News

13 Reasons Why and 10 More Shows With Sophomore Slumps

Bloodline, True Detective, even Daredevil — the critics agree, these shows lost their magic in their second seasons.

by | June 7, 2018 | Comments

13 Reasons Why stars Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford (Beth Dubber/Netflix)

(Photo by Beth Dubber/Netflix)

UPDATED Feb. 24, 2019

Sometimes the first season of a show is so good that the second season just can’t measure up, resulting in the dreaded sophomore slump. The 2018 season 2 release of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why notably stumbled in its follow-up season, scoring an abysmal 25% on the Tomatometer after being Certified Fresh with a 79% score for 2017’s season 1.

How does that plummet compare to other sophomore slumps we’ve seen before? We’ve put together a list of shows with the biggest drops from season 1 to season 2 by Tomatometer, each with at least 10 reviews on each season. The series on this list fell for different reasons – some had good second seasons that simply weren’t as great as their first; others truly lost their way. Few that made it past season 2 ever truly recovered.

And if you’re wondering where shows like The Walking Dead, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, Glee, and even the original run of Twin Peaks are on this list, their second seasons still got good reviews even though word-of-mouth seemed to suggest otherwise. If you disagree, let us know in the comments.

Here are the 11 biggest sophomore slumps on television by Tomatometer score.

Please note that the percent change is based on the scores at the time of the update — scores may change as additional reviews are added to the Tomatometer.


Marvel's Daredevil: Season 1 (2015) 99%Marvel's Daredevil: Season 2 (2016) 81%

DOWN 19%

The show: Marvel’s first Netflix series told a grounded version of Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), the blind lawyer who uses his other enhanced senses to fight crime as Daredevil.

The ratings: Netflix famously does not reveal their ratings, but the success of Daredevil launched several more Marvel series and more seasons of Daredevil.

What happened: Season 1 was a revelation, both compared to the derided Ben Affleck movie and to show how serious superhero shows could work on streaming. By the time season 2 rolled around, Daredevil couldn’t measure up to the monster it created in Jessica Jones. “It’s still nowhere near as interesting or innovative as Marvel’s Agent Carter or Jessica Jones,” wrote The Daily Dot’s Gavia Baker-Whitelaw. “It’s hard to do anything new in the superhero genre, but the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil seems resolutely determined not to try,” wrote Abraham Riesman 0f New York Magazine/Vulture. Sharing the spotlight with Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) just made people more excited for The Punisher than Daredevil. Aggressive Comix’ Steph Cozza called Punisher “the true MVP here” in her Fresh review.


V: Season 1 (2009) 60%V: Season 2 (2011) 40%

DOWN 23%

(Photo by ABC)

The show: A modern-day reboot of the ’80s series, in which lizard-like aliens arrive wearing human skin.

The ratings: Season 1 dropped from 14.3 million viewers to below five, but ABC still gave it another chance. Season 2 couldn’t rise much above 5.7 million so that was that.

What happened: V went on hiatus after only four November episodes. By the time it returned in March following the Olympics, viewers just didn’t come back.  A second season may have been a chance to establish stability, but critics assured viewers it hadn’t improved. Uproxx’s Alan Sepinwall said, “This one’s not working, and it doesn’t matter how many fresh coats of paint or new showrunners they try to slap onto it.” The San Francisco Chronicle’s David Wiegand said, “The groan-worthy dialogue, usually spoken in a monotone by alien and human alike, is rarely credible and lacks the kind of self-aware irony that might make this enjoyable.”


Smash: Season 1 (2012) 80% | Smash: Season 2 (2013) 56%

DOWN 23%

(Photo by NBC)

The show: The NBC series featured all of the drama of putting on a Broadway musical, the fictional Bombshell about the life of Marilyn Monroe, along with the backstabbing and rivalries behind the scenes.

The ratings: Starting strong with 11.44 million viewers, season 1 steadily lost viewers week by week, ending with 6.74 million. Season 2 began with only 4.48 million and by the middle of the season NBC moved the show to Saturday to dump the remaining episodes.

What happened: Show creator Theresa Rebeck departed the series following the first season, and the plot veered Off Broadway, literally, splitting its focus between Bombshell and a new independent rock musical, and in so doing losing some of its glitzy central appeal. “Its failure wasn’t so much that it didn’t reflect the real workings of Broadway; it never came close to reflecting any aspect of the real world,” New York Times critic Charles Isherwood wrote. With the grind of writing new songs every week and rehearsing the same show, basically it was never as good as the pilot. Or as Boston Herald’s Mark A. Perigard put it, “It still feels as if you’re trapped in the middle of opening night of a third grade dance recital.”


