Despite best efforts, not every TV show is going to be the next Game of Thrones. And after reading through the critics reviews of these 45 TV shows, we think we’ve found the worst of the bunch. And if a favorite of yours happens to have made its way in, we apologize in advance, but the ratings and reviews have spoken.
Dubbed by one TV reviewer as “the worst show in the history of television,” The Jerry Springer Show had a surprisingly long run. Since it debuted in the fall of 1991, The Jerry Springer Show aired for 27 seasons, and over 3,800 episodes of over-the-top altercations.
For a show with episodes titled “A Man Marries a Horse,” “Your Groom Is A Cheater,” and “I’m Leaving My Baby Mama,” we’re not quite sure that anyone would expect high-brow programming from The Jerry Springer Show. Even Springer himself has said, “I would never watch my show,” so take those reviews as you will, and watch with discretion.
If you are unfamiliar with the 1965 comedy series, My Mother The Car, well, there’s not much more you’re missing that isn’t already in the title. A family man and attorney purchases a vintage car which unbeknownst to him is actually his reincarnated recently deceased mother. The “mother” talks to him through the car radio, and hilarity ensues. Right?
Wrong. The show runners decided to do away with the laugh-track, so viewers were often left quite confused. The series could have a more serious tone at times, and without a laugh track, certain lines which could have been intended as jokes often fell flat, reaching the honorable #2 spot on TV Guide’s list of Worst TV Shows.
There’s such an abundance of crime procedurals on the air, that there’s sure to be at least one series to cater to each particular area of interest. But, if there’s one thing the genre does not need, it’s a cop show with showtunes, as was evidenced by the quick cancellation of Cop Rock.
In one of the more bizarre song and dance numbers the otherwise serious series showcased, a substance addicted mother crooned about the baby she was trying to sell for $200. When asked what he learned from Cop Rock, showrunner Steven Bochco said, “Don’t put music in a cop show. Don’t have characters burst into song.” Amen.
The aftermath of M*A*S*H going off the air should have been a respectable move to syndication and NOT the ill-advised sequel AfterMASH. Set in a veterans hospital, AfterMASH managed to bring three of the original show’s cast back on board.
The themes explored were identical to its predecessor, rendering it an unnecessary addition. While M*A*S*H is considered by, oh, just about everyone to be one of the greatest television shows of all time, TIME Magazine called AfterMASH one of the “100 Worst Ideas of The Century.” Let’s all leave AfterMASH out of our collective memory and leave M*A*S*H’s legacy alone.
There’s so much to unpack here we’re not quite sure where to begin. Starring none other than multiple Academy Award winner Sally Field, The Flying Nun was a show about…a nun that can fly. Sister Bertrille had a habit with “wings” on the sides, so that a large gust of wind could lift her 90-pound frame flying off.
Even after suspending disbelief in the absurd physics The Flying Nun was trying to serve, the slapstick humor still wasn’t funny enough for the critics. Sally Field herself has said that she is still embarrassed by her participation in the series, and given the reviews, we can see why.
The endless love people have for M*A*S*H has made it a national treasure, which might lead one to presume that anyone involved in the series would be automatically beloved in everything they do. Alas, that wasn’t the case for the McLean Stevenson (Lt. Colonel Henry Blake) starred Hello, Larry.
Larry was a radio talk show host who leaves Los Angeles to move with his two daughters to Portland, Oregon. Despite Stevenson’s pedigree (namely, M*A*S*H) people couldn’t get on board with Larry, apparently, he just wasn’t likeable. Hello, Larry signed off the air after two seasons, as it quickly turned from “the great white hope to the butt of jokes,” as per Rolling Stone.
Will network executives ever learn that some things just shouldn’t be the topic of a sitcom, say for example, slavery in pre-Civil War America? The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer focused on a black English nobleman who flees England due to gambling debts, and becomes the butler to President Abraham Lincoln.
The whole premise is made all the more preposterous when The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer decided to portray Lincoln as possessing a lot of stereotypical gay affectations, and all White House staff as inept drunks. The pilot episode was protested by the NAACP, and was unsurprisingly pulled from the air after three weeks.
