Although there are a number of shows that have been able to sustain a storyline and fan base through a multitude of seasons, there are far more that have made viewers suffer through a dwindling storyline or have been simply cancelled altogether. It’s actually quite rare for a show to continue to get better and better with each new season, even though there have been some shows that have made it look easy. Yet, they can’t all be as good as Breaking Bad in its final season. There are a number of shows that start off with a great premise and an amazing cast of characters but that doesn’t mean that they will be able to hang onto a riveting storyline or even all of its actors.
At times, a television series is thought of as a jumping off point for an actor since many have always dreamt of making it to the big screen. Once a series gains a huge fanbase and amplifies the fame status of the actors, there are some individuals that are quick to leave a series in order to pursue their dream of being on the big screen. After a loss of some of the key characters or just a storyline that has run its course, it’s difficult for fans to continue supporting a dying series. Another reason why it can be hard to sustain a fan base is the fact that there seems to be a multitude of new shows coming on with each new year and that’s not even including the new Netflix series that are garnering a huge amount of attention. Check out our list of the 15 TV shows that got worse towards their final season and see how sometimes the fans were let down when the end came near.
15. The Sopranos
Although it took awhile for The Sopranos to pick up steam to get its first season up and running on HBO, it quickly became a fan favorite for the network. While the premise of the series was essentially a mobster show, there was so much drama regarding the family dynamic and the relationships amongst the characters that truly made it a show for anyone and everyone. Yet, towards the end of the series, there was an obvious downhill storyline that made many fans wondering what was going on with their favorite Sunday night show. Although viewers could stand a few dream sequences here and there throughout the series, putting Tony in a coma for episode after episode was just a little too much. By the time the series finale finally came around, people were content to get off the rollercoaster. However, the cut-to-black ending was heavily criticized.
When Entourage first emerged on HBO, it offered a great behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like to be an actor in Hollywood. From problems finding the right script to the mania that agents have to go through, it pulled back the curtain to show audiences the drama that occurs when the cameras aren’t rolling. People enjoyed seeing the cast of characters interact with one another and the occasional cameo from real Hollywood stars was a major plus. Yet, it became difficult to see the same sort of storylines play out and it seemed like the writers were finding it difficult to have the story come to an end. Introducing a blonde journalist to all of a sudden fall in love with Vincent Chase and run off to get married was an incredible stretch and the series ended without a real finish to the plot. Obviously, they did this in order to plug out film adaptations to the story but it was a real disappoint to longtime fans.
When the first episode of Lost premiered on ABC in 2004, people were instantly drawn into the storyline because of the mystery surrounding the plane crash and the island, itself. Matthew Fox had already made an impression on television viewers from his earlier role on Party of Five so audiences were happy to see him return to the small screen. The popularity of the series gave rise to some of the other actor’s career, including Ian Somerhalder, Josh Holloway, Maggie Grace and Evangeline Lilly. During the beginning of the series, fans were glued to their TV screens trying to figure out what the mysterious “monster” was on the island and whether or not the world would truly be destroyed if they no longer punched in, “4, 8, 1, 16, 23, 42.” However, as the series progressed, it seemed like even the writers didn’t know what was going on and new characters and storylines were thrown in just to keep the show going. Once the series came to an end, many of the longtime fans were left feeling like they had just wasted their lives in watching a show about nothing.
12. The Big Bang Theory
When the concept of The Big Bang Theory was being shopped around, it was hard to tell whether or not it would resonate with fans. The main characters of the series were geniuses and extraordinarily brilliant minds that hailed from Ivy League universities and throwing in the beautiful blonde that just moved into the building was thought of as a bit of a stretch. Yet, the dynamic between Penny, Sheldon, and Leonard was an onscreen chemistry that really drew in fans. While Raj and Howard were equally funny, it was the Penny character played by Kaley Cuoco that had many fans relating to the series and seeing their world through the eyes of regular folks. As the series progressed, more characters were introduced into the series and the dynamic began to change in a way that twisted the storyline into a whole new direction. While it’s inevitable that characters will change as the years go by, they seem to have lost that magical quality they had during the first few seasons.
When Heroes first premiered on NBC in 2006, it was thought of as a huge success. The series instantly garnered a huge fanbase as the world was beginning to start embarking on a new fascination surrounding superheroes. The X-Men franchise was going full steam ahead and people loved to see the concept of regular human beings exhibiting the characteristics of superheroes on the small screen. The popularity of the series spawned the careers of some of the biggest future successes like Ali Larter, Hayden Panettiere, and Zachary Quinto. Yet, the storyline of the series seemed to stray from the actual characters and went on to become a strange government conspiracy mixed up with some back and forth sequences from the future. It didn’t go well for fans and they quickly lost interest. The series was ultimately canceled without even finishing up the storyline.
10. That ‘70s Show
In a show that’s called, That ‘70s Show, you’d think that the majority of the audience would be of a particular age. Yet, the viewers were generally much younger in order to relate to the cast of characters, even if they had no idea what the 1970s were really like. The show spawned the careers of many of its actors and became the environment for Mila Kunis having her very first kiss with Ashton Kutcher, the man that would later go on to become her husband in real life. While the show was supposed to be a sitcom that had a number of comical moments, it started to infuse some darker themes that made it a completely different series. There were also rumors surrounding the cast members and animosity between the actors. By the end of the show, Topher Grace had left the show in Season 7 and only returned for the finale episode for a brief moment.
