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Saying Goodbye To Bad TV: How Do You Do It?

A random thought occurred to me while looking at reactions to the finale of the latest season of Torchwood this past weekend: Why do we do this to ourselves? Why is it so hard to quit shows that we don’t like anymore?

We’ve all been there: The episode where you realize that whatever magic that made you fall in love with a show in the first place isn’t just not there anymore, but has been replaced by such suck that you find it hard to remember why you loved it in the first place (Admittedly, Torchwood is an odd example in this case, despite just how many people seem to have been upset by the way that Miracle Day turned out, if only because… well, let’s be honest; the first two seasons of Torchwood weren’t actually that great in the first place. It’d be more honest to say that Miracle Day was really just a case of a show reminding you why you felt awkward and embarrassed for it, while hoping that it’d get better somehow, in the first place). After all, very few things continue to improve in quality all the time, or quit while they’re ahead; a phrase like “jumping the shark” exists for a reason beyond “internet memes are catchy.”

But, here’s the thing: We almost never stop watching when that things get that terrible. We stick around, hoping that maybe it’s a bad patch and things will improve (and sometimes, that happens: Friday Night Lights season two became Friday Night Lights seasons three through five), and suffer maybe not in silence, but suffer voluntarily out of some sense of misplaced optimism and loyalty.

I’ve dropped shows in the past, suddenly realizing that things really weren’t going to get better and I’ve stopped caring – Chuck last season, for example – but whenever I do, it’s always followed by some strange sense of… guilt, perhaps, or the idea that I’ve done something wrong somehow. What if the show does massively improve again? What if everyone else stops watching as well, and the show gets cancelled? Doesn’t that make it my fault?

Am I alone in this? Feeling a sense of obligation that comes from strange, hidden, confusing place that you can’t place, to watch things that you used to love but just don’t care about anymore? And if I am – At what point do you realize that your love affair with particular TV shows are over, and how have you managed to avoid sneaking back and checking up on what you’re missing out on afterwards? Use the comments to help in this, the first meeting of Crappy TV Show Addicts Anonymous.


  • Rich Former Glee Watcher

    I remember when Glee first started and everyone thought it was cool and I found it pretty boring. I asked my friends what I should do and they basically told me that Glee was the best show ever and I should just keep watching. I didn’t I just stopped watching. I feel good about my choice.

  • Jimoore67

    I loved Lost the first season, it was a show that made me actually think whereas most tv shows you can put your brain on autopilot…But then they made the show too complicated and never answered questions ….X-Files near the end was the same way…Then agin maybe I set my expectations here than I should of..Like the finale of Seinfeld, expected more than I got

  • Wildstorm

    My reason for dumping bad shows is that I am hoping that it will get better.  Take X-Files, I never watched the whole 9th season because I felt that it kinda went away from what it used to be.  Also 24.  After the 5th season nothing felt the same and it felt like they were trying too hard. 

    I also think that I drop shows because of this stupid “half-seasons” that some stations do.  They will give you 6-12 shows, quit showing any new ones for 3-4 months and then expect me to watch the new season when I now don’t care about the show due to the long hiatus. 

  • Anyone

    I watched Burn Notice for 3 seasons, I watched the first ep of season 4 and I found myself not caring anymore. Never watched an episode again.

  • Jonesy Stark

    Totally feel you on this, folk. It’s like once I start a show I gotta finish it down to the very last drop of terrible. 

  • Guest

    It took me a while to quit Smallville. I actually never really liked the show, but they kept teasing it getting almost good, and after five seasons, no dice. Does anyone know if it stopped sucking at any point?

  • Sdhun

    The 4th season just felt off.  It’s improved again with the 5th season.

  • Mr. M

    I don’t think it’s hard to drop shows. Recent ones I’ve dropped were Psych (season 2 or 3 – could see each pun and 80s reference from a mile away), Chuck (right when he got upgraded), Desperate Housewives (thought season 1 was great, and I honestly don’t know why I stopped watching) and 24 (skipped the final season, the show was so repetitive).

    I agree that scheduling has a lot to do with it…I lost track of Nikita, which was one of the few rookie shows I followed last year. There is one show that has really dropped off in quality (relax, that’s just my opinion) that I haven’t quit completely, but will often turn on out of habit, and that, of course, is the Simpsons of the past 11 or 12 seasons.

  • ハワード ジョセフ

    Never really had this problem because I don’t watch much television. The only show I watch religiously is South Park, otherwise I’ll sometimes watch shows I like and torrent or buy the DVDs of shows that I missed but liked enough to go back and watch the rest. Shows that lose the magic are promptly ignored from then on.

  • JB

    Still watching Chuck.

    And yes, I watched Heroes til the bitter end.

  • Incredibledope

    First off this NOT bad TV. Did it meet your (or everybody) expectations? No, it didn’t, but the story was a step above the previous first two seasons in terms of realism and character development, the seasons before this also had those elements, however it may have overshadowed by the “camp” elements which I assume gave that feel due to budgetary reasons. As a fan of Torchwood, I’ve heard that fans were disappointed because of the lack of and “alien” antagonist, all I can say is that if their had been one then yes this would’ve been very bad television and the budget would’ve have gone toward crappy looking aliens. They did what they set out to do, introduce a British sci-fi, cult following TV show for the American audience. However, I do feel you on NBC’s Chuck.

  • Anyone

    It had good and bad episodes. It wasn’t a great show, just fun sometimes.