The ingredients for The Chevy Chase Show seemed to make a recipe for success, but somehow, it has become known as one of the most catastrophic failures of late night television. Coming off his highly praised stint as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, Chevy Chase was considered comedic gold. So what went wrong?
Time Magazine said it all in their review, “Nervous and totally at sea, Chase tried everything, succeeded at nothing.” Oof. And if that was harsh, TV critic Ken Tucker over at Entertainment Weekly gave The Chevy Chase Show an F. Luckily, Chase had a long career in films after cancellation.
Strap in, because we’re going to space with Tyberius “Ty” Walker and Morris Clay, two “Homeboy” astronauts. The duo traveled the universe in a spaceship named the “Space Hoopty,” a cross between a low-rider and an 18-wheeler, and was piloted by a talking computer named Loquatia. You just can’t make this stuff up folks.
Not so surprisingly, the reviews were far from out of this world. One critic described Homeboys in Outer Space as stunning with “ineptitude and tastelessness.” While another wrote that “the writing, acting and production feel merely sloppily indifferent.” Homeboys in Outer Space shot for the stars, and even though they fell, we respect their attempt nonetheless.
Focusing on three cavemen trying to navigate life in modern day San Diego, Cavemen still has critics confounded. We’d love to know who thought that turning a popular 30-second Geico auto insurance commercial into a 30-minute sitcom would produce good results. Spoiler alert! The reviews were savage.
A critic from the New York Post wrote, “It became clear to me that Cavemen is extinct on arrival.” While the Variety review deemed Cavemen an “utterly bland exercise,” and The Boston Globe went one further, describing the show as “among the stalest pieces of bread in the loaf…and it’s certainly the most tasteless.” It seems clear, Cavemen belongs in the past.
Not every show can be Law & Order: SVU (the longest running crime procedural on television to date), but according to critics and audiences, Killer Instinct didn’t even come close. Set in San Francisco, Killer Instinct followed detective Jack Hale in the SFPD Deviant Crime Unit.
While some reviews went easy on Killer Instinct, like the Miami Herald who simply called it “A mess,” or The New York Times who deemed it “Pervasively disappointing,” the San Francisco Chronicle did not hold back. “As it stands, you won’t see any worse acting across the broadcast spectrum…The writing is atrocious. The series is horrifically bad.” Harsh!
Imagine two kids playing with a toy at a parade, when oopsy! they accidentally set off a nuclear missile wiping out all of humanity in an hour…except for a quirky combination of six characters. That was the premise behind the short-lived comedy Woops! Because honestly, is there anything more hilarious than a nuclear holocaust?
Turns out, lots of things are funnier than nuclear holocaust. Woops! bombed, and was canceled after one season of 13 episodes. Newsday knew exactly why Woops! didn’t work, saying, “It could have been the funniest show in the world, if there was a nuclear war, really, and this was the only one show left.”
If you’ve never heard of Co-Ed Fever, that’s because it technically never really made it to air. In an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the recently released National Lampoon’s Animal House, Co-Ed Fever was a frat house comedy, but unfortunately audiences didn’t find it half as funny as its inspiration.
The episode “Pepperoni Passion” was aired as a “special preview” prior to the series’ intended debut two weeks later. Immediately after airing, CBS preemptively canceled the show. But Co-Ed Fever wasn’t alone. All three frat house-set comedies to come out in the 1979 television season were fast to fail.
Hold your shock and just hear us out. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s very good. At least, not according to TV critics when Baywatch first came on the airwaves in 1989. In fact, Baywatch had such low viewership it was canceled by NBC after its first season.
Baywatch moved to syndication, where it lived on to lifeguard for 10 more seasons. Still, Baywatch was a show about the shockingly dramatic lives of some lifeguards skilled at running in slow motion. As the Miami Herald wrote in its review, it might as well have been called “Sullying Sand ‘n’ Surf with Silly Stories.”
