Love Scenes That Were Cut For Being Too Controversial For TV

Physical gestures of love, including sex, are a part of most healthy romances, even the fictional kind. When a good story is combined with undeniable chemistry, magic happens on screen that has been responsible for some of the hottest scenes in TV history. What Grey's Anatomy fan could forget the rendezvous between April Kepner and Jackson Avery in the bathroom in the middle of their medical boards? Orange Is The New Black fans will never forget Piper and Alex's angry library sex, and there is nothing hotter than watching Jessica and Luke Cage get acquainted on Jessica Jones.

Unfortunately, censorship laws and cultural differences — usually in more conservative countries — mean that sometimes fans miss out on hot, or even just meaningful intimate scenes. Let's take a look at some love scenes that were cut for being too controversial for TV in different countries around the world.

Was this cut Roswell, New Mexico scene the showrunner's last straw?

Citing "fundamental disagreements," Rosewell, New Mexico creator Carina Adly Mackenzie resigned from the show in July 2020. While she kept those disagreements vague in her Instagram statement on the matter, she was quite specific several weeks earlier about a particular grievance. Mackenzie's frustration was clear when she tweeted disappointment with the UK's ITV edit of a romantic scene between two queer characters, Alex (Tyler Blackburn) and Michael (Michael Vlamis). "Really, really, REALLY upset to hear that @itv cut out a (pretty tame) love scene between two men and kept a (much more raunchy) heterosexual sex scene in their airing of an episode of #RoswellNM tonight. There are a lot of angry tears happening at my house..." Mackenzie tweeted. The eye-opening thread continued, "It's just ... super upsetting not to have any advance notice of the way that my own work gets sliced and diced. ... It's just blatant homophobia/biphobia/bigotry and I'm so, so sorry and so, so angry."

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for ITV2 refuted Mackenzie's claim. "During our compliance process on episode two, we edited love scenes featuring the characters of Alex and Michael and Max and Jenna," they said. "Editing is only ever undertaken to ensure content is suitable for scheduling in a pre-watershed time slot when younger age groups may be watching. Scenes involving sexual content were edited in keeping with the regulator, Ofcom's [the UK's communications regulator], guidelines."

Dylan McDermott's love scene with Patti Lupone was 'too damn hot' for Hollywood

Sex is the basis of Netflix's Hollywood, and the show doesn't shy away from any sex-related topic including sex work and sexual abuse. Part of the story is eventually about celebrating LBGTQIA love, so there are no known censorship issues with those scenes to report. But Dylan McDermott told Schön! magazine of London that there is at least one scene cut, featuring an unexpected couple. "My sex scene with Patti Lupone was cut because it was too hot for TV. ... Too damn hot." It's not too surprising that the scene between McDermott's character Ernie — a good-natured pimp that employs aspiring actors and has let go of his own dreams of stardom — and Patti Lupone's Avis, the studio executive's wife, exists. It would just be nice to know what is considered "too hot" at Netflix. But McDermott wouldn't give any further details.

For her part, Lupone just seems happy the scene exists. While promoting the show on Extra with McDermott and David Corenswet, who plays Jack, one of Avis's hook-ups, Lupone said, "I get to have sex scenes with these two guys, yes!" The 71-year old actress continued, "You know what I said, 'Finally! What took them so long?'" joking that she didn't need the set cleared to film the scenes.

A heartbreaking Outlander love scene was cut

Starz's time travel period drama Outlander is not a show that usually holds back on sex scenes, especially between the main love interests Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan). But Express reported that there is a deleted scene from Season 2 featuring Jamie having a dream about Claire taking care of him after his rape. In the scene, Jamie is imagining Claire tending to his wounded hand before she asks him to make love to her. 

While they are having sex for the first time since Jamie was attacked, he keeps seeing the face of his abuser, Captain Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) and terror fills his eyes. The reason Starz cut the scene is unknown, so it might've just been for time. It's quite an intimate scene all the way through — until Captain Jack's face appears. Or, as one YouTube user put it in the comments of the video, "Okay, I just threw my phone across the bed. Such perfection and then Randall..." It's both heartbreaking and sexy, an often confusing combination. 

Is Steven Universe too progressive for across the pond

Steven Universe is a show that defies stereotypes, but when shown in the UK, the inclusive nature doesn't always stick. Cartoon Network UK angered fans in 2016 when it edited a "romantic dance scene" between two females, Rose Quartz and Pearl. PinkNews reported that close-ups of the characters looking at each other seductively and dancing closely were edited out. Outraged fans on social media posted comparisons between the US and UK versions of the scene — and it's easy to spot at least one instance where close-ups of the women (including the one shown above) were replaced. The apparent censorship sparked a petition, which stated, in part, "The same episode has plenty of hetero dancing and kissing, so it looks like they're censoring this because it's two women."

In a statement to PinkNews, Cartoon Network UK stood by the editing. "The US broadcast system requires that shows are marked with a rating — in this case PG...In the UK we have to ensure everything on air is suitable for kids of any age at any time. We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents." The statement continued, "Be assured that as a channel and network we celebrate diversity — evident across many of our shows and characters." PinkNews argued, however, that the "U" rating the statement refers to allows "kissing and cuddling" which technically should make the scene acceptable.

