The 25 Worst TV Drams Of All Time


To complement our list of the top 25 worst sitcoms, TV Crunch has gathered up this bunch of the 25 worst television dramas. Do you agree? If you think there have been worse dramas that have graced TV, sound off in the comments.

25. Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (1993 – 1998)


Jane Seymour – Dr. Michaela ‘Mike’ Quinn
Joe Lando – Byron Sully
Shawn Toovey – Brian Cooper
Chad Allen – Matthew Cooper
Orson Bean – Loren Bray

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman followed Jane Seymour in the title role, as a doctor in the old west. Dr. Quinn gets support in the wild west from friend (and love interest) Byron Sully (Joe Lando) and midwife Charlotte Cooper (Diane Ladd). After the midwife is bitten by a rattle snake, she asks Dr. Quinn to look after her three children. After an outpouring from fans following Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman’s cancellation, two TV movies were made.

Why it’s on the list
We know that Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was a popular show, but it lost viewers over the years and was reportedly canceled when it failed to appeal to a younger demographic. The show ran for six seasons and grabbed tons of fans, but we can’t help think it ran out of steam pretty early on.

24. Blind Justice (2005)


Ron Eldard – Detective Jim Dunbar
Marisol Nichols – Detective Karen Bettancourt
Rena Sofer – Christie Dunbar
Reno Wilson – Detective Tom Selway
Frank Grillo – Detective Marty Russo
Michael Gaston – Lt. Gary Fisk
Saul Rubinek – Dr. Alan Galloway

Created by NYPD Blue’s Steven Bochco, Blind Justice starred Ron Eldard as a cop blinded in the line of duty. After winning a lawsuit, he was able to continue to work on the police force.

Why it’s on the list
A blind cop? Carrying a gun? Does this seem like a good idea to you? Despite Ron Eldard’s solid performance on Blind Justice, viewers weren’t too keen on a sightless man packing heat. Blind Justice was cancelled after 13 episodes.

23. Father Murphy (1981 – 1983)


Merlin Olsen – John Michael Murphy
Katherine Cannon – Mae Woodward
Timothy Gibbs – Will Adams
Moses Gunn – Moses Gage

Father Murphy was created by Little House on the Prairie’s Michael Landon and starred his Little House co-star (and former NFL player) Merlin Olsen. Olsen played 1870s frontiersman John Michael Murphy, a drifter who pairs up with prospector Moses Gage (played by Moses Gunn), pretending to be a priest to protect a group of orphans from being sent to the work house.

Why it’s on the list
This slice of family fare didn’t stretch beyond the second season once Father Murphy’s true identity was revealed and he married the school teacher. Michael Landon stopped writing and directing and the series failed without his attachment to the project. The formula of new kids in each episode (Hey, look! Shannen Doherty, Kelly Martin, Christina Applegate!) and a weekly villain grew stale quickly.

22. The OC (2003 – 2007)


Peter Gallagher – Sandy Cohen
Kelly Rowan – Kirsten Cohen
Benjamin McKenzie – Ryan Atwood
Adam Brody – Seth Cohen
Rachel Bilson – Summer Roberts
Melinda Clarke – Julie Cooper
Mischa Barton – Marissa Cooper

The old “boy from the wrong side of the tracks” story in teenage soap opera form – Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie) is taken in by richie-rich Sandy and Kirsten Cohen (Peter Gallagher and Kelly Rowan). The drama unfolds as this outsider and his surrogate brother Seth (Adam Brody) take on the personalities of high-class Orange County, California.

Why it’s on the list
The answer to Fox’s next Beverly Hills, 90210, The OC was at times overly dramatic – even by teen angst standards. Girl drama unfolds with characters like Summer Roberts and Marissa Cooper, played by Rachel Bilson and Mischa Barton – neither of whom could act their way out of a wet paper bag. Plenty of pretty faces to look at… but not much substance.

21. Six Degrees (2006 2007)


Jay Hernandez – Carlos Green
Bridget Moynahan – Whitney
Erika Christensen – Mae
Dorian Missick – Damian
Campbell Scott – Steven Caseman
Hope Davis – Laura

Six Degrees centered on the connection of six New York City residents’ lives – how their lives were intertwined, based on the theory that we are all living six degrees of separation.

Why it’s on the list
Didn’t you want to love this show? And weren’t you disappointed? Viewers trailed off, time slots were shuffled and the lackluster ratings led to Six Degrees’ cancellation – instead of airing the remaining episodes, ABC ran repeats of the George Lopez Show. That’s a burn, if we ever heard one.

