Summer TV's 26 Winners and Losers: True Blood, OITNB, Outlander and More

Summer TV 2014 Best Worst

With just 24 hours until the fall TV season officially begins, TVLine is giving a once-over to the summer that was — and we’re keeping it real.

RELATED Fall TV Spectacular: Exclusive Scoop and Photos on 42 Returning Favorites!

In retrospect, it was truly a season of highs and lows. Several new series, like MTV’s Finding Carter and HBO’s The Leftovers, earned instant season passes on our collective DVR, while other newcomers, like CBS’ Extant and ABC’s Rising Star, left us feeling sad and confused.

Browse our gallery of summer’s winners and losers below, then drop a comment with your own picks.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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89 Comments
  1. Ruth says:

    What about Taxi Brooklyn?????

  2. Tim says:

    You’re missing some of the best shows—like the Bridge and Honorable Woman

    • Agree. But, I’m not surprised that the much overlooked The Bridge is overlooked once again in this post. Season 2, not quite finished, is perhaps the best show on TV that people aren’t watching. Hopefully, FX’s measurement of success will give fans a third season.

  3. ilona says:

    how sad that Major Crimes was overlooked in this section. They show had an amazing first part of the season. How sad :(

    • Patrick says:

      This seemed mainly geared towards new (or very young) shows, or those that aren’t established, or whose future is in doubt. MC is a hit for TNT, it isn’t going anywhere, so it didn’t need to be thrown in with these shows.

  4. Jimmy says:

    Extant was probably the biggest disappointment on your list. You have a great actress like Halle Berry and the power of Steven Spielberg behind the scenes and all you get is a boring mish-mash of uninteresting characters and an ending that just didn’t pay off. Also agree about Under the Dome. So much potential from season 1 just squandered because of the need to drag out the story.

    • Glen Williams says:

      Agree, extant just was bad..I had high hope

    • Sil says:

      Agreed. But, I watched the Extant pilot and that was enough for me. Under the Dome turned me off this season.

    • BrittBrat says:

      I was waiting for Extant to get better and it never did. Same thing with Graceland (the first season was great) and Under the Dome (the first season was much more interesting even with their mistakes)!!!!! Overall summer was really good for t.v. I hope Fall is just as good because I have been hearing bad things about a lot of the new shows.

  5. redjane12 says:

    totally agree on WINNER: Outlander … in that spirit could I nominate Outlander to go onto the HOT SHOWS selection and remove True Blood (which is thankfully over anyway)

  6. mac says:

    Disagreed about True Blood,

    it may not have given shippers what they wanted but ultimately left almost every main character (minus Alcide and Tara) we got to know and love over the years at a somewhat good place fitting into the shows big picture.

    minus Eric and Pam, I know peope will hate me for saying this but I think that they should have died as well.

  7. The Beach says:

    I agree with a lot of these. I took Graceland, Under the Dome and Extant off my DVR half way through the season. I had really enjoyed the first seasons of the first two and had high hopes for the other one. Oh well.

  8. Monica4185 says:

    I totally agree with The Leftover being one of the best shows this year. Every singke actor blew my mind and it didn’t lose itself it keeping the “questins” unanswer. Totally looking forward for S2. The Witches of East End turned me off this season. Maybe I should binged watch it, like I did S1.

  9. Tran says:

    What about Gang Related?

  10. CK says:

    You should also add Suits S4a to the loser list. Apart from the finale, this season has been greatly disappointing.

  11. Lisa says:

    I have to agree with your assessment of The Last Ship. I was a little afraid to watch it for the same reasons that you mentioned, although I was hopeful. I tend to lean towards shows like that though. I loved and still miss Jericho. One of my favorite books is The Stand by Stephen King. So, I gave it a shot, and it didn’t disappoint.