True Detective: Season 1 (2014) 87% | True Detective: Season 2 (2015) 62%

DOWN 23%

The show: Each season centers on a different set of detectives investigating a harrowing case.

The ratings: The first season debuted mid–Hunger Games mania for Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey‘s career “McConaissance” (coming off of acclaimed performances in the likes of Dallas Buyers Club and Magic Mike) and captivated 3.5 million HBO subscribers by the finale. Season 2 stars Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, and Taylor Kitsch were each probably hoping for their own career renaissance (“Vaughnaissance”? “McAdaissance”?) after collectively starring in a number of Rotten movies around the time they signed on for the series. But the HBO thriller held onto viewers (2.7 million, which was on par with season 1 regular viewing), who stuck with season 2 hoping it would get good again.

What happened: They rushed it. With the first season’s success, HBO asked creator Nic Pizzolatto for another season, but a show as intricate as True Detective takes time. HBO President of Programming Michael Lombardo copped to essentially setting Pizzolatto up to fail. Lombardo told radio show The Frame: “When we tell somebody to hit an airdate as opposed to allowing the writing to find its own natural resting place, when it’s ready, when it’s baked — we’ve failed … I take the blame. I became too much of a network executive at that point. We had huge success. ‘Gee, I’d love to repeat that next year’ … I think that’s what I learned from it: Don’t do that anymore.” We’ll see if more time and new directors save the third season.


Under the Dome: Season 1 (2013) 83% | Under the Dome: Season 2 (2014) 61%

DOWN 25%

The show: Based on Stephen King’s 1,000-plus page novel, the town of Chester’s Mill becomes enclosed in a clear dome leaving the residents to deal with a lack of resources and laws.

The ratings: A summer hit for CBS, season 1 averaged 11 million viewers. By season 2, they were down to six or seven million, still enough to earn a third season. By the time season 3 hit a low of 3.7 million, there was no plan for season 4.

What happened: Under The Dome straying from the book showed early potential for keeping the story going beyond the finite novel. By the second season, viewers and critics alike felt the story was stretched too thin to try to make it last. Showbiz Junkies’ Rebecca Murray said the show “has taken itself so seriously and yet it’s one of the most nonsensical prime time shows to ever survive more than three episodes.” Backing her up, Screenrant’s Kevin Yeoman called it “one of the most frustrating and dim-witted shows on television.”


Bloodline: Season 1 (2015) 81%Bloodline: Season 2 (2016) 53%

DOWN 28%

The show: The dysfunctional Rayburn family admits in the series premiere that they killed Danny (Ben Mendelsohn), compelling viewers to find out just what tore this Florida dynasty apart. Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, Norbert Leo Butz, and Sissy Spacek played the Rayburns.

The ratings: Netflix does not release ratings, but the creators of the show were planning five or six seasons. They got three.

What happened: Danny died by the end of the first season. The season finale ended with a cliffhanger reveal that his long-lost son came looking for his aunt and uncles, but the real mystery was over. The Young Folks’ Katey Stoetzel called the season “a long, drawn out plot that at times seemed to make up mysteries on the spot in an effort to be just as mysterious as the first season.” In Vulture, Brian Tallerico wrote, “This year’s story never felt as confident as the first.”


The Man in the High Castle: Season 1 (2015) 95%The Man in the High Castle: Season 2 (2016) 64%

DOWN 31%

The show: When you imagine what the world would be like if Hitler had won World War II, that’s good drama. Based on the Philip K. Dick novel.

The ratings: Amazon called The Man in the High Castle their most streamed original series. Season 2 came with no such announcement, but they are still making season 3.

What happened: The setup was great! The follow-up started treading water with aimless subplots and villains failing to remain threatening. “The scary people who were villains in season one ultimately become antiheroes,” said YouTube reviewer Jeremy Jahns. Andy Hartup of Gamesrada went further, saying, “Thanks to dull characters and mostly flaccid story lines, it falls short of being essential viewing.”


The Killing: Season 1 (2011) 94%The Killing: Season 2 (2012) 67%

DOWN 31%

The show: Based on the Danish series, detectives Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) investigate the death of Rosie Larson, which has ties to mayoral candidate Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell).

The ratings: Season 1 averaged two million viewers — pretty strong for AMC. Season 2 was down to 1.5 million and AMC canceled it. Thanks to a deal with Netflix, they revived it for a third season, and Netflix streamed the fourth and final.

What happened: They solved Rosie’s murder, but it was too little too late. By then, critics grew tired of the mystery and its characters. Slant’s Mike Lechevallier called it “a mystery show whose mysteries agitate and bore rather than mesmerize and astound.” The Mercury News’ Chuck Barney wrote, “The longer we spent with the show’s brooding characters, the more we came to realize that they were an unbearably dour and detestable bunch.”


