A few months ago I opened the season pass manager on my DVR and removed Castle from the list with some sadness. I wasn’t loving the show anymore and it was time for us to part ways. It made me wonder, what has to happen to a formerly beloved TV show to make me stop watching it? What has been the cause of so many of my TV show breakups?
A main character left
I was a huge fan of The X-Files when it was on, though I was watching mostly for the unresolved sexual tension between Mulder and Scully. I’ve never been so invested in wondering if two fictional characters would ever hook up. (They eventually did in the second film, but that was when I was well past caring.) At the end of season 7 David Duchovny left the show and there really wasn’t a reason to watch after that.
Didn’t like a character development or plot development
I watched the first 2 or 3 seasons of Greys Anatomy and liked certain aspects of the show but hated others. (The long-winded monologues for one.) However, the tipping point that finally made me stop watching was when George and Izzy got together, which felt like watching incest.
I was also a huge fan of The Vampire Diaries for the first three seasons or so. It burned though plot at a frenetic pace and had complicated characters. However, by the latter half of season four I realized they’d all become horrible people who killed and mind-raped others and didn’t think it was a big deal. So, I had to stop watching, though I am still a fan of the TV.com photo recaps by Price Peterson.
Too many changes, which don’t necessarily make sense
I’m not necessarily against change on a TV show, but it has to make sense. So when Castle and Beckett separated earlier this season I wasn’t annoyed so much by the breakup but by the fact that I didn’t understand why it happened. She had to investigate a crime? And she couldn’t tell him? So they needed to part ways for awhile? Huh? Sorry, it just doesn’t make sense. These two do nothing but investigate crimes together.
In addition to that, we started the latest season with Castle’s daughter becoming a practically full-time junior PI even though she was still in college. Captain Gates was suddenly gone with no send off. Beckett was now a captain, and I don’t even recognize this show any more.
Prison Break met a similar fate for me. I loved the flawed yet addictive first season, particularly the forbidden prison romance between Dr. Sarah and Michael Scofield. (Arm porn! Origami flowers!) However, once they broke out of prison the show started to falter and changed so much that I dropped out by season 3.
Plot got convoluted, uninteresting. No longer fun to watch.
I started out loving Revenge, a series about a girl who comes back to the Hamptons to get revenge on those responsible for destroying her life when her father was framed for murder. In the first few episodes Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke took down one person after another, crossing their faces off a group photo with a satisfying red X. Then things started to get more convoluted and she wasn’t getting much revenge anymore. They added a Japanese revenge guru and some secret organization called The Initiative got involved and it got less personal and I hadn’t seen a great takedown for ages, so I dropped the show in the second season. The voiceover in every episode annoyed me too because it didn’t add anything to the story.
Don’t get the appeal
I know The Walking Dead is a pop culture phenomenon and garners higher ratings than previously thought possible for a cable show, but I just don’t get it. I stopped watching halfway through the second season and have never regretted it.
Don’t like the new showrunner
I enjoyed the first 4-5 seasons of the latest incarnation of Dr. Who which were run by Russell T. Davies, but when he was done with the job Stephen Moffat took over. The production values got so much better, but the direction of the show, er, didn’t. Moffat is a talented writer. He wrote one of the best episodes of Dr. Who, “Blink,” which introduced the Weeping Angels. He also co-created Sherlock which I absolutely adore. However, when you become a showrunner your personal quarks and tics become more obvious, like the fact that Moffat doesn’t write women well and builds the Doctor up to me some huge, feared, force of nature instead of the stupid, silly, spaceman he could sometimes be. I haven’t bothered to watch for the past few years because it’s annoyed me too much, but I would probably give it a chance again once Moffat lets someone else take over.
Show has been on a long time, lost interest
Even if a show is still pretty good, once it’s been on for over 10 years it’s harder to maintain interest. I spent 2-3 years watching NCIS reruns on cable and a few years watching new episodes until I stopped tuning in. The show hadn’t gotten any worse, it just didn’t hold my attention like it used to.
Don’t have the time
I enjoyed watching the first few seasons of Dancing with the Stars, but when I got my first book deal I had to spend my evenings after work writing, and I just didn’t have time to watch a two-hour competition show and a one-hour results show every week.
