Buffy the Vampire Slayer inspires a lot of arguments on this topic. It's widely agreed that there was Seasonal Rot but less clear which season it was. Season 6 in particular is a case of Love It or Hate It; many revile it for levels of gloom bordering on Wangst, the pathetic-ness of the Trio of as Big Bad, plot elements such as the widely-detested "magicaddiction" arc and an inconsistently written romance between Spike and Buffy. On the other hand, some praise it for the attempts at emotional depth and character development, a change of pace from the relentless Sorting Algorithm of Evil, and individually beloved episodes like "Tabula Rasa" and "Once More With Feeling".
Perhaps lampshaded in this scene:
Buffy: Giles, everything's just been so... Xander left Anya at the altar, and Anya's a vengeance demon again... Dawn's a total klepto... money's been so tight that I've been slinging burgers at the Doublemeat Palace... And I've been sleeping with Spike. Giles starts to laugh
Season 4 is another popular candidate, losing the high school element and most of the popular characters, with Angel and Cordelia having disappeared off onto another show and Xander and Giles Demoted to Extra. Buffy's relationship with Riley was not well received and the introduction of a demon-hunting military unit was too much of a departure from the show's norm. The season also took far too long to get to the point, waiting until over halfway through before introducing Big Bad Adam and then hardly doing anything with him (only his first full episode and the two-parter that wrapped up his storyline give him any real screen time, with the intervening episodes trying to keep the arc moving by having characters go "We must do something to stop Adam" during unrelated problems), leaving it feeling rather directionless at times. Main plus points were Spike's emerging Ensemble Darkhorse status and a few decent individual episodes like "Fear Itself" and "Hush".
Angel, much like Buffy, is subject to a lot of argument over this. Many fans found Season 4 to be extremely hard-going, thanks to a Bait-and-Switch Villain, a hefty portion of Squick, and the continually annoying Wangst of Connor. Summed up nicely by Gunn's description of the season thus far as "a supernatural soap-opera." Nearly everyone agrees that Season 4 was a nadir, but opinion is divided on whether the show improved when Season 5 came around.
Xena: Warrior Princess's fandom generally agrees that either Season 3 or Season 4 suffered from this; depending on the side of the argument you take, Season Four suffered for being unable to pass the high standards set by Season Three, (Gabrielle's pacifism phase is often cited as the primary downfall of the season), or Season Three's "Rift" arc (which led to the critically acclaimed Musical Episode "The Bitter Suite") being disliked by certain fans.
If and how much this happened to The Red Green Show over its fifteen season run is debatable, but writer and star Steve Smith was aware of this happening, which is why he chose to end the show on its 300th episode.
Double The Fist was originally displayed as a reality TV show where the main characters antics towards an episodic goal were reported on by Steve. Series Two, while good in its own right, got a lot of hate for instead choosing to have a complex plot sprawling the entire season.
Six Feet Under: Most fans agree that the fourth season is the worst one, and the creators themselves tend to agree. Character-arcs tended to become redundant, out-of-place, irrelevant, or overly gratuitous in their content; it was at that time that the scenarists understood they could not keep using the same characters forever and decided the next season would be the last. Nevertheless it's still top-quality television, but watching it you really do feel the writers were starting to get a bit confused. It's also compensated by the fact both the beginning and the end are top-notch; the fifth season also did a good job explaining the relevance of more controversial plotlines introduced during season four.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Season three is distinctly weak, due to two factors: the departure of Peter Allan Fields (who was responsible for the first two seasons' best writing), and an increasing reliance on Ferengi-centered comedy episodes. It was back on its feet by season four, though. Season seven receives this accusation by some fans due to (allegedly) lower quality stories and Ezri Dax.
Star Trek: Voyager: Depends who you ask, but Season 2 is frequently chosen. It contained some of the show's least popular storylines (with fans and eventually writers) and famously led longtime Trek reviewer Tim Lynch to stop watching. The show improved steadily from here, beginning by leaving Kazon space behind.
A sizable number of fans think Seasonal Rot set in around Season 4 or 5.
Star Trek: Enterprise: Season two, which lacked both the novelty of the first season and the ambition of the third and fourth seasons. What is widely regarded as the show's worst episode ("A Night In Sickbay") was produced that season, along with rather desperate and ill-advised appearances by the Borg and the Ferengi (in different episodes, fortunately). Both, incidentally, got around their canon implications by simply having neither one mention their name. This is despite the Ferengi having been name-dropped in an earlier episode as a race they'd yet to encounter, while "We are the Borg" actually being part of the Borg's standard opening hail. One they do (nearly) every time!
The West Wing: Everything post-Aaron Sorkin, but mainly the fifth season.
Attitudes to series six and seven are generally split pretty evenly down the middle; on one hand the actual West Wing was sidelined, but at the same time the plot tried something new and focused on the presidential election. The main problem with series five was that it tried too hard to top the previous series by introducing too many new constitutional challenges (the 25th amendment invocation, the federal government shut-down, etc.). Other common criticisms were focused on the impossibility of imitating Sorkin's unique dialogue, the show's shift toward an ER sensibility (the creation of the last producer standing after the departure of Sorkin and Schlamme), the breaks from form (which were often seen as Very Special Episode in tone), and the retrofitting of characters to create drama. While the sixth and seventh seasons were markedly better, they can fall into Fanon Discontinuity territory even among fans who enjoyed them, as they seem to stand alone from the original show.
Speaking of Aaron Sorkin, the third season isn't exactly beloved, as it introduced a handful of Base Breaker characters (carrying a Romantic Plot Tumor) and suffered from Executive Meddling, all of which would be standard Sorkin if not for the lack of an overarching plot and Values Dissonance. The first six episodes were written before 9/11 and a direct continuation of the major plot line started in the second half of season two, but several instances of Intended Audience Reaction later, that plot was dispensed with and the show lost its centre. Was it a personal drama about the president and his Deputy Chief of Staff? Were the activities of the administration primarily political or was the show merely a vehicle to discuss Islamic terrorism? It doesn't help that the finale involves a fictional Shakespeare mash-up... with song and dance. The deliberately non-canon season opener, broadcast in response to 9/11, has aged poorly.
Either the sixth, seventh, or eighth series; which one qualifies best, or rather worst, as the seasonal rot depends on who you talk to.
While fans differ as to where it began exactly, it's generally agreed that the period in between Series 3 and 6 was its peak, with the rot starting depending on personal impression. However the rot became obvious after Rob Grant and Doug Naylor split, with Doug Naylor choosing to revive the series and turn it into a comedy/drama with no studio audience for Series 7 and a new Kochanski and getting the backlash that followed. Despite returning to a pure comedy format and shot in front of an audience for Series 8 the response was similarly poor, due to the jarring change of premise to a prison comedy with the old crew brought back to life as opposed to the more natural progression from series 5 through 7.
Sliders: Universally, season three, during which Maggie was introduced, Professor Arturo had a bridge dropped on him, Quinn Mallory ceased being the genius he once had been, and almost all plots were movie ripoffs. The debate is how much the show recovered, if at all.
Season 11, the Third Doctor's last season is often considered the weakest. It did introduce one of the best loved companions Sarah Jane Smith, but "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" is a rather poor story, "Death to the Daleks" and "The Monster of Peladon" seem to contain a lot of Recycled Plot and "Planet of the Spider" feels quite padded. It didn't help that the [[Master's Arch-Enemy]] actor had suddenly died.
One thing nearly everyone seems to agree on is that seasons 22 through 24 were the worst of the classic series. Season 22 was the first full season featuring the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and suffered from a lot of problematic storytelling. Season 23 is derided as much as season 22, possibly due to it being mindscrewy. Both seasons are notable for bothersome amounts of Continuity Lock-Out and Continuity Porn. Season 24 introduced the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), who was clownish and goofy. (At first.) It also ramped the CampUp to Eleven and introduced the world to Keff McCulloch and his disco-aerobics brand of incidental music.
While there's no general consensus, many fans found Season 17 (the season Douglas Adams script edited) to be lackluster. Yes, City of Death is one of the best episodes out there, but it doesn't make up for Destiny of the Daleks, The Horns of Nimon, the AnviliciousNightmare of Eden, or the fact that the entire season was cut short by a poorly timed crew workers strike.
Series 2 of the new series (season 28 overall) is considered the least of the first five, due in part to an over-reliance on the Doctor/Rose ship and the show in general becoming a little too goofy, even for Who. A lot of people also found 10 and Rose's behaviour unbearable. It also produced two of the least liked Doctor Who stories, "Love and Monsters" and "Fear Her". On the other hand, it wasn't a complete disaster; David Tennant's performance as the Doctor was fantastic, catapulting him to star status and making him the most popular Doctor since Tom Baker. Another positive is the finale, which had Daleks vs Cybermen and a very satisfactory ending to the season's arc. (Though that ending is becoming a bit of a base breaker due to Rose gaining quite a hatedom.)
New Who Series 3 is something of a Love It or Hate It, with some people calling it the best of the New Series as of 2013. It has a much better story arc then the previous seasons, but that arc eventually ends in a thoroughly-despised Deus ex Machina. "Human Nature/The Family of Blood" and "Blink" are two of the best Doctor Who stories ever. But there's also "Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks", the point where most fans realized that the Daleks were being overused. (A trend that would continue in later seasons, causing substantial Villain Decay.) The change in companion from Rose to Martha is a bit of a hot-button issue in fandom, and likewise John Simm's portrayal of The Master is either one of the greatest things ever or a horrendous insult to the character depending on who you ask.
The general consensus for series 6 is that the series had good ideas that were marred by shaky writing. Fans complained that the overall story arc was at once far too convoluted and far too simplistic. Constant twists marred the overall story arc, causing odd swerves in tone and character development. Some accused the River Song arc of being a Romantic Plot Tumor,or just disliked her in general. Amy's pregnancy was another source of controversy, with some claiming it had Unfortunate Implications.
Series 7 also had problems, ironically they were partially caused by trying to get away from the problems of Season 6. The overly-complex Silence plotline was dropped completely, only getting a belated and perfunctory tie-up in the next year's christmas special. Writers instead focused on standalone episodes, but these suffered from lackluster execution, sometimes as a result of Pacing Problems. Casting changes were also criticized. Some fans don't think The Ponds got the exit they deserved, and Clara is either one of the best companions of the new series or a glorified MacGuffin Girl and Creator's Pet.