  • Mike

    I’m just so glad that entourage is over now and I can stop torturing myself

  • Tomfitz1

    I stopped watching Desperate Housewives after the fourth season.  I watched the Fifth season opener, but didn’t bother with the rest.  The jokes were getting stale and tasteless, especially after that Gaby parking in the handicap spot.  The formula for that series was getting boring.

    Can’t wait for Torchwood Season five.  Thought Torchwood: M.D. was the best season, tho’ I didn’t care for a certain sexy doctor going up in smoke.

  • Dionnertop

    Saying Goodbye To Bad Article Writers: How Do You Do It?Really hope that CBR/Sninoff will wake up one day and realise that this  writer is not wiorth the pixels he is illuminated by. Diump The Graeme CRacker CBR!

  • pDUB

     hope no one has said this already, because its gonna get all sorts of hilarious around here.
    To answer the title’s question: I turn off the TV or change the channel.


  • Lion_okitkat

    Try to get back into Nikita. I think all the episodes are available online at Great show and the new season starts 9/23. This new update is really good IMO. 

    I think for me Andromeda is a prime example of (kind of) good tv gone bad. Others include LOST, 24, The Event, Eureka, Warehouse 13. I’m sure there are others. Have never and can’t comprehend the love for Torchwood. 

  • Cjorg2


  • Drunken Fist

    It’s not hard for me at all; I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV, so I have no problem dropping a show if it starts to get lousy. Between work, friends, family, significant others, and hobbies, we all have a lot of demands on our time, and I’m no different. I refuse to waste my time watching something that I don’t enjoy. It’s as simple as changing the channel, or just turning the TV off.

  • Chloe-fan

    I finally dropped smallville when I realised that the new producers didn’t seem to care much for Chloe. Smallville had a wonderfull chance to make soemthing special but instead went down a strange road trying to establtish realsionships out of nothing. It felt forced, disrespectful and ultimly boring.

    Sometimes I wish for what could have been :(

  • Anonymous

    Did you miss some words when talking about Friday Night Lights? Are you saying that season 2 was shit – and it improved for 3-5? If that is the gist of it – I have to agree that season 2 ain’t that great. After LOVING season 1 – I’ve only watch 3 eps for season 2 and just stopped. Its seemed to turn into an overacting comedy for no good reason.

    I haven’t watched Torchwood yet – I was just gonna get the complete season. But if you didn’t like seasons 1, 2 and 4 and did like 3. Well then I may just enjoy season 4 because season 3 sucked compared to 1 and especially 2 – which is my favorite so far.

    Another example is Medium – what the hell is up with season 7?!? It was an amazing show for 6 seasons – and then season 7 opens with ‘Freaky Friday’ and the next 3 eps were not good. Please tell me it gets better? Because this is the first time I have no interest in watching it! I’d rather go back and watch my favorite eps like –  4.1 and 2.15 (totally amazing and so emotional!) and 2.3 (so good!)  – but really, there were at least 5 amazing eps per season! ;)

  • Anonymous

    Desperate Housewives is a favorite of mine. Comedy and drama in one and they really pull it off. There are so many great smart arse one liners that have you laughing out loud. And then you could swap characters and be dealing with cancer or still borns – and it gets you really choked up. 

    Season 5 was a highlight with the 5 year jump. Gaby is hilarious!

    Halfway through season 7 it seemed to decline – but I will be sticking around for the final season!

  • Video Beagle

    I sorta drift away….miss an episode..forget it’s on…collect the eps digitially, but never get to watching them til I finaly admit I’m not going to…House and Chuck were like that..Torchwood is in stage 2.

  • Erykdonovan

    I know exactly how you feel. White Collar this season really ruined the magic that some of the characters had for me. The episodes explained the entire backstory of Mozzie’s hitherto mysterious past in one fell swoop destroyed his mythos for me. Neals entire relationship with Sara made no sense, and this story thread from the first episode just really irked me.

    I’ve had similar feelings towards other shows as well, but this is probably the most recent show that I have really felt this way about, and its especially frustrating considering how much fun I had watching the first two seasons.

  • Somebodyto2

     it’s happening right now for me: haven, beautiful first season, mediocre season 2 (after the first 3 magical episode); covert affairs, what happened to this show? and still i’m watching them wishing they improve.

  • demoncat_4

    one when the show winds up not only have most of the original cast replaced by others and the show seems just to resort to recycling plots. like white collar back to having.neil wind up trying to do good and change only to pull something again. good for the first season but getting repetive. plus the simpsons fit this article perfectly

  • RunnerX13

    It’s like a band-aid, just rip it off.  Better yet, remove it from your automatic recoding on the DVR.

  • Sean

    I have trouble dropping terrible shows, such as Chuck, and I want to drop Modern Family.  I’m not into it anymore, but I keep watching.  Same with Cougar Town.  The second half of last season was awful, and I kept watching.  But I have stopped watching How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory.  I don’t miss them or feel guilty, perhaps because they have such a strong audience.  I think if a show is always on the verge of cancellation and has a cult following, chances are you feel guilty about dropping it.

  • Red

    The only show I couldn’t drop after I lost faith in it was Lost, I was too committed to it, having become active on a Lost forum and being a moderator there, perhaps I should have dropped it cause I really though most of the last three seasons sucked.

  • jim gorr

    I liked Torchwood Miracle Day… I’m really hoping for a 5th series…