7 TV shows where every season is basically the same

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of formula in TV shows – some of the most successful long-running shows have been fond of the ‘monster/victim (etc) of the week’ format.

We’ve already outlined the shows where every episode is the same, but there are shows that take the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ motto a step further and have every season follow the same familiar and faithful ‘series arc’ path.

It’s worth noting that we don’t mean it as a bad thing. If anything, it’s part of what makes the shows as successful as they have been.

1. Homeland

    Season structure:

    • Carrie stumbles on a conspiracy with worldwide implications
    • No-one – except maybe Saul – believes her, leaving her to go it alone
    • Said investigation leads to a breakdown and some classic Claire Danes crying
    • Everyone suddenly realises Carrie was right all along
    • Disaster is averted, although don’t rule out a heartbreaking major death
    • Status quo is largely restored, but Carrie will likely have a new job next season

    2. Line of Duty

      • AC-12 start investigating a bent copper with Kate going undercover
      • There’s an early shock death linked to the investigation
      • It all turns out that it’s linked to a wider conspiracy
      • One of AC-12 comes under suspicion
      • Hastings calls everyone “fella”
      • The team falls out and start arguing with each other
      • Everyone realises they’re all on the same side and crack the case
      • But wait, the conspiracy goes further up the chain than they ever expected

      3. 24

        Season structure:

        • Jack Bauer must stop an assassination attempt/terror attack
        • Attempts to stop it involve a lot of “DAMN IT” and “son of a bitch”
        • Kim gets kidnapped (earlier seasons only)
        • Jack pisses off a government or two, leading to some prison time later on
        • Some attacks are successful with a casualty or two (silent countdown klaxon)
        • But wait, there was a different plot altogether!
        • Jack manages to thwart their overall plan, often with limited time left
        • Everyone manages to finally go to the toilet and eat something (probably)

        4. Supernatural

          Season structure:

          • Sam or Dean are brought back to life or rescued from Hell or Purgatory
          • The new Big Bad wreaks havoc and/or attempts to bring about the apocalypse
          • Sam and Dean tackle demons, witches, vampires and other evil things
          • Castiel joins in if he’s not busy in Heaven with the angels
          • Crowley is a rascal and helps or hinders Sam or Dean along the way
          • A character thought dead comes back
          • Sam and Dean come up with a way to stop Big Bad – but it has consequences
          • One of them is killed, possessed or sent to Hell – for a few months anyway

          5. Doctor Who

            • The Doctor and companion encounter something that hints at a big mystery
            • They head off on several adventures where their relationship is tested
            • Oh hi Daleks, Cybermen or other classic nemesis
            • The Doctor whips out the sonic screwdriver to defeat a villain or two
            • The big mystery turns out to be worse than they expected
            • Everything seems lost – until it’s revealed the Doctor was misdirecting everyone all along and has it all under control, or else a reset button saves the day

            6. Silicon Valley

              • Pied Piper create an idea that could net them millions
              • Gavin Belson tries to thwart them and/or steal their idea for Hooli
              • A too-good-to-be-true business deal goes wrong
              • Pied Piper look on the verge of collapse
              • Some last-minute deus ex machina comes along to save the day
              • But Pied Piper still end up in exactly the same position they started in

              7. The Walking Dead

                • A new villain arrives who sticks around for at least a two-season arc
                • Everyone is miserable again
                • Rick struggles with his humanity, Carol and Morgan want to be alone
                • Something exciting happens mid-season, potentially with added explosions
                • If it’s going to happen, here’s when a shock death arrives
                • Rick vows revenge, but doesn’t just go for it straight away
                • Some random romance is struck up between minor cast members
                • Everything comes to a head with an exciting and action-packed finale
                • Either the main villain is killed, or it ends on a cliffhanger
                • If there’s time, Rick gives an inspirational speech

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