The first Precision F-Strike on live TV is attributed to theatre critic Kenneth Tynan, during a debate on censorship on the BBC sketch comedy/panel discussion show BBC-3 in 1965.note Ironically, Tynan was claiming that the word no longer shocked people, and so depictions of the act it describes should not shock people either. As a result, more than 100 backbenchers called for censure motions against Tynan, and Mary Whitehouse called for his 'bottom to be spanked'. Incidentally, it wouldn't have worked anyway, since Tynan was secretly a sado-masochist. Billy Connolly later recorded a comedy routine based on this incident for his album Get Right Intae Him! which ends with Connolly singing the song "A Four-Letter Word" about Tynan's F-strike.
Jet Set: Bitch, my name is Jet Motha-fuckin Set! But you can call me Patric Swayze, cause guess what? I'm ghost.
Firefly, in the episode "Jaynestown". Kaylee mentiones that she never heard Simon swear, and Simon admits he only does it "when it's appropriate". (This is lampshaded moments later when Simon finds his lab torn apart and can only manage a horror-stricken “Ah–!”, to Kaylee’s amusement, who tells him this would have been the “perfect time” to swear.) Later, when they arrive in a dirt-poor town to find a statue honoring Jayne, the crew's Token Evil Teammate:
Simon: ...son of a bitch!
Earlier, in "Safe," River spouts the only "normal" curse she's ever spoken onscreen, to highlight just how badly her latest round of madness is driving her.
River: Stupid son of a bitch dressed me up like a gorram doll!
Book, being a preacher, hardly ever swears, either in English or in Chinese, but in the episode "War Stories," when Zoe and Wash return from Niska's base and Book learns that Niska has cut off Mal's ear, he lets loose with one of the worst Chinese swears on the show, translating to "filthy fornicators of livestock."
In "The Train Job", after Mal realizes what they just stole from the train (medicine), he lets out a self-loathing "Son of a bitch."
In Dexter, the eponymous main character swears very rarely - if he does drop the f-bomb, he's either quoting someone "Not fucking good at all, apparently," or things have just gone straight to hell for him. "Oh, fuck."
Subverted by his sister, who primarily speaks in Cluster F-Bomb. It's even lampshaded when she does not swear.
Invoked in a subversion when Deb is addressing a press conference and says, on live TV, "We're gonna get that fucker" out of her normal habit of swearing pretty much constantly.
Starting with Season 4, he started to swear at least once in every episode, from cases where he thinks he's really screwed, to... a bit confusion situations, but not that confused to warrant such reactions. This includes "What the fuck is going on here?" to a strangely emotion-filled human-line which he shouldn't say so easily: " 'the fuck?!"
Not necessarily, he's become generally more human as the series progresses. Each season arguably tracks a step in his emotional development.
Consider also that in the 4th and 5th seasons he is under far more stress than ever before for a variety of reasons, not least of which is his becoming a parent, and then a single parent.
Vampire Willow makes excellent use of this trope when she's sent back to her world, the Wishverse, only to emerge in the middle of a massive melee and be immediately impaled on a plank. She has just enough time to get out "Oh fu-".
The season 3 final of Heroes had two, from Claire and Sylar respectively. The show usually shies away from profanity, so Sylar's "The truth. Stings like a bitch." came across especially powerfully.
There is a much earlier example in an early episode of season 1 after Nathan has told thousands of people that Peter is suicidal. Peter punches his brother and shouts, "You son of a bitch!" To which Nathan calmly replies, "Careful, Pete. That's our mother you're talking about."
The season 1 finale had Hiro teleporting himself into the middle of a samurai battle. The last word of the season was a swear in Japanese, translated as a group of symbols.
Spaced was allowed just the one "fuck" per show, according to the DVD commentaries. They went to some lengths to make sure that they used it in the funniest way possible.
Absolute Power: "Oh shit." Said by Charles when he realizes he's about to be arrested.
There's another example in episode one of the first season:
Charles: Nigel, I have some good news! Little bit of bad news first.
