TV Shows Bad Season 2

Sophomore Slump: True Detective and More Shows That Imploded in Season 2

Sunday’s episode of True Detective was its fifth, meaning we’ve passed the halfway point on the HBO anthology series’ second season. By this time last season, we knew Rust and Marty pretty well — though their actions continued to intrigue us. We’d experienced the brutal ballet of the six-minute, no-cuts gun battle. We’d watched them track a bad guy and cover up a crime scene. We’d been enticed with the confusing-yet-ominous name of “The Yellow King.”

This season? We have a trio of sad-sack cops whose progress on multiple mysteries is glacial, a mobster who delivers soliloquys like he’s reading a grocery list and a transportation project that’s as riveting as… a transportation project.

PHOTOS 2015 Fall TV Preview: Your Guide to What’s New!

With only three episodes left before the finale, it’s time to call it: This year’s True Detective is just not as good as last year’s True Detective. And that descent from “Monday morning must-discuss” to “DVR and watch while folding laundry later this week” got us thinking about other series that mightily struggled in Season 2.

The gallery below contains eight shows — including True Detective — whose initial brilliance took a significant hit once Season 2 came around. (If you want a hint about the others, here are a few key words: “Manticore,” “nanites” and “The Initiative.”)

Don’t agree with our picks? Have suggestions for some we overlooked? Click through the photos — or go directly to the gallery here — and then hit the comments with your thoughts!

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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113 Comments
  1. Pedro says:

    Desperate Housewives imploded in season 5. 2 might have not been as perfect as 1, but it was good still, with great storylines for all 4 ladies. Only the mystery was lacking.

  2. SAM says:

    You forgot “Sleepy Hollow”; it deteriorated significantly after its first enjoyable season.

    • TR says:

      I think they were trying to show some pity on it.

      • ekolint48 says:

        They didn’t have the same pity for True Detective (not saying they should or shouldn’t), But, having watched both The killing and SH, Sleepy Hollow definitely deserves to be on this list more.

  3. Al says:

    At least DH got 8 seasons

    Revenge and Heroes became the poster shows for 4 yr flameouts. Neither ever got back to their S1 quality/ratings.

    • Eran says:

      Desperate Housewives having had 8 seasons was the TV equivalent of burying a corpse only to dig it up over and over again and attempt to reanimate it. It should never have been allowed to go on beyond season five, and even that was a Hail Mary.

  4. LADY_in_MD says:

    I totally agree with revolution what started out as a great show with new ideas went completely down hill in season 2 with the little nanites the whole thing with Aaron’s gf being taken over by them was just bad

    • Tara17 says:

      So agree, Revolution had a great first season, and it became unrecognizable and unwatchable in Season 2. Gave up after 2 or 3 episodes.

  5. Tim says:

    Season 2 of the Killing was awesome and I love both seasons of Twin Peaks.

  6. wrstlgirl says:

    Is True Detective doing poorly. I hadn’t heard that. I’ve got all of it, so far, on my DVR to watch when I have time.

  7. Mr. Tran K says:

    Didn’t they left out Homeland on that list?

    • johnhelvete says:

      Episodes 1-5 of season 2 were close to season 1 quality, Homeland did not implode in season 2. Episode 10 was a horrible episode though.

    • mollytanner says:

      I think Season 1 was the best overall season for Homeland, but episodes 1-5 of Season 2 and episodes 6-10 of Season 4 were Homeland’s best stretches. If that makes any sense. That ending of New Car Smell alone can’t make me hate on Season 2.

  8. Cory says:

    Totally disagree on Dark Angel, season 2 is the better one for sure. And everyone talks crap on DH season 2, yet it was way better than season 3.

  9. Mike says:

    How could you forget Friday night lights?!?!? It’s the poster child for subpar second seasons!

    • I would agree it wasn’t as good as other seasons, especially with that bizarre murder drama in the middle of it, but even the worst Friday Night Lights season is better than what most shows churn out any given year.

    • MalTru says:

      I agree with TigerNightmare, plus they recovered in subsequent seasons, whereas most of the shows TVLine listed really didn’t, or weren’t given the opportunity to do so.

  10. Glee. That show got worse every year after a mostly consistent first season. I disagree about Revolution, though. Just getting through the first season was a chore for me. Now here come the people who want to defend successfully escaping from helicopter machine gun fire and taking cover in a restaurant refrigerator. Those are built like bomb shelters apparently.

    • MrScreenAddict says:

      This isn’t an article about shows that decline in quality over time. It’s about shows that “imploded in Season 2.” Sure, Glee may have been a shadow of its former self by its end, I’ll give you that. But in no sense of the word did it “implode” in its second year — in fact, Season 2 was the peak of its ratings and popularity.

