Deader Than Disco / Live-Action TV

Pulling the plug isn't easy on these once acclaimed and/or successful shows. In their heyday, they dominated the ratings and the award shows; now, they're lucky to be featured in a nostalgia article.

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  • In the United States, daytime soap operas have fallen victim to this trope. Back in The '70s and The '80s, ratings for daytime soaps hit peaks of 30 million viewers for events like the Spencer wedding on General Hospital, and ad revenues from them helped to fund the networks' elaborate, expensive, all-but-nonprofit news divisions, as well as tide the whole network over in years when the Prime Time lineup was struggling. Now (due to Values Dissonance and society marching on, themes that used to be considered 'taboo' being commonplace nowadays) soaps are lucky to pull in three million, and some people are recommending that the networks drop them altogether and replace them with talk shows and other daytime fare — which some networks are already doing (ABC and NBC are down to one soap apiece, CBS has two). Nowadays, the phrase 'daytime soap opera' is massive Snark Bait and has come to be synonymous with pure dreck in the minds of many TV fans, associated with bad writing, outrageous plots and shoddy acting, something that can be seen whenever disgruntled fans of a Prime Time series talk about how bad writers or actors "should never have been let out of daytime". A more expansive list of theories explaining how this happened can be seen on the Soap Opera page. The fact that the cancellation of Guiding Light, the longest running fictional TV show in the history of the medium, was barely a footnote in TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly just goes to illustrate how far soap operas have fallen in the public eye.
  • It is probably not a coincidence that the Variety Show died out around the same time that specialized cable channels began taking off, since they allowed viewers to enjoy just musical groups, stand-up comedy, etc. without having to wait out performers and segments they weren't interested in. Once in a while, a performer will try to revive the format, but this never works. Later, NBC tried to pull it off with The Jay Leno Show. They were hoping that cheap, product-placement-backed programming would allow them to stem their losses. It didn't work so well, suffering from such abysmal ratings that NBC attempted to move it to late night after half a season. This led to Conan O'Brien's departure from The Tonight Show when he objected to the schedule change.
  • In a similar fashion, the Sports Anthology genre (invented and led by Wide World of Sportsnote ) died out with the rise of sports networks like ESPN, which offered the kind of variety of sports Wide World offered 24/7.
  • Sports blooper follies. NFL Films (Steve and Ed Sabol) revolutionized sports bloopers with 1968's Football Follies along with its many successful sequels. But as Time Marches On (Sabols excluded), it gets old afterwards, and as more football players who died early from tragic causes were discovered to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in their brains, it becomes a lot harder to laugh at the misery of men who we now know may have suffered brain damage for the sake of those bloopers. (Timothy Burke of Deadspin even referred to them in hindsight as "brain damage snuff films".) Bloopers have since evolved into tighter packages like the SportsCenter Not Top 10, Monday Night Football's C'mon Man, and Inside the NBA's Shaqtin' a Fool, which are now devoted more to truly funny things on the field or mere defensive errors (even ones from sports' past) instead of violent slapstick follies.
  • It may be hard to believe given how many of these shows still clutter the halls of basic cable, but when compared to their Glory Days, Reality TV has fallen very far and low in ratings and esteem. When reality television was first emerging in the '90s and early '00s with shows like The Real World, Cops, Survivor, American Idol, and Big Brother, it was a massive phenomenon. Many viewers saw such shows as more authentic than scripted programming, they often tackled hot-button topics that scripted series wouldn't touch at the time (fan favorite Pedro Zamora from The Real World: San Francisco, for instance, is often credited with helping break many taboos about homosexuality and HIV/AIDS in the '90s), and networks, of course, loved them for how cheap they were to make (their rise signaled the death knell for American daytime soaps partly for this reason; see above). They were even the subject of serious sociological discussion; the alliances and "villains" on shows like Survivor shocked viewers and sparked debate as to how people would vote for others based on factors other than merit, and elsewhere, some have gone so far as to credit the spread of reality TV in the Middle East with laying the foundation for The Arab Spring.

    Before long, however, reality shows in the Western world very quickly gained a reputation for appealing to the Lowest Common Denominator. As the genre proliferated in the mid-late '00s, the formerly hot-button topics they explored became passe, while new shows seemed designed to cause as much on-camera drama and fighting as possible (the Bigot vs. Bigot setup was a very popular, easy, and eventually worn-out way to achieve this). Their stars were often derided for having little discernible talent and for playing up their personas for the camera, and the shows themselves came to be viewed as trashy and started running into scandals over being staged. These sorts of claims had existed from the start, but they gained traction once producers, crew members, and stars began speaking out. The novelty wore off fast as the decade progressed, and scripted shows regained traction and esteem by focusing on higher-quality stories. By the '10s, the conventional wisdom among increasingly cynical, media-savvy viewers was that "reality" TV was a misnomer, that such shows were all heavily manipulated from the casting to the editing, and that any pretense of reflecting Real Life was a lie. Another factor that helped do in reality TV is the fact that, as Bernie Brillstein once put it, "You can't syndicate this shit." While they can get big ratings for low cost in the short term, they have almost no profitability in the long term. Since there's no real reason to watch most of these shows again after you know who the winner is, the ability to generate profit after the first run through syndication reruns, DVDs, or streaming (which people in the industry know is where the real money is), simply isn't there, and it's taking a spot from a scripted show that could have more long-term profitability.

