It seems that some television series can do no wrong. But every now and then there’s that one episode that manages to creep up on us and become the worst episode of the series. There’s a good chance that some of us may have tried to delete these episodes from our collective memories but, like it or not, they’re here to stay and we’re here to help you revisit.
1. The Big Bang Theory – “The Athenaeum Allocation” (Season 11 Episode 17)
The season 11 episode centers around Amy and Sheldon. The two have finally decided on a wedding date which, at only two months away, means that pressure is seriously mounting. Thankfully, the two have already decided on a wedding venue which, as it later turns out, is already booked. Sounds good? Well, unfortunately the execution didn’t exactly have everyone doubled over laughing.
Receiving just 5.8/10 on IMDb, the episode was described as predictable, and “void of all humor.” That being said, this series overall managed to retain high viewership and later became so beloved, that it served as inspiration to the scientific community. So much so that fans of the series who worked in scientific fields decided to name a species of jellyfish and bee after Sheldon’s infamous catchphrase, “Bazinga!”
2. The Walking Dead – “Swear” (Season 7 Episode 6)
“Swear,” otherwise known as the “Tara discovers a tribe of Amazonian women” episode, drew the lowest number of viewership that The Walking Dead had ever experienced. While the season premiere for season seven drew a crowd of 17 million viewers, by the time “Swear” was released those numbers had dropped almost in half. As if that didn’t seem bad enough, the reviews were worse.
Critic Paul Tassi described the episode as “absurd” and stated it as being emblematic of the many problems that had been plaguing season seven. Problems throughout the season were exacerbated in this episode, like how more groups were added to a show with already too many groups. That being said, the show still managed to pull a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes so it seems that the hordes of loyal fans were still somewhat entertained.
3. True Blood – “Fire in the Hole” (Season 7 Episode 3)
Vampire drama True Blood became an instant fan favorite after its premiere. By season three its viewership had more than tripled since it first aired and it was sporting a Rotten Tomatoes fresh score of 95%. By the time season seven released however, things seem to have gone backwards, and True Blood had descended to its lowest viewership since its initial release.
Episode three of season seven, in which Anna Paquin’s Sookie plots to take down the H-Vamps, managed to bring the viewership up slightly from the episode prior to it, but its ratings remained in the graveyard. The show received a mere 44% on Rotten Tomatoes, a very low ranking for the popular show. This isn’t the only episode that caught viewers by surprise though.
4. How I Met Your Mother – “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra” (Season 9 Episode 14)
How I Met Your Mother’s fourteenth episode of its ninth season was looking to be epic, as the recurring Slap Bet came to its most dramatic moment yet. In the episode, Marshall, in an attempt to deliver the last slap to Barney, shows how he mastered the Slap of A Million Exploding Suns. In spite of the buildup, the slap episode didn’t quite seem able to deliver that climactic blow.
Critics have commented that the episode was memorable, yet way too overblown, and it only received a 5.8/10 on IMDb. Making matters worse, a scene in which the actors used faux Asian accents, which seemed to parody Tarantino’s Kill Bill, generated controversy on Twitter with resulting in a trending hashtag #HowIMetYourRacism. Showrunners apologized, but the damage had already been done, and it went down in How I Met Your Mother history as its worst episode.
5. Cheers – “Diamond Sam” (Season 5 Episode 14)
During its eleven season tenure, Cheers became the most popular television show of its time. That’s not to say that the show didn’t encounter some occasional hiccups. In the episode titled “Diamond Sam,” Sam wants to propose to Diane with the ring she wanted. That is until he notices the $5,200 price tag. The ensuing story line was less than hilarious according to fans.
In the IMDb review ranked most useful, a fan talked about how off-putting Sam’s actions were throughout the episode. While the show revelled in jokes and light humor, the petty lying was too much for some fans to handle, apparently. The episode garnered a 7.7 on IMDb which relatively isn’t bad, but compared to other episodes of the popular show, it’s considered the worst of the worst.
6. The Sopranos – “Christopher” (Season 4 Episode 3)
In spite of being considered the worst episode of The Sopranos, “Christopher” still managed to pull of an 8/10 on IMDb. That speaks to the high quality and popularity of the series as a whole. Yet it might not be too difficult to imagine why this episode in particular was less than well received.