    I know they may not be some of the ones that fit into your top 25, but I always enjoy Rizzoli and Isles and I was also quite intrigued by Murder in the First. Those shows are definitely in my top 5, along with The Last Ship. I would venture to say that my DVR definitely had enough exercise over the summer to distract me from the wait for my fall shows to return. I travel a lot and unfortunately, I can’t always watch my shows live, though I have to say, the shows I mentioned, I both watched live every chance possible and DVR’d them so I could rewatch when I got home.

  12. Jenna says:

    A big thumbs-up from me for 24 and Outlander. Of the rest, Chasing Life and Taxi Brooklyn earn my vote to continue another season, and OITNB, of course.

  13. Rachel says:

    Major fail not even mentioning AMC’S Halt and Catch Fire which was fantastic and such a refreshing change to the same mixed bag of programming we see everywhere else. Leftovers left me cold and I gave up after 3 episodes. But I agree about Extant and Under the Dome. Dropped those too.

    • redjane12 says:

      So true – i didn’t mention it as not sure if it may not count as summer as it premiered in Sprint? At any rate for those who stuck with H&CF, massive pay off, ended up being an intense and pretty unpredictable show. Fantastic acting too. So thrilled there is a second season in spite of terrible ratings

      • Kristi says:

        I wasn’t sure what to expect from H&CF but it turned out to be well worth watching. I love Outlander it is a great show. The Last Ship an Murder in the First we winners and unfortunately I agree that Under the Dome and Extant were disappointing. With Halle Berry staring I thought for sure Extant would be better.

    • veniascott says:

      yes I agree about Halt and catch fire I was glad to see a differnt show on tv that show was the best.

  14. Bwhit says:

    I liked the first half of Graceland than after the episode where those barrels blew up, the show did too. I would like to say season 3 could redeem it (not sure if it’s renewed, haven’t seen anything), but they have made Paige completely dislikable and Mike possibly dead. The Charlie being pregnant idea is stupid and Jakes has turned into the only likable character when he used to be the only one I couldn’t stand. Okay sorry rant over.

    • redjane12 says:

      So true – i didn’t mention it as not sure if it may not count as summer as it premiered in Sprint? At any rate for those who stuck with H&CF, massive pay off, ended up being an intense and pretty unpredictable show. Fantastic acting too. So thrilled there is a second season in spite of terrible ratings

    • EJ386 says:

      It was bad this season. I still hope it will get an other season, because I loved the first and I really hope they can make the characters loveable [and the show great] again.

      • Blah says:

        I think Graceland seemed to have a bad second year.
        Abby (mikes brunette girlfriend) was an underrated loss. As was failing to give Paul anything interesting to be doing

    • Sally says:

      LOL..I so agree with your comments about the characters on Graceland. That is so funny..you must have been reading my mind. But I’m going to give Graceland another chance and hope it gets renewed for another season..

  15. wrstlgirl says:

    Completely disagree about Graceland. It wasn’t flawless but I thought it was a great season with one hell of a cliffhanger.

  16. Shira says:

    The Last Ship is on TNT, not FX.

  17. Ally Oop says:

    I count summer shows as anything that aired from June to August and here were my Top 10:
    Orphan Black
    Outlander
    Finding Carter
    Chasing Life
    The 100
    Teen Wolf
    Continuum
    Orange Is the New Black
    Longmire
    Young & Hungry
    Interesting to note: None of these shows were on the Big 4 networks.

    • Ally Oop says:

      P.S. I wish you would have included Longmire. It’s a popular show and had a great season yet got the boot. Would Tvline call it a winner or loser?

    • Shelley says:

      Longmire and Orphan Black are my favorite shows. As a person who watches TV so seldom I, too, have come to weekly rituals watching some great TV. Longmire. Orphan Black. The Outlander. Orange is the New Black.
      Even though Longmire was cancelled, I’m proud to say that the fan base for Longmire, which I became a part of, is showing how devoted we are to it. I don’t think that Longmire would be favored as a winner just because of the cancellation.

