An incredible amount of work goes into the development of every TV show. Even the shows that don’t use writers (such as reality shows and sports events) require a ton of planning and a lot of people working in unison to get them ready to be broadcast into your home.
Time has a tendency to change your perspective about the past. The creators of TV shows are no exception to this; only their thoughts have been solidified and released into the world. There have been times when a creator has come to regret the shows that they were involved in, which has led to a public denouncement.
There have also been times when a creator has had their work changed and twisted by the higher-ups into a form that they find objectionable, which can lead to a show being denounced before it even hits the screens.
We are here today to see which TV shows and individual episodes have been disowned by their own creators– from the Doctor Who episode that was written by a pseudonym, to one of the most controversial episodes of Star Trek ever made.
Here are the 15 TV Shows Completely Disowned By Their Creators!
15. Brannon Braga – Star Trek: Voyager, “Threshold”
The Star Trek: Voyager episode known as “Threshold” is widely considered to be the worst episode of Star Trek ever made, and there is no shortage of competition in that department.
“Threshold” involves the Voyager crew performing an experiment in order to break the warp barrier. This results in Tom Paris and Captain Janeway being transformed into two frog-like creatures, who managed to procreate before being turned back to normal.
Brannon Braga has been vocal about his dislike for the episode, which he admits was terrible. He also admitted on the Star Trek: Voyager Season Two DVD box set that he is frustrated by the fact that he wrote many episodes of Star Trek and “Threshold” is the only one that people ask about.
14. Darren Star – Sex and the City, “An American Girl in Paris (Part Deux)”
Sex and the City was originally adapted from a book of the same name, written by Candace Bushnell. The TV show adaptation was created by Darren Star, who also wrote several episodes and produced the first few seasons of the show.
Darren Star has been highly critical of the direction the series went in during its final seasons. This is due to the fact that the final episode (“An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux”) deals with Carrie finally ending up with Mr. Big, who was the object of her affections throughout most of the show.
Darren Star has stated that final episodes betrayed the whole point of the show, which was how it was possible for a woman to find happiness without needing to be married or starting a family.
13. Terrence Dicks – Doctor Who, “The Brain Of Morbius”
This list could potentially be dominated by Doctor Who entries. This is due to how long the show has been on the air and the numerous production issues that it has had to endure from both internal and external influences.
“The Brain of Morbius” is one of the biggest examples of a Doctor Who writer being screwed over by the producers of the show. Terrence Dicks had written an episode that was meant to evoke Frankenstein, with a robot stealing body parts in order to create a living body.
When Dicks was out of the country, the episode received a rewrite without his permission, which changed the villain into a mad scientist.
Terrence Dicks was furious when he heard of the news and insisted that his name be changed to “something bland” on the credits, as he felt that the episode had nothing to do with him anymore. The name Robin Bland was used on the credits.
12. Neil Jordan – Riveria
Neil Jordan is one of the most prolific Irish directors and screenwriters of all time. He won an Academy Award for writing the screenplay for The Crying Game, as well as directing movies like Interview with the Vampire, Michael Collins, and The Butcher Boy. Jordan is also credited with creating The Borgias.
Neil Jordan’s words hold a lot of weight, which led to a backlash against a show he created for the Sky network, called Riviera. Jordan was the driving force behind the show, which focused on a murder mystery set in the French Riviera.
The broadcast version of Riviera was so different from what Neil Jordan wrote that he publically disowned it in the press. It was this reaction that prevented Riviera from being entered into the Iftas (the Irish Film & Television Awards.)
11. Harlan Ellison – The Starlost
Harlan Ellison is an amazing science fiction writer whose work is counted among the most acclaimed stories of all time. Ellison also has a tendency to dissociate himself from projects if he feels that his vision is being changed, even if his plans would be too expensive to create on a TV show budget.
This was the fate of The Starlost, which was a science fiction TV show from the early ’70s. The premise of the show involved the descendants of the human race who are unaware that they are living aboard a giant spaceship.
The Starlost was subjected to numerous production issues, which weren’t helped by an ever decreasing budget. Harlan Ellison grew so frustrated with the changes made to The Starlost that he used an assumed name in the credits and broke off from the show before its debut.
10. Ronald D. Moore – Battlestar Galactica, “Black Market”
The first two seasons of Battlestar Galactica were similar to Lost, in that they were composed of incredible episodes that were built around a central mystery… which took a turn for the worse as the story was stretched out, until no one cared anymore.
The early seasons of Battlestar Galactica had a few clunkers, the biggest of which is “Black Market” which even the creator of the show is disappointed with.
“Black Market” was an episode that dealt with the criminal underground that was operating within the fleet, which leads to Apollo trying to solve a murder that is connected to those running the black market.
Ronald D. Moore has taken full responsibility for the poor quality of this episode, which he partly attributes to the stress brought on by an increased production schedule.
9. Dan Harmon – Rick And Morty, “Raising Gazorpazorp”
A creator doesn’t always lose faith in a project during the production stage of development. There have been plenty of times when a negative audience reaction causes them to rethink their opinions and change their minds over what they were responsible for.
This was the case with the Rick and Morty episode called “Raising Gazorpazorp” which involved Morty becoming the father of an alien child after copulating with a robot. Dan Harmon has gone on record stating that he was very fond of this episode until it aired.
There was a negative reaction from the audience, as many people felt that the observations about gender in the episode were stale and seemed like they came from a ’80s comedy movie.