The episode takes place on Thanksgiving Day and involves the characters debating about a Native American protest, displaying controversial opinions. With usually acclaimed dialogue, the episode was described as “clumsy” by critics in The A.V. Club. As if family conversation at the Thanksgiving table wasn’t difficult enough!
7. Westworld – “Akane no Mai” (Season 2 Episode 5)
The real-life robotic game world, where rich people in the not-so-far future play cowboys and bandits, becomes “Shogun World” in this season 2 episode. While many fans and critics enjoyed seeing a new world on the series, many issues left fans a little less enthusiastic.
In a review from The A.V. Club, critics commented on how the episode indulged in many Western clichés on Japanese culture. According to reviewers, many of the Shogun world characters were copied and pasted from the main cast, and were deemed unoriginal. As it later turns out, however, this was done purposely, but some critics felt that this stemmed more from laziness rather than clever writing.
8. Handmaid’s Tale – “Unfit” (Season 3 Episode 8)
“Unfit” could also be called the “Aunt Lydia episode” where the details surrounding Aunt Lydia’s life before the fall of the United States and the rise of Gilead are revealed. This character has committed horrible misdeeds during her time on the show, and it seemed like it might be interesting to many to see how she became the woman she is. Sadly, the reveal turned out to be a bit of a dud for many.
According to a Vox review, the episode failed to generate sympathy for Aunt Lydia from the audience, and didn’t quite explain how her beliefs turned her into the abusive character that she became. The episode has become one of the worst-accepted episodes of an otherwise acclaimed series after it’s relatively low 7.7 IMDb rating.
9. Grey’s Anatomy – “How To Save A Life” (Season 11 Episode 21)
Spoiler alert coming up! Fans were apparently horrified when Dr. Derek Shepherd, known affectionately by his adoring fans as McDreamy, was killed after trying to rescue innocents from a horrible car accident. According to Screen Rant, Dr. Shepherd had been one of the most popular characters, not to mention one of the main characters for 11 seasons, and fans felt betrayed by his shocking death.
The show was given a 4.7/10 on IMDb following the good doctor’s death. Looking for a culprit, fans ended up by directing their anger towards screenwriter Shonda Rhimes, promising to boycott watching any additional episodes written by her. A true act of loyalty by fans, and yet it’s nothing compared to how viewers reacted to other horrible episodes.
10. NCIS – “Knockout” (Season 6 Episode 18)
This episode is very Detective Vance-centered, which was a bold choice for the showrunners since Detective Vance had been a considered bit of an annoyance throughout most of the series. At the end of season five, Vance had broken up the team. By season six he was a major thorn in everyone’s side and seemed to relish causing everyone problems.
This meant that the 18th episode of season 6 was a tough sell to fans. In this episode, Vance uses members of Gibbs’ team to solve the murder of someone who, only Vance believes, was once a Marine. Up until this point Vance hadn’t been liked very much, and many fans found it difficult to connect with the episode. This caused the episode to receive a 7.1/10 on IMDb, making it the worst episode of the series.
11. Orange is the New Black – “Who Knows Better Than I” (Season 6 Episode 1)
At the end of season four of Orange is the New Black, a riot had broken out in Litchfield prison. By season five, we come back to find that the girls had been separated and brought to Super Max, Litchfield’s Maximum Security Prison. There they have to choose between whether or not to stay loyal to each other, or to turn on the others for their own benefit.
That being said, fans and critics were less impressed with the execution of the season premiere. The highest rated comment on IMDb complained how the season, and especially the premiere, just didn’t live up to its potential. Critics in Vulture seemed to agree, giving the premiere a two out of five stars.
12. Friends – “The One With The Invitation” (Season 4 Episode 21)
This Friends episode consists of a series of flashbacks, resulting in Ross deciding to invite Rachel to his wedding despite his Fiancée, Emily’s, trepidation. In spite of the positive impact this episode was meant to have on the Ross-Rachel’s relationship, it received relatively bad ratings and became one of the least-liked episode of the series.
According to reviews, not only did the episode lack a constant narrative and consist of just clips showing the past relationship between the two characters, but small, out of place details were also noticed by fans. In a letter from Ross to Rachel, the handwriting changes between shots, and even Rachel’s last name is misspelled. That being said, the episode still managed to pull off a 7.2/10 on IMDb.
