The White Collar Season 1 finale ends with a parked airplane exploding. It's painfully obvious it's either CG or a really sloppy matte job, though to be fair the show is a relatively low budget comedy-drama that normally uses basically no special effects.
Not only there. When Tiffani Thiessen was pregnant during Season 2, they pretended her character was in California. Ridiculous green screening of the Golden Gate Bridge ensued.
Leverage used ridiculous green screen backgrounds of world landmarks such as pyramids in Egypt and the like while Gina Bellman was pregnant. Needless to say, nobody bought it.
The CGI they use for vehicles is especially spotty. In "The Mile High Job", the digital matte painting that shows the landed plane depicts the road behind them going off a wild incline.
It's kind of blink-and-you-miss-it, but at the start of "The Fairy Godparents Job", we see the team talking with a client, who has a tall glass of something-or-other, with ice at the bottom.
Memphis Beat has a glaringly out-of-place neon marquee for a radio station slapped on top of a building in the pilot (in reality, the building in question is the headquarters of a local newspaper and the radio station in question went off the air in 1966).
In Monk, one happened in filming the episode "Mr. Monk and the Leper", during the scene where Randy goes to Dr. Polanski's office and pulls a picture of him with acne off of the waiting room wall. His photo seems glued to the wall, and he struggles to pry it off using the pen chained to the receptionist's desk. Randy eventually gets his photo off, after knocking a lot of other pictures down, and pulls it away, taking a piece of the wall with it as Dr. Polanski comes in. Due to continuity error, some pictures get knocked down twice, and the damage disappears after Dr. Polanski walks into the room.
The struggle to pull the photo off the wall was one thing that was not planned, and was only supposed to be a simple swipe. However, the construction crew nailed the picture on so well that the film crew had to shoot several takes and the crew had to come in to help loosen it before Jason Gray-Stanford was able to pull it off the wall, even then with a lot of difficulty. Though the Rule of Funny makes it look better than what was planned. The dialogue between Randy and Dr. Polanski was shot first and a few of the picture-ripping takes were stitched together, causing the continuity errors.
The History Channel MiniseriesAmerica: The Story of Us at times. A few that particularly stick out include the steamboat that goes by Abraham Lincoln's little raft, the log jam, and Lady Liberty's construction. Granted, they did saturate the series in CG, but it's not that conspicuous unless there's non-CG elements like people in the same frame.
Pushing Daisies and its quirky visual design call for liberal use of bad CG and Chroma Key to heighten the show's non-realistic quality.
The Japanese drama Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi (The Amazing Deer-Man) almost always CG-animates its eponymous character. While the deer simply standing and speaking is actually astoundingly realistic-looking (especially for a deer that's capable of moving its lips and tongue to effect human speech), any standard movement shots are hilariously disconnected and the deer itself is low-detail and Off Model.
One The Mentalist episode centers around a bomb blowing up a building. When there is a vision of the bomb blowing up... the CGI is painfully obvious.
In the Damages series finale, the green-screen effect in the close-ups in the last dock scene is glaringly obvious.
A Nickelodeon special on the making of The Last Airbender shows a car is pulling into the parking lot of what is presumably M. Night Shyamalan's studio. In a gratuitous misuse of CGI, a pair of poorly rendered gates swing open from the otherwise real background to let the car in.
Moonbase 3, a BBC sci-fi series, was criticized for its cheap-looking props and sets. Ironically, this was caused by efforts to be as realistic as possible; it is much more difficult to create a realistic-looking rocket, spacesuit, and whatnot than to simply use a salt shaker as a futuristic device.
Star Cops, a kind of Spiritual Successor made a decade later, has similar problems. The wire-work and Chroma Key for the zero-G scenes are about as good as you could manage with the technology of the day -you can't see the wires most of the time- and the interior sets and spacesuit costumes are downright impressive, but what let them down in the end are the matte effects, which look like they'd been cribbed from a children's non-fiction book about spaceflight. The producers also resorted to moving said matte paintings around on the backdrop to suggest spacecraft in motion when they couldn't use miniatures, which just makes matters worse.
Starhunter has rather awful CGI for its spaceships and their weapons. The effects are on par with or worse than what was available nearly 10 years before production started.
Babylon 5 has awful-looking CGI on the DVD release. The series was shot widescreen with the intent to letterbox it for high definition broadcasts and DVD later (though it was broadcast in 4:3 originally). The creators intended to re-render all the CGI to match the DVD's letterbox presentation, but the models for the CGI were lost, so they had to resort to cropping the standard-def graphics. As a result, there is a noticeable drop in picture quality whenever there is a CGI element on screen.
The video release is also veryobvious with its CGI, especially for the earlier seasons. Although this may have been an accurate demonstration of how it went when it was naturally broadcast.
A minor example from the original run is Londo's "star laces", alien flowers he uses to woo his mistress, which look like fairy lights attached to beer can holders.
N'Grath, the insectoid crime boss who makes a few appearances in the first season, sometimes has the very human legs of the actor playing him appear in the frame, since the suit only goes down to his thighs. They had smoke and coloured lights to cover this up, but it only works some of the time.
The version of the Drakh that appears in one scene in Season 4 is never seen again, and for good reason: it looks like someone got a hold of Rick Moranis' Dark Helmet costume and spray-painted it to look like Skeletor. Even filming it through a deliberately blurred lens can't make it look like a living creature, and not a hunk of rubber or plastic.
Sharp-eyed viewers may notice that the device used to drain Delenn's blood in "Soul Hunter" involves a solder sucker◊.
Then there's Blake's 7, which makes Doctor Who look lush and over-produced. According to the crew, the special effects budget for the show was £50 per episode. Granted, this was the late 1970s, but still...
The "futuristic" bases the Seven visit tend to look a lot like 20th century British oil refineries or nuclear power plants.
"Seek, Locate, Destroy" starts with a supposedly terrifying Tin-Can Robot that wobbles as it goes and is just generally poorly-designed, looking adorable rather than menacing.
The third season episode "The Harvest of Kairos" is particularly exemplary. The better of the two main types of aliens seen is modelled by a rock... Many will say that said episode can only be enjoyed as comedy.
"Gold" has a particularly jarring jump cut on the teleport effect, with actor Roy Kinnear obviously moving between cuts in the foreground.
The final season had generally respectable effects for the time, thanks to advances in technology. The only real failure came from the very obvious matte lines in spaceship shots.
The final season of Full House (1994-1995) is ripe with this:
In "Dateless in San Francisco", the hot-air balloon flying over San Francisco is obviously a still image electronically being moved across the sky of a still of the city.
The storm in "Up on the Roof" has lightning flashing very slowly, almost looking like someone switching a light on and off at intervals. It doesn't help that some of the thunder Stock Sound Effects sounded like they were coming from a tape recorder!
All we see of Kimmy's pet ostrich in "All Stood Up" is the head behind their fence, and it's clearly obvious it's a large hand puppet.
Perhaps the worst offender would be Michelle's feet-growing nightmare in "My Left and Right Foot", with Michelle's growing feet obviously being still photos of said large feet superimposed onto Michelle being zoomed up. Then when the rest of the family is in the living room, one of the large feet sticking out the door appears to be a huge plastic prop.
In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, an animatronic second head was made for Zaphod Beeblebrox. Unfortunately, it rarely worked, and for most of the series it just sits lifelessly on actor Mark Wing Davey's shoulders. The series tries to Hand Wave it early on, with the actor ordering his second head to "go back to sleep".
Star Trek itself is resistant to this syndrome, given its budget for the time, but still occasionally falls down.
The aliens at the end of the "Catspaw" episode are clearly puppets with very visible strings.
Also, Sylvia becoming a giant cat is pretty obviously enlarged stock footage of an average housecat.
