Jumping the shark - Who is this kid?
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The latest Crowdfunding Roundup has sparked an idea in my mind for a Geeklist, TV shows that have added in characters long after the show has been established in order to fill in some gaps or try to get back some ratings.

Here are a few shows I know about that did this, feel free to add some more if any of your favorites pulled the same stunt.

My thanks to Wikipedia for a lot of this information.
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1. Board Game: Hugga Bunch [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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The Brady Bunch was a classic show (with plenty of spinoffs and tv movies) about a lovely lady who had three very lovely daughters marrying a man who had three boys of his own. Along with their housekeeper Alice, this bunch had all kinds of adventures and happenings that occurs when you have a household of six children.

In it's fifth season, it was decided that as the children were getting older, there was a gap missing in the younger age bracket, and it just so happens that a young Cousin Oliver (Olivanders???) was sent to live with the Bradys since his parents were off to South America. He was around for the shows final six episodes, as the series was canceled and not picked up for a sixth season.

According to Wikipedia, the producers says this addition threw off the balance of the show, and the viewers were not happy with his intrusion. "Cousin Oliver" has since become a term used to describe a young kid being added to a show in order to try to salvage ratings.

As an aside, Cousin Oliver was played by Robbie Rist, who went on to voice Michaelangelo in the three live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies.
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2. Board Game: Married With Children: Act Like...Think Like...Be Like a...Bundy [Average Rating:5.40 Unranked]
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Married....With Children, a 1987 sitcom that lasted 11 seasons, which featured Al Bundy, a down on his luck shoe salesman, his crazy wife Peg, and their two kids, Kelly and Bud.

At the start of the seventh season, Peg's cousins stopped by for a visit, and ended up leaving their child, Seven, behind with the Bundys. The writers decided that the family needed a third younger kid, and so Seven was brought in. Of course, the audience was not receptive, and Seven was last seen at the neighbors house before being inexplicably written off the show by the end of the season.

As a quick joke, in an episode during season 8, Seven's face was shown as a missing child on the side of a milk carton.
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3. Board Game: Family Matters [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Though not quite in the same circumstance as the other two, but the show Family Matters (which I found out was a spin-off of Perfect Strangers) originally started off without its biggest character, Steve Urkel. Urkel wasn't introduced until halfway through the first season, and didn't become a regular until season two.

The show lasted seven seasons and the character of Steve Urkel (played by Jaleel White) also made some crossover appearances on other TGIF lineup shows such as Full House, Step by Step, and Boy Meets World.

This is a case where adding a character made a huge impact, although it was near the beginning of the shows run, so it is tough to tell how long the show would have lasted without him.
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4. Board Game: Mork & Mindy [Average Rating:4.44 Unranked]
Brian DiMarco
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Collegeville
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A twist on "adding a kid to help ailing ratings" (aka The Cousin Oliver Desperation Play) was Mork & Mindy which in its final season, losing the big viewership it started with, Mork and Mindy got married, they hung out at Jay Thomas' pizza shop and of course had a baby come along!

The twist was Mork - in Orkan tradition - brought forth the egg-child and when it hatched it was a full grown Jonathan Winters, in keeping with Orkan biology of aging backwards (The Curious Case of Jonathan Winters?).

The child was named Mearth. Sadly, it didn't take wikipedia or IMDB for me to remember that.
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5. Board Game: Stargate SG-1 [Average Rating:4.38 Overall Rank:14964]
 
James Hébert
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Topeka
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Ah, StarGate SG-1. Four lead characters: a rakishly handsome and funny lead, the attractive and brainy blonde scientist, the intelligent yet emotional character with a strong conscience, and the tall, quiet and muscle-bound outsider seeking his place in the universe... all set against the backdrop of space travel and bad guys who can really overact (my sons nicknamed one such second-in-command "Mad First Prime", which has stuck in our vocabulary for years).

The show ran 10 seasons and spawned pair of spinoff series that were not quite as successful.

