Love scenes that had to be cut for TV

When you cast your memory back over the biggest TV hits of recent times — Game of Thrones, Westworld, American Gods — surely some of the first scenes that spring to mind are pretty graphic, debauched and full-frontal. So you'd be totally forgiven for assuming that the television overlords were becoming more liberal when it comes to screening life beneath the sheets. But that's not always the case. 

Censors being censors, there are a number of rules that showrunners must obey in order for their content to be projected into your eyeballs. And of course, these rules can differ from country to country, meaning that certain scenes within your favorite shows may be quite different depending on where you're watching them.

When it comes to scenes of a loving nature, these edits happen more often than you might expect. Here are just a few examples of some well known TV shows whose "romantic" scenes got the censor treatment.

A royal cover up in The Crown

If you tuned into Netflix's monarchical drama, The Crown, expecting a full-frontal peek behind the royal curtain, you've likely been somewhat disappointed. For as much as the show embraced (and sometimes displayed) sexual antics between non-royals (like that steamy Season 2 studio session between Tony and the dancer, for example, which you can view above), when it came to flashing the crown jewels on-screen, the audience was forced to use its imagination.

It seems, though, that wasn't always going to be the case. In early 2018, Vanessa Kirby — who stars as Queen Elizabeth's sister Margaret — dove into the topic of royal romps on an episode of the podcast Love Stories with Dolly Alderton. As it turns out, there were some saucy scenes written in for members on the monarchy — "with lots of different positions," if you were interested — but they were deleted. She explained:

"There was one [sex scene] written in The Crown, in episode seven of this season. We had long discussions about what it should be, and it just became clear that to titillate was not the aim. I was like, 'no one wants to see royal boob, not really.'"

It wasn't just her love scene that got the chop — the Queen and Prince Philip fell victim, too. Kirby added: "I just don't think anyone wants to see the Queen having sex'." Probably for the best, wouldn't one agree?

The CW was forced to Reign it in

More royals, more drama. In this case, critics of The CW's Reign should have expected a little raunch from the 16th century drama. After all, this is show that had to tone down its pilot episode after the censor's response to finding a handmaid masturbating in a castle stairwell was less than positive. Go figure — they should have known better than to depict a scene of a woman enjoying herself sans man.

In 2014, Reign was censored again. Adopting a dual-release strategy, the show aired two versions of the same episode — one soft version that met the censor's approval, and one "too hot for TV" version that streamed exclusively online, which featured two sex scenes omitted from the small screen. The scenes in question weren't even that sexy — unless boning your new husband in front of your parents does it for you — but did that stop The Parents Television Council from sending a condemning note to The CW? Heck no.

Dubbing the broadcasting network "appalling" and inappropriate, the PTC accused The CW's release strategy of "flaunt[ing] broadcast standards" and putting children at risk. They argued that if certain scenes were considered improper for television, "what makes them appropriate to post online … ? Nothing. The CW Network should be ashamed."

Gossip Girl's forbidden fun box

Another show from The CW, another case of toned down titillation. One that might come as a surprise from a show that once aired an episode featuring Hilary Duff embarking on a ménage à trois with two of the lead characters (above). Yet when Gossip Girl tried to slide a little restaurant-based cunninglingus and a box of mammoth dildos past the censors, the showrunners learned exactly where the network drew the line.

Talking to Vulture in 2017, executive producer Joshua Safran recalled the two aforementioned deleted scenes. He firstly revealed: "We had a story about Chuck taking care of Blair under a table at Xan's. I don't think we were able to do it, but we hinted at it," before going on to describe an episode that saw Serena's frenemy, Georgina Sparks, torment her from afar, by sending her huge dildos:

"We cut it because you couldn't show them [the dildos] on air. 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. Penn [Badgley, who played Dan] was really shocked." While these scenes would've no doubt caused countless eyebrows to hit the roof, I think we all would have loved to see Dan open such a thoughtful gift.

Inexcusable omissions in How To Get Away With Murder

Since How To Get Away With Murder first aired on ABC in 2014, the show has garnered quite a bit of attention, not least for Viola Davis' magnetic performance as the lead, Annalise Keating. Yet in the summer of 2016, all eyes were focused towards the TV series for another reason entirely: LGBT censorship.

The episode in question depicted a love scene between two of the male leads, Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) and Connor (Jack Falahee). While the scene aired uncensored in America, it was totally omitted from the version shown in Italy. And that fact did not go unnoticed by the viewers, nor the show's creators, producers and cast, who all took to Twitter to demand answers from Italian TV network Rai Due.

The show's creator, Peter Nowalk stressed that he was "shocked and disappointed," by the omission, linking his followers to the full scene as it was intended to be shown, while executive producer Shonda Rhimes dubbed the move "inexcusable." Jack Falahee, who starred in the scene, chimed in to ask Rai Due if it felt that "audiences in Italia aren't 'ready' for real life?"

Clearly — and rightly — embarrassed by their move, Rai Due issued an apology on Twitter and aired the full episode the next day. 

