There have been numerous failed television series over the years, but some are more notable than others. Join Facts Verse as we explore classic TV shows that only lasted for one season or less.
Three’s a Crowd
There are few failed spin-offs quite as notorious as Three’s a Crowd. As one might infer from the show’s name, the series was a spin-off of Three’s Company. However, the only member of Three’s Company’s cast that Three’s a Crowd carried over was John Ritter. Three’s a Crowd was meant to be a showcase just for John Ritter’s character of Jack Tripper, and the fact that the show only lasted for a single season show’s how good of an idea this was!
Of course, a big part of what made Three’s Company so popular with television audiences was the show’s female stars. However, the networks kept thinking that all people really cared about was John Ritter. Infamously, breakout star Suzanne Somers quit the series because the network wouldn’t treat her as John’s equal. Suzanne played the character of Chrissy Snow, and the show lost a good deal of it’s popularity after the actress left. Besides John and Chrissy, the other character that made up the titular “three” on Three’s Company was Joyce DeWitt’s Janet Wood.
After Suzanne Somers left Three’s Company, a character played by actress Jenilee Harrison was brought on to fill the void. This new character was meant to be Chrissy’s cousin. Joyce DeWitt stayed on for the entirety of Three’s Company’s run, with the series airing it’s last episode in 1984. A week later, Three’s a Crowd debuted. Joyce DeWitt’s character of Janet Wood wasn’t given her own spin-off series. Since John Ritter’s Jack Tripper was the only character brought over from Three’s Company, a new titular “three” had to be formed for Three’s a Crowd.
During the final episodes of Three’s Company, a love interest for the character of Jack Tripper was introduced. This love interest then carried over to the spin-off series. The third member making up the titular “three” was then that character’s father, who was always getting in the way of the relationship. Three’s a Crowd proved unsuccessful, with the show only lasting for a single season. It aired it’s final episode in 1985. John Ritter wouldn’t find another successful television series until just before his tragic death. In 2002, he had a hit with the show 8 Simple Rules, but he died in 2003.
Another failed spin-off that didn’t make it past a single season was Sanford. Sanford was less of a spin-off and more of a revival, only it lacked one of the original series’ titular character. Red Foxx had left Sanford and Son after six seasons believing that he could find success on his own. When The Red Foxx Comedy Hour failed, his first thought was to return to the Sanford and Son concept. However, this time, the actor who played his on-screen son didn’t want to tag along. When the revival series was pitched, actor Demond Wilson reused to return to play the character of Lamont. Lacking the titular son, the concept was rebranded as simply Sanford. A new junkyard helper was introduced to play Red Foxx’s comic foil, and Dennis Burkley played this character. Sadly, the chemistry didn’t click with audiences.
Sanford was only on the air from March to July of 1980, though it technically ran for two seasons since it was pulled off the air halfway through it’s first and retooled in a way that producers thought audiences might find more appealing. 26 episodes of the show were produced, meaning that it only lasted for the equivalency of a season in total. Little is spoken of this revival today, and few know that it exists!
Unlike the two aforementioned series, All-American Girl was neither a spin-off nor a revival that was intending to capitalize on the success of a prior show. However, it was intended to capitalize on the success of it’s lead performer. By the time that All-American Girl came on the air in 1994, there was nothing remotely new about a stand-up performer being given his or her own series. However, All-American Girl marked the first time where this performer was a Korean-American woman! The show was conceived as a starring vehicle for hit comedian Margaret Cho. Like her stand-up material, it made much ado about how the comedian’s mainstream ideals clashed with the traditionalist value of her Korean family. Though America loved Margaret’s comedy at the time, the series proved unsuccessful. It only lasted for 19 episodes, though it has since been considered ahead of it’s time in many ways.
