From comedies, dramas, action, reality, and everything in between, some TV shows are a hit, and some are a flop. According to ratings, reviews, and professional critics, these are the worst TV shows ever to hit the airwaves (in no particular order).
1. Lil' Bush (2007-2008)
Lil' Bush faced harsh criticism for its satirical take on political figures. Many viewers found the humor to be in poor taste, as it often relied on crude and juvenile jokes. Similar in nature to South Park but not nearly as well-received, the two shows shared similar styles of humor.
The show's approach to sensitive political topics, including the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina, was considered by some to be insensitive and offensive. It only lasted two seasons before it got the boot.
2. The Jerry Springer Show (1991-2018)
The Jerry Springer Show exploited the misery and conflict of its guests for entertainment. There was always a ridiculous storyline followed by screaming, fighting, clothes flying off, and more, which often felt staged or exaggerated. I never got the appeal, but it lasted quite a long time despite the trashy vibes it exuded.
3. The Bachelor (2002-Present)
Despite the low ratings across platforms like IMDb, The Bachelor has a cult following. It's a reality dating competition that features a single man choosing a potential partner from a pool of available women.
The show is superficial and unrealistic, on top of promoting weird expectations related to romance and relationships. I have no idea how no one has gotten tired of it after all this time, but here we are 27 seasons later, with the 28th due to air in January 2024.
4. The Real Housewives (2006-Present)
This may be a hot take, but I am not a fan of The Real Housewives franchise. It reminds me of a classier version of Bad Girls Club, which I also disliked. This reality TV series follows the lives of affluent women in various cities. None of it feels authentic, though; it's scripted and sensationalized. It focuses way too much on excessive consumerism, vanity, and drama.
5. The Swan (2004)
This idea of going from the ugly duckling to the beautiful swan has a lot of harmful side effects when it comes to perpetuating a false idea of beauty. The Swan was a reality makeover show that featured women undergoing extreme physical transformations through plastic surgery, exercise, and counseling.
The backlash was centered around it being exploitative, unethical, and reinforcing negative body image and low self-esteem. Many viewers found it disturbing, sad, and downright cruel.
6. Fear Factor (2001-2012, 2017-2018)
Looking back, I always watched Fear Factor and thought it was as intriguing as it was ridiculous. It featured contestants performing extreme stunts that tested their physical and mental limits.
Some stunts involved eating gross or live animals, facing phobias, or enduring pain and danger. A lot of people thought it was scripted and unethical, and I can't say I disagree in hindsight. It was still a pretty popular show, but I get why it would be rated poorly!
7. The Apprentice (2004-2017)
The Apprentice was a business competition with aspiring entrepreneurs competing for a job offer or a partnership with a successful mogul. They had to complete various tasks that involved selling, marketing, negotiating, or managing a project.
Some say it was boring, predictable, and played out after the first few seasons. There was always the lingering question as to whether it was an accurate representation of business and leadership. I think not.
8. Saint George (2014)
I loved The George Lopez Show, so I was surprised that Saint George was such a disaster. This series follows a newly single working man turned businessman juggling the demands of his ex-wife, feisty mother, and kids.
Due to the lackluster writing, traditional sitcom tropes, and a distasteful portrayal of Mexican-Americans, the show struggled to find an audience, leading to low ratings and a short run.
9. Anchorwoman (2007)
Anchorwoman was doomed from the beginning. The show revolved around the premise of hiring Lauren Jones, a former adult model with no prior journalism experience, as a news anchor for a small television station in Tyler, Texas. The show's home network only aired two episodes, originally broadcast back-to-back, and the show was canceled the following morning. Many feel she was only ever given this opportunity because of her looks.
10. Two and a Half Men (2003-2015)
Two and a Half Men followed the lives of two brothers, Charlie and Alan, and Alan's son, Jake, who lived together in a beach house. It was crude, vulgar, and chauvinistic, heavily relying on stereotypes, cliches, and repetitive jokes. The show's quality declined after Charlie Sheen left the show in 2011 and was replaced by Ashton Kutcher.
