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10 Television Shows That Wore Out Their Welcome

August 27, 2010

Entertainment Weekly posted a list of 20 shows audiences discovered after they were doomed! The list boasted some worthy entries: Rome, Arrested Development, My So-Called Life and Carnivale. It’s nice and all, but let’s dish shows that seem to go on and on for no good reason!

10. Happy Days (aired 1974 – 1984)

The first blows to the series were struck early its lengthy run, and oddly enough predate the Fonzification of the show. No, Potsie’s transformation from a smarmy bon vivant into a chucklehead on par with Ralph was the start of the problems. Fonzie was fun, cheeky and not really the source of fail until after Ron Howard left the show! Nevertheless, Happy Days was at its best during the first four years it ran. Beginning with the fifth season, plots were routinely rehashed – um, how many times does Richie have to get trashed, fight and learn a valuable lesson – characters were added/subtracted without regard to continuity or common sense and Mr. C didn’t get nearly as many good one liners!

9. The Original 90210 (aired 1990 – 2000)

By the time this dinosaur went off the air most of its original cast members – well the ones who were left – were collecting social security. No, I’m not talking about Jim and Cindy Walsh, who smartly fled to Hong Kong and washed their hands of the inane plots, bad acting and those wretched real estate agent blazers favored by Brandon and Steve.

8. House (still airing!)

Oh House, I am about tired of you. When you were a medical-mystery-of-the-week I loved watching! I loved the snarky banter between you, Wilson and Cuddy. I liked the original three doctors and I even like Taub and 13. But I do not like “Huddy”. How are you gonna explain away Stacy? I thought she was the great love of your life? It’s not merely the romantic chow chow, but why can’t you be a crabby pill popper who solves medical puzzles and watches daytime soaps? I do not like the lack of worthy opponents. Bring back David Morse!!! Stop being abusive to Wilson! Stop making obnoxious racist remarks towards Foreman! Stop making sexist, homophobic, ableist remarks towards 13! No more Taub short jokes! Better yet, make season 7 your last.

7. Law & Order: SVU (still airing!)

I’m sorry, why are you still on the air? Hasn’t every sex worker, mail order bride, Transgendered person, child prodigy, cult member, teen runaway, rent boy or member of some other stigmatized population (I didn’t mention) in your fictional NYC been killed or convicted of a heinous crime already? Who’s left? I think your work here is done.

6. The Jeffersons (1975 – 1985)

I can’t even get through the last five seasons of the show, which are so awful and unfunny I can’t believe Norman Lear still had his name in the credits. Seasons 2 through 5 are the best and funniest of the series. As long as Weezie’s got cloud hair and is wearing sequins/tulle during the day, it’s probably a good episode. Something about trying to transition to the 1980s caused the once sharply written show to seem woefully anachronistic.

5. ER (1994 – 2009)

Every so often – when visiting someone with cable – I’d watch The Preview Guide (my favorite channel) and say something, “Wait, URRR is still on the air???” The sad thing was I was a true ER early adopter. I remember the summer before it aired I ran into every one of its principle cast members – yes, even that one – at the Sherman Oaks Fashion Square! I guess it wasn’t really filmed in Chicago! I watched it from the beginning and I liked a lot. It seemed a bit weird the show continued after its beloved creator – Mr. Andromeda Strain, himself – Michael Crichton passed away unexpectedly in 2008. ER was one of the rare medical dramas that didn’t strain credibility, or when it did, its critics were silenced with three words: Crichton, MD, Harvard. Anyway, the show went off the rails after they stabbed my sweet Carter! I kind of stopped watching because Carter, Carol Hathaway and Goose – err, what was his character’s name??? – were my faves and when they weren’t around as much or at all it wasn’t worth watching. I might have also been the only person who didn’t really notice Clooney’s work or presence on that show! Was he a pediatrician or something? I still do that Dr. Benton fist pump/knee slide whenever I accomplish something important!

4. The Simpsons (zomg, still AIRING)

I have seen every single episode of The Simpsons and I’m not proud! I abandoned the series after the season nine New York episode because I didn’t think it was that funny and sensed a change in direction for the show. (I’ve since revisited that episode and am surprised my opinion hasn’t changed!) I came back to the series in the 19th season and it’s just okay. Not awful, but not Mr. Plow caliber either. There are some episodes between when I abandoned the show and when I came back: “Lard of the Dance”, “Maximum Homerdrive” and “Hello, Gutter, Hello Father” are some of my favorites, but the great episodes are few and far between. Oh yeah, I love that episode where Moe and Lisa go to Vermont! Ha. Tom Wolfe was really funny! But mostly, The Simpsons seems more mean spirited than I remember and definitely has much more -ism fail than I can tolerate. It’s not awful like say – Family Guy, but I definitely find myself going, “Really? oh c’mon!”

