There’s a lot of talk about TV shows that were canceled too soon, but there’s also a lot of chatter about series that have overstayed their welcome. While some were able to come back from a few lackluster seasons, others might have held a different place in television history had they wrapped up sooner than they did.
So many shows fall into this category, like How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men. There are even some series currently on television that have fans asking the same questions about whether they should continue on or end, like The Blacklist and The Handmaid’s Tale. What about shows that have already ended? Looking back, in some cases, they not only went on too long, but it’s also easy to pinpoint the very season where they should have signed off.
10 Dexter: Season 4
Showtime’s Dexter has the potential to become the biggest comeback show ever with the upcoming limited series revival aimed at finally giving fans the ending they deserved. Dexter peaked halfway through in with season 4 thanks to an incredible performance by John Lithgow as the Trinity Killer along with fabulous writing, nail-biting tension, and one of the most epic final scenes ever in a series.
While the show remained “good,” it never regained that same prestige as the story took some wild and unfortunate turns. The series would be known for being among the best ever instead of having one of the most disliked TV series finales of all time had it ended with that season.
9 Suits: Season 5 Or 8
USA’s Suits fell into the same formulaic trap that many other legal, medical, and police procedural dramas do. But that wasn’t really the reason to end it. The series was centered around Mike Ross, a brilliant lawyer who didn’t actually have a law degree and the people who hired him and had to work to keep the lie a secret once they got in too deep.
When the secret was finally revealed to the public, it would have made sense to end things right then and there in season 5. The subsequent seasons not only led to strange storylines like Mike being in prison but also to another lead character, Jessica, leaving. When both Mike and his wife Rachel, played by Meghan Markle, left the show, it seemed, once again, like a good time to end things. But Suits kept going for yet another season. At best, the show should have ended at season 5, which had some really great episodes. Pushing it, season 8 should have been the end.
8 Desperate Housewives: Season 4
ABC’s Desperate Housewives came out with a bang with a neighbor who took their own life narrating the goings-on of the other gossipy housewives in their affluent community. Friends and enemies, the ladies of Wisteria Lane had secrets, and they were salacious and thoroughly entertaining.
But when the show started to involve multiple murders and emotional deaths, cover-ups, babies switched at birth, and other strange turns, it was clear that Desperate Housewives had overstayed its welcome. The final straw was the time jump in season 5. Even though the series continued on for a total of eight seasons, it would have been better to last half as long.
7 24: Season 5
It’s par for the course that a series like 24 would become repetitive. Jack Bauer, after all, did the same job so he would always be fighting bad guys with his right-hand-woman Chloe behind the computer helping him along the way. It introduced a truly unique premise with every episode occurring in “real-time” over the period of a single day. It was fresh and innovative with lots of great villain characters.
But the story started to get stale by season 6, which involved a time jump and Jack getting out of prison. Even so, it continued for two more seasons followed by a ninth several years later (though that season was actually praised).
6 Prison Break: Season 4
The danger in delivering a serial drama with a title like Prison Break is that it limits the time with which the initial premise can be carried out. It’s tough to tell the story of a man working to get his brother out of prison to avoid the death sentence for a crime he didn’t commit beyond a single season, maybe two.
Nonetheless, they found interesting ways to draw things out, even though some weird turns involving conspiracies seemed unnecessary. The series technically did end at season 4 but it was brought back for a fifth sequel season that some fans could have done without. With that said, many die-hard fans not only disagree but still hold out hope for a revival.
5 True Blood: Season 3
There’s no question that True Blood was a tremendously popular fantasy horror drama. But in season 3, it jumped too far into the fantasy category for some fans to get on board with. It was revealed that Sookie Stackhouse, a complex and interesting character, had occasional physic powers because of faerie blood.
It was a little bit too ridiculous even for this show that featured vampires, campy costumes, and unbelievable storylines. Subsequent seasons delved into topics like witches, a virus that can kill vampires, then that final act of sacrifice when Sookie killed Bill so she could move on, an ending in itself that fans thought fell short. Even so, a reboot might still happen.
4 The Walking Dead: Season 7 Or 9
AMC’s The Walking Dead is an interesting entry on this list because the series seemingly peaked with the introduction of Negan. But when the battle with the Saviors was drawn out for so long with too many cliffhangers, and that brutal death scene with Abraham and Glenn turned many fans off of the show, it was believed that the series should end – it had, by that point, taken things too far, according to some fans. If not then, the exit of Rick from the show in season 9 would have been a good time to tie the story up with a bow.
Once again, however, the time jump trope was used to bring a new beginning. Interestingly, despite Negan as fans came to know him having all but disappeared and Rick being literally gone, the show has picked up its pace once again, leaving some die-hard fans feeling vindicated that it wasn’t the right time to end the show. The Walking Dead will finally end after season 11.
3 House of Cards: Season 5
It was absolutely the right decision to write Kevin Spacey out of House of Cards following the sexual misconduct allegations brought forth against him. And it was an admirable move to continue on with another season without him. But even though Robin Wright can certainly hold her own as a lead character, and her character was a major part of the story the entire way through, it was still an ambitious idea to proceed without the primary antagonist.
Had House of Cards started with Robin Wright in the driver’s seat and Kevin Spacey along for the ride, it would be different. It was a good decision to give long-time fans closure, even though many storylines were still left unresolved. But because of the events that led up to the change, the story didn’t have the time to develop that it should.
2 Grey’s Anatomy: Season 11
Unpopular opinion or not, much of the appeal of Grey’s Anatomy was the love story between Derek Shepherd and Meredith Grey. There were enough characters to continue the story after Patrick Dempsey was killed off but the ring around the rosy of relationships has become too unbelievable, even for this medical drama.
There’s no denying the series still has a massive fanbase and continues to go strong, now in season 17. Nonetheless, the same stories have been played out again and again and patients have arrived with just about every ailment that could possibly be introduced.
1 Orange is the New Black: Season 5
Season 5 was arguably the best of Orange is the New Black, with Taystee leading the story and the prison riot and lockdown that followed Poussey’s death. It was intense, riveting, and well-acted. But the story took a wrong turn after that.
Fans weren’t as invested in new characters like “Badison” and Daya’s character arc took a disappointing turn. The final season was seen as the weakest of the lot, with so much focus on Piper who, while the main protagonist of the series, had become one of the least popular characters.
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