Have you ever witnessed the excitement surrounding a new television show, but months later no one was talking about it as if it never existed? That’s what happens when a show is so bad, that networks pull the plug on it mid-season. While there are shows that are panned by critics but have been loved by fans enough to survive a few more seasons, most terrible TV shows never see the light of day after a few episodes. Here is a list of the worst-rated television shows according to critics since the year 2000. 2005’s flop went for the shock factor but only succeeded in being shockingly bad.
NBC’s Tucker premiered in 2000 and barely lasted a month on the air. When his parents get divorced, 14-year-old Tucker and his mother are forced to move into his Aunt Claire’s house and what ensues is supposed to be a hilarious take on a boy grappling with an unfavorable environment change while he wrestles with the pangs of puberty. Television critics agreed that Tucker is a cross between Malcolm in the Middle and The Wonder Years, but it tries too hard to be either of them. Variety wrote, “[Somewhere] along the way, ‘Tucker’ needs to find a source of unpredictability to emerge as anything but a forced and derivative effort.”
2001: Black Scorpion
Black Scorpion premiered on what was then still known as the Sci-Fi Channel in 2001. The show followed Darcy Walker, a police officer by day and crime-fighting superhero Black Scorpion by night, but there’s a reason the show only lasted one season. The Hollywood Reporter’s Michael Farkash wrote, “[It] suffers from banal and repetitive dialogue, weak comedy, obvious puns and no plot surprises to speak of. In other words, it’s trying to re-create the campy tone of the old ‘Batman’ TV series. Mix that up with real martial-arts battles and plenty of explosions.”
2002: That ’80s Show
It’s a good thing That ’80s Show isn’t a direct sequel to That ’70s Show because when it premiered in 2002 it failed to live up to expectations. The plot of That ’80s Show had no direct correlation to its predecessor and was seen more as a memory machine to a decade that can easily make a farce of itself. Time’s James Poniewozicwrote, “‘80s is full of unlikable stereotypes who were already well-parodied cliches two decades ago,” while San Francisco Chronicle adds, “The new show takes a wispy idea and stretches it past its limit, leaving no laughs, no character development, and certainly no impetus to watch again.”
Remember the show Killer Instinct? Neither do we. Keep reading to see why critics called it “the worst show” of 2005.
USA Today had one word to describe the premiere of 2003’s Luis: “Horrific.” The Fox comedy headed by Puerto Rican actor Luis Guzmán failed to impress critics as a cultural sitcom. Harping too much on ethnic stereotypes — and not in a good way — caused the show to get canceled after just five episodes. New York Daily News reported, “The pilot script manages to poke fun at more ethnic groups than the average episode of ‘All in the Family,’ but without any of the wit. Most of the jokes, like most of the characters, just sit there.”
NBC premiered Hawaii in 2004 but pulled the plug on the show after airing only seven of the eight episodes that were made. Hawaii was a police drama inspired by Hawaii Five-O, but it critics would say it failed to compare. San Francisco Chronicle laid it out best: “Hawaii isn’t half as cool as ‘Hawaii Five-O,’ nor nearly as frothy fun as ‘Magnum P.I.’ What it amounts to, in an ocean of really good cop shows across the dial, is a retro failure built around people you don’t really care about saying stupid things you can’t muster enough interest to snicker over.”
2005: Killer Instinct
Critics are apparently hard to impress with cop shows because 2005’s Killer Instinct was one of the worst-rated shows to premiere that year. Killer Instinct was a crime drama that only lasted one season on Fox. Though generally favored by viewers, critics had other opinions. Variety called it “lifeless and uninspired,” while USA Today called it “the season’s worst show.” Perhaps writers could have focused a little more on plot and character development, since New York Daily News wrote, “It’s a show so determined to shock that it cares more about that than about such things as compelling lead characters, believable situations or inventively solved mysteries.”
Critics said Killer Instinct could have been written better, but it didn’t help writers when a show had its material written for them as you’ll soon see.
