2016 was a pretty awful year for lots of reasons. Between celebrity deaths, acts of violence, politics or even natural disasters, plenty of bad to horrible things happened in 2016. All things considered, though, TV fared pretty well. There was a plethora of great shows to watch — and lose ourselves watching — during 2016. Yet even the best of shows has the occasional misstep or downright awful episode. Here are seven of the worst TV episodes of the year. 

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7. “Broken Hearts” – Arrow 

Some of the shows gathered on this list come from bad shows, or at least shows that had a bad year. Most of them, though, are from great shows that really mangled their weekly storyline. These hurt much harder because it is obvious the show is capable of much more, they just didn’t deliver for one reason or another. “Broken Hearts” from Arrow is one such episode.  

Arrow season 4 might be considered one of the worst seasons of the show but there are plenty of redeeming moments in several episodes that keep them from being completely awful. There is very little to redeem “Broken Hearts.” It serves as a finale to one of Arrow season 4’s worst story arcs, Oliver discovering and protecting his lovechild son, William. It also explores in depth Oliver and Felicity’s illogical and frustrating break-up, which basically means the two cry about their feelings for a good hour. In between all that unnecessary angst there are appearances by Arrow‘s worst and most one-dimensional villain to date, Cupid.  


6. “Handidates” – Scream Queens 

In season 1 Scream Queens was never what anyone would call a “good show.” For the most part Scream Queens season 1 was an enjoyable show. Scream Queens was over-the-top and cartoony but self-aware enough to make those things work. In season 2 Scream Queens took a real dive as it introduced a bunch of new (unfunny) characters and killed off the few that were the real spotlights of the show. The most egregious example is the episode “Handidates,” which killed off Chad Radwell, the character who was so much of a frat bro parody that he was actually lovable. 

“Handidates” is a terrible episode for more reasons than killing off one of Scream Queens‘s best characters. It is basically one long hour of the most unlikable and most insufferable Scream Queens characters screeching at each other and making accusations of murder. Granted, most of the series up that point had the same type of interactions, but “Handidates” takes things to a whole new unbearable level. 


5. “Last Rites” – Once Upon a Time 

In typical Once Upon a Time fashion, it was the penultimate episode of season 5, not the finale, that served as the real culmination of the story. Unlike previous seasons, “Last Rites” is a completely unsatisfying, rushed and sloppy conclusion to the main storyline of the season. Most fans will remember “Last Rites” as the episode that killed off Robin Hood and deem it terrible for that reason and that reason alone. The problem with “Last Rites” isn’t so much that Robin Hood died but the way he died — and that goes for everything in the episode. The events themselves aren’t terrible but the way they occur is just dreadful. 

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Zelena and Regina have a stupid fight that facilitates the death of Robin. Hades, who has been a capable and interesting villain all season, veers sharply into one-dimensional territory. Emma, the supposed hero of the story, does almost nothing to stop any horrible thing from happening. Maybe the most ridiculous thing of all is that Zeus just decides that Hook doesn’t deserve to die and sends him back to life. Never mind all the other characters that have died on Once Upon a Time before their time, Hook’s death was the one that needed to be corrected. 


4. “The Race of His Life” – The Flash

As a whole, The Flash season 2 is not that bad. When you focus on just the final run of episodes though, The Flash fails at an almost spectacular level. The season 2 finale, “The Race of His Life,” is just plain bad, as the mediocre villain Zoom is taken out in the laziest way possible. There is nothing surprising or even interesting about the way that The Flash wraps up its season 2 storyline. Whether it is the reveal of who was the Man in the Iron Mask or how Zoom was ultimately defeated, “The Race of His Life” is an exercise in boredom. 

The biggest offense is the big cliffhanger where Barry travels back in time to save his mother’s life. It takes almost everything that was good about the season 1 finale and the big lesson that Barry learned in that episode and completely disregards it. The Flash at least had the decency to open season 3 by acknowledging how terrible a decision Flashpoint was for Barry, but it doesn’t change the fact that it should have never happened. 


3. “Unauthorized Magic” – The Magicians 

The Magicians is a proof that you should almost never judge a new series by its pilot episode. Over the course of its first season, The Magicians grew into one the most inventive and interesting new series of 2016. Its series premiere is a total mess. A lot of the sloppiness can probably be attributed to the fact that The Magicians is based on a book series. Yet just because The Magicians has a wealth of source material didn’t mean the show needed to cram as much information as possible from that source material into one episode. 

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“Unauthorized Magic” is less a pilot episode and more a televised bullet point list. The show just jumps from one scene to another with very little connective tissue. It’s all about getting the facts out to the audience and not worrying if any of it makes sense or feels emotionally right. The Magicians really beats its audience over the head with every single plot point and theme with no grace or tact. Outside of some cool special effects and fantastic performances, there is almost nothing to entice you to watch episode 2. Thankfully, the rest of The Magicians is wildly different and wildly better than its first disastrous episode. 


2. “Friendly Fire” – UnREAL 

There’s never been a sophomore slump more extreme than UnREAL in season 2. UnREAL season 1 was not only one of the best new series of 2015, it was one of the best series of the year. UnREAL season 2, with its focus on big plot twists over big character moments, is easily one of the worst series of 2016. Even with all the weird story decisions UnREAL made in season 2, there was a chance the season finale could make sense of them or at least salvage the series for season 3. Instead “Friendly Fire” looks at the dumpster fire of season 2 and dumps more gasoline onto the flames. 

“Friendly Fire” embraces all of UnREAL‘s worst impulses in season 2. Darius remains an afterthought. Coleman continues to be an absolutely awful human being. Everlasting, the show within a show, becomes an even more exploitative and ridiculous parody of a parody. On top of it all, “Friendly Fire” one-ups the big event of season 1, the death of Mary, and introduces actual murder into the show as Jeremy kills Coleman and Yael. Without the murder, season 2 of UnREAL could have been largely forgotten, but now season 3 will have to continue to deal with the events of season 2.  


1. “Last Day on Earth” / “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” – The Walking Dead 

Obviously The Walking Dead‘s season 6 finale and the season 7 premiere are two separate episodes. However, they are telling the same story and are awful for the exact same reasons, so they share the top spot of the worst TV episode of the year. It’s not uncommon for fans to threaten to quit watching a show after a big shocking event. It is rare, though, that fans are absolutely justified in wanting to quit a show after a big shocking event.

Negan’s introductory episodes on The Walking Dead are a gigantic slap in the face to the audience. “Last Day on Earth” and “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” are not emotional or heartbreaking, despite the big character deaths. They are indulgent, sadistic and have way, way too much of Jeffrey Dean Morgan mugging and monologuing as Negan. The big character deaths are not treated as emotional moments for the series, they are presented as plot twists and nothing more. 

The Walking Dead did not tell a good story for Negan’s introduction. The show prioritized tricking its audience, first with a cliffhanger and then by dragging out the reveal of the deaths, over making the audience actively care about anything that was happening on-screen. A big stunning death becomes much less impactful when you spend over two over-indulgent hours getting to it. Negan killing Abraham and Glenn should have two big but quick events. The Walking Dead made their deaths a sadistic and unbearable exercise in misery. 


So what do you think? Which of these episodes are the worst of the year? Did we miss any big mistakes? Do you agree with this list? Which of these series had the worst year in 2016? 

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Derek Stauffer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.