The ‘90s were a crazy time for television. Though it was a period when basic network sitcoms weren’t played out yet and could still be successful, it was also a time when extremely random ideas still happened in smaller supply. Furthermore, the ‘90s have gained a certain significance with the recent bout of sequelized reboots, as many fans still want to see where ‘90s characters are now. There’s a fascination with this era that gives it a strong power over viewers.
The ‘90s turned out a lot of incredible, formative television, as well as more than a few misfires. That being said, the metrics were how TV was measured and the number of alternatives that were available made television consumption in the ‘90s very different than it is today. It wasn’t that difficult for a show with a ridiculous premise to turn into a huge success or for something truly innovative to virtually go unseen. Much like today, a lot of incredible shows were canceled in the ‘90s, and in some instances, entire seasons wouldn’t even get a chance to air.
With that said, here are the 17 ‘90s Sitcoms That Went On Too Long (And 13 That Were Canceled Too Soon)!
30 Went On Too Long: Friends
Friends got very close to overstaying its welcome, but it fortunately didn’t push its luck too far. For some shows, ten seasons is the perfect time to end. However, Friends got boxed into a difficult situation during the end of its run because the show became so popular and important to the network.
Because of this, it had to coax the cast to stay onboard for another year. Accordingly, the final seasons of Friends still feature plenty of highlights, but the writing is very much on the wall. Ending a few years earlier before series low moments like Joey and Rachel’s relationship would have given the show a more pristine image.
29 Went On Too Long: Veronica’s Closet
NBC ran through a slew of middling sitcoms during the ‘90s in the hopes to find the next Friends or Seinfeld. Veronica’s Closet was developed as a vehicle for Kirstie Alley in which she plays the owner of a lingerie company. The show presented a unique take on a workplace sitcom and had plenty of strong female characters present. However, it’s idea never fully came together.
Veronica’s Closet lasted for three seasons, but each year saw a drastic change and it’s clear that the network was unsure of how to make the program work. The final few episodes didn’t even air. Perhaps one season would have been enough.
28 Canceled Too Soon: All-American Girl
All-American Girl deserves points for being the first sitcom from the US to feature an all-Asian family, but, unfortunately, the result was a misguided, confused comedy that arguably did more harm than good. ABC wanted to center a sitcom around the comedy of Margaret Cho, but as soon as All-American Girl went into production, she had any control of the project stripped away from her and had to deal with perpetual changes that undercut the show.
It’s frustrating to see Cho's chance to shine ruined by elements outside of her control. ABC canceled the show after one season and Cho was the one who took a lot of the ire in the end.
27 Went On Too Long: Suddenly Susan
Suddenly Susan is very much a companion sitcom to Veronica’s Closet. They both featured independent single businesswomen and NBC canceled both of the series at the same time, which seemed as if it couldn’t even tell the difference between the two shows.
Suddenly Susan starred Brooke Shields as Susan Keane, a magazine writer in San Francisco. The show balanced Susan’s love and work life as she learned more about herself. It it ran for nearly 100 episodes. The show was never a critical darling and its final season went through drastic changes in order to find a bigger audience. Quitting while it was ahead might have been the safer plan.
26 Went On Too Long: Step By Step
Step by Step was a pillar of ABC’s TGIF lineup for seven years and provided audiences with what was essentially a modern version of The Brady Bunch. The wholesome comedy looked at two single parents (who each had three kids) who spontaneously get married and become one big, blended family. The show tapped into ABC’s family-friendly approach, but it didn't exactly do anything new.
In spite of this, though, not only did the series run for over 150 episodes, but it even survived a network change and moved from ABC to CBS. Once the show’s tenure on ABC was done, it would have been a perfect time to call it quits.
25 Canceled Too Soon: Married... With Children
Married…With Children helped put the FOX network on the map and ran for over a decade as a flagship program on the network. For 11 seasons the crude, irreverent Bundy family entertained audiences and provided something much more humbling and flawed than people were used to seeing on TV. The Bundys were clearly fools, but the writers for the show weren’t and, because of this, the series took its time examining each of the oafish individuals.
Even though 11 season is an exceptionally long run, the series still thought that it would be getting one more year, so technically this one was canceled just a little too soon. It would've been a lot better if the show was given the extra season to tie up loose ends.
24 Went On Too Long: Coach
You never know what’s going to resonate with audiences, which is exactly why a simple sitcom about a football coach and his supporting staff lasted for 200 episodes over the course of nine seasons. Craig T. Nelson played Hayden Fox on Coach. The exploits of this proud coach’s career and his time with his family found an interesting balance that worked for many viewers.
