5 Scrapped Episodes That Almost Ruined Famous TV Shows

Remember the time the Brady Bunch threw a huge kegger and then had to rush to get Jan's stomach pumped? Or that time Fred Flintstone beat his bird record player to death because it kept skipping? Of course you don't, because those are terrible, terrible ideas that we just made up.

But you'd be surprised by how close some great TV shows came to destroying themselves with equally awful storylines. Maybe it's the pressure to try to stay fresh and interesting, or maybe it's the fact that Hollywood is 70 percent cocaine. Whatever the cause, only last-minute interventions from sanity and sobriety saved us from the following disasters.

#5. Breaking Bad -- The First Season Almost Ended Like a Saw Movie

Sony Pictures Television

Walter White's moral descent from milquetoast high school chemistry teacher to full-fledged villain slowly played out over Breaking Bad's five-year run, or roughly two days of calling in sick and watching Netflix in your underwear. And while Bryan Cranston's living room now resembles an IKEA ball pit filled with Emmys, it's hard to imagine the show succeeding if it had followed the original storyline, where Walter goes from sad sack cancer patient to deranged psycho killer over the course of, like, a long weekend.

Sony Pictures Television
"That's not even enough time for me to grow evil facial hair."

Fans of the show have known for a while that Walt's partner in crime, Jesse Pinkman, was originally slated to die at the end of the first season. While this would have surprised viewers and drastically lowered the show's final "bitch" count, it's the aftermath of Jesse's death that would have been a twist equal parts shocking and unbelievably idiotic.

Sony Pictures Television
So kind of like Season 2's twist ending.

According to series creator Vince Gilligan, Jesse was to be knocked off by a rival drug dealer. An enraged Walter in turn kidnaps this dealer and locks him in his basement, and then presumably tells his wife and son that it's infested with raccoons or something. Makes sense so far, but what happens next would have blown the show's crazy load for good.

First, Walter rigs up a shotgun on a tripwire so the dealer could kill himself whenever he wanted. Walt then turns into the Jigsaw Killer by lopping off a toe, a finger, or some other body part every day before cauterizing each wound with a blowtorch. Which, holy shit, even by the standards of the monster Walter became in the later seasons, or by the standards of any human being with even a remote shred of sanity left in them, is pretty cruel.

Sony Pictures Television
"And then I'm going to cover you in ants. And the ants are going to use tiny little chainsaws.
And the chainsaws are going to be dipped in ricin ..."

It gets worse. The dealer holds out for weeks, and eventually Walter Jr. ventures into the basement, probably wondering why his dad was always covered in blood after doing the laundry. When the dealer learns that he's Walter's son, he grabs Jr. and finally fires the shotgun, killing them both. End of Season 1!

Fortunately, no one else at AMC was thrilled with the idea, because kidnapping babies and blowing up South American psychopaths wouldn't seem quite so extreme after the show had already gone full-on torture porn. Not to mention that the whole premise of slowly turning an everyday guy into a villain would have been shot to hell if Walter had become a madman at the first opportunity. That's like learning Anakin Skywalker went to the dark side because he was asked to stay late and do some filing. Although we do have to admit that Walt Jr. getting his head blown off by a tortured killer is a way better use of the character than having him just mope around for five years.

Sony Pictures Television
"Goddamnit, will you stop asking if we can have breakfast for dinner!"

#4. Futurama -- A Sad Episode Gets Way Sadder

20th Century Fox Television

Cartoons that elicit genuine emotion from viewers are few and far between. Sure, we all shed a single tear at the moving opening montage of Up and that episode of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? where Shaggy declares his love for Scooby, but the Futurama episode "Jurassic Bark" is perhaps the only cartoon you can admit to full on bawling at as an adult and not having people judge you.

20th Century Fox Television
A story so sad, the Internet won't Rule 34 it.

You all know the story, and if you don't, well, spoiler alert for a 12-year-old Futurama episode you really should have watched by now: Fry discovers the fossilized body of his dog, Seymour, and is going to have him cloned, but he changes his mind at the last minute when he discovers that Seymour lived for over a decade after Fry had left him. Fry assumes Seymour went on to have a happy life with a new owner, which would be a touching ending, until a flashback shows us that Seymour waited for Fry to come back every day until he died, proving Fry horribly wrong. You then discover that the room you're in is unusually dusty.

20th Century Fox Television
... so damn dusty.

It's an episode that made many people ask, "How is it I can cry at a comedic science fiction cartoon, but I can't express my feelings to my friends and family?" Well, get your Zoloft out, because the episode was originally going be about Fry finding the body of his mom.

20th Century Fox Television
"Now this we can pornify!"

Yeah. Mentally walk yourself through the episode with that switch made. Imagine Fry finding his mother's petrified body at a museum and having to protest to get her back. Imagine Bender getting jealous of Fry's attachment to his mom and eventually trying to destroy her body in lava. Imagine Fry calling off the cloning process at the last second, assuming that his mom got over the mysterious disappearance of her son and went on to have a long, happy life. Then imagine a final scene where we watch a woman grow old and die while constantly clinging to the faint hope that her beloved child will come back to her.

Unsurprisingly, this premise got the ax after the writers realized that Fry dragging his mom's fossilized corpse around New New York would be "too upsetting" to viewers. It's like if Psycho got turned into a gut-wrenching family tragedy. We're going to go out on a limb and guess that Fry destroying his own mother's second chance at life might have played as less touching and more psychopathic than the writers had originally envisioned, although we would have been curious to know how many moms got tearful phone calls as soon as the episode finished airing.

20th Century Fox Television
"I just wanted to call to say I promise to never throw your corpse in a pit of lava, no matter how many dumb chain emails you send me."

#3. Cheers -- Sam Almost Gets AIDS

CBS Television Distribution

Not a lot of 1980s sitcoms tackled the AIDS crisis, probably because the combination of a light-hearted comedy and a devastating disease is the polar opposite of peanut butter and chocolate. Try watching Philadelphia with a laugh track if you don't believe us.

Nevertheless, the producers of Cheers almost shot an AIDS episode, presumably because they wanted to grapple with a serious issue but felt that examining alcohol addiction would have torpedoed the show. In what was originally going to be the sixth season cliffhanger finale, ladies' man Sam Malone would find out that one of his 8 million ex-girlfriends was HIV-positive. Then Woody would say something stupid and Norm would try to sneak another beer.

CBS Television Distribution
"Hey, Sam, think you could AID me with another beer?" *laugh track*

The episode made it as far as rehearsals before everyone realized that maybe the "Does Sam have AIDS?" storyline wouldn't quite be the laugh-fest viewers were hoping for. According to producer and co-creator Les Charles, "The specter of AIDS was taking all the humor out of it." You know, like AIDS tends to do.

With the jokes about Sam's potentially life-threatening illness not landing as well as the jokes about Frasier's pomposity and Cliff's trivial musings, the episode was scrapped and replaced with something less horrific. The series finale instead ended up introducing the long-running plotline of Rebecca potentially getting together with Sam, which was funny and well-received because neither of them had AIDS.

CBS Television Distribution
"Hey, what about something lighter, like an abortion subplot?"

The AIDS episode was never revisited thanks to the 1988 writers' strike and the fact that, again, it was a comedy story about a beloved main character possibly getting a terminal disease. And so it was left to rot among other unproduced Very Special Episodes of classic sitcoms, like the episode of Who's the Boss? where Tony gets beaten and left for dead in an alley and "The One Where Chandler and Joey Confront a Holocaust Denier."

Warner Bros. Television
"Could he be any more anti-Semitic?"

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