The Jerry Springer Show
It’s no joke that viewers love consuming trashy content like it’s a four-course meal, and The Jerry Springer Show is a prime example. A show deemed just as controversial by its contemporary viewers, Springer’s reputation is equally disputed in 2020.
The talk show, frequently deemed tasteless and vulgar, managed to maintain its place on TV for 27 seasons and over 4,000 episodes. Needless to say, the show is a familiar dumpster fire that we all can’t look away from.
Walker, Texas Ranger
Walker, Texas Ranger served up some of the fakest roundhouse kicks on TV. Chuck Norris, who played the lead Cordell Walker, was a member of the Texas Rangers. Norris’s character had a particular edge over the bad guys, not because of superior intellect or better weaponry, but due to those famous aforementioned kicks.
To be fair, probably no one watched for the quality of the acting but to see Chuck Norris in action. The show is cheesy by today’s standards, with Norris constantly kicking before the enemy could lay a finger on him, but can be a fun nostalgic watch for a lazy afternoon. There was even talk of a reboot starring Jared Paladecki back in 2019.
Uncle Buck was only successful as the 1989 original feature film starring John Candy and Macaulay Culkin. Unfortunately for their producers, both its 1990 and 2016 TV spinoffs didn’t launch past the first season.
Like Clueless and Ferris Bueller, it’s better to leave the original brewing in success instead of tainting its name with a greedy re-release as a series.
Dharma & Greg
Lasting impressively for five seasons, Dharma & Greg had a plot ahead of its time, which seemingly foreshadows the modern Netflix reality show Married at First Sight. Despite the hook of a married couple with polar opposite personalities, what the plot of Dharma & Greg lacked was a dosage of reality.
The bickering between the couples for 119 episodes of D&G quickly grew stale. Because MaFS features new couples every season, its episodes don't feel repetitive.
Caroline in the City
Remembered primarily by the cliffhanger in the season four finale, Caroline in the City follows an age-old storyline for the ‘90s that we’ve already seen in both Veronica’s Closet and Suddenly Susan. Caroline’s primary conflict is her love life, which is nothing except complicated and distracts from her successful career as a cartoonist.
This common formula was absorbed well in the first two seasons but audiences soon abandoned the show after the quality decreased. And no one’s forgotten that evil cliffhanger right before the series was canceled. We’re still traumatized, and the reviews duly reflect so.
The less-successful precursor to 2017’s Young Sheldon, the 1997 sitcom Smart Guy was three seasons of repetitive storylines about not fitting in. This theme isn’t inherently bad, and the writing for the show is done quite successfully.
The main character, T.J., is funny and lovable, but the hook of the show tires after the first season. Unfortunately for the cast, the show was canceled after the third season to make room for less family-catered content.
SeaQuest’s first season debuted in 1993 and quickly garnered fans with its groundbreaking sci-fi adventure elements. Once the hype died down in time for the second season, the story plummeted in quality. Four primary cast members disappeared into thin air and the plot took a turn to clichéd science-fiction nonsense.
We’d recommend sticking to TV classics like Mystery Science Theater or The X Files for a dosage of quality ‘90s sci-fi.
Saved by the Bell Spinoffs
Saved by the Bell was and remains the staple of a great school dramedy series. Wacky scheming against the principal paired with humorous struggles of high school culture shot the show to success. But with ratings came greed, and after the plotholes of the season four finale, the Bayside gang were milked for money in two crappy spinoffs: The College Years and The New Class.
At least The College Years followed some of the same characters while New Class replaced them, creating an entirely different vibe for the show. But these disgraceful spinoffs aren’t over yet; another reboot is on track for a 2020 debut and still planned for release. After all this time, just leave poor, overworked Zack Morris alone.
Spinoff of the cult-classic film starring Alicia Silverstone, Clueless the series paled terribly in comparison. Perhaps the show could have taken off if Silverstone stood by her role, but her role was reprised by Rachel Blanchard while the majority of the cast decided to stick with the show.
