TV Shows That Were Dragged On Far Past Their Prime

For many popular TV shows, the network will keep pumping out episodes as long as they still have active viewers. It’s sad when your favorite show gets canceled after one season, but it’s also downright frustrating when a show is dragged on past its prime. Here are some TV shows that should have ended long before they did.

The Andy Griffith Show Lots Its Spark After Don Knotts’ Exit

For as great of a show that The Andy Griffith Show was, many people are still wondering whether or not this is another show that stayed on the air way past its prime. From its premiere in 1960, the show lasted for a hearty eight seasons, the latter half of which wasn’t quite The Andy Griffith Show we were used to.

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CBS/MovieStillsDB
CBS/MovieStillsDB

Don Knotts was one of the best characters on the show as Barney Fife, but at the end of season five he left to pursue a career in film. We don’t blame him but producers should have stopped right there.

The X-Files Went Downhill Without David Duchovny

The X-Files ruled the ’90s on Fox as a show about two FBI agents investigating unsolved cases regarding paranormal activity. It’s easy to see why this show was on the air for 11 seasons over nine years, but it should have stopped somewhere sooner along the line.

FOX's
FOX Image Collection via Getty Images
FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

The show’s main player David Duchovny left after season seven and many people believe it should have ended right there. But nope, Fox replaced Duchovny’ with Robert Patrick and the show only continued to get worse. People stopped watching, ratings tanked, and well, the rest is history.

Gilmore Girls Should Have Ended Much Earlier

We really hate to put this one on the list, but in retrospect Gilmore Girls went a little past its expiry date. The “will they or won’t they” plot surrounding Luke and Lorelai came to an end in season five when they finally got together and from there things went downhill.

New Warner Bros. TV Stills
Warner Bros./Delivered by Online USA
Warner Bros./Delivered by Online USA

Many people believe it was creator Amy Sherman Palladino’s leaving the show and perhaps that true. Gilmore Girls ended after season seven but miraculously returned for a reboot in 2016. Unfortunately, fans were less than pleased to see Rory had not grown up and Luke and Lorelai were still terrible at communicating.

True Blood Dropped The Ball

HBO’s True Blood was the forerunner of pop culture’s vampire phase and for good reason. The show revolved around Sookie, a psychic waitress who gets involved with several good-looking vampires deep in rural Louisiana.

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HBO/MovieStillsDB
HBO/MovieStillsDB

The show kept viewers locked in for three seasons until it dropped the ball and revealed that Sookie was, in fact, a fairy. Even her character said that the revelation was lame and fans couldn’t agree more. After that, the writing went down the drain as producers tried to find more ways to make the show mythical and magical. Instead, they should have just stopped.

ER Struggled Without Clooney

ER was must-see TV when it debuted in 1994. Focusing on the trials and tribulations of a small crew of doctors, the program was an instant hit. Then George Clooney, one of the original four cast members, left and became a movie star.

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NBC/MovieStillsDB
NBC/MovieStillsDB

The show didn’t end, though. It ran for 15 seasons. For the fateful last one, John Stamos was the lead actor, a lame duck collecting a paycheck while NBC milked the show for every last penny they could get out of it.

Roseanne Overstayed Its Welcome

Roseanne went on for nine seasons from 1988 to 1997. Starring Roseanne Barr, the show revolved around the lives of the Conner family. Perhaps what angered fans more than the fact that it went on for too long was the way it ended in 1997.

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ABC/MovieStillsDB
ABC/MovieStillsDB

Considering that ending, it was a surprise that ABC revived the show in 2017 with all of its original cast members. At this point, we were sure that the show has overstayed its welcome when it was made clear that Barr was a little too outspoken when it came to politics. Thankfully, ABC pulled the plug.

How Is Grey’s Anatomy Still On The Air?

Grey’s Anatomy aired its first episode on ABC in 2005. In 2018 the show is still running strong, pulling in over ten million viewers a week. The longevity of the might be incredible but the storylines almost two decades in are also incredibly bad.

MovieStillsDB / Chanel
MovieStillsDB / Chanel

The real question is; when should Grey’s Anatomy have ended? One popular spot is season five after TR Knight and Katherine Heigl left. Both played beloved main characters, and the void they left was never filled. At the very least, Sandra Oh’s departure after season ten should have been the nail in the coffin, not an IV in the arm!

