In my TV viewing history, I have noticed a trend of shows that carry on for far longer than they ever should. Perhaps the creators just think they can recapture their height of popularity. Maybe they just didn’t accomplish exactly what they wanted to. I guess if you’re still making enough money, all the power to you. But whatever the reason, here are my five favorite shows that should have pulled the plug already. Perhaps I’m just a TV snob, or maybe I’m expecting too much. I’ll let you be the judge of that.
5. Beverly Hills 90210 (Original)
This is a bit older than the other TV shows mentioned on this list, but it is a personal favorite. I’ve always been a sucker for a good soap opera, especially one geared towards teenagers. Considering I wasn’t born until a year after this show began, I didn’t discover it until I was close to sixteen. Obviously this show ended, though there was an updated version called 90210. Is that still on? I tried to watch it but it was just awful. The original will always be the best. However, I don’t feel the full ten seasons was necessary. Some high school based shows should stay in high school. Because contrary to this belief in television, not all friends go to the same college. And you know what, not all friends remain friends after college either. And this idea that high school sweethearts will become husband and wife is foolish. But for Beverly Hills 90210, it just made sense to move along with the group. It worked for a little while, they worked in some fresh characters and it was genuinely good. But eventually the characters get older, you grow bored with the same character arcs, and it’s time to wrap things up. The series finale was pretty perfect, I will give them that. So I guess that kind of makes up for all of the unnecessary middle… a little bit.
4. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
Why is it that crime shows just seem to go on for eternity? Look at every variation of Law and Order ever, all the CSIs, even Criminal Minds. Shows like these tend to develop a very strong following, for two primary reasons. People are fascinated by crime, and the character development on shows like these are usually pretty spectacular. And for this show in particular that is no different. Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson are wonderfully flawed characters who work hard at a job most couldn’t handle. They were the bread and butter of this show. Add in Detectives Munch and Tutuola, along with Captain Cragen, and you have a recipe for an amazing cast. The will they won’t they relationship between Stabler and Bensons certainly helped carry the show for most of its seasons. Of course the cases they tackled were equally horrific and captivating. But that certainly wasn’t the primary reasons many of their loyal viewers tuned in week after week.
Personally, I stopped watching when Christopher Meloni decided it was time to leave Stabler behind. For those who don’t know, he’s the actor who played Elliot Stabler. I just didn’t understand how it could carry on without one of the main characters. I still don’t quite get it but they have carried on. They are in their fifteenth season now and seem to be going strong, for now. But since then both Munch and Cragen have left the show, and I’m not really sure how much longer they can soldier on. Obviously people are still watching, I just can’t bring myself to watch any of the newer episodes.
3. True Blood
I must admit that I have stuck by this show through thick and thin. And I will be watching the final season play out, out of pure interest. I also read the books, and they have very few similarities. I fell in love with the show during the first season. The characters were clever, it was this culmination of scary and sexy. The vampires were good looking, Sookie was innocent and in love. The writers did a fantastic job at making us love or hate characters, and then changing our minds. I just feel like as the seasons went on, they felt they needed to up the ante. They ran with too many key plots at once, and it just became this amalgamation of all things supernatural. Some characters started shedding some of their better personality traits while others just kept piling on traits to be admired. At its heart, True Blood is a really good show. But this show should have been over long before now. Though I do appreciate getting to see Alexander Skarsgard on my television once a week. And for that, True Blood, the world thanks you.
I do applaud this show for touching on a lot of real issues and presenting characters that were truly relatable. This show has done a lot of good for too many to count, which is a wonderful thing. However, the charming little show that could has certainly run its course. Ryan Murphy is too good at regurgitating storylines, and disregarding certain facts to manipulate the characters in the direction he wants them to go. I understand that his job as writer and creator is to entertain while tackling serious subject matter and taking characters from point a to point b. But it seems like he has a set endgame in mind for his show, and nothing is going to deter him from that. And his knack for regurgitating storylines just really started to get old. These relatable characters started making the poorest of choices, some which seemed incredibly out of character. And don’t get me started on a certain toxic relationship that Ryan Murphy shipped harder than anyone.
The first season was spectacular, the follow up was so-so, and the downhill slope doesn’t seem to be coming to a stop anytime soon. I do believe that the show is in its final season, so maybe he finally got the picture. Besides, it’s very rare that a show focused on a cast of specific characters in high school makes it much longer after they’re in college. A newer cast can sometimes provide much needed rejuvenation, but I don’t think it was enough to keep Glee afloat.
1. One Tree Hill
This has got to be one of my favorite teen dramas of possibly all time. It’s certainly in my top five. But if you’re looking for a prime example of a show that went on for far too long, this is it. One Tree Hill had a whopping nine season run. I was a viewer for seasons one through six. Now, like any long-running program, not every season was perfection. Far from it. Some seasons were stronger than others, but the cast is what kept my interest. The show was built around the life of Lucas Scott and the people he interacted with. Through him we met Haley, Nathan, Peyton, and Brooke… his crew at the River Court, and his dysfunctional family. And in season six when Lucas and Peyton left the show for good, the dynamic just wasn’t the same. How can a show built around this character stand on two legs once he’s gone? This is another situation in which they brought in some new cast members branching off of the ones who remained. I’m not saying the other main characters weren’t important by any means. I just didn’t like that transition, I wanted the characters I knew and loved not some new people I couldn’t possibly care less about. In a way, it became a completely different show, one that I was not interested in.
Mark Schwahn is another supporter of recycling storylines as needed. There are only so many issues teenagers can deal with while holding onto their thin veil of reality. And considering this was originally intended to be a two hour long movie, it makes sense that he’d start running out of fresh ideas. Can you imagine writing nine seasons? Eventually you figure you have to reformat an old plot point to fill a void. But at some point you have to draw a line; because the repetition, despite how it’s reconfigured, is easy to spot for an avid fan. Perhaps I’m asking for too much realism in something that is essentially supposed to take you out of the realm of reality. But that’d be a debate in and of itself. Personally, I would have been content if the show had ended after the fourth season.