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Top 10 TV Shows That Lost Steam After a Great First Season

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Nick Spake Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 shows that lost steam after a great first season. For this list, we're taking a look at TV shows that got off to a strong start, but could never recapture the same magic going forward. Special thanks to our users On Tai Jim, idleman52 and Rubén Darío Cuéllar for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Shows That Lost Steam After a Great Season One


Talk about peaking too early. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 shows that lost steam after a great first season.

For this list, we’re taking a look at TV shows that got off to a strong start, but could never recapture the same magic going forward. We’ve excluded “True Detective” because, while season two was certainly a step backwards, it still has time to redeem itself.

#10: “Californication” (2007-14)

While not everybody was a fan of “Californication” when it first premiered, its dark humor, sexuality, and David Duchovny’s pessimistically charming performance had numerous Showtime subscribers adding the show to their watch list. Much like a middle-aged man who needs Viagra to keep going, though, this edgy comedy series wasn’t able to satisfy its audience for very long. A true flavor of the month, “Californication” became a mostly forgettable show that only your horny, single uncle watched.

#9: “House of Lies” (2012-)

We’re starting to see a cycle with Showtime original series. Most of them start off fresh, fun, and full of potential. Eventually, however, the network just runs them into the ground. “House of Lies” certainly started off with a strong setup and an endearing cast that included Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell. Alas, its satire of big business ultimately went from being cynically funny to being cynically unpleasant after just one year. Granted, it makes sense that a show called “House of Lies” would become so unlikable. If we don’t care about or even like any of these people, though, why should we stick around?

#8: “Desperate Housewives” (2004-12)

Remember when “Desperate Housewives” was a cultural phenomenon? It was a ratings hit, a critical darling, and an awards favorite. Following the insanely entertaining first season, however, this soap opera started to repeat a familiar formula and the novelty wore off. Although it never reached the same level of quality, “Desperate Housewives” managed to deliver several more seasons that balanced enticing drama and comedy nevertheless. Still, it quickly went from being the show everybody was talking about to being just another guilty pleasure.

#7: “Glee” (2009-15)

You know that kid who’s really popular in high school and then grows up to be a complete loser? That’s “Glee” for ya. The first seasonwas a witty and joyous musical comedy that immediately spawned a legion of proud Gleeks. As the seasons went on, however, the series became exclusively interested in selling songs on iTunes, whether they connected to a story or not. It didn’t help that a dozen pointless, underdeveloped new students joined New Directions over time. Meanwhile, the characters we once loved turned into inconsistent stereotypes. In the purest sense, this Ryan Murphy production was a true one-hit wonder.

#6: “Smallville” (2001-11)

Stretching Superman’s origin story out to ten seasons worth of television is no easy task. To give “Smallville” credit, each seasonoffered a handful of great episodes in an overall enjoyable show. That being said, even the most diehard fans would admit there werea lot of stupid storylines. How stupid? Vampires and Stride Gum production placement, that’s how stupid. The only season that wasgreat from start to finish was season one, which did a wonderful job at depicting a young Clark Kent coming to terms with his powers. We just wish it hadn’t taken him so long to put on the cape.

#5: “Prison Break” (2005-09)

The first season of “Prison Break” delivered some of the most thrilling television you’ll ever see with compelling characters, gripping action, and plenty of edge of your seat twists. Once our heroes broke out of the big house, though, what else could be done with this premise? Well, the characters could go on the run, get thrown into another prison, and then get caught up in a ridiculous conspiracy. Yeah, so not too much unfortunately… As much as we loved “Prison Break” in its prime, there’s only so much story you can squeeze out of this concept.

#4: “True Blood” (2008-14)

Even if the vampire craze didn’t suck you in, the first season of “True Blood” still gave us interesting characters, a refreshing sense of humor, and an engaging murder mystery. With each passing season, however, Bill and Sookie’s on-again/off-again romance grew more tedious, Tara grew more annoying, and a lot of the graphic imagery just grew gratuitous - even by HBO standards. Seriously, what was the deal with those sex-crazed were-panthers? Much like Bill Compton, “True Blood” overstayed its welcome on this Earth and ultimately went out on a whimpering note.

#3: “Dark Angel” (2000-06)

Remember “Dark Angel?” When this sci-fi action series premiered, everybody thought it would be the next big thing. With abreakthrough performance from Jessica Alba and a big-budget pilot directed by James Cameron, we can see why. Yet, the show became overconfident in itself going into the next season, introducing new plot elements that just didn’t work and storylines that were just plain dumb. It wasn’t a huge surprise when “Dark Angel” started to plummet in the ratings and got cancelled after only two seasons.

#2: “Revenge” (2011-15)

Starting off with a bang, the first season of “Revenge” was juicy, scandalous, and just a lot of fun. It was everything one could want from a primetime soap. At the beginning of season two, though, it became painfully clear that Emily Thorne wasn’t going to get her revenge on the Grayson family any time soon. Come on, girl! Revenge doesn’t need to be this drawn-out and convoluted. Just shoot Victoria in the head and call it a day. Instead, the creators delayed the inevitable until the show was finally canceled. “Revenge” went from being a dish best served cold to a dish served stale.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “My Name Is Earl” (2005-09)
- “American Horror Story” (2011-)
- “24” (2001-10; 2014)
- “Weeds” (2005-12)

#1: “Heroes” (2006-10)

If you just watch the first season of “Heroes,” you might think that you’ve seen one of the greatest TV dramas of all time. Alas, some shows either die a hero or live long enough to see themselves become a villain. When it comes to “Heroes,” it’s hard to think of aseries that had us so immediately hooked and then left us dangling. It’s really shocking just how messy this once promising sci-fi series became, digging itself deeper and deeper with inexplicable characters and nonsensical storylines. Was it even really worth trying to revive the franchise with the uneven “Heroes Reborn?” Honestly, who cared by that point?

Do you agree with our list? What show let you down after one great season? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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