10 TV Shows We Just Couldn’t Quit (Even Though We’re Not Sure Why)

Published 1 year ago by , Updated February 17th, 2014 at 4:18 pm, This is a list post.

10 Series We Just Can't Quit With the recent announcement from HBO that its long-running vampire soap opera True Blood would be receiving the True Death after its seventh season, and with the serial-killing madness of Dexter coming to an end, we here at Screen Rant have come to the conclusion that TV shows can be a lot like houseguests: They're great in the beginning, but after a while, they're just there, all the time. So why do we continue to watch these shows? Is it a sense of obligation or simply the need to see things through to the end? Or could it be that, despite their failings, we just can't bring ourselves to admit that a series we once thought was great has turned into something we only watch with the curtains drawn while tweeting about another more popular show? To be fair, some series mentioned here have already ended and some have redeemed themselves to a certain degree – ostensibly justifying our continued allegiance – but others are but a shadow of what they once were. Either way, try as we might, there always seemed to be room in our schedule – or at least on the DVR – for these shows.

1. Smallville

Tom Welling Smallville Yes, even though Smallville has been off the air since 2011, it's still amazing to think that a series about a teenaged Clark Kent on the road to becoming Superman managed to last 10 seasons. That reason alone is enough to make this list. But what's more is that, through all of the cast and creative personnel changes, the shift in focus from teen-angsty romance mixed with the unrelenting burden of destiny, to some more adult (if not necessarily mature) takes on the same themes, somehow, Tom Welling & Co. made us want to stick with it. But what kept us tuning in? After about season 4, the reasons for sticking with the show seemed to be less about the present and more about the promise of what may be just around the corner – i.e., special guest stars from the DC Universe roster, including geek-worthy appearances by Smallville versions of The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg and even Doomsday, as well as the hope that one day we'd see Clark don the big red 'S' and soar over Metropolis (and maybe Smallville for continuity's sake).

2. True Blood

Alexander Skarsgard Anna Paquin Stephen Moyer and Joe Manganiello in True Blood There was a time not long ago – before Game of Thrones looked down on all other HBO programming from its perch atop the Iron Throne built from spectacular ratings and meme-inducing deaths – when True Blood was the reason for having a subscription to the pay-cable network. However, after the first season, that feeling of genuinely wanting to follow the hot, blood-drenched (and undoubtedly tacky) romantic misadventures of vampires and humans commingling in and around Bon Temps quickly began to wane. That's when things started getting overly complicated; the series' writers began tossing in every supernatural character and spooky contrivance they could think of (werewolves, mediums and werepanthers?) and the already tenuous connection between character and storyline became increasingly halfhearted as characters became paired with one another seemingly at random. If there ever was an official moment when the show had really gone off the rails, it was the coven-of-witches-in-a-bookstore storyline and the revelation that Sookie's mysterious telepathic abilities stemmed from her being half-fairy – a subplot that led to the discovery of another dimension so remarkably gauche, it looked like a place even Baz Lurhmann would turn his nose up at. Still, like a vamp's instinctive need to feed, we keep coming back to the campy goings-on with the hope that Eric, Alcide and even the shape-shifting Sam Merlotte might sniff out a plotline that could right the ship. And with the announcement that season 7 will be the show's last, we don't have any excuse to quit now.

3. Californication

 David Duchovny in Californication This is probably the most obvious show on the list, given that you'd have an easier time finding a hair on Evan Handler's gloriously bald head than a group of people who would readily admit they still watch the show. And yet, there's still something about the booze-soaked, lamely misanthropic ramblings of David Duchovny's sporadically inspired writer Hank Moody that compels us to (passively) tune in year after year. Perhaps it's because the show airs during the cold, wintry period between New Year's and Game of Thrones that allows Californication to maintain a place on our DVR scheduled recordings list. To be honest, though, it's probably the likability of its lead and (even more likely) Duchovny's past glories (X-Files forever!) that keep us hoping the misadventures of Mr. Moody will find that balance of raunch, humor and sentimentality that it sometimes captured in its first two seasons. Since then, the storylines have gotten increasingly repetitive and progressively more cartoonish. Still, we're holding out hope the show may one day manage to justify its continued existence and become the comedy that revels in its naughtiness while still having something worthwhile to say about its characters.