Something's missing in Steven's Universe

Cartoon Network's Steven Universe isn't just your average animated series. It's a show that has been lauded for its subversion of gender stereotypes, for promoting equality, championing love — in all forms — and creating a fun platform for young viewers to open their eyes to alternative role models. All while portraying a badass superhero team most kids would die to be part of. So you can imagine the audience disgust then when Cartoon Network UK censored a "romantic dance between two female characters" in the normally forward-thinking show.

In fact, the audience was so upset with Cartoon Network UK that a petition entitled "End Homophobic Censorship of Steven Universe" racked up almost 10,000 signatures. CN UK responded to the audience outcry in a statement to Pink News, standing by their decision to omit the dance scene. 

They insisted that the edited version is "more comfortable for local kids and their parents" and "reflects [the audience's] preferences." But don't worry, they also assured us that "as a channel and network [they] celebrate diversity — evident across many of [their] shows and characters."

Girls, fire hoses and an HBO no-go

Lena Dunham's Girls could never be considered shy when it comes to illustrating the colorful romantic lives of 20-something city dwellers. After all, this is a show that got up close and personal while Marnie was getting her salad tossed over a kitchen sink. Once you caught a glimpse of that, you'd be forgiven for thinking that any hole's a goal on HBO, but apparently that's not quite the case.

Talking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2017, Girls' executive producer Judd Apatow spoke of the show's provocative nature and how "Lena wanted to reveal something that is normally hidden," focusing on the sexual dynamics that usually take place behind closed doors. This experimenting opened up quite the myriad of possibilities for potential storylines, and it was one of these possibilities — a "conclusion" scene featuring Elijah — that was stamped with a big fat nope from the network. Apatow recalled: "HBO said, 'If this is in the show, we could lose our license.' We were like, 'Oh my God, we've actually found the line at HBO.'"

To which HBO's former Entertainment President, Sude Naegle chimed in (serving all-too graphic realness): "In HBO's defense, it was like a fire hose!"

Nice!

LGBT scene censored in Skins

Skins was the name, and sexually-explorative antics were the game in the UK's hit TV show, which created such a splash on that side of the pond that it got shipped over to the states so BBC America viewers could get a slice of the action, too. One episode, however, seemed to have a bite missing from the slice — a bite that looked quite a lot like LGBT censorship. 

Per a report courtesy of AfterEllen.com, in 2009 a number of readers had flagged a moment in one Season 3 episode that appeared to be missing from the aired US version — a love scene between two female characters. In the UK version, the couple begin to kiss before undressing each other and getting it on. In the US edition, kissing jumps straight to a morning after scene, leaving an insinuation but showing nothing. 

AfterEllen.com reached out to BBC America, who explained that content-wise "British TV is generally more liberal in its content than American TV," which often means certain scenes have to be edited to adhere to BBC America's standards, whether that be cutting out foul language, extreme violence, drug use, or sex. 

They did stress, however, that while romantic scenes are sometimes chopped down to a shorter run-time, this has nothing to do with the character's sexual orientation: "Be assured, the same guidelines applied to the scene with Naomi and Emily have also been applied to heterosexual sex scenes in Skins."

The Night Manager fans called to #FreeTheHiddlesbum

While this one isn't quite a deleted deed, rest assured that this particular omission will still raise fury in most rational humans: In an American screening of The Night Manager, AMC censored Tom Hiddleston's tush. We know. We saw red, too. And so did many viewers, who rushed to Twitter to scold AMC's for it's puritanical behavior (and also to coin #FreeTheHiddlesbum, which might just be the best hashtag ever).

Here's but(t) a selection of the rage on Twitter: 

"Weeks and weeks of waiting patiently for #Hiddlesbum and @AMC_TV  decides America can't handle it. WTF?! #NoHIDDLESBUMforUS!" 

"THEY DIDN'T SHOW TOM HIDDLESTON'S BUTT ON THE US VERSION OF THE NIGHT MANAGER THIS IS RIDICULOUS

"Dude. THIS BLOWS. All of the great bits of this episode. Cut. To oblivion. #TheNightManager No #Hiddlesbum for us."

The butt-event happened during one of the season's steamier scenes — a passionate wall-romp between Hiddleston and his co-star, Elizabeth Debicki — and considering AMC is a channel known for graphic shows like Preacher, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad, this move was an odd one. Hiddleston, it would seem, was as miffed about the whole thing as we were, telling W Magazine: "I was surprised to hear that they cut my butt out! I'm here to tell you that my butt is not dangerous. And there are many, many more dangerous things that people are happy to broadcast."

The White Queen got more bang for her buck

Just to keep things nice and confusing, here we have another stellar example of transatlantic censorship, yet this time the version shown in the states was more liberal than its British counterpart. We are talking about the 2013 single-season 15th century period drama, The White Queen, which starred Max Irons (aka Jeremy Irons' son) as kinky King Edward. The show was a co-production between the BBC and Starz, and that resulted in some scenes being shot differently to cater for both audiences.

Now, considering Starz is home to raunchy shows that feature full-frontal nudity — like Spartacus, for example — one would rightly assume that The White Queen would pack some stately smut. Sadly, this was not the case for viewers of the same show on BBC in the UK. During an interview with British paper Metro, Irons summarized why: "You get a lot more arse in the Starz version — the cameras kept rolling after the BBC stopped the scene." Well, we know which version we'll be watching!