The Most Expensive TV Flops In History

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Over 400 TV shows are broadcast every year, and that means that competition for viewers is fierce. As a result, networks are often willing to spend big money on projects they think will lure in the biggest audience. They place their bets… and sometimes lose their shirts. Here are some of the most expensive TV flops to ever have their plugs pulled…

Battlestar Galactica | 0:20
Supertrain | 1:19
Father of the Pride | 2:19
Viva Laughlin | 3:20
Camelot | 4:30
Kings | 5:21
Marco Polo | 6:29

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  1. Freddie Lounds on

    I’m amazed Hannibal isn’t on here considering how pricey it got near the end maybe it’s because it managed to have three seasons (even if it only also had 13 episodes per season). It was also on NBC which seems to be where a lot of shows have been gambled on so I can’t say I’m surprised.

  2. Nurgle's Socks. on

    might as well have just made this about NBC?
    was that screen shot from king arthur, channel 4 UK? I watched that and I liked it. Was surprised when it didn’t get remade. Channel 4 often pull the plu on things for other reasons though and blame it on ratings. They did this with Utopia.

  3. richard alvarado on

    Memo to CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX…..No more franchise spinoff shows anymore (Law & Order, CSI, NCIS, American Idol & X Factor). If you’re going to do a spinoff kill the original show first, E.G. The Closer to Major Crimes and JAG to NCIS.

  4. Frank Blackcrow on

    Should do a .. how many has netflix axed as from their pilots,, or of how many they are draging their feet with how many pilots that they released already but that havent follower=d up on as from 2016 t0 2018 with still dead air.

    Camelot = game of thrones… if it had sex and more blood and gore.

  5. Rab carn on

    How about invisible man back in the 70s . I loved that show but it was cancelled after 12 episodes. Then there was the planet of the Apes series . It was interesting but also cancelled after 1 season

  6. Michelle King on

    Marco Polo was actually quite awesome
    They just didn’t market it well enough
    I stumbled upon the show last year and I fell in love only to be heart broken when I heard they’re not renewing it
    What a waste of something so splendid

  7. Jero Briggs on

    The original Battlestar Galactica wasn’t a flop. It got better ratings than the new Battlestar Galactica, even the later episodes, but it was too expensive and time consuming to make, so the network cancelled it. Now it’s spin-off Galactica 1980 was a flop.

  8. Harold075 on

    One of the best episodes ever TV history when Cylon and Human crashed alone on the desert planet and learned enemies can be friends.

  9. Donovan S on

    What killed Marco Polo was its name. No one cared about “marco polo” so never bothered watching it. I avoided it also until curiosity made me click on it. Turns out if you actually bothered to watch it it turns out to be an amazing show. Damn shame it’s gone.

  10. sungtimen longchar on

    I love Marco Polo. Who would not love it. It was beautiful, not historically accurate but the setting, the adventure, the ideas, everything was awesome.

  11. quacksackerthegreat Starfire on

    Galactica was NOT a flop. In remained in the top 20 even during repeats. It was the price tag of a little over a million dollars per episode, a huge amount back in 1978, that killed the show. Quickly realizing their mistake after millions of fans started a mail campaign, ABC brought the show back for a second season but with a greatly reduced budget, poorer quality scripts and mostly new cast members since most of the original actors had already moved on to other projects. Most Galactica fans don’t even consider Galactica 1980 an official part of BSG canon….

  12. zbdot73 on

    Well the story that 70s Battlstar Galactica was a flop is a HUGE lie. It was a massive hit, it was cancelled by the execs for reasons unknown, it was so loved that it spurred a world wide write in campaign in which they eventually relented and made Galactica 1980 on a shoe string budget.

  13. Christine Bros on

    Teen Moms, and a bunch of other horrible reality shows that are still airing, I am no longer surprised what I see these days. Without sounding like an old soul, where did all the good shows go? Oh yeah, they took them off the air! There are some good series on Netflix and Amazon Prime. No reality shows please!

  14. Dan Reese on

    Battle Star Galactica was to be a film then a TV series . It cost way too much at the time and then went to that sequel show which was terrible, Also Deadwood was great but least lasted 3  seasons .

  15. Harper B on

    Speaking of expensive..I was so sad about Netflix dropping Sense8. It was such a good show. Only made 2 seasons and I heard that they used like 8 million per episode. I think they’re going to do one more episode as a closer.

  16. tobisonbrown on

    Marco Polo was pretty great…and unlike most of the other stuff on the list you could actually see the benefits of such an enormous budget.

  17. John Camlin on

    If Eva Green can’t save your series or film, then it truly does suck. That woman is the most underrated actress of all time imo.

