Reality TV Shows That Were Canceled In Controversy

The following article contains mentions of sexual assault, child abuse, domestic abuse, and suicide. 

With all the wild reality TV shows that have aired over the years, it shouldn't come as a big surprise that many of them have been canceled because of controversy. Whether it be the actual premise of the show, an incident that happened during filming or airing, or the actions of the "stars" themselves, there are several reasons why a show doesn't make it. Some reality series don't get a second season or even a second episode.

For example, "Adults Adopting Adults" was canceled because of a scandal. The show debuted on A&E in January 2022, and its content can be pretty much summed up in its title. While it already makes sense that the network would cancel a show like that, it's how they removed it so abruptly from TV and streaming services before its fourth episode that got people talking.

The Daily Beast reports that fans had accused one of the stars, Danny Huff, "of having an ulterior motive for adopting" a 20-year-old woman. Huff had already admitted to having feelings for an 18-year-old he'd attempted adopting prior to the 20-year-old. While Huff called the claims "absolutely false," Deadline reported that TikTok videos of him discussing racial issues didn't help either. Regardless, the show is now shrouded in controversy and therefore canceled, like so many before it. So what are those shows that made headlines for all the wrong reasons? We'll break them down.

There goes Honey Boo Boo

Chances are you've heard of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." The "Toddlers & Tiaras" spin-off followed spirited beauty pageant kid, Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, and her wacky yet supportive family. While the show seemed innocent enough, things took a major turn in 2014. That's when TMZ reported that Honey Boo Boo's mother, Mama June Shannon, was dating a convicted child molester following her split from her husband. There were even photos of June not only with him at a hotel but also of him around Honey Boo Boo.

TLC went on to cancel the show, explaining in a statement, via E! News, "Supporting the health and welfare of these remarkable children is our only priority." Mama June was not happy with that decision and took to Facebook (as reported by E!) to deny the claims, saying she hadn't seen the offender in 10 years: "The statement of me dating a sex offender is totally untrue. ... I would not ever, ever, ever put my kids in danger."

Unfortunately, Mama June did put her kids in danger (again) when she began abusing drugs with another boyfriend. That led to her arrest and Honey Boo Boo having to move out of her home and in with her sister. While Mama June had gotten another reality show on WEtv in 2017 that focused on her makeover called "Mama June: From Not to Hot," it was later turned into "Mama June: Family Crisis" to focus on her recovery from addiction.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The Duggars were dropped

"19 Kids and Counting" followed the daily lives of the Duggars, a very large and religious family. According to People, in 2015, a 2006 police report had surfaced. One of the show's stars, eldest son Josh Duggar, "had been investigated for child molestation" as a teenager, and two of his sisters were among six victims. Not only did TLC then announce that they and the family "decided to not move forward with" the show (in a statement to ABC News), but Josh even admitted to the accusations, saying in a statement, "I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry."

The Duggars seemingly tried to spin the situation, though, saying in a family statement on their official website, "...Josh, our daughters and our entire family overcame a terrible situation, found healing and a way forward. We are so pleased with the wonderful adults they have all become." Parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar claimed (via People), "Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God."

USA Today reports that in April 2021, Josh Duggar was arrested on child sexual abuse charges. As a result, the Duggars' "Counting On" spin-off was canceled. He was later convicted, and as of March 2022, Josh "faces up to 20 years in prison," proving that the cancelations were good decisions.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Who's Your Daddy? lasted one episode

Many would say the 2005 reality series "Who's Your Daddy?" was a bad idea to begin with. According to TheWrap, the show, hosted by Finola Hughes, was about a woman who didn't know who her biological father was; she had to choose him from a group of contestants in order to win money. If a contestant could deceptively convince the woman he was her father, leading her to eliminate her actual father, then the lying contestant would receive a monetary prize instead. With that said, it makes sense that the outlet described it as "[o]ne of the most exploitative shows in television history."

Today reported that even before the show aired on Fox, there were petitions to remove it from their schedule by thousands who wrote to the network. There were even protests, not only from adoptive parents, but "from national adoption organizations." The executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute explained why the show was so offensive, writing to Fox, "The very idea of taking such a deeply personal, complex situation and turning it into a money-grubbing game show is perverse, destructive and insensitive to others."