11. Surviving Suburbia (2009)
The problem with Surviving Suburbia was not that it was particularly terrible. It garnered low Rotten Tomatoes scores and unfavorable critic reviews because it was blander than expected.
Bob Saget played a cynical dad to a delusional daughter and lovestruck son, but he was just a bit too generic to arouse any true comedy. Canned laughs and run-of-the-mill writing could not set the ABC sitcom apart from others, making it one of the least popular TV shows of all time.
12. Joey (2004-2006)
Joey was a spin-off of Friends that followed Joey Tribbiani as he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career. Although he was hilarious on Friends, spectators often found the show unfunny, unoriginal, and disappointing. It also lacked the appeal of the original characters. The show was a commercial and critical flop that lasted only two seasons.
13. Work It (2012)
Where to start? Work It featured two men who dressed as women to get jobs as pharmaceutical sales reps. The show came across as offensive and transphobic. It also had poor writing, acting, and directing. It was one of the most controversial sitcoms ever made, which got it canceled after only two episodes due to low ratings and backlash.
14. Cavemen (2007)
Cavemen was destined to fail because the premise turned a serious topic (oppression) into a joke. These three cavemen live in modern-day San Diego, and they face prejudice and discrimination from humans. The show was criticized for being poorly written with dry humor. The show was a commercial and critical flop that lasted only six episodes.
15. Dads (2013-2014)
Dads was a sitcom that followed two successful video game developers who had to deal with their intrusive and immature fathers moving in with them. They pretty much just complained about how awful their lives were every episode.
Countless viewers thought the show was lewd, with too many racist jokes and an uneventful plot. It's a shame because the cast is very talented. The show was one of the most poorly reviewed sitcoms of its time.
16. Mulaney (2014-2015)
Mulaney starred comedian John Mulaney as a fictionalized version of himself, trying to make it as a stand-up comic and working as a writer for a game show host. It was just all-around disappointing. It also failed to showcase Mulaney's previous work on Saturday Night Live. The show was often complicated to Seinfeld, except people genuinely hated it. Ouch.
17. Allen Gregory (2011)
Allen Gregory was an animated sitcom that featured a pretentious and arrogant seven-year-old boy who had to attend public school for the first time after being home-schooled by his father and his dad's male partner.
He was an unlikable and annoying protagonist who was hard to root for or relate to. The show had numerous issues leading to its cancellation. It only endured for one season.
18. The Neighbors (2012-2014)
The Neighbors centered around a family who moved to a gated community and discovered their neighbors were aliens. We've seen wacky stories like this before, so it's not entirely unbelievable to think it could work.
The biggest commentary on why this show failed was that it didn't offer anything insightful regarding humans and how we accept or interpret diversity. The show itself wasn't necessarily bad, but it never quite gained steam.
19. Dracula (2013-2014)
Dracula was a drama that reimagined the classic vampire story as a Victorian-era thriller. The show starred Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Dracula, who posed as an American entrepreneur in London while secretly plotting revenge against his enemies.
The reason this TV show didn't make it seems to be because of a mixture of expectations for the character and dull execution. The audiences have stated that it's not really scary, not necessarily funny, has no action, and is overall inconsistent in terms of character development.
20. Marvel's Inhumans (2017)
Marvel's Inhumans is about a race of superpowered beings who live in a hidden city on the moon. I was expecting great things, especially when you attach the Marvel name to something, but I was highly disappointed.
The series (if you can call it that) stood out as the worst Marvel adaptation of the year without a doubt. Everything was wrong, from the lighting to the costumes to the confusion regarding superpowers, and so much more. Thankfully, they've released some bangers since then and redeemed themselves.
21. Iron Fist (2017-2018)
Iron Fist was a superhero series that showcased Danny Rand, a billionaire martial artist who returned to New York after being presumed dead for 15 years. It was also another Marvel dud!
The writing was weak, the pacing was slow, no one really bought into the fight scenes, the cast didn't seem to really fit, and it just paled in comparison to other successful Marvel Netflix series like Daredevil and Jessica Jones.
