It’s always subjective to judge a movie or TV show as “great” or “terrible,” but Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer – an aggregator of reviews from critics and fans alike – is a great tool to get a general sense of how the majority of people feel about a particular project.
Ideas that look good on paper don’t always translate into an equally good television series. Some writers, for example, take years to craft a pilot episode but aren’t able to follow through with an entire season that lives up to the project’s potential. On the other hand, some TV shows take so long to set up their stories that the audience becomes quickly uninterested. And, to be fair, certain series are just purely terrible ideas that leave us wondering how they even got approved, funded, and made in the first place.
In this list, we explore some of the television shows that have the very worst scores on the Tomatometer, and it’s safe to say that pretty much all genres are covered. Sitcoms, dramas, superhero shows, period pieces, adult animation, original ideas, reboots… It’s all here.
Looking for something challenging to watch? These are the 20 Worst TV Shows Ever Made (According To Rotten Tomatoes).
20 MULANEY (17%)
John Mulaney is a successful standup comedian who wrote for Saturday Night Live for six years and was even awarded an Emmy in 2011 for his work on a Justin Timberlake episode.
In 2013, the comedian pitched a semi-autobiographical sitcom called Mulaney to NBC, but the network passed. In 2014, Fox picked up the project, which went on to air 13 episodes between October of that year and February of 2015.
The show was received with a general negative consensus, and some stated that it resembled Seinfeld a little too much. Mulaney was definitely a low-point in John Mulaney’s career, and its score of 17% on Rotten Tomatoes makes that quite obvious.
The comedian was most recently seen on Broadway and around the United States as he toured with the Oh, Hello comedy act.
19 IRON FIST (17%)
Marvel and Netflix’s Iron Fist has its fair share of fans, but as a general consensus, the show definitely under-delivered in comparison to its predecessors Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, earning the show an incredibly low score of 17% on Rotten Tomatoes.
While it was confirmed by Marvel and Netflix during SDCC 2017 that Iron Fist will indeed get a second season, the companies were also quick to point out that a new showrunner will take the reins of the project. Raven Metzner, whose writing credits include Sleepy Hollow, Six Degrees, and Clue, will replace Scott Buck as the series’ showrunner.
For now, the hero will be seen in the miniseries event The Defenders, which will assemble all four of the main Marvel superheroes with shows on Netflix.
18 IRONSIDE (14%)
NBC’s Ironside was a TV procedural drama that premiered in 2013 and only went on to air nine episodes before it was promptly canceled due to terrible ratings and highly negative reviews. It was a remake of 1967’s Ironside, which aired for eight seasons on NBC and was considered a major success.
Ironside’s cast featured actors Blair Underwood (who went on to play Andrew Garner in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Kenneth Choi (who appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger and The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story), and Pablo Schreiber (who appeared in Orange Is The New Black and American Gods).
It is safe to say that the Ironside remake was a complete disaster for NBC, scoring the show a terrible 14% on Rotten Tomatoes.
17 TRUTH BE TOLD (13%)
Writer David J. Nash had a great run collaborating on shows such as ‘Til Death, and went on to create Growing Up Fisher in 2014 and Truth Be Told in 2015. The latter, however, was received particularly badly by critics, which gave it a 13% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Starring in Truth Be Told were Mark-Paul Gosselaar (who played Zack Morris in Saved By The Bell), stand-up comedian Tone Bell, former TRL correspondent Vanessa Lachey, and Bresha Webb (who had recurring roles in ER and Grey’s Anatomy).
The reaction to Truth Be Told was so bad that NBC decided to not even air the final two episodes of the show’s first and only season. It was also promptly announced that Tone Bell was already cast in another TV series.
16 DAMIEN (11%)
A&E’s Damien was a television show based on the horror franchise The Omen, which started in 1976 and was rebooted in the theaters in 2006. In an attempt to take the franchise to TV, Damien premiered in 2016 and followed a now adult Damien Thorn who had forgotten about his violent and Satanic past.
Actor Bradley James (who had appeared in Merlin, Homeland and iZombie) played the title character, but Damien also featured Megalyn Echikunwoke (who portrayed Mari McCabe / Vixen in Arrow) and Omid Abtahi (who was the character Homes in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 and now appears in American Gods).
But Damien did not do a good job in resuscitating The Omen franchise or translating it into the TV format. The show received a score of 11% on Rotten Tomatoes, which very clearly encompasses the general sentiment towards this project.
15 ROB (11%)
After Rob Schneider’s huge success in the comedy movies Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, The Hot Chick, and The Benchwarmers, the actor was overdue for a comeback, which was supposed to have happened with 2012’s Rob television series on CBS.
