Nine shows that should’ve quit while they were ahead


In the first season finale of Community, Abed defends his decision not to move in with Troy, insisting it would cause their friendship to ‘jump the shark’. Troy angrily retorts “For the record, there was an episode of Happy Days where a guy literally jumped over a shark, and it was the best one!” This is the kind of quick-witted, meta dialogue that earned the first three seasons of the show critical success and a cult following, so it's inconceivable to think it may have actually jumped the shark itself. 

Since then show runner and creator Dan Harmon was controversially fired and rehired, the fourth season was met with mixed critical reviews at best and Chevy Chase finally quit after several episodes of phoning it in. The recent news that Donald Glover will only be appearing in five episodes of the fifth season is the latest nail in the coffin. While “six seasons and a movie” has long been the war cry for the Community faithful, it’s looking like by that point the Greendale Seven will have been reduced to the Greendale Three with many fans left wondering what the point is anymore.

Some shows have the foresight to retire on top and many are lucky enough to be cancelled in their prime, but so many TV shows persevere through quitting actors, fired show runners, waning ratings, bad reviews and all common sense. Here’s a list of the top shows that should’ve quit while they were ahead.

The OC


As if watching Marissa die wasn’t traumatic enough, viewers were then made to suffer through Ryan’s relationship with Taylor Townsend for most of the final season. Remember Summer’s hippie phase or the episode where Ryan fell off a ladder and was transported to an alternate reality? No? Well that may be because you’ve repressed it. In its fourth season, without Mischa Barton (and five million viewers fewer than its debut boasted), the series was forced into cancellation. Seth Cohen’s following were forced to get their dose of the bumbling, good-looking superhero aficionado in syndication and tumblr only. 



Sex and the City


While the series itself ended on somewhat of a high (although the less said about Carrie’s relationship with Aleksander Petrovsky), the franchise managed to spread these happy endings into two movies. The show had been based on the premise of single women in their thirties, but by the time they hit the big screen the girls were happily coupled up and most certainly not in their thirties. With Samantha literally turning fifty and popping hormone pills to postpone menopause all throughout the sequel, it may have been time to hang up the condoms. Was the blight on the show’s good name really worth a measly seven hundred million dollars in box office revenue?


Gossip Girl


Not to single out repeat offender Josh Schwartz, but when making Dan Humphrey the eponymous titular character becomes a conceivable idea, you know you’ve passed your limit. Story lines dried up around the fifth season when every main and supporting character had slept with each other both on and off screen, and the show officially “jumped the shark” somewhere around the time Bart Bass – SPOILER ALERT – came back from the dead. What is this, Dallas? Critics universally panned the finale, and, to reiterate, this might have had something to do with the fact that DAN WAS GOSSIP GIRL. 


That 70’s Show


In a lesson for shows everywhere, That 70’s Show proved that if most of your female viewers are tuning in for Ashton Kutcher, don’t continue on without Ashton Kutcher (take note Two and a Half Men). Without Kutcher and Topher Grace in the eighth and final season, the role of eye candy was left to Danny Masterson. It’s no coincidence the show’s ratings were halved.


Lost


Lost started with the fairly simple premise of a plane crashing into a deserted island; however as the survivors started to uncover the mysteries of the island they began to discover that those mysteries included time travel, a monster made of smoke and high writing staff turnovers (we presume). The problems with Lost are far too vast to explore in the little time we have, but the series ended without solving anything. It's title became a self-fulfilling prophecy and viewers (see: us) will always be left wondering, mostly why they wasted six years on the show in the first place.


Desperate Housewives


There may be such a thing as too many skeletons in a closet. If you couldn’t keep track of who was blackmailing whom by the end of the series you were not alone. Luckily, the show always managed to conveniently kill off the extortionists, ex-husbands and basically anyone who was making life difficult for the show’s leading ladies. By the end of the series it was a wonder anyone was still living on Wisteria Lane, what with the annual natural disaster and a plane literally crashing into their town’s square. The residents may have soldiered on but an average of eight million viewers did not join them, jumping ship around the time Edie died, and who can blame them? She was by far the sassiest. 


How I Met Your Mother


Poor Ted Mosby, the longer the show gets renewed the older and more pathetic he becomes, doomed to become the world’s biggest fifth wheel while the elusive mother evades him. If the show were to have ended after the first season, Robin would have been crowned the mother (“Aunt Robin” title be damned), so the writers obviously had no greater plan, which is a shame because after watching eight seasons of bad dates and love interests like Zoe (let’s try to forget Zoe), the mother better be the best thing to ever hit the small screen. With the ninth season set to cover only three days in real time and six seasons and counting since the last time Lily said anything funny, viewers are left to wonder how much longer must we “wait for it”?


Scrubs


The eighth season ended with an hour-long finale filled with poignancy, humour and every guest star cameo imaginable. If you thought this would end the series just because JD was leaving Sacred Heart and there was a flash forward depicting all of the happy futures of every main character, you would be wrong. The series came back for a ninth season, where the show experienced its lowest ratings and worst reviews ever. Despite an entirely new cast, with the main actors of the first eight seasons only appearing sporadically or not at all, and the push to identify it as an entirely different show altogether, the season will always bear its Scrubs name and remain a scar on the show’s memory. It turns out that without the Janitor’s hijinks and JD’s fantasy world, hospitals aren’t so fun after all.


