The worst TV remakes of all time

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: May 22, 2023 (Last updated: February 8, 2024)
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Once in a while, a TV show is created that leaves a lasting legacy on its viewers. These shows are often cited as cultural icons. The likes of Friends, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad serve as honorable mentions. 

However, with these masterpieces of the small screen comes the dreaded announcement of a remake or reboot. But, why has the practice of rebooting shows become so popular? And why do people remake TV shows despite disdain from hardcore fans who want their beloved shows to remain untouched?

In this guide, we will talk about the worst TV remakes of all time and what makes them so bad. Is it the acting, the directing, or their inability to match up to their predecessors? Find out here! 

Why is remaking TV shows so popular?

Recently, there has been a surge in remakes of old TV shows. The cult following the original shows had is something that most small and big production companies wish to recreate. 

Their hope for remaking popular shows is arguably to create the same lasting buzz and impression for newer generations. These newer generations may have missed out on the hype surrounding the original, older shows. 

TV remakes can allow current and future generations to enjoy a show that’s more adapted to the time. There’s also the process of production companies adapting shows for their own audiences. 

Why do remakes often fail?

Sometimes, the uniqueness and timing of certain shows are what make them so popular. These shows may feature a particular style of humour, an original premise or certain characters that the audience can identify with. Remakes of these shows are usually destined to fail. This is arguably due to the audience’s inability to understand what made the original show so popular elsewhere. 

Injecting unique elements of the original into the remake may not always work. The concept that made the original so popular may not make the same impression the second time around.

The worst TV show remakes of all time 

The Inbetweeners (2012)

We’re sure that every British teenager watched this show in its prime. The Inbetweeners follows the lives of four teenage boys trying to navigate their chaotic school and home lives. They do this in a clumsy and relatable way that can make many teenagers relate to their struggles.

The original serves as one of the most popular British comedy sitcoms. However, the American remake of the series failed to leave the same lasting impression. Following the same premise as the British original but intended for an American audience, its failure seemed almost inevitable. Perhaps this is due to the differences in humour and experiences between British and American people. 

Gossip Girl (2021)

Considered a sub-par reboot of the hit 2007 show Gossip Girl, the 2021 version faced premature cancellation. The cancellation comes after just two seasons, which is four fewer than its counterpart. 

However, the reason why this remake failed is perhaps due to its failure to live up to its predecessor. The characters in this version appear as inferior versions of the seemingly untouchable originals. The dialogue and plot have also been criticised as lacking substance.

Skins (2011)

This is another example of an American remake of a British classic that failed to hit the ground running. Following exactly the same premise as the original, it’s no wonder this remake failed to take off. The series was ultimately cancelled after one season.

We’ve previously discussed the difference in humour and culture between Britain and America. It included inherently British-based culture and slang that may not have resonated with American audiences as much.

Charlie’s Angels (2011)

Having faced three film remakes and one TV remake, Charlie’s Angels is clearly a popular concept for today’s filmmakers. First created in 1976, the story follows three kickass female leads. However, its 2011 instalment, following a similar premise, was one of the worst contenders. The series faced cancellation after seven episodes (and an unaired eighth episode). 

The original was once again rebooted in film format in 2019. But this version also failed to receive the acclaim that the original did. Not even Kristen Stewart could save this failure of a film remake, as it became a box-office bomb. 

Since then, there hasn’t been a Charlie’s Angels remake. Perhaps film and TV writers have taken the hint that some things deserve to just be left alone. 

Gracepoint (2014)

The third instalment in the American-remakes-of-British-shows saga comes in the form of Gracepoint. The irony is that this show fell from grace shortly after its release. Gracepoint serves as a remake of the smash-hit British detective crime drama Broadchurch.

This show made several desperate attempts at living up to its British rival. They even managed to convince original Broadchurch actor David Tennant to star in this version (how, we aren’t exactly sure). In the end, not even David could have saved this show from cancellation, as it ended after one season. 

Honourable mentions

We’ve listed some of the worst TV remakes. Now, let’s take a look at some examples of the best remakes.

Shameless (2011)

American reboots of classic British series can be good, and this is the perfect example of that. With its 11-season run, the US version of Shameless is a triumph of the small screen. Even without James McAvoy, this show managed to hold its own and succeeded in creating a name for itself.

The Office (2005)

Interestingly enough, this show surpasses its British counterpart in seasons despite being a reboot. Steve Carrell takes the lead in the US version of the British mockumentary sitcom of the same name. 

Doctor Who (2005)

One of the most popular sci-fi shows ever, the 2005 reboot is considered vastly more popular than its 1963-1989 run. After an 18-year run, it doesn’t look set to end any time soon, with a new series scheduled for 2024. 

Additional reading: 

Lists, RSC Originals