4. How I Met Your Mother

The Cast of How I Met Your Mother If anything, How I Met Your Mother suffers more from having too deliberate a premise than any sort of flaw or decline in quality over the years (though it's had its off seasons). It's become something of an ongoing joke that Ted's poor kids have been listening to their dad regale them with an incredibly lengthy account of the years he spent scouring the Manhattan dating scene for the woman destined to become his wife and their mother. (Because what kid doesn’t want to spend who-knows-how-long hearing about all the failed relationships their father had before settling on their mom?) But, to its credit, How I Met Your Mother delivered on said premise in such a way that even the most casual of viewers will likely be interested in knowing just how Ted met his kids' mother. So, even though the longer the show went on the more preposterous the idea that two kids were still listening to Bob Saget's narration became, there was always the notion that one day it would all pay off. While the series experienced the inevitable dearth of fresh ideas and truly witty comedy, the penultimate season ended with our first glimpse of Ted's future bride, making us forget about all those year's of wheel spinning.

5. Supernatural

Jared Padalecki Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins in Supernatural Despite the fact that series creator Eric Kripke developed it to be a five-year storyline, Supernatural fittingly lived on, and, for a season or two, seemed to be daring viewers to salt and burn its bones, lest it continue to come back and haunt The CW's airwaves with terrible storylines like the Leviathans and Sam sharing the same headspace as his old underworld cellmate Lucifer. Thankfully, this past season seemed to show the brothers Winchester getting some of their previous mojo back – no small feat when you've been going for eight seasons – with a refocused storyline that also added a new dimension to the narrative (i.e., The Men of Letters and the search for the demon and angel tablets). Meanwhile, the season ended on a cliffhanger that may bring the series' key characters together again. So, with the possibility of Dean, Sam, Castiel and even Bobby hunting together while dealing with a heavenly apocalypse, odds are Supernatural may have finally gotten its second wind. Is it any wonder we never stopped watching?

6. The Simpsons

The Simpsons The show that helped establish the FOX television brand is now something of a footnote for the network – though, 24 seasons later (season 25 will premiere September 29), it still helps anchor a Sunday night block of animation – and despite rumors to the contrary, will seemingly never be shuffled off to the great animated beyond. The Simpsons may not be as culturally relevant or as flat-out funny as it once was, but Matt Groening's creation has blossomed from a short animated segment on The Tracy Ullman Show to a media empire, and now into a comforting reminder of the kind of scathing commentary and hilarious comedy that can be accomplished within a television medium once thought appropriate only for children. But even if Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa don't quite pack the satirical punch they once did, there're still times when The Simpsons manages to knock one out of the park – especially if there is a social issue worth tackling. Besides, even if you don't watch the series regularly anymore, there is still the annual lure of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror – which, incidentally, this season will be XXIV, making this Halloween tradition older than most college freshman.

7. Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live The longest running show on this list, Saturday Night Live was built to evolve and change with the times – otherwise, we'd still be watching Dan Akroyd's crooked toy salesman Mr. Mainway try and promote Bag O' Microsoft SmartGlass, while Eddie Murphy treated us to Arcade Fire songs as performed by Buckwheat – but every iteration (like the massively overhauled cast of the upcoming 2013-2014 season) is a lot like playing the lottery: it stands the chance of being incredibly rewarding, but the odds of it approaching the quality of its early years (or even the Hartman, Carvey, Myers and Sandler years) seem very small. But, just like The Simpsons, the comedy on SNL is largely a reflection of the goings-on in the world at the time (so, if the cast has an off night – or season – then it's largely the world's fault, right?). Honestly, though, the constantly changing cast brings with it the hope of something new, and that's what keeps us tuning in to this long-standing weekend tradition. Unlike other shows that would fall like a house of cards should one element be removed, Saturday Night Live thrives on the unpredictable popularity of characters like Matt Foley, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, Stefon and many, many others. Sure, they get overused to the point we don't even understand their appeal any more, but it's worth it just to see an unexpected character become the next thing we're tired of watching.

