Beloved American TV Shows That Started Out Bad but Became Great

The first season of a TV show sets the pace for the rest of the series. While some shows burn out after a season, others establish a long-term premise. But if a show has a rocky start, can it ever recover?

In the case of these beloved series, the answer is yes. Characters were retooled, and overarching themes may have changed, but the following series received a second season and realized their full potential. Fans hated the first season of one beloved NBC show (page 9).

1. Seinfeld

Cast of “Seinfeld”

Michael Richards, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jason Alexander celebrate winning the 1993 Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. | Scott Flynn/AFP/Getty Images

  • Number of seasons: 9
  • Worst season per Rotten Tomatoes: NA

The Emmy award-winning show nearly never was. Larry David’s Seinfeld struggled with its pilot episode, which excluded Elaine from the show entirely and gave Kramer (named “Kessler”) a dog. Test audiences rated it poorly, and most believed it would only appeal to New Yorkers.

Once David and his team worked out the kinks, including casting Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Seinfeld hit its stride. The series finale was the “third-highest rated series-ender ever, topped only by those of Cheers and M*A*S*H,” according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Next: This police drama was nearly killed off.

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