Fox initially defended their decision, saying in a statement that the "attention-grabbing" title didn't necessarily capture what the show would be about. Despite six episodes being filmed, it seemed that Fox tried to pass the program off as a TV special, ending it with the woman finding her father and winning money. The show was still a total bust.

Paula Deen got canceled and so did her show

Paula Deen was once a beloved Food Network chef before controversy that surfaced in 2012 led to her downfall, including the cancelation of her show, "Paula Deen's Home Cooking." According to TMZ, Deen was sued for racial discrimination by a former manager of one of her restaurants, and during the deposition, admitted to using a racial slur. Per Radar, that same lawsuit also accused Deen's brother, Earl "Bubba" Hiers, of sexual harassment, specifically for watching porn in front of other employees. Those revelations resulted in the Food Network canceling all Paula Deen-related shows, but even more shady things about Deen were revealed.

In the same deposition, Deen reportedly confessed to wanting the waiters at Hiers' upcoming wedding to be Black men who were portraying slaves (via NBC News). The The New York Times also spoke with one of Deen's employees, who said that Deen asked another employee to wear an Aunt Jemima-style outfit at work. Outside of accusations of racism, people were also heated that Deen hid her diabetes until she landed a lucrative drug company deal, after always promoting unhealthy foods on her cooking shows.

Deen attempted several apologies, in one even claiming, via People, "Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable. I've made plenty of mistakes along the way... I beg for your forgiveness." However, the damage was done. Deen wasn't only dropped from the Food Network, but also by companies she had partnered with, like Walmart and Sears.

Pretty Wild started and ended with scandal

"Pretty Wild" started as your typical E! reality show about a new-age mother raising teenage girls in Hollywood. But, that pretty much changed right out of the gate. One of the show's stars, Alexis Neiers (Haines) explained to ET, "It was supposed to be just kind of like the hippy, crunchy version of the Kardashians, and then all of a sudden it made a 180 when I was arrested on the second day of filming." Neiers wasn't just arrested; she was accused of being part of the infamous "Bling Ring," the group of teens who robbed celebrity homes in 2010 and inspired the Sofia Coppola movie of the same name.

Yet, E! seemed to go along with the change of plans, deciding to cover how Neiers and her family dealt with the scandal instead. What made matters much worse was that both Neiers and her live-in friend, Tess Taylor, reportedly had a major drug problem. Neiers told ET, "I was using heroin every single day, all day long... I mean, I was loaded from the second we started filming to the second we stopped."

The show ended up getting canceled after only one season, once photos of Neiers and Taylor doing heroin surfaced online. Both girls say the cancelation eventually led them to getting clean. Neiers told The Cut, "It was the best thing that ever happened to me. ...It was kind of the perfect storm that inspired me to get out of that place."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The Two Coreys ended when one Corey quit

Actors Corey Feldman and Corey Haim were pretty big teen stars in the 1980s, so it seemed like the point of their reality show, "The Two Coreys," was to revive their careers. However, the show, which ran for two seasons on A&E between 2007 and 2008, may have ended up making things worse for them. That's because the show was reportedly canceled after Haim, who struggled with drug addiction for years, suffered a relapse during filming. His addiction was apparently so bad that Feldman decided he no longer wanted to do the show with him and pulled out after Season 2 wrapped.

Feldman's manager explained to the National Enquirer (via Today), "Right now, there will not be a third season of 'The Two Coreys.' Things can't continue the way they did toward the end of the second season." Sadly, just two years after the show ended, Haim died at age 38. CNN reported that while drugs were found in his system and his death was originally considered a "suspected prescription medication overdose," it was later determined he died from pneumonia.

A&E released a statement on Haim's death, (via TooFab), that read in part, "We are saddened by the tragic loss of Corey Haim who we had the pleasure to work with on the series 'The Two Coreys.'" As for Feldman, he went on to release the documentary, "My Truth: The Rape of Two Coreys" in 2020, about the alleged sexual abuse he and Haim dealt with as child stars.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Armed and Famous led to a lawsuit

Perhaps executives at CBS thought "Armed and Famous" could be a show so crazy that it just might work. Unfortunately, it didn't, and there's still debate over why it was dropped by the network after just four episodes and moved to VH1 (per CBS News). The 2007 series followed a group of out-of-work and lesser-known celebrities, like Jack Osbourne, LaToya Jackson, and Erik Estrada, as they worked on the police force in the small town of Muncie, Indiana.

