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."

NYPD Blue

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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