If a TV series is placed in a terrible time slot and no one is around to watch it, does it make a noise in the ratings? Of course not, which is the conundrum of network TV scheduling: Every show, no matter how good or bad, is ultimately at the mercy of its time slot, especially when it’s put in one of the spots that routinely repels audiences.
As CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler explained recently, “You get into the room with a bunch of options, and it is [like] moving pieces around on the chessboard.” Except that on TV, some of the chessboard squares are more like black holes, where series after series quickly disappear without a trace. One ABC time slot was so toxic that it took down three shows last season, and that radioactivity can linger for years.
Those scorched-earth time slots are once again wreaking havoc on new shows this fall. While two long-doomed spots seem to be safe for viewers again—the Mysteries of Laura has reclaimed Wednesdays at 8 p.m. for NBC, while a relocated Grey’s Anatomy has brought audiences back to ABC on Thursdays at 8 p.m.—others have already slid into television’s equivalent of death row.
Here are the 10 worst time slots on broadcast television. Abandon hope, all ye who are scheduled here: