Think about how many sitcoms are currently on air. Then think about how many seasons they’ve had. Some shows are so good they can last for years (The Big Bang Theory, for example, went out with a bang after 12 seasons). Then there are the programs that are so bad they barely make it through two episodes.
Sometimes the formula just doesn’t work. The scripts may be bad, the premise may be ridiculous, or the concept simply doesn’t resonate with viewers. Check out some short-lived series that you may not even remember airing at all…
Jennifer Aniston Starred In Ferris Bueller Before Friends
The 1990 series Ferris Bueller was based on the popular John Huges film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Jennifer Aniston, pre-Friends fame, played Jeannie Bueller. The titular role was played by Charlie Schlatter. Hughes was not involved in the production, and the show was canceled just a few months after it aired.
The series was not a continuation of the movie’s storyline. Instead, it depicted the “real lives” of the people it was based upon. In the pilot episode, Ferris was upset that Matthew Broderick portrayed him on the big screen, for example.
Friends Spin-Off Joey Lasted Two Seasons
Matt LeBlanc reprised his role as Joey Tribbiani on the Friends spin-off Joey, which first aired in 2004. It was put on hiatus halfway through its second season but returned in March 2006. It was canceled a few months later due to poor ratings. One of the problems was American Idol, which aired in the same time slot.
The series took place in Hollywood, where Joey had moved to try to become a professional actor. He reunited with his sister, Gina, and moved in with his ultra-smart nephew Michael.
The 2013 Ironside Remake Just Didn’t Cut It
The 2013 series Ironside was a remake of a series that aired from 1967 to 1975. Blair Underwood was the star, and his cop character Robert Ironside was wheelchair-bound. Instead of San Francisco, the remake took place in New York City and was more violent than its predecessor.
The show was canceled after just four episodes because the ratings and reviews were so bad. The series also starred Brent Sexton, Pablo Schreiber, Spencer Grammer, Neal Bledsoe, and Kenneth Choi.
The Paul Reiser Show Was Cancelled After Two Episodes
The Paul Reiser Show was a spin-off of the highly successful Mad About You. It aired in April 2011 as a mid-season replacement and was canceled after just two episodes. It starred Paul Reiser as an ex-TV star who hadn’t appeared on television in quite a while. He then asked his friends to help him find something in life to give it meaning.
The show’s ratings were in stark contrast to Mad About You, which won several awards, including four Golden Globe Awards and 12 Emmy Awards. Twelve revival episodes of Mad About You are airing late in 2019.
George Foreman Starred In George, Which Didn’t Resonate With Audiences
Back in the early ’90s, former professional boxer George Foreman starred in the sitcom George. The series centered on a retired boxer who took care of kids with problems. Tony Danza of Taxi and Who’s The Boss? fame was one of the show’s co-producers. But even their fame could not save the series.
George aired from November 1993 to January 1994 before it was canceled. It also starred Sheryl Lee, Tony T. Johnson, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., and Anne Haney.
Life With Lucy Was Pretty Terrible Despite Lucille Ball’s Pedigree
Lucille Ball starred in ABC’s Life With Lucy for one season in 1986. The network cancelled the series after just eight episodes. It was a stark contrast compared to Ball’s other TV work in that it was lambasted by both critics and viewers. It’s also considered one of television’s worst sitcoms.
The show centered on a widowed grandmother, Lucille “Lucy” Barker, who inherited part of a hardware store from her deceased husband. Lucy tried to get involved with the store even though she had no interest in it when her husband was alive.
’60s Series My Mother The Car Was One Of The Worst Shows Of All Time
My Mother the Car aired from 1965-66 for one season on NBC. The series was about a man who owned a car that was actually his mother reincarnated. She communicated with her son through the radio. It’s frequently listed as one of the worst television shows of all time.
Despite its poor reception, its production team was full of experienced, top-notch people, including co-creator Allan Burns, who went on to produce The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, and Lou Grant.
We Are Men Had The Worst Premiere Ratings Ever
The CBS series We Are Men aired in 2013 and starred Christopher Nicholas Smith, Tony Shalhoub, Jerry O’Connell, Kal Penn, and Rebecca Breeds. It was canceled after just two episodes. The series centered on Carter Thomas (Smith), whose fiancee left him at the altar. He then made friends with three divorced older men.
Critics hated the series. It was compared unfavorably to a male Sex and the City, and the characters were largely disliked. Its ratings were abysmal — in fact, the show had the lowest ratings of any CBS premiere ever.
People Liked The Cavemen GEICO Commercials But Not The TV Series
We’re not sure why TV exec Joe Lawson thought creating a TV show based on GEICO commercials would be a good idea. Yet, that’s exactly what happened with the 2007 series Cavemen. ABC called the sitcom a “unique buddy comedy that offers a clever twist on stereotypes and turns race relations on its head”.
In the series, the characters played cavemen, who were considered ethnic minorities in the modern world. The network filmed 13 episodes, but only six aired in the United States. They all aired in Australia.
AfterMASH Lasted Two Seasons
Some spin-offs do really well, and some do really badly. AfterMASH aired on CBS from 1983 to 1985. It centered on three characters who starred in M*A*S*H: Colonel Sherman T. Potter (Harry Morgan), Maxwell Klinger (Jamie Farr) and Father John Mulcahy (William Christopher).