Not surprisingly, the show was panned by critics, including one from The Buffalo News who wrote, "I'd rather spend a month in Muncie or be tasered than watch another episode." Yet when CBS canceled "Armed and Famous," they blamed it on its difficult time slot. Their spokesman Chris Ender claimed, "It came down to ratings. Going up against 'American Idol' was a tall task for the show."

It also probably didn't help that the show was hit with a $1 million lawsuit. According to Reality TV World, the plaintiff, Lyndsay Clements, alleged that Muncie police, along with the cast and crew of "Armed and Famous," forcefully entered into her apartment when looking for a fugitive. Before realizing they arrived at the incorrect address, they handcuffed her and ravaged through her belongings. The incident left Clements feeling "violated," with her lawyer claiming, "They ought to be held accountable." He added, "If you think of cops as clowns and want to give them guns, you're putting everybody at risk."

Kid Nation was accused of exploitation

You've most likely heard of "Kid Nation" before, considering the 2007 show was so ridiculous it left a lasting impression. The reality series was described as a cross between "Survivor" and "Lord of the Flies." Per BuzzFeed, it was about a group of kids ranging from ages 8-15, creating their own society when left on an uninhabited farmstead in the middle of nowhere without adult supervision. If that doesn't sound sketchy enough, The Smoking Gun found that the parents of the participants had to sign a waiver that acknowledged that there were "conditions that may cause the minor serious bodily injury, illness or death."

Thankfully, no one died, but The New York Times reported that there were issues with some of the kids drinking bleach and (per BuzzFeed) being traumatized over the killing of a live chicken. The show was also condemned by critics for exploiting children. Following a lawsuit and an actual inquiry by the New Mexico Attorney General regarding whether or not production broke their laws, the show was canceled after one season. 

Yet, executive producer Tom Forman stands by "Kid Nation" to this day, telling Variety in 2017, "The part that was amazing and controversial and groundbreaking was the social element." He also stressed that the children were always safe during production and added, "Every couple of years I pick up the phone and lob in a call to CBS and see if we should do it again."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Eve and Ocho never even aired

"Eve and Ocho" was another reality TV show that was to document the lives of a new rich and famous couple, kind of like "Newlyweds" or "Khloe & Lamar." The VH1 series had chronicled NFL star Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson's engagement and then wedding to "Basketball Wives" star Evelyn Lozada. However, things took a darker turn when, according to People, Johnson was arrested on a domestic violence charge before the first episode was scheduled to premiere in 2012.

Johnson had been accused of head-butting Lozada so hard that she required hospital treatment. Following his arrest, VH1 immediately removed the show from its schedule, stating that it was because of "the unfortunate events over the weekend and the seriousness of the allegations," adding that they had "no current plans of airing it."

The Miami Dolphins went on to fire Johnson as well, and days later, Lozada filed for divorce. Johnson went on to a year of probation, per E! News. In 2020, he tweeted about how the incident affected his life, writing, "I lost my temper for once in life for 3 seconds & it cost me a lifetimes worth of work." Lozada was not happy with that, and responded in an Instagram video saying, "It's messages like this...that are triggers for me. ... It wasn't the first time." She continued, "I'm not going to let anybody take away my f***ing truth and put this perception out there for a pity party as if you made one mistake."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Flip it Forward's hosts had a shady past

It appears that someone at HGTV may have forgotten to do a background check when they hired twins David and Jason Benham to host "Flip It Forward," a 2014 show about families who want to make fixer-uppers into dream homes. That's because not only were the hosts the sons of an evangelical minister who often spoke out against homosexuality and abortions, but it was discovered that so had the twins themselves.

According to the Daily Mail, both Benhams were found to have taken part in anti-gay rallies, and at least David protested outside abortion clinics. David was even recorded saying, "We have no-fault divorce; we have pornography and perversion; we have homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation." HGTV would only say, via ABC News, that they were "not moving forward with the Benham Brothers' series at this time." But the fact that they added, "We're not commenting beyond this statement," made it clear that the cancelation was probably due to what had surfaced about the Benhams.