Charles: Your career, as we have hitherto understood it, is fucked.
The Middleman used this in the first episode, despite the fact the word in question was actually bleeped. The fact that his one and only swear word immediately followed a discussion about how odd it was that he never swears makes it all the funnier, as well as making it clear just how badly wrong things have gone.
And when in an alternate universe the alternate Middleman drops Cluster F Bombs all the time, the difference is made very clear.
Eric: watching Red from the other side of a patio door I'm trying to read Red's lips so I know what he's saying, but I can't make it out that well. He keeps calling me a "stupid duck". * beat* Ahhhh.
Kitty is so holy and innocent that she can't even find it in her to tolerate the use of the word "ass", as common and not too offensive as it is. So when Kitty gets pissed and starts with the Red Forman-esque language, it can send shivers down one's spine.
Red: Donna wanted to get back together and you said no?
Makoto: ...Fuck you! * Punches the youma in the face.*
Interestingly, Makoto has been known to say "shit" (widely translated from the Japanese "kuso") a few times in the anime proper.
The hosts on Mythbusters, particularly Adam, have a tendency to swear when something goes terribly wrong on a build. Or Adam hurts himself. Again.
Chappelle's Show had significant amounts of this trope. The more well known examples were when Wayne Brady starts swearing, and when he recounts Disneyland's Mickey Mouse greet him with " Oh, ho ho!! I'm, Rick James BITCH!!" In a high-pitched voice.
On the Top Ground Gear Force Comic Relief special, James May (who is normally pretty even-tempered, and doesn't normally go much beyond "Oh, cock" when things go pear-shaped) gets irritated with Clarkson for destroying his shed:
May: [brandishing a large timber] What time is this program on? Is it 10 o'clock?
And, during a high-speed run at the Nardo test track - a banked, circular track measuring eight miles in diameter - in Italy, while Jeremy was driving a Lamborghini Aventador at a shade over 330kph (almost 205mph) in noticeable winds and a less than optimal track surface. Even with the pixellating, censor bleeps and the muting of dialogue, it's pretty obvious what he's saying:
Jeremy: This is... fucking quick!! Holy shit!
Didier Drogba's (somewhat justified) rant into a TV camera after Chelsea were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League by Barcelona:
- "It's a disgrace, it's a fucking disgrace!"
Inverted in The Thick of It: Malcolm Tucker drops Cluster F Bombs constantly, but when he holds back on the swearing it's a sign that he's really angry.
- "If you don't run and get me some cheese I'll pull your head off and give you a spinedectomy."
- "In my quest to try and make you understand the level of my unhappiness, I'm likely to use an awful lot of what we would call 'violent sexual imagery', and I just wanted to check that neither of you would be terribly offended by that."
In the season 1 finale of Stargate SG-1, Jack O'Neill refers to something just explained to him as "Bullshit." This was when the show was on Showtime, where swearing isn't as taboo, but even then there was very little profanity on the show.
Although it's a mild swear word, there's a scene in SG-1 when Daniel Jackson has just died (sort of) and come back. His first word is a slightly annoyed "crap". Not even the worst swear word ever used on the show, but still hilarious.
In Moebius Pt 2. when a stun grenade is thrown nearby, Jack gets out "Ah, sh—" just before it goes off.
Supernatural had a case of this in the fifth season. In all of Castiel's appearances up to this point, he had been very formal and very grave. Then "Free to Be You and Me" comes along and we see not one, but two examples of this:
Cas: Come and get me, you little bastard.
Raphael Castiel, I am warning you. Do not leave me here. I will find you.
Castiel has always been extremely respectful of his father/God, but in 'Dark Side of the Moon', also in Season 5 he finds out that God is walking the Earth, knows about everything that's happening, and doesn't care to get involved.
Castiel: I believed in you, you sonovabitch.
Cat Deeley has a reputation of being a very quiet, composed, sweet girl. It makes this appearance on a British parody show even funnier.