Felicity


What started out as a college coming of age drama, ended off with witch craft and time travel (we see a pattern, here). It also included the most controversial hair cut in TV history with the protagonist cutting her trademark curls and network executives blaming it for the decline in ratings. This definitely could have been a reason, but you know what else might have been a contributing factor? Witch craft and time travel.

Shannon Gaitz 

  • By Shannon Gaitz

14 comments so far..

  • ScarlettHarris's avatar
    Commenter
    ScarlettHarris
    Date and time
    Friday 16 Aug 2013 - 6:44 PM
    I have to disagree on The O.C. (season four was the best! Good riddance to Marissa Cooper!) and SATC (though the movies were perhaps ill-concieved, certainly the second), but having recently rewatched Gossip Girl it just wasn't the same as the first four or five seasons. If they had've had more time to wrap things up I think it would've been more successful and satisfying for viewers. And did anyone even know what they were doing on Lost by the end of it?!
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  • Shannon Gaitz's avatar
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    Shannon Gaitz
    Date and time
    Friday 16 Aug 2013 - 11:41 PM
    I have to admit I have a personal vendetta against the SATC movies for making "good guys" Aidan and Steve cheaters, which was completely at odds with their characters in the series. Each to their own with The Oc though, not everyone's a Marissa fan. Thanks for reading!
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  • Spamelot's avatar
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    Spamelot
    Date and time
    Saturday 17 Aug 2013 - 11:38 AM
    I'm one of the people who actually enjoyed Lost's storyline. The incompleteness of the ending was a strength to me, because a series like that couldn't be wrapped up with every question answered. Better to leave it fairly open to interpretation than try and force everything into a neat little package.
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  • simes's avatar
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    simes
    Date and time
    Monday 19 Aug 2013 - 12:43 PM
    Entourage. Thin stuff to begin with, OK for a while, but the formula had set hard & formed a smelly crust by Season 3.

    Dexter. Flirted skilfully with ridiculousness, then some time around Season 4 married it & got real boring.

    Deadwood. Great first season, then the writers decided they were doing Shakespeare and made everybody start talking like 18th century pioneers on acid. Utterly contrived and stupid.

    The Simpsons and South Park. Once truly great, but funny episodes have not been sighted since around mid-2002 and are now presumed extinct.

    Curb Your Enthusiasm. Season 7 with the Seinfeld reunion was the best thing ever. How to follow such a watershed in comedy television? Simple: go for Season 8 and make it the most stale, flaccid, formulaic and uninspired thing you've ever done.
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  • S's avatar
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    S
    Date and time
    Monday 19 Aug 2013 - 11:28 PM
    Buffy. Season 1 was the prologue to season 2, which was excellent, ending with Buffy killing Angel. Would have been great if it had stopped there and not plodded through another five hit and miss seasons with very average story arcs. They also wouldn't have brought Angel back a few episodes into season 3 so, as a bonus, the show Angel wouldn't have existed.

    Babylon 5. I only watched this one sporadically but it was unusual at the time for its' long, pre-ordained story arc, which played out over several seasons. It just didn't have the sense to finish when it was clearly intended.
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  • Timothy Arendshorst's avatar
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    Timothy Arendshorst
    Date and time
    Tuesday 20 Aug 2013 - 12:53 PM
    " No? Well that may be because you’ve repressed it." - If only I could.

    But I do disagree on the LOST front. I think the character development was always the main attraction of the show, so the plot holes (and there were a few) could be forgiven.
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  • Shannon Gaitz's avatar
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    Shannon Gaitz
    Date and time
    Wednesday 21 Aug 2013 - 3:26 PM
    All valid suggestions. I considered The Simpsons but decided against it mostly out of respect and childhood nostalgia. As for Curb, I'm currently marathoning it and am only up to the sixth season so I hope the eighth season isn't as bad as you've described.
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  • kranskydog's avatar
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    kranskydog
    Date and time
    Thursday 22 Aug 2013 - 11:23 AM
    Removing Jon K. from writing 'Ren and Stimpy' was a pretty dumb move.
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  • blucougar's avatar
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    blucougar
    Date and time
    Thursday 22 Aug 2013 - 12:39 PM
    @ S,

    latter seasons of Buffy well and truly jumped the shark, but the last season was salvaged almost single-handedly by Nathan Fillion as the evil, misogynist, killer priest. He played that role with relish, and it was beautiful to watch.
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  • blucougar's avatar
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    blucougar
    Date and time
    Thursday 22 Aug 2013 - 12:42 PM
    Supernatural is also a show that's meandered away from its roots, so to speak. Maybe Kripke was building up to the epic angels vs. demons war, with poor old Dean and Sam at the centre of it all, but I heartily wish it could go back to its monster of the week format from season 1, when it was just the two brothers on the road together slaying demons and monsters.
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