Some people felt that Kyle XY began to suffer when it became less about Kyle himself (as in Season 1) and more about the evil Mega Corp. that was pursuing him (as in Seasons 2 and 3).
The X-Files: Season 9. There's some disagreement as to exactly when the show took a wrong turn and started going downhill, but many agree that by Season 9, at least, major problems had set in. Although the replacement of Mulder with John Doggett in Season 8 at least had a mixed reception, the same can't be said of Season 9, where Scully was phased out in favor of Monica Reyes, and the conspiracy arc was dragged out for far too long, leading to a series finale that offered very little resolution.
The finale was intended to be a set-up for a series of feature films that would finally start resolving the Mytharc, but that ultimately didn't come to pass.
Many fans loathe Season 7, due to questionable twists in the Mythology (especially the Samantha reveal in Closure), a perceived excess of humorous episodes and the assorted twists in "Requiem." In fairness to Chris Carter and Co., Fox was planning to cancel the series and only renewed it at the last minute, causing the show to prematurely wrap up loose ends. Even X-Philes who dislike Seasons 8-9 sometimes rate them above the 7th.
Monty Python's Flying Circus: John Cleese left the show after the third series. Without his rigorous quality control, the fourth season, renamed simply Monty Python, featured way too many half-baked ideas and thin premises stretched well past breaking point, resulting in a horribly uneven batch of episodes.
24: The fourth series of the show is markedly different from the preceding three seasons; Jack is effectively deposed as head of CTU operations, the building itself has undergone a makeover, and just about everyone from the previous season is gone without explanation. It's not surprising that, by the end of the season, almost all of the major surviving characters from the series were brought back into the fold. Alternately, season six starts out promising, and then becomes mired in a complex, ridiculous family drama filled with plot points ripped haphazardly from previous episodes.
Season 6 is the only season that was hated by almost everyone; even the writers admit it was incredibly subpar.
Since Seasons 2, 3, 5 and 7 are generally considered some of the best seasons (obviously debatable, but at least S5 is universally acclaimed), a distinct pattern can be seen: all non-prime-numbered seasons are subpar.
If anything, season 7 is greatly considered another big part of the rot. Once again, after the lackluster response to season 6 the show attempted another Re Tool, but this led to several unlikable copies of previously loved characters, fan favorite Tony Almeida having his death retconned, Jonas Hodges, a widely enjoyed antagonist introduced in the season getting discarded in favor of the lesser received Alan Wilson as the Big Bad and a widely hated storyarc with Jack slowly dying in a repeat of a much-more-loved storyline from the show's second season, sucking out any potential drama since everyone knew he'd get some sort of save at the end (and sure enough, that's exactly what happened). Another problem was that the season went into production right at the time the Writers Strike of 2007 happened, shutting production down when only the first eight episodes were completed. When production resumed and the show was delayed for a year the writers used this time to plan out next two-thirds completely in advance, but this also led to a lot of it completely contradicting events previously established during the first third of the season, especially the infamous way Tony behaved as the direction they decided to take him in for the latter half was completely opposite of the way they wanted to go with him a year ago when the first part of the season was filmed, which resulted in behaving jarringly different in both sections. It's likely all this ultimately helped lead to the show being cancelled in the following year.
While not every fan of the prison drama Oz agrees that the final two seasons were the worst, it's hard to argue against the fact that storylines became increasingly outlandish and implausible during the show's final years, which involved, among other things, accelerated aging drugs, a dog-training program in a maximum security prison and a prison guard being signed by the NBA. This all in stark contrast to the gritty realism of the show's early seasons.
Smallville: While the fourth season brought us Impulse and Chloe learning Clark's secret, its primary plot was magic stones and reincarnated witches. The writers clearly didn't know where they were going and way too many conspiracies made it hard to keep track of where it had been, especially with Jason and his mother, whom the writers couldn't decide if they were working together or apart, or if they wanted Lana alive or dead. It also had a butchering of Mxyzptlk preventing a more traditional (i.e. having any qualities even remotely resembling Mxyzptlk) version from showing up in the future.
Most fans complain about season 8. Mostly due to the increasingly poor plots (Clark always rushes in at the last minute to save the day and it's starting to bug everyone), bringing Lana back again, dialogue filled with needless Purple Prose, and not moving forward at all with the plot.
Lana returning easily derailed the entire season, putting all the established plotlines (which were well-liked) on hold in favor of milking the guest star, who was already the most hated character on the show thanks to previous seasons. The butchering of Doomsday didn't help either, especially since unlike Mxyzptlk he was a regular. The sad thing is, the first half of Season 8 was universally beloved and halfway into the season fans and critics were already praising it as one of the best seasons yet, and it successfully breathed enough life back into the show to allow it to last a few more seasons. Then the Lana plot arrived mid-season and all the momentum was thrown off course. It seems that a LOT of the fans never completely forgave the showrunners.
And the Season 8 finale, "Doomsday'", was derided. And Season 9 is also base breaking, with its bigger Recurring Character cast and desire to use more canonical characters.
There were also plenty of fans who felt the show started steadily downhill after Season 5, since after that it stopped being about Clark growing up in Smallville and started being about him being Superman without the name and costume.
LOST has had this, although the matter is debatable. What's known for sure is that Season 2 lost many viewers because of an overly large Kudzu Plot. The first six episodes of Season 3 (the "pod") were widely panned and turned off a lot of fans (who would then go on to miss episode 7, "Not in Portland," considered one of the show's finest, and the nearly unbroken line of incredible episodes that followed it). Fortunately, with the series' end scheduled to the sixth season years in advance, Seasons 4 and 5 started expanding the context of the story and tying together some of the various loose ends.
Sadly, Season 6 suffered from this as well for a lot of viewers, mainly because of an alternate-universe subplot that was generally seen as unnecessary and uninteresting, and an increasing emphasis on mystical and metaphysical themes (which the show hadn't really embraced until that point), all culminating in an extremely polarizing series finale which answered very few questions.
There is a widespread dislike for Season 2 of Once Upon a Time, especially its second half following Emma and Snow's return from the Enchanted Forest. Season 1 is beloved and opinion on Season 3 is split down the middle, but Season 2 is usually criticized for all the new character additions and multiple storylines being piled on at the expense of the characters and stories the show already had.
Well, people have mellowed out a little in regards to Turbo both due to it improving midway through as well as the fact that, despite its flaws, it did lead directly into one of the most popular seasons of the series. Nowadays Power Rangers Operation Overdrive seems to most occupy the designation of "worst season ever" among the fanbase.
During Season 5 of Leverage, the team began depending upon more outlandish cons requiring unlikely levels of technology from Hardison to pull off (from the Really Big Bird Job's false flight of the Spruce Goose to the "Close encounter" in the First Contact Job to the White Rabbit job's Inception/holodeck system. While the season still offered several truly excellent episodes, the drop in quality was noticeable, and doubtless helped contribute to the series's eventual cancellation.
The last couple seasons (starting point depends on the viewer) of MacGyver aren't viewed as favorably as the first couple seasons due to the Genre Shift of the show. By the last season, it was practically little more than a soapbox for the major issues the writers viewed as important. Most of the elements that made the show successful toned down or phased out in favor of Anvilicious issue-of-the-week episodes.
The fourth series of the British series Teachers. The surrealism that had always bubbled under in the earlier series before coming to the fore in the third series got a little too out of hand, the dramatic elements almost entirely vanished, as did most of the better characters, to be replaced by pale imitations. One of the standout characters in the previous series had been Bob, a lovable loser, but for the fourth series he was flanderized into a Butt Monkey with a cheating Thai bride completely unaware of his status as the Butt Monkey. It might actually be possible that this is the way it always was, but we only noticed when the plots went downhill...
Series three is also a good pick. Few shows can survive the loss of their three most developed characters without taking a nosedive, and series 3 demonstrated why; Brian and Kurt were great background characters, but in no way were they capable of leading a series, and as a result the writing took massive drop in quality.
The Los Angeles season of The Apprentice. It would have probably been fine if the location was the only thing that changed, but in the face of steadily declining ratings, the show added a number of gimmicks. Viewers saw former viceroys Carolyn and George replaced by Trump's children (Granted, Carolyn had quit the show to focus on her own career and George had pretty much become The Ghost in the previous season due to his other work, but the replacement choices stunk of nepotism to many viewers.) The show's focus shifting toward boardroom and interpersonal drama at the expense of the task (which generally got no more than ten minutes of screentime per episode), the week's losers having to live in tents, the winning Project Manager staying PM until a loss, said PM getting to sit in on boardroom elimination discussions, an entire team getting immunity for a week and as a result the losing team being split into two groups that had to compete against each other, and the final challenge pitting two teams of two instead of just two finalists. This resulted in a winner that never served as Project Manager. This led to poor ratings and a near-cancellation — Three "Celebrity" editions and dropping the aforementioned gimmicks seem to have kept the show afloat; the tenth season returned to regular folks, but ratings were even more dismal than the L.A. season, so Donald Trump announced at the end of season 10 the discontinued use of the original version and all subsequent seasons (11 onwards) would be in "Celebrity" format.
With the UK incarnation of the show, the second season is generally agreed as the worst, with the very competent candidates in the previous series replaced by a bunch of complete morons (with the obvious exception of Ruth Badger). Depending on who you ask, the third season was either when things got back on track, or the year when the show went all icky and "mainstream" on viewers.
Season 2 of Heroes. Half the characters had boring storylines, one of the more interesting ones was mostly off screen, and Maya Herrera. Cut short by the writers' strike, and acknowledged by the writers as inferior to Season 1. The main plot also required the hero to carry the largest Idiot Ball in recorded history to keep it from being resolved before the season ever started.
The first half of Season 3 was worse. The writers heard the complaints that Season 2 was too slowly paced, and lacking twists. Their answer? A Random Events Plot and one Aborted Arc after another. Fans could no longer say it was predictable or slowly paced, but the result was even worse. The show mostly returned to form with the second half of its third season and the fourth and final season, though fans argue by how much.
Interviews with the creators later clarified (though not necessarily justified) a lot of the problems with season two that led into season three. Originally, Peter wouldn't have caught the virus and it would have been released, causing the bad future he foresaw. What was supposed to be the first half of season two involved a lot of setting up for the second half; plot points that ended up being abandoned were originally Chekhovs Guns (for example, Claire's blood was going to be used to cure victims of the virus, and Maya's power would have had some level of control over the virus). Instead, when the writer's strike happened, they decided to change what was supposed to be a mid-season finale into a season finale, and chose to take the story in a different direction when they returned.
