Sitcoms That Left as Quickly as They Came
Sitcoms are always there whenever you need a quick laugh. From Cheers to Friends, everyone has their favorite. With so many sitcoms out there, however, many are unable to find success. Whether outside factors ruined their chances of finding an audience or they simply weren’t funny, these are the sitcoms that didn’t make it.
When GEICO introduced the GEICO Cavemen in 2004, the company didn’t think it would lead to a sitcom. It was writer Joe Lawson, the creator of the advertisements, who pitched the show to ABC. The network approved, and the series aired as part of their 2007 fall schedule.
Actors Jeff Daniel Phillips and Ben Weber didn’t reprise their roles from the commercials. Instead, the parts were given to Nick Kroll and Bill English. While the show’s premiere had promise, fans quickly tuned out from the series. Only seven out of the 13 episodes aired before ABC canceled the show.
Writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore found themselves in a bidding war for their hot new series, Mixology. The show dealt with romantic affairs at a Manhattan bar called Mix. When the smoke cleared, ABC won the rights to the series.
The show featured a host of rising actors, including Adam Campbell, Alexis Carra and Blake Lee. While the series had positive reviews, viewership was lower than expected, with only 4.98 million tuning. Two weeks before the season finale aired, ABC canceled the show.
As a spoof of police shows, Police Squad! nailed it with clever writing and the acting expertise of Leslie Nielsen. The show was a hit with critics and earned universal acclaim across the board. Unfortunately, poor ratings forced ABC to drop the show after six episodes.
While the show ended, fans’ support from reruns grew over time. This led to the creation of The Naked Gun film series. In these movies, Nielsen reprised his role of Sergeant Frank Drebin. Ronald “Tiny Ron” Taylor and Ed Williams also made appearances as their characters.
Freaks and Geeks
NBC’s Freaks and Geeks became a surprise hit with young adults after its 1999 debut. Unfortunately, the viewership was still poor compared to NBC shows like Friends and Frasier. After 12 episodes, the network canceled the show. Eighteen episodes were shot, and fans clamored to see the remaining episodes. They landed on Fox Family Channel.
Freaks and Geeks featured a slew of talented actors who went on to do bigger things. Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, James Franco and Jason Segel continue to take on major roles today. Show creator Paul Feig went on to direct several hit movies.
Judd Apatow’s work on Freaks and Geeks gave him the idea for Undeclared. The Fox sitcom dealt with college freshmen attending the University of Northeastern California. Freaks and Geeks stars Jason Segel, Seth Rogen and Busy Philipps returned to star in the new series.
The show hit a major pothole when Fox aired episodes out of order. That led to viewers being confused about what happened on screen. The show brought in an average of 7.3 million viewers, but it wasn’t enough for Fox. It was canceled after the season finale aired.
That ’80s Show
Following the success of That ’70s Show, Fox wanted to dive into another decade, the ’80s. Most of the writers and staff from That ’70s Show were on board for the new series.
That ’80s Show didn’t have the same success as That ’70s Show. Fox tried airing it next to That ’70s Show, but viewers still didn’t bite. The network pulled the plug after 13 episodes. Since then, Chyler Leigh, who played June Tuesday, has found success as Alex Danvers in Supergirl.
After Friends ended, NBC decided to continue the story of Joey Tribbiani. Titled simply Joey, the show followed Tribbiani in his quest to become a beloved actor in Hollywood. Aside from Matt LeBlanc, Robert Costanzo reprised his Friends role as Tribbiani’s father.
The show took over Friends‘ original time slot of Thursday nights at 8 p.m. While the first season did well, the second didn’t hold up, and it was canceled midway through its second season. NBC chose to not air the remaining eight episodes in America. Fans in Ireland and Latin America, however, were treated to the entire second season.
Don’t Trust the B—- In Apartment 23
After Fox passed on Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, ABC picked it up. The show followed June Colburn and her journey through NYC with her fraudster party girl roommate Chloe. With Dreama Walker, Krysten Ritter and James Van Der Beek as the leads, the show seemed destined to be a midseason hit.
While the Critics Choice Awards named it Most Exciting New Series, the show fell flat with viewers. On January 22, 2013, ABC pulled the show from its schedule with eight unaired episodes remaining. The leftover episodes were streamed on ABC’s website.
The WB’s Popular was about one popular and one geeky girl who are bonded together through their parents’ relationship. Starring Leslie Bibb and Carly Pope, the show earned the Teen Choice Award for Choice Breakout TV Show.
The show’s second season failed to continue the momentum OF season one. The WB canceled the series and left it on a cliffhanger. Bibb went on to land numerous roles, including reporter Christine Everhart in Iron Man 2. Coincidentally, Pope also went on to play reporter Susan Williams in Arrow.
NBC’s Animal Practice dealt with the everyday trials and tribulations of working in an animal hospital. Following his work on Weeds, Justin Kirk landed the lead role of Dr. George Coleman. The show hit a road bump when original showrunner Gail Lerner was replaced by Marco Pennette while filming.
