The Year's Most Controversial TV Moments

Courtesy: ABC.
The election may have put you on one side or another of this year's debates, but politics was hardly the only controversy people couldn't stop talking about in 2016 — and thank heavens for that. Television is something we can all talk about without too much drama. Fortunately, there were a ton of controversial moments from the tube that provided plenty of conversational fodder across the board and the nation.

For better or worse, TV didn't hold back this year: It offed beloved characters, broke up couples we assumed were ride-or-die, and dropped major reveals that made fans run to the message boards for immediate picking apart and discussion. Not every choice made by TV's powers-that-be made every fan happy, but it did keep us engaged. Trouble is the spice of life, right?

While we haven't quite gotten over some of these moments, at least there's always more in the mix for next year — turns of events that will surely have fans up in arms. Until then, let's take a look back at the bold moves TV made this year and the controversies that followed. (Warning: spoilers to follow!)

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The Series: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The Controversy: Cultural Appropriation

In the season 2 episode "Kimmy Goes To A Play!," Titus (Tituss Burgess) decides to put on a one-man show in which he plays a geisha. His "yellow face" performance gets him in hot water with the online advocacy group Respectful Asian Portrayals In Entertainment.

Yeah...R.A.P.E. is the tasteless acronym of choice. Ultimately, the show portrays that Asian American activists as overreacting to Titus' "innocent" performance, which, upon realizing it, literally causes them to spontaneously combust. The show was criticized for insensitivity, as well as for lashing out on an audience who had previously criticized other racist portrayals on the show.
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The Series: UnREAL

The Controversy: The Traffic Stop Shooting

UnREAL has a reputation for being provocative, but not everyone was thrilled with how it handled the issue of police brutality against Black lives. In the episode, white producers Coleman (Michael Rady) and Rachel (Shiri Appleby) deliberately set up their Black suitor, Darius (B.J. Britt) to be stopped by the cops for "stealing" a car from set.

His cousin, Romeo (Gentry White) gets shot (but survives) during an argument between Darius and the officers. Some felt that UnREAL was using the very real issue of police brutality to further drama without truly exploring the problem in a real way.
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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
The Series: Gilmore Girls

The Controversy: Rory's Pregnancy

The Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls featured plenty of surprises, but none were quite as controversial as A Year In The Life's last lines, in which Rory (Alexis Bledel) tells her mother Lorelai (Lauren Graham) she's with child.

Not only are we left to assume that the baby is Logan's (Matt Czuchry) whom Rory has been conducting a transatlantic affair with, we have no idea if we'll ever get another season to see what Rory chooses to do with this information.
4 of 22
The Series: Pretty Little Liars

The Controversy:
Spencer & Caleb's Hookup

Many fans were angry that PLL broke up Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) and Hanna (Ashey Benson) in the first place, so anyone that Caleb got with next would likely face their wrath.

But few fans expected the show to break the girl code, as it did when Spencer (Troian Bellisario) went for her BFF's serious ex. Still, not everyone hated Spaleb as much as Haleb loyalists. Some argued that Spencer and Caleb were a well-suited match — perhaps even more so than the original Haleb.
5 of 22
The Series: How To Get Away With Murder

The Controversy:
Wes Dies

Promos teased who the dead character "under the sheet" was for weeks before it was revealed that Wes (Alfred Enoch) was the one who perished in the fire. Some fans loved the shocking twist (and the new murder-mystery that was set up), while others wondered how the series would continue without the heart of the Keating Five.
6 of 22
The Series: Game Of Thrones

The Controversy: Hodor's Death

Oh, this one hurts. Fans finally got an explanation for Hodor's (Kristian Nairn) single-word vocabulary: it had to do with Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) sticking him in a time loop. Definitely a twist (and a seriously sad moment), but some fans argued that the moment brought up a lot of questions about the rules of the Game Of Thrones universe.
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The Series: The Mindy Project

The Controversy: Danny's Jerky Behavior

With Chris Messina dedicating less time to Hulu's The Mindy Project, it made sense for the series to sacrifice Danny (Messina) and Mindy's (Mindy Kaling) once strong relationship. Still, some viewers weren't thrilled with how the show went about ruining things between Danny and Mindy so permanently.

Not long after the audience learns that Danny is getting married (seriously, what happened to the commitment-phobic guy we used to know?), Danny and Mindy hook up in an elevator before deciding there's no way they're getting back together. Go break our heart, why don't you?
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The Series: The X-Files

The Controversy: The Cliffhanger Ending

The '90s sci-fi series was welcomed back with open arms and fans hopped right into the revival's six-episode mystery. Unfortunately, that mystery ended with one of the show's biggest cliffhangers yet: a spaceship dangling just above Scully (Gillian Anderson) and a (dying) Mulder's (David Duchovny) head. With no promise of a new season, the ending frustrated plenty of fans.
9 of 22
The Series: The Walking Dead

The Controversy: Who Did Negan Kill?

New TWD villain Negan came swinging onto the scene with his barbed-wire-covered baseball bat, Lucille. At the end of season 6, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) takes that bat to someone's head — but just who Negan killed wasn't revealed until the season 7 premiere. The long wait for answers didn't exactly thrill fans, who debated about who was on the chopping block all through the hiatus.
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Photo: Courtesy of The CW.
The Series: Jane The Virgin

The Controversy: Xiomara's Abortion

Though Jane (Gina Rodriguez) decided to follow through with the pregnancy that she didn't exactly plan (as in, she was accidentally artificially inseminated), her mother, Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) chose to have an abortion in season 3.

Executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman knew Xo's no-regrets medical abortion would be controversial, as the storyline stemmed from certain politician's stance on a woman's right to choose. Ultimately, the series showcases how people can have different opinions on abortion, but still ultimately be at peace with one another's point of view and decisions.
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The Series: You're The Worst

The Controversy:
Edgar's PTSD

You're The Worst may be a comedy, but it's also surprisingly open about mental health issues, particularly in relation to veterans.

In the episode "Twenty-Two," Edgar (Desmin Borges), a veteran, deals with his PTSD without much help from the Veterans Affairs office. Later, after going off his meds, Edgar turns to medical marijuana to cope with PTSD — the "only thing that helps."
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The Show: Fox's The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Controversy:
Laverne Cox Performs As Frank-N-Furter

Cox, a trans woman, came under fire for accepting the role as "sweet transvestite" Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the TV remake of the cult musical. Some critics believed that it was suggesting that Cox herself was merely "a man who enjoys wearing women's clothes," the definition of the term transvestite, as opposed to a person who identified as female.

Cox shook off the criticism, telling The Star that she was just "acting" and didn't take roles based on "politics."
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The Series: Stranger Things

The Controversy: Barb Dies

Nancy's (Natalia Dyer) sensible redheaded BFF Barb (Shannon Purser) definitely got the short end of the stick on Netflix's acclaimed sci-fi series. Everyone on the show teams up to find Will (Noah Schnapp) in the Upside Down and, eventually, they're able to save him from the monster. Unfortunately, Barb doesn't get quite as large a search party — and dies rather unceremoniously.

Naturally, Barb fans — of which there were many — were pissed. Fortunately, the showrunners hint we'll get some #JusticeForBarb in season 2.
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Photo: HBO
The Series: Westworld

The Controversy:
Dolores' Implied Rape

Westworld is a theme park in which humans can satisfy any fantasy, no matter how depraved. Disturbingly, that includes rape. In one of the opening scenes of the HBO series, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) a human-like robot, is forcibly pulled into a barn by a Westworld guest, strongly implying that she will be raped. HBO has long been criticized for using sexual assault gratuitously and some fans were torn on whether or not it was warranted so early on in the series.
15 of 22
The Series: American Horror Story: Roanoke

The Controversy: The "Big Twist"

American Horror Story: Roanoke teased a big twist since the very beginning of season 6. Unfortunately, when the twist finally went down, no one was particularly surprised. The series was originally formatted documentary-style and featured "real people" telling their ghost story as well as re-enactors.

Then, in episode 6, the show brought everyone together (as in, the actors and the real people they portrayed) and had them go back to the haunted Roanoke house for a new season of the show. From there, the series pretty much played out as the first five episodes did — albeit with more people and gore — leaving many fans to feel let down by the "shocking" twist.
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The Series: The 100

The Controversy: Lexa Dies

The love story between Lexa (Alycia Jasmin Debnam-Carey) and Clarke (Eliza Jane Taylor-Cotter) came to a shocking conclusion when Lexa was killed shortly after the star-crossed pair hooked up. Some fans found Lexa's death yet another example of the disturbing trope in which LGBTQ characters are killed off TV shows far quicker and at a higher rate than their straight, cis-gendered peers.
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The Series: This Is Us

The Controversy: Miguel & Rebecca Got Married

Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) provided us with endless couple goals on This Is Us, so imagine the shock when Rebecca is married to Jack's best friend, Miguel (Jon Huertas) in present day.

Though we now know that Jack is dead, the fact that Rebecca could marry her husband's BFF — regardless of the circumstances — broke fans' hearts.
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The Series: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

The Controversy: Greg Leaves West Covina

In a shocking twist, Greg (Santino Fontana) reveals that he's seeking help for his alcohol problem and leaving West Covina for good to attend Emory.

Was it a good send-off for a complicated guy (who had an even more complicated relationship with Rebecca) or did Greg's quick departure leave the series minus one of its strongest characters?
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The Series: Orange Is The New Black

The Controversy: Poussey's Death

This is one controversial death that should bring anyone to tears.

After a prison riot breaks out, Poussey (Samira Wiley) is tackled by C.O. Bayley (Alan Aisenberg) and suffocates to death when he does not let her up, despite her protests that she "can't breathe." The chilling death, a clear mirror to the Black lives lost at the hands of law enforcement over the past year, was horrifying, but also sparked renewed conversation about police brutality toward people of color.
20 of 22
The Series: Black-ish

The Controversy: The Police Brutality Episode

Black-ish
took a break from its lighter commentary on race relations for a powerful episode that confronted the controversial issue of police brutality against the Black community head-on.

Dre's (Anthony Anderson) speech, in which he reminds his wife Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) of the mix of joy and fear they had watching President Obama be inaugurated in 2008, was a reminder that the world hasn't quite gotten to the place of equality many assume we have.
21 of 22
The Show: Grease Live!

The Controversy:
Carly Rae Jepsen's New Song

Not everyone was thrilled with Fox's addition of brand-new song "All I Need Is An Angel" into the beloved musical. Jepsen may be the pop star we don't deserve, but the track didn't do her fab "Call Me Maybe" voice justice.
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