HBO's Eastbound and Down ended its four-season run last night, with critics arguing that the once-great show's final season was more "down" than anything. Sadly, Kenny Powers has a ton of company. Walking away from an established series may be hard, but watching it go on past its peak is tougher. Here are 17 shows that should have ended much (and in some cases much, much) sooner. —Rob LeDonne
Everyone has an opinion about the quality of the American Office, but there's little denying that after six highly-rated seasons, things fell apart. Perhaps it was when Jim and Pam got married, zapping any sexual tension. Or maybe it was when Steve Carrell left the series for greener pastures (a.k.a. the movies). In any case, NBC should have put the kibosh on the whole thing three seasons sooner.
Happy Days coined the phrase "jumping the shark" for when a series hits a point where, creatively, it's all over. For Richie, Fonzie and the gang, that was during the fifth season premiere when the Fonz literally jumped over a shark while water skiing. Happy Days, a show originally grounded in nostalgia for the Eisenhower '50s, would go on for another five, superfluous seasons.
When ER premiered on September 19, 1994, it focused on four up-and-comers – George Clooney, Anthony Edwards, Noah Wyle and Juliana Margulies – and became a hit based on stellar writing and cast chemistry. But when the series concluded fifteen (!) years later, everything looked very different. Clooney and Co. were long gone, and for the final season, John Stamos was the lead male actor. Seriously. John Stamos.
Weeds had everything going for it: a charismatic cast led by Golden Globe-winner Mary Louise Parker and interesting storylines about pot and love. But when the characters moved from to Seattle, and then Michigan, and later New York City, and finally Connecticut, the series became unrecognizable from its once former self.
Like many shows on this list, The O.C. went from sexy and exciting to something else entirely as the writers ran out of things to do. Stories became crazier and zanier, reaching an all-time low when Mischa Barton's character Marissa was killed off.
When Hereos premiered in September 2006, it was the instant hit that NBC desperately needed. The country was captivated by it's mysterious story, which boasted the famous tag line, "Save the cheerleader, save the world." Unfortunately, the only thing that needed saving was the plot, as the writers couldn't build a series around the insane original storyline.
The X-Files, one of the biggest shows of the 90's, made stars out of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. But when Duchovny left after season seven, instead of ending the series, things took a turn for the worst when John Doggett (Robert Patrick) was swapped in. Ratings tanked, and the only truth out there is that the last two seasons stink.
Duchovny has the dubious distinction of being on this list twice, only for Californication, he had the misfortune of sticking with the series. Once a cool and raunchy character study, the show is now a tired and stale imitation of its 2007 premiere season. Even more outrageous is that Duchovny, who plays a womanizer on the show, completed a stint in rehab for sex addiction while filming the series. Talk about awkward!
Everyone's favorite grouch was a staple across America in the late 80's. Unfortunately, Roseanne lasted through 1997, and later episodes became more and more outlandish, leading up to it's ninth season premiere where the family wins the lottery.
Bewitched suffered the same fate as The Office, ER and The X-Files – once a main character leaves, the series goes to shit. In one of the first cases, lead male character Darrin (Dick York) was replaced by Dick Sargent after its sixth season. Bewitched lost it's magic and never recovered.
True Blood is another example of a show that debuted hot and fizzled fast. Premiering on September 7, 2008, it was the hottest thing on TV – until it wasn't. Tired plotlines have been stretched over six seasons, and when it was renewed in September for a seventh, many were left wondering: why?
The chemistry between the five original housewives – Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria and Nicollette Sheridan – made this show superb. It was the writers who became desperate, however, when the show's storyline jumped ahead five years during the fifth season premiere.
What else can you say about Glee, a show like True Blood that was once hot and is now, well, not? Desperately trying to stay relevant, Glee has been through a slew of setbacks, most notably the death of the show's rock, Cory Monteith. But the series should have retired after the core cast graduated. Instead, the singing and dancing shtick has grown old, and the new cast – recruited to inject new life into the show – has done anything but.
Speaking of Glee, series creator Ryan Murphy was behind another program that lasted too long. Nip/Tuck, a critical darling when it premiered in July 2003, lasted seven seasons but lost its luster after four. The line in the sand occurred when the action moved from Miami to Los Angeles, making its final two seasons virtually unwatchable.
This tongue-in-cheek video says it best: enough already! Episode after episode of the same shenanigans, the show is currently in it's ninth (and final) season – a wise decision any mother would approve of, indeed.