The CW network (formerly The WB and UPN) initially launched in 2006 with a focus on programming that appealed to female viewers. Not long after, The CW created additional shows that catered to men. Currently, the network’s viewership is even between men and women.
Over the years, The CW has had some short-lived and amazing cult favorites like Veronica Mars, Reaper, and The Secret Circle. The network also has had some long-running shows that slowly waned in ratings and in key demographics during the final seasons.
Looking at some of the shows that lasted long on The CW, you might form the opinion that the network milks a TV series for an extra season or two. Sometimes a better idea is to follow the advice of the adage “Quit while you’re ahead.” The CW has proved it knows a bad show when it sees one, having canceled many shows during or right after a first season.
This list contains some of the television shows that should have “quit while they were ahead” for one reason or another. It also includes currently-televised CW shows that should be removed from their programming. Sometimes writing, acting, or shocking twists can’t save or boost a show’s popularity; in that case, it’s time to end it.
Here are 11 CW Shows That Went On Too Long (And 4 That Need To Go).
15 Too Long: 90210 (2008-2013 Version)
The 2008 version of 90210 was the fourth in the 90210 series, premiering about 1 year before the Melrose Place reboot. The premise of the new version remained the same: West Beverly Hills High School students and how they progress through lives as wealthy teenagers. Later in the series, the show followed the group as college students and those who chose other career paths.
Most criticism involved comparisons to other teen soap shows. There was nothing particularly new or engaging with this group of new 90210 people; other similar shows had trickier plotlines and handled modern issues better.
By the third season, character interactions improved, but viewers had moved away to other shows.
The awards the show won for Best Drama Series (TV Choice Awards) and the two acting awards for Jessica Stroup and AnnyLynne McCord in 2010 couldn’t draw fans back in for seasons 3 through 5.
14 Too Long: Beauty & The Beast
The CBS version of Beauty and the Beast fared well with critics and fans, even though it lasted 3 seasons. When The CW decided to loosely base another series on the mythos, a police procedural element was added.
Starring Kristin Kreuk as Catherine Chandler, The CW’s Beauty and the Beast had the main character pursue a career as a detective for the NYPD.
Most reviews for the show heavily criticized the show’s acting, writing, and premise. The only highlight of the show, according to one critic of the Los Angeles Times, was Catherine’s partner. The critic said, “[Nina Lisandrello] clearly deserves to be on a better show.”
The CW ordered shorter seasons (22 episodes down to 13) for seasons 3 and 4, never really gaining the same fanbase as some of its other shows. You can read 3 tie-in novels to continue the story.
13 Needs To Go: The 100
The 100 is very loosely based on the first book in The 100 series by Kass Morgan. The show is about a group of criminal teenagers sent to Earth from a special habitat in orbit to determine if the planet is livable again. There are vast differences from the book to the show, but for most of first few seasons, The 100 TV show held the interest of science fictions fans.
But now, the show appears to be sets of encounters meant to move subplots and character dynamics along. The characters have slowly turned into stereotypes, with predictable behavior giving into predictable plot points. There are too many people to keep track of to maintain satisfying resolutions.
A good time to stop the series would have been with the season 3 finale.
With declining viewers starting in season 4, it’s time for The CW to end it after season 5.
12 Too Long: One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill focused on two brothers who were vying for spots on the basketball team and their romantic pursuits. It starts with stories from the boys’ high school junior year and eventually ends up about 5-6 years in the future by season 9.
The show is on many lists of greatest teen shows of all time, like Cosmopolitan’s and Digital Spy’s lists. But the second season had many wondering how the show would continue when the basketball theme was removed. Also, some didn’t like how the character Dan, played by Paul Johnasson, was being written as evil.
When Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton left the show at season 6, people figured One Tree Hill was done.
Maybe that would have been the perfect time to do a TV-movie or shortened season to tie up loose ends and storylines.
11 Too Long: Smallville
Smallville ran 10 seasons (5 on The WB and 5 on The CW.) The show earned many awards, including Emmys and Teen Choice Awards. Specific episodes have also won several Leo Awards for cinematography and directing.
