I love television. It gives you a chance to escape from the mundane day-to-day of your own existence and delight in the drama, comedy and/or completely unrealistic realities of characters that, after a few seasons, become like old friends.
While the same can be said of books and movies, the medium of television gives us half-hour to hour bursts of mindless or mindful entertainment (depending on what it is you are watching) and for that short space of time, we are entertained.
Some of the time.
Just as in real life, friends that you never thought you’d grow tired of start grating on your nerves… if say, you are stuck together in a tiny, Spartan flat for an eight-day stakeout like Peralta and Boyle in Season 2 of Brooklyn 99. TV shows can definitely overstay their welcome, and there are many that have.
While this list is not all inclusive, here are just a few that should have called it quits long before they actually did.
Let me preface this by stating how much I adored this show. Hell, I still adore this show. I loved it so much, I devoured the original British version before the American version aired its Pilot episode. The cast dynamic was stellar. Could you imagine the series without Pam? Jim? Dwight? Phyllis? Stanley? Kelly? How about Michael Scott? Michael Scott aka Michael Scarn…the bumbling, awkward, and usually unprofessional head of Dunder Mifflin Scranton? Yeah…him. He was kind of a big part of the show, right? So why, oh why, when Steve Carell left, did The Office continue?
Does anyone know?
The finale episode was incredible, heartfelt and really a perfect ending to the series. But it should have come two seasons before it did. Does anyone really remember what went on in Scranton after Michael boarded that plane to Colorado to make babies with Hollie? If memory serves, James Spader was there for a while, Kathy Bates and her dogs visited for a short stint. I seem to remember Will Ferrell stopping by and Andy Bernard on a boat…but mostly I remember not laughing…and worst of all…not caring.
This medical drama exploded onto the scene and skyrocketed the career of one George Clooney. Ever heard of him? He’s only the highest paid actor in the world… and he hasn’t even been in a movie since 2016. Yes, George Clooney, the maintenance man from The Facts of Life, got rid of his mullet and became Dr. Doug Ross, arguably the hottest pediatrician the world has ever seen.
But let’s get back to the actual meat of the show.
We watched the young and inexperienced Dr. Carter struggle under the mentorship and guidance of the pompous and arrogant Dr. Benton. We witnessed the love affair between Dr. Ross and Carol Hathaway, and fell in love with Dr. Green and Dr. Susan Lewis. These characters OWNED TV screens across the nation, consistently topping the ratings until Season 10 . Then it dropped into the #8 slot and began a swift decline. It was #37 when it ended five years later. The titan of medical dramas that had duked it out with Chicago Hope for the top spot for years, that had us glued to our screens with compelling, heartfelt storylines, some of which still make me cry (Lucy Knight’s death, anyone?) was suddenly not on many people’s Must See TV list anymore. Hardy surprising when, by the final season, there wasn’t one face among the lead cast that had been there in the beginning.
Sigh. Not to pick on medical dramas, but this is more proof that when your original cast is gone, it’s probably best to end the show and move on. How many characters have died on Grey’s? Who from the pilot is left standing? Is it just Meredith? I’m really not sure anymore. Yes, stars move on. Other opportunities arise. And yes, with medical shows it’s a bit easier to bring in a new doctor or intern. And heaven knows the medical field is never without its drama. But at some point, it just becomes too much. Remember when Doc the Dog got bone cancer? That was just harsh. How about George getting hit by the bus? The emotional roller coaster of watching your favorite characters die (McDreamy, anyone?) is just a ride that some people decide to jump off of rather than go through the pain of yet another dramatic exit.
Glee. By definition, exultant, high spirited joy OR a part-song usually made up of male voices. Neither of these apply here.
That’s not fair.
The pilot episode was amazing. The first season, watchable. Second season, tolerable. Third and beyond? No comment.
What began as an inventive, funny, creative show with heart, fun and music — OMG the MUSIC!!! (Don’t ask me how many Glee songs I have downloaded on my iTunes playlist…it’s embarrassing)– became a bit of a drag. The episodes felt more and more contrived rather than inventive. Everything felt forced. The situations that arose, the issues that they struggled with, gave me the distinct impression that many times they wrote up a storyline just so a character could sing a certain song. When I realized I was watching Season 3 JUST FOR THE MUSIC, I knew then that I had completely lost interest in the show itself. To know that there were 3 more seasons after that? Ugh.
“So, no one told you life was going to be this way?” *Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.*
You sang it, didn’t you?
How is this show on this list? Back when it premiered in 1994, I was in high school. My friends and I would record the episodes on a little something known as a VHS tape and keep them so we could watch them over and over and over again. I am to this day convinced that we inspired the boxed seasons. (You’re welcome, world.)
This show inspired hairstyles, fashion, and gave us forever quotable moments like “PIVOT!” and “Stop the madness!” Coffee houses? Became insanely popular because of this series. As one of the most popular television comedies ever to grace our screens, one that is still running in syndication, it’s crazy to think that this show could end up on a list like this.
But so it has.
