Year in Review
TV Shows 2015 Best Worst

2015 in Review (Part 1): Most Improved, Most Underrated, Best/Worst Finales, CGI, New Characters and More

Like an exceedingly polite party guest, 2015 is already tipping its fancy hat and heading for the exit — even if, from a TV-watching perspective, none of us are exactly ready to say “goodbye.”

But while the next 10 days might find you desperately trying to burn through your DVR or catch up on your binge-watching — the time has nevertheless arrived to reflect on the shows and actors who made us gasp, chortle and shake our heads in dismay over the last 12 months.

Who was utterly underrated? Which shows improved the most in the last year? Which cancellation stung the hardest? What were the most sublime guilty pleasures?

Part 1 of our 2015 in Review answers all those questions and more — including picks for Best and Worst Finales, Best Ensemble, Best Monologue, Best Costumes and Wackiest Plot Twist. (And lest we be accused of neglecting our four-legged friends, we’ve also included Best Performance by an Animal!)

Check out the gallery below for our picks — or click here for direct access — then hit the comments with your thoughts on the year in television!

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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104 Comments
  1. Brian says:

    Agree about Empire not deserving the Sophomore Slump label. Season 2 isn’t as good as the first one, but I still enjoy it. The only thing I hate about the second season so far, is the writing for Anika.

  2. FleshAndBones? says:

    While i agree with so many of these listings, i couldn’t help but wonder why Flesh and Bones was the most disappointing show of 2015.. I watched the first episode and it was phenomenal. Did it go downhill from there?

  3. Annie says:

    I am SO worried about Crazy Ex Girlfriend. PLEASE, RENEW IT CW!

  4. Bwhit says:

    I’m in total agreement about Flesh and Bone…. It’s weird and not in a good way.
    My most underrated drama is Kingdom, with the underrated actor being Jonathan Tucker, he is one of the most dynamic actors I’ve seen in a long time. I love that you guys do this!

    • I second your comment about Flesh and Bone. The star, who is supposed to be so “wow” has no charisma. And the director is unable to rise above the bad writing of his character. All cardboard characters. I need to watch “the turning point” just to cleanse my palate.

  5. Mak says:

    Grant Gustin deserves more recognition…he’s the heart and soul of that show!
    I agree that Empire is not deserving of the Sophomore Slump label..Season 2 of Empire is still very solid and enjoyable.
    Blackish is by far one of the best comedies on TV…more people should tune in…

  6. N says:

    I miss FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Mak says:

    A Tv show not deserving of it’s gigantic/monstrous ratings:
    The Big Bang Theory

  8. csg says:

    Best tearjerker: Megan’s death on Scorpion
    And…Nick Zano had a good show; it was Minority Report
    And the season finale of Minority Report was excellent.

  9. dan says:

    Quantico deserves the award for best hair on a fugitive, but it is also deserves recognition as the biggest disappointment of the new season.

  10. Kristina says:

    Best Single Episode Drama – The Americans “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?”

  11. Pey says:

    You’ve been too politically correct with Castle Break Up “MOST CONVOLUTED STORY ARC”

    • Disappointed says:

      LOL

      According to the showrunners’ interviews though it’s been really “fun” and the greatest story ever told.

      • annek says:

        Right on about Castle break up but dont stop there. Worst storyline(s), worst new characters, biggest waste of talent and chemistry (Sk and NF, 5 min doesnt cut it), worst rehash of previous stories, worst loss of canon, worst character regression…i could go on. You get the idea.

  12. Kate says:

    I can’t tell you how many people I try to encourage to watch Humans (and not to hate our mom character (I’m blanking on her name right now, Sara?), or at least, don’t write her off because, seriously, did you ever think in the first like four episodes that your hopes of rescue from the cliff hangers seem to rest on her and that you are fairly confident she will kick some butt next season?). I mean, I get she has to deal with her husband, but he seemed to learn a few of his lessons by the end and will just follow her direction, especially because his children will all gang up against him going forward.

    • I wanted to like Humans a lot more than I did, but I just couldn’t fully embrace the loopy premise and multiple characters toeing the likability line, which seemed really forced at times. They just don’t seem like self-aware machines and are more like fully grown adult humans put inside mechanical bodies. And it’s one thing to accept Niska reacting to being used as a sex toy like a modern human woman would, but it’s just impossible to believe she’d take the job and do it in the first place while her friends don’t even care that she has such a terrible burden. I hope season 2 is better and gets rid of the betrayal twist trope.

  13. Ellen says:

    Leftovers was by far the best drama for me. Also loved Justified. Most comedies were lackluster, except The Grinder and Please Like Me. Maybe I have weird taste in TV?

  14. Kirstin says:

    I think the actor that most deserving of a new show is Wilson Bethel. By far!!

