We love TV for the exact opposite reason we love watching movies. Television shows tell longform stories over hours and hours, putting their cast of characters into new situations every week or every season and watching as they navigate their way through the twists and turns. Whether shows last for ten episodes or 200, whenever we tune in to our favorite ones we have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to see.

Except when we don’t. Sometimes, shows switch things up in ways we never expected, changing the setting or the cast or the entire plot either to rescue dwindling ratings, work around a cast shakeup, or pull out all the stops once the creators and writers know it’s all about to end. It can be a little alienating whenever this happens—you’re left feeling adrift as soon as something you thought you knew takes a wild left turn into a totally new arena. But it can also be fun to watch a story test its own limits, and test the limits of the form itself.

Now, for this list, we’re not talking about anthology shows like The Twilight Zone or American Horror Story, where the entire premise rests on the fact that those shows tell new narratives every episode. We’re talking about otherwise linear shows that lasted for multiple seasons, but somewhere down the line decided that where they started isn’t necessarily where they want to end up. Maybe a character falls into a coma, and the subsequent seasons are all products of his wild imagination. Maybe the show was always meant to shift its paradigm eventually, but the shift came sooner than expected. Or maybe a new setting, new storyline, or new cast was a last-ditch effort to keep a show going long after it should have ended. Either way, it’s must-see TV.

10 TV Shows That Totally Changed Their Premise Between Seasons

These shows tested the limits of television itself.

Gallery Credit: Emma Stefansky

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