Swear You’ll Be There – The Rudest TV Shows Ever
Profanity on TV has become more common in recent generations. Where swearing was once unthinkable, it has now become a staple of some shows like South Park, Shameless and Peaky Blinders.
Designed to shock and amuse viewers, profane language now has pride of place in many of our beloved programmes. It’s become such common place that British broadcasting standards regulator Ofcom even has its own ranking of offensive swearwords, from the mildly offensive, to the absolute strongest expletives.
Using that scale, we decided to investigate the rudest TV shows on our screens by scraping over 2,600 scripts from 26 different programmes which are infamous for their profanity.
These are our findings, starting with the most profanity filled shows overall, and the average swears per episode for each.
Three of the top ten shows for total number of profanities are cartoons. The list headed by South Park and its regular refrain of “Oh my God! They killed Kenny!” with well over 9,000 swearwords across its many seasons.
The other two animated shows within the top ten of total profanities is Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy and American Dad.
On average, the most profanities per episode can be found in US crime drama series, The Wire, with an average of 102 swears per episode.
The Sopranos, following the exploits of warring mafia families, is high on both lists alongside slum comedy Shameless and Orange is the new Black.
According to Ofcom, Mild profanities include arse, crap, damn and blasphemies like God and Jesus Christ. Here, the most mild swears was a close-run thing between South Park and Family Guy.
Peter Griffin and his dysfunctional family just edged top spot with both animated series each having over 5,000 mild profanities in total.
Meanwhile, the worst offender on an episode basis is US black comedy sitcom, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, with an average of 20 swears per episode, ahead of animated series’ Archer and Bob’s Burgers.
Words and phrases classed as medium profanity include bitch, bollocks, bullshit and pissed off.
At this level, Orange Is The New Black and Shameless have the most in total. Both shows feature close to 3,000 such sayings and are also in the top three for average per episode.
Top of that chart is The Wire, with an average of 38 medium swears per episode.
Strong profane language includes bastard, bell-end, cock, dick, gash, knob, minge, prick, pussy, snatch and twat. Most references to genitalia really.
The Wire, Shameless and Orange Is The New Black are the main offenders once again, nearing 3,000 such swearwords throughout each series.
Per episode, The Wire is firmly in the lead, with almost 50 strong profanities per episode.
The Worst Language on TV
The strongest swearwords – c**t, f**k and mother**ker – are most prevalent in The Sopranos.
This series contains over 3,800 instances of the most offensive language, with 44 on average per episode. Fitting in a way, for a show that highlights Italian American mob violence in the New Jersey underworld.
The Sopranos is way out on its own for filthy language, with HBO’s comedy-drama Entourage a distant second. British drama Peaky Blinders is the next most profane on average, ahead of Silicon Valley.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we love a good swearword on TV. Many of our favourite shows are riddled with profanity. Even programmes that earned critical acclaim and awards have found a place for bad language.
Among the rudest TV shows ever are The Wire and The Sopranos, but it’s also animated series that seem to have started the increasing trend of foulmouthed tirades on our screens.
We live vicariously through iconic characters like Tony Soprano, who aren’t afraid to say what they really think.