3. NCIS (still airing)

Okay, here’s a series tailor made for me! It’s a procedural. It features a Fontanaverse alum in the lead and it’s not especially complicated. Yet, after watching only three or four episodes I do not understand why this thing has run for seven years. it feels more like a four year kind of show. It’s like JAG but with lot more likable lead, though similarly engaging. read: boring. Try as I might, I just can’t stop seeing Harmon as Ted Bundy! Maybe that’s the problem. Damn you, The Deliberate Stranger!

2. Any long running Reality Television Series

Do. Not. Get. Them. Trading in the most hateful tropes, stereotypes and depictions of marginalized folks and this is considered entertainment. Look, I am not a snob. I will rock some The Price is Right like nobody’s bidness, but as a writer, well I have a special hate for “unscripted” television! Don’t try to change my mind. Just accept and move on.

1. CSI (where’s Kiki and Sandman???)

249 years later, CSI is still on the freaking air. There are like five or six plots – and they’ve all been done to death. Speaking of death: it was over when Warrick left. Sorry. Don’t mean to spoil things. Also, I cannot stand that Sarah person. Can’t Lady Heather get her own procedural? She seems to know more about profiling than anyone else! She’s also has better manners! That said, I do love Miss Catherine and Nick! Morpheus has provided some badly need Grissom-lite factor. Still, there are plenty of episodes for this to have a nice long retirement in syndication!

36 Comments leave one →
  1. tony permalink
    August 27, 2010 9:55 am

    i would watch the hell out of Lady Heather Solves Crimes… And Then Flogs You.

  2. August 27, 2010 10:16 am

    My add to this would be Crossfire which I think started as a kind of full-length “point/counterpoint” like on 60 Minutes but quickly devolved to verbal pie-fight. It was thankfully helped out the door by Jon Stewart’s deft putdown of the show and guest-fascist Tucker Carlson.

  3. August 27, 2010 12:52 pm

    I would add Heroes to this list as well. I never saw a show go from having so much promise and being truly compelling to turning into total shit within its first season! I struggled through the first and tried to get into the second and then abandoned ship on that total failure of a show. The fact that it lasted 4 seasons is incomprehensible to me. I am a huge geek for super heroes but even I couldn’t do that drek.

  4. August 27, 2010 12:54 pm

    @Chriso, I loved Heroes, even the second season (maybe because it was strike-shortened). But I agree, after you save the world, there’s really nowhere to go but down.

  5. evmaroon permalink
    August 27, 2010 1:32 pm

    I can’t go there with you on House, since I liked the changes to Laurie’s character this season, and I think Wilson is a prat and brimming with unverbalized hostility. He’s male anger in a kinetic state, but House takes the fall every time because he articulates the negative emotions everyone else is feeling, especially Wilson. It’s like that Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Troi gets all the negative energy from that diplomat dude and it turns her into an old, bitter hag.

    OMG I just made a Star Trek reference. Please shoot me.

    But wow, in total agreement on all of your other mentions. Can we add Futurama to the list? Did anyone even watch it to start with? It’s so awful…

  6. August 27, 2010 2:09 pm

    dude, Futurama was canned, then CAME BACK. it’s on cable now!!

  7. August 27, 2010 2:14 pm

    I would like to pre-nominate Weeds.

    Also, Family Matters. I remember catching an episode of the last (9th!) season and felt so bad for Jaleel White.

  8. August 27, 2010 2:21 pm

    @redlami: I think a big problem with Heroes wad that they would have these huge build-ups via promos – SAVE THE CHEERLEADER, SAVE THE WORLD – and then they kind of wah-waaah’d on the follow through. I remember the season one finale battle with Sylar where characters just hung out on the sidelines looking distraught until it was their turn to run in and try to hit him. It just felt really lackluster to me.

    However, I still think the episode about Claire and her dad and their past, where they are held hostage by that nuclear guy and she walks out of the house from being burned up and is healing all Wolverine-style was totally amazing.

  9. August 27, 2010 3:23 pm

    I would like to pre-nominate Weeds.

    Also, Family Matters. I remember catching an episode of the last (9th!) season and felt so bad for Jaleel White.

    Yes. Weeds. I thought the point of going to Mexico (when used as a trope rather than a destination) was that we aren’t supposed to here from you AGAIN. oops.

    @Everett – Wilson is funny. I mean whenever I see Robert Patrick Sean Astin Martin (or whatever that yuppie’s name is) I assume he’s gonna be the same jerk he was in Last Days of Disco. In fact him playing the long suffering nice guy has been really tedious.

