Television is a massive business, so it’s no surprise that networks and studios spend a ton of money putting out content, marketing it, and getting it to their consumers. However, despite excellent concepts, witty scripts and great talent attached, things don’t always pan out once the TV shows hit the air. Sometimes brilliant series like My So-Called Life, Firefly, and Arrested Development just don’t gain the audiences needed to justify their cost.
However, some TV shows were pretty disastrous from the jump. From poorly conceived reboots to altogether troubling concepts, these TV shows were canceled so fast, you probably forgot they existed at all.
On air for a decade, people fell in love with the New York-set sitcom Friends, which followed a group of six BFFs as they made their way through life. Once the show ended in 2004, NBC set its sights on a spin-off starring Matt LeBlanc’s infamous character Joey Tribbiani.
After two seasons of struggling ratings, the show vanished from the airwaves, and quite frankly we haven’t thought about it since. LeBlanc later admitted that the series was “doomed from the start.”
Next: A series that indulged in sexism
Barstool Van Talk, ESPN
Nothing screams failure quite like a cancellation after just one week on air. That’s just what happened with the ESPN series Barstool Van Talk, First of all, the name leaves very little to be desired. The series starred Barstool’s Dan “Big Cat” Katz and PFT Commenter who was known for making extremely sexist comments in the past. ESPN reporter Sam Ponder expressed her displeasure about her network’s partnership with Barstool when she tweeted,
I was wrong in thinking @BarstoolBigCat wrote that article & called me a slut repeatedly. He just continuously laughed along. It was the PRESIDENT of @barstoolsports who said these things. Happy to clarify. I can simultaneously admit my own flaws & failings & say yes, I am disappointed that we are promoting a company name that still maintains support for horrific personal attacks against multiple women within ESPN.
ESPN president John Skipper announced Barstool Van Talk’s cancellation by saying, “While we had approval over the content of the show, I erred in assuming we could distance our efforts from the Barstool site and its content.”
Next: This series that desperately wanted to be Friends.
Sometimes the Brits get things better than we do and we’re just going to have to accept that. Hoping to do for Coupling in the U.S. what they did for The Office, NBC tried to give a U.S. version of Coupling the green light in 2003.
Tragically, it crashed and burned after only four episodes. NBC wanted to make Coupling the next Friends, and it was a very bad idea.
Next: A pre-historic disaster
From the time the promos began to roll for Caveman back in 2007, we were all puzzled by it. The network tried to turn a beloved Gieco commercial into a full-blown sitcom, and it turned out to be just as preposterous as it sounds.
It didn’t help that the show was also racist. Luckily, Nick Kroll, who starred on the show, barely speaks about it.
Next: Another “L” for Mischa Barton
The Beautiful Life: TBL, The CW
After, The O.C., Mischa Barton headed to The CW for The Beautiful Life: TBL, which followed young wannabee models. The series was called “laughable and mediocre” and only lasted two episodes before it was unceremoniously canceled. It was a very short life apparently.
Next: Sick kids are just way too sad.
Red Band Society, NBC
Before NBC’s This Is Us captured our hearts, Fox tried desperately to give us a tearjerker with 2014’s Red Band Society. Set in a pediatric wing of a hospital, the show had a stellar cast that included Octavia Spencer. However, no one wanted to tune each week and weep (the world is already hard enough), so after 13 episodes, the series faded to black.
Next: Another “no” for Matthew Perry
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, NBC
Matthew Perry didn’t exactly find his footing on TV post-Friends. One of his missteps with the biggest potential with NBC’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Launched in 2006, the same year as NBC’s critically acclaimed 30 Rock (which had a very similar theme) the series had some amazing stars (i.e., Sarah Paulson and Amanda Peet) and Aaron Sorkin a the helm.
However, though it was highly anticipated, it might have been just too sophisticated. It was canceled after just one season.
Next: The Muppets should stick to PBS.
The Muppets, ABC
In 2015, ABC thought it was a good idea to bring The Muppets to primetime and aim it towards adults. Though Kermit the Frog’s new girlfriend was hilarious, the series was overall just as puzzling as it sounds.
After one season, ABC pulled the plug on the ill-conceived show. Luckily, co-creator Bill Prady has The Big Bang Theory.
Next: They may have been armed, but they aren’t really famous.
Armed and Famous, CBS
The success of Keeping up with the Kardashians in the early 2000s meant that everyone was trying to find success in the reality TV sector. In 2007, CBS was desperate enough to greenlight and air, Armed and Famous, and yes, it’s just as horrendous as it sounds. On the show, LaToya Jackson, Jack Osbourne and others were trained to be actual police officers.
Apparently, Osbourne was even offered a full-time position in the Indiana police force where he was sworn in. Luckily, the series was canceled before any weapons were pulled.
Next: It wasn’t quite Mad Men.
The Playboy Club, NBC
Though it looked glamorous and flashy, and it starred Amber Heard, Jenna Dewan, Naturi Naughton, and Eddie Cibrian, the 2011 NBC series The Playboy Club was canceled after only three weeks.
So what went wrong? It seems like the series wanted to be geared towards women, but the subject-matter has a history of being male-oriented, so it never quite hit its stride.
Next: Dinosaurs belong in Jurassic Park.
Terra Nova, Fox
No one wants to see dinosaurs on primetime television, that’s what kids programming and big blockbusters are for. Therefore, the dino-themed drama series Terra Nova was a bust.
Though Steven Spielberg was the executive producer on the series, the dialogue was just way too clunky and the show overall was just entirely too expensive to produce. After a 13-episode run, Terra Nova went extinct.
Next: A $50 million Utopia
Remember when Fox thought it was a great idea to let some random folks create their own society? Don’t worry; we don’t quite recall either.
Fox’s Utopia was a $50 million social experiment, and tragically after everything from in-network bickering to strange casting, the show was dead on arrival lasting only six weeks.
Next: A tragic reboot
Charlie’s Angels, ABC
ABC tried to put a new spin on the 1970’s classic Charlie’s Angels back in 2011. With Minka Kelly at the center, the series never really took off. The plot was confusing, the acting lackluster, and the action was useless.
No one was tuning into the series, even though the ratings did climb a tad after a few episodes. However, ABC put the show out of its misery after four episodes.
Next: With Katherine Heigl attached, it was doomed from the start.
After being shunned in Hollywood, Katherine Heigl tried to make her television return (again) in the 2017 CBS drama Doubt. Though the series had some great actors attached, no one seems quite ready to forgive Heigel for her past antics.
After some abysmal ratings, the show was axed after only two airings.
Next: There wasn’t even a script.
Emily’s Reasons Why Not, ABC
ABC completely jumped the gun back in 2006 with their Heather Graham series Emily’s Reasons Why Not. The network ordered it to series before there was even a script. The series only lasted one episode after garnering some pretty horrendous reviews.
At the time, an ABC executive said, “It was not going to get better, and we needed to make a quick change.”
Follow Aramide Tinubu on Twitter @midnightrami.
Read more: 10 of the Worst TV Shows in Recent History
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