    Today, reality TV has all but vanished from the broadcast networks outside of a few long-running hits, and many people have come to view it as a symbol of everything that was wrong with television in the '90s and '00s, crowding out quality scripted programming in favor of cheap pablum. While each major American network still has two or three hanging around as tentpole franchises that bring decent ratings and ad revenue at relatively little cost, most of them have been succumbing to fatigue and are little more than shells of their former selves. Even the longtime king of the mountain American Idol, as detailed below, would meet this fate. Reality TV still proliferates on basic cable (enough to spawn a few minor hits and franchises, most notably Keeping Up With the Kardashians), but even there, such shows are seen as So Bad, It's Good Guilty Pleasures at best, with networks that once specialized in reality shows (such as MTV and A&E) now focusing more on their scripted programming.
  • 'Late Night Creature Feature'-style shows: A former staple of Friday and Saturday night television, particularly on stations that weren't network affiliates, were locally-produced shows dedicated to airing B-grade horror or science fiction movies, with such umbrella titles as Chiller Theater or Shock Theater. Notable, invariably tongue-in-cheek Horror Hosts of such shows included Vampira, Doctor Madblood, and Svengoolie; Elvira, Mistress of the Dark kept the format going well into The '80s. (All this was parodied by SCTV with Count Floyd.) The timeslot wasn't necessarily late at night — it may have been as early as 9 p.m., or alternatively scheduled for weekend afternoons. But as The '80s progressed, the films aged along with the viewers that appreciated them, the "Big Three" networks began adding more and more national fare to the late and overnight schedules, pay and basic cable networks bought up the rights to many movies en masse (USA Network, in its first two decades, had the weekend block Night Flight and its successor Up All Night, which were effectively their versions of this concept), and independent stations dried up as new networks like Fox took them over. Mystery Science Theater 3000 is widely considered the last of its kind, but in fact there are a few shows that have revived the format with public domain films and reached the national syndication market in The New Tens (Elvira's Movie Macabre, the San Francisco-based Creepy KOFY Movie Time, Wolfman Mac's Chiller Drive-In, MeTV's national run of Svengoolie), quietly killing time on weekends on minor network affiliates like MyNetworkTV's. New generations of viewers discovering these films typically prefer to view them uncut, commercial free, and without the distraction of host segments. The concept of the Internet Video Review Show (influenced by MST3K) has also helped in that the reviewers cut the films down to their most prominent parts and analyze their tropes while getting rid of extraneous plot.
  • The Jiggle Show. During the Seventies and Eighties, shows like Three's Company, Charlie's Angels, and, to a lesser extent, the Wonder Woman series and The Dukes of Hazzard, which were long on beautiful actresses but (perceived as) a little short on plot, were incredibly popular. The joke was that they were especially popular amongst sexually frustrated men, who would be willing to sit through thirty minutes of flimsy dialogue for the chance to see Suzanne Somers in a bikini or Farrah Fawcett run after a bad guy in a tight sweater. The genre peaked with Baywatch, but with the rise of easily accessible pornography on the internet and more liberal views towards sexual matters, shows that are expecting to coast solely on the beauty of their casts are finding themselves disappointed. This was best demonstrated in 2011, when The Playboy Club and a revival of Charlie's Angels both got canned after only a few poorly-rated episodes and scathing reviews.
  • Cinemax still has their After Dark block known more by the Fan Nickname "Skinemax" of softcore films and shows going on, though the films have gotten progressively cheaper as time goes on and adult actors find better work with the Internet, while the shows can no longer coast by on the Strictly Formula plots of the past; they more resemble soaps with adult plots and believable plot development than redundant spins on Pizza Boy Special Delivery. Meanwhile Showtime instead began to carry adult reality shows like Polyamory: Married & Dating and Gigolos rather than getting writers and actors involved with diminishing returns.
  • TV movies on the Big Four networks. In the 1970s, television networks began producing 90- to 120-minute TV movies as a new form of serialized television, and despite the low budgets and quick shooting schedules, managed to attract a lot of name talent, whose schedules otherwise prevented them from committing to a television series. Many of them got big ratings; it was often that you could see a TV movie pull in one-third and even half of the television-watching public. However, increasing budgets and (again) the rise of cable television led to a decline of quality to the point where the glory days were forgotten in favor of being Snark Bait among viewers for their low budgets, Strictly Formula plots, and bad acting. Nowadays, the Big Four prefer to be more conservative with budgets while TV movies are strictly done for cable, where many networks have more money to spend due to being light on in-house production. Also helping is that with many cable networks and websites getting into the series business, actors who in the past had to be content with taking a TV movie role in between jobs can happily reject them for a much more lucrative and satisfying role in a show guaranteed to make 10 episodes at the least rather than being reduced to paint-by-numbers Damsel in Distress fare; those who want to stick with TV movie-like roles can instead take work in much shorter true crime reenactment shows airing on Lifetime, Investigation Discovery, A&E and the network newsmagazines. And while pay networks like HBO have garnered much acclaim for their TV movies, most people nowadays think of the format as nothing but one Lifetime Movie of the Week, Hallmark Channel Tastes Like Diabetes-fest, Walmart/Procter and Gamble co-sponsored sapfests, or next-to-no-budget Syfy creature feature after another.
  • The Afterschool Special was a mainstay of the Big Three Networks for most of the 1970s, '80s, and 'early 90s. Initially, they were simply special programs aimed at kids and teens, which could be educational and/or entertaining, light or dark. But dramatic Very Special Episodes about various controversial topics such as abuse, STDs, drugs, teen pregnancy, etc. eventually became the usual output. Their depictions of such issues garnered them quite a bit of critical acclaim at the time, as television was otherwise very shy about dramatizing them, let alone to children. But, as discussed in the excellent Platypus Comix retrospective of ads for the trope-naming ABC specials (both parts can be found here), eventually the topics were discussed/depicted in both prime time series and daytime talk shows, kids — who, when the shows launched, didn't have a lot aimed specifically at them save for Saturday morning lineups — found other entertainment options on TV, and network affiliates became peeved that the shows preempted popular regular programming (such as said talk shows, including Oprah). ABC, the Trope Maker, stopped doing them in 1996, and nowadays they are mostly remembered only as a source of Narm Charm.
  • 3-D television. Shortly after the third boom of the 3-D Movie, TV manufacturers (from circa 2006 to 2009) tried to get in on what was thought to be a booming market, with Sony incorporating 3-D into the PlayStation 3 and tech analysts predicting that 3-D would follow high-definition and become part of the fabric of the average person's viewing experience. The boom lasted only a few years at best, its fall roughly coinciding with when moviegoers (in the West, at least) turned against 3-D movies themselves. In addition to having many of the same problems 3-D movies had, both the sets themselves and the movies were priced at a premium, and 3-D televisions also required their own electronic glasses that were fragile and costly to replace. The latter factor ruined their application in watching sports, which had been hyped as the format's Killer App (much like it had been for HDTVs), as inviting people over to watch the game became really expensive with all of those glasses. 3-D content outside movies is hard to find and shrinking in quantity, and one TV manufacturer, Vizio, has stopped making 3-D TVs altogether.
  • Older medical dramas (from the 1960s and '70s) such as Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare, Medical Center, and Marcus Welby, M.D. have have been long absent from TV screens. This most likely has to do with these older shows now coming across as incredibly dated, hackneyed, and melodramatic in comparison to modern medical shows like ER, House, and Grey's Anatomy (all of which offered more realistic plots and graphic depictions). And in the cases of Ben Casey and Dr. Kildare, another factor working against them is the fact that both shows were made in black and white, which more often than not is considered a turn-off by younger viewers.
  • The TV Western genre was huge in the 1950s and '60s with shows like Gunsmoke and Bonanza. And yet, it's practically completely gone today due to the problematic representations of minorities and women along with oversaturation of the genre.
  • The 'high fantasy' sitcom. From the 1960s through the '90s, there were many sitcoms (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Mork & Mindy, Alf, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the later seasons of Family Matters being probably the most popular) dealing with out-there concepts such as aliens, magic powers and wacky science experiments, with the comedy naturally coming from putting these concepts in a real-world setting. This subgenre faded away sometime around the Turn of the Millennium for two reasons. First, after shows like Cheers and especially Seinfeld became huge, sitcoms began skewing more towards an older audience that naturally wanted something a little more realistic. Second, the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer made high fantasy dramas a viable genre, showing that such out-there concepts as magic and vampires in an otherwise Real Life setting can indeed be portrayed in a reasonably serious manner. As of this writing, The Neighbors is probably the only 'fantasy' sitcom since the '90s to find some kind of audience, and even that only lasted two seasons before cancellation.
  • Norman Lear practically pioneered the Very Special Episode for American primetime TV. All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, and The Jeffersons were all thick with Anvilicious plots and Points to Be Made. So were his later series, but by then people had become less tolerant of his anvils. Then again, All in the Family, Sanford and Son, and The Jeffersons had highly sympathetic bigots, which lightened the intended anvils in those series. These episodes were most common in the 1980s (Diff'rent Strokes was the most notorious as one episode even had an appearance by then-First Lady Nancy Reagan), which were softer mutations of the aggressive politics of the aforementioned '70s shows like Maude and All in the Family. One theory for we got a lot of these special episodes because in the 1970s and '80s, there was an increase in the number of children at home alone after school. This increase in the number of latchkey kids was due to more women (mothers) entering the workplace and a lack of low-cost childcare. While both parents working isn't a big deal now, back then it was a scary, new thing that people had mixed feelings about. In effect, the writers said, 'We've got these poor, motherless kids alone every week, let's try to entertain and educate them at the same time.' These sitcoms in essence, became more of a throwback to the 1950s style sitcom plus the social issues from the 1970s. The downside however was that Very Special Episodes (or at least the worst kind) often presented an overly simplistic (with no ambiguity what so ever) picture of a very complex issue that customarily concluded neatly. In other words, they were glorified (if somewhat patronizing) public service announcements or Emmy-bait. These stories likely became popular because they worked on the after-school program formula where a kid was put in harm's way and was rescued but not before the writers included a preachy moral about endangerment and child safety. Examples included child molestation, drug use, kids that were drinking behind their parents' backs, and teenage promiscuity. They've largely fallen out of favor since then for most shows due in part to the increasing number of shows, particularly dramas, where issues such as drug/alcohol abuse, violence, sex and death are dealt with on an almost weekly basis, and then you have the Dramedy genre that regularly mixes comedy with serious issues. Other factors that may have killed the Very Special Episode trend include sitcoms simply getting too ironic to allow for such earnest polemics (for instance, far subtler social commentary seeps through nearly every episode of The Simpsons), audiences having become too familiar with TV conventions to accept such easy closure, and the rise of post-modern sitcoms like Seinfeld and Friends.
  • Clip shows were very prominent up until the 1990s as a way to show viewers the best scenes from a sitcom of the past season(s). These were always well watched as a lot of TV episodes weren't not as widely available on video as they are nowadays since the arrival of DVD. Thus people had to wait for the shows to reappear in syndication if they wanted to see those moments again. DVD and video channels on the Internet destroyed the need for clip shows, as everything needed is now available there.
  • Erotic TV series are dead in the water for similar reasons as clip shows. Why tempt your audience with some pathetic series where the characters talk about sex most of the time and only share their bed together for one scene where you see nothing at all? Shows like The Red Shoes Diaries would be considered a waste of time nowadays, since porn is available all over the Internet. For free! Not to mention that thanks to cable, TV shows that used to tease nudity can now show it openly, which is probably another reason Jiggle TV (see above) died out as well.
  • A lot of 1960s, '70s and '80s TV action series were built around a cheesy premise, but still (relatively) family-friendly at the same time: The Saint, The Six Million Dollar Man, Kung Fu, The A-Team, and Charlie's Angels were huge in their heyday. This genre seems to have died somewhere in the 2000s as HBO's drama series considerably upped the ante in quality. As a result, many of these kinds of cheesy action shows are nowadays directly made into kids' shows.
  • The charity telethon has largely gone the way of the dodo, due to the ability to crowdfund or raise money online. Back when they first began (the very first telethon was hosted by Milton Berle for the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation), the telethons would bring in millions of dollars annually, and were seen as a great way to combine a charitable initiative with variety show-style entertainment. However, a shift occurred in the late-00s when online crowdfunding and online donations became more prevalent, allowing prospective donors to contribute funds online without needing to phone into a center and give their pledge and payment information verbally. Sites like Patreon, Kickstarter, Gofundme and more (not to mention viral videos, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge) also became a common tool of charitable organizations looking to raise money or awareness for large projects on a much smaller budget, effectively maximizing their revenue. At this point, charity telethons are largely relegated to small local stations, or (in the case of the Christian Broadcasting Network) a modified telethon that only runs for an hour each day, for a week straight. Even one of the oldest annual telethons, held to benefit United Cerebral Palsy, stopped its airings in 2010 as the foundation was able to raise more money through its website.
    • The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, which benefited the MDA, has been discontinued after 2014 thanks to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge overtaking its popularity. Lewis departing the telethon in 2011 certainly didn't help matters. Even with the 2015 Ice Bucket Challenge barely making a ripple in comparison to the 2014 one, it likely won't be enough to revive the telethon.
  • Toku protagonists who aren't in their late teens-early twenties are a thing of the past because of the changing cultural atmosphere (stay at home parents actually making up a good portion of the tokusatsu audience, the rise of idol groups) making "ikemen (handsome young men)" the go to for lead actors, whereas in the 1960s-early 1990s, it wasn't uncommon for lead actors to be in their very late twenties-mid thirties and be trained specifically for physically demanding roles (Kenji Ohba and Hiroshi Miyauchi in particular were actors who practically made a living playing physically imposing heroes or The Mentor later on). Another reason is that with the shows becoming increasingly focused on toy and merchandise sales, money is paramount; and younger actors just starting their careers are cheaper to cast, and require less training for roles.
  • School television was introduced in Belgium in 1962. The idea was to allow for schools to give educational documentaries as so to educate people in Basic and Middle schools. It was popular among the target audience until the rise of the VHS in the 1980's, as the VHS allowed to show the same type of educational content at any time you wanted and because you did not have to juggle in the administration to be able to show a certain educational video to the students.
    • It took a bit longer in the United Kingdom,, since the BBC managed to take advantage of the VCR, and air Open University in the 1980's in the later hours of the night on BBC Two, and in 1995, aired Learning Zone during the overnight hours weekday mornings. However by 2015, a mix of Technology Marches On, more students using the internet, and budget slashes at the Beeb, even BBC Learning Zone was shut down, with all programs moving to the BBC Education site.
  • In Germany the old "Saturday night primetime entertainment show" seems to have definitely gone this way, what with the end of Wetten dass...? and the retirement of Stefan Raab. It had already been dying a slow death for decades due to changing demographics and the Seinfeld Is Unfunny aspects of many original show concepts and many shows died with the retirement (or death) of their iconic host. Wetten dass...? was one of the last holdouts, but once Thomas Gottschalk retired from the program which he had come to embody note , the writing was on the wall. Stefan Raab was seen as maybe the last great Saturday Night entertainer and for a time "everything involving Stefan Raab and athletic or skills competition" was this (especially Schlag den Raab, which was even sold internationally), but since Raab's rather surprising (and early) retirement there is just no Saturday Night Show host in sight and no TV station would be caught dead with trying.