Season 11 almost happened, but The CW was smart and kept it to a comic. Story arcs were slowly becoming ways to bring in old characters or to introduce the “Freak of the Week,” a common trope in science fiction and horror TV shows. By the end of the series, some of the main characters were only making cameo appearances, leaving Clark Kent as the driving force of the plots. Once Michael Rosenbaum left the series, the whole show lost steam.
Not that all the season were terrible, it was just time to cap of a decent series way earlier than season 10.
10 Needs To Go: Arrow
There are some shows that need to end because creatively, there’s nothing fresh to give to fans. Like Arrow. The show has done well in the ratings and helped spawn spinoffs like The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. It has done some good for the DC universe, but it’s time to bid a fond farewell and end after season 6.
When those spinoffs began, Arrow just didn’t seem to mesh with them. Writers have tried to fit Arrow in, but the resets and changes only served to give viewers the same tired storylines. Any new characters introduced seemed rushed or desperate to revitalize the series; writers didn’t seem to know how to mix them in with the current cast.
It's time for Arrow to have a respectable send-off and let the other, current DC shows have more space.
9 Too Long: Gossip Girl
For most of its 6-season run, Gossip Girl was one of The CW’s most popular shows, often listed as its number 1 show. The TV series was based on the books by Cecily von Ziegesar, but quickly deviated from them in the first season. The show received criticism from the Parents Television Council and the New York Post. But that didn’t stop teens from watching the show in droves.
With the fifth season, Gossip Girl didn't have much life left in it.
Other shows were becoming more favored and beating out Gossip Girl in the ratings (Vampire Diaries and Supernatural, for example). Plus, the showrunners were launching new projects like Hart of Dixie. For the stars and crew, the focus seemed to be shifting to other dealings than Gossip Girl itself. It limped to a finish with a little-watched sixth season.
8 Too Long: America's Next Top Model
America’s Next Top Model premiered pre-CW in 2003, when the network was UPN. It ran until 2015 when The CW finally canceled the show. Since then, VHI has revived ANTM to mediocre ratings.
Being on for 9 years, the show has rooted itself in pop culture. It’s been mentioned in other TV programs and has made household names of some of the contestants, judges, and experts. For 5 of the 9 years it was on The CW, ANTM was the number one show in terms of average viewers.
Over time, this reality show had to compete with other, newer reality programs.
It seemed to become scripted, and some of the catfights and scenes contrived. Allure magazine even commented that the show “hasn’t exactly produced any actual supermodels.”
When the first major decline in viewership happened in 2011-2012, The CW should have canceled ANTM.
7 Needs To Go: Supernatural
Supernatural is headed for its 14th season, having been renewed on April 2, 2018. It is the longest-running, scripted show on The CW (Smallville hit 10 seasons before ending).
In its current state, Supernatural has an avid and active fanbase. They’ve written fan-fiction, held Supernatural parties, and maintained many forums about the show. But has the magic vanished?
Some believe the show will become a caricature of itself, and that the season 5 finale was a perfect way to end the series.
Supernatural still maintains solid ratings, so hopefully, The CW isn’t throwing money at the show just to take advantage of its popularity.
There’s hope on the horizon if you feel the show needs to go: one of the stars, Jared Padalecki has said, “When we get to 300 [episodes), I think Ackles and I will think it might be time to say bye.” Nonetheless, the show has been renewed for a 14th season.
6 Too Long: The Carrie Diaries
Some shows rely on nostalgia to propel them past the first or second season. In 2012, The CW authorized a pilot for a prequel to Sex in the City, which focused on Carrie Bradshaw’s high school years as an intern with a fashion magazine. The show was based on The Carrie Diaries book by Candace Bushnell, who also executive produced the prequel.
The Carrie Diaries received decent reviews for the first season. This prompted The CW to renew the program for a second season based on the show’s online popularity.
Ratings slipped significantly from the first to second season.
