What’s the real reason these 2000s reality TV shows were canceled? If reality TV had a golden era, it was the 2000s, a time sandwiched between basic cable and streaming services. Back then, scripted shows took a backseat, and seemingly everything on your TV followed “real people.” It was the decade that gave us the Kardashians — who’ve undergone a stunning transformation — Lauren Conrad, and The Bachelor. It even answered the age-old question, “Who would ever want to sleep with Flava Flav?”
So it should be no surprise that the bulk of our reality TV nostalgia stems from the 2000s, when we tuned in every week to see how Ozzy Osborne and Hulk Hogan raised their kids, or whether LC and Stephen could survive another episode. While some of those shows are still on today, many only live on in our memories and Amazon Prime accounts. So without further ado, here’s a look at some of our favorite reality shows of yesteryear, and the sometimes strange and unexpected reasons they got the axe.
The real reason Newlyweds was canceled because the marriage was falling apart
Perhaps the first dream couple of the millennium was boy band hero Nick Lachey and his bombshell, pop star wife Jessica Simpson, who’s undergone a stunning transformation. And while their Newlyweds show gave us plenty of memorable moments (who can ever forget “Is this chicken or tuna?”), it also chronicled the downfall of their marriage. That’s the real reason the show was canceled in 2005, and the marriage followed suit shortly thereafter; Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson finalized their divorce in June of 2006 (via Entertainment Tonight).
According to a Buzzfeed story highlighting excerpts from Simpson’s memoir Open Book, by the time season 3 rolled around the couple didn’t even like each other. And even as early as season 2, the couple was faking their way through scenes so producers could get the interactions they wanted. During the final season, the couple went so far as to tell cameras to “stop rolling” so they could argue without America seeing it, then filmed almost nothing save for a Valentine’s Day episode after that. “We did nothing to hide there were problems,” Simpson wrote in the book.
The real reason The Simple Life was canceled was because Paris and Nicole were feuding
Remaining friends with your BFF after a month-long road trip is a dicey proposition at best. Surviving three of them? With a camera crew? And constant media attention? Downright impossible. That’s why it wasn’t exactly groundbreaking news when Fox axed The Simple Life prior to season 4, even though the network had already extended both Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s contracts, according to Today.
So what’s the real reason The Simple Life was canceled? Hilton and Richie’s incompatibility, in a nutshell. Hilton issued a statement shortly after the news broke, which People reported as saying, “Nicole knows what she did, and that’s all I’m ever going to say about it.”
What went wrong with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s friendship? The same article quotes a source that said Richie was jealous that Hilton was getting more media attention than she was. And when Hilton hosted SNL – solo — Richie threw a party to watch the show, then showed Hilton’s infamous tape instead.
The real reason Pimp My Ride was canceled was because the cars often didn't work
Theoretically, a show about tricking out mediocre cars into eye-catching street machines is grade A entertainment. The problem is, no one stopped to think if a Pinto with jacuzzi in the back would actually run — and many times, it didn’t. For example, season 6 owner Seth Martino posted on a Reddit AMA that his car was a “polished turd” after Xhibit and his crew were done with it on Pimp My Ride. Plus he had to shell out $1,700 for a new engine.
HuffPost interviewed Martino and two other owners about their experiences, who reported everything from TV screens not working to items like custom rims being removed from the car after production wrapped. And the whole process took months, unlike the instant transformation the show portrayed. Additionally, Matrino says the show dumped bags of candy into his car to accentuate the fact he’s overweight.
Another contestant, Jake Glazier, alleged the show asked him to break up with his girlfriend to make for a better storyline. These allegations are the real reason Pimp My Ride was canceled in 2009.
The real reason Hogan Knows Best was canceled was because of Hulk's divorce and Nick's car accident
One would think transitioning from one TV format to another would be pretty seamless for a veteran like Hulk Hogan. But that wasn’t the case after the fourth season of Hogan Knows Best, when, ironically, not knowing best ultimately tanked the show. Hulk and Linda Hogan were in the midst of a divorce at the time, a split brought on by Hulk’s affair with his daughter’s best friend, according to E! News.
The stress of both the divorce and the show stretched the family to its limits. “We all worked really hard and way too much to the point where we really didn’t have any emotion left,” Linda said in an interview with Good Morning America. “We were just robots functioning on a weird level.”
Making life harder still was Nick Hogan’s car accident. As ABC News reported, Nick crashed his Toyota Supra into a tree, nearly killing his best friend, Justin Graziano. The incident marred the show’s image, and the combination of divorce and the accident are the real reasons Hogan Knows Best was canceled.
