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

184 Comments

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  1. Wow, this MUST be a joke article. There hasn’t been even ONE weak season of Dexter, Californication, or HIMYM

    • I don’t know about the others but after the third season of Dexter they all was weak especially when they changed the mood up after the first season.

    • Ditto. Dexter was always awesome as well as HIMYM.

  2. What? No Smallville was amazing.

  3. ….After about season 4, the reasons for sticking with the show seemed to be less about the present…

    Wow, I should quit reading this now, the author is a total moron.

    The first four seasons of Smallville SUCKED, it was the potential of the show that kept you coming BACK.

    The first four seasons were dominated by the “Kryptonite menace of the week” storylines. It was only as things wore on that it got better. The show got better and better with each season, up to the final one, which failed by compressing two seasonal story arcs (the “Justice Society” and “Darkseid”) into one, which made the first ending suck (it wrapped up far too fast and left loose ends) and the second one just sucked in general (because all the Darkseid stuff was too easy, and had no longer-term “oomph”, and the whole final confrontation was just too damned easy).

    I was amazed that they managed to tell so many interesting stories, and how that series kept getting better and better.

    I repeat. The author is a moron when they list this one. I fully expect everything that follows to be remarkably stupid, though I’ll give it a chance.

    • Smallville was never great but the first few seasons were at least watchable. They started really dumbing it down after that, which I guess was a good call. I bet you love Game of Thrones, Dexter, True Blood, and all the other garbage on this list.

      • First of all Game of Thrones was NOT mentioned on this list. Secondly, Game of Thrones does not, I repeat does NOT suck!

        What world are you living in that you would think Game of Thrones sucks anyway?

      • Don’t you diss Dexter and HIMYM. Two of the best shows ever on TV.

      • Igotbupkis is absolutely right. The first four seasons had almost no storyline. It was just a bunch of random “meteor freaks.” Oh cool, this one can teleport. This one can control bees. Woopdedoo. It wasn’t until he got out of high school that all the cool stuff started to happen.

        Seriously, the first four seasons were almost unbearable. I almost stopped watching it. So glad I didn’t.

    • Exactly!after season 4 of smallville that’s when the show started to become awesome.like you said the kryptonite menace of the week was getting really old and I almost stopped watching altogether because of it.

  4. i don’t even understand wtf true blood is even on this list! i think its an Awesome show like when sam merlot morfed into that bug flew in that persons mouth n then changed back it was Awesome so please don’t hate something just cause its silly :)

  5. Say one more thing about Smallville, Supernatural or Saturday Night Love, I dare you.

  6. I see one show in there that would not make me instantly change the channel had I accidentally ended up on. Mostly drivel watched by mindless lemmings.

  7. Ummm… Heroes. Everything after season 1. That series, in my mind, is the best (worst) example of an incredible, promising show that somehow lost all of its mojo faster than you can say “writer’s strike”.

    • I agree. Heroes is the worst/best example of a promising show gone down the toilet.

      • I agree. Heroes was a fantastic show; I just ended up hating it afterwards and am not planning on watching the new series. True Blood lost its mojo when they started bringing in too many creatures. Werepanthers? I understand it’s based on the books, but they kinda went nowhere with it. I stopped watching after that awful season with Lillith. Smallville was pretty awesome for a while, but yeah, the whole meteor freaks thing was annoying, but the promise of DC characters cameos kept me going. I tuned out after the whole Doomsday/Davis Bloome storyline. Right now, fed up with Supernatural and HIMYM

  8. Please don’t bash True Blood, it is an awesome show.

    • Yeah, and Twilight are the best Vampire Movies ever… O_o

  9. Dexter, How I Met AND Smallville???

    good one, clueless troll

    maybe next time you’ll use actual common sense and put shows that re actually PAINFUL to watch
    like breaking bad and game of thrones AKA the most boring/nonsensical show in the history of television

    get a clue, jackass ; )

    • Breaking Bad? Really? You mean the show that won numerous awards and is widly considered one of the best tv shows of all time?

  10. Dexter was just awful after season 4.

  11. Although I agree with most of the shows on this list, I may have to re-evaluate my opinion based on the fact that the author likes the godawful Game of Thrones.

    • I bet you also hate Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Rome and everything else awesome as calling Game of Thrones awful is insane and you should wash your mouth.

