10 TV Shows That Had Awful Final Seasons

dexter season 8

TV is a competitive game, and not all shows do well enough to last longer than a single season. Even some of the most well-received among critics just don't garner the audience or network support to stay on the air. Luckily for those of us who prefer our shows long-running, some projects have the staying power to remain on the air for many, many seasons. Many such shows are great from the very beginning to the very end. Others... well, others don't make it to the very end before a major dip in quality. Read on for our picks of 10 shows that had truly awful final seasons!

Warning: spoilers ahead for many once-great series.

abc scrubs season 9


Where It Went Wrong: Season 9

Scrubs was a sitcom that put a new spin on the hospital TV show, and the first eight seasons follow Zach Braff's J.D., his friends, and his co-workers at Sacred Heart Hospital. The Season 8 finale was originally intended to be the series finale, and it was an emotional rollercoaster that would have closed out the show in a wonderful way. Unfortunately, the show came back for a ninth season that moved the action to a med school, starred an almost entirely new cast of characters, and failed to recapture the magic of the first eight seasons. Scrubs just didn't work without J.D. and his friends at the center of the action.

roseanne season 9


Where It Went Wrong: Season 9

Roseanne was one of the most popular sitcoms on TV during its run on ABC as in introduced viewers to the working class Conner family and their ups and downs over the years. Roseanne Barr and John Goodman anchored the series for eight mostly solid seasons. Then, for Season 9, the Conners won the state lottery jackpot of over $100 million, and viewers watched the family go through a bizarre series of adventures that involved wrestling, Evita, and The Jerry Springer Show. The series barely resembled its former self. The finale did somewhat redeem the weirdness by revealing that the entire season actually took place in Roseanne's imagination as a way to cope with her husband's death. Still, it was too little too late for Season 9. How about a reunion?

rescue me season 7

Rescue Me

Where It Went Wrong: Season 7

While Rescue Me was a pretty remarkable show for the first four seasons or so, it began to go downhill as it aged, and the seventh and final season didn't bring it back up before the end. Despite a finale with some great moments, Season 7 was largely repetitive and didn't bring a whole lot to the small screen that hadn't been done better before. The relevance that had made the show so enjoyable early on was absent for most of the episodes, and Rescue Me fizzled out well before the end. Sure, the last episode has moments worth a rewind, but the season as a whole just didn't work as well as those that came before.

lost season 6


Where It Went Wrong: Season 6

The first three or four seasons of Lost were then and remain now some fantastically compelling batches of episodes. Sadly, the longer the show ran, the less it seemed to make sense. Season 6 was slated to be the last, and fans went into it expecting that creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse would use the final 18 episodes to tie up all the loose ends and answer all the questions that had been building up for the past five years. Instead, Lost introduced new questions and only kinda sorta maybe answered some of the oldest. It's still not entirely clear what happened throughout the season, and there will apparently never be a satisfactory answer for why both Jin and Sun had to die.

moonlighting season 5


Where It Went Wrong: Season 5

Moonlighting is an example of a show that actually started to go off the rails in an earlier season, then passed the point of no return in the next. The series was more or less based on the sexual tension between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd as private detectives, and audiences were hooked through the first three seasons. In Season 4, however, the stars spent a great deal of time separate as filming had to accommodate Shepherd's pregnancy, and attempts to recapture the tension in Season 5 simply didn't work. Moonlighting's biggest legacy nowadays may be the birth of the so-called "Moonlighting Curse" of TV, which argues that shows flop after leading man and lady consummate their relationship.

glee season 6


Where It Went Wrong: Season 6

Glee was a show unlike anything else on television when it debuted back in 2009 and followed the crew of underdog high school songbirds in the New Directions glee club. The original cast of kids became iconic to the series, which was great... at first. The show ran into the inevitable problem that faces every high school-based series when the time came for the kids to graduate. Glee floundered as it tried to figure out how to continue telling the stories of McKinley High and Rachel and Co. elsewhere, and the final season was downright forgettable. The finale hit a lot of the right emotional beats; it just wasn't enough to save the previous 12 episodes.

veronica mars season 3

Veronica Mars

Where It Went Wrong: Season 3

Veronica Mars lasted for only a few years, but it earns its slot on this list simply based on how great Seasons 1 and 2 were, especially compared to Season 3. In Season 3, Veronica Mars faced the problem of its core cast of kids graduating high school. It was the first season to air on The CW after the merging of UPN and The WB, and it was the first to be broken up into mini mystery arcs. Veronica's investigations lacked the scale that they did in the first two years, and the characters just didn't have the same appeal in college as they did in high school. Throw in the romantic melodrama that was back with a vengeance thanks to Logan spiraling and Piz... appearing, and Veronica Mars Season 3 pales in comparison to Seasons 1 and 2. At least we finally got that movie!

the x files season 9

The X-Files

Where It Went Wrong: Season 9

The X-Files was a groundbreaking genre show that had viewers hooked into all the aliens, monsters, conspiracies, and chemistry that Agents Mulder and Scully brought to the small screen during the first seven seasons (and first movie). Then, in the Season 7 finale, Mulder was abducted by aliens, and David Duchovny departed the series as a regular. Season 8 was still more or less about Mulder and Scully, and Mulder did make it back for the second half of Season 8, but he was gone for almost the entire Season 9, and the show's attempts to recreate the skeptic/believer dynamic of Scully/Mulder with Doggett/Reyes fell short. Luckily, we got a revival series that was pure Mulder and Scully. Still, fans will undoubtedly never forget sitting through Season 9.

dexter season 8


Where It Went Wrong: Season 8

Dexter was a darkly compelling series in the early days as it combined a killer cast with a troubling premise and murderous plots. Episodes were almost shockingly original, and we were guaranteed to see something to talk about at the proverbial water cooler the next day. Unfortunately, Dexter simply didn't age well, and its storytelling went downhill toward the end. The actors seemed less engaged by the last season, and the ending that changed Dexter from a serial killer to a truck driver is as puzzling today as it was when the series finale aired back in 2013. Luckily, the first several seasons are still quite re-watchable, so the show's legacy isn't ruined... but the final season is still best ignored.

that 70s show season 8

That '70s Show

Where It Went Wrong: Season 8

That '70s Show was a fabulously fun sitcom for most of its run, using everything from the fashion and technology of the time to gags like musical episodes and dream sequences to keep the narrative fresh. The problem came when stars Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher began to find success on the big screen and decided to leave the series behind. Grace left That '70s Show at the end of Season 7, and Kutcher only appeared a handful of times in Season 8. The dynamic of the gang was thrown off, and the group chemistry that sustained the series for seven seasons simply wasn't there in the eighth, and That '70s Show ended after a pretty terrible last year on the air.

Fortunately for us, there are still plenty of great shows with solid seasons still on the air these days. Check out our midseason TV premiere schedule and our summer TV premiere guide for a look at all your viewing options now and in the not-too-distant future.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).