Warning: There are spoilers from these shows below!
ER (1994 – 2009)
Created by: Michael Crichton
Starring: Noah Wyle, Juliana Marguiles, George Clooney
15 seasons. This show had 15 seasons. Shouldn’t it have gotten the axe at least five years before? That’s not to say it was a bad show. It was beloved, and people are actually still discovering it and falling in love with it. Also, it was great for launching the careers of super-mega stars, like George Clooney. But how did it compete with ABC’s similar and fresher medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy, for as long as it did? ER left no room for other shows to have their day.
Smallville (2001 – 2011)
Network: The WB, then CW
Based on: Superman comics by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Developed by: Alfred Gough and Miles Millar
Starring: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Erica Durance
Author’s Note: Smallville is one of my favorite shows ever, and maybe 10 seasons of it made sense. But certainly not the way they did it. They waited too long to introduce Lois Lane (Erica Durance) and spent too much time on a-dead-from-the-start arc for Clark Kent (Tom Welling)’s other love interest, Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk). Besides, once Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) left the show after its seventh season, the show took a big hit in quality. As nice as it was to look at Welling every week, the show could have made its ten seasons count a little more than it did.
Pretty Little Liars (2010 – present)
Network: ABC Family
Based on: Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepherd
Developed by: I. Marlene King
Starring: Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale
Pretty Little Liars probably should have been a miniseries, especially because it was based on a series of books. When you have to change the books because you keep getting renewed for another season, you might want to stop and look around. That’s not to say Pretty Little Liars is completely flawed. It’s not. It’s far-fetched, but that makes it entertaining. Bellisario, who portrays group leader Spencer Hastings, is gifted. But it’s STILL 2011 in Rosewood, and we’re dying to know who “A” is. We can’t wait much longer.
Happy Days (1974 – 1984)
Created by: Garry Marshall
Starring: Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Marion Ross
This was a good show. No, really, it was. It was a funny, retro pastiche piece about the 1950s and 60s created by sitcom royalty, Garry Marshall. But you know the phrase “jumped the shark,” which refers to that point when the show should go off the air because it’s running out of good ideas? Happy Days actually invented that phrase. Fonzie (Henry Winkler) jumped over a shark when he went to the beach as a big, death-defying stunt. That’s ridiculous, and everyone on Happy Days knew it. It ran for 100 more episodes, give or take, but it did lose the joie de vie it used to have.
Dawson’s Creek (1998 – 2003)
Network: The WB
Created by: Kevin Williamson
Starring: James van der Beek, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson
Teenagers went gaga for this show, sure. But after the third season, when Joey (Katie Holmes) ran off to be with her sweetheart, Pacey (Joshua Jackson), the show could have ended satisfactorily. All of the best storylines had already been explored, like the love triangle among Dawson (James van der Beek), Joey, and Pacey, and Jack McPhee (Kerr Smith)’s coming out. The remaining three seasons just got ridiculous. When Pacey was in that car with his boss, and she almost ran him off the road because she was upset, it felt like the writers just didn’t know what else to do. And don’t get us started on Season Five’s incident with Joey and the mugger.
Roseanne (1988 – 1997)
Created by: Matt Williams
Starring: Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Sara Gilbert
For the most part, this show was pretty good. It showed a dysfunctional, American family as opposed to the unrealistic, utopian family in shows like Leave it to Beaver. In fact, the show launched the careers of some famous writers, like Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls). But after nine seasons, the show got a little ridiculous. In fact, the final season was all about the Conner family winning the lottery, but in the end, it was all a dream. Talk about a heartbreak… and a really weird way to end a show.
Leave It to Beaver (1957 – 1963)
Network: CBS, then ABC
Created by: Joe Connelly, Bob Mosher, and Dick Conway
Starring: Barbara Billingsley, Hugh Beaumont, Jerry Mathers (as “the Beav”)
This doesn’t seem like a long time – six seasons. But in the 50s and 60s, shows ran for 39-episode seasons, meaning after just six years, Leave It to Beaver racked up over 230 episodes. How many perfect things could they actually accomplish in more than 230 episodes? Apparently, a lot.
Angel the Series (1999 – 2004)
Network: The WB
Created by: Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt
Starring: David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, Alexis Denisof
A spinoff for hunky Angel (David Boreanaz), Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar)’s vampire beau seemed like a great idea, and for awhile, it wasn’t bad. The spinoff also snagged queen bee Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), who was beloved on the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She was even more beloved on its spinoff. But the show took a hit when Whedon reportedly decided to fire Carpenter due to her pregnancy, wrote really weird storylines for her character, and eventually killed her off. It probably would have been canceled after the fourth season if Whedon hadn’t resurrected the snarky vampire, Spike (James Marsters) for a fifth and final season.
Glee (2009 – 2015)
Created by: Ryan Murphy
Starring: Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Jane Lynch
Glee used to be the hottest thing on TV. And then, all of a sudden, it totally wasn’t. The network should have listened to the ratings, but after its fourth season, it was renewed for a fifth and sixth, anyway. According to many, the show took a drop in quality after the untimely passing of Cory Monteith, who played singing quarterback Finn Hudson, in 2013. He was considered “the heart of the show,” and losing him meant losing the fire the musical dramedy once had.
The Big Bang Theory (2007 – present)
Created by: Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady
Starring: Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting
This fall, The Big Bang Theory will go into its tenth season. For this show, that’s a few seasons too many. The most notable problem with this show is that it’s sexist at every turn. The most prominent female character, Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), is constantly dumbed down because she’s an attractive, blonde woman. Having characters like Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik, real life genius) does not make up for the treatment of Penny. She isn’t even given a last name. At one point, Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) talks about a woman’s ovaries producing “goofy juice,” causing her to have mood swings. It produces old-age stereotypes that more often, men are smarter than women, and we don’t need that attitude on our TV sets in 2015.