Disney during the last decade of Michael Eisner's reign was this trope in motion. It came to a head in 1999, when Peter Schneider left his job as chairman of Disney Feature Animation. Eisner told Sharon Morrill (head of Disney's direct-to-video department) and newly installed Feature Animation head Thomas Schumacher that he no longer wanted to be beholden to filmmakers - from that point on, executives would be making all of the creative decisions. What resulted were seven years of the company spiraling out of control, burning bridges with nearly everyone in Hollywood (including their most valuable partner Pixar), infuriating their stockholders (who revolted after Walt Disney's nephew Roy resigned from the company in protest), and ultimately costing Eisner his job and Disney its reputation. Thankfully It Got Better, but those last few years are probably the reason that his successor Bob Iger has been the most hands-off CEO that Disney has ever had.
Parodied in Darkwing Duck when executives try to mess with the show itself onscreen, such as trying to change the focus to villain Bushroot. The execs at least figured that killing Darkwing off should be vetoed.
A positive example, when Disney Channel executives heard the song "Gitchie Gitchie Goo," they asked the creators to make a song for each episode. This worked out REALLY well.
Also notable is a Take That in one episode aimed at Disney's Standards and Practices department. Phineas and Buford seem to be gearing up for a fight — only to have it revealed that they have to thumb wrestle when the referee finishes reading off the exact policy required by Standards and Practices.
Also parodied in the episode "Nerds of a Feather," when Doofenshmirtz tries to start a Buddy Cop show about him and Perry. He gets Seth MacFarlane- err, a TV producer to agree, but as soon as the producer suggests giving Perry's character a girlfriend, Doof flips out and storms away. Word of God says this is based on some averted meddling from the Disney execs; the creators didn't want to go through with it because Perry's "married to his work."
Surprisingly, an episode of Pepper Ann, called "Girl Power," shows this example perfectly. When Pepper Ann's sister Moose sees her favorite comic-turned-TV show, Tundra Woman is, at first turned into The Ditz, then when Moose rallies people to make feminist complaints about this, the executives go way too far in the other direction and turn Tundra Woman into The Amazon, which draws further complaints due to her losing all character in favor of being an overly-violent Neanderthal. In the end, it was cancelled and replaced with a space cartoon.
Also the same reason why Courage the Cowardly Dog was taken off the air for a while, eventually only being shown in October. The show now airs throughout the year, thanks to popular demand.
Because of The CW's failed pilot for an Aquaman series, Mercy Reef, the character was not seen in JLU's final season, and his arch-enemy Black Manta was turned into Captain Ersatz Devil Ray. The episode "To Another Shore" was to feature Aquaman vs. Manta, but his role was given to Wonder Woman instead. Knowing this helps to explain some of the episode's serious WTF moments: Why is Wonder Woman at a meeting about global warming (yes, Themyscira is an island, but...)? Why did she give a very Aquaman-ish threat to the leaders of the free world? Most of all, why is Devil Ray so pissed at her?
Speaking of Wonder Woman, current policy is that Wonder Woman and related characters are only allowed to appear if she's one of the main characters.
Plastic Man and the Blue Beetle were also forbidden from appearing due to media adaptation rights conflicts. Those conflicts have seen been resolved, so both now appear along with Aquaman and Black Manta in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
Speaking of which, apparently, there was problems getting Black Lightning into various DC animated series (which explains Black Vulcan in Superfriends). However, when they delved into it when they were doing Brave and the Bold, they couldn't find the exact reasons why, thus giving them a chance to bring Black Lightning into a DC animated production for the first time.
The producers have stated that when using The Atom, Firestorm and Blue Beetle, they were encouraged to use the more recent, non-white versions for the sake of diversity. This in turn led to Ryan Choi, Jason Rusch and Jaime Reyes being given more prominent roles in the DCU after the 2011 DC relaunch.
Batman: The Animated Series had its share of meddling in its production. Executives did not think that young viewers would identify with Batman very well, so decreed that his sidekick, Robin would have to appear in every episode in the second season, something that the creators did not want, as Batman needed some time alone as a solo vigilante. A proposed story involving a Catwoman and Black Canary team-up was axed when the executives noticed that Robin was not involved. In the end, the creators won out, and by The New Batman Adventures period, Robin made only occasional appearances where they saw fit (this time as a young Tim Drake version, even), but the team-up script was forever lost. A similar plot was used instead in "Batgirl Returns". (Black Canary later appeared in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, by which time Catwoman was ensnared in the Bat-Embargo, above.)
Meddling and censorship sometimes led to the producers having to think of inventive ways of showing otherwise unacceptable content. For example, in the episode "Robin's Reckoning", they were not allowed to show Dick Grayson's parents plummeting to their deaths from a trapeze, so they instead framed the shot so that you simply see their shadows swinging out of view, then the snapped rope swinging back followed by the audience's shocked reaction. The creators conceded on a DVD commentary that this made the scene much more effective, and thanked the studio for making them do it that way. Track down the book about B:TAS if you want to see many of the decisions Fox censors made for them. ("It must be clear that Batman is kicking thugs in the stomach." "Try to have Catwoman land on something other than her face or breasts." "For some reason, they didn't like the hyenas chowing down in the baby carriage." etc.)
The BTAS episode "Over the Edge" was subject to one of the most ironically positive bits of Executive Meddling known to man. Originally, when Batgirl/Barbara was to fall to her death while hitting her father's police car on the way down, the camera angle stayed outside of the car, looking head-on at Gordon and Bullock as Barbara hits the hood. The network censors objected to the blatant on-screen violence and flagged the shot. The sinister bastards at WB Animation then set the shot of Barbara landing on the hood from inside the police car, using the conventional "back seat" shot seen in so many movies. This is a much more startling and frightening shot, as the camera angle is so common and generic that the violence is ten times more unexpected. However, the censors, in a remarkable show of Genre Blindness, only paid attention to the fact that Barbara's landing was technically further away from the camera and signed off on the more vicious shot.Those suckers.
An interview with Dini shows him saying something to the effect of "If the network wanted us to change a scene because it was too violent or scary, our policy was to follow their words to the letter, but at the same time make it much scarier," noting that they could get away with a lot of terrors if they followed the words to the letter.
FOX Network executives put the kibosh on an adaptation of Batman versus Dracula when they insisted vampires could not be shown drinking blood. Years later, The Batman was able to use Dracula and show vampires drinking blood, but only as a direct-to-DVD movie subject to less censorship than the TV series. (By the same token, the movie gave Batman a love interest, Vicki Vale, who was nowhere to be seen in the show, and included a number of sexual innuendoes, such as the Renfieldized Penguin remarking that Vicki had "nice jugulars.")
FOX also refused to let Dini use Firefly, a pyromaniac villain. (Burning off half of Harvey Dent's face in an explosion was apparently okay — but note that this was changed from the comics' origin of acid being deliberately thrown in his face.) It wasn't until the series transferred to the WB that Firefly made an appearance.