Family Guy Is Death-Proof, Since Rising From The Grave

It was the fans who convinced Fox to give Family Guy a second chance when the network canceled the show after four seasons. Since then, the show as been a staple on Sunday nights alongside The Simpsons (which we’ll get to soon) and Bob’s Burgers.

FOX via Getty Images
FOX via Getty Images

Oddly enough, series creator Seth MacFarlane once said the show should have ended after the seventh season. Now entering its 17th season, he might disagree with the show still being on, but we doubt he’s complaining about the paycheck.

The Walking Dead Has Outstayed Its Welcome

We don’t know what the best season to end The Walking Dead would have been, but we know the show’s most recent season was filled with nothing but shallow violence. The show has always been uneven, but at one point there was a beating heart that kept us invested in the characters.

AMC
AMC

With the introduction of Negan that heart was stopped. Even before Negan came onto the show, though, the plot had turned into a question of who was going to die when; not the journey they characters were supposed to be going on.

90210 Was Nothing Like Its ’90s Counterpart

In 2008, CBS attempted to revive a classic ’90s show and came up with 90210. The modern iteration pretty much had nothing to do with Beverly Hills, 90201, save for the fact that the dad in the show apparently went to school at West Beverly Hills High School.

The CW
The CW

Still, many tweeny-boppers of the new millennium were hooked and its a wonder how they continued to watch for the entire five seasons. 90210 admittedly wasn’t that bad for what it was, but as for why it went past the cast’s high school graduation is something we are still in disbelief over.

The Office Became A Copy Of Itself After Six Seasons

After Pam and Jim got married during the sixth season of The Office the show ran out of ideas. The entire series was based around the “will they, won’t they” aspect of their relationship. When the finally “did” the show struggled to find any humor besides the antics of Steve Carell’s characters.

NBC
NBC

Being one of the biggest shows on NBC at the time, the network pushed the show through a ninth season, even after Carell left. There was a plot line about a camera man falling in love with Pam, among other low points. At the very least we can thank the later seasons for introducing us to Ellie Kemper!

Supernatural Needs To Be Slayed

Do you know what Supernatural and How I Met Your Mother have in common? Both were only supposed to run for five years. Now Supernatural is in year 13, nearly a decade since its expiration date. So why is it still on the air?

WB/CW
WB/CW

The show’s creator, Eric Kripke, has said he always planned to tell a five-year story. When he finished telling that story, he left the show. The network, however, couldn’t let one of their highest rated programs end at the same time too. There are rumblings the show is actually starting to be interesting again, but we find that hard to believe.

Scrubs Had A Perfect Series Finale, Then Came Back For A Ninth Season

Scrubs tried to play off its ninth and final season as a spin off with some of the same characters. The season eight series finale, after all, tied up all lose ends in one emotionally satisfying package. The truth is the show’s creator, Bill Lawrence, agreed to do a ninth season to keep nearly 200 people employed.

NBC/ABC
NBC/ABC

While Lawrence’s intentions were undeniably noble, the “final” season of Scrubs just wasn’t any good. JD, the show’s main narrator, was replaced with a younger character, who was also female. The show failed to find a new comedic rhythm or renewed dramatic depth.

The Big Bang Theory Is Finally Ending After 12 Seasons

Just like The Office, The Big Bang Theory’s main story was always the “will they, won’t they” relationship between Penny and Leonard. When the characters got married, that storyline ended along with the show’s creativity. Aside from the jokes feeling forced in 2018, every character has hit the end of their story.

CBS
CBS

Wolowitz got married and started a family. Leonard married Penny. Sheldon got over his physical limitations with Amy. Stuart made the leap from kind-of-funny-side-character to annoying main character. And of of course, Koothrapali never became anything more than a stereotype. Did we miss anything?

How Many Days Were Too Many For Jack Bauer On 24?

The show 24 ran for eight seasons, a movie, and a mini-series with Keifer Sutherland as CTU agent Jack Bauer. When Sutherland was finally done with the role, Fox rebooted the show for one last failed season with another actor. Let’s put it this way, there were a lot of wasted days that 24 didn’t need.

