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Terrible TV show decisions someone should be fired for

Absorbing stories, powerful acting, cool special effects, fictional worlds that seem nearly as real as our own — the best TV shows have a lot to love, which makes it easy to look past the times they take a wrong turn or fail to stick the landing. The truth is, no matter how much we may look forward to new episodes, there's no such thing as a perfect TV series — and even the most popular and critically acclaimed small-screen hits in the world have made some really, really terrible choices. While some shows recover, others just enter a permanent, QWOP-style stumble until they collapse in shame. With all that in mind, we've spun back the TV dial and found some of the most unfortunate fatal flaws in some of television's most-watched shows. Sorry in advance. 

The Walking Dead: The Negan cliffhanger

The entire sixth season of The Walking Dead led up to one moment. Comic readers had already broken the news to TV viewers: Glenn would die beneath the bloody baseball bat of Negan, leader of the Saviors. As the season entered its final moments… all we got was the world's least satisfying cliffhanger. Did Glenn die? Was it someone else? Was it someone we even cared about?

The showrunners defended the non-reveal by saying it was done in the interest of storytelling, but it wouldn't have been quite so bad were it not for a blunder earlier in the season. For a few episodes, Dead made a big deal about Glenn being, well, dead. Which he wasn't. The zombie epic never had to fake us out about mortality before, but the introduction of goofy camera tricks had already left a rotten taste in everyone's mouths. Just give us the gory goods or get out of the way.

The Flash: Good guys gone bad

While entertaining, CW's The Flash seems to use the same old gimmicks and makes a lot of really weird choices, season after season. The strangest choice of all was making Barry Allen an adopted part of the West family, making the love affair between him and his stepsister Iris especially unsettling, but things got even worse from there for the villain-du-jour drama.

The first season's big reveal was that trusted science-guy Harrison Wells was actually super-speedy villain Eobard Thawne, a.k.a. Reverse Flash. The team feels betrayed, they fight, and the world moves on. For some reason, the exact same trick was used in season two. Super-fast alternate reality hero Jay Garrick joins the team, but is eventually revealed to be the bad guy again, this time named Zoom. After this, and a really haphazard explanation of how Flash can create "time remnant" clones of himself by running really fast, even the most hardcore fans started to lose interest, making it clear it was time to turn this show around.

Gotham: Everything Barbara

Most of the frustration with Gotham stems from the fact that it isn't a show about Batman. Instead, it's a surrealist, over-the-top soap opera about Gotham City's police force, a very young Bruce Wayne, and the city's burgeoning collection of supercriminals. But it's mostly about police detective James Gordon… and sometimes his insane fiancée Barbara. While DC Comics has never really explored Gordon's marital bliss, Gotham literally just goes crazy.

Barb starts out simple enough, but slowly loses her mind over the course of the show. It's not a subtle, stress-induced insanity; it's more like the writers just decided they needed more villains. She cheats on Jim with his co-worker, starts using drugs, and eventually is totally brainwashed by the Ogre into absolute insanity, becoming one of the show's more useless antagonists. It's a cluster of Days of Our Lives-level stuff that never properly fits into Gotham City. And frankly, who cares about Jim's marriage problems when you have the far more effective tragedy of Mr. Freeze and Nora in the wings?

Modern Family: Acting lessons

Early on, the stilted, weird acting of the male children in the cast of Modern Family was almost charming. After all, they're both geeky products of excessive wealth who might not understand how real human children behave. Unfortunately, Luke and Manny just can't seem to cut it anymore. While it's hard to criticise a casting director for not seeing the future, the show hasn't really made any efforts to humanize the monotone teenagers. Or at least send them off to boarding school.

The list of kid actors who never grow into their craft is a mile long, but none of those kids are on a top TV show, and most of them go off to become lawyers, like the nerds from The Wonder Years and Parker Lewis Can't Lose. We see some more law careers forming in the near future…

Agents of SHIELD - Stupid Inhumans

Marvel Comics has about five hundred original alien races at their disposal, but the Inhumans have always been one of the coolest. They're like the X-Men, but extremely antisocial, and their powers all seem a little creepy and messed up. Their leader, Black Bolt, can tear down mountains with a whisper, and his wife Medusa has a whole lot of prehensile hair. Weird stuff.

But when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D introduced the Inhumans into their continuity, they turned out to be nothing more than a really boring cult, and clearly a really weak placeholder for the Marvel mutants still owned by Fox. The studio squabbling over characters' rights was apparent, and the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't even make mention of Black Bolt, the Inhuman with the deadly voice, left fans wondering where the real story was happening… because it wasn't here. Of course, when we finally got to see Bolt, Medusa, and their family in their own series, the end results were bad enough to make us wish we'd never wanted to see an Inhumans series in the first place.