We understand that when the genre is science fiction, it might feel like the sky’s the limit, but The Powers of Matthew Star might have benefitted from a simpler is better approach. The show centered around Matthew Star, a high school student who was also a superpowered alien prince from the planet Quadris.
The Powers of Matthew Star really started to feel overstuffed halfway through the first (and only) season, when the showrunners suddenly decided that Matthew and his alien guardian Walt should also become secret agents for the American government. The change in plotline left what few viewers remained feeling confused, ultimately leading to cancellation.
In a classic case of be careful what you wish for, viewers who were left bereft after the cancellation of their beloved Battlestar Galactica staged an impressive write-in campaign to ABC, asking for the show to be revived, and so it was…sort of. ABC answered fans’ cries with Galactica 1980, but the show wasn’t the same.
It was admittedly revived, but in a less expensive format. Set five years after the finale of Battlestar Galactica, Galactica 1980 only featured a few original cast members, while others were excluded to reduce production costs. All that cutting corners killed Galactica 1980, and it was canceled after only 10 episodes.
Darcy, the leading lady of Black Scorpion, probably should have stuck to her day job. By day Darcy is a regular ol’ policewoman who has managed to avoid the regulation black Ford Crown Victoria most cops drive (unclear how), and instead has a white Corvette. And it’s no ordinary Corvette, but that’s because Darcy is no ordinary cop.
By night, Darcy becomes the Black Scorpion, and her Corvette turns into the Scorpionmobile, equipped with all manner of sci-fi devices. The scripts were found to be seriously lacking in substance, and The Boston Herald scathingly said, “This series looks like a sad refuge for actors down on their luck.”
Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is a newlywed who owns an antique store and oh right, she can also see and communicate with dead people. Melinda’s mission, and the theme of the series, is to help the earthbound spirits with whatever unfinished business is keeping them from passing on. So far, pretty standard for a sci-fi show.
Although audiences were a little more interested in keeping Ghost Whisperer on the air, enough to see five seasons of the supernatural series, the critics made their impressions abundantly clear. Skipping over the more mean-spirited reviews, we’ll leave you with the The Philadelphia Inquirer, who called Ghost Whisperer “Dim-bulb junk.”
Please return your seat backs and tray tables to their full upright positions, because we’re about to take off with Marcy, Lisa and Pam on Flying High. Flying High followed three stewardesses working for the fictional Sun West Airlines of Los Angeles. And while airline shows aren’t an inherently bad idea, hiring women with no acting experience is.
Flying High failed to soar on the small screen, and the reaction of viewers and critics alike was far more grounding than uplifting. The show was seen as exploitative, and People Magazine said it depicted women as “curiously old-fashioned, if not stereotypical.” Flying High crash landed, getting canceled after one season.
Unlike a nice wine, Hogan’s Heroes has not aged well according to various outlets, ranking at #5 on TV Guide’s list of Worst Shows of All Time. The show that won two Emmy awards during its six season run, was a comedy about a POW camp during WWII. Yes, you read that right. The tagline for the series was “If you liked World War II, you’ll love Hogan’s Heroes!”
Given the horrific devastation of World War II, we’re unsure anyone would say they “liked” it. And so we have to wonder how they’d feel about Hogan’s Heroes trivializing a terrible moment in history. Sure, comedy can, and often is found in the most unexpected of places, but perhaps a POW camp shouldn’t be mined for laughs?
Ever heard of too much of a good thing? Apparently ABC hadn’t, or they would have left The Brady Bunch alone. Instead, they created a spinoff of sorts, The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. The premise was a show within a show, wherein the Brady’s had been selected to star in a variety show on ABC.
Could they sing? Could they dance? Not really, but apparently that didn’t matter, because that’s exactly what they were tasked with doing and according to audiences, they didn’t do it very well. Only one original cast member was clever enough to opt out of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour — Eve Plumb, who played Jan.
Yet another spin-off makes it onto our list, because apparently the networks just love to milk a cash cow for all its got. Similar to its parent show Hee Haw, Hee Haw Honeys featured performances by some big name country stars, but the spin-off just couldn’t garner the same enthusiasm in audiences.
