“You never know a good thing until it’s gone” is a very true statement. However, another which is just as accurate is “you never appreciate something as a piece of gold until it starts to lose its luster.” Both of these phrases can be perfectly used to sum up certain TV shows.
In the case of the former statement, some great shows have been taken off of the air way earlier than they should have been due to bad ratings. It is not until long after the series has been cancelled that audiences discover and fully begin to appreciate that show, thus helping the show gain a cult following.
For the latter phrase, a show may start off great, but the longer it progresses the more likely it is to get increasingly worse and worse in quality. Sometimes, a show just loses what was special about it in the first place as the years go by, or new writers might come onboard and try to incorporate new elements that completely ruin the core of the show. In this case, the show stops looking so shiny and starts to rust horribly with age.
With all of this in mind, here are the 10 Terrible Shows That Ran For TOO Long (And 10 That Left Too Soon).
20. Too Long: Supernatural
During the first five seasons of Supernatural, the writing was good enough to allow the show to seamlessly transition from a basic monster of the week series to something of more biblical proportions.
When the show first got picked up, creator Eric Kripke always had a five year plan mapped out for the structure of the show’s storyline. When he decided to leave the show after the first five seasons, he handed the reigns over to Sera Gamble. However, the writers started to make things up as they went along, and it started to show in the storylines.
When the show first made its way out of the Kripke era, the show still had a few hits to its name, but in more recent episodes, the episodes and story arcs have become mostly misses. Now at the thirteenth season is slowly approaching, it is clear that the show needs to be put out of its misery.
19. Gone Too Soon: The Crazy Ones
When the show first aired, The Crazy Ones seemed to have a bright future. The series premiere of the show was one of the most watched premieres of the Fall 2013 season, garnering a whopping 15. 52 million viewers (18.98 million with DVR numbers included).
The show itself was naturally funny thanks to some tremendous chemistry between a cast helmed by Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Judging by these signs, the show was set to be America’s next hit television series.
However, as the season progressed, the ratings crashed down hard, with the season finale garnering only 5.23 million viewers. Because of the big, consistent drop in later months, CBS decided to cancel The Crazy Ones, and four months later, Robin Williams sadly passed away.
18. Too Long: How I Met Your Mother
From the very first episode, audiences already wanted to know exactly how Ted Mosby met his wife and the mother of his children. Thanks to a unique premise and instant chemistry among the cast, How I Met Your Mother was an instant hit with critics and viewers alike.
The quality took a big dip in later seasons, however– especially during that final season. Most viewers stuck around, though, because they wanted to know how exactly Ted met the mother of his future children. Then, audiences finally found this out during the 9th and final season of the show.
The moment the two locked eyes for the first time made for a satisfying moment– almost satisfying enough to forgive an overall dreadful season. Unfortuantely, this all happened early on in the finale.
From there, the finale just got worse and worse until, suddenly, there was a fast forward and we discover that the mother dies. We then realize that Ted only tells his kids how he met their mother so that he could sway them into letting him date their Aunt Robin. What a disappointing way to end a show.
17. Gone Too Soon: Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23
Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 is another great show that never really had a chance to succeed. For starters, with a title like that, the show was close to impossible for ABC to market.
Second, apart from James Van Der Beek– who does a hysterical job at playing himself in a role that should’ve been his big comeback to the mainstream– the cast was filled with relative unknowns. Although stars like Krysten Ritter and Eric Andre would move on to bigger and better things soon after the show’s cancellation, they weren’t big stars at the time and thus weren’t able to bring in audiences.
Plus, the premise of a bubbly blonde moving in with an outrageous sociopath sounds pretty cliché. The show was anything but cliché, as it’s shocking, dark, and risqué sense of humor made for some incredibly funny half hours of television. It’s a shame it never had a chance.
16. Too Long: Family Guy
The story of Family Guy is, in many ways, a Cinderella story. Prior to becoming a global hit, the show had been frequently cancelled and brought back by FOX multiple times.
Keeping that in mind, Family Guy was a show that was never supposed to succeed, and yet still became the cultural phenomenon that it is today. This would be an even more inspiring story about the show’s rise and fall and rise again, if it didn’t feel like Family Guy was currently overstaying its welcome.
It would be one thing if the show had had a few decent seasons on the air after their last revival, but the show has been on the air for 16 seasons and counting and has been getting worse every year.
Even Seth MacFarlane secretly wishes that Family Guy ended years ago, which is probably a hint that its time for FOX to put the nail in its coffin for good.
15. Gone Too Soon: Firefly
Joss Whedon is pretty much the king of creating TV shows that garner passionate cult followings, but wind up getting cancelled despite their popularity. This has never been more relevant than when talking about Firefly.
Early on, the show was able to showcase some instant chemistry among the cast, as well as amazing cinematic visuals in every episode. Whedon had plenty of big plans for this show, but it just wasn’t to be, as Firefly could not even get in a full season before the show got the ax.