Desperate Housewives: The season five time jump aborts numerous storylines such as Bree and Orson being new parents while the relationship between Mike and Susan once again got haphazardly changed in order to drag out the "Will they or won't they" drama.
Just about any season depending on who you ask (with the popular answers being that the show hasn't been good since the original cast was on it in the 1970s, or, if viewers just watch it for one sketch or cast member, they will blame the seasonal rot on the cast member's departure. Popular cast members cited include: Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Chris Farley, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Andy Samberg, and, as of 2013, Bill Hader), but the sixth season (1980-1981) stands out as uniquely awful and the season that most fans will agree is a mess in terms of quality. The entire cast and writing staff left in 1980, but the network insisted that the show continue along anyway; new producer Jean Doumanian knew nothing about comedy (on a special about SNL's history in the 1980s, Gilbert Gottfried, a cast member around that time, went on record in saying that Jean Doumanian was so clueless about comedy that she would root for Margaret Dumont in a Marx Brothers film), having been previously in charge of booking musical guests. As a result, the musical guests were fantastic, but the rest of the show was barely watchable (including Weekend Update, which Lorne Michaels invented as a way for viewers to at least find one funny moment in an episode that they didn't like because of the host or if the writing was a little flat that week). More to the point, Doumanian passed up a lot of potentially talented would-be cast members (Jim Carrey being one of them), misunderstood a lot of obvious punchlines, thought that Vulgar Humor was what made the sketches funny (as opposed to Refuge in Audacity) — which became the show's downfall when Charles Rocket said, "I wanna know who the fuck did it" at the end of the Charlene Tilton episode, and focused more on humorless character pieces (some of which were intentionally not funny, like the one from the Karen Black/Cheap Trick episode in which Gilbert Gottfried played a stroke victim laid up in the hospital while everyone around him — except his true friend, Rachel [Denny Dillon] — mocked him). Finally NBC stepped in and fired everyone except Joe Piscopo and some kid named Eddie Murphy that was hired mid-season and was showing a lot of promise...
Season 11 (1985-1986) counts as Seasonal Rot and an Old Shame, in the eyes of NBC, Al Franken, and Simpsons writer George Meyer. One would think that a season in which one of the original producers (Lorne Michaels) returns to try and rebuild the show to its former glory would be welcomed with open arms by fans, right? Not really. The writing was okay (a little weird for its time, but critics didn't complain about the writing), but the cast was filled with semi-famous people who may have given good performances, but really didn't gel into that ensemble cast that SNL had in its early days. This, coupled with the mediocre premiere hosted by Madonna and the fact that critics and fans alike were getting sick of SNL and you had all the ingredients needed for Brandon Tartikoff to plan SNL's cancellation (though, unlike season six, season 11's "Weekend Update" was somewhat enjoyable, thanks to the hiring of Dennis Miller, whose snarky delivery brought back memories of Chevy Chase as the show's very first Weekend Update anchor). (Un)Fortunately, this didn't happen, as Lorne Michaels fired most of his season 11 cast (leaving behind Jon Lovitz, Nora Dunn, and Dennis Miller) and hired a new crew of up-and-coming cast members (Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Kevin Nealon, and Victoria Jackson). Those who weren't completely turned off by SNL in its 11th season rejoiced.
The 20th season (1994-1995) also stands out as particularly bad. Between Phil Hartman's departure, the popularity of the O.J. Simpson murder trial (which SNL repeatedly wrote sketches about during this time — when it didn't write sketches laden with Ho Yay or Overly Long Gags disguised as sketches with some semblance of a plot), and cast and crew tensions backstage (particularly with Janeane Garofalo, who hated the juvenile humor of the show and left mid-season), it's really not hard to see why some critics and fans have compared season 20 with season 6 in terms of sheer unwatchability (though, like season 11, Weekend Update was considered a bright spot in an otherwise messy season — this time, with Norm MacDonald as the anchor, though even Weekend Update suffered from being weak and repetitive just like the rest of season 20).
The first half of season 39 (2013-2014) has been criticised fairly harshly for a number of reasons. A common complaint is that six new cast members is just too many for one season to add.note While Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, Sasheer Zamata and Noël Wells have been acclaimed for their performances (John Milhiser is getting there), Colin Jost, Mike O'Brien and Brooks Wheelan seem to still be finding their voices. Pre-taped sketches are also usually now the best parts of the episodes, which probably isn't great for this LIVE show.
Season 3: Mostly well-liked, though the audience was always Anviliciously reminded that Dean only had one year to live. It was also weakened by the Writer’s Strike, which cut it down from 22 episodes to 16, thus making the storylines of the last four episodes rushed and abandoning great ideas such as the return of Ellen Harvelle (which got pushed back to Season 5). The amount of rock music was greatly reduced and so were the special effects. As well, Executive Meddling let to Ruby and Bela, two characters who have been controversial. There were some good ideas there, but over-focusing on the two over the brothers led to fan derision, and probably contributed to Bela being killed off.
Seasons 4 & 5: With their considerable retooling of the Myth Arc, heavy use of Christian mythology, and larger cast, they were looked upon more favorably by newer fans, and generally less so by older ones. Genevieve Cortese, however, is oft-reviled in her portrayal of Ruby, and fans really missed Katie Cassidy (fans that weren’t nearly so loud when she was actually onscreen the previous season). Ultimately, the changes turned out in favor of the newer fans, as Season 4 boosted the show’s sagging ratings enough to ensure there would be a Season 5. In fact, because of the loss of the original show runners and also the high stakes of the Season 5 finale (which definitely felt like a series finale), as well as what is well-regarded as a downward spiral in the show quality ever since, many feel that Season 5 should have been the last season of the show.
Season 6: The return to form approach pleased some older fans with its drastically pared-down cast and concentration on the Winchester brothers’ newest trust issues, but turned off newer fans. The realization that Sam had lost his soul and the brothers’ attempts to get it backwas planned to be the main arc of the season, but fan backlash prompted the writers to conclude it halfway through and introduce new storylines (Castiel becoming a villain, for example, was only thought of at the last minute as a replacement). The results were still mixed, among them being Eve’s introduction as a new, somewhat derivative Big Bad after more than half the season was already over.
Season 7: While Season 6 had its flaws, and definitely suffered from the loss of the original show runners, this was where the show really started to show its age badly for some. For one thing, the Sam/Dean drama had became way overplayed by that point. The abrupt dropping of the very-promising-sounding Cosmic New Order at the beginning of the season (Castiel was going to be the new God, while Crowley was already the king of Hell) was also disappointing. Just imagine the awesomeness of Sam and Dean being caught up in a cold war between Castiel and Crowley while desperately trying to get Cas to return to sanity. The fans were pumped and excited, and one wonders what the writers were thinking when they threw it out, as Castiel and Crowley both vanished from the plot for some time. And who took their place? The Leviathans, who were a complete Ass Pull, and remained extremely vague in their abilities for several episodes. The writers themselves apparently couldn’t figure out what to do with them, so they had them disappear for long stretches of time while still trying to make them out to be this huge threat… except that their goals were completely undefined. Eventually, they had an episode where their leader becomes a Strawman PoliticalCorrupt Corporate Executive so they could do a Take That on conservatives and libertarians, which only served to offend some of the fanbase. Then the Leviathans disappeared again for an even longer stretch of episodes. They weren’t doing very much onscreen, but Sam and Dean’s dialogue constantly exhorted the audience to remember that Vagueness Is Coming. The slow development of the Leviathan storyline resulted in a lot of filler episodes to boot. The fandom was also deprived of Bobby and the Impala for most of the season, resulting in further dissatisfaction. On the plus side, the Leviathans became more well-defined towards the end of the season. We also got the introduction of Plucky Comic Relief character Garth, Castiel returned and developed further as a character, while Bobby got an impressive ghost-arc which tied up his character quite nicely.
Season 8: Once again, the previous season’s cliffhanger – this time Dick Roman dragging Dean and Castiel to Purgatory with him – was resolved in the first episode of the season thanks to a Time Skip because Sam and Dean can’t be apart, ever. Dean and Castiel’s time in Purgatory was shown through flashbacks, and were arguably the best parts, but they were few and far between. Sam’s new love interest, Amelia, and perfect-life-while-Dean-was-gone subplots are near universally reviled. His I Just Want to Be Normal speeches, along with his hatred of Dean's new vampire friend, Benny, brought the Wangst to a new high. Crowley returned and appeared to be the Big Bad, though much mileage has varied as to whether or not he was any good at it. Perhaps realizing their mistakes, the writers tried to Re Tool the season around halfway through, much like what they did with Season 6. Amelia was written out, the Men of Letters were introduced, and Sam was given a new story arc about him performing trials to close the Gates of Hell. Most Sam fans were happy, but Dean fans were frustrated about him repeatedly being pushed Out of Focus as his Benny and Purgatory plots were dropped. Regardless, the second half of the season was definitely more well-received than the first.
Season 9: Both Sam and Dean took respective levels in Jerkass, leaving Castiel as the only real sympathetic character on the show. Most of the show’s remaining supporting cast were either Killed Off for Real or Put on a Bus. The Myth Arc bounced around without any clear direction for most of the year. Characters like Batholomew and Malachi were introduced and set up as major players in the angel war, only to be dropped shortly afterward (with Malachi infamously being killed offscreen after only a single appearance). Actor Jensen Ackles admitted in an interview that the writers were just throwing out ideas and seeing which ones stuck. Eventually, they settled on the Mark of Cain story, one of the more popular things to come out of Season 9… and then proceeded to do almost nothing with it until the final three episodes of the season. Not helping matters was the fact that the whole season was undercut by several lengthy stretches of heavily-disliked fillers episodes, many of which such as The Purge and Alex Annie Alexis Ann have been called by fans to be some of the worst in the show's history. There was also Bloodlines, an ill-received back-door pilot for a spin-off that failed to come to fruition. Amongst it all, there’s the constant fighting between Sam and Dean, something which fans of both characters are getting sick of.
Season 8 of The Amazing Race was a "Family Edition" which was utter crap, and even the production team later said that It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time but turned out badly. The intra-team drama invariably became parents yelling at kids, having children restricted international travel, teams of 4 also restricted international travel (as the show already requires a huge travel budget with teams of 2), the challenges had to be watered down for the families, and so on. The entirety of the race ended up taking place in North and Central America, and viewers watched families turning seemingly dysfunctional while being challenged to such difficult tasks like pitching a tent in exotic Pennsylvania. Its main shining moment was the injection of Unfortunate ImplicationsNarm of an African-American family having the surname of "Black" (leading to such captions as "Black Family: Last Place" with narration to match). Thankfully, season 9 returned to the original format.