2005: Ghost Whisperer
2005 was apparently wrought with terrible shows. It was the same year Ghost Whisperer premiered and although it lasted five seasons before its cancellation, critics hated it from the start. In Ghost Whisperer, Jennifer Love Hewitt can see and communicate with ghosts, but the premiere did little to draw interest. The New York Times said, “Neither Ms. Hewitt nor her series are malevolent forces, and the producers can feel as good as they choose about a cloying job well done.” The biggest complaint that critics had with the show was its tendency to be too sentimental for a supernatural drama.
More flops from 2005 coming up!
2006: ‘Til Death
There may have been a lot of hope for a sitcom helmed by Brad Garrett, who, in 2006 was fresh off the success of Everybody Loves Raymond, but the premiere of ‘Til Death that year only proved to disappoint. The sitcom centered on a husband, played by Garrett, and his wife after 23 years of marriage, but if that’s the show you’re looking for then you probably should have stuck to Everybody Loves Raymond. “The main structural problem for the show is that neither the couples nor the contrast makes any sense…. Still, this being a comedy, the more troubling problem is that no one is funny, starting with Garrett,” USA Today reported.
2007: Rules of Engagement
Somehow CBS’s Rules of Engagement managed to last seven seasons, but throughout its entire run was the subject of many negative reviews. Meant to observe couples in different stages of a relationship, 2007’s Rules of Engagement was lambasted for being just as bad as ‘Til Death. Its lack of originality is to blame according to Chicago Sun-Times, who said, “‘Rules’ and ”Til Death’ bear exactly the same ups and downs. The ups: essentially a good cast, plus sporadic funny lines. The downs: many un-funny lines, plus rehashed storylines from a thousand episodes of married-life sitcoms dating all the way back to ‘The Honeymooners.'”
These sitcoms succeeded at being unfunny, much like the 2010 show William Shatner starred in, as you’ll soon read.
2008: Do Not Disturb
2008’s Do Not Disturb was a sitcom that followed a New York City hotel through the eyes of its employees, but perhaps Hollywood should leave the hotel sitcoms to the Disney Channel. Do Not Disturb was so ill-received that it was canceled after just three episodes and was the first cancellation of that season. “The result is a show that tries to be adult and titillating but just comes across as juvenile and badly paced,” USA Today explained. Chicago Tribune called it “A program so bad that it’s not only unpleasant to watch, but it makes you fear for the future of network television.”
Mental is a medical mystery drama that premiered in 2009 and only lasted one season due to its declining ratings. The show follows Dr. Jack Gallagher, who works in the psychiatric ward of a hospital and he has a particular way of getting into patient’s heads. The New York Times reported, “The creators of Mental couldn’t take Gallagher any further up the mean-spirited scale, so instead they went too far in the other direction and ran smack into cliché.” Unfortunately Mental wasn’t enough to live up to the success of House or even The Mentalist.
2010: $#*! My Dad Says
Author Justin Halpern created the viral Twitter feed [Expletive] My Dad Says and it was so popular that Warner Bros. premiered a show based on it in 2010. It sounds like a novel idea for a sitcom with William Shatner leading the cast, but $#*! My Dad Says fell flat. Perhaps it was Shatner’s inability to play raunchy. Los Angeles Times reported, “Oddly, at 79, Shatner comes across as too energetic and youthful even for the 72-year-old he’s playing. The bigger problem is that he’s given nothing to do or say worth the doing or saying. He gets better mileage from a Priceline commercial.”
We all know that producers enter rocky territory with reboots and it’s very easy to fail, which is exactly what happened when a beloved ‘90s sitcom was brought back to life.
