Amid an increasingly competitive TV market, it can be tempting to cling to a good thing, but a hit first season shouldn't necessitate a renewal. As the saying goes, less is more, and sometimes one single, perfect season is much better than ruining a series by draining it for all its worth, especially if it wasn't designed to go the distance in the first place (looking at you, Big Little Lies).

Sure, sometimes it works, but more often than not it ends up forever spoiling a once-great show. Below, eight series that should have quit while they were ahead.



  • Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO
    Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

    Big Little Lies

    The first season of this supposed-to-be mini-series was affecting, addictive, and thrilling, turning a twist-filled murder-mystery into a thoughtful elegy for the abuse endured by women. But while it was well-acted and engrossing, it was also complete, bringing its story full-circle by finale's end.

    After its rapturous reception, HBO got a whiff of a potential cash cow, and turned to author Liane Moriarty to see if she had ideas for how the show might continue, even though it had covered the entirety of the book it's based on. Given the names involved (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and now, Meryl Streep), it's a fair bet that Season 2 will be good, but it's unlikely that it can match the bar set by Season 1. Sometimes it's best to just leave well enough alone.

  • Tyler Golden / Netflix
    Tyler Golden / Netflix

    American Vandal

    American Vandal's concept was questionable to begin with, stretching what could be a quick Funny or Die sketch into a season-length spoof on TV's true crime obsession. And yes, creators Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda pulled it off with surprising aplomb — turning a juvenile hunt for the perpetrator behind dick graffiti into a a deft and funny parody speaks to their capabilities as storytellers. But while the next run will (rightfully) probe a different crime, it's difficult to imagine them pushing this idea much further without losing at least some of the initial novelty and impact. The only way to go is down.

  • Netflix

    13 Reasons Why

    13 Reasons Why's frank, unfettered look at the cruelties of high school was a step in the right direction for teen dramas, sparking important conversations about real-life issues like bullying, assault, and suicide. But the show was not without its problems, and, like Big Little Lies, had covered all of the 2007 novel that it's based on.

    Unlike BLL, it left a few loose ends for Season 2 to explore, but adaptations that go off-book are always a risky endeavor, and doubly so for one this controversial. It was an ambitious experiment, but one perhaps best left as a standalone.

  • USA

    The Sinner

    Yet another mini-series milking rave reviews, USA's The Sinner resolved its mystery by season's end, and though it was both tautly executed and absorbing, it begs the question: Where can it really go from here?

  • ITV


    After a riveting first season, Broadchurch went downhill, turning a once fresh, magnetic crime drama into a disappointing mess. The sharper third season helped to redeem the series and recapture some of its initial magic, but it nonetheless would have been better off as a simple, effective one-and-done.

  • Erica Parise/Netflix
    Erica Parise/Netflix


    Capitalizing on TV's nostalgia craze, GLOW is a charming, offbeat flashback to a niche women's wrestling league that became a brief phenomenon in the 1980s. Alison Brie is dazzling, and the premise is astoundingly deep, building a campy spectacle into a heartfelt but not overly serious ode to female empowerment and sisterhood. But, like many of the series on this list, its first season tells a complete and satisfying story that doesn't lend itself to much more.

  • FX

    American Crime Story

    American Crime Story's brilliant first season lent new dimension to the infamous O.J. Simpson trial, managing to recapture the fascination that made it so consuming while adding layered complexity to once lateral characters. The second season, chronicling the 1997 murder of Gianni Versace, wasn't bad per se, but it certainly paled in comparison, and the franchise could have easily done without it.

  • Lacey Terrell/HBO
    Lacey Terrell/HBO

    True Detective

    True Detective was another victim of the sophomore slump: It started off strong with a compelling and cinematic plot, plus stellar performances from major stars like Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, and Michelle Monaghan, but faltered in its second outing. With a third on the horizon, a comeback doesn't seem likely.

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