No television show is perfect. While some series are clearly superior to others in writing, acting, and directing, all great TV shows have moments that make their fans want to scream.
These bad episodes are impossible to enjoy because we know the show is capable of more, and the circumstances often make us too uncomfortable to warrant a rewatch. The characters we love don't feel like themselves, and the writing can be lazy and/or obnoxious. They're simply not entertaining.
So, let's explore 11 terrible episodes of beloved shows!
What are some of your least favorite episodes of TV? Be sure to share them with us!
"Access" - The West Wing
"Access" earned Allison Janney her fourth Emmy Award for playing CJ Cregg. Aside from Janney's always sublime performance, though, "Access" is a disaster.
In The West Wing Season 5 Episode 18, a documentary camera crew follows CJ Cregg around the West Wing to see what a typical day is like for the press secretary. It lacks a lot of what we love about The West Wing, such as the famous walk-and-talks and the talented ensemble of the show. Instead, it uses documentary narration and talking heads like a bad episode of The Office.
When Aaron Sorkin left the show at the end of season 4, it never really got its groove back. "Access," though, is even more difficult to watch because it follows what is definitively the greatest post-Sorkin episode, "The Supremes." How could they go from that wonderful hour of television to this? "Access" is a hot mess from start to finish.
"Scott's Tots" - The Office
Michael Scott grew a lot over his years as Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton. In The Office Season 6 Episode 12, we learn that Michael once promised a class of underprivileged kids that he would pay their college tuition when they graduated high school. Unfortunately, when the time comes for Michael to pay up, he's unable to do so. To make up for it, he gives them batteries for their laptops.
It's uncomfortable and absolutely not funny to watch. These children were counting on him, and now, there's a chance they won't be able to attend college. By season 6, Michael Scott was a beloved character and boss. This episode, though, makes us hate Michael all over again.
"Song Beneath the Song" - Grey's Anatomy
Grey's Anatomy cast members Chandra Wilson and Tony winner Sara Ramirez are incredible singers. Their obvious talent, though, is not enough to make it through this musical episode of Grey's Anatomy. For me, Grey's Anatomy Season 7 Episode 18 was the beginning of the end. I've completely stopped watching this show, and my love for it started to truly deteriorate with this episode.
Ramirez's Callie Torres is in a car accident, and while she is being treated at the hospital, she imagines that everyone around her is singing. Music has always been important on Grey's Anatomy. In fact, every episode is named after a popular song. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean an episode where the cast sings is a good idea. Most of the actors aren't singers, making it an awkward and unwatchable hour of television.
"Last Forever" - How I Met Your Mother
Series finales are obviously difficult. It's tough to wrap up a show that's been on for years in a neat package that will satisfy all of your viewers. Before the series finale of How I Met Your Mother, though, a show never became completely unwatchable due to its terrible ending.
How I Met Your Mother spent nine years building up to the ending. That's what the show's entire focus was. How exactly did Ted meet the mother of the kids he's telling the story to, and is every single moment he's been sharing actually important to the ending?
How I Met Your Mother Season 9 centered around the wedding of Barney and Robin, only to find them getting a divorce in the finale. The show spent nine years focusing on how Ted met the mother of his kids to have her die in the end. He basically spent nine years telling his kids this story so that he could ask for permission to date Robin.
In How I Met Your Mother Season 9 Episodes 23 and 24, the writers of How I Met Your Mother made the rest of their show impossible to revisit. Now that we know the answers to the questions of the previous seasons, and how terrible those answers are, the other 206 mostly fantastic episodes are a waste of time.
"Frank's Brother" - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 7 is one of the show's best. Unfortunately, it includes what most Sunny fans agree is the worst episode of the entire series: "Frank's Brother."
In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 7 Episode 5, Frank's estranged brother arrives at Paddy's Pub, and the two fight. They then proceed to tell the gang their story, prompting flashbacks to the 1960s and 70s when they worked in a jazz club with a woman named Shadynasty.