20. One Tree Hill (2003 – present)


Bethany Joy Galeotti – Haley James Scott
Sophia Bush – Brooke Davis
Paul Johansson – Dan Scott
Hilarie Burton – Peyton Sawyer
Chad Michael Murray – Lucas Scott
James Lafferty – Nathan Scott

One Tree Hill is a teen drama that has lasted the test of time. To shake things up during season five, the One Tree Hill gang fast forwarded four and a half years past their high school graduation – things are vastly different for the characters, with Lucas coaching the Ravens, Nathan and Haley raising their son (and, oh yeah, Nathan was in an accident that nearly paralyzed him and crushed his basketball dreams). Brooke is wildly successful, while Peyton quits her crappy job and returns to Tree Hill.

Why it’s on the list
One Tree Hill is one TV drama that just will not go away. For some reason, people keep tuning in to the same old tired storylines. Moving the stories ahead four years into the future may just be the most desperate attempt to freshen the show up. Jump the shark much?

19. Touched by an Angel (1994 – 2003)


Roma Downey – Monica
Della Reese – Tess
John Dye – Andrew
Valerie Bertinelli – Gloria

Touched by an Angel chronicled a group of angels on various missions – sent by God to assist the human race in making big life decisions. The angels, played by Roma Downey, Della Reese and John Dye, delivered messages from God to provide guidance, deliver hope and restore faith. Valerie Bertinelli was introduced in season eight, playing inexperienced angel Gloria.

Why it’s on the list
There’s nothing wrong with good, clean, wholesome entertainment – as long as it entertains. Trying to drag out the tired angel plotlines week after week left many of the show’s original fans feeling tired themselves.

18. Highway to Heaven (1984 – 1989)


Michael Landon – Jonathan Smith
Victor French – Mark Gordon

On Highway to Heaven, Michael Landon starred as angel Jonathan Smith, sent back to Earth to help people (yep, the precursor of Touched by an Angel), along with his human companion, ex-policeman Mark Gordon (Victor French). The pair carried out their missions from “the Boss,” traveling the country to spread their love, hope and positive mojo.

Why it’s on the list
This show was heavy on the cheese factor, but the ever-popular Michael Landon rode his Little House on the Prairie likeability straight on to the Highway to Heaven. With a sassy sidekick in Victor French, Highway to Heaven was heavy on clichés and family drama.

17. Commander in Chief (2005 – 2006)


Geena Davis – President Mackenzie Allen
Harry J. Lennix – Jim Gardner
Kyle Secor – Rod Calloway
Ever Carradine – Kelly Ludlow
Caitlin Wachs – Rebecca Calloway
Donald Sutherland – Nathan Templeton

Commander in Chief answered the question “What happens when a woman becomes president?” Geena Davis starred as the first female President of the United States, taking on the role when the previous commander unexpectedly died of a cerebral aneurysm. Commander in Chief actually did pretty well in the ratings, despite a lot of criticism.

Why it’s on the list
When bad shows happen to heavy hitters – Geena Davis and Donald Sutherland have excellent acting resumes, so why did they take on this oftentimes unbelievable drama? A total waste of their talents. West Wing… it was not.

16. Fantasy Island (1978 – 1984)


Ricardo Montalban – Mr. Roarke
Hervé Villechaize – Tattoo

Fantasy Island was a magical location where people paid to have their fantasies fulfilled by island leader Mr. Roarke (played by Ricardo Montalban) and his petite sidekick Tattoo (Herve Villechaize). Think “The Love Boat” – only on land.

Why it’s on the list
Yep, we all know Tattoo’s catchphrase: “De plane! De plane!” – but what about the rest of the show? Anyone else totally creeped out by Mr. Roarke and Tattoo’s white suits? Mr. Roarke was truly magical, but boy did this show suck. And damn the producers – they fired Villechaize before the final season! Asses.