And now Season 15, which had a whiny, mediocre cast full of pseudo-celebrities running on a subpar course. It did not help either that three teams essentially quit the race when they came up against something too difficult (which included, of all things, going down a waterslide and unscrambling the name Franz).
SeaQuest DSV stopped playing to its strengths in Season 2; the writers introduced a lot of weird sci-fi elements that were out of place on a submarine show. The Season 3 Re Tool did a lot to fix this, but it came too late to avert cancellation.
Although still popular, seasons 8 and 9 were notably different from the former ones. This is because the showrunner Larry David left the show after season 7, leaving Jerry Seinfeld as the new Executive Producer. With the remaining writing staff left to its own devices, these seasons featured faster-paced, "wackier" episodes with many references to previous episodes, and attempts at running gags. Characters also slightly de-evolved, especially George, and Kramer's stunts became ever increasing. Still, the series continued to enjoy ratings success and a tenth season was proposed, until Seinfeld declined.
Also, the first and second seasons (mind you — these two made about 15 episodes total) were very bland, slow and generically sitcom-y. The only thing that saved it from being cancelled was the opinion of a few execs that the scripts were funny, if not good, and that the characters showed promise. The Growing the Beard episode is accepted as season 2's "The Chinese Restaurant," where the characters do nothing but stand around in a restaurant waiting for a table for 23 minutes (in Real Time, no less), a move unprecedented in TV history.
Season Five of House. Plot points that were never brought up again, Wilson and Cuddy acting like bigger asses than House was, an overemphasis on Foreteen and giving Foreman all the big plotlines, Chase and Cameron being very rarely seen, the medicine being even worse than before, House turning pathetic and rather stupid and Kutner's dumbass suicide made this season even worse than Season Three in the fans' eyes.
Season Six isn't exactly liked either. Removing almost all of the character traits from House that made him a compelling character in the first place is a prime example of doing it wrong.
Season Seven... dull. House and Cuddy's relationship, dull. The prodigy chick? Dull. For longtime fans, if season five or six didn't deter you, seven definitely will.
Sanford and Son subverted this earlier in its run with Fred being Put on a Bus a few times because of Redd Foxx's contract disputes. However, the supporting characters were strong (and plentiful) enough to hold up the show along side Lamont. One stretch of episodes even had Grady functioning as the second main character and it actually worked! Then real seasonal rot kicked in the final two seasons that had an increased focus on As Himself guest stars (who inexplicably showed up at the junk yard), a Vacation Episode to Hawaii and a bizarre episode that featured Fred entering a Redd Foxx look alike contest that were all very out of character for the show. On top of that, Foxx and costar Demond Wilson were both engaged in contract battles with the network that hurt their work on camera and ultimately caused both to leave the show thus ending it. The less said about the After ShowThe Sanford Arms (sans Foxx and Wilson) and the RevivalSanford (sans Wilson) that NBC tried to cash in with, the better.
According to many fans of Teen Wolf, Season 3 qualifies as this. Most of the new characters weren't interesting (in particular, Erica-Expy Cora), the plotting was thinly written and poorly thought out due to simply dropping Scott into a storyline meant for Jackson, a randomly written romance between Derek and a new character was suddenly dropped in, and it was missing two (eventually three) major characters from the previous season. Also, Season 3 was riddled with plot holes and hasty plotlines (most of the page's headscratchers are from season 3), new characters that were Suspiciously Similar Substitutes, and a large deviation from the mythology that had been established in earlier seasons. By the end, it had created even more plot holes and also killed off or removed Allison, Isaac, and Chris Argent, effectively decimating over half of the original cast in a single season.
Arrested Development had a weaker story arc involving Charlize Theron in early Season 3. Acknowledged by the creators in the episode "SOBs":
Part of the reason season 3 suffered was having only thirteen episodes (Season 1 had 22 and Season 2 had 18), so many plot points were rushed. This could be why George was put under house arrest with no explanation for why he didn't get sent back to jail.
Survivor: Season 5 ("Thailand") seems to be considered by most fans to be the worst season, an opinion also shared by host Jeff Probst, who referred to it as "mean-spirited" and "ugly" and called the final four contestants of the season the least likable ever.
Season 14 ("Fiji") isn't highly regarded, either, due to a poorly thought out "Haves Vs. Have-Nots" twist where one tribe was initially given a much superior camp, then, predictably, rolled off a string of victories up until the merge.
Seasons 22 and 23 also have a mixed reaction, with the underwhelming Redemption Island twist (where a voted out player could return to the game... often to be immediately voted out again), and bringing back two Creator's Pet apiece and giving them the majority of screen-time. It didn't help that both seasons featured an extended Pagong-ing of one tribe over the other in the middle of the season, or how the rest of the cast (in Redemption Island) was easily the stupidest cast to have ever played the show.
Season 5 of Three's Company is when Suzanne Somers' infamous salary dispute took place, which put the show through hell that year. The show effectively became "Two's Company" for a while when Suzanne refused to show up on several tape days and had to be hurriedly written out. Chrissy was eventually replaced in the apartment for the rest of the season with her cousin Cindy (a character that many fans seem to dislike), and was only seen herself over the phone in the one-minute tag scene at the end of each episode, before disappearing completely without explanation the next season.
Friday Night Lights: Season 2, which bafflingly changed gears from the first season's subtle, understated, and authentic portrait of small-town life to Landry murdering a rapist and hiding the body, Matt having a sexy affair with his grandmother's live-in caretaker, and Tim Riggins running afoul of Dillon's dangerous local meth dealer. Many fans feared that the show had Jumped the Shark only for it to return for a brilliant third season once again in the best spirit of the shows original intentions and with even less filler than the already-brilliant first season. Some have called the ongoing season 4 the best yet.
Oh, Twin Peaks. The first season and the beginning of the second were a cultural phenomenon, considered by critics to be some of the best television ever created. Then, creator David Lynch succumbed to Executive Meddling and revealed Laura Palmer's killer, who until that had been the major driving force of the plot, and in so doing left the show directionless. To make things worse, Lynch suffered some serious Artist Disillusionment after this and left the show, leaving it in the hands of writers who really didn't know what to do with it. The episodes post-Lynch were pure filler, and ratings plummeted, leading to its cancellation at the end of the second season. Luckily, there was a brief upswing in quality once the replacement writers got their game together, and Lynch came back to direct the (awesome) series finale.
The Laura Palmer reveal probably would not have led to the cancellation of the show only half a season later under most circumstances. Unfortunately, the development of the most viable remaining storyline on the show, Audrey and Cooper's romance, was forbidden by Kyle MacLachlan when the writers were preparing to do just that, leaving them scrambling for new storylines. Kyle did so because he didn't think Cooper would date a high school girl and this was given as the explanation in-universe. Cooper then proceeded to date a women exactly two years older than Audrey. Eventually, Cooper's motivation was changed to his wanting to protect Audrey.
Robin Hood. There was still time to save it even after the horror of the season two finale (in which Marian was killed off), but a number of contributing factors ensured that the third season not only earned the hatred of the fans, but the cancellation of the show. This included the new writers who apparently didn't bother to watch the previous two seasons, the dropping of long-term storylines from the show, the complete lack of mention of Will Scarlett and Djaq (who were abandoned in the Holy Land), the reimagining of Friar Tuck as a Magical Negro, the introduction of the horrid Kate as a love interest for Robin, the reduction of the outlaws into bit-parts (whose only job was to babysit Kate and talk about how great she was) the abandonment of the "rob from the rich/give to the poor" premise, the painful introduction of Guy and Robin's half-brother in an attempt to set up Robin Hood as a Legacy Character for a proposed Season Four, and finally, the mass cast exodus of all but two of the original cast members (who were disposed of in some of the worst deaths conceivable), who certainly weren't shy in voicing their displeasure at the direction the show had taken.
Chef ran three series in the early 90's. The first two are sharp, witty, and a wonderful vehicle for Lenny Henry. The third series... it's almost impossible to believe it is the same show.
The fourth season of Due South. Several problems contributed to this: the season premiere (Doctor Longball) is not nearly as memorable or exciting as the others from seasons past, the episodes go back to the well of "unmentioned friend/colleague from Fraser/Stanley's past is in need of help," there are no real guest stars or memorable episodes (until the finale), and there's an increasing reliance on Fraser's spiritual conversations with his dead father. The loss of Paul Haggis as a contributor also meant that a lot of the imagery, themes and quotable lines that were prevalent in the first two seasons also disappeared. Luckily, the series slightly rebounded with the excellent 2-part finale, "Call of the Wild." And some fans think Due South should have not have been revived by CTV for Season 3, after CBS cancelled the series.
Degrassi The Next Generation had a few weak seasons, the two that get the most flack are Seven and Eight. Between completely overhauling the cast (Seven started culling out older cast members, Eight finished it by having only five original S1 cast left), a very weak power couple for season Eight (Peter and Mia changing into rockstar and teen model), and overall poorly handled plotlines. Adding to the fact S6 killed off a beloved character, nobody loves those two seasons. The only good to come out of those two seasons is that Season Nine has (for the most part) been solid, and those two seasons were used to hand over the main cast to the new roster.
Season 9 ended up being this too. Most fans seem to think that Degrassi was at its weakest when trying to juggle the kids actually going to Degrassi, and the kids who've already graduated. In fact, it seems to be the conclusion that in general seasons 6-9 (sometimes this even extends to the second half of Season 4) were pretty weak compared to the previous seasons, due to the aforementioned character juggling, but also the increasing production clout The N had over the series and how the series became even more overly-dramatic. Then season 10 happened. And now, it would seem that we are in the "Degrassi Renaissance".
All fans agree M*A*S*H had Seasonal Rot, but depending on who you ask, it starts at season 4, 5, 6 or 8. And for some, it's seasons 1-3. Season 4 saw Henry Blake and Trapper replaced by Colonel Potter and B.J., and the series started moving from its tone firmly from comedy towards more drama. Head writer and developer Larry Gelbart left after season 4. After season five, Frank Burns was replaced with Charles Winchester, executive producer Gene Reynolds was replaced by Burt Metcalfe, and Alan Alda (who played Hawkeye) got more control over the series, with the anti-war message becoming more and more Anvilicious. Radar O'Reilly disappeared from the series in season 8, by which time the entire original writing staff had been replaced.