They actually lampshade it in the Corbomite Maneuver. The alien on the viewscreen looks like a big puppet, and then when Kirk and co beam over to the mini craft to offer help after blasting it, they discover that it really is a big puppet.
And then there's the windsock dipped in cement. Mind, two different companies did remastered versions of "The Doomsday Machine", but neither really captured the essence of the Planet Killer with CGI. A cement-covered wind sock is actually the best effect in this case.
Speaking of remastering, they actually edited a problem into the remastered Assignment Earth: a beautiful shot of the Enterprise orbiting the Earth... which is rotating backwards.
The first appearance of wide-beam phasers in "The Return Of The Archons" is quite ropey even for its time and budget. They appear to end arbitrarily rather than hit their targets, and a beam going behind Doctor McCoy's arm has a gap in it much wider than said arm.
A frequent stock shot of the Enterprise has part of one warp nacelle grainily dropping out of the image to reveal the stars behind.
A guy falling to his doom off the balcony of a floating city is represented by a black blob moving across a satellite photo. Yeah.◊
The Kirk vs. Khan fight in Space Seed, held by two stuntmen whose identities the camera work does the most pathetic attempt possible to conceal.
The Second City troop of Toronto, Canada even lampshaded this as a gag in their show Khan Saga in the 1990's.
In the Next Generation episode "Conspiracy", a horrific sequence involving phasering a guy's face off is wrecked when a hideous monster bursts from the remains of his chest, and is a weak, sad, muppety-looking thing. Plus, the way they blue-screened it into the scene couldn't possibly be more obvious.
In addition, earlier shots of one of the monsters are done with bad, low-frame-rate stop-motion that looks more like an effect from TOS.
In Season 3 Episode "Who Watches the Watchers", the Enterprise crew and Federation scientists study a pre-industry Vulcan-like culture. Their most advanced technology is bows, which would be fine, except the bows are obviously modern fiberglass composite compound bows covered with "primitive" rags, and the arrows are similarly modern.
The episode "Coming of Age" has a matte painting that's supposed to look like it's a hallway going on for a while...instead, it looks like someone's painted a hallway on the wall◊.
Then there's the case of the Type 7 shuttlecraft, whose mockup◊ does not match its model◊ counterpart.
Similar to Stock Footage Failure, the original series and Next Generation sometimes reuse the same matte paintings more than once, to represent completely different planets. Similarly, spaceship models are used over and over again to represent different ships, though sometimes they were clever enough at modifying the model to make it non-obvious.
The episode "Mind's Eye" features some passable phaser rifle props. Unfortunately they way they are handled, particularly by LaForge, reveals that they have no weight, almost as if they were empty plastic models.
Going back to TOS, the amount of Special Effect Failure in The Arena, especially with The Gorn and its golf-ball eyes, causes a lot of Narm.
Odo's transformation sequences in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine now look profoundly dated, but at least they were consistently dated with the same effects applied to every changeling.
Star Trek: Enterprise's "In A Mirror, Darkly" features an alternate opening sequence, which shows the mirror universe Earth's history instead of our own. Most of the sequence is suitably awesome, but the part where the astronaut plants the Terran Empire flag on the moon is very obviously CGI pasted onto a static background and looks super out of place.
Wizards of Waverly Place succumbs to this syndrome in nearly every episode, whether it's flying carpets, chandelier-swinging, giant seamonkeys, or random trips to China. Almost all scenes in the sky feature blatant blue/greenscreen, especially noticeable considering the characters' outlines, and how they move at a completely different framerate from the clouds/city, etc. Another Waverly Place example is when they go into Alex's journal. It looks like the editors were testing Adobe Premiere Elements when they go inside of it. One of the characters also falls behind a wall painted like water (there isn't even a splash!).
They obviously felt particularly bad about the flying carpet episode. At the end Selina Gomez demonstrates how the magic carpet was 'simulated' using a contraption of rollers, a carpet, and greenscreen.
Hannah Montana doesn't use special effects often (except when driving cars), but when it does, you can expect it to fall under this trope. One blatant example is from an early episode, where Miley/Hannah blows the fakest-looking bubblegum bubble imaginable.
And in shots of a generic city at nightime, they don't even attempt to hide that the "buildings" are 2D cutouts.
CSI opens the fourth-season episode "The Turn of the Screw" with a rollercoaster car flying off its tracks. Inevitably, they show a POV shot from the back seat of the car as it flies through the air, and it's rather obviously superimposed footage of a normal rollercoaster ride - emphasised when one of the passengers in the front seat turns around and is clearly screaming in exhilaration rather than terror (for a start, she's smiling, which seems an odd reaction to have to impending certain death).
A Season 11 episode, "Cold Blooded", features the Walking with Dinosaurs live arena show. In the shots of the audiences' perspective of the show, it is blatantly clear that they are not watching a live show, mostly because of the perspective. It ends up looking like they are watching a movie screen instead. The CSI filming crew was clearly allowed access to the show and the animatronic dinosaurs.
The seventh season episode "Living Legend" has some excellent acting from Roger Daltrey but the disguise makeup he wears through most of the episode is extremely unconvincing.
Similarly, NCIS, with a car plunging into the water. This example is less explicable, as the stunt (a car going into the water off a dock) would be trivial and cheap to do in live-action. Apparently, CBS received firesale pricing on bad car crash computer effects.
That's not the only time. In the episode where Gibbs quits because the SEALs are ordered to take down the boat with the terror suspect on it despite his advice. The suspect promptly blows himself and the ship up. Cue another diabolically bad CGI explosion. What happened to physical special effects? Or is the entire point for these "whizzkids" to show us "Hey Ma, look what I can do on my computer!"
Worst of all, the team is watching the ship on satellite: if the CGI wasn't up to the task they could have simply shown the blast in low-res background shots.
In one episode a plane passing overhead causes a car bomb to explode. The explosion itself isn't bad, but the model used to show the body during the explosion is laughably fake.
The Benny Hill Show did this on purpose; one of their most notorious Running Gags involves some random character falling from a great height — they would pitch an obvious dummy dressed in the actor's clothes over the edge, and then Jump Cut to the actor getting up from the spot where the dummy had fallen.
Married... with Children does the exact same thing (usually on the episodes where Al has to fix something on the roof of the house and he ends up falling).
Family Guy pays homage to this, despite being animated.
As does Homestar Runner in the sbemail stunt double, again despite being an animation. (Although technically it is within the context of a movie being made by the characters; see below.)
Done in the Męlée ŕ TroisColbert / Stewart/O'Brien crossover, when an obvious stunt double of each host is thrown down the stairs by the other two. Conan lampshades it by jumping into frame too early and asking his double if he's okay — upon which Colbert and Stewart realize they've been tricked and give chase.
SCTV uses obvious dummies quite a lot, to hilarious effect.
And Saturday Night Live (whose show has been filled to the brim with Special Effects Failure since 1975. It's been toned down ever since the show switched to high-definition in Season 31 note The 2005-2006 season; the one featuring the debuts of Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, and Kristen Wiig — who didn't appear on the show until the episode hosted by Jason Lee), but it does crop up — usually in the form of horrible chroma-keying or props that look cheap and breakable).
Stuntman extraordinaire Super Dave Osborne will almost invariably be horribly injured and mutilated when his stunts go awry... or rather, a completely obvious dummy will be (often it seems they simply stuffed an empty jumpsuit with rags, considering how it flaps and twists in the wind as it falls from great heights).
Hell, even The Three Stooges do this at least once (but it was rather cutting-edge then).
Pretty much every Disney Channel sitcom has a dummy used every once in a while.
