Top 10 Sitcoms Past Their Sell-by Date

If only they'd realised that the joke was wearing thin

Once they’ve reached the end of their shelf-life, great/half-decent sitcoms are there to be treasured – or repeated over and over, at any rate – not flogged to death with episodes as inferior as they are brand-new. Here’s ten that have trodden this unfortunate path.

  1. 1

    Only Fools and Horses (1981 - 2003)

    "This time next year, we'll be millionaires!" Only they were, at one point, and this would've been a convenient note on which to bring down the final curtain on one of the most revered shows of all-time. After 1996, when Del Boy (David Jason) and Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst) had realised their life-long ambition, major cast members also started to pass away, on top of everything else.

  2. 2

    Frasier (1993 - 2004)

    One of the hallmarks of the first seven seasons of this heavyweight show was the will-they-won't-they storyline involving Niles (David Hyde Pierce) and Daphne (Jane Leeves). Once they did get it on, the dynamic of the show changed somewhat, plus Daphne's ditzy nature and broad Mancunian accent were both toned down for some strange reason (does finding the love of your life change you that much?). Like the Trotter Brothers finding their fortune, it was a case of "mission accomplished, but let's carry on regardless".

  3. 3

    Two and a Half Men (2003 - 2015)

    Many a fan disagrees with the opinion that the heady days of Charlie Sheen in the lead were rather hit and miss. However, there's no denying that the ensuing Ashton Kutcher era was too inferior to be true and that the whole thing should've been put out of its misery way before it actually was. Throw in Charlie's long-lost daughter to the already putrid mix, and it's an open-and-shut case.

  4. 4

    Friends (1994 - 2004)

    Hear me out. Admittedly, I've never been a fan of Ross (David Schwimmer), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and company, but even the most die-hard critic would be silly to suggest that it's not worthy of its place among sitcom royalty. Having said that, 236 episodes? And was "The One with Ross's Wedding", complete with "It's London Baby!", really that good?

  5. 5

    The Simpsons (1989-)

    Whether it's because it's fallen victim to political correctness, yellow's out of fashion, or it's just not that funny anymore, it feels like Springfield's most famous family have been around forever - and not in a good way. Whether or not we'll be talking about Family Guy and South Park like this a decade from now remains to be seen.

  6. 6

    Benidorm (2007 - 2018)

    Some shows feel like they go on for a lifetime, with this it felt more like three, which is quite a feat in 11 years. The ever-changing cast didn't help, although there were quite a few big names signed up for cameos during its run. Legend has it that real-life holidaymakers at the resort were ousted with little warning whenever filming was about to commence, which was surely reason enough to pull the plug.

  7. 7

    The Big Bang Theory (2007 - 2019)

    The dust has barely settled on the big finale, and already I'm committing it to this comedy trashcan. To be fair, I'm in a minority with this one, but once a bunch of socially-awkward geeks finally got the girls, it was as if their goal had been realised and the whole point of the show ceased to exist. See Only Fools and Frasier.

  8. 8

    Last of the Summer Wine (1973 - 2010)

    37 years is quite a run by any standards, but in 2010 this evergreen dinosaur came to an end. Although it had ran out of steam long before, its Sunday teatime slot began the dreaded countdown to another week at school for generations of kids.

  9. 9

    Happy Days (1974 - 1984)

    Ever heard the phrase "Jump the Shark"? No? Nowadays this is used by Hollywood to describe a movie or TV show that resorts to increasingly nonsensical storylines just to keep things going. It all began with the final episode of Happy Days, which featured a scene where a water-skiing, staring-death-in-the-face Fonzie (Henry Winkler) - you guessed it - jumps over a shark. Now you know.

  10. 10

    The Royle Family (1998 - 2012)

    Only three series, so what's it doing on this list, I hear you ask? There had to be one red herring, and this is it, purely because I absolutely cannot stand it. One episode was too many, let alone 25. If that's not a reason to comment, I don't know what is...

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