However, the Benhams claimed that the network knew about their past. David dished, "We explained it to them and we gave the proper context for my statements. And they looked behind our eyes and said, 'they don't have any hate in their hearts for anyone, so we are going to give them a show.'" While that series never hit air, the brothers did proclaim in a statement, "If our faith costs us a television show then so be it."

CeeLo Green's rape tweets ended The Good Life

Singer CeeLo Green appeared to be at the top of his game between 2010 and 2014, thanks to his hit song "Forget You," his part in "Hotel Transylvania," and his role as a judge on "The Voice." Green was so popular at the time that TBS even gave him his own reality show, "The Good Life," which gave fans a behind-the-scenes look into his successful career. However, everything changed in 2014, when, according to E! News, Green "pleaded no contest to a felony count of furnishing ecstasy to a female" two years before. NBC News reported that the woman had also accused Green of raping her, but prosecutors didn't pursue that charge.

While Green maintained his innocence, he made things worse by taking to Twitter to make controversial statements about rape, equating it to burglary. He even tweeted-then-deleted, "People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!"

Of course, Green received major backlash. He attempted to apologize, tweeting (via ShowBiz CheatSheet) that his words were "taken so far out of context," and adding, "I only intended on a healthy exchange to help heal those who love me from the pain I had already caused from this." TBS went on to cancel "The Good Life" before its second season premiered, and around the same time Green also left "The Voice," presumably for the same reason. He did eventually return to "The Voice" in 2018, but according to USA Today, didn't receive the warmest welcome, with fans calling his return "disappointing."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Buckwild ended in tragedy

MTV's 2013 reality series "Buckwild" was a show about a group of young and wild party friends who lived in West Virginia. However, it sadly ended on a tragic note after one of the show's stars, 21-year-old Shain Gandee, died from carbon monoxide poisoning while filming the second season. Us Weekly reports that Gandee was found dead, alongside his friend, Donald Robert Myers, and his uncle, David Gandee, after the truck they were in got stuck in the mud while they were off-roading, an activity often chronicled on the show.

Following Gandee's death, MTV decided to not move forward shooting Season 2, explaining in a statement that "given Shain's tragic passing and essential presence on the show, we felt it was not appropriate to continue without him." They added, "Instead, we are working on a meaningful way to pay tribute to his memory on our air and privately," which they did with a special episode, as well as a "day of programming dedicated to Shain."

However, that didn't appear to be enough for the show's producer, J.P. Williams, who wanted to continue with filming. Williams even told The Hollywood Reporter, "This is the network that has shows about teen pregnancy. They'll stick by a show that allows you to abandon a child, but a kid dies by accident doing what he does for a living [mudding], and they cancel the show?" Unfortunately for Williams, MTV owned the rights to "Buckwild" and barred him from shopping the show around to other networks.

Murder canceled Megan Wants a Millionaire

You could say we left the most controversial for last since the 2009 reality show "Megan Wants a Millionaire" was canceled because of a murder. The VH1 show was supposed to focus on reality star Megan Hauserman as she looked for a wealthy man who could eventually make her a "trophy wife." Hauserman had already appeared on the network's other shows, "Rock of Love" and "I Love Money," as well as the CW's "Beauty and the Geek," per E! News. 

While the series sounded like your average tacky dating show, things became much more serious while it was airing when it was discovered that one of the contestants, Ryan Jenkins, was wanted for murdering his wife, Jasmine Fiore, according to EW. They had been married for five months. Jenkins had even wrapped another VH1 reality show, "I Love Money 3," but both his shows were pulled from the network once it was learned he was a "person of interest" in the murder case (via E! News). Jenkins committed suicide. The whole incident not only canceled "Megan Wants a Millionaire," but made it clear that reality shows had to do better at protecting their cast members and performing background checks. 

All in all, this show, as well as the others listed, prove reality TV may be a fun guilty pleasure, but a lot can go very wrong, too. While no one likes to see a show fail, most of these seemed to be canceled for all the right reasons.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.