Friends: Rachel + Joey = gross

Friends was really about two things: those friends hanging out with each other, and those friends dating an endless parade of people who weren't as good as their friends. To that end, two of the friends married within the circle (Monica and Chandler), while Phoebe found love with Mike, who was able to infiltrate the core group because he was played by Paul Rudd, the most charming man on Earth. Biding their time until they inevitably put Ross and Rachel back together for good, Friends writers killed some time in the final years of the show by trying to make Rachel and Joey a thing. On some level it made sense, because they were the male and female friends who dated around the most. On every other level, it made no sense, because there had never been any heat between those two characters. (Honestly, Monica and Ross had more chemistry… and they're siblings.) It was just weird, and before long Rachel and Joey realized they were meant to be (surprise!) friends, rendering the whole plot arc an exercise in wheel-spinning.

How I Met Your Mother: That final season

This 2005-2014 Friends-like sitcom was actually quite innovative. First, it had the framing device of the far-off future version of main character Ted (Josh Radnor) telling a long, byzantine story to his children about how, you know, he met their mother, an excuse to be the unreliable narrator of his own life story. While fans eventually learned that the woman of Ted's dreams was a woman named Tracy (Cristin Milioti), the actual finale of the show found him middle-aged and rekindling his romance with friend (and fellow main character) Robin (Cobie Smulders). The show's provocative (for a rom-com) thesis: A person can have two great loves in their life.

But in between all that structure-challenging comedy and a twist finale, How I Met Your Mother wasted most of its final season. Much of it takes place over the course of a single weekend, the hours leading up to the wedding of Robin and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). The characters mostly wait around for the wedding to happen, while Marshall (Jason Segel) rides in a car because he's en route. So much time was spent puttering around that the finale episode crammed in a ton of stories and the passage of many years that could have been explored in depth over the course of the season. These briefly mentioned things include Ted and Tracy getting to know each other, having their kids, Tracy dying, and how Barney and Robin get divorced.

Felicity: JJ's empty mystery box

Long before Star Wars and Star Trek reboots, one of Hollywood blockbuster king J.J. Abrams' first big successes was Felicity, a 1998 to 2002 college drama that centered on a young woman named Felicity Porter (Keri Russell) making it out there in that big crazy world. As the series played out, fans took sides as to whether Felicity should wind up with Ben (Scott Speedman), the guy she followed to college in New York, or Noel (Scott Foley), the guy she met when she got there. But never mind whom Felicity chose in the end. The truly weird way the soap wound down made no sense for a show of its nature, but it did show off the influence of Abrams' true colors as a sci-fi guy. Lots of shows (Desperate Housewives, Parks and Recreation) have featured a "time jump" into the future, but Felicity dared to inexplicably travel back in time, like it was Lost or something. 

Just after Felicity graduates, and after Ben proposes, she magically travels back to the beginning of her senior year, where she decides she wants to be with Noel (but then, also, Ben). That's all resolved when Felicity fires off the mother of all clichés: The time travel was all just a dream. How could you, Felicity?

Dexter: The family that slays together, stays together

Dexter dared to go where no other show had dared go before: It was a series where the protagonist was a serial killer. The writers actually got viewers to root for a man, a Miami blood spatter expert (Michael C. Hall) consumed by his desire to murder, and they made him a sympathetic character because he only (usually) ever killed really bad people. Dexter really made good use of its home on Showtime, depicting graphic murders and mutilations and whatnot, desensitizing fans over time to all of that horrific and violent imagery. Where could a show like that possibly go after that? Incest!

One of Dexter's few allies in the world was his sister, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), a Miami homicide detective. In the show's sixth season finale, Debra not only finds out her brother is a serial killer, but realizes that she loves him… romantically. He's technically her adoptive brother, but still — that's almost as hard to stomach as serial murder.

The Big Bang Theory: Unfaithful Leonard

The writers of The Big Bang Theory have always made the nerds the guys that you root for. Even if they make dumb mistakes, they're generally not reprehensible ogres. Even Sheldon's obnoxious idiosyncrasies are generally charming. And the romance between Leonard and Penny is probably one of the sweeter things on TV, so the eighth season finale was the ultimate bummer. On their way to get married in Vegas, Leonard admits to Penny that he'd kissed another girl, gut-punching everyone in the audience who believes in true love.

Not only is it a weird hurdle to throw in front of the characters, but it's also strangely out of character for the show, which never really gets heavier than the death of Howard's mom. Turning everynerd Leonard into a lech, and making the audience marinate on it all summer long, sucked. Why can't we just have nice things?