Wayward Pines: Season 1 (2015) 78%Wayward Pines: Season 2 (2016) 43%

DOWN 36%

(Photo by Fox)

The show: A Secret Service agent (Matt Dillon) wakes up in the mysterious town of Wayward Pines after an accident, and the authorities in town just will not let him leave.

The ratings: Season 1 was a solid summer hit with about 3.82 million viewers. Season 2 dropped to 2.0.

What happened: Once season 1 revealed what Wayward Pines actually was, season 2 was just about new characters (Jason Patric, Djimon Hounsou) who didn’t know as much as the audience. IndieWire’s Ben Travers wrote, “You almost feel bad for the series in its second season, limping along, trying to rebuild from what little was left.” THR’s Dan Fienberg wrote, “If what you liked about the first season was the insidious unknown, that’s gone with little to replace it.”


Genius: Einstein (2017) 84% | Genius: Picasso (2018) 57%

DOWN 38%

The show: Each season told the biography of a different genius. Season 1 was Albert Einstein (Geoffrey Rush), season 2 was Pablo Picasso (Antonio Banderas). Season 3 will be Mary Shelley.

The ratings: Only two-thirds of Einstein’s audience of a million tuned in for Picasso, down to only half in week two, and only about one-third by midway through the season.

What happened: Perhaps artistic genius was too abstract to contain in episodic format. Surely an artist as complex as Pablo Picasso cannot be encapsulated in a TV series, but critics complain Genius didn’t even try. The Straits Times’ Alison de Souza called it “disappointingly conventional” and New Statesman’s Rachel Cooke said the script failed both Picasso and Banderas. “Even he can’t make his lines sound convincing,” Cooke said. Plus, the creative magic that led to ​season 1’s 10 Emmy nominations, including one for Rush’s buzzy performance, may have set the bar impossibly high for any subject or lead actor that followed.


13 Reasons Why: Season 1 (2017) 78%13 Reasons Why: Season 2 (2018) 28%

DOWN 54%

The show: Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) commits suicide and leaves 13 tapes for her classmates. As Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) listens to the tapes, each one reveals one of the reasons Hannah ended her life.

The ratings: Netflix does not release ratings, but the first season was a water-cooler conversation piece, as well as the center of controversy. Some mental health advocacy groups worried it glamorized suicide. But season 2 remained a trending topic on social media, and on Wednesday, Netflix announced that 13 Reasons Why has been renewed for a third season.

What happened: We already found out the 13 reasons in season 1. Season 2 tried to add more reasons, and stretch out the story with the civil trial Hannah’s mother (Kate Walsh) filed, but it was obvious to fans and critics that the story had naturally concluded. ScreenRant’s Kevin Yeoman wrote, “Right away it becomes clear this season’s narrative foundation is built on sand, which is worsened by a lack of forward momentum and over-reliance on rehashing the past.”

Trying to tackle gun control only gave critics more reasons to grouse about the show’s handling of sensitive issues. “It is bleak and depressing, scarringly graphic and stupidly glamorizing in its treatments of guns and ideas of vengeance,” wrote Siena Yates of the New Zealand Herald.