  10. August 27, 2010 3:24 pm

    @Chriso and @Redlami – omg I still have not seen an ep of Heroes! Too scared.

  11. August 27, 2010 3:39 pm

    The Facts of Life went on for way too damn long, now that I think about it.

  12. August 27, 2010 3:56 pm

    @Chriso! Ha. Seriously, they were like way too busty and grown to be playing awkward teens. Them blazers were NOT hiding those bodacious tatas!

  13. evmaroon permalink
    August 27, 2010 4:03 pm

    Chriso makes a very good point about The Facts of Life!

    Wait, Futurama isn’t making new episodes? I keep seeing promos for that shit!

    @Snarky: You may always see Mark Harmon as Ted Bundy, but he’ll always be a doomed Secret Service agent to me (West Wing).

  14. August 27, 2010 4:06 pm

    @snarky and ev: And the mullets, dear lord, the mullets! It all went to hell for me when Mrs. Garret left. As much as I dig Cloris Leachman, the whole thing just jumped the shark at that point.

  15. August 27, 2010 5:03 pm

    I am the only person in the world who prefers the Cloris Leachman years, including the Very Special Episode when Natalie sleeps with her boyfriend, Snake. I can hear the promo music now……

  16. August 27, 2010 5:17 pm

    I am the only person in the world who prefers the Cloris Leachman years, including the Very Special Episode when Natalie sleeps with her boyfriend, Snake. I can hear the promo music now……

    OMG YES.

    omg, El Debarge, Clooney and Tootie!!!

  17. August 27, 2010 5:27 pm

    @Everett, as far as I’m concerned, there can’t be too much Futurama.

    But speaking of West Wing… that show might have had a chance at staying fresh if Bartlett hadn’t been reelected.

    And what about M*A*S*H, which lasted seven years longer than the Korean war? For me, it was over when Trapper John and Henry Blake left. Or maybe I just liked the movie too much.

  18. August 27, 2010 5:53 pm

    I liked BJ, and even David Ogden Stiers, but MASH totally was coasting on fumes by the end, then came up with a great series finale that made us forgive/forget those last couple seasons.

  19. August 27, 2010 5:54 pm

    And that FActs of Life clip made me night. I totally remember that episode — “my mom was sick!”

  20. August 27, 2010 6:53 pm

    5. ER (1994 – 2009)

    I was a huge ER fan until about 2004? I think I stopped watching when the medevac (sp?) fell on Dr, Romano. Watching some of the early episodes from the first couple seasons, it was an entirely different show. Whatever nuance it may have had was gone by the early 00s.

    A show that I think got it right by ending it when it did was Six Feet Under. I wish it ran longer than five seasons, but it was getting silly and all the characters had become pretty unlikable by then. And I loved their finale with the montage of the characters’ deaths.

  21. August 27, 2010 8:26 pm

    Re: House –
    So, House is a jerk. If we sanitize all of the characters in movie and tv until they no longer have any form of ignorance, the result will be worse than a warmed-over “Afterschool Special.”

    That being said, I, too am not down with the “Huddy” thing.

    Not entirely sure why they bothered adding a plot to the show. I guess it was to tie episodes together with more than just the “is it going to be anal bleeding or sarcoidosis tonight?” thing.

    Oh, and I kind of like NCIS… so, yeah…there’s that.

  22. August 27, 2010 8:34 pm

    Re: House. Early on it was established that he can be an obnoxious prig. Even the cheap seats are clear on this. If it were any other writer/creators I’d let them slide, but since we’re talking Paul Attansio – who “created” Homicide: Life on the street – I expect better. The show is boring now and really, we’re all clear House is a jerk, and at this point it’s cheesy to have him trading in barbs that were beneath him like five years ago.

    Also, can we give the whole “we need offensiveness otherwise things are boring” a rest. I’m kind of over that defense.

  23. August 27, 2010 8:54 pm

    So, ignorant characters should be expected to outgrow their ignorance for the sake of keeping the show fresh, regardless if it makes sense for their character?

  24. August 27, 2010 9:12 pm

    Weeds is so, so, so, so awful now.

  25. August 27, 2010 10:20 pm

    So, ignorant characters should be expected to outgrow their ignorance for the sake of keeping the show fresh, regardless if it makes sense for their character?

    Not necessarily, but it doesn’t absolve them from criticism either. Moff’s Law explains this better than I can.

  26. August 27, 2010 10:28 pm

    It’s not that “ignorant” characters should evolve, but since they’ve opted to give House a real “love life” complete with grown up feelings and such, which itself is out of character, why not have him lose some of the racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic rhetoric? Certainly a character positioned as brilliant as House can do better than the endless jabs at Foreman’s blackness, Taub’s shortness and cheap shots about 13 having twice as many opportunities to be promiscuous.