The sad thing is that the show never really had a chance because the FOX network never had faith in it. This would explain why the show would frequently and randomly change airtimes on a whim. This confused its audience at the time and only further prevented the show from gaining a proper following while it was on the air. Thus, the show was inevitably cancelled due to low ratings.
14. Too Long: 24
The show 24 started off as a unique concept when it first premiered on FOX. The idea of one entire season taking place in one day was an ambitious one, but also an extremely fascinating one that brought along an audience that was enthusiastic to hop on its thrill ride.
Critics were just as quick to latch onto 24, as the show won two Emmys and two Golden Globes during its first season alone. Before the network knew it, 24 had become the longest running espionage series in television history, with eight seasons under its belt and several additional spin-off shows.
Unfortunately, that once unique concept quickly became dreary just halfway through its eight seasons. What once felt exciting and fresh quickly became formulaic and boring. Regardless, FOX is already working on yet another spin-off series, despite how badly 24: Legacy bombed.
13. Gone Too Soon: Freaks and Geeks
If there is one show that fans continuously complain about being cancelled too soon, it’s Freaks and Geeks and it’s easy to see why. A prime example would be the cast. It is astonishing just how many of these young actors went on to become big stars after this show went off the air.
James Franco, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Seth Rogen, John Francis Daley, Ben Foster, and that doesn’t nearly scrape the bottom of the surface as far as how many young up and comers were killing it on Freaks and Geeks before hitting their stride in Hollywood.
In addition to the cast, the writing was always incredibly smart, touching, and mature, while also being hilarious. Despite being cancelled by NBC due to low ratings, Freaks and Geeks gained a cult following years later and continues to be hailed today as one of the greatest shows of all time.
12. Too Long: Happy Days
It’s hard to find a show more classic than Happy Days. It had one of the best and catchiest opening themes in TV history, the incredible Fonzie character, and it perfectly captured that ’50s-’60s atmosphere to a pitch perfect tee.
There is a reason why we all still remember Happy Days to this very day, and why the show lasted 10 years on the air. This is because the show was an instant classic the moment that it arrived to television.
Unfortunately, 10 years was far too long for a show like this and it started to show in later years just how desperate the writers were struggling with handling the series and prolong its tenure.
This is especially eminent in it’s infamous “jumping the shark” moment. The moment is so bad that it coined an entire television terminology. We still remember the show fondly, but because it stayed on too long, there were some moments that ruined the show.
11. Gone Too Soon: My So-Called Life
The term “ahead of its time” gets thrown around a lot– especially when talking about shows that got the ax too soon. My So-Called Life was, in many ways, truly ahead of its time.
After all, the show gave us one of American television’s first portrayals of an openly gay teenager. It also gave us an accurate depiction of drug abuse when the general perception on drugs at the time was fear and confusion. Additionally, the show led to an internet campaign that tried to save the cancelled television show, something that has become the norm with cancelled shows nowadays.
Apparently, the show was far too ahead of its time for mid-’90s audiences to invest in and was cancelled because of this. In a time when teen dramas were either too cookie cutter or laughably schmaltzy, My So-Called Life told real teen stories about real teenagers.
10. Too Long: Entourage
Entourage was a show that helped cater to all of our curiosities regarding the inner workings of the Hollywood scene. Hollywood life always looked extravagant and entertaining, especially when seen through the eyes of Vincent Chase and his pals– as well as his agent Ari Gold who stole the show on a regular weekly basis.
Together, they all made for some funny television. The show hit a bit of a speed bump in later seasons, but none more so than in season 7. In season 7, the creators decided to take the show into a much darker direction, focusing on more serious plots like Vince becoming a drug addict.
Fans despised the new change in tone and direction and the series never recovered from there. It only returned for one more season after. Maybe if the show had been brought to a close sooner, then the showrunners wouldn’t have felt so pressured to change the original format.
9. Gone Too Soon: Pushing Daisies
Bryan Fuller has plenty of great shows under his belt that did not spend nearly as much time on the air as they should have (Hannibal, Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls). However, none of his shows fit the bill as perfectly as Pushing Daisies.
Pushing Daisies never seemed to find an audience until after the show was already cancelled, and if it did, then it couldn’t have been until the very end of the show’s two season run.
Thanks to DVD/streaming distribution, Pushing Daisies has been able to find a flock of new fans re-discovering this gem for the first time. Pushing Daisies was an absolute gem of a show that had all the potential in the world before it got axed way too soon.
8. Too Long: True Blood
When True Blood premiered on HBO, it was instantly the hottest show on television– and in more ways than one. When it wasn’t providing audiences with some high octane vampire action, True Blood was giving us some of the steamiest scenes to ever grace network television.
Unfortunately for fans who found themselves instantly hooked to the show, the vampire show started to suck (no pun intended) pretty soon after it came out. The more that the show drew in audiences, the more the show started to overcomplicate its own mythology and storylines.
It got to the point where the show would either feel too overly bloated that it was confusing or too full of unnecessary, strange twists that it just got stupid. This trend continued right up until the final and seventh season.
