There are two types of shows that last for a single episode — the ones that are immediately canned, and those that never get picked up in the first place.

The former category should be easy to explain — if a show gets extremely negative reviews, poor ratings, or contains controversial content without enough redeeming value to be worth dealing with the media watchdogs, it's likely it'll die a quick death without anyone's a wonder anyone thought the idea would work in the first place.

However, the second is intriguing — television pilots that never got sold. Now, certainly, many of them are poor to middling in quality, and this is to be expected. Still, there are those that slip through the cracks with an awesome premise, superb casting, and overall excellent execution to the point where you're wondering why it didn't get picked up. They're ScrewedByTheNetwork before they even get a chance to shine.

Until the internet, occasional anthology series would be the only place for these quirky bits of production history to be showcased.

See also BackdoorPilot and AudienceAlienatingPremise; compare to StillbornSerial. Not to be confused with OneSceneWonder. For characters who appear in only one episode of a series, see OneShotCharacter. TheOtherWiki has a pair of articles on the subject ([[ one]] covering shows cancelled after one episode, and [[ another]] covering shows canceled before even having one airing).

!!Examples (more-or-less in alphabetical order):


[[folder:Real Life One Episode Wonders]]
* ''17th Precinct'' was a show pitched to NBC by Ron Moore (featuring both Jamie Bamber and Tricia Helfer, who had both starred in Moore's ''Batttlestar Galactica'' reboot) following a police department in a world where magic took the place of technology. A pilot was produced but not picked up, though it was leaked onto Vimeo for a brief while in December 2011. Bamber left his role on ''Law & Order UK'' to work on this pilot. Whoops.
* In early 2010, ''Series/OneThousandWaysToDie'' aired a spinoff named ''1000 Ways To Lie'', based around common scams. Spike TV actually had 13 episodes filmed but chose not to air them after the pilot was so poorly received.
* ''Series/TheAdventuresOfSuperpup'': At the end of the fifth season of ''TheAdventuresOfSuperman'', star George Reeves was found dead. The producers of the show handled the situation in the classiest way possible... by filming an AfterShow pilot on the same sets with little people wearing giant dog masks, using character names such as "Bark Bent" and "Puppy Bite".
* ''Alexander The Great'', a TV show about the legendary Greek warlord starring William Shatner and Adam West. The pilot was so bad that the network didn't put it on the air until several years ''after'' filming it, and then only because they were hoping to cash in on the fame the leads had gathered from their recently cancelled shows, ''Series/{{Star Trek|The Original Series}}'' and ''Series/{{Batman}}''. It didn't work.
* ''Comicbook/TheAmazingScrewOnHead'': 2006 animated pilot based on a one-off comic by Mike Mignola, creator of ''ComicBook/{{Hellboy}}''. Featured Paul Giamatti as a SteamPunk cyborg who fights paranormal forces at the behest of the Lincoln administration, with David Hyde-Pierce as his arch nemesis, Emperor Zombie. The Sci-Fi Channel actually had an online poll to gauge interest, but despite being very well-received it somehow never made it, possibly due to low numbers (ignoring how hard it is to promote a one-off pilot or attract word-of-mouth).
* ''Anchorwoman'': A reality show in which Lauren Jones, best known for her role as a WWE diva, gets a role on a local TV news station, acts like an airhead, and competes with an equally pretentious [[TheRival rival]]. HilarityEnsues.
* ''Angora Napkin'': An animated pilot about a CloudCuckoolander girl band, made in 2009 for Teletoon's late night program "Teletoon at Night". It was Canadian comic artist Troy Little's attempt to turn his comic into an adult-oriented WidgetSeries. When it failed, Little continued to make Angora Napkin as a WebComic and a series of graphic novels.
* ''Aquaman'': 2006 superhero show from ''{{Smallville}}'' creators Al Gouch and Miles Millar, though not intended as a spin-off. Was called ''Mercy Reef'' in the development phase. The pilot is available for purchase on iTunes.
* ''Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos'': 1992 Australian comedy series featuring videos of sexual situations and other explicit content (aka ''Animals Having Sex''). Canceled a third of the way through its broadcast by Kerry Packer, executive of the broadcasting Nine Network, phoning the studio operators to order them to "Get that shit off the air!", and replaced with a ''{{Cheers}}'' re-run.
* ''Babylon Fields'': 2007 zombie drama. Rather than being portrayed as malevolent monsters, however, the recently deceased return to their homes and attempt to pick up their lives.
** However, with the word of mouth on shows like ''[[Series/LesRevenants The Returned]]'', NBC is going back for a second bite at the apple, ordering another pilot in 2014. Only time will tell if it manages to stick this time.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Battletoads}}'', an animated pilot based on the video game which aired in 1993.