The real reason Fear Factor was canceled was because of one of the most disgusting stunts in history
Even a show that regularly has people eating mildly obscene animal parts has its limits. Fear Factor‘s initial run was from 2001 through 2006, whose cancelation was due to the not-so-sensational “low ratings,” according to Life & Style. But oh, that short-lived 2011 reboot, it went out in a glorious blaze of animal fluids.
During an episode titled “Hee Haw! Hee Haw!” sets of twins were given the choice of drinking 30 ounces of donkey urine or 24 ounces of donkey seed. Byrnne and Claire Odisio chose the later, and later said in an interview with Gawker, “I ended up just vomiting in my glass and drank that. The camera men were vomiting. It smells. It’s so bitter, and it has a little hint of hay.”
When news of the episode reached the public before the episode aired, audiences were disgusted — and that’s the real reason show was canceled shortly thereafter.
The real reason Dog the Bounty Hunter was canceled was because the network and Dog couldn't agree
Though Duane “Dog” Chapman lost a lot of his “lovable renegade” persona when his son recorded him repeatedly using a racial slur in 2007, that’s actually not why Dog the Bounty Hunter was cancelled. Though, as CNN reported, the show was suspended pending an investigation of the recording; it returned to the air for five years before finally being canceled in 2012. It is, yet again, a little bit of a Mandela effect, where we collectively remember something that never happened.
So what was the real reason Dog the Bounty Hunter ultimately put down? When TMZ broke the news of the show’s cancelation, they cited a source who said the bounty hunter and A&E had “creative differences” over the show. Sons Duane and Lee Chapman had already left the show in 2011, and HuffPost reported, the Chapmans had been receiving death threats around the time of the cancelation as well (though no one has linked those to the show being canceled).
The real reason the original Queer Eye was cancelled was because the cast had gotten so popular
Sometimes a great reality show can become a victim of its own success, and never has this been truer than with the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. The show that introduced America to its second Fab Five, gave Bravo! one of its biggest hits, and launched the careers of Jai Rodriquez, Thom Filicia, Ted Allen, and other cast members.
However, after the third season of Queer Eye, the cast had gotten insanely popular outside the show; that’s the real reason the network canceled the series, as Rodriguez laid out in an interview with Hollywood. “It’s only been three years, but it feels like so much more due to the overexposure,” he said. He went on to detail how Filicia was redecorating Jennifer Lopez’s house, recounted the group’s tour to the Philippines, and revealed that at the time he was working on his own show and a movie. “We’re…like Michael Jackson 1982,” he said proudly.
The real reason Nanny 911 was canceled was another network bought the rights and aired reruns
Spurred by the early-aughts craze of imported reality TV shows, the Fox network went ham with ripped off versions of other successful shows like Trading Spouses (its version of Wife Swap) and The Rebel Billionaire (its version of The Apprentice).
Nanny 911 was actually a direct result of the network losing the bidding rights to the British hit Supernanny, according to RealityTVWorld. The show formats were ostensibly the same, where a nanny comes in like a take-no-prisoners Mary Poppins and gives her tough advice to hapless parents.
The show ran for three seasons on Fox from 2004 through 2006 before taking an almost-three-year hiatus, according to TV Guide. Looking to dump the underperforming show, Fox sold the licensing rights to CMT in 2008, according to RealityTVWorld. CMT then proceeded to air nothing but reruns. The network launched a brief Nanny 911 revival in 2009, but it didn’t gain the popularity of the Fox original, and lasted only eight episodes of a single season.
The Anna Nicole Smith Show set ratings records…then got cancelled for this real reason
Talk about coming in like a lion and immediately going out like a lamb: when The Anna Nicole Smith Show debuted in 2002, it got a whopping 4.1 household rating, meaning about 4.5 million people were watching. At the time, E News! reported this as the highest-ever rating for a program on its network, the best debut for a cable reality show, and the second-best debut for an original series on basic cable.
Two years later, the show was a ratings disaster. During its run, it followed Smith as she went about her daily life with son Daniel and then-boyfriend Howard K. Stern. But as Smith’s bizarre life played out on TV, ratings dropped considerably. That’s the real reason The Anna Nicole Smith Show was canceled in 2003, according to AmoMama.
Smith went on to have another child, though, and was seemingly on her way back up when Daniel died of a drug overdose. She was famously found dead at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida only a few months later.
