What Will Make You Stop Watching a Show or Movie?

imagesI recently wrote that I was enjoying watching the first season of Outlander on DVD. But a few days ago, something changed, and now I’m done with the show. Minor spoilers below.

In the penultimate episode, there is a torture scene that lasts over 20 minutes (there’s a brief reprieve in the middle). I cringed through the first 10 minutes before welcoming the reprieve. Then, as the second part kept going and going, I reached a tipping point.

I turned it off, ejected the DVD, and sent it back to Netflix. I’m done with it.

Afterwards, I thought about what happened. I mean, I’ve watched 24–I’ve seen torture scenes. They’re never pleasant or entertaining in the least, but sometimes we watch terrible things to understand them better.

But this was too much. Too dark and too long. It went on and on.

So why didn’t I just skip that scene? This is the key: I realized that if the writers and director thought that was the type of thing they should spend time filming and showing, Outlander is not a show for me. Clearly I am not their audience. I am not entertained.

I’m curious if you’ve ever had this type of reaction to a show. Has there ever been a tipping point for you that made you turn off a show for good?

19 thoughts on “What Will Make You Stop Watching a Show or Movie?”

  1. I started watching “Walking Dead.” After about 6 episodes I started to feel sad – hopeless – the nihilism was just too relentless. I had to stop. It was making me feel bad about the world. I can take tough stuff. I loved “Happy Valley” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3428912/ — but, “Walking Dead” was like torture porn.

    So, yeah. I get it. Totally.

    • I get that, David. That’s certainly a running theme of the show. Even when things are kind of happy, it’s hard to watch because you know the writers are prepping you for something really bad to come.

  2. That seems to be a common end point for many viewers of this show, myself include. The extended homosexual rape scene was perhaps the most disgusting thing I’ve ever encountered on a televised program. I skipped thru it and haven’t watched it since. Truly vile choice for the makers of that show.

    • I didn’t even get to that part. Rape of any kind is very difficult to watch (that would make it the third rape of the first season, right?) I stopped watching when a nail was placed into Jamie’s hand.

      • Agreed. It’s a pity too because the plot and story of outlander is really unique. I just wish producers like Starz and HBO didn’t have to go overboard with the vulgarity on all their shows. That’s the sole reason I won’t start Game of Thrones because it undoubtedly is also riddled with that sort of content.

        • There’s some bad stuff on Game of Thrones, including rape and torture. But there’s a pretty big gap between that episode of Outlander and anything in Game of Thrones.

  3. I stop watching when a plot gets too corny. Hence I stopped watching The Following, for instance. Too far-fetched, corny and predictable. Outlander, however… I love it. I don’t know why people are so upset with the writers of the show when the show is based on a book. From what my book-reading friend has told me, the torture scene is way worse in the book. Yes, it was hard to watch. I can’t imagine turning off the show because of it; the acting was supreme. Maybe it’s because I’m a chick. I just love the show and can’t imagine just stopping.

    • Sara: I should clarify that I blame the writer of the book for my reaction to that scene in addition to whoever decided to put it on camera. It’s interesting that the scene didn’t deter you. I just…it was too much. I don’t want to see that much pain inflicted on anyone.

      • Neither do I – it was horrific, and I cried the whole time. My husband watched right alongside me. I just think the scenes were so very well done. They were thoughtfully written, directed and portrayed. It’s so rare that major parts of a book are matched so well on screen. Game of Thrones is another fave of mine, but the Reek story didn’t come close to the book and downright pales in comparison to Outlander’s torture scenes. Not that I’m “into that sort of thing” but I recognized what it took for the actors to make it so very real that it made people turn the show off. THAT is spectacular acting. Not gratuitous, not corny, not lame. You can now safely watch Season 2. It’s much more tame.

  4. In answering this, I realise very violent shows often turn me off sometime in the second season. In my adult life I’ve noted the trend that so many popular shows are gruesome murder mysteries.

    I’m a child of the 1970s. A good cop show then had car chases (with cars exploding), but the bad guys were caught and hauled in alive, guilty usually of lesser crimes than murder, much less gruesome serial murders, as is the current stock in trade.

    Two seasons of 24 were plenty for me. I was bothered at the fact that the sort of torture they were depicting does happen in real life (and in my name as an American.)

