Top 10 Exact Moments That Killed TV Shows



Top 10 Exact Moments That Killed TV Shows

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
Sometimes you can pinpoint the exact moments that ruined TV shows. Our countdown includes "Dexter," "Heroes," "Lost," and more!

Top 10 Exact Moments That Ruined TV Shows

Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Exact Moments That Ruined TV Shows.

For this list, we’ll be taking a look at some of the precise events in TV shows where they were either ruined or began to decline in quality. Naturally, since most of these involve the plot, there will be spoilers ahead.

If you think we ruined our own list by not including some moments, be sure to tell us which ones in the comments!

#10: Deb Catches Dexter
“Dexter” (2006-13)

While there are plenty of points where this show about a serial killer-killer has been said to have gone off the rails, such as its infamous finale, the proverbial nail in “Dexter”’s coffin came earlier. The season 6 finale sees Dexter’s adopted sister Debra catch him in the act of murdering the season’s villain in a church… while on her way there to confess her very non-sisterly feelings for him. Still kinda gross, but moving on! Although Deb learning the truth had a lot of potential, all it really did was put a character who’d already gone through the wringer in earlier seasons through even more trauma and damage the one consistent relationship Dexter still had left on the show.

#9: Lois & Clark’s First Wedding
“Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (1993-97)

Will-they/won’t-they romances are tough to pull off, and mixing them with superheroes is doubly difficult. Nevertheless, “Lois & Clark” managed to pull it off, at least for its first few seasons. While the show could certainly get ridiculous in the ways they managed to stop the two leads from getting together, nothing beats their first attempt at getting married, which is disrupted by Lois being replaced with a frog-eating clone, and a further story arc involving amnesia! Ugh! Not even Silver Age comics were this cheesy… Okay, they were, but this was the ‘90s! We thought we were past that kind of thing!

#8: Connor & Cordy
“Angel” (1999-2004)

While Angel’s son Connor remains a polarizing figure among fans of the show, it isn’t until Season 4 that he actually helps ruin it. One episode sees Connor and Cordelia, his father’s on-off love interest, have sex, which starts a literal apocalyptic event. Not only does the event herald doomsday within the show, but it also marks the downturn in quality from then on. Granted, the next season does shake things up, but by then, the shine was off the apple. Also, it’s just really disgusting! Cordelia knew him as a baby, and while time travel means he’s technically of age, Cordy is possessed at the time, so she isn’t really consenting to it.

#7: Season 2 & Beyond
“Heroes” (2006-10)

This superpowered drama had one of the most pronounced sophomore slumps in all of TV. After telling a mostly self-contained story of ordinary people with superpowers coming together to save the world in Season 1, Season 2 meandered through several new and often unresolved plot points, before ending abruptly due to the writers’ strike. The show never really recovered from the blunders made during Season 2 and seemed to flounder for a direction. Like, we love Sylar, but the villain should have died at the end of Season 1, not stuck around for the whole show!

#6: Eric Leaving
“That ‘70s Show” (1998-2006)

This ‘70s themed sitcom may have been about “HANGIN’ OUT” with a whole gaggle of teens, and their parents, but let’s be real – Eric Forman was the protagonist. So when actor Topher Grace departed the show at the end of Season 7, “That ‘70s Show” was left without its central character. Although the rest of the cast forged on without him, Season 8 was just a mess, with a ton of plotlines that fell flat, like Hyde’s stripper wife, or Jackie and Fez getting together. Sure, Eric returned for the finale, but by then, the ‘70s were over.

#5: Sherlock’s Over / Under-Explained Return
“Sherlock” (2010-17)

This modern update of Sherlock Holmes started strong, with engaging spins on old mysteries and the great chemistry between its two leads. However, the Season 2 finale, which saw Sherlock somehow fake his death by jumping off a building, marked a turning point in the series. After years of fans obsessing over how he did it, the show returned with half a dozen possible versions of how it happened, none of them definitive, which many saw as the creators thumbing their noses at the fanbase. This unfortunately began a trend of increasingly incredulous twists that had fans longing for the early days of the show.

#4: Cliffhanger Bait
“The Walking Dead” (2010-)

Depending on who you ask, “The Walking Dead” has always been a shambling monstrosity, or it’s more of a recent development. However, most will agree that the finale of Season 6 was a breaking point. The protracted finale builds towards the confrontation with Negan, who then murders one of the group before a cut to black. The blatant manipulation of the audience’s care for the characters meant to keep them hooked for the next season soured many fans on the show, and the fact that one of the two men killed, Glenn, had already received a fake-out death earlier in Season 6 felt especially gratuitous. The moment showed fans that deaths were just stunts, rather than a way to progress characters or the story.

#3: The Mother Dies
“How I Met Your Mother” (2005-14)

Although the entirety of this sitcom’s final season raised a few eyebrows, given that it’s mostly set over a few days, it’s only in the show’s last episode that fans declared that it had been ruined. After getting to know and come to love the titular mother, Tracy, fans were heartbroken to learn that, shortly after Ted finally meets her, she later died of an unspecified illness. While this was bad enough, the follow-up “reveal” that Ted still has feelings for Robin, whose wedding to Barney had been the focus of the season, made it feel like the creators were shoehorning an idea planned years ago that no longer applied to the characters.

#2: Literal Cork
“Lost” (2004-10)

This complex, mystical, mystery-focused show was divisive and much-discussed throughout its run and even today. But the final straw for many occurred in its finale. In an earlier episode in the final season, the mysterious island’s immortal protector Jacob describes the location as being like a cork preventing evil from spreading to the rest of the world. Fair enough – it’s a neat metaphor. However, some fans couldn’t help but facepalm when the glowing source of the island’s magical powers revealed in the final episode had a literal cork in it! We’re all for striking imagery, but even the show’s diehard fans have to admit, that’s a little on the nose.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Charlie’s Death, “Two and a Half Men” (2003-15)
Sheen May Have Been “Winning,” But Without Him, the Show Started “Losing”

The Carver Reveal, “Nip/Tuck” (2003-10)
Rarely Has a Twist Been So Obvious & So Ridiculous

William’s Parentage, “The X-Files” (1993-2002, 2016-18)
Just When You Thought the Smoking Man Couldn’t Get Any More Creepy!

Jack Bauer’s Family Are Terrorists, “24” (2001-10)
The Guy Is a Terrorist Magnet!

His Name Isn’t Michael Vaughn, “Alias” (2001-06)
What a Twist! Just Kidding… It Sucks!

#1: King Bran
“Game of Thrones” (2011-19)

Season 8 of “Game of Thrones” is largely agreed by most fans as being a step down from the rest of the show. Still, while the exact moment it was ruined is up for debate, we’d argue that the last straw was probably the election of Bran Stark as King of Westeros. At best, the kid spent the last few seasons as a passive observer, which made him boring, and at worst, he used his powers of long/foresight to manipulate those around him, causing mass murder to ascend the throne, making him unsympathetic. Either way, fans felt like they and Westeros deserved a better story than Bran.