- Popular shows like Game of Thrones and Stranger Things risk losing their original charm and appeal when they try to cater to a wider audience and introduce new plotlines that deviate from their initial success.
- The Last of Us and Euphoria faced delays in their new seasons, which could potentially harm their popularity and interest among viewers if the gaps between seasons continue to grow.
- Grey’s Anatomy has faced criticism for overstaying its welcome and becoming repetitive, with viewers believing that the show should have ended after significant character deaths and milestones in earlier seasons.
The television industry is a cutthroat business, and series need to put in extra effort to keep their ratings up, but that sometimes comes at a cost. Once a show gains audiences’ love and admiration, it might try to improve something about it by spending more time on developing the narrative, which might result in production delays; going in an unexpected direction with its characters, which might destroy their previous arcs; or introducing innovative storylines altogether, which might not be to everyone’s liking. Sometimes, it works, and the show’s success only grows. Other times, it does not, and the series might be received rather negatively.
There are certain popularity traps that any show is prone to fall into, if not careful, and unfortunately, quite a few recent sensations have gotten themselves entangled in these common obstacles. For instance, Game of Thrones went from a gripping fantasy that offered deep insight into the characters’ psyche to a disappointing Hollywood-template flick that failed its core heroes in a matter of seasons. Game of Thrones is hardly the only show that was doomed by its own popularity in the long run, but it is a fine example of how everything that the story had been building for the better part of a decade could be ruined in a single episode.
15 Game Of Thrones
Daenerys Targaryen Deserved Better
- Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Richard Madden, Michelle Fairley, Kit Harington, Maisie Williams, Alfie Allen, Peter Dinklage
Having premiered in 2011, Game of Thrones quickly rose to prominence among epic fantasy fiction fans. The show gained a bigger audience with each season, and by season 7, there weren’t many people who hadn’t heard of the series. However, season 7 was where Game of Thrones‘ popularity-induced problems began — the episode count was reduced from 10 to 7, resulting in rushed pacing, and the storylines started raising more eyebrows than usual. Followed by a nearly two-year hiatus, the highly anticipated season 8 premiered, but it proved to be even more controversial than the previous chapter. Game of Thrones’ ending, featuring Daenerys Targaryen’s downfall, remains one of the most hated series finales in television history.
14 Sex And The City
And Just Like That… Destroyed The Legacy
- Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Sex and the City was a groundbreaking series that showcased women and their struggles in a new light. Naturally, Carrie and Mr. Big’s epic love story gained traction among its target audience, and the series became a hit. Following its finale in 2004, the immensely popular show got two movies and a revival series. While the Sex and the City films managed to capture the magic of its predecessor, they also featured twists and turns that effectively painted several characters, including Steve, in unnecessarily dark colors. And Just Like That… only made matters worse by rewriting the characters’ history and diminishing their previous growth.
The Maze Proved To Be Unbeatable
- Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Shannon Woodward, Ed Harris, James Marsden, Jimmi Simpson, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Thandie Newton, Rodrigo Santoro
Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s brainchild, Westworld, took the world by storm with record-breaking season 1, titled “The Maze,” but it ultimately failed to build on that success. The large gaps between the seasons, the reduced number of episodes, and the confusing storylines that didn’t fit in with the characters’ established personalities slowly brought the once-glorious show to its demise. Westworld season 1 gave the promise of a fresh, character-driven perspective on artificial intelligence, but relying on that promise without ever fulfilling it in its subsequent seasons didn’t pan out as well as the show had hoped.
12 Sex Education
Cavendish College Was Dull
- Gillian Anderson, Ncuti Gatwa, Tanya Reynolds, Aimee Lou Wood, Alistair Petrie, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Connor Swindells, Asa Butterfield, Emma Mackey, Patricia Allison
When Sex Education was released in 2019, it became clear that there was a huge demand for realistic sex-positive teen series. Relatively unknown actors and honest storytelling quickly made the show a hit, with audiences pining for more seasons. While seasons 2 and 3 sustained the quirky atmosphere of its debut chapter, season 4 didn’t live up to the high expectations that had been built up for two years. A change of setting to Cavendish College and a focus on new characters in the final season didn’t do Sex Education any good. There might have been more successful seasons if the show hadn’t become so popular that its core cast members had moved on to bigger and better career opportunities.