One of The Benny Hill Show sketches — The Police Raid in Waterloo Station — is a criminal action movie parody consisting mostly of special effect failures. Actors change clothes between shots (at least once during a shot); the director's reflection gets caught by a camera; stagehands are seen hiding behind furniture or outside the airplane; the walls are so thin, they shake when Benny opens a door; Benny gets a full glass of wine, starts drinking from a half-full glass, continues with a beer mug; when Benny kisses a woman, his moustache stays on her lip, then returns in the same shot; "dead" people try to straighten their clothes and jerk when stepped on; actors say the wrong lines in the wrong voices; and the airplane and the ship are not only obvious plastic models, but a ship-sized duck swims by in one shot.
Speaking of Deka, it took several episodes for them to get the original Doggie's mask to work right. Instead of moving with his speech, it just hangs open in many a scene, giving him a permanent staring-in-shock look.
While we're on the subject of Super Sentai, Seijuu Sentai Gingaman/Power Rangers Lost Galaxy features, for its Humongous Mecha, a quintet of very rubber-looking giant animals that transform into more traditional mecha. Worse, while the lion, falcon/dragon thing and the ape are still rendered as costumes/puppets/whatever in robot mode, the wolf and wildcat had been made as stiff, unconvincing models. In order to get them moving across the landscape during the Transformation Sequence, they are rendered together as utterly rubbish CGI models. The scenes where the mechs operate as individuals look like they came from something twenty years older.
Worse are the scenes of the Rangers riding the beasts in beast mode. They are clearly models stuck to the shoulders and wobble around like what they are. It looks horrible and would have been better if the makers had said "well, we'd like Rangers standing on the Galactabeasts' shoulders but it just doesn't work."
Samurai Sentai Shinkenger is a FANTASTIC looking series... except for when they kill the giant monsters. For some reason, instead of a huge fiery explosion we get a pathetic little piffle of sparks.
Even worse in the teamup movie with Engine Sentai Go-onger, where the big robo finishing attack isn't a gigantic CG bullet barrage or a stampede of the individual mecha, but simply a few normal-looking blasts with pyrotechnics usually reserved for auxiliary weaponry.
The toy version of the Power Rangers Mystic Force Titan Megazord's Mystic Dragon mode is extremely cool. The suit costume on the show... well, because the red Mystic Titan rides the dragon, it's essentially the Red Mystic Titan's torso wearing the dragon's legs with the rest of the dragon around its belly like an inner tube. It's really embarrassing to see the rest of the dragon flop around when it lands after an attack.
And of course, there's the usage of the Bandai of America toys of the Ninja/Shogun Zords in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Season 3 with the toy of Titanus. It's made worse by the White Shogun Zord being pink in the US toyline (due to a pink Ranger in MMPR whereas Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, the source of the footage, had a white one, and Bandai not wanting a Frivolous Lawsuit). Also, the toy version has different logos on the Zords than the show version. This means there are some very noticeable changes in the Zords between the original footage and the Sentai footage. The Ninjazords don't escape entirely, either (the Crane's red markings were changed to pink, for the same reason). Also, Titanus has the otherwise-unseen Dragonzord's chestplate now, since it's mounted there in the original Ultrazord formation, and they were trying to make it as similar as possible. That, and repositioning Titanus' head for the Ultrazord configuration would otherwise have left a big, unsightly gap.
Power Rangers Wild Force: The episode "Forever Red" features a horrible, undersized CGI version of Serpentera which is miscoloured in half the shots (for the most egregious of this, Serpentera went from dark green to purple). Off-the-Shelf FX would have been a huge step up from this.
Back to Super Sentai, the final battle of Dengeki Sentai Changeman. It may have been The '80s, but there is just no excuse for a fight against the insides of a Planet Eater being represented by the Megazord superimposed over stock footage of cells dividing.
One that frequently affects Power Rangers involves the fact that you have three people playing the same person: the actor, the suit actor/stunt double, and the Japanese suit actor from the stock footage. It's lampshaded/handwaved with Justin of Power Rangers Turbo, who apparently shoots through 6 years of puberty every time he morphs (he explicitly grows; you see it in the Transformation Sequence), but there are some other examples which stand out:
She's a Man in Japan creates a frequent problem for Yellow Rangers, namely Trini, whose (male) Japanese suit actor was rather... gifted. Proof.◊ (Additionally, most suit actors in Japan are male, even for female rangers. Those skirts on female Ranger costumes serve a practical purpose of cover-up.)
A kind of inverse happened during Lost Galaxy. The male Yellow Ranger in Gingaman was turned into the female Lost Galaxy Ranger, who is played by the rather buxom Cerina Vincent, who flattens every time she morphs. Apparently, ranger spandex is more effective than any sports bra.
Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger has a recurring instance of this with Gokai Silver's trident weapon. Obviously the normal prop would be too fragile to use in fight scenes, so they employed a "stunt trident". The problem is that the stunt version has the prongs held together by sheets of black plastic, making it stick out like a sore thumb.
Even for a Saban show made in the 90's, VR Troopers has a surprising amount of Special Effect Failures:
Whenever Jeb sticks his tongue out, one can easily tell that the frame is frozen. Likewise whenever his eyes "pop" out in surprise.
In "The Dognapping", the skugs carrying Jeb's cage in Grimlord's palace are clearly in front of a green screen. Their lighting is completely different from the rest of the footage.
In "The Duplitron Dilemma", Percy being ejected from the car is shown with a flat image of him flying up and hitting the ground.
"An eagle-eyed viewer might be able to see the wires. A pedant might be able to see the wires. But I think if you're looking at the wires, you're ignoring the story. If you go to a puppet show, you can see the wires, but it's about the puppets, it's not about the string. If you go to a Punch and Judy show and you're watching the wires, you're a freak."
The quote is in reference to a sequence where the protagonists are being chased by supernaturally animated everyday objects suspended from incredibly obvious wires. Another memorable sequence in the same show is a motorbike chase in which they're on pedal bikes with motorbike noises dubbed in and against an incredibly obvious "POV behind moving vehicle" blue screen. (Just as a footnote, Punch and Judy shows use glove puppets anyway.)
The Battlestar Galactica episode "Fire in Space". The wires holding Apollo and Starbuck up during the spacewalk scene probably weren't visible in the original broadcast in 1979, but they're blatantly visible in the remastered DVD release — so visible, in fact, that one wonders why they weren't airbrushed out during the remastering. They probably also didn't realize at the time that the "space suits" don't cover the skin where the sleeves and gloves didn't come together.
In "Hand of God", the final episode, the view through a porthole window is very obviously a matte painting behind the set. It would be far less noticeable, however, if the scene didn't open up with the camera zoomed in on it.
In the pilot movie, there are scenes where Zac's spaceship is missing the left side of the cockpit shortly before he's killed by Cylons.
Also in the pilot episode, the two Colonial Vipers fly across the screen, and just before they cut the shot back inside the cockpits, a Cylon Raider comes up behind them, before they discovered the fleet of fighters waiting to jump the Battlestars. (It happens quite far away from where they find the Raiders, so it is obviously a pre-use of a spot that should have be used later.)
Several times throughout the series, when someone needs to use the joystick inside the Vipers, the hand on the joystick is Boomer's (a black man), even when the pilot is white.
In a scene where Starbuck's Viper is hit, sparks shoot out of the cockpit, but fall through the empty hole where the cockpit glass is supposed to be, never mind that he's supposed to be in space, so the sparks shouldn't fall anyway.
In the Season 1 episode "Water", the water gushing out of the punctured containers reeks of bad CGI.
In the Season 3 episode "Rapture", when the sun goes nova, the characters see it framed between the natural pillars of the Temple of Five. Moment of symbolic significance... except the sunlight on the Temple comes from a source to the left and slightly behind the camera, not from the nova in the dead center of the screen. Though in the above 2 cases, the Rule of Cool means it doesn't really detract from the effect.
Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future: Leaving aside just how badly the then-state-of-the-art computer graphics have aged, any aerial battle between Hawk and Soaron inevitably features a moment when Soaron shoots at Hawk, but is unable to keep up with him. Soaron's laser beams, missing their target, instead hit the air behind Hawk, as if he were running on the ground. Said laser beams explode on impact. With the air.
