Come on, admit it: everyone has a favorite show that, deep down, they know should have ended after one season. While shows like The Office and Parks & Recreation managed to rebound after bad first seasons, other series struggle to recreate the magic after hitting the ground running from the beginning.
Some shows (cough, cough, Riverdale) just get too bonkers for their own good, while other shows, like 13 Reasons Why, run out of source material to draw from. In other cases, shows move on from an undeniable storyline in the first season only to find mediocrity waiting for them. For whatever reason, these shows could not reignite the spark that made them great in the first place.
- Photo: NBC
Before superhero stories became the blockbuster juggernauts that dominate Hollywood today, the first season of Heroes was an unexpected phenomenon for NBC in 2007. "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World" turned into an inescapable tagline, and the show was consistent appointment viewing for every week of the first season as Heroes wove a comic book-inspired storyline that had viewers hooked.
The show never found a storyline that had the same draw as the apocalyptic stakes of the first season. It takes one glance at the show's Rotten Tomatoes page to comprehend the series' rapid fall from grace. Both the second and third seasons garnered a 50% rating while the fourth and final only managed to scrounge together a 29%. By the time it was all said and done, only the most dedicated fans stuck around to see how it ended.Fell off a cliff?
- Photo: The CW
The CW's Riverdale took an idea that never should have worked (Archie Comics + Twin Peaks) and turned it into one of the most surprising television hits of 2017. Riverdale reimagined the classic and wholesome teens that have been around for nearly a century and turned them into teen soap stars. For the first season, Riverdale was a perfect mix of high school soap opera, neon-lit neo-noir, and old-school comic book throwback. Then, things got weird.
Seriously, some of the things that appear in Riverdale read like something Bill Hader would say as Stefon on Saturday Night Live. It's got bear attacks, it's got an underground prison boxing ring, it's got cults, it's got a musical episode based on Carrie. Riverdale makes its sister show The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a dark horror-comedy about a half-witch, half-mortal, seem tame in comparison.Fell off a cliff?
- Photo: Netflix
In one of the purest examples of a show that should've ended after one season, 13 Reasons Why was a mostly well-received adaptation of the YA novel of the same name back when the first season landed in 2017 on Netflix. The three seasons after that were all critically reviled in a way that makes you wonder why they kept going in the first place.
When the source material dried up, the series seemingly ran out of ideas that lived up to the core story of the first season. And while the first run of episodes certainly courted its share of controversy at the time, no one was questioning why it existed at all. By the time the second season came out, the controversy was back but the show was far from the hit it once was.Fell off a cliff?
- 4Photo: Fox
Way back in the halcyon days of 2009, Glee was unlike anything seen on pre-streaming American television. Filled to the brim with engaging characters, catchy songs, and genuine drama, Ryan Murphy's first mainstream hit was seemingly inescapable at the time. On top of the viewers who turned in every week, the show's soundtrack routinely topped iTunes charts when singles or compilations were released. But Glee would ultimately end up being undone by its own success.
The first season ended up being the best-received as the popularity of the show's numerous songs became the clear focus in order to juice digital sales and unearned melodrama became the norm. Later seasons would redeem the series somewhat after the creative dearth of the middle seasons, but the first 22 episodes will always be beloved by true "Gleeks."Fell off a cliff?