11 The Umbrella Academy
Allison Hargreeves Is Ruined
- Colm Feore, Cazzie David, Genesis Rodriguez, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Elliot Page, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Jordan Claire Robbins, Jake Epstein, Mary J. Blige, David Castaneda, Justin Cornwell, Justin H. Min, Britne Oldford, Adam Godley, Tom Hopper, Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, Ritu Arya, Cameron Britton, Sheila McCarthy
The Umbrella Academy played right into the superhero craze of the late 2010s, and it hit the jackpot — its first two seasons earned the status of instant hits. However, the show struggled to maintain its quality in season 3, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There was a two-year gap between the seasons, and many storylines had to be scrapped due to the Coronavirus restrictions. In addition, The Umbrella Academy season 3 failed Allison by turning her into a villain and making her completely irredeemable with the sexual assault plot. Hopefully, season 4 will be more in touch with the show’s roots.
10 The Last Of Us
Season 2 Will Premiere In 2025
- Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Gabriel Luna, Anna Torv, Merle Dandridge, Nick Offerman, Jeffrey Pierce
The Last of Us, the latest twist on the zombie apocalypse, is an adaptation of a popular video game. The much-anticipated season 1 finally premiered in January 2023 to critical acclaim and fan love. Max isn’t in a rush to release the continuation of Joel and Ellie’s story, as The Last of Us season 2 reportedly won’t premiere until 2025, which may easily bury the series in heaps of criticism. There are already high hopes for the sequel chapter, and they will only grow with time.
9 Prison Break
Lincoln & Michael’s Story Was Over
- Curtis Lum, Sarah Wayne Callies, Marina Benedict, Amin El Gamal, Wentworth Miller, Steve Mouzakis, Dominic Purcell, Bobby Naderi, Christian Michael Cooper
Prison Break started out as a story about one brother helping another escape from prison and get his good name back. Understandably, when Lincoln and Michael’s main goal was achieved, the premise had to change for the show to continue. The breaking out of prison storyline was exciting, as there was a certain uncertainty about whether the brothers would be successful. However, starting from season 3, Prison Break delved more and more into the government conspiracy storyline, losing its original charm.
8 The Big Bang Theory
The Nerd Culture Died Down
- Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg
The Big Bang Theory‘s earlier seasons embraced the nerd culture, and all four main male characters were unapologetically themselves. In the later seasons, the show tried to appeal to a wider audience, which meant shifting the storytelling angle to more common scenarios, featuring something that everyone could resonate with. The main characters, namely Howard and Raj, underwent significant personality changes, designed to make them more relatable. This led to The Big Bang Theory becoming just another sitcom, with nothing unique to offer.
Sam, Dean & Castiel Died Too Often
- Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Jim Beaver, Jared Padalecki, Katie Cassidy, Lauren Cohan, Mark A. Sheppard, Mark Pellegrino, Alexander Calvert
Supernatural was a true cultural phenomenon that largely shaped the horror fantasy genre of the 21st century. Even though the show remained on air for 15 years, its run was far from being the smoothest. Supernatural‘s first five seasons were the series’ golden era, and after that, the show just wasn’t the same. With Sam, Dean, and Castiel constantly dying and being brought back to life, the drama that fueled the show in the beginning was lost in the later seasons. Considering the high expectations for the Winchesters’ swansong, Supernatural‘s finale ending was never going to be universally loved, but in reality, it just felt like a complete slap in the face.
6 Doctor Who
The Doctor’s Backstory Keeps Changing
- Jenna Coleman, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Kingston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi
Doctor Who has been on television for almost 60 years, and in that time, the show has changed its premise, core cast, and style numerous times. While these creative decisions are what keeps the series relevant, they are also the reason for some of the harshest backlash from audiences. For instance, Chris Chibnall’s choice to give the Doctor a new origin story breathed a new life into the show, but at the same time, it destroyed the long-standing legacy and mythology that the series has been exploring for decades.