Taking place at a truckstop, the “Honeys” were the roadside diner’s waitresses, played by Misty Rowe and Kathie Lee Gifford (of daytime talk show fame). The show had the same hillbilly cornpone humor as Hee Haw, except viewers, and critics, found Hee Haw Honeys half as funny. Hee Haw Honeys only ran for one season before getting the boot.
Pun-ny show title aside, Manimal was basically set up to fail from the very start. Facing off against the wildly popular primetime soap Dallas, Manimal had some seriously tough competition in terms of viewership. Still, with such a silly premise, Manimal never really stood a chance.
The series centered around a British professor, Dr. Jonathan Chase, who could shape-shift into any animal. On its own, the whole shape-shifting angle isn’t awful, certainly stranger plotlines have made it to the small screen. But Dr. Chase used his animorphing to solve crimes. Manimal was slaughtered by critics, and canceled after only eight episodes.
We wish it wasn’t so, but alas, even legends like Lucille Ball have the occasional career misstep. Life With Lucy was a little behind the times in terms of material. And the Washington Post was not kind in saying “Reruns of Life With Lucy may have a future as a torture device for use on captured KGB agents and drug smugglers.”
Still, we staunchly refuse to condemn comedic icon Lucille Ball for the unfortunate incident that was Life With Lucy. Was the comedy on Life With Lucy as “stale” as reviewers claimed? That may be, but for I Love Lucy alone, Ms. Ball deserves nothing but our ardent admiration.
The theory of Murphy’s Law is that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And so we imagine that anything that could go wrong in Murphy’s Law, did go wrong. Daedalus Patrick Murphy is an insurance fraud investigator with a whole lot of problems, and none of them made him particularly likeable to audiences.
Newsday was exceptionally acerbic in its review of Murphy’s Law, calling it, “A series so monumentally meaningless, so pathetically puerile, so irredeemably ridiculous that, within my limited professional context, it prompts the Biggest Question of them all: Why is there television?” Ouch. Murphy’s Law left the TV lineup after airing 13 episodes.
Before the hate mail comes in, we are talking about the television series, not the cult classic movie. If there is one thing the television world could learn from the television series Dirty Dancing, it is to never mess with a good thing. And never have a spin off of a beloved movie without any of the actors from the beloved cast.
The Los Angeles Times did not have the time of their lives watching this one. The paper’s review read that the show “plays like an extended shampoo commercial.” This pseudo-shampoo commercial was only extended for 11 episodes before it met its demise.
There were so many problems with ABC’s Work It that we are not quite sure where to start. But let’s start with the premise of the show: Two men have to dress as women in order to keep working in a bad job market. Unrealistic? Definitely. Offensive? Yes, according to the screams of critics across the country.
The criticisms from both television critics and the LGBTQ community were so resounding that the show as cancelled after just two episodes. Turns out, having male actors pretending to be women did not let the cast and the crew of the show keep their jobs.
The film adaptions of Marvel Comics are usually pretty much guaranteed to be hits at the box offices. But the world learned that the same cannot be said for when Marvel Comics are turned into television shows, as can be seen with the premier and, very soon after, the death of the Inhumans television show.
Rotten Tomatoes gave the show an embarrassing 11 percent approval rating. One critic called it “a complete failure – one of the worst that the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise has ever seen.” Variety said that “its only superpower is its sheer ineptitude.” The show was swiftly canceled after just 8 episodes.
Apparently the only thing worse than being a 30-something man and having your dad come live with you is making a television show about it. This Fox sitcom follow actors Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild as two best friends whose dads come to live with them.
From the day it was released, the show was widely panned by critics. The criticisms turned out to be funnier than the show itself. The Miami Herald compared the show’s humor to “the intelligence of an elementary school flatulence contest,” and another critic called it “aggressively predictable.” Not surprisingly, it earned a 0 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
We do not care how many half priced drinks we can get, there is nothing that will make us want to watch this Happy Hour. And to think there was so much promise for this show, created by the same married screenwriting duo behind That 70’s Show.