At the end of season 5 one of the four leads changed (Michael Shanks character, Dr. Daniel Jackson), but his replacement (Corin Nemec as Jonas Quinn) was well-conceived and well-acted. Two years later, I found *his* departure more disappointing. The original actor returned, which was welcome, but the loss of Jonas as a regular character was tangible.

Jumping the shark occurred in slow motion over the show's last 3 years.

When *the* lead for the show began to make his exit from the series (Richard Dean Anderson as Colonel Jack O'Neill) beginning in season 8 and culminating in season 9, things started heading downhill. Over that period, actors Claudia Black and Ben Browder (from the series Farscape) were introduced, and some silly episodes and "even badder" bad guys began to materialize. (The idiotic battling-bickering between Shanks and Black was awful; and when a show begins experimenting with "How can we mix up our cast by making them fall in love in different combinations?" like ST:TNG did - you know the writers are running out of ideas. Throwaway concepts like "Hey, I always wanted to do an episode where this happens" become episodes, and I found myself groaning).

O'Neill's replacement, Beau Bridges as General Henry Landry, never felt quite as right the original father-figure heavy portrayed by Don S. Davis.

By that time the show's direction had changed noticeably, there were more ship-travel episodes than gate-travel episodes, and the bad guys were just SO POWERFUL it seemed there was no solution for it but to wrap it all up in a quick catch-all time-travel idea. Well done, but not as satisfying as the two- and three-part episode arcs that would end one season and begin another in the early days.

If it weren't for episodes like the dead-on parody of itself, "200," (the sixth show in season 10) the later seasons would be far less watchable.

So, enjoy the jump, but bring popcorn because it takes a bit to get there.
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6. Board Game: The Family Ties Game [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Brian DiMarco
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The little blond haired boy in the Keatons' portrait on the game box was the little brother Andy who was born late in season three but was miraculously ready for preschool by the beginning of season 5. He was basically a mini-me for Alex P. Keaton.

One can argue that this very same child actor who played little "Andy" in the 80's (Brian Bonsall) would go on and again, fill the same role twice of a "lets bring a kid onto the show" a few years later when Brian was cast as Warf's son on ST:TNG.

And as an aside, googling "Brian Bonsall mug shot" yields fairly interesting results.

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7. Board Game: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Board Game [Average Rating:4.38 Unranked]
Wendell
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Yellow Springs
Ohio
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(Whaddayaknow, there's a game for this show!)

The bizarre and disturbingly funny FX series It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia originally had four main cast members (Charlie, Mack, Dennis, Dee). For season 2, they added Danny DeVito to play Frank Reynolds, the father (more or less) of Dennis & Dee.

This was early in Sunny's history not late; the fact that the show is now in its 9th season would seem to indicate that adding DeVito was a good move.
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8. Board Game: That's So Raven: Girl Talk [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Ben Lott
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Mason
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Seriously, no mention of the Cosby Show yet? Should have been top of the list. Audiences love Bill Cosby interacting with kids, but Rudy was about to enter high school so that well had run dry. So...

...Denise (the second-oldest child) returns to her parents' home newly married to, perhaps the most unlikely person for her character, a lieutenant in the navy. Not only that but her new husband has a 3-year-old daughter! This is how little Olivia enters the Huxtable household.

Through a strange series of events, Martin returns to service in the military and Denise goes with him, but they leave Olivia with Denise's parents. Yes, the child is not sent to live with her biological mother, or her father's parents. No, she is left with her step-mother's parents. Only in TV land.

The interaction between Bill Cosby and the precocious Raven-Symone is actually kind of entertaining, and it works for awhile even though her reason for being there is nonsensical.