While the film can be remembered with fond warm nostalgia despite its pitfalls, the show was essentially a money grabber and had viewers totally buggin’ in the worst way.
Step by Step
The late ‘90s sitcom focuses on the joining of two families after a quick marriage between single parents when they met on vacation. Overall, the show was an amusing look into sibling conflicts and family issues while serving occasionally good comedy.
It must have done something right with seven seasons under its belt. But it’s hard to look past the show’s own older, funnier sibling: The Brady Bunch. Perhaps just stick to the ‘60s classic if you’re desperate for a blending family plotline.
This show presented a promising concept of redemption for newly-single Ronnie after she left behind a struggling marriage. Viewers were hungry to watch Ronnie’s career pursuits as a successful business owner and desperately romantic.
Starting in season two, a mix of poor plot decisions—including quite volcanic deaths—and soap opera action led the series to become a major letdown.
Harry and the Hendersons
Take a load of this premise: after an accident during a camping trip, the Henderson family adopts a sasquatch named Harry, which causes crazy antics to ensue. Based on an unpopular 1987 comedy of the same name, the show didn’t garner much fame either despite airing for three seasons.
Conflicts of the show include dealing with public opinion, neighbors, and even Bigfoot romance. It’s difficult to see the appeal when knockouts like Seinfeld aired at the same time.
Like the similarly pitched Veronica’s Closet, 1996’s Suddenly Susan features a recently-single woman in San Francisco who writes weekly magazine columns post her husband’s abandonment. Drama brews as the main character Susan Keane, played by Brooke Shields, is pursued by her coworker-slash-brother-in-law.
The show wasn’t necessarily bad, just not memorable in the era of overwhelming ER ratings.
Sweet Valley High
Based on the beloved book series by Francine Pascal, Sweet Valley High took the worst moments of the books and consolidated them into a visual disaster.
Instead of following the twins throughout their lives, the show honed in on high school. The lack of context for the characters stripped the story of all its entertaining dynamics.
Sabrina, the Animated Series
Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a bombshell hit for ‘90s young adult comedy. Sabrina turned relatable moments of adolescent failure into a fun, magical adventure. Why not market the same content to a younger audience?
Sadly, the animated version of the show didn’t quite take off since it didn’t add much to the existing storyline. Without young Melissa Joan Hart as the lovable lead, the animated series is better off forgotten.
George Foreman’s one-season-wonder comedy series George never even had the chance to peak. The concept—a retired boxer running a home for troubled youth—is better suited for a feature film rather than an extended series.
Unfortunately for Foreman, poor ratings make the George Foreman grill more famous than the boxer’s short-lived series.
No spin-off would have or ever will surpass the cult classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The series was clearly an attempt to maximize profits and create a franchise, but the film was better as a stand-alone hit.
Because the show strayed too much from the original film, it didn’t capture the attention of existing fans. But, let’s be real, if the show had been too close to the movie, its existence would have been entirely negligible.
This show is one you have to see to believe. Singing law enforcement. Yeah. That’s the concept. Do we even need to explain why this show is included on this list?
If anything, this musical cop show, with its serious drama sequences and erratic musical numbers, was merely ahead of its time. Cop Rock redo, anyone?
The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer
Controversial from the start, The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer didn’t even make it to the season one finale and for good reason. Viewers were extremely uncomfortable with its lighthearted depiction of slavery and the odd sensualities of Abraham Lincoln. Based on the story of a black run out of his home country, the comedy incorporated into the show horribly clashed with the Civil War-era setting.
The series, with its historical inaccuracies and blatant political incorrectness, is Example A of how not to approach a parody of sensitive subjects.
Unhappily Ever After
Unhappily Ever After sounds like just another romantic dramedy, but the series was actually family-focused. The twist is that father has schizophrenia and spends his time living in the basement talking to his toy rabbit friend, Mr. Floppy.
