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The fall from grace is far and fast when you’re on top of the TV world, and so it goes with shows that started out as studs but quickly became duds. There’s nothing sadder than seeing a series with so much potential — a solid first season or even a few good seasons — fall apart in the end, but it happens more often than we care to admit. This is not to say they didn’t bring us plenty of happiness, good times and late-night binges, but they definitely taught us that being on top doesn’t keep you from eventually breaking everyone’s hearts with semi-pathetic attempts to soldier on past their prime. The following list represents some of the worst offenders.

Dexter
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After four strong seasons as one of the best serial killer series, Showtime switched the showrunners of their Miami Police Department drama. With great early villains like Jimmy Smits and John Lithgow in the rearview, the show spent the last four remaining seasons trying to make sense of its antihero, taking us down a winding, pointless road with one of the worst finales in TV history. Colin Hanks couldn’t win us over, even with the help of Edward James Olmos, so the final season was the most aimless waste of time the network has offered since the late seasons of “Weeds” (which we’ll get to in a bit).

Lost
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What started as a relatable shipwreck story — OK, planewreck — turned being stranded on a deserted island into a weird, alternate universe timeline-hopping sci-fi series where characters could come and go from their own personal hell after its third season. You have to go back, Jack? Do you really? Like many great TV shows, “Lost” provided us with helpful flashbacks to shine a light on character development. But the flash-forwards of season four, however interesting, only led us into confusing, muddled mythological territory and late-series parallel universes that made the show impossible to watch. As for the ending, well, nobody likes a religious cop-out after so many hours spent deciphering such a complex world.

Heroes
tv shows good to bad, tv shows that went from terrific to terrible, tv shows that became terrible, heroes
What goes up must come down, and this couldn’t be more true when it comes to the briefly celebrated NBC hit “Heroes.” We’re struggling to recall a show that was both as popular as this one and that fell faster from everyone’s regularly viewed programming. With only four seasons, its first flew high, leading into a disappointing season two premiere. The drop quickly ensued, losing half its viewership by the end of season three before petering out completely in its fourth year. The 2015 fall TV reboot, “Heroes Reborn,” will bring back some of the old characters, just not the ones that mattered — Hayden Panettiere — in an attempt to return to everyone’s good graces. Good luck with that. We give it three episodes before they pull the plug.

The Killing
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The “who killed Rosie Larsen” show that started off on AMC was fairly original and brilliant from a murder-mystery detective story standpoint. With a consistent red herring guessing game and unlikely detective duo, “The Killing” kept us enthralled until the show was cancelled. Renewed by Netflix for additional seasons, the show went off the rails into new, uninteresting territory in its third and fourth years, which eventually made it feel unoriginal and gave it a true sellout vibe in comparison to its initial mission statement. It was still tolerable to watch, but then again, so is my washing machine.

Sons of Anarchy
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What started as bikers, beers and babes quickly became a weaving web of lies, deceit and traitorous murder around the halfway point of this FX motorcycle gang series. The show started off fun and edgy, but eventually became an overly violent, heavy-handed epic in all the wrong ways that left zero characters deserving of our affection. When the finale season’s bloodbath kicked into high gear, it became impossible to side with any of the characters amidst their constant betrayals. For a supposed band of brothers, the whole thing bordered on hilarious irony and complete absurdity. On top of that, it was way too emotional for a bunch of bikers who just happen to all be strangely handsome — which is completely realistic. And if I never hear Katy Sagal sing another six-minute song to open an episode of television, it’ll be too soon.

Entourage
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We all wanted to be a part of this entourage until we started to see what girly douchebags the characters would become. Vince and Eric, the two leads, were undeserving of the limelight in a show where Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) and Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) carried all the laughs. However, after a steady decline in the final five seasons of the eight-year run, the show was saved by their recent big-screen adaptation. Something tells us we haven’t seen the last of Vince and the boys, although now that Johnny Drama — the worst actor imaginable — won an Academy Award, we’re not sure where else they can take us in terms of surprise.

Weeds
tv shows good to bad, tv shows that went from terrific to terrible, tv shows that became terrible, weeds
Nobody watched “Weeds” for the storylines after the third season, because there wasn’t much else to say about a hot housewife who sells weed for a living. It was fun at first watching the pitfalls of a woman (Mary-Louise Parker) left to her own “devices” — cue the bongs — and Kevin Nealon had his fair share of funny moments, but the show, like many Showtime series, went about four seasons too long. How did it end? Well, it most likely went up in smoke.

The O.C.
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A cultural pioneer for teen dramas at the time, “The O.C.” was Fox’s suburban follow-up to “Beverly Hills 90210” in 2003. Mixing California lifestyle with some hard-knock life and a bunch of beautiful people —Rachel Bilson — witty humor and relevant musical discovery took Jason Schwartz and crew strong for two or three seasons. However, the sudden departure of Mischa Barton and the sad storylines that followed were the last nails in the coffin, having the group run through recurring plots of rehabilitated violence and newly commercialized holidays — you can’t have both Christmas and Hanukkah; it’s selfish. If they had ended after three seasons, they would’ve been golden. Although the finale was not so bad in the end, it still didn’t make the second half of the series worth it.

Wilfred
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Simple, charming and adorably hilarious in its conception, the mystery behind FX’s “Wilfred” lasted a season or two too many. Across the landscape of the series, they ruled out any and all of the interesting possible explanations for what Wilfred really was, leaving no explanation worthy of satisfying viewers. Although we enjoyed four years of dog puns and crotch-licking, this bad boy stuck around a little longer than he should’ve before being put down. Did we still cry in the end when Wilfred got hit by a car? Absolutely. We’re not dead inside.

Friday Night Lights
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Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) was solid from start to finish, but the small town Texas football series he starred in quickly lost its front line when they realized kids only go to high school for four years. The tiny town family drama kept us on the edge of our futons, spending the first several seasons mixing school drama with some hard-won victories before bringing in the “new class” and basically rebooting the show with the same coach. It didn’t work for “Saved by the Bell.” Why would it work for Connie Britton — Mrs. Coach Taylor — with a southern accent? They should’ve held back Minka Kelly and Adrianne Palicki.

The Office
tv shows good to bad, tv shows that went from terrific to terrible, tv shows that became terrible, the office
Despite an awful wrong first step, the BBC remake made its way to the history books after finding its groove. Eventually, the show wound down around the Michael Scott departure and struggled hard to keep its viewers. The Jim-Pam storyline was done to death and Rainn Wilson seemed to carry the show until they brought in some new blood — Clark Duke, you nerd — and a new boss. Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell and James Spader’s short-lived appearances pulled its fat out of the fire briefly in the dark days, allowing the show to end on a good note. We’re convinced the finale itself scraped by due to the return of Michael Scott, who watched his children grow up and get married to one another.

The Event
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Just like “FlashForward,” “The Event” was one of those follow-ups to “Lost” we hoped would satisfy the emptiness left by that church cathedral scene with Matthew Fox. Instead, we found ourselves briefly enthralled before suddenly becoming indifferent to the show’s existence. Some shows go years and string us along before disappointing us, but luckily this one let us down early before getting canned after its first seasons.

12 TV SHOWS THAT WENT FROM TERRIFIC TO TERRIBLE

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