Animorphs is infamous for, among other things, particularly bad special effects. You can see the weave in Visser Three's tailscythe.
The Neverwhere miniseries is low-budget but looks fine until the dramatic appearance of the dreaded Beast of London, which is very clearly a Highland cow in silhouette. Subsequently nicknamed "Morag the Friendly Cow" by Neil's friend Terry Pratchett, after a puppet on a Saturday Morning Kids Show of the time.
Batman and its infamous wall-climbing sequence. Arguably, every special effect in the show qualifies; it's intentionally high Camp.
Red Dwarf has a scene where Rimmer is supposed to accidentally trigger an ejector seat and be flung out of a parked spaceship. The wires involved were so obvious on screen that they added a little aerial to Rimmer's peaked cap in an attempt to disguise the line. It didn't work.
Red Dwarf is full of this kind of thing, but in earlier seasons nobody minded. Then came Series 8, where Cat makes a shuttle tap-dance. Poorly.
In the late '90s, they "remastered" the first three series, which didn't actually improve anything, as the CGI effects are no better than the originals. This wouldn't be a problem, except that they cut several minutes from various episodes to make room for them.
Series 7 was intended to use model shots for almost all visual effects, but a scheduling foul-up (the vis-effects team were only given a limited time for shooting, in a studio half the usual size, before all the scripts had even been written) meant that they had to fill in the missing effects with CGI. The mix is incredibly jarring. By the time series 8 rolled around and all the effects were digital, the quality had improved slightly.
Dark Shadows can be consistently fakey-lookin'. The special effects suffer horribly when actors (usually allowed only one take) fumble their props or reacteat the wrong moment to the Green/Blue-screen menace.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno used distorted lenses to create the characters of Iron Jay and Mr. Brain, and also for the headless effect with Beyondo. Since it started using HD, those characters have rarely been seen.
Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and later O'Brien's run of The Tonight Show, ran a Show Withina Show telenovela named Noches de Pasion con Senor O'Brien. Each episode lampshades this trope when "Conando" beats up a few guys and throws them off-screen, immediately cutting to stock footage of a completely different person falling out of a random window.
Conan used another gag with a fake television channel called, "The Bad Stunt Double Network", in which a man jumping out of a window is replaced by a burlap sack with a balloon attached to it, and a woman getting thrown out of a car is replaced by a laboratory model skeleton.
In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the fully-CGI Terminator endoskeletons are arguably less convincing than the fully-mechanical muppet used in the climax of the original Terminator film, but definitely more convincing than the stop-motion used in that film. To be fair, though, you'd expect CGI on any budget to look less realistic than an animatronic model that is actually real.
The quality on Oz's werewolf transformation wavers. The first time ("Phases") there is a pretty good werewolf suit, but the second time ("Beauty and the Beasts") it looks like a scary tiki mask glued onto a gorilla costume. In fact, this costume became much reviled on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to the point where, when the spin-off Angel decided to do werewolves, the costume designers were given this note: "Don't make it look like a gay possum."
Soldier Xander's gun in Season 2 "Halloween" doesn't even have a muzzle flash.
The Season 4 finale "Restless" contains an intentional example. The scene in Xander's dream where he's driving the ice cream truck has a very obvious greenscreen effect; the background is moving quickly, and there are artifacts around Anya when she's shown in front of the window. This is done to enhance the surreal, dreamlike quality, by creating an effect of "stillness in motion".
"Fake the Snake" from Season 5 episode "Shadow", which is either being represented by sub-par CGI or a big, motionless rubber model trundling along on a truck.
The Watcher's Council building explosion in Season 7, an effect shot so embarrassing it's allowed only a split-second of screen time.
The show's biggest failure is the attempt at redesigning vampire makeup in the pilot episode. They quickly went back to the Buffy-style stuff.
There's one scene in "Spin The Bottle" where David Boreanaz and Vincent Kartheiser's stunt doubles are clearly visible, and another in one of the Pylea eps where the bulge of Amy Acker's microphone pack under her costume is seen.
Werewolf is a '90s The Fugitive clone featuring a young man on the run because he got bitten by a wolf, and every full moon after that... well, you get the idea. The actual werewolf costume looks pretty scary and menacing — as long as it is seen in the dark, slightly out of focus, in hand-held shots and with rapid cutting. Unfortunately, in later episodes the werewolf suit is fully-lit, and appears totally lame.
Wind and Cloud, a 2002 Taiwanese series, received an unfortunate reputation in Finland because of this. It features an infamous magical-sonic-beam-attack of a sort... Which is basically created by having the user throw a bunch of hula-hoops at the opponent. Other special attacks are similar in quality.
Knight Rider: The obligatory Turbo Boost sequences are frequently convincing, but are just as frequently lame, including at least one instance where, rather than a stunt car, what we see is plainly a matchbox toy being tossed over a miniature set — an effect made worse by the fact that, like most Knight Rider merchandise, the matchbox car has the words "KNIGHT 2000" printed on it in large red letters.
Even if a stunt car is used in a Ramp Jump or Turbo Boost scene, one can often see through the empty engine compartment. The landings aren't always cut away properly either, so parts of K.I.T.T. can frequently seen come off and fly away.
Pretty much every episode of Knight Rider has a multitude of special effect failures. Besides the visible ramps and cheap car bodies used for jumping scenes, every time K.I.T.T. is supposed to be driving really, really fast is actually just a sped-up scene, which becomes obvious when the vehicle is making unrealistically sharp turns at full speed. There's also a stunt driver that looks nothing like David Hasselhoff (mainly due to his big head/hair), the console in the car and car windows disappearing and reappearing in outside shots, a clearly visible "ghost driver" wearing a weird flour-bag to conceal himself driving K.I.T.T. when the car is on autopilot, and many, many more. There was even a whole German website just listing every instance of this trope for Knight Rider.
While the new series is rather more impressive (if a bit Uncanny Valley) with its Turbo Boost and metamorphosis sequences, it has a harder time with effects nowhere near as special: watch the rear window during driving scenes shot from inside KITT. The color saturation is so far off, one expects to see Wile E. Coyote chasing after the Knight 3000.
Goosebumps is a kids' TV series, which already means it'll have a low budget. But combine that with the fact it's a horror anthology and you get some of the most awful special effects this side of the live-action Animorphs. Of course, kids watching it won't notice, but adults watching it for nostalgia reasons will.
MadTV parodies this in their "Funkenstein" sketches, which parody 1970s low-budget blaxploitation remakes of classic horror movies such as Blacula and Blackenstein. Some of the sketches, such as "Funkenstein vs. The Creature of the White Lagoon" and "Funkenstein vs. Nefertiti" make deliberately awful use of blue screen effects. A hilarious example is the "underwater fight scene" in "Creature from the White Lagoon", which uses video footage of an aquarium to create a lagoon.
Parodied in A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All, which is every cheesy Christmas trope you can think of turned up toeleven. Elvis Costello is amazed when Stephen reveals that the "reindeer" hired for the show are actually just goats with antlers. "Well, you can't tell!" Cut to a miniature goat with a pair of toy antlers tied to its head.
The Professionals has a car going off a cliff in slow motion in one episode — which only highlights the fact that it's driven by crash-test dummies. Even if a short-sighted audience member is fooled, one of the driver's heads falls off for no apparent reason.
Lost, during the scene in which Locke is falling out of a building after his father pushes him. The green screen/CGI is pretty blatant.
Also happens any time one of the polar bears is shown closely. They look like they were modeled on a 10-year old Macintosh.
A rather unfortunate submarine in the fifth season is conspicuous, especially since they usually have good or at least passable effects, especially since the entire shot may have been CG and looked like a screensaver or something. The worst part of that effect is that it is completely superfluous, and seems to be showing off.