* ''Series/BeingHuman'' began life as one of a series of pilots aired on Creator/{{BBC}}3 in 2008, with the intention that the best-received one would be turned into a full series. Therefore, all the others were One-Episode Wonders:
** ''Phoo Action'', a comic book adaptation about a [[TheyFightCrime superhero duo]] fighting mutant terrorists. It was actually chosen as the one to be made into a series, but cancelled before shooting began (and replaced with ''Being Human'') when the BBC decided that scripts weren't good enough.
** ''The Things I Haven't Told You'', a mystery drama.
** ''Mrs In-Betweeny'', a comedy about orphaned children taken in by their transgender aunt.
** ''West 10 LDN'' and ''Dis[=/=]Connected'', teen dramas.
* ''BiffoVision'', the sketch show by ex-{{Digitiser}} man Paul Rose, was [[ScrewedByTheNetwork shunted to "youth" channel BBC Three, as it took on the form of a decidedly twisted kids' show...who chose not to pick up the programme as it appealed to too old a market]].
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Bubsy}}'', which nobody would've ever seen if not for the fact that it was packaged with the Windows version of one of the Bubsy games. RobPaulsen leaves it off his résumé nowadays...
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer: [[ The Animated Series]]''. It never even made it to the full pilot stage, but the link is to the 4-minute promo on Website/YouTube. It features almost the entire original cast (except Sarah Michelle Gellar; they got Buffy's voice from the video game instead).
* The ''{{Clerks}}'' [[RecycledTheSeries live-action pilot]] from 1995 with Jim Breuer.
* ''Co-Ed Fever'': 1979 CBS sitcom set at an all-female college that had just started to admit male students made on the heels of ''AnimalHouse'''s success.
* ''ConstantPayne'': 2001 animated pilot for Nickelodeon. Similar in concept to ''JonnyQuest'', it followed the Payne family, consisting of an adventurous super-inventor and his daughter. There are several reasons why it didn't get aired, most notably the unfortunate timing of the September 11th terrorist attacks (combined with a scene in the pilot where a blimp nearly crashes into a twin-towered building), it being possibly too violent for Nickelodeon, and creator Micah Wright's attempts to unionize animators making him unpopular in the Nickelodeon office.
* ''Charlie Brooker's Gameswipe'', a 2009 show about video games hosted by CharlieBrooker.
* ''Dear Diary'': Dreamworks production that eventually went on to win the 1996 Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film.
* British "Nothing but [[HomeParticipationSweepstakes Phone-in]] [[GameShow Game Shows]]" channel ITV Play had a very awkward one in 2007 with "The Debbie King Show"; hosted by Debbie King of ''Quizmania'' fame, which was part call-in news/talk show, part call-in quiz show. However, in response to a major scandal and investigation surrounding premium rate quiz shows, ITV had announced earlier on premiere day that ITV Play would be discontinued that same day. Somehow, [[TheyJustDidntCare they still went on with the show]].
* ''VideoGame/DefendersOfDynatronCity'' was a tie-in to an NES game and a comic book series in an effort to make a new superhero franchise. Despite the ambition, the show went nowhere beyond the pilot, the comic only lasted six issues, and the NES game tanked commercially and critically.
* ''Dragon's Heaven'' was one single OVA based on an old, highly obscure manga, but with some of the coolest mechs ever and an [[SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic awesome]] [[ soundtrack]], it's a crying shame that nothing more ever came of it.
* ''Emily's Reasons Why Not'': A comedy starring Heather Graham, based on a novel of the same name. It was intended to be the anchor of ABC's post-football-season Monday night lineup in 2006, and failed miserably, getting cancelled after its only airing in January despite heavy promotion during the fall of 2005. It was said ABC bought the series without seeing a script. It was cancelled so quickly that magazines that came out the next week were stuck running feature stories promoting a show that was no longer on the air because their press deadlines came before the airing of the one episode.
* ''Series/{{Fearless}}'' was officially placed on the 2003 Fall schedule by TheWB, but later delayed to midseason (''OneTreeHill'' appeared in its place) and then canceled without ever being broadcast. If you're curious, the pilot can be seen [[ on YouTube]] in its entirety.
* ''Ford Nation'': Against the backdrop of Toronto mayor Rob Ford's crack cocaine scandal, conservative cable news network Sun News gave him and his brother Doug an hour-long current events show to replace their recently cancelled radio show. While its premiere got high ratings, it took five hours to record and ''eight'' to edit, due to Ford's inexperience with TV - and it was supposed to be a daily show. At which point, Sun decided to cut their losses, as it would be too expensive to get the episodes turned around.
* In 2000, PAX aired a "sneak preview" of a Bible-based quiz show called ''Genesis'', hosted by Jim [=McKrell=], which never got picked up. More info, and a link to the entire episode, can be found [[ here]].
* ''ComicBook/GlobalFrequency'': A 2005 Mark Burnett adaptation of the Creator/WarrenEllis comic book series, starring Michelle Forbes of ''Franchise/StarTrek'' fame and scripted by Creator/JohnRogers (''Series/{{Leverage}}'', ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures''). According to Ellis, when the pilot was leaked onto BitTorrent networks (to tremendous acclaim), the WB simply axed the project altogether.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheGroovenians'': A 2002 half-hour CGI television special by Kenny Scharf that was nominated for an Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject.