We’re also living in an era of “Peak TV” when there’s too much great TV on to watch it all. I have a list of literally 23 TV shows I’ve been meaning to watch that are highly regarded (some of them in their second or third seasons), and I don’t know if I’ll ever get to them all. I can’t spend my time on mediocre drama! Unless it’s mediocre melodrama, in which case I am all in 🙂
That covers all the reasons I can remember for dropping a TV show. Can anyone think of other reasons they’ve stopped watching a show they once loved? Let me know in the comments.
Photo by Nick Thompson / NC-ND 2.0 CC
I have a hard time leaving a long running show if I have watched every season, been with them since the beginning (Castle and Bones). What if I have watched all these years and then it turns out to be the last season and I missed it?
We are not able to watch Dr Who with the new doctor. We can’t figure out if it is the writing or the actor.
I echo your feelings about Grey’s Anatomy. That is exactly when I stopped watching.
My 26 year old has cancelled cable and survives on line and Netflix. He says he is never going back to cable.
Netflix live streaming is the best thing that ever happened. We love being able to watch a whole series.
Jennette Fulda says
@Vickie – I’ve thought about letting go of cable. I lived without it for about 5 years, but when I got hooked on “The Vampire Diaries” I was tired of not having a reliable broadcast signal to watch it live, so I signed up again. And now I’m not watching that show anymore, so it might be time to let go.
Mulder and Scully *swoon*
All very excellent reasons for not finishing a show! These days when I find myself losing interest and/or getting pissed off with a ridiculous plot, I’ll stop watching then skim-read Vulture.com recaps to find out what happened. Recently did that with How To Get Away With Murder.
Jennette Fulda says
@Shauna – I forgot about Vulture recaps! Those are great. And back when “Television Without Pity” was at the height of its popularity those were great too.
I understand what you’re saying about Castle. I haven’t dropped it yet, but certainly don’t prioritize it.
I find often that three seasons is enough for a show. In a drama, the plot can get too convoluted or the characters can lose their original…character. (Breaking Bad is a good exception.) If I don’t drop a show, I can find myself wondering “why?” in retrospect, and answering: “habit.”
I also watch comedies. If there isn’t character development in them, the comedy can just get too broad or stupid. My husband walked in while I was watching one and asked, “Isn’t that a little juvenile?” I was watching for one of the people on it, but that’s not enough anymore.
Jennette Fulda says
@Rebecca – I dropped “Modern Family” a few seasons ago, not necessarily because of lack of development but because some of the characters had become awful people. There was an episode where it turned out Cam had done these totally manipulative things to get his way on something to do with the upcoming wedding to Mitchell. I guess it was supposed to be funny, but I was left thinking they really shouldn’t get married if that kind of manipulation was going on.
I wish I had given up on Dexter after the Trinity killer season, I still regret following it to the bitter end (truly a hate watch at that point).
I gave up on The Killing after what was supposed to be a self contained season was dragged into a cliffhanger to season 2. That was a really bad bait and switch. Ever since then, I’ve waited to see if a show is going to catch on and be good long term, then catch up on Netflix. I did that with Orphan Black, and more recently with The 100 (which I would have given up on if I’d watched season 1 a week at a time, but since I binged the first season I stuck with it until it got good in the second half of season 1).
I’ve given up on Survivor this year after watching religiously for many years. The final 3 strategy just brings along a 3rd person who is totally useless (but they always think they have a shot!) and the challenges had become so dependent on puzzles, which are boring to watch on TV. They’ve obviously cut the budgets, and it shows.
I totally agree with you about Castle, but I haven’t pulled the plug yet. I love Nathan Fillion so much, and I’ve grown to love Stana too. But it seems to have really run its course. I hope they don’t renew it after this year.
Jennette Fulda says
@sherijung – I was on-again, off-again with Dexter. I was watching the final season, but then Breaking Bad came back and they were airing on the same night, and it became sooooo clear how much better Breaking Bad was. I dropped Dexter right then.
I’m not a fan of Moffatt’s Dr Who, the ladies aren’t as good as previous Who seasons, and way too many characters in miniskirts and chunky shoes, usually shot from the ankle up, often secondary characters who could well be wearing pants. Or dresses and heels. Space suits. Glitter loincloths. Or pretty much anything else. Casual miniskirt was Amy’s look. And somehow also Clara’s look. But can we stop going to alien planets to see girls with miniskirts and chunky shoes?