Harry Morgan (who played Colonel Potter) has said in interviews that he felt the cracks were starting to show by Season 9.
Season 5 of The A-Team had this, with the A-Team being caught and forced to work for the government (and most closely with Robert Vaughn), and then with the addition of Frankie Santana, an annoying mechanic who added nothing but minimized B. A.'s role. Even the opening theme got messed with—they did away with the opening monologue altogether and changed the theme's sound from orchestral/electric guitars to an almost entirely synthesized remix. This unfortunately led to the series's cancellation.
Gilmore Girls is a rare show that was able to survive the transition from high school to college because of the strong mother-daughter dynamic and quirky town of Stars Hollow... give or take a season or two. Then season six would introduce Cousin OliverApril, who was universally loathed, made Rory into a delinquent and had whole episodes where the girls didn't interact with each other, and extended the Will They or Won't They? even further after a fake-out resolution. Come the CW merger, creator Amy-Sherman Palladino and her husband were basically forced to leave the show, the actor who played Christopher getting more of a role in the show against the entire fandom's wishes, and many fans had abandoned the show. The man left in charge had no idea how to continue a successful long-running series, and the CW maligned the show by trying to turn it into a teen soap with one adult couple in a hellish love triangle with a hated character, while forgetting a whole town of supporting characters existed, along with new writers who did no research on character canon.
Prison Break fans either cite the third or fourth season as the show's worst. For season 3, the Sona prison turned out to be much less scary than the ultra-creepy penitentiary viewers spotted in the season 2 finale, the plot suffered from the usual Padding and brave-step-forward-two-steps-back plotting that affected the other seasons, the new plotlines regarding the Company gave them a dose of Villain Decay, and Sara's death upset the fanbase tremendously. Sure, Sara came back in one piece for season 4, but the Mission-Impossible-meets-A-Team Retool sent the series' signature ridiculousness to levels beyond recovery. The fact that the convicts-turned-fugitives get captured by police so quickly to assemble a secret agent squad contradicts their mostly successful evasion for most of season 2. In addition, the once scary Company continues to get neutered by Villain Decay, and the sideplots only get crazier and more illogical. And then there's the ending, which almost every Prison Break fan hated.
Highlander takes a steep dive in Season 6. The first two episodes complete an arc centered on a Zoroastrian demon, whereas in previous seasons all "supernatural" elements were debunked (save the Immortals' existence). Thereafter, the main character and supporting cast disappear most of the time, and different Immortal women are "auditioned" for a possible spin-off series. Of the 13 episodes, only "Indiscretions" and the two-part series finale are worth watching.
Charmed fans are pretty much divided on where the show started to go downhill. A lot of fans dislike the second season for its lack of magic and overemphasis on drama in the sisters' lives, plus the pointless love triangle between Dan, Piper and Leo. Many hardcore Prue fans villified every season after the third for not having her. Seasons 3 and 4 are generally accepted to be the best of the show. Season 5 is arguably the weakest and most despised, as it featured Phoebe's sudden Jerkass ways beginning, fan-favorite Cole being suddenly written as a Designated Villain, a lackluster one hundredth episode, and a return to episodic storytelling after two seasons of arc-driven stories. Season 6 is Love It or Hate It - some despised it for the Piper/Leo drama, the too light and childish storylines and continued awful characterisation of Phoebe, while others loved it for returning to the arc-based storytellng, having future Chris, and an epic two-parter finale. Season 7 is much like Season 6 in terms of fans and the last season is largely despised because of Billie but considered to have an excellent finale.
The Wire's fifth season. The sideplots of the previous seasons were fascinating and expanded the strong ensemble cast, to the point that they could practically carry the show by themselves when the main cast were absent from an episode. In Season 5, though, the newspaper sideplot feels extremely superfluous. Seen as a severe Writer on Board moment on the part of David Simon, it didn't introduce any memorable or compelling new characters, and the whole "serial killer" plot line came across as implausible, getting away from the "true to life" feel of the show. It may also have been sinking under the weight of the sheer number of characters and plot lines of the first four seasons (in fact, the fifth season is saturated with cameos by characters from past seasons, and they don't serve much purpose). Reducing the episode count to 10 (as opposed to the normal 12-13 per season) did not help matters either. It's still good television, but it is an enormous dropoff for arguably one of the best TV dramas ever.
iCarly's third season. The first half of season 2 was the Growing the Beard season, the second half looked to be setting up the show for more mature characterization, continuity and a resolution to the Shipping aspect of the show. However, Season 3 became reliant on Guest Stars when the show hadn't really used them at all in the past, the addition of Gibby to the main cast divided fans, and some found the shipping arc to be very forced, with one of the cast suddenly being 'in love' and having a computer program reveal it without any clear foreshadowing.
This happened because of new Nick show Victorious. The same production company and show runner produce both. Limited resources meant that at the time they couldn't film both at the same time. It led to a yawning gap of months and months in airings of iCarly episodes. There is also a distinct impression that the best ideas of the production group are being used on Victorious. There are also annoyed fans who dislike how obvious the push over the new show over the old one has become. One major example of this push is that the Cross Over between the two shows used 3 episodes out of the 13 that had been budgeted for iCarly Season 3 despite revolving around the Victorious cast.
Season 4 has taken the show to new lows of ratings and quality. While Seasons 2, and 3 were all roughly similar rated on average, Season 4 with its Seddie arc dropped the average of the other 3 seasons by millions, and the final episode of the Seddie arc, "iLove You", was at the time the 2nd lowest rated episode ever.
Season 5 began with "iApril Fools", a nonsensical episode with no storyline that rated poorly. An over hyped One Direction guest episode coming short of 4 million viewers (for the show's standards) despite record Twitter activity and iTunes sales figures. Only 2.8 million viewers watched "iOwn A Restaurant", making it the worst rated episode in the history of the show, and the "iHalfoween" episode that came shortly after it only had 2.9 million.
In Victorious, most fans have claimed season two to be inferior to season one, due to the Flanderization of Jade's character as well as the dumbing down of Cat, and the excessive focus on Tori.
Season three is either the Growing the Beard season that's made the show better than ever with things such as more serious character development and funnier plots, or even worse due to exaggerated character depths and over-the-top plotting.
The third season of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (during which the approach was changed to ride the coattails of Batman, which also affected The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.) is hated by most fans - two lowpoints: Kuryakin riding a bomb full of essence of skunk that's falling onto Las Vegas and Solo dancing the Watusi with a gorilla - and considered to be the season that killed the show, although it did get an abbreviated fourth season that tried to reverse the damage (too little, too late - and as Jon Heitland's book on the series pointed out, if the third season was too comical the fourth season was too serious).
Ghost Hunters has the end of Season 4 or the end of Season 5 being this point for some fans. Even Jason and Grant seem bored while investigating locations. Part of the issue is the similarity of everything from episode to episode as well as the lack of evidence found (especially in relation to shows like Ghost Adventures where they seem to capture far more shadow figures and physical apparitions). Another issue is that the show and the TAPS group has seemed to become more popular as opposed to the next door neighbors they started out as.
Whether Chuck decreased in quality in between seasons 2 and 3 is up for debate. On the other hand, season 4 is regarded as a large step down by both fans and critics. This may have largely been due to the fact that both seasons started out with thirteen episode orders and a sense that the show's perpetually low ratings would force it into cancellation, thus necessitating the writers to write episode 13 of each year as a potential series finale. But then, the show would inevitably get an extension from that original order due to its ratings being "good enough" amid the endless ratings bloodbath at NBC, thereby forcing the writers to somehow extend a season arc that had already (and in season four in particular, hastily) been wrapped. Season four in particular was rough on this, given that it was extended ELEVEN EPISODES from that original thirteen episode order, forcing the writers to do several standalones (albeit ones that were received rather well by the fanbase) between the end of the Alexei Volkoff arc and the beginning of the Vivian Volkoff arc. Vivian's arc in particular suffered from poorer character development than Alexei, and the perception that Lauren Cohan wasn't enjoying herself in the role as much as Timothy Dalton was. This latter point got to the extent that both Dalton and Ray Wise had no problems at all upstaging Cohan onscreen despite Vivian supposedly being the driving force of the second-half arc (until the focus whiplashed back to Alexei after it was revealed that his entire persona was a creation of an old version of the Intersect that had gone haywire and submerged his original persona, Hartley Winterbottom)
The mass writer exodus during and after season three (Matt Miller and Zev Borow went to Human Target, Scott Rosenbaum to the V remake, Alison Adler to No Ordinary Family and Phil Klemmer to Undercovers) certainly didn't help, given that all of these departures were veterans of the original staff, who had helped shape the show in a very particular way up to that point.
Season 5's plot seemed to be about how nothing that had happened in the series (FULCRUM, The Ring, Shaw, etc.) was a coincidence and that Chuck was being manipulated from the start. But then it turned out that Decker was just working for Shaw and any implication of some Myth Arc disappeared. Then the season meandered before introducing the rather unsatisfying Nicholas Quinn in the last few episodes. Also, a lot of people didn't like that Morgan became the Intersect because it was said numerous times that Chuck is special and is the only one who could handle it. His brief stint as the Intersect at the beginning of the season was also debatably pointless.
Many fans would agree that Glee, a once promising show, showed a steep decline. Part of the problem was that around the time of the second season, Glee was at an all time high for its popularity to the point where it ended up displacing American Idol as Fox's Flagship Series and Adored by the Network started to kick in full force. With the aforementioned decline in quality of the plots, by the third season, ratings began to rapidly tank that by the end, they were actually lower than the first season's. By the time 4th season premiered, Fox caught on to the declining popularity and moved the series onto Thursday nights. If the current ratings are anything to go by however, the damage has been done.
The show ran into serious trouble in its second season with characters constantly changing motives and personalities, character development going backwards, plots coming out of nowhere, and the show becoming the preachy Public Service Announcement it used to mock. Any pretense of realism had disappeared by the end of Season 2-the Glee Club inexplicably went from a broke bunch of misfits in Season 1, which was a huge part of the show's charm, to being able to assemble and perform any musical number instantly, complete with jaw-dropping effects, by the Season 2 finale.
The decline was much more noticeable in season 3, Broken Aesops galore and constant RetConning of forgotten plots. Characters broke up, cheated, and hooked up for no good reason.
