So many of our favorite series (Scandal, The Walking Dead, Grey’s Anatomy, The Vampire Diaries) are forced to go on longer than they have to because profit-hungry networks love cashing in on the emotional investment of their viewers. Here are the ten shows that stayed on the air way past their prime.
Note: Be sure to check out last week’s piece: 10 TV Shows Shows That Ended Far Too Soon
The only sitcom on the list, How I Met Your Mother (unlike Friends) really overstayed its welcome. Of course I never stopped watching the show, but it often felt like a drag in its final years. The series finale was a severe anticlimax, as it negated years of characters development in service of the writers’ original plan (which simply didn’t make sense anymore). The show just left a bad taste in my mouth, and I wish it ended years prior when it was still on a thrilling creative high.
This one is debatable, but as much as I love Jack Bauer, I can’t help feel that his adventures should have ended a long time ago. Unlike many people, I did not enjoy Jack’s return last season with the event-series Live Another Day. Although I’ll never get bored of the real-time gimmick, the mini-series just didn’t offer anything new in the world of spy hijinks. I do hope the rumors of another season are false, as I don’t want to see the show keep replaying the same beats over and over again. Jack deserves better.
Oh Heroes, I barely enjoyed season one of this highly-flawed show. Sure it was sort of cleverly plotted, but the supposedly epic superhero saga flopped with an underwhelming season one finale, and kept spiraling out of control from there. Also, Heroes Reborn did nothing to salvage the show’s reputation. Ugh.
Plain and simple, Weeds should have ended at season three with Nancy Botwin burning her suburban hometown to the ground. Sure there were lots of great individual episodes after that, but all in all, the show’s original charm was swiftly lost when the soccer mom ditched her plastic suburbia. In fact, the dramedy became so forgettable, I barely remember how it eventually ended. Not cool writers!
The thing about One Tree Hill is that after the time jump in season four, the show became an outright chore to watch. Gone were the powerful emotions and vibrant characters, and they were replaced by predictable storytelling and uneventful twists. I genuinely forced myself to watch the show week after week simply because I was so invested in seeing how it would all end. And it was not a good ending. Talk about a legacy being tarnished.
Charmed had a rocky journey. The first three seasons with Shannen Doherty were enormously popular, and they thrived by focusing on the emotional bond between three sisters who happened to be witches. After Doherty’s departure and Rose McGowan’s arrival, Charmed began to place greater emphasis on special effects and whacky plots to varying degrees of success. Season four was outstanding, but after that the show became far too light and cheesy, with glimmers of brilliance in between. The show’s eighth and final season was undoubtedly one of the worst seasons of television I’ve ever seen in my life. With its cheap special effects, atrocious performances, and annoying new characters (go away Kaley Cuaco), the show lost a lot of dignity in the process. While the series finale was a satisfying affair, would it really have hurt the show to stop at season seven?
And no I am not optimistic about the upcoming reboot.
It’s not even debatable: Revenge should have been a one season show. The first season was terrifically satisfying as our vengeful heroine gradually took out all her enemies on a weekly basis. But the show became a hit and ABC ultimately made the show stretch out its narrative for FOUR whole seasons. What followed was a bonafide mess completely with cheap Alias ripoffs, the most useless characters of all time (Hello Padma), and a premise that truly began to wear out its welcome. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy watching Revenge all those years, but I just wish it ended with a bang in its first year instead of suffering so many lows. Thank God the eventual series finale was a good one.
When True Blood first debuted, it captured pop culture and had me completely hooked with its racy sexuality and unique tone. However as the years went by, the show began adding a whole lot of supernatural characters to the mix, effectively sucking the humanity out of the show’s core. The series finale was absolutely horrendous, and the show ended up leaving the airwaves with nary any hype or critical acclaim. Blood should have stopped at season six which was a welcome return to form (except for that dreadful finale).
Much like Revenge, Prison Break had a very limited premise from the start. The first season is still masterful in every way, and I’m actually quite fond of season two with our heroes on the run. Unfortunately, season three completely dropped the ball by putting our heroes in prison AGAIN! It was a painfully forced decision that robbed the show of its uniqueness and momentum. Thankfully, season four sort of rectified the situation with a whole lot of adrenaline and thrills. But all in all, I strongly believe that Prison Break should never have continued past its second season.
The less said about the revival last year, the better.
I might be in the minority here but I kind of wish Lost was a one-season show. That debut year was freakin’ perfect on every level – impeccably introducing every member of the cast through twisty flashbacks and meticulously-executed storytelling. But starting season two, the show delved into science-fiction in a manner that did irreversible damage to the show. What followed was a mess of flash-forwards, time jumps, and a whole bunch of unnecessary mythology that culminated in an emotionally effective yet narratively hollow series finale. I don’t care what the creators say about the mysteries not needing any concrete answers – Lost always placed greater focus on its mysteries and endless parade of unanswered questions (which it failed to ultimately answer). It’s a pity really that JJ. Abrams’ other show (Alias), doesn’t get nearly as much acclaim. Trust me on this, it’s infinitely better (and it stumbles far less over the course of its run).