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The Chevy Chase Show
Speaking of shows from the 1990s that failed to capitalize on the success of their stars, it’s arguable that there was no greater culprit than The Chevy Chase Show. The series was a late-night talk show on the Fox network that was cancelled after just four episodes, with one final episode airing in the wake of the cancellation. After just five weeks, The Chevy Chase Show was no more. However, prior to it’s premiere, the show had been hyped up for months on end. When the Fox network was first founded, it had tried to introduce a late-night talk show with Joan Rivers that was an infamous disaster. The network was then afraid to try it’s hand at talk shows again until 1993, when it was sure that it had a hit on it’s hands thanks to the involvement of Chevy Chase.
Chevy Chase was a major personality around the time of The Chevy Chase Show, but he was also uncomfortable enough within the parameters of his film career that he was willing to make the journey to television. Given his origins on Saturday Night Live, Chevy seemed the perfect talk-show host. However, the performer could never quite find his comfort zone when the cameras were on. Fox put all their money on The Chevy Chase Show, to the point where they renovated the studio the show was going to be filmed in and dubbed it “the Chevy Chase Theater”. The renovations were said to have cost around $1 million. When you take into account the cost of these renovations and the hefty fee that Fox must’ve paid Chevy Chase, The Chevy Chase Show proved to be a very expensive project for the Fox network.
The Fox network had promised advertisers that The Chevy Chase Show was going to draw in upwards of six million viewers per night, which was 50% more than what David Letterman’s show was drawing in. When The Chevy Chase Show premiered, it barely managed to pull together three million viewers at a time. If it wasn’t for the insane amount of money that had been sunken into The Chevy Chase Show, the Fox network might’ve allowed the failed talk show to stay on the air and find an audience. However, the network’s losses were already so great after four episodes that they were forced to pull the plug. The final episode of the series was filmed after the announcement of the cancellation was made, and Chevy finally loosened up as he made fun of the failure. The failure of The Chevy Chase Show was made more egregious when one took into account the staggering amount of celebrity guests that it’s host was able to secure over the course of the series’ meager five episodes.
Chevy Chase seems to have used every Hollywood connection he had when filling the guest slots for The Chevy Chase Show. The first episode alone featured Goldie Hawn, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Short, Kathleen Turner, and Robert Townsend. Subsequent episodes of the series then featured such high-profile celebrities as Dennis Hopper, Robert De Niro, Sam Elliott, Pamela Anderson, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Burt Reynolds. One episode also featured a visit from Chevy’s former Saturday Night Live costar, Dan Aykroyd.
The Golden Palace
Now back to the world of failed spin-offs, let’s take a look at The Golden Palace. The Golden Palace was a spin-off of The Golden Girls that featured all of the main cast returning from that series except for Bea Arthur. Of course, Bea’s character of Dorothy had gotten married at the end of the parent series. This spin-off revolved around the returning characters pooling their money together to buy a hotel. They then attempted to run this hotel, alongside new cast members like Don Cheadle and Cheech Marin. The series only lasted for a season, but it has since found favor with modern Golden Girl fanatics after premiering on Hulu.
The Mary Tyler Moore Hour
After the success of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary Tyler Moore tried her hand at hosting a variety series with The Mary Tyler Moore Hour. The show only lasted for 11 episodes, and it’s titular star wouldn’t return to television again until 1985’s Mary. That 1985 sitcom is another notable television series that only lasted for a single season.
Tabitha was a spin-off of Bewitched, revolving around Samantha and Darrin’s grown-up daughter. The series was derided as little more than a clone of the parent sitcom, with the grown-up Tabitha aping the characteristics of her mother. The show only lasted for a handful of months starting in September of 1977, and only 13 episodes were produced.
Life with Lucy
Life with Lucy came on the air in September of 1986, and it was off the air by November. The series was the final sitcom from the legendary Lucille Ball, and it was her first major failure. She would pass away only a few years later, in 1989. 14 episodes of the show were written, though only 13 were filmed. Of these 13 episodes, only eight made it to the air.
The above television shows represent some of the most notable that didn’t make it past a single season. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Mary Tyler Moore had a failed variety series after the success of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and that Redd Foxx tried to revive Sanford and Son without his character’s titular son? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!