Superman: The Animated Series suffered from Executive Meddling as well, though not quite to the same degree. Bruce Timm said that for some reason, DC wouldn't give him permission to have Clark reveal his identity to Lois. Ever. And it came up again in Justice League, when Timm revealed that DC again squashed the reveal by forbidding him to say or insinuate that Clark and Lois were dating — when they'd been married in the comic for over ten years. It wasn't until the build-up to JLU's (first) Grand Finale that Superman (not Clark) took Lois on a date.
On the Marvel side of things, Human Torch was not left out of The Fantastic Four (1978) because network execs feared children would set themselves on fire to imitate him. Rather it was because Universal had the rights to the character for an (eventually unmade) project.
In the FF comic book, the Torch explained that he was out of the country when the contracts for the cartoon were being signed.
Adventure Time is notorious for Getting Crap Past the Radar, and dancing circles around the censors note though Time Squad set the bar in the "dancing around the censors" department and Regular Show gets away with more an episode than Adventure Time can in a season — at least in America note Australia and the Philippines' versions of Cartoon Network have shredded the show due to innuendo and what they consider to be rude language. However, one thing in particular wouldn't fly with the censors- the character Tree Trunks dying by explosion in the episode "Tree Trunks". In a case of very positive executive meddling, the creators revealed that she had been transported to a crystal world, and she was later rescued by the titular characters. She returned in other episodes. Tree Trunks is one of the most beloved characters in the show. If the creators had had their way, she would have exploded, and only appeared in one episode. But they were forced to think outside of their own box, which led to a few excellent episodes all about Tree Trunks, like "Crystals Have Power" and "Apple Thief".
Transformers: Beast Wars story editors Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio stated, after the conclusion of the series, that they had no interest in working on toy-based series ever again, due to the demands of Hasbro executives, including which characters needed to be written out or introduced. For instance, Tigerhawk was shoehorned in only a few episodes before the series end and was promptly killed off in the finale.
One such issue of executive meddling came when the executives ordered them to kill off two Predacons, Scorponok and Waspinator, at the end of the first season to make room for the incoming characters from Season 2. DiTillio and Forward, recognizing how much of a fan favorite Waspinator had become, begged the execs at Hasbro to allow them to kill off the comparatively unpopular Terrorsaur in his stead, particularly as Tarantulas carried out the same function that he did only more successfully. DiTillio and Forward thankfully won this battle, and Waspinator was spared while Terrorsaur was killed.
All of this is ironic was because it was meddling that got Waspinator into the series in the first place. The writers didn't care for the character at all, but were required to use him. They made him the Butt Monkey out of frustration, but that made him popular with fans. And he even grew on the writers, too.
In fairness with the Tigerhawk issue, not including him would have meant the whole Tigatron and Airazor abduction by the Vok plotthread would have been left unresolved.
One of the main criticisms of the sequel, Beast Machines, was that the writers seemed to pay no attention to the character development of the previous show, with many of the characters suffering drastic shifts in personality and taking actions which were entirely inconsistent with their portrayal in Beast Wars. It was later revealed that this was because the writers were given only rough outlines of the plot and characters and explicitly ordered not to actually go back and watch the show they were making a sequel to, so that the new show wouldn't be "too continuity heavy." It didn't work.
Speaking of which, the 2003 He-Man remake was criticized as having failed due to a severe lack of promotion for both the show and toy line, an inconsistent air time, and — for the toys — a gross mis-distribution of the figures and several missed shipments to retailers, among other things. While most of these accusations are debatable, one isn't: even years after both show and toy line were canceled, the toy line's designers Four Horsemen convinced Mattel to allow them to continue to make merchandise for the series for free, extending it long after interest in it has died. In a bit of reverse-meddling, Mattel only agreed if the new merchandise were immobile statues instead of the action figures Four Horsemen wanted.
The exact same thing happened to Futurama — except they came back on a different network, since CN's rights ran out.
The subsequent renewals of Futurama as a set of movies and then a relaunched series both began with some reference to the idiocy of the executives who shut down their business. The first movie spent about five minutes depicting the executives as complete and utter buffoons before describing how their remains were ground up to form a useful powder.
In Argentina, Media Watchdogs tried to ban this show, showing the "Evil Dead" episode as evidence that it was not suitable for children. Thankfully, they never succeeded.
The game portion of the first episode aired on Cartoon Network rather than ABC is more or less a non-stop series of "look what we can do now" moments.
In the episode where Enzo loses in a Mortal Kombat-style fighting game, the demon played by the user is clearly announced as Satan. His fatality is one-handedly grabbing his opponent's heads and crushing them — although the actual crushing part only happens offscreen, you still see him grab their heads and still hear it quite clearly. This is also the episode where Enzo's eye is slashed out onscreen. "Look what we can do now" indeed.
The line: "It's the ABCs, they've turned on us! Traitorous Dogs!" the ABCs (Armored Binome Carrier) being Megabyte's fleet.
At one point Enzo aims a ridiculously large bazooka at Megabyte's troops, only to discover, to his disgust, that it fired a life raft labeled "BS Approved."
And for much of the episode about Enzo's birthday, an uptight female binome rejected most of the acts Dot was planning for the party. This is a confirmed Take Thatnote On the DVD commentary they admit that binome, named Emma See, was based directly on a BS&P official named 'Mary' who was "not happy about it" and the same episode then features Dot singing in a revealing red dress, with Enzo staring at her in what is, hopefully, surprise. Also, an awesome guitar duel between Bob and Megabyte.
Probably the most infamous example was Dot's chest, or as the animation studio called it on their own blog, Dot's "Mono-breast." ABC would not allow Dot to show any cleavage, even when she wore costumes where it would be anatomically impossible not to show it. When ABC dropped ReBoot, the studio celebrated by stuffing Dot into an Elvira costume, and dedicating an episode to her new breasts (oh, and Evil Dead and horror movies in general also got a couple of nods).
On the flip-side, the show did actually gain one huge benefit from Executive Meddling: Enzo. They were asked (read: told) to put a little kid character in to boost sales in the U.S. Even the crew of the show has admitted that they ended up grateful that they were forced to include him.
NBC adopted the Christian video series VeggieTales to air on their former children's programming block Qubo, but not before bowdlerizing any and all references to Christ, God, the Bible, and Christianity. Public response eventually made them lighten up — the Biblical discussions before and after each story were still cut, but religious references within the episode could stay.
And all of them were chastised by the Dungeon Master for listening to Eric. He then treated them to a lecture about mercy.
Well, if you consider the never-produced ending, on which the Venger is revealed to be the Dungeon Master's son and which is freed from the curse that kept him as the Venger, you could actually understand his position. You could even see that moment as character development in hindsight for the Dungeon Master himself.
"The Dragon's Graveyard" is notable because it showed what the show could have been if the executives had left well enough alone. The beginning starts off with them almost getting home, before Venger stops them. The kids avert Angst? What Angst? with a vengeance and Bobby breaks down crying. They finally get sick of him thwarting all their attempts to return home, and decide to take the offensive and killnote Well, Never Say "Die", but it's as explicit as it gets him to stop this from happening ever again. The series was intended to be a Deconstruction of "kids go to a magic world" by having the kids actually be afraid of the life-threatening situations they got into, and depressed about being lost on an alien world. But the Media Watchdogs just wouldn't let that happen.
