Here's why CBS pulled 'Supergirl,' 'NCIS: LA' episodes after Paris attacks

CBS took episodes of its shows 'Supergirl' and 'NCIS: Los Angeles' off the air because the stories involved bombings and terrorism. In the past, TV shows' storylines have sometimes uncomfortably echoed real-life events, leading to a schedule change.

CBS
'Supergirl' stars Melissa Benoist (l.) and Jenna Dewan Tatum (r.).

Following the Paris attacks, CBS decided against airing new episodes of “Supergirl” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” that involved bombings and terrorism. 

On Monday, CBS was set to air an episode of “Supergirl” that involved bombings in the show’s National City. 

An “NCIS: LA” episode set for the same night involved a young woman who became part of the self-styled Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL). That episode didn't air – the network replaced the two episodes with new installments originally set for later in the year. The new “Supergirl” episode was a Thanksgiving-set episode that was set to air on Nov. 23 and the new “NCIS” episode was a new installment that was going to air this December.

Shows like “Supergirl” that have caped heroes fighting against violent attackers or “NCIS” that have the characters working in law enforcement can sometimes find their episodes uncomfortably echoing real-life events. Networks would no doubt be criticized if they aired programming that viewers stumbled on without knowing it would contain content similar to recent upsetting events. So this move certainly makes sense.

Earlier this year, the network USA postponed the season finale of the show “Mr. Robot” because the episode had an incident similar to the real-life shooting of a TV news reporter and cameraman that had recently occurred in Virginia. 

Other networks have had this happen as well. NBC decided not to air a 2013 episode of “Hannibal,” which involved a woman who persuaded children to commit crimes, after the Sandy Hook attack and the Boston Marathon bombings occurred. 

Meanwhile, in 2011, Fox decided not to air episodes of the animated series “American Dad,” “The Cleveland Show,” and “Family Guy” which would all have featured the characters experiencing a hurricane. If they had gone on the air, the episodes would have aired following inclement weather, including tornadoes, in the South, which caused more than 300 deaths.

Entertainment was of course very much affected by 9/11 as well. Many TV programs temporarily went off the air altogether and movies were edited or delayed to avoid including themes of terrorism or scenes involving the World Trade Center, among other topics. The Gwyneth Paltrow comedy “View from the Top,” for one, was scheduled to be released in December 2001 but didn’t come out until 2003, with the initial delay reportedly being because the plot centered on a flight attendant (Ms. Paltrow).

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