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10+ TV Episodes That Changed Television History

Television has a long and storied past. Along the way, certain shows and episodes have cemented themselves into the very fabric of the medium.

They set the standard for entertainment and helped shape entire generations of television viewers for years to come. Some of them even scarred us, if we're being honest!

Here are the 10+ TV episodes that changed television history forever.

"Lucy Is Enceinte" from *I Love Lucy*.


In case you were wondering, enceinte is the French word for "pregnant." At the time, producers thought the notion was far too scandalous for a TV audience.

I Love Lucy helped integrate real-life story lines, not simply idealized depictions.

"The Giant Jackrabbit" from *The Beverley Hillbillies*.

The Beverly Hillbillies still holds the record for most-watched television sitcom episode that wasn't a season finale.

The show's goofy demeanor would also set the standard for television comedy that was rampant throughout the 1960s.

"Abyssinia, Henry" from *M.A.S.H.*.


You just didn't kill off a main character before M.A.S.H.. Not unless there was a very good real-life reason for doing so.

The death of Colonel Henry Blake not only sent shock waves to viewers, it completely redefined television's treatment of and relationship to death.

"A House Divided" from *Dallas*.

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Who shot J.R.? That was the question an entire nation was asking themselves after watching this unforgettable episode of Dallas.

This was the birth of the modern cliffhanger as we know it. Dallas completely redefined how television was written.

"Showdown Part 2" from *Cheers*.


Without Sam and Diane, there'd be no Jim and Pam. There wouldn't have been a Ross and Rachel. Cheers was the first show to take that daring leap and actually commit to the on-screen romance of its principal protagonists.

"Goodbye, Mr. Fish" from *The Cosby Show*.

The Cosby Show still remains as one of the most important and influential shows of all time. This was the first sitcom that revolved entirely around a black, affluent family.

"Goodbye, Mr. Fish" is a bottle episode that focuses on the concept of death and its relation to children.

"Zen, Or The Skill To Catch A Killer" from *Twin Peaks*.


Have you ever been watching a TV show and thought to yourself "Is this really happening or is it all a dream?" Well, you have David Lynch and Twin Peaks to thank for that.

Lynch is the proverbial father of TV ambiguity.

"I'll See You In Court" from *Married... with Children*.


Before Married... with Children, TV families were pretty boring. No one fought, no one misbehaved, and everyone got along.

The Bundys changed all of that with "I'll See You In Court," a hilarious, sexually explicit escapade, that was originally banned from TV.

"The Puppy Episode" from *Ellen*.


"The Puppy Episode" on Ellen marked the first time that an openly gay character appeared on TV.

Ellen's influence can still be seen to this day in shows like Will & Grace and Modern Family.

"College" from *The Sopranos*.


"College" was the first time audiences witnessed Tony Soprano getting his hands dirty. He kills an FBI informant while touring colleges with his daughter, Meadow.

This marked the birth of TV's love/hate relationship with the anti-hero. There'd be no Dexter Morgan or Jax Teller without Tony Soprano.

"The Final Four" from *Survivor*.

This is kind of a double-edged sword: I'm not sure if I should be thanking Mark Burnett or organizing a protest against him.

Regardless of how you feel about reality TV, Survivor started it all.

"Welcome To Briarcliff" from *American Horror Story*.


Continuity in television has existed since the dawn of the medium. American Horror Story was one of the first shows to completely do away with the notion entirely.

Every season begins anew, with different characters and different plotlines.

"Chapter 1" from *House Of Cards*.


I can still remember the first time watching House of Cards. I was blown away at the idea of having an entire season to watch at my leisure, as I saw fit.

Netflix's very first original production helped to redefine how we consume television media as a whole.

"Plato's Stepchildren" from *Star Trek*.


At the time, Star Trek was one of the most progressive shows on television. In fact, television's first-ever interracial kiss took place between Captain James Kirk and Uhura.

Star Trek broke racial barriers and opened the door for TV's exploration of politics and social justice.

