Cancelled TV Shows Shortest

Cancelled Quickly: Viva Laughlin, Doubt and 23 Other Infamous TV Flame-Outs

TV has been home to an infinite number of one-season wonders — but what about the shows that were practically yanked before the first commercial break?

In the wake of Doubt‘s swift cancellation after just two episodes, TVLine is taking a look back at 25 of TV’s most (in)famous flame-outs — some beloved, others not so much. Because for every Lone Star, there’s also a Viva Laughlin, or (ugh) Work It.

Some of these series had the misfortune(/blessing?) of being yanked after just a single episode (such as when ABC apparently had an answer to Emily’s Reasons Why Not). Others were picked up to series, only never to make it to air (Fox’s intentions for Manchester Prep turned out to be cruel, indeed).

Browse the gallery above — or click here for direct access — to revisit some of TV’s most embarrassing history, then tell us if you watched (or were at least planning to) any of these short-lived series.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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70 Comments
  1. Coop says:

    Didn’t watch a show on the list. Still offended they tried to remake Ironside.

  2. rowenamck says:

    I’m still upset about the cancellation of The Playboy Club. I think it would have done better on a platform like a cable channel or Netflix, had that been an option.

    • Roni says:

      Yes, I’m still upset about that too. I especially loved the storylines of the two gay characters and the way they dealt with life in the 1960s. The only bad thing about it that I can recall was the miscasting of Eddie Cibrian’s character. I remember thinking it seemed like he was trying to do a Don Draper-like character with about a tenth of the talent and depth of Jon Hamm.

    • Ayna says:

      This I completely agree with.

  3. Keith says:

    Glenn Frey of the Eagles had a show called South of Sunset in 1993 and CBS aired one episode

  4. Lysh says:

    What, they were remaking The IT Crowd with Richard Ayoade? That’s so weird.
    I tried watching the trailer for Day One on YouTube (the photo reminded me of V or The 100) and couldn’t even get through that.

    • Ame says:

      As great as Moss is, that was a godawful move. The magic of the original cast made that show, even when they swapped Denim for Douglas.

      I watch Humans and all I can think when Katherine Parkinson is on is Friendface! And she’s forever Jen.

  5. LADY_in_MD says:

    There was a show on ABC called My Generation that aired like 5 or 6 episodes before it ended I was probably like 1 of 5 people who watched it but I thought it was good shows my taste

  6. Kevin Tran says:

    They left out Tuesday Night Book Club on CBS back in 2006 after only airing just two episodes.

  7. Kevin Tran says:

    No mentioning Of Kings and Prophets? Series aired last year on ABC but was short lived for only two episodes. Would’ve been great for cable TV or streaming.

  8. c-mo says:

    I’m upset about Us & Them too…thanks for re-opening that wound 😠

  9. roedecker says:

    I’m from Spain, but not from Madrid, and I confirm Emily’s Reasons Why Not aired here. I didn’t watched, though.

  10. Aflem says:

    There are at least two more that come to mind. The first was an NBC sitcom called “Snips,” starring David Brenner as a hair dresser. It reportedly was supposed to feature a gay character but this was 1976 and that was verboten back then. Wikipedia claims there were seven episodes made but the last two were never even edited and the show never made it to air in North America.

    But the all time champ has to be ABC’s “Turn On” back in 1969, a show co-produced by George Schlatter of Laugh-In fame. This thing was so controversial with references to sex – something TV didn’t talk about much in the 60s – and it was so bad that it was actually cancelled halfway through the first and only episode that ever aired! Guest host Tim Conway later remembered that the cast was across the street celebrating the first airing, and then that launch party turned into a wake when they found out there would never be another one,

    Now THAT has to be some kind of record.

  11. Lmm says:

    Why do they bother with these idiotic shows when The Good Fight is on CBS all Access and we have to pay for it after we pay high cable or satellite prices. Makes no sense to me! Wish they would run the Good Fight on CBS ….. so disappointing.

  12. analog weather says:

    Still upset about Doubt. I hope they air it soon or at least put it in CBS All Access. Not showing those 11 eps will be a waste.