And, of course, all bladed weapons were forbidden from the show, so we got a warrior that used a bow with energy arrows, a cavalier that only used a shield for both offense and defense, and a thief that could turn invisible but didn't really use any weapons.
Brain even voices his displeasure, saying he deeply resents this.
Also, spoofed in Pinky and the Brain in the episode "You'll Never Eat Food Pellets in This Town Again," where the title characters are actually actors in a hit TV show about two lab mice who take over the world. After a ridiculously tiny drop in ratings, the executives of the show's network decide to alter the show beyond recognition, turning it into any other '90s sitcom. The whole thing turns out to be Brain's nightmare, but when you consider the genuine meddling going on behind the scenes of the actual show...
Ironically, a year before the Elmyra retool, "new character" executive meddling was parodied (with a bit of blatant The Three Stoogeshomage) in "Pinky and the Brain... (and Larry)." Larry does almost nothing but introduce himself repeatedly, he inserts his name into every conversation, his presence on the show is completely unexplained, Brain hates him because he screws things up worse than Pinky ever could, and by the end of the episode he gets kicked out, only to be replaced by... Zeppo.
Not even Jem was safe from Executive Meddling. The bosses asked Christy Marx, the creator and writer of most episodes of that series, to create a new Misfit for them. Christy attempted to make a black member for the Misfits, but the bosses rejected that, but offered her another idea: the new Misfit could be British — leading to the creation of Jetta.
Their odd reasoning was since the Misfits were the antagonists of the show, the executives were worried that African American groups would take offence if one of the villains was black. Jetta was the best compromise that they could come up with ("ethnic," but still white).
After season 1, Christy Marx was also told that she had to re-use music from previous episodes, forcing her to find ways to justify re-using old music in new scripts. As a result, only about half of the music from season 2 is original, and some of the new music is repeated only a few episodes later.
X-Men: Evolution had an example when the producers were forced to cut a scene where the character Lance Alvers saves Kitty Pryde from being crushed by a statue. Apparently, the WB execs felt this would frighten young children, not because the character was imperiled — but because it wasn't that long after September 11th. Even though this was a show where mutants with superpowers attacked each other and stuff blew up all the time. As a result of the cut, Lance is seen just holding Kitty with no explanation why, leaving viewers confused.
During his tenure as head writer on The Real Ghostbusters, J. Michael Straczynski constantly battled with ABC execs. Some production members have noted having a happier time with the syndication episodes, which were subjected to far less scrutiny and it shows. (The H.P. Lovecraft-inspired, "The Collect Call of Cthulhu," is just one of the episodes people have noted the network wouldn't have cared for.)
Especially contentious was the ongoing debate over the Ghostbusters' secretary, Janine Melnitz. A child psychologist hired as a consultant by ABC felt the character was too cynical and abrasive. Her personality should be more supportive and "feminine", instead. The consultant also expressed concerns that her sharp, angular glasses might scare children — and yet, all the grotesque ghosts and monsters running around were a-ok. JMS acquiesced to one of ABC's demands, making Janine a Ghostbuster for an episode. The execs had felt young girls needed a positive female role model and saw this as an opportunity to do so.
Other additions the executives wanted were more Slimer-centric episodes, and junior Ghostbusters, a group of children that followed the Ghostbusters on missions, including a handicapped member. Both were attempts to pander to different age groups. Eventually, JMS simply quit out of frustration. After his departure, all of these changes came to pass, including altering Janine's look, personality, and voice. JMS would come back in Season 6 (though other jobs meant he could only do a few episodes). He Lampshaded the changes made to Janine in the episode "Janine You've Changed."
In Extreme Ghostbusters, Janine is back to her original personality, Slimer is back as a minor supporting character, and no mention is made of the Junior Ghostbusters...
The same network consultants had also wanted Ray to be removed from the cast, as they felt his character did not benefit the program. Straczynski and the other writers objected, and Ray was allowed to remain.
Peter became more friendly towards Slimer, due to the consultants wanting their rivalry downplayed and for Slimer to be more of a cute mascot character.
The "puppet mode"Stinger segments that play during the credit sequence of Chowder were completely removed from their first run due to the current practice of Cartoon Network appropriating a show's credit sequence for additional show promotion and advertising with their blatant Credits Pushback (a practice becoming increasingly more common on television in the United States). Fortunately, the Stinger segments are now finally being shown, but only when the show is aired during "off-peak syndication."
Spider-Man: The Animated Series also came in for a substantial amount of meddling. The writers weren't allowed to use the words death, die, or kill; hence, when Peter found out Uncle Ben had been killed, it was shown as a police officer shaking his head and saying "I'm sorry, kid. The guy was armed." Also, realistic guns were out, so even petty thieves were armed with futuristic lasers.
Morbius, a vampire. The writers weren't allowed to show him sucking blood through his fangs, so he apparently has fangs for no reason, as he instead drains plasma (they can't use the word "blood" apparently) through suckers in his hands. The suckers were so squicktastic that they made the character even creepier, whereas his declarations of "I hunger for PLASMA!" were often Narm.
Carnage. In the comics, he was a mass-murdering psychopath, but in the series he wasn't allowed to kill anyone — instead he sucked out their "essence" through his hands, which was restored to his victims after he was sucked into a portal. In the scene where he acquires the symbiote he attacks some prison guards; he picks one up and makes some knives with his fingers but instead it shows him busting through a wall. To be fair to Fox, the NYPD's description of Cletus Cassidy implied his psychopathic tendencies, and his mannerisms and laughter were still pretty creepy in their own right (especially the laughter). So while Carnage could not kill anyone, the censorship didn't stifle his sadistic personality.
Sandman was never seen because rights were tied up with the (unmade) original movie plans and instead Hydro-Man was used in their place.
Spider-Man was also never allowed to throw a punch because it would make the show too violent. The writers managed to slip just one punch in the 65-episode series. Although Tropes Are Not Bad in this case, as it forced Spider-Man to be much more clever in his crimefighting, which fits his genius-level intellect. And of course, the massive number of kicks didn't hurt.
They also weren't allowed to break windows, which also got snuck in, one wonders how they missed that.
If that's not absurd, listen to these:
"When Spider-Man lands on a roof, make sure he doesn't harm any pigeons."
"Spider-Man can imprison a villain, but they can not be given a ticket to California to leave."
A mixup over villain names forced the writers to introduce the Hobgoblin in season one rather than the Green Goblin, to match the toys that had been ordered. This allowed Hobgoblin to become an engaging character in his own right and a precursor to the more dangerous Green Goblin.
The censorship standards led to The Punisher being castrated. He was purely non-lethal and pretty ineffective as a result. However, the telling of his origin (for those unaware, the brutal shooting of his wife and young children which obviously couldn't be shown) was incredibly effective. The only visual was a kite flying in the sky and at the sound of gunshots fell to the ground, landing in a puddle and forming the classic skull as it became soaked in water.