* ''Head of the Family'': a pilot that featured Carl Reiner as the Head Comedy Writer for [[ShowWithinAShow "The Alan Sturdy Show"]], and showed both his home and work life. The pilot was rejected by CBS and burned off as a one time "comedy special". Producer Sheldon Leonard saw it, completely recast it, changed 'Alan Sturdy' to 'Alan Brady', and created a five year hit known as ''Series/TheDickVanDykeShow''.
* ''Series/HeatVisionAndJack'': 1999 comedy/sci-fi show starring Creator/JackBlack as Jack Austin, a former astronaut exposed to inappropriate levels of solar radiation, granting him super-intelligence whenever the sun is out. Since NASA wishes to take out his brain, he's on the run with his friend Heat Vision, a friend who has been hit by a laser beam and turned into a talking motorcycle (Voiced by Owen Wilson). They travel the countryside chased by NASA mercenary Ron Silver (as himself), blocked at every adventure! Directed by Creator/BenStiller.
** Created by Creator/DanHarmon who gave the leads (Black and Wilson) a guest appearance on a [[Series/{{Community}} show of his]] that did get picked up.
* ''Series/HeilHoneyImHome'': A 1990 British comedy starring caricatures of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun who live in matrimonial bliss until they become neighbors to a Jewish couple... Let's just say it's no ''HogansHeroes''.
* ''Series/K9AndCompany'': ''Series/DoctorWho'' spinoff. Aired as a Christmas special in 1981 and starred former ''Doctor Who'' regular Creator/ElisabethSladen as Sarah Jane Smith, the pilot featured a silly plot involving a local coven. It probably would've gone to series at the time, but then-recently appointed BBC One controller Alan Hart opposed the concept. 26 years later, Sarah Jane returned in her own spinoff series, ''Series/TheSarahJaneAdventures'', which fared '''much''' better.
* ''KorgothOfBarbaria'': 2006 animated pilot for a ridiculously over-the-top parody of ''ConanTheBarbarian'' and other such barbarian fantasy novels/movies, created by Aaron Springer. Originally said to have been picked up by the Creator/AdultSwim lineup in 2007, but later said to be canceled with nary an episode other than the pilot.
* ''[[ Me and Lee?]]'' was a pilot for a proposed 2007 show featuring Jamie Kennedy as a man who gets his injured back fixed up by none other than [[TheSixMillionDollarMan Lee Majors]] who has researched bionics since he was in TheSixMillionDollarMan and, apparently, also become somewhat creepy if not evil. Looking at the linked portion, one can probably see why it never actually saw the light of day.
* ''Lawless'': 1997 FOX action series starring NFL star Brian Bosworth as a private detective.
* ''Lizzie and Sarah'', a BBC comedy pilot aired in 2010. It was expected to be part of a series that would become a hit BlackComedy in the vein of ''Series/NightyNight'' (a vehicle for Julia Davis, who wrote and starred in ''Lizzie and Sarah'') but was aired in a poor time slot and then not picked up for a full series, despite fans petitioning for it.
* ''ComicBook/LockeAndKey'' had a pilot filmed in 2011 for Fox, but it wasn't picked up to series.
* ''Series/{{Lookwell}}'': 1991 detective comedy series written and produced by Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel. Stars Adam West as a washed-up TV action star who, after being legally deputized at the peak of his career, decides to [[TheyFightCrime fight crime]], which he does ineptly. The two writers were reportedly happy they didn't get picked up, feeling they had exhausted all good material on the pilot and no idea what to do for further stories.
* ''The Long Hunt of April Savage'', which was about a homesteader whose wife, daughter and son are killed by a band of renegades in 1871. Savage has vowed to track down the eight men responsible, one of whom is his own brother, even though he knows they have fled to the ends of the Earth.
** The pilot was produced by Gene Roddenberry while he and Desilu Studios were waiting for NBC to decide the fate of their other series: a little thing called ''Star Trek''. However, Roddenberry hadn't created it - his friend [[Series/TheManFromUNCLE Sam Rolfe]] had thought it up, but he was unavailable to produce it. Rolfe blamed Roddenberry's lack of interest in the pilot (Roddenberry wouldn't have been involved had it gone to series) for its failure to sell.
* ''Series/LostInOz'': 2002 series sequel to ''Film/TheWizardOfOz'', written by David Hayter, screenwriter of the first two ''Film/{{X-Men}}'' films and voice actor of [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid Solid Snake]].
* ''The Melting Pot'': 1975 BBC production. Two stereotyped illegal-immigrants from Pakistan arrive in England via Amsterdam and move into lodgings run by an stereotyped Irishman. HilarityEnsues.
