This past television season saw many shows bite the dust pretty quickly, with some just lasting a few episodes. But in the cutthroat world of TV, that’s actually not as bad as it gets. Some shows have been so terrible that they lasted only one showing before humiliated networks pulled them off the air. Here’s a rundown of the biggest losers in television history.
"Emily’s Reasons Why Not" (2006)
This ABC sitcom is widely regarded as the show that killed poor Heather Graham’s career. The premise wasn’t anything special—Graham played a single author of self-help books looking for romance in New York City—but the network promoted the hell out of it. Part of the reason was because ABC reportedly committed to picking it up without even seeing a script. All that faith went right out the window immediately after the airing of the first episode, as the network deemed it “unlikely to improve” and pulled it out of the lineup.
For a brief period of time in the late 1980s, Seattle Seahawks football player Brian Bosworth looked poised to break through as a cultural icon. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. For some reason, 10 years after his prime, Fox signed the Boz (as he was known) to star in an action-drama series, "Lawless." It was such a stinker that the network pulled it after the pilot episode aired, replacing it with reruns.
"Osbournes: Reloaded" (2009)
America’s obsession with legendary rocker Ozzy Osbourne’s chunky, talentless brood continues to be a mystery, but their luck finally ran out after the premiere of "Osbournes: Reloaded," their Fox variety program. The show featured a mix of sketches, stunts and more, all of which were awful. More than 25 Fox affiliate networks, upset at the content, decided to not air it in its posh spot after "American Idol," instead relegating it to the trash heap. Needless to say, the five other episodes produced never aired.
"Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In" was one of the most influential shows of the 1960s, paving the way for "Saturday Night Live" and more intelligent sketch comedy on TV. However, when ABC tried to cash in on the action in 1969 with "Turn-On," they quickly found out that you can’t push the envelope too far. With lightning-quick pacing, a bizarre mix of animation, live action and optical effects, and totally sex-obsessed material, some ABC affiliates refused to go back to the program after the first commercial break, and the network had to cut its losses and cancel the show.
Let’s just be honest: Internet stardom doesn’t translate well to TV stardom. Case in point, "Quarterlife," which was a web video series on MySpace (don’t laugh) by Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, the creators of "Thirtysomething" (ok, laugh). Now get ready to laugh even harder: NBC bought the rights to broadcast episodes after they were already on the Internet, and when ratings were in the toilet they pulled the plug after the premiere. Nobody was surprised by this.
"Dot Comedy" (2000)
"Quarterlife" wasn’t the first Internet-based TV failure. In 2000, ABC paid cash for "Dot Comedy," a half-hour sitcom starring Annabelle Gurwitch and identical twin comedians Randy and Jason Sklar. The show was inserted as a mid-season replacement for the failing "The Trouble with Normal," but it wasn’t much of an improvement. Think about the Internet in 2000: all RealPlayer, Usenet and Geocities websites. There are clips of the show on YouTube, and they’re painful to watch. After placing a dismal 87th in the Nielsen ratings, ABC pulled the show after one episode.
"Korgoth of Barbaria" (2006)
Given the amount of lead time it takes to produce an animated series, you'd think they would be exempt from the one-episode curse. You’d think wrong. "Korgoth of Barbaria" was a Cartoon Network series with a spectacular pedigree. The talent involved had previously worked on hits like "Dexter’s Laboratory" and "Samurai Jack." But after airing the pilot, the network decided to shelve future production, claiming that it was too expensive to make more episodes.
"Heil Honey I’m Home!" (1990)
One of the most ill-conceived TV concepts of all time, this British sitcom chronicled the day-to-day life of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun as channeled through "The Honeymooners." The Hitlers lived next door to a Jewish couple, the Goldensteins, and they didn’t get along very well. Needless to say, the world wasn’t ready for wacky Hitler hijinks and broadcaster Galaxy TV wisely pulled it from the schedule after massive public outcry. Additional episodes were filmed, but they have never been seen.
"Who’s Your Daddy?" (2005)
Reality TV was in its nadir sometime around 2005, when every network was hunting for the next "Survivor" and humiliating average Americans in the process. One extremely controversial attempt was Fox’s "Who’s Your Daddy," a series that took an adopted woman and had her try to identify her biological father out of a group of impostors. Tremendous backlash before the show even aired led the network to quickly backtrack on calling it a “series,” instead airing the first episode as a “special” and never speaking of it again.
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"Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos" (1992)
Let’s close this list with a TV show that didn’t even make it to the end of one episode before getting pulled from the air. This risque take on the "America’s Funniest Home Videos" concept aired on Australian network TCN-9. The network’s owner, mogul Kerry Packer, hadn’t seen the show, but when friends urged him to turn it on, he got so pissed off that he called the studio operators and screamed at them to “get that sh-t off the air!” Amazingly, they did. The rest of the broadcast was replaced by a “Technical Difficulties” message.