Vlad Masters, Danny's Arch-Enemy and Evil Counterpart, was originally going to be a vampire. This is pretty evident from his appearance, the fact that he's named after Vlad The Impaler (y'know, the guy who was the inspiration for the infamous Count Dracula), and that his supervillain name is "Plasmius" (as in Plasma, something you find in blood, which is what vampires feed on). The executives at Nickelodeon thought the idea was "too occult" (Never mind that the show is about ghosts...) and had him changed into the bitter yet still somehow appealing half-ghost villain we all know and love.
Season 3 was a cesspool of Executive Meddling; First off, the main writer for the first 2 seasons was fired, so Season Three resulted in heavy alterations that caused severe Fanon Discontinuity for some fans. Next, the schedule kept changing, moving the show's time slot to odd times in the middle of the day. Also, some of the episodes were played Out of Order (such as the heavily-promoted Urban Jungle, which was the first episode of the season to air, despite taking place in the middle of the season), and given how plots built during this season (with several major events like Plasmius becoming mayor and Danny gaining ice powers) this made the season hard to follow. Also, Nickelodeon decided that they wanted this to be the last season, despite series creator Butch Hartman wanting to make new seasons and that there was no drop in the ratings. This meant that all of the plot lines had to be wrapped up quickly. Or not at all.
One episode of the Beetlejuice cartoon show is a huge Take That to ABC's Broadcast Standards and Practices, featuring an annoying, fairy godmother-like character Goody Two Shoes who claims to represent the "Bureau of Sweetness and Prissiness" (yes, she does use the abbreviation at one point). The characters finally manage to shake her by being tooSickeningly Sweet even for her tastes, and the end of the episode lampshades actual censorship in the show, namely how the camera cuts to another character's reaction whenever Beetlejuice eats a bug.
There's also the ratings-obsessed Mr. Monitor, who's practically the personification of Executive Meddling.
Given the three different companies responsible for the production of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) — toymaker Playmates, Mirage, and 4Kids — it wasn't surprising that this eventually crept in. Especially the events surrounding season 7. After an intended follow up season to "Fast Forward" was aborted, a struggle between the three parties began over the direction for the cartoon. Among the eventually rejected suggestions were a card game-based series, a series with the Turtles caring for their infant past selves, and a completely fresh Continuity Reboot.
When a little boy burned down his trailer home and caused the death of his baby sister, the program Beavis And Butthead was blamed because Beavis was a bit of a pyromaniac. As a result, he was no longer allowed to shout "Fire!, Fire!", he was no longer able to carry around a lighter and set things ablaze, and many past episodes' fire references were edited out. As it turns out, the kid's family didn't have cable and there was no way the kid could have seen the show.
It did lead to one memorable music video scene — the video was Wax's "Southern California," which famously features the Unusually Uninteresting Sight of a man on fire jogging down a street. Instead of Beavis saying anything about fire, he just goes into a catatonic daze of pure bliss.
Beavis continued to hilariously lampshade this bit of Executive Meddling as the show went on. Upon seeing a monk in a video, he begins excitedly shouting "friar, friar!" while Butthead nervously prods him to stop. Beavis eventually mutters "oh yeah" and settles down again. Another time, he slowly and deliberately chants "liar, liar, pants on..." and then concludes with a distracted "whoa!". Yet another time, while watching Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy," Beavis sees Robin Williams and exclaims, "Look, it's Mrs. Doubt-FIRE!!!"
15 years later, this was apparently lifted as the first new episode of the series have Beavis proudly exclaiming "FIRE! FIRE!"
Several aspects of the Darker and Edgier second season of Legion of Super Heroes have the fingerprints of meddling. Superman X's existence seems to have come out of a pressing need to have a Superman with a warrior complex and more superpowers:
James Tucker: They wanted a super-up Superman. They didn't care how we did it, but they wanted him to be more of a badass. For me, I didn't want to alter our existing Superman that much. So along with Michael Jelenic, we came up with the clone from the future. (More here.)
More depressingly, Saturn Girl's season-long Convenient Coma and the near-disappearance of Phantom Girl seem to be the results of maximizing the ratings for the target 8-to-11-year-old male Demographic.
Stan Berkowitz: ... the network focus-grouped The Batman (and Legion Of Superheroes) and found out that what our very young male audience wanted was more fights, jokes and costumes and fewer female characters. No surprises there... 
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show almost never happened largely because of Nintendo's unwillingness to license the series. Nintendo finally agreed but not before asking for hefty royalties in the process. Despite the show being a smash hit and many celebrities (whose kids loved the show) wanting a guest appearance, Nintendo balked after production for its lone season ended.
After Devil May Hare, the first Looney Tunes short staring the Tasmanian Devil was made, executive Eddie Selzer made it extremely clear that no more cartoons about him would be made, since Taz was, in his opinion, stupid and unfunny. However, Jack Warner himself liked the cartoon, so this was overturned.
Not that the WB animators were likely to listen to Eddie Selzer anyway. According to Chuck Jones, once while he and his frequent collaborator Michael Maltese were brainstorming ideas for a new Bugs Bunny cartoon, Selzer stuck his head in Chuck's office and said that he didn't think bullfights were funny so he didn't want them to make any bullfight cartoons. They hadn't even mentioned bullfighting during their brainstorming session, but after Selzer left, Maltese waited a few seconds, then said, "Well, he hasn't been right yet..." They immediately produced Bully for Bugs, in spite of Selzer's orders, which turned out to be one of Bugs' better vehicles.
Insiders have since noted that Selzer had to screen the cartoons after they were made. He obviously said nothing after seeing Bully For Bugs, so it was accepted that like Leon Schlesinger he let the animators make whatever they wanted as long as they were within budget.
Poor, poor SWAT Kats. Apparently it was cancelled because "it was too violent," according to Ted Turner. It's generally accepted that he deliberately acquired the rights to the show just so he could kill it, mainly because it didn't fit his image of children's television.
A positive example: Originally, the Kids Next Door were to use high tech equipment to fight adult tyranny. The folks at Cartoon Network, however, asked this to be changed since Dexter's Laboratory had already done this. This resulted in 2x4 technology, which Mr. Warburton has called one of the coolest things about the show.
Ren and Stimpy was another animated show that was subject to Executive Meddling. The Nickelodeon suits made creator John Kricfalusi do some cartoons that were traditional and heartwarming, to help offset the extreme grossness of the show.
The Executive Meddling forced John K to replace some of show's gags and premises, instead of going for coarse and down-straight obscene. The toilet and sex jokes took over the absurdity and nonsense. Nick's executives also asked him to give a softer side to Ren, which made him an adorable Jerk with a Heart of Gold. A few of these restrictions seemed to diminish after John K left and Games Animation studios took over, something the former has been more than willing to point out.
In John K's words "for every idea Nick accepted, they threw out five others" and some of the censoring they did was downright ridiculous (i.e. in Big House Blues, they removed a scene of the dog-catching shaking his butt at Ren, because the execs thought it was "too feminine" and Stimpy's Invention almost didn't get made because of nervous execs).