Happy Hour starred two men as one was trying to rebuild his life. It turns out that the rebuild was cut short. The show was met with such bad ratings that Fox only aired 4 episodes and left the other 9 unaired. The Washington Post could only describe the show as “sheer, excruciating pain.” Ouch.
After movies like Hot Chick and Deuce Bigalow, there were high hopes for a show starring Rob Schneider in a self-titled show called Rob. Turns out that even a glowing resume cannot lend itself to a glowing television show. Rob focused around a man, unsurprisingly named Rob, who marries a Mexican-American woman with a huge family full of characters.
But a huge family did not translate into huge ratings. It did, though, translate into a huge amount of backlash. The Daily Beast called it the “worst new show” when it came out in 2012. Others criticized the show for being extremely stereotypical in its portrayal of Mexican-Americans. USA Today called it “leftover and second rate.”
The original Knight Rider television series premiered in 1982 and had a long enough run, lasting until 1986. The same cannot be said for the 2008 remake under the same name. The newer remake was so terribly received that it only lasted from September 2008 to March 2009 – or just half a year.
There were a lot of issues with Knight Rider. For starters, the lead actor in the 2008 version, Justin Bruening, left everyone missing the days when David Hasselhoff took on the same role. That includes writers at the Chicago Tribune, who wrote that the new show was an “almost hilariously cheesy remake of the David Hasselhoff original.”
A nighttime soap opera, holding the time slot directly after the hit show Grey’s Anatomy, starring a former One Tree Hill actor. It seemed like the stars would definitely align for ABC’s 2007 show October Road. What could go wrong? Apparently, as ABC would soon learn, a lot could go wrong.
The show followed a man as he returns to his hometown after writing a book about that very place. His visit home, or at least the show about it, lasted almost exactly 1 year before it was cancelled. And for good reason, according to the Chicago Tribune, which wrote that the dialogue managed “to be leaden, preposterous and pretentious all at once.”
Unan1mous was one of those shows that only lasted for 22 minutes each episode, but felt like it went on forever. Fortunately for all of the haters of the reality TV series, in reality it really only lasted one 8-episode season.
The premise of the show was that nine strangers were locked in a bunker without technology or the ability to leave until could all unanimously decide who would leave with the grand prize money at the end. If any of the strangers did, in fact, leave the bunker prematurely, the prize money would be cut in half. But there was only one prize that the Miami Herald had in mind for this show, writing that it “makes a solid bid to win the Most Unpleasant Reality Show of All Time award.”
It’s hard to turn a William Shatner project into something absolutely terrible, but CBS and Warner Brothers accomplished just that with their show, pronounced “Bleep My Dad Says.” The show had a lot a promise in the beginning, based off of the hilarious Twitter feed of Justin Halpern by the same name, where he tweeted about his ever-quotable father Sam.
Unlike the Twitter feed, the show was not as well received. Slant Magazine called the show “dismal,” and wrote that it “harbors the worst qualities of every lame, four-camera, laugh-tracked sitcom on television.” The show was cancelled after one season.
Somehow, someway, VH1 saw a man named “Mystery” in a fuzzy top hat and steampunk goggles with a small patch of triangular shaped hair under his lip and thought, “this would be the perfect man to teach other men how to ‘pick up’ women!”
While we are not quite sure how this man landed this job, we are pretty sure we know why VH1’s The Pickup Artist is considered to be one of the worst TV shows of all time. The show ended up running for 2 seasons, with two groups of awkward men learned how to “pick up” women in places ranging from restaurants to adult clubs. How sweet.
The idea of having multiple women come into a house and compete for a man’s love is not a new trope on television, nor is it one that has been completely shunned. Franchises like The Bachelor has had success with this format. Unfortunately for VH1, For The Love of Ray J did not.
Coming off of the success the channel saw with Flavor of Love, I Love New York and Rock of Love, VH1 tried their luck with basically-one-hit-wonder Ray J. Try as they might, Ray J proved not to be a compelling frontman. The series lasted 2 seasons, picking Joanna “Cocktail” Hernandez first and Connie “Mz. Berry” Deveaux on the second season.
