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10 times CGI on TV was just the worst

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The battle between Black Bolt (Anson Mount) and his usurper brother Maximus (Iwan Rheon) for the throne of Attilan draws to a close on tonight’s season finale of Marvel’s Inhumans. But one could argue that the more formidable opponent the Inhuman Royal Family has faced all season long has been terrible CGI. From Medusa’s rubber-band like hair to Gorgon’s oft-hidden hooved feet, the superhero show’s special effects have been less than super, especially compared with such top-notch Marvel Cinematic Universe spectacles as Thor: Ragnarok. Even at a time when series have raised the bar for television F/X, Inhumans spotlights how some TV still falls short. Here’s a look back at some of the worst CGI eyesores to ever grace the small screen.

‘Marvel’s Inhumans’ (ABC): Lockjaw

Inhumans is rife with terrible CGI, but the biggest offender by far is this 2,000-pound teleporting doggie who whisks Black Bolt’s friends and family from the moon to Hawaii and back again. A literally massive undertaking to bring to life, Lockjaw has only been an intermittent presence since the first episode in order to save the production time and money. We still hope he finds a forever family after the show’s almost inevitable cancellation. — Ethan Alter
(Photo: Marvel Television)

‘Ringer’ (the CW): Twins on a boat

Star Sarah Michelle Gellar was so obviously nowhere near a drop of water during a boat ride for her twin characters, Bridget and Siobhan — the waves were laughably fake. And good thing the CW didn’t even try to bother the twins in the same (face-forward) shot; that would’ve been way too ambitious for a backdrop that looked like B-roll from The Love Boat. — Kelly Woo
(Photo: The CW)

‘Sharknado’ (Syfy): Everything!

So bad, it’s good? No, sometimes it’s so bad, it’s just really bad. We can’t decide, though, which is the worse effect: the sharks or the tornadoes. Or maybe it’s whenever someone’s limb gets bitten off and blood squirts everywhere. Wait, no, we forgot — SHARKS. IN. SPACE. But it’s sort of useless to rant about, since the Sharknado movies seem to revel in terrible CGI. — KW

(Photo: Syfy Films)

‘Terra Nova’ (Fox): Dinosaurs

No less a dinosaur fan than Jurassic Park‘s Steven Spielberg threw his weight behind this time-traveling adventure that dispatched a futuristic family back to Earth’s dino days. Where Jurassic Park‘s rampaging creatures inspired awe and fear, though, Terra Nova‘s digitally generated menagerie just prompted laughter. Frankly, The Land Before Time was more realistic. — EA

(Photo: Fox)

‘The Walking Dead’ (AMC): Oh deer!

It’s rare for TWD to make any kind of visual misstep, but that deer Rick was trying to shoot when he climbed on the Ferris wheel during his supply run adventure with Michonne? The animal was so cartoony and out of place that it almost felt like a few shots from Bambi had just been slapped into the carnival setting. — Kimberly Potts

(Photo: AMC)

‘Lost’ (ABC): Polar bears

Polar bears on a tropical island? It’s an already unlikely idea made even more improbable by the fact that these white blobs just barely resemble our furry cold-weather friends. Why they look so strange is yet one more twist that Lost never explained. — EA

(Photo: ABC)

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (the WB; UPN): The snake mayor

The third season of Joss Whedon’s signature series is often held up as one of the best examples of long-form serialized storytelling on TV, basing its arc around the ascension of Sunnydale’s mayor (Harry Groener) to full demonhood. He achieves that goal in the season finale, transforming into a CGI-monstrosity meant to resemble a giant snake. It’s a testament to the writing and the cast that the episode still delivers dramatically, because that was a case where Buffy‘s Big Bad was just plain… bad. — EA

(Photo: 20th Century Fox Television)

‘Once Upon a Time’ (ABC): Environments and creatures

Since it’s about magic and fairy tales, the show gets a bit of leeway in its effects. But it over-relies on green screen for many of its castle interiors, and menacing supernatural creatures are often so poorly rendered that they lose their bite. The Dragon and Season 5’s Cerberus come to mind. For such a popular drama, can’t ABC conjure up a bigger special effects budget? — KW

(Photo: ABC)

‘Game of Thrones’ (HBO): Season 5 dragon

Season 7 of Game of Thrones featured the show’s best dragon FX yet (especially in the Loot Train Battle), but one doesn’t have to look too far back when recalling some weaker moments. The penultimate episode of Season 5 featured Daenerys’s first ride on the back of a dragon, and it was so clunky that it nearly distracted one from realizing she was basically abandoning all of her closest allies. Fortunately, a bigger budget has come along, and now when we see the Mother of Dragons taking flight on her children, it’s actually pretty rad. — Will Lerner

(Photo: HBO)

‘Gotham’ (Fox): Scarecrow

Well, sure — it’s hard to create a visual representation of pure, unadulterated fear. Everybody’s scared of different things and there are limits to what you can show on network television. Even still, cheap flame effects and zombie makeup fall short in every possible way. — Robert Chan

(Photo: Warner Bros. Television)


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