In a way, the CGI to tell the viewer where a certain scene takes place. Really, his apartment has a view over the Eiffel Tower? This backyard somewhere outside of the town really has an unobstructed view of the Kremlin? Your band practices in an alley directly next to Tower Bridge? Did you go for a walk to see the Sydney Opera House, even though you've been living in this city for years?
The freighter explosion doesn't really look that convincing, especially when watched on Blu-ray. Usually the production values are pretty high though...
Compared to other underwater scenes, the Island underwater in the Season 6 premiere looks like an old screen saver.
Ben's smoke-induced vision in "Dead is Dead" is terrible.
Space: 1999 has some superb model shots, but is sometimes let down by lousy matte paintings.
In "The Testament of Arkadia", a landing Eagle spaceship is supposed to swoop down out of the sun. Instead, the sun behaves like a small disk inside the planet's atmosphere, and the Eagle appears from behind the disk.
Space: 1999 has some superb models, but some of the non-miniature effects were abysmal even for the time. In the episode Space Brain, for the brain effect they filled the main command center with soap suds and had the actors flail around in it. As one review wrote: "No matter what you do, soap suds aren't scary."
In the dead astronaut episode, both of them do some unconvincing freefall gymnastics on board NASA's "Vomit Comet" plane. When freefall ends, Booth's feet are shown slowly settling to the floor, right next to a pen and index card which are sitting on the floor already. Possibly it's a visual lampshading of how very bad these "zero gravity" scenes were, as there's no logical reason to show these objects alongside his feet except to poke fun at how contrived the scene looks.
Charmed. The basic energy effects they figured out how to do pretty well, but anything that required more advanced CGI than that quickly became cringe-worthy.
Some might also consider the ridiculous costumes a form of this, if they don't fall under Narm Charm.
The pilot sticks out for this. An evil warlock demonstrates his power to create fire, by lifting a papier mache hand into shot with what appear to be normal disposable lighters embedded in the fingers... now take how bad you imagine that looking and make it 10x worse.
Ringer has some spectacularly bad green screen of the ocean, of the boat, and of the background while characters are in the boat in its pilot. Couldn't The CW have worked on it after getting it from CBS?
Sanctuary, as a Sci-Fi Channel original series, runs into this with the goofy-looking muscle suit that a lead actor wears when he's turned into a hulking freak.
The original Kamen Rider was for the time practically on a shoestring budget, as many of the monsters and costumes, while good design-wise, are clearly cheaply made. Especially when compared against its rival-show Return of Ultraman, which is clearly much more higher budget and primarily run by a special effects team to boot.
An example, at the beginning, Kamen Rider 1 and 2's suit versions are noticeably different between riding, fighting, and the ending sequence. It's jarring to watch Hongo ride off into the sunset and appear in a different suit when the credits are rolling.
Kamen Rider Blade has a similar occurrence of this, where the four Riders' costumes come in two distinct versions: the suit used for detail shots has a full vinyl bodysuit, while the "stunt suit" has fabric for the torso. While it's mostly covered up by the Riders' chest armor, it's still noticeable. While this was present back in the original Blade, it was so obvious during Kamen Rider Decade that some fans started claiming the original Blade costume had been damaged in the intervening five years and replaced with a "blue T-shirt".
The worst is the disintegration effect in the first handful of episodes. A person hit by a monster's attacks turns into a giant string of beads piled in a vaguely human shape. Footage of the beads being pulled away by someone from offscreen is shown in fast forward. This was later replaced with people turning into some sort of foam sprayed in a vaguely human shape dissolving in fast forward.
Kamen Rider Amazon has the most rubbery monsters in Toku history, which tend to work against the show's favour at times. The scene where Amazon is wrestling with an alligator monster is made marginally less impressive due to its rubber snout and tail constantly bending and flattening. Also, the ludicrous foam and juice blood.
Two other notable failures from that series are the fight with the Snake Beastman where Amazon is clearly wrestling with an empty monster suit, and the death of the Ant Beastman where his head falls off...and a hand can clearly be seen pushing it.
Kamen Rider X is otherwise a nice, serious show. Then you get to the final battle with Apollo Geist, where his final desperation attack is... a spare Apollo Geist suit being set on fire and rolling down a hill at X-Rider.
Going to the Heisei era, the terrible, terrible CG monster explosions in Kamen Rider Kuuga and Kamen Rider Agito. On the occasion when they do use actual explosives instead of CG, it looks ten times better.
Kamen Rider Kiva has the Buron Booster, an add-on for Kiva's Cool Bike, which looks way too big to stay upright and is accompanied by a mediocre CGI Kiva riding it. This is especially jarring since the show's other major CG elements, like Kiva's dragon castle and IXA's mechanical counterpart, are pretty well done on the whole.
The Zanvat Sword's sliding hilt isn't perfectly snug and visibly shakes when it is handled. Not to mention the thing is one of the most plastic looking weapons in the Heisei series, especially with the sparkle-imbued blade.
In Kamen Rider Decade, Kivaara goes from her CGI rendering to being a toy from episode 8. No attempt is made to show her lips moving or her wings flapping; we only hear the sound effect of her wings moving and the camera is simply shaken back and forth. She got better though.
When Natsumi transforms, it's a very dramatic scene, sadly ruined by the suit forming being a good distance off-center from the body.
Spoofed in the net videos for The Movie, where when Kirihiko gets mad and starts beating up on Right-Hand Cat Mick, it turns into an obvious cat puppet. Then Mick changes into his monster form and gets revenge, with Kirihiko turning into a dummy in a suit with a photograph of his face taped to the head.
Kamen Rider Den-O: In Chou Den-O Trilogy: Episode Yellow the scene where the past and present versions of Kaitou meet and interact is done with surprisingly bad greenscreening. This is especially jarring since both Den-O and Decade used green screen effects, and in those instances the effect was much better.
Kamen Rider OOO: The last episode. Full stop. Oh sure, there were some bad effects before in the series. Like ShaUTa's debut. Or the zerg-like little fish Yummies in episode 5. But those were given contexts. The awkward "flying" in the last episode, and the pseudo-Yummy pile in the same episode, takes the cake for the entire series.
In episode 39, there is quite a long shot where the detective's body clearly has 4 arms.
Being Human has excellent werewolf transformation sequences. The werewolf post-transformation... is rather less so.
Not even the Super Bowl is safe from this. In Super Bowl XIII, the greenscreened crowd penetrated through the shirts of NBC broadcasters Curt Gowdy, Merlin Olsen, and John Brodie.
NBC's sports and news divisions had a lot of these problems during the late 1970s. During coverage of the inauguration of Jimmy Carter, notice just before the beginning of the first commercial break at about 11 seconds in, you can see the graphic penetrating through then-TODAY show anchor Tom Brokaw's hair.
Also a problem during the Canadian rebroadcasts of the Super Bowl: when Global had the rights, they digitally swapped any billboards appearing in the stadium with billboards advertising their own programs. This effect usually worked. If the camera moved anything other than purely horizontal, it looked horrible.
24 normally has great, practical special effects. In Season 4, when Habib Marwan dies by falling off the side of a parking garage, it uses an obvious horrible-looking bluescreen shot.
Basically, the FX fails any time there's an explosion of significant magnitude in the series. The original teaser trailer for the first season ends with a (deleted) shot of the doomed airliner that crashes into the Mojave Desert going downward at a slight angle, while fire effects are superimposed on top of the (clearly not damaged) aircraft.
The nuclear explosion in Season 2 (seen from Palmer's point-of-view, looking out the window of Air Force One) looks like shoddy CGI that clashes with the rest of the footage.
An episode of Season 2 suffers from a shockingly bad computer-rendered plane that clashes very badly with the show's general adherence to believable practical effects.
