12 TV Shows That Started off Amazing but Became Unwatchable

Sometimes shows start off great but then, for whatever reason, change their format. We wanted to know what people felt were the worst culprits for TV shows that started off amazing but became unwatchable later on. As always, the internet’s answers didn’t disappoint.

Before I dive in, I’m going to give a little disclaimer here. This list is hardly exhaustive. So many shows out there started off amazing but faded over time. We narrowed it down to 12 of the most common answers to this question.

Heroes

Hayden Panettiere in Heroes (2006).
Image Credit: NBC.

“Save the cheerleader, save the world!”

Heroes started out amazing in the first season. It kept us guessing at every turn and showed superheroes in a way that hadn’t really happened before on TV. We had such high hopes for Heroes!

Sadly, season 2 didn’t keep the same feeling going – leading to extremely disappointed fans.

How To Get Away With Murder

Karla Souza, Matt McGorry, Aja Naomi King, and Jack Falahee in How to Get Away with Murder (2014).
Image Credit: ABC.

A lot of people think How to Get Away With Murder should have been a limited-run, single-season show. The concept was really good – but it just didn’t work as a multi-season affair. Especially not six seasons!

The Walking Dead

Gavin Warren as Finch - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 4.
Image Credit: Lauren “Lo” Smith/AMC.

This one may be controversial because a lot of people really like the show and series but The Walking Dead didn’t maintain the quality it had in the earlier seasons. Most folks say it went downhill after season 6… Yet The Walking Dead somehow kept going for another 5 seasons.

Sliders

Sabrina Lloyd, Jerry O'Connell, and John Rhys-Davies in Sliders (1995)
Image Credit: Universal Television.

If you missed Sliders I can’t blame you. It’s a pretty obscure mid-90s sci-fi show. In a nutshell, the plot of Sliders is that the cast slides into alternate worlds. This plot was amazing for the first two seasons. Then the studio decided to fire the creator/producer and completely ruined the show.

Glee

Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff in Glee (2009).
Image Credit: Fox Television.

I’m happy to see I’m not alone with this one. Don’t judge, I really enjoyed the first season of Glee! The idea of this group of misfits coming together, finding their place, and singing showtunes had all the feel good vibes my life needed at the time. I wasn’t alone in my love for Glee; the show exploded.

Thanks to that surging popularity Glee kept running. And running. It didn’t take long before it started grasping at straws to stay fresh. They never managed to make it work in the long run and the show really went downhill after season 2.

Game of Thrones

Emilia Clarke HBO Game of Thrones Season 8 - Episode 6
Photograph by Courtesy of HBO.

You thought I was going to leave this one out, didn’t you? I don’t know if I even need to explain this one at this point, but here goes: Game of Thrones arguably has the best first season of a show ever made and one of the most disappointing endings. Unlike other shows that have a clear moment of decline, though, GoT slowly got worse over the series’ run.

Once Upon a Time

Gabe Khouth, Jennifer Morrison, Keegan Connor Tracy, Jared Gilmore, and Jeffrey Kaiser in Once Upon a Time (2011)
Image Credit: ABC.

This one had so much potential! Once Upon a Time is a serialized retelling of classic fairy tales. The exact point this show went downhill is subject of debate but most people agree it declined after season 3.

The Flash

Susan Walters and Grant Gustin in The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Pt. 2 (2019).
Image Credit: The CW.

Another show that started off really cool, The Flash just kept running (ha!) for much longer than it should have. Seasons 1-2 were amazing; great writing, cool characters, and they really kept us guessing. Season 3 was a little lacklustre by comparison, but the show really suffered in season 4.

Some argue that season 5 was better (and that’s probably why the show got 7 seasons) but too many gave up during the 4th season to notice.

Scandal

Tony Goldwyn, Duane R. Shepard Sr., and Kerry Washington in Scandal (2012).
Image Credit: American Broadcasting Company.

Scandal is the subject of so much controversy online when it comes to whether or not the later seasons are worth watching. Die-hard series fans argue it’s all worth it, but most agree that anything past season 3 is a waste of time.

Prison Break

Wentworth Miller in Prison Break (2005).
Image Credit: Fox Television.

I’ll take any opportunity to criticise Prison Break’s peculiar decision to continue past season 1. I’ll maybe give them season 2, but beyond that the show got really silly. Like most fans, I agree it would have been better off as a single-season mini series.

Bones

David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, and Katheryn Winnick in Bones (2005).
Image Credit: Fox Television.

It’s the fate of almost all police procedural shows to eventually get stale and sadly Bones is no exception. I mean really, how can you keep a show on the air for 12 years and have it stay fresh.

What’s most shocking about Bones, though, is many people agree it didn’t become unwatchable until around season 10. That’s a pretty good run!

13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why
Image Credit: Beth Dubber/Netflix.

A lot of folks didn’t like this show at all, but even fans agree it should have been a one-season show. Season 1 followed the book, which has no sequel. Rather than just tell that story, the writers opted to leave a few plot points open so they could do a season 2.

Apart from the poor writing, many argue the depiction of complex safety issues in the second season is even more irresponsible than the first.

12 TV Shows That Are Often Called “The Best TV Show Ever”

Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in Mad Men.
Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC.

This is such a subjective topic. While I’d love to share my thoughts on the best TV show ever, I thought it would be better to scour the internet to find out what, in your opinion, is the best show ever from a variety of fans.

12 Shows Often Called “The Best TV Show Ever”

The Abrupt Endings of These 8 Netflix Shows That Left Viewers Unsatisfied

Timothy Olyphant, Drew Barrymore in Santa Clarita Diet Season 2
Image Credit: Saeed Adyani/Netflix.

The worst part of having your favorite show canceled is that you never get to see the ending and never find out what happened to all the characters. If there was a good ending, the fans might not be upset!

The Abrupt Endings of These 8 Netflix Shows That Left Viewers Unsatisfied

 

10 Overrated Netflix Shows That Didn’t Live Up to the Hype

Outer Banks. Rudy Pankow as JJ in episode 303 of Outer Banks
Image Credit: JACKSON LEE DAVIS/NETFLIX.

Ever watched a show that was so hyped up but you thought was terrible? The show everyone was talking about and watching and you just couldn’t see the appeal? That was the question posted on Reddit, “Which Netflix show is overrated?”

9 Most Overrated Netflix Shows

7 True Crime Shows on Netflix That Are Criminally Addictive

Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. Sarma Melngailis in Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.
Image Credit: Courtesy of Netflix.

Love learning about real-life crime and can’t get enough? Netflix has become the go-to for binge-able series about crimes and the criminals who commit them.

7 True Crime Shows on Netflix That Are Criminally Addictive

Unpopular Opinion: 15 Shows Everyone Raved About, but We Couldn’t Stand

Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton in episode 205 of Bridgerton
Image Credit: LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX.

Ever been excited about a show that someone recommended, but you couldn’t get into it? A show that everyone loved, but you couldn’t stand it? Here are 15 shows people couldn’t get into despite the hype.

Unpopular Opinion: These 15 Shows Everyone Raved About, But We Couldn’t Stand

 

This post was produced by Swoon Hub. 

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Everett has been writing about media, technology, and parenting since 2014. His work has been featured on MIT Technology Review, HuffPost, and various blogs. When not writing or binge watching TV shows, you'll find him playing video games or spending with with his kids.