15. Summerland (2004 – 2005)


Lori Loughlin – Ava Gregory
Merrin Dungey – Susannah Rexford
Ryan Kwanten – Jay Robertson
Jesse McCartney – Bradin Westerly
Shawn Christian – Johnny Durant
Kay Panabaker – Nikki Westerly
Nick Benson – Derrick Westerly
Taylor Cole – Erika Spalding
Zac Efron – Cameron Bale
Jonathan Slavin – Colby Freed

When Bradin (Jesse McCartney), Nikki (Kay Panabaker) and Derrick’s (Nick Benson) parents are killed in a car accident, the Kansas kids go to live with their aunt Ava (Lori Loughlin) in California. Naturally, the kids turn Ava’s life upside down – she, a struggling clothes designer, who lives with her best friend, an ex-pro surfer and her ex-boyfriend. She’s trying to raise the kids as well as she can, despite Bradin running with the wrong crowd, Nikki trying to fit in and Derrick looking for a male role model.

Why it’s on the list
Another one of those “look at all the pretty people” dramas, rampant with clichés — where you’re supposed to ignore the fact that the plotlines and acting suck. This was one of our first glimpses of pretty boys Zac Efron and Jesse McCartney, so that counts for something.

14. Inconceivable (2005)


David Norona – Scott Garcia
Reynaldo Rosales – Angel Hernandez
Ming-Na – Rachel Lu
Mary Catherine Garrison – Marissa Jaffee
Angie Harmon – Dr. Nora Campbell
Joelle Carter – Patrice Locicero

This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it medical drama took a look into the lives of the staff and patients at the Family Options Fertility Clinic – including co-founders Rachel (Ming-Na) and Dr. Malcolm Bowers, along with their partner (played by Angie Harmon), the clinic’s attorney, nurse, office manager and medical technician.

Why it’s on the list
Over and out… Inconceivable only lasted for two episodes before getting canned. Turns out people weren’t interested in the drama surrounding infertility – and if they did tune in, they found Inconceivable to be an inaccurate look at the process.

13. The Bedford Diaries (2006)


Penn Badgley – Owen Gregory
Victoria Cartagena – Zoe Lopez
Corri English – Natalie Dykstra
Milo Ventimiglia – Richard Thorne III
Matthew Modine – Professor Jake Macklin
Darien Sills-Evans – Aaron Evans
Tiffany Dupont – Sara Gregory
Ernest Waddell – Lee Rasmussen

The Bedford Diaries looks at six very different students’ New York City college experiences. Each brought together by a common sexuality seminar, where they explore sex, love, passion and abstinence. Each student has to complete their weekly class assignment with video diaries.

Why it’s on the list
Just as well this dud didn’t pan out – Milo Ventimiglia went on to Heroes and Penn Badgely took on the fabulous Gossip Girl world. We’re better off having them in these new shows than keeping the drudgery of The Bedford Diaries going.

12. Head Cases (2005)


Chris O’Donnell – Jason Payne
Adam Goldberg – Russell Shultz
Krista Allen – Laurie Payne
Jake Cherry – Ryan Payne
Richard Kind – Lou Albertini
Rockmond Dunbar – Dr. Robinson
Rhea Seehorn – Nicole Walker

Head Cases starred Chris O’Donnell as attorney Jason Payne, who suffers a nervous breakdown and goes to a wellness center to recover. He’s paired with lawyer Russell Shultz (Adam Goldberg), a patient with problems all his own. And voila! The two nutjobs open their own law firm.

Why it’s on the list
Where to even begin with this piece of crap drama? Luckily, it was over before it even started – put out of its misery after two episodes due to horrible ratings. Head Cases had the prestigious honor of being the first cancellation of the 2005-2006 season. Way to go!

11. Skin (2003)


Ron Silver – Larry Goldman
Kevin Anderson – Tom Roam
Rachel Ticotin – Laura Roam
Pamela Gidley – Barbara Goldman
Olivia Wilde – Jewel Goldman
D.J. Cotrona – Adam Roam

Skin was a modern day Romeo and Juliet, with Adam (D.J. Cotrona) and Jewel (Olivia Wilde) playing the star-crossed lovers. The pair’s families are feuding – his dad is the LA District Attorney trying to take down her father (played by Ron Silver), who runs a porno company. Sexy.

Why it’s on the list
This was a story going nowhere fast – proven by its cancellation after just three episodes. Poor ratings and crappy reviews led to Skin’s demise. We hope you didn’t waste your time in hopes of actually seeing some skin.

10. LAX (2004 – 2005)


Heather Locklear – Harley Random
Blair Underwood – Roger De Souza
Paul Leyden – Tony Magulia
Frank John Hughes – Henry Engels

An inside look at the day-to-day goings on at the Los Angeles International Airport, LAX starred Heather Locklear as runway chief Harley Random and Blair Underwood as terminal boss Roger De Souza. Both characters (and their egos) were jockeying for the position of airport director.

