What's the most common question that runs through the mind of a TV viewer?
One would certainly be, "How is that still on the air?"
It's certainly understandable that a viewer might be confused, what with the TV and streaming landscapes awash with revivals and reboots.
It's equally understandable why TV executives would opt for the fading ratings of shows that are shadows of their former selves rather than take a chance on an unknown new series that may not strike a spark for viewers.
Everybody is aggrieved by one such show. Here are those shows considered the worst that somehow gained renewals by TV Fanatic staffers:
The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power (Amazon Prime)
The show had a two-season order before it premiered, but that was a bad idea. Despite starting off strong with beautiful scenery and a great premiere, somewhere in there, the show became a convoluted mess.
It featured nothing interesting except for the scene where the orks make a bomb out of a volcano.
It under-delivered on a captivating narrative for an expensive show, opting for a grand display of scenery. It featured too many storylines, which served little development to the story.
It was supposed to be as massive as Game of Thrones but pitted against House of the Dragon; it has nothing against it. It offered zero cultural impact despite being available in more countries than House of the Dragon.
If it were not for the legacy of The Lord of the Rings, this show didn't deserve a second season.
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
In its 14th season, this procedural is comfort viewing. To put it another way, there are few surprises anymore.
With the same four agents at its core for most of its run, it has certainly been consistent, unlike its mothership.
There's a case of the week, broken up by the agents' current personal roles: Sam becoming a caretaker, Callen marrying Anna, Deeks and Kensi turning into foster parents.
But it lost its heart several seasons ago, and it's time to admit that Hetty isn't returning any time soon. Linda Hunt was irreplaceable, and the show hasn't been the same since her unofficial departure.
It's time for the West Coast sun to set on the OSP.
And Just Like That (HBO Max)
After the second movie, HBO Max thought it would be a good idea to reunite some of the women to show them at a different stage of life.
In many respects, the series captured some of the magic that made the original series a success, but it was saddled with terrible writing and even worse supporting actors.
Many figured the show would be a distant memory quickly, but nope, we're being treated to another season.
Maybe they'll make things right. Perhaps they won't, but somehow, it will probably get a third season.
The Rookie (ABC)
The Rookie was an interesting and entertaining look at rookie police work.
The cast continues to do great work, but what they've got to work with is downright embarrassing.
Whether it's another case involving the force itself or the insipid love lives of the officers, this one-time guilty pleasure just leaves viewers guilty for watching without the promised pleasure it first offered.
Please free the cast so they can find material that lives up to their talents.
Emily in Paris (Netflix)
What probably makes Emily in Paris pirouetting into multiple seasons so irritating is how frequently Netflix cancels literally anything else, certainly series of better quality.
Emily is an insufferable and obnoxious protagonist in a series filled to the brim with barely tolerable caricatures.
And it's such a trope-filled mishmash of genuinely awful and off-putting stereotypes of both Americans and the French that it'll give you a headache faster than the wine you usually have to down to make it through a season.
And yet, we're three seasons into shallow writing with equally as vapid characters, questionable fashion, and pretty people. Thank goodness for the pretty people.
C'est la vie or whatever.
The Flash (The CW)
The Flash was an excellent show for maybe the first four years, but since then, it has become unrecognizable.
Most of the cast has left, the storylines are repetitive, and the villains are meh, which is sad because, traditionally, The Flash has quite the rogues gallery.
Yet somehow, it was still renewed.
It is time for this horse to die.
Firefly Lane (Netflix)
What makes Firefly Lane so irritating is they took everything wrong in the first season and made it even worse in the second season.
The wigs look more atrocious, and they need to learn to tell storylines well over three timelines.
Just as viewers were pulled into the central conflict between Kate and Tully and began to feel something, it switched back to their younger selves.
It barely followed the source material until the cliffhanger. Maybe, the third time is the charm when the series completes in June 2023.
One can only hope that when Reacher returns with its sophomore season, it'll make some adjustments and maybe come close to living up to the puzzling hype and reception.
Reacher wasn't bad per se, but it wasn't particularly interesting. Unfortunately, Alan Ritchson had the size and physique, well sort of more gym rat frat bro than massive force, but he had none of the charisma.
The season was dense and laborious to get through, and the thrills and satisfying payoffs were few and far between. It had a pacing issue.
Reacher rested its laurels on the primary victories, casting a tall lead and sticking close to the source material with little else going for it.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX)
There aren't many shows that warrant more than ten seasons, and how It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia managed a three-season renewal is beyond imagining.
One would think Frank Reynolds came up with some nefarious scheme to keep them going.
While the scope of nastiness and ignorance exhibited by the core characters is somewhat impressive, their lack of actual humanity is incredibly off-putting these days, where a little kindness is necessary in our escapist narrative.
There's a lot of television out there to choose from. Who the gang from Paddy's Pub appeals to is a riddle wrapped in an enigma as served in a questionable beer.
The Goldbergs (ABC)
In the words of the late, great Kenny Rogers, "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." This hoary sitcom hasn't had a winning hand in recent years.
First, George Segal, who played Beverly's father, Pops, died in 2021. Then Jeff Garlin had a messy exit in 2021, and his patriarch Murray suffered an offscreen death between seasons.
Instead of accepting these as a sign, producers just plugged in Judd Hirsch as Murray's dad Pop-Pop, and the repetitious show has kept sputtering along.
Wendi McLendon-Covey is a TV goddess, and her Beverly has been the heart of the series for ten seasons, but she needs to bound off some adults. It's time to let the young Goldbergs all start their own offscreen lives and for ABC to try something new at the head of a comedy lineup.
What shows do you think have lived long past their expiration date?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.