The Simpsons is practically immune to this trope in real-life. Producer James L. Brooks has the clout to make it a rule that the network can't give notes. Little things have been tinkered with (largely relating to legal/censorship issues), but the series has been spared the problems others have faced. That doesn't mean the series doesn't parody this trope, though. This trope was parodied in when too much meddling caused Krusty to retire for the umpteenth time.
Krusty: Folks, I've been in showbiz for sixty-one years, but now these jerks have sucked all the fun out of it. I don't need twelve suits tellin' me which way to pee! Male Executive: Uh, for "pee," could you substitute "whiz"? Lindsey Naegle: I don't know, that could upset the Cheez Whiz people. Male Executive: I was just thinking that. Krusty: I can't take it anymore!
It was also parodied when executives came up with Poochie.
Meyers: No, no, no! He was supposed to have attitude. Silverman: Um... wh-what do you mean, exactly? Myers: Oh, you know, attitude, attitude! Uh... sunglasses! Lady: Could we put him in more of a "hip-hop" context? Krusty: Forget context, he's gotta be a surfer. Give me a nice shmear of surfer. Lady: I feel we should Rasta-fy him by... 10 percent or so.
Also a major factor of the plot in the episode "Beyond Blunderdome." In the episode, Mel Gibson intended to star in a potential remake of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Homer disliked it, and the fact that he was the only person to actually honestly voice this opinion was the reason why he hired Homer to help him with it in the first place. Homer then came up with some ideas, such as speeding up the film, replacing the main villain with a dog with shifty eyes, and finally rewriting the entire filibuster speech to have Mel Gibson go to his usual roles of a mindless killing machine. Ultimately the last one was chosen. Several executives were appalled by the change after a test screening, and decided to burn it. Eventually after a literal chase throughout Hollywood, they relented, and the Executives who were against the new version turned out to be quite right in their judgment about how horrible the change was, as the audience was disgusted and mortified by the final version, with one audience member, Jimmy Stewart's granddaughter, threatening to sue Homer Simpson and Mel Gibson for tarnishing her grandpa's masterpiece.
Was parodied in the episode Homer to the Max:
Homer: Oh, I can't wait. Look, Marge, I got a scorecard printed up at that all-night scorecard place.
Lisa: Isn't mid-season just a dumping ground for second-rate shows that weren't good enough for the fall schedule?
Homer: You're thinking of all the other years. This year's shows are classic. There's "The Laughter Family" — that's animated. Networks like animation 'cause they don't have to pay the actors squat!
Ned Flanders: [voice slightly off] Plus, they can replace them, and no one can tell the diddley-ifference!
In "Natural Born Kissers," treasure-hunting Bart and Lisa dig up an alternate (and implausibly happy) ending for Casablanca. The Old Jewish Man reveals he was one of the executives who insisted the happy ending be filmed, but he buried it after watching it.
One of the few times Matt Groening exercised his executive meddling privileges was during the production of "Homer vs. Dignity", aka the Panda Rape Episode. The original ending had Homer, dressed as Santa Claus, on the Christmas parade float, throwing pigs blood on the audience while sobbing uncontrollably. Groening insisted on a rewrite, and the blood was changed to fish entrails (which allowed for a hilariously bad pun, "Merry Fish-mas to all!") (Also, Mr. Burns throws the blood instead of Homer, who finally grows a set and refuses to do it.)
The now-abandoned premise of having a character "warn" the audience about the scariness of the Treehouse of Horror episodes was a clear reference to network squeamishness. The final warning, in fact, in Treehouse VIII, was delivered by a FOX censor himself, who described his role as "protecting you from reality" (before being brutally murdered on-screen by the TV rating graphic).
In "Once Upon a Time in Springfield", Krusty is approached by two unnamed network executives who forced him to add a female character named Princess Penelope to his show to increase the ratings and attract more female viewers. Krusty refuses, but they are ready to make a reality show to find his replacement. Desperate to stay in this sweet gig, Krusty grovels and agrees, while the network executives congratulate themselves on a job well done by giving each other a high five. As the ratings improve and Penelope immediately overshadows Krusty as the star of the show, Bart and Milhouse (who are loyal fans) try to get the show back to the way it was. However, the situation gets more complicated when Penelope reveals to Krusty that she's his biggest fan and joined the show mainly because of him, leading to the two falling in love and nearly getting married.
Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Mike and Brian have implied this as the reason for their inability to resolve the Ursa subplot. Apparently, they had plans to give many things much more closure, but this trope, along with time constraints, forced them to the end the series the way it did. By their own choice, they ended up turning down a proposal to have the Ursa subplot resolved in a brief throwaway scene of her and Zuko reuniting at the end, as that would be a textbook example of a Writer Cop Out, wrapping something up in a quick, unsatisfying way. Thankfully, the sequel comics The Promise and The Search eventually resolve this subplot.
In the DVD commentary for one of the episodes, one of the creators makes a vague reference to "certain people" who objected to the show having such strong female characters. May have been an attempt at Executive Meddling that didn't take.
The ambiguity of Jet's death is also due to this trope, as execs were against showing a teenager being violently murdered.
DVD commentary also mentions that Nickelodeon would have liked Aang to be thirty, use bladed weapons, and ride a motorcycle. These suggestions were the subject of a Take That in the episode Sokka's Master.
Not that they were always wrong. During the show's development, the execs noticed that Fire Lord Ozai was just Orcus on His Throne, and suggested that there be a younger, more active villain pursuing the Avatar. This idea became Prince Zuko, one of the show's lead characters.
To get the swimsuit outfit designs they wanted for the 3rd season episode "The Beach", several highly inappropriate outfit candidates were included along with what the designers actually wanted in order to thwart executive meddling. It was a classic bargaining tactic: offer an absurd offer so your actual desired offer looks quite reasonable in comparison.
An in-universe example: An episode of Daria revolved around the school holding a contest where entrants would create health and safety posters. Jane and Daria collaborate on an entry, featuring a skinny blonde girl, and a poem explaining that she has achieved this supposedly angelic physique through the magic of bulimia. Mr. O'Niel and Ms. Li love the painting, but aren't too keen on the less-than-sugary poem, so they ask the girls to change it to one with a more sanitized and curriculum-approved message about good nutrition. The girls refuse, citing artistic reasons, which sets off a series of events which culminates in a very entertaining scene where Mrs. Morgendorffer threatens Ms. Li with legal action.
After "Jared Has Aides" premiered, it was banned from Comedy Central's airwaves until 2009 because it depicted Butters getting beat by his parents (actually, it didn't show him being beat on-screen, we just hear it). The creators were forbidden from treating Butters like this ever again, until the episode "Butterballs", in which he is abused by his grandmother.
In the two-parter "Cartoon Wars," remember the message stating that Comedy Central refused to broadcast an image of Muhammad handing Peter Griffin a football helmet? That was real; Trey and Matt tried to get the network to sign off on it, but they refused. (The episode remains censored to this day, even on DVD and the Internet.)