NBC planned to air the show after the Summer Olympics closing ceremony in 2012. Unfortunately, the network abruptly cut away from the taped ceremony to air the show, angering Olympic fans. After six episodes, the show was canceled.
Flight of the Conchords
New Zealand comedy duo Flight of the Conchords got their big break when HBO offered them a show. The first season, which aired in 2007, was a big hit for the cable network. A second season was slated for 2008, but it was delayed to 2009.
While the second season gained the band more fans, the duo themselves pulled the plug on the show because they felt it was getting stale. Flight of the Conchords returned to HBO in 2018 for their concert special, Flight of the Conchords: Live in London.
The Crazy Ones
In his career, showrunner David E. Kelley unveiled classics such as The Practice, Ally McBeal and Picket Fences. In 2013, he announced The Crazy Ones, which starred Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. The series dealt with the behind-the-scenes madness in advertising.
While Williams and Gellar looked like money on paper, the show quickly fell apart. The season premiere earned 15.52 million viewers, but the season finale only delivered 5.23 million viewers. CBS canceled the series in May 2014 due to low ratings. This was Williams’ final TV role before his death months later.
While Christopher Meloni is known for his serious work on Law & Order, his comedic side is rarely showcased. With 2014’s Surviving Jack, he took the title role with support from Rachael Harris and Connor Buckley. The show revolved around Dr. Jack Dunlevy having to spend more time with his children.
Ratings for Surviving Jack were weak from the start, and Fox canceled the show the day before its seventh episode. The season finale didn’t have a chance to air in the United States. As of this writing, the series has yet to be streamed on any service.
The Hard Times of RJ Berger
Director David Katzenberg adapted his short film The Tale of RJ into a series for MTV. 2010’s The Hard Times of RJ Berger was a classic high school coming of age story. New Jersey native Paul Iacono nabbed the title role.
The show was considered a mix of Superbad and The Wonder Years and was supposed to appeal to teenagers. While the series premiere drew big numbers, the show slowly lost its appeal. MTV pulled the show following season two’s finale.
Before landing on Community, actor Ken Jeong made money as a doctor. The Detroit native showcased his experience in the doctor’s office with ABC’s Dr. Ken. Many of his Community co-stars, including Yvette Nicole Brown and Joel McHale, made guest appearances on the show.
Dr. Ken’s humor didn’t sit well with critics and fans, which gave the show a 7% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite this, the show managed to get renewed for a second season in 2016. The second season, however, sealed the show’s fate. Because of low ratings, ABC pulled the plug on Dr. Ken.
Mary + Jane
MTV’s Mary + Jane followed friends Jordan and Paige as they sold recreational drugs in Los Angeles. Created by Snoop Dogg, the show featured special guests such as Seth Green, Missi Pyle and Andy Daly. The rapper also made an appearance and performed the show’s theme song.
Ratings for Mary + Jane were poor. On average, the show gained 368,000 viewers weekly, and the cable network opted to not renew the show for another season. Jessica Rothe, who starred as Paige, later found success with a lead role in the popular Happy Death Day film franchise.
10 Things I Hate About You
Based on the 1999 film of the same name, 10 Things I Hate About You debuted on ABC Family in 2010. Larry Miller, who played Walter Stratford in the film, reprised his role for the series. Gil Junger, who directed the film, directed several episodes of the show.
Because it had some connections to the hit movie, ABC Family hoped for a built-in audience. The show’s low ratings forced the channel to cancel it after 20 episodes. Lindsey Shaw later found success with a recurring role on Pretty Little Liars.
Powerless took place in the DC Universe, but it didn’t feature big names like Batman or Superman. The show revolved around normal people trying to deal with the constant damage done by heroes and villains. That didn’t mean familiar faces didn’t appear, however. Adam West and former Jimmy Olsen actor Marc McClure made special appearances in the show.
Nonetheless, without a stronger connection to the DC Universe, the show had no legs. Powerless was canceled by NBC following episode nine. The remaining three episodes aired on TVNZ OnDemand. This was also West’s last live-action appearance before his death on June 9, 2017.
Son of Zorn
Fox’s Son of Zorn blended live-action with animation, which made it stand out on network television. The show dealt with Zorn connecting with his ex-wife and son in Orange County, California. The show’s animation was heavily influenced by He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and Thundercats.
The season premiere intrigued Fox viewers, with 6.13 million of them tuning in. By episode two, however, the number plummeted to 2.65 million viewers. That wasn’t the last time ratings slipped for the program, either. Ratings fell under two million viewers for the final two episodes. Fox canceled the show as a result.
Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life
Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life dealt with the typical trials and tribulations of life. The titular Cooper Barrett was played by Jack Cutmore-Scott, and the series premiered online on December 21, 2015.
Days later, the show moved over to primetime on Fox to a disappointing 2.62 million viewers. Following episode 10, the network canceled the sitcom. Fox aired the final three episodes in June. With under one million viewers for the finale, the show quietly ended.