I haven’t given it up because I really enjoy watching Dr Who with Harold (whether he enjoys me pointing out “LOOK THE MACGUFFIN FELL ON THE GROUND NEXT TO A SEXY LEG AND CHUNKY SHOE!” is another story).
Shirley @ gluten free easily (gfe) says
I think the common denominators of abandoned shows are when the show becomes unbelievable, when the writers/producers drive a plot into the ground (especially one that wasn’t great at the start), and when you simply have a hard time still liking/rooting for the characters. I’ve seen this happen with so many shows and each time, it’s like good grief, how did they F that up? House, Grey’s, The Good Wife, Nashville, and many more I’m forgetting.
I haven’t stopped watching Castle completely because I do love Nathan Fillion, but I miss most episodes (and it’s also hard to figure out when it’s on and when the show is actually a new show). Typically when it’s on, it doesn’t hold my attention at all. Like you said, the bit about her having to be away from Castle made absolutely no sense and went on and on. Kate as captain simply doesn’t work. She needed a boss to rebel against. Plus we were all so happy when she got her mother’s killer, but was that the end? Nope, they drug that out endlessly.
I also think that so many tv shows make the mistake of thinking they need to change things dramatically as seasons pass. No, not necessarily. The original formula worked for a reason.
I can’t say that I have a plethora of choices because I only have basic cable. Knowing about what’s on expanded cable, not much appeals to me there though. Certainly not enough to pay big bucks each month.
Cathy H-S says
I dropped Grey’s for about four years, but resumed a couple of years ago and am enjoying it again. The storylines seemed to be more interesting and I didn’t want to slap people up the side of the head so often.
I tried to stick with Grey’s Anatomy, because I watched it for so many years. I finally gave up a couple of seasons ago. I just wanted it to end, so I could say I watched the whole thing. I have no idea why it’s still going. When you don’t care about what happens to the characters any more, you know it’s time to move on.
I “broke up with” Castle when he and Beckett got together. I liked the first couple of seasons of “will they or won’t they”; once they did, that lovely tension was gone for me.
I broke up with Lost after 3 seasons, I think, because I felt more and more like the writers were never going to give me all the answers I wanted. Every time they answered one thing, they added three more questions, it felt like. So I divorced it, and even though several of my friends said that the ending was very satisfying, I have not gone back to catch up.
My most common reason for quitting a show is that the plots get more and more outlandish, the longer the show is on. For most shows that I like, it seems to me that the first season is great fun (probably because the writers had the most time to develop it), and then a second season and third season get added, and now there are tight deadlines, and the quality of the writing suffers. At the same time, there seems to be a sense of having to top what came before. Thus, inevitably, the serial killer goes after the detective, the conspiracy deepens and deepens, and the whole city is about to blown up. That’s when I go, “meh” and find something else to like.
I don’t get this season’s storyline on Castle either – whether they’re together or separated, they’re still married and still working cases together, so how does her not living with him keep him safe from this mysterious new big bad? It’s just dumb justification for a new show runner who’s floundering. Though I’m not quite ready to give up on that one yet.
I also gave up on TVD and after two seasons the Originals – TVD was just too whiny and convoluted and I just had no idea what was going on. And the Originals… ugh, thousands of years old and they’re still whining because Mommy didn’t love them enough.
I think I’m ready to give up on The Good Wife, it’s been steadily going downhill, but this season has been the season of suckage. They’re just repeating the same storyline that worked originally over and over again, and it’s beyond boring.
But I watch way too much tv, so letting shows go is probably a good thing. 🙂
Hey Jennette! You’ve probably heard of it but this whole “moment a show becomes unwatchable” is now called “Jumping the Shark.” There’s a plethora of debates on different sites regarding various shows..there also used to be a dedicated website but I’m not sure what happened to it…
Hate to say it, but I’m about to give up on The Good Wife. It was best in the first couple seasons when it was basically about her getting revenge on the wasted years in a bad marriage with a slimeball husband. I hear rumors Julianna may be leaving the show – surely that will mean it’s over.