In the fourth season, the show had multiple concurrent plots, with New Directions members in Lima, Connecticut, Los Angeles, Kentucky, and New York City, and couldn't develop and pay attention to all of those at once. Fan-favorite Sue appeared less and less, they added a bunch of new characters who were flanderized versions of the original cast (for example, Kitty is pretty much a fill in for Quinn), and Sectionals, Regionals & Nationals, previously a huge part of the show, came out of nowhere and disappeared afterwards.
The fifth season attempted to rectify this by dropping Lima altogether and moving more of the original kids to New York, but the damage has been done, and the producers have confirmed that Season 6 will be the show's last (the death of Cory Monteith is another reason).
The British children's series Bernard's Watch started out as just a simple series about a boy with a magic watch that could freeze time, which he used to fix various problems he ran into. But post-revival the show focused mainly on Bernard's misadventures in school, and the series now seemed to have some kind of misogynistic agenda, as now all of Bernard's problems were caused by the Alpha Bitch who was constantly bullying him and his teacher who hates boys and gives special treatment to girls (especially Alpha Bitch).
For Babylon 5, the consensus is that the fifth and final season suffered this badly, particularly during the "Telepath Arc". Mainly due to the show's original cancellation at the end of the fourth season, which caused many plot arcs destined for the fifth season to be crammed in early, leaving relatively little for the last season to work with.
To a lesser degree, Season 4 gets this as well, also due to the plot cramming, which caused weird pacing issues.
Granted, there are also many fans who argue that the first season was considerably weaker than the later ones due to slow pacing and (depending on who you ask) hammy acting from Michael O'Hare's Jeffrey Sinclair.
Oxygen's show Hair Battle Spectacular is currently suffering this with its second season. While the first season had a So Bad, It's Good vibe to it that was zany, the second season screwed the show over, dropping everyone except for the queertastic mentor Derek J. The main problem was that it dropped the likable Brooke Burns in favor of EvaMarcille, therefore removing the main reason why the first season was better than Oxygen's previous attempt in the 'hair competition' genre Tease.
Series 4 of Skins is considered by nearly all fans and critics to be the worst series so far - the debate is over whether it was wholly bad or whether there were some good episodes in the middle to make up for the way the series started and (especially) ended.
Series 6 had even bigger complaints. There was a change in head writers, and it's clear that the concept for most of the characters completely changed as a result. In particular, there seemed to be a desire to bring back older plots - the Teen Pregnancy from Series 2, or similarities between Frankie's Series 6 Character Development and Effy - that alienated viewers.
Series 14 of Top Gear is generally considered one of the weakest seasons of the show, with an over-reliance on scripted gags, rehashed jokes/challenges and focusing more on the characters of Jeremy, James, and Richard, instead of the actual presenters. (the caricature-like versions of the presenters, i.e. Jeremy being a ham-fisted oaf, rather than Jeremy's own personality.) Thankfully, the quality of later seasons (especially 17) is on the rise.
All Irwin Allen series. Each one starts off with an interesting premise, a serious tone and good production values, but by season three the cast is fighting giant carrots. Fans have long noted that the quality of his series is inversely proportional to how long they lasted — Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea managed four seasons and by the end most episodes practically had chorus lines of big lipped alligators; Lost in Space went for three and was transitioning from campy to bad by the end, while Land of the Giants lasted two and stayed So Bad, It's Good. The Time Tunnel, which got canned after just one year, was only beginning to show signs of decay by the end of its run.
Season 5 of How I Met Your Mother, which came packed full of Flanderization, terrible handling of a romance plotline, piling on the Denser and Wackier for an already Dense and Wacky series, far fewer of the show's signature Flash Forwards or Flash Backs, and a focus on random hijinks repetitively lampooning the characters' personalities instead of the first four seasons' emphasis on Future!Ted needing to explain a lot of seemingly-random hijinks in order for the crucial elements of the main plot to make any sense. After Barney and Robin's breakup, the characters had basically no development whatsoever for the rest of the season, which basically crippled the show's ever-present character-driven momentum. However, it never actually jumped the shark by doing anything criminally stupid, so the writers could make do with what they had by using season 6 to undo most of season 5's damage and introduce lasting change to the characters (especially Marshall and Lily's attempts to conceive), and giving season 7 a very focused, plot-driven direction with a great deal of foreshadowing, the "bride" mystery, and the Barney/Robin Will They or Won't They? arc.
Judging by the HIMYM message boards, season 8 is this to many fans who are either A) exasperated with the whole "How Ted Met the Mother arc", B) Exasperated with the Barney and Robin Will They or Won't They arc, C) think the writers have run out of ideas and the show is just running on fumes and needs to end, or D) all of the above.
The final season devotes most on the wedding weekend. However, it resulted to the controversial finale which is executed poorly as they crammed 17 years of the story which also destroys the character development of Barney, Robin and Ted in order to fit the original ending back in 2006. Despite the amounts of Foreshadowingthat Ted is actually telling the story about how he fell in love with Robin, the later seasons still couldn't match the delivery of the first four seasons.
The Restaurant, season 3. Clearly made on a tighter budget than the previous seasons, but what really did for it was the poor quality of the contestants and the favouritism shown toward eventual winners JJ and James.
Happy Days is thought to have gone completely downhill in seasons 8-11 after Ron Howard left with the show's seventh season and the focus shifted firmly to Fonzie's antics and is said to have gotten worse as it dragged on with the introduction of Chachi, Ted McGinley and a slew of other unliked characters. However, the trope namingshark jump occurred in the show's fifth season and a slew of other episodes with ridiculous or narmy plots popped up around this time. As such, some believe of the show's 11 seasons only about 4 and a half are actually worth watching.
For fans of Laverne and Shirley the show went downhill when the main characters moved to California after the 5th season. Even those who still liked the show after the move were put off when the final season took the series to Franchise Zombie levels by featuring Laverne... without Shirley.
Dexter is largely considered to have nosedived after its fourth season (with the possible exception of Season 7, which was rather well-received).
The fifth season was criticized for the Lumen character, the weak resolution of its plotlines, and for being an overall underwhelming follow-up to Season 4's shocking finale.
The sixth season was outright panned for poor pacing, ridiculous scenarios, and an obvious plot twist.
The eighth and final season disappointed many people thanks to its by-the-numbers villain, its heavy focus on HannahMcKay, poor wrapping up of plot arcs for both major characters and B-plot cast, and its lack of urgency and finality. The fact that it aired right alongside Breaking Bad's universally adored final season, did not do it any favors either, only making all of its flaws stand out even more.
For Season 18, host Bob Barker on some episodes looked lost and likely was bored, and there were backstage issues beginning to crop up with the staff. This also seems to be the point that the staleness and "phoned in" nature of the show in the 1990s began, not at all helped by then-announcer Rod Roddy's health problems making his announcing a lot less enthusiastic.
Season 37, the second hosted by Drew Carey, was arguably worse. It added a lot of oddball Showcases that often demeaned Rod's successor, Rich Fields (to Drew's credit, he later admitted that the sketches didn't work), Rich became incredibly over-the-top, the pricing games' difficulty spiked, pricing games vanished without a trace, bizarre prizes began showing up, several infamous special guest appearances began, and several other higher-ups disappeared for various reasons. However, the show soon got over the growing pains of a new host and, while some still don't like the Carey era, complaints about it have subsided somewhat.
Some fans criticize Season 14 for a large number of changes: most prominently, using only one Wheel template for the entire game as opposed to each round having its own set of dollar figures; adding several new categories, which some feel make the game too easy; and changing from a mechanical puzzle board to an electronic one halfway through the season, thus making Vanna White's job a lot less necessary for anything other than eye candy.
Others point to Season 26, which had an increase in contrived puzzles (particularly in the form of too-specific Prize Puzzles and Fake Difficulty in the Bonus Round), less energy in the studio, a general decline in contestant quality, sloppier production, and the addition of a $1,000,000 cash prize in the Bonus Round).
Different fans have criticized the following season. This was when the iconic Free Spin tokens, which had been associated with the show since the pilot, were ousted in favor of the Free Play wedge. In addition, the second Bankrupt became permanent starting with this season (before this point, the second Bankrupt generally appeared only in Rounds 2 and 3 and never in Round 1).
Season 28 had several reasons, most egregiously the decision made following the death of longtime announcer Charlie O'Donnell: he had taped 40 more episodes that eventually did see air, but with his work dubbed over by various guests (although some of them also announced "live"). The show stated that it had been a tough decision, but better to do this than have the sadness of hearing his voice so close to his death. (Even worse, the reruns the following summer dubbed over the guest announcers, live or pre-recorded, with Charlie's replacement, Jim Thornton.)
The decline of Jeopardy! is pinned to one of three seasons: 1997-98 (a change to a more bombastic mix of the iconic Think! music, the widely-panned "sushi bar" set which was kept until 2002, the first video clues read by celebrities, and an increase in punny category names and travel shows); 2001-02 (introduction of the Clue Crew, a set of Lovely Assistants who present more video clues, the doubling of dollar values, and host Alex Trebekshaving off his iconic Badass Mustache); 2003-04 (removal of the five-game cap for champions, followed within mere months by Ken Jennings' 74-game run that lasted into the next season, a decline in clue quality following the death of longtime writer Steven Dorfman, and Alex acting more goofy).
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? changed formats in the 2008-09 season, adding a timer to the questions — and stupidly, the timer counted down while host Meredith Vieira read the question instead of after she finished, thus whittling down the seconds. Any banked time was saved up for the million-dollar question, and the Lifelines changed. It changed again in the 2010-11 season to a "shuffle" format which has also been heavily criticized as straying even further from original Millionaire format. Some would go as far as to say 2002, when the show moved from ABC to syndication, while also replacing original host Regis Philbin with Meredith.
When The O.C. premiered in 2004 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 Fox moved the show to a competitive Thursday night time 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 show's worst season 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.
For fans of the original run of the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, the fall seems to have started anywhere between the over-extended 1897 arc and the modern-day Leviathan Cult arc that immediately followed it. Some have said that the 1840 arc toward the end of the series nearly revitalized things, but once the transition was made into 1841 Parallel Time, things were pretty much over.
Some Gossip Girl fans would place this in season three with its poorly received NYU plot and the way the writers sabotaged Chuck and Blair's relationship. Generally though season four is considered to be this trope. Far too much focus on guest stars and the show becoming more and more plot driven at the expense of characterization were the initial reasons, followed by sidelining Chuck and Serena in uninspired subplots in order to isolate Dan and Blair so they could become friends. The Dair storyline is subject to debate in this regard since some fans felt the show got much better but there are just as many fans who hate the pairing with a passion and feel the show has been ruined.