2011: Charlie’s Angels
Everyone who hates the announcement of a remake knows that you really shouldn’t mess with a good thing, but ABC failed to take note and decided to premiere a reboot of Charlie’s Angels in 2011. Writers hoped to avoid making a campy reboot but failed to impress the new generation with a fresh interpretation of the ’70s classic. “[The original series] had energy and glamour and a self-aware sense of frothy fun, all of which are missing from this lugubrious update,” wrote USA Today. It’s no wonder that the show was canceled after just four episodes, only airing half of what was filmed.
2012: Guys with Kids
You would think that a show about three guys raising their kids in a modern environment would be hilarious to watch, but you will have thought wrong. 2012’s Guys with Kids was canceled after one season for lackluster writing, stereotypical characters, and an overall unfunniness that not even actor Anthony Anderson, who has had his shining moments, could salvage. San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “Notwithstanding the unfathomable reaction of the studio audience, the show certainly couldn’t survive on the basis of its humor because there is none.” If that wasn’t scathing enough, Newsday simply said, “Nothing to see here. Move on.”
Dad-centric comedies are not a popular genre for television, but producers had yet to realize that by 2013 when Fox premiered Dads. With a cast that included Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Vanessa Lachey, and more, Dads was about two video game developers whose lives are turned upside down when their fathers move in with them. As if the premise of the show were realistic at all, “Dads would love to be as offensive as its promos promise (tweaking critics who took an early stand against it), but what’s most off-putting about the show is how lazy and stale it all is,” wrote TV Guide Magazine.
Sitcoms about single dads are nothing new, but perhaps they should have been left in the ‘90s…
2014: I Wanna Marry “Harry”
Reality dating shows are inherently problematic and 2014’s I Wanna Marry “Harry” is no exception. Los Angeles Times called it a “practical joke in the form of a reality show” and it’s not just because the 12 American women cast in the show were competing for the affections of a Prince Harry look-alike as opposed to the real thing. Time said, “The sexist typecasting–the ‘naughty’ one, the self-described ‘bitch,’ the ‘fairy tale’ references–is more or less typical of many dating shows, but with the added, gross dimension of money. What Harry doesn’t have that the original Joe Millionaire did, at least so far, is any real sense of shame.”
2015: Dr. Ken
Ken Jeong became a hit after his iconic roles in Community and The Hangover, so when ABC announced a show led by Jeong called Dr. Ken, we all hoped it would deliver — especially since Jeong is actually a doctor in real life. Unfortunately, Jeong tried too hard to lead the cast of a sitcom that fell short in many regards. “Its problem is too much Ken Jeong. His manic energy takes over every frame of the pilot, at the expense of anything and anyone else in the show,” wrote St. Louis Post-Dispatch. USA Today wrote, “There is talent in the supporting cast, and an opportunity to tell stories other sitcoms can’t. But so far, at least, that talent and opportunity are being wasted.”
2015: The Unauthorized Full House Story
Lifetime already showed just how much they can ruin a good thing when they made a television drama film based on the behind-the-scenes making of Saved by the Bell, but lo and behold, they premiered The Unauthorized Full House Story in 2015. Based on tales from Bob Saget’s memoir, perhaps what made this made-for-TV movie so bad were the blatant knock-off versions of the original Full House cast. New York Daily News said, “Unauthorized captures the feel-good part. Unfortunately, it misses the “written well” part. Like, completely.” Lifetime failed to do Full House any justice and Unauthorized was more like a Full House-themed fever dream.
2016: Fuller House
Speaking of Full House, ‘90s babies rejoiced when John Stamos himself confirmed the gang was getting back together for a Netflix reboot in 2016. But fans everywhere couldn’t have been more disappointed with a show that harped more on reunion than it did the actual writing. Time wrote, “Fuller House has nothing more to offer than a look at what an old show’s actors and format look like in the present day,” as producers pristinely recreated the original set and managed to get original cast, save for the Olsen twins. But in addition to the lack of Michelle, it self-consciously made too many of the same jokes and references to how much times have changed for it to be taken seriously.
