2012 is now looming around the corner, and with it comes another year of TV watching (if you’re like us, that is).  Unfortunately, though, for every Breaking Bad, Mad Men, or Boardwalk Empire, there are about a dozen clunkers that just keep rolling onward, shows which should have ended years ago.  With that in mind, we here at ScreenCrave decided to group together the five TV shows that most desperately need to be put out of their misery.  From former classics to programs that were never good to begin with, these are the shows we hope fade to black in 2012.

5.  The Office (NBC | 2005 – ? | 8 seasons)

Ok, let’s be honest here—The Office, now in its eighth season, really ran out of steam somewhere around season six (although some of the hardcore among us will argue that everything after seasons two or three has been a waste).  Add to that fact that season seven featured the farewell of Steve Carell (really the last reason to watch the show after the saccharine overreaching of the fifth and six seasons), as well as a gimmicky series of celebrity guest appearances, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a show well beyond its prime.  The Office used to be a sharp, hilariously melancholic (or melancholically hilarious) view of life in an American office.  Now it just feels like NBC’s Thursday night placeholder because the network simply has nothing else to put in its place.  There are still a few chuckles to be found on an episode-by-episode basis, but overall, this Office needs to be closed.

4.  Whitney (NBC | 2011 – ? | 1 season)

A typical “hey, let’s give a stand-up comic the routine sitcom deal, and since the comic is female, let’s make the show about relationships, because that’s all women care about, right guys?” sitcom, Whitney is almost offensive in its banality, clichéd setups, and stereotypes.  Yet another show about a young woman trying to make it in a big city (according to the world of sitcoms, only two types of lead female roles exist: sharply sarcastic blue collar moms or young women trying to make it in the big city), Whitney’s jokes fall flat, and rely entirely on the “gosh isn’t is sooooo shocking to hear a woman talk frankly about sex?!?” variety of gags that aren’t all that shocking in a post-Sarah Silverman world.   Please, please, please stop this, NBC—we’re begging you.

3.  House, M.D. (FOX | 2004 – ? | 8 seasons)

Like The Office, House, M.D., has been running for eight seasons now.  And, like The Office, House, M.D. ceased being relevant and excellent sometime around the end of season three.  Despite the perfect—simply perfect—performance of Hugh Laurie as the Sherlock Holmes stand-in Dr. House, a crabby medical genius, House ran out of steam long ago.  The problem?  House essentially begins every series introducing a series of changes and plot shake-ups, only to close every season returning to the exact same status quo the showrunners seem to believe the audience demands.  No matter what happens (House falling in love, House falling out of love, House losing his team, House regaining his team, House trying to change, House refusing to change, etc), the show’s writers force the show to always return to where it started, always hitting the reset button rather than allowing the show to evolve and grow.  The final result?  House grew stagnant sometime around season three or four, and the past four years have been nothing but replicating the model established by the first four seasons.   For a show about a genius, House, M.D. sure seems dedicated to mediocrity.

2.  Dexter (Showtime | 2006 – ? | 6 seasons)

Dexter, a show about a Florida police officer/ serial killer with a heart of gold and who only kills other killers, suffers from the same problem as House, M.D.—despite a consistently brilliant performance by the lead actor (Michael C. Hall), Dexter is a program in which each season desperately attempts to hit the reset button.  Sure, there have been some shocking moments along the way (the season four death of Dexter’s unsuspecting wife was a shock), but the show has essentially been one long cheat.  Every season since season two sets up Dexter’s inevitable capture and reveal of his true nature to his family, only to feature a last-minute escape or cheat in which Dexter can live to provide Showtime with another season of high ratings.  Because of this, each season has become 13 episodes of water-treading, in which the show runners attempt to pad out the series until they can finally tell the only new Dexter story that’s left to tell—his eventual capture/reveal.  Everything else is just marking time, which explains why the past few seasons have been massive bore-fests.  And if you can’t make a show about a serial killer who only murders other killers while moonlighting as a blood spatter analyst for the local PD interesting, you’ve got some major problems.  It’s time for the show to stop treading water and bring down the endgame, which the only place Dexter has left to go.

 1.  The Simpsons (FOX | 1989 – ? | 23 seasons)

Look, we here at ScreenCrave love The Simpsons as much as anyone else, but let’s be honest—the show peaked with season four (1992 – 1993) and ceased being great around 1997 or 1998.  Everything since then has run the gamut from merely ‘pretty good’ to ‘shockingly bad.’  Yes, it may be a beloved television institution, but when your TV show hit its peak 20 years ago, and hasn’t been great for about 15, well, it’s probably time to walk away with a little dignity and a lot of money.  It’s given us 23 years, far more than anyone else has, and after a full-length film, 500 episodes, and an endless number of catchphrases and advertising tie-ins, The Simpsons has done it all, except end on a high note.

What show do you want to see end in 2012?