TV is a fickle, bitchy landscape. Shows come and go at the whim of executives, audiences, and voodoo curses. And what gets the green light one day may be canceled the next. Each year, the networks order test pilots to try out shows, casts, writers, or concepts with audiences. And sometimes, even if the ideas sound great on paper, other forces stop the the project at the pilot. Check out our list of 11 horror and sci-fi shows that sounded terrific, yet were canceled before the televised runs even began.
Title: THE MYSTERIOUS TWO
The Pitch: Two popular TV televangelists are actually aliens trying to brainwash humanity. One man knows about their evil truth and sets out to stop them.
Why It Never Aired: This 1979 pilot aired only as a TV movie. But it was directed by horror icon Gary Sherman.
Title: LOCKE AND KEY
The Pitch: Based on the popular Joe Hill horror graphic novel of the same name, three siblings move into the Keyhouse, a mansion full of weird supernatural, macabre oddities.
Why It Never Aired: Steven Spielberg was signed on to produce this one as well as Mark Romaneck to direct. They shot a pilot episode in Pennsylvania which aired at San Diego Comic Con in 2011 to roaring crowds. But FOX canceled the project because they thought the production costs were too high.
The Pitch: Following the trend of young adult novels about dystopian futuristic societies, DELIRIUM (based on a popular book series) cast Emma Roberts as a teen girl living in a world where love is against the law.
Why It Never Aired: FOX canceled the show before it ever aired the first episode. The pilot was available on HULU for a while. Fans are still rallying online for the project’s return.
Title: MULHOLLAND DRIVE
The Pitch: MULHOLLAND DRIVE actually started as a TV pitch for ABC. They made one pilot episode.
Why It Never Aired: Lynch hated it. The executives hated it. The project was canned, and Lynch eventually turned it into an amazing movie.
The Pitch: Created by Shaun Cassidy – who horror fans know from his other TV project, AMERICAN GOTHIC – and described as THE X-FILES in LA, a group of friends solve macabre crimes in Los Angeles.
Why It Never Aired: FOX apparently took an incredibly long time tweaking and changing the project around. Eventually Cassidy pulled out, and the project ceased.
The Pitch: Based on the popular movie (which was originally conceived as a TV show before being turned into a movie), there were multiple attempts to get ZOMBIELAND re-launched as a TV show. In 2013, Amazon released a pilot episode on their instant streaming platform.
Why It Never Aired: Fans hated the pilot episode. The backlash was swift and severe. Amazon canceled all future episodes.
The Pitch: Leonard Nimoy plays a race car driver who is injured in a crash and begins having visions of murders before they happen.
Why It Never Aired: Canceled after the pilot, but the episode did air as a TV movie in 1973.
Title: DANGER TEAM
The Pitch: Some space goo crash lands in an artist’s studio. He sculpts the goo into little people who come to life and do the only natural thing you could do in an early 90s TV show- fight crime!
Why It Never Aired: It aired only as a made-for-TV movie, but many speculated that the Claymation people were too expensive at the time to continue. Check out the pilot here.
Title: GARBAGE PAIL KIDS
The Pitch: This was CBS’s late 80s animated series about the popular grotesque trading card characters.
Why It Never Aired: There was immense parental backlash about the TV show which would no doubt feature characters who would be picking their noses, vomiting, lighting themselves on fire and endless other questionable behaviors. Since 13 episodes had already been created, they were sold and shown in many other countries. And apparently in Iceland, they were quite popular. But sadly, not a single episode ever aired in the USA. Some of the episodes have made their way to YouTube.
Title: DAY ONE
The Pitch: This has been described as THE WALKING DEAD with aliens. A group of apartment residents survive a worldwide cataclysmic event and must begin figuring out what’s happening while the entire world’s infrastructure has been destroyed.
Why It Never Aired: Originally expected to replace HEROES in 2010, the pilot was ordered by NBC, but then was canceled after just the first episode. Here is the trailer they made for the show.
And not quite horror, but CRUEL INTENTIONS disturbed me-
Title: MANCHESTER PREP
The Pitch: Coming off the success of CRUEL INTENTIONS as well the sequel, the show was about a school full of wealthy students with ample amounts of sex, back stabbing, violence, and other horrible behavior.
Why it Never Aired: The show was incredibly racy and full of underage sex which sparked a huge amount of controversy, eventually causing the network to cancel the launch.