Season five is shaping up to be the worst. Far too much focus on Louis and the Blair/Louis engagement was probably not a good idea when the majority of the fans are either passionate Chair shippers or passionate Dair shippers and both sides hate Louis. The season quickly turned into "Blair and all the men who love her", making Serena almost irrelevant and Blair herself rather unlikeable. You'd be hard pressed to find a fan who's really enjoyed the fifth season.
Season six was the last for which the actors were contracted, but as a result of Joshua Safran's insistence on turning it into Everybody Loves Blair And Dan And So Will YOU, Dammit it was the final season and a reduced season at that (very reduced - to 10 episodes, less than half of each of seasons 2-5 and less than even the first). It also had the show's lowest ratings ever. And having Dan be Gossip Girl with everybody letting him off the hook for his behaviour wasn't universally well received, to say the least.
Boy Meets World: Season 7. It had a few good episode and some very memorable moments (i.e. "Playswithsquirrels"), but it was not very good overall. It had many wacky and cartoonish plotlines that didn't fit with the series, tons of Mood Whiplash between the wacky plotlines and serious plotlines, Flanderization up the wazoo, especially with Eric who went from being ditzy to being mentally insane, and just not as many laughs to be had. Fortunately, this was the final season and the finale ended the series on a good note.
Season 4. Alan Harper was a flawed character who relied on living with Charlie because he lost everything to his ex-wife, in the older season, he actually was the voice of reason. In season 4 however, he suddenly out of nowhere becomes a complete cheapscate who tries to get the money out of everyone he knows, while it's even implied that he isn'e even poor broke and just too greedy to pay for the most mundane stuff and that faceheel turn wasn't never ever established in previous seasons before. This season also added more mean-sprited characterization or moments in general like when Alan got depressed after his divorce, no one except for his mother helped him to get over his depression, and even then she said that it would be illegal for a mother not to love her son, soon after she gave him some confidence. Speaking of Evelyn Harper: The last episode of season 4 showed her how she doesn't even bother to call an ambulance for her dead lover. She said that he's already dead but does she really want the corpse to lie inside her room the whole time?!
Season 9. It starts with Ashton Kutcher's character Walden: he doesn't fit into the show well at all, he's too much like Alan (only rich and even more of a Man Child) so he's not very interesting and his interactions with other characters feel very awkward. The writing has taken a sharp drop in quality from the last season, and Flanderization has hit the characters hard: Alan is still a mooch and even more immature, Jake is even dumber and doesn't seem to do much of anything except smoke pot, Rose is more of a bitch, Lindsay is crazier, etc. The entire tone of the show has also changed: there's a much greater emphasis on Toilet Humor which is more gross than funny (like the episode "Not In My Mouth" which was overloaded with vomit gags) and the character interactions mostly feel unnatural, and with the entire premise of the show changed, it's really tough to care about any of the characters.
It's also one of the rare cases of Seasonal Rot to have a noticeable enough impact on ratings to cause a full-on schedule change: season 10 saw the show moving from its top-dog 9 PM Monday slot (being taken over by surprise hit 2 Broke Girls) into 8:30 PM Thurdsay, now playing second-fiddle to The Big Bang Theory.
Speaking of The Big Bang Theory, while there are plenty of fans who thinks it gets better every season due to more Character Development and more humor, plenty of other fans think the show has been going downhill since Season 4, because of moving away from the original plot, less focus on science and more on relationships, and taking away aspects from the characters that many people loved.
After the second series of Primeval, the reactions to the show have been very mixed. Critics appear to dislike the fourth series the most, with the fans mainly targeting their hate towards 3 and 4.
Arguably, The Dukes of Hazzard began to rot when Bo & Luke exited and replaced with Coy & Vance. But even after Bo & Luke returned, the show had already shown its age. We already know that the Dukes clan was all goody-goody. It got to the point where you were no longer booing and hissing the star villains Boss Hogg & Sherrif Coltrane, but looking forward to their stark contrast to the Dukes' personalities, and relishing in their comic-relief antics— especially since Roscoe Took a Level in Dumbass to become more of a 12-year-old who lives for "hot pursuit." ("Good news, good news! Yuk yuk yuk!")
Although some may have disliked the Ori arc in later season of Stargate SG-1, it's the sixth season which is generally considered the worst. It's telling that the three episodes of that season which are considered the best are the ones which guest-starred Michael Shanks.
Stargate Atlantis also suffered from this in Season 4 and 5, mostly due to the deaths of Elizabeth and Carson, two well-liked and beloved characters. Their replacements were not well-received; Carter was popular but it was felt she'd had her run in 10 seasons of SG-1 especially compared to the underused Elizabeth. Keller was generally seen as a Creator's Pet and centre of an unnecessary love triangle. (She got better though).
Most fans would agree that the American version of The Office should have ended after Steve Carell left the show and his character moved to Colorado.
Season 4 of 30 Rock is widely considered to be the show's weakest, with an abundance of gags that had simply become tired by that point and an extreme amount of focus on Jack Donaghy's love life. It's also criticized for its harsh treatment of Tina Fey's Liz Lemon character as the writers started making her out to be much frumpier and more pathetic than she had been in past seasons. While it isn't exactly universally panned (some of the show's strongest episodes arguably come from it), it was certainly considered a step down from the show's incredibly strong first three seasons. Luckily, most fans agree Season 5 refreshed the series and brought it back to the strength of its earlier days, and that Seasons 6 and 7 have followed suit.
We do not talk about season six ofCriminal Minds. Thanks to Executive Meddling, AJ Cook (JJ) got fired, Paget Brewster's (Prentiss) screen time got reduced and the writers and the fans were not pleased. The Writer Revolt of the episode where JJ gets promoted is very justified. About halfway into the season, Ashley Seaver was introduced as a major character. It didn't help that she looked a lot like JJ and had a lot of Mary Sue attributes. CBS fixed their errors by season seven. AJ got rehired, Paget returned and Seaver got Put on a Bus. Season seven was much better.
Scrubs: When seasonal rot completely set in is a matter of polite disagreement. Seasons one and two are considered the golden age, and despite Flanderization and Characterization Marches On, as well as the frustrating love triangle — not to mention Tara Reid — the third season contains the highest-rated episode of the series. The fourth and fifth seasons both contain universally acclaimed episodes, but whether the rot began and took over then is probably not a question you want to ask. The sixth season onwards, however, is definitively this trope, with the Un-Canceled seventh season more or less ignored by what remained of the fandom. Executive Meddling with episode ordering and the 2007 WGA Strike. Season 8 was a return to form, but the series finale left a bunch of unanswered questions, mostly surrounding JD's relationship with Kim and his resignation from Sacred Heart.
The secondUn-Canceled last season, Season 9, borders on Fanon Discontinuity due to low quality: Many of the original cast were Demoted to Extra or just written off the show in favor of all-new characters, and Turk was suddenly re-cast as a med school lecturer. The new castcould have been good, but the first part of the season focused on JD tying up loose ends at Sacred Heart, so there was no time to develop them in the half-season that remained.
That '70s Show suffered this after the departure of Eric (the main character) and Kelso (arguably the most popular character). The show brought in a new character, Randy, and tried to make him a combination of Eric and Kelso, even though the two characters were vastly different. Randy was universally loathed, although luckily the executives caught onto this and he was barely in the series finale (plus Eric and Kelso both showed up for one last time), allowing the show to end on a pretty good note.
Many fans have argued that seasons three or four of Castle have experienced this, with the most common reason given being that Castle and Beckett's developing chemistry and relationship, a highlight of the first two seasons, has suffered through numerous ham-fisted attempts to string out the Will They or Won't They? factor by introducing various third-wheel love-interests, angsty 'roadblocks,' and an increased emphasis on the conspiracy plot behind Beckett's mother's murder. Many also argue that Beckett has been gradually chickified into a Faux Action Girl as well. The end of season four, however, seems to have won back a lot of these critics primarily because They Do and Word of God suggests that season five will see a return of more of the light-hearted character dynamics of the first two series.
Fringe followed the paths of all previous JJ Abrams shows by becoming hard to follow and just plain rotty by the end of Season 3. Season 4 started out okay without Peter, who had disappeared from existence, not that the character was bad at all. Fans got an inner glimpse at Lincoln Lee and started to like him. Then, all of a sudden, BOOM! it fell apart when Peter came back. First, characters that were dead came back, including Alternate Philip Broyles and David Robert Jones, Walternate and William Bell switched roles with Walternate becoming a good guy (ugh!) and Bell becoming a total evil psychopath, Olivia after gaining her memories back from the previous universe acted like a lovesick dame to Peter and a total Jerk Ass to Lincoln, old plots were recycled, the interaction between the A universe and B universe people was awkward at best, the real Walter became a crazed shut in and a total Jerk Ass to Peter, Oh, and Episode 19 was a total Mind Screw which had very little to do with the original cast and tried to force upon us a new breed of Fringe People living under a Big Brother Is Watching society reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984. All in all, it was one chaotic mess and a total turn off to most fans, who now hope that the final season will perhaps redeem itself in 13 episodes.
Although Season 5 got off to a good start, never mind the awkward cameo of the book shop owner, who was essentially a Stalker with a Crush, the mind probing which had a slight touch of squick in it, the awkward unseen break up between Olivia and Peter, and the final scene, which despite the mood altering song choice (Yazoo, really?) and the dandelion.
Season 3 of Blue Mountain State. First of all, we never get a full explanation as to what happened to Radon Randell, second, Thad alternates between being a Jerk Ass, a prima donna, a nutball and a good guy throughout the season, Alex flip flops between his lazy self and a changed man, Coach Daniels isn't as funny as he was, The new coach starts off as a Jerk Ass as well before inexplicably doing a heel face turn, Mary Jo becomes a lesbian, and Sammy, poor Sammy. He goes from being a cloudcukoolander to a total dumbass (part of it has to do with the fact that he hasn't registered for classes since his first semester of freshman year.) Add the fact that the team nearly got the death penalty and Marty, Thad, possibly Alex and the remaining main Guys are pretty much set to leave and an actual game of football was played in the final episode pretty much killed any and all renewal hopes.
It's a huge point of contention between Downton Abbey fans whether the second season is an example of this, or actually an improvement on the first season. The third season seems to be getting some of the same.