This is the real reason Megan Wants a Millionaire and I Love Money were canceled
Perhaps the strangest and saddest off-camera story in reality TV history involves I Love Money 3 contestant Ryan Jenkins and his wife, Jasmine Fiore. Jenkins was the runner-up on Megan Hauserman’s Megan Wants a Millionaire, and, as Hauserman told Entertainment Weekly, he was so distraught after the loss he went to Vegas and found his “soulmate,” Fiore.
However, Jenkins was prone to jealous and erratic behavior, calling Fiore multiple times a day while filming I Love Money, and demanding to know where she’d been the night before. He also had a criminal record, uncovered by TMZ; he was arrested for assaulting a girlfriend in Calgary in 2005.
Tragically, shortly after filming ended, Jenkins returned to California and murdered his wife. Jenkins went on the run, and ultimately took his own life a week later. Out of respect to the tragedy, only three episodes of Megan Wants a Millionaire made it to air. I Love Money 3 never saw the light of day.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The real reason The Osbournes was canceled was because of lagging ratings
Who could forget The Orbournes, the show that grew to be MTV’s largest-earning international property, snagging licensing deals everywhere from the UK to Australia. “After three years, the MTV cameras became part of the family, documenting what is possibly the most dramatic year we have had,” Sharon Osbourne said in a statement obtained by The Guardian, after MTV ordered the final ten episodes of The Osbournes. And in that short time, Ozzy, Sharon, Jack, and Kelly Osbourne –who’s undergone a stunning transformation — had come to feel like family to most of us.
But the high ratings of 2002 and 2003 didn’t repeat in 2004. And though MTV still had a cash cow on its hands, it chose to order only ten more episodes for a third season of The Osbournes before calling it quits. The family wasn’t hurting after the cancelation, though, as it effectively launched Kelly’s music career and landed Sharon her own talk show, a judging slot on X-Factor, and plenty of lucrative endorsement deals.
What's the real reason Ahston Kutcher faked Punk'd's cancelation?
Ashton Kutcher knew his celebrity-candid-camera shtick on Punk’d had a limited shelf life. Once celebs knew he was a prankster, fooling them would be hard — unless he did something big.
And that’s exactly what Kutcher did in 2003, announcing during a press event for The Butterfly Effect that Punk’d was going off the air after two seasons. “I think you keep it new or it’s through,” Kutcher said (via Entertainment Weekly). “If it wasn’t going to be new, I didn’t want to do it. And I get bored really, really quickly.” But as it turned out, the “cancelation” was a ruse, as the show returned in April of 2004 with a whole slew of new pranks. We had all, effectively, been Punk’d.
The show did finally go off the air — for real this time — in 2007 (though a reboot starring Chance the Rapper debuted on Quibi in April of 2020, as reported by Entertainment Weekly). And even though Kutcher tweeted in June that he had “nothing to do with” the new version, can we ever really be sure?
The real reason the Swan was canceled was because it may well have been the worst reality show of all time
The question really shouldn’t be “Why was a show that takes normal-looking women and gives them extreme plastic surgery and extensive therapy in hopes of winning a modeling contract canceled?” It should be “How did it get made in the first place?,” a question Vice actually asked when calling it the “most bizarre and offensive reality show of all time.” When The Swan aired, USA Today said, “for anyone wondering where to draw the line, here it is.” Additionally, Jennifer Pozner called it “the most sadistic reality show of the decade,” in her book Reality Bites Back (via Metro). It also made Entertainment Weekly’s list of 10 worst reality TV shows, ever.
Despite critical and cultural panning, the show averaged 9.1 million viewers a week, according to Variety. And a Fox executive was quoted as saying it was the fastest the network had ever picked up a second season. That season, however, was not nearly as successful, ratings-wise, the real reason The Swan was ultimately canceled.
Laguna Beach wasn't canceled; it morphed into another show for this real reason
Lauren Conrad has undergone a stunning transformation. Before she ruled The Hills, she was the (sort of) likable main character on MTV’s Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, which followed a group of teenagers in the OC’s swankiest beach town. The only problem was, once LC, Steven, Kristin, and the rest of the crew graduated…their stories were kinda over. And if we learned anything from Saved by the Bell, it’s that high school shows don’t age well into their college years.
Though the Los Angeles Times speculated that the show might be scrapped as part of MTV’s new web-focused strategy, Variety later reported Laguna Beach would be moving forward with a new cast in nearby Newport Beach (via RealityBlurred). After one season with a new cast, the show shifted to Newport as the short-lived Newport Harbor, which The Orange County Register described as “worse than you think” in one of the greatest TV show takedowns you’ll ever read. Newport Harbor lasted 12 episodes.
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