21 Top TV Series That Went on for Way Too Long

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The audience notices when television series producers try to squeeze too much juice out of the rind. The law of diminishing returns? More like the law of diminishing re-runs!

Some television shows should have quit while they were ahead. Too often, that’s just not how Hollywood works.

1. The Walking Dead

Photo Credit: AMC.

This was a rare zombie show that receives high critical praise. But then, The Walking Dead eventually became a dead show walking thanks to repetitive plot points, bizarre characters, and increasingly belief-defying storylines. Nearly every Walking Dead fan will give you a similar evaluation: Great, but 11 seasons was far too much.

2. Grey’s Anatomy

Scene from Grey's Anatomy
Photo Credit: American Broadcasting Company.

Nineteen seasons! That’s how long Dr. Meredith Grey and her band of merry physicians have remained on the air. Many marriages have grown stale after 19 years. How could a television show expect to capture the viewers’ imaginations for nearly two decades (and counting)?

3. That 70’s Show

Scene from That 70s Show
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Television.

Eight seasons is hardly overdoing it for a comedy show as popular as That ’70s Show. Unfortunately, however, the show went downhill quickly once Topher Grace’s Eric and Ashton Kutcher’s Kelso became increasingly sparse (both actors were increasingly pursuing film roles).

4. Two and a Half Men

Scene from Two and a Half Men
Photo Credit: Warner Bros Television.

Remember when Charlie Sheen was a bona fide television star? America loved them some Charlie Sheen, along with his cast members on Two and a Half Men. After Sheen revealed himself to be a raving lunatic, the show proceeded for four more seasons with Ashton Kutcher in Sheen’s place.

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5. Arrested Development

Scene from Arrested Development
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Television.

Loyal fans of Arrested Development will attest that the original show ended far too early. As a result, the cult classic never got the expected ratings of a Fox primetime comedy and was canceled after three seasons.

6. Riverdale

Scene from Riverdale
Photo Credit: The CW Network.

Slated to end after seven seasons, Riverdale is a hip twist on Archie Comics. With that pitch, it’s a miracle that Riverdale made it on the air for one episode.

7. The Big Bang Theory

Scene from Big Bang Theory
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

How much Sheldon is too much Sheldon? Some might say one season is too much, Sheldon. So, The Big Bang Theory’s twelve-season run (with inexplicable popularity throughout) is overkill. Although, considering CBS immediately unleashed Young Sheldon on viewers, did The Big Bang Theory ever really end?

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8. Glee

Scene from Glee
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century FOX.

The quirky Glee was like karaoke night on primetime television. A show many avoided like the plague was absolutely must-watch TV for a large population segment. But even hardcore Glee fans will admit that Satisfaction or Vague Feeling of Content would have been more appropriate show titles as the seasons wore on.

9. Roseanne

Scene from Roseanne
Photo Credit: Paramount Television.

The Roseanne reboot ended unceremoniously, which may obscure the similarly ungraceful final seasons of the original show. One critic notes that the show became increasingly un-Roseanne-like as writers clawed for new storylines, including infidelity and the Conners winning the lottery.

10. Loki

Photo Credit: Marvel Studio.

Yes, we know there are only two seasons, but two seasons was too many. This show had some promise in the beginning; we all wanted to know more about Loki, and what better way to do that than stirring up the timeline of history? That’s a very “god of mischief” thing to do. But the Loki of the TV show was never really the same character as the Loki of the movies; he morphed, and we weren’t a fan.

11. The Simpsons

Scene from Simpsons
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Television.

Arguably the best-animated comedy series of all time, The Simpsons has become a parody of itself. Still a plump cash cow after nearly 40 seasons on the air, the comedy aspect of The Simpsons has been lacking for years. Aye, Kurumba, let The Simpsons be d’oh-ver already.

12. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Photo Credit: Marvel Entertainment.

This show started off great. Who hasn’t wondered what goes on in between the major interplanetary crises of the Marvel movies? Or whether there might be other “Supers” out there than just the Avengers? But after it resolved the first few major plots, this show just kept going and going. And going. And eventually we almost started to hate the characters we’d loved at first.

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13. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Photo Credit: Netflix.

Gilmore Girls the show was absolutely perfect and nobody will convince us otherwise. But the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life comeback series pretty much ruined all of the most important characters. Rory ran around for a whole year doing things Rory would never actually do. Lorelai had a mid-life crisis in the most un-Lorelai way possible. And the one event we’d all been waiting for is promised … but never actually delivered. Hard pass.

14. The Office

The Office
Photo Credit: Universal Television.

It’s not hard to love Pam and Jim and Schrute and all the rest. You don’t even need to see the show to how quotable they can be. But that raises another question; if you don’t even need to see the show at this point, than has the show over-stayed its welcome? Asking for a friend.

15. How I Met Your Mother

Photo Credit: CBS.

This one is in the name: how long of a story does it need to be, really? This is supposed to be a quick romantic story, not a nine year saga detailing the story of ones whole adult life. And sure, we get that this one verges on the territory of Friends, following a group of people and not just the protagonist, but we’re still scratching our heads.

16. Once Upon a Time

Photo Credit: ABC.

This show was magic from the beginning, until season after season went by with no happily ever after. The fairy-tale mashup started off like a dream, pulling everyone’s favorite stories into one place, but it became a nightmare-come-true when nothing good ever happened to anyone. Ever. Except Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold. He seems to end up with everything he wants. (But he’s a villain, so that doesn’t count.)

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17. Merlin

Photo Credit: Shine.

Merlin cast a spell on us from the beginning. We’re reluctant to put it on this list at all, but the dis-enchanting truth is that the characters develop and learn from their mistakes at about the same pace that Merlin learns to fight with a sword; he doesn’t. And so while the plot plods onwards towards its gradual outcome, nobody seems much the wiser for any of the harrowing events they’ve experienced. Except Guinevere, but she was magic from the start.

18. Family Guy

Photo Credit: Fox Television Animation.

If we’re really honest, do any of us know anyone who would really want to rewatch, or even recommend watching Family Guy? It’s a great show for quotes and situational comedy, but that seems to be the extent of it’s appeal.

19. Emily in Paris

Photo Credit: Darren Star Productions.

In season one, we were all hooked. Isn’t it every millennial girl’s dream to live in Paris and have an endless supply of fashionable dresses and croissants on a small budget? But by seasons two and three, while Emily’s Instagram account gained more and more popularity, her likeability as a character plummeted. Will we still watch season four just for the fashion? Probably. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.

20. Spongebob

Spongebob Squarepants
Photo Credit: Nickelodeon Animation Studio.

True, Spongebob has it’s place in the American zeitgeist, although most millennials relate more to overtired Squidward now. But we have to ask: how much Spongebob does anyone really need? Probably not as much as we all had.

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21. Firefly

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.

If you actually think that Firefly ran for too long, you might be the problem. One season was never and will never be enough, even with the follow-up Serenity. This show was a leaf on the wind, and it soared for far too short a time.

22. The Book of Boba Fett

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.

There have actually been some good Star Wars shows lately. Baby Yoda was probably the most famous character in cinema for a good long moment. But The Book of Boba Fett failed in the same way that Loki did: the arc of the leading character just didn’t match who he’d been written to be originally. All for a good guy strong-arming the bad guys out of his town, but it just works better if the characters make sense.


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