It's a drastic step away from the show's humor and barely features the other four members of the gang. Frank is the most morally reprehensible member of the terrible group. The other four, though, make Frank a semi-tolerable character in small doses. In a season full of gems, an episode featuring Frank this much is a huge disappointment.
"Here Comes the Son" - Gilmore Girls
At one point, Jess Mariano was supposed to get his own television show, and "Here Comes the Son" from Gilmore Girls Season 3 serves as a backdoor pilot for his spinoff. In it, Jess travels to California to attempt to build a relationship with his long-lost father, but the episode is boring.
Jess was always my favorite of Rory's three terrible boyfriends, but he was never interesting enough to carry his own show. Why they wanted to give him a spinoff is beyond me, but Gilmore Girls Season 3 Episode 21 is uncomfortable. Even the short moments in Stars Hollow aren't that exciting and make the episode completely skippable during rewatches.
"Last Days of Summer" - Friday Night Lights
Here's an idea: Let's take two characters everyone loves, and who everyone kind of started shipping together, and have them commit murder! Not a great idea, right? Well, that's what happens in Friday Night Lights Season 2 Episode 1.
Following one of the most perfect seasons of dramatic television, "Last Days of Summer" feels like a whole new show, or at least the Tyra and Landry storyline does. Friday Night Lights excelled at turning everyday drama and family life in a small town in Texas into something exciting, and they never needed a murder plot to do it. This storyline is unnecessary and downright cruel to the kindhearted Landry.
"The Finale" - Seinfeld
The characters of Seinfeld are terrible people. There is no doubt about that. They have few redeeming qualities over the 9 seasons, but for some reason, they're still charming and lovable in their own bizarre ways.
In Seinfeld Season 9 Episodes 23 and 24, the group gets arrested for failing to help a man who is being robbed. When they go on trial, people from their past are paraded into a courtroom to discuss their grievances with them. It is a bit ridiculous, especially for a series finale. Sending them to prison for it is a cheap and lazy way to end a beloved show.
"Advanced Introduction to Finality" - Community
Community Season 4 is another example of a showrunner leaving and chaos ensuing. The finale, "Advanced Introduction to Finality," brings the group together before Jeff's graduation. It uses a lot of previous gags from the show, including the paintball guns and the Darkest Timeline version of the characters. Community Season 4 Episode 13, however, lacks the charm that Dan Harmon originally injected into these unique plot devices.
Luckily, Harmon returned for season 5 and made the show enjoyable again. This episode, and almost all of season 4, is uncomfortable to watch though.
"Queen of Jordan 2: Mystery of the Phantom Pooper" - 30 Rock
This might be the most divisive choice on the list because I know some 30 Rock fans absolutely love this episode. 30 Rock often did intelligent parodies, including their first spoof on The Real Housewives of (Insert City Here) in season 5's "Queen of Jordan."
The second installment, though, is not nearly as enjoyable because it is less surprising. 30 Rock Season 6 Episode 20 does have its funny moments, but overall it's unnecessary. Sherri Shepherd was delightful as Angie Jordan, but having a second "Queen of Jordan" episode was one too many.
"The One With Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E." - Friends
For some reason, Friends aired six clip shows in only ten seasons. That's an obnoxious amount of lookbacks at past episodes. Often, clip shows are used to save money or to remember the best moments in a series before it comes to an end. Six clip shows, though, are hardly necessary. The one that always made the least amount of sense to me was Friends Season 6 Episode 20.
In "The One With Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E.," Joey is auditioning for a starring role in a new television series, but he misses his audition because Chandler failed to give him the message that his audition time had changed. The clips used in the episode are all about moments that the six friends have messed up or hurt each other, which doesn't make for a fun episode.
The writers could have done so much with Joey's Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E. plot or with his fight with Chandler. Instead, we get this pointless clip episode that's not entertaining at all.