Tag Cloud

composers Broadway cancelled TV shows stop motion documentaries Song of Ice and Fire werewolf franchise feel good The Walt Disney Company Trophy Talk marvel cinematic universe Teen king kong social media batman Podcast target wonder woman rt labs kids ITV 71st Emmy Awards unscripted President screenings emmy awards suspense docudrama Showtime IFC Films Apple TV+ Columbia Pictures Animation boxoffice political drama Pirates Pop australia Mary Poppins Returns films name the review Horror crime thriller new zealand HBO Go DC Universe Tumblr GLAAD MTV rotten DGA dexter toronto FOX movie technology Netflix Christmas movies nfl green book OWN Logo natural history crime drama Crackle book adaptation latino Awards Food Network GIFs Pixar Television Critics Association A24 Film Festival Rocky NYCC ratings Starz dc HBO Max OneApp romance Freeform Creative Arts Emmys japan zombie jurassic park justice league binge Amazon E! best WarnerMedia Sony Pictures Year in Review dramedy Nickelodeon 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards crime Western space historical drama Women's History Month Syfy cartoon BET Tarantino sports BBC scorecard new york golden globe awards The Arrangement worst movies Calendar Polls and Games psycho Amazon Prime Video Toys PBS Emmy Nominations animated Black Mirror Chernobyl VH1 Cannes festivals Comics on TV Premiere Dates godzilla HBO prank cinemax movies foreign Crunchyroll TV One mission: impossible New York Comic Con SXSW Binge Guide casting SundanceTV superman SDCC jamie lee curtis disaster Disney+ Disney Plus Martial Arts Tokyo Olympics Opinion Adult Swim Black History Month know your critic Disney Channel San Diego Comic-Con quibi blaxploitation theme song Lifetime Christmas movies Marvel Studios harry potter cancelled game show facebook hispanic Dark Horse Comics doctor who adventure Spike legend The Purge Comic Book Fantasy VICE football YA Marvel Television Hear Us Out halloween tv Thanksgiving Star Wars die hard lord of the rings cooking italian Musical venice Grammys TCA black Esquire cops serial killer police drama debate screen actors guild basketball Mystery Apple TV Plus cats Wes Anderson BBC One Reality Competition discovery psychological thriller TLC Anna Paquin Trivia El Rey canceled TV shows Elton John based on movie TV renewals comiccon 72 Emmy Awards Countdown Country Legendary Pop TV TV movies Paramount Lionsgate Extras comic comedies LGBT Ghostbusters Mary poppins Travel Channel 93rd Oscars critics Television Academy APB canceled Sneak Peek joker documentary hispanic heritage month Watching Series Ellie Kemper 21st Century Fox AMC Sci-Fi directors docuseries CNN what to watch BET Awards versus thriller Disney 2015 obituary adenture comic book movie anthology popular festival First Look anime PlayStation japanese cancelled TV series Warner Bros. 1990s medical drama reboot heist movie romantic comedy cancelled television Nat Geo Marvel TCA Winter 2020 Film book hidden camera Video Games renewed TV shows 2019 TCA Awards Arrowverse ESPN biopic Heroines Academy Awards TV DirecTV chucky Marathons Character Guide Holidays YouTube Super Bowl diversity Exclusive Video Cosplay Spectrum Originals Fox News ABC Family dogs royal family reviews king arthur independent Turner Classic Movies TruTV Shudder ViacomCBS elevated horror FXX Netflix mutant sag awards The Academy Hulu halloween ABC Signature WGN Mary Tyler Moore witnail universal monsters singing competition Awards Tour crossover 24 frames Action 73rd Emmy Awards indiana jones Star Trek Epix new star wars movies Trailer CMT sequels politics TBS Cartoon Network Universal concert A&E Amazon Studios finale Oscars Musicals mockumentary rt archives Acorn TV women Comedy slasher kong news saw Certified Fresh children's TV international free movies fast and furious french comics Music PaleyFest Superheroe stand-up comedy war Box Office aliens comic book movies spain Schedule Comedy Central Sundance Set visit blockbusters sequel christmas movies boxing Fall TV Rock travel indie Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt The Walking Dead Best and Worst blockbuster asian-american Family all-time Reality Emmys Infographic scary movies Baby Yoda Rom-Com See It Skip It miniseries Drama Kids & Family Hallmark Fox Searchlight E3 99% rt labs critics edition Election nbcuniversal 2016 ID stoner young adult supernatural action-comedy zombies CBS tv talk Hallmark Christmas movies Turner Classic Film Interview critic resources RT History Alien Discovery Channel 4/20 Apple Spring TV American Society of Cinematographers rotten movies we love 45 transformers posters talk show IFC BBC America Sundance TV DC Comics Tomatazos series child's play video on demand true crime Disney streaming service Quiz scene in color BAFTA Pacific Islander classics TV Land Captain marvel TIFF Mindy Kaling Endgame MCU USA YouTube Red high school Nominations Lucasfilm science fiction Sundance Now Funimation trailers dark Winter TV golden globes First Reviews 2018 Tubi Ovation dceu streaming television USA Network spanish CW Seed sitcom CBS All Access Summer TCA 2017 The Witch comic books telelvision hollywood Valentine's Day The CW 2020 satire spanish language LGBTQ National Geographic MSNBC 007 Image Comics live action criterion Walt Disney Pictures Bravo award winner Pet Sematary fresh deadpool richard e. Grant Red Carpet Brie Larson Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Britbox marvel comics kaiju toy story Comic-Con@Home 2021 YouTube Premium teaser Photos Avengers spinoff biography parents robots pirates of the caribbean superhero dragons Peacock Holiday spider-man a nightmare on elm street Amazon Prime Winners olympics strong female leads TNT aapi Mudbound rom-coms laika X-Men TCM twilight 2021 NBC Disney Plus zero dark thirty remakes spy thriller Stephen King Writers Guild of America FX on Hulu breaking bad adaptation video Pride Month Paramount Plus archives Christmas cars GoT Masterpiece 20th Century Fox revenge hist Shondaland 2017 vampires mcc DC streaming service 90s Paramount Network nature razzies NBA Lifetime streaming movies VOD ABC History Vudu slashers RT21 south america Superheroes FX monster movies cults period drama james bond Rocketman Biopics ghosts game of thrones gangster worst