List of television series canceled after one episode
Some television series are canceled after one episode, quickly removed from a broadcast schedule and/or had production halted after their premieres. Such immediate cancellations are extremely rare cases and are usually attributed to a combination of extremely negative reviews, very poor ratings, radical or controversial content, or circumstances beyond the network's control.
Purposely excluded from this list are pilots, premiere episodes produced primarily to be reviewed by network executives as a proposed series, "backdoor pilots", pilot episodes shot in such a way that they can be aired as a regular episode of another series, and feature-length television movies produced to be broadcast as either an extended premiere episode, if picked up as a series, or as a distinct television movie. In either case, the pilot was never added to the programming or was aired as a television movie (for example, Virtuality) with no intent of producing a series.
Shows are listed in chronological order with the date the episode aired, any backlash from it, and what happened to the series after cancellation.
Canceled before the first episode finished airing
- Turn-On (February 5, 1969)
- ABC variety comedy series; a racier derivative of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, the show alarmed broadcast officials and sponsors who immediately perceived the show as offensive because of its strong sexual and political humor. At least one station (WEWS in Cleveland, Ohio) did not return to Turn-On after the first commercial break, and others in western time zones where the show would air later that evening refused to air the program at all. ABC canceled the show before airing another episode.
Canceled after one episode
- Fun and Fortune (June 6, 1949)
- ABC game show hosted by Jack Lescoulie. The game consisted of contestants trying to identify an item hidden behind a curtain based on four clues.
- Who's Whose (June 25, 1951)
- A panel quiz show hosted by Phil Baker that aired on CBS in which four celebrity panelists (Robin Chandler, Basil Davenport, Art Ford, and Emily Kimbrough) tried to determine which of three male contestants was married to which of three female contestants. This show replaced The Goldbergs, which was dropped when its creator Gertrude Berg refused to fire the blacklisted actor Philip Loeb. While some sources have classified this show as a television pilot, contemporary news accounts confirm that this was a series which was dropped by its sponsor (General Foods) after one airing.
- The Melting Pot (June 11, 1975)
- BBC sitcom written by Spike Milligan, who also starred as "Mr. Van Gogh", a Pakistani illegal immigrant in London. The debut was shown on BBC1, but the remaining five episodes have never been seen.
- Co-Ed Fever (February 4, 1979)
- CBS sitcom that attempted to imitate the then-successful National Lampoon's Animal House. The pilot was aired as a "special preview" of the upcoming season, but the series was canceled shortly thereafter. The other five completed episodes remain unaired in the United States, but were shown in Vancouver, Canada on BCTV in a late-afternoon weekend timeslot.
- Heil Honey I'm Home! (September 30, 1990)
- British TV's Galaxy comedy that spoofed American sitcoms of the 1950s and 1960s by featuring caricatures of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun who live in matrimonial bliss until they become neighbours to a Jewish couple. In unseen episodes the Hitlers plot to murder their Jewish neighbours.
- South of Sunset (October 27, 1993)
- CBS private-detective show starring Glenn Frey of rock band the Eagles. Despite being heavily promoted during the World Series, the show was canned not only because of bad ratings but because news coverage of wildfires in Malibu had pre-empted it on much of the West Coast (although KCBS showed the pilot on October 30 at 11:30 PM). The remaining five episodes aired on VH1 a year later.
- Public Morals (October 30, 1996)
- Steven Bochco-produced CBS sitcom about a vice squad unit of the New York City Police Department. The cast included Bill Brochtrup, reprising the role of John Irvin, a recurring character on another Bochco series, NYPD Blue. Thirteen episodes were produced, and the pilot was originally scheduled to air first, but several affiliates refused to show it. CBS then decided to air a different episode from the thirteen produced, but even that was too much to ask, as it turned out to be the only one aired. Brochtrup and his character returned to NYPD Blue, becoming a regular.
- Lawless (March 22, 1997)
- Fox action series starring former American football star Brian Bosworth as a private investigator.
- Dot Comedy (December 8, 2000)
- ABC series featuring humorous material from the Internet.
- Comedians Unleashed (October 8, 2002)
- An attempt by Animal Planet to mimic Comedy Central's stand-up comedy shows, but with animal-themed jokes. The episode was rerun a few times before being removed from the programming lineup. This is not to be confused with the 2006 syndicated series Comics Unleashed, hosted by Byron Allen.
- The Will (January 8, 2005)
- CBS reality show in which family members and friends competed to be named the beneficiary of a will. The series eventually aired in its entirety on Fox Reality Channel, and aired in New Zealand as well.
- Emily's Reasons Why Not (January 9, 2006)
- ABC sitcom starring Heather Graham as a single career woman, unlucky in love, who employs a list-making system to help her determine when it's time to give up and move on. The series was canceled on January 10 by ABC programming chief Steve McPherson when he decided that it was "not going to get better and we needed a quick change". It was reported that ABC executives committed to the show without seeing its pilot.
