Five Shows that Could Have Gone On Forever

Paul September 11, 2012 66

All good things must come to an end, but what if they didn’t? What if quality TV shows were allowed to continue indefinitely? I decided to explore that idea, and think about which types of show might be able to come up with fresh content past the years they aired.

Some shows have to end. Dexter has to be found out. Walter White must face a reckoning. Lost had to explain the Island (even if it did a crappy job of it). These shows needed hard endings. But the five I’ve picked? Not so much. These are all shows that have already had a run, either long or short, so I didn’t included ones that might currently be on the air. Check out the list below:

Friday Night Lights

Most shows about high school don’t fall into the category of what I’m talking about here. It’s a pretty hard and fast rule that once a show about high schoolers moves to college, it starts to suck. See Saved by the Bell, The OC, 90210, the list is endless.

But with Friday Night Lights, it’s different. Sure ,there are characters we all know and love, but the show was excellent at bringing in new blood for you to care about. Coach Taylor keeps coaching football, and new kids with their own unique stories cycle in and out. It really could have gone on forever and ended on a fairly arbitrary note.


This might be a more controversial pick because 24 was going noticeably downhill near the end of its run. The reason for this was that 24 started be to constrained by its real-time format. Plots began to get increasingly far-fetched when crammed into a 1-hour/24-hour episode/season, and the story suffered because of it.

I feel like if 24 eventually dropped the real time format and allowed Jack Bauer to operate independently of that kind of timeline, things could have been kept fresh. After all, audiences weren’t in love with the real time format, they were in love with Bauer, and he could have kept having adventure ad infinitum

The Wire

The Wire lasted a respectable five seasons, but it didn’t quite feel like enough. The show was just that damn good, you didn’t want it to end, and when it did, you were left saying “why?”

In reality, the drug game never really changes, and it wouldn’t have in Baltimore. Police and street gangs could have cycled in and out and as long as the show kept the great writing and realism that made it so monumental, I don’t see a reason it couldn’t have continued indefinitely.


This is the only real “it was killed too soon” entry on this list, as even with a show like Arrested Development that you might consider, you have to admit that even it might have gotten stale over time. I don’t think that’s the case with Firefly however, and one of the biggest reasons fans get choked up about the death of the show is that the universe in which it exists is just so fascinating, when it died it was a huge waste of potential.

Joss Whedon created an extremely cool universe that could have been as deep as Star Trek or Star Wars if it was allowed to expand. It was unique because there was not a single alien in sight, and its old west vibe was something that hadn’t been seen on TV for eons. Firefly could still be on the air right now if it was give the time to cultivate and grow properly, and it’s sad that it never got that chance past 2/3rds of a season worth of episodes.


This was the show that inspired the list for me, and the best example of what I’m talking about. Seinfeld went off the air when it was still the number one show on TV in order for the cast and creators to be able to say they went out on top.

The fact that they did this reveals the real truth about this article. Sometimes it’s good to quit while you’re ahead. Maybe every show I mentioned COULD be 20 seasons long if it wanted to be, but after a time, quality has to suffer. Seinfeld didn’t want that, and I can respect any good show that wants to go out on a high note. This was just a fun list to consider.


  • Michael Chace

    Gotta go out on a high note

  • keltari

    No show can go on forever, thats why there is “Jumped the Shark” phrase. All shows are built around a premise, or an idea, or whatever. After a certain amount of time, that premise gets old and people get bored with it. Some shows evolve and change the premise or the characters, but then the show loses what brought people to love the show so much.

    Yes, I would have loved for there to have been more Firefly, Seinfeld was still funny, the Wire was excellent. But can you really see those shows running for 10 more years and still have them be just as good as they were when they ended? I dont think so.

    My 2 cents.

    • Fox

      Coronation street has been going on for 52 years with almost 8000 episodes

  • evolume

    How do you not have Deadwood on this list?

    • Bpvalentine

      Season 3 od DEADWOOD was pretty bad, I thought. I didn’t want it to end. I thought it could easily come back without those traveling theatre company muddying the waters.