Why it’s on the list
LAX deserves to be on this list of worst TV dramas because even Jay Leno commented it was “so bad that the actual Los Angeles Airport is thinking of changing its name to avoid being associated with the show.”

9. Big Shots (2007 – 2008)


Michael Vartan – James Walker
Christopher Titus – Brody Johns
Joshua Malina – Karl Mixworthy
Paige Turco – Lisbeth
Nia Long – Katie Graham
Dylan McDermott – Duncan Collinsworth

Big Shots looked at four male friends, their careers and relationships – and their friendship with one another. The self-centered guys and their male bonding, however, didn’t relate well to audiences.

Why it’s on the list
With eye candy Dylan McDermott and Michael Vartan, Big Shots had such huge potential – but the show fell short. Way short. The biggest gripe from critics and viewers was that Big Shots tried too hard to be Entourage or the male version of Sex and the City. It didn’t live up to either of those shows.

8. Beauty and the Beast (1987 – 1990)


Ron Perlman – Vincent
Linda Hamilton – Asst. Dist. Atty. Catherine Chandler

Beauty and the Beast featured Linda Hamilton as New York assistant district attorney Catherine and Ron Perlman as the beast, Vincent. The series chronicled their forbidden romance, as Catherine lived in the city and Vincent dwelled in the underground tunnels. Catherine was later killed off (she had Vincent’s baby first, however) and Jo Anderson took on the female lead as a private investigator.

Why it’s on the list
This laughable modern day take on the classic fairy tale had us rolling on the ground laughing. The makeup job on Vincent is ridiculous – really, Ron Perlman without makeup is beastly enough. And they couldn’t find a better beauty than Linda Hamilton? We like romance and all, but this beauty/beast matchup was a stretch.

7. Manimal (1983)


Simon MacCorkindale – Jonathan Chase
Melody Anderson – Brooke Mackenzie
Michael D. Roberts – Tyrone “Ty” C. Earl
Reni Santoni – Lt. Nick Rivera
William Conrad – Narrator (Opening scene)

Manimal featured a man who could shape-shift into any animal to suit the crime fighting situation. The following was narrated at the beginning of each episode: “Dr. Jonathan Chase… wealthy, young, handsome. A man with the brightest of futures. A man with the darkest of pasts. From Africa’s deepest recesses, to the rarified peaks of Tibet, heir to his father’s legacy and the world’s darkest mysteries. Jonathan Chase, master of the secrets that divide man from animal, animal from man… Manimal!”

Why it’s on the list
Crappy special effects aside, Dr. Chase seemed limited by the animals he could transform into – how many times during the series’ eight episodes did he either become a hawk or a black panther? (Alright, to his credit, he did also turn into a bull, snake, dolphin and horse) Manimal fans can rest assured that the show did at least become popular in South Asia and Peru.

6. Silk Stalkings (1991 – 1999)


Mitzi Kapture – Police Sgt. Rita Lee Lance
Rob Estes – Sgt. Chris Lorenzo
Charlie Brill – Capt. Harry Lipschitz

Silk Stalkings was a USA Network crime drama that offered plenty of sultry plotlines in steamy Palm Beach, Florida. The original detectives were portrayed by Mitzi Kapture as Rita Lee Lance and Rob Estes as Chris Lorenzo.

Why it’s on the list
This was at once cheesy 90s goodness and crappy drama, with lame sexual tension between main players Rob Estes and Mitzi Kapture that eventually led to her pregnancy and the detectives’ marriage. New, younger partners were introduced on Silk Stalkings during the fifth season — when Rob Estes’ character was killed off and Mitzi Kapture left the series – and later, another two detectives replaced the original replacements. Yeah, we’re confused too.

5. Pacific Blue (1996 – 2000)


Jim Davidson – T.C. Callaway
Paula Trickey – Cory McNamara
Darlene Vogel – Chris Kelly
Marcos A. Ferraez – Victor Del Toro
Rick Rossovich – Lt. Anthony Palermo
Mario López -Police Officer Bobby Cruz
Jeff Stearns – Off. Russ Granger
Shanna Moakler – Off. Monica Harper
Amy Hunter – Jamie Strickland

Pacific Blue looked at the drama of police officers patrolling Santa Monica, California beaches – on their bicycles. Cast changes during the third and fourth seasons brought on hot new cops Shanna Moakler and Mario Lopez.