5 How I Met Your Mother
The Mother Twist Was Ill-Advised
- Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Bob Saget
How I Met Your Mother’s premise promised an epic love story between Ted Mosby and his future wife. The show lasted for more seasons than initially anticipated, but Ted and Tracy did not get the happy ending they deserved. Instead, the creators killed off Tracy and paired Ted up with his old flame Robin, effectively destroying the series’ whole purpose for existing. If How I Met Your Mother hadn’t ended up becoming so popular, the frustrating finale might have been avoided, or at least, it would have made more sense than it did.
4 Stranger Things
The 1980s Horror Atmosphere Is Long Gone
- Finn Wolfhard, Joe Keery, Jamie Campbell Bower, Brett Gelman, Caleb McLaughlin, Maya Hawke, David Harbour, Matthew Modine, Priah Ferguson, Gaten Matarazzo, Winona Ryder, Charlie Heaton, Sadie Sink, Millie Bobby Brown, Joseph Quinn, Dacre Montgomery, Natalia Dyer, Noah Schnapp
Stranger Things used to be a niche show about a group of kids and their parents joining forces to fight off the horrific creatures of the Upside Down, and that was what made it so appealing. Once the series got off the ground and entered the mainstream, the showrunners added government conspiracies and the Gulag into the mix. Stranger Things lost its eerie vibe, as too many things started happening all at once. Plus, the gaps between the installments have become larger with each season, and the kids, who have all grown up, don’t look believable as their characters age-wise.
3 Good Omens
Crowley & Aziraphale’s Sophomore Outing Was Underwhelming
- Frances McDormand, Sam Taylor Buck, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Sheen, Ilan Galkoff, David Tennant, Brian Cox, Adria Arjona
Based on the novel of the same title by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens season 1 came out in 2019 to immense viewership success and praise from critics. Although it was initially marketed as a limited series, Good Omens ended up getting season 2 four years later, but this time, there was no finished source material it could have drawn from. The second chapter received critical acclaim, and yet it was a much more slow-paced story than the one in the previous season. However, Crowley and Aziraphale’s climactic kiss in the finale did save the underwhelming season in the end.
The Interest In Euphoria Is Fading
- Storm Reid, Jacob Elordi, Maude Apatow, Hunter Schafer, Zendaya, Barbie Ferreira, Alexa Demie, Nika King, Colman Domingo, Eric Dane, Sydney Sweeney, Angus Cloud, Algee Smith
With its mature themes of drug abuse and domestic violence, Euphoria isn’t a typical teen drama — and that is exactly the reason why audiences have resonated with it. Season 1 made the show an instant hit and bumped up its cast, particularly Zendaya and Sydney Sweeney, in their respective acting careers. Sadly, that also meant that season 2 took a lot more time to make, and after a three-year gap, the expectations were impossibly high. Continuing that trend, Euphoria season 3 isn’t premiering until at least 2025, and by that time, there might be little interest left in the show.
1 Grey’s Anatomy
Derek’s Death Should Have Ended The Show
- Kelly McCreary, Patrick Dempsey, Kevin McKidd, Chandra Wilson, Jesse Williams, Jake Borelli, camilla luddington, Ellen Pompeo, Chyler Leigh, Eric Dane, Caterina Scorsone, Giacomo Gianniotti, Anthony Hill, Kate Walsh, Justin Chambers, Sarah Drew, Greg Germann, Martin Henderson, Katherine Heigl, T.R. Knight, Sara Ramirez, Jerrika Hinton, Richard Flood, Sandra Oh, Kim Raver, Jason George, Tessa Ferrer, Isaiah Washington, James Pickens Jr., Gaius Charles, Chris Carmack, Brooke Smith, Jessica Capshaw
Grey’s Anatomy is currently on season 19, with season 20 already confirmed and in the works. While the series continues to receive critical acclaim to some extent, there is the consensus that it has long outstayed its welcome. Grey’s Anatomy has become repetitive, and the characters have stopped growing — they just keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Despite its popularity, the show should have ended on a high note, after Derek Shepherd’s death in season 11.