9. The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is based off a popular comic book series but no one could have guessed how successful the TV series would be in regard to ratings. Viewers became obsessed with this zombie apocalyptic series and it was the highest-rated show on television, even beating out sporting events amongst viewers. While there’s no exact cut-off date that lets fans know exactly when the series will come to a close, it’s already going towards Season 8 and the criticism is a little difficult to ignore. While the show has always had a format that would follow certain characters for an entire episode and completely forget the rest of the cast, that isn’t going over well with fans any longer. No one wants to watch Eugene for an entire episode and the Negan character is really falling flat. Ratings have severely dropped for the series and it’s making some fans wonder whether or not they will be able to redeem the series after such a disappointing last season.
8. Desperate Housewives
When Desperate Housewives first premiered in 2004, viewers loved the fresh concept of the series. The show featured a few beloved and recognizable faces like Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher but also introduced some new faces that really resonated with fans. While the first two seasons really hooked in viewers, the series quickly went downhill after that. From the over-the-top storylines involving kidnapping, the mob and a number of psychotic characters thrown into the mix, fans began to wonder why showrunners were trying to change their favorite show. With the addition of actors like Vanessa Williams and Alfre Woodard, the show started to get too far-fetched for people to actually get into any longer. This accompanied with the fact that The Real Housewives franchise first started in 2006 made the series dead in the water for viewers.
7. Grey’s Anatomy
When Grey’s Anatomy first premiered in 2005, TV fans were absolutely ready to get into a new hospital drama. The last hospital series that had this much appeal was when E.R. brought George Clooney into the living rooms of TV fans so viewers were quick to look for the heartthrob that would make or break Grey’s Anatomy. They quickly found it in Patrick Dempsey’s character, Dr. Derek Shepherd and he quickly garnered the nickname, “McDreamy.” Yet, rumors from the set of Grey’s Anatomy put a major taint on the series. From diva rumors about Katherine Heigl to fist fights and gay slurs, this definitely wasn’t a cast that was singing “Kumbaya, My Lord” behind-the-scenes. After a number of the favorite characters were taken out of the series, the show lost all of its former glory and people just can’t bear to watch any longer.
In 1994, the cast of Friends were pretty much unknown, apart from Courteney Cox and maybe a slight recognition of Jennifer Aniston. Yet, fans could instantly tell that there was something truly special about the chemistry of this particular group of actors. People became instantly attracted to the love story surrounding Rachel Green and Ross Gellar’s on-again/off-again relationship and even the relationship between Chandler Bing and Monica Gellar brought a number of humorous episodes. While the show was earning the actors $1 million per episode towards the end of the series, there was obviously a drop-off in the writing and plot. It was no longer a show about a group of friends struggling to make it through humorous situations as it was. A-list guest stars kept making appearances, Jennifer Aniston’s character evolved into a completely different persona altogether and Ross seemed to get more and more annoying as the series came to an end.
Prior to Glee’s first premiere season in 2009, there wasn’t much in the way of musicals on TV or on the big screen. The series was seen as a fresh new take on what a television series could be and families loved singing along to the group of misfits and the other quirky personalities on the show. Yet, the death of Cory Monteith made a huge impact on the series and fans couldn’t help but think about his tragic loss when watching the show. Glee also tried to infuse some deeper themes that made it much less of a fun family show and more of something else altogether. Rather than sticking with the theme that was really working for them in the beginning seasons, the storyline completely declined and all of the good songs were already taken.
4. True Blood
Based off of The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, HBO’s True Blood series was a huge success when it first premiered in 2008. Anna Paquin had already had a fanbase from her portrayal in the X-Men franchise and people loved seeing her as the telepathic waitress on the show. The world fell in love with the way Bill would say, “Sookie,” and Alexander Skarsgård was a future film star in the making on the show. Yet, HBO did the one thing that always kills a series and that is straying from the storyline from the books. Rather than sticking with the plot from the book series, HBO went on a completely different tangent that involved secret government agencies and a myriad of other characters that were never even in the books.
When the first episode of Scandal first premiered in 2012, the world already had high hopes in another Shonda Rhimes drama. Kerry Washington absolutely killed it in her role as Olivia Pope and the storyline regarding her love affair with Fitz and Jake Ballard were the stuff Twilight fans couldn’t help but gobble up. All the viewers had their own favorite on who she should end up with and everyone loved the idea of “The White Hat.” Yet, the series has gone on a completely different tangent where it’s hard to tell what hat anyone’s wearing anymore. This season is just another example of how strange the plot has become and it doesn’t even look like they’re trying to have a romantic storyline for Oliva any longer.
2. Prison Break
When Prison Break first premiered in 2005, it was difficult to get the show released on the network since there was a lot of skepticism on how well it would do in terms of ratings. Yet, other high production based shows like 24 and Lost had done extremely well with viewers, so the network decided to give Prison Break a chance. The first two seasons went extremely well but it became increasingly difficult to drag on a storyline on a series called, “Prison Break.” There has to be a certain amount of lead-up but then there has to ultimately be a prison break and there is where the conundrum lies.
The first season of Dexter was released on Showtime in 2006 and garnered a huge fanbase due to its wide range of themes within the series. There was a little something for those that liked crime dramas, family dynamic issues and, of course, what it would be like if a forensic technician just so happened to be a serial killer. While most homicidal shows make the audience root for the capture of the villain, this particular show made the viewer want Dexter to be allowed to carry on killing. Yet, the writers seemed to be hard-pressed to keep the plot going as the seasons continued and the introduction of a new love interest was a little too much for many of the longtime viewers. Falling in love with a woman that was formerly wrapped up and waiting to be killed on his table was just way too over-the-top and then having his sister fall in love with him was just going way too far. By the end of the series, people were glad to finally have the story laid to rest.