All in the Family had Edith go through menopause, and shout "Damn it!" during one of her mood swings out of nowhere. The episode is worth watching just for the audience's stunned reaction.
At the end of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The City on the Edge of Forever", after Captain Kirk has had to insure that the woman he loves is killed by being hit by a truck, for the final spoken line of the episode, he says coldly, "Let's get the hell out of here!" (This at a time when the word "hell" was almost never allowed to be uttered on US television outside the biblical connotation.)
One of Doctor McCoy's favorite trick-shots/getting it past the censor remarks when arguing with Spock: "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?"
In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Jean Luc Picard is almost always well composed, diplomatic, and well spoken. However, in one episode he let loose with an exasperated "merde," which means "shit" in French (his native language).
Timov (one of Londo's wives), in the middle of some very mild verbal fencing, manages to drop a "Bitch" that leaves everyone speechless.
Of all people, Delenn gets not one, but two. The second one has her barging in the room yelling "Bastards," shocking Sheridan: "Did she just...?". The most memorable however has to be:
Delenn: Abso-fraggin-lutely damnit. I have been studying your use of language. Do you approve?
Sheridan has a really nice one in his small altercation with Kosh Naranek. It's not a true f-word. The implication of the words used, and the way they are delivered (to one of the most powerful entities in the show) however, definitely qualifies it as a precision F-Strike.
Kosh: Leave. Now. Sheridan: No! Kosh Disobedient! Sheridan Up yours!
There is one simultaneously Awesome and Funny moment in Season 3 when Marcus knocks out everyone in a Downbelow dive. But the awesome line starts with an instance of Getting Crap Past the Radar...because he uses a British swear word that isn't well-recognized in the US:
Marcus: Bugger! Now I have to wait for someone to wake up.
as british swearing goes 'bugger' is generally regarded as very mild 'oh bugger' being about one step up from 'oh dear' on the scale of profanity
In an episode of Mad About You Jamie invites Paul's mother to stay with them for the night, confident that the offer will be refused. When Paul's mother gratefully accepts the invitation, Jamie smiles broadly, turns to Paul, and almost under her breath mutters "Shit."
In the Bones episode, "The Baby in the Bough", Dr. Brennan gets one of these, in what is also both a CMOA and a CMOH. "There was a BABY in that car, you son of a bitch!"
In the Big Love episode "Sins of the Father", Margene drops an "F you, Barb!" in front of Nikki and Barb after Barb accuses of her of being a cradle robber. She doesn't even use the word, but as the characters are polygamist fundamentalists it has the intended shocking effect.
In the ER episode "On the Beach", Dr. Mark Greene (dying of a brain tumor) falls when trying to get out of bed. He pounds the floor and utters a frustrated "SHIT!"
Captain Darling from Blackadder the Fourth keeps a diary during his time as a pencil pusher safe behind the lines during World War I. Upon being sent to the front lines in a misguided attempt by his insane boss to give him an honorable duty, he makes one last entry: "Bugger."
A 1970s Houston Oilers football game was being broadcast live on ABC's Monday Night Football, when the camera focused ona lone spectator in a section of the stands. Seeing he was on camera, the man gave the camera the finger. Announcer Don Meredith then quipped, "Well, there's somebody who thinks Houston's number one."
The Monty Python record albums could get away with a bit more - in the iconic 'Cheese Shop' sketch, customer John Cleese is still the picture of cheerful civility when he gets to Camembert:
Palin: ...it's a bit runny...
Cleese: Oh, I like it runny!
Palin: Well...it's very runny, actually, sir!
Cleese: No matter! Fetch hither la fromage qui s'appelle Camembert immediatement!
Palin: I think it's a bit runnier than you'd like, sir!
Cleese: I don't care how fucking runny it is; hand it over with all due speed!
The Crunchy Frog sketch on the Monty Python Live At City Center replaced John Cleese as the arresting constable with Graham Chapman and replaces the line "I'm not interested in your sales" with "Fuck your sales!"
Kurt pulls one off in Glee. Everyone's jaws just drop.
