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Movies & TV

23rd Aug 2018

15 TV shows that lasted much longer than they really should have

Dave Hanratty

TV shows that lasted too long

This article contains spoilers for shows that should have ended before they eventually stumbled over the finish line…

Hey, you heard about the good news?

The Big Bang Theory is dead.

Well, almost. Season 12 of the wildly popular sitcom will mark its final days, and though fans are upset, many of us are wondering how it lasted this long to begin with.

One could spend about 2,000 words on why TBBT is, by and large, one of the least funniest ‘comedies’ to ever happen along but why bother? The damage is done, and we must learn from the horror.

Speaking of, there are plenty of other TV shows – including some outright classics – that stayed on our screens for far longer than they had any right to.

With that in mind, here’s that list…

Breaking Bad

Before you get all upset, just hear me out, okay?

Yes, you cannot have the rise without the fall, and thus the fifth season of Breaking Bad was a necessary venture.

However, wouldn’t it have been amazing if the show ended with this?

Clip via HeyMyNameIsJared

Perfect ending. Ambiguous and unconventional, like the ‘bad’ ending you get in a Resident Evil game.

As noted, that final season exists so Walter White can get what’s coming to him. Fine in theory, but in practice?

The problem with season five is that Vince Gilligan became too enamoured with his leading character and thus Walter goes from conflicted anti-hero to a mass murderer that the show wants you to root for.

He gets something of a hero’s ending which is utterly bizarre considering his crimes. Furthermore, he triumphs over villains that can’t hold a candle to the likes of Gus Fring.

As for reducing Jesse to a useless plot device? Unforgivable. ‘Dead Freight’ and ‘Ozymandias’ may be classic episodes of Breaking Bad, but the ends don’t fully justify the means.

As for you in the Heisenberg t-shirt? Yeah, you missed the point, mate.


What a shame.

For so long, LOST was appointment viewing.

A great idea full of intrigue and mystery, characters that you cared about (well, most of them anyway) and edge-of-your-seat twists and turns.

Where was it all going?

In the end, nowhere, really.

Clip via Rebecca Forman

By the time season six rolled around, the sense that the writers were making all of this up as they went along with no real plan or focus couldn’t be shaken.

Characters began behaving like people who had never watched the show before were in control of them, years-long questions were waved away and the one convoluted ending that nobody wanted closed things out.

If attempting a rewatch, maybe stop it altogether after Desmond’s emotional phone call.

The Simpsons

Obvious one this, and somehow still going. It’s dead, guys. Accept it.

Family Guy

There’s only so many pop culture references to go around, and the well ran dry long ago here.


A moment, please, for Dexter‘s cool opening titles:


If you’re unfamiliar with Dexter, the idea is pretty solid.

A serial killer who works for the police by day and offs other criminals by night, all played with knowing humour.

It was good, for a while. Fans and critics cite season four – the one with John Lithgow being brilliant and terrifying – as the peak of the show and it’s pretty much impossible to argue against.

Season five – Johnny Lee Miller and Julia Stiles – deserves a little more love than it gets, but the bloom was off the rose. By the time Colin Hanks’ laughable religion-themed murderer rocked up, it was all she wrote.

And still Dexter lumbered on, getting dumber by the episode until finally, after eight seasons, he turned into a lumberjack or something.

Murder, She Wrote

There was one obvious common denominator at play in all of these crimes and the police should be ashamed of themselves for not seeing it staring them in the face for 12 consecutive years.

WWE Monday Night Raw

Clip via WWE

As commentator Michael Cole will proudly tell you every week; Monday Night Raw is the longest-running episodic show in the history of television.

You may dispute this, given WWE’s Hulk Hogan-esque penchant for twisting the truth, but Raw has been a going concern for over 25 years now.

It’s also as stale as 25-year-old bread, as even the most hardcore grapple fans will tell you.

Bad writing, stupid booking decisions and over three hours every episode means you really should stick to the far superior – and less time-consuming – developmental brand NXT instead.


You know it’s over when a show tries desperately to crowbar a new cast of shinier, happier and younger people in towards the end.

The Wire

Look, this writer loves The Wire. It could be the single best piece of television ever made.

Few shows boast such exceptional attention to detail, characters with realistic and compelling depth all of their own, heartbreaking tragedies and dialogue that could be described as ‘perfect’ and still not fully do it justice.

However, season five marks the first and second time you ever questioned it.

The first loose screw was the entire plot line of McNulty creating a fake serial killer in a bid to obtain much-needed resources for his department.

Yeah, it gave us this great moment:

Clip via FunnyBoogers

But it just didn’t feel like The Wire. It was just too much of a leap in logic. McNulty was a loveable rogue and occasional fool, but would he really do this?

The second instance of ‘Wait, what?’ came when Omar was given some bad news mid-season and the show did something it almost never did, leaving Baltimore behind to bring the viewer to a serene beach setting.

The contrast between the life Omar left behind – and would now have to return to – and his new picturesque existence was obvious and clumsy, taking us out of the action in the worst kind of way.

Look, these are minor complaints and you can call them nitpicks if you wish, but a reduced episode count for the final run and a scrapped planned sixth season suggest it was time to call this one.

Reeling In The Years

Should have stopped at the recession, let’s be honest.

Two and a Half Men

How did this last one season, let alone TWELVE. Shame on you.


Heading into its 14th season, somehow.


Ah, Bones. A classic. Yer man from Angel, remember? Definitely not a grey CSI knock-off. 12 seasons.


Again, a classic of the form. Yet the argument prevails that Seinfeld lost its edge when co-creator Larry David bowed out at the end of season seven.

The final two seasons are still quite good, but the characters found themselves in increasingly ridiculous situations full of forced jokes and flat comedy.

It ended at the right time.

Arrested Development

A Netflix resurrection led to a disjointed and sprawling fourth season with drama in favour of jokes, and the feeling that Arrested Development never needed to come back.

A theory that became a cold hard fact by the time season five slumbered onto your queue.

Honourable Mention:

Eastenders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, et al…

Your lives aren’t that melodramatic all the time, and if they were you’d move away.