Benton's Mother (ER) - Other series with plotlines that drag the series down

In the early days of ER it was appointment television. A young George Clooney, a radiant Julianna Margulies and interesting writing made it one of the top rated shows on television. Just as you would get into the groove of the show and want to know what would happen next they would crap all over the show with fifteen minutes of Eric Benton and his elderly mother.

On its own this one plotline made me turn the show off, or at the very least switch channels until it was safe to return. Eric LaSalle was an unlikable actor playing a dreadful character who spent a good part of each show whining about taking care of his dotty mother. Every week I expected the old lady to die so the show wouldn’t be interrupted by a full segment of watching someone make elder care arrangements.

I was just watching Downton Abbey and referred to Bates’ nasty wife as a “Benton’s mother” plotline and my wife knew exactly what I meant. What other series were dragged down by similar dragging plotlines? Was anyone actually tuning into ER to see if Benton had found a nursing home for his mother? If so I definitely am interested in hearing that perspective.

The whole plotline of the death of Kate Beckett’s mother dragged down Castle. It was completely out of place with the rest of the show, and kept getting less and less interesting the more it was shown. It looks like it’ll come out of the woodwork (or, at least, the actions of the killer) for the season finale, but it never works.

I could probably make a case against most of the storyline in the weirdly dull and disjointed fourth season of Glee, but the worst offender in terms of sheer dragginess must be the interminable catfishing storyline.


One of the fourth season’s new characters, a boy who was himself probably the dullest major character on this show, met a girl online and started chatting/texting with her a lot. At the same time he was also clashing with another choir member. His online friend gave him advice about how to handle this situation, and he and the girl in his choir made up. In the end it was revealed that his online friend/love interest and his choirmate were one and the same.

Oh wait, it wasn’t. The “mystery” of the online girl’s identity wasn’t settled until the season finale TWO MONTHS LATER, which meant that episode after episode of this zany musical series featured a scene where some dude just sat there typing. In an attempt to add some drama to this extraordinarily boring storyline, the writers contrived ways to throw in a confession of childhood sexual abuse AND a school shooting scare. IMHO this only succeeded in making a boring storyline also kind of offensive. There were also at least two false reveals where is briefly seemed like a third party would turn out to be the online girl, but in the end it turned out to have been the most obvious person all along.

Currently on The Good Wife - the storyline with Marilyn, the ethics person. I get that they will be tying everything together, but every single time her storyline is on, it’s awful.

“The Silence” storyline almost made me give up on Doctor Who. It actually started out with some promise, but ultimately derailed the entire series. Fortunately, they seemed to have gotten it wrapped up in the latest regeneration story.

I wouldn’t say this if it was just me who thinks it, but I have had a couple other people agree with me on Jon Snow’s storyline being the most boring thing ever. ASOIAF is known for breaking fantasy tropes, but here’s Jon, the most typical hero ever. He’s a bastard on the hero track! Ugh. Give me back Cersei and her machinations, Tyrion and his common sense, Arya on her little girl revenge journey, etc.

The whole “Sam and Rebecca are trying to have a baby” plotline was easily the worst thing from Cheers.

Pretty much anytime any of the Law & Orders dealt with one of the characters’ personal lives.

They did kill her eventually, and had the doctor give Benton the exact same “Your loved one died” speech that Benton had given to someone else a few minutes before. Which was the only good point of the whole plotline, besides getting Gloria Reuben on the show.

The winner of this trope has to be the Byron storyline from Babylon 5. I know the series was uneven but the first half of Season 5 was just dragged down into this Howling Vortex of Suck that was Byron and the telepaths, who leached all life from the show whenever they appeared. Even their brief appearance in “A View From The Gallery” marred an otherwise excellent episode.

Once they all Died In A Fire it got so much better.

I was certainly rooting for Jack Bauer’s daughter to die every time she got into trouble on 24 to spare me from having to deal with any of her boring plotlines anymore.

Oh god, yes. She’s the reason I stopped watching.

The acting troupe on season 3 of Deadwood. Brian Cox was great and the rest of the characters were fine but they took time and story away from everything we had actually come to be invested in.

I loved almost everything about the rebooted Battlestar Galactica except the Kara-Lee romance angle. It seemed so forced to me rather than a natural outgrowth of the characters’ personalities or histories. That storyline practically took over the show toward the middle of the series and I almost gave up watching.

Every single episode involving the character of Q in ST:TNG was awful. It got so bad I just didn’t watch those episodes if I knew he was going to be on.

IIRC, Supernatural was really only planned to tell a 5-season story, and so when they decided to trod beyond that, they had to scramble for Big Bads and whatnot, but I have to say that if I never see another Leviathan again, it’ll be too soon.

I agree. I also wish they’d have fewer plots involving Peter’s annoying, meddlesome mother. I like Alicia’s mother, though.

True Blood is terribly guilty of this. The main storylines with the vamps and Sookie are usually pretty good. But the show spends tons of time on secondary and tertiary characters and their uninteresting storylines. Like Sam and Luna and her daughter, and the wolf pack, and anything involving Terry and Arlene, and Jesus channeling spirits, and the whole business with Crystal and Jason and the werepanthers.

Those episodes were Citizen Kane compared to any episode involving Alexander. Ugh.

I don’t remember Benton’s Mother but I do remember the utter stupidity of Noah Wiley’s drug addiction.

Also, I’m totally onboard the Anti-Q train. Hated those episodes.

You know nothing.

Came in here to say that.
More recently, the “Bates’ Wife” plotline on Downton Abbey was replaced by the Ivy/Daisy/Footman/Footman love quadrangle. I can’t even remotely care or remember who had a crush on who, but it just dragged on interminably.