7. Gone Too Soon: Happy Endings
On the surface, Happy Endings does not feel very different from the average comedy about six friends living the city life. In all honesty, it does not sound all that different from something like Friends. However, what separates Happy Endings from the rest is its execution.
Rather than just being about six friends, the premise focuses on this collective of friends trying to maintain their friendship after one of their friends leave the other at the altar on their wedding day. It also helps that the character’s unique personalities and quick paced dialogue helped separate the cast from any other vanilla sitcom.
Unfortunately, it seemed that audiences saw what Happy Endings looked like on the surface and expected it to be like any other sitcom of the same nature. Likely for this reason, the ratings were horrid and the show was cancelled after just three seasons.
6. Too Long: Bones
In 2017, Bones finally closed its doors after 12 seasons on the air. The feat is, in many ways, unprecedented, but at the same time, not worth applauding. Not many shows can own the privilege of being on the air for 12 long years, but in the case of Bones, the accolade is only there to remind us just how much the show declined in later years.
On its own merits, keeping in mind the show’s earliest run, the show was never that great to begin with. Although David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel displayed remarkable chemistry from the very start of the show, there was never much about the show itself that impressed audiences enough to even predict that it would last another 12 years on the air.
5. Gone Too Soon: Undeclared
For those who think that NBC screwed up when they gave Freaks and Geeks the ax too soon, it’s important to note that FOX did the same . to Judd Apatow’s other show, Undeclared. Undeclared was given the greenlight not long after Freaks and Geeks was cancelled.
Apatow thought that this would be a fresh start, but it turned out that Undeclared would get cancelled just as quickly as Freaks and Geeks. This was a shame because the show truly had potential.
In addition to having a big name guest star every week– like Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler– the main cast also featured some fresh faces before they hit the big time. These fresh faces included Jay Baruchel, Charlie Hunnam, Kevin Hart, and Amy Poehler.
4. Too Long: Homeland
When Homeland first premiered on Showtime, it was something of a revelation. It provided some tense drama and superb performances from Claire Danes in a comeback role, as well as a show-stealing performance from then-relatively unknown Damian Lewis.
Then, when Damian Lewis’ character was killed in season 3, the magic was suddenly gone. The entire series was based around Lewis’ character and his status as a terrorist. When the dilemmas surrounding his character were suddenly gone, much of the series had lost its luster, and overall Homeland ceased being as compelling as it was with Lewis onboard.
With a sixth season approaching, the show still has a strong lead performance from Danes to piggy back off of, but the writing is nowhere near as sharp as it used to be. It seems that the show is on hind legs at this point, nearing its own end if the writers don’t sharpen up soon.
3. Gone Too Soon: Deadwood
Deadwood is probably one of the most beloved shows to ever hit on HBO over the last decade. Fans loved it, critics loved it– everybody loved it. People enjoyed it enough to give the show eight Emmys during its run.
Between the standout performances from the likes of Ian McShane, to the gritty realism of the western setting, there was a lot to love about Deadwood. This is why it was so surprising and befuddling to see HBO cancel the series after just three seasons on the air.
From the looks of things, the show probably became too expensive for HBO to keep producing and the network decided to give it the ax instead of financing another season.
Still, Deadwood consistently made for incredibly compelling television, and with all of the praise it got, surely HBO could have found a way to cut some costs elsewhere in order to continue financing the show. It’s a real shame it had to end so soon.
2. Too Long: Two and a Half Men
Two and a Half Men has been off the air ever since the 12th season wrapped up in 2015 and we are still trying to figure out just how the heck this show stayed on the air for so long.
There was a time when audiences thought (and feared) that the show would never end. Keeping in mind just how terribly the show remained to be, the idea that Two and a Half Men could go on forever was a scary thought indeed.
After all, not even the inopportune and much publicized departure of star Charlie Sheen could lead to the end of the series, as he was only replaced by Ashton Kutcher in season 9. Throughout the show’s entire run, the show received reviews that ranged from lukewarm to mixed, but maintained surprisingly impressive ratings right up until the very end.
1. Gone Too Soon: Suburgatory
Creatied with the same mind behind such television classics as Parks and Recreation and As Told By Ginger, Suburgatory starred Jeremy Sisto and Jane Levy as a father/daughter pair from the mean streets of New York City hoping to start anew in the suburbs.
They’re startled to discover that the neighborhood is run by seemingly perfect Stepford Wives-like characters, some of which are played by the likes of Alan Tudyk and Cheryl Hines. It’s also worth noting that this show housed the breakout performance of Carly Chaikin right before she bounced over to Mr. Robot. Many critics cited her as the show stealer.
With a cast like this accompanied by a script which remained consistently witty every episode, it’s hard to see how this show bombed with audiences. For three seasons, the show garnered positive reviews, but ratings remained low. Ratings were so low in season 3 that critical acclaim couldn’t stop ABC from cancelling it.
What do you think? Do you agree that these shows were cancelled too soon or went on for too long? Let us know in the comments!
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