* Jennifer Saunders re-assembled the main cast of ''Series/AbsolutelyFabulous'' to play different characters in ''Mirrorball''. The classic slapstick and the satire were all there, but Saunders traded in her RichBitch UnsympatheticComedyProtagonist and her RichInDollarsPoorInSense friends, for a GiftedlyBad [[TheWoobie down-on-her-luck]] actress and her more sympathetic band of {{Starving Artist}}s. Displeased with the final product, Saunders elected to recycle the central plotline - her character facing menopause - into a fourth series of Absolutely Fabulous.
* ''MockingbirdLane'' is a single-episode ContinuityReboot of ''TheMunsters''. The episode was shown as a Hallowe'en special rather than as the pilot of the intended weekly series. Writer/producer Bryan Fuller later cast his Grandpa Munster - comedian Creator/EddieIzzard - as an addled serial killer on ''Series/{{Hannibal}}''.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheModifyers''. The pilot can be found [[ here.]]
* ''MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups'': Originally intended to be a series bringing artists together for collaborations, the first mash-up, between Music/JayZ and Music/LinkinPark, was a huge success, yet MTV never created another one. Ludacris and Sum 41 were rumored to be the next collab at one point.
* Series/TheNakedBrothersBand animated special ''Supetastic 6''.
* ''Film/MulhollandDrive'' started as a pilot for ABC. When it didn't get picked up, creator Creator/DavidLynch added a massive MindScrew ending and it was released to theaters as a movie.
* ''Out Of The Trees'', a 1975 stream-of-conciousness sketch show written by [[Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus Graham Chapman]] and DouglasAdams. One episode was made, and was put out on Creator/{{BBC}}2, with no publicity, opposite ''MatchOfTheDay'' on [=BBC1=]. It included "The Private Life of Genghis Khan", which eventually got rewritten as a short story for ''The Utterly Merry UsefulNotes/ComicRelief Book'', and reached a wider audience in ''Literature/TheSalmonOfDoubt'', and a sketch about a kamikaze pilot who had flown on dozens of missions, which was [[LeftTheBackgroundMusicOn interrupted while the narrator tried to get some Japanese background music]].
* Pauly Shore has a habit of pumping these sort of shows out. His first series, simply titled ''[[TheDanza Pauly]]'', was actually canceled halfway through the airing with only five episodes produced, with the footage replaced by an apology from the network.
* ''Pryde of the Franchise/{{X-Men}}'': Surreal 1989 Kitty Pryde-based animated X-Men adaptation, which laid the ground work for the later series, after a much needed retool. Stan Lee's hyperactive narration takes it to the next level. The inclusion of Dazzler in the main cast and the fact that the historically Canadian [[WolverinePublicity Wolverine]] has an Australian accent probably didn't help either.
** Wolverine with an Australian accent? [[HughJackman What's that got to do with the price of fish?]]
** Nowadays, most fans would recognize the show's character designs as those used in Konami's ''X-Men'' arcade game.
* ''Rewind'' starred ScottBaio as someone in his 40s having flashbacks to his college days, and was on Fox's announced schedule at one point, but after Fox saw the pilot, the show was pulled before airing (and ''Series/LivingSingle'' pulled out of an announced hiatus to fill the time slot).
* The American version of ''Series/RedDwarf'' didn't survive past a single pilot episode that never made it to air. Notable for casting TerryFarrell (of ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' fame) as a female version of Cat, a pre-{{Frasier}} JaneLeeves as the computer Holly and RobertLlewellyn reprising his role of Kryten from the original British series. Because of ExecutiveMeddling late in the production, multiple actor recastings and other problems, British series footage had to be used to fill in the holes in the episode. A brand-new higher-quality Kryten suit was made for the pilot which Llewellyn was allowed to keep and re-use in further British seasons following the American cancellation.
** There were actually two "Red Dwarf USA" pilots. The first was a full pilot, with Hinton Battle as Cat; the second was more of a five-minute promo reel which mixed scenes from the UK version, the first USA pilot, and some new material (the only appearance of TerryFarrell as Cat is one of these).
* ''Rex Is Not Your Lawyer'' was a pilot from NBC featuring Creator/DavidTennant in the lead role. The show had tremendous buzz as it was Tennant's first series after recently leaving ''Series/DoctorWho''. Despite being co-written by British novelist David Lampson, and a cast including comedy vets such as ''Series/SaturdayNightLive''[='=]s Jane Curtin and ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment''[='=]s Jeffrey Tambor, the pilot never made it to series.
* ''The Robinsons'': A 2003 ''Lost In Space'' remake pilot commissioned by the WB Television Network. The pilot was directed by John Woo (of ''Hard-Boiled'' and ''Face-Off'' fame), and featured multiple changes from the original, such as: the Jupiter 2 being a landing pod instead of a full-fledged ship, one of the Robinsons' sons dying in an attack by aliens, and much younger actors playing Judy and Don Robinson. The show was never picked up, but the sets of the Jupiter 2 were bought for use on the re-imagined ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'', as the Battlestar Pegasus' command center.