8. The Office

The Cast of The Office NBC What was once thought of as the second coming of NBC's "Must See TV" line-up started slowing down before Steve Carrel left the show, and practically ran completely out of gas following the departure of Michael Scott. Sure, Jim and Pam's romance drove plenty of the narrative and largely carried final seasons, but it was the sweet, charismatic loneliness and deep desire to be liked of Carrel's character that was the driving force of the entire show. Still, as an ensemble, The Office was pretty hard to beat. Although it tested our patience with some unnecessary guest stars being shuffled through the Dunder Mifflin Scranton office, there was still plenty of enjoyment to be wrung out of surprisingly funny characters like Robert California. At a certain point post-Michael Scott, watching became a question of waiting to see if the show could recover (which is kind of morbid), but when it became clear that it had perhaps overstayed its welcome, the series managed an incredibly sentimental finale that rewarded those who stuck with it through thick and thin, and gave everyone else a reason to get caught up. 

9. Bones

Emily Deschanel and Davie Boreanaz in Bones In TV, the realization of a romance between the two leads is one of the ultimate forms of fan service, but it can also be the end to the key source of dramatic tension that served as one of the main reasons why audiences continued to tune in. The will-they-or-won't-they question of romance – which, in the case of Bones happened to be Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, or Brennan and Booth, respectively – drove so much of the show's narrative (after season 2 or so) that the gruesome crimes investigated by the staff at the Jeffersonian came in a close second. But like Moonlighting, Lois & Clark and so many other shows that have come before (and will likely come again), Bones is suffering from the inopportune loss of drive caused by giving fans exactly what they wanted. It's the television version of damned if you do, damned if you don't, as Bones couldn't have gone much longer without directly addressing the Booth/Brennan dynamic. But now that they're almost a married couple (provided a serial killer doesn’t screw things up again), the show isn't quite sure where to harvest that weird palpable energy that came from the flirtatiousness of its two leads. Thankfully, the show is smart (all ridiculous product placement aside) and perhaps those smarts will translate into finding the same kind of humor and liveliness once supplied by the question of romance in the banality of inevitable domesticity. We can only watch and find out.

10. Dexter

Michael C. Hall in Dexter Aside from its rabid fanbase, the reason Showtime stuck with Dexter for so long is that the network had built its brand off the psychotic do-gooder's exploits. Still, network brand or not, the last few seasons exhibited a noticeable decline in story quality brought on by the kind of plotless meandering typically seen in a show that no longer knows what it's about and is really just waiting to bring the curtain down. Thankfully, the network is now primarily known as the home of Emmy Award-winning Homeland, but, deep down, just as AMC will forever be tethered to Mad Men and Breaking Bad, Showtime will always be the network where everyone's favorite serial killer became an unlikely superhero. But, as with all antiheroes, Dexter's unique appeal (and the reason why we kept tuning in) was always tied to his end – or, in this case, the show's end. As much as fans root for characters like him season after season, there's always the expectation that men who break such bad will have to pay the proverbial TV piper when it comes time to call "cut" for the very last time. While that doesn't seem to be the case for Dexter Morgan, as his finale seems poised to give him a second chance through, of all things, love. It may have gone from bad to worse in its last three seasons, but that's only made us more curious as to how it'll all shake out. Unlike all of Dexter Morgan's victims, perhaps Dexter the series will find a way to redeem itself in its final moments.

Conclusion

Pleasantville + Dexter This is just a small sampling of the shows that've have lost some of their luster after being on TV for what seems like ages and yet continue to hold a place in the collective hearts of their audience. Let us know what shows keep you tuning in to year after year, even though you watch them alone, hoping no one finds out, so you won't be forced to conjure up some defense of the program and your viewing habits.
TAGS: bones, californication, dexter, how i met your mother, saturday night live, smallville, supernatural, the office, the simpsons, true blood

186 Comments

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  1. I suffered a lot by the end of Smallville because it was a great show with a great cast. The CW Network with Arrow failed to replace Smallville!

