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Top 10 TV Shows Cancelled Over Controversy

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Some controversies are unavoidable, but other times people just had to say or do dumb things and get their otherwise successful show pulled form the air. From Louis C.K. to Rosanne and of course, Kevin Spacey, lots of shows have been canceled because of events that took place behind the scenes. So join WatchMojo as we look at the 10 most notorious, biggest and most abrupt show cancelations over controversy. Written by Nathan Sharp

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Top 10 TV Shows Canceled Due to Controversy

Talk about blowing an opportunity. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten TV shows canceled due to controversy.

For this list, we’ll be ranking ten TV shows that were canceled or prematurely ended due to a major controversy regarding the filmmakers and/or actors. We’ll be ranking our picks based on the severity of the controversy, and the popularity of the canceled show.

#10: “The O’Reilly Factor” (1996-2017)

Canceled Because of Sexual Misconduct

“The O’Reilly Factor,” a political talk show starring conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly, aired for over two decades on Fox News. However, this long run came crashing down in April 2017 when The New York Times reported that O’Reilly and Fox News had settled five sexual harassment lawsuits, dating back 15 years. More than half of “The O’Reilly Factor’s” advertisers pulled their support following the allegations, and O’Reilly was subsequently fired from Fox News on April 19. The show continued for three episodes without O’Reilly before officially ending on April 21, 2017.

#9: “CeeLo Green’s The Good Life” (2014)

Canceled Because of Offensive Tweets

“CeeLo Green’s The Good Life” was a reality show that aired for just six episodes on TBS, starring everyone’s favorite R&B artist CeeLo Green. Sounds charming and cool, right? Well, he WAS everyone’s favorite R&B artist. And then came the tweets. While pleading no contest to drugging a woman with ecstasy, CeeLo Green vented on Twitter and insinuated that only conscious individuals can be raped. In his words, “People who have really been raped REMEMBER!” His show was immediately cancelled by TBS; and although a source claimed that it was purely due to poor ratings, the timing is extremely suspect.

#8: “House of Cards” (2013-18)

Canceled Because of Sexual Misconduct

“House of Cards” was once Netflix’s signature show. But in October 2017, actor Anthony Rapp accused star Kevin Spacey of a sexual advance in 1986, when Rapp was 14 years old. Just twelve hours later, Netflix announced that they were cancelling “House of Cards” and that the upcoming 2018 season would be its last. A few days later, Netflix announced that they were severing all ties with Kevin Spacey, so he would not appear in the final season. And while sources claim that Netflix had decided to end “House of Cards” before Rapp’s accusation, many doubt the authenticity of these claims.

#7: “Politically Incorrect” (1993-2002)

Canceled Because of Political Controversy

Now who would have thought that a show called “Politically Incorrect” would be cancelled for being politically incorrect? In an episode dated just one week after 9/11, host Bill Maher and guest Dinesh D’Souza generated controversy by arguing that the terrorists were brave warriors and that the American military were cowards for “lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away.” Advertisers quickly withdrew their support, and the network soon found immense difficulty in finding advertisers to fund their show. “Politically Incorrect” was cancelled the following June, and while ABC claims that the cancellation was a result of bad ratings, Maher and many others directly blamed the post-9/11 controversy.

#6: “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” (2012-14)

Canceled Because of Abuse

This was one of those shows that somehow gripped an entire nation, gave its subjects their fifteen minutes of fame and made them immensely wealthy along the way. By August 2014 the show had aired forty-eight episodes and seven specials and was riding high as one of TLC’s most successful programs. However, the show was canceled the following October after it was revealed that the matriarch, June Shannon, was dating the man allegedly responsible for molesting her own daughter ten years earlier. An entire season’s worth of episodes went unaired, and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” quickly faded into obscurity.

#5: “Charlie Rose” (1991-2017)

Canceled Because of Sexual Misconduct

“Charlie Rose” was a long-running talk show in which the titular host interviewed leading writers, politicians, businesspeople, entertainers, and scientists. It was syndicated on PBS for over 25 years until it was swiftly canceled in November 2017, after Rose was accused of sexual misconduct. Bloomberg Television and PBS immediately announced that they were suspending the show, and pulled reruns from the air. The following day they canceled the show’s distribution and severed their ties with Rose.

#4: “Louie” (2010-15)

Canceled Because of Sexual Misconduct

“Louie” was one of the most-critically-acclaimed comedies of the last decade. But In November 2017, The New York Times published a story about sexual misconduct allegations against C.K. According to the women in the report, C.K. had asked them to watch him masturbate. Despite C.K. having initially denying the rumors, he finally admitted his transgressions after the Times story was published. While “Louie” had been on an extended hiatus following the conclusion of Season 5, FX severed all ties with C.K. following the allegations, essentially ending “Louie” in the process.

#3: “Roseanne” (1988-97; 2018)

Canceled Because of Racist Tweet

Roseanne Barr achieved something most TV stars can only dream of. Her beloved sitcom was brought back twenty years after its initial conclusion. It garnered strong, if mixed, reviews, and was an enormous ratings success. And then she blew it. Barr took to Twitter to tell her followers that Obama’s senior advisor Valerie Jarrett looked like the “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.” The tweet obviously generated a ton of outrage and ABC swiftly cancelled “Roseanne,” stating that her remarks were “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” Yep, that’s one way to put it.

#2: “19 Kids and Counting” (2008-15)

Canceled Because of Past Abuse

Like “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” “19 Kids and Counting” was a ratings smash for TLC that both weirdly mesmerized fans and generated a ton of hate towards its subjects. This show followed the devout Duggar family, which included parents Jim Bob and Michelle and, yes, their nineteen children. However, a terrible secret was revealed in 2015. In Touch Weekly revealed a police report from 2006 claiming that the eldest son, Josh Duggar, had sexually fondled five girls, including four of his younger sisters, while they were asleep. Many advertisers pulled their support and TLC quickly cancelled the show.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“All My Babies’ Mamas” (unaired)

Canceled Due to Backlash over Content

“Kid Nation” (2007)

Canceled Due to Accusations of Mistreatment

“Luck” (2011-12)

Canceled Because of Cruelty to Animals

#1: “Paula’s Best Dishes” (2008-13)

Canceled Because of Racist Comments

Celebrity chef Paula Deen, known for her delicious and super-rich Southern comfort cuisine, had a long and successful history with the Food Network. Her first show, “Paula’s Home Cooking,” premiered in 2002, and she followed this up with both “Paula’s Party” and then “Paula’s Best Dishes.” However, Deen found herself in some hot grease when she admitted, during a legal deposition, to having used racial slurs. The Food Network was quick to act; they severed ties with Deen and decided against renewing her contract, ending “Paula’s Best Dishes” and terminating their long relationship with the queen of butter.

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