2017: Marvel’s Inhumans
Marvel is having a moment in terms of film, but when it comes to television shows, they somehow fail to execute that same “wow” factor we get in the theaters. That’s probably why they debuted 2017’s Inhumans in IMAX theaters before it premiered on ABC, but even then, Inhumans didn’t deliver. Yahoo TV’s Ken Tucker wrote, “I’d like to say that Marvel’s Inhumans is so spectacularly awful, it’s worth tuning in just to witness the superhero train-wreck. But alas, Inhumans does not even yield sarcastic pleasures–it’s just bad. Bad in a dull way, bad in an irritating way… Marvel’s Inhumans is just inhumane.”
2018: Jean-Claude Van Johnson Canceled
Amazon canceled the satire comedy series Jean-Claude Van Johnson just one month after the series was released. Some say Amazon is cutting back on original comedies and pursuing dramas, while others are saying that the episodes didn’t live up to the expectations that the pilot set in place. Critics have half-heartedly congratulated creator Dave Callaham on being able to stretch the storyline about an undercover agent across six half-hour episodes. But the series ends there, and Jean-Claude Van Damme, who played himself in the series, will need to find a new platform to display his martial arts skills.
Those were the worst-rated TV shows by year of the 2000s. Here are the series that were close runner-ups of the shows that absolutely don’t need a revival, including the show Steve Carell doesn’t want you to know about.
Do you remember this TV series starring Pamela Anderson? Probably not. After Anderson wrapped up the hit series Baywatch, which provided her breakthrough role, the actress made an appearance on WrestleMania and Saturday Night Live before filming the TV series V.I.P. She plays a character by the name of Vallery Irons, who saves a celebrity’s life by accident and is then hired as a bodyguard. Anderson’s character protects guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Jerry Springer, and even Jay Leno. The show got the ax in 2002.
NBC, UPN, and TNN networks all thought that it would be a good idea to create a sport that combined American football and wrestling. It wasn’t. Only lasting one season, the XFL was more about crazy camera angles and scantily dressed cheerleaders than athletic skill. A few players who went on to the NFL include Kevin Kaesviharn, Corey Ivy, and Mike Furrey. However, NBC pulled out of its contract within the first year and WWF owner Vince McMahon, who partially owned the XFL, called it a “colossal failure”. McMahon didn’t learn his lesson the first time, however, as he has plans to revive the league in 2020.
2002-2003: Hidden Hills
Based on a book, Surviving Suburbia, the TV series Hidden Hills follows the lives of two couples in suburbia. Producers tried to make the characters and the storylines too sexy, which didn’t mesh well with the softball games and the bake sales. Many viewers didn’t take to the comedy of the show, and it ended up airing for only one season. The sitcom received low ratings and was considered a total flop by NBC. Sadly five episodes that were filmed were never even aired.
2004: Come to Papa
Much like Jean-Claude Van Johnson, viewers didn’t need more than one month to decide they didn’t like the series Come to Papa that aired on NBC. It followed Tom Papa at his newspaper room job where his biggest problem was that people didn’t want to be friendly with him. Former NBA player John Salley has a role as a mailman, which is awkward, and the chemistry between the actors was not there. Oh yeah, and Steve Carell has a role in the show, but you wouldn’t remember it because Come to Papa only ran from June 3- June 24, 2004.
It might be a good idea now, but in 2007, no one was into a certain superhero show.
2005: Love, Inc.
You would think that matchmakers who run a dating service would have no trouble finding love themselves, although that certainly isn’t the case for the 2005 sitcom Love, Inc. starring an ensemble cast that included Busy Philipps. The show featured a multi-ethnic cast and despite high viewership among young Latina women, it wasn’t enough to keep Love, Inc. on the air. It was canceled after just one season and critics say this was largely in part due to the way it “reduced” representation of African American characters. We all know that representation is something that is still on the rise in 2018 Hollywood, so it’s no wonder they couldn’t really figure it out back in 2005.
