Few things are as frustrating as a near perfect piece of work. Whether it’s a taut, tense thriller undone by a moronic final twist in the tale or a broad comedy ruined by a last-second note of bleakness, all too often television shows can stumble in the last hurdle and subsequently lose the precious goodwill built over years by adoring viewers.
Other times, one character can throw an otherwise beloved ensemble out of balance, or the addition of a new subplot can leave a long-loved show floundering as the delicate balancing act of pacing is thrown asunder.
Whether it’s a poor choice of plot twist, a single character (or a sudden change in one), or a subplot which grows to overpower its source show, it’s time to do our best Brando circa On the Waterfront/DeNiro in Raging Bull and pour one out for the shows that could have been contenders.
Here are the ten television shows which fell just one infuriating little detail short of being some of the greatness of all time.
10. Stranger Things - Don’t Kill Your Hero
When the Duffer Brothers’ Netflix smash first hit our screens in 2016, it seemed that the sci-fi show could do no wrong. The show benefited from an incredible, largely unknown but instantly loveable ensemble cast, not to mention a plot which fused a nostalgic coming-of-age story worthy of Stephen King with a potentially paranormal small-town mystery worthy of, well, also Stephen King.
The second season largely maintained the goodwill the first generated, upping the pace and broadening the cast to include a few more choice characters (we see you, Dacre Montgomery and Sean Astin). Despite a few missteps like a disastrous smuggled-in pilot for a cancelled spin-off, the show deepened its mythos and lightened its tone without losing the warm atmosphere which had seen it succeed in the first place.
Then came the third season. First, the creators felt the need to kill off fan favourite Hopper in a shameless ending which awkwardly straddled the space between cliff-hanger and tearjerker.
Far worse, though, was the show’s decision to make Hopper a nastier, more impatient and spoiled version of himself to throw fans off the scent. The gruff sheriff with a heart of gold opened the series by threatening a geeky kid and drunk-driving home from being jilted, and that was just the beginning.