  18. Cyndi says:

    The Last Ship is on TNT not FX. That was by far my favorite show of the summer season. If at all possible Eric Dane looks better now, with a little salt and pepper in his hair, then he ever did on Grey’s. I love that he was given the chance to headline his own show. He’s very believable as the “take no prisoners, and will do anything for his crew” Captain Chandler.

    You didn’t mention Teen Wolf on MTV, it had a fantastic summer season. It was a bit convoluted, but when it all came together it was great.

    I enjoyed Royal Pains as well, but I really miss Necessary Roughness on USA.

    Franklin and Bash would be in the loser pile for me as well, losing two key players really damaged that show.

  19. Brandy says:

    I agree with Winners :PLL, Chasing Life,Witches of East End & ANTM,Italia Ricci.Might have to see if I can check out Finding Carter thought it sounds like Face on the Milk Carton books/movies done years ago.

  20. You guys neglected to acknowledge SYTYCD!

  21. Bruce_F says:

    Thank you for giving You’re the Worst some love. That show really is damn near perfect. Oh, there is one flaw though – that little kid across the street. Those parts were never funny.

    • Nicole says:

      Agreed. You’re the Worst is the best. Literally laugh out loud. I’ve turned others on to the show too and marathon watched it again. I catch something new each time. So funny and witty.

  22. Tran says:

    True winner was indeed 24. I’m always a huge fan of the action packed spy thriller with Kiefer Sutherland returning the role that made him a big star on television and let’s hope that another season may very well be its last and a “happy ending” for Jack Bauer.

  23. Chris says:

    What about “The Strain” and “Reckless”

  24. Andrea says:

    No love for Reckless?

  25. Sil says:

    I love with excited anticipation The Outlander and Orange is the New Black.

  26. Sil says:

    Taxi Brooklyn has become a real winner for me too.

  27. ChrisGa says:

    Love Witches of East End, glad to see it getting some love. Mistresses, however, was a huge oversight–great summer show with a wonderful cast.

  28. Kim R says:

    Major Crimes & Rookie Blue are on my winner list, near the top. :)

  29. Jill singer says:

    I’ve enjoyed Extant. Good thesis about what makes up ” a life”

  30. AT says:

    I actually enjoyed Extant even though I know I’m in the minority. :) I completely agree about True Blood though. Worst finale EVER.

    • sal says:

      I agree with YOU (and TV Line) about True Blood. In fact, I could have done without the last two seasons entirely. Rendered the whole series a pointless waste of time (but a great ca$h grab for everyone involved, that is, everyone who wasn’t fired by HBO for not towing the “party line”).

    • Tran says:

      Don’t know which series finale was the WORST: True Blood or Dexter.

      • alistaircrane says:

        No question: DEXTER. I don’t see what was wrong with the finale of True Blood. Almost everyone got a happy ending. Sookie ended up happy even though she didn’t end up with Bill. Luckily, the show confirmed they were soulmates. Dexter didn’t even get caught! He lives to kill another day and no one is the wiser. Ugh.

        • sal says:

          Re: True Blood: Bill Compton and Sookie Stackhouse are the fictional Ray and Janay Rice. Brian Buckner’s 1.5 seasons of retconning and forced, convoluted “HEAs” will never change this.

  31. Sara says:

    My biggest Winner of the summer (and my favorite show) was Dominion on SyFy. I tuned in because I had heard Anthony Stewart Head was in it, but by the 3rd episode, I was completely in love with it. It just kept getting better every episode! It was a wild ride that was full of great acting and visually stunning. To top it off, it has an amazing cast, crew, and production team that are so very generous to the fans. I really hope it gets a renewal.

  32. Kev says:

    Wow. How could you guys forget The Strain?

