The Most Scandalous Network TV Sex Scenes Ever

The Thorn Birds

Meggie consummates her love for Father Ralph de Bricassart

At this point, sex scandals involving Catholic priests are a dime a dozen, but back in 1983, they were fairly novel -- and the one in The Thorn Birds involved a priest's sexual relationship with an adult woman, no less! (Albeit one he met when she was just a kid.) The real controversy surrounding The Thorn Birds came from ABC's decision to begin airing it on Palm Sunday and run the entire miniseries through Holy Week, which infuriated the United States Catholic Conference. Advertisers felt pressure to stay away, though The Thorn Birds was such a huge event that many chose simply to advertise before the relationship was consummated in the third installment.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy and Spike graphically get together

When Buffy the Vampire Slayer moved from the WB to UPN for its sixth season, the struggling network was so happy to have a modest success that it let Joss Whedon & Co. get away with a lot. Case in point: Buffy and Spike finally giving in to their abusive foreplay when Buffy unzips Spike's pants, mounts him, then engages in a level of thrusting and riding so intense that it brings down an entire house (and could teach those sexually adventurous teens from Without a Trace a thing or two). Here's a montage of Vampire-on-Slayer action set to Madonna's "Erotic."


The pilot offers a graphic, taboo-busting sex scene

When NYPD Blue premiered in 1993, creator Steven Bochco felt that in an age where premium cable was widely accessible, it was time for network dramas to stop sanitizing themselves when it came to strong language and sexual situations. The result was a pilot-ending sex scene that went far further than anything previously seen before on networks -- and that scene alone prompted 57 of ABC's 225 affiliates to preempt the show. (Ratings success eventually drew them back into the fold.)

Sadly, I couldn't find Blue's pivotal first sex scene online. Would you, perhaps, settle for a tribute to David Caruso's shirtless mystique?

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  • The Thornbirds was the shit, man. I remember going on the schoolbus the next day and recapping what happened to all the kids whose parents wouldn't let them watch. It also turned me on Barbara Stanwyck.
    What does it say about me that I've seen most of these sex scenes?

  • andreazuckerman-vasquez says:

    Yes, Kelly wore polka dot bike shorts, Steve had a mullet, and a certain sad newspaper editor favored acid washed jeans. And, yes, the first season featured special guest appearances by Maxwell Caulfield and Wanda from Doogie Howser. But 90210 premiered in 1990. Don't make me older than I already am.

  • Revenant says:

    A kiss is insufficient, huh? Take a step back 41 years; November 22, 1968 to be exact, and people would disagree. Television's first interracial kiss between Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura was scandalous. It should be on the top of the list.

  • Brent says:

    This wouldn't happen to be the NYPD Blue scene, would it?

  • David says:

    I love BtVS, but that scene totally ripped off one of my favorite movies of all time, The Human Tornado, a classic Blaxploitation film starring Rudy Ray Moore, in which they go at it so hard the entire house falls down on top of them, yet they continue. At one point, even the cieling falls down on top of the bed they are on and a lamp catches fire, but they keep it going.
    I know that The Human Tornado wasn't a t.v. show, but still...

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  • Koowie says:

    I remember the Thorn Birds was the mini series of the day too! Everyone, adults and kids talked about it.

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    How about some comments on tv super-hardcore, like the "Pepper Dennis Show" orgy of July 4th, 2006, the elephant-fucking/child porner and double-pentration orgies in "V" in November and December of 2009, the orgies on "Lipstick Jungle" in December of 2008 and on "Miss Guided" in March of 2009, the "April Fool's Orgy" of 2010, double-penetrating and stacking on "Sparticus", execution porn and child porn on "Rome" in 2006-2008, the child porn "Brady Bunch Munch" of 1974, the 1976 200th 4th of July orgy, child porn for kids for 20 years on Channel 7 on "The After School Specials", and the 2010 Rose Parade 5-hr double-penetration/cum-squirt in the face/line-up a-thon on the Hawaiian float a year and a half ago? Anybody for the Satanic conspiracy theory here, or have you been paying attention?--OneandOnly!

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  • [...] nature. But the idea of airing a sex scene between a priest and a young woman—and ABC’s decision to launch the miniseries on a Sunday—was scandalous in its own [...]

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