    • I must agree with you that Arrow is not a great replacement. I tried to watch it; just can’t get through it.

      • Yes, it’s a shame that Arrow is too far better in every single way to be its replacement.

    • I agree with you. Smallville was awesome, the new Arrow show just sucks.

  2. I don’t agree with Smallvile being on this list nor Supernatural. How I do find the last season of Smallvile ok…the final 2 episodes where the best of the season. The only thing I wish they would have different was show him in the suite.
    Supernatural’s better years to me have been from season 3 and on. Some of the episodes are a bit of a stretch and grasp but I still like many. I still watch the series…It is my favorite and the only one I watch on the CW. I am glad that they are going back a bit on how the used to find monsters and take them out. There is still a bit left that it can give.

    • I’m the opposite. To me, Supernatural’s better seasons were when they’d just focus on killing a different monster every episode, with an uncomplicated main storyline throughout the season. This worked well up until season 5, and for the most part it’s become dull to watch. I still wish they’d really pushed the boat out on the seven deadly sins storyline.

      • I agree! Supernatural’s best episodes are the stand alone ones that don’t follow the storyline.

      • Actually the best episodes are the main religious storyline episodes. Great show. But the stand alone non story arc episodes usually are too comical and goofy.

    • Two and a half men should’ve been first on the list.

  3. I, on the other hand, never started watching most of the shows on this list. SNL is one exception. I used to watch, but rapidly lost interest once the original cast left. The other is Bones. Only thing about Bones I question is why didn’t she realize she was seeing a ghost? After all, that was a uniform that had a name tag on it. A person who is supposedly a keen observer wouldn’t notice that? I think not.

  4. How about that last season or 2 of ‘The X-Files’? Had they not tied the show so completely, to Mulder’s story, they could’ve reinvented it. They even had Scully’s kid being Mulder’s, though we’d never been treated to intimacy between them, during Duchovny’s tenure there.

    • that’s because X-files also carried on with intermittent movies. Moulder and Scully hooked up in one of the movies (I think). And that’s how she got pregnant.

  5. Why do people like watching other normal people get sooo ripped-off on shows like pawn stars? People travel to this shop with items, some handed down by their families for generations, & just get blatantly robbed! They’ll even have “so-called” experts come in on the show & tell these patrons that an item is as much as 75% more than Dick offers for the item. This show makes me sooo upset! Honest People are getting taking advantage of, like 5 times an episode, by these clowns! Another thing is that they have s*** all over the endearing memory of one of our Saturday morning heroes – Chumley. I Love the History Channel, but I’ll change off it even if this show’s commercial comes on. Even if I see DICK doing his razor blade commercial, no matter what channel – I change it! “American Pickers”, is another one of these shows.
    I think viewers would enjoy to see the historical value of their shows, without witnessing rich people getting richer (or more or less stealing someone elses toys) while desperate folks practically get pick-pocketed on National TV!
    “Antique Road Show”, on PBS Channels, is the real deal! All the education, with none of the commercials, or the larceny!

    • Not sure about the “being ripped off” thing. Every time the experts come they make a point of telling the person what their item would fetch “at auction.” A pawn shop is not an auction house, so you would never get the same value. Even if you go to a local pawn shop to hock or sell an item,you will only get about a third of what it is worth,so I don’t think they are doing anything crooked on the TV show.

  6. Smallville is a way better show than arrow. Now had it been with Justin from Smallville, and kept it as the same tone and made it a spin off of Smallville, then I think arrow would have been a huge hit! But they made arrow it’s own thing. And so, they have made crap.

  7. This is a really valid list. I absolutely loved Smallville and Supernatural, but you nailed them exactly, and also got it right for Dexter, Californication, and True Blood, previous favorites of mine as well.

