The world of TV shows is a cut throat business. Hundreds and hundreds of ideas, both fresh and reboots, come pouring into the TV studios each year and with each idea comes an exciting opportunity. Now more than ever TV has become the most important and most viewed medium for storytelling. Especially since the birth of downloads and streaming sites such as Netflix, TV has surpassed the movies and now has more sway than the silver screen. In fact, many big movie stars are actually now opting out of the big screen for the small.
Because of this, TV execs have become stricter about which shows they invest in and which shows they take a chance on by putting it on their network. However, over the years TV networks and executives haven’t been as strict, as they have greenlit many terrible shows. Suddenly realizing their mistakes, the networks have backtracked and pulled the TV shows before they could even really get started.
So, here are 10 TV shows that were so bad that they got cancelled after just one episode (and 5 that should have been).
15. The Hasselhoffs
Ok, so our first entry on our list may be a bit of a cheat as technically The Hasselhoffs aired two episodes, but as they were aired back to back to launch the series, we’re counting it as one and therefore it goes on our list.
This reality TV show focused on David ‘The Hoff’ Hasselhoff as he tried to relaunch and resurrect his career, as well as push his daughters into the spotlight and tried to get them into Hollywood. The reception, and viewing figures, for the first episode was so bad that the network had already decided to pull the series before the next episode aired, which was immediately after the first.
Over the years, sports stars have tried to leave their respective careers and tried their hand at other ventures. Some try other sports, some try their luck in the music business, and others jump into the acting pool. Very rarely can sports stars make the transition and carve out a career in acting. But for every Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, there are a hundred failures.
For this entry, NFL “star” Brian Bosworth tried to exchange the pitch for the small screen. John Lawless was a motorcycle riding private detective that used to be a special forces operative. The premise, and the star, sound ridiculous but Fox somehow thought it was a great idea, that is until the first episode was aired and Fox suddenly realized their mistake and pulled the rest of the season. Bosworth’s sports career was plagued by injury and what might have beens, and his acting career didn’t fair any better.
Nowadays, it’s very common to watch entertainment on the Internet, whether it’s watching our favorite shows online or watching specifically made “webisodes” on platforms like YouTube. However, even just a few short years ago this new medium for entertainment was still finding its feet. Back in 2008, MySpace decided to launch a few scripted “webisodes” online about young bloggers and their lives called Quarterlife. The show was actually very successful and was one of the very first shows to be popular that was, exclusively, for the web.
So with all the youngsters showing an interest in this new medium, and the show, TV networks started to show an interest in it. NBC managed to be the ones to get the rights to Quarterlife and started re-cutting the “webisodes” and made a full length TV show. Unfortunately, the show didn’t capture what it did online and after just one episode, NBC pulled the plug on Quarterlife.
12. Co-Ed Fever
Way back in the 1970s, student life, and in particular the frat house setting, was popular in movies. The smash hit comedy Animal House set the tone and standards for teen comedy and the influence of that movie can still be seen today. Trying to capitalize on the initial success of Animal House, the TV networks tried to come up with their own version of the frat house comedy. Most of these, in fact all of these, were failures. However, most of them managed to last more than one episode, all except one.
CBC brought us a frat house comedy in the form of Co-Ed Fever. The premise of the show involved an all female college that suddenly decided to become co-ed. The premise was pretty flimsy and the jokes were even worse. CBC actually tried to create a buzz with this show and had a “special preview night” but it backfired badly. The audience and critics slammed the show and the rest of the season was pulled from the air and never seen again.
11. Breaking Boston
Mark Wahlberg has been a big movie star for many years now. His name alone can sell any movie and even push any TV shows. His success in the movie business has given Wahlberg a chance to try new things; this became the case with his very successful reality TV show Wahlburgers. That reality TV show focused on the restaurant that he and his brothers own is still on TV today.
