Is it better to burn out or fade away? While some shows leave the television lineup well before their time (let us pour one out and have yet another moment of silence for Arrested Development and Firefly, fellow people who have a hard time letting go), others seem to get renewed over and over again despite multiple shark jumpings. Leaving aside long-running shows that were never good to begin with—I’m talking directly to you, Two and a Half Men—here are five once-good shows that need to be driven out to live on Uncle Jim’s farm, if you get my meaning.
There are spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution if you’re behind on your television watching.
Remember the first two seasons of Dexter? Man, what a great show. But then the third season was kind of lame, the fourth season somewhat redeemed it—or, to be more accurate, John Lithgow redeemed it—and then there was the season of Julia Stiles. And don’t even get me started on season 6 and the Deb-is-in-love-with-Dexter plotline. Now that Deb knows Dexter’s secret, it would seem logical to end it with the season that starts September 30. Alas, it seems Showtime is content to let it drag on into an eighth season.
2. 30 Rock
This show was, at one point, the funniest thing on TV. It’s still funny, don’t get me wrong, but after six seasons, it’s gotten a little stale. The upcoming seventh season is slated to be its last, but let’s be honest—it probably should have gone out on top in the third season.
3. The Office
Why this show continued to press on after Steve Carell left, I’ll never know. Frankly, the show stopped being interesting before that, back around the time when Jim and Pam got together. Will showrunners never learn? The surest way to jump the shark is to resolve a star-crossed pair.
4. True Blood
Unlike the people who had unrealistic hopes for Alan Ball’s second television show to live up to Six Feet Under, I loved the first season of True Blood. It was just fun. The whole maenad thing in season 2 was kind of lame, but I still enjoyed the ride, and I even managed to find reasons to enjoy the seasons leading up to this current season, which thankfully wraps on Sunday. This season in particular, it seems there are way too many storylines (only a third of which are actually interesting), too many kinds of supes (see last parenthetical), and it’s all so…stupid. Honestly, I think this season has some good meat at its center, what with the subject of religious fundamentalism and holy war, but there’s so much other crap going on that it’s hard sometimes to even find the central plot compelling. At this point, you could tell me the next season would feature an entirely nude cast and I’d still have reservations about keeping the season pass on my DVR.
OH MY GOD WHY IS THIS SHOW STILL ON? Yes, this is the last season so my whingeing is as irrelevant here as it is for 30 Rock , but eight seasons is five seasons too many. It’s gotten to the point where I can barely remember how good this show once was, and isn’t that a damn shame?
What other shows have stayed on the shelf well past their freshness date?