13. Breaking Bad – “The Fly” (Season 3 Episode 10)
One of the most polarizing episodes of the series, “The Fly” was praised by some critics for its imagery and acting, while others lambasted it for its lack of direction and slow pacing. In spite of its many passionate defenders, this episode from season three was given the distinction of being the worst episode in the series.
On IMDb, “The Fly” was given the worst rating of the series, which still managed to come in at a 7.8/10. The comment rated “most helpful” on IMDb had scathing remarks to give. Ending with, “If I wanted to convince someone that this show had flown up its own *ss and had nothing more to offer, this is the episode I’d show them.” Looks like all of Walter’s valiant fly-killing efforts were for nothing.
14. Stranger Things – “Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister” (season 2 Chapter 7)
During season two of the popular Netflix sci-fi horror drama, hints had been continuously dropped about a child other than Eleven that had been raised by the government and also had super powers. According to critics, this dramatic build-up resulted in a major let-down in an episode that had innumerable issues.
According to one review from Vulture, the episode failed in two ways. Viewers never end up caring about the new characters who are introduced, and the plot does nothing to progress the story. Fans apparently agreed with this assessment, and the episode was given a relatively low 6.1/10 on IMDb.
15. Brooklyn 99 – “Return of the King” (Season 6 Episode 15)
In this mid-season six episode Gina returns to the Nine-Nine and we get a rarely seen Holt-Boyle story which, according to an AV Club review, turns out to be hilarious. That being said, problems still plague this episode, and Gina’s return goes down with less pomp and pizzazz than the character might’ve hoped for.
A Rolling Stone review complained how Gina’s return came after a very short time (she’d only been gone half a season) and yet it appeared that there was a massive rift between Gina and the rest of the Nine-Nine. The story doesn’t manage to totally heal this disparity between everybody and everything is left feeling a little stale. Ultimately the episode only achieved a 6.6 on IMDb.
16. American Horror Story – “Valerie Solanas Died For Your Sins, Scumbag” (Season 7 Episode 7)
It hadn’t been apparent to anybody that American Horror Story’s season seven, Cult, was going to address the 2016 election. However, according to Looper magazine, the writers felt compelled to provide political commentary and an incredibly polarizing season ensued as a result.
That wasn’t the only problem with the season according to critics, who wrote about how numerous subplots and killer clowns made watching a little difficult. This particular episode was described by IGN as breaking from the main story with too many flashbacks, and not developing the characters in a believable way. The episode was the lowest rated of the season coming in with a 6.1 on IMDb.
17. Seinfeld – “Male Unbonding” (Season 1 Episode 4)
Like many early episodes to noteworthy series, there were usually a few kinks to work out as the writers and actors try to understand their characters personality and behavior. While the show did eventually figure itself out and become increasingly popular with each subsequent season, it didn’t always seem so guaranteed.
It may not be fair to declare this episode the worst episode of the series but, it did receive one of the lowest IMDb ratings at 7.5/10. A review from The A.V. Club complained that the characters weren’t developed enough, Kramer wasn’t integrated and Elaine appeared randomly for five minutes. Thankfully, it looks like Seinfeld got their bad episodes out of the way early.
18. Game of Thrones – “The Bells” (Season 8 Episode 5)
The series which received over 300 awards and broke several Guinness World Records, including “Most Pirated TV Program,” seemed like it could do no wrong. Sadly, it appears as though it didn’t quite manage to reach expectations as it neared the finale. In other words, to reference the one-star review from The Telegram, “the series has been ruined beyond repair.”
The set-up may have seemed promising to some. After eight seasons, Daenerys and her army finally arrive to King’s Landing ready to take the Iron Throne. It was the moment the show had been building up to for eight years. Yet it seemed to fall flat, receiving horrible reviews including a rotten 48% on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the worst ranked episode of the series. But this wasn’t the only time that fans walked away heartbroken.
19. The Office – “Get the Girl” (Season 8 Episode 19)
In season 8 of The Office, the show faced an uphill battle with the departure of Steve Carrell’s character, fan favorite Michael Scott. As a result, show writers chose to emphasize Ed Helms’ character, Andy, following Helms’ box-office success in The Hangover. The episode, “Get the Girl,” followed Andy as he drove to Florida to win back his true love, Erin. Turns out that it wasn’t able to tug on enough heartstrings.