Red Dwarf is generally very low on swearing (thanks partly to its liberal use of Unusual Euphemism), which is used to this effect on the few occasions where they use real swear words (such as the 'Twat it!' line in Polymorph).
Conan: I'm sorry, but what the fuck are you talking about?
Deadwood, of all shows, had a brilliant Precision F-Strike when upright, straitlaced, intimidatingly classy Alma Garrett urged E. B. Farnum to sell her his hotel: "What is it you males say? 'Shit, or get off the chamberpot'?"
Made all the more impressive because he had just tried to con her into selling her gold claim because the camp was supposedly at peril, and she deftly turned it around to call him out for lying to her.
There is a consistently high level of swearing in Skins but Katie's Series 4 episode is pretty effective in its "I'm Katie Fucking Fitch. Who the FUCK are you!"
In the British sitcom Drop the Dead Donkey the normally aloof Sally Smedley briefly finds religion and is nice to everybody. This situation comes to an end when she breaks up with her boyfriend. Unaware that she's back to normal, poor downtrodden George asks her an innocent question, to which she replies: "Oh, FUCK OFF, George!"
In the premiere episode of the Starz series "Camelot," while witnessing a tender reunion between Arthur and his biological mother, King Lot sneers and mutters "Oh, fuck this."
In BBC's Merlin, in which the worst language ever to be used is "damn", Arthur learns that he's been served with an arranged marriage and lets out a vehement "WHAT THE FFFFF—-" before the camera cuts away.
There's a pretty dramatic one from Scully in The X-Files episode "Beyond the Sea". It's particularly effective since, before this, she rather came across as The Stoic. When she learns that an (alleged) psychic's information has led her partner Mulder into a trap, seriously injuring him, and it was partly her fault for believing him, we get this exchange...
Scully: You set us up. You're in on this with Lucas Henry. This was a trap for Mulder because he helped put you away. Well, I came here to tell you that if he dies because of what you've done, four days from now nobody will stop me from being the one that'll throw the switch and gas you out of this life for good, you son of a bitch!
Conan O' Brien had Ray Romano as a guest on his new TBS show. Ray related a story about a website with the classic "Fuck, Marry, Kill" game and took the time to ask if was okay to "say the F-Word" on cable. Ray goes through the story and uses "Eff" for every instance of the word. He was ranked against Drew Carey and Jerry Seinfeld, with 8 out of 12 votes in the "Kill" column. Whereas some people might view this as bad, Ray said, "It's really only the second worst choice, 'cause if you're not gonna fuck me just kill me."
In New Zealand in 1979, Arthur Baysting, as his comedy alter ego Neville Purvis, dropped the F-bomb during the end credits of his character's namesake show - the first incidence of its type on New Zealand TV. The show was immediately cancelled amidst the ensuing controversy, and Baysting was forced to work in Australia for some years.
In the "Rashomon"-Style episode about Patrick and Sally's first kiss, we see a scene from Sally's memory in which Susan complains about how she's always stuck with calling a taxi for the office drunk. "It's becoming part of my job description." Sally tells her this is "a bit unfair." We then see Patrick's version of events (though he was not present for this exchange), in which Sally is the aforementioned "office drunk", and declares that "That is a fucking shame!
The final episode has two - one from Sally when she finds the engagement ring in Patrick's cupboard (though this quickly turns into a Cluster F-Bomb), and one from Susan while in labour: "Steve, GET ME A FUCKING EPIDURAL!"
There's this Belgian game show, Blokken, that's been on the air for 18 seasons now. It's trivia combined with Tetris. Here's a clip from a celebrity edition. Most of it's in Dutch, but at about 2:10 in, the guy in the yellow shirt (Regi Penxten, a DJ and record producer - and in fact, the guy who wrote the theme song the show was using at the time) says to his opponent (in English), "Bart... shut fuck up." (Yes, that's exactly how he said it.)
In Sherlock episode "A Scandal In Belgravia", John gets one. Since he's so far managed not to swear even on finding a human head in the fridge, it seems pretty serious...