22. Heroes Reborn (2015-2016)
In some people's minds, Heroes Reborn should have never been launched when you consider how poorly Heroes ended. Heroes started off strong and slowly lost viewership until it crashed and burned at the end.
Heroes Reborn was supposed to be a revival of sorts, but most people felt that the sci-fi drama was ultimately confusing, boring, and disappointing. It didn't have the same appeal as the original series and its characters in the slightest.
23. Terra Nova (2011)
Considering that Terra Nova had a pretty good story, it's sad to say it was short-lived. It followed a family who time-traveled back to a prehistoric era, where they joined a colony of humans trying to save humanity from extinction.
The show was produced by Steven Spielberg and had a high budget—and that's it. Rumor has it that things were constantly messy behind the scenes when it came to a revolving door of writers, there was no pilot stage, not enough dinosaurs, awful CGI, and no compelling cast members as the lead. At $4 million per episode, there was no way to justify the spending on such a mediocre TV show.
24. Viva Laughlin (2007)
Viva Laughlin was a musical drama that followed an ambitious entrepreneur who wanted to open a casino in Laughlin, Nevada. The show was based on a British series called Viva Blackpool.
There were way too many awkward musical numbers that didn't fit the tone or the plot of the show. It tried to be too many things at once, but it had no saving grace. The dialogue was bad, the setting was bad, and the overall direction of the show was just flat.
25. Cop Rock (1990)
When you have a sitcom about police officers who sing and dance while solving crimes and dealing with personal issues, your execution better be top-tier. Unfortunately, that's not how things played out for Cop Rock.
It was ridiculous and unrealistic at best. It also featured cheesy songs and choreography that clashed with the serious themes and stories of the show. All in all, it had 11 episodes to impress, and it failed miserably.
26. The Cape (2011)
The Cape was yet another vigilante show that just missed the mark. A former cop becomes a masked vigilante after being framed for a crime he didn't commit. It's not super original, and it didn't stand out.
David Lyons' special cape was his weapon and ally, and the whole thing was clichéd, corny, and poorly written. Writers also failed to create a compelling hero or villain or to explore the moral dilemmas of vigilantism.
27. Undercovers (2010)
Undercovers was a spy drama about a married couple who were former CIA agents and were reactivated for a special mission. Some folks thought the spy plot was kind of shallow and didn't grab their attention. Plus, there was this feeling that the lead actors, Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, didn't really click on screen, which made it hard to buy into their characters' relationship.
On top of that, the show often followed predictable and formulaic storylines, so there weren't many surprises. The series got the ax after just one season, which pretty much summed up its struggle to win over a big audience or critical acclaim.
28. Smash (2012-2013)
Smash followed the creation of a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. There were multiple factors that contributed to its demise. The writing was hit-or-miss, with some storylines and characters shining while others felt melodramatic or underdeveloped.
Some theater buffs thought the show didn't quite capture the real Broadway scene realistically. The show also suffered from behind-the-scenes turmoil and creative changes that affected its quality and direction.
29. The Cougar (2009)
The Cougar was such a bad TV show because it was a cheap imitation of The Bachelorette, but with a twist that was more cringe-worthy than romantic. The show relied on stereotypes and clichés about older women and younger men.
However, it failed to create any genuine connection or chemistry between the contestants. The host, Vivica A. Fox, was the only redeeming factor of the show, but even she could not save it from being a flop. The Cougar should have never been made, let alone aired on TV Land.
30. The Following (2013-2015)
The Following tried to be a smart and suspenseful crime thriller but ended up being a mess. It had a promising premise and cast but wasted them on a plot that was full of holes, inconsistencies, and absurdities.
The show also had a disturbing amount of violence and gore, which seemed to be there for shock value rather than storytelling. I didn't personally dislike it, but I can see how it wasn't everyone's cup of tea. I'm also a loyal Kevin Bacon fan, so maybe that helps.
31. H8R (2011)
H8R was so bad that it's hard to put into words where it went wrong. It was a pathetic attempt to make celebrities look good by confronting their critics, who were often just ordinary people with valid opinions.
The show was hosted by Mario Lopez, who seemed to have nothing better to do than to meddle in other people's lives. Viewers also found the confrontations often scripted and uncomfortable. Hard pass.
