10. SpongeBob SquarePants
Banned because...: SpongeBob is beloved by Chinese people... not so much by the Chinese government. He was booted out of prime time in 2006, but not because a particularly aggressive censor objected to the content of his show — rather, it was due to an edict which declared that only locally-made cartoons could be broadcast between 5pm and 8pm.
It gets weirder... In 2005 US religious groups threatened to take down the show, arguing that the cheerful sponge was a gay icon who promoted alternative lifestyles to children.
9. Tiny Toon Adventures
Banned because...: This Looney Tunes spin-off earned a rep for its cutting humour (for a kids' show, anyway), but it was finally deemed to have crossed a line in the banned episode 'One Beer'. It depicted cutesy characters Buster, Plucky and Hamton drinking (gasp!), stealing a police car (wait, it gets worse), and then crashing off a mountain and dying.
It gets weirder... It wasn't the content of the episode itself that was apparently so objectionable — it was feared that the overly melodramatic plot would turn the serious issue of peer pressure and drinking into a big joke.
8. Beavis and Butthead
Banned because...: In 1993, an episode titled 'Comedians' aired that depicted the two sniggering idiots burning down a comedy club. A month later a five-year-old boy was allegedly inspired by the cartoon to set his bed on fire, resulting in the death of his baby sister. MTV quickly pulled the episode, and while it eventually returned to the airwaves, its content was heavily edited to remove all the references to pyromania.
It gets weirder... In the wake of the Columbine massacre, two episodes that depicted Beavis and Butthead shooting guns were briefly outlawed in the US.
7. Family Guy
Banned because...: The season four episode 'When You Wish Upon a Weinstein' pokes fun at Judaism, with neighbourhood dunderhead Peter Griffin deciding he wants to convert his son because Jews are apparently richer and more successful people. Concerned that the Jewish jokes might be interpreted as anti-Semitism (despite the fact that the episode was written and performed by Jewish entertainers), US network Fox banned the episode for two years.
It gets weirder... Family Guy has reportedly been completely banned in a plethora of countries, including Malaysia, Russia, South Africa, Iran, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, the Philippines and Egypt. (Phew!)
6. The Simpsons
Banned because...: British channel Sky One flat-out refused to air the season nine episode 'The Cartridge Family' (the one where Homer buys a gun), while Russia banned the show outright in 2008 because it supposedly "promotes violence and cruelty, pornography, anti-social behaviour, abounds with scenes of mayhem, the infliction of physical and ethical suffering, and [is] aimed at invoking fear, panic and terror in children". And you thought it was just a funny cartoon...
It gets weirder... Venezuela also banned the yellow-skinned family in 2008 because President Hugo Chavez deemed it "unsuitable for children"... but replaced it with the completely wholesome, child-appropriate series Baywatch.
Banned because...: It's not difficult to see why this cartoon kicked up a stink. It depicted the Pope as an infantile idiot, and other high-ranking Catholics as corrupt and sexually deviant. Yikes. Predictably, the series, which included the voice talents of Ruby Wax, Jerry Hall and Little Britain's Matt Lucas, was attacked by Roman Catholics and quickly banned soon after it premiered in Britain in 2005.
It gets weirder... Not only was Popetown deemed too hot for American TV (can you imagine the storm it would have caused?), it's apparently so offensive that it's not even available there on DVD.
4. South Park
Banned because...: South Park is no stranger to controversy, but only a handful of episodes have ever been banned. SBS "deferred" the 2005 episode 'Bloody Mary', which depicted a menstruating Virgin Mary (and you thought Popetown was rude), after complaints from Catholics (the episode eventually premiered in Australia on The Comedy Channel); and in 2002 British network Sky One banned the episode 'Jared Has Aides' because it depicts innocent schoolboy Butters at the receiving end of a merciless beating from his parents.
It gets weirder... Russia might soon kill Kenny: in late 2008 Moscow prosecutors launched proceedings to have the cartoon completely banned in the country.
3. Ren & Stimpy
Banned because...: This surreal and disturbing cartoon about a psychotic Chihuahua and a dimwitted cat stoked frequent controversy in the early '90s due to its gross-out humour and violent, tasteless plots. But the show finally went too far in the episode 'Man's Best Friend', which depicted Ren brutally beating recurring character George Liquor with an oar.Nickelodeon banned the instalment, which didn't air on US screens for more than 10 years.
It gets weirder... Not only was the episode too naughty for TV, it was deemed so terrible that Nickelodeon fired Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi for making what was ostensibly a kid's cartoon too "frightening and dramatic".
2. Looney Tunes
Banned because...: The over-the-top violence isn't the worst thing about Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons, folks. Several instalments have been officially banned because they include content deemed unacceptably racist; among them is 'Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips', a 1944 outing which depicts the wascally wabbit taunting and imitating a stereotypically Japanese solider at the height of WWII.
It gets weirder... Wondering whatever happened to Speedy Gonzales? The light-footed mouse was briefly banned from the States's Cartoon Network in 1999, reportedly because of his stereotypical Mexican demeanour. But in 2002 the League of United Latin American Citizens rallied to resurrect Speedy, arguing that he's a positive "cultural icon".
Banned because...: In 1997, Japanese television broadcast an instalment of the popular Pokemon anime titled 'Electric Soldier Porygon'. The result? More than 600 children in hospital, thanks to a scene featuring rapid flashing which triggered seizures. After the incident made international headlines, the episode was banned from airing anywhere else in the world, ever.
It gets weirder...: A couple of other Pokemon eps were also banned outside Japan, including one where a male character seemingly has a Pamela-esque boob job to compete in a seaside beauty pageant.