The 90s was both a great time for sitcoms and not such a great time for sitcoms. We're prone to the nostalgia just as much as the next person, but there were some TV series that perhaps are better left forgotten.
The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer
The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer only ran for nine episodes. But within those nine episodes, the series managed to provoke some major controversy amongst viewers, which evidently got it canceled.
The show followed a Black English nobleman, Desmond Pfeiffer, who left the UK due to gambling debts and became President Abraham Lincoln's valet, and people did not approve of the light-heartedness shining on the issue of American slavery. It was even ranked #5 on Entertainment Weekly's Top 50 TV Bombs.
Starring the one and only Brooke Shields, the actress played the titular character, Susan Keane, a magazine writer living in San Francisco who goes from being engaged to a wealthy fiance to being single and doing everything on her own. The series lasted for four seasons on NBC but was criticized by audiences and reviewers.
The show earned a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes, calling out Shields' lack of ability to carry the entire series. The critic's consensus was that the "comedic inspiration doesn't spark Suddenly for this Susan" and that the role "undermines Brooke Shields' energetic performance."
Hangin' with Mr. Cooper
According to Screenrant, the storyline behind Hangin' with Mr. Cooper was just "awful," making it one of the worst sitcoms from the 1990s. The ABC show followed former NBA player Mark Cooper, who lives with his beautiful female roommate in Oakland and becomes a teacher and coach after he retires. Guess what happens next…
The two, of course, start dating, but we never see them walk down the aisle, as the show eventually gets cut after five seasons. The show's predictability is what critics saw most. According to David Zurawik from the Baltimore Sun, it was "one of the most formulaic and derivative TV shows imaginable."
Carol & Company
We love Carol Burnett just as much as the next person, but the NBC show just was not a hit for critics, marking it as one of the worst sitcoms from the 90s, per The Things. Despite an unbelievable cast starring Carol Burnett, Jeremy Piven, Peter Krause, and more, Carol & Company saw airtime for only 33 episodes.
The family sitcom followed a rather unusual approach to TV comedy, where Burnett and the cast performed different comedy playlets from week to week. However, once the show got the boot, Burnett left NBC and returned to CBS to star in The Carol Burnett Show for a very short period of time.
This might come as a surprise to some: Clueless, the movie was one of the best of all time, but the ABC television adaptation was just not, according to TV Insider. The 90s sitcom starred some of the original cast members, Stacey Dash, Elisa Donovan, and Donald Faison, but lacked the main star, Alicia Silverstone, as Cher.
Hopes were high, which could explain its three-season run, but at the end of the day, the sitcom just didn't hit the same way as the 1995 film. Critics mainly sought after Rachel Blanchard's performance of Cher, labeling her as an "uninspired knockoff" of the original character. Ugh, as if!
Harry and the Hendersons
This 90s sitcom was based on a movie from 1987 of the same title, but critics believed it should have just stayed a movie (despite the film also not getting raving reviews). The sitcom followed the Henderson family, who adopted a Bigfoot, Harry, after finding him on a camping trip.
Although the series did last 3 whole seasons and all of 72 episodes, Irv Letofsky from the Los Angeles Times simply called it an "awful series remake of the feature film." Ouch. It's safe to say this show won't be getting a reboot anytime soon!
Riding off of the iconic John Hughes film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, this 90s sitcom just didn't land the same way. Starring Charlie Schlatter, the show was canceled within its first season after receiving negative feedback from critics and viewers.
The short-lived series even starred the soon-to-be sitcom queen, Jennifer Aniston, but Ferris Bueller just didn't have that same Friends energy! Critics even labeled the 90s sitcom "insufferable" and "very weak" compared to the movie, which could explain the 10% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Ouch.
Executively produced by the one and only Tony Danza, George never saw the height of success that Who's the Boss? did. Starring George Foreman, the star played a retired boxer who runs a youth center for troubled kids. Sounds promising, doesn't it? Well, it still managed to land a spot on TV Insider's worst sitcom list.