32. South Beach (2006)
South Beach was like a trainwreck you couldn't look away from but for all the wrong reasons. It stumbled through a maze of predictable characters and soap opera-style drama, making you wonder if it was trying to be a telenovela.
The show's forced dialogue and plot twists left audiences wincing rather than engaged. Despite its sun-soaked Miami backdrop, South Beach ended up being more of a guilty pleasure for bad TV aficionados than a hit.
33. Twenty Good Years (2006)
Twenty Good Years kept my attention for twenty good minutes. It was a sitcom that tried to bring the laughs, but it felt more like a missed opportunity. The humor was too reliant on tired, outdated gags and weak punchlines. It needed more wit and originality. Two men in their 60s trying to live life to the fullest had potential, but not quite enough.
34. Love, Inc. (2005)
Love, Inc. was a romantic comedy series that struggled to find its footing. It was bland and didn't do well at garnering laughs or making you care about the characters. The sitcom centered around a group of matchmakers who were ironically unlucky in love.
Instead of exploring the irony, the show focused on jokes and stereotypes. The host was more annoying than amusing, and there was no on-screen chemistry. With only one season, it's safe to say that Love, Inc. didn't find its perfect match among audiences.
35. American Inventor (2006-2007)
American Inventor was a TV competition that aimed to find the next big invention but often felt more like an annoying infomercial. Viewers witnessed a parade of inventors showcasing their ideas, but many of them were either bizarre or impractical, making it hard to take the show seriously.
The judges sometimes delivered harsh criticism, but it was the awkward, almost painful pitches and prototypes that stole the spotlight. Despite its initial hype, American Inventor couldn't invent a successful formula for entertainment and was canceled after just two seasons.
36. The Newsroom (2012-2014)
The Newsroom promised to take us behind the scenes and deliver high-octane drama, but it just wasn't what folks thought they were going to get. It aimed to tackle real-world events, but its heavy-handed approach to storytelling and preachy monologues left spectators feeling like they were being lectured to rather than entertained.
Despite its initial buzz, The Newsroom struggled to maintain viewership and was canceled after three seasons. The preachy tone, self-righteous characters, and unrealistic scenarios were its downfall.
37. Vinyl (2016)
Vinyl aimed to rock the TV world with its depiction of the music industry in the '70s, but it never got off the ground. It was full of inaccuracies and anachronisms that just made it worse. Despite the star-studded cast and Martin Scorsese's involvement, the show's convoluted plot and unlikable characters left people scratching their heads.
The show had a tone that was inconsistent and confusing, shifting from drama to comedy to fantasy without any coherence. It got canceled after one season, which was a testament to its inability to find a rhythm.
38. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (2012-2017)
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was a reality spin-off of Toddlers & Tiaras that followed the life of Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, a child beauty pageant contestant from Georgia, and her eccentric family. It was intended to be a humorous look at their unconventional lifestyle and personality.
However, the show sparked some discussions about class, culture, and body image, especially among children.
While some found the family's antics endearing, others saw it as a controversial spectacle that exploited its subjects for entertainment.
39. Dance Moms (2011-2019)
The Abby Lee Dance Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, gained a following from the reality series Dance Moms. Abby Lee Miller is a strict and contentious instructor who trains young dancers for national competitions. The mothers of the dancers often clashed with Miller and each other over their children's careers.
While the show highlighted the dedication and passion of the dancers and their families, there was also a negative portrayal of dance culture, its emotional abuse of children, and its sexualization of minors. I never could get into it.
40. Toddlers & Tiaras (2009-2016)
Similarly, Toddlers & Tiaras drew criticism for its perceived exploitation of young children in beauty pageants, with concerns about the emotional and psychological impact on the kids. The show faced backlash for overexposing the young contestants, featuring age-inappropriate behaviors and attire.
Additionally, controversial parenting choices, such as extreme diets and tanning, raised ethical questions about the well-being of the children involved. Some viewers also doubted the show's authenticity. I agreed that it blurred the lines between pushing your children into greatness and going overboard.