  12. I did stop watching Supernatural after season 5′s “Swan Song” it gave so much closure in the narrative that I was satisfied. also it was the last episode that Eric Kripke(spelling?) was involved in.

  13. It never ceases to amaze me when people say “The Simpsons is not as funny as it used to be.” It’s been on for a quarter century! People change over 25 years. Things we laughed at then aren’t as humorous to us now. There is no way or any one of us to say it isn’t as funny now as it was then. As for me, I still like it. But then, I wasn’t a kid when it started.

    • The Simpsons suck since Season 13

  14. how did LOST not make this list? It’s like the archetype for this category.

    • Lost ‘lost’ it during that last season. Especially on the final episode.

    • yea, heros, lost should be on the top, Smalleville didn’t get great until they left highschool. Supernatural just went crazy after a while the world can’t end but so many times. True Blood not as good as it was, story line just crazy now, Games of Thrones is a good show.

  15. In defense of True Blood..it was following the Sookie Stackhouse novels where there are witches, werewolves, werepanthers..etc. and there is a part in the books where the witches gather in a bookstore.

  16. Hey, you forgot the main ones: Once Upon a Time and Revenge, that I Think would never have another season. I’ve seen the first seasons eagerly, I liked them a lot, but… well, enough is enough. With luck, we’ll be spared of further seasons, but, if not… count me out of the audience.

    • Lmao the first season of Revenge was so great! But I keep on watching hoping it still has that spark… sigh.

  17. Lost is not on this list?

  18. It’s funny how people so easily up in arms about the wind blowing respond with such with as “get a clue, jack*ss” and “I repeat. The author is a moron when they list this one.”

    What’s even funnier is that there’s someone here who was completely engaged and surprised by seasons 6 and 8 of Dexter.

  19. The REAL reason I keep going back for more of Superman, was Clark the young man…I stll haven’t seen any actor come close to his good looks. And Super Natural has three very GOOD looking men, and a story line to keep you interested, me I just watch for the good looking men. Why not? Men watch just to see pretty women, so I watch for the really good looking men.

    • Shallow

  20. Smallville and How I met Your Mother are great shows. You need to shut up

  21. quit hating on game of thrones your just mad that the authorvof the books george r r martin killed your favorite charecter. spoiler joff and his mother get theirs

  22. Huge smallville fan, bigger Superman fan. Although was disappointed occasionally truly enjoyed the series. Would’ve put Welling on steroids and locked him in the gym and let him do “Man of Steel”

  23. No! Supernatural, Bones, and the Simpsons are all great shows that should never die! I love those shows and I think they should continue making them, and never stop.

    • Bones has been truly dreadful since she got knocked up and the whole show started revolving around the baby, not to mention the whole, “she got pregnant, and she’s a mom, so now she’s an idiot” plot aspects. I stopped at that point. I always preferred the sidekicksand interns over her, anyway.

  24. Why was they never a follow up from Smallville to a Justice League series ?

    • Exactly! I was very suprised and upset when the next Superman´s actor was NOT Tom Welling. Also thought there were TONS of material to make a franchise like the Avengers´ with the Justice League. In Smallville, every superheroe went to make his/her own way (Acquaman, Flash, Green Arrow, etc) so there´s plenty of material to make lots of movies! Also adding Wonder Woman (not the crappy stupidity it was intended and failed last time, the REAL one, kickass´ princess). It´d be awesome and I´m still hoping they will do it. Me, my husband and a bunch of friends too ;)

  25. I agree, after season Four trinity, Dexter was all downhill. True Blood sicks ( no pun) but in its defense, everything noted, the witches, fairly powers, etc. are ALL in the books. Blame the additional half-hearted ham-fisted things they added for that shows decline.

  26. South Park. 5 Ok episodes and 1 or 2 great episodes a season does not a good show make. Matt Stone and Trey Parker should spend their time making movies like Baseketball and Orgasmo.

  27. The Flash was never in Smallville, it was Impulse, DC wouldnt allow them to use Batman, Wonder Woman or The Flash because they had movies in development at the time

  28. “terrible storylines like the Leviathans and Sam sharing the same headspace as his old underworld cellmate Lucifer. ” The seventh season was a major comeback.

  29. I don’t know why I still watch Criminal Minds. Am I addicted to psychological serial killers or do I have deeply buried homicidal tendencies? It’s disturbing on many levels and I can’t afford therapy. I need help.

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