There comes a time in every fan's life when they must make a difficult choice: to officially break up with the media property that they once loved for so very long.
Media breakups can be tough. You've put so much time and effort into being a fan of this thing, only to realize (either gradually or in an instant) that the thing you loved and enjoyed is... really not all that enjoyable anymore. Often, there's no place left to go but forward, severing ties with the books or TV shows or film franchise that has disappointed you again and again.
Life's too short to waste time on things you don't like, and in the end, deciding not to engage with certain media anymore doesn't erase the good times you had together. Like any conscious uncoupling that happens when you split up from a past romantic relationship, here are a few of the times FANGRRLS chose to break things off with their once-beloved faves.
The Walking Dead
A good ship can keep you invested in a show long after your interest begins to wane. This wasn’t the case with The Walking Dead, but thankfully I have Tumblr to keep me updated on all matters Richonne. As Rick and Michonne were getting closer, I was drifting away from the zombie fighting antics. I stopped paying attention long before the Glenn dumpster death fake-out, but that was the moment I decided to cut the cord. To get show divorced. But thankfully I get custody of the ship, through gifs, fanvids and fanfic on Tumblr. Even with the Andrew Lincoln departure news, I know that Richonne will live on in this fandom. And in this version of the show I don’t have to endure the perpetual misery at every turn. - Emma Fraser
Heroes, part 1
I was very, very into the first season of NBC’s Heroes. It debuted during the dawn of a new era of serialized television, and it was an interesting take on superhero stories unless of course, you were reading all the comics at the time which were already doing the same things. I wasn’t, because I’d had a breakup from comics years earlier due to too many hard-to-follow crossover events. (Comics and I have reconciled a bit, taking things slow and keeping it fairly open.) But Heroes’ mythology fascinated me, and the anticipation going into the first season finale was pretty huge. So huge in fact that it simply would never be able to satisfy, and sadly didn’t come close. And the truth is that following that episode, I never quite loved the show again. I tried. I tried so hard to keep with it. I watched it for two full seasons after that, stuck it out even when the writer’s strike forced entire plotlines to be jettisoned, leaving what was already disjointed feeling even more so. I stuck with it when a character saw and tried to prevent an apocalyptic future for the umpteenth time, even though that repeated plotline also broke the rules of fate and time travel that the show had established. I kept watching even though, in all those possible futures, every character was flattened into two-dimensional exposition machines that would be changed and bent to whatever the writers needed that week. And I kept watching as Zachary Quinto’s Sylar ping-ponged between villain and redeemed hero and back depending on which supporting character stoked his daddy issues at any given time.
And so it was at the start of the final season of the show when after watching the premiere episode, I had a realization as soon as the credits scrolled: I didn’t care about a single one of these characters anymore. I opened up the DVR controls in my remote, deleted it from my series recordings, and I’ve never looked back. Unlike many shows in my past that I later missed a bit, I never revisited it on Netflix, never went down a Wikipedia rabbit hole of final season episode synopsis. The only lingering affection I have for the show manifests in a nod of appreciation for Adrian Pasdar whose runs on Supergirl and on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. really solidify him as a guy who is very annoyed by superheroes, even when he sometimes is one. Seeing him on other shows is like meeting eyes with an ex across the room, seeing them with their new partner and nodding in quiet mutual acceptance that we were never meant to be. - Riley Silverman
Heroes, part 2
Heroes came into my life at exactly the right time. My middle school obsession with anime and manga mellowed as I entered high school, but I was still ravenous for comics content—and supremely cowed by the sheer breadth of the medium. Heroes promised all the things I loved about comics with a low buy-in (I came on board maybe five episodes into the first reason), a fantastic cast (Christine! Rose!), and a production team friendly to fans and fan culture.
I was hooked. I studiously rearranged my schedule in order to watch new episodes as they aired, and then logged onto the original Television Without Pity to scour the boards for discussion, Easter eggs, and fan theories. One of the very first panels I ever attended, at baby's first Dragon*Con, was about Heroes, and it was the first time I'd met other fans who weren't already my friends in the flesh. It was the first serialized television show that I'd ever really loved.
And then the second season aired. And then the third. And then the fourth. It is tradition in the House of McBride to joke that it's such a shame Heroes got canceled after the first season, but there were things about the later seasons that I actually enjoyed. Sylar's weird road trip every season? Amazing. David Anders? What a fantastic actor! The limbo trial in the fourth season episode "Pass/Fail"? Delightful!
