10 Worst American Remakes of Foreign TV Shows

10 Worst American Remakes of Foreign TV Shows
Image credit: FOX, ABC, NBC, Legion-Media, globallookpress, MTV

From teenage dramas to murder mysteries, these American adaptations have proven that not all that glitters in the overseas market is gold on home turf.

1. "Skins" (2011)

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MTV's attempt at remaking the gritty British teen drama "Skins" was nothing short of a catastrophe. The original series, known for its unflinching look at teenage life, quickly gained a cult following for its realistic depictions of sex, drugs, and mental health. On the other hand, the American version appeared too polished and lost the raw, authentic edge that made the UK original so compelling.

What's worse, MTV received a backlash for its handling of sensitive themes, resulting in the Parents Television Council calling for a federal investigation into the show's alleged child pornography. The controversy, coupled with terrible reviews (it scored a mere 10% on Rotten Tomatoes), led to its cancellation after just one season.

2. "The Inbetweeners" (2012)

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The original British comedy series was a hilarious and cringe-inducing look at four awkward teenage boys navigating the traumas of adolescence, school, and failed romantic endeavors. The American remake, however, felt like a cheap, awkward parody of the original, failing to capture the charm, wit, or cringe-factor. Even Simon Bird, who played Will in the original series, admitted that he thought the remake was "pretty catastrophic."

After one season, it joined the ranks of American remakes that couldn't capture the essence of their British counterparts, proving that not everything needs an American twist.

3. "Life on Mars" (2008-2009)

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"Life on Mars," the British series, was a critical darling for its unique blend of detective procedural and science fiction. The American version started off promising, boasting a cast including Harvey Keitel and Michael Imperioli, but quickly went south. Critics noted that it lacked the humor and charm of its predecessor. But what was the nail in the coffin for this unfortunate remake? The infamous finale. The American ending, which revealed the entire series to be the dream of an astronaut traveling to Mars, was widely panned.

The British version's ending, in contrast, was thought-provoking and ambiguous. The American "Life on Mars" was thus consigned to the "remake fail" history books, with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 51%.

4. "Kath & Kim" (2008-2009)

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The original Australian "Kath & Kim" was a ratings hit Down Under, with its quirky characters and uniquely Aussie humor. Unfortunately, the American version starring Molly Shannon and Selma Blair was an absolute flop. The humor got lost in translation, and viewers found the characters unlikeable and the plotlines uninteresting.

It was called a "trans-cultural train wreck" by critics and lasted only one season before it was mercifully cancelled. With a dismal 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it was clear that not all comedy translates across the Pacific.

5. "Gracepoint" (2014)

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A remake of the UK's critically acclaimed "Broadchurch," "Gracepoint" is a prime example of how an unnecessary American remake can fail spectacularly. Despite replicating the original almost scene-for-scene, and even retaining original lead actor David Tennant, it fell flat with audiences and critics alike. Why? Its palpable lack of originality and charisma, which made the UK version so riveting.

Even with an additional episode and a different ending, it couldn't escape from the shadow of its British predecessor. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes were brutal, leaving it with a disappointing 53% rating and describing it as an "unfavorable photocopy."

6. "Coupling" (2003)

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The original British "Coupling" was often referred to as the UK's answer to "Friends," offering a unique blend of sexual innuendo and relationship comedy. Enter the American version: NBC attempted to recreate the magic but found out the hard way that lightning doesn't strike twice. Its six episodes (yes, only six) were a woeful, pale imitation of the UK version.

In the process of "Americanizing" the show, the wit, comic timing, and charm were lost, leaving behind a comedy that was anything but comedic. The creator of the original show, Steven Moffat, criticized the remake. Unsurprisingly, with a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the show was cancelled midseason.

7. "The IT Crowd" (2007)

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Channel 4's original "The IT Crowd" is one of the most celebrated sitcoms in British TV history, with its distinct, offbeat humor and likable characters. However, NBC's remake couldn't have been more disastrous. It starred Joel McHale and Richard Ayoade, who reprised his role from the original series.

Still, the remake fell victim to the usual pitfalls: it lacked the charm, wit, and quirkiness of the British version. Even worse, it never actually made it to television. After the pilot episode was widely panned, NBC decided not to move forward with the series. That's right, this remake was such a catastrophe; it didn't even make it past the pilot stage.

8. "Men Behaving Badly" (1996-1997)

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Originally a massive hit in the UK, "Men Behaving Badly" chronicled the lives of two childish men sharing a flat and their hilarious escapades. The American remake starred Rob Schneider and Ron Eldard, but it lacked the charm, wit, and, well, bad behavior that made the UK version so popular.

The jokes fell flat, the characters were unlikable, and the 'bad behavior' was toned down for an American audience, resulting in a lukewarm, tedious sitcom. With a dismal Rotten Tomatoes audience rating of 33%, the show was cancelled after two seasons.

9. "The Killing" (2011-2014)

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The original Danish series "Forbrydelsen" was a worldwide hit, with its intricate plotting and chilling atmosphere. AMC's American remake, "The Killing," initially showed promise but soon became a letdown. Despite mirroring the original's dark, moody aesthetics, the remake was criticized for its slow pacing and for failing to resolve the main murder mystery in the first season.

Even the show's talented leads, Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, couldn't save it from mediocre reviews and disappointed fans. The series somehow managed to survive for four seasons, but it left viewers feeling that the original's mastery of suspense and character development was lost in translation.

10. "Ironside" (2013)

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Last on our list is the American remake of the British series "Ironside." The original 60s series followed a tough yet likable detective confined to a wheelchair. The remake starred Blair Underwood in the titular role, but that's where the positives end. The revamped "Ironside" was lambasted for its generic storytelling, lack of character development, and for turning its protagonist into a one-dimensional tough guy. Not even a diverse supporting cast could rescue this sinking ship.

After a string of poor reviews and low ratings, NBC pulled the plug on "Ironside" after airing just three episodes. The series ended with a pitiful 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.