10 Television Shows that Outgrew Their Premise

by Willam West & Howie Decker

With “upfronts week” upon us, the major television networks are trimming the fat (rightly so or otherwise) and foisting new (and revived) shows upon us for next season. If you’re interested in TV cancellations and new show announcements, read more about it here.

As interesting as it is to speculate as to which shows will be cancelled, picked up or extended, every year there are some shockers mixed in with the predictable cuts. Here are some shows that may not have necessarily outlived their expiration date, but they certainly outgrew their original premise.


New Girl

For how long can Jessica Day be “the new girl”? The show’s title fit the original premise of a previously unknown-to-them girl moving into an apartment with three existing roommates, each fulfilling their own specific roles and archetypes. After two years of living together and accompanying each other to various out-of-town family functions, Jess is in no way “the new girl” anymore.

The show was originally promoted as “the Zooey Deschanel show” but quickly showed that it could not only survive, but thrive on the strength of the “supporting” characters. The show may have lost viewers between seasons 1 & 2, but the writing and acting have remained sharp enough to gain the show such praise as “The Best Sitcom on Television” from numerous places.

There’s no double meaning in the title either. Shows with titles like this have been creative before- like if Jess had become part of the “apartment family” but she was still adjusting to L.A. life, being from the midwest or something. That way she could always be considered the “new girl” regardless of her tenure in the apartment. Speaking of moving from the midwest to L.A….


Beverly Hills, 90210

It always bothered me that the essential pitch was a “fish out of water” premise, yet the Walsh kids took to Beverly Hills IMMEDIATELY. There was no culture shock whatsoever. The show outgrew its premise within 3 episodes.



The CW’s show about a coming-of-age Clark Kent/Superman originally took place in Smallville, particularly Smallville High (go Crows!). The writers creatively kept most of the action centered in the titular town for many years, but by season 8 the action was taking place in Metropolis, the Fortress of Solitude, even off-planet – everywhere but Smallville.

The show should have renamed itself Metropolis or just Superman, but they wanted to hold on to the whole “he hasn’t realized who he is to become yet” theme.


Cougar Town

Cougar Town knows it outgrew its premise (and is frequently self-referential about it), and co-creator Bill Lawrence was going to change the title after season 1, but couldn’t decide on one, and by then the brand had stuck. They decided they’d insert weekly references to the show’s wildly misleading and inappropriate title.


Who’s the Boss?

Tony Micelli became a housekeeper so that his daughter Samantha would have a good life. Around season 5, though, he’s going to college and only cleaning half the time. Then, she goes off to college. Mission accomplished. Wait – he starts dating Angela. But is she still paying him at this point? I always wondered that…



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