Generally in the 80s, there was nothing scandalous about network TV, or so we thought. Growing up we did not see much violence, nudity or drugs in our favorite sitcoms, but this does not mean that this type of content wasn't tackled by a show's producers and writers. It simply meant that episodes were censored before they hit the airwaves.
Occasionally, an episode that pushes all the boundaries does come to light and left us all with our jaws-dropped. There have been instances when an episode was so messed up that it took years before it was allowed to air.
Here are five of some of the most messed up episodes of our beloved 80s TV shows:
1. Punky Brewster - "The Perils of Punky"
Many people were left traumatized by this episode of Punky Brewster, a show about a young girl adopted by a foster parent after she was abandoned with her dog in a supermarket by her mother.
"The Perils of Punky" is one of those episodes that you will always remember being genuinely scared of as a kid because it induced nightmares. In the two-part Halloween episode, Punky and her friends got lost during a camping trip and sought refuge in a cave, which unbeknownst to them belonged to a demon. Punky was then chosen as "The One" who can defeat the evil figure.
As you can already imagine, fighting a demon is no easy task, so Punky had to fight off a giant spider, face dismembered body parts, witness a dog being skinned alive, and then watch the demon kill all her friends. The demon then uses her dead buddies to taunt Punky, but she won in the end by telling him that she isn't mad at him for killing her friends.
At the end, it is revealed that none of that actually happened. Punky was telling her friends a ghost story all along while they waited to be rescued.
If you have 20 minutes to spare, you can watch the scariest part of the episode below:
2. Mister Rogers - "Conflict"
Beloved Mr. Fred Rogers taught us so much when we were young, and while most of the episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood were safe for our innocent ears and eyes, there was one memorable one that scared the bejeezus out of us.
On the fourteenth season of the PBS series, Mr. Rogers focused on the topic of conflict for the first five episodes, but the final one was so dark that it was deemed unsuitable for young viewers. The episode, which aired on November 11, 1983, featured King Friday and Corny the Beaver collecting enough nuclear weapons to destroy the entire show (which really would result in everyone's death).
Thankfully, disaster was averted when it was revealed that the parts were to actually to help build a bridge, not a bomb. The "Conflict" series tried to explain the nature of conflict, war, and nuclear weapons to kids, but it ended up scaring them. The quintet of episodes ended up being pulled off air, and they remained lost until a clip started to circle in 1996. Nowadays, you can find them on YouTube.
3. Too Close For Comfort - "For Every Man There's Two Women"
In this episode in the fourth season of Too Close For Comfort, wacky Monroe was on his way to work when he was kidnapped. The Rush's only realize that their tenant went AWOL after his boss called to report that he didn't show up for his shift.
Turns out he was abducted by two women who forced him to have intercourse with them. Monroe manages to escape, but when he tried to tell his story, it was met with laughter. As serious as this scene was, the writers still attempted to make it funny, but it really wasn't.
It only gets worse...
4. Married with Children - "I'll See You In Court"
In the infamous episode, Al and Peg as well as Steve and Marcy filed a lawsuit after they found out that they have been taped while getting intimate during their stay at a cheap motel.
Although Fox is no stranger to having to censor parts of the show, this specific episode never aired in the 80s because of the profanity and raunchiness. Just when you thought the worst of it was over, a scene showing Al and Peg having sex in an empty courtroom while being secretly recorded pops up.
"I'll See You In Court" was finally shown on TV in June 2002, and was included in the DVD released in 2003.
5. Diff'rent strokes - "Sam's Missing"
This show was funny most of the time, but it also addressed serious issues that caused a lot of sleepless nights for some. Many of us thought the infamous "Bicycle Man" episode was awful, but there's another one that isn't too far behind.
In season eight's "Sam's Missing," Sam McKinney was kidnapped by a man whose son had recently died in an accident. The kidnapper then threatened to kill Mr. Drummond and his new wife if Sam didn't comply with his demands, which was for him to act like a loving son.
The man also convinced his grieving wife that Sam was a homeless child he rescued from the streets so she wouldn't be suspicious. It took about a week for the police to finally find Sam and reunite him with his family.
6. Mr. Belvedere - "The Counselor"
Wesley T. Owens finds himself in a very uncomfortable situation in this very messed up episode of Mr. Belvedere.
Although against his will, Wes was sent off to summer day camp. During one of the outdoor activities, he fakes and illness and stays behind with Counselor Perry. The pair went scuba diving, but in a twist many didn't see coming, the counselor got a little too handsy with the boy while helping him dry off. Wes is visibly uncomfortable with Counselor Perry's actions, but he was urged to keep their "little secret." Perry later gives Wes a pair of fancy binoculars as a way to indirectly silence him.