Though Rob carried the actor’s real name, the show didn’t have much to do with his real life, and instead followed an O.C.D. architect who married to a Mexican-American and tried to bond with her family. The cast included Claudia Bassols as the title character’s wife, Cheech Marin (famous The Lion King and Cars voice actor) as his father-in-law, and Diana-Maria Riva as his mother-in-law.
14 FRIENDS WITH BETTER LIVES (10%)
Friends With Better Lives was a sitcom that aired between March and May of 2014 on CBS. The show featured James Van Der Beek (of Dawson’s Creek and Don’t Trust The B In Apartment 23 fame), Majandra Delfino (from Roswell), Zoe Lister-Jones (who currently stars in Life in Pieces), Brooklyn Decker (who has starred in Battleship and What To Expect When You’re Expecting), and Kevin Connolly (famous for his role as Eric Murphy in HBO’s Entourage).
Unfortunately for everyone involved, Friends With Better Lives did not do well, and scored a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. Out of the 13 planned episodes of the show’s first and only season, five went unaired and were only released on DVD in the United States.
13 ALLEN GREGORY (9%)
2011’s Allen Gregory was supposed to be Fox’s new hit animated TV series. The show was about the title character, a fancy and sarcastic 7-year-old who was raised by two dads, and was created by famous actor Jonah Hill (who at the time was facing the controversy surrounding his significant weight loss), Andrew Mogel (who wrote Yes Man and The Grinder), and Jarrad Paul (Mogel’s frequent collaborator).
Allen Gregory has a 9% score on Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s safe to say that Fox’s plans did not work. The title character was voiced by Jonah Hill himself, and other voice work was provided by actors French Stewart (who is currently in CBS’ Mom), Nat Faxon (currently playing Nick in Netflix’s Friends From College), and Will Forte (from the Oscar-nominated film Nebraska and the Fox comedy The Last Man On Earth).
12 ROSEWOOD (9%)
Actor Morris Chestnut, who has been featured in TV shows like American Horror Story and V, as well as films such as Kick-Ass 2, The Call, and Boyz n the Hood, played the protagonist Beaumont Rosewood, Jr. in Rosewood. The character was a Miami-based pathologist who often helped law enforcement in ongoing cases. The show was created by Todd Harthan, who had previously experienced a lot of success writing for Psych.
11 BETRAYAL (8%)
The success of Revenge inspired ABC to greenlight other soapy TV series to populate the network’s Sunday night lineup, and so 2014’s Betrayal came to be. Guess who directed the show’s pilot episode and served as a series executive? Patty Jenkins, the director of Wonder Woman.
Betrayal went on to air the 13 planned episodes for its first season, but was not renewed to come back for a second year. The show has a very low score of 8% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The cast featured Hannah Ware (of Boss fame), Henry Thomas (who was the main little boy in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), Braeden Lemasters (known for his role in Men of a Certain Age), and James Cromwell (who has been in 24, Six Feet Under, Halt and Catch Fire, and American Horror Story, and in 2018 will be seen in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom).
10 HANK (8%)
Also with an 8% score on Rotten Tomatoes is Hank, a show about a failed Wall Street businessman who moves his family back to Virginia and has to adjust to being a better husband and father. This TV series was created by Tucker Cawley, who is better known for his decade-long writing work in Everybody Loves Raymond.
Hank had the legendary Kelsey Grammer as a protagonist, and also featured David Koechner (mostly known for his role as Champ Kind in The Anchorman movies) and Melinda McGraw (Barbara Gordon in The Dark Knight) in the cast.
Only five episodes of Hank aired before the show was canceled in 2009. The five remaining episodes planned for its first season went unaired. At the time, even Kelsey Grammer joked to Jay Leno that he called the network himself to ask for Hank to be canceled.
9 I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER (7%)
I Hate My Teenage Daughter was a sitcom that aired on Fox between 2011 and 2012, right after the network’s ill-fated American version of The X Factor. Starring Jaime Pressly (of My Name Is Earl fame), Kevin Rahm (from Mad Men), and Chad Coleman (featured in The Walking Dead), the series only aired 7 of the 13 planned episodes for its first season, which means that 6 were scrapped.
This TV show was about two mothers who feared that their teenage daughters were growing up to be the exact type of girls that bullied them in school in the past.
Even though I Hate My Teenage Daughter scored a 7% on Rotten Tomatoes, it went on to have a longer lifespan in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and Mexico, where all of the 13 planned episodes for season one actually aired.