But these were islands of hope in a sea of increasingly diminished returns. Yet I stayed faithful to this first fave, watching every week, reading the tie-in comics every week, and constantly daydreaming about how Adam's eleventh bride, one of the many teased and dropped elements (like Peter's Irish girlfriend, doomed to die in another timeline), would figure into this.
And then H.R.G. cheated on his wife and I threw the remote control across the room. One of my favorite things about the show had been Sandra Bennet, a breezy Texan mother who was so familiar to me, as a teenager in South, but also had a spine of steel despite being a regular human caught up in all of this superhuman drama. One of the most redeeming and human things to me about H.R.G. was that his love for his wife was so true, even as he engaged in morally grey activities.
It was in that moment, quietly putting the batteries back into the remote control, that I realized I could just... stop watching. Enjoying a show, even loving a show, didn't mean that I had to stick with it forever. So I just... stopped.
I was furious at the time, and for years afterward, at how Heroes had wasted its own potential, getting lost in muddy stories about yearning for normalcy and recursive lore when what had drawn me to it was the ordinary doing the incredible. It dropped off my radar utterly; I didn't even know Heroes Reborn was a thing until I heard it mentioned on an episode of Last Podcast on the Left.
Looking back now, though, I'm actually really glad I went through it: both to be introduced to more traditional Western fandom on a community level and to learn the sunk cost fallacy of medium consumption.
Of course, now I'm an adult with a short attention span who is bad at watching television shows, so maybe I didn't learn that much. - Clare McBride
There was so much to love about Angel. I missed him on Buffy the Vampire Slayer when he left. Other than Spike, there was never really a love interest that had the same impact on me for Buffy. Not that they could have kept him on the show. I mean, once you establish that having sex is going to turn Angel into Angelus, there really isn’t anywhere you can go with that. I was thrilled to find out that he was getting his own spinoff, and that Cordelia was going to join him.
I always loved Cordelia. There is nothing better than watching a terrible character that you love to hate start to develop humanity. On Buffy, Cordelia was a popularity monster, selfish, obnoxious and delightful to watch. Up until a certain point, Cordelia had the best and strongest arc of anyone in the Buffyverse. I loved every second. Seeing her deal with the disappointment of a failed acting career in Los Angeles, and how she dealt with getting visions from Doyle in Angel was wonderful. She became a real part of the team.
Then, Connor happened. Good ole Connor, Angel’s son. Yeah, I wanted him to get killed off in the worst way. Didn’t we all? Panel after panel, discussion after discussion fueled by wine and pizza, I have yet to encounter anyone who liked him or that stupid storyline. You could have just added a little kid to the mix, because watching Angel bumbling through fatherhood would have been great, but no. No, you decided to give us an obnoxious teenager. If that wasn’t enough, you had Connor and Cordelia become a thing. You couldn’t just let her love the dumb but pretty Groosalug. You couldn’t let her have a real relationship with Angel. You had to hook her up with the worst teenager to ever appear on a sci-fi or fantasy show, and that’s saying a lot.
Once she seduced Connor, I stopped watching. I just couldn’t get past the ick factor. Heck, I’m shuddering right now, even writing about it. I went back and attempted to watch the rest of the episodes and I got through them, but I never got over it. I do a Buffy and Angel rewatch once a year, but I skip those episodes of Angel. They hurt me. Cordelia deserved better. If the Powers That Be really wanted to repay their debt to Cordelia, they would have taken her before she got it on with whiny teen Connor. - Jenna Busch
Game of Thrones
Although I wasn't one of the book fans who started reading A Song of Ice and Fire when A Game of Thrones was first published in the early '90s (I would've been WAY too young to read about Westeros back then), I'd picked up the first few in the series when it was announced that HBO was going to be turning George R.R. Martin's books into a TV show. And, for the most part, I was looking forward to the adaptation. Things started off exactly as expected. Ned died, I cried. Jon Snow was perfectly cast in the wide-eyed, curly-haired Kit Harington. Daenerys Targaryen's rise to power was incredibly cathartic. The Red Wedding happened as brutally on the show as it had in the books. It was, by and large, entertaining television.
But then those little issues that had been nudging at me in the background reared their head big time when changes were made to the source material that made for an ugly viewing experience, especially for a female fan. Season 5's "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" culminated in a scene where Sansa Stark is raped by her new husband Ramsay Bolton, only to have the camera turned on the character of Reek instead in the midst of Sansa's horrifying trauma. Ultimately, it was a tipping point for myself as well as many other fans, who felt that this was yet another in a series of unnecessary scenes featuring rape and assault against female characters. It was enough to turn me off from watching the show for the remainder of the season.
