It is just the worst when a show you really love gets canceled too soon, and you are left with no finale, no resolution, and no hope for your beloved characters. Well, look on the bright side: at least you probably were not a fan of one of these shows. Each show on this list was canceled after just one episode—not a common feat, understandably. Some of the shows were pulled for low ratings, others for far more scandalous reasons, but regardless, these shows are considered some of the worst.
Related: Top 10 TV Shows Cancelled Too Soon
10 Dot Comedy
Trying to use internet humor on TV almost never works out. For one, the internet moves fast. TV production usually takes so long that by the time the show airs, the jokes tend to be outdated. On top of that, internet-savvy people know when they are being pandered to, and they will not buy into TV bigwigs shoving “hip” comedy in their faces. Surprisingly, though, the idea of moving internet comedy to TV is not as new as you would think.
Dot Comedy was a show that aired in 2000, far before most other shows tried to cash in on online jokes. The series featured Jason and Randy Solar, Annabelle Gurwitch, and Katie Puckrick, taking on a somewhat similar format to America’s Funniest Home Videos, which is interesting since they ended up being polar opposites. While AFV has been running since the ’80s, Dot Comedy was pulled off the air right after its premiere. Aside from the mediocre reviews it received, the show was only watched by 4.1 million people, less than the show it replaced. As a result, the show was canceled before it could air any more episodes.
9 You’re in the Picture
This is one of the oldest cases of a series getting canceled after one episode, dating back to 1961. It was a game show starring the legendary Jackie Gleason. Sounds promising enough, right?
The premise was that four celebrities would stick their heads into an image and then ask yes or no questions to try and guess what scene they were a part of. It is a very simple premise that is similar to many games played around the coffee table to this day. Also, you can think about one of the scenarios from Who’s Line Is It Anyway? that uses a green screen and questions and answers to determine what video is playing behind the unsuspecting comedian.
However, the first episode’s panelists (Pat Carroll, Arthur Treacher, Jan Sterling, and Pat Harrington Jr.) on You’re in the Picture were its downfall. Aside from being terrible at the game, they just were not funny enough to carry a game show, even alongside a comedic powerhouse like Gleason. It was no wonder that Time Magazine called the 1960-61 TV season the worst one ever at the time. The next week, Gleason used the time slot to issue a public apology for how awful the show was, and it never aired again.
8 The Melting Pot
This was another case of a big-name comedian—in this case, Spike Milligan of The Goon Show and Q—having a show that bombed, only this one was outright offensive as opposed to just unfunny. It is one thing to host a game show with confused contestants, but creating a show where you star in brown-face is just awful.
Comedy Playhouse: The Melting Pot aired once in 1975 and never again after that, for a good reason. The show involved Milligan playing a Pakistani immigrant arriving illegally in Britain with his son and living in a racially diverse London home. This was, unsurprisingly, extremely controversial, even at the time. The BBC knew after just one episode that they had made a horrible mistake. The show was pulled, and the remaining episodes were never seen.
7 Co-Ed Fever
In early 1979, ABC aired Delta House, which was a spinoff of the legendary comedy film Animal House. While the show was not awful, the raunchy content of the film was not allowed on TV. Ultimately, it was canceled after one season. It is still a bit impressive, as TV adaptations of films are extremely difficult to get right. All in all, it was an alright show.
That same year, CBS tried to get in on the action with Co-Ed Fever. The show’s “unique” plot twist was that it was about a women’s college starting to admit men for the first time. Antics ensued, or at least they would have. This show, like Delta House, faced problems with what kind of stories they could air, and on top of that, the ratings were terrible. The remaining episodes never aired in America.
6 Videos After Dark
America’s Funniest Home Videos is a beloved show that everybody has seen at least once. It has been going for decades with no signs of stopping. That does not mean that every one of its ventures has been a big success, though.
Videos After Dark is a more recent example of a show canceled after one episode. Airing in 2019, the show was meant to be like AFV for an older audience, with edgier videos than the main show. Original AFV host Bob Saget was set to star. The show premiered as planned, and more episodes were promised, but strangely, nothing seems to have materialized. The show’s Twitter stopped posting the next month, and everyone seemed to act like the show never existed at all, despite the show’s webpage still saying “coming soon.”
5 Emily’s Reasons Why Not
Emily’s Reasons Why Not seemed innocent enough. It aired in 2006 and was just a simple sitcom about a woman named Emily trying to navigate the dating world. She decides that she will break up with a guy if she can think of five reasons to. The show was heavily compared to Sex and the City, and it was advertised like crazy.
Unfortunately, the show itself did not live up to the ads. Everybody in the world seemed to find it extraordinarily dull and not worth the watch. The network got the message, and the remaining episodes have never been seen on American TV, although they did get a DVD release years later.
4 Who’s Your Daddy?
Reality TV is not exactly known for being high-class. It is often considered trashy, mind-numbing ridiculousness that is only watched as a guilty pleasure. Obviously, not every reality show is that way. Some are actually very well received. Who’s Your Daddy? is not one of them.
From 2002, Who’s Your Daddy? centered around a tough subject: adoption. It puts an adopted woman in a room with several men, and if she picks out which one is her biological father, she wins a cash prize. If she picks the wrong man, that man will get the cash prize. Surely it is easy to understand why this would be considered a bit cringe-worthy. After its first episode, a 90-minute special, hit the airwaves, the response was furious. Adoption organizations and adoptive parents hated this show that added money and cameras into an extremely personal process. The show was canceled immediately in the wake of the backlash.
3 Heil Honey, I’m Home!
Just from the title, it is probably easy to guess why this was canceled. While many people believe anything can be joked about, some things just should not be a sitcom premise. Alongside The Melting Pot, this 1990 flop is certainly one of the most controversial sitcoms of all time.
The format of the show was akin to sitcoms of the ’50s, only it was about Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun trying to get along with their Jewish neighbors. This obviously drew a huge amount of criticism. The Board of Deputies of British Jews spoke out against it wholeheartedly, while nobody on the planet seemed to find it very funny. Luckily, the BSB got the message. It was swiftly canceled, but out of all the shows on this list, Heil Honey, I’m Home! remains one of the best-remembered.
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In is a very fondly remembered show. The brightly colored sets, the witty one-liners, the innovative joke wall… what’s not to love? ABC was pretty jealous of all the attention Laugh-In was getting, so they decided to create their own version: Turn-On. Unfortunately, whereas Laugh-In soared, Turn-On was one of TV’s biggest failures.
The show was much different than anything anybody had seen before. It was not just raunchier than Laugh-In; it was also so fast-paced that most people could not keep up. The soundtrack consisted of a Moog synthesizer, which was very new in 1969, and computers played a big role in the premise of the show. Audiences absolutely could not stand this show. The station was flooded with complaints, more so about the sexual content than the strange format. The show was canceled before the first episode even ended. It was never seen again. Who knows—maybe if this show was made today, things would be different.
1 Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos
This may be the most famous item on the list. It’s essentially Australia’s answer to Videos After Dark, only this show is from 1992! It is also unique because it only aired half an episode before being canceled.
Like Videos After Dark, the show was meant to be a raunchier version of America’s Funniest Home Videos. While the reception for Videos After Dark was lukewarm, Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos was just plain disgusting. Clips included a boy eating maggots and a man spinning a basketball on his penis. Seemingly, absolutely nobody wanted to see any of that. After 34 minutes, the show was demanded to be pulled off the air, and it was. A Cheers rerun took its place, and presumably, audiences rejoiced. Eventually, the episode did air in full in 2008, and now it is free to watch online. Beware, though: it is gross and, otherwise, not very funny. Watch if you dare!