      • Just because season 2 was its most popular year doesn’t mean it was its best year by any means. It wasn’t its worse either, but the decline was noticeable. All character development went out the window and Ryan Murphy began his process of slowly turning each likable underdog into a conceited, selfish jerk. It was around this time that people started fast forwarding through the non-musical parts.

    • Steven says:

      It was mid season 2 that I realized Glee was a lost cause. I quit at the end of the second season. Never have I seen a show fly so high and the crash and burn so quickly.

      • Lizo says:

        Ditto. I sometimes look back on those first 10 episodes of season one and wonder how a show so unique and creative turned into the pile o’ crap it became in the end.

        • Wakey says:

          You are giving Glee 9 episodes more leeway than it deserves. The pilot was original for TV in that it was a Black comedy very much in the mould of the movie
          Election but with singing but by episode 2 it had started its demise into a standard teen drama that seemed to only exist to sell music on iTunes. Admittedly episode 2 looks like a master piece still compare to where it ends up but was still a major downgrade

          • Lizo says:

            I haven’t had the heart to go back and rewatch the show, so you could very well be right. I usually say 6 episodes, as those would have been written mostly before airing

      • Bryce says:

        Glee season 2 for sure! It was a bigger disaster than all to come. I think a lot of it was Glee’s desire to have these event episodes, like Madonna week or whatever. They had a bunch of those and they completely put other storylines on hold to do the episodes. It was annoying and reflected real life somehow less than Glee already did.

      • Mo says:

        If you thought season 2 was bad, then I can’t imagine what you would have thought of the following seasons lol. Season 1 + 2 were far far better than everything that followed afterwards.

    • Timmah says:

      I never made it through the first season of Revolution. It was pretty terrible from the get-go.

    • Spence says:

      Agree completely! Season 3 is what finally finished Glee for me, but season 2 is truly where the show imploded and was never able to restore itself from there.

  11. Lauren says:

    The first season of Lost was so captivating. Towards the end of season 2 was when it started to feel like they were just slapping stuff together.

    • Lost is one of my favorite shows and I really liked season 2. But I’m inclined to agree. We started to go further into Lindelof trolling with magic ashes and magnetic ghosts. The hatch was interesting and Desmond is a favorite character, but man, it just gets weirder and weirder.

      • Patrick says:

        S2 was good, no doubt. But it contained the seeds of the plot lines that would derail the show. S2 was when it became apparent that the show had no end game planned out, and that they were making it up as they went.

        • To be fair, most shows are like that. The first, crazy, bombastic season of 24 was like that and all the shows on the broadcast networks are trying to work with fire under their feet. Even Vince Gilligan’s famous “brick by brick” breaking of Breaking Bad seasons were filled with self-imposed challenges of writing the story into a corner, only to eventually come up with an amazing solution. That wasn’t Lost’s problem. It was Damon Lindelof’s insistence in mysteries for the sake of mysteries that don’t really serve the story, other than giving the characters a thing to react to.

  12. I’m not hating this season of True Detective. I hated all of the ‘Time is a flat circle’ babble in the first season, so this season isn’t offending me at all.

  13. alistaircrane says:

    The second season of The OC was reeeeeeally bad. So was the second season of Lost.

    • Mr. Tran K says:

      Agree about Season 2 of The OC especially the same sex story line between Marisa and Olivia Wilde’s character.

      • Cas says:

        Ha I forgot about that. Then towards the end I felt it got better…then season 3 happened and they killed off Marissa which made season 4 terrible.

        • NDfan says:

          Aw I actually liked season 4. By that point I was done with Marissa so I enjoyed it… But that’s just me. I do agree that season 2 and 3 were a mess though.

          • Will says:

            @NDfan, agreed! The first half of season 2 was a dud (Lindsay… ugh so annoying!!) and the show fell apart in Season 3.. it’s like they forgot that they were a mix of comedy and drama… only focusing on the super over the top dramatics. And Marissa’s character was completely destroyed that, yes, at the time I was glad they killed her off. Although Season 4 is a complete joy and return to the fun. I know lots of other fans don’t care for it (I think you can also tell the budget was slashed as the sets seem more fake and they don’t film outside much). Still… I miss The OC!

    • Ashbash says:

      I was just going to mention season 2 of the OC. Season 1 of the OC was a mega hit and it quickly became a pop cultural phenom and is the reason the reality shows Laguna Beach and the Real Housewives of Orange County and their spinoff a exist. For a show that had that much of an impact from just it’s first season to fail as spectacularly as the OC did is beyond me. There were so many things wrong with season 2: the introduction of Zach, the forcing back together of Ryan and Marissa and Seth and Summer, the lesbian storyline, the downward spiral of Marissa, the entire finale. The list just goes on and on and the poor show never recovered

  14. Wouter says:

    Don’t forget Sleepy Hollow. Never seen a show implode like that.