During the seventh season of Survivor, there was an episode where two former allies, Shawn and Jon, were forced to vote against each other by the rest of their tribe. Shawn(when voting for Jon) gives a fairly drawn out and detailed explanation of why he's voting for him, but when it's Jon's turn, he simply looks at the camera and says "Fuck you". Shawn is then voted out 4-1.
There's a great deal of swearing all over the place in Boardwalk Empire, but it's well into the second season before RichardHarrow gets an F-bomb, growling "I don't...fuckin' believe this" upon discovering that Rothstein has made a business deal with Nucky.
A clip from an ABC master tape of The $10,000 Pyramid from 1974 that surfaced on YouTube had Dick Clark asking celebrity guest Tony Randall what one must not do at the Pyramid. Randall brought the house down by simply quipping "You don't say 'shit!'"
Normally, the Top Chef judges don't indulge in any cursing compared to the cheftestants. However, when she guest judged season two, episode three of Top Chef Canada, season one host Thea Andrews had every right to shout an F-bomb when one of the cheftestants nearly ran over her pregnant body in his rush to get ingredients during the start of a Quickfire Challenge.
Impractical Jokers' Murr does this under direction at a shoe store, and the customer rebuts in kind:
"Would you like any fucking shoes today?"
"I'm making up my fucking mind."
Chicago Hope aired a widely-publicized episode in October of 1999 in which Dr. Jack McNeil stated "Shit happens".
Monty Python's Eric Idle no doubt made history as the first person to say "shit" as part of an Olympic ceremony production number (during the London 2012 closing ceremony, while singing "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life").
24 is a broadcast television which means harsher language is genuinely a no-no. Not so for the DVD material. The season 4 prequel has Jack discover that he's being fired by the new director of CTU. When she offers to help him look for a new position, he promptly tells her what he thinks of that offer.
Jack Bauer: "I can find my own fucking job, Erin."
In the prim and proper setting in which Downton Abbey is set, it is a little jarring to hear Mr Bates call his estranged wife a bitch.
The first season of Suits has uncensored 'shit' and 'god damn', and uses both words rather pointedly about Once an Episode. The second season is way more lenient on the swearing and it becomes at least three an episode.
Doctor Who, being originally conceived as a children's show, naturally had very few swear words in its original version, though the occasional "damn" snuck through. The Doctor, as a rule, never used language stronger than "darn" with the exception of Third Doctor Jon Pertwee who was allowed to utter things like "damn fool." The revival series has been more liberal in use of language, with the Doctor's utterance of the curse "hell" in "The End of the World" a shocker to some viewers (he has since racked up a number of "hells" and "damns"). The 2005 episode "Dalek" upped the ante by featuring the human villain uttering the curse "goddamn" which virtually escaped notice because moral guardians were more upset over a reference (in the sexual context) to "spooning" - despite the fact the only people who even knew the term anymore would likely be in their 80s or 90s by then.
An outtake which has made the rounds at Whovian meetings and conventions has #4, Romana and K-9 persuing a situation. When the Doctor asks K-9 for his answer to a situation, K-9 replies "Insufficient data." The Doctor snaps back "Yeah, you never fucking know anything when it's important!"
The November 25, 1975 episode of The Robert MacNeil Report has another early TV example: early in the broadcast, Norman Mailer's 1969 mayoral campaign slogan, "No more bullshit!", made it through uncensored during a broadcast of archive footage from the era.
Spencer Reid of Criminal Minds is known not to curse, so when he does, it means something. In the episode "Zugzwang", when his girlfriend was kidnapped by her stalker, Reid let the team know what he thought of the stalker by boldly declaring "that BITCH is a nobody!"
In Dead Like Me, Daisy says "fuck you" to Ray when he grabs her by the throat. It's her only f-strike in the entire series.
In episode ten of the 2014 Cosmos, Michael Faraday lets out a "damn!" after a long round of failed experiments on light and magnetism. Since it's the 1800s and Faraday was devoutly religious, he claps his hand over his mouth in horror.