A suitcase nuke going off early in Season 6 looks pretty obviously fake, but then, it's understandable; they couldn't exactly film an actual nuclear weapon exploding.
Merlin — pick a monster. Any monster. It's easier to pick out which effects don't fail (basically, the teleportation scene in the first episode). The worst offender by far, however, is Nimueh's death scene, which looks very much like the same two CGI shots repeated a few times.
The Adventures of Sinbad came in during the late 1990s (1996-1998), just as CGI effects started to get somewhat affordable. Alas, cheap CGI effects were still horrible, and to make matters worse, any CGI monster they had would be recolored re-used (same animations and all) at least a couple of times throughout the show. Couple this with a nearly fetish-like love for making the heroes fight giant, badly bluescreened animals, and you've got a show that's so bad it's good.
Raven tries not to use special effects all that much, but when it does, it smashes into this trope — hard. It includes such things as "floating" orbs of fire, "demons", who look exactly like what's playing them (namely blokes standing around in robes), and people "disappearing", or being "brought back" in flashes of light.
There is one particularly bad sequence in Season 3 where the camera moves up over a graveyard, riddled with open graves. Not only do the graves look like CGI, the movement is also not synchronized with the camera movement, making the holes float above the ground.
In Season 8 (the final season), there is a sequence where Harrison (a young boy) is attempting to use a treadmill, and winds up pushing the difficulty up so high that he slips falls down and rapidly flies backwards into a couch causing serious injury. It might have been effective... if the quick shot where he slams into the couch wasn't that of a fully grown man doing the same thing. Not to mention that the blood looks very fake.
Any episode of the '70s series The Six Million Dollar Man that involves our hero flying a fighter is pretty funny to watch. Due to the use of stock footage, he flies in as many as 5 different planes during a single flight.
That Mitchell and Webb Look parodied this with the Helivets. The helicopter that the Helivets purportedly fly around in is clearly a cheap model helicopter that's being inexpertly piloted around.
Eureka parodies this with Sheriff Andy, who comes out of the box with a lot of ridiculous looking CGI armor... which immediately falls apart, revealing a Ridiculously Human Robot.
Monty Python's Flying Circus also parodied this in their "Scott of the Antartic" sketch. The whole sketch revolves around bad moviemaking techniques:
To save money, the movie about Scott's Antarctic expedition is shot on an English beach. That's painted white. Except that when they realize this, they switch the setting to the Sahara. Only they still shoot it with the ocean in the background. And they're using a dog sled pulled by various house pets, and wearing winter clothes.
To make the main character seem tall, the actor initially walks on boxes while the female love interest acts out of a trench. They eventually realize that this is a problem.
Scott gets to fight a lion, since it's in his contract, again despite the fact that the movie was set in the Antarctic. So when we finally see the trailer for the movie, the scene is started by footage of a lion moving past the camera, followed by a lion doll getting tossed onto the beach. Scott wrestles with it for a while before it's replaced by a guy in a bad lion costume, who then starts a fistfight with Scott, eventually dragging a chair from off-camera and then pulling a knife. Then Scott knocks him out with a punch, and blood goes "pshhhhht".
In slow motion.
Scott's Eskimo partner also gets to fight a giant electrical penguin with tentacles. Blood goes "pshhhht".
In slow motion.
The Starlost boasted a new video process that was to allow the most spectacular visual effects ever. This process, called "Magic Cam", was a simple greenscreen effect that allowed almost all of the show's sets to be created from miniatures or matte paintings. Promotional material hailed the way that Magic Cam prevented any sort of visible matte line or haloing. This turned out to be entirely false. Matte lines, halos, wires, boom shadow, basically, if there's something you can do to ruin a visual effect, The Starlost does it.
Made particularly sad by the extremely high quality of some of the model shots used in the opening titles (which is ruined by the lousy quality of the title graphics themselves and most of the other shots).
In the Fawlty Towers episode "Basil the Rat", most of the shots of Manuel's pet "filligree Siberian hamster" use a real rat, videotaped separately from the main action and edited in. In a scene where the rat scurries across the floor, it's obviously a model pulled by a nylon cord, but the main fx failure occurs in the final scene in which the rat pops its head out of a biscuit tin that Polly is presenting to the health inspector. In this scene, the rat is a very unconvincing puppet with a rotating head which is operated from beneath the tin by actress Connie Booth.
Rose Red had an equally unconvincing rat puppet appears as a Cat Scare in its third installment. Its gaping mouth in close-up is obviously plastic, and doesn't even have a rodent's buck teeth. To make matters worse, the real rat shown scampering away from the scene is a different shade of gray-brown.
In The Adventures Of William Tell, the famous crossbow bolt that pierces the apple in the first episode is quite obviously riding a very visible wire. This wouldn't be so bad if that shot hadn't been used in the opening credits every single week.
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was among the first shows on TV to use CGI (it was about 1993). They are cheap, and REALLY bad. Lampshaded some seasons later in a 'behind the scenes'-esque episode where Ares looks out a faux-moving car screaming "Cheesy blue-screen effects!"
The X-Files usually makes their effects fairly believable, but the episode "Piper Maru", which featured a submarine that could not have been more obviously fake.
The same could be said for the "monster" in "Arcadia" and the cat that attacks Mulder in "Grotesque".
And the cat that attacks both Mulder AND Scully in "Tesos dos Bichos". It's a cat puppet, but because Gillian Anderson is allergic to cats, they had to use rabbit fur — which Anderson reports often shed and got stuck to everything. (Presumably the crew even agreed it looked silly — the blooper reel for that season features a clip of Mulder fighting the cat puppet set to the theme of George of the Jungle.
In "Shapes" the onscreen transformation is great, the two times the werewolf actually appears it looked laughably fake. To their credit, they seemed to realize this limitation and kept it offscreen almost the entire episode. Even during its two actual appearances, it's either out of focus or only briefly seen running across the screen.
Jason Of Star Command is rather notable for the quality (relative to its time and the fact that it was a Filmation production) and quantity of its model shots and space footage, but in the very first episode, Jason goes on a spacewalk (protected only by an invisible force field) to rescue his commander (Played by James Doohan!). The role of "space" is played by a black curtain with shiny spots on it. You can see over the top ofspace. You can even see "space"'s curtain rod!
Law & Order has an odd one when a religious fanatic defendant, upon being convicted, turns to his followers and holds up his hands, which bleed like Christ's wounds. The guy is actually faking it, but that's nothing compared to the special effects failure, which makes it blatantly obvious they were using a green-screen. Why they even needed to I can't imagine; he's just standing in the courtroom, like he had been a moment before.
Law & Order: LA has 10,000 acres of badly CGI'd/cloned pot in one episode, which somehow looks even worse as a photoshopped image.
Blackadder: The Cavalier Years briefly features a baby who is an obvious doll. Why they didn't just have it wrapped in cloth is a mystery.
Are You Afraid of the Dark?, in practically every episode due to its low budget. The one that stands out the most is an episode where a bunch of kids are kidnapped onto an alien spacecraft and forced to eat a horrible alien food product... which is clearly and obviously lime-flavoured jello in a bowl.
This ended up being beneficial in ways, as episodes often had to use frightening ideas and imagery (e.g. a girl suddenly standing on the other side of the window in the middle of the night) rather than special effects, which makes it scarier.
Walking with Dinosaurs and its sequels have impressive special effects for a documentary, especially upon the first viewing. However after a closer inspection, it is baffling how the SFX team didn't catch some of the clearly obvious goofs. The biggest ones are:
The jarring shift between the CG and the animatronic Postosuchus from the first episode.
Messed-up water reflections and a Diplodocus drinking from a bush in the second episode.
The baby Sauropods supposedly disturb a lot of branches on the ground, but the CG dinosaurs have been animated elsewhere, so the branches are moving on their own.
In the third episode, the "skin" of the Ophthalmosaurus is clearly peeling off, and the chunks continue floating in the water.