There’s much to love about Friends. But if you step back and look at it honestly, you kinda have to admit that the show maybe could have ended a season earlier than it did. Maybe even two seasons earlier. They had explored so much with these characters: breakups, marriages, babies. But then they gave us a Rachel/Joey romance and it felt like they were just running out the clock. Even though I was sad to say good-bye to Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Joey and Phoebe, after ten years, it was time…and had already felt like it was probably a bit overdue.
“Somebody save me!” Preferably Tom Welling in a tight t-shirt and pair of faded blue jeans. Smallville took on the world of a teenaged Clark Kent, introduced us to remedial student Lois Lane, and had us wishing and hoping that maybe someday Clark would get over Lana, learn how to fly, and just be Superman, already.
Before the pitchforks are sharpened and the torches set ablaze, let me say I am a huge fan of this series. Erica Durance is by far the best Lois Lane ever to grace a screen big or small. Some will disagree — some passionately so — but she nailed the devil-may-care attitude of that intrepid reporter who would become the Lois in #Clois. That said — did we have to suffer through the on again/off again relationship of Lana and Clark for so damn long? We all knew it wouldn’t work out, and yet we have season after season of them trying to do just that.
But this show wasn’t all about ships. It was about Clark learning and developing his super powers, becoming the hero we all know and love. But there were some seasons that just felt like they were dragging it out for as long as they could milk it. The final seasons were some of the best of the series. I just wish we would have gotten to them sooner.
Remember when CSI was just in Las Vegas? Remember when NCIS used to be JAG? Those were fun days. Both shows dealt with crime scene investigation and both shows created even more shows about crime scene investigation until it got to the point where you couldn’t turn on your television anymore without seeing a new version of one of these two shows.
You know that saying, you can never have too much of a good thing?
Yeah, that’s not true.
Network television became so saturated with these shows, it was bleeding out into other markets. Did you know there was a CSI videogame? I did. Did you know there were NINE?
When this series arrived on the scene, it became the water cooler show everyone was talking and theorizing about. Why was there a polar bear on the island? Where exactly were they? What was in the hatch? But as the series dragged on and questions remained unanswered, glossed over, or given vague explanations as to the how and why, it became more frustrating than intriguing.
Still, people tuned in, desperate for the answers that would never really come. The last season gave us the origins of Jacob, his Smoke Monster brother, and their Bohemian mother who took the whole “getting in touch with nature” thing a little too far. The mysterious Jacob turns out to be a kind of God who grants Richard eternal life/youth when he recruits him to bring people to the island, and, well… it was a bit too much to swallow. The season finale divided viewers all over the world. Some hated it, some loved it… but mostly, we were all just happy that it was over.
“Save the Cheerleader, Save the World. ” That tagline drew people in to this sci-fi drama that explored the lives of a slew of gifted individuals who suddenly realize they aren’t like everyone else. We were introduced to a large cast of characters: Claire Bennet, the Petrelli brothers, Matt Parkman, Niki Sanders, Mohinder, Hiro and the villainous Sylar. We saw how each of their individual storylines would suddenly converge into the epic finale where yes, we will need to Save the Cheerleader to save the world.
And we did.
So….now what? Well, the show labored on for three more seasons after that. Season 2, granted, was affected by the writers’ strike. That could be a reason it didn’t live up to its season 1 potential. But whatever the reason, Heroes never really recaptured its original greatness. When it was cancelled after Season 4, many agreed that it needed to go.
But then we got Heroes: Reborn and the world groaned. Even Zachary Levi couldn’t save that mess.
People claim to hate reality TV. But it’s still here, filling our small screens with desperate people willing to subject themselves to all kinds of humiliation for a small taste of fame. The Bachelor, arguably one of the most popular, makes me cringe. Imagine the pitch for that series: “Let’s find about 30 single women for one man to sample like entrees at a buffet? They’ll all live together, go on dates together, and in the end, he’ll choose which entre… I mean, woman he likes best.”
Apply that thinking to real life for just a moment. It wouldn’t fly. That’s why I have to laugh when contestants get accused of not being there for the “right reasons.” I’m not gonna deny there have been some “success stories” on the show in its many years on the air, but let’s just get down to the nitty gritty…every single person on the Bachelor is there for the wrong reason. If they were really “just looking for love,” they’d do it without the cameras, the mansion, and the 15 minutes of fame.
But let’s not just pick on the “finding love” shows. What Survivor are we on now? Are people actually still starving themselves and forming unholy alliances on tropical islands somewhere while the crew filming them enjoys catered lunches and air conditioned trailers?
What about American Idol? Is it really American Idol without Simon?
To Everything, There Is A Season
I have been a fan of all of these shows at one point in time….yes, even The Bachelor (shame). Most of these shows, I still love…but as stated earlier, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing and when that happens, even good shows suffer. This list is nowhere near all-inclusive. As long as there are television shows, there will be those that go on too long or draw themselves out too much, causing their audiences to either lose interest or be oh-too-grateful for when the end finally comes. It’s hard to say goodbye to the characters that become our old friends. But sometimes it’s better to do that on a high note, rather than pumping out stories and situations that make us glad to see them leave our screens.
What shows do you think have overstayed their welcome? Let us know in the comments!