      Also, SEINFELD. True that it went off “on top.” However there was a real sense at the time that the show had peaked and was well past its due date. That it was still #1 is a testament to fan loyalty and perhaps nothing better being on than the quality of the show itself — AT THAT POINT. Had there been any notable competition, it wouldn’t have been #1. That’s all I mean. I say this as a fan.

      Friday Night Lights? Again, great show. But what did you have without Tim Riggins? He was the heart and soul of the show. Without him for the series to orbit, it just didn’t feel worth it. Tell me that you liked the final season as much as you did the other more Tim Riggins heavy seasons.

      24….by season 8 you are several seasons past wondering how lucky one guy can be. Seriously. Firefly is the only one here I wish could have gone on.

  • Don

    What about Sliders?

  • 007

    The Pretender?

  • bent eigil sumelius

    2 shows that they can make forever is Cops and Forensic Files cause they will never run out of cases and bad guys will always be there to do stupid things.

  • Akilah

    Deggrasi is and most likely will go on for like forever.

  • scott wood

    Law and Order could have gone on for me!

  • Joe

    How do you not include Farscape on this list ????

    • Spartan

      I so agree, Farscape was only getting better & better!

  • Teddi

    FireFly was so shiny!

  • gamerchanger

    I really miss The Wire :(

  • RNR


  • Joe Frake

    Come on! Yes, Seinfeld could have had some more years, but the other shows? Firefly is overrated, the setting of the show predetermined a short run. It’s basically John Wayne in space. Did anyone really think this would attract viewers in numbers to sustain a pricey show like this? You’d need to be both a western AND scifi fan to like it, or a Joss Whedon-no matter what-fan.

    And 24? Really? I know lots of people who watched the first two seasons, but almost nobody who watched the last one.

  • Chet

    Dexter can go on forever. He can team up with another lady Dexter and spawn a brood of socially beneficial sociopaths.

  • Phil

    I think “John Doe” could have lasted for many seasons if CBS would have let it.GREAT PLOT & GOOD ACTORS MADE A FANTASTIC SHOW.

  • Ronny

    Crime Story

  • Michael

    I really liked Defying Gravity.

  • vivienne

    not the list I was expecting for the most part, but still some shows die to soon.of coarse most don’t have the ability to go on endlessly due to things like the fact actors are human, before even taking into account costs, fans, and keeping the story line new and interesting. the longest running tv series I’ve heard of is only about 50 years old and Doctor Who (BBC show popular in the UK) has many advantages allowing it to be that long running like the fact the actors changing regularly is naturally part of the story and that it has lots of possibilities for writing new episodes without becoming repetitive and/or predictable. most shows can’t do that.

  • Joy R

    POLICE STORY was an excellent show. each week with a new cast, new story, the common thread being cops. It had drama, comedy, suspense and some of the greatest writing I can remember. It was created by Joseph Wambaugh, forgive me if I misspelled your name sir.

  • BD Williams

    The Wire has got to be the best show EVER. I wish it didn’t end.

  • Jacob

    Arrested Development, anyone?

    • /Agree


  • Kyle

    Wow… no Arrested Development, Profit(a show that was what Dexter could have been only came out in 1996, dealt with a real psychopath, and rocked), or even Veronica Mars. Well, Mars couldn’t have gone on forever but if you think 24 could have gone forever… hell.. it’d have a shot. Seinfeld was a comedy that ended poorly, and seems so dated now. You’d have no Curb Your Enthusiasm. Wonder Showzen definitely could have gone on forever for the effed up and insane out there.

    Agree with Firefly and The Wire(but still miss Six Feet Under more while that had run out of steam.) Never watched Friday Night Lights so can’t speak on that.

  • Leanne

    Charmed could’ve went on and still can be picked up again either as a show or a movie :)

  • Sam Mils

    Great list, and I’d like to add one more that I feel could (and should) have gone on for a very long time: Legend of the Seeker. It created a large, expansive world with great characters. Alas, 2 seasons and it was all done…it deserved better.

    • Mike S

      Hey Seeker was based on a book series called The Sword of Truth or something like that, if you’re interested, look into it and try them.

  • Riley

    Doctor Who can too! He can just keep regenerating.

