24 Short-lived Reality Competition Series

A salute to the games that ended too soon (and to some that should’ve never aired)
  1. Pirate Master (2007, CBS, one season)
    In which a bunch of goofily costumed contestants were herded aboard a ship and then given various maritime and treasure-hunting assignments, with one of them each episode parlaying his or her success into being named the leader—and thus set up either to hoard power and wealth or to share it equitably enough to avoid mutiny.
  2. The Quest (2014, ABC, one season)
    In which regular people traveled through a series of underground tunnels that transported them to the fictional land of “Everealm”—where one of them would be named the one true hero and defeat the evil Verlox. It was a LOT to take in.
  3. Who Wants To Be A Superhero? (2006-7, Sci Fi, two seasons)
    In which a bunch of ordinary schmoes were given costumes to fit their self-designed characters, and then put in contrived situations where they were supposed to “act heroic.” Stan Lee, himself, was on hand to mediate.
  4. Paradise Hotel (2003, Fox, one season)
    In which a bunch of hot guys and gals who don’t know each other were thrown into a luxurious resort. Everybody needed to pick an opposite-sex roommate for the week, and whoever didn’t get picked would be sent home.
  5. Kid Nation (2007, CBS, one season)
    In which 40 children between the ages of 8 and 15 were dumped in the New Mexico desert, tasked with bringing civilization to the remains of a ghost town—with no adult assistance or supervision.
  6. Whodunnit? (2013, ABC, one season)
    In which people solved puzzles and competed with one another to discover which of them was secretly the villain. It all took place under the guise of a real-life murder mystery, as contestants were ritually “murdered” by the serial killer among them when they failed to solve each episode’s puzzle.
  7. Murder In Small Town X (2001, Fox, one season)
    In which ten “investigators” gathered to solve a fictional murder in a Maine fishing community.
  8. Treasure Hunters (2006, NBC, one season)
    In which teams of three traveled across the United States and Europe solving history-themed puzzles, while collecting clues that ultimately led an unusually generous prize of $3,000,000.
  9. The Great American Road Trip (2009, NBC, one season)
    In which ordinary Americans piled into RVs and competed in region-specific challenges, while driving from one tourist-trap to the next.
  10. 72 Hours (2013, TNT, one season)
    In which three three-person teams three days to traverse the wilderness and orienteer their way to a briefcase full of money.
  11. Bands On The Run (2001, VH1, one season)
    In which unsigned bands pull into a new town to promote and perform a concert, with the winner determined by the number of people they get through the door and the amount of merch those people buy.
  12. Platinum Hit (2011, Bravo, one season)
    In which songwriters worked together and endured a series of challenges to make some music. At the end of each episode not only would there would be a set of songs that the home audience could experience for themselves, but if all went well, the producers could then sell those songs online.
  13. Rock Star (2005-2006, CBS, two seasons)
    In which would-be rock vocalists competed for a slot in a band looking for lead singers (At one point, said band was INXS).
  14. The Next Great American Band (2007, Fox, one season)
    In which FOX tried to repeat its American Idol success by widening the scope to full on rock bands.
  15. The Next Knuckler (2013, MLB Network, one season)
    In which a few retired professional and/or college athletes (under the tutelage of retired knuckleballer Tim Wakefield) competed to see if they could learn the pitch well enough to earn an invitation to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ spring training camp.
  16. The Pitch (2012-2013, AMC, two seasons)
    In which two ad agencies were "pitched" against each other as they brainstormed and grappled for the perfect idea to win over their prospective client.
  17. American Inventor (2006-2007, ABC, two seasons)
    In which a panel of judges picked from the best of a bunch of inventors—many of them outright kooks, unlike on Shark Tank—and then those same judges worked with the top contestants to refine the prototype, packaging, and pitch.
  18. Supermarket Superstar (2013, Lifetime, one season)
    In which three contestants brought their own recipe in a culinary category—like sauces, cakes, or spreads and dips—and were judged on their future marketability by a panel that included a chef, a marketing executive, and Mrs. Fields herself.
  19. America’s Next Great Restaurant (2011, NBC, one season)
    In which would-be restaurateurs were pitted against each other for the chance to be the next Chipotle (with the blessing of Chipotle’s founder Steve Ells, who was one of the judges).
  20. Top Chef: Just Desserts (2010-11, Bravo, two seasons)
    In which the Top Chef model was adapted for pastry chefs and chocolatiers, who are a special brand of crazy.
  21. Work Of Art: The Next Great Artist (2010-11, Bravo, two seasons)
    In which artists were asked to compete in menial, brand tie-in challenges, like designing book covers for Penguin or creating art inspired by a visit to an Audi dealership.
  22. Top Design (2007-2008, Bravo, two seasons)
    In which interior decorators competed in what often amounted to a fight to see who could best use the resources of that week’s sponsor.
  23. Project Accessory (2011, Lifetime, one season)
    In which the Project Runway model was applied to the world of accessory-making, unfortunately amounting to little more than a glorified craft fair.
  24. On The Lot (2007, Fox, one season)
    In which aspiring filmmakers competed against each other in a series of tasks associated with actual directing. But the format kept changing on the fly with little explanation. Hosts dropped out, and announced episodes and challenges were unceremoniously canceled. It was a mess.