Top 10 Times TV Episodes Had Real-Life Consequences



Top 10 Times TV Episodes Had Real-Life Consequences

VOICE OVER: Callum Janes WRITTEN BY: Callum Janes
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 times TV shows had unforeseen consequences. For this list, we'll be looking at the times programs had seriously bad ramifications that they didn't intend or anticipate. Our countdown includes a couple who copied a recycling scam from "Seinfeld" (1989-98), brutal crimes inspired by "Dexter" (2006-13), seizures from an infamous episode of "Pokemon" (1997 - ), and more!
Script written by Callum Janes

#10: Recycling Scam

“Seinfeld” (1989-98)

Plenty of shows and movies inspire people to make some money. But we didn’t expect people to take financial cues from a sitcom about nothing. During “The Bottle Deposit”, Kramer and Newman found out that recycling bottles in Michigan paid slightly better than it did in New York. So, they gathered up everything they could find and drove out of state to collect their fortune! But their idea is legally considered fraud. Thomas and Megan Woodward tried the same thing in Maine when they tried to get around $10,000 cash for bottles that crossed state lines. However, authorities did not see the joke and the couple got in hot water for trying to copy a “Seinfeld” scheme.

#9: The Porygon Incident

“Pokémon” (1997-)

During the episode “Dennō Senshi Porygon”, Ash and the gang get stuck inside a machine and have to fight Team Rocket and Porygon. Towards the end, Pikachu attacks an antivirus program. The resulting animation was 12 flashes of red and blue per second over six seconds representing an explosion. This scene reportedly caused a number of viewers to experience side effects that ranged from headaches to convulsions. To make matters worse, some experts believe that more people suffered after reports of the initial incidents broke due to mass hysteria. In the wake of all these negative reports, “Pokemon” went on hiatus and the episode was banned from airing again.

#8: False Expectations of the Justice System

“CSI” (2000-15)

TV has a habit of over-dramatizing real-life to make things more entertaining. Unfortunately, some of our favorite crime shows might have led to unrealistic expectations of the justice system. Forensics, science, and DNA analysis are usually a big crux of these complicated investigations during shows like “CSI”. But this fictional series sometimes utilizes technologies that aren’t available to the average police department! It’s gotten to the point where it has affected how jurors perceive information in the courtroom. While “CSI” and other shows made investigations look more exciting, those programs might actually have affected criminal prosecutions.

#7: Free Houses Lead to Debt

“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (2004-12, 2020-)

Imagine barely being able to afford the house you’re in or deal with all its issues. Then ABC arrives on your doorstep with the rest of the community and gives you a brand new home! While you may be happy at this development, you might frown at all the long-term costs down the line. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”, there were families that ended up losing new houses because of increased utilities, bad debt, and higher interest rates. Melissa and Larry Beach demonstrated how bad it could get when they sold their house due to upkeep and increased property taxes. Sometimes, a generous gift can turn into a huge burden.

#6: Loss of Life

“The Jerry Springer Show” (1991-2018)

Tabloid talk shows like “Jerry Springer” thrive on conflict. People are often put into intense situations and may explode on camera. While there might be security on stage, there’s no telling what can happen after guests leave the set. When Ralf Pantiz, Eleanor Panitz and his ex-wife Nancy Campbell-Panitz appeared on “The Jerry Springer Show”, things got pretty heated. But things got really bad after the episode aired. Authorities found the deceased Nancy in Ralf’s house. Springer insisted in interviews that the incident had nothing to do with the grim crime. However, Nancy’s son felt differently and took legal action againstt the show for allegedly pushing Ralf to commit this horrible act.

#5: Gordon Ramsay Could Be Bad News For Your Business

“Kitchen Nightmares” (2007-14)

Everyone loves a good “rags to riches'' story, and that’s what Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares” is all about. Although many of these eateries start out in a rough place, the celebrity chef elevates them to new heights with some bluntly delivered guidance. But what we don’t see is what happens afterward. While restaurants can gain a new breath of life, being featured can prove detrimental to businesses. Sometimes customers weren’t fans of menu changes and stop supporting as much. In other cases, business owners had to deal with costs from Ramsey’s renovations. And it’s been reported that over 60 percent of the restaurants he visited ended up closing. The numbers and reports suggest Ramsey is a nightmare for these businesses.

#4: Pizza On The Roof

“Breaking Bad” (2008-13)

When Skyler refuses to let Walt into the house in a season 3 episode, he infamously throws his peace offering pizza onto the roof. This iconic scene was later replicated by fans who found the house in real life. There were so many pizza flinging incidents that owners had to put signage up! But those aren’t the only negative actions Walter White’s adventures have inspired. There was an increased demand for a certain blue item featured on the show. And in a horrifying case, a man named Stefano Brizzi tried to dissolve forensic evidence in the bathtub like Walt did in the drama. This viewer’s terrible actions led to him being sentenced to life in prison.

#3: Inspiring Brutal Crimes

“Dexter” (2006-13)

Sometimes, viewers worry if darker entertainment might de-sensitize or even inspire bad habits. And unfortunately, a series about a forensic technician who committed brutal acts against criminals led to some copycats. Mark Twitchell was a filmmaker who identified himself with the character Dexter Morgan. He even documented his truly twisted acts. In 2008, he pretended to be a woman to lure a man named John Brian Altinger on a date. When the two met up, Mark ended John’s life and was caught shortly after. Unfortunately, this criminal wasn’t the only Dexter copycat out there.

#2: Hidden Crush Leads to a Heinous Crime

“The Jenny Jones Show” (1991-2003)

During one segment on “The Jenny Jones Show”, Scott Amedure confessed that he had feelings for his friend Jonathan Schmitz. The aftermath of this confession seemed light. Schmitz appeared to be playful and upbeat on the show. But after the episode went live, he took Amedure’s life. He called 911 and confessed on the phone after the crime. Schmitz was reportedly humiliated by the tv incident and had struggled with many personal demons before the show. His family tried to sue the program for allegedly pushing him over the edge. While they initially won the suit, the decision was later overturned.

#1: Fake Documentary Causes PTSD

“Screen One” (1989-98)

On Halloween night in 1992, the BBC aired a special episode of Screen One that shook the United Kingdom. It featured many well-known faces conducting a fictional paranormal investigation. This prerecorded show was marketed as a live event. The documentary style, belief that it was happening in real time and scary writing truly frightened the audience. It was met with huge backlash and tons of complaints. There were even reported cases that “Ghostwatch” was linked to viewers experiencing PTSD. Unfortunately, the crew behind the show created a program that had unintentional and truly scary consequences.