  • Becky

    Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis.
    There were plenty more stories to tell thru the Gate.

    • Jerry G

      I think Stargate SG1 and Stargate: Atlantis got killed by two things. First is fatigue; people just got tired of the same style story week-in, week-out, especially the network executives. The second is the coming of Battlestar Galactica; that series was a quantum step forward in terms of storytelling with it’s harsh, realistic look and the wonderfully flawed characters. By comaparison with BSG, Stargate was a lightweight. I give the Stargate creators credit for realizing how things had changed when they created Stargate Universe; they realized they needed to raise their game and tried to make the new series and it’s characters deeper. They didn’t always succeed but I thought they were making headway towards the end of the show.

      • Becky

        Fatigue played a part in Atlantis but it was not fatigue on the part of SyFy but fatigue of Brad Wright & Co. SyFy did not want Atlantis to end. Atlantis was still drawing big ratings and they wanted it to continue along side Universe. Brad and Co did not want to run 2 shows again and they choose to end Atlantis. Bad move on their part. With the exception of the 1st episode, Universe never matched the audience that Atlantis was pulling in when it was cancelled. Battlestar was not my cup of tea and Universe was just beginning to become interesting to me but it will never be my favorite Stargate series. Seasons 1-8 and Atlantis fit my taste to a T.
        Your mileage may vary.

  • Anthony

    ‘Babylon 5′

    Think the remake of Battlestar Galactica would exist if this series hadn’t been made? Not even close. B5 paved the way for it and so many others that came after. Even Deep Space Nine started stealing from it towards the end of its own sell by date. Officially JMS ended Babylon 5 with “Sleeping In Light” but it just felt incomplete. A lot of what happened after the League of Non-Aligned Worlds destroyed most of Centauri Prime was never shown on-screen. A real shame and a missed opportunity. Since it ended we’ve lost Jason Biggs and Andreas Katsulas.


    Dropped by CBS. Incredible show with a really great premise. Left us with a cliffhanger never to be resolved (so far).

    ‘Nowhere Man’

    Before Tim Surnow did ’24′ there was his short lived masterpiece ‘Nowhere Man’. Brilliant concept, nail biting moments. It realy messed with your conception of what was really going on. Many WTF moments during its short run.

    • Capt.Obvious

      Babylon 5 actually was done by the end of season 4; it didn’t feel incomplete to JMS, but those in charge wanted to milk it for another season longer. Deep Space 9 was essentially stealing from it from day one, depending on who you talk to (and it shows). B5 – at least seasons 2-4 + Sleeping in Light – have to be some of the best sci-fi storytelling I’ve seen. However, I think that part of the story ended as it should have, and the immense popularity of Sleeping in Light is a testament to that.

      Now, a B5 spinoff… You could argue for or against that in a lot of ways, especially since they tried those.

      • Brain

        Babylon 5 had the whole “five year plan”. JMS was warned he might not get that fifth year, so he condensed his fifth year into the fourth, only to find out year five was greenlit. He then extended the few plot threads he had left to fill out the final year.

  • DJ Jarak

    Firefly should have totally lasted forever.

  • Thomas

    Have you all forgotten about OZ? That show was epic!

  • Shanie


  • william

    John Doe would had been great to let it go on. Someone said above that CBS killed it, but it was FOX.

    Stargate Atlantis would be another great series that could have went longer, but the series creators wanted to start a new series that crapped out fast because it was too dark.

    Jeremiah with Luke Perry only lasted 2 seasons on Showtime. This was a pretty good show.

    Also, someone said Sliders. Sliders was good with the original cast, but then it started going down hill with cast replacements. IF the original cast would have stayed, this series would have gone a while longer.

  • BJ

    This list should have started and ended with Arrested Development. Most brilliant show ever.

  • Brittany

    You know what show really does go on forever? Star Trek. It’s because they make new casts on new ships so that there’s a whole new world for you to learn about. When the plot is over? They make a new spin-off. Just saying.

  • Brad

    I wish breaking bad would go on for another 5 seasons definitely best show ever and sopranos also.

