TV and Movies·Posted on Mar 5, 202219 TV Shows That Kept Getting Better Every SeasonFirefly did not make the list.by William BarriosBuzzFeed ContributorFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink Arguably, most shows get better in their second season. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF BBC One / Via media.giphy.com The writers and actors know their characters much better, and they may even have a bit more cash if the first season was successful. But some shows stand out for their sophomore season, whether because the first was pretty rough (Star Trek: The Next Generation) or because they somehow found a way to improve on perfection (Fleabag). So let's take a look at some of the best second seasons in TV history. 1. Seinfeld Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF NBC / Via media.giphy.com Did you know that NBC did not pick up Seinfeld after its first season? It's hard to believe now, but critics felt pretty lukewarm about Seinfeld's first season. Many compared it to It's Garry Shandling's Show, but there was enough unique about Jerry Seinfeld and his friends that an NBC executive saw potential. He ordered four more episodes, and when NBC reran the pilot the following year, it got much more attention. The series was ordered, and Season 2 cleaned up a lot of what wasn't working in the first. This included having Jerry's stand-up routine cut into the plot less often, tighter pacing, and further development of Elaine as a character instead of simply Jerry's ex. 2. The Simpsons Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Fox / Via media.giphy.com If you've never seen the first season of The Simpsons, here are some clips from the fourth episode. What people comment on the most is that Dan Castellaneta drastically changed Homer Simpson's voice from the first to second season. Homer sounds a bit more like a monotone in the first season and is likely based on Matt Groening's description of his father to Castellaneta. But as Homer became a more fully realized character, the voice started to have much more range and expression. With this came slