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Top 10 Overused TV Show Ideas

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Zack Tobin

Do we really need another one of those? Welcome to and today we’ll be counting the down the top 10 Overused TV show Ideas.

This list consists of TV premises that feel overplayed. We’re not saying that every show in these genres are bad, just that we’ve seen a lot of shows similar to it.

Special thanks to our user bigpapazagon for suggesting this idea, check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Overused+TV+Show+Ideas.

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Script written by Zack Tobin

This? Again? Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Overused TV Show Ideas.

For this list, we’ll be looking TV premises that feel overplayed. We’re not saying that shows in these genres are bad – just that we’ve seen an awful lot of them.

#10: Paranormal Serial Dramas

Take an otherwise normal group of people and a relatively ordinary setting, add in ghosts, aliens, and super powers, and you have yourself a paranormal serial drama. Shows like The X-Files have been able to gain a cult following by getting viewers obsessed with finding answers behind the show’s mysteries, with some believing them to be a secret fountain of real world knowledge. Sometimes the answers are satisfying, other times they leave the viewer feeling angry and underwhelmed. And then sometimes, like in the case of Netflix’s Between, they leave viewers bored of asking the same old questions. With so many TV shows dealing with the paranormal out there, it’s become harder and harder to come up with a unique mythology– which can make new shows seem stale.

#9: Reality Singing Competitions

When American Idol first aired in 2002, it was a HUGE deal. Even though the world had already seen Star Search and Star Quality, “AI” was able to engage viewers with its hit or miss auditions, entertaining judges, and the fun of getting vote for your favorite singer. Unfortunately, Idol’s overwhelming success led to a lot of copycats that were essentially the same thing, but with an added, gimmicky twist. Sometimes the shows caught on, like with The Voice. Other shows, such as Superstar USA– whose twist was to find America’s worst singer– did not. With so many singing competitions, the talent became too dispersed, leading to a decline in quality... although bad singing beats bad dancing any day.

#8: Courtroom Dramas

The protagonist in this genre is usually an intense and passionate lawyer fighting for legal justice in an unjust world. Typically, the courtroom drama involves the “case of the week” format, with a new batch of never-seen-them-befores desperately trying to form an emotional bond with the audience before the credits roll. Sometimes, cases instead form a season-long arc, and you can expect those ones to deal with hot button issues like race, sex, or drugs. Fans of the legal drama may say the shows are educational, but more often than not, they’re nothing at all like a real-life court case. With over 1000 episodes of Law & Order and its four spinoffs alone, you could probably make it through law school and start a practice of your own before you’d catch up on the franchise.

#7: High School Dramas

It doesn’t matter if the show is Degrassi, Glee, Gossip Girl, or The OC. There are certain plot points that pretty much every high school drama has to hit. A nerd who gets bullied will date someone out of his league. Another character will struggle with their sexuality. A girl will get pregnant at 16 and have to decide how she wants to proceed. Oh, and you can fully expect every actor to look more like they’re 30 than in their teens. With so many clichés, and Hollywood’s obsession with making teenagers into high school stereotypes rather than actual people, it’s become difficult to make any show about average American teens stand out from the crowd.

#6: Groups of Goofy Friends

Have you seen that show about the quirky, good-looking friend group in their 20s or 30s, who hang out at the same place every day, and date a lot of people? Is that Friends? Or How I Met Your Mother? Or Seinfeld? Yes, these shows might be hilarious, but it’s hard to deny that they can all feel similar, and are light on plot options. I mean, could they BE any more repetitive? With a limit to possible storylines and character conflicts, many of these series rely on great chemistry between the actors and strong characters like Chandler Bing, Barney Stinson, and Kramer to survive. But this is easier said than done, which is why so many sitcoms feel like a poor imitation Seinfeld and Friends, rather than something new and funny.

#5: Reality Dating Shows

Like the rest of reality TV, dating shows really took off in the early part of the 2000s with the premiere of “The Bachelor.” The premise behind The Bachelor and The Bachelorette was simple: contestants could compete for the person of their dreams. Television continued to use this idea, but often added a catch. For example, in Joe Millionaire, all the women competing thought the bachelor was a millionaire – but he wasn’t. With all the strange twists, and with the Bachelor’s infamous history of the couples breaking up shortly after the show ends, the dating series have felt less like reality, and more like the script for a movie you’d find on the Hallmark channel.

#4: Reality Cooking Competitions

Of all the entries on this list, none has one distinct face or personality quite like this one: Gordon Ramsay has become the celebrity face of the reality cooking competition. Without Ramsay screaming and cursing at contestants, like he does on Hell’s Kitchen, it’s hard to tell any of these cooking shows apart. They all feature aspiring chefs using their culinary skills to impress judges and win a cash prize in the end. Until we have a show that ends with the food being delivered to the viewers at home, it’s hard to get really excited about reality cooking competitions anymore.

#3: Medical Dramas

While a lot of entries on this list have become big in the last 20 years, this genre, which seemingly always centers around a group of young attractive doctors working at a hospital, has been around since the beginning of television. A medical drama can be successful because the doctors are so cool and brilliant, like on House. Other times, it can succeed because the life or death situations have comedic elements, like on MASH. And sometimes, like on Grey’s Anatomy, we just like watching them hook up with each other. With so many medical dramas over the years, this genre needs a defibrillator to help jolt some life back into it.

#2: Reality Docu-Follows

This format usually just follows the personal lives of people with the same job, but sometimes, you don’t even need a job to have a reality show. It doesn’t matter if they’re a group of duck hunters, fishermen, bounty hunters, wealthy socialites, or even child beauty pageant contestants; odds are, there is some type of reality show about them. From Heidi Montag, to Honey Boo Boo, to the Kardashians, many have accused these programs of destroying the notion that you have to be talented in order to be famous. And it’s because of these pseudo-celebrities that some are finding it increasingly hard to take any more reality TV shows that follow so-called uninspired characters looking for attention.

Before we get to our top pick here are a few honorable mentions.

- Reality Social Experiments
- Dysfunctional Family Sitcoms
- TV Judges

#1: Cop Dramas

To be fair, pretty much every channel on cable is guilty of having at least one cop drama in their lineup– although no channel is quite as guilty as the CBS network. The Mentalist, Criminal Minds, and CSI, to name only a few, have all aired on the station to unbelievable success, but after awhile, they all seem to run together. Although we admit, there have been some really great ones, including critically acclaimed hits The Shield and The Wire. But with hundreds of shows already made about cops, it’s hard to see how writers can find anything new to say about or anything new to do with the boys in blue.

Do you agree with our list? Which TV show ideas do you think are the most overused? For more original Top 10s be sure to visit

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