- The Rich List (November 1, 2006)
- Game show by the British producers of The Weakest Link and Dog Eat Dog, adapted for the U.S. from an ITV pilot that was not picked up. Despite being heavily promoted on Fox during the World Series, the show was axed on November 3 following low ratings. GSN revived the show in 2009 as The Money List, hosted by Fred Roggin; this iteration, the first GSN original to employ a returning-champion aspect, lasted nine episodes. The remaining episodes from the original series remain unaired. After the US version's failure, the format was produced for broadcast in the UK, where it airs as Who Dares Wins
- The Debbie King Show (March 5–6, 2007)
- Aired in the UK on the controversial channel ITV Play with no publicity, the show (like all the others on the channel) was a live premium rate phone-in quiz presented by Debbie King who has previously hosted the popular Quizmania. As well as being a quiz, viewers were invited to phone/text in views towards current events. However earlier the same day ITV announced that transmission of the ITV Play channel was being suspended after that evening's programmes as a result of an investigation into its premium-rate phone services. Despite this, ITV still decided to push ahead with the launch of the series. The following week, it was decided that the ITV Play channel would permanently cease transmission (because of issues over participation television that had recently[when?] emerged). Although ITV Play did continue as a limited service on ITV1 The Debbie King Show was unceremoniously canceled, having only aired for two-and-a-half hours.
- Quarterlife (February 26, 2008)
- NBC broadcast version of the popular MySpace series, with an intent to air on Sunday nights following its debut. Following the dismal reception of the premiere episode, the other five episodes were aired in a marathon on NBC Universal sibling channel Bravo on March 9.
- Secret Talents of the Stars (April 8, 2008)
- CBS reality talent show where celebrities competed by participating in talents that differed from their profession. Although the show was to follow a seven-week tournament-style structure with home-viewer voting (which would have taken the show through May 13 with a May 22 "grand finale"), the series was pulled after its debut because of extremely low ratings.
- Osbournes Reloaded (March 31, 2009)
- Fox variety show hosted by The Osbournes – Ozzy, Sharon, Jack, and Kelly. The remaining five episodes were immediately shelved because of a combination of bad reviews and several Fox affiliates (including the entire Raycom and Local TV LLC station chains) either airing the program in an early-morning timeslot or not at all because of content concerns.
- Ford Nation (November 18, 2013)
- A talk show hosted by Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto and his brother, city councillor Doug Ford, on Sun News Network in Canada, initially indicated as being a weekly program airing Monday nights. The Ford brothers had been in the news because of an ongoing scandal involving a video showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine. Despite garnering record ratings for the fledgling news/opinion channel, the show was nonetheless cancelled after a single episode, reportedly because of unexpectedly high production costs (the one-hour program was reported to have taken five hours to record and an additional eight hours to edit) and advertiser concerns about being associated with the controversial politicians. Network executives, as well as Doug Ford, would later claim that the program only had a one-episode commitment and was not necessarily intended as a long-term series.
- Breaking Boston (March 13, 2014)
- A reality show produced by Mark Wahlberg for A&E about four young women working to change their lives in the titular city. Seven episodes were subsequently made available on the hulu.com website. Then, by June 1, 2015, the seven episodes were switched to the A&E website.
- Mesmerised (October 15, 2015)
- An Australian hypnosis show helmed by British hypnotist Peter Powers broadcast on the Seven Network. It was dropped after one episode, which featured a man marrying an alpaca as its centrepiece, following dismal ratings. Five produced episodes remain unaired.
Canceled after two episodes, seen back-to-back on premiere night
The following series were canceled after their first two episodes had aired back-to-back on one evening:
- Beware of Dog (August 13, 2002)
- Animal Planet sitcom; two episodes presented back-to-back for the only appearance of the series on U.S. television. The show featured Look Who's Talking-style observations (voiced by Park Bench) by a stray dog named Jack who was adopted by a suburban family.
- Anchorwoman (August 22, 2007)
- Fox comedy/reality series about Lauren Jones, a model who became a television news anchor. The show was canceled on August 23 because of a disappointing 2.0 Fast National rating; however, its premiere was one hour, consisting of two 30-minute episodes.
- The Bussey Bunch (January 22, 2008)
- TLC reality show about the Busseys, a family that promotes a local professional wrestling federation in Texas. The series was pulled following its premiere showing, with a scheduled showing on January 29 also pulled.
- The Xtacles (November 9, 2008)
- Adult Swim spin-off of Frisky Dingo. The only two episodes aired back-to-back on November 9, 2008. In early 2009, Adult Swim declined to fund the production of any episodes beyond the first two. Around the same time, 70/30 Productions – which produced the show – closed down.
- The Hasselhoffs (December 5, 2010)
- A&E reality series starring David Hasselhoff and his two daughters was canceled after only two episodes aired. The first two episodes aired back-to-back on the same night leaving eight episodes unaired. A&E stated that they planned on airing the other eight completed half-hour episodes at a later date; however, that never took place. The full series aired in the United Kingdom on May 30, 2011 on The Biography Channel.
Because of more complex situations, such as shows canceled independently in separate countries, the following programs can be said to have been canceled after one episode under a special set of circumstances only.