  15. brandydanforth81 says:

    I thought s2 of DH was better than s1 or s3

  16. Heathers says:

    Graceland- I stopped watching altogether after the first 2-3 eps of season 2. Same with Sleepy Hollow. I want all that time back that I wasted.

    • HAP says:

      I’m right there with you on Graceland.

    • Gern Blanston says:

      You were smart to bail on Graceland. It only got worse from there. I gave up after the first episode of season 3.

    • The Beach says:

      I agree totally with both Graceland and Sleepy Hollow. First seasons were great…oh, and you guys forgot Under the Dome.

    • Maryann says:

      I gave up on Season 2 of Graceland after 3 episodes, but I heard about the season finale and what happened to Mike, so I watched the first episode of Season 3. It is much better than Season 2 and I am still watching.

    • John says:

      Certainly, S2 of Graceland was bad, but really the 2nd season finale is what killed it.

  17. Yolanda says:

    Now that I saw that picture of Desperate Housewives, some network should bring back Desperate Housewives for limited series. Seriously. You know Telenovela and American Crime gonna be canceled next year so why not bring back the ladies for 2016/2017 season.

    • Steven says:

      I agree that Telenovela seems like a long shot, but with all the Emmy love that American Crime has gotten and the fact that next season will deal with gender identity, which has become a huge talking point recently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see American Crime grow in the ratings this year.

  18. Ken says:

    This list is kind of misleading. Both Twin Peaks and the Killing course corrected. Twin Peaks season 2 began strong and then suffered after Laura’s killers Identity was revealed but the last 6 episodes (especially the superior series/season 2 finale directed by David Lynch) were extremely strong. The Killing suffered from dragging out the Rosie Larsen murder for 2 seasons but season 3 – the serial killer season – and season 4 – the military boys academy – finished the series on a high.

  19. Mark89 says:

    Sleepy Hollow,anyone?

  20. Diane says:

    Great examples: I hated Dark Angel’s second season and Revolution’s, too.

  21. cc says:

    I haven’t watched a single episode of True Detective this season, and I really don’t regret it.

  22. Reba42 says:

    Completely agree about DH, and Revolution. I remember a fond TV season religiously watching the first seasons of DH, Grey’s and Lost with an old beau. Grey’s was the only show I continued to watch after that year(albeit for far too long).

  23. AngelWasHere says:

    I think Resurrection can fit nicely on this list.

    • AngelWasHere says:

      Ok now that I’m more wake.
      Reasons: Everyone became returned/dead in the town, which made being ressurected not special. Even Bellamy and Henry returned. Henry and Fred’s mother sucked some of the life out of the season with her tedious plot about getting the factory back and pitting Jacob against his family. Rachel sucked the rest of the life out of it, because she stayed pregnant too dang long. Then Tom died which made her pointless. Even the wife part became stupid. Then the writers just threw everything at the wall like the mystery illness and Rachel’s baby being evil, which led to its demise. None of it went anywhere.

  24. Mary says:

    Once Upon a Time. It was very good in the first season, then about half way through the second season wasn’t as good. It did get a bit better in the first half of the third season, but went horrible in the second half and hasn’t recovered.

  25. Eran says:

    Witches of East End anyone? From the non-stop joy that was season one to the shockingly bad Asgard arc – the god awful Frederick. the King, and the amount of time wasted on Kilian and Dash’s coming into their own powers simply drained the show of its heart that was the Beauchamp girls.
    They attempted to broaden and deepen the mythology in such a short time span that they just simply lost touch with the show’s core. And that sure enough signed its death warrant.

    • Lizo says:

      Yessss! The shift to the brothers sucked the life out of the show. They should never have been more than supporting characters.

    • AngelWasHere says:

      Well season 2 wasnt terrible to me, but it could of been a lot better and it did have some really stupid or maybe unneeded moments. Like for example the mother’s out of nowhere ex girlfriend which made me say “huh?” and then the whole Asgard thing, and the constant time traveling/dreaming. I still don’t think it warrant a cacncellation tho. *sigh*

  26. phil says:

    Heroes will always be the worst sophomore slump for me. I couldn’t believe how awful it became and then the incoherent season 3 came along and compounded it. I still think the worst thing they did was keep Sylar because of fan reaction. The writers kept having to jump through hoops to keep him around! That and they killed all the interesting (mostly female) characters.

    • Terry says:

      Yes, definitely agree about Heroes. I still can’t believe how a show could go from must-see-tv to unbearably-unwatchable for me in one mere season. The Sylar storyline should have been over and the next storyline should have focused on existing characters that we had become so invested in, instead of introducing new, much less likeable, characters. So disappointing. I’m obviously still not over it. Hahah.