Although Foreman is a now retired professional boxer, his acting skills didn't quite come across on the small screen, which adds up to its overall 4.4 rating on IMDb. The series only ran for nine episodes, but Foreman fans could still see him do his thing in the boxing ring for years to come.
Starring Charles S. Dutton and Ella Joyce, Roc was a family sitcom that aired on Fox for three seasons before hitting its downfall. Despite its promising acting, the show never gained a strong audience and, in response, never hit high ratings, contributing to The Things labeling it one of the worst sitcoms of the 90s.
The series followed Roc Emerson, a Baltimore garbage collector, and his wife Ella Joyce, a nurse, and at first, received great response from critics before reaching its ultimate demise. Critics from People Magazine eventually labeled the sitcom just "decent," causing less and less viewing interest.
Dharma & Greg
Dating can be tricky - just ask Dharma and Greg. After the two went on their first date, they decided to cut the awkwardness of dating and just decided to get married. The ABC sitcom, starring Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson, lasted for five seasons but suffered significant rating drops during its third season.
Although the premise presented the "perfect formula for comedy," according to Screenrant, the show just should not have lasted as long as it did due to its totally unrealistic plot. Caryn James from the New York Times concluded, "despite some amusing moments, the series has nowhere to go except in circles."
Starring the legendary Kristie Alley as Veronica Chase, the show follows her life owning a lingerie company in New York City, seemingly based on the real-life lingerie company Victoria's Secret. Although the show was perfectly lined up between Seinfeld and ER, its ratings plummeted after the first season.
After one character died when his wife pushed him into a volcano, critics realized enough was enough for this unrealistic series. According to Screenrant, "the storyline alone should probably give this sitcom a spot on a 'Worst' list since it sounds like something out of a soap opera." Ouch.
Homeboys in Outer Space
Another one-season wonder, Homeboys in Outer Space, could have been better perceived by fans or critics. The sitcom followed two astronauts who flew around the universe in a car named "Space Hoppty" piloted by a navigation system called Loquatia in what seems to be the future. And well, it just didn't land.
The show was cut after just one season, with Rotten Tomatoes giving it a low 25%. One critic Hal Boedeker from the Orlando Sentinel, deemed the show an "awful waste of space," saying it "demeans women, reduces men to lascivious fools, and traps the audience in the all-too-familiar orbit of trash TV." Yikes.
This ABC series had a premise unlike anything we've heard of before, which could explain why it got canceled after just 17 episodes. Teen Angel followed Marty DePolo, who died after eating a 6-month-old hamburger and was appointed by God's cousin Rod to become his best friend's guardian angel.
The series fit into ABC's TGIF lineup, but only a few tuned in for this Friday special. According to Carole Horst from Variety, Teen Angel was actually "the black sheep of network TV's trend toward angel-mania." It seemed audiences were not so into teen angels or teens dressed in all white with Halloween-style angel wings.
Unhappily Ever After
Starring Geoff Pierson, Kevin Connolly, and Nikki Cox, Unhappily Ever After ran for five seasons on The WB but has still been deemed one of the worst sitcoms of the 90s, per TV Insider. The show followed the typical sitcom guidelines but with a twist that made it both addictive for audiences and perhaps too unrealistic to handle.
The show followed the dysfunctional Malloy family, headed by Jack, who shares all his secrets with his stuffed animal. Mr. Floppy. Interesting concept, right? But for some reason, all the twists and turns just kept audiences wanting more, and the series lasted 100 episodes before getting the boot.
Starring Kevin Meaney, Uncle Buck was a CBS sitcom based on the 1989 film of the same name but didn't receive nearly as much love. Canceled after just 16 episodes, Uncle Buck followed Meaney as he navigated the ins and outs of raising his nieces and nephews after being named their guardian - but something just felt off for audiences.