    I gave up on Breaking Bad after tiring of watching such a horrible character, one who would poison other people’s children because his “Baby Boomer bourgeoise” values demanded his own children live in a house the family owned and go to university, no matter what. The scene when Walt failed to save the young woman who choked and died on her own vomit before his eyes was possibly the death knell for me. I believe he eventually got his comeuppance but I’d had enough; he had absolutely no redeeming features to make me feel invested in his story. I particularly despised the way he’d abuse his former student, Jesse, who at least had some charm and pathos.

    Also found Game of Thrones just too explicitly violent and tired of that after a season or two. Couldn’t believe George R.R. excused it with a “that’s the way it was”, showing he’s blurred reality and fantasy in a positively Reaganesque way.

    I tired of the Mentalist because of the never-ending Red John story arc, whose details I couldn’t remember because I just didn’t care enough, which made it hard to keep following. Similar long story arc problems with Crossing Jordan (which I stuck through, I liked that one) and Castle (on again, off again).

    On the lighter side, I started watching Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives to see what the fuss was about, but lost interest, again after maybe about two seasons, in this case because of increasingly absurd plot-lines and painfully stupid characters. Remember the season ender of the former when Meredith couldn’t hail McDreamy? Like a doctor of his calibre wouldn’t have a cell phone or a pager?

    • Julia: Thank you for sharing! You have a very good memory for when and why you quit watching specific shows. 🙂

  5. I usually stop watching when they start bogging down a show with “relationships” to capture a wider audience. But more along the lines of your story, I caught a couple random episodes of sons of anarchy and it seemed to be a good drama that I would check out at some point. For a third time I turned it on one day and there was Katey Segal tied up and gang raped. I appreciate realism in shows but that’s not something I want to see and IMO crosses the line from entertainment to something that I don’t approve of or want to fill my limited free time with. If they had alluded to it or even handled it in a different manner I would have been fine with it as a plot device but I didn’t agree with how it was handled as a show at all. I know it happens and I know how but I just don’t want to see it. No matter how good the show may be I’ve never watched it again or gone back to binge it like I originally intended.

    • Nik: I can definitely see that perspective. I haven’t watched Sons of Anarchy, but it would be incredibly difficult to watch that scene. It just makes me wonder why the writer/director decided it was important for the audience to see it. Did they think the show is better because of it? Or were they just being graphic for the sake of being graphic?

      • That’s part of the problem with just catching an episode here and there. I don’t know if the rest of the show was graphically gratuitous like that or if it was somehow important for it to be shown. If it was an event that conflict for an entire season or two is built around then it may very well have been warranted. I didn’t get the impression it was though.

  6. My answer is always: when I get bored. I have no tolerance for watching a show that doesn’t interest me. I am not the sort of person that always has to finish watching a season or even an episode of a show before quitting. If I’m not enjoying myself, then the show is dead to me and I never look back.

    And sometimes it’s not even a conscious decision. I’ll sometimes look at my PVR and realize that I’m 7 episodes behind on a show (and the season is only on episode 9). Usually I just delete all the episodes and don’t worry about watching it again.

    But I can also get turned off of shows that are too dark and intense (which I realize is a huge part of the zeitgeist right now). I started watching The Fall on Netflix, and halfway through episode 2, I just couldn’t take it any more. It was just too heavy for me to enjoy.

    P.S. I always find it weird when you mention sending DVDs back to Netflix, because that service has never existed in Canada. Netflix has only ever been a streaming service to me, and I can’t wrap my head around going to the mailbox and getting a DVD to watch: it’s just so outside my normal realm of experience that it makes no sense to me.

    • Mike: I was going to ask when you’re able to pinpoint the boredom, and then I kept reading your comment–it makes total sense that when you have lots of episodes backed up on your DVR, that’s a sign that you’re not excited by the show anymore.

      I would love it if Netflix had all shows and movies on streaming, but their streaming service is still very limited here.

  7. I don’t really think of it as being something that happens in the show—rather, I gauge my response between episodes. If I’m excited about what will happen next, it’s the type of show for me. If I feel neutral about what happens next, I’ll probably forget the show outright and not even remember to try to watch another episode.

    Relevant to this conversation is when I feel worried about what happens next. Those shows tend to stay on my mind, but I never actually want to watch another episode. Shows like this are The Walking Dead, A Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad.

    • Andrew: Thanks for sharing! It’s interesting that you’re attuned to your sense of worry and how that’s a detractor for you when deciding whether or not to keep watching.


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