- You're in the Picture (January 20, 1961)
- CBS game show starring Jackie Gleason, which received such negative reviews that Gleason used the same timeslot on January 27 to apologize. He called the previous week's show "the biggest bomb—it would make the H-bomb look like a two-inch salute". Gleason used the timeslot to revive The Jackie Gleason Show as a talk show for the remainder of his contract.
- Hardwicke House (February 24/25, 1987)
- ITV sitcom set in an anarchic school. Cancelled after a double-length pilot and one regular episode of a completed six-part series had aired on consecutive nights, with the five untransmitted editions remaining unbroadcast and unreleased in the UK - the series was and is available for overseas syndication but as far as is known has never been purchased, and attempts to release the series on Network DVD in more recent times have stalled.
- Who's Your Daddy? (January 3, 2005)
- Fox reality series that involved an adopted woman trying to identify her biological father amongst a group of impostors. The show attracted protest from adoptive families and adoption-rights groups before airing. This episode aired as a "special", not a "series premiere", and as such the series can be said to have been canceled before airing an episode.
- Korgoth of Barbaria (June 3, 2006)
- An Adult Swim animated show parodying the postapocalyptic and sword and sorcery genres, focusing on the titular barbarian hero Korgoth. Aired as an uncommitted pilot, the show was announced as having been picked up as a series on June 18 of the same year. However, no further episodes were actually produced, and a 2010 "bump" on the network listed Korgoth in its list of cancelled programming (for being "too expensive"). Though only one episode was ever produced, the show was formally picked up and later formally cancelled, making its distinction between pilot episode and cancelled series unclear.
- Viva Laughlin (October 22, 2007)
- CBS musical comedy-drama that takes place at a casino in Laughlin, Nevada, based on the BBC series Blackpool. While CBS canceled the Hugh Jackman-produced series after two episodes had aired, Australia's Nine Network aired the first episode on October 22 and then canceled it the following day.
- Soul Quest Overdrive (May 24, 2011)
- Adult Swim spin-off of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, featuring the voices of David Cross, Kristen Schaal, H. Jon Benjamin, and Gavin McInnes. After losing a 2010 online pilot contest to Cheyenne Cinnamon and the Fantabulous Unicorn of Sugar Town Candy Fudge, six episodes of the show were ordered by the network regardless. Four of them aired back-to-back at 4 AM on May 24, 2011 during Adult Swim's "DVR Theater" block, leaving at least one unaired. No further episodes of the show were made. Cast member Gavin McInnes confirmed that Soul Quest Overdrive was cancelled, and blamed its cancellation on the other cast members not being "as funny" as him.
Placed on hiatus after one episode
The following series are sometimes included on lists of shows canceled after one episode, but strictly speaking do not belong there. The following series were placed on hiatus after a single episode aired, but were later brought back by the originating networks, and aired their remaining episodes on the originating networks some months later (usually during a non-ratings period).
- Melba (January 28, 1986)
- CBS sitcom starring Melba Moore as a single mother who runs a New York information bureau; the series premiered on the day of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. The five remaining episodes aired during the summer.
- The Great Defender (March 5, 1995)
- Fox legal drama starring Michael Rispoli as a My Cousin Vinny-type lawyer. The premiere aired opposite 60 Minutes and received dismal ratings. Fox removed the series from the air after its first episode, later airing the remaining episodes during the summer.
- Family Forensics UK (2005)
- LivingTV reality show, it was canceled in November 2005 after one episode had been broadcast when the producers discovered that their private investigator, Michael Brown, had been convicted that October of six child sex offences. Brown was in breach of his contract for not telling the producers about this, and Living TV apologized for broadcasting the one episode. Pulling the show cost Living £600,000. The show was re-filmed with another team, and broadcast in April and May 2006.
- It's Now or Never (July 22, 2006)
- British light entertainment ITV1 program presented by Phillip Schofield; two episodes were produced to be aired in a Saturday night timeslot during the summer of 2006, but only the first was aired owing to ratings of 1.7 million viewers, or 10% of the available audience. The second episode was eventually aired later in the year, on December 30, 2006.
- The Master (August 16, 2006)
- Australian quiz show hosted by Mark Beretta on the Seven Network, which was axed after the premiere received low ratings (744,000 viewers). The following six episodes were eventually broadcast on the network, albeit in non-ratings periods. Ironically, the second and third episodes (December 12 and 19) showed an increase in ratings by approximately 95,000 viewers.
- Proving Ground (June 14, 2011)
- G4 popular science reality show hosted by Ryan Dunn and Jessica Chobot in which stunts from video games, films and comic books are tested in the real world. The series was pulled from G4's schedule after Dunn was killed in a car accident shortly after the airing of the first episode. G4 began airing the remaining eight episodes in July 2011 and it was discontinued after, with Chobot instead becoming a correspondent with X-Play to fulfill her contract with G4 for its last year of existence with original programming.
- Mass media
- Television program
- List of television series canceled before airing an episode
- List of television series considered the worst
- List of longest-running United States television series
- List of longest-running UK television series
- List of longest-running Indian television series
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