In the history of television, there have been thousands upon thousands of TV shows. While the intent is to always deliver an interesting story for the viewer, certain problems may arise during the actual development of a series.
Sometimes, a creator may have an interesting story idea, but no initial plot to drive the series’ pilot, or a network may attempt to force the creation of a television show around a particular star.
Whatever the case, when this happens, the core reasoning for the series’ plot can, at comes, become askew. Most of the time, the viewer remains unaware. A seemingly ridiculous, convoluted, or (in this case) morbid premise is often overshadowed by the series’ entertaining storytelling.
Fortunately, a hardcore television fan (like myself) never forgets, and so we present you with five TV shows that intended to deliver earnest storylines, but unintentionally incorporated certain morbid elements into their premises.
How I Met Your Mother
The Intent: An endearing show about a father telling his children the story of how he met their mother.
In Actuality: In the 45 hours (soon to be 62 hours – with the recent two season pick-up) that the elderly Ted Mosby (Bob Saget) has been recalling the “romantic” tale of how he met his children’s mother, he has yet to actually tell his kids how he met their mother. Instead, the only thing that he’s been chronicling is how he used to goof off with their “Uncle” Marshall (Jason Segel), “Aunt” Lilly (Alyson Hannigan) and “Uncle” Barney (Neil Patrick Harris).
Oh yeah, Old Ted also makes sure to continuously tell his children how, for years, he used to sleep with their “Aunt” Robin (Cobie Smulders), but then stopped… but then started to again… but then stopped again… but then did a couple more times. That is, of course, on top of all the other women that he’s telling his children that he slept with.
At some point, this series is going to have to change its name from How I Met Your Mother to How Great My Life Was Before I Met Your Mother & Had Kids.
My Two Dads
The Intent: The hilarious tale of what happens when two bachelors are forced to take care of their teenage “daughter.”
In Actuality: The reason why the bachelors, Michael Taylor (Paul Reiser) and Joey Harris (Greg Evigan), are forced to take care of Nicole Bradford (Staci Keanan) is because her mother, Marcy Bradford (Emma Samms), died and left custody of her daughter to Michael and Joey.
Why did Marcy Bradford leave custody of her only child to these bachelors? Well, like an episode of Maury, it turns out that Marcy Bradford slept with both Michael and Joey around the same time and didn’t know which man was actually Nicole’s father. Playing into the deceased mother’s ignorance (after playing into her willingness to “have a good time”), neither Michael nor Joey wants to take a paternity test to find out who the real father is, so they both take on the dad role.
If that description is too hard to follow, the intro of My Two Dads summarizes it nicely (with appropriate 80s theme music):
The Intent: To entertain children on Saturday morning with tales of prehistoric fun – adding just a dash of science, for good measure.
In Actuality: The 11-year-old Cro (Max Casella) is dead – and has been for millions of years. The series centers around a woolly mammoth named Phil (Jim Cummings), who is found frozen in a block of block of ice by Dr. Cecilia (Ruth Buzzi) and Mike (Jussie Smollett). After thawing Phil out, Mike and Dr. C razzle the grief-stricken woolly mammoth into telling them tales of his prehistoric friends and family – friends and family that are not only dead, but who believed that Phil had also died millions of years ago, after falling into a crack in the ice.
Who would develop such a morbid television series for children to watch? Children’s Television Workshop, of course. You know, the same company that created Sesame Street.
If that’s not enough, the intro/theme song to Cro shows/sings this morbid premise in detail:
(1994-1995, ABC; 1996-1996, Syndicated; 1999-2001, Cartoon Network)
The Intent: To tell children a fantastical story about what happens inside their computer, on “The Net.”
In Actuality: The series centers around Bob (Michael Benyaer & Ian James Corlett), Guardian #452 and defender of the fictional city of “Mainframe.” Outside of battling the viruses Megabyte (Tony Jay) and Hexadecimal (Shirley Millner), with the help of Dot (Kathleen Barr) , Enzo (Jesse Moss & Matthew Sinclair) and Phong (Michael Donovan), Bob’s main focus is protecting Mainframe from the biggest enemy of all, “the user” – A.K.A. humans.
Whenever “the user” decides to play a computer game, a “game cube” falls upon a sector of Mainframe. Bob’s role is to enter the game before it begins, “reboot” into the correct game character and make sure “the user” doesn’t win. What happens if “the user” wins? That sector of the city that the “game cube” fell on is destroyed and everyone that was stuck inside the game would turn into energy-draining, worm-like parasites called “nulls.”
So, this premise basically meant that every video game-playing child watching was the ultimate villain in their favorite television show, and that each computer game that he/she played and won would result in them killing all of the characters that they enjoyed watching on Saturday morning. Yikes.
The Wonder Years
The Intent: To tell the story about young Kevin Arnold’s (Fred Savage) life growing up in the tumultuous eras of the ’60s and ’70s.
In Actuality: The finale of The Wonder Years not only reveals what happens to many of the familiar characters in the series, but that the now grown-up Kevin Arnold (Daniel Stern) has a son who wants to go outside to play. This means that for the past 40 hours of storytelling (115 episodes at 21 minutes each), grown up Kevin has basically been neglecting his child. Upon having his son ask him to come outside and play with him, Kevin responds, “I’ll be right there.” After 40 hours of ignoring his kid, he better be.
The evidence of child neglect can be seen below (SPOILER ALERT: This video reveals the fate of all the characters on The Wonder Years)