  15. Paula says:

    Mosr satisfying end to a show: hart of Dixie

  16. Boiler says:

    Thanks for the 2 Broke Girls love!!

  17. Stacie says:

    Totally agree with Forever!

  18. Stacie says:

    Totally agree about Forever!

  19. cc says:

    YES! Thank you for Most Improved Drama, Halt and Catch Fire.

  20. Angela says:

    LOL at the “Best Performance by a Psycho” one :D. Always good to see “Bates Motel” get some love.
    .
    Agreed on Joe Corbin’s addition to “Sleepy Hollow”, too. He’s fit into the gang quite well.

  21. Lillie says:

    Most Underrated Actor/Actress in a drama goes to Grant Gustin and Elizabeth Henstridge? High Fives all around, TVLine, you’ve got it right.

    • zac says:

      actors on comic book shows are always underrated. Also, Iain de Caestecker

      • Hannah says:

        Agreed, although I know that they could only pick 1 actor and lets be honest, Grant is amazing. Iain is another verrrry underrated actor as well though.

        • Yeah, though I would argue Iain is more deserving just due to not ostensibly being the lead. Grant Gustin is pretty good, but he’s also the guy who makes the show so I mean you can’t help but notice him, so I dunno if he’s as deserving as one of many characters on Shield, especially a show with such a big cast. Still, gotta mix it up, and Henstridge had to carry an episode basically by herself for most of it, so yeah, of the two it makes sense which one they picked.

          • Hannah says:

            Exactly! Iain is definitly a shining star, but he’s always been great. Elizabeth finally got to show us her at her best this year and I loved every second of it. They’ve put Iain’s talent to good use for a while but they finally gave Elizabeth something substantial to do.

  22. Eva says:

    Strahovski is very deserving of a great show, but I would actually rather see her as Captain Marvel (which she is absolutely perfect for). A girl can dream right?

    • Jenny says:

      Here here! Yvonne is perfect! Will be very interesting to see if she is cast during pilot season. She wouldn’t go out for a network pilot this season if she is in contention for Captain Marvel. Should be interesting.

      • Eva says:

        Well I read that even though Amazon did not order “Edge” for series, they did extend the option for it – meaning they have longer to decide – so she might not be able to be cast anyway in a new pilot, although I am not sure

        • Jenny says:

          Not sure how things work, but hopefully the actors have the option to sign on to another series. It doesn’t seem right that Amazon could ask the actors to refuse work just in case they change their minds. In their history, Amazon has never ordered a series after the initial series orders (Casanova had extra scripts ordered in September and was never ordered to series).

  23. Haley1020 says:

    You’re forgetting pretty little liars for the wackiest plot twist

  24. Ames says:

    I was planning to binge Wayward Pines – thanks for the spoiler alert. Not sure you had to put that in there.

  25. DramaMomma says:

    Grinder is great!

    Still get a little sad when I think of Forever. That one will sting for a long time.

  26. kmw says:

    I agree with most everything, especially Castle and Beckett’s convoluted breakup. Didn’t serve anything in the way the show runners intended( to put the spark back in, more like took it all out) Hopefully they will right this in second half

    • Joey says:

      It does not sound like the second half is going to get any better. First we start off with tone deaf, should be changed to fans deaf the show runners can’t hear what the fans want. To end this separation of Rick and Kate now. Go to the survey on cartermatt, they are running a survey by polldaddy. Tvline is right about the convoluted season,just too many turns and twists that do not make sense. Lets go back to episode one when we got to look at what Castle new office was like, on the door it stated Castle PI a family business. Now in episode 11 everyone is going to LA but Kate, she must not be part of the family anymore, or are we just looking at what season 9 will be like without Kate. As far as the spark, these two show runners have taken this show from zero to maybe being canceled in the first two episodes.

  27. Sheila says:

    If that’s all you’ve got for best cliffhanger, it was a sad, sad year in television.

  28. skrable2 says:

    Because of this reminder, I just re-watched all of Kimberly Nichole’s performances from The Voice. Her not making the finale was criminal. It was going to be difficult to win over Sawyer Fredericks, given how the voting goes; but for her not to make it to the finale was a bad a decision on the part of the voting public as I’ve seen since starting to watch that show.

  29. I agree with a lot, but best opening credit sequence should have gone to Limitless!!!

  30. Spence says:

    First slide and I already love this list. Completely agree, more people need to watch Humans!! It’s a great show!

  31. Cam says:

    How the heck is Grant Gustin underrated? He seems to get a lot more praise then he actually deserves for the Flash.

    • Yes, I think the entire TVLine staff has been glowing about him ever since the show started. Nothing against him, but I prefer Tom Cavanagh, who is one of my favorite actors and gives so much depth and nuance to two different versions of his character. He doesn’t get nearly as much praise.