That's right, the Cosby Show could survive the shark jump, but then they went one step too far when they tried jumping another shark (or maybe this was an entire sharknado.) Someone in the writer's room said "You know what we don't have on this show? Enough teenage girls." So this genius adds the superfluous character of Cousin Pam! She actually was right between Vanessa and Rudy in age, so there was no need to add someone her age into the mix. Yet here she was, with her annoying friends, for no particular reason. It was the beginning of the end
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9. Board Game: Scooby-doo and Scrappy-doo Game [Average Rating:4.82 Unranked]
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Puppy Power!!

Not sure the details, but I do know that Scrappy-Doo's arrival was a big death knell for Scooby-Doo. In fact it was so significant that they kind of used it as a major plot element in the live-action Scooby-Doo movie.
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10. Board Game: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Board Game [Average Rating:4.02 Overall Rank:15146]
Rick Holzgrafe
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San Jose
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The then-inexplicable appearance of Michelle Trachtenberg as Buffy's teeny-bopper sister Dawn was a jaw-dropper at the start of Season 5. It may not actually qualify for this list, because I don't think Buffy was losing ratings or desperate for audience; the show was riding pretty high at that time. But the characters and their relationships were all well-known and firmly established, and then bam! Buffy had a little sister, who apparently had been there all along.

Joss Whedon had apparently been planning this for a long time, and eventually an explanation was revealed. Dawn was (ahem) the key to the entire fifth season story arc.

I checked Wikipedia before writing this comment, and was surprised to find that Dawn's character was not generally liked by audiences, at least according to a couple of magazines' polls. I liked her a lot.
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11. Board Game: Voyager Space Card Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Darrin Williams
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Allen
Texas
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I don't know if Star Trek Voyager ever had any ratings to speak of, but in Season 4, they spiced things up a a little by replacing the elfish Kess, whose name I had forgotten with the Cat-Suited Borg whose designation I happen to remember: Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct of something or other.

The best I can tell, Seven of Nine was a big hit, even though the show never was.

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12. Board Game: The Simpsons: What Would Homer Do [Average Rating:4.30 Unranked]
Mike W
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The Simpsons did this (as a parody of course), with the addition of Poochy to the Itchy and Scratchy Show (voiced by Homer!)

I love this episode.

Some of my favorite lines:
Quote:
The rest of you writers start thinking up a name for this funky dog; I dunno, something along the line of say... Poochie, only more proactive.


Quote:
EXECUTIVE
I feel we should rastafy him by ... ten percent or so.


Quote:
BART
Hey, Lis, look! They're adding a new character to Itchy & Scratchy! Poochie the dog?!

LISA
Adding a new character is often a desperate attempt to boost low ratings.


A guy enters the kitchen.


ROY
Yo, yo! How's it hangin' everybody?

MARGE
Morning, Roy!
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13. Board Game: Happy Days [Average Rating:4.44 Overall Rank:14520]
Wendell
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Yellow Springs
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OK I waited to add this because I was sure somebody would. This is one of the prime examples of TV shows adding characters (with to be charitable, mixed results), not to mention the inspiration behind the phrase "jump the shark".

It started off by SUBTRACTING characters - Opie's Richie's older brother Chuck (a pretty uninspired character anyway). Several characters were added, most prominently Chachi, cousin of the Fonz, and Al who replaced Arnold (after Pat Morita left the show to do other things). And though I believe Fonzie was in the background in season one, the way his character became the eventual main focus of the show was almost like adding a character. Then he jumped the shark...

And various other characters were added too most best forgotten.
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14. Board Game: Couples [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
Ben Bateson
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Ross-on-Wye
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This has been a British phenomenon too, but the main two examples I can think of were where a central character was replaced, rather than just added.

Coupling was (badly) described as the British equivalent to Friends. In truth, it was a lot sharper and a fair bit ruder than old Ross'n'Rachel. The plotting was an utter delight with a mixture of good old-fashioned farcical set-ups and some real hard-to-handle stuff (flashbacks, time-jumping, split-screens, interweaving plots). The writer was Steven Moffatt, who went on to Doctor Who.