The final few years of Coach saw Nelson’s Hayden Fox actually become a coach for an NFL team and stretch the limits of the show’s reality to some degree. Getting out a little earlier before the show had to start turning to wackier storylines probably would've been a better idea.
23 Went On Too Long: Dharma And Greg
Dharma and Greg is one of the most brilliantly basic shows out there, and yet it was still able to run for five full seasons and for over 100 episodes. Opposites attract is the entire premise of this sitcom. Dharma and Greg, two polar opposite individuals, decide to get married after one date and lead a crazy life together.
Greg is a straight-laced professional lawyer, while Dharma is a yoga instructor who follows more of a freewheeling mentality. These differing point of views lead to many of the show’s major conflicts. Dharma and Greg could have ended after one season to little consequence, but its low stakes storytelling and strange energy surprisingly captured viewers.
22 Canceled Too Soon: Caroline In The City
Caroline in the City features Lea Thompson as Caroline Duffy, a cartoonist of the popular “Caroline in the City” comic strip. The comedy examines Caroline’s life along with the number of interesting characters in her orbit. It was a popular addition to NBC’s “Must See TV” lineup. The show increasingly centered around Caroline’s romantic endeavors and her “will they, won’t they” relationship with Richard.
Caroline in the City saw a healthy run of nearly 100 episodes, but it ended on a major wedding cliffhanger and the show clearly wasn’t finished telling its story. It deserved the right to end on its own terms.
21 Went On Too Long: Mad About You
Seven seasons is arguably not too long for a network's flagship program. Mad About You was an anchor of NBC’s “Must See TV” schedule and the show won a dozen Emmy Awards over the course of its run. However, the series actually wanted to end earlier. While the show’s seventh season has a perfect finale, during the show’s fourth and fifth seasons, Paul Reiser and Danny Jacobson considered ending the series while they were on top.
The show went forward and found plenty of new territory for married couple Paul and Jamie Buchman (namely, a baby). The later episodes hold up, but ending earlier could have left an even stronger legacy.
20 Canceled Too Soon: Two Guys And A Girl
Two Guys and a Girl, or Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place, as it started, is the definition of a hangout sitcom that coasts on the chemistry and charisma of the cast. There was nothing remarkable about this show’s premise — friends live together, go to work, and pine for love together — but it featured the likes of Ryan Reynolds and Nathan Fillion, who helped to elevate the show's material.
The series went through a bunch of retooling in an effort to find audiences. However, even though the show saw a decent run of 81 episodes over the course of four seasons, it had the juice for one more and could have easily hit 100.
19 Went On Too Long: The Nanny
The Nanny was influenced by other works, such as My Fair Lady and Pretty Woman, as Fran Drescher’s Fran Fine indoctrinates herself into the life of the Sheffield family and slowly wins over Maxwell’s heart. The series saw a popular run for six seasons and nearly 150 episodes, but the tide started to turn during its final year.
The last season not only delayed the series finale by several weeks, but it then proceeded to broadcast a number of unaired episodes from earlier in the season, completely disrupting the show’s flow. It really seemed like CBS was over the show by its final season and ending earlier while the show were receiving better treatment would have avoided the sloppy conclusion.
18 Canceled Too Soon: Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs was a wildly bold project for its time. Jim Henson’s pet project to make a sitcom about a family of dinosaurs was continually deemed crazy, but when The Simpsons started to gain traction and popularity, ABC took a shot with the radical idea.
Dinosaurs looked at a regular working class family, but everything was set in a prehistoric setting. It’s an impressive, unique point of view that arguably works even better than The Flintstones. Dinosaurs lasted four years and went out on a conclusive finale, but there was no reason why it couldn’t have held off on that big finish after another year or two given its popularity.
17 Went On Too Long: Full House
Whatever happened to predictability, especially when a middle of the road family sitcom unceremoniously ends after a few years rather than lasting nearly a decade and then spawning a spin-off down the road that perpetuates even more of the same thing. Full House looks at the very extended Tanner family as the children grow up and learn and love along the way. It wasn’t trying to be high art, but that was fine.
Full House lasted for eight seasons and nearly made it to 200 episodes. Clearly nothing has been learned with the birth of Fuller House, as the later seasons are easily the weakest.
16 Canceled Too Soon: Ellen
Ellen DeGeneres’ day-time talk show is one of the most successful of all-time, but back during her sitcom days, she wasn’t always as fortunate. Ellen was basically DeGeneres’ Seinfeld in which she filtered her stand-up comedy and life experiences through a show. She played an exaggerated take on herself (but she ran a book store instead of being a stand-up comedian).