American Broadcasting Company

  • Moonlighting was the coiner of the term Dramedy. What really made the show stand out was its penchant for Breaking the Fourth Wall, where on occasion the characters would talk to the audience or otherwise show knowledge that they were characters in a television show ("Don't go much lower. They'll take us off the air."). This progressed in later seasons to become a pure No Fourth Wall series. It's however perhaps best known for being the classic example of how a show can fall apart when Unresolved Sexual Tension is resolved, or how a hit show collapses due to a perfect storm of behind the scenes chaos. When the fifth season was shortened due to a TV Strike, ABC put the show down, and it's barely a footnote in Bruce Willis' hugely successful acting career.
  • After Grace Under Fire finished the 1993–94 season as the highest-rated new comedy on television as well as finishing in the Top 10 of the Nielsens that year and the year after that, series star Brett Butler's behavior became increasingly erratic. Her addiction to pain-killers and paranoia over creative control soon led to a revolving door of producers, writers, and co-stars; her TV son was recast after the original one was flashed by Butler. Eventually, after falling to 45th place in the ratings for its fourth season, ABC cancelled Grace Under Fire after just 14 episodes into the 1997–98 season.
  • When NYPD Blue premiered it broke new ground in the cop drama genre, was critically acclaimed for its acting and was hugely controversial for its swearing and nudity. Now it's barely even remembered as just another cop procedural and interest has waned so much that after the fourth season's DVD release in 2006 no further seasons have been released with the prospect of the other 8 seasons ever seeing DVD becoming increasingly unlikely as time goes on (although all twelve seasons have been released in the UK). The show's disappearance from American cable and broadcast syndication didn't help matters. Still, David Milch's continued attempts at high concept HBO dramas could help renew interest, especially now that the whole series (including the last 4 seasons in HD) is on Amazon Prime Instant Streaming. It's one of their few notable titles not available on competitor Netflix Watch Instantly. The American subchannel network Heroes & Icons will also begin to air the series in 2015. The Seasonal Rot is probably also a contributing factor in the show fading from the public conscious: general opinion seem to be that the last four or five seasons simply weren't as good or interesting as the first seven or eight.
  • At its peak (Season 3), Growing Pains was the fifth rated show in America, it made a teen idol out of Kirk Cameron, and it helped launch the career of Leonardo DiCaprio. Now, some 20+ years after its series finale, the show hardly does well in syndication (while it did enjoy a nice little run on the Disney Channel in the late '90s, it flopped big time on Nick At Nite) and has to date only had three seasons worth of DVD sets released, despite lasting seven seasons. Part of the issue could stem from the dissonance of Kirk Cameron regarding his controversial religious and moral beliefs (which ultimately interfered with the quality of the show). There's also the notion that Growing Pains simply hasn't aged well due to it being very cliched and interchangeable (with just about all of characters seemingly hell-bent on delivering witty one-liners to each other) with other sitcoms of that period (e.g. Family Ties and The Cosby Show). More to the point, by the time that Growing Pains went off the air in 1992, generally wholesome '80s style sitcoms about functional families were being surpassed by grittier, snarkier family sitcoms like Roseanne and Married... with Children. Growing Pains only really seemed engaged when blatantly going against the family sitcom format, as with hour-long tributes to Halloween shot in the style of various horror films or occasional peeks through the fourth wall. Star Kirk Cameron dug himself even deeper in 2014, when his movie Saving Christmas opened to a rare zero on Rotten Tomatoes and won the Razzie for Worst Picture.
  • Ellen was successful enough in its early seasons to warrant annual renewal, due largely to Ellen DeGeneres' perceived appeal and comic ability, but only with Ellen's coming out did the show make its way into the wide public consciousness and hit a critical plateau. However, after the initial coming out frenzy, the show's ratings declined and ABC began feeling the pain of a backlash regarding the 'gay content' being exhibited. The final episodes of Ellen were criticized for focusing too much on gay issues, a criticism begun in anti-gay circles but which spread to the mainstream media. Eventually, even some members of the LGBT community, including Chaz Bono (who at the time was the media director for GLAAD), began to criticize the show's serious new tone as well. ABC pulled the show from the air in May 1998 after five seasons. Ellen, and more importantly the coming out episode, could be seen as revolutionary for its time, but they nowadays seem like period pieces akin to The Boys in the Band.
  • Webster aired for six seasons, the first four on ABC and the last two in first-run syndication for 150 episodes in total. During its original run, it drew a large audience of younger viewers — in fact, Webster's largest audience was children. Despite all of this, in the years since Webster went off the air in 1989, it has more or less faded into the background. USA Network aired reruns of the show from September 22, 1997 to March 13, 1998. It also aired on Superstation WGN from September 21, 1998 to September 2, 1999 (which was the last time that Webster appeared on national television until Antenna TV picked up the show in 2015). To date, only the first four seasons have been released on DVD. And while we all know who Emannuel Lewis is, the series itself never really get any real respect except from people who loved it. A huge part of the problem was that Webster stuck too close to the then-popular Diff'rent Strokes formula and format, that it never found an identity of its own besides having a 'cute kid'. But while Diff’rent Strokes at least originally attempted to be a socially relevant Norman Lear-type sitcom, Webster was one of those sitcoms made expressly for families with very young children, complete with gentle, mostly saccharine humor and plenty of simple morals at the end of each episode (in a sense, it was a forerunner to Full House, which incidentally, replaced Webster in ABC's Friday night timeslot in the fall of 1987). The series was of course despised by critics, but nevertheless became a top 25 show, making Emmanuel Lewis a star. Also when compared to another '80s kidcom in the form of Punky Brewster (which was always intentionally targeted to kids and therefore knew they were their own show and the demographic it was targeting and didn’t try copying the Diff’rent Strokes formula), Webster was more of a traditional sitcom and had adult stories.
  • During the the latter half of the 1990s, The Drew Carey Show was one of the most successful sitcoms on television, ultimately running for nine seasons for a grand total of 233 episodes. Regardless, the series in general has for the most part been cast aside both in terms of network syndication and DVD sales. And because of music rights, the series can’t even be found on Netflix. To date, only the first season has been officially released to DVD (mainly due to music licensing issues, as several episodes prominently featured musical numbers). In fact, after its initial syndication run on TBS, ION picked it up, and only aired episodes from the first five seasons. Shortly thereafter, The CW aired reruns for a short spell in the late aughts to replace a cancelled block of programming. Several other factors for its dimmed legacy could stem from the argument that The Drew Carey Show when you get right down to it, wasn't a particularly original, influential or innovative series, or that the character of Mimi Bobeck was an easy target for mockery. Besides Carey himself (who is probably better known these days for hosting The Price Is Right), the most prolific writers on the show have done very little since The Drew Carey Show ended its run, and the only actors who found success afterwards were Diedrich Bader (who made his name in the voice acting industry), Christa Miller (who acted on her husband Bill Lawrence's show Scrubs, which ran for almost as long as The Drew Carey Show) and Craig Ferguson (thanks to his late-night talk show). More to the point, despite its long run, The Drew Carey Show was never a highly rated series. It peaked at number 13 in its third and fourth seasons, and then plummeted in the ratings. In fact, the only reason there was even a ninth season was because ABC was contractually obligated to air one, which meant that the 26 episode 9th season were burned off over the summer, often two a night.
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was an absolute landmark in the Game Show industry at the Turn of the Millennium. At the time, the game show industry was still suffering from the fallout of The '90s brought on by a glut of bad revivals and cheap, mostly forgettable cable shows. The only shows with any signs of life were The Price Is Right on CBS, plus Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune in syndication. ABC was lagging in third place among the Big Three at the time, but once Millionaire hit the airwaves, things turned around quickly: at its height, it aired five nights a week in primetime, and quickly gained fame for its dramatic lighting and music (faithfully adapted from the original British version), the interplay of host Regis Philbin with the contestants, and the fact that it was the first network game show to offer a $1,000,000 top prize. The show codified new game show tropes as denoted by Who Wants to Be "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?": things such as lifelines, dramatic sets, and minimalistic formats with ridiculously high-budget payoffs. Its catch phrases, "Is that your final answer?" and "I'd like to phone a friend", entered common parlance. Many new game shows came out copying it to varying extents, such as Greed, The Weakest Link (also an adaptation of a British game show, to the point that both versions had the same host), Winning Lines, Its Your Chance Of A Lifetime, and a revival of the classic fifties quizzer 21 — none of which lasted particularly long. Millionaire also received a massive amount of international adaptations.

    However, with the show falling to ABC's Wolverine Publicity and airing five nights a week, combined with the glut of copycats, Millionaire did not rule the roost for long. The fall from grace was abrupt, with Millionaire leaving ABC's lineup in 2002; however, a syndicated, half-hour adaptation quickly began, with Meredith Vieira as host. The syndicated version has managed to limp along ever since, but it began to show signs of desperation in 2008 when the format was tweaked: first, by adding a timer to questions and changing the lifelines (in part because "Phone a Friend" had devolved to "Phone Someone Who Can Google the Answer"). Another format change ensued in 2010 with the addition of question shuffling and further tweaks to the question format. But all of the changes seemed to do little more than cause the show to hemmorhage viewers. In further desperation, the producers swapped out Meredith for three different hosts in three seasons: Cedric the Entertainer, Terry Crews, and Chris Harrison. The Sony e-mail hacks revealed that the show was nearly axed after the 2014-15 season because of how far it had fallen from grace. Nowadays, most people would be surprised to find that Millionaire is even on the air anymore, even though there was a time when it was literally the biggest game show in the world, and one credited with revitalizing a long-struggling genre.
  • Home Improvement, as detailed in this article by Sean O'Neal of The A.V. Club. In its original 1991-99 run, the show made Tim Allen a star, lines like "more power!" (it's even the Trope Namer for Tim Taylor Technology) and Allen's trademark grunts became memes, it received a video game adaptation, and it frequently scored higher ratings than Seinfeld, Friends, Roseanne, and other hit sitcoms that are now remembered as classics of '90s television. It was still a massive hit by the time it went off the air, which occurred because Allen himself decided to end the show; he and his co-star Patricia Richardson turned down respective $50 million and $25 million contracts to return for a ninth season. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton even considered doing an appearance on the show. However, after it ended, it vanished from reruns and popular culture, with most of its stars besides Allen dropping out of the limelight, not even being rediscovered during the 2010s' wave of '90s nostalgia that allowed shows like Full House to find a new audience. A big reason why has to do with the fact that the show's humor, setup, and characters were, by and large, Strictly Formula; aside from its Affectionate Parody of middle-aged suburbanite machismo, it was a show about a Bumbling Dad, his nagging wife, and obnoxious kids that ran on PG-rated cornball humor that would play in Peoria, doing things that had been sitcom staples for decades without putting much of any sort of twist on them. Furthermore, Allen's later sitcom Last Man Standing was basically a Spiritual Successor to Home Improvement in many ways, meaning that people who wanted to watch him on TV could do so on a new series. Talk of a reunion has mostly gone nowhere.


  • Little Britain was a hit at the Turn of the Millennium for its of-the-moment satire of British life, colorful catchphrase-driven characters, and lowbrow, shock-driven humor. It was popular enough that a live tour combining reenacted sketches and new pieces was a success as well. However, keeping up its momentum was tough. By Series 3, the established characters and running gags had worn themselves into the ground, the new characters seemed to have no purpose except shock value, and the show and its actors were now so overexposed and overmarketed that audiences were sick of them. Combine that with a critical backlash against the traditional Brit Com format with the success of The Office (UK) and Ricky Gervais, and its days were numbered. The total flop of the retooled Series 4 (Little Britain USA, co-produced with HBO) was the last nail in the coffin. In addition, it didn't age well; its constant pokes at minority groups were controversial enough even at the time, and are now seen as outright cringeworthy. If you ask any teenager who didn't watch it when they were younger, chances are they don't know about it, and if you ask someone who did grow up with it, chances are they regret it. While its leads/creators David Walliams and Matt Lucas have gone on to other successes (the former as a children's author, the latter as an actor in a variety of productions), Little Britain is just a relic of its time.
  • Dead Ringers. As this sketch comedy show drew upon current events and then-popular celebrities and politicians, each series became this a short time after airing. The BBC knew it, too; they only released the first series on DVD, despite there being seven produced in total. The radio series fared better, as it was often based on radio shows and pop culture that were still around years later (hence most series are available on CD or cassette) and did not require you to suspend your disbelief from the impressionists not looking like who they were meant to be. However, the "satirical impression" aspect of the show is a dead trope in itself — people are more likely to watch stand-up comedy or read internet articles for the same jokes, without the tacky concept. However, the series is still beloved among those who watched the similar TV series Spitting Image (which predated Dead Ringers by more than a decade).
  • This Life occupied a similar position in the UK as Ally McBeal did in the USA, albeit as a less comedic form of drama — something akin to being the most important show on TV in the mid-to-late nineties. Then, once the late-twenty-somethings who watched it grew up and had children, the younger generation couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Sex, drugs and young lawyers? Old hat.


