After House of the Dragon hit record-setting viewership numbers on its first episode, it became one of the very few shows to get a second season renewed after only one episode. It's rare for audiences or networks to get enough of a feel from one episode to decide if the show will be worth pursuing for another season. Similarly rare is the opposite phenomenon—when a show is so bad that it's canceled after only one episode.
There are many reasons a show can get canceled. In some cases, it's too expensive to produce, or it fails to attract enough viewers to be profitable. In others, it's considered too controversial or inappropriate to continue. Being canceled in one episode usually requires a potent mixture of all of these reasons, which usually requires a bizarre concept that is executed even worse than audiences could have expected.
Dot Comedy (December 8, 2000)
Studios recognized the dangers that the Internet might pose to their industry, and the result was Dot Comedy, a show that re-aired the funniest online content, discussed why they were funny, and talked with their creators. While it was a decent concept, it effectively created reaction videos a decade too soon, leading to what E! called "one of the worst debuts ever for a regularly scheduled program."
Those who were on the Internet had likely already seen the content, and those who weren't didn't care enough to tune in. Between the two, it was hard to find the right audience. In addition, journalists like the New York Post's Austin Smith used the show as a vehicle to complain about how stupid and trivial they felt the early Internet was.
The Dennis James Carnival (October 31, 1948)
Television sets became more common in households in the late 1940s, and communication scholar Mitchell Stephens states that half of the homes in the United States had one by 1955. The Dennis James Carnival show was released during that period, with the premise that Dennis James had inherited a carnival and needed to find performers to keep it profitable.
While the show was actually in line with the kinds of entertainment that were successful at the time, the show was canceled for circumstances beyond its control. According to Billboard, the executives didn't want to be associated with carnivals and Emerson Radio didn't want to have to fight for an audience for the Ed Sullivan Show, which would go on to be extremely successful.
Emily's Reasons Why Not (January 9, 2006)
The show Emily's Reasons Why Not followed book editor Emily, who decides that she will break up with anyone she can think of five reasons, not to date. The premise seemed like it would play well in the same media landscape as How I Met Your Mother, but it was never given the chance to catch on.
Steve McPherson, who was responsible for ABC's programming, explained the cancelation came down to the studio, not the audience's presence. As he put it to The Washington Post, "You have to kind of measure your patience based on how you believe in the creative, and we felt like, unfortunately, [Emily's Reasons Why Not] was not going to get better."
Mesmerised (October 15, 2015)
Mesmerised was an Australian hypnosis show, where host Peter Powers would get volunteers to be put under hypnosis. While this concept wasn't controversial in itself, he tended to go too far. In the first episode, he made a man marry an alpaca.
Six episodes had been produced, but only the first ever aired. Powers claimed that the participants didn't know what they would be doing, but explained, "There's no way we're going to expose people to something they find humiliating or that they'll never live down with their families." Given the contents of the episode itself, viewers might disagree.
Kookyville (November 25, 2012)
Anyone who has watched an unscripted comedy show like Whose Line Is It Anyway has probably wondered if they could come up with funnier scenes themselves. Kookyville is Britain's attempt to answer the question, following "funny people" around in the hopes that they make entertaining sketches. For anyone wondering how that went, the fact it was canceled immediately should be a sufficient answer.
In addition to featuring many offensive comments, none of the people involved were actually funny! Reviewer Nikki Stone said, "I was simply laughing at the quality of it. I was laughing at genuinely awful acting and mistiming." It's hard to imagine a harsher review of a comedy show, but Stone sums up the general opinion of the audience.
Quarterlife (February 26, 2008)
"quarterlife" was originally a webseries that followed a group of young artists as they tried to figure out where their lives were going, seen through main character Dylan's tell-all video blog. The original series blurred the line between traditional videos and fictional social networking, but the televised version struggled to keep viewers.
At the same time as quarterlife aired, there was a debate between Democratic presidential candidates, namely Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and Oxygen's popular series, Bad Girls Club. The target demographic flocked to one of those other programs, with quarterlife receiving extraordinarily low viewership. The network canceled it, the creators said it should have stayed online, and the series faded into obscurity.
The Will (January 8, 2005)
Reality TV can seemingly encompass any subject these days, but CBS learned that was not true in 2005. They released The Will, which featured ten men and women that were competing to receive millionaire Bill Long's massive ranch when he died. While it was a crass idea, networks green-lit it because it was pitched by The Bachelor's creator, Mike Fleiss.
The show had previously been dropped by ABC, only to be saved by CBS. However, that second chance didn't last long, as the low viewership convinced the network to cut its losses. According to Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times, the show's premise was flawed from the start because most of the contestants are so distantly connected to Long that they had no chance of winning and were therefore just there to waste everybody's time.
Let's Make A Love Scene (May 13, 2022)
The most recent one-episode cancelation was Let's Make a Love Scene, a British dating show that challenged contestants to recreate intimate scenes from film and television. The creators theorized that faking intimacy would help couples gauge their sexual chemistry. While there was an intimacy coordinator involved, the show mostly just seemed like a chance for the couples to make out with multiple people on television.
Aside from sending a problematic message about actors whose on-screen love interests aren't their real-life partners, the show failed to actually bring anything new to the dating show genre.
Turn-On (February 5, 1969)
Turn-On was a sketch comedy show that attempted to play with medium and formatting, throwing together various clips of live-action videos, stop-motion, and animation in a way that worked more successfully in the recent The Guardians of Justice series. In addition, the content was entirely based on sex, which was not acceptable for network television in the 60s.
The backlash was so strong that some networks didn't even finish airing the first episode, and many west-coast stations decided not to show it at all. Tim Conway, the host for the only aired episode, likes to bring the show up anytime its creators have success, to make sure they never live down the biggest flop in television history.
Heil Honey I'm Home! (September 30, 1990)
The title of this show should be enough for everyone to figure out where it went wrong. While The Producers might be able to get away with parodies about Hitler, it's innately the kind of subject that's hard to do well. The British show was pitched as a sitcom where Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun are next-door neighbors with a Jewish couple named Arny and Rosa Goldenstein.
The show was intended as a parody of American sitcoms, but the seven unaired but fully filmed episodes included Hitler's plans to kill his Jewish neighbors—which is not the sort of thing that ever should have made it past the writer's room. Head writer Geoff Atkinson explained that 3/4 of the cast was Jewish and didn't find the show offensive, even suggesting that it might be time to bring the show back, but it seems more likely to continue to live in infamy instead.
NEXT: 15 TV Shows That Were Canceled For Strange ReasonsSource:gamerant.com