8. Matt Groening – The Simpsons, “A Star Is Burns”
“A Star Is Burns” is a classic episode of The Simpsons that pokes fun at cartoon crossovers. This was due to the fact that it was, itself, a crossover, as it was promoting the main character of The Critic, which was a cartoon recently purchased by Fox at the time.
Matt Groening was dead against the idea of a Simpsons crossover, which might have been partly inspired by the fact that the writers of The Critic were former Simpsons staff members who had jumped ship to another network.
7. Roger Dobkowitz – The Price Is Right
In 2007, Bob Barker announced that his thirty-five-year tenure as the host of The Price Is Right was coming to an end. The position was filled by Drew Carey, who continues to host the show to this day.
Drew Carey’s hiring was not without controversy among the production staff of the show. Roger Dobkowitz was the producer of The Price Is Right from 1984 to 2008, which meant that he didn’t last long into Carey’s tenure.
Roger Dobkowitz has since discussed his time working with Drew Carey and his given scathing commentary about his lack of professionalism and his unwillingness to learn the rules of the show that he was being a lot of money to host.
6. Sonya Roberts – The Outer Limits, “Second Chance”
The Outer Limits was an attempt at emulating the success of The Twilight Zone, except with a bigger focus on science fiction stories.
One of the classic episodes of The Outer Limits is “Second Chance.” This was a story about an alien who kidnaps a group of humans and invites them to come to a new planet, on the condition that they are willing to overcome some negative aspect of themselves.
“Second Chance” was written by Sonya Roberts, who also wrote several other episodes of the show. “Second Chance” received a rewrite, due to a studio mandate to dumb down all of the stories.
5. Eddie Huang – Fresh Off The Boat
Fresh Off the Boat is the name of Eddie Huang’s autobiography. It talks about what it was like growing up as the child of Taiwanese immigrants and struggling with both his own cultural identity and from racism stemming from his background.
Fresh Off the Boat was later adapted into an ABC sitcom, which made it the second primetime show to feature a predominantly Asian-American cast (after Margaret Cho’s All American Girl.)
Eddie Huang has been very honest about his dislike for the TV adaptation of Fresh Off the Boat, going as far as to say that he doesn’t even recognize the show as being based on his book.
4. Winston Graham – Poldark
It would have seemed like madness only a decade ago for a series of novels composing of twelve books to be adapted into a television series.
The increasing desire for serialized shows, as well as the growing influence of streaming services that allow you to watch every episode of a show with only a few clicks, has made long-term adaptations more appealing.
This is certainly the case with Poldark, which is adapted from a series of twelve novels that were released over a fifty year period. Poldark has become a huge hit for the BBC, with more seasons guaranteed to follow.
There was an attempt at making a Poldark adaptation in the ’70s, which the author of the books despised. This was due to the changes made to the character of Demelza, who was made far more promiscuous in the show.
3. Osamu Tezuka – Astro Boy, “Midoro Marsh”
Osamu Tezuka is the only person on this list who hated an episode of one of his shows so much that he physically destroyed the original copy, in order to prevent it from ever getting out.
The thirty-fourth episode of the original Astro Boy cartoon was called “Midoro Marsh.” This episode was outsourced to an inexperienced animation house called Studio Zero, which was formed by some of Osamu Tezuka’s old protegees.
Studio Zero’s attempt at creating an episode of Astro Boy was so awful that Osamu Tezuka ordered the original film to be burnt after it was broadcast.
2. Trey Parker & Matt Stone – South Park, “Butters’ Very Own Episode”
“Butters’ Very Own Episode” was loved by South Park fans when it was first broadcast in 2001. This was due to a storyline where Butters’ parents believe that they killed him, so they try to cover up the crime.
They are helped in this by O. J. Simpson, Gary Condit, and the parents of JonBenét Ramsey, who were all known for being suspects in high-profile murder cases.
The final scene of “Butters’ Very Own Episode” involves Butters’ father yelling out accusations which are clearly aimed at O. J. Simpson, Gary Condit, and John & Patsy Ramsey.
The reason the creators of South Park have apologized for this episode was due to the fact that Gary Condit and the parents of JonBenét Ramsey were later found to be innocent of their suspected crimes.
1. Harlan Ellison – Star Trek: The Original Series, “The City On The Edge Of Forever”
“The City on the Edge of Forever” is considered to be one of the best episodes of Star Trek ever made. The story involves Doctor McCoy accidentally altering the timeline, with Kirk and Spock needing to fix things. This results in Kirk falling in love with Edith Keeler: a woman who has to die in order to fix the timeline and save millions of lives.
“The City on the Edge of Forever” was written by Harlan Ellison, who was one of the writers Gene Roddenberry wanted for Star Trek. “The City on the Edge of Forever” was one of the scripts turned in by Ellison and it underwent numerous rewrites, in order to make it possible to film within their budget.
Harlan Ellison disagreed with many of the changes made to “The City on the Edge of Forever” and even attempted to have his name taken off the credits. Gene Roddenberry responded by threatening to have Ellison blacklisted, which would have prevented him from finding work in the industry.
Harlan Ellison has since released his original version of the script, with a long introduction that details all of the issues with the broadcast version. It seems that Ellison is proud of his version of “The City on the Edge of Forever” but he can’t abide the one that bore his name.
Can you think of any other TV shows that were disowned by their creators? Let us know in the comments!
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