Royals do not have much sex on Netflix's The Crown

There are sexy scenes, and even sex scenes on Netflix's The Crown, but according to Vanessa Kirby — who plays a young Princess Margaret on the first two seasons of the show — they are scarce. Plus, scenes featuring members of the royal family are rarely explicit if they must exist. Kirby said on the Love Stories With Dolly Alderton podcast, that Queen Elizabeth's love story is handled with special care. She said that there was a sex scene between Elizabeth (Claire Foy) and Phillip (Matt Smith) in Season 1 of the show that was cut while filming on location in South Africa because a collective decision was made that the cast and crew didn't "think anyone wants to see the queen having sex."

As for her own character's scenes, Kirby said that there was a scene in Season 2 Episode 7 cut because "...It just became clear that to sort of titillate was not the aim. With Margaret I was like, 'no one wants to see royal boob, not really.'" The sex part of the scene between Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode) was cut because as Kirby explained, "I always feel like it's about energy isn't it?" She and Goode just danced around the set and the intimate moments were more natural. "It became way more about playfulness and vulnerability...I always think that communicates so much more than any sort of like bum shot or something."

Some sexy Gossip Girl surprises were too much for the CW

CW's Gossip Girl was all about being young, rich and beautiful. So, of course that means there were plenty of sex scenes throughout the show's six seasons, some featuring chemistry between the actors that was so hot, viewers' screens practically fogged up. Sensuality — and sometimes shock — was definitely the goal for the creatives behind the show, but sometimes the sexy times on Gossip Girl went too far for the so-called powers that be.

Speaking with Vulture in 2017, executive producer Joshua Safran recalled two such scenes. "We had a story about Chuck taking care of Blair under a table at Xan's," said Safran, referencing oral sex. "I don't think we were able to do it, but we hinted at it." There was also a box of sex toys on set that never saw the light of day. Michelle Trachtenberg's character Georgina had a particularly explicit way of harassing Serena van der Woodson (Blake Lively) — she sends a box of [sex toys] to Dan's (Penn Badgley) house. "We had these really huge [sex toys] in this house that Penn [Badgley] was so shocked to see — but we cut it because you couldn't show them on air," Safran said, adding, "The deleted-scene version, which I don't think we ever put anywhere, is hilarious because they're like a foot and a half long." Surprise, Lonely Boy!

Size matters at HBO

HBO's Girls was never going to be family-friendly viewing, executive producer Judd Apatow told The Hollywood Reporter. "From the beginning, we were aware that what we were doing was sexually provocative" he said, adding, "Lena [Dunham, Girls creator] wanted to reveal something that is normally hidden — so often you're not talking about a giant part of most people's lives because people don't want to portray it on film — and that opened up tons of stories that you're usually not able to tell." There was very little that scared HBO executives, according to the show's creative team. "But then we had a scene with a conclusion shot ..." said Apatow.

Mike Lombardo, HBO's president of programming at the time said, "You don't need it," according to showrunner Jenni Konner, and the Girls team eventually found humor in it. "We were like, 'Oh my God, we've actually found the line at HBO,'" said Apatow. Size might have been the reason why the graphic scene, that involved a large volume of a certain bodily fluid "arcing through a shot," as Dunham described it, got the boot. "In HBO's defense, it was like a fire hose!" said Sue Naegle, former president of entertainment at HBO. It's not clear who the original scene featured, but they eventually filmed an acceptable "conclusion" shot during a scene featuring Adam Driver and Shiri Applby.

How To Get Away With Murder was censored overseas

How To Get Away With Murder broke ground with LGBTQIA representation and was never censored in the US, but a sex scene between characters Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) his partner Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) did not make it to air in Italy when the episode in question aired there in the summer of 2016. The show's creator Peter Nowalk, executive producer Shonda Rhimes, and Falahee tweeted their outrage.

Nowalk said he was "shocked and disappointed," and also shared the uncensored version of the scene in question for Italian viewers to watch. Rhimes also retweeted the scene adding that, "Censorship of any love is inexcusable." Falahee challenged a Twitter user for saying that Italy "isn't ready" for the scene. "Do you really believe that audiences in Italia aren't "ready" for real life? Even [the] Vatican has begun to open its eyes," the actor tweeted. Although there were clearly differing opinions on the controversial censorship, at least social media provided a way for the show's team to share the scene as it was intended.

The US censored a lesbian sex scene on Skins

The United States is usually progressive when it comes to love scenes, but many of the examples on this list prove that standards differ from country to country. There are cases in which the UK allows for more graphic scenes, and that happened with a lesbian sex scene on the popular series Skins. When the series moved to BBC America, the network appeared to censor a sex scene between the characters Naomi (Lily Loveless) and Emily (Kathryn Prescott).

The US version of the outdoor sex scene kept the part of the scene where the women were making out and stripped down to their t-shirts and underwear, but cut the part of the scene that depicted them having sex on a blanket, according to AfterEllen. BBC America released a statement to AfterEllen explaining the choice:

"British TV is generally more liberal in its content than American TV which means we occasionally have to edit our shows. We adhere to BBC America's standards and practices regarding language, nudity, violence and drug use." The statement continued, "Sex scenes — gay or straight — are sometimes reduced in length on screen, but never to the detriment of the storyline. Be assured, the same guidelines applied to the scene with Naomi and Emily have also been applied to heterosexual sex scenes in Skins."