That being said, sometimes you can still be friendly with an ex after a breakup, and the same goes for the media you enjoy. After hearing that the following season of GoT was a bit kinder to its female characters, I decided to give it another shot. My current relationship status with the show could probably best be described as It's Complicated, especially now that GoT is winding down. These days, my issues with the series mostly have to do with pacing problems and rushed plot, but given that GoT is heading into its final season at this point, it looks like I'm going to stick it out — especially to see which characters make it through the gauntlet of winter after all. (My money's on the Mother of Dragons.) - Carly Lane
I'd always had a thing for vampire lore and this was a fun, funky, modern take to it where they weren't just scary creatures that went bump in the night. They were law-abiding, tax-paying, second-class citizens enduring a lot of the same prejudices as any other minority in the world. True Blood normalized a genre that was gory and monstrous.
However, while the show started off really great, I had to step away after I started ingesting the source material, The Sookie Stackhouse Murder Mysteries, and realized the show was going dramatically off course. Now, I completely understand that idea of taking creative licenses with content; I know not everything can and/or should be translated to the screen. But some of the creative takes on the show were atrocious and Season 4 is when I decided to take a detour from our relationship.
The introduction of the faerie world with no real explanation of its importance was a real low in addition to the necromancing witches. Season 4, which was based off of "Dead to the World", had all the makings of a romantic season with tons of opportunity for character building. Instead, they gave Sookie glowing light ball powers, added a bunch of extra plot lines no one asked for like Sam's redneck shifter family and Tara's death.
There was no desire to watch Season 5, and even when I did come back, it was more in a hate-watching kind of way... like when you check your ex's Facebook page to see if he's still a sad lump of a person after the break up and you're vindicated in learning he is.
True Blood really blew it and I don't think we're ever ever ever getting back together. - Afiya Augustine
I grew up in a town where the one of the most lively debates I can remember was about whether or not the theater, the only theater, should show the Harry Potter films. I wasn't forbidden from reading Harry Potter, but neither was I encouraged to enjoy any media that dabbled in things occult. (Obviously, I did and still do. Sorry, conservative small town.)
When I finally picked up the Harry Potter books, it was at the adamant behest of my roommate and friends in college. Honestly, I didn't love the first book. It took me a devastatingly long time to read and turned me off the series for a few years. Then I read Chamber of Secrets and I was hooked. (Part of what drew me back in was Dobby. I adore him so entirely and his death later on in the series really broke my heart to pieces.) In less than three weeks, I read all five remaining books, finishing The Half-Blood Prince the night before the release of Deathly Hallows. I stood in line at the bookstore, made a magical wand while I waited, and then ran all the way home with my new book. I didn't sleep until I'd devoured the final chapter of our tale. Over the next few months, I remember having long debates about whether or not the epilogue was important or just a cop out, to what degree Draco was complicit in the Death Eaters' evil plans, who knew Snape wasn't really a bad guy first, and if we should start saying the name Voldemort. Ahem, You-Know-Who. (Jury's out on that one.)
A short three months after Deathly Hallows was released, J.K. Rowling announced that Dumbledore was gay and that he had been in love with Grindelwald. As a queer kid struggling to find a way to come out (remember the conservative small town?), I was excited that Dumbledore was queer. I remember thinking, "Hey! We got a badass wizard and mentor to children that gets to be gay!" Luckily, my misconception was rectified by my community before my recently un-closeted ass had a twitter handle. Pretty much every point I learned from my elder queers is perfectly outlined in this article by FANGRRLS' own Meg Ellison.
That was the beginning of the end for me. I broke up with Harry Potter, not just because of its numerous issues, but also because the story was done. Sure, I love the world of Hogwarts and the wider wizarding world. Sure, there's a lot to work with for additional stories and prequels and, and, and.
But, do we need it? Do we need another queer character who never gets to be queer? Do we need a story where a whole race of people are greedy, hooked-nosed, money-keepers, essentially nothing more than an antisemitic stereotype? Do we need more "magical Indian" narratives where Native Americans are not only treated as lesser than the colonizing wizards, but also as relics of the past, rather than real-live human beings? I'd much rather be done with the world of Harry Potter, instead dedicating time and energy to elevating more diverse stories. I mean, isn't it about time for an Octavia Butler or N.K. Jemisin or Kameron Hurley series to be adapted? - S.E. Fleenor