FOX via Getty Images
FOX via Getty Images

Maybe if the plot had changed between seasons we wouldn’t include the show on this list. After the first season, however, the plot never changed: Jack Bauer would get tasked with saving the world, punish someone, be betrayed, and then get chased by the government for some reason. We just saved you nine seasons.

The Kids Are Grown Up In Modern Family

When Modern Family debuted it felt like a ground breaking show about three generations of the same family learning to navigate modern life. Now that there’s only one child remaining on the show, there’s no story left to tell. We don’t know when this show should have ended, but it’s a crime it hasn’t yet.

ABC
ABC

For further proof, look at the show’s lack of awards in recent years. Back in 2009, it was nominated for just about every Emmy possible. In 2017, it got two nominations; one for Ty Burrell and another for sound mixing… so yeah.

Pretty Little Liars Got A Bad Makeover After Season Two

Did you realize Pretty Little Liars ran for seven seasons? If not, that’s probably because you stopped watching after season two. We wish we had also. Once the identity of “A” was revealed, there was no interesting direction left for the show to take.

ABC Family/Free Form
ABC Family/Free Form

Heck, the show didn’t even try to come up with something new. A new “A” popped up every season after the second because, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Well, maybe they should have tried to fix this one. Or just quit while they were ahead.

How I Met Your Mother Was Only Supposed To Last Five Seasons

In some cases, it’s pretty obvious when a show was supposed to end. The creators of How I Met Your Mother have said in interviews the original plan was to end the show after five seasons. They even planned who the mother was going to be, and it wasn’t Tracy.

CBS
CBS

Of course, the ultimate ending was always going to be the same. Ted would get permission from his kids to ask out Robin one last time. If Robin had never married Barney and the show ended when it was supposed to, perhaps the serious finale would not have been met with such negativity from the fans.

Scandal Got Caught Up In Its “Complexities”

Scandal was never a great show. It was pulpy and a fun escape hit from Shonda Rhimes that felt comfortable. It was perfect “water cooler” talk (if you even remember what that is.) As all shows of this nature do, Scandal eventually went off the rails and introduced Black-Ops organization B-613 into the fold.

ABC
ABC

Oh yeah, and everyone started sleeping with everyone between getting murdered or being the murderer. There was a lot of dramatic yelling also, but we’re not sure what any of it meant.

Smallville Made A Big Mistake Running For Ten Seasons

In the comics, Clark Kent becomes Superman when the boy from Krypton becomes a man and moves from Small to Metropolis. In the origin series Smallville, the move happened in season five, but the character transition didn’t occur until the series finale.

WB/CW
WB/CW

The reason for the five year delay was the writer’s, “no tight, no flights” policy for the show. The decision to hold on off showing the world Superman caused a backlash from fans, many of who stuck around just for the big moment. They have more patience than us!

Let’s Be Honest About Friends

No one is denying that Friends is one of the greatest sitcoms of all-time. We’re just saying the race might not even be close if the show ended after nine seasons instead of ten. Did anyone really enjoy the plot line where Joey dates Rachel? Everyone knew she’d end up Ross in the end!

friends ran for one season too long
Getty Images
Getty Images

Also, the show just wasn’t funny that final season. The characters were loud and not nearly as nuanced and complex as they felt for nine seasons prior. Some shows know exactly when to end. The producers ofFriends just didn’t know when to call it quits.

Gossip Girl Ran Out Of Secrets After Season Four

Gossip Girl is yet another show that stretched its high school premise into the college years with very little success. Many people argue the show lost steam when Dan Humphrey was revealed as “Gossip Girl” but the hard truth is the show stopped making sense long before that.

Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage
Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage

For the first four years of the show, the characters complained about how they wanted to get out of the city for college. They also all hated each other. So what happened? Of course ALL the main characters stay in New York for their higher education and continue to hang out. Makes total sense.

American Horror Story Was Interesting Until It Wasn’t

For us, American Horror stopped being interesting somewhere during “Coven.” The season about witches was fun for about half a season, then lost track of its plot and stopped making sense entirely. The next season saw the show fall into old horror movie madness at a circus.

FX Networks
FX Networks

Spoiler alert, “Freak Show” had less narrative intelligence or tangible things to say than Coven. It basically amounted to scenes designed to be scary, but dramatically disjointed. The show never recovered, although we hear decent things about “Apocalypse.”