"200," the first episode of a season 14 two-parter, featured the Super Best Friends, a superhero team consisting of religious figures — including Muhammad (who was previously uncensored with no problems in the group's first appearance in Season 5, though that was made and aired before September 11th, 2001 and The War on Terror). This time around, Muhammad was portrayed as a giant censor bar, except for the scenes where he was in a bear suit. A New York-based Muslim group practically shat bricks over the portrayal of Muhammad in a bear suit, and warned Trey and Matt that they might very well end up like Theo van Gogh (a filmmaker who was shot and stabbed multiple times by an Islamic extremist for making a documentary about violence against women in Islamic cultures) because of it. Comedy Central, fearing the worst, waited until Trey and Matt delivered the next episode ("201"), then heavily censored it prior to air; they bleeped out all instances of the word "Muhammad" in dialogue and bleeped out the "moral of the story" speech at the end, which had nothing to do with Mohammad and was actually about intimidation and fear (an irony that was not lost on many people). The scenes depicting Buddha snorting cocaine and Jesus looking at pornography went completely uncensored.
Some people saw the censoring of Muhammad and the uncensored portrayals of other religious figures engaging in sacrilegious behavior as an ironic Take That against the double standard enforced by the executives.
In an early example of meddling, Comedy Central censors ordered a scene removed from "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig" that involved Shelley setting Stan on fire (and then dousing him with water, explaining a puddle that suddenly appears underneath him in the episode). This was due to fear of another Beavis and Butthead-style controversy. As early deleted and removed scenes (pre-season 10) tended to be destroyed afterwards or lost in some other way, the scene lives on through a leaked video rip that someone had made back in the early days of the show.
"Tom's Rhinoplasty" was to originally have a line where Wendy lies to Stan about witnessing Ms. Ellen in the bathroom with a nasty yeast infection (as an attempt to make him lose interest in her). The censors heavily objected to the yeast infection reference, asking Parker and Stone to replace it with something less "disgusting". They obliged, and changed Wendy's lie to be about spotting Ms. Ellen "taking a huge dump" and it allegedly smelling worse than a dead calf rotting in the sun. It passed the censors, and the two noted on the commentary how strange it was that a yeast infection reference was considered gross and taboo, but that a poop joke could easily make it through.
Yet another early example of Executive Meddling: In "Starvin' Marvin", the original idea was to have Sally Struthers killed by the Ethiopians, and then they would feast on the fat from her body. Comedy Central wouldn't allow this, so Parker and Stone had to retool the ending to show Struthers being tied up and Dr. Mephisto's mutant turkeys being donated as food for the Ethiopians.
It's been implied more than once and is the general opinion of the creators that Drawn Together was cancelled due to this. In fact, the movie can be seen as a feature-length middle finger to Comedy Central. The creators firmly believe that despite the fact that South Park is just as crude and vulgar as Drawn Together, and at one point providing heated competition in ratings, the latter was cancelled solely for Comedy Central's pet.
After the Code Lyoko pilot, Garage Kids, was made, the changes made to the show's plot and setting angered co-creator Thomas Romain so much that he left the production staff.
Word of God says this is why Least I Could Do hasn't been made into an animated series yet. Ryan Sohmer had signed a deal with Tele Toon for 13 episodes of Least I Could Do, when suddenly notes from the higher-ups started coming in. Notes that said the show needed to "feel more Canadian," that the setting should be specifically in Toronto, that Issa should be an Inuit, that Mick should wear a Toronto Maple Leafs shirt and that Rayne and Noel should go out fishing instead of on walks. Needless to say, Sohmer kindly told them where to stick it and backed out of the deal.
Parodied in Johnny Bravo, "Cartoon Makeover." Weird Al, Don Knotts, and The Blue Falcon team up to revise the cartoon to make it more appealing to the audience. Naturally, the kids hate it and the previously mentioned trio turn the show back to normal before the episode's end.
Apparently, when the idea of The Venture Bros. was first pitched to [adult swim], executives wanted to change the character of Doc Venture (they saw him as too mean) as well as switching the episode format to two 15-minute episodes. Even though the show wasn't changed, [adult swim] still regrets even making such suggestions.
It is speculated that the reason why the show suddenly went from featuring actual Jonny Quest characters to Expys starting in Season 3 (Jonny became "Action Jonny", Race Bannon became "Red") was due to the production of the live action film making Warner nervous as to what the show was doing to the characters (Jonny was a paranoid junkie, Race a former torturer who gets killed and voids his bowels onscreen)
The show has proven itself to the network to the point where it is fairly proof against it these days. The reason for the hiatus in the middle of Season 4 is because the writers weren't happy with the stories they had, and asked Adult Swim for time and resources to redo it better. To Adult Swim's credit, they agreed.
Now it seems that there actually were several toy manufacturers who wanted to take on the show but Cartoon Network never contacted any of them and the show was murdered because of a personal falling out between executives at CN and Genndy Tartakovsky, the former of which wanted the show to go in a more Ben 10 direction.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. According to Word of God, executives have been mostly hands-off for the show, and the writers have been allowed a lot more freedom than expected, with some exceptions. The length of this section is due to how open the people who work on the show have been about talking about it, rather than an unusually high amount of interference.
The show as originally pitched was more adventure oriented than it ended up being, resulting in the slice of life comedy with adventure elements mixed in.
Season One had that E/I label on the upper-left corner of the screen on TV, in compliance with a broadcast television standard (cable is exempt). In Season Two, it's mysteriously removed. It's not clear why this is, but bronies sure are satisfied that the show appears to be hindered by the standards much less now.
This is also why all of Princess Celestia's toys were pink until recently, even though she has a white coat in the series.
While many people believe Princesses are inferior to Queens, in real life there are many countries ruled by Princes; these are known as Principalities (as opposed to Kingdoms, ruled by kings/queens; Duchies, ruled by a Duke or Duchess; and Empires, ruled by Emperors/Empresses). Prince itself comes from the Latin word princeps, meaning "first person"; it was one of the titles of the Roman Emperors. These titles are used differently in different countries, resulting in confusion amongst people who assume all countries work exactly the same.
In a positive example, Apple Bloom was originally to find her cutie mark on her own without any help. Lauren Faust was asked to add Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo to be her friends, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders were born. Oddly enough, Faust always thought they should have their own spin-off pre-school show, but Hasbro suggested that the Crusaders should be used in the main series first.
One of the most common forms of this was the demand for specific, popular characters from previous gens to appear in the show in a prominent enough fashion to sell the toy version of them. Thankfully, no specifics about how those characters would have to appear, so the writers could deal with this fairly easily (for instance, Cheerilee becoming the teacher of Ponyville).
The episode "Suited For Success" can be viewed as a satire of executive meddling, as Rarity's artistic vision of Pimped Out Dresses for all her friends is compromised by their nitpicking, despite the fact that most of them don't have any clue what they're talking about, and with Rainbow Dash offering absolutely no advice other than "Make it 20% cooler." The second take on the song in the episode (to begin with based on another song about executive meddling) even contains lines that make some sense in the context of the story but really work in such a satire: "Make sure that it stays within our budget." is an example of one of those lines. It makes sense in the story, because the ponies naturally don't have unlimited money to spend on the dress, and even moreso an irony, as they impose many lavish changes to their respective dresses, but still demand that "even if [Rarity] simply has to fudge it, make sure it stays within [the ponies'] budget". It also works in respect to the satire as well.