The show is often compared to its predecessor Married With Children but has unique enough differences in the main characters to make it engaging enough for 5 seasons. The primary difference between the families is the Unhappily’s Malloy family’s disdainful political incorrectness.
Teen Angel is among the most poorly written shows on this list, even in comparison to Cop Rock. After dying from a six-month-old burger, teenager Marty becomes the guardian angel for his best friend. However, his boss isn’t God but the cousin of God, who is apparently named Rod.
The acting, with their empty jokes and lacking emotions, didn’t do much to support the already-weak script. It’s a blessing from Rod himself that the show didn’t last more than a season.
Homeboys in Outer Space
Homeboys in Outer Space, with an average Rotten Tomatoes rating of 29%, is another one-season-wonder. I’m sure you can guess just by the title why this series wasn’t incredibly popular.
The sci-fi/comedy premise is amusing and just “good enough” for mindless watching, but the overall cheesiness quickly killed the show.
Baby Talk is at the top of every ranking list for terrible TV and for good reason. A show about a single mother is relatable enough to produce some quality content, but a talking baby? But the toddler didn’t even speak; he just monologued about his mother’s love life in a weirdly intelligent voice.
I don’t know if it was George Clooney or Tony Danza’s baby voice, but the show managed to scramble a second season. Once the main lead was recast for a different actress, the series was doomed to the cutting room.
City Guys is another among this list that isn’t terrible in quality, just inappropriate in format. Students with wildly different personalities end up living together, but the kicker is their age. They aren’t in university, as we'd assume, but high school.
A show with this premise could have been quite successful if it wasn’t a sitcom. The conflict of the series just was too heavy for comedy and was deeply unsettling that high school kids had to deal with some major issues. More light-hearted jokes, please!
An early precursor of Inside Out, Herman’s Head featured the protagonist, Herman, and four personified representations of his personality traits: fear, compassion, lust, and intellect.
While an intriguing premise—and a success for Pixar—the sitcom tired its formula over its three seasons. He’s a fact-checker who has four conflicting personality traits that episode after episode fighting over decisions. We get it, already!
Hangin' With Mr. Cooper
This show wasn’t very strong in character arcs or dynamics. Mr. Cooper, former basketball star, spends half the time dealing with his students and the other half fawning over his gorgeous female roommate.
There’s really not much to say about this one than that it was just a predictable mess of a sitcom that could've used more of a story.
This ‘90s sci-fi/dystopian is much more of a “woops” than the title reveals. If we could suspend our disbelief that some stupid kids could even get close to setting off a nuclear bomb and destroying the vast majority of humankind, Woops! still wouldn’t have taken off.
You would need a lot of T.L.C. to get the script to a place that doesn't use the bizarre premise as a crutch for bad writing.
Me and the Boys
As Steve Harvey’s debut acting role, it’s a shame that Me and the Boys didn’t take off with audiences. The premise of a widowed father and his interactions with wildly different sons is enough meat for a sitcom, much like the success of Full House.
However, the show was much more serious than funny, making it less of a relaxing sitcom than a stressful drama. Sorry, Harvey. One season was enough for us.
A series that focuses on body positivity and confidence between sisters could be a knockout, even today. But the 1990 iteration wasn’t quite up to the challenge.
Hinged primarily on fat-shaming rather than the relationship between sisters, the show stopped after one season. We’d actually be up for a remake of the series sans the offensive jokes.
The Single Guy
In comparison to other shows featuring “single guys”—like Seinfeld and Friends—The Single Guy is a blatant ripoff of the popular premise.
Featuring the single guy himself—Manhattan writer Jonathan Eliot—and a cast of married friends, wacky neighbors, and the local hangout spot, this show just couldn’t scrape past either of its inspirations in ratings. Thus, the show was canceled after two seasons, and viewers left Johnathan quickly married and seemingly happy in the city.