We all have our favorite TV shows, and once we find one that piques our interest, we keep our fingers crossed that it won’t be canceled. But sadly, every show must eventually come to an end — even the series that have the best characters and most intriguing plot lines. Sometimes, though, shows manage to overstay their welcome a little too long, creating unsatisfying endings, character swaps, and a decline in ratings. As much as we hate to say goodbye, sometimes it’s best to break up sooner rather than later.
Here’s a look at seven shows that should have bid farewell a little bit sooner.
The comedy-drama was a show about a group of doctors and nurses who worked at Sacred Heart Hospital. The NBC hit saw instant ratings success and ran for seven seasons before moving to ABC for Season 8. According to The Richest, the final episode was titled “My Finale” and was thought to be the end of the series. The end of the “last” episode showed J.D. (the main character of the show, played by Zach Braff) leaving Sacred Heart Hospital, daydreaming about his future. But, the show’s title was misleading in the fact that it wasn’t the finale.
ABC decided to order a ninth season, with 13 more episodes. When the ninth season began airing, it brought on a group of new characters and had the older characters, such as J.D., return in supporting roles. When it finally came time for its actual finale to air, it was a somewhat disappointing end — J.D. wasn’t even in the final episode. The Richest writes: “The ninth season certainly has its moments but just felt like it was dragging on and avoiding the inevitable. No, I don’t want no Scrubs.”
The Showtime series starring a serial killer started out as a critically acclaimed show that caught the attention of many viewers. Dexter Morgan was a clever and likable antihero who had the ability to cause viewers to question their own morals. The first season showed serious promise, but the second season started to show signs of a struggling plot. The end of the second season presented several problems for Dexter, as the bodies he had dumped into the ocean began to resurface, forcing him to come up with a cover story.
The Season 2 finale let Dexter (Michael C. Hall) off the hook a little too easy. But viewers were still left with some hope that Season 3 would return better than ever. Interest in the show began to dwindle in the third and fourth seasons; meanwhile, it continued on for another four years. Grantland says the show’s fifth, sixth, and eighth seasons were incompetent, while its seventh season offered a pretty repetitious plot.
3. At the Movies
This movie review TV show was syndicated in 1982, with Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel as hosts. In 1986, Ebert and Siskel left the show and were replaced by Rex Reed and Bill Harris, with the series continuing through 1990. Fast forward to 2007, and At the Movies turned into At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper, starring none other than Ebert and Richard Roeper, per Time. Ebert suffered surgery complications that left him unable to talk, so Roeper forged on with a variety of guest hosts.
In 2008, the pair walked away from the program, and Ben Mankiewicz and Ben Lyons stepped in to host for a year before being replaced by Michael Phillips, a Chicago Tribune critic, and A.O. Scott, a New York Times critic. The show was finally canceled in 2010, in a move that didn’t surprise many. “After all, this was Siskel and Ebert’s show — people knew their names better than the actual name of the program — and when you took away one (or both), At the Movies just wasn’t the same. ‘RIP, At The Movies,’ Ebert tweeted the day that news of the show’s cancellation broke,” according to Time.
4. The Office
Premiering in 2005, this hit sitcom starred Steve Carell as Michael G. Scott, the boss at Dunder Mifflin paper supply. Things started to go downhill for The Office after its seventh season. Carell had only signed on to do seven seasons and left when that time was up. Rather than cancel the show, though, producers decided to continue the series, making Ed Helms’ character, Andy Bernard, the boss, reports The Richest.
While it was an all-around solid cast of comedians, without Michael Scott’s character, the show began to dwindle — it ended up staying on the air for two more seasons. However, a Salon article says that The Office’s ratings had already started to flatline in the show’s last few years. The series did manage to end on a good note, as several key story lines were neatly wrapped up.
Debuting in 1994, the NBC medical drama, which made George Clooney a star, followed the doctors who worked in the emergency room at the fictional County General Hospital in Chicago. The show ran for 15 seasons and toward the beginning was able to achieve extreme popularity.
According to the Los Angeles Times: “For those first five seasons with George Clooney onboard, the show averaged an audience of just less than 30 million. Even for the next five seasons, the Thursday night staple still averaged a viewership of almost 22 million. Beginning with Season 11, the medical drama dropped out of the top 10.”
By Season 14, the show’s viewership had fallen below 10 million for the first time. Through the years, the show lost much of the original realism it had become well-known for. Cast members came and left too quickly, and viewers began dropping the show as a result.
While it started out as a fun, well-liked show — Entourage even received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations — its problems became magnified the longer it continued to run. The show focused on the day-to-day life of Vincent Chase, a young Hollywood actor, and his friends, whom he brought with him from New York City. The show was intended to give an insider’s view into celebrity lifestyles, as well as the highs and lows of the success that comes with show business.
The HBO series continued for eight seasons but “became a parody of itself,” The Huffington Post said. In fact, things became a little bit too perfect for the characters: Turtle accidentally became a millionaire, Vince was able to land every part, and Eric and Sloane reconnected (after he slept with her stepmom). According to the A.V. Club, the show’s ratings were down as much 25% in its seventh season.
7. That ’70s Show
The Fox show premiered in 1998 and offered viewers a trip back to the disco era. The series was about Eric Forman and his five weed-smoking friends, who frequently could be founding hanging out in a basement in Wisconsin. The show starred actors Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Wilmer Valderrama, Danny Masterson, and Laura Prepon.
That ’70s Show started out strong and saw steady high ratings in its first six seasons. According to Time, viewership dropped to 7 million in 2004-2005. Also, two of the show’s biggest names — Grace and Kutcher — left the series before the final season. In 2006, Fox finally decided to call it quits.