  • During its network run, Murphy Brown was one of the most talked about, critically acclaimed shows on the air. Today, its only syndicated presence is on an Encore pay channel which requires a premium channel price to watch, and first season DVD sales were so poor that the second season was never even released. The show's reliance on topical humor is almost certainly a factor; jokes about Dan Quayle aren't nearly as funny 20 years later. It definitely doesn't help that its defining moment, Murphy's pregnancy and the subsequent feud with Dan Quayle, not only happened relatively early (the show ran for another six seasons after that), but has aged poorly — it seems quaint by today's standards for Dan Quayle to have made such a big deal about a single mother on television. From The Onion: "Nation's Weirdest Teenager Buys Season One DVD Of 'Murphy Brown'" And years later, Candice Bergen (Murphy) would admit Dan Quayle had a point after all. Murphy Brown might go the extra mile of being an intentional period piece, as the newsroom setting almost guaranteed that a large chunk of the show's material would be ruthlessly topical about politics and entertainment. This has been to the show's detriment; with a large chunk of the show's material falling flat without context. It also suffered by being seemingly aimed only at Baby Boomers; not only is the series drenched in protest-era nostalgia, the token senior anchor is treated as an old fuddy-duddy, and the sole Generation Xer in the cast is a complete moron. 30 Rock liked to evoke Murphy Brown as Liz's feminist ideal for how she thinks the world should work — hence the episode, "Murphy Brown Lied to Us".
  • The only reason why The Beverly Hillbillies got to number one in the ratings is because old people loved it. CBS eventually figured out that, although it was getting great ratings, those ratings were coming from an audience that advertisers didn't care about, which led to its cancellation. The same thing happened for several other shows, like Mayberry RFD and even Gunsmoke. There's even a whole page at The Other Wiki, "rural purge", about these cancellations of rural-themed and senior-targeted programs. Several of the other shows listed on that page (Hogan's Heroes, Family Affair), which were also popular in their day, are similarly no longer appreciated as anything but kitsch, mainly due to the fact that most of the people who liked them in their heyday were over 50 when they were canceled, and are now dead. While they still have their viewers (judging by the ratings for TV Land reruns and the existence of DVD box sets for many of them), few will cite them as truly great television.
  • The rom-com How I Met Your Mother premiered in 2005 to great acclaim from critics and general audiences alike, contributing to pop culture (such as the Bro Code) and bringing Neil Patrick Harris back into the spotlight for the first time since Doogie Howser, M.D..

    However, the series started to lose steam near the end of its run, thanks to Seasonal Rot and the Arc Fatigue that resulted from it taking nearly a decade to find out how Ted met the titular character but it still had a large fandom. Then came the much maligned series finale. The show quickly went from an example of a smart Story Arc and The Producer Thinksof Everything to an example of “How not to plan an ending way ahead while you’re still developing the story and the characters”. Now many people find rewatching the show after seeing the finale very hard to do because everything that the characters did (particularly Ted, Robin and Barney) is now a Shoot the Shaggy Dog case. Because of the show's popularity plummeting, a gender-flipped spinoff never got picked by CBS or any other networks and Craig Thomas and Carter Bays have a huge dent in their careers.
  • In The '90s, older viewers (some Boomer Christians and earlier) might explain why Touched by an Angel was a Top 10 show at the height of its run. It often outdrew The Simpsons in its Sunday nighttime slot (despite never being a critical favorite and regarded as glurge at its worst), it launched a Spin-Off in Promised Land (which lasted three seasons), and reruns of the show were central to the young PAX network's lineup. When its time slot was switched to Saturday nights for its final two seasons, ratings plunged, and while it's still in cable reruns, it's mostly seen as an overly sentimental, Glurge-friendly joke now.
  • The Jack Benny Program - Jack Benny was a hugely popular entertainer in the US for decades (first on radio, then on TV), but his shows almost never appear in reruns.note  This most likely has to do with the portrayal of Rochester, Jack's live-in African-American servant.
  • Picket Fences won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series two years in a row. But who talks about (along with a fellow David E. Kelley-produced Emmy award winning series, The Practice) it today (only the first season of Picket Fences has been released on DVD)? Both shows arguably suffered from "the David E. Kelley effect". In other words, make a popular show that has a loyal fan base and then when you get tired of it sabotage it with controversial plots and story lines with your favorite characters acting in out of character and hateful ways.
  • During its first four seasons, Kate And Allie was a top 20 rated show. As a matter of fact, during its first season (1983–84), it was #8 in the Nielsen ratings (the highest for a sitcom). It also bared a groundbreaking premise for its time involving two divorced women with children living in the same apartment together. Despite all of this (as well as providing Jane Curtin a couple of Emmys Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series), the show now a days seems to be largely forgotten. A lot of this arguably has to do with joke-writing (despite its daring premise) being fairly stale, despite solid performances from the lead actresses. More to the point, the idea of a single woman raising a child simply doesn’t seem so provocative anymore when compared to the early '80s.
  • Maude lasted for six years in no small part from to good writing and Bea Arthur. The Nielsen ratings for Maude were high (at its peak, it ranked at #4), in particular, during the first few seasons of the program (during the heyday of topical sitcoms, which its presence helped to create), when it was regularly one of the top-ten highest-rated American television programs in any given week. It's usually remembered for featuring one of the first (positive) portrayals of abortion in TV history, when Maude realizes she's pregnant by her husband but makes the decision that she's just too old to have a baby. Her family supports her and she comes out of the situation (for the most part) better for it. Keep in mind this episode premiered just two months before the Roe v. Wade decision made abortion legal nationwide. These days, however, Maude has traditionally done poorly in syndication. Maude reruns showed up briefly on TV Land in 1999 and Nick at Nite in 2001 and only the first season was released on DVD in 2007. Its heavy topicality/strident preaching (Maude was more or less a nonstop, pious rant on on a single topic (feminism), whose ideas were novel in the 1970s but we've more than likely heard a million times since then) and often dark humor most certainly didn't. Several other factors for why this may now be the case include the fact that, in contrast to its parent program All in the Family, Maude simply wasn't as funny, had weaker writing, and featured a less memorable supporting cast. Also in hindsight, Archie Bunker could be seen as a more likable protagonist than Maude Findley because Archie's extremist beliefs were constantly derided and existed as the series' principal source of comedy. Everything that made him unlikable was mocked and shown to be from ignorance. Meanwhile, Maude's extremist beliefs, though they got her into comedic predicaments, could not be truly mocked by the series. Not only did most of the creative team personally identify more with the character, but the progressive mood of the time would not allow for derision of the kind afforded Archie. Sure, she became the butt of jokes, but she couldn't be shown as ignorant or outdated. And because she was equally extreme, just as obnoxious, and not shown as ignorant, she was a less lovable character.
  • Despite lasting for nine seasons and being a top 20 show (peaking at #8 in its second) for the first eight of those nine seasons, One Day at a Time is probably best remembered nowadays for its Ear Worm theme song, a preponderance of Very Special Episodes, and the offscreen travails of cast member Mackenzie Phillips. To add insult to injury, the show has been off the radar syndication-wise since the late 1990s and only the first season has to date been released on DVD. The show's strident feminism perhaps hasn't aged all too well, nor has the overall presentation, which comes across as a videotaped stage play with the typical formula being a problem comes up, is discussed and resolved, the resolution is then discussed, and the show ends with a hug or a laugh. More to the point, though it had what was at the time a groundbreaking premise (a show about a divorced mother starting anew), as time went on, the situation became so normal in society and on TV that the premise lost its unique punch. In addition to its topicality, much of the problem with One Day At A Time is that the characters grew up. Setting aside Mackenzie Phillips' problems, Valerie Bertinelli's character Barbara went from discussing being a virgin to being married. At the outset, the girls (Julie and Barbara) drove most of the action, but the crux of the show was their mother Anne's reaction to their problems and situations. Significant time was also devoted to Anne's relationship, friendships and career. Because of this, One Day At A Time didn't have enough youth appeal but also seemed out of place among the grown-up syndication hours. With that being said, One Day At A Time revamped itself several times during its nine-year run. When these changes would happen in a new season, they weren't so jarring. But in syndication, one week you might be watching Anne dating Richard Masur, but a few weeks later, the girls might be married, and how did Glenn Scarpelli get there?
  • While it wasn't seen as trend-setting or innovative of a cop show as Miami Vice, Nash Bridges, none the less, gave Don Johnson another successful starring vehicle. It ran on CBS for six seasons (from 1996-2001) for a total of 122 episodes. It in hindsight, arguably gave Johnson one long, last hurrah as an action hero. As a matter of fact, although Nash Bridges is rarely cited as one of the best shows of its era, it left a surprising legacy in terms of the TV writers (i.e. Carlton Cuse, Shawn Ryan, Glen Mazzara, and Jed Seidel, who would later work on Lost, The Shield, The Walking Dead, Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars respectively) who cut their teeth breaking stories and writing dialogue for Don Johnson. Despite still getting fair ratings in its sixth and ultimately last season, Nash Bridges was canceled because of rising production cost (which was about $2 million per episode) and Don Johnson (who was also one of the producers) simply being ready to move on. To date, only the first three seasons has officially been released on DVD. As of September 2014, these releases have been discontinued and are now out of print. Nash Briges in hindsight, was arguably a victim of bad timing. When it debuted in 1996, CBS was hungry for hits, but not so hungry that it ventured far beyond its reputation for family-friendly heartwarmers and cozy crime stories, both aimed at older audiences. Pre-CSI (which debuted around the same time as Nash Bridges entered its final season), CBS loaded up on shows like Diagnosis: Murder and Walker, Texas Ranger, which emphasized colorful characters and uncomplicated plots.

The CW

  • Gossip Girl was supposed to be the flagship series for the fledgling CW Network, and the CW clearly had massive hopes for it, debuting it in a massive publicity campaign, later ordering revivals of Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place to Follow the Leader, and the head of the network clearly stating an intention to laser in as much as possible on the Girls 16-34 demographic. While the show did have an impressive premeire and was easily the CW's first independent hit (that wasn't brought over from the WB or UPN,) much like The O.C. before it and Glee after it, things didn't quite turn out the way they'd hoped.

    For starters, the show debuted under a bit of a dark cloud. The show's Wolverine Publicity drew ire from fans of both Smallville and Supernatural, who felt like their shows were being neglected or thrown under the bus by lack of promotion in favor of a personal pet project. The show weathered this storm and still debuted to great ratings, but hit a much more difficult hurdle in the economic meltown that occurred a few years after the show's debut, which made the show's wealthy, extravagant, Upper-East-Side characters suddenly much less sympathetic and relateable.

    By the time of the show's shortened sixth and final season, its ratings were slipping below 1 Million viewers a week (low even for the CW and a third of what they were at the start,) and has virtually dropped off the radar since its finale. The inability of Gossip Girl and similar shows to catch on has had a noticeable ripple effect on the CW as well. The head of the network has since stepped down, and her successor has promptly reversed course; soapy teen dramas have vanished from the schedule (the 90210 revival lasted five seasons, Melrose, only one,) and the network has begun to find its greatest success in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, with Supernatural still going strong after eleven seasons, and shows like The Vampire Diaries and Arrow becoming successful enough to launch several spin-offs.