Episode four is basically a goof reel:
The long fingers of the Pterosaurs clip through their leather wings all the time.
Although it is not as severe as in the picture on the main page, you can see that the Iguanodon puppet could have been made with a longer neck
CG Iguanodons walking in air.
The sequence of the raptors bringing down the Iguanodon has so many clipping errors, it isn't funny (watch their hands and legs).
When the Utahraptors open their mouths, the inside of their models becomes visible, and it has the same pattern as their outer skin.
And the mating ground, which has messed up shadows and layering issues, see-through pterosaurs, animals repeating the same set of motions at the same time, and the wires clearly hanging out of our main hero's neck.
Episode five: the attacking Koolasuchus doesn't open its mouth. The fleeing Leallynasaura, however, does, and we can see the background through its head.
The Allosaurus, after it kills the lead female, twists its head in a very painful manner, and its jaws clip through its stiff neck.
At the start of the final episode, a Didelphodon tries to rob the nest of a T. rex. As it bounces up and down, its hind legs completely sink into its torso.
The large frills of the Torosaurus clip into their shoulders at times.
The WWD special The Ballad of Big Al brings us:
See-through dinosaurs during the epic Diplodocus hunt and Al's clash with the female Allosaurus.
Diplodocus teeth that stretch when the animal opens its mouth.
Some very fake-looking interaction between props and CGI.
In the first episode, sometimes the actions of the animals don't correspond with the disturbed leaves on the ground.
The second episode gives us glimpses of the puppeteer's jeans and shoes as the Andrewsarchus tries to kill an obvious rubber turtle. Meanwhile, the Moeritherium has an impressive collection of wires hanging from its neck. For some reason, they forgot to cover them up with a CG body. Also, the dead brontothere calf looks like it's made of rubber.
The shadows in the third episode don't always match the animals' actions. For instance, the shadow of the Hyaenodon leaning into the carcass of the chalicothere makes it look like the predator's floating.
Another scene has a large white prop "hidden" behind the Paraceratherium calf's head.
Episode four: the legs of the yawning Dinofelis clip through the tree.
The fifth episode has an awfully wooden looking Smilodon head puppet (complete with some unintended dirt sticking to one of its fangs), and clipping errors regarding the CG Smilodon's teeth.
The last episode showcases a very awkward looking shot of a bellowing mammoth, whose tusk merges with his trunk for a long moment. The antlers of the fighting Megaloceros also sink into each other.
In Walking With Monsters, a gorgonospid brushes against a bush, with the bush sticking INSIDE of it, while it chases a scutosaurus.
And during the fight between the female Dimetrodons, they too pass through each other once.
Another particularly jarring oddity is that after the Hyneria fish bites into the Hynerpeton male, the latter's long tail begins to clip through the fish's head at least twice. It happens fast, but freeze-framing clearly reveals a tail simply sticking out through the Hyneria's forehead.
In Sliders, the season 3 episode that ripped off the movie Species, Quinn jumps into the vortex which is off-screen... then he can clearly be seen standing up and walking away.
Some monsters in Sliders are painfully obvious CG. The dinosaurs aren't the worst; there are also a huge spider, a giant beetle and "spider-wasps" that all look really out of place in a live-action series. And then there's the worm...
The "rip in the universe" effect in the episode As Time Goes By is awful.
Corner Gas digitally adds Oscar and Emma's car into the exterior shots of the house in the Christmas episode.
The Brittas Empire has an episode with an Emu or Ostrich running wild in the centre, which leads to several amusing effects failures. They actually managed to get a live version of the animal, but presumably it was too dangerous to let the actors interact with it. So you either get a live ostrich/emu running down a corridor dragging an obvious dummy, or human actors interacting with a hand puppet sticking over a bathroom stall. To their credit, the people involved seemed to realise this problem, so the shots with the fake ostrich/emu are so obviously fake that it actually adds to the comedy.
The show is known for its rather impressive special effects, but there's just one scene in which it fails miserably. In the "Die Hard" on an X episode "I Shrink Therefore I Am", which is filled with (mostly) very well-done effects in which people are shrunk and grown and interact with each other, a glimpse we get through a viewscreen of Noranti floating out in space rather clearly indicates the strings holding her up. Given that the scene is Played for Laughs, though, it may or may not be deliberate.
Not to mention the episode "Beware of Dog", where a creature brought on board Moya has two forms: the first a very convincing animatronic puppet, and the second a goofy looking costume that the cast and crew took to calling the "Tandoori Chicken".
Rygel's CGI form is strikingly bad compared to the outstanding puppet normally used. Especially glaring in the miniseries where an incredibly well composed and rendered space battle is followed by a rather hokey-looking scene of Rygel swimming.
The CGI used for "Jack"'s true form in "Infinite Possibilities" is much better than the physical puppet used in the earlier "A Human Reaction". Unfortunately, after he dies, they switch back to the puppet for the corpse, which is particularly obvious since the CGI and physical forms are significantly different in appearance.
The Troop uses this like there's no tomorrow. The monster effects are so cheap, it can be hard to take the show seriously, even on what is supposed to be tense moments. The fact that the show was made in 2009 only adds to the cheesiness. However, this show is supposed have the charm of old 1990's Nick shows.
Coronation Street had a huge event planned for its 50th anniversary based around a catastrophic tram crash on the street. This was generally impressively done, with a huge explosion to damage the track, with large, fiery sets and rubble following the crash. However, the actual moment of the tram crashing onto the street is mired by the incredibly goofy looking CG used for the tram (complete with the driver comically pasted into the front as it comes towards the camera).
Walker, Texas Ranger has a clip where Walker jumps out of a plane, which then blows up. Or rather, features an explosion badly pasted over footage of the airplane. When shown on Late Night, Conan's reply was "I thought the special effects on this show were bad until I saw that plane explode on Walker Texas Ranger. They just took footage of a plane and had someone hold a match in front of it."
Psych generally doesn't have much in the way of special effects. Shawn notices things while wearing a funny face. But in the second season, Shawn and Gus are trying to save a daredevil's life, and one stunt takes place on top of a tower, and the green screen is painfully obvious.
The Greatest American Hero never did have the Greatest American Special Effects, but some episodes are downright painful. In one, Ralph has to stop some Soviet agents from getting picked up by a sub, so he collides with the sub to scare it off. The collision with the "conning tower" is laughably bad (the clearly wooden structure shakes), and it obviously takes place inside on a soundstage.
War of the Worlds, at the climax of its second season premiere. The Blackwood Project team and mercenary John Kincaid run to escape their home, which has been rigged with enough explosives to completely destroy it. The resulting explosion as the characters reach safety is an obvious model miniature that looks poorly designed and flimsy, with thin pieces of cardboard flying around as the "building" explodes.
In Season 3, when they use the bamboo car, you can often see the rope pulling the car.
In the episode where Gilligan is invisible, when Mary Ann holds a glass of milk for Gilligan to drink, the milk appears to be disappearing through a straw, but you can see the tube coming out of her sleeve and into the bottom of the glass.
Hello Cheeky invokes this in its parody of disaster movies, The Blazing Bedsitter. An underlying joke throughout the whole sketch is that the actors make up disasters going on outside the room, because they don't have any other set.
John:(looking out the window) And oh my god, here comes a tidal wave! (is splashed with water — deadpan) We are all going to drown.
Mission: Impossible had a revival series in 1980, and it would have been justified in disavowing some of its special effects. Example: the fight on Sydney Harbour Bridge in "The Golden Serpent, Part 1" combines actual footwork shot on location with studio-bound green-screen work which was unconvincing even in 1989. Now... well...