Nearly every fan of Deadwood agrees that the show suffered of Seasonal Rot before its cancellation, but the Fandom is divided over if this started in the second or third seasons.
Many fans of Misfits consider the quality to have dropped in Series 3, particularly the departure of Nathan. Despite his replacement by Rudy and the promise that the characters would get completely new powers... it amounted to Curtis being able to turn into a woman and Kelly was now a rocket scientist. The show vaguely meandered for several episodes, before shifting focus to power-dealer Seth and his quest to resurrect his dead girlfriend, before culminating in a lackluster finale, which ended with the Stupid Sacrifice of Simon, who after the death of Alisha decided to go back in time to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to save her life in the past. Fans were left baffled why he couldn't have prevented both things from happening, since they'd previously used time travel to alter history dozens of times before?!
By Series 4, with the further departure of Kelly, this left Curtis, oft-considered the least interesting character. Add two new characters many reviewers believe to be bland, the Cringe Comedy moments from Rudy are the only thing which made the show marginally entertainable.
When people don't go off on a tangent about whether season 13 was the worst, it's often season 4 or season 9. 4 due to its very lackluster twist, and 9 due to its hastily-put together cast of Jerk Ass eye candy. (Two of which were later arrested for selling prescription drugs, one of which was the winner.) Conveniently, seasons 5, 10, and 14, all of which following the "worst" seasons of Big Brother have often been considered among the best. (5 due to its Fridge Brilliance casting & Twist, 10 due to simply not being 9, and 14 simply because attempts to shake up the game weren't instantly canceled by blatantly contrived twists as well as some of the most likable newbies.)
This is debated heavily in the fandom of The Sopranos. The general consensus is that seasons 1, 2 and 5 are the strongest while the opinion on the other three is more mixed.
Season 3 is seen by some as suffering because of the writers having to greatly restructure the season after the death of actress Nancy Marchand, there are still several episodes in the season that are loved by the fandom and some don't even think there was a drop in quality.
Season 4 is perhaps the most debated season. Some fans didn't like the season's lessened focus on mafia concerns (the season has the least people "whacked" of any season) and the turns Carmela's storyline took but others found the way the season explored Tony and Carmella very compelling.
Season 6 suffers from some possible Hype Backlash due to the two year break after the fifth season as well as annoyance from fans over the season being split in two. While the earlier episodes are lauded people generally disliked the way that Vito's storyline dragged in the middle of the season. Season 6 part 2 (the last 9 episodes of the series) is more well liked though there's a decent amount of broken base concerning Christopher's death and the Grand Finale having No Ending.
Season 11 of ER; Noah Wyle, the longest-running cast member, was leaving the show and as a tribute the season was entirely devoted to his character Dr. Carter (and often to things about him totally unrelated to medicine like his love life and his stillborn son), shafting almost everyone else.
Some people would argue that the show's deterioration started from Season 9. After season 8, two of the show's most beloved characters had left/were killed off. Carter became the main character and his Marty Stu-ish tendencies came to the forefront as a result. The show became increasingly preachy, with episodes devoted to Doctors Without Borders (this is a show set in Chicago) that even the cast didn't like (the producers, however, were very proud of them) and the new characters were either uninteresting or annoying, unlike the characters that came before.
Season 6 is divisive. It was the first season not to feature George Clooney, there were a lot of new characters being introduced and old characters being dropped every other episode and some of the new characters basically weren't as compelling as the characters they replaced. Arguably the season redeemed itself with "All In The Family", the episode where Lucy Knight is killed, and a happy ending for Doug and Carol.
Season 5 maybe equally divisive. Ratings wise the season was very popular but the introduction of Lucy Knight wasn't well handled (she was basically a Cousin Oliver at this point) and the exit of Doug Ross (George Clooney) is divisive even though, debatably, the two episodes in which it occurs were very well written.
Fans of My Family tend to admit that the later seasons were marked by a general decline in the writing, with increasingly grating Flanderization, jokes being run into the ground, and a character who had spent several seasons near-obsessed with women suddenly and arbitrarily coming out as gay. Season 11 marked the point when the long-suffering Robert Lindsay and Zoe Wanamaker, who had spent several seasons complaining about the scripts, gave up and quit.
The show arguably suffered from this as early as Season 3, when the children are Demoted to Extra (many episodes either left them out entirely or featured them for mere seconds) and it becomes a one-joke idea about a middle-aged couple who argue and have sex a lot. Fortunately, Season 4 reversed this.
Sons of Anarchy's first two seasons are both well liked by the fandom with no complaint, after that it gets tricky:
Season 3 has a slow pace and glaring examples of Oireland and The Mountains of Illinois during the gang's trip to Ireland though the season finale is considered one of the best episodes of the series and redeems the series for some.
Season 4 is the opposite. It is generally considered an improvement over the previous seasons and takes the characters in interesting directions. Unfortunately, the season finale involves a pretty egregious example of Deus ex Machina, Ass Pull and Plot Armor that negates an entire subplot that had been building much of the season and was seen as one of the weakest episodes of the series.
Season 5 has a very mixed perception. The death of Opie early in the season was seen as a brave move by writers by some fans and as a slap in the face to others. On top of that the season ends up ignoring the set up Big Bad for much of the time in favor of focusing on familiar conflicts. The season finale isn't as ill-received as the previous season's but is still seen as going to absurd lengths to avoid killing off no fewer than three characters that were in the line of fire.
Season 6 has been giving Season 3 a run for its money on just how much the fans loath it. The season started off with a controversial scene of a school shooting that many critics felt went nowhere and was used mostly as just another obstacle for the protagonists. Nearly every episode was over an hour and a half of what many felt was needless padding. The story lines got more outlandish and repetitive. It all culminated in a finale that has created a MAJOR broken base for the fandom for its complete Idiot Plot that led up to the death of Tara and left many viewers with a bad taste in their mouth .
Married... with Children had Season 7: The first half or so of the season had the Bundys become an adoptive family for Peg's nephew Seven. Seven was an unfunny obnoxious brat, while Peg became a genuinely caring mother to him, rather than the Love to Hate negligent mother fans had been accustomed to. Even the crew didn't like him. He was thankfully removed completely and Put on a Bus in the middle of the season.
Games Master has Season 3, where host Dominik Diamond had left because of the McDonalds sponsorship and was replaced by Dexter Fletcher, and the challenge format was changed to the Games World-esque Team Championship. Also, Seasons 5, 6, and 7 became less about video games and more about Dominik's frequent innuendos and constant flirting with female celebrities.
Some fans have accused the later seasons of Mad Men of this, especially since Don married Megan.
Season 6 in particular seemed to suffer from this, with a number of odd episodes ("The Crash" standing out in particular) and a slower season-long plot that some accused of being too scattershot. Subverted in that there was much acclaim for the final few episodes of the season, with the finale ("In Care Of") earning particular acclaim.
The third and final season of Necessary Roughness was a nearly-complete overhaul of the series, with Dani being fired from the Hawks for stupid reasons and instead going to work for an agency that was obviously corrupt as hell. Meanwhile, most of the regular cast was either Put on a Bus or Demoted to Extra, and the storyline about T.K.'s efforts to redeem himself (or at the very least, restore his public image) was tossed out in favor of a Romantic Plot Tumor that magically undid all of his Character Development from the previous two seasons. None of this was received well by fans, and thus the series was cancelled.
Only Fools and Horses: At the very least, nearly everyone agrees that the 2001—2003 trilogy is markedly weaker than the rest of the series. Some consider the series to have been at its best when it was just two guys and their grandfather/great-uncle trying to pull off "get rich quick" schemes, and that its initial premise was derailed by the introduction of Cassandra and Raquel.
Although not divided into "seasons" as such, many fans felt UK soap Brookside declined rapidly from around 2000 until its eventual cancellation in 2003. The show went from being a thrice-weekly staple of Channel 4, showcasing some of the most controversial storylines of its day, to a Saturday afternoon slot with stories as mundane as Alan trying to give up smoking. Viewing figures declined in tandem with the storylines.
While most fans seem to agree that the first season of Hells Kitchen was the best and every following season has deteriorated slightly in quality, many see Season 8 as where things really started to go downhill, due to the excessive focus on crazy and/or incompetent contestants rather than talented ones. Season 9 got a lot of heat for Gordon Ramsay's blatant favoritism toward the incredibly bitchy and unlikeable Elise, though for some was redeemed by the final two of Paul and Will, widely regarded as one of the show's best finalist pairs. However, Season 10 is where the wheels are commonly felt to have totally fallen off, with virtually every contestant being obnoxious and narcissistic beyond belief, something which wasn't helped by what was widely seen as racist behavior toward popular contestant Barbie by the other women on her team.
G4's number one video game show, even after it was no longer a video game channel, X-Play. The show became popular because of its honest yet comedic themes and reviews of video games. Themes like fake harassing the inters and special comedy segments like Sensitive Sess and the Apple I-Box special were considered some of the show's funniest moments. Then came 2008, and the people at G4 decided to get rid of the comedy theme and make X-Play a more serious video game show. Many fans felt the show got away from what made it worth watching in the first place. It wasn't a surprise to anyone that the show got cancelled soon after Adam Sessler left in 2012. But at least they were able to record over 1,000 episodes over the decades its been on the air.
Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In suffered this in the 70's after many of its notable cast members left such as Judy Carne, Jo Anne Worley, Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, and Alan Sues. Its 6th season is considered the season that killed the series since especially since the original producer was no longer with the show.
Many feel Diff'rent Strokes took a nosedive at the tail end of Season 6, when Phillip Drummond married Maggie McKinney. Maggie (Dixie Carter, and later Mary Ann Mobley) and her son Sam (Danny Cooksey, the new cute kid) became regulars the following season. The last two seasons focused largely on Arnold Jackson playing big brother to Sam, leaving eldest brother Willis with little to do. Furthermore, Kimberly was no longer a regular (though she would make occasional appearances) due to the firing of Dana Plato.
The second season of The Outer Limits, while not horrible and still having masterpieces (most notably Harlan Ellison's "Soldier" and "Demon With A Glass Hand"), was of very uneven quality, due in part to it being moved to a Saturday Night Timeslot against The Jackie Gleason Show, which in turn caused major staffers (including very major ones like Leslie Stevens and Joseph Stefano) to leave in protest, and then the production budget was cut even lower than it already was, and they tried to make the show more commercial than before. That the second season was a ratings flop and triggered its cancellation midway shows how well that turned out. (It should be noted, however, that Ellison is one of the very few people who prefers season two to season one.)