Disney Channel


  • When The O.C. premiered in 2003, it became a pop culture sensation overnight. Critics praised the show for its clever dialogue, excellent writing, and interesting characters, and it was one of the highest-rated television shows in its time slot. For its second season, however, Fox moved the show to a competitive Thursday nighttime slot, which ended up costing it viewers. There's also a general agreement among fans that the quality of the show declined in the second season, although it was still pretty good. Season 3 is almost universally considered to be the point where the show jumped the shark due to it introducing several new characters who were disliked by fans as well as the overall tone becoming more serious and angsty, thus causing the ratings to drop even further. When Season 4 rolled around, the show began to improve in quality, returning the focus to the main cast members and bringing back the comedy. Unfortunately, by that point most people had given up on The OC and it was cancelled due to low ratings.
  • Glee fell victim to its own attempts to recapture lightning in a bottle. The first two seasons were critical and commercial darlings, garnering high praise, earning high ratings, winning several Emmys, and actually dethroning American Idol as the Fox network's crown jewel. The show briefly became a cultural phenomenon, inspiring live concert tours, a reality series and a spin-off movie, while its treatment of high school issues like bullying, teen pregnancy and homophobia garnering no small share of (mostly positive) media coverage, even outside entertainment circles. That its soundtracks and merchandise sold incredibly well was an added bonus.

    With its growing exposure, the writers attempted to duplicate what was garnering all the praise, at the expense of what made it well-liked in the first place. Latter seasons saw more emphasis on ship teasing, heavy-handed LGBT aesops, and tribute episodes to popular musicians. Problems that were noticeable, but bearable, in the second season grew like a cancer — characters frequently changed motivations, personalities, and relationships, plots came out of nowhere and began to pile up too high for the show to handle, any pretense of realism had disappeared, episodes featured flash-in-the-pan musical trends, and the show became the preachy After School Special it used to mock. The graduation of most of the core cast after Season Three, leading to a storyline split between Lima (now largely populated by new characters suspiciously like the old ones) and New York City, became divisive among the show's fanbase.

    All of these developments alienated the show's audience and sent its ratings into freefall from the third season onwards; by the end of the fourth season, ratings were actually lower than they were in the first. Attempts to salvage the show (namely, by phasing out the newer characters and refocusing on the original cast) only caused greater criticism. Despite declining ratings, Fox ordered two more seasons in the spring of 2013, but after the death of cast member Cory Monteith that summer, it was decided that the show would end after the contractually-obligated sixth season in 2015. For the final season, Glee received an abbreviated run of 13 episodes and quietly moved to Friday night; and despite a last-minute advertising push by Fox, the series finale came in a distant fourth in the ratings that night, marking a rather glum end to a show that once dominated its time slot.

    Adding insult to injury, Glee's syndication history can kindly be described as a disaster. It was supposed to begin airing on Oxygen in the 2013–14 season as part of the contract that came with The Glee Project, but by the time it did, the show's fading popularity left it stuck in a contractually obligated run of early Monday mornings to burn off the contract. Meanwhile, on broadcast stations, it began in good timeslots on the weekend, before the non-existent ratings had stations pushing it to late night infomercial territory within mere months. The show's failure to catch on in syndication further ensured its disappearance from the cultural landscape.
  • Prison Break debuted to much fanfare and a fair bit of success. Much like Twin Peaks, though, it fell victim to giving away too much too fast. The Break in the title happened at the end of the first season, and the show continued on for three more years afterward. The characters, who worked well when contained together in a prison setting, understandably scattered as prison escapees tend to do, and Kudzu Plot took over. The show limped along, endured a massive retool each season, and the final shot in the chops: its finale went Straight to DVD.
  • Party of Five won the Golden Globe for Best Drama series in its second season (despite its underwhelming ratings at the time), launched the careers of Neve Campbell (Scream), Matthew Fox (Lost), Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls), Scott Wolf (Go and the remake of V), and Jennifer Love Hewitt (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Can't Hardly Wait, and Ghost Whisperer), and during its peak, was one of the most popular family dramas on television. In fact, in 1995 TV Guide named the series "The Best Show You're Not Watching." Now, some 20 years after its premiere, the show for the most part never comes up when the great dramas of the era are discussed, and most of its lead actors (aside from the long-forgotten Wolf) are more known for their post-Party of Five work. Part of the problem, arguably, is that Party of Five was part of an era of hyper-earnest dramas (perhaps first popularized by thirtysomething) dominated more by emotional reactions (and filled with basically good people trying to do what’s basically the right thing) than high-stakes drama. Its Seasonal Rot during its last two seasons (which was overcome with the kind of melodrama the show kept tastefully tamped down in its first four years) more than likely didn't help. Lastly, there's the fact that the series' first season aired right alongside the lone season of the venerable My So-Called Life, a show that also focused on fundamentally good people but pushed more boundaries and had a much bigger impact on televised teen/young-adult dramas.
  • When American Idol debuted in 2002, it was nothing short of groundbreaking. It quickly shot to the top of the ratings, a position it held for most of the 2000s, and picked up where the likes of The Simpsons, Married... with Children, and The X-Files left off in cementing the Fox network (then still relatively young at only 15 years old) as a power player in American network television and turning the "Big Three" into the "Big Four". Simply put, it was the biggest show on American television in the 2000s — airing a show opposite American Idol was well-understood to be comparable to putting it in the Friday Night Death Slot, to the point where entertainment journalists and people in the television industry referred to Idol as the "Death Star" to describe the impact it had on all other programming in its timeslot.

    However, by the start of the '10s, the wheels would come off. The first problem was when people began to notice that the winners, who were supposed to be the most popular contestants on the most popular show in America, frequently didn't live up to expectations with their music careers. As it stands, among winners, only Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and perhaps Phillip Phillips (his first album was a megahit, but his next didn't do nearly as well) have been able to achieve any lasting success from the show, with many of the other winners fading into obscurity (including Candice Glover, Taylor Hicks, and David Cook) and/or being eclipsed by their runners up (such as season 3's Jennifer Hudson, season 5's Chris Daughtry and Katharine McPhee, and season 8's Adam Lambert). This only made the accusations that the show was rigged stick more easily (if nothing else, there were websites such as Vote For The Worst that actively voted for bad contestants in order to highlight the flaws with the voting system), or at least that its viewers, while numerous, were out of touch with the pop music world. Alongside this was the breakup of the Power Trio of judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson in season 9 that led to a revolving door of judges, many of whom didn't get along (Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj notoriously hated each other) or just didn't have the same appeal with the audience (such as comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who even admitted later on that she wasn't cut out for the job). Add to this accusations of pandering by pushing aside the good contestants in early weeks in favor of the hopeless ones, strong competition from NBC's The Voice, and a general backlash against Reality TV as a whole (read above on that), and the ratings began to plummet and it no longer had the same cultural impact it did at its peak. It's generally agreed that the final nail in the coffin came in 2014, when Survivor, a show which had previously aired its season finales on Sundays, moved it to Wednesday to coincide with Idol's. The latter was soundly thrashed by the former in the ratings, an occurrence that's put into perspective when one remembers that, in its heyday, Idol finales were rivaled only by the Super Bowl in terms of viewership. This would be repeated the following year, at which point FOX decided to give Idol its last hurrah before putting it out of its misery. 2016 marked the show's final season, and even that was greatly trimmed in length, ending a full month earlier than normal (possibly to allow it to end on a relatively high note, instead of a threepeat of the Survivor fiasco).

    Thanks to the notoriously short shelf life of reality TV in general, Idol is not likely to have any legs in syndication. Even worse, some more of the later-season winners like Nick Fradiani and Caleb Johnson have already fallen into obscurity, with their coronation songs and/or resulting albums flopping hard. As such, it was a massive surprise when Phillip Phillips, winner of the poorly-rated 12th season, snagged a hit album and the highest-selling coronation song in the series' history (carrying a rootsy folk sound instead of being a normal power ballad certainly helped). While dozens of former contestants have gone on to achieve varying levels of success, American Idol's cultural impact as a television show is all but over, and nowadays, it's viewed as a symbol of all the worst elements of the reality TV boom in the '00s.


  • 1st and Ten was one of cable television's (in general) first attempts to lure the lucrative sitcom audience away from the "Big Three" (ABC, CBS, and NBC), by taking advantage of their freedom to include occasional cursing and nudity. It ran for six seasons on HBO for a total of 80 episodes. While the complete series was released on DVD in 2006, the majority of episodes on the "Complete Collection" DVD are the bowdlerized syndicated versions. To add insult to injury, it's been excluded from the streaming video platform HBO Go. Besides having some dialog and scenes edited for content, syndication versions ran for 22 minutes (as opposed to 30 minutes on HBO), and included a laugh track. While 1st and Ten was novel for its time (while language could nonetheless still be considered 'HBO'ish', it wasn't excessively vulgar) when compared to sitcoms on broadcast network television, it seems rather cheesy (with its pretty awful acting, cliched dialogue, continuity catastrophes, editing errors, and an off-and-on laugh track) in a modern context. The participation of O.J. Simpson most certainly didn't help its long-term legacy.


  • The Benny Hill Show has slowly faded away from British popular consciousness in a way that exact contemporaries like the still beloved Morecambe and Wise and The Two Ronnies have not, largely due to Values Dissonance. Since cancellation the show has rarely been aired in Britain leading to the ironic situation that most Britons in their late twenties or younger who do know anything about Benny Hill were generally introduced to him through the frequent homages to and parodies of his show in American media (outside of Python).
  • The X Factor was, in many ways, the UK equivelent of American Idol. Replacing Pop Idol when it launched in 2004, it was once the most popular reality show in the country through the rest of the 2000s decade, and the only series to actually singlehandedly knock Coronation Street as the highest rated series on ITV. Everywhere, from news articles, and ongoing everyday discussions, it was hard to bat an eye from it, especially around 2009 and 2010, where the show's ratings were higher than ever, with Cheryl Cole's addition to the judging panel, its controversial nature, and contestants such as Jedward and One Direction altogether boosting its popularity high.

    Then 2011 came, and with Simon Cowell off to judge the USA version of the show, and Cheryl Cole tagging along, the series got an entirely new judging panel, sans Louie Walsh, which didn't go over well with audiences, and the show jumped from its 19.4 million viewers, to 13.456 million, with its popularity diminishing year by year. Viewers got tired of the voting panel seemingly being fixed (often thought to create drama for ITV to bank off), and started to agree with the opinions of many musicians not involved with the show, such as Moby and Annie Lennox, that it treated its contestants badly by not inspiring them to be unique or creative in order to please the judges, and allowed Simon Cowell an unfair advantage in the music industry, as well as the fact that winners, except Leona Lewis and to an extent Little Mix, almost always seeming to eat up that year's Christmas No. 1 position note  and weren't heard of much after. It probably says a lot that the show's most well known act, the aforementioned One Direction, were originally solo acts put together for a second chance as a group act, and actually came third the year they were on. Viewers, feeling ripped off, eventually moved onto other reality shows.

    An attempt to save the show's ratings by Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole making a return to the show in 2014 after its US version getting the axe, failed as it had only brought in 8.4 million viewers. Most of the original audience who watched the show during the 2000s as teenagers had moved on. While the show is still airing, it's only because Simon Cowell continues to pay ITV to renew the show. Nowadays, it is seen as a show that has long overstayed its welcome at best, and at worst is thought to emblematic of what was wrong with ITV during the early 'ITV plc' years and generally have been a drag on the UK music industry during the Turn of the Millennium. Nowadays, even in the UK The X Factor is best known for the same reason that it is almost exclusively known internationally: being the show that gave birth to One Direction.