However, Wahlberg’s name failed to generate any interest with his other project. Staying in the reality TV genre, Wahlberg wanted to show what the people of his hometown of Boston were really like so we got Breaking Boston, following a group of women as they struggled with their lives and tried desperately hard to make better ones. However, the show didn’t do well and after just one episode the show was pulled. The rest of the series was made available online but that still couldn’t do anything to help the girls in Breaking Boston.
10. Osbournes Reloaded
Speaking of reality TV stars, our next entry goes to the family that many people cite, or blame, as the first reality TV stars. MTV’s The Osbournes showed rock legend Ozzy Osbourne in his everyday family life. The show became a huge smash hit and made stars of the rest of the Osbourne clan: his wife Sharon and their two kids Jack and Kelly, although their other daughter Aimee refused to take part in the show.
After the huge success of The Osbournes, when it ended, Fox decided to snap the family up and put them to good use on a new show. In a strange turn of events, the Osbournes decided to turn into The Osmonds and hosted a variety show called The Osbournes Reloaded. The critics had a field day picking this show apart and after just one episode aired, Fox pulled the show for good.
9. The Rich List
There has been a trait on TV in recent years and that is if you need a fresh idea then look abroad to other countries. This has worked incredibly well with such shows as The Office, Shameless, and Broadchurch to name just a few. But sometimes taking inspiration from elsewhere can be a bad thing. We now turn to the world of game shows. The company that brought us such smash hits like The Weakest Link decided to create a new game called The Rich List.
The idea of the game show was for the contestants to come up with lists in a particular subject and then seeing who could come up with the most correct answers. Fox promoted this show like crazy and billed it as the best and most addictive game show since Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. However, after airing only one episode, and having no one watch it, Fox decided to pull The Rich List and the next big TV extravaganza never saw the light of day again.
8. Ford Nation
Former Toronto Mayor, the late Rob Ford wasn’t exactly shy when it came to the media. During his time in office, Ford had filled many of the world’s newspapers with scandals, mainly involving him smoking crack cocaine! So, hot off his newfound fame and public persona, Canadian TV station Sun News Network gave him and his brother Doug, who was a city councilor at the time, their own talk show.
Ford Nation was a talk show in which the two siblings invited journalists to ask straightforward questions about politicians and Rob Ford’s career and scandals. The show was actually quite a bold move but after just one episode the show was cancelled. The reason was that the small Sun News Network channel couldn’t afford the show and also the timing was too much. In only an hour episode, which actually took more than five hours to film, the channel couldn’t cope so decided to backtrack and say it was only meant as a one off special.
7. Emily’s Reasons Why Not
Nowadays a lot of movie stars are swapping the glitz and glamour of Hollywood for the small screen and most of the time this has been a huge success; think of Matthew McConaughey on True Detective, Anthony Hopkins on West World, and Kiefer Sutherland on 24 to name just a few. So these days the TV executives are trying to entice the big stars in order to push their new TV shows.
However, this doesn’t always work and sometimes a big name could backfire on them greatly. This is the case with ABC’s comedy Emily’s Reasons Why Not. Although Heather Graham wasn’t a huge star, she still had enough star power for ABC to get very excited and push this show in our faces. However, they focused so much on this and forgot to produce, and write, a good show. Emily’s Reasons Why Not was about a self help guru who struggled to find love for herself. The show was unfunny and relied far too much on stereotypes and cliches and the network soon realized what they’d done and cancelled the show after one episode.
6. Heil Honey I’m Home
With our number one entry of TV shows that got cancelled after just one episode, we want you to picture a scene for us. Imagine you’re a TV executive and you’re looking to create the next big sitcom. You bounce around a few ideas but nothing comes of it, until a script passes across your desk and you stand up and shout “Yes! This is the show for us!” Oh, and by the way, the script in question is a sitcom about Hitler!
