Does this scenario sound familiar to you? You have been anxiously awaiting the latest entry in your favorite television show since the scrolling of credits last week, and it is finally time to begin. You sit down to watch, and a half hour to an hour later you think to yourself: Well, that was disappointing.
It happens to virtually all television programs – some more so than others. Even the greatest of series stumble for at least an episode or two. Emmy Award-winning, multi-million viewer shows always have a dud somewhere in their lineup.
This list is a look back on some of those episodes that were subpar in comparison to the rest of the entries in an otherwise fantastic series.
Here are the 10 Worst Episodes of Great TV Series.
10. Seinfeld: “The Dog”
Seinfeld is a television series known for having unique premises, and while almost every episode undoubtedly hits hard for viewing audiences, the season 3 episode titled “The Dog” was one of the few that it was difficult for fans to get behind.
During this episode, Jerry agrees, while traveling back to New York, to watch a dog after its owner collapses on their flight. Meanwhile, Kramer breaks up with his girlfriend in classic Kramer-like fashion, and that is all that really happens. “The Dog” features two unseen characters: “Farfle” the dog and Kramer’s girlfriend Ellen. Neither the plot, nor the subplot succeeds in being particularly interesting or humorous.
9. Mad Men: “Tea Leaves”
Instead of being known as Jon Hamm’s big directorial debut, the season 5 entry “Tea Leaves” is better known as the episode that introduced “fat Betty.” To be fair, January Jones was dealing with a pregnancy at the time, and the writers thought that, instead of hiding it, they would create a storyline out of her bodily changes – enter Betty’s weight gain issues.
The problem with this episode is not the fact that Jones’ pregnancy was covered up in this way, but rather the fact that this episode spent so much time focusing on Betty’s character and the depression surrounding her weight struggles. As a character arc one of the series’ leading ladies, this one fell a little flat to many Mad Men fans.
8. Lost: “Stranger in a Strange Land”
“Just everything that could go wrong did.” This was Lost’s co-creator and executive producer, Damon Lindelof, when asked about the fan’s least favorite episode. Writer and executive producer, Carlton Cuse, added “I think it’s cringe-worthy,” and went on to state that: “It was not our finest hour. We used Matthew Fox’s real tattoos. That’s how desperate we were for flashback stories.”
“Stranger in a Strange Land” is a classic example of filling viewers in on the most unnecessary details. This episode answered all the questions that fans never even thought to ask (or ever even wanted to know) such as: Where did Jack get those tattoos? And what does these tattoos mean? The season 3 episode served as nothing more than filler, and was later used as an example by Lindelof of why ABC needed to give the writers an end date to prevent more episodes like this.
7. Friday Night Lights: “Last Days of Summer”
After a strong first season, many fans were excited about the prospect of Friday Night Lights‘ sophomore effort. Anticipation had been building during the show’s off-season and then, the premiere finally arrives and it becomes an almost unrecognizable show.
This series, about a football town, takes a lot of risks in this second season, and frankly, a good amount of these risks do not pay off. Some of the poorly attempted plot points include: underdeveloped relationships, drastic character changes, and oh yeah – murder.
6. Star Trek: The Next Generation: “Shades of Gray”
“Shades of Gray” is one of only a few blemishes on the face of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This episode, from the writer’s strike season of 1989, was essentially a lazy attempt at a clip show. It is one of the most poorly reviewed episodes in the history of Star Trek and currently holds a rating of 3.3 out of 10 on IMDb.
Empire magazine did a ranking of the worst entries from the series and originally gave the title to “Shades of Gray,” but eventually decided against this ruling, and did so not because they saw the light metaphorically speaking, but because they did not even consider “Shades of Gray” to be a real episode. According to Empire, “Shades of Gray” is essentially a slew or flashback clips that did not have enough new content to be considered an actual episode.
5. Community: “Advanced Introduction to Finality”
The fourth season of Community is known as the season without (fired) creator and showrunner Dan Harmon. Without Harmon on board, the writers were left to their own devices in an attempt to recreate the magic of Community, but without its leading creative voice. NBC tried to make episodes that fans would love, but the fourth season of this cult classic ended up resembling a cover song of Dan Harmon’s Community.
Fans did suffer through some subpar episodes (by Community’s standards anyways), but “Advanced Introduction to Finality” stood out as perhaps the weakest of these endeavors. This season finale, which was almost the series finale, went to some weird places (again, even by Community’s standards), but this time, the show did so without the guiding hand of Dan Harmon to make the story understandable and relatable to the fans.
4. Dexter: “Remember the Monsters?”
Dexter is a show that, even its most loyal fans admit, jumped the shark not too long after season four. But even with the best, or perhaps most consistent days of the series behind them, the remaining, loyal viewers were still hoping for a proper sendoff to the beloved series.
For the vast majority of fans, “Remember the Monsters?” did not deliver. Dexter’s character arc, that had been building and building for seasons, was suddenly abandoned in one episode, and then, he finally became the lumberjack that launched thousands of memes. While many series finales struggle to satisfy their respective fans, “Remember the Monsters?” fails to reach even the lowest of expectations. Not only is this not a good finale for an extremely popular show, its simply a bad hour of television.
3. Battlestar Galactica: “Black Market”
For a majority of the Battlestar Galactica‘s series run, the series creator and executive producer, Ronald D. Moore, released a podcast that acted as commentary for the corresponding episodes.
In the case of “Black Market,” Moore had this to say: “We’re going to be talking about an episode that I don’t particularly like and discussing maybe the reasons why it doesn’t work and the problems that I think are inherent in this particular episode.”
If you get the feeling from this statement that Moore does not sound necessarily enthused about this episode of Battlestar Galactica, then your instincts are spot on. Moore talks a lot about this episode, but other than a performance here and there, it is pretty much all negative.
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Beer Bad”
There are a small handful of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes that fall into the not so great category – which is fantastic considering how unique the premise was and how many seasons it ran – but one episode in particular stands out as being the absolute worst in this fantastic series.
“Beer Bad” was the shows attempt to take advantage of funds made available by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. These funds were available to television shows that promoted an anti-drug message.
Apparently, “Beer Bad” even failed to sell out, as the Office of National Drug Control Policy did not think that the anti-drug message was conveyed in a way that was clear to audiences, and Buffy ended up receiving no money from the organization.
1. How I Met Your Mother: Last Forever
“Last Forever” is one of arguably the most disappointing series finale of all time. While the ninth season produced some episodes that were not necessarily fan favorites, there were still a lot of great How I Met Your Mother moments down the final stretch, and this left viewers hopeful for a satisfying conclusion to the gang’s saga.
Well, this satisfying conclusion did not pan out for fans, or really anyone unfortunate enough to have the television tuned into CBS during this hour long block. The ninth season all takes place (aside from flashbacks and forwards) on the weekend of Barney and Robin’s wedding, and yet, the series finale breaks this marriage up within the first half hour. The longest episode of the series is also the most depressing, and every turn gets darker and darker.
While the series has always been a hilarious sitcom with a side of drama, “Last Forever” was a soul sucking siege with a side of grave disappointment. Character arcs were completely shattered, and everything that had been building for the entire season, and even the entire series, crumbled in a matter of minutes.
What are some of you least favorite episodes of otherwise great television shows? Let us know in the comments section.
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