TV shows that should have quit while they were ahead

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It's never nice to watch your beloved TV shows go painfully downhill.

Whether it's increasingly unbelievable plot-lines, deteriorating writing, or great characters being replaced by bland ones, the small screen is awash with examples of dramas and comedies that outstayed their welcome.

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With a number of current programmes attracting such accusations, we asked members of our Screen Babble discussion group which shows should have quit while they were ahead.

'Flogging a zombie-fied horse'

Perhaps unsurprisingly, increasingly maligned post-apocalyptic saga The Walking Dead was top of our readers' lists.

"Should have killed that off about 4 years ago when it was still good," says Paul Eyles. "Talk about flogging a dead (and zombiefied) horse."

Mark Dunford wholeheartedly agrees. "Walking Dead for sure. It’s gone on at least three seasons too long.

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"I find it immensely dull at times. I actually resent having to keep watching it - but am not letting it defeat me though. I will stick it out to see how it ends. Such a shame."

A popular choice for 'most declining show' (Photo: AMC)

Jumping the shark

One common complaint viewers have is that a show they really liked just stopped making sense altogether.

Or 'jumped the shark', if you will.

"Revenge should've finished after the first season," claims Jessica Russ. "It just got ridiculous."

Similar sentiments are expressed by Sue Dougall about superhero drama Heroes. "I really enjoyed the first series but then... the goodies became baddies and the story got dragged out."

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Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller are actually back as the jail-fleeing brothers for a new series (Photo: FOX)

Joanna Butler-Savage believes that Chicago Fire "got very cheesy and daft,"; Nick Long rapidly lost interest with Dexter around season six; and as for Prison Break, Finlay Greig believes it "became more and more ludicrous" - and should have ended after just one season.

Alison Hodson's personal bugbear is another prison drama: Bad Girls. It started "great", but "became a panto drama" by the end.

Falling from grace

Some genuine pop culture phenomenons have fallen by the wayside too, it seems.

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"The X-Files should have ended years before it did first time around," argues Alan Barley. "The last two seasons have been pretty bad except for a couple of episodes."

The truth is still out there - but for how much longer? (Photo: Fox)

Sci-fi favourite Babylon 5, meanwhile, suffered the opposite problem of early cancellation, says Steve Wilkins.

"It was all neatly wrapped up at the end of series four, because they thought it wasn’t going to be renewed. And then when it was, they had to come up with a way of continuing a finished story for just one series and it simply didn’t work.

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"It felt like what it was. An add on. Such a shame as the first four series were fantastic."

Wilkins also points to Lost, which popped up in our disappointing endings article, as another offender.

"The first couple of series were intriguing, then it all just became a bit of a mess, like it was being made up along the way."

Abandoning their roots

"Casualty should have put into retirement several decades ago," says Sheila Mackie. "I remember how good and well written the early series were."

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A major criticism that crops up again and again is shows moving away from what made them successful.

Simon Webb feels 24: Legacy was rather taking the mick without its famous lead.

"No Jack Bauer no show. The new one was good but they should have called it something different."

Ben Haworth-Booth, meanwhile, feels Kiefer Sutherland's new project Designated Survivor has also disappointed after a promising start.

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"First series was good... plenty of intrigue and great storyline. Series two just fell flat on its face and became too run of the mill American political drama."

Gogglebox - a shadow of its former self? (Photo: Channel 4)

Tom Flay believes the UK version of Shameless was another casualty of tone.

"When the focus stopped being so much on the Gallagher family and it all became a bit slapstick comedy it really lost its appeal."

Speaking of comedy, Keely Davison can't be doing with the latest series of Benidorm.

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"I absolutely loved the first couple of series. In my opinion when [Geoffrey Hutchings] who played Mel passed away, it left a huge void in the show. He was such a fantastic funny character and it's never been the same since. The new series is terrible. Not even remotely funny."

Blaise Tapp claims Gogglebox was much better "when the participants really were just members of the public".

Brian Murray agrees: "Too many of them playing up to the camera instead of reviewing the programmes."

Murray, however, reserves his own bullet for the entirety of British soaps.

"They’ve all morphed into Eastenders. Depressing."

Other shows picked by our readers:



The Big Bang Theory

The Affair

Strike Back

The Last Ship

Call The Midwife


Sons Of Anarchy

The Simpsons ("hasn't been funny since about season 8")

• Join the discussion now on Screen Babble, the TV chat group on Facebook.

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