Ellen found success and ran for five seasons, but after DeGeneres and her character came out of the closet and the show began to center more on Ellen’s orientation, ABC began to view the series as “controversial” and later pulled the plug on it.
15 Went On Too Long: Sabrina The Teenage Witch
Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a formative vehicle for Melissa Joan Hart that actually provided viewers with a lot of original content. The problem that Sabrina faced was that the show became so successful that it was forced to keep running in a way that drastically changed the series and lost sight of what it was supposed to be.
As Sabrina moved from high school to college, the show’s cast changed and Sabrina’s aunts eventually left the picture. The show moved from ABC to the WB for its final year, but it failed to do anything worthwhile with Sabrina in its new settings.
14 Canceled Too Soon: Stark Raving Mad
Stark Raving Mad was a show that did everything right, but just couldn’t strike enough of a chord with audiences. The show featured Neil Patrick Harris as a neat freak editor who is paired up with a moody horror novelist who was played by Tony Shalhoub. In a sense, the series was a sly update of The Odd Couple, but the fact that Shalhoub’s character was supposed to be a Stephen King proxy and the fact that the show so often dabbled in horror territory made it even more distinct.
Neil Patrick Harris and Tony Shalhoub had fantastic chemistry in the show, but the series only lasted a season and four episodes went unaired.
13 Went On Too Long: Home Improvement
Home Improvement looked at the bumbling grunt-tastic adventures of Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor as his extreme DIY renovations drove his family crazy. Much like many of the sitcoms that were centered around comedians, the premise wasn’t as important, as the show instead focused on the comedy and charisma of its cast. Tim Allen would hilariously throw himself into handyman adventures that often went very gone wrong. It was one of the most popular comedies on television for a while and ran for over 200 episodes.
Home Improvement doesn’t jump through any hoops during its later seasons. Jonathan Taylor Thomas left during the final season, though, so ending the show a year earlier could have provided a better finale.
12 Canceled Too Soon: ALF
In some ways, it’s kind of a miracle that a family sitcom about a sardonic, wisecracking alien that eats cats could even last for four seasons, but the ‘80s and ‘90s marked a crazy era for television. ALF’s titular character has somewhat remained in the public and everybody seems to be aware of the oddball furry alien from Melmac. However, the sitcom didn't work out as well as the writers thought.
ALF turned out four strong seasons and easily could have gone on for longer, but the biggest reason why this cancelation came too soon was because the finale involved ALF getting captured by the government, which was a rather bleak last note.
11 Went On Too Long: Family Matters
Family Matters was a great example of the dangers that can happen when a series goes on for too long. Family Matters started as a look at Carl Winslow’s home life and the frustrations that he faced, but as time went on, it increasingly turned into “The Urkel Show.”
This became even more obvious in the show’s final seasons, which also decided to throw common sense and reality out the window, too. Urkel’s rudimentary science skills evolved to levels where he was able to travel through time, teleport, and do all sorts of impossible things that were clearly desperate attempts to keep the show exciting. Considering the fact that some episodes involved Urkel fighting pirates, it's pretty obvious that the show outstayed its welcome.
10 Canceled Too Soon: Action
Action was a sitcom that took a deeply cynical, nihilistic look at Hollywood culture and the nature of celebrities that seems extremely prescient now. The series centered around Jay Mohr’s Peter Dragon, the head of Dragonfire Film, and offered one of the more bitingly dark parodies of the entertainment industry (it was even the first FOX series to receive a TV-MA rating). The show even featured a Harvey Weinstein surrogate character doing extremely unscrupulous things.
Though Action made a strong impression, it was ultimately too much for FOX and audiences. Only eight episodes from the 13-episode season ended up airing before the plug was pulled on it.
9 Went On Too Long: Just Shoot Me!
Much like Suddenly Susan, Just Shoot Me! was a workplace sitcom that was set at a magazine publishing company. Just Shoot Me! handled the topic successfully and also benefited from having a strong cast that really gelled well together and knew how to sell its cynical brand of comedy.
Just Shoot Me! experienced a very strong initial run, but like many shows, the network tampered with the program and created a muddled final season that felt off to most viewers. Season seven introduced Rena Sofer to the cast and a bunch of broader storylines along with her. Though Sofer’s inclusion was not a total misfire, the show should've focused instead on ending things on a strong note rather than including a messy final year that never did the show justice.
8 Canceled Too Soon: NewsRadio
Seinfeld and Friends are heralded as the big sitcoms from the ‘90s — and rightfully so — but NewsRadio was a strong comedy that truly understood how to use its exceptional cast. Phil Hartman was obvious standout, but everyone in the cast was a gem. The show even found a way to make Andy Dick seem affable.