  18. juana diego on

    I was waiting for the 3rd Season of Marco Polo until I saw it was canceled because it was a disappointment 🙁 That sucks

  19. Maria Teresa Pulido on

    Kings 🙁 I accidentally watched the start of the show, so I got the plot immmediately and was hooked. Finally, I thought, a modern Biblical story…. Huhu. You’re all right, no/incorrect advertising.

  20. Frank Wagoner on

    Am I the only one who considers “Marco Polo” to be a water game played with friends?!! I like history and all, but let’s just face modern facts here and that series was never gonna take off with that title just sayin’ 😏

  21. Colleen McHugh on

    I remember “Father of the Pride”. I LOVED that show!! Also loved the Morgana role in “Camelot”! They should give the actress & the Morgana role a spinoff show! Just when her role in the storyline started getting deviously evil the show was canceled!

  22. Heath Anderson on

    Marco Polo had such good potential. Yet it was too slow and without any real point. They couldn’t decide if the story of Marco Polo was going to be about love, of war, exploration, court intrigue, blind shaolin monk’s backstory, silk exportation, mongol children of Arab descent who secretly hate their father and want to kill them, or sexy concubines fighting nude. So it put it all on the screen and hoped something would stick

  23. Glorified Truth on

    You Americans are such shite. These were the greatest shows ever made, and you crapped all over them.

  24. gregthebaritone on

    “Flop” doesn’t necessarily mean a bad show. In fact, a lot of great TV shows suffer from ratings because they are too good to attract a large audience.

  25. Robert Rohwer on

    “Father of the Pride” is a very funny show, imho. Probably because is was “indecent.” “Kings” was good too.

  26. Marige OBrien on

    Two Questions:

    Q1 : What is the average cost of making a TV episode? I realize this can vary widely. But to better understand how expensive these series were, I think it would help to know the average cost.

    Q2: Do you have a list of popular shows that were axed against their fans’ wishes? If not, that would make an interesting list.

  27. QuartuvLarry on

    WHAT?! Oh, I totally would’ve watched a series about Marco Polo! Why the hell didn’t I know about this?!

  28. Toshi ba on

    Almost everyone who watched marco polo loved it. I think they should double down on it. But no Netflix will play it safe and produce more marvel crap.

  29. GrnXnham on

    I would guess that Battlestar Galactica ended up making money eventually. Even not counting the newer series, they made money on merchandise sales as well as the countless re-airings of those old episodes. Since 1978 there has been a loyal cult following of Battlestar Galactica that has kept the show alive and making money.

  30. AkodoAkira1 on

    My problem with Marco Polo Season 2 was I felt like they picked up the story somewhere else and I didn’t remember any of the characters aside from Kublai, Marco, and like one other guy. If there was ever a series that needed a recap, this was the series. But no. Just tossed us in the deep end. I was so bored by the first episode of season 2 I never went further because it was political talk by people I wasn’t sure were even in the series before.

  31. Peremalfait on

    Camelot was $7,000,000 per episode because it takes that kind of money to make the Arthurian legend boring and stupid.

  32. DarkRubberDucky on

    My theory on why Marco Polo and Camelot failed? They focus on people/stories too well known. Meanwhile, Game of Thrones is fictional, Vikings is about a freaking Vikings, and Black Sails are pirates. We don’t want King Arthur, Mr. Perfect (well, expect for sleeping with his sister, of course), we want villains. We want characters we don’t already have an idea about, or know the story.

  33. tarotbear on

    Actually, I loved MARCO POLO (Harvey Weinstein’s influences aside); I only wish that when Netflix decided to give it the ax during one of the most interesting plot complications of all – leaving the viewing audience high and dry – that they could have created a 2-hour closer to bring all the plot lines together, sort of like what Farscape did when canceled close to the end of their season. I bet Netflix wishes they could get Harvey’s name of it now, though!

  34. Paul Fowler on

    Bad information!! The original Battlestar Galactica was cancelled only due to cost. You will find that in ABC archives. The series was about to be picked up by CBS but due to timing of the new season it was no longer considered.

  35. George Claxton on

    The problem with Marco Polo is that it didn’t really have a story. I tried watching it, and it just went nowhere.

  36. Dj K-Oz on

    Camelot would’ve been thousand times better had it not had that blonde chick as King Arthur.

    Lots of nudity though so that’s a plus.

  37. dratheart on

    Dude Camelot KICKED ASS! The fact that several stars had scheduling conflicts preventing a second season does not mean that season 1 was horrible – it wasn’t! A tad too much sex for my taste was in it, but it was very original in it’s take on Arthurian legends and Eva Green could have carried that show on her own because she is just that good!


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