41. Jersey Shore (2009-2012, 2018-Present)
Jersey Shore turned out to be an offensive and gaudy reality drama about a group of young adults who spent their summers together in various locations. They chronicled their daily lives, relationships, conflicts, and partying.
Various people within the Italian-American community had an issue with how they were portrayed as “guidos,” or drunken and promiscuous partyers. The language was also vulgar, and it didn't offer anything positive aside from the entertainment that some enjoyed from watching the cast's shenanigans.
42. The Simple Life (2003-2007)
The Simple Life focused on Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, two wealthy socialites who left their privileged lives to experience different jobs and lifestyles in rural America. Did anyone really believe or buy into that premise? Not really.
The show followed their misadventures as they struggled to adapt to their new environments and interacted with ordinary people. The scripted scenes, staged situations, and absurd behavior between the two of them got old very quickly. The show also had several production issues and conflicts between Hilton and Richie.
43. Keeping Up With The Kardashians (2007-Present)
Keeping Up with the Kardashians is just awful and has a following for all the wrong reasons. Their influence is harmful in so many ways. This reality soap opera glamorizes the personal and professional lives of the Kardashian-Jenner family, a blended clan of socialites, entrepreneurs, models, and media personalities. It's more drama, scandals, materialism, and superficiality than actual insight about the family.
44. Flavor of Love (2006-2008)
Flavor of Love features rapper Flavor Flav as he searches for his true love among a group of women who compete for his attention and affection. It was and always has been ridiculous at face value. The show ran for three seasons and spawned several spin-offs, such as I Love New York and Charm School.
The show has been criticized for its negative portrayal of women, especially women of color, and its promotion of stereotypes and violence. However, the show also has a cult following and is considered one of the most influential reality TV shows of the 2000s.
45. Painkiller Jane (2007)
Painkiller Jane was like someone trying to save a sinking ship but ultimately going down with it. Despite the intriguing narrative of a woman with self-healing abilities, the show stumbled through clunky writing and a lack of depth.
It seemed to miss the mark on what makes superhero stories compelling. With just one season, Painkiller Jane couldn't quite heal its own wounds and ended up being a forgettable show.
46. Temptation Island (2001-2003, 2019-Present)
Temptation Island tests the strength of couples' relationships by exposing them to temptation from attractive singles. It's probably one of the silliest ideas I've ever heard of. The show follows four couples who are at a crossroads in their relationship and agree to live separately on an island with 12 other singles.
The couples are not allowed to communicate with each other during their stay, but they can watch video clips of their partners' interactions with the singles. That's the best way to decide whether you should stay together or break up, huh?
47. Revolution (2012-2014)
Revolution was a flop from the beginning. It was yet another post-apocalyptic television series that couldn't be executed. In a world without electricity, the show's inconsistent storytelling and plot holes were more confusing than captivating.
It often felt like characters had access to infinite ammo, and their ability to fix things with duct tape was borderline magical. Despite its potential, Revolution left viewers in the dark.
48. Rob (2012)
Rob revolved around Rob Schneider's character, Rob Brooks' efforts to connect with his wife's tight-knit Mexican-American family. While Schneider as a comedian has delivered memorable performances in the past, this endeavor fell short. His character wasn't even likable.
Even the inclusion of Cheech Marin couldn't bring out the laughs for this one. Dry comedic tropes, no character development, and offensive representations of Mexican-Americans would ultimately doom this series.
49. Love Is Blind (2020-Present)
Love Is Blind attempted to blend romance with social experimentation, but it was a recipe for disaster. The rushed nature of the engagements and the overly dramatic moments offered nothing beyond skepticism.
It seemed like the show was more interested in creating problems than genuine connections. Despite some successful couples emerging, the editing and ethical concerns overshadowed the potential of this “love without sight” experiment, making it just another cheesy reality show.
50. The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart (2020)
The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart tried to hit all the right notes, but it was terrible. It was like combining The Bachelor and American Idol, but it just didn't feel authentic, and it wasn't as entertaining as promised. There are 20 aspiring musicians looking for love and fame, living together in a mansion and serenading their way into each other's hearts. Give me a break!