The show received negative attention during the pilot, contributing to its spot as one of the worst sitcoms of the 90s, per TV Insider. The series pilot had a line where one of the characters yelled at Uncle Buck, "You suck!" This was the first time the phrase was said on network television, and well, it didn't pan over all too well.
One might think anything with George Clooney would be a masterpiece, right? Wrong! Even with the great American actor, Baby Talk is considered one of the worst sitcoms of the 90s. The ABC show only ran for one year as part of the network's TGIF lineup.
Although Baby Talk received generally positive feedback following its first season, it was season two that evidently led toward the show's demise, making it one of the worst sitcoms of the 90s. Once Julia Duffy left the series, the show was called "strained and unfunny" by critics from the Los Angeles Times.
What a Dummy
A family in New Jersey finds a talking ventriloquist dummy, Buzz, hidden in a trunk after 50 years and becomes a part of the family, and well, the storyline just didn't land with audiences. Besides the rather peculiar story, Buzz was designed to look like a creepier version of a Chucky with a suit on. No thanks.
According to critics, the series totally lacked "self-awareness," starting with the "genuine unease" of a creepy-looking ventriloquist dummy as the main character. This syndicated sitcom only lasted one season because of that, making it one of TV Insider's worst sitcoms of the '90s.
This one might have been doomed before it even aired. The premise? A group of Los Angeles Police Department cops fighting crimes whom frequently break out into song. Unfortunately, there wasn't much of an audience looking for the rare combination of crime meets musical, which is why the show ended after just 11 episodes.
The series received commercial and critical failure from its audiences upon its launch, eventually leading to its cancellation. TV Guide Magazine even ranked it at #8 on its List of the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time back in 2002, followed by its explanation being "the single most bizarre TV musical of all time."
Step by Step
Step by Step quickly became a fan-favorite series, but critics still found it all too cheesy, even for a 90s family sitcom. Starring Suzzane Somers and Patrick Duffy, the series lasted for seven seasons as part of ABC's TGIF Friday night lineup before its declining ratings and eventual cancelation.
The sitcom followed Duffy and Somers as single parents with three children each, who wed and created this blended family. Although an almost bulletproof concept, the show was often referred to as "an unoriginal clone of The Brady Bunch" by critics, which explains why ALOT Living deemed it a questionable TV show of the 90s.
Two Guys, A Girl, And A Pizza Place
Is that Ryan Reynolds? Why yes, it is! Surprised to see him here? We are too, but even Ryan Reynolds had to have had a rough patch. Despite its celebrated cast, Two Guys, A Girl, And A Pizza Place was "as generic as its title suggests," according to Entertainment Weekly.
Entertainment Weekly critics gave the show an overall C- rating, calling the series' scripts a "chockful of stale allusions." Ouch. However, the show received high ratings in the beginning before getting abruptly canceled after four seasons. To each their own, we guess.
Gaining quite an audience, City Guys aired for five seasons on NBC as a part of the network's Saturday morning timeslot. However, critics from The Things found the show to follow an "inappropriate format," and eventually, this caught up, resulting in the show's low ratings and cancelation.
The two main characters, Jamal Grant (Wesley Jonathan) and Chris Anderson (Scott Whyte), came from different backgrounds and attended Manhattan High School; despite a rough beginning, they became great friends. However, for a sitcom, critics believed the show was "too heavy" when dealing with cliche teen issues.
Saved by the Bell: The New Class
Saved by the Bell will always go down in history as one of the most popular sitcoms of all time - but its successors, not so much. Although Saved by the Bell: The New Class ran for seven seasons, critics labeled the remake a poor copy of the original series with unoriginal ideas.
According to Collider, it was a true "head-scratcher" as to how The New Class aired longer than the original series. Critics reveal they "can't remember the names of any of the characters" but still watched the show "religiously" due to their dedication to the franchise.
The NBC series Grand might have had a stacked cast but ultimately not stacked enough to keep on for a second season. Created by Michael Leeson and starring Pamela Reed, Bonnie Hunt, Michael McKean, John Randolph, and more, Grand ran for 26 episodes, with one never even making it to air.