"Baelor" from *Game Of Thrones*.


Before Game of Thrones it wasn't necessarily uncommon to see beloved characters get the ax. But the main character, the lead protagonist? That was unheard of.

Game of Thrones made television audiences everywhere rethink the notion of "safety" entirely.

"TUF Finale Season 1" from *The Ultimate Fighter*.


Before The Ultimate Fighter, no one outside of die-hard fight fans had any real idea of what mixed martial arts actually was. After the finale of their inaugural season and the fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonnar, everything changed.

MMA is now the fastest-growing sport in the world.

"The Judgment Part 2" in *The Fugitive*.


Before The Fugitive came along, TV shows didn't care much for closure. "The Judgment Part 2" changed that forever.

Nearly half of America tuned in to watch, thus setting a new paradigm for TV storytelling.

"Season 2 Premiere" of *Rown & Martin's Laugh-In*

The season 2 premiere of Rown & Martin's Laugh-In marked the first time that a presidential candidate ever made an appearance on a sketch comedy show.

It helped lay the groundwork for political comedy.

"Sammy's Visit" in *All In The Family*.


All in the Family had an unflinching ability to portray real-world racism. This was also the first time that a big-time celebrity like Sammy Davis Jr. ever appeared on a sitcom.

They opened the door to the concept of the cameo appearance.

"Hill Street Station" in *Hill Street Blues*.


Hill Street Blues redefined the modern cop drama. It incorporated various forms of cinematic storytelling, as well as more mature and realistic stories.

Before Hill Street Blues, continuing storylines weren't really a thing.

"The Chinese Restaurant" in *Seinfeld*.


The show about nothing really hits its stride in "The Chinese Restaurant." If you ever wanted to fully understand what Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David were attempting to do with this show, this is the episode to watch.

Seinfeld utterly destroyed every preconception of what "plot" entails.

"Maude's Dilemma" in *Maude*.


It would be a complicated issue on its own just tackling middle-aged pregnancy.

But then to go ahead and make such a blatant commentary on abortion and pro-choice was nothing short of groundbreaking. Maude broke barriers of realism.

"Home" in *The X-Files*.

I miss this show so much. The X-Files helped birth the entire concept of modern horror dramas.

Shows like American Horror Story and Castle Rock directly owe their successes to this terrifying and disturbing episode.

"Pilot" in *Lost*.

At the time it was produced, the pilot episode of Lost was the most expensive episode of TV ever made.

It created a snowball effect and spawned the modern "Event" show as we now know it.

"Conflict" in *Mr. Roger's Neighborhood*.


At the height of the Cold War, Mr. Rogers was talking to children about things like nuclear fallout, what an "arms race" was, and how to prepare in the event that a bomb was dropped.

"201" in *South Park*.

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This is arguably one of the most debated and hotly controversial TV episodes of all time.

South Park pushed the boundaries of censorship to new heights with their portrayal of the Prophet Muhammed, violating one of the most fundamental tenets of Islam.

"Pilot" in *NYPD Blue*.


Without the incredible cop drama NYPD Blue, there'd be no True Detective.

The pilot episode displayed police officers as conflicted individuals as opposed to unwavering soldiers of morality. It set the groundwork for shows to come.

"Once More, With Feeling" in *Buffy The Vampire Slayer*.


I don't know if we should be thanking Buffy for this, or sending Joss Whedon angry hate-mail.

But their musical episode would go on to serve as the inspiration for shows like Glee and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

"Downsize" in *The Office*.


The advent of mockumentary television filmmaking happened thanks to Ricky Gervais and The Office.

Shows like Parks and Rec and Modern Family wouldn't exist without David Brent.

Even Steve Carell admits he'd be nowhere were it not for Ricky.

"The Sopranos" in *The Sopranos*.

In my humble opinion, The Sopranos is the greatest TV show of all time.

Their portrayal of mental health and therapy on TV, specifically to the benefit of its male audience, helped redefine a nation's opinions on mental health.