2005: The War at Home
A sitcom about a dysfunctional family is not very groundbreaking for television, which is probably why — despite two full seasons — Fox’s The War at Home was bashed by critics. San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “If ‘The War at Home’ spent more time on good jokes instead of recycling every gimmick ever seen on TV, it might merely be mediocre, but it’s worse,” while Entertainment Weekly echoed the same sentiment, “It’s one limp comedy that pretends to be frank and daring about race, gender, and sexual orientation–and instead is glib, tired, and slippery.” Perhaps like Love, Inc., The War at Home may have been a bit ahead of its time.
2006: The Game
Although The Game is a considerably popular show now having gone on for nine seasons, in the beginning, critics were not having it. A spin-off of the show Girlfriends, The Game is about a young medical student who puts her career on hold to support her boyfriend’s pro-football career. Boston Globe said it best: “This new CW series cranks out brash jokes that evaporate upon hitting the air, winds them into situations where women submit to their men, and leaves no aftertaste when it’s gone.” It’s no wonder CW canceled The Game after three seasons, although its fanbase was strong enough for BET to pick it up.
2006: Pepper Dennis
The ravishing Rebecca Romijn was the star of Pepper Dennis, a romantic comedy sitcom about a television news reporter in Chicago. Pepper Dennis premiered on The WB before it transitioned into the CW in 2006, but unfortunately, Pepper Dennis was among the shows that didn’t make the cut to be transferred over. The show’s failure can be chalked up to poor writing, as New York Daily News said it best: “The cast is pleasant enough, and Romijn certainly tackles her character with the abandon and conviction necessary to anchor a comedy-drama series. Were the show better written, these actors probably could deliver the goods with no problem.”
2007: Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon premiered on the Sci-Fi channel in 2007 and unfortunately, it didn’t prevail as well as it should have considering America’s penchant for superhero sagas. Loosely based on the 1930’s comic strip, Flash Gordon’s star actor was Eric Johnson, who fared better on Smallville. Apparently, everything about the show was off. USA Today noted that Flash Gordon was “[badly] written, badly cast and done on the cheap in the Canadian woods, Flash is the kind of fantasy toss-off that gives sci-fi, and Sci Fi, a bad name.” With how successful the superhero genre is today, we wonder if Flash Gordon could make a comeback?
Coming up, it’s no surprise these reality television shows never worked, but you’d think the one about a “cougar” would have gotten some laughs…
2007: Sons of Hollywood
Perhaps the A&E network should have left reality television up to E! and TLC because when they unleased Sons of Hollywood in 2007, no one was interested. Sons of Hollywood chronicled the lives of Randy Spelling and Sean Stewart (sons of Aaron Spelling and Rod Stewart) as they tried to pursue their own careers. Even the Los Angeles Times had nothing good to say about it: “‘Sons of Hollywood’ is the answer to a question nobody was wondering: What if you did ‘Entourage’ with actual Hollywood layabouts, without the writing and the acting and, you know, all that other work stuff?”
2008: Momma’s Boys
Having your mother influence your dating life sounds like a terrible idea, but for some reason, Ryan Seacrest decided to make a whole show about it. Momma’s Boys was a reality show on NBC that thankfully only lasted for one season. While the premise of this reality show was doomed from the start, the eclectic lineup of contestants and their mothers made it all worse. Entertainment Weekly wrote, “This putrid reality competition works a racist mom into the mix: So, in addition to a parade of mostly inarticulate, cheerfully stereotypical bimbos… there’s plenty of moral ugliness as well.”
2008: Farmer Wants a Wife
2008 was a weird year for reality television and the CW proved that they couldn’t do any better with Farmer Wants a Wife. Based on a British television show or the same name, ten city girls competed for the affections of a bachelor farmer. There were only eight episodes of this travesty and each week the show ranked last in the Nielsen ratings. “It’s strictly entertainment,” Philadelphia Daily News began, “Assuming that’s what you call it when one guy’s ordering 10 aspiring brides through a series of ridiculously staged agricultural challenges to find the one who’ll win the right to have her name mentioned in People magazine when they break up.”
