The Critics Speak: The Worst Television Shows Ever

1. The Jerry Springer Show

One TV critic called it “the worst show ever made on television,” but the Jerry Springer Show ran for a surprising length of time. The Jerry Springer Show aired 27 seasons and more than 3,800 episodes of outrageous altercations since its debut in 1991.

We’re not sure anyone would expect high-brow programming on a show that has episodes titled “A Man marries a Horse,” “Your Groom Is A Cheater,” and “I’m Leaving My Baby Mama,” but The Jerry Springer Show. Springer said that he would not watch his show, so read those reviews and be careful.

2. My Mother the Car

My Mother The Car is a 1965 comedy series. If you don’t know it, you won’t be surprised to learn that the title includes a lot more. Unbeknownst to him, a family man and an attorney buy a vintage car that is his reincarnated recently dead mother. He hears his “mother” talking to him via the car radio. Hilarity ensues. What?

It was wrong. Wrong. It could have had a more serious tone at points. Without a laugh track, certain lines that could have been meant as jokes fell flat. The series reached the #2 spot on TV Guide’s list of Worst New TV Releases.

3. Cop Rock

There are so many crime procedurals that you can choose from, there will be at least one series for each area. The genre doesn’t need a cop show that has show tunes. This was evident by the swift cancellation of Cop Rock.

One of the most bizarre and oddly choreographed numbers in the series featured a substance-addicted mother singing about her baby that she wanted to sell for $200. Steven Bochco, the showrunner of Coppock, said that he had learned a lot from cop rock. “Don’t use music in a cop series.” Do not have characters sing.”

4. AfterMASH

M*A*S*H‘s demise should have been an honorable move to syndication and not the poorly-conceived sequel AfterMASH. AfterMASH brought back three of the original cast members.

It was unnecessary because the themes it explored were identical to its predecessor. M*A*S*H has been hailed by almost everyone as one of television’s greatest shows. However, TIME Magazine named AfterMASH one of the “100 Worst Ideas Of The Century.” Let’s forget AfterMASH and let M*A*S*H be left alone.

5. The Flying Nun

We don’t know where to start because there’s so much we need to understand. Sally Field, multiple Academy Award winners, hosted The Flying Nun. It was about…a nun who can fly. Sister Bertrille was known for her habit of wearing “wings” on her sides so that she could fly off with a gust of wind.

Even though the Flying Nun tried to serve absurd physics, critics still found the slapstick humor insufficiently funny. Sally Field has admitted that she still feels embarrassed about her involvement in the series. We can see why based on the reviews.

6. Larry

It has been a national treasure because of the endless love that people have. This might lead you to assume that everyone involved in the series is automatically loved in all they do. Unfortunately, this wasn’t true for McLean Stevenson (Lt. Hello Larry.

Larry was a radio talk-show host and moved with his two daughters from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon. Despite Stevenson’s background (namely M*A*S*H), people didn’t seem to like Larry. Larry departed the air after just two seasons. It quickly became “the great white hope to be the butt of jokes,” according to Rolling Stone.

7. The Secret Diary Of Desmond Pfeiffer

Network executives will never learn that certain topics shouldn’t be discussed on sitcoms, such as slavery in pre-Civil War America. The Secret Diary Of Desmond Pfeiffer was about a black English nobleman, who fled England because of gambling debts and became the butler for President Abraham Lincoln.

This premise is even more absurd when The secret diary of Desmond Pfeiffer chose to portray Lincoln as having a lot of stereotypical homosexual affectations and all White House staff members as drunks. After three weeks, the NAACP protested the pilot episode, and it was unsurprisingly pulled from the air.

8. The Chevy Chase Show

The ingredients of The Chevy Chase show appeared to be a recipe for success. But somehow, it has been dubbed one of the worst late-night television failures. Chevy Chase, who was praised for his role as one of the first cast members of Saturday Night Live was considered comedy gold. What went wrong?

Time Magazine stated it all in their review: “Nervous, totally at sea, Chase tried everything, failed at everything.” Even if that sounds harsh, Entertainment Weekly’s TV critic Ken Tucker gave The Chevy Chase show an F. Chase went on to have a long career in filmmaking after the cancellation.

9. Homeboys from Outer Space

We’re taking off with Tyberius Walker and Morris Clay, “Homeboy” astronauts. They traveled across the universe in a spaceship called the “Space Hoopty”, which was a mix of a low-rider & an 18-wheeler. It was piloted and controlled by Loquatia, a talking computer. This stuff is too real.

The reviews were not so surprising. The Homeboys of Outer Space were described by one critic as “stunning with ineptitude and tastelessness.” Another said that the writing, acting, and production felt “merely sloppily inconsistent.” Homeboys of Outer Space aimed for the stars and, although they failed, we still respect their efforts.

10. Cavemen

Cavemen, which focuses on three cavemen who try to navigate modern-day San Diego, still has its critics. We would love to hear from anyone who thought turning a Geico 30-second auto insurance commercial into an entertaining 30-minute sitcom would be a good idea. Warning! These reviews were brutal.

The New York Post critic wrote that Cavemen was extinct upon arrival.

11. Killer Instinct

Law & Order is not a show that every show can achieve. SVU was the longest-running crime procedural on TV to date, but KillerInstinct came close. Killer instinct was set in San Francisco and followed Jack Hale, a detective in the SFPD Deviant Crime Unit.

Some reviews were easy on killer instinct. The Miami Herald called it “a mess” and The New York Times called it “pervasively disappointing”. However, the San Francisco Chronicle didn’t hesitate to criticize it. “As it stands now, you won’t see any worse acting across the broadcast spectrum… The writing is atrocious. It is horrible.”

12. Woops!

Imagine two children playing with a toy in a parade. They accidentally launched a nuclear missile that decimated all humanity within an hour…except six quirky characters. This was the basis for the comedy Woops!. Because, honestly, is there anything more fun than a nuclear holocaust.

It turns out that there are many things more entertaining than the nuclear holocaust. Whoops! was bombed and canceled after 13 episodes. Newsday understood why Woops! did not work. They stated, “It could’ve been the funniest show in the world if there were a nuclear war and this was the one remaining.”

13. Coed Fever

CoEd Fever is a comedy that was never broadcast. Coed Fever was created to capitalize on the success of the National Lampoon’s Animal House. However, audiences weren’t as amused as the original.

The “Pepperoni Passion” episode was broadcast as a preview before the series’ planned debut two weeks later. The show was canceled by CBS immediately after it aired. But Coed Fever was not the only one. The three comedies that were made in 1979 for frat houses were all quickly canceled.

14. Baywatch

Don’t be shocked, just listen to us. Popularity doesn’t necessarily mean that something is good. At least that’s not what TV critics thought when Baywatch was the first broadcast in 1989. Baywatch was so popular that NBC had to cancel it after its first season.

Baywatch was moved to syndication where it remained on lifeguard for ten more seasons. Baywatch still featured the dramatic lives of lifeguards who were skilled at running in slow-motion. The Miami Herald’s review suggested that it could have been called “Sullying Surf ‘n’ Surf with Silly Stories”.

15. The Powers of Matthew Star

While we understand the limitations of science fiction, it can feel overwhelming. The Powers of Matthew star could have benefited from a simpler approach. Matthew Star was a high school student who also happened to be an alien prince from Quadris.

The Powers of Matthew Star felt a bit stuffed halfway through the second season. That’s when the showrunners decided that Matthew and Walt, his alien guardian, should become secret agents for America. This abrupt change in plotline confused viewers, leading to cancellation.

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