8 DR. KEN (7%)
After comedian Ken Jeong’s breakout roles in the Community TV show and The Hangover movies, he went on to headline his very own sitcom on ABC, titled Dr. Ken, which is actually a quite realistic title since the comedian is also a legitimately licensed physician.
Even though Jeong was the highlight of Community and The Hangover, Dr. Ken just didn’t work that well, earning it a score of 7% on Rotten Tomatoes. The show did go on for a second season and aired 44 episodes in total, but its critical reviews never took a positive turn.
7 WORK IT (5%)
Work It is centered around two men dressing like women to score jobs during a recession, since they believe that those of the male gender have been more impacted by the bad economy than those of the female gender.
Problematic premise aside, Work It was just not good at all, and only aired 2 of the 13 planned episodes for its first season – which means that ABC gave up on the series after only airing it for two weeks. On Rotten Tomatoes, this TV show has a score of 5%.
Ben Koldyke (from Mr. Robinson) and Amaury Nolasco (of Prison Break fame) were the two protagonists of Work It. The show also featured actress Rebecca Mader, who played Lost’s Charlotte and Once Upon A Time’s Zelena.
6 WE ARE MEN (4%)
Starring Kal Penn (of House fame), Jerry O’Connell (most recently seen in Scream Queens), and Tony Shalhoub (who played the title character in Monk), We Are Men only aired 2 episodes before it was canceled by CBS, giving it a score of 4% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The series was about a man who was left at the altar by his bride and, in the midst of picking himself up, forms a friendship with three other divorced men.
Before calling it We Are Men, this TV show had the working title Ex-Men, a pun related to Marvel’s X-Men.
5 DADS (0%)
Dads had a stellar cast that featured Seth Green (Robot Chicken, Family Guy), Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar, Ted, Friends), and Brenda Song (The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, The Social Network), but the talent was not enough to earn the sitcom a score higher than 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Fox insisted on Dads, despite the overwhelmingly negative reviews, and the show went on to air all 19 episodes it had planned for the first season. As ratings kept dipping and reviews stayed negative, however, the network was forced to cancel the series.
Showrunners Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, who had been writing partners in Family Guy, went on to write Ted and A Million Ways To Die In The West with Seth MacFarlane.
4 CHARLIE’S ANGELS (0%)
In 2011, ABC tried to reboot the Charlie’s Angels franchise on television, which didn’t work as expected.
Starring Rachael Taylor (who currently plays Trish Walker in Jessica Jones), Minka Kelly (from Friday Night Lights), and Annie Ilonzeh (of General Hospital fame) as the three angels, this TV reboot didn’t even get to air its season finale before it was canceled. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a score of 0%.
The last film from this franchise was Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, which was released in 2003 and featured Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu.
3 SAINT GEORGE (0%)
Comedian George Lopez has had a rocky career on television, reaching both impressive highs and surprising lows. One of the lowest lows of Lopez’s career was 2014’s sitcom Saint George, which aired on FX for one season but was canceled due to low ratings and negative reviews that can be seen through the show’s 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
George Lopez currently stars in Lopez, a semi-autobiographical sitcom on TV Land that got renewed for a second season which aired in 2017.
2 HUNTERS (0%)
Another TV series with a 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes is Hunters, a sci-fi crime drama based on Whitley Strieber’s novel Alien Hunter.
Actor Nathan Phillips (of Snakes On A Plane fame) played the central character, Flynn Carroll, who had his wife kidnapped by alien hunters and is assigned to deal with this new threat to humankind.
Though all 13 episodes of the series went on to air, the final six of them were released at midnight – which is not a great time slot – due to the lack of positive ratings it brought for Syfy. The network canceled the show before the season finale even aired.
1 THE KENNEDYS: AFTER CAMELOT (0%)
2017’s The Kennedys: After Camelot was a follow-up to the miniseries The Kennedys, which aired in 2011. Even though both of those installments were considered huge failures in regards to ratings and critical praise, actress Katie Holmes reprised her role as Jackie Kennedy in both.
The Kennedys doesn’t have a Rotten Tomatoes score, but it would probably not be much higher than After Camelot’s 0% on the Tomatometer. This follow-up only had two episodes, which aired on a network called Reelz after being abandoned by the History Channel. The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg called The Kennedys: After Camelot a “four-hour mess lacking in dramatic structure or emotional and thematic beats.”
Katie Holmes is currently working on Ocean’s Eight, which is scheduled for a 2018 release.
Have you watched any of these rotten TV shows? Do you agree with their ratings? Sound off in the comments!
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