Why it’s on the list
Cops on bicycles? Let the drama unfold! Often called “Baywatch on Bikes,” the only thing Pacific Blue had going for it was a hot young cast. With Mario Lopez and Shanna Moakler, Pacific Blue attempted to add younger actors as a last-ditch effort at keeping viewers tuned in, but the shitty acting and lame storylines eventually spun this show off the schedule.

4. Baywatch Nights (1995 – 1997)


David Hasselhoff – Mitch Buchannon
Angie Harmon – Ryan McBride
Lou Rawls – Lou Raymond
Eddie Cibrian – Griff Walker
Donna D’Errico – Donna Marco
Dorian Gregory – Diamont Teague

Baywatch Nights was a spin-off of the popular series Baywatch, starring David Hasselhoff. For those who couldn’t get enough of David Hasselhoff on the beach, Baywatch nights showed a different side of his character, Mitch Buchannon. The spin-off featured Mitch moonlighting as a private detective.

Why it’s on the list
Baywatch – only with crime solving and no sexy bathing suits? No wonder Baywatch Nights only made it through two seasons. In an attempt to keep viewers tuned in, Baywatch Nights took on a decidedly X-Files feel during the second season… but one cared.

3. Viva Laughlin (2007)


Lloyd Owen – Ripley Holden
Mädchen Amick – Natalie Holden
Ellen Woglom – Cheyenne Holden
Carter Jenkins – Jack Holden
Eric Winter – Peter Carlyle
D.B. Woodside – Marcus Henckman
Hugh Jackman – Nicky Fontana
Melanie Griffith – Bunny Baxter
P. J. Byrne – Jonesy

This musical-drama was adapted for American television from the British show Viva Blackpool. CBS canceled Viva Laughlin after just two episodes – the short-lived series’ formula of murder, music, mystery and casinos didn’t fly with audiences.

Why it’s on the list
The proof for this one is in the cancelled pudding – not only did it suck, it was canned right out of the gate. Viewer interest was at an all-time low, and pushing big names like Hugh Jackman and Melanie Griffith did nothing to keep Viva Laughlin on the schedule.

2. 7th Heaven (1996 – 2006 The WB; 2006 – 2007 The CW)


Beverley Mitchell – Lucy Camden
Stephen Collins – Rev. Eric Camden
Catherine Hicks – Annie Camden
Mackenzie Rosman – Ruthie Camden
David Gallagher – Simon Camden
Barry Watson – Matt Camden
Jessica Biel – Mary Camden
Lorenzo Brino – Sam Camden
Nikolas Brino – David Camden

7th Heaven followed the lives of the Camden family – patriarch Reverend Eric Camden (Stephen Collins), his wife Annie (Catherine Hicks) and their seven children: Matt (Barry Watson), Mary (Jessica Biel), Lucy (Beverley Mitchell), Simon (David Gallagher), Ruthie (Mackenzie Rosman) and twins David (Lorenzo Brino) and Sam (Nikolas Brino). Poised for its series finale in May 2006, the CW renewed 7th Heaven to carry on for an 11th and final season.

Why it’s on the list
7th Heaven wins our “stick a fork in it… it’s done” award (if we actually had such an award). The show labored on well beyond its years, becoming the longest running series ever aired on The WB and the longest running family drama in history. After 11 years, we got tired of the stale old morals, corny dialog and life lessons – this show was one long-running “very special episode.”

1. Cop Rock (1990)


Teri Austin – Trish Vaughn
Anne Bobby – Off. Vicki Quinn
Barbara Bosson – Mayor Louise Plank
Ronny Cox – Chief Roger Kendrick

Vondie Curtis-Hall – Det. Warren Osborne
David Gianopoulos – Off. Andy Campo
Larry Joshua – Capt. John Hollander

Steven Bochco, creator of the successful Hill Street Blues, attempted to combine a police drama and a musical. A concept ahead of its time… or just stupid television? No matter if you loved the idea or hated it, critics slammed it and it was canned after 11 episodes.

Why it’s on the list
Cop Rock’s format had never been tried before – and had critics and viewers divided. Cops and robbers breaking into song? Junkies rapping? A police captain rockin’ out with a hidden podium organ, urging his staff “Let’s be Careful Out There”… it was little surprise Cop Rock struck out in the ratings.

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