The Most Cringeworthy TV Shows Of The 1980s

By Sarah Norman | October 5, 2023

Small Wonder

Ah, the 1980s, a decade that gave us Rubik's Cubes, neon leg warmers, and some of the most cringe-worthy television shows ever concocted. For those who lived through it, these shows are a nostalgic trip down the rabbit hole of shoulder pads, mullets, and laugh tracks that were a bit too enthusiastic. But for those who didn't witness the '80s firsthand, get ready to dive into a world of TV oddities that feel like fever dreams and make you question the very fabric of the space-time continuum. From "Charles in Charge" to "Small Wonder," and obscurities like "Misfits of Science" and "The Phoenix," this gallery is a cringe-worthy time capsule you won't want to miss. So whether you're here for the nostalgia or simply to satisfy your curiosity about these '80s TV abominations, let's journey together through the worst the era had to offer. Click on to see the "best" of the worst!

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Metromedia Video Productions

You remember "Small Wonder," right? The series where a brilliant robotics engineer decided the best way to navigate the trials of parenthood was to create a lifelike android daughter named Vicki. Because, you know, who needs to go through the inconvenience of childbirth when you can build your offspring from nuts, bolts, and a dash of misplaced ingenuity?

While the '80s were indeed a time of technological marvels, the idea of a mechanical child lurking in your family photos was, well, let's say, a tad bizarre. Vicki's robotic stiffness didn't exactly help matters, making her about as relatable as a toaster with pigtails. Sure, "Small Wonder" had its moments of unintentional hilarity, but embracing this peculiar premise was like trying to hug a laptop—it just didn't quite compute for most viewers.


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"Manimal," a television debacle from the 1980s, is an unforgettable testament to the era's penchant for absurd genre-bending experiments. Hitting the screens in 1983, this gem of a show tracked the misadventures of Dr. Jonathan Chase, a man so mysterious and wealthy that even his ability to morph into various animals couldn't save the day. While the premise might have raised an eyebrow or two, "Manimal" spectacularly crashed and burned in execution. Its special effects were as convincing as a cardboard cutout, and the plotlines could have been written by a bot on autopilot. Despite its undoubtedly tiny but fervent fanbase, "Manimal" stumbled through eight episodes before mercifully being put out of its misery. It now stands as a remarkable relic of a bygone era, celebrated more for its audacious missteps than any lasting impact on the annals of television history.