In the streaming era, it can feel like literally everything is just a touch and a subscription away. You can watch thousands of different shows on Netflix, a movie on HBO Max, or even just check out a great video on YouTube. Even as we’re drowning in content, though, there are some shows that have virtually disappeared altogether. The shows on this list are nearly impossible to watch and are an important reminder that the history of TV is not defined by the stuff we can still see. Seinfeld may be streaming, but each of these great shows most definitely isn’t.
One of the more alarming shows on this list, Ed was a fairly major part of NBC’s dramatic lineup through four seasons, and often aired back-to-back with The West Wing. The show tells the story of a lawyer who returns to his hometown in an attempt to start his life over, and winds up buying a bowling alley.
While it had its moments of whimsy, Ed was often a show about the simple choices that define a person’s life, and how easy it can be to make the wrong ones without ever knowing it. Thanks to some issues with the music rights, the series is basically only available on bootleg VHS tapes, and never even hit the DVD market.
Another show doomed by music rights issues, Chicago Hope ran for more than 140 episodes and is nevertheless almost impossible to see today. Some old DVD box sets were released, but it’s been years since any new release has been available, and once again, music rights seem to be the culprit.
Chicago Hope wasn’t the kind of show filled with needle drops, but Mandy Patinkin played a surgeon who enjoyed humming a show tune operation, and releasing the show means having the rights to all of those songs. It’s a massive financial burden, one that makes it seem unlikely that the medical drama will ever see the light of day.
One of the most beloved and innovative shows of the 1980s, Moonlighting has had sporadic DVD releases, but the show remains devilishly difficult to watch. The series tells the story of a pair of private detectives who have a will-they, won’t-they romance going on, but it was also famous for its willingness to be radically experimental from episode to episode.
There are adaptations of Taming of the Shrew, musical episodes, and everything else you might imagine. In spite of its status as one of the great shows of the decade, watching Moonlighting remains a difficult task.
David Lynch co-created a sitcom, and now that sitcom has basically disappeared altogether. The series, which Lynch co-created with Mark Frost right after Twin Peaks went off the air, followed the production crew of a daily show known as The Lester Guy Show.
The show was pulled from broadcasts after only three episodes, in large part because it was believed to be far too strange for a mainstream audience. On the Air was certainly strange, but it was also frequently hilarious, and now it’s basically impossible to watch in spite of its relatively high-brow pedigree.
A Canadian TV series that started its run on Showtime before concluding on the Disney Channel (the ’90s were a different time), Ready or Not followed a pair of best friends growing up in the suburbs of Toronto, and explored everything from body image to race over the course of its run. If you want to rewatch the show, you’re out of luck.
It’s not available on any streaming services, and it was never released on DVD either. While a reboot may or may not be in the offing, the original is insanely tricky to track down.
As clear a reference to The Beatles as there ever was, The Beagles was an animated series that aired from 1966 to 1967 on CBS. The show followed two Beagles who were in a band together and were somewhat ironically based on Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
The show was canceled after a single season, and it basically disappeared the second it went off the air. You can’t buy any episodes on any streaming service, and there aren’t even any DVDs of it in circulation.
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