From 'Grey's Anatomy' to 'Homeland': 12 TV shows that went on for too long
They started well, but some shows should have quit while they were still ahead
When it was announced that The Walking Dead would be ending after 11 seasons, some fans couldn’t help but wonder: what took so long?
The post-apocalyptic horror show, which made its debut in 2010, was initially met with positive feedback from fans and critics, but as the series went on, reviews became mixed and some were left to question whether it was still worth their time.
However, The Walking Dead isn't the only show to suffer such a fate. There have been many shows that started off strong, but have faded over time due to a decline in quality. We take a look at 12 other shows (including two that are still running) that perhaps should have quit while they were ahead...
Warning: spoilers ahead
1. 'Dexter' (2006-2013)
The show about a serial killer who targeted serial killers started strongly enough, but seemed to lose its way towards the end. After following Dexter Morgan and his killing compulsion for eight seasons, fans were curious to know how his story would end. Rather than being caught for his murders (spoiler: he wasn’t) or having a happy ending with his girlfriend (spoiler: he didn’t), he instead buries his sister (spoiler: who he didn't kill) at sea and lives out the rest of his life as a lonely lumberjack. That’s it.
Fans were undoubtedly frustrated with this letdown of an ending after committing for eight long years, which was all about a building tension of what would happen to ol' Dex.
2. 'Friends' (1994-2004)
There's no doubt US sitcom Friends is beloved by many around the world, but some have wondered whether the show, which follows six friends living in Manhattan, went on for just a little too long.
Lasting 10 seasons, none of the main characters seemed to evolve much over the years and towards the end, they had become mostly caricatures of themselves. Plus, the later seasons featured some questionable storylines (cough, Joey and Rachel, cough) which left fans scratching their heads.
3. 'Modern Family' (2009-2020)
This sitcom about three diverse but connected families had a long run, lasting for 11 seasons. Shot in a mockumentary style setting, the first few seasons of the show were so well received that the series was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in each of its first eight seasons, winning five years straight (from 2009 to 2014). However, as it rumbled on, the show seemed to lose some of its magic, along with its Emmy recognition and sky-high ratings, before coming to an end in April 2020.
4. 'House of Cards' (2013-2018)
The Netflix original starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as an aspiring presidential powerhouse couple (and then later as a presidential couple) was a hit for the streaming platform when it debuted. While it was only six seasons long, the absence of Spacey (who was dropped from the series following sexual misconduct allegations) was noticeable in the final season. Even though Wright’s performance was heavily praised, season six just couldn’t come together for fans, with many feeling like it went on at least one season too long.
5. '13 Reasons Why' (2017-2020)
The Netflix series, based on the 2007 best-selling young adult novel by Jay Asher, follows the story of a high-school teen named Hannah Baker who falls deeper into despair after being bullied, culminating in her death. She leaves behind tapes that detail 13 reasons why she was driven to end her own life in an audio diary. The first season, which followed the novel, was so well received that Netflix ordered more seasons. However, seasons two through four featured storylines that moved away from the show's main premise, Hannah’s death, leaving some fans to question whether the show was just trying to string things out.
6. 'The Big Bang Theory' (2007-2019)
The Big Bang Theory, which ran for 12 seasons, is a divisive show: people either love it or hate it with no in-between. The comedy series follows the everyday lives of four nerdy friends and their free-spirited, wannabe actress neighbour. Set in Pasadena, California, the show is riddled with pop culture references and jokes, and even had its own catchphrase of “bazinga” thanks to the character Sheldon Cooper. However, as brilliant as the show may have been at times, 12 years’ worth of “bazingas” was a little much.
7. 'Homeland' (2011-2020)
The US spy thriller starring Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, a CIA officer with bipolar disorder, wrapped up its eighth and final season in 2020. When the show debuted in 2011, it received near universal praise, winning the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series and the lead actors winning Emmys as well. However, as it went on and on, many fans felt it lost its impact, making it one of the few shows that seems to be remembered fondly for only one season alone.
8. 'The Office US' (2005-2013)
The Office US ran for nine seasons and was an adaptation of the much-loved British series of the same name, starring Ricky Gervais. It followed the everyday lives of office employees at the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. While the show was raved about in its early seasons, it was season seven that stood out to most fans, as it was Steve Carell's last as regional manager Michael Scott. For many fans, it was all downhill from there.
9. 'How I Met Your Mother' (2005-2014)
Who doesn’t enjoy a good love story? Unfortunately, after nine seasons, fans didn’t get quite the ending they had been hoping for. The show focuses on Ted Mosby and his friends who live in New York City, narrated by "future Ted" telling his children the story of how he met their mother. But of course, it’s not that simple, and he takes a long time to get to the point. While the first few seasons were met with rave reviews, later reviews were mixed. The ninth season is particularly decisive as all 24-episodes take place over a single weekend (did the writers run out of ideas?), while the finale episode jumped into the future with a seemingly rushed ending that undid nine years worth of build-up.
10. 'Supernatural' (2005-2020)
The longest running sci-fi genre series on American TV, Supernatural has been on the air for 15 years. The show stars Jared Padalecki and Jesen Ackles as brothers who hunt supernatural beings such as demons, ghosts and monsters. While there are some interesting storylines and subplots, there’s only so much writers can change up every season before fans start wondering whether the series has passed its expiration date. Luckily, its 15th season, airing this year, is its last.
11. 'The Simpsons' (1989-current)
The long-running animated series follows the Simpson family and is the longest US sitcom in history, having first aired in 1989. The first 10 seasons of the show received praise for having humour, wit, and intelligence, with many calling it the “golden era” for the show. While the series still receives Emmy recognition, nominated yearly for Outstanding Animated Programme, some critics (as well as fans) believe the show has been on a decline in recent years, with some questioning when it will finally just call it quits.
12. 'Grey’s Anatomy' (2005-current)
The US medical drama series focuses on the personal and professional lives of surgical interns and their mentors. It follows the titular character Dr Meredith Grey, which fans have seen go from intern to chief of general surgery over the course of the show. While the series has been praised for its emotional storytelling and its fair share of pop culture moments (who could ever forget Meredith asking Derek Shepherd to “pick me, choose me, love me”?), some do wonder if the show has gone on for just a bit too long.
After all, Meredith has already endured her fair share of tragedy including the death of her sister, mother, husband, and numerous friends, as well as surviving a hospital shooting and a plane crash. How much more can one person go through?
Updated: September 22, 2020 11:57 AM