NewsRadio’s third and fourth seasons are some of the most consistent work you’ll find in a sitcom, but NBC was never fully on board with the sometimes-dark series. NewsRadio still got to have five strong years, but it had a lot more to say, and even though Jon Lovitz’ addition in the final season wasn't as strong, the show still found a way to make it work.
7 Went On Too Long: Spin City
Spin City was a Bill Lawrence sitcom that looked at the workings within the government of New York City and took a fairly unique approach to its comedy. The series centered around Michael J. Fox’s Deputy Mayor, but after the actor’s Parkinson’s Disease became too intense, he left the show after the fourth season and was replaced with Charlie Sheen.
Charlie Sheen actually did a commendable job in this show, but, unfortunately, a lot of the show’s spark was gone during its final two seasons. Several other cast members were also dropped between seasons without explanation. Because of this, ending the show with Fox’s exit might have been the better move.
6 Canceled Too Soon: Sports Night
Before Aaron Sorkin struck gold with The West Wing or found success as a director, his first foray in television was in an ABC comedy called Sports Night. Much in the style of Sorkin’s other works, the show looked at the people who worked at an average cable sports network and produced a nightly sports show.
Even for those with no interest in sports, Sports Night still sparkles. Sorkin’s dialogue and his character’s relationships were great and audiences truly felt like they knew the interesting and complex characters. It was a true gem that the network didn’t fully understand. It even tried to add a laugh track to Sorkin’s lighting fast dialogue, which didn't work for the quick-paced series.
5 Went On Too Long: The King Of Queens
The King of Queens was your standard “dopey husband, nagging wife” sitcom that CBS was somehow able to make successful. That’s not to say that The King of Queens wasn’t enjoyable or without its charm, but something so simple didn't need to last for eight seasons and more than 200 episodes.
So many of its’ storylines repeated the same basic idea. Just because something was popular, this didn't mean that the producers needed to milk the series to its absolute limit. Ending a few years earlier would have made for a stronger finish. However, with shows like Kevin Can Wait happening, people are clearly still eager to see Kevin James and Leah Remini together.
4 Canceled Too Soon: Freaks And Geeks
Though Freaks and Geeks was not technically be a sitcom, it brought up many of the touchstones of the genre. Back in the days when Paul Feig and Judd Apatow weren’t high school names, they put together a beautiful little show that authentically captured the high school experience, but from the perspective of the outcasts.
Honest relationships, flawed characters, and progressive storylines all helped Freaks and Geeks stand out, but it didn’t last beyond its one season at NBC.The show has since gone on to gain almost legendary status and it doesn’t hurt that basically everyone from the show’s cast is now a huge movie star.
3 Went On Too Long: Roseanne
Even without the fresh, new tenth season of Roseanne that came last year and The Conners that’s still on television, Roseanne was still running on empty during the original run of the series. The show was supposed to be an honest look at a relatable working-class family, and when it stuck to that mission statement, it could be fantastic.
Seasons eight and nine of the series pushed the show to its limits and featured outlandish storylines that were motivated by the Conners winning the lottery. The show soon got out of hand, as it pulled off crazy stunts that didn't feel true to its nature. Ending things earlier would have avoided some very silly decisions that diluted the show's brand.
2 Canceled Too Soon: Get A Life
Get A Life was a sitcom that lasted for two years on FOX. In it, Chris Elliott played a thirty year-old paperboy who still lived with his parents. The show was less interested in pleasing its audiences and more concerned with stretching the boundaries of what could be done in a sitcom.
The cult favorite show featured incredible writers like Adam Resnick, David Mirkin, Bob Odenkirk, and even Charlie Kaufman. The show broke reality whenever possible, as Chris even expired at the end of several episodes and then was miraculously fine the next week. Get A Life was an exciting, innovative sitcom that was clearly ahead of its time and went over most audience’s heads.
1 Went On Too Long: The Drew Carey Show
The Drew Carey Show began with a lot of promise. It was such a boon for ABC that the network made the bold move to renew the season for several seasons at once. This led to the show sticking around for nearly 250 episodes, even though viewership greatly dropped over the final few seasons. Not only that, but the show also featured multiple reinventions and Drew got married several times, all to catastrophic effect.
The series' final years changed even more and “event episodes” and “crossovers” with Whose Line is it Anyway? became regular occurrences. Ending the show back in season five or six before it had gone too off the rails would have been a good idea.
Are there any other '90s sitcoms that were canceled too soon or went on too long? Let us know in the comments!