Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Simpsons Episode That Got Banned From The Air

Who knew back in 1989 when it first aired that "The Simpsons" would become the television institution it's become? The long-running animated hit comedy on Fox is currently in its 33rd (!) season, which means that the iconic sitcom has existed longer than many people have. Featuring the voice talents of Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, and Harry Shearer, the show explores the fictional town of Springfield (in a state that is conveniently never identified) and follows the exploits of the lovable and dysfunctional Simpson family. The roster of characters is deep, and certainly, there are supporting standouts — the evil Monty Burns and ultra-fanboy Comic Book Guy come to mind. However, it's the core family members — Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and (occasionally) Maggie Simpson — who really drive the storytelling.

With over 700 episodes and counting (via IMDb), it's fair to say "The Simpsons" has covered a lot of ground over the years, and been forced to evolve in many ways to stay with the times. In early seasons, cellphones weren't even a thing yet, and no one was using the internet. But the laughs were always designed to skewer modern American society, may it be in the past, present, or even the future. Topics discussed on the show have ranged from politics to homosexuality to religion, and it's hard to imagine "The Simpsons" never offended anyone in the pursuit of humor. Still, the series never seemed quite as edgy as later animated sitcoms, like "Family Guy."

That said, the first episode from Season 9 of "The Simpsons" was actually pulled from the air for quite a while. But the reason for that is probably not what you think.

The Simpsons had a New York problem

In the course of their many adventures, "The Simpsons" has gone all over the place. The family has been to Australia, Japan, and almost everywhere in the United States. Homer even went to space. So nothing seemed out of the ordinary in the 1997 episode "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson," which saw the clan head to New York City to retrieve Homer's car, which had been abandoned there by the town drunk, Barney Gumble. Naturally, the operation does not go smoothly for Homer, who rages against every real and perceived injustice New York can dish out — which it totally does, to great comedic effect.

As it turns out, Homer spends a chunk of time stuck at the World Trade Center, which makes for a funny bit about needing to go all the way to the top of the twin towers just to use the bathroom. Understandably, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the episode was pulled from syndication due to sensitivity concerns (via The A.V. Club). Viewers have since pointed out that when the episode started airing again, edits were made to the scenes with the towers out of respect to the victims. 

While "The Simpsons" has had its share of controversial moments during its run, such as the more recent hot-button issue of Hank Azaria voicing the Indian character of Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu, the New York episode was sidelined for a while merely out of coincidence and unfortunate timing. As Homer might say — "D'oh!"