That’s it. It’s cancelled. Well, not really, but you’ll be wishing it had once you get to these episodes.Granted, if a show runs long enough, it will have a few duds here and there. That’s no justification for these types of episodes, though.
They serve no purpose other than to taint the audience’s view of characters and plots they have come to love. It is the point of no return where you just throw your hands in the air and admit defeat.
You’re really done this time.
Here is five shining examples of this (Warning: some spoilers are ahead. Reader’s discretion is advised):
“Pretty Little Liars: Game Over, Charles” (Season 6 Ep. 10)
The series started out with the murder mystery of teen nightmare Alison DiLaurentis. Due to her mean girl antics, there were no shortage of suspects. Her four best friends that were left behind began receiving threatening messages from a stalker called A, who may or may not be the killer. After numerous filler arcs and somewhat unbelievable revelations, the promos promise an action packed payoff. Nope. Not even close. Instead we’re treated to an unevenly paced, boring, whiny motive rant by the villain that leaves more plot holes than answers and has some nasty and unfortunate implications. The crazy part is we’re suppose to be sympathetic to the character after the inexcusable acts they’ve put the main characters through. You’re left thinking, “I waited six years for this?” To make matters worse, there was another season and a half to boot. No thanks.
“Thirteen Reasons Why: Bye” (Season 2 Ep. 13)
Bye is right. Like all the example on this list, the show started off with a thought provoking and engaging idea: the examination of High School Junior Hannah Baker’s suicide and all of the fallout from it. Season one, while flawed, still tackled the subjects such as rape, suicide and bullying well, cohesively showing all of the affected character’s perspectives and playing the situation rather realistically. However, it’s a premise that can only go on for so long. Aside from the outcome of the lawsuit against the school as well as the fates of runaway Justin and antagonist Bryce, there was absolutely nothing to follow up on in season two. This is amplified in ‘Bye’. The trials are over, the secrets are out, and everyone is moving on. So what is there to do? Why, take the already somewhat unlikeable bullying victim Tyler and have him brutalized in a gross, lurid and contrived scene by this season’s resident antagonist Monty. Then, have him try to shoot up the junior prom only to be unrealistically talked down by the Designated Hero, Clay. This is especially grating due to the implication the show is trying to jump on school shooting controversies in a sensationalistic way. The producers claim the intent of the series is to entertain while educating. What’s the message here? What was the point of emotionally railroading a recovering character, so he can have an excuse to attempt to kill his fellow classmates? The show didn’t need a season 2, and this episode is proof it definitely doesn’t need the season three it’s filming.
“Gossip Girl: Last Tango, Then Paris” (Season 3 Ep. 22)
“Gossip Girl” may have been silly entertainment, but it sure was fun to follow the outrageous drama of the Upper East Side teens. Unfortunately for season three, it suffered from the weak high school to college transitions most shows do. The childish scheming didn’t fit with the college backdrop, and this became combined with some insidious character derailment in the season finale. The episode destroyed nearly every good thing left in the show in its wake: removed any likeability resident sweet girl Jenny had, annihilated the most popular couple’s, Chuck and Blair, relationship in the process and paved the way for an absolutely ridiculous storyline. It did end on a high note of a sort by giving Jenny the boot, but it could not have been a more convoluted exit. If only it was the last tango.
“The Boondocks: Early Bird Special” (Season 4 Ep. 4)
This is possibly the saddest example on the list because it had so much potential. Being one of the most biting, memetic and funniest cartoons of the 2000s, and even to this day, fans were celebrating when the show was picked up for a fourth and final season. Then celebration quickly turned to horror when Series Creator and Writer Aaron McGruder announced he had no involvement with the season. Then the episode order dropped from 20 to 10. Fans treated this as a death knell, and they were ultimately right. The premiere was just a less funny rehash of a season two episode. Then the second episode set up a season long storyline of the Freeman family, the main characters, going broke. It’s bad enough this was a jarring departure from the series’ episodic format, but that plot line did not have the mileage for a full season. While the next episode was a “Breaking Bad” parody that inspires a few chuckles, the Early Bird Special was devoid of any humor and already brought the story down to its knees. By this point, you’ll want to get off the train before it fully details.
“Law and Order Special Victims Unit: Smoked” (Season 12 Ep. 24)
Now on to less lighthearted fare and a slightly older example, “L&O: SVU” is the most popular of the series in the Law and Order universe. It has always been critically praised for its portrayals of sex crimes. That is until the show started deviating from its premise (especially evident in the animal smuggling “monkey in the basketball” episode) and changing the main detectives from competent officers doing their jobs to self-righteous crusaders. “Smoked” was full of this. The squad should not have investigated the case to begin with due to the fact no sex crime occurred, just a straight up homicide. An incompetent and far fetch plot follows. Then Fan Favorite Eliot Stabler is forced to shoot down a victim in one of the messiest character send offs of all time, similar to the Jenny example above. The fact all of that could’ve been avoided if the cops and security did their jobs makes this even more disappointing. This episode marked an end of an era, where the show lost truly lost its little steam it had left. However, it’s still trudging on after eight years unlike the other examples, so that’s something.
Written by Malia Thomas, Staff Writer. Gif courtesy of Gfycat.