Of all the TV shows currently leaning into the impending midseason break, many have the confidence of knowing that their productions will kick back up soon for a winter return, while some others aren't so lucky. But at least none of the shows on the air right now had to suffer the blow of having only one televised airing to call their own before fading into the rabbit-eared ethers. Television history is peppered with examples of such extremely short-lived series, and here are 8 of the most varied examples of unfortunate shows whose futures were sealed after their first airings.
Spoiler warning: You have absolutely no need to worry about spoilers here, since none of the shows' plots really matter outside of their footnote statuses.
Emily's Reasons Why Not
Back in 2005, ABC had monolithic confidence in the comedic novel adaptation Emily's Reasons Why Not, a midseason entry intended to fill the post-Super Bowl void with Heather Graham's small screen breakout role. Despite the network reportedly ordering the series without even looking at a script, millions of dollars were spent on a heavy promotional campaign, and it seemed to work for the ratings, as the January 2006 premiere had a good turnout. But seemingly everyone who watched Emily's Reasons Why Not had reasons why not to watch any more, and ABC threw the axe and the chopping block at it. Production was stopped after only seven episodes had been filmed, and the network chose not to air any of the other six.
Anchorwoman is the most Fox-like TV show that Fox has ever put its money into. The comedy featured a "star" turn from Lauren Jones -- a former Miss New York, former Price is Right model, and short-lived WWE Diva, among other things -- as a woman who wanted to be an anchorwoman in the city of Tyler, Texas, a location not exactly known for being a TV setting. Its first two episodes aired back-to-back in August 2007 earning ratings that would merely be grimaced at in today's TV-scape. Nonetheless, critics didn't consider it newsworth, and Anchorwoman was unceremoniously put to pasture the very next morning. Terrible way to get one's breakfast down.
1,000 Ways To Lie
If that title sounds familiar, then you might be thinking of the Spike TV series 1,000 Ways to Die, and you would be on the right track. 1,000 Ways to Lie was a spinoff of the flagship series that was set up to focus on the myriad scams and swindles that people pull on a regular basis. 13 episodes of the unscripted show were filmed, but after the pilot aired and attracted a vocal wall of derision and non-acclaim, the network decided to keep all the unaired episodes permanently away from viewers' eyes. Those who really did love the pilot no doubt felt like they were duped in way that would have been the 1,001st entry to add to the show's title.
Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos
The 1990s were a key time for TV networks crowdsourcing viewers' home movies, and Australia's Nine Network decided to twist the successful Australia's Funniest Home Video Show into the spinoff Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos. Though the project was reportedly planned as a one-off special, its inclusion here stems from the fact that Nine News' then-owner was so utterly disgusted with the onscreen nudity, sexual conduct, animal genitalia and more that he called the TV station demanding the still-airing telecast be pulled immediately. And it was, so it didn't even get to finish its one initial airing. Of the 120+ phone calls Nine Network received about the issue, more complaints were made about the episode getting pulled, and the high ratings earned by the half-special might have inspired more episodes under another network prez's rule.
Rob Ford will probably go down in history largely remembered as Toronto's mayor and as a Canadian politician, but the last few years of his life were notable for other reasons. One of the lower-on-the-page notes is the short-lived Ford Nation, a series drafted up by Canada's Sun News Network months after Ford was embroiled in his substance abuse scandal. But it wasn't anything controversial that caused Ford Nation's cancellation. It was the fact that it took Ford and his brother and co-host Doug Ford far too many hours to create an episode that cost far too much to put together. Thus, its November 18, 2013 TV airing was its last, though Ford Nation did live on for a handful of future episodes as YouTube releases.
Heil Honey, I'm Home
In 1990, British comedy writer Geoff Atkinson created a comedy that spoofed the nuclear family sitcoms of U.S. TV's early years, and it could have been a smash hit had it not been for one thing: he conceived it as taking place in 1937 Germany and centering on the home lives of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Under the fictional guise of being an unearthed American sitcom, Heil Honey, I'm Home was as cornball and goofy as the older shows it was mocking, but it still got immediately sent to the bin due to...well, that should be all too obvious. Fun fact: the next year, Nick at Nite debuted the sitcom Hi Honey, I'm Home, which was the same set up, just without former world leaders or layered satire.
South of Sunset
1993 was a year that gifted viewers Frasier, Conan O'Brien's late night debut, Beavis and Butt-Head, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and many more excellent shows. And at some point when some of these other shows were in development stages, someone at CBS was like, "Yep, let's give The Eagles' frontman Glenn Frey a starring role in a primetime drama, and he should play a private detective outside of Beverly Hills, with future madTV star Aries Spears as an assistant named Ziggy. Drinks are on me, everyone!" South of Sunset was promoted heavily enough, but the production schedule was highly problematic, and the low-rated pilot had its airing disrupted all over the West Coast by news reports about the Malibu wildfires raging at the time. CBS decided not to take it to the limit, sending the series to the clouds without giving it another shot.
Admittedly, 1992's Steel Justice stretches this list's rules, as it was a 90-minute pilot that wasn't ordered to series. The pilot did air, however, and one wouldn't be crazy to assume the same people who had confidence in greenlighting this shining piece of batshittery would have hemorrhaged budget money had people loved it in its "TV movie" guise. But the lack of love was almost universal, because Steel Justice's legit claim to fame was the inexplicable plot importance of Robosaurus, the fire-breathing and vehicle-chomping robot known for its monster truck rally appearances. And a half-cooked narrative combining mystical mythology and sci-fi fantasy cannot, despite what you may think, be saved by a fleeting non-TV trend like Robosaurus, even if said trend is capable of granting the main character magic powers. Following the widely panned airing, NBC wisely brought out the Grave Digger for Steel Justice. Monster truck-inspired jokes are easier than monster truck-inspired drama.
It's easy to understand why more shows don't get all the way to airing before networks realize they're shitty garbage, but it's also easy to see why some networks will try anything once. To see what other shows will be returning and premiering in the future, check out our fall schedule and our midseason schedule.