* ''Ronna and Beverly'': 2009 Showtime sitcom based on a live sketch comedy show about two middle aged Jewish women who write a bestselling self-help book. The pilot was written by Jenji Kohan, whom you might know better as the creator of ''{{Weeds}}''. When the pilot wasn't picked up, fans of the duo petitioned Showtime to air it, which they did in the dead of a cold December night.
** This isn't the only Jenji Kohan series to have never gone past the pilot stage. One year later, Epix decided to pass on picking up her pilot ''Tough Trade'' due to budget and the company not liking the pilot. It has yet to be leaked.
* ''Rosie Live'': O'Donnell's 2008 attempt to revive the VarietyShow format.
* ''Secret Talents of the Stars'': Hosted by John O'Hurley, it had George Takei singing country. You just can't say anything more than that.
** Except for the not-so-secret talent Mya went with.
* ''Shangra-La Plaza'': Sure, everyone remembers ''CopRock'' and a few may even remember ''Hull High'' but there was a third [[XMeetsY Random Genre Meets Musical Production]] created for the 1990-91 season. This unsold pilot, which aired as an episode of the ''CBS Summer Playhouse'', featured employees, customers and family members singing about their lives and times at an outside strip mall with stores like a donut shop. Starring Broadway's Terrance Mann as a grease monkey in the mall's garage.
* ''Sorority'': MTV pilot about sorority life. Notable here because it featured the television debuts of [[MadMen January Jones and Christina Hendricks.]]
* [=McG=]'s American version of ''{{Spaced}}'' had a pilot filmed, but it never got picked up.
* ''Steel Justice'' was a bizarre sci-fi action series about a cop in a dystopian future who fights evil with the help of a toy belonging to his dead son, which he turns into monster truck show icon Robosaurus. Only a 90-minute pilot movie made it to air.
* ''Sucker Free City'', a 2004 PilotMovie by Creator/SpikeLee aired on {{Showtime}}.
* ''[[ Superboy 1961]]'': A planned prequel series (or possible reboot) to the George Reeves series, ''The Adventures of Superman'', the pilot followed a young Clark Kent as he attempts to thwart a gang of jewel thieves.
* ''Surviving Urban Disasters'': Documentary show starring Les Stroud of {{Survivorman}} fame, showing techniques for how to stay safe during disasters and interviews with survivors.
* ''Tag Team'': Jessie Ventura and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper play wrestlers drummed out of the business for refusing to take a dive. They then go on to become police officers. TheyFightCrime.
* ''Film/TheThreeStooges'' were going to have a television show in 1949 but it never made it past the pilot (due to Columbia Pictures finding out about it and pulling the plug on it due to the "anti-television" clause in their contracts), and has since fallen into the PublicDomain.
* ''Turn-On'': A 1969 [[FollowTheLeader ripoff]] of ''Series/RowanAndMartinsLaughIn'' slated to be a more sexually-charged, political version of ''Laugh-In'', set to synthesizer music and set up as a computer showing bizarre scenes and set pieces to an unsuspecting audience. It was considered of ''the'' most notorious flops in Creator/{{ABC}}'s history. The Denver and Cleveland affiliates failed to return to the show after the first commercial break, replacing it with a documentary on gun safety, while other affiliates either banned the episode from airing, or aired the entire episode and never reran it.
* ''The TV Wheel'': Another experimental sketch-comedy show, this time, created by and starring ''MST3K''[='s=] Joel Hodgson. Heavy on the "experimental", but worth a look. It was originally developed for HBO and known as "The X-Box"... [[{{Xbox}} No relation]] to the video game console.
* ''{{Virtuality}}'', which aired on FOX. Written by ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'''s Ron Moore, was originally intended as a pilot, but was canned preemptively, and the aborted series' pilot aired as a TV movie. The lead of the show, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, got a plum role [[Series/GameOfThrones a couple of years later]].
* ''Welcome to Eltingville'', an animated adaptation of Evan Dorkin's comic book ''Dork!'' about a group of fanboys on Staten Island. Creator/AdultSwim occasionally re-airs the pilot along with other Wonders. Presumably to taunt us (as if the actual episode didn't do it).
* ''Which Way to the War?'', an ITV sitcom (with all that implies) pilot clearly intended for a full series which was broadcast in the 1990s. It featured a range of stereotypical WWII soldiers of various nationalities (the trailer showed a camp Scotsman saying "I'm not Scotch. I'm Scottish", this apparently being the joke they hoped would reel in interested viewers) along with 1970s-style writing and production values. Never heard from again.
* ''Who's Your Daddy'': 2005 {{FOX}} reality show involving an adopted woman attempting to pick her real father from a group of impostors. The Raleigh affiliate, WRAZ, pre-empted the show due to the owners considering the show "anti-family". Technically aired as a "special", but was so quite clearly a pilot that it's worth mentioning.