The episode only scored a 6.7/10 on IMDb, a relatively low rating compared to the 8.8 average the show carries. Critic Matt Dougherty gave it the title of “worst episode of the show” for its lack of logic or emotion. Maybe this particular episode didn’t move fans to tears, but that didn’t stop the millions of Americans from watching this classic show.
20. Black Mirror – “Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too (Season 5 Episode 3)
Black Mirror is often compared to the classic science fiction show, The Twilight Zone, for its dealing with controversial, contemporary topics. While usually having high ratings, season five’s “Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too” fell to a low 50% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Junkee.com’s reviewers commented that the episode lacked the usually complicated discussion on morality the series is known for, and instead served as a feature Miley Cyrus episode. IMDb’s reviewers joked how they felt this episode was more of a “Black Mirror version of a Disney teen movie.” All jokes aside, this episode went down as the worst episode to date.
21. Modern Family – “All Things Being Equal” (Season 8 Episode 20)
According to Entertainment news website Screen Rant, all of the lowest rated and worst episodes of Modern Family occurred during the eighth, ninth, and tenth seasons. Of those episodes, “All Things Being Equal” takes the cake as being the worst of the worst.
On IMDb, the episode sank to a 5.9/10 rating. Critics lambasted how in one moment, it attempted to portray the virtues of the Women’s March, while in another it doubles back on itself, showing Gloria betrayed by one of the women in attendance. What was likely meant to be a funny tongue-in-cheek moment didn’t quite live up the expectations.
22. Spongebob SquarePants – “Keep Bikini Bottom Beautiful/A Pal for Gary” (Season 7 Episode 5)
Like many SpongeBob SquarePants episodes, this one is broken into two parts. In the first part, Squidward is caught littering red-handed and is subsequently forced to clean up the city of Bikini Bottom. In part two, Spongebob, fearing that his pet snail Gary is lonely, buys him a pet. This ends up backfiring in two ways as the new pet tries to destroy Gary, but ends up shocking fans instead.
Fans were horrified at the episode’s treatment of Gary. The most comment voted as “most helpful” on IMDb was written by a viewer who complained, “This episode is so sadistic to Gary, it makes you wonder if this episode was made by Satan!” Apparently showrunners underestimated their fans’ devotion to their favorite snail, and the episode received a 3.2/10 on IMDb.
23. Mad Men – “Ladies Room” (Season 1 Episode 2)
The second episode of the first season is a little “too neat and orderly,” according to critics from The A.V. Club. It essentially has the job of properly setting the stage by showing the misogyny, alcoholism, and racism that was rampant for the time period the show takes place in. While the episode was described as “fascinating,” frustrating was also an emotion felt by critics.
Many felt that the episode got a little too obsessed with trying to shove its thematic points in the viewers’ faces. Additionally, viewers wrote that January Jones’ character, Betty Draper didn’t seem to have a story that intersected with the main story at all. These frustrations made the episode less enjoyable to watch for fans, and it walked away with a 7.6 on IMDb.
24. Family Guy – “Life of Brian” (Season 12 Episode 6)
Season 12 episode, “Life of Brian” was about the Griffin family losing their talking and walking dog Brian, and replacing him with a new dog voiced by Sopranos actor, Tony Sirico. Losing a dog is hard enough for any family, but the Griffins had to deal with an almost unimaginable amount of grief after their dog passed away.
Apparently, viewers had become very attached to Brian over the years and were devastated after the writers took him off the show. Devastation turned in to action, and soon a petition appeared on Change.org demanding Brian’s return. The petition seemed pressure the studio and writers enough so that a few episodes later, Brian miraculously came back from the dead and rejoined the family.
25. The Simpsons – “Lisa Goes Gaga” (Season 23 Episode 22)
In this season 23 episode, Lisa Simpson’s desperate attempt to become more popular ends up backfiring on her, and Lady Gaga, voiced by the real Lady Gaga, appears in Springfield to help her work on her self esteem. Like most episodes of The Simpsons, it originally looked like it was going to be another knee slapper. Until something went horribly wrong.
Critics complained that, while The Simpsons are known for making fun of public figures, in this episode Lady Gaga was treated like “a saint.” After Lady Gaga’s numerous failed attempts to cheer Lisa up, Lisa eventually gets tired of the singer and literally shouts, “I denounce thee!” In spite of this, the episode ends with the two singing a musical number and everything being okay. This abrupt turn around didn’t manage to impress fans, and the show received a mere 4/10 on IMDb.
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