The sitcom followed more of a satirical soap opera parody, similar to Soap from 1977, making it difficult for Grand to follow in its footsteps. The show ran for two shortened seasons after critics from the New York Times saw the cast struggling to find a "unifying tone" once the show lost its soap-opera format.
Herman's Head followed William Ragsdale as the title character, Herman Brooks, with four characters representing different parts of his psyche: fear, compassion, lust, and intellect. Although the series lasted for three seasons, it never received a promising audience, which explains its 17% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Although critics seemed to be a fan of the concept, it was agreed that there was "very, very, very, very, very little" going on in Herman's head, per the Washington Post. The short-lived sitcom laid the foundation for Disney's exceptional film, Inside Out, which explored the main character's core emotions.
The Single Guy
Despite The Single Guy earning NBC's most favorited timeslot on Thursday night's Must-See-TV right between Seinfeld and Friends, it failed to receive a following audience and favoritism from critics. Critics called the show too "reminiscent" of Friends or Seinfeld but not "funny."
The show followed the same guidelines as the other concerts, with a single NYC writer and his close friends who get together every day to do everyday things, but The Single Guy never saw the same success as Seinfeld and Friends. Tom Shales from the Washington Post called it "one of the most unworthy hits in recent TV history."
Saved by the Bell: The College Years
The sequel to Saved by the Bell only ran for one season on NBC after receiving some pretty negative feedback from critics and audiences. The show followed some of the original crew, Zach, Screech, A.C. Slater, and a few newcomers as they experienced their first year as college students - but it just didn't feel the same.
Critics absolutely ripped Saved by the Bell: The College Years apart, calling it "childish" and "silly." According to a top critic from the Los Angeles Times, the shows "simpleton humor and simpleton characters" will only relate to those with similar humor, which could explain the 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Caroline in the City
According to Screenrant, Caroline in the City was just "not remembered fondly" by its viewers, but is remembered as being one of the worst sitcoms to come out of the '90s. The show followed a successful cartoonist, Caroline Duffy, played by Lea Thompson with a rather complicated love life - but people were always rooting for her!
Despite the positive feedback, in the beginning, ratings quickly dropped in the third season, and the show was eventually canceled after season four. Howard Rosenberg from the Los Angeles Times called out for the show not having a "credible or humorous" script, leading to its demise.
Hang Time was frequently compared to its teen sitcom counterpart, Saved by the Bell: The New Class, and received similar criticism while at it. According to The Things, the NBC show followed the "same basic formula as all morning teen shows" and suffered from "regular cast and story changes."
The series followed Julie Connor as she tries out and ends up playing on her high school's boy basketball team but receives endless criticism from the team's captain and the mean head cheerleader, Mary Beth. The series ran well in the beginning but was eventually canceled after six seasons.
Just Shoot Me!
Although critics found this sitcom to follow the typical sitcom guidelines, it still managed to receive an audience during its seven-season run. Starring David Spade, Lauren San Giacomo, George Segal, Wendie Malick, and more, Just Shoot Me! followed an eccentric bunch working together at a fictional fashion magazine, Blush.
According to the New York Times, the sitcom was "valiantly determined to drain laughs out of basically pathetic characters." Well, if that doesn't say it all. However, the cast regrouped in March 2020 for a sketch on Lights Out with David Spade, promoting rumors of a reboot and making loyal fans very happy!
Can't Hurry Love
Before she was special agent Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Mariska Hargitay was Didi Edelstein on the 1995 sitcom, Can't Hurry Love. The short-lived show followed Hargitay and her friends as they navigated life in New York City before it was canceled after just one season.
Unfortunately, the "slight Friends knockoff" didn't land for television critics, earning a very low score of 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. One critic, Hal Boedeker from the Orlando Sentinel, said the show "looks cute until you get a load of the dialogue."