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10 Sitcoms That Actually Ended Before Getting Bad

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Television is an evergreen arena for entertainment and is able to entertain audiences of diverse interests, but sitcoms have long proven themselves as one of the medium’s more popular genres. Sitcoms don’t always need to reinvent the wheel and some of the most successful television comedies are the ones that fulfill the role of comfort food where the audience can shut off their brains.


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Many sitcoms find an effective balance between broad stereotypes and innovative storytelling. Some shows can’t maintain this momentum for long before they go off the rails, but it’s a delight when a sitcom ends its run with its best foot forward and demonstrates consistent quality across the board.

10/10 An Effortless Family Comedy That Grows Stronger With Age

Malcolm In The Middle

Lois with pancakes for Malcolm and Hal in Malcolm in the Middle

Family sitcoms represent one of the most popular subgenres because they use mainstream comedy to connect with the entire family. Malcolm in the Middle was an avant-garde comedy that emerged out of FOX in the early 2000s and was actually one of the first North American sitcoms to popularize the single-camera structure without a laugh track.

Malcolm in the Middle’s look at an average family came across as blunt, honest, and refreshing. The series lasted for seven seasons and more than 150 episodes and despite radical changes for some of the sitcom’s supporting cast, it’s still a comedy that remains consistent.

9/10 Weekly Time With The Family Provides Limitless Comedic Fodder

Friday Night Dinner

The Goodman family get shocked in British sitcom Friday Night Dinner

Friday Night Dinner is a British sitcom that has six seasons and 37 episodes, which is actually quite a bit for a UK comedy. There’s a helpful simplicity to Friday Night Dinner‘s structure where each episode looks at the weekly dinner plans for the Goodman family.

So much of the series’ comedy comes out of playful pranks and rivalries between siblings Adam and Jonny, but the father’s incessant ineptitude and neighbor Jim’s bizarre behavior are just as entertaining. The effortless chemistry between the cast helps keep Friday Night Dinner from ever spoiling.

8/10 Political Comedy Has Never Been So Vicious And Ridiculous

Veep

Selina Meyer at a press conference in Veep

Veep is a hilarious HBO comedy that somehow didn’t burn out its Presidential premise even during a time when corrupt politics loomed large in America. The whole cast of Veep are exceptional and the script’s acid-tongued dialogue is never a disappointment. That said, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ sublime performance as Selina Meyer is what truly elevates Veep to perfection.

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Some cite the shift between showrunners from Veep‘s creator Armando Iannucci to Seinfeld‘s David Mandel between seasons four and five as the point when Veep got sillier. However, Veep‘s seventh and final season, in particular its series finale, are some of the show’s best work.

7/10 A Cozy Comedy Where Everyone Knows Your Name

Cheers

Ted Danson, George Wendt, and Woody Harrelson in a scene from Cheers.

Cheers is an iconic piece of American television that lasted for 275 episodes across 11 seasons and it’s still viewed as some of the best writing in the genre. The bar-centered antics of Sam Malone and his loyal patrons led to endless comedic storytelling, but it’s particularly impressive that Cheers remained at the top of its game for more than a decade even after experiencing major changes in its cast.

There’s also a split in the audience over whether the episodes with Diane or Rebecca are among Cheers‘ best. Cheers‘ final season has some of its funniest episodes and its series finale set viewership records at the time.

6/10 Endless Laughs With Iconic Characters

Happy Endings

Dave's friends support him at his wedding in the Happy Endings pilot

Happy Endings is a modern sitcom that’s regularly mourned when fans discuss favorite shows that ended too soon. Wild relationship comedies are nothing new, but Happy Endings thrives thanks to its mile-a-minute wordplay and extremely talented cast. Happy Endings is a bit of an anomaly in that it just had three seasons before it was ultimately canceled.

Cancelation usually indicates problems in a show, but Happy Endings’ third season included some of its funniest and most creative stories. Happy Endings was clearly building towards even bigger ideas even as it end loomed large.

5/10 A Groundbreaking Mockumentary That Influenced A Generation

The Larry Sanders Show

Larry, Hank, and Artie argue in The Larry Sanders Show

A landmark HBO comedy from the early 1990s, The Larry Sanders Show lasted for six seasons and nearly 100 episodes. The series looked at the behind-the-scenes workings of a fake late-night talk show. Larry Sanders turned to the mockumentary handheld format before it was the norm and it embraced its format by even including full musical segments in between the talk show’s interviews.

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The narcissistic pursuits that drive Larry and the rest of his staff forward still have plenty more to say when the series gracefully concludes. Effortlessly ahead of the curve, The Larry Sanders Show makes for an even more rewarding watch today.

4/10 A Sharp Comedy Builds A Bizarre Universe For Seven Strong Seasons

30 Rock

The main cast of writers in 30 Rock

Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, which pulled from her real-life experiences at Saturday Night Live, became an NBC staple through the 2000s. The comedy’s combination of fast-paced cutaways and its cartoonish take on reality connected with audiences and helped make Tina Fey a star. There’s some shagginess in the middle of 30 Rock‘s run, but it comes out the other side better for it.

It wouldn’t have been difficult for 30 Rock to continue for several more seasons, but a confident conclusion after seven years allowed the series to go out while people were still hungry for more. It thankfully never reached the point where its characters devolved into parody, but allowed its satirical weirdoes to develop naturally with the series.

3/10 The Rare Spin-Off Surpasses Its Progenitor

Frasier

Frasier, Niles, and Martin watching TV in their cabin in Frasier

Many spin-offs are written off as creatively bankrupt before they even get started, so it’s always impressive when a series like Frasier hits the airwaves. Frasier lasted for 11 seasons and more than 250 episodes, which is even more astonishing considering that it’s following Cheers’ 11-year run.

Pairing the pompous Frasier Crane with his equally exaggerated brother, Niles, was a masterstroke. Frasier has some off moments later on in its run, like how it handles Jane Leeves’ pregnancy, but it always works its way through these kinks and it still concludes with a standout season of comedy that challenges its audience.

2/10 Healing With Comedy For More Than A Decade

M*A*S*H

Hawkeye and company in the office in M*A*S*H

One wouldn’t think that the Korean War would be a successful backdrop for situational comedy. However, M*A*S*H is one of the most well-respected TV shows of all time with more than 250 episodes to its name.

M*A*S*H lasted for 11 seasons and its two-and-a-half-hour series finale is still one of the most-watched TV programs on broadcast television. The warmth that surrounds Hawkeye, Hot Lips, Radar, and the rest of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit is infectious and helped the unconventional comedy succeed for more than a decade.

1/10 A Show About Nothing That Tackles Everything

Seinfeld

Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer watch TV in Seinfeld

Seinfeld is a groundbreaking piece of television from the 1990s that might not have the same will they/won’t they sex appeal as Friends, but its vernacular and stories are thoroughly entrenched in pop culture. Seinfeld masquerades as a “show about nothing,” but these neurotic vignettes dig into what it means to be human.

Larry David left Seinfeld after its seventh season and the following two years are undeniably sillier. However, this pivot felt natural and it’s one that works for many fans. Seinfeld’s series finale remains a polarizing piece of television, but the final season as a whole is still exceptional.

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