TV shows that went on too long

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: December 22, 2021 (Last updated: December 14, 2023)

Some of the greatest TV shows of all time have been squandered by the greed of the networks and, as a result, ran too long and lessened the overall quality of the programme. Even the best of the best get it wrong sometimes, whilst a lot of them started with promise, they would have benefited from quitting while they were still ahead. Listed below are the TV shows that went on too long. 

The Simpsons

Arguably one of the best tv shows of all time – our favourite yellow family was praised for their wit, realism, and intellect during its first ten seasons. The original writing cast derived from Harvard as Maths graduates, and you can tell if you have a knack for mathematics, that is. Since the airing of season ten, there has been a noticeable drop in quality. 

Whilst it remains easy to watch, avid Simpsons fans will notice that the jokes are shorter, and episodes focus more on a cheap laugh as opposed to the well-thought-out character-centric narrative that made it so clever and so wonderful. Now on its 33rd season, it’s fair to say that this beloved programme should have called it after the ninth or tenth season and falls into our tv shows that should be in the cancelled category. Boo-urns to this!

Pretty Little Liars

Who is A? At this point, no one cares. The narrative of a group of female high schoolers who work together to overcome the challenges and tribulations of typical adolescent life – but wait, there’s a murderer among them who goes by the alias of A. A has an incognito role throughout the programme – making the four protagonists lives hell by threatening to reveal all their deepest and darkest secrets. 

If you’ve watched this, then you’ll have noticed the ridiculous and unbelievable storylines that went on for seven whole, painstaking seasons. This show continued long past the point where it should’ve stopped – when the characters should have probably considered going to college or starting their careers…


One of TVs most beloved programmes of the nighties, Friend’s reached its heyday by season ten when the characters morphed into loud, obnoxious caricatures of themselves and the writers were clearly running out of new ideas with the Rachel and Joey romance complex. 

As the use of laughing tracks became less popular, people started to realise that this ‘hilarious’ programme wasn’t actually all that funny. So it’s best it was wrapped up when it did because trying to compete with modern-day comedy would have seen this show crumble. As the show revolved around a group of six friends, you can see why storylines were in short supply.

SpongeBob SquarePants

Surprisingly, this underwater sponge and his critter friends have been on our screens since 1999, and in its prime, SpongeBob SquarePants was Nickelodeon’s highest-rated series with a 13 billion dollar franchise. Many argue that the earlier seasons are far superior to that of the latter years – this decline began after the first film: The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie in 2004. 

Now, the spin-off of the yellow classic features Spongebob’s partner in crime and best friend Patrick Star in The Patrick Star Show with its debut season released in 2021 – is it set to go the same way as SpongeBob SquarePants

Modern Family

Despite winning an Emmy for outstanding comedy series, Modern Family did not need to go on for eleven seasons. The producers ceased production in April 2020 and saw more than 7 million viewers tune in to the season 11 finale. So whilst it was still popular, it wasn’t bringing in the same audience numbers in the first seven seasons when the quality notably dropped. 

The Office

What’s an office without an outspoken, obnoxious idiot for a boss? The last two seasons of The US office saw Michael Scott out of office: constantly. This should have been called to a stop when he left as the bread and butter of the programme, the show lost its way in the final two seasons. 

The Walking Dead 

During the first six seasons, The Walking Dead broke records in the UK and US. But the storylines are becoming somewhat predictable and less intriguing to viewers – perhaps it’s time to call it quits. Further to this predictable – zombie attack, finding sanctuary and repeat – the show has been criticised for having a cheap production design and has seen some of the main characters drop off over the seasons. As the show continues, critiques don’t care and audiences are tuning out – ironically, this show has become somewhat a zombie itself.  

Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy has been running since 2005 and whilst a mainstay on network television, it has seen main characters dropping off, cast constantly changing and storylines becoming somewhat overworked. Globally, we love hospital programmes, which could have played a role in the success of this show. Despite still churning out episodes, Grey’s Anatomy helped to launch the careers of various stars, including Sandra Oh, who went on to be the main protagonist in BBC’s production Killing Eve

Choose the right show with Ready Steady Cut

There are a number of shows that you could argue went on too long. Head over to our shows section of the website to find all the latest shows and movies, and a host of reviews for some of the more recent, bingeworthy and highest rating shows out there at the moment! 

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