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Why You Won't Find Beavis & Butt-Head's Comedians Episode On Most Streaming Services

"Beavis and Butt-Head" was nothing if not controversial when it became hugely popular among mostly younger audiences after hitting MTV in 1993. Mike Judge found himself dealing with a whole host of controversies connected to his frog-abusing, metal-loving, authority-flouting teens. 

That resulted in episodes being edited down for syndication to remove some objectionable content, with a small number of segments being banned from re-airing altogether. Fans of the show definitely noticed, and would, per L.A. Weekly, eventually trade tapes to hand-edit the show back to its original broadcast glory and mail them back and forth. Rarely, uncensored versions of the show would be released to VHS and eventually, DVD collections. As time has marched on, the show's signature music video segments, in which Beavis and Butt-Head (both voiced by Mike Judge) wax moronic over popular buzz clips of the day, have generally failed to make it into commercially released episodes as well. It's a bowdlerization of one of the most iconic shows of the 1990s, and something that fans are understandably upset about.

"Comedians" is one of those episodes that has never made it onto the show's many DVD compilations, and thus far isn't among the numerous shorts streaming on Pluto's Comedy Central animation channel, or available to watch on Paramount+. So what's made this episode so verboten in the annals of the many over-the-top segments on "Beavis and Butt-Head"?

A tragic real-life incident resulted in the episode's banning

In "Comedians," Beavis and Butt-Head watch a stand-up comic perform his routine on TV. They decide that following a similar career trajectory will win them money and fame and head down to their local comedy club, the Laff Hole. Unfortunately, Butt-Head fails to tell actual jokes and earns the audience's ire. Beavis' routine involves juggling lit pieces of paper — which results in the Laff Hole burning down.

Seems like your standard "Beavis and Butt-Head" fare, right? Unfortunately, there's a tragic reason why "Comedians" has never made it streaming. A month after it aired on MTV for the first time, a 5-year-old boy in Moraine, Ohio, allegedly set his bed on fire while trying to copy Beavis' comedy act. He burned down his family's trailer, accidentally killing his 2-year-old sister. This October 1993 incident, per the Associated Press, was blamed on the child's affection for the cartoon. The boy's mother claimed that watching "Beavis and Butt-Head" led to her son becoming so obsessed with fire that she removed the hinges from his door to keep an eye on him and prevent him from playing with matches.

The Los Angeles Times reported that MTV reacted by removing all references to fire from Beavis and Butt-Head's repertoire and shifting the show to a much later time slot, from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30. But, per the Orlando Sentinel, two more fire incidents would be blamed on the show. Subsequently, some episodes in which either character lights something on fire or heavily references fire were removed from the airing rotation completely, including "Comedians." It's a sad fate that has followed the series into the streaming era, where some episodes continue to be unavailable even for individual purchase, "Comedians" among them.

Mike Judge claims that the show had nothing to do with the fire

Speaking out years later, "Beavis and Butt-Head" series creator Mike Judge expressed his sadness over the incident during a 2022 appearance on the podcast Basic! When Cable was Cool. "My daughter was around the same age as the girl that got killed," he added at around the 15-minute mark, adding that the incident was terrible all around for everyone involved.

But, he hastened to add that his creations were apparently falsely blamed, at least in the Moraine situation. "Turned out they did not get cable at this trailer park. That little tiny correction came out later. He'd likely had never seen it. She was just trying to say something to deflect."

The further adventures of "Beavis and Butt-Head" would remain (slightly) sanitized for the remainder of its run, until MTV canceled it in 1997 (per The Baltimore Sun). While the show would be revived for a single poorly-received season in 2011, and there was a fire joke in "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America," it wasn't until the show was renewed for a ninth season in 2022 and placed on Paramount+ that Beavis would be reunited with his true love — fire. 

During the episode "The Special One," Beavis becomes enamored of a dumpster fire, which both speaks to him and encourages him to do good deeds. Call it a poke at all of those parents who claimed that the boys' fondness for flames had put their children in danger, call it a knowing reference to the show's past — in any event, it goes to show that the times definitely do change.