One of the central male characters was Jeff, played with relish by Richard Coyle (he later went on to do a few other bits and pieces including the central role in Terry Pratchett's 'Going Postal'). Jeff was a masterpiece of oddball creation, a lonely Welsh nerd who amazed the others with such mental formulations as the Giggle Loop and Captain Subtext. However, in series 4, he was replaced with a weak imitator. Ironically, given item 1 in this list, the Jeff-wannabe was called Oliver.

Opinion almost universally has suggested that the fourth (and last) series was a mistake.

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15. Board Game: Family Business [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:2402]
Ben Bateson
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My Family was the British take on American family comedies. And it was notable for jumping the shark waaayyyy too early and dragging on waaayyyyyyyyy too long after it did.

The first couple of Series were actually pretty good: something few people still seem to remember. The undoubted star was the slobby grown-up son, Nick, played by Kris Marshall (non-Brits might be familiar with him from Love Actually, where he played a similar sort of role). When he left after two years, though, it quickly became obvious he was providing much of the glue for the plotlines and comic banter. Without him, the jokes dragged, the plots were mundane and the writers started importing a series of increasingly annoying characters, including the inane cousin Abi and the even more inane assistant dentist Roger.

Two series would have been quite enough for My Family.

Peculiarly, a similar thing happened about ten years earlier with Two Point Four Children - another family comedy, but one with a twisted sense of humour and some delightfully contrived setups. It also starred the late, great Gary Olsen, who did much the same for the show as Ed O'Neill did for Married With Children. However, after a couple of excellent series, they plugged in an extra character, Rona, who immediately plunged the whole thing into decline.
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16. Board Game: Rome: Imperium, Circus Maximus, Hannibal vs Rome [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:3767]
Darrin Williams
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Allen
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HBO's Rome was a fine show, but at the end of Season One they went and killed off Caesar for no apparent reason.

In season 2, they replaced him with Octavius, who had just been a bit player in the first season. They even started calling him Caesar in hopes that we wouldn't notice the change, but I don't think anyone was fooled.

It's no surprise that the series was cancelled at the end of Season 2.

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17. Board Game: Los Angeles Scene [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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United States
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Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. H.G. Wells
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Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Maybe not jumping the shark, but I could never take the show seriously after they replaced Janet Hubert with Daphne Maxwell Reid and pretended she was the same woman. As if the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was some kind of soap opera.

I could never get used to seeing Reid as Vivian, and whenever she was on screen it dissolved any suspension of disbelief I may have mustered.

Obviously the Fresh Prince of Bel Air wouldn't want to deal with heavy subjects like divorce or Vivian dying. And then they would have had to create new character dynamics. But I still don't like the direction they went.
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18. Board Game: Are You Being Served? [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
John Cobb
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Conway
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Back on the UK front, you knew the end was in sight when Mr. Spooner was brought in. He add all the negative qualities of Mr. Lucas but none of the positive. It was abysmal.
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19. Board Game: Evil Ted [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Rafael Rosa
United States
Forest Park
Illinois
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No jumping the shark list is complete without mention of Ted McGinley. From Happy Days to the Love Boat to Dynasty, when Ted arrived you knew the show's days were numbered. There are some great comments about this at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_McGinley.
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20. Board Game: Batman Game: The Adventures of the Caped Crusader [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
A. Power
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The Ted McGinley reference from #19 reminded me of another Scrappy moment: The case of Bat-Mite in the New Adventures of Batman and Robin. I'm not sure if this counts, as it was a restart of a canceled cartoon featuring the voice talents of Adam West and Burt Ward from the TV show. Yet they added a questionable recurring character right from the beginning. Bat-Mite just dragged this show down from episode 1.

Marvel and NBC did something similar by starting up a Fantastic Four cartoon where they replace The Human Torch with a robot named H.E.R.B.I.E.-- really?!? Didn't they know that the "Four" in Fantastic 4 refers to the actual four super heroes?!? Another cartoon shot down in flames.
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