  13. Jared Munson says:

    What about David E Kelley’s Legally Mad that never aired?

    • Rex the Wonder Dog says:

      Or David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman series starring Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman that never aired either.

    • megalion says:

      Don’t think I’ve forgiven Kelley for the train wreck of Girls Club.

      Was seriously offensive! Even more so that it came from a guy who appeared to be a feminist.

      Looks like they did air the 2nd episode but I remember thinking there’d been way too much “Oh No they didn’t” for me to watch another minute.

      This was back when Tivo was still new and so must see TV was appointment TV even with multiple VCRs and VHS tapes.

  14. Big Cheddar says:

    The cancellation of Lone Star still hurts! Another show missing fromvthe list is Push, Nevada. That show was definitely ahead of it’s time.

  15. Stacy says:

    I remember being so psyched for Mission Control (Krysten Ritter! Tommy Dewey! Lem & Phil!) And then it just disappeared before airing and I was so bummed. I guess I’ll just be glad that Malcolm Barrett is now on Timeless in an awesome role, even if we don’t know that show’s fate either. *sigh*

    • Mike M says:

      Definitely my biggest let down on that list. Don’t Trust the B mixed with Better Off Ted in charge of NASA operations – oh my god it’s STILL the best comedy idea nobody has made.

  16. TiredofTripe says:

    There was a show called “Hollyweird” produced by Shaun Cassidy for FOX.

    Never aired.

  17. Daya says:

    I was pissed that Hieroglyph never made it to air, as I’m a huge fan of Ancient Egypt. Probably would’ve gone the way of K&P, though, so maybe it was a good decision on Fox’s part…

  18. Catherine says:

    ABC’s “We Are Men” – didn’t understand what was so bad about it that it was pulled so fast.

  19. TDXI says:

    Watched the first episode of doubt thought it was okay until it went PC with the she/he that just put me right off.

    • analog says:

      Bigot alert.

    • Steven says:

      “Watched the first episode of doubt thought it was okay until I realized I was a transphobe that just put me right off.”
      Fixed it for you.

      • Big Cheddar says:

        Perfect reponse, Steven. Personally, I think they ditched it too soon, as they had some pretty recognizable actors in the cast and didn’t give them a chance to have a storyline. I feel like CBS just wanted to get Beyond Boarders on the air asap so they could capitalize on their appearance in the original Criminal Minds episode a few weeks ago and remind people the show actually still exists.

    • megalion says:

      “Went PC with the she/he”?

      What does that even MEAN? lol!
      Transgender people are still people. They have lives and stories like everyone else.

      I’ll be honest, I laughed when I saw Doubt was cancelled cause Heigl cursed herself good when she roasted the GA writers. I like Heigl but that was seriously uncool.

      Then hours later, I discover that Laverne was on it. I cried.

      Will watch the two episodes that got released. Hope the rest get put up eventually.

  20. Rex the Wonder Dog says:

    There was also Wonder Woman pilot with Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman back in 2011. It was going to be on NBC. But it was so terrible the series never aired.

  21. Britt/Brat says:

    What about the show where all these people won the lottery or something like that. It aired a few years ago and was the first show cancelled that season.

  22. TvLover says:

    What? Phil and Lem would’ve been reunited again?! Aww man that’s a shame. Powerless makes me miss Better off Ted, such a funny show.
    And that Hugh Jackman fronted show, yikes!

  23. K Turner says:

    Shocked thus was a great show but when a network gives it 2 episodes how can any succeed….so little good tv and thus was really good….

  24. Tony Lang says:

    Honorable mention to the late Glenn Frey’s 1993 bomb South of Sunset. Canceled after one episode which did not even air in L.A. due to coverage of the massive wildfires in the area that year. It scored what at the time was the “lowest fall debut in major network history”, a 6.1.

  25. Dannie C says:

    Alexis & Jason great casting choice & it could of been amazing but I watched the pilot of Us & Them and it was terrible the rest of the cast and the script was not great

  26. Existence says:

    No wonder they cancelled so fast. 90% of these shows look God awful. I don’t know why they waste time picking up these terrible shows that they know will likely be rejected by the GP.

