Television networks are pitched multiple series ideas every day. Some of these ideas are initially rejected, but eventually get picked up when the idea is proposed to another network, which was seen with the likes of Stranger Things and Squid Game. Other TV show ideas are picked up right away.
One of the most disappointing fates for a series to experience is a cancellation, which can happen for any number of reasons. However, some series must face this fate before ever getting started. There are many TV shows that were canceled before a single episode ever aired.
10 Our Little Genius Contestants Knew The Answers Ahead Of Time
Our Little Genius was a game show intended to air after American Idol in January 2010. The show was set to feature child prodigies from ages six to twelve who answer questions for a cash prize. Our Little Genius’ creator, Mark Burnett, called for the premiere to be delayed because of concerns about the integrity of the show.
It turned out that the contestants were being fed information about the questions before they began taping. There was one instance of a contestant answering a question incorrectly, so power was cut to feign technical difficulties and the show was reshot with new questions. The Federal Communications Commission got involved, and Our Little Genius was canned.
9 Mail Order Family Was Problematic
Originally pitched to tell the real-life experience of the creator’s parents, Mail Order Family was a comedy that followed a widowed father and his “mail-order bride.” The widowed father needed a wife to help take care of his daughters, and the series had already aired as a web-animated miniseries. Pitched as showing a strong Filipina woman who raises and helps the daughters through the loss of their mother, Mail Order Family with heavy criticism.
Advocates for trafficked women and the Asian-American community spoke out against Mail Order Bride and the way it trivialized human trafficking and exploitation. There was a Change.org petition protesting the show that received over 10,000 signatures. Three days after announcing the project, NBC decided to cancel Mail Order Family.
8 The Dark Comedy Series, Heathers, Was Too Dark
Based off the 1989 movie of the same name, Heathers was meant to be a dark comedy that focused on high school students. The content followed the titular group and covered-up murders that were designed to look like suicides. Heathers was meant to air in March 2018 on the rebranded Paramount Network.
However, executives delayed the release of Heathers because it was originally set to release after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Unfortunately, there was another tragic shooting at Santa Fe High School not long before the new premiere date. This caused the show to be completely dropped because of heathers’ content. After the initial cancellation, Heathers was eventually aired with several cuts and an episode reduction.
7 Escaping The KKK Was Doomed To Fail
Having changed its name due to controversy, Escaping the KKKformerly known as Generation KKK, was a docuseries that examined the lives of people within the Ku Klux Klan. Public outcry against the show started as soon as it was announced, as the public feared that Escaping the KKK would celebrate hate groups.
Despite the public contention for Escaping the KKK‘s content, A&E continued production and intended to premiere the series in early 2017. However, it was discovered that the production company had made payments to members of the KKK to gain access to their lives. That was the final straw and Escaping the KKK was canceled three weeks before it was due to hit television screens.
6 The Cops Was Cut Due To Sexual Misconduct
The Cops was an adult animated series created by Louis CK and Albert Brooks. The series was supposed to follow two cops who often failed in their roles to serve and protect. The Cops was meant to run from late 2017 to early 2018 in the new TBS animation block.
Sexual misconduct allegations rose against creator Louis CK and he later admitted that these were true. Recasting Louis CK’s character was the original plan, but The Cops was eventually axed altogether. Nothing more than a few small snippets in a promotional video for TBS have been seen of the show.
5 Ultimate Slip ‘N Slide Didn’t Have Its Day In The Sun
Ultimate Slip ‘N Slide was a game show centered around the classic summer toy, the Slip ‘N Slide. It was planned to follow the close of the 2020 Summer Olympics in August 2021. The Olympics had been delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Production of Ultimate Slip ‘N Slide was stopped in July 2021, just one week before production was scheduled to end.
Production was paused due to an outbreak of giardia, an infection in the intestines, among the crew that could have been easily spread to others. Despite having invested millions of dollars into show, the executives determined that resuming production was not feasible. Ultimate Slip ‘N Slide was canceled before the end could be filmed and a winner named.
4 Seriously, Dude, I’m Gay Was A Problematic Premise
Planned as a two-hour reality special on Fox, Seriously, Dude, I’m Gay was a problematic reality show. The series featured a competition between two straight men to see who could more convincingly “pass” as gay. The men competed for a cash prize of $50,000 by completing daily challenges. The contestants had to move into separate lofts with LGBTQ+ roommates, hang out at LGBTQ+ nightclubs, and come out to their best friends.
Seriously, Dude, I’m Gay was met with heavy criticism from the media monitoring group Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, who claimed the show was a negative portrayal of gay men and may increase homophobic sentiment. Seriously, Dude, I’m Gay was canned eleven days before it was scheduled to play.
3 The Young Astronauts Had Terrible Timing
Marvel Productions created the animated series The Young Astronauts, which set to debut in early 1986. The animated series was about a futuristic family, their cat, and their maintenance droid, who live on an interplanetary ship.
The Young Astronauts was planned to be a Saturday morning cartoon but due to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the show was pulled. The show was planned to have a comic tie-in, but that was canceled as well. The Young Astronauts’ pilot episode aired three days before the disaster. Nevertheless, a series about space travel was in bad taste and the official airing of the series was cut.
2 Good Grief Was Going To Be A Reality Show
Not to be confused with the 2021 comedy series of the same name, Good Grief was planned by Lifetime to be a reality show about the Johnson Family Mortuary in Fort Worth, Texas. All seemed to be going well for the show, until July 2014.
Officially canceled on July 24, 2014, Good Grief was canned due to a gruesome discovery earlier that month. The landlord of the mortuary was executing an eviction process and came across eight bodies within the funeral home that were unattended and/or decomposing. The authorities were alerted and the Johnsons were arrested and sent to prison.
1 Confederate Was Heavily Criticized
Confederate was a HBO alternate history drama developed by the same team as Game of Thrones. However, Confederate did not make it to the television screen. The premise of the show was an alternate timeline where the American Civil War had ended in a stalemate.
The announcement of Confederate was immediately hit with criticism. The hashtag #NoConfederate trended on Twitter as number one in the United States and number two worldwide in mid 2017. Development saw several delays and HBO’s president said that the show was still in development in 2019, despite the controversy. The developers of Confederate signed a different deal with Netflix in August 2019, but it was officially canceled in 2020.
NEXT: 10 Netflix Series That Were Canceled Before They Could Grow An Audience