  • Jersey Shore was a monster hit in the early '10s. Everyone, Love It or Hate It, talked about it when it was around, and a number of terms it popularized (such as "grenade", "fist pumping", and "GTL") entered the lexicon. Enough controversy and criticism (particularly from New Jerseyans and Italian Americans) swirled around it to get a whole page on Wikipedia almost as long as the page for the show itself. A host of ripoffs emerged, such as Buckwild (Jersey Shore with rednecks!) and The Only Way Is Essex (Jersey Shore with British kids!). But not even a few years after it was canceled, it was all but forgotten. Now, when people make Jersey Shore jokes, everyone laughs at them for being so out-of-date.
  • In the mid-late '00s, Laguna Beach ushered in a reality-themed wave of programming for MTV. A hugely popular reality show about a group of teenagers living in an affluent Orange County, California suburb (the show's tagline referred to it as "The Real Orange County", a Take That towards the hit Teen Drama The O.C.), it spawned catchphrases like "so much drama", and was parodied by shows like Mad TV at its peak. It also evolved into a franchise that spawned several spinoffs, including one set a few miles up the coast with a new cast of kids (Newport Harbor), one following former lead character Lauren Conrad's post-high school adventures in the Los Angeles fashion industry (The Hills, which ran for more than twice as many episodes as its parent show), and a spinoff focusing on Lauren's co-worker, Whitney Port, who moves to New York (The City).

    Despite the fact that it was initially a huge success, various problems began to work their way into the franchise. Even at its zenith, the shows were treated like Guilty Pleasures, most notably by MTV Canada, which ran a series of "aftershows" that mocked stupid comments from the shows' casts and generally treated them as one big joke. The core casts were seen as vapid and loathsome stereotypes by many, and as they got older and graduated, the pretense of a reality show set in high school no longer worked. MTV got around this through all those spinoffs, but they were meeting diminishing returns — The City and Newport Harbor were cancelled in their second seasons, while a spinoff focusing on another of Lauren's co-workers, Audrina Patridge, never made it past an initial season. Above all, it was obvious to everybody that the shows were all heavily staged and exaggerated for the sake of drama, with The Hills' bizarre Gainax Ending all but confirming it. Eventually, the franchise imploded completely in 2010 and 2011, and nowadays it's viewed as a symbol of the vapidness of youth culture in the '00s and the point of no return in MTV's Network Decay.
  • Even at My Super Sweet Sixteen's height, its main audience was watching it as a Point-and-Laugh Show more than anything else, which MTV eventually capitalized on with a trilogy of slasher flicks based on the show, and the short-lived Exiled, where Sweet 16 participants are banished by their parents to remote countries For the Evulz. Nowadays, much like Laguna Beach and The Hills, it's best remembered a) as a symbol of everything that was wrong with MTV and pop culture in general in the '00s, or b) because some of the ads for the show starred a young Jennifer Lawrence.
  • The Tom Green Show. Tom's Cloud Cuckoolander-on-crack behavior was certainly a big draw for a while. Kids and teenagers loved him, parents couldn't stand him, and the show only seemed to get bigger with every bad review. Circumstance and changing taste brought it all crashing down: Tom had a bout with testicular cancer which halted production for a while, Tom's reputation nose-dived after his ill-fated directorial debut Freddy Got Fingered, Jackass was a newer, fresher take on physical shock comedy, and when Tom made his comeback, it was in the form of a talk show which was cancelled after a few months. If he's remembered for anything now, it's either by bad movie buffs for the aforementioned film, or serious '90s kids.
  • Total Request Live was the destination for members of Generation Y during its run. It's difficult in retrospect to describe just how much of a colossal hit it was with teenagers of the late '90s and early '00s. It was parodied in music videos, TV shows, and movies, it made Carson Daly a star, it became a standard stop for any promotional tour (even for non-musicians, with the likes of John Travolta and Tom Cruise coming to promote their films), it launched the careers of an entire generation of musicians, and became a general cultural touchstone. Mariah Carey's famous Creator Breakdown was on TRL, for starters, alongside four-fifths of the Backstreet Boys using TRL to announce that AJ McLean was entering rehab. *NSYNC, The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé, and countless others have said that TRL essentially "made" them.

    However, all things come to an end. TRL's playlist was dominated by bubblegum teen pop, which had the entire pop music world in a stranglehold at the time. Once that environment faded in the mid '00s and pop music grew more diversified, TRL began to fade from relevance. The real killer, however, was the internet making music much more widely available, to the point where having a show like TRL act as a central hub of pop music simply didn't work anymore. It's telling that not only has TRL disappeared, but there hasn't been another "Top Ten" countdown show to take its place.


  • Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In was the top rated show for two straight seasons and was a cultural icon in the 1960s (it would also launch the careers of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin). However, the show being one big Unintentional Period Piece led to a fast ratings drop in the fourth season and an eventual cancellation. Nowadays, the show is barely remembered outside of a few references in books and specials on the history of television and is rarely aired on television due to the dated nature (Nixon's "sock it to me" moment doesn't help). It also picked up a substantial hatedom for its part in Star Trek getting Screwed by the Network, to the point that several performers actually left the show in protest to NBC's treatment of Star Trek, and their own exec producer's role in that treatment,note  which is when Rowan and Martin dropped out of the top ten in ratings.
  • During Heroes's first season, critics and audiences alike were praising it as the next Lost, and it managed to be a credible rival to that show, even breaking out of the Sci Fi Ghetto and getting an Emmy nod for Best Drama Series. The fact that Heroes hit its stride just as LOST was going through one of its lowest points helped it pick up a lot of disgruntled fans of the latter show who were growing bored waiting for the plot to get moving, as Heroes' writing seemed to be a direct response to the slow pace of LOST's much-maligned third season.

    Unfortunately, the Sophomore Slump kicked in hard. Co-Head Writer Bryan Fuller left to make Pushing Daisies, and the 2007–08 WGA Strike killed an entire half-season's worth of plots and a planned spinoff. The show spent the next two seasons flying off the rails and hemorrhaging viewers as the writing staff struggled, and failed, to figure out how to salvage it. Heroes' sudden fall gave birth to a TV colloquialism called "Heroes Disease", used to describe when a show that burned hot in its first season burns out afterward as a result of having run out of storylines and gotten too broad and sprawling for its own good. Not even Fuller's return in the fourth season could save Heroes, as NBC, reeling from the flop of The Jay Leno Show and fed up with the show's big budget and lack of ratings to show for it, pulled the plug at the end of that season, just as it was becoming good again. Once viewed as the show that would save NBC after many of its hit '90s sitcoms came to an end, it instead came to be seen as a symbol of all the problems that NBC had over the course of the '00s.