  27. christopher bee says:

    I remember the “Aquaman” pilot in 2005 with Justin Hartley, Ving Rhames, Lou Diamond Phillips ans Adrianne Palicki which was sort of good. And there was a Spiderman Series in 1979 which was absolute bad, just the worst tv show of all times.

  28. Ws says:

    I still wish they would release the rest of the episodes of “Lone Star”… that one had so much potential and a great cast.

  29. TrapperCat says:

    Here’s another mention for “Turn On!”, ABC’s attempt at copying Laugh-In. It lasted one episode. I was a little kid but remember watching it. The only thing I remember about it, beside it not being funny at all, was that they ran the credits throughout the half-hour episode. Not sure if anyone’s ever done that before. Still, a classic footnote in network TV history.

  30. Ally Oop says:

    I was really disappointed Us and Them didn’t air.

  31. TAB says:

    I was surprised to see that Charlie’s Angels (2011) didn’t make this list. It was cancelled after 4 episodes which was a big deal at the time.

  32. Ayna says:

    I see you didn’t add The Playboy Club. I’ still bitter about that one being cancelled.

  33. Woodmeister says:

    Drive – Nathan Fillion vehicle (pardon the pun) lasted 4 or 5 episodes.

  34. Another Poster says:

    While the reasons for quickly cancelling TV series are usually for terrible ratings and/or bad critics reviews, in 1983 ABC cancelled Police Squad! after 4 weeks on the air because, “The viewer had to watch it in order to like it”, quote from a ABC spokesperson, (while being filmed on camera), to Entertainment Tonight. 6 episodes were made and shown on TV, however, the series was cancelled after four episodes aired.
    TV Guide magazine said in the Cheers and Jeers section that the reason given for the cancellation of Police Squad! was the dumbest ever given for ending a TV series.
    After Police Squad! was cancelled the very successful Naked Gun movie series was made proving just how wrong ABC was.

    • E. D. Boddy says:

      The only parts where episode-order mattered were where Frank would show up with the police car running into the number of garbage cans of the episode’s number, and the end, where it was noted that the villain of the week was headed to the Statesville Prison, “along with…” the villains of the previous weeks.

      • Another Poster says:

        Here is the exact quote from the President of ABC Entertainment to Entertainment Tonight on the reason for cancelling Police Squad! after 4 weeks on the air: “Police Squad! was cancelled because the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it”. I do not know if you are being sarcastic; in case you are not; what he meant was; The viewer had to actually look at the TV screen in order to get some of the jokes, it had nothing to do with watching the programs in chronological order. For example; the announcer would say the name of the episode while the words on the screen were entirely different. When Leslie Neilsen said he was driving to the “Little Italy” section of Chicago, they would show an image of the Coliseum in Rome, Italy in the back view of the auto he was driving. When some viewers watch a TV show, they don’t always give it their full undivided attention. They might watch it while doing other activities and with Police Squad!, that might cause them to miss some of the jokes. It was a very stupid reason for cancelling a very funny show after only 4 episodes had aired. It is probably the worst reason ever given by any network for ending a TV show.

  35. E. D. Boddy says:

    The failure of “Hank” (8:00 show) and the success of “The Middle” (following at 8:30) should disprove any beliefs about the importance of lead-ins as being essential..

  36. Marc says:

    That Charlie’s Angel remake a few years back was atrocious.

  37. Spyce says:

    Doubt needed to go, I liked the people in it but the writing was terrible.

  38. Kathleen says:

    TV especially CBS cancels too many shows. Why start watching a new show when you will prob cancel it soon. So many shows my husband and Ilke, and thentbeyatecancelled soon. Why bother watching at all. This is not only my opinion, but a lot of people feel the same way !!!!!!!!!

  39. Pam says:

    I did watch doubt, it was ok, really didn’t get a chance to love it aftter two shows, would have watched it again. Sick of violent shows, to much anger. Let’s have more comedies!