Super Robot Red Baron has its fair share of problems, but is otherwise a quite well-made show. One notable failure, however, occurs in the episode in which a masked man escapes from the Iron Alliance's base. It's established early on that his mask won't come off until a timer releases it (i.e. at the end of the episode), but during a fight scene in the water, the mask falls off too early, and the actor scrambles to put it back on!
Once Upon a Time features an absurdly high number of fairytale creatures made with lousy CG (big offenders being the Wraith, the Ogre, and Jiminy Cricket). While the rest of the series has very ambitious production values and lavish visuals (think Alice in Wonderland (2010) but with more realistic buildings, environments, etc.), the bad creature effects (especially compared to this show's competitor,Grimm, which is far more reliant on creature effects) stand out a hell of a lot more.
Top Gear had this happen a few times, but most often intentionallyfor laughs. They once made an intro to a fake 60's spy show called The Interceptors, which at one point cuts from footage of a real boat with a real person in it to them blowing up a toy boat with a doll in it. Another time Jeremy decides to cover a camera in Vaseline so he'll get "style" points for a challenge. You can't see a thing out of the camera.
Hillside, a shoestring budget Canadian teen drama (titled Fifteen in Nickelodeon runs during the early 90's), is rife with examples, such as a pinball machine with no sound effects and the girl's locker room being clearly the exact same room as the boy's locker room, except with pink paper scattered all over the wall.
Friends has several episodes where the cameraman zooms a bit too far out or angles the camera a bit too steep, causing the studio lights to be briefly seen in the shots.
Also, in "The One Where They're Up All Night," the New York City landscape while they're on the roof of C/M/J/R's apartment complex is clearly a painted backdrop.
ABC's Red Widow, in the third episode. There are several shots of a big tanker with the consignment Marta is expected to receive, zooming in on the big shipping containers and going inside to reveal the contents of the crates within - all rendered in truly horrific CG. Sure, it was necessary for plot purposes, and the show doesn't have the highest of budgets, but still, there is no excuse for the badness of the computer effects here.
Hawaii Five-0: The third season premiere includes a scene where the armored van containing the imprisoned Wo Fat is airlifted off the island to a waiting ship offshore. Yes, you read that right, it was airlifted. And the CG could not have been any more obvious.
The original Hawaii Five-O has a body fall out of a helicopter. A body that's managing to keep its legs straight and its arms in an "I wanna hug you" position.
Nature's Deadliest features short "skits" highlighting each creature featured in the episode. These skits also depict humans being attacked by these creatures, coupled with well-done and stylized but repetitive CG animations showing the effects of the creature on its victim. Most of the time the creature is not shown in the same shot as the human victim, meaning that this trope is usually averted. But sometimes, the featured animal must be shown in the same shot as the victim. When this occurs, Special Effects Failure often occurs in tandem.
A particularly egregious example from the show is the "Africanized Honeybee" skit from the "Brazil" episode, featuring a young boy batting low-hanging branches with a long stick while walking to an unknown destination. When the child inaverdently disturbs the bees, the bees attack...well they're supposed to attack. The child flails around, but with no bees in sight. Almost all shots of bees are simply bees swarming around the camera, utilizing cross-cutting to create the sense that the boy is being attacked. Only two close-up shots show bees together with the boy, and one of them shows what appears to be a cloud of CG particles swirling around the boy's head. Supposedly, these particles are supposed to be bees, but they end up looking like something out of Birdemic. Fortunately, the other close-up of the bees with the boy is the most convincing shot of the episode, utilizing real bees with either the actual child actor or a very well-made mannequin.
The Wonder Woman (2011 pilot) ended up unsold, so the wire effects and tacky pants were not smoothed over uniformly. It's jarring to see that one infamous shot, when others do feature darkened pants.
In Bates Motel, a small dog Norman has befriended crosses the road, (to get to Norman, who happened to *be* on the other side, okay?) only for it to get run over by a passing truck, with not so much a Gory Discretion Shot, but a Gory Discretion camera focus shift. This does not hide the fact of the dog's stunt dummy, or the fact that it does not so much fall over or flatten, as roll over stiff-legged.
The Outer Limits (1995): The episode "First Anniversary", whilst liked for its storyline, was criticised for the alien women's cheap suits - people said they looked like an oversized leotard with offcuts attached.
The execution of Viserys Targaryen. Call this molten gold? Molten gold glows, because it can get over 1200 kelvin hot. What it ends up resembling is cheap golden paint.
Another episode has Bran and Meera rescued from a group of wights by a mysterious figure on horseback. In an otherwise seamless action sequence, there is a very obvious dummy that could've been hidden by faster editing.
Dark Matters: Twisted But True has a character get kicked out of a building and stumble onto a porch in one episode. The porch, the outdoors area and the building are all CGI effects, which isn't a bad thing. The failure comes from the fact that the footsteps of the character getting thrown out echo as if they are in an inclosed, indoor space.
Supernatural had an infodump on the Big Bad in a season 7 episode, which showed several pictures of him horribly photoshopped alongside real-life notable figures.
El Chavo del ocho and El Chapulín Colorado fail massively whenever they try special effects. Whenever there are two characters played by the same actor or characters who float (whatever the reason is) it will have blatant Chroma Key effects, Wingding Eyes will slip off the characters eyes as they move, etc.
Stargate SG-1 has a very strange example in the episode "Pretense". The minimalist Tollan Stargate appears to only exist as a painting, the forced perspective fails as the tracking shot follows SG-1 away from the gate. A long shot later shows a completely different physical prop.
Nashville generally has the title city play other cities, which is fine as long as it doesn't involve beaches what with Tennessee being entirely land-locked. Which brings us to the universally-derided green screen work for Jade St. John's Malibu party in "Time Changes Things."
Several viewers have drawn unflattering comparisons between Juliette's baby daughter and the one seen in American Sniper, which may have led writer-producer Debra Fordham to share this picture of the tot.
This◊ moment on True Blood where a guy leaves through a door without moving at all.
One Life to Live. Rape victim Marty Saybrooke runs to the home of her friend Rev. Andrew Carpenter. As she starts to knock on the door, it starts to swing open(revealing itself to be a prop), forcing the actress to pull back on her knocking so as not to ruin the take. Where it not for the fact that you can see the door opening (thanks to countless YouTube viewings), you could easily view the subsequent awkward, hesitant tapping on the door as a sign of Marty's wrecked emotional state.
The Mr. Potato Head Show: happens in-universe in an episode where Mr. Potato Head had gone money-mad and was deliberately keeping the budget of his Show Within a Show as low as possible: three small spaceship miniatures made of tinfoil, suspended by visible wires, were swinging around in front of the camera, while the narrator says things like "Swish! Boom! Zap!"—those were the only sound effects. And this is supposed to be the sci-fi episode's epic space battle.
In-universe example in the first episode of Yes, Dear; when Greg records Sammy's first steps in a casino, Jimmy pays someone to swap the background with Stock Footage of a park. It looks somewhat convincing until Sammy starts walking on a lake.
On Arrow, there is a shot of Oliver swimming away from a shark with unconvincing CGI all around.
For one of the most effects-heavy shows on television, The Flash has a lot of this. One of the most notable examples being the shot of Firestorm flying in the Season 2 premiere.
In-Universe example in White Rabbit Project: In the DB Cooper legend of the Heists episode, most of the special effects are CGI, except a scene with Tory holding a model plane in front of a special effects fan and fog machine, for Rule of Funny.
Inverted in Stranger Things where an effect was distracting for being too good for the situation at hand. When the boys give Eleven a makeover so she can pass as normal at school, they scrounge up an old dress and a costume wig to cover her buzzcut hair. When we first see El in her new clothes, the wig is obviously fake, but in later scenes where her looks aren't the focus, it inexplicably becomes a high-quality lace-front expertly blended into her hairline, clearly the work of a professional makeup artist and not a 12-year-old. But a few episodes later when El is disgusted with her reflection and ditches the wig, it's once again a cheap costume prop.