* ''The Will'': 2005 CBS reality show. It centered on the "Benefactor", a multi-millionaire from Arizona named Bill Long. Ten of his friends and relatives competed in a series of challenges to win the right to inherit his "prized possession", a huge Kansas ranch. The series eventually aired in its entirety on FOX Reality Channel.
* NBC's ''Series/WonderWoman2011Pilot'', which was quietly canned after receiving '''massively''' negative feedback from test audiences. The incomplete pilot was eventually leaked onto the Internet, which allowed fans to see precisely why it was savaged: Wonder Woman is a violent vigilante who thumbs her nose at the law and tortures a crook for information so she can slander ElizabethHurley, and then goes home to curl up on the couch with her cat, eating ice cream from the tub, watching ''Film/TheNotebook'' (really) -- in other words, [[InNameOnly not Wonder Woman at all]].
* ''YoureInThePicture'': 1961 CBS game show hosted by Jackie Gleason where the celebrity panel put their heads in cut-outs of painting reproductions,and had to guess the scene depicted. It was ''slaughtered'' by critics so much that in its timeslot the following week was Gleason delivering [[SelfDeprecation a hilarious ranting apology]] [[FunnyMoments for the previous week's show]] (which wound up leading into Gleason's famous talk show ''The Jackie Gleason Show''). Gleason's half-hour apology is considered one of the premier mea culpas of the television age.

[[folder:Two-Episode Wonders]]
* In general, many [[{{OAV}} OVAs]] produced during the 1990s anime boom wound up as this. Amusingly enough, a good number of them were licensed in the west by Creator/ADVFilms and/or Media Blasters, most of which are considered cult classics by people who got into anime at that time.
** Even more amusingly, the FireEmblem OVA, which fits this trope perfectly, made it to the west [[MarthDebutedInSmashBros before the games did!]]
* ''Abby's Studio Rescue''.
* ''The Adventures of Kotetsu''.
* ''AFP'', an air force documentary
* ''Apple Pie'', an eccentric 1978 sitcom starring Rue [=McClanahan=] and Dabney Coleman, created by NormanLear. Seven episodes were produced, but ABC only aired two of them.
* ''The Assets'', a 2014 period drama by ABC, based on the book ''Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed''. It was actually an eight part miniseries, but only the first two parts aired.
* ''Ayane-chan High Kick!'' (aka ''Anime/AyanesHighKick''): A female OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent with dreams of getting into ProfessionalWrestling is scouted by a former kickboxer who tricks her into getting into the sport because of her incredibly-powerful kicks.
* ''Big Shamus, Little Shamus'', which drew few viewers to CBS from ''TheLoveBoat''
* TelltaleGames' ''{{Bone}}''. We can assume they were going to go through all 9 chapters of the series, but they only got to the second chapter, "The Great Cow Race", and then dropped it. Although it's still available to purchase from their site, and nothing has said they'll never come back to it...
* ''ClerksTheAnimatedSeries''. Although six episodes were produced, only two were shown on the network that commissioned the show (episodes 4 and 2, in that order).
* ''Do No Harm'', a modern-day JekyllAndHyde tale centered around a brain surgeon. It saw [[ the lowest ratings ever]] for a series premiere on one of the Big Four networks, and was killed the week after that.
* ''DragonHalf''. Legend has it the {{OAV}}s were cancelled after the mangaka was busted for drug possession.
* The softcore {{Hentai}} anime ''Elf no Waku Okusan'' (aka ''TheElvenBride''), detailing the attempts of [[InterspeciesRomance a human and his wife, an elf]] to consummate their marriage despite the titular bride's incredibly, "receptor".
* ''ElfPrincessRane'' only lasted two episodes before the creators "ran out of budget". This is highlighted by a close-up of one of the characters begging the viewing audience for more money so they can continue the series.
* The ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAkaneia'' saga had a two-episode {{OAV}} that detailed the beginning of Marth's quest, showcased the first few battles, and brought in more than a few of the first set of characters present in the game.
* ''Girls Club'', a 2002 David E. Kelley-created show about a trio of young female lawyers, had six episodes produced but only two aired.
* ABC dumped ''The Great American Dream'', a modern equivalent of ''Series/QueenForADay'' in which female contestants got to see their dreams come true. It was hosted by Donny Osmond. Five episodes were taped, but only two aired.
* ''Hardwicke House'', a 1987 [[BritCom British]] sitcom about an anarchic school, was ill-advisedly [[AdoredByTheNetwork scheduled in ITV primetime]]. A media campaign led to its [[{{Cancellation}} cancellation after two episodes]]. [[ScrewedByTheNetwork It was not repeated]], and now [[ nobody is even sure if tapes of the other five episodes still exist]].
* ''The Henry and June Show'', a spin-off of ''KaBlam''.
* Hank Azaria's attempt to get a career beyond ''TheSimpsons'', ''Imagine That'', was cancelled after two episodes aired.
