‘All In The Family’ Featured The First Toilet Flush in American Television History

All in the Family is considered a classic television show. While Archie Bunker is certainly a problematic character, the show is still considered a sitcom that paved the way for many shows that came after it. All in the Family managed to broach some taboo for its time topics, like menopause and childbirth. It was also the first television show to feature a toilet flushing, believe it or not.

Leave It to Beaver was the first sitcom to show a toilet bowl

While All in the Family featured the first incident of a toilet flushing during a television show, it wasn’t the first show to actually show a toilet. That accolade goes to Leave It to Beaver. The classic family sitcom showed a toilet for the first time on television in 1957. The classic television moment almost didn’t happen, though.

The cast of 'Leave It To Beaver'
the cast of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

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According to Roto-Rooter, censors at the network delayed the episode to mull over the idea. Once the idea got the green light, the censors had a request. They wouldn’t allow the production team to show the actual bowl. They were only allowed to film the tank portion of the bathroom necessity. The seat of the toilet was out of view.

It took another 14 years for the sound a flushing toilet to make it to television in All in the Family

Leave It to Beaver might have been the first television series to show a toilet, but no one in the Cleaver family ever used that toilet. They certainly never flushed it on the show. The first time the sound of a flushing toilet was heard on a television show occurred in 1971. All in the Family is the show that dared to include the sound effect.

Rob Reiner, Sally Struthers, Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton in a scene for 'All in the Family'
The cast of ‘All in the Family’ | Ron Eisenberg/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The big event occurred during the show’s very first season. All in the Family ran for nine seasons in total. All in the Family logged other firsts in television history, too. According to Fandom, the series, which launched several careers and led to several successful spinoffs, was also the first major sitcom to be taped in front of a live audience.

A married couple sleeping in the same bed even came first

Something about the sound of a toilet flushing seemed a little too personal for television executives. In fact, the bathroom was largely ignored for decades. A man and a woman sleeping in the same bed happened long before a toilet appeared on a sitcom. Shared beds became commonplace long before bathrooms were regularly featured on television.  

Samantha Stevens and Aunt Clara in 'Bewitched'
Samantha Stevens and Aunt Clara in ‘Bewitched’ | ABC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

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According to Snopes, Mary Kay and Johnny was the first television show to feature a couple that slept in the same bed. Technically, the series, which premiered in 1947, was the first sitcom to feature an on-screen pregnancy, too. It would take more than a decade for a couple to be shown sleeping in the same bed again. Bewitched showed Darren and Samantha sleeping in a bed together in 1964. One month later, The Munsters showed Lilly and Herman Munster sleeping in a full-size bed together, too.