  27. August 27, 2010 10:41 pm

    It’s not that “ignorant” characters should evolve, but since they’ve opted to give House a real “love life” complete with grown up feelings and such, which itself is out of character, why not have him lose some of the racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic rhetoric?

    Good point.

    Slightly off the subject, but not entirely… wasn’t Wilson’s character initially a philanderer? Wonder why they backed off of that line? Is it because they brought Taub in and you can’t have two cheaters in one show?

    Certainly a character positioned as brilliant as House can do better than the endless jabs at Foreman’s blackness, Taub’s shortness and cheap shots about 13 having twice as many opportunities to be promiscuous.

    You would think he could find more clever ways to degrade his colleagues. Perhaps the writers dumb it down to keep it from going over viewers’ heads. It does air on FOX, after all. Can’t have that Dr. House sounding too educated, might alienate the viewers.

  28. August 27, 2010 10:55 pm

    I feel like Wilson has moved toward being stealthily inappropriate with patients, since he has no actual wife. I mean are they married again? He still scans as having really poor boundaries, though now it’s mostly focused on letting House march all over him and secretly lusting after 13 and being all “nice guy” with her, though it seems even that has faded.

    Don’t get me wrong. I like the character a lot, but sometimes even Laurie looks pained having to call Epps some awful name! I think House has evolved beyond mindless bullying and it’s time for him to stop abusing his long time coworkers – like Foreman – though I guess it’s okay to belittle 13 and Taub as long as it’s not steeped in -ism fail.

  29. August 27, 2010 11:19 pm

    This may be a bit of stretch here, so bear with me, but maybe Wilson sees taking House’s abuse as some sort of bizarre penance that makes his own inappropriate behavior seem somehow justified in light of it.

    As to the Foreman/House dynamic, I think the whole continued “bullying” thing comes from the fact that at certain points Foreman had authority over House. So, even though House is back in the authority position, he’s feeling vulnerable… like he needs to reassert his position.

    It’s beyond unfortunate that reasserting his authority, in this case, involves the bullying and belittling, rather than earning respect by, well… earning respect.

    In any case, I give the show one more season.

  30. August 28, 2010 11:23 am

    Lucky for me I don’t watch any of these shows! But it really is surprising how long some of them ran/are running! I also think The Office has sort of worn out its welcome actually, I just don’t really care anymore. And all those awful family sitcoms like Three and a Half Men and The King of Queens could have used, oh, about zero seasons.

  31. August 28, 2010 11:51 am

    Yes, I’m surprised The Simpsons wasn’t your #1, because frankly, it’s been AGES since that show had anything either funny or notable to say about anything. I would swear that episodes are being written by robot monkeys at this point.

    I know it’ll never happen, but I’d love to have Fox cancel the show with no warning because I know I would hate (but would be obligated to watch) a “Final” Simpsons episode.

    I really cannot disagree with any of your choices here. Maybe a small argument about House, simply because I still find it amusing. But I mean, Survivor, Real World, maybe even Amazing Race should all go now… if now were 2006!

    Honorary mention to: “Smallville,” “Small Wonder,” (I guess I’m thinking small) “Dharma & Greg,” and any of those Paul Henning shows: “Beverly Hillbillies,” “Green Acres” and “Petticoat Junction.” Most especially “BH,” since they constantly air on “TV Land,” there’s like an endless number of them and I can’t get through more than 45 seconds of any episode of them before scanning on through.

  32. August 28, 2010 2:36 pm

    Note on the “Facts of Life” clip… also appearing in the mix is Siedah “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” Garrett! What an amazing clip!

  33. August 28, 2010 5:02 pm

    this is why british tv is gaining on me. skins goes on two seasons and changes the show entirely so its not the same anymore. the franchise itself? wearing itself out. but when i watch house, i’m actually getting tired of the cast. whereas, with skins, seasons 1 and 2 will never tire in my book. they quit early, right in the prime, but it’s better than dragging it onnn and onnn. i’d add gilmore girls to the list.

  34. August 28, 2010 5:04 pm

    @poplife, i just started watching weeds. i stopped at season 4.

  35. August 29, 2010 1:07 am

    Scrubs! The first four seasons were perfection, but it jumped shark and wore out the welcome with a couple of notable awful story arcs and the move to the home of unfunny: ABC.

  36. metermouse permalink
    November 30, 2010 1:12 pm

    hell yes to Weeds! After seeing it on watch instantly I ate through 2 seasons, but I cannot and will not finish Season 3, its just soo awful!

    Also if there is ever an award made for this, it should be made of the stacked faux gold heads of the dudes from 2 and a half men, egads that show is the worst!!

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