  • Mark

    Once The Office goes off air this season you should add that, and if Doctor Who ever does end it should DEFINITELY be added.

  • Sue

    Thing is, I loved Star Trek (all of it) and Star Wars (old school) and I really loved Farscape.

    I hated Firefly. I made every effort to watch it and like it, but I just didn’t -like- it and the cowboys in space thing, which – technically – Star Trek was the first wagon-train-in-space genre and I’d rather see some ST back on the air, than Firefly.

  • Samantha

    What About Friends? That’s one of the most classic shows you can get! That could have gone on for 20 years!

  • vincent

    ah…firefly..ive watched it so many times now

  • Brain

    Heroes could have joined this list. Kring’s original plan was “one year wonder” and move on. when he was told he was going to get a second year, he originally decided to get a whole new cast and stat over until he found out people wanted the same characters. (DUH!)

    Where he went wrong was letting the Writers Room go wild and then dropping all but the “Who shot Nathan?” cliffhanger during the extended s2 break. HE picked up a few plot threads he had planned for the back half of s2 in s3, but by then, NBC’s interference and the constant Writers Room War had doomed the show. plus, add in the then tanking economy and cut budgets, and the movement to online viewing where the fans didn’t have to watch the advertising that paid the bills, and the end was writ large.

    Meanwhile, we have Alphas and Misfits to pick up the slack from Heroes and 4400 while Marvel owns the big screen and DC…continues to shoot itself.

  • jd duncan

    agree with all ut seinfield in my opion it was on toooooo long i een 2shows and was done past wanting it off my tv only watch the cause the boys where homend was watching if wasnt for laugh track you would know wha was soppose to be te jokes fr thewhere moe rud and obnautius than funy

  • Lynn

    My favorites that I wish would go on:
    Star Trek (any generation!)
    Moonlight (the first “good vampire” show I ever saw–I LOVED Alex O’Loughlin in that role!)
    Eli Stone
    Lie to Me

  • Randy

    What about Heroes ?
    They should have at least done one more series or a movie just to give it some kind of ending.

    Also I though Firefly was a really good show and it’s too bad they ended it early. The movie Serenity was very good!!!

  • Nikki Henry

    Stargate SG1 could have and should have continued!

  • Neeky

    Freakin Jericho!!!

  • Anthony

    Quantum Leap

  • Laura

    Supernatural. looks like this will be the last season for Sam and Dean. I really hope they ‘Star Trek’ them as there are Hunters everywhere.

    They could do an action packed series ‘Supernatural, the Hunter Chronicles.’ something like that.

    • Clarissa

      Actually, it’s much more likely that the show will get a season 9 and 10. I’m not sure why you think this is the last season, but Supernatural’s ratings have gone up now that it’s on Wednesday nights, the new CW president really likes the show and the stars have signed on for additional seasons. I would actually be shocked if the show DIDN’T get a renewal this spring.

  • paul

    i wish that 70s show

  • BillyGunn

    I forgot! Breaking Bad! not an Honorable mention, just forgot to add that to my list.

    • BillyGunn

      God Dammit Dale! and “Rescue Me” should be on theyre too. Haha, I shouldve put more thought b4 i write all of that.

  • PatrickLee

    ‘Seinfeld’ and ’24′ were two of my favorites that I hated seeing end. ‘Fringe’ is another such show. The cast worked really well together and seemed to be into what they were doing.

  • Kilinn

    Wholeheartedly agree with Anthony, Quantum Leap! There were endless stories they could do with Sam leaping through time.

  • Dave

    Could someone please “out” the Fox executive who made the decision to cancel Firely? I’d like a word or two…

    • Dave

      Gail Berman: also responsible for cancelling Family Guy after the first season. Fortunately the public managed to over-ride her distinct lack of talent and taste in TV programming on that one. What a shame she managed to get her way with Firefly.

      So nice to be able to actually put a face to the name of one of the people who has been responsible for the dizzying decline in the standard of TV programming over the last decade.

  • bill

    How do you not have Deadwood on this list???!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????????????????????????????????????

  • bill

    or… the SOPRANOS…?

  • Scott

    Sopranos anyone?