2009: In the Motherhood
When a web series becomes incredibly popular, producers aren’t wrong in wanting to profit off it by making it into an entire television show. Unfortunately for In the Motherhood, that idea didn’t work at all. The show followed three moms with three very different parently styles, but the ABC sitcom didn’t fare well and only ran for seven episodes in 2009. USA Today said, “What you get from Motherhood are witless, barely connected vignettes about three, unpleasant, unbelievable women.” Despite heavy promotion for the show, which was sponsored by Suave and Sprint, its downfall it partly attributed to its emphasis on product placement rather than plot.
2009: The Cougar
A reality dating show about a group of male 20-somethings vying for a chance at romance with a successful divorced 40-year-old mother of four sounds like it could be a hilarious hit, but in 2009 it wasn’t. Critics at the Boston Globe agreed: “By rights, given all of this material, ‘The Cougar’ should be hilarious. But the show takes itself so seriously that, instead, it feels impossibly sad.” Hosted by Vivica A. Fox on TV Land, this competition was finished in just eight episodes. Perhaps viewers weren’t swayed by how creepy it was that an older woman was looking for love from younger men on national television.
Shows that involve men dressing up as women can be funny or they can fail, as you’ll soon see…
2010: High Society
Considering the success of a show like Gossip Girl, you’d think that a reality show about actual New York City socialite would take off, but this was not the case in 2010. The CW premiered this series with Tinsley Mortimer as its focus, but perhaps New York City socialites in real life aren’t quite as interesting or glamorous as Gossip Girl fictitiously makes them out to be. There were only eight episodes of this failure that Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called, “An awful show about awful people.” Many critics agreed that as the main focus of the show, Tinsley Mortimer was rather subdued compared to her deplorable social circle.
2010: The Deep End
The Deep End premiered on ABC at the start of 2010 and was canceled after only a month. The legal drama followed the lives of first-year associate attorneys as they wrangled with working at a prestigious Los Angeles law firm, but what The Deep End was truly lacking in was originality, according to critics. San Francisco Chronicle straight up said, “The Deep End is stupid. It is obvious and ridiculous and badly acted for the most part,” while Los Angeles Times chimed in, “Poorly conceived, badly written and indifferently acted, The Deep End is a jumble of terrible ideas from start to finish.”
The CW’s H8R was arguably the absolute worst show of 2011. Hosted by Mario Lopez, the hour-long program featured celebrities who confronted their “haters” in an effort to win them over or change their opinion. Only four of the six episodes made it to air because the show was just that terrible. Critics bashed the show for its desperation in using second-rate celebrities. TV Guide Magazine said, “Not buying it. Not watching it. Feel free to hate H8R, and show they come knocking, don’t let them in. No one needs to be on TV this badly.”
2011: I Hate My Teenage Daughter
Fox’s I Hate My Teenage Daughter sounds like a show about terrible parenting and that’s exactly what it was, except for it had absolutely no redeeming qualities about it. The show followed two single mothers who realize that their daughters are becoming exactly like the girls who tormented them when they were in high school. I Hate My Teenage Daughter failed to make an impression with jokes that came off more misogynist than funny. The New York Times wrote, “It should be funnier, but aptly enough, the pilot fails by also clumsily trying too hard, pushing what should be lighthearted portraits of insecure, inadequate mothers into grotesque caricatures.”
2012: Work It
ABC’s Work It premiered on January 3, 2012, and was canceled by January 10th after airing just two episodes. Work It was about two men who get laid off by GM and struggling in 2012’s economy and job market, they decide to dress up and pass themselves off as women in order to keep a job. As hilarious as that sounds, the writing and acting weren’t good enough to keep people tuning in. USA Today wrote, “Work It is dreadful almost beyond comprehension: witless, tasteless, poorly acted, abominably written, clumsily directed, hideously lit and badly costumed.”