That ’70s Show Stretched Four Years Into Eight Seasons

Okay, we admit that when you’re in high school, four years probably feels like eight. That’s still no excuse for That ’70s Show to literally turn four years into eight, though. Especially when the show’s two most popular characters left long before the series finale.

Annamaria DiSanto/WireImage
Annamaria DiSanto/WireImage

Topher Grace left to play Venom in Spider-Man 3 while Ashton Kutcher left to do Ashton Kutcher things. The show kept going, however, and replaced Eric (Grace) with Randy, a new love interest and overall unfunny character for Donna to fall for. Oh yeah, and Jackie started dating Fez for reasons beyond our understanding.

Desperate Housewives Got Desperate After Five Seasons

Desperate Housewives was one of ABC’s most critically acclaimed shows that premiered in 2004. Leave it to Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, and Eva Longoria as the main housewives that gave the show the perfect amount of spice.

ABC
ABC

Desperate Housewives went on for eight years and over its eight seasons, the storyline covered thirteen years. This is because in season five, the writers decided to jump ahead five years into the future. By then, everyone could tell that the show was getting desperate itself and the scandals really just couldn’t surprise us anymore.

Dexter Gave Its “Hero” A Happy Ending

For eight years fans watched Dexter wondering how the serial killer with a code was going to pay for his sins. About five seasons into the run, they only kept watching because they were emotionally invested. For most, as soon as Rita died, the show did too.

Showtime
Showtime

Still, as the show careened towards its end, fans told themselves there was a payoff at the end of the road. Then the title character ran away and was seen with a beard chopping wood. Dexter was given a happy ending, leaving fans with frowns for sticking around for the last few seasons.

Everyone Was Tired Of New Girl’s Cheesiness

As charming as New Girl was, you have to admit that it was getting old towards the end. Premiering on Fox in 2011, people fell even more in love with Zooey Deschanel’s quirky nature, but really, how much of that can you really take?

FOX via Getty Images
FOX via Getty Images

New Girl was great for the first several seasons, but towards the end it fell into the same fate as The Big Bang Theory. Everything written into the show in later seasons was incredibly forced and it was all very cheesy – and not in a good way. Luckily, it finally ended in 2018.

The Vampire Diaries Failed To Surprise Us

When The Vampire Diaries premiered in 2009, The CW was clearly trying to cash in on the vampire craze sparked by a certain movie franchise. Instead of rolling our eyes, however, we were hooked. The twisted love triangle between Elena and the Salvatore brothers had us tuning in for many eight seasons, but in retrospect it was a bit much.

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MovieStillsDB / HarperSeven
MovieStillsDB / HarperSeven

Many fans agree that the show lost its magic after season five. By then people were dying and coming back to life so often that nothing was surprising anymore. There were also so many plot holes it was clear that the writers were over it too.

This Switch Made Bewitched Go Down The Drain

Bewitched premiered in 1964 and stayed on ABC until 1972. Elizabeth Montgomery played a witch named Samantha who marries a mortal named Darrin Stephens. Darrin was played at first by Dick York, who stayed around for about six seasons.

Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

Unfortunately, York grew incredibly ill which caused him to have to leave the show by 1969. Producers replaced York with Dick Sargent and though they made no mention of it, fans definitely noticed. Sargent was able to keep the show afloat, but by then fans weren’t convinced that Bewitched was as good as it was when it first started.

Once Upon a Time Got A Little Awkward

People were fascinated by ABC’s Once Upon a Time which brought everyone’s favorite Disney and fairy tale characters to life in the fictional town of Storybrooke, Maine. Things started getting a little ridiculous around season four, when many viewers had a hard time dealing with all the awkward storylines in which everyone was somehow related.

ABC
ABC

You know ABC was really pushing it for the final season, which was a “reboot” of the entire series. That really made no sense since Once Upon a Time is a fairly new show and there was no need to reboot it if it was still happening.

Heroes Could Have Been Told In One Season

Ask anyone and they’ll probably agree that NBC’s Heroes should have ended after the first season. The show received rave reviews upon its premiere and did almost as good at the start of the second season, but after that things were clearly being dragged out for no apparent reason.

NBC
NBC

Even The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper said of the show: “Heroes gradually lowered the quality season by season till we were grateful it ended.” But as we’ve seen, such is the plight off all these shows that have gone way past their expiration.