As previously stated, executives have been mostly hands-off for the show, but one thing mentioned by Lauren Faust as a "requirement" was "to incorporate fashion play," which was handled by making it a matter of Rarity being an artist. The episode can be seen as incredibly meta if you think about it like this.
Ironically the episode itself fell slightly to a bit of Executive Meddling, the episode title was originally to be "Dress For Failure" but was altered because it was considered too downbeat.
According to this, Big McIntosh was planned to get his own episode, but it was rejected.
In season 1, he could only be called Big McIntosh in-show instead of Big Mac, due to the latter being an obvious usage of a trademark from another large company. This seems to no longer be in effect, however, as he has been called "Big Mac" several times in season 2 and a couple times in online printables.
And then she appeared very little in Season 3, with rumors that she's being phased out completely. Fortunately for her fans, she does finally make a reappearance in the season 3 finale, after all of three or four previous sightings (all in crowd shots)
It has been confirmed that Derpy's name will REMAIN Derpy Hooves at the request of Lauren herself, but her voice will likely remain altered as a favor to Tabitha St. Germain who got the gender mixed up when she first voiced her. She will also not be referred to by any name. This would probably mean that she won't appear in any important capacity. The character returned in Season 4 without a name or voice.
Lauren Faust originally intended for Princess Cadance to be a unicorn and was surprised to see her changed into an alicorn. However, this allowed Hasbro to continue selling a pink alicorn toy while allowing them to produce show-accurate WHITE Princess Celestia toys, because Toys R Us thinks Girls Like Pink (and apparently, only pink).
Twilight becoming an alicorn has been speculated to be the result of this, though it has not been confirmed. It is very likely, however, considering a slew of Princess Twilight Sparkle toys was launched with the episode.
For the finale of season 4, "Twilight's Kingdom", they did get one note that they couldn't do in that episode: show Twilight punching Tirek in the face.
Before season 04 aired, Meghan Mc Carthy promised that Flash Sentry wouldn't be a character on it. Despite this promise, he appeared twice and after the backlash following the second time, Big Jim (Series' co-director) confirmed that Flash was added "by request" and admited the fans shouldn't trust any staff's promises anymore. Ouch.
In-universe example/spoof of this in The Boondocks: Huey is asked to direct the school's Christmas play, but important aspects of his script are vetoed by the school principal; Huey eventually walks off the project, but his teacher puts on Huey's version of the play as written (and gets fired for it).
Two episodes of the Boondocks second season, "The Hunger Strike" and "The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show" were banned from premiering on Adult Swim. Both episodes were centered around BET and portrayed them as being socially irresponsible, and exploiting black stereotypes for profit. Despite denial by Adult Swim, many believe that BET threatened Sony and AS to pull the episodes with legal actions. Viacom (parent company) was confirmed to threaten legal action against Adult Swim. Thankfully, both episodes were featured on the Season 2 DVD.
Family Guy had an episode, PTV, that dealt with Executive Meddling (thanks to Lois bringing the FCC into Quahog after having the straw break the camels back in regards to some of his lewd shows, and other more personal reasons depending on the version).
The same episode in Real Life also subverted it in a way: The FCC was okay with the creators using Peter's pooping off the side of the highway onto another highway and it landing on Lois's car's windshield (the original reason for Lois' calling in the FCC) for another show of Peter's so long as they at least do minor things such as remove Peter lowering his pants, silence the wet sound of the poop landing, and making the poop look ambiguous. The writers ultimately decided that the changes weren't worth it, so they rewrote it to have Lois protest against PTV after seeing The Side Boob Hour (a collection of all the side-boob shots of actresses that network TV once allowed), and even that had to be monitored by censored in Real Life so as not to show too much Side Boob.
In the episode "Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater," one of the cutaway gags was a parody of the DeBeers "Diamonds" commercial that had to be edited to remove strong implications that the female shadow was going to give the male shadow a blowjob. The version that ended up airing had the woman slide about three inches down before the scene cuts to a title card that reads, "Diamonds: She'll Pretty Much Have To." This example isn't as bad as others, as the actions and implication is still intact and viewers will still understand what's going on, whether or not it's explicitly shown.
Many jokes and gags in the syndicated runs are either edited or cut out completely.
An episode of Family Guy explored the idea of Executive Meddling in which Brian finds an old script he did for a TV drama series called What I Learned on Jefferson Street, about a single father who turns his life around by going back to college and starts being a dad to his toddler-aged daughter. When Brian's series gets made, it gets co-opted by James Woods and is turned into a raunchy sitcom called Class Holes about a sexy college co-ed's life falling apart when her father enrolls in the same college she's enrolled in.
Sonic Sat AM The series was cancelled because of meddling, not from Sega, but from ABC - a new president came in and declared that he was sweeping out the old and bringing in new stuff. That, coupled with the fact that the show's ratings suffered as a result of its competition with Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, resulted in its cancellation.
Some of the second season's alterations were a result of Executive Meddling too. The creative team were asked to balance out the gender ratio with another female character, resulting in the creation of spotlight stealerDulcy the Dragon. Similarly, executives also asked for more comedic material, the infamous Antoine-centered half-hour episodes being part of that request.
Word of God says that the Earthworm Jim cartoon was made to boost video game sales and that Doug TenNapel wants nothing to do with the show (despite that it's considered one of the best cartoons of the 1990s).
In October 2012, DC Nation was set to air the third new episodes of Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series since they came back from hiatus... only for them to be hiatused again ten hours before airtime and told they'd be back in January. Many rumors came about, including the lack of shorts and the fact that the episode of Young Justice to be aired has Stephanie Brown, the poster child of DC's Executive Meddling in the New52 era. Current theory is that there were licencing problems involved with YJ using Milestone-based characters like Icon, Rocket and Static— which still doesn't explain why Green Lantern: The Animated Series and the shorts were pulled, too. Whether it's Executive Meddling or Screwed by the Network is still unclear.
Shortly after the shows came back, Cartoon Network dropped the revelation that both would not be renewed for more seasons. The two series had been quietly cancelled back before the hiatus, although the creative teams were not allowed to state it until the network made it official. The apparent reasoning for the schedule change and cancellation was that network higher-ups felt that the shows did not perform well enough, due to their lack of toylines. According to Jerome K Moore (character designer for Young Justice), WB Animation was willing to go through with a season 3, but the network's lack of renewal put a halt to the idea.
Recently, an interview with Paul Dini by Kevin Smith laid out a big bombshell: that Cartoon Network is in the mindset that not only do cartoons just sell toys, but also that cartoons are only for boys. Many of the cartoons were being enjoyed by girls and, as such, Cartoon Network has deemed them "failures".