    NBC attempted to revive the series in 2015 with a 13-episode Mini Series called Heroes Reborn, but after initial success with its first few episodes, it quickly became apparent that the writers had learned nothing from the mistakes of its predecessor. The series was roundly criticized for having a confusing, overly elaborate plot with loads of forced melodrama, leading to a swift decline in viewers and the series being quietly cancelled after just one season. Having squandered its one attempt to relaunch and revitalize the series, Heroes is essentially dead in the water.
  • Will & Grace isn't that much remembered anymore in part because much of its humor derived from making swipes at contemporary pop culture (e.g. "It's not just bad, it's Mariah Carey in Glitter bad!") and a parade of guest star actors who were already past their respective primes in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Also not helping is a heaping helping of Fair for Its Day. At the time, it was groundbreaking to have a show with two gay leads airing on primetime network television. Looking back, with more and more acceptance of gay issues and more and better written gay characters on other shows like Modern Family, the show comes across a little offensive.
  • Despite being relatively formulaic, the show Alf was original in many regards, and had a loyal following. Alf scored its highest ratings during Season 2 (reaching #5 in the Nielsen ratings). At the peak of its popularity, a spin-off prequel animated series called Alf: The Animated Series was produced, airing Saturday mornings on NBC. Another animated spin-off, called Alf Tales, followed shortly thereafter. There was even a comic book adaptation which tended to play down the sitcom aspects in favor of a lot of parody and a bigger sci-fi slant, giving Alf strange technological toys which would occasionally be useful but most often wreak havoc in unforeseen ways. By the time Season 3 and especially Season 4 came along, the live-action show's novelty wore off to the point that the ratings lagged severely. Its poor ratings in Season 4 also dragged the ratings of its Monday night stablemate The Hogan Family down with it. Ultimately, NBC canned both shows, although The Hogan Family went to CBS and performed no better in the ratings along with the constant timeslot changes and pre-emptions in its sixth season. ALF is perhaps, unfortunately, more known today for its troubled production (which was due to being shot in a very halting, piecemeal fashion that became very gruelling for the cast and served as a hotbed of tension and discomfort when the cameras were off) and soul crushing cliffhanger series finale (NBC gave Alien Productions a verbal commitment for a fifth season, but ultimately withdrew its support), with Alf being taken off to an undisclosed location by government agents. The Alf character has since been resurrected in various capacities; in 1996 a made for TV movie called Project: Alf was aired on ABC to tie-up the loose ends stemming from the cliffhanger ending of the series, in 2004 it received a late-night talk show format (called Alf's Hit Talk Show, it only lasted seven episodes) and he appeared in commercials during the late-1990s, most notably one for the long-distance service "10-10-220". Despite all of these attempts, the Alf character is more or less still seen as merely a relic of late '80s pop culture. Perhaps adding insult to injury, in an interview on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Tina Fey said that her biggest frustration as producer of NBC's 75th anniversary special was dealing with Alf's "people." Fey said Paul Fusco (Alf's creator and voice actor) would only allow Alf to appear on the show if the puppeteers were completely hidden from everyone else, even the studio audience.
  • Despite airing for five seasons and being a relatively unique (with idea of a single father raising three teenagers while the mother was off doing her own thing) and quirky (with its frequent dream sequences) show for its time, Blossom hasn't endured as much as other '90s era "teencoms" like Saved by the Bell and Boy Meets World or even maintained a loyal cult following like similar girl-centric '90s comedies Daria or Clarissa Explains It All. Reruns of Blossom were syndicated for several years in the 1990s, including on Superstation WGN. After its syndication run ended, the series would not return to U.S. television until 2014, when the Hub Network acquired broadcast rights to the show. The Hub Network stopped carrying the show in October 2014, when Discovery Channel took over the channel and renamed it Discovery Family. To date, only the first two seasons have been released to DVD. Blossom itself is perhaps infamous for its frequent use of very special episodes. This is despite the notion that unlike, for example, Full House, the lessons presented on Blossom skirted a more cheesy fate because they aren’t overly simplistic. What made these particular episodes more problematic is that Blossom seemed to more than often deftly tip-toeing around dealing with the characters' problems. To put things into proper perspective, while the series dealt with serious issues, it missed the opportunity to really go above the teenage courtship hazards it relied too heavily on. For example, it's emphasized that Blossom's older brother Tony is a former addict, but this was very rarely used in the series to actually handle the issue of drinking or doing drugs. There was also too much flavor of the week type stuff, which led into poor character development. This was mainly because the cast size was so small. So in order the get the biggest impact, the writers (among them, future 7th Heaven creator Brenda Hampton) shoved an issue on the shoulders of one character without any previous hints of the issue in question (and expected the audience to just fly with it). This in turn made the writing itself a bit sloppy. Ultimately, the dark subject matter presented this lightly creates a show that is tonally jarring and rarely funny. Even the show's trademark fantasy sequences may have further detached most people from the emotions of the characters. In effect, they wound up helping creating a show so light that it never touches us at all. Blossom, for better or for worse, was in hindsight clearly a time capsule of sorts of early '90s pop culture.
  • Even though Wings managed to last for eight seasons on NBC, it was never truly considered a mega-hit or bonafide success. Wings never cracked higher than #18 in the Nielsens, never won any major awards, and was easily overshadowed by other NBC sitcoms of that era like Seinfeld, Friends, and Frasier (which was created by the same producers of Wings). A large factor in why Wings has perhaps become so forgotten (even when it was still on the air) is because at the end of the day, it was a fairly simplistic (but ultimately not heavy) show. Whereas Cheers (Wings was essentially Cheers if it took place in an airport) was about jerks and losers and Frasier was about sophistication and what it takes to be happy, and there was a weight to them when compared to Wings. The deepest Wings ever got was in regards to the dreams and stress Hacketts went through. Wings was, more or less, the everyman show among the three, but was still possibly the toughest show to explain. And while the small town setting gave it a nice, small, welcome feeling, if you blink, you'll more than likely forget all about it.
  • For great justice, The Hogan Family makes the cut. The show enjoyed a six season run from 1986 to 1991, was one of the first American sitcoms to address 'safe sex' (it was the first prime-time show to use the word "condom"), had a memorable episode where a recurring character dies of AIDS (in the last season when it moved to CBS), and gave us Edie McClurg in her best-known role outside of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but it's almost never seen today, with neither reruns nor DVD to mark its existence, in a particularly egregious case of Keep Circulating the Tapes.note  To add insult to injury, the show is further incredibly hard to find these days since a YouTube account holding all the episodes had them all removed due to a copyright claim from Warner Bros., and only a few scattered clips/promos can be found there today. It's not on any video-streaming sites or iTunes, and the last channels to air the show in North America were ABC Family and the Canadian channel CTS (now YesTV) between 2006 and 2011. The show is most notable for starting off as a vehicle for Valerie Harper (the original name of the show was Valerie) only for her to be fired after season 2, after being embroiled in a bitter dispute with Miller/Boyett Productions over a decision to shift the focus of the show's stories to a comedic focus as well as wanting a larger cut of future syndication revenues, and her character memorably McLeaned in a car accident and replaced by Sandy Duncan as her sister-in-lawnote . Nowadays, the show is best remembered as a footnote for launching a young Jason Bateman's career (and that Cannibal Corpse covered its theme song live, though that's a surprisingly small part of it).
  • A Different World was a top five rated show during its first four seasons, consistently ranked first or second among African American viewers during most of its run, and was one of the rare shows where it's generally agreed that it "grew a beard" with its second season retool. Despite this, it's hardly ever immediately brought up into the conversation of the "golden age" of NBC's "Must See TV" Thursday night line-up like its parent show The Cosby Show, Cheers, and subsequently, Seinfeld and Friends. To make matters worse, after its lead-in, The Cosby Show ended its run after eight seasons in 1991-92, A Different World failed when it inherited the 8:00 p.m. Thursday night timeslot on NBC. To put things into proper perspective, A Different World went from ranking #17 in the Nielsen's the season prior, to #71 in its sixth and what turned out to be its final season. It was also around this time that Fox's Martin debuted on Thursday nights and began to eat up A Different World's black audience. To date, only the first season of A Different World has been officially released on DVD (although the entire series was made available on Netflix in 2015). The show's topicality obviously in retrospect, didn't help (In Living Color! even made fun of it in a skit called "A Different Message") as A Different World typically addressed issues that were avoided by The Cosby Show writers (race and class relations, or the Equal Rights Amendment). NBC was especially unhappy with the notion of having the Season 6 premiere center around the then recent Los Angeles Riots. Additionally, A Different World was credited with increasing African American Interest in HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). The show is set at Hillman college, a fictional Virginia HBCU loosely based on the real life Hampton and Spellman Universities. At the same time the show began in 1988, the Spike Lee film School Daze was released. Ultimately, the show reflects an image of the HBCU and the African American college experience that hasn't been relevant since the show was on the air.
  • Mad About You won a Golden Globe Award, a Peabody Award, a Genesis Award, received five Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series, and was chosen Best Quality Comedy by the Viewers for Quality Television. Helen Hunt won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Comedy Series four years in a row (1996–1999). And yet, out of its seven seasons, only five have to date been released to DVD due to music licensing issues. The show in itself has been largely forgotten in comparison to its NBC contemporaries Seinfeld, Friends, and Frasier. One major factor working against Mad About You is that seemingly captured a very specific time in the '90s. But with the real world New Yorkers no longer being against that backdrop, the characters on Mad About You (Paul and Jamie Buchman could, in essence, be regarded as the ultimate ’90s yuppie couple) just seem irrelevant and self absorbed. suggested that Mad About You defined 'dry, white sitcom' and came off as very poor man's Seinfeld (albeit far less engaging).
  • Caroline in the City, starring Lea Thompson, was, during its first season on NBC, the #4 rated show in the Nielsens. This was partly because it aired between Seinfeld and ER as part of NBC's Thursday night "Must See TV" line-up. The series also featured crossover episodes with Friends (Lea Thompson crossed over to Friends around this same time period) and Frasier, as well as a host of celebrity cameos. While Caroline in the City was not as popular or well-received as Friends or Seinfeld, it was initially very successful, with Thompson winning a People's Choice Award for "Favorite Female in a New Television Series". Soon, NBC thought Caroline In The City was good enough to stand on its own, so they moved it to Tuesday nights in its second season and to Monday nights for its final two seasons. As it turned out, Caroline In The City simply couldn't draw a large audience outside of the Must See TV lineup. To put things into proper perspective, its second, third, and fourth seasons rated 25th, 47th, and 91st in the Nielsens respectively. Ultimately, Caroline In The City ended its fourth and final season (which saw a retool involving moving Caroline into an actual office instead of letting her work from home) on an unresolved cliffhanger. To date, only the first two seasons have been officially released to DVD and are long discontinued and out of print.
  • Chico And The Man debuted in the top ten (it was the third highest rated show of the 1974-75 season only behind Sanford and Son and All in the Family) and remained there for the first two seasons. The chemistry between Jack Albertson's "Ed" and Freddie Prinze's "Chico" was a major factor in making the show a hit in its first two seasons. Freddie Prinze himself, and the whole concept of the show was just fresh and new at the time. Unfortunately, after struggling with depression and drug use, Freddie Prinze shot himself on January 28, 1977. He was taken off life support and died the following day at the age of 22. After Prinze's death, the producers considered canceling the show, but opted instead to try replacing the character. To write Chico out of the script, they had the other characters comment that he had gone to visit his father in Mexico. The third season finished out with episodes focusing on the other characters in the show. Early in the fourth season, a replacement for Chico was introduced. Instead of an adult, the producers brought in twelve-year-old Raul, played by Gabriel Melgar. The show's ratings declined after Prinze's death, and the show was canceled at the end of the fourth season. Chico And The Man was only shown in syndication in few markets and only for a relatively short period. Warner Bros. released a 6-episode Television Favorites compilation of the series on DVD in September 2005. However, no full seasons have been released, nor is it known if any seasons will be released, and the Television Favorites DVD is now out of print. Chico And The Man hasn't done considerably well in syndication for several reasons: 1) Only 88 episodes were produced which is a fairly low number (as opposed to the so-called magic number of 100note ) to warrant a weekday syndication strip. 2) The violent circumstances surrounding Freddie Prinze's death - in retrospect, it is considerably uncomfortable for most viewers to watch Prinze's later episodes, as he was clearly showing the effects of drug abusenote . Much of the post-Freddie Prinze episodes are regarded by many as being very poor from a quality standpoint. This could be in part because it seemed quite apparent that everyone was just going through the motions to squeeze money out of a show that creatively died with Prinze. Today, the show's title stars, Jack Albertson and Freddie Prinze, are best remembered as Grandpa Joe and Freddie Prinze, Jr.'s dad, respectively.
  • ER was one of the highest rated and critically acclaimed shows of the '90s, winning 23 Primetime Emmy Awards, including the 1996 Outstanding Drama Series award. For its first ten years, it ranked in the top ten in the Nielsens and was the most watched show in North America from 1995-1997. But since it went off the air in 2009, it's not utterly reviled but it's never really brought up any more either. And apart from a few notable exceptions (e.g. George Clooney, Julianna Margulies and Alex Kingston), most of the cast haven't really done much of note since. ER never did well in syndicated re-runs either (it has been absent since TNT ran two episodes every weekday morning) specifically because it is so highly serialized. Not helping is that viewers would have to watch every episode to get anything out of it, and most people don't want to commit the time to watching a one-hour show five times a week or more. ER was, perhaps in hindsight, simply a case of a show succumbing to the pitfalls of going on just a little too long (with fans arguing that it really began going down in quality in 2001-2002). Strong competition from other medical drama (and in some cases, comedic) shows that held up better in the viewers' eyes also dealt a strong blow to its standing.
  • Twenty One now is this thanks to the game show scandals of The Fifties.


  • Victorious was one of Nick's most popular Kid Coms in its original run. Today, in a similar scenario to The Hogan Family listed above, it's remembered merely as a footnote on Ariana Grande's rise to pop mega-stardom, whereas the rest of the lead cast (including actual title star Victoria Justice) have long since faded into obscurity.


  • Barney & Friends was a gigantic phenomenon across The '90s among young children worldwide, but it quickly built what is possibly the biggest Periphery Hatedom among most older children and adults. However, the series lost its steam during the Turn of the Millennium due to the creation and popularity of other preschool cartoons and series made by, among others, Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, as well as Seasonal Rot marked by the addition of a new character (Riff) and it was put on an indefinite hiatus at the end of the decade without any fanfare or any signs of it coming back into production. Most PBS stations and other channels worldwide no longer air the series, and many younger children nowadays probably aren't even aware of its existence. As of 2015, the series is barely a footnote in launching the careers of Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez (and a bunch of other lesser-known stars like Michaela Dietz, Kyla Pratt and Madison Pettis), and if Barney or the song "I Love You" is brought up today, it's begging to be made fun of. That said, the series is set to be relaunched in 2017, however, it remains to be seen if it can repeat the success it had during the 90s.


  • The Bill Engvall Show was a short lived sitcom vehicle for the popular Blue Collar comedian. With the entire comedy troupe's popularity plummeting around the turn of the 2010s, the show completely faded into obscurity. Today, The Bill Engvall Show is remembered for only two things: its infamous Commercial Pop-Up promos where Bill Engvall came up during shows and paused it to talk about the show, and that the daughter on the show was played by an up-and-coming teen actress named Jennifer Lawrence.


