with a boat oar. Nickelodeon refused to air the episode and John K. was fired. Nickelodeon continued production of the show without John K. for another three seasons. Spike TV revived Ren & Stimpy in 2003 with a brief "adults only" run of new episodes. They also aired "Man's Best Friend" as part of the series.
This cult favorite sketch comedy show created by kids, for kids was a Canadian production. It gained popularity in the States when the new kids cable channel, Nickelodeon, began to air the show. In the 1987 season, only five episodes were produced, largely because many of the cast members had aged out of the show. One of these episodes, "Adoption," included a segment in which an adoptive father decides to send his adopted kid back to the orphanage. The Nickelodeon executives were worried that a cavalier attitude towards adoption would cause a public outrage, but because they only had five episodes, they aired it. The executives were right, and the episode was pulled from rotation after a single airing. The episode aired regularly in Canada, but had the word "damn" bleeped out.
Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies - The Censored 11
Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons have been in production since 1929 (with the original run of cartoons ending in 1969). The world was a very different place back then. Blackface was seen as comedic, not offensive; political correctness was not a thing; and "brown people" of all nationalities were considered lesser. In 1968, United Artist (who, at the time, owned the AAP library of cartoons) realized that some of their cartoons were no longer palatable in the current climate. They created a list of eleven titles (which came to be known as the Censored 11) which were withheld from distribution. Through multiple owners (Ted Turner in 1986 and Time Warner in 1996) this policy has stood to this day. There have been rumors of an official release of these cartoons for nearly a decade, but that has not yet happened. Three of the cartoons have entered into public domain, and thus have made it on to some compilations.
Another Disney cult favorite, Gargoyles was a pretty dark cartoon. It got even darker when one character, Broadway, accidentally shoots human character Elisa with her service pistol. What was supposed to be a lesson about gun safety turned into an uproar and the episode was pulled after one airing. It made it back into the rotation when editors digitally removed much of the blood, and it was included on the DVD collection.
The next generation of Looney Tunes (taught by Bugs, Daffy, and Porky) lived on in this beloved 1990s cartoon. The third segment of the "Elephant Issues" episode, "One Beer," which aired in 1991, saw Buster, Plucky, and Hampton get ripped after sharing a found beer. In their drunken state, the trio steal a cop car and drive off a cliff, their spirits actually show rising to heaven. The kids eventually reveal that they are not dead, this was just a ploy to show how dangerous drinking is. Unsurprisingly, complaints got it banned from American television until 2013, when The Hub aired it in syndication.