A television show with a well known stand up comedian and actress, what could go wrong? That was the thinking within ABC Networks when they thought of the idea for their sitcom The Pruitts of Southampton, in 1966. But what was supposed to be an I Love Lucy-esque sit com quickly proved to get a lot less love than expected.
After receiving low ratings, ABC decided to change the name of the show to more prominently feature their top-shelf talent. But even with a new name, The Phyllis Diller Show, the ratings continued to plummet. In total, the show received 2 names and 30 episodes before being promptly cancelled.
Where to start with this show? Well, let’s start with the plot. The ABC Show called The Ugliest Girl In Town was pitched as an American sitcom based on a man named Timothy. After a mix up, Timothy is mistaken for a woman and offered a job at a modeling agency.
From here, Timothy, who has named himself/herself “Timmie,” has to pretend to be a woman to pay back a loan. While it must have been hard for Timmie to keep up the act, it also proved difficult for ABC to do so as well. The show was not only cancelled after one season, it was cancelled before the end. Three episodes were left entirely unaired.
Sometimes the idea of talking babies on a television show can work. For example, take a look at the success of Rugrats. But then came Baby Bob on CBS, a show about a pair of parents who realize that their six-month old baby named Bob can actually talk.
We’d say the most jarring part of the show is that CBS used actual babies and then used technology to make their mouths move and gave them adult voice overs. Not creepy at all. Reviews of the show simply said things like “Why?” “What happened?” and “why not just poke my eyes out with a stick?”
The premise of Modern Men did not start off as a horrible idea. Warner Brother Television, or The WB Channel, thought of the idea to have three fictional single men and longtime friends seek a life coach to help them redirect their lives that have gone off track. But by the end, critics would say that it was the show that was actually off track.
USA Today called Modern Men “yet another terrible WB sitcom that should have never been made,” while the New York Daily News called it “a waste of money and time.” The show only lasted for one season of just seven episodes.
Rules of Engagement showed a lot of promise in the beginning. The CBS sitcom was produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions and actually ended up producing seven entire seasons. But just because a show runs for a long time does not mean that show is particularly good.
While Rules of Engagement was able to build itself a small fan base, the critics roundly panned the show. USA Today wrote that “Rules is one of those sitcoms that makes people who hate sitcoms hate sitcoms.” The jokes were said to be predictable, and Salon Magazine wrote that “The story lines are every bit as insufferable as the punch lines.” Ouch.
Movies based on comic books have been huge hits in the box office. But the Sci Fi Channel learned quickly that some comic book television shows are not always successful. Take Painkiller Jane, for example, which premiered in 2007 and was cancelled after 22 short episodes.
The premise of Painkiller Jane was that a DEA Agent name Jane can go through some of the most extreme circumstances, like being pushed out of a window, but still survive. Jane is still able to feel the pain from her injuries, but they are not fatal. Unfortunately for the TV critics, they could still feel the pain of this show through their television screens.
The show Criminal Minds has been a hit with crime lovers all across the country. But one day the creators behind the popular serial killer franchise decided to take a leap, a pretty giant leap, and release a spin-off of the series called Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. The new series followed similarly thrilling crimes, but this time focused on American victims of crime abroad.
The spin-off was quickly panned by critics. “Imagine the situation reversed – a show in which tourists to America were continually victimized in horrific ways – and you would see the problem,” the Los Angeles Times wrote. Others criticized the show as being “bland” and “xenophobic.”
Fox’s sitcom The War At Home came out, oddly enough, on September 11, 2005, and created controversy ever since it first aired. The show, which included Rami Malek, followed a family in Long Island, New York, and their TV family drama. But the only really entertaining part of this show was the reviews that followed the premier.
Along with the inclusion of some cringe inducing breaking of the fourth wall, the show itself had “absolutely nothing going for it,” according to the Boston Globe. The Orlando Sentinel called the show “a coarse, exceedingly obnoxious show,” and the Chicago Sun Times simply wrote “If this is America, I want out.”
Sources: Metacritic, Business Insider, The Cheat Sheet