12 Popular TV Shows That Would Be the Worst if They Added a Laugh Track

In the realm of television comedy, the inclusion of a laugh track can be a divisive element. While it has become a staple in many sitcoms, certain shows have thrived without relying on canned laughter to cue the audience's amusement.

When asking the internet which TV shows would be most ruined by adding a laugh track, these are the 12 most popular answers. Some of these would undoubtedly lose their magic if subjected to the intrusion of a laugh track, while others would become outright disturbing.

1. Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000–)

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Image Credit: Warner Media

This critically acclaimed comedy follows the misadventures of Larry David, a fictionalized version of himself, as he navigates through awkward social situations and petty conflicts. Adding a laugh track to Curb Your Enthusiasm would detract from the show's dry humor and the uncomfortable situations Larry finds himself in. The absence of canned laughter allows viewers to appreciate the show's nuanced comedic timing and appreciate Larry's cringe-worthy encounters on a more authentic level.

2. Band of Brothers (2001)

Image from the series Band of Brothers
Image Credit: HBO Enterprises/Warner Bros. Television.

A few people cheekily suggested Band of Brothers and even implied that there's one particular episode in this miniseries that everyone knows would be terrible if the show had a laugh track in the background. This gripping miniseries explores the experiences of Easy Company, a group of paratroopers in the U.S. Army during World War II.

The show's focus on the horrors of war and the bonds formed between soldiers demands a serious and respectful tone, making a laugh track wholly inappropriate.

3. Criminal Minds (2005-2020)

Criminal Minds Beyond Borders 1 CBS MSN
Image Credit: CBS.

This long-running crime drama explores the intricate minds of serial killers and the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) that tracks them down. Including a laugh track in Criminal Minds would undermine its dark and suspenseful atmosphere. The show's disturbing subject matter and the psychological depth of its characters would be interesting, to say the least, with forced laughter in the background.

One fan of the show comments, “Our unsub has killed eight people this month alone and shows no signs of stopping.” [laughs.] Welp, that's a different show altogether. Good luck with airing that one.

4. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005–)

its always sunny in philadelphia season 15
Image Credit: Disney-ABC Domestic Television

Known for its irreverent and boundary-pushing humor, this sitcom revolves around a group of self-centered friends who run an unsuccessful Irish pub in Philadelphia. Adding a laugh track would clash with the show's edgy and often controversial comedy.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia thrives on its subversive and unapologetic humor, and a laugh track would dilute its unique comedic style and potentially undermine its biting social commentary. Plus, as a resident Philadelphian here, a laugh track is just profoundly un-Philadelphia.

5. The Handmaid's Tale (2017–)

The Handmaid's Tale Elisabeth Moss Madeline Brewer
Image Credit Hulu.

Set in a dystopian future, this acclaimed drama series depicts a totalitarian society where women are oppressed and subjected to strict rules. The Handmaid's Tale explores themes of oppression, misogyny, and resistance, making it a deeply serious, somber, and thought-provoking show.

A laugh track in the backdrop of a dystopian theocratic society where women are subjugated, people are slaughtered or sent to labor camps, and children are being forced into being child brides? Maybe it should have a shrieking and crying backtrack (but I don't think it needs one).

6. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Image Credit: NBC.

This long-running crime procedural focuses on the Special Victims Unit of the New York City Police Department, handling cases of sexually based offenses. Law & Order: SVU tackles sensitive and often disturbing subject matter, requiring a somber and respectful approach. Adding a laugh track would diminish the gravity of the crimes depicted and disrespect the real-life victims who have experienced similar traumas.

However, there is a case to be made regarding Ice-T's goofy lines and onscreen presence. There should be a Detective Fin Tutuola comedy spinoff.

8. Dexter (2006-2013)

Image Credit: CBS Television Distribution

This dark and suspenseful drama centers around Dexter Morgan, a forensic blood spatter analyst who leads a secret life as a vigilante serial killer. Dexter‘s brooding atmosphere and exploration of moral ambiguity would be compromised by including a laugh track. With that said, there's an unfilled market for a serial killer show where morally repugnant people are killed in a comedic tone. Not bad, just different.

9. The X-Files (1993-2002)

The X-Files 1993 Anderson Duchovny
Image Credit: Fox.

This iconic science fiction series follows FBI agents Mulder and Scully as they investigate unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. The X-Files‘ blend of mystery, suspense, and supernatural elements would clash with a laugh track. Tim Burton set a precedent for a humorous take on alien invasions with Mars Attacks!, but it just doesn't work as well as the show's eerie and suspenseful atmosphere.

10. The Wire (2002-2008)

The Wire Idris Elba Wood Harris Michael Kostroff
Image Credit HBO.

Considered one of the greatest television dramas of all time, The Wire presents a gritty and realistic portrayal of various institutions and their impact on society, particularly the city of Baltimore. The show's realistic portrayal of urban decay and its exploration of systemic problems demand a serious and authentic tone, making a laugh track entirely inappropriate. However, you can find clips of The Wire with an edited-in laugh track, and the absurdity is quite hilarious.

11. Hannibal (2013-2015)

Hannibal TV Series
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Television

This psychological thriller follows the relationship between FBI profiler Will Graham and the infamous psychiatrist and serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

Hannibal delves into the darkest corners of the human psyche and features disturbing and visually stunning storytelling. A show that explores the complexities of murder, manipulation, and psychological trauma requires a serious and unsettling tone incompatible with canned laughter. At least, I think it is. On the other hand, a cannibal with flamboyant taste and an eccentric, pretentious appetite is quite funny.

12. Dark (2017-2020)

Dark Louis Hofmann
Image Credit Netflix.

This German science fiction thriller unravels a complex time-traveling narrative set in a small town involving interconnected families and deep mysteries. The show's brooding atmosphere, mind-bending plot twists, and philosophical themes would lose their impact and coherence if interspersed with forced laughter.

Dark‘s appeal lies in its ability to captivate and challenge viewers with its intricate puzzle, and a laugh track would only serve as a distracting detour from its intricate narrative. This fan provides the perfect explanation, “Not because it's the most inappropriate to add a laugh track to, but because of every show I've watched, I think it would be the most thoroughly ruined by one.”

This thread inspired this post.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.