  27. Andi says:

    Next year you be will adding CW The Flash to this list

    • Lizo says:

      Naw, s2 will be fine…it’ll be season 3 that will suck, if Arrow is anything to go by. S2 of Arrow was easily it’s best season….and season three has been a major letdown. Seriously did anything happen in s3?!

  28. Jared says:

    True Detective is horrible this season. I’ve already gave it up and doubt I’ll ever come back to it.

  29. Misty Roper says:

    I love every season of DHW!! Ive watched it on HULU twice now the past year.

  30. peter says:

    once upon a time shoud be on this list

  31. Lizo says:

    Beauty and the Beast. Season 1 was surprisingly awesome…and then season two undid all that by being painfully stupid and ridiculous. S1 was a rooted-in-reality/ethics-of-science conspiracy thriller and season two was about some dumb mystical necklace?! I blame the CW forcing out the old showrunners and replacing them with mr-I-killed-charmed-too.

  32. Joe Strummer says:

    The Following really imploded in Season 2. They didn’t know what to do with Joe so they added all these other serial killers to the mix.

  33. True Detective this year is just boring and hard to follow. Probably because they are trying to squeeze in the details of 4 main characters into each hour instead of just two.

  34. True Detective 2.0 is different, not bad. Judgment was passed before the season even started filming.

  35. Alicia says:

    Desperate Housewives is a CLASSIC example of a sophomore slump.

    But I agree – adding Dana Delany completely rejuventated the show in season 4; which in my opinion was the best season of the show after season 1.

  36. Cash says:

    I fear for Empire.

  37. Ro says:

    The only show I saw in the Gallery was DH. I miss it…

    • Drukin says:

      Prison Break should have been on the list ,it imploded and got rapidly more and more ludicrous. So silly.

      • Lizo says:

        Season 2 was really strong (I literally just finished rewatching s2 last night actually). Season 3 & 4 was where it went off the rails.

  38. Now, how about a list of shows that got better with their second seasons and rode that improvement until they ran their course? Like, for example, Star Trek The Next Generation, which saw a major improvement between the first and second season which culminated with Best of Both Worlds, which saved and helped redefine Star Trek for the next few decades?

  39. Nero tTVfiddler says:

    ‘Whitney’. Now there’s a show that really fell apart during season 2.

    …. wait a minute, come to think of it, season 1 wasn’t….

  40. Chris says:

    Screw all of you! I LOVED Nolan and Padma, and he loved her too! I was so sad when she died.

  41. Kristina says:

    The slide for The Killing says “Holden-Linder”. Love that little slip up. :)

  42. JC1 says:

    Heroes and Dark Angel definitely. I haven’t watched the others. I quit watching Heroes somewhere in season two, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a show go down quite that fast. And Dark Angel felt like it turned into a completely different show between seasons one and two. Season one was amazing. Season two….yeah not so much. But it did have Alec, which is about the only good thing I can say about it.
    .
    I’ve been trying to think of other shows that fit. I can think of several shows that were strongest in their first season and gradually went downhill, but not many that just crashed in their second season. Maybe Sarah Connor Chronicles? I don’t remember it that well though.

  43. Letti says:

    The Originals for me. Season 1 was great, season 2 got worse with each episode. And the finale was atrocious.

  44. kirads09 says:

    Touch – S1 all about Jake, the numbers, and Martin discovering what it means and how to communicate with his son. Mostly showing the beautiful connections of all the lives in inexplicable ways from all over the world – joyful tears. S2 – Jack Bauer meets Mercury Rising – or something.

    Human Target – S1 – all about a rag tag team of mysterious guys helping people. S2 – Rich lady takes over firm. Show killed.

  45. deangirl1 says:

    Hilarious! I’m quite enjoying season 2 of True Detective and I’m puzzled by the critical hate for it – though I will agree that Vince Vaugn’s delivery leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a shame to throw out the performances of McAdams, Ferrell, and Kitsch too.

    I completely disagree about Dark Angel and Revolution. I hated season 1 of Dark Angel and it was the introduction of Alec that made the second season for me. Season 2 of Revolution had its problems, but season 1 suffered more from far too many cooks in the kitchen. You could easily tell which plot threads belonged to which exec producer….

  46. B says:

    joan of arcadia and felicity need to be on this list

  47. James says:

    ‘True Detective’ has lost some of it’s kudos but will still get a season 3 I’m thinking. ‘Revolution’ was a long shot after season 1 the plot was too big for the writers but not the producers it seems.

  48. david salazar says:

    i’m a big fan of Friday Night Lights, but season 2 was just awful. The first episode in particular had a jump the shark moment

  49. Maryann says:

    I have not seen True Detective Season 1, but Season 2 really grabbed me and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

  50. John says:

    Suburgatory could be on this list.

    In defense of Revenge, if it was just Emily getting the better of people that would have gotten boring fast too. That said, the execution should have been better.