In a bizarre world in which we still can’t believe that anyone actually sat down and wrote this, let alone filmed it, Heil Honey I’m Home actually made it to air, albeit for only just one episode. The show saw Hitler and Eva Braun living in the suburbs and oh yes, they have Jewish neighbors. We are still dumbfounded by this and luckily for everyone in the world, someone came in and cancelled this show.
5. How I Met Your Mother
The story of a group of friends in their twenties trying to find love and navigate their way through life in hilarious situations and stories, all to the cool back drop of New York, was a smash hit and became one of the biggest sitcoms in the world. Oh wait, that was Friends!
As the giant that was Friends started to come to a close, TV executives decided that the best way forward was to create a new Friends. The premise, jokes, situations, and even settings were basically identical. The only difference, or twist, was that this was an old man telling his kids the story of how he met their mother. The very first episode was passable at best but over the years the show became predictable, tired, and downright boring, and the less said about the show’s finale the better it is for everyone. The networks should have foreseen this and pulled the plug after one episode. The only reason they didn’t is because some people out there had a Friends shaped hole in their lives and they thought this show could fill it. Shame on you!
4. Two And A Half Men
Ok, so our previous entry we felt was bad, but could be excused because of the huge success of similar sitcom Friends. However, we have no idea what the excuse for having Two and a Half Men on our screens for so long is? Even with a cast change, Two and a Half Men managed to be a part of our lives for twelve seasons. How is this possible?
The show essentially is The Odd Couple meets Three Men and a Baby, only with two men and not three. So for an episode, or even a special, this could have been mildly entertaining. However, it soon became clear that the story of two rich and spoiled men, who have some serious mother issues, bumbling about with each other as they try to raise a child wouldn’t resonate with many people. The only reason we can think of that this show lasted as long as it did is because of Charlie Sheen. Sheen does have a good screen presence and he is naturally funny, before he went crazy that is! So that must be it as we can’t figure out what else was funny or entertaining about this show.
3. The Voice/ X-Factor
If there is one trait that TV has then it’s this one: when they come up with a good idea or format for a show then they will flog it and flog it until there is no life left in it. We’ve already mentioned on this list how networks try to capitalize on the success of other shows, like Friends and How I Met Your Mother for example. But the worst contender for this is the reality TV and competition genre.
Having a successful show like American Idol, we knew that other shows that are similar would come through and we got America’s (or insert country name here) Got Talent. Both shows are popular and follow a similar format so why is there a need for any others? In recent years we have gotten The Voice and The X Factor which are virtually identical to the others. Of course, apart from the swivel chairs!
2. CSI: Anything That’s Not The Original
Our previous entry talked about using the same format to re-sell and re-package a new TV show. That may have been reality TV but now we turn to the world of drama. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation became a huge success all over the world and helped redesign and redevelop the tired old cop drama format.
With its huge success, we were not surprised to see a spin off show come out and we got CSI: Miami. However, there have now been four official spin off shows to the CSI franchise. When will TV executives and networks learn that if you create a new and exciting TV show then have a load of the same TV shows follow it, doesn’t make them new and exciting it actually waters down the brand and show you tried to create. They should have stuck with just one CSI and made that show the best they can and not dilute the brand.
1. Fear The Walking Dead
Ok, so we understand that our number one entry on our list of TV shows that should have been cancelled after one episode, may cause a bit of controversy. But just hear us out first.
Fear The Walking Dead is a spin-off and prequel to the hit show The Walking Dead and just like its source show, it takes inspiration from the comic books. However, we have a bit of a problem with Fear the Walking Dead and that it takes too much away from the main show. Let’s all be honest here, The Walking Dead has had its big ups and downs over its run and a lot of the times it has been confusing or just a big let down. So instead of having a spin-off show, the writers should concentrate on the main show and make sure it does its comic book source, and fans, some justice. Fear The Walking Dead is a nice idea and would have been a good prequel episode or even TV movie but not multiple seasons. That’s our view anyway.