Seth Green has been a fixture on Fox for 20 years with his role as Chris Griffin on Family Guy. In 2013, he landed the lead role in the sitcom Dads. The show dealt with two developers that must rearrange their lives when their fathers move in.
The show’s humor earned a rare 0 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Midway through the season, Fox cut the 22-episode season to 19 episodes. In May, Fox pulled the plug on the show, which stopped airing in February. The final episode aired on July 16, 2014.
ABC’s Selfie dove into the modern age of social media gratification. The show follows Eliza Dooley, who simply can’t get enough of using social media. The show also featured a rare interracial couple on primetime TV with actors Karen Gillan and John Cho.
Despite critics wanting it to succeed, Selfie couldn’t draw an audience. The network pulled the show after episode seven and replaced it with Shark Tank reruns. With six episodes left, ABC dished them out to Hulu. At the 2015 People’s Choice Award, the show was nominated for Favorite New TV Comedy.
Super Fun Night
After gaining significant buzz, comedian Rebel Wilson was granted her own sitcom. Debuting on ABC, 2013’s Super Fun Night revolved around a trio of friends getting together every week for some mayhem.
While the series premiere started off strong, fans found themselves getting bored with the program. Months after the season finale aired, ABC canceled the show. In 2014, the show won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Comedy. At the same ceremony, Wilson was nominated for Favorite New TV Actress.
Galavant mixed humor, fantasy and musical numbers for one of network TV’s most intriguing programs. Tony Award-winning composers Alan Menken (Newsies) and Glenn Slater (The Little Mermaid) delivered some unforgettable songs. The show dealt with a knight named Galavant and his journey to get revenge on King Richard.
The show’s first season drew decent numbers for ABC, who renewed it for another season. With rumors of it being canceled during season one, the season two premiere was titled “A New Season aka Suck It Cancellation Bear.” Sadly, the show did indeed fall prey to the cancellation bear after season two.
Former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney poked fun at himself with Mulaney. The Fox show dealt with his early years as a stand-up comedian in New York City. The show featured former Saturday Night Live cast member Nasim Pedrad as personal trainer Googoosh “Jane” Parvana.
The show debuted to poor numbers, which forced Fox to take action. Before the third episode, the network cut the season to 13 episodes. With shooting commencing on episode 14, the show was shut down. Fox buried the show further by moving it to Sunday nights, and it was canceled after the season finale.
Back in the Game
ABC’s Back In The Game followed a mother coaching her son’s youth baseball team. Brothers and Emmy-nominated writing team Mark and Robb Cullen developed the program. The show featured Psych actress Maggie Lawson and Hollywood Walk of Fame recipient James Caan.
The series premiere had eight million viewers, but over time, those numbers declined. After 10 episodes aired, the show was pulled from ABC in December 2014. The network aired the final three episodes on various streaming services two months later.
What happens when actors actually try the job they portrayed? Well, that’s the premise of The Grinder. Actor Dean Sanderson, Jr. (Rob Lowe) joined his family’s law firm after his show The Grinder ended. Joining Lowe on the cast awere Fred Savage and Mary Elizabeth Ellis.
The Grinder was beloved by critics across the globe. Unfortunately, viewership painted a different story. The show fell under two million viewers on many occasions, and Fox was forced to cancel the show after 22 episodes. Even so, The Grinder was nominated for Favorite New TV Comedy at the 2016 People’s Choice Awards.
Work It’s premise caused a lot of controversy even before filming began. The idea of two men posing as women for a job angered LGBT advocacy groups, and the series premiere caused a firestorm online because of a tasteless joke about selling drugs. Things got so bad that protesters made their way to ABC’s offices in New York City.
As expected, the show gained negative reviews from critics as well. ABC canceled the show after episode two because of the complaints. The following year, the remaining 11 episodes aired in New Zealand.
After the success of American Pie, directors Chris and Paul Weitz moved to TV with Off Centre. The sitcom dealt with a group of friends living on Centre Street in Manhattan. To keep the American Pie love growing, Eddie Kaye Thomas, who played Paul Finch in the films, starred as Mike Platt.
The show was plagued with complaints about its raunchy humor. Off Centre did well at first despite that, but its move to Thursday nights hurt the show’s momentum. After episode seven of season two, the WB pulled the plug on the show.
Manhattan Love Story
Manhattan Love Story followed a new couple and their relationship in the Big Apple. America’s Next Top Model contestant Analeigh Tipton landed her first lead role on TV as Dana Hopkins. Jake McDorman, who is best known for his work in the teen drama Greek, portrayed Dana’s boyfriend Peter Cooper.
The show barely held on after its premier and was cancelled after episode four, making it the first canceled show of the 2014 fall schedule. A month later, ABC aired the remaining seven episodes on Hulu. Show creator Jeff Lowell eventually got back on his feet with Netflix’s The Ranch.