There’s Debate As To When Glee Should Have Ended

Glee aired on Fox for six seasons, overcoming the tragic death of star Cory Montieth along the way. Somewhere during its run, however, it lost its path. This isn’t uncommon with a Ryan Murphy show (Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story, etc…) but Glee, for a very brief moment in time, felt different.

FOX via Getty Images
FOX via Getty Images

Popular belief is that Glee should have taken its bow when the main cast started “going off to college.” Still, one critic says the show should have been cancelled after two episodes, proudly saying that is exactly when the show sank.

It Was Never-Ending Trouble For Weeds

When Weeds premiered on Showtime in 2005 it was refreshing to see a black comedy that took a suburban housewife into the then-clandestine world of marijuana dealing. The show managed to maintain its following until around seasons four and five, but that’s when people started losing interest.

Showtime
Showtime

Even after the Botwin’s hometown of Agrestic literally burned down, the family could never seem to stay out of trouble. Whether you quit after Nancy got pregnant or after Shane murdered Pilar, you are not alone in thinking that even if she was a single mother thrust into an unfortunate situation, she really needed to get her life together.

The Writers Of The O.C. Ran Out Of Ideas

The O.C. was canceled in 2007 after four seasons. This was made clear due to its poor ratings, which the show had because people were pretty much over The O.C. midway through the series.

Fox
Fox

Many die-hard fans of the show think that the show could have ended after season two. After that, many people couldn’t stand the show for its ridiculous plot lines and also for killing off Marissa. Even Mischa Barton, who played Marissa, knew that writers were running out of material saying, “My character has been through so, so much and there’s really nothing more left for her to do.”

One Tree Hill Fast Forwarded To The Future To Hold On

People were hooked on One Tree Hill after it premiered on The WB in 2003. But many people think that Chad Michael Murray and the gang should have called it quits after they graduated high school.

The WB/CW
The WB/CW

But after the fourth season, the producers had the bright idea to fast forward everyone’s plot line four years into the future to avoid having to recount the cast’s college years. But by then everything became too much like a soap opera and as the show went on, two of its main characters were already gone.

Happy Days Invented The Term “Jumping The Shark”

Happy Days is a classic show that was on the air for an entire decade before the producers decided to call it quits – but even then the show had its spin-off shows. Still, as classic as it was, perhaps it would have helped maintain the show’s integrity had it gone off the air at the right time.

Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

After all, the show invented the television term “jumping the shark” which is when shows resort to crazy antics just to keep viewers tuning in every week. In Happy Days’ case it came when Fonzi literally had to jump over a shark on water skis.

Californication Was Kind Of Painful Towards The End

Many years after The X-Files ended, David Duchovny returned to the small screen in Showtime’s Californication. Duchovny played an alcoholic novelist who also happened to be a womanizer with a drug problem. At the start of the show, people were pleased by the raunchiness of the character but after a while, the show just kept repeating itself.

Showtime
Showtime

Even worse, Duchovny in real life was going through some tough times. He completed an entire stint in rehab for an apparent addiction to adult activities which made it hard for people to distinguish him from his character Hank Moody.

Nip/Tuck Should Have Ended In Miami

Ryan Murphy may have let Glee and American Horror Story go on for too long, but before any of those shows, he let the same thing happen with Nip/Tuck. Premiering on FX in 2003, people were sucked into the lives of the doctors at McNamara/Troy.

FX
FX

Unfortunately, Nip/Tuck lost some of its fervor halfway through the entire series and stuff really started to feel like they were being dragged out when the entire story was relocated to Los Angeles from Miami at the end of season four. Needless to say, people were over it by then.

House Of Cards Came Toppling Down Fast

House of Cards was the political thriller that television fans were craving for when it premiered in 2013 on Netflix. Starring Kevin Spacey, the show recalled Congressman Frank Underwood’s rapid rise into the Oval Office.

Paul Morigi/Getty Images For Netflix
Paul Morigi/Getty Images For Netflix

While the show was critically acclaimed following its first season, the hoopla would start to die down by season two. By then, Underwood became president and many fans were wondering what more there could be if the protagonist achieved his goal? Couple that with the ongoing drama in Spacey’s personal life outside of the show and well, let’s just say people were done with the show by then.