  8. Lost, Heroes and Two and a Half Men should definitely be on this list. And as much as I love X-Files, Stargate SG-1, Dexter, 24 and CSI Miami/NY, I admit they could’ve ended a season or 2 sooner, but I still liked their last seasons.

    To those who hate Friends, I don’t understand why, it’s one of the best shows of all time and one of the few who got better with time, in my opinion.

  9. The vampire diaries… I’m utterly ashamed…

  10. Obviously, the person writing this article understands little about the comic book universe and even less about smallville. The flash was never on smallville. That was Impulse, not the Flash.

    • I think that…the Impulse and Flash can be used synonymously. The Impulse refers to Bart Allen too I’m pretty sure, and Bart Allen IS the Flash too. I think it’s more than fair to have called Bart Allen in Smallville as Flash.

  11. you forgot to put “Lost” on the list

  12. What kind of Nazi made this list?

  13. I only watched three of these, and no – I didn’t finish any of them.

  14. Only show I did watch, sometimes, was Bones. The rest were juvenile and assinine.

  15. 1. When i watched How I met your mother i got into it, but it went on and on and on with just teases of the mother so i kinda stopped watching it then when the finale came out my friends were yelling at me to watch the rest then when I saw the finale it all makes sense(practically never mentioning the mother) and I love the show.

    2. Arrow is like 20 times better than Smallville for 3 reasons 1. It focuses on the main character growing and learning. 2. The newly made characters(Diggle, Felicity) dont rape the mythos like Chloe did by marrying green arrow with black widow around. 3. Its not a soap opera, My proof being Lana lang being in the show for FREAKING 6 OR 7 SEASONS! I watched every episode of this show and it was good until they introduced Lois and kept Lana then i kept watching because I was like ‘okay Lois is here now they’ll get rid of Lana skip to season 8 or 7 where they break up with Lois just around derping.

  16. I agree with everything on this list except Supernatural. Supernatural has slowly created a world of wonderful characters that get better every time we see them. It is also a show which listens to and respects it’s fans more than any on tv. It has a huge and devoted fan base that usually takes big buget franchises like Star Wars to achieve. I promise I won’t be the only person to be anger at it’s inclusion on this list.

  17. I agree with everything on this list except Supernatural. Supernatural has slowly created a world of wonderful characters that get better every time we see them. It is also a show which listens to and respects it’s fans more than any on tv. It has a huge and devoted fan base that usually takes big budget franchises like Star Wars to achieve. I promise I won’t be the only person to be anger at it’s inclusion on this list.

  18. Californication is one of my favourite shows of all time and I’m a devistated that it is coming to an end i would love for this show not to end!!

  19. I was easily able to quit watching True Blood after I reached season 2 episode 2. It was barely worth watching during season 1, but I could see the writing on the wall and just couldn’t take any more of it. When my wife told me later that I was missing all the fairies they brought into the show, I was even happier that I quit when I did.

  20. I agree with some of the shows! But how dare they bash Supernatural and Bones!!! I love those shows and they are fantastic and you can’t help but fall in love with the characters. I mean come on when Sam is screaming at the Pigeon because he is mocking him!! I loved that scene!!!

    • You’re right. How dare they have a different opinion than you!

    • Dean was screaming at the pigeon not sam

  21. Lost was the worst tv show. it should be in the list

    • I totally agree! It screwed the viewer, plain and simple. If this list is made again in a few years, I have no doubt the new series “Resurrection” will be on it. It’s the new “Lost.” Trust me.

      • I had the same thought.Resurrection just seems to be the type of show that will never give any true answers about what is going on in its world.