CW President at the time, Mark Pedowitz, stated that the network needed ratings and digital presences to sustain the show, not one or the other.
It was most likely a gamble for The CW, hoping ratings would improve, but a second season may have been the wrong move.
5 Needs To Go: Dynasty
There’s a show on The CW that already needs to go. It’s only 1 season old, but already been planned for 22 episodes and was just renewed for a second season on April 2 of this year. The TV program is Dynasty.
Reboots and remakes have been popular recently and trying to emulate a well-written and twist-heavy show like Dynasty could prove difficult with a younger cast. While praises have been given to some of the acting, some publications felt the pilot and show were and have been “inferior” to the original Dynasty.
Ratings per episodes have been lower than average; it might be time for The CW to cut its losses before committing to another full season. Good acting and having Riverdale as an evening lead-in isn’t enough to keep a mediocre show going.
4 Too Long: Beauty and the Geek
Produced by Ashton Kutcher, Beauty and the Geek was a relationship reality show where “Beauties” are partnered with “Geeks” to compete as couples in events for cash and prizes. The Beauties are challenged academically, and the Geeks are tested in social situations. If you think the idea would quickly become boring, you’d be right. The title is an obvious play on the title Beauty and the Beast.
A few minor changes to the format occurred in season 4, then another change in season 5, but both were not enough to keep the show past the fifth season. Ratings from season 3 to 4 dropped, then dropped again from season 4 to 5.
Production abruptly stopped after season 5 aired. Executive Producer J.D. Roth hopes the series gets revived, “ideally when enough time has passed for the concept to feel fresh.”
3 Too Long: Makeover Shows
Makeover shows typically don’t last more than a few seasons. One of the rare exceptions was TLC's What Not to Wear.
The CW had two makeover shows that shouldn’t have made it past 1 season, perhaps even 1 episode. Shedding for the Wedding lasted 8 episodes each, while Plain Jane squeaked out a mere 6 episodes on the network.
The competition for reality shows was fierce around the time these two shows were on the air (2010-2012). With how shallow most makeover shows are, it’s amazing the two listed even got off the ground.
Shedding for the Wedding had couples trying to lose weight and win the wedding of their dreams. Plain Jane took a “plain-looking” woman for a head-to-toe physical and emotional makeover. The CW canceled the latter show, but it found its way to MTV.
2 Too Long: Oh Sit!
Occasionally, a TV show remains on the air longer than thought possible, despite having low ratings. Oh Sit! was one such show on The CW that last a surprising two seasons.
Phil Gurin already had a great track record with Shark Tank (currently in its 9th season) and The Singing Bee (lasted 5 season) when it was learned Gurin and The CW were working on a musical chairs game show. Dubbed “high-octane musical chairs competition,” Oh Sit! Got a 10-episode order from The CW.
From the first episode, ratings were deplorable, never gaining traction in 18-49 market. Episode over episode, viewership dropped.
Shockingly, The CW ordered another 10 episodes for season 2, which had worse ratings than the previous season. A single episode may have been too long, but then again, Kat Graham from The Vampire Diaries wouldn’t have been a musical guest in a later episode.
1 Too Long: The Vampire Diaries
With an 8-season run, The Vampire Diaries proved to be one of The CW’s consistently-praised shows. A couple of seasons didn’t rate as high, but most of the 171 episodes receive positive reviews for its acting, dialogue, and plot development. The show became so popular that one of the creators, Julie Plec, conceived of a spin-off, The Originals (now ending after 5 seasons). She is also working on a spin-off from The Originals.
For some fans, critics, and other viewers, the show had a significant drop in ratings and viewership from season 6 to season 7. Halfway through the 7th season, it moved from Thursday to Friday and pushed back an hour. Plus, fan-favorite stars Nina Dobrev and Michael Trevino left after the 6th season. Combining those to circumstances, it could be argued that The Vampire Diaries should have ended after season 6.
What CW shows do you feel went on too long? Or what shows do you think need to go? Let us know in the comments!