Long-running T.V. shows aren’t automatically bad—it just becomes harder to tell a more complete story if there is no end in sight. One problem is when certain shows get the rug pulled out from under them with no warning. We get ridiculous cliffhangers like the one that signaled the end of Popular’s run: a classic Betty-Veronica love triangle for Harrison’s Archie.
The other side of the coin is having too much room to play, with too little a story to play with. While having a million seasons that document the life and times of your favorite T.V. universe sounds like heaven, sometimes having an expiration date is a good thing. A shorter life span is better for the story in the long run, because there’s less room for the writers and creators to mess up and each episode and arc fits well and with purpose.
Too much time on the airwaves can feel more like a petri dish than a planned out run with too many tangents and wild turns. Here’s a list of five shows that need to quit while they’re ahead.
The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory showed up at the right time, capitalizing on the rise of the nerds. Sure, it was funny for the first couple of seasons. It was a nice comedy on adult nerds with fairly “nerdy” professions, a peek into the lives of the smart, though very socially inept baby adults. I can’t say that I didn’t laugh at Sheldon Cooper, cringed at the Howard, and pleasantly tolerated Leonard and Raj at some point in time, but if I hear “Bazing-a!” one more time, I might have to set my phasers to the opposite of stun.
The premise of the show seems interesting enough, though a little tired: genius civilian Mike Ross wants to be a lawyer and is good at it, but can’t really practice because he’s a college dropout. How much can he get away with and when will he be found out? Although Suits enjoyed some modicum of success, a lot of its fans have grown tired of the storyline, which has changed considerably since its beginnings five seasons ago. To be fair, critics’ ratings for this show have gone up from its first seasons, so it will at least be interesting to see how the series will end up playing out.
Did you know that Grey’s Anatomy is on its 12th season? It’s been off everyone’s radar (except GA loyalists) that it’s jolting to remember how present it was in everyone’s collective subconscious in its heyday. Remember when we all knew what a McDreamy was? The now barely recognizable series that launched Shonda Rhimes’ career lives a half-life in the shadows of her other babies, ratings monsters Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, and we’re left to wonder when Rhimes is killing off whoever’s left from the original cast.
Pretty Little Liars
Pretty Little Liars filled a niche for a teen drama that centered on gossip and mystery. Based on a young adult series of the same name, the show deviated from its source material early on. And although it wasn’t a front liner for any major awards, it was at least compelling enough for people to try and follow the mystery. There was intrigue, dubious relationships, lots of scandal. Set up to be a fun, new “Whodunnit?” it has ultimately tripped over itself and all the Red Herrings it planted along the way, setting its characters and viewers on a wild goose chase where we don’t even know who the goose is. What are we chasing? Who even is A? Do the writers themselves know at this point?
2 Broke Girls
Before Aubrey Plaza, the surly, I-hate-everybody figurehead in live action popular culture was filled in by Kat Dennings. And then 2 Broke Girls happened and sent her into D-list sitcom oblivion. Maybe 2 Broke Girls had a fighting chance, despite the canned laughter, tired stereotypes, and jokes that try too hard. Not all sitcoms are horrible, after all. This one is, though. One thing’s for sure: Kat Dennings didn’t deserve to be done like this.
A lot of shows that deserve to be axed are still going strong, and a lot of great ones have retired peacefully in T.V. show heaven. One thing’s for sure, as a lot of short-lived cult classics have proven: sometimes it’s better to burn out and live on in DVD box sets.