Pound Puppies was also affected by network consultants in its second season. Q5, who also had ordered changes to The Real Ghostbusters, was behind these suggested improvements to the show. However, the changes wound up controversial to fans: Nose Marie suddenly became a motherly figure, and Bright Eyes was de-aged to be more of a "little sister"-type character.
A writer who worked on Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats recalled cartoonish gags being cut from the storyboards. The Japanese animation producers at TMS could not understand them and wanted those toned down.
In an example of this trope not necessarily being a bad thing, Adult Swim had shot down the idea of Superjail! being a silent cartoon and insisted that Christy Karacas and Stephen Warbrick give the characters dialogue and voices. The executives did concede to letting Jacknife remain as The Unintelligible.
Karacas voicing Alice is also due to an executive's suggestion that the original actress be let go.
One episode idea from season 1 was rejected by Adult Swim, due to the fact that it only involved Jacknife and Jailbot and took place in the outside world instead of the jail: Jacknife would have evaded capture and built a robotic suit to fight Jailbot in, while the citizens of the real world would think Jailbot was an alien and think of Jacknife as a HERO.
Ironically, an episode involving the two characters stuck outside of the jail wound being aired as the Season 2 premiere, under the name "Best Friends Forever", and was considered one of the better episodes of that run!
The opening to "Special Needs" had to be altered slightly, as the Standards and Practices department objected to the visual of Jesus (in actuality a disguised Jailbot) leaping down from his crucifix to beat up Jacknife. The shot of him leaping was replaced with a reaction shot of the congregation.
Season 3 had some scenes that were censored by the network for being "too disturbing", although the crew had noted that other disturbing shots had slipped by without notice. The censored shots included a visual metaphor of Alice's groin being a jackhammer, a drug-crazed inmate snorting cocaine, and a shot where dogs tear apart and eat an inmate. These shots were meant to be uncensored in the DVD release, but the censored versions of the episodes were used instead (see below).
All of the DVD releases have been advertised as "uncensored", but something happened in production to prevent the season 1 and season 3 sets from actually having the original unbleeped/uncensored episodes, leading to fans becoming angry at the false advertising and the creators having no idea themselves at what exactly occurred. To this date, the season 2 DVD release is the only one that has actually used the uncensored copies of episodes.
Mistress Kilda's death scene in "Lord Stingray Crash Party" was ordered to be toned down considerably, although Karacas can't remember all the details of what they had to change. The one noticeable detail that the crew does recall is that they had to color her innards a pale yellow.
Chris McCulloch originally voiced Lord Stingray, but was let go after an executive thought he was parodying the Monarch and told the crew to go with a different voice actor. It worked out for the better in the end though, as the crew and executives were more pleased with Eric Bauza's portrayal. The lines McCulloch voiced were dubbed over in post-production, although an early animation test has his take on the character.
"Hot Chick" had some content edits made to it during production:
Hunter was to originally not be defeated by the Twins, but would wind up shapeshifting back to goo when the inmates were trying to sexually assault her. The entire climax was changed as a result of having to tone down the disturbing implication. Her nudity also originally had detail, but Williams Street S&P forbid the depiction of nipples and pubic hair, leading to her Barbie Doll Anatomy.
One Twin originally wore a Nazi armband as part of his inmate gang disguise. After S&P told the crew that they couldn't show the swastika, the armband was edited to be a solid red in most shots, while another depicted it with a "Nazi smiley face" instead (with SS bolt eyes). As the network allowed the actual inmates to sport swastikas, it might have been that the Twin's disguise went a little too far (as he wore a fake Hitler mustache and had his scalp shaved).
"The Budding of the Warbuxx" originally had the titular Warbuxx with an umbilical cord, which was later removed in the final animation to tone down on the implications that the Twins had killed and eaten something that was likely their offspring. The birth of the Warbuxx was also altered to have it literally bud off (and outright shown), rather than the implication that it had come out of the Twin's butt.
In general since the hiatus between seasons 1 and 2, and the switch in animation studios, the censorship rules at Williams Street have changed a bit and anything to do with dead children or cannibalism winds up vetoed by the executives. This leaves the crew to have to slip in things implying it or find a way to write around the edits.
Executive Meddling is the reason the Daffy/Speedy series of Looney Tunes shorts (the most despised Looney Tunes shorts ever — unless you're against the really early WB cartoons that might as well be Disney toons because of how bland they are) exists. In 1964, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales were the three most popular characters in the Looney Tunes series. Television companies, thus, demanded more cartoons featuring Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales (who, at this point, had only starred in about 20 cartoons). Unfortunately, since the newly-reopened Warner Brothers Animation Studio had a very limited budget (due in no small part to the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood), they had no choice but to pair the two characters together rather than give them separate cartoons. And thus we got "classics" like Well-Worn Daffy, Skyscraper Caper, and Speedy Ghost To Town.
Invader Zim had many edits requested to make the series Lighter and Softer for a children's series, rejecting many instances of violence and implied death. One example is in the episode "Bad Bad Rubber Piggy": the original plan was for Dib to be Killed Off for Real and replaced with another similar character. This was replaced with Dib returning as a cyborg-type character. Another more well-known version of this trope is an image of GIR covered head to toe in blood.◊ This was rejected (for obvious reasons) by Nickelodeon and never blatantly placed into an episode. It did manage to get into the series as a very translucent Easter Egg.
Mocked in an episode of Eek! The Cat about how cartoons are made. At the end of the episode the producers of Fox rewrite the show so that Eek is a warrior kangaroo named Kangor the Destroyer.
The Total Drama series is a long-running example; After the success of Total Drama Island, the show was sold by its parent studio to Cartoon Network prior to the debut of Total Drama Action, leading to a series of changes that arguably contributed to the overall poor fanbase response towards that season. Also, in an interview with one of the show's co-producers, it was said that the decision to invoke the controversial love triangle between Duncan, Gwen, and Courtney during the events of Total Drama World Tour was an "executive request".
Lampshaded in the Rocky and Bullwinkle story arc of the Bungling Brothers Circus, when Rocky is captured by an Indian and tied to a stake. He points out to the Indian that cannibalism is forbidden by the network.
The creative team for The Dreamstone were pushed to create more female characters (Amberley being the only female of the main cast originally), thus most supporting characters made after the first episode were made according to this (Wildit, Spildit, Zarag, even the Planet Dreamstone has a feminine voice).
Seasons Three and Four were made primarily because ITV commissioned the team for two more seasons after the second. This caused some problems distributing the series for a while since the final two seasons were thus the property of a different company.
''Gargoyles suffered this during its final season, The Goliath Chronicles. Executives wanted more lessons crammed in, resulting in a Full House moment at the end of every episode. Unsurprisingly, both the fans and the creator don't consider the third season as part of canon, save for the first episode.
In a particularly bizarre piece of censorship, one episode of Ĉon Flux had a scene redubbed on executive insistence, so that a scene of two characters having bizarre but consensual and enjoyable sex was turned into a torture scene. Giving a very dubious message of "kink is unspeakably depraved, but on-screen recreational torture is fine".