  • Chef Piet Huysentruyt used to be one of the most famous Belgians ever thanks to the fame he had by his cooking show Lekker Thuis, the show that proved that cooking shows can have a Flemish audience and which has a place in history as one of the only Flemish shows to have over 1000 episodes. Even his career was very beloved, with his restaurant having 1 star on the Michelin guide (quite a feat in itself). Even his later show, SOS Piet, was very beloved. He had indeed some trouble with his restaurant because he closed down his restaurant in Flanders to open one in France where it was less busy, only to close it in France to return in Flanders to his old restaurant, but it was something that regularly happens to chefs. He had indeed a vocal hatedom compromised of people who found cooking shows a waste of programming space note  which was not exactly a hatedom to stop his fame, but there were actual cooks that did not like him and that was because he used a lot of fat to cook his meals (with jokes imitating how he puts tons of butter and oil in a single meal to make sure its tasty enough). This became especially painful for his career when Jeroen Meus, someone on the verge of becoming more popular than him, started with his show called Dagelijkse Kost on één, a channel which is the competitor of VTM, and got much more views because his style of cooking was healthier. The pressure from VTM was too much for him to handle and he switched over to VIER (another rival network, but not by the same guys as één), but the 3 cooking shows he made there have plunged into obscurity. The man himself still has some fame in Flanders in his own restaurant though, but even the 2 aforementioned culinary programs are only available through a special website that VTM set up to cater to fans of cooking shows.
  • Phone-in Game Shows (which were first aired on VTM and later on 2BE) , while not a big hit, gave Medialaan a big boost in cash. The idea was to trick people into paying to play a game that they could never win. Already in its first three years it was the subject of controversy and laws were enacted to make it more fair, which were never too harsh because those shows were very profitable and allowed for easy tax income. Then in 2010 Flemish investigative journalism series Basta started to air on één and one of their episodes, titled Het mol in het belspel examines and deconstructed all of the aspects of a phone-in game show and showed to the world how fraudulent the format was. Viewer backlash against the genre started becoming so immense that Medialaan was forced to cancel all of them just a few days after the episode aired in order to preserve themselves. Some have gone as far as to claim that the format is banned in Flanders. Although this is not the case, you should expect a very sharp drop in viewership because of how many people will believe that your format is unethical.

The WB

  • 7th Heaven was the longest-running and highest-rated show on The WB by far (as well as Aaron Spelling's longest-running show), loved by many viewers and providing Snark Bait for many others (it was likely one of the few shows on the network to attract audiences outside the valued 18–49 demographic). Now, the show's reputation and image, along with the cast's dependable residual checks, will be forever tarnished (and possibly, permanently banished from syndicated reruns, with the exception of the very brave Up network) by child molestation allegations against lead actor Stephen Collins.

     Specific TV Stars 
  • The Ur-Example for television may be TV personality Arthur Godfrey. Having started in radio in the '30s, he rose to become CBS' morning radio host in 1945 and eventually moved on to their young television network, with his shows becoming extraordinarily popular in the late '40s and early '50s. However, viewers turned against him after the "La Rosa incident", which revealed that, behind his folksy, friendly, gee-shucks demeanor, Godfrey was actually a cruel, egotistical taskmaster. In 1953, he fired Julius La Rosa, a popular singer on one of his shows, on the air for going to his grandmother's funeral instead of taking a dancing class he didn't actually need. The fact that a number of people behind the scenes suspected that the real reason was because Godfrey felt threatened by La Rosa's rise to stardom in his own right (he was receiving more fan mail than Godfrey was, and had put out two hit records by then) only made the matter worse, as did an interview days later where Godfrey claimed that La Rosa had "no humility" (a charge that many were quick to spin around and tag on Godfrey himself) and additional firings over the next several years. While he still had a small number of diehard fans as The Fifties went on, enough to keep his show Talent Scouts on the air until 1958, afterwards he was relegated to a footnote of early television history, remembered nowadays mainly for loosely inspiring the films The Great Man and A Face in the Crowd.
  • During his life, Jimmy Savile was an iconic and beloved British TV presenter, hosting Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It and raising funds for charities and hospitals. Not long after his death in 2011, however, it came out that he had molested and sexually abused hundreds of people (particularly young girls) during his long career. The public turned against him virtually overnight, with many organizations that Savile had been a part of disowning him, signs and plaques bearing his name being vandalized and removed en masse, and his own family taking down and destroying the ornate headstone on his grave out of respect for the victims. His reputation was sealed by an ITV documentary in 2012 detailing his crimes, which managed to cause a scandal when it revealed that some in The BBC, the National Health Service, and British law enforcement knew about what he was doing (or at least suspected it) and were complicit in covering it up. Today, he is a reviled figure in Britain, and entire swaths of the Top of the Pops library are now either off-limits or have those who attended its tapings blurred out to the point of absurdity, as any young person Savile met in that audience could be or could've been a possible victim.
  • Stuart Hall and Rolf Harris are in a similar position. Both were convicted in 2013/14 for historical sex offenses, both their careers and reputations have been destroyed.
  • Comedian Bill Cosby, for much of his life, was one of the most legendary and beloved figures in American television. For starters, he enjoyed a reputation as "America's Dad" thanks to his family-friendly sitcoms and comedy specials, as well as his outside charity work. But more importantly, he was the first African American television star to successfully depict a middle-class black family free from the racial stereotypes and wackiness of so many prior African American shows, and he became known just as much for his activism in the black community and his criticism of violence in the media (especially in Hip-Hop) as he was for his work in television.

    Unfortunately, Cosby's reputation was destroyed in late 2014 after a recording by comedian Hannibal Buress accusing him of rape went viral. Soon after, revelations poured out (after having been suppressed with hush money since 2000) that he had date raped or otherwise sexually harassed a large number of women he'd worked with over the course of his career, many of which involved the use of drugs. America turned on Cosby overnight, with reruns of The Cosby Show being immediately blacklisted, honors bearing his name being revoked en masse, and his name and image essentially being erased from pop culture. You can forget about seeing either Picture Pages or Little Bill anywhere at all outside of YouTube videos that Viacom hasn't found yet. Nowadays, Cosby is seen as the American Jimmy Savile, a pop culture pariah whose legacy, shows, and image have been irreparably tainted; many people (such as Amy Schumer) have bemoaned how one of America's best role models had fallen from grace so shamefully.
  • Back in 2003, celebrity socialite and hotel heiress Paris Hilton released a sex tape and starred in a reality television series called The Simple Life, which skyrocketed her to the position of most famous person in the world in the mid-'00s. For the next four years, Hilton's name and face were everywhere on TV, on billboards, on the cover of every women's magazine ever released, on the sides of buses, in the news, and plastered all over the internet. She got movie roles despite being a terrible actor, and released music albums despite being a horrible singer. The reason she rose so quickly to become the most recognized name and face on the planet was that her fame was being unceasingly fueled by a media which would not shut up about her, whether people wanted to be exposed to her or not. If there was a trope called "Famous for being Famous", Paris Hilton would be the Codifier.

    In 2007, Hilton was sentenced to 45 days in prison for charges of reckless drunk driving and failure to comply with previous court orders, but was released and put under house arrest after serving only 79 hours by the county sheriff [1]. Many suspect that she was released against specific court orders because she threw the biggest tantrum ever seen on this earth by human eyes. She was ordered back to jail, only to be released early again by the same sheriff on the medical grounds that her emotional state was deteriorating. The incident combined with the steadily rising Hype Backlash from virtually everyone since 2003, and a truly epic roast by Sarah Silverman to Hilton's face on the night before she went to jail, marked the beginning of the end of the Paris Hilton phenomenon. The onset of the Great Recession in 2008, which caused a strong backlash against the sort of Conspicuous Consumption that had defined both Hilton's image and the pop culture of the '00s that had fed into her stardom, laid the dirt on the grave of her career.

    By 2008, Paris Hilton was seen as a national shame and had become kryptonite to the media in general, with no sign that this would ever change. She was even ranked as the least popular American celebrity in 2011. The end of her media popularity also brought about a drastic reduction of the cult-like media worship of celebrities who are famous for doing nothing. Also because of her, the leaked sex tape has become a universally recognized cry for attention used by waning celebrities when they want the spotlight and don't really have a notable reputation left to tarnish. There have been subsequent celebrities who are famous for being famous (most notably Kim Kardashian, who got her big break in exactly the same way with a sex tape and reality TV show), but none have ever been given the insane levels of media over-hype and saturation that Hilton had. The world has since moved on and mostly forgotten about those four terrible years when Hilton was forced down America's collective throat by a media that kept telling people that she was what they wanted to see. Just about the only artifact of her period of fame that's looked upon with any fondness was her role in Repo! The Genetic Opera, and even then, that had more to do with extremely inspired casting (her character, a Spoiled Brat heiress who was addicted to plastic surgery, was seen by many as a case of Adam Westing) than Hilton's talents.
  • Model Dani Mathers was already known for her role on The Bold and the Beautiful when she became a Playboy model. She landed the title of "Cyber Girl of the Month" in 2013, and later found herself on the cover of their summer issue, appeared on four of their TV series, and later got s role in a short film. The next two years would continue her rise to stardom, as she was named Playmate of the Month for May 2014 and later Playmate of the Year for 2015, and she started to appear in other media such as Guitar World magazine.

    However, her career came crashing down in July 2016 when she took a photo of a naked woman changing in an LA Fitness locker room and uploaded it onto Snapchat. The photo had a caption reading "If I can't unsee this than you can't either" and featured a picture of Mathers putting her hand over her mouth alongside it. Unfortunately for her, the photo quickly found its way to the wider internet, causing a massive social media backlash over her "fat-shaming" of a woman who was completely unaware someone was trying to publicly humiliate her, to say nothing of the fact that a) it was in a gym, meaning that the woman was clearly trying to get in better shape, and b) it was in a gym locker room, a place where people have a legal expectation of privacy. Not only was Mathers banned from the gym forever, but she quickly lost her radio gig and her career took a nosedive. Like Britt McHenry before her (see below), Dani Mathers is seen as a prime example of a real life Alpha Bitch, and her incident serves as a cautionary tale of how being "attractive" won't let you off the hook for bad behavior. As with McHenry, the chances of Mathers ever coming back from this incident are slim to none.
  • Paula Deen was once one of the most respected celebrity chefs on the market, having been on Food Network for over a decade and having several hit shows. Unfortunately, her reputation took a nasty hit in 2013 when it was revealed she made racist comments about an African-American bride-to-be for her wedding and suggested a "plantation" theme. The backlash was swift, and after more stories about Deen's usage of racial epithets circulated, Food Network ended their relationship with her, and most of her endorsements and sponsorships were cancelled. Nowadays, Deen is seen as an ugly reminder of the South's racist past and a complete joke.

    Fictional examples 
  • One of The X-Files' signatures was Mulder's snarky "Deader than Disco" pop cultural references, as typified by this exchange:
    Putative Vampire: Don't you want to live forever?
    Agent Mulder: Not if drawstring pants are coming back.
  • In the Burn Notice episode "Odd Man Out", Sam quotes the trope name in describing what will happen if they try to ambush the Villain of the Week by hiding behind explosive drums.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles features Deeks quoting the trope name as well, while describing the Victim of the Week in "Collateral", an ex-CIA agent turned wildly successful video game developer, who had been blown to bits by his lighter.
  • In the Parks and Recreation episode "Prom," Ben offers to DJ the titular event, citing his experience having hosted a radio show he called "Zoot Suit Wyatt" while he was in college:
    Ben: Tuesdays, three to five AM, I was the "King of Swing".
    Tom: I thought we as a culture agreed to forget the year that everyone was into swing!