* The 2013 reality competition show ''The Job'' was canned by CBS after 2 episodes and many negative reviews, even though several more episodes had been filmed. Even the trailer seemed like they weren't sure whether to sell it as a serious reality show or SoBadItsGood. In the end, it was just plain bad, and not bad enough to be SoBadItsGood.
* FOX drama ''Lone Star'' is a bit of an odd example because it was supposed to be the network's big show for 2010; however, it was canned after two episodes due to abysmal ratings.
* ''Lucky 7'', an ABC drama about seven gas station employees winning the lottery, only to struggle with the repercussions of the windfall. With the lowest rated fall drama premiere in ABC history, it was swiftly axed, with some commentary on how it might not have been wise to stake a drama on "working class joes learn how to struggle with the burdens of hitting it big" during a time of economic downturn.
* ''Series/MadeInJersey'' was cancelled after its second episode, though CBS was nice enough to air the rest of the already-shot episodes. On Saturday nights.
* ''Mighty Space Miners''
* And yet another FOX example: the 2007 reality series ''Nashville'', which featured up and coming country music stars, including Jamey Johnson, Chuck Wicks (later a ''DancingWithTheStars'' finalist), and Terry Bradshaw's daughter Rachel. Six taped, two aired. Not to be confused with the ABC drama ''Series/{{Nashville}}'', begun in 2012.
* ''The Paul Reiser Show'' aired on NBC in 2011 for two weeks, then was cancelled due to very poor ratings. NBC was not doing very well at the time, so the show had to have been doing pretty poorly to be cancelled so quickly.
** The episodes that ''did'' air were the ones with the biggest-name celebrity guests meaning they had very in-industry storylines and didn't properly introduce the characters. We only saw his character's wife once and never saw his kids, which wasn't the intention...
** And even worse, one of the episodes aired featured LarryDavid, only pointing out clearly that this was an NBC attempt at a ''CurbYourEnthusiasm'' {{Expy}}.
* ''PrincessRouge''.
* ''PuniPuniPoemi''.
* ''The Roaring Twenties''.
* The [[SonicTheHedgehogTheMovie Sonic The Hedgehog OVA]] had only two episodes (see the note at the top of this section).
* ''SpecialDutyCombatUnitShinesman'', based on a 9-volume manga series.
* ''VivaLaughlin'', an attempt at bringing the British musical murder mystery miniseries ''Series/{{Blackpool}}'' to American shores. Despite being executive produced by Hugh Jackman (who had a recurring part!), it met with critical venom, lost viewers at a precipitous rate and was dead within a week.
* ''We Are Men'', a single-camera SitCom for CBS's 2013-14 season. Four episodes were shot, but only two aired before the show was cut off.
* Peter Berg's ''Wonderland'' is an unusual case in that in its first airing it actually won its time slot against a rerun of ''Series/{{ER}}'', which was still a ratings juggernaut. Misfortune quickly followed, though. Advocacy groups protested the first scene of the pilot, in which a mentally ill man goes on a shooting spree. The second episode was crushed when ''Series/{{ER}}'' returned with new episodes. It might have survived as a prestige series in other times, but ABC was in a period of artificially high ratings expectations due to ''Series/WhoWantsToBeAMillionaire''.
* ABC DisguisedInDrag comedy ''WorkIt'' was cancelled after two episodes due to low ratings and protests from the GLBT community.

[[folder: Hey, It Worked for ''M*A*S*H'' : Movie to TV Attempts]]
* ''[[BlazingSaddles Black Bart]]'': A half hour sitcom version of ''BlazingSaddles'' which can now be found as an extra on the movie's 40th Anniversary DVD and can be easily summarized as just like the movie, only without Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, or jokes.
* ''Film/{{Diner}}'': In 1983 Creator/BarryLevinson wrote and produced a half hour sitcom version of his movie of the same name, with Paul Reiser reviving his original role.
* ''Popeye Doyle'': Aired as a Movie of the Week, this version of ''TheFrenchConnection'' cop hero was played by Ed O'Neil, broadcast about a year before he found himself ''MarriedWithChildren''.
* ''TheSunshineBoys'': Neil Simon ... possibly encouraged by the success of the sitcom version of his play ''Theatre/TheOddCouple'' (of which he had no part in the adaption process) ... created a pilot based on the movie/play in which Vauldvillian Partners Al Lewis and Willie Clark stir up trouble in the Actor's retirement home they are sent to.
* ''My Big Fat Greek Life'', the television version of the film ''My Big Fat Greek Wedding''.
* The ''Film/{{Zombieland}}'' series, due to vast amounts of TaintedByThePreview.

[[folder: Subversions]]
* In May 2004, PAX debuted a GameShow called ''OnTheCover'', which aired for two episodes before abruptly stopping. It came back later in the year with some (mostly cosmetic) changes and paired with a game show adaptation of ''Balderdash'', but was gone again after its first "real" season.
* And subverted again with another game show, ''TheRichList''. One of countless one-episode wonders from FOX (2006 in this case), it was {{Re Tool}}ed two-and-a-half years later as ''The Money List'', which aired on {{GSN}}...for nine episodes.