    • Rp says:

      My guess is that they wanted to put SHIELD’s Iain DeCaestecker there but couldn’t because they put Elizabeth down as most underrated actress. I also agree that Tom is very underrated and put a lot of good in his performance, but this season (and therefore about half of the TV year) he hasn’t been given very much to work with acting wise IMO, whereas Grant has gotten a really good character arc. There are so many actors this could’ve gone to and choosing Grant really isn’t even close to being the worst choice they could make.

  32. DarkDefender says:

    The list is pretty spot on.
    .
    I’d add a few categories:
    Least believable plot twist–> Glenn is dead (TWD)
    Best use of a pun/prop/FU –> Scratching the itch with a dead peacock feather (Constantine on Arrow)
    Biggest “dropped the ball in what could have been a super cool” dramatic moment –> Ollie & Laurel getting Sara’s “soul” out of the LP (Arrow)
    Best Star Wars tie-in –> Shamy birthday shag (TBBT) [tie] Coulson recognizes Tatooine (AoS)
    Best use of a diverse cast (and storytelling) –> Sense8 (Netflix)

  33. mooshki says:

    I keep telling everyone I know to watch UnREAL if they haven’t already. Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby both did a spectacular job of bringing to life two of the best complex female characters I’ve ever seen on tv. And talk about big drama!!

  34. S McMary says:

    I agree about Scorpion with the worst CGI when Walter was trapped on that cliff but I feel they made up for it with the dam episode. Also, as cheesy as the effects were in the latter episode, I was really touched when Walter confessed to Cabe that he had deliberately rerouted the sprinkler system at his daughter’s grave so that it would always be tended to.

  35. Why doesn’t Matt Ryan’s Constantine appearing on Arrow get more attention as a rare occurrence and testament to the character’s popularity?

  36. Nick Zano already has a great show, and it’s called Minority Report. Seriously, I don’t understand all the hate for the show!

  37. Karen says:

    For 11 seasons, Supernatural remains the most under-rated show. 11 seasons and it is still as good as when it first began. The episode “Baby” from this year, told from the Impala’s point-of-view was genius and definitely deserves acknowledgement. Jensen Ackles is a fantastic actor and makes it so easy to love and hate Dean all at once!

    • Jane says:

      Totally agree with everything you said. I was sure Baby at least would have made one of these TVLine lists.

    • Jolie says:

      It’s not underrated, where it lacks in Emmys and critical acclaim, it makes up for in devoted fans, which is even better IMO. An ‘underrated’ show wouldn’t ever get to 11 seasons, bel ive new.

      • Karen says:

        By underrated, I mean that it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. The Supernatural fandom is strong and incredible, but the show itself is so smart, so well done and continually does things that no other show would ever dream of – and is successful every time. It deserves the critical acclaim, by all accounts!

  38. dancmh says:

    It’s nice to see RuPaul get a shout out….

  39. Lisa Mortini says:

    Agree about Nick Zano. He deserves a good show!

  40. Leigh says:

    Sadly, while I love Castle, I have to agree with this recognition. But new year, new direction (hopefully) so we will see. And Forever still hurts…thanks for ripping off the Band-aid. And that CGI fight scene was incredible on Game of Thrones.

  41. The Annoyed Elephant says:

    The fact that there is not one single mention of Jessica Jones (quite possibly the best TV show to show up in years) means this list is utterly invalid.

  42. Marissa says:

    No love for the final season of Parks and Rec?

  43. Michelle says:

    Best Series Finale: Mad Men

  44. Revenger says:

    Why was Ben’s death on Revenge the worst? I saw nothing wrong with it.

  45. Ray says:

    How did Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan not take best comedy duo? Not only do they both have fantastic acting chops, the pair of them write every script. Catastrophe is also a much better show than Difficult People, which was kind of difficult to watch.

  46. Nicole says:

    Overall a pretty great list especially the underrated actors and actresses. As much as I agree with Forever being cancellation that hurt most, I would have tied it with Selfie. I really miss that show.

  47. Maria says:

    Cancellation that hurt the most: Forever.
    Most convoluted story arc: Castle and Beckett’s break-up

    Yep. Couldn’t agree more. No reason to watch ABC anymore.

  48. KC says:

    Agreed on the Cancellation that hurt the most – FOREVER.
    Biggest mistake ABC has made.

  49. Cortland says:

    Falling Skies season finale wasn’t that bad. I’m not sure how they could have ended it without letting the invaders win so it worked out okay. As for guilty pleasure: drama “Quantico”? The show has already jumped the shark with ridiculous story lines. No, just guilty, no pleasure there. Agree that Grant Guston is one to watch since The Flash is good TV anyway.

  50. Wild_orchid says:

    Best Eulogy: Mary Jane Paul in Being Mary Jane