  22. Okay, True Blood, while I didn’t get past the 1st season due to their massacre of the books, is adding only the creatures and subplots that are seen in the books, if what this writer says is correct. The only one I can truly agree with on here, in regards to what I actually watch, is Bones. It has been dragging the last Season and a Half. Okay, so the completely mismatched couple have gotten married, had a kid (who I feel bad for considering Bones is the mom), and the serial killer guy was taken care of in a vastly anticlimatic way. Now what? Lately it just seems like filler episodes. Now, I LOVE Supernatural…really I do. Been with it since day 1. BUT, the last couple of seasons, have left me with that beginning tingling feeling I get when a show is starting to wear thin. I don’t want it to! I love the Winchesters! But if the writers don’t get their heads out of their butts, they’re just gonna end up annoying fans by the end of the series. =(

  23. I completely agree with everything on this list but “Supernatural” and with everyone who said “Lost” should be on this list. I’d also like to add that “Glee” should be here. I’m a former fan that stopped watching around the first part of the third season but I’ve heard that the current fandom doesn’t even understand why it keeps watching.

  24. Well, there’s a lot I could write to substantiate my opinion, but I’ll just say this: “How I Met Your Mother” sucked the big one. Big time. It lasted far longer than it should have.

  25. 1.)I am a huge fan of smallville and I will continue to be one. Sure some may argue that the show was a soap opera, but smallville had everything, you had action, drama, romance, and Sci-fi. Smallville introduced us to so many characters, that they had to “give these characters a proper exit from the show” (which is why it may seem like some shows carried us away form Clark Kent and focused more on like Lana or Chloe, etc..) They couldn’t just get rid of them with no explanation.

    Also people should look at how this show actually helped keep “superman” in the hearts of people for a decade. Smallville introduced the “entire superman story” within that one series. Smallville is a great way to introduce someone who is “new” to the superman story. They will get to know who everyone in the Superman universe is just by watching Smallville.

    Also lets not forget that the show turned many people (who were never Superman fans) into Superman fans from watching Smallville. More than watching any other superman Show (adventures of superman/lois and Clark).

    Also Smallville was created with Christopher Reeve’s blessing. Christopher reeve even stated that he wanted Tom Welling to be this Generations new Superman. He even appeared on the show. How cool was it to see the older Superman, explain to the new superman about his origins.
    (too bad they didn’t use Tom welling for the movie “man of steel”) Tom has stated in an interview that he wouldn’t mind being in a superman movie. The whole “no costume” ideal was the producers/writers ideal. They felt if they showed the costume on the show, that it would bring us right away to Superman and not Clark Kent before he was superman.

    2.) The Simpsons is the best. It is way better than Family guy and American Dad. When it comes to cartoons the “older they are, the better they are”. Classics Cartoons are the best and newer cartoons can never compare to the old classics. Yes they do make new episodes of the Simpsons, and I have to admit some of the newer episodes of the Simpsons were not that good, and you may argue that the kids never age, But hey it’s a cartoon that’s just how cartoons are.

    What makes the Simpsons great is that you get a little bit of everything. You get the classic cartoon style (where the never age, wear the same clothes, the classic cartoon violence,and classic cartoon comedy etc…) but you also have more mature topics such as family issues,romance,religion, animal rights, kidnappings, gangs, bullies,drinking,affairs,getting in trouble with the law, pranks,jobs,money troubles, etc…With the Simpsons there is something for everyone.

    unlike many of these new shows like Family guy, south park, etc..who’s main focus is just act stupid and have sex.

    3.) I also think that the show Dallas should have been added to this list.

  26. I agree about True Blood, although this article has it wrong. Season one was actually one of the most boring seasons. I’d say it was the most boring for me. In terms of quality it probably comes in front of season six, but that’s about it.

  27. I don’t think Dexter should be on the this list at all it is a really great show with great characters and great acting but all of the rest of the shows are ones I stopped watching ages ago or never bothered to watch e.g. True Blood.

    I like watching Dexter, Dracula, The L-word, Mistresses and hemlock Grove.

  28. Critics r something we can do without, that being said, everyone has their opinion on certain things. The above shows this critic has chosen to criticize doesn’t affect the way the public views them. Let’s face it we as people like being entertained. Of the list there r couple of shows I do agree with him, one being the Simpsons, but Shows like Smallville and Dexter were endearing and keep us on the tube.

  29. It’s a shame this columnist’s A.D.D. has blinded him to the reality of seasons that are still good after Season One.

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