* G4's ''Proving Ground'', an ExperimentShow focusing on recreating things from video games, movies, and TV shows, was pulled off G4's schedule after co-host [[Series/{{Jackass}} Ryan]] [[VivaLaBam Dunn]] [[AuthorExistenceFailure died in a car accident]] after only one episode had aired. The remaining eight episodes were eventually quietly run off later in the summer. No statement has been made on the show's continuation with a [[TheOtherDarrin new co-host]].
* An interesting case involves ''The Miraculous Year'', an Creator/{{HBO}} pilot written by [[Film/TheAviator John]] [[Film/TheLastSamurai Logan]] and directed by [[Film/TheHurtLocker Kathryn]] [[Film/PointBreak Bigelow]] (her first directing job after winning an AcademyAward) and featuring an AllStarCast including [[Film/FrostNixon Frank Langella]], Susan Sarandon, Lee Pace, Hope Davis, Linus Roache, and Eddie Redmayne about the dysfunctions of a family of people who work in and around Broadway. Despite the pedigree of the cast and crew, the project was dropped by HBO before the pilot even aired, allegedly because the network was worried it was an AudienceAlienatingPremise.
* There have also been cases of shows cancelled after one or two episodes [[ChannelHop going on to longer runs elsewhere]]. An example being the aforementioned series ''The Will'', which was cancelled almost immediately by its host network, but later played in full on a cable channel.
* The TV series ''Kodiak'' was officially cancelled after the first episode, but four were broadcast (probably because they had already been completed).

[[folder:In-universe One-Episode Wonders and Parodies]]
* ''Class Holes!'': An in-universe sitcom in ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' created by Brian Griffin after CBS rewrites the script starring James Woods attending college with his daughter. It only aired one episode due to very low ratings. The script was intended to be a drama called ''What I Learned on Jefferson Street'' which is about a single father played by Elijah Wood returning to college to give him and his 4-year-old daughter a better life.
** Also in-universe, Peter had a show he made called "Handiquacks", the first episode aired when the CEO wanted to make a very, very minor change to one of the characters, Peter said no and left, then wound up kicking himself later when he realizes his idiotic pride just prevented him from getting several thousand dollars.
*** Even worse than that. The guy even gave in and stated he wouldn't change a thing. [[WhatAnIdiot And Peter still said no]].
* ''The Dana Carvey Show'': Had a fake newscast during the end credits of its premiere declaring that it had been canceled 15 minutes into its first episode. It did get a ''few'' more episodes than that...
* ''Futurella'', the new sci-fi animated show that MattGroening's head shows a teaser trailer of to the 3010 Comicon audience in ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}''...and [[BitingTheHandHumor which FOX cancels]] '''''three seconds''''' in, prompting Groening to admit that the process has been streamlined.
* ''[[{{Expy}} Hyper]] the [[Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog Speedsword]]'': A cartoon in ''Webcomic/CucumberQuest'' that [[ taught Almond]] the most important thing about combat: "The only rule... [[RuleOfCool is COOL!]]"
* ''Jerry'': In-universe TV show that Jerry {{Seinfeld}} and George Costanza were continually trying to make. Lasted only one episode, in part because the only executive on their side ran away to join Greenpeace [[AllLoveIsUnrequited for all the wrong reasons]]. They very nearly got it on the air, but then [[GrandFinale they were thrown in jail]].
* ''Limozeen: [[RecycledInSpace But They're In Space]]!'': Animated television series in the WebAnimation/HomestarRunner universe (and according to Strong Bad, the greatest thing he's ever "seen, done, or eaten") starring the FakeBand Limozeen and their [[BandToon fantastic adventures]] [[RecycledInSpace in space]]. The show was canceled ''during the airing of its pilot'', and the characters themselves halt the episode halfway through to inform the viewers to watch their future adventures in syndication or on DVD. The "end credits photo montage" of the email "Montage" mentions that "Strong Bad went on to host some show on AnimalPlanet. It was canceled before the first commercial break."
* ''Seein' Double'': a show created within ''Series/{{Newhart}}'' by aspiring TV producer Michael, starring Stephanie as identical twin sisters and Dick as their father. Basically ''ThePattyDukeShow'' [[XMeetsY meets]] ''Series/ThreesCompany'', with a whole lot of StylisticSuck in both the acting and the writing.
* ''White Rice'' in ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' (a sitcom about Francine's life as a white girl adopted by a Chinese couple) gets cancelled after one joke, probably setting a record for both real and fake shows.
* ''Wormhole X-Treme'', the ShowWithinAShow in ''Series/StargateSG1'' was variously said to have only run one episode before being cancelled ("Citizen Joe") or three episodes ("200") and [[Series/{{Firefly}} got a feature film because it performed well on DVD]]. And then after the movie stalled in production, the network {{uncancelled}} it and it ran for another ten seasons.