Top 10 Terrible Episodes That Almost Ruined Great TV Shows

Written by Garrett Alden Every light casts a shadow. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 terrible episodes that almost ruined great TV shows. For this list, we’re looking at episodes that mar the reputation of otherwise excellent TV shows, and have, to some degree, tarnished how viewers see the series as a whole. For the record, we’re not saying that these episodes are totally without redeeming qualities, but we will be focusing on their negative aspects for this list. Also, these are not necessarily episodes that “jumped the shark,” as we’ve already done a list of those moments. And, naturally, a spoiler warning is be in effect. Special thanks to our user Jesse Perez Perez for suggesting this idea, check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Terrible+Episodes+That+Almost+Ruined+Great+TV+Shows
Credits
Tags
Comments

You must login to access this feature

Transcript
Top 10 Terrible Episodes That Almost Ruined Great TV Shows
Script written by Garrett Alden

Every light casts a shadow. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 terrible episodes that almost ruined great TV shows.

For this list, we’re looking at episodes that mar the reputation of otherwise excellent TV shows, and have, to some degree, tarnished how viewers see the series as a whole. For the record, we’re not saying that these episodes are totally without redeeming qualities, but we will be focusing on their negative aspects for this list. Also, these are not necessarily episodes that “jumped the shark,” as we’ve already done a list of those moments. And, naturally, a spoiler warning is now in effect.

#10: “The One in Barbados”
“Friends” (1994-2004)

The finale of “Friends”’ ninth season, this two-parter is the point at which some critics and fans believe the show was starting to run out of ideas. The episodes feature not just a love triangle between Phoebe and her suitors Mike and David, but also a love rectangle between Ross, Rachel, Joey and Charlie. Although the former is arguably more interesting, the latter is a major focus of both episodes, culminating in Rachel and Joey starting a relationship; one that’s destined to be brief, due to the characters’ limited chemistry. And yet, it has slightly more mileage than all the jokes about Monica's hair... albeit barely.

#9: “Last Days of Summer”
“Friday Night Lights” (2006-11)

Following up a critically acclaimed first season can be tough for any show, and “Friday Night Lights” certainly fumbled the ball with its second season premiere, “Last Days of Summer.” While it does a nice job showing the fallout from the events of the previous season, things go wrong for a lot of characters, particularly Tyra and Landry, whose altercation with Tyra’s stalker leads to the stalker’s body going in the river. This in particular set off a season-long investigation arc, which feels inconsistent with what the show had been, and what it would go on to become.

#8: “The Great Divide”
“Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2005-08)

“Avatar” saw mercifully few duds over its three year run, but this one stands out as the worst of the bunch. The plot sees Aang and company decide to help two bickering rival clans migrate through a canyon. Most of the runtime is devoted to arguments, both among the feuding groups and within the group of heroes. In the end, Aang resolves the clans’ differences by lying to them, a decision that really doesn’t match his character, and acts as a really weird message to end on. Overall, “The Great Divide” adds little to the plot or the characters, making it an easy one to skip.

#7: “Black Market”
“Battlestar Galactica” (2004-09)

This reimagined space opera series incorporated a lot of different genres, but this episode featured one that it did not pull off well: noir. The episode sees Lee “Apollo” Adama investigating a black market that has somehow sprung up in a fleet with a population smaller than an average city. Besides the glut of plot holes and narrative conveniences, trying to turn Galactica’s resident heroic pilot into a gritty detective for an episode just didn’t fly. Noir in space can work, but it doesn’t work here. Even series creator Ronald D. Moore has called “Black Market” a disappointment. But at least he could admit when they frakked up...

#6: “Freefall”
“ER” (1994-2009)

Any show on for 15 years is bound to have at least one bad episode, and “Freefall” is one of “ER”’s worst. The crux of the episode’s awfulness lies in the departure of Dr. Robert Romano. A generally unpleasant man, Romano did have other sides to him, and had even received something of a karmic punishment when he lost his arm to a helicopter blade. His death, however, is just cruel and unusual. How does it happen? Why, a helicopter crashes on top of him, of course! The writers had already made the character two-dimensional by the end of his run, but did they have to make his death just as cartoonish?

#5: “Intro to Felt Surrogacy”
“Community” (2009-15)

Season Four was a rough one for “Community” all around, and this episode is arguably the low point of a year full of less than stellar outings. “Intro to Felt Surrogacy” shows the study group lost in the woods, during which they eat some berries that make them hallucinate that they’re all puppets and swap secrets with each other. While “Community” is known for its stunt episodes and surreal moments, usually they’re in service of the story or characters, but that’s just not the case for this bizarre trip of an episode.

#4: “Stranger in a Strange Land”
“Lost” (2004-10)

Although a polarizing show overall, “Lost” definitely hit a slump during its third season. Some point to “Exposé,” an episode that killed off two fan-despised characters as the show’s low point, but many are of the opinion that this episode is much worse. The flashback focuses on how Jack got his tattoos... while the Island storyline focuses on Kate and Sawyer’s return to camp, and Jack and Juliet’s tenuous position among the Others. The episode also “answers” some questions, like what happened to the people the Others kidnapped, while also raising some more. Ultimately, “Stranger” feels like filler, which, on a show this serialized, can really kill the momentum.

#3: “Beer Bad”
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)

High schoolers and the shows that depict them have difficulty transitioning to college, and “Buffy” was no exception. The “Beer Bad” episode depicts our heroine drowning her sorrows in beer after being used for sex by a jerk of a guy. However, some magic juju in the beer turns her and her drinking pals into cave people. Although elements of the series’ trademark wit and humor are present in the episode, they’re a bit overshadowed by the ham-handed warning against drinking and casual sex, as well as the literal dumbing down of the protagonist. In short: “Beer Bad” bad.

#2: “The Principal and the Pauper”
“The Simpsons” (1989-)

In this episode, Principal Seymour Skinner is revealed to be an imposter, who took the name of one of his comrades who never came home from Vietnam. Revealing a long established character as being someone else can work when done well, but the fact that the town decides to pretend they never learned this info by the episode’s end not only rendered any impact it might’ve had moot; it also made fans and critics feel betrayed and like the whole thing was pointless. Many staffers have called the episode a mistake, but its writer, Ken Keeler, has claimed it was meant to provoke and satirize fan outrage. Intent aside, the execution had everyone saying “D’oh!”

Before we get to our top pick here are a few dis-honorable mentions:

- “Schism”
“Arrow” (2012-)

- “Arnold Betrays Iggy”
“Hey Arnold!” (1996-2004)

- “Warriors of the Deep”
“Doctor Who” (1963-89, 2005-)

#1: “Last Forever”
“How I Met Your Mother” (2005-14)

Few series finales have insulted fans or come as close to ruining the show as a whole quite like this one. “Last Forever” features the unceremonious, off-screen death of The Mother, Tracy, as well as the divorce of Barney and Robin, whose marriage had been the focus of the entire final season. Both developments were necessary for the final nail in the coffin: getting future-Ted together with future-Robin, an outcome the creators reportedly decided on halfway through the show. For an episode whose message was that things change, its writers seemed blind to the fact that the show had moved on from Ted and Robin’s relationship: for the better.
Download

You must register to a corporate account to download. Please login

Related Videos

+ see more

More Top 10