Even though it lasted for two seasons, critics didn’t really like it. It is regularly featured in lists centering on the worst TV shows of all time. The final and 30th episode, “Wet Feet,” never even aired.
ABC’s Man Up! Did Not Man Up To Good Ratings
The 2011 sitcom Man Up! centered on three guys who tried to tap into their inner tough guy personas and become real men. Ratings for the first episode were pretty decent, but with each episode viewers kept dropping off. ABC aired just eight of 13 episodes before canceling the series.
Eventually, ABC posted the unaired episodes online in December 2011, but removed them from the internet just a month later (probably because no one bothered to watch them).
Work It Replaced Man Up! But Also Failed
After Man Up! was pulled from the schedule in late 2011, ABC filled its time slot with the replacement mid-season series Work It. The show was set in St. Louis and centered on two men who were forced to dress as women so they could keep working in a bad economy.
Viewers and critics didn’t like it much at all. It was canceled just 10 days after the premiere episode aired. The show starred Ben Koldyke, Amaury Nolasco, John Caparulo, Rebecca Mader, Rochelle Aytes, and Kate Reinders.
Daddy’s Girls Starred Dudley More And Keri Russell And It Still Stunk
Sometimes even a big name can’t save a doomed TV series. The 1994 CBS series Daddy’s Girls starred Dudley Moore as Dudley Walker, whose wife left him for his business partner. He’s then stuck raising their three daughters, one who was played by Keri Russell (who would later find success in the critically acclaimed The Americans).
Even though the show also starred Harvey Fierstein as an openly gay actor (a television first), critics were unimpressed. It was placed on hiatus before the fourth episode aired.
Kath & Kim Was A Poor Remake Of A Popular Australian Sitcom
Selma Blair and Molly Shannon starred in the American version of Kath & Kim, which was based on the Australian sitcom. The NBC show aired in 2008, and the stars of the Australian version helped produce the program. It initially aired in Australia and was canceled after two episodes.
NBC picked up a full season of Kath & Kim, yet it wasn’t meant to be. The show aired its last episode in March 2009. People didn’t like the remake and criticized several things about it, from the casting to the wardrobe.
Hollywood Heavyweights Created Me And The Chimp, But It Failed Anyway
The CBS series Me and the Chimp aired in 1972. Garry Marshall (Happy Days, The Odd Couple, Pretty Woman, and The Princess Diaries) was one of the co-creators. The series centered on a dentist and his family who had a pet chimp that previously worked in the space program.
The show only lasted for one season, even though heavyweights such as Marshall and Alan Rafkin created it. Rafkin is known for directing series such series as The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M*A*S*H, Murphy Brown, and Get Smart.
Homeboys In Outer Space Had A Ridiculous Concept
UPN aired the sci-fi/fantasy sitcom Homeboys in Outer Space from 1996 to 1997. Darryl Bell and comedian Flex starred in the series, which centered on two astronauts who navigated space in a flying car dubbed “Space Hoopty.” It took place in the 23rd century, and a female computer named Loquatia piloted the vehicle.
UPN canceled the series after just one season, and critics hated it. It’s also considered one of the worst shows of all time.
Public Morals Lasted Just One Episode
It has to be demoralizing for an actor to star in a series that’s canceled after just one episode. That’s what happened with the 1996 CBS cop comedy Public Morals. It starred Peter Gerety, Donal Logue, Bill Brochtrup, Jana Marie Hupp, Justin Louis, and Larry Romano, among others.
Critics and viewers did not like the show, and it was also criticized for using vulgar language and perpetuating racial stereotypes. Interestingly, the show was produced by Steven Bochco, who also produced the highly successful NYPD Blue.
Mr. T And Tina Was Groundbreaking Yet Pretty Bad
Mr. T and Tina was groundbreaking in that it starred mostly Asian-Americans. It was a spin-off of Welcome Back, Kotter and starred Pat Morita. Unfortunately, the 1976 sitcom was canceled after only five episodes. Morita played a widowed inventor from Japan who moved to America and hired a scatterbrained woman to act as a governess to his two children.
Ratings for the show were poor, and even the actors on the program criticized the writing. Despite its bad reception, it’s often lauded for being one of the first shows to feature a predominantly Asian-American cast.
All-American Girl Relied Too Much On Stereotypes
All-American Girl also starred a largely Asian-American cast, including Margaret Cho. The ABC series aired from 1994 to 1995 and centered on a young woman with conflicting ideas from her parents, who owned a Korean-American bookstore in San Francisco.
While it was credited for featuring an Asian-American family, the show also relied on stereotypes, which turned many people off. The series also didn’t have a lot of direction, so it was canceled after just one season.
Back In The Game Starring James Caan Did Not Impress Viewers
The 2013 ABC series Back in the Game starred Maggie Lawson as single mom Terry Gannon, Jr., who is forced to move back in with her father, an ex-minor league baseball manager (played by James Caan), after she gets divorced. The show was canceled after 10 episodes.
Critics and viewers didn’t hate the series, but they didn’t particularly like it either. It simply didn’t strike a chord with audiences. And even a big name like James Caan couldn’t keep Back in the Game on the air.