  33. Yossarian says:

    Finally, some well deserved praise fo You’re the Worst

  34. Maryann says:

    My favorite shows of the summer were Longmire, Defiance, and Under the Dome, two of which you never mentioned, and the other of which you downvoted. And my up and downvotes for the shows you mentioned were less than a fifty percent match. Needless to say, our tastes differ greatly.

  35. sherrell Frederick says:

    I found Winners in Outlander, Under the Dome and Rising Star. Just because the ratings were not what YOU expected. The shows were everything I expected and more.

  36. Tootsie says:

    I see you didn’t rate Motive. That was the best Summer show. And then there’s Franklin and Bash. Don’t those rate?

  37. Babygate says:

    Gave up on Under the Dome after the first episode this season. And I tried Graceland during the first season but even then I could not connect with any of the characters. Especially the Mike guy. Some actors get a show and act like they are the biggest stars of the universe and their arrogance just comes shining through loud and clear.
    Now, what about Devious Maids, Orphan Black, Tyrant and Legends?
    Agreed with the assessment, especially Extant. What a joke that was. Sadly, I stuck around because I was looking forward to seeing Tessa Ferrer, but wow, was this a badly written and horribly executed show.

    • Julie says:

      Not sure about your comment about actors getting a show and their arrogance coming through. Are you referring to Aaron Tviet or his character, Mike Warren? The character was supposed to come off as arrogant – he was the top graduate in his academy class and his grandfather was the former FBI director. He had overachiever written all over him. As for the actor, not sure where his arrogance came shining through? I feel like he pretty much flies under the radar.

  38. Witvpeong says:

    What about Playing House?! That’s one of the best shows on tv! It needs more attention and to be renewed stat USA!

  39. Tracee says:

    I think True Blood was a great show overall and a “winner” in my mind. I dont care if anybody agrees with me or not. No one is ever happy with any ending when it comes to a series final. Someone always dies when you think they aren’t suppose to or someone different gets the girl. You cant please everyone. The writer tried to put all the pieces together and try to make the final complete. He did a good job. I will miss True Blood.

  40. frowny face says:

    I really liked Extant.

  41. DavidSask says:

    Your list if you go by the comments should include all the summer shows!

  42. Letti says:

    Agreed about Under the Dome. I liked season 1 pretty much, even though I only started watching because of Britt Robertson. First ep of season 2 was epic, but I wish they hadn’t killed Angie and Linda off. They kind of ruined it after, I gave it up.
    But I miss Young & Hungry, it was my favourite this summer. It’s funny, has good characters, good actors, and it’s not overwritten and complicated. Just a little fun for your free time. i hope it will have a season 2.

  43. Debbie says:

    could I please get a list of summer shows that have been cancelled and renewed please.

  44. SAM says:

    I used to be a big fan of “True Blood” but stopped watching in the middle of season 5 (Alan Ball REALLY screwed up that show) but did watch the last episode of season 6 and the first 3 episodes of season 7. I’m trying to make myself watch the rest of the season but just haven’t been to do it yet.

    • alistaircrane says:

      People complain about Season 7 because it was very character-driven and there’s no Big Bad, but if you like these characters, you will love this season.

  45. Joey says:

    Sorry but I can’t trust anything lists any reality show as “best” anything.

  46. donholley77 says:

    Extant was definitely my biggest disappointment of the Summer!

  47. Miffy says:

    Everyone’s a winner!

    Terrible article.

  48. ljd213 says:

    Winner: Major Crimes Sharon vs. Sharon where Capt. Sharon Raydor attempts to play nice but in the end to protect Rusty puts Sharon Beck in her place, county jail with upstate prison hanging over her head. Also points for dumping her loser husband, Jack Raydor and adopting Rusty.
    Favorite line and mantra to live by: “I am just surrounded by people with no sense of occasion.”

  49. venia says:

    what about AMC Halt and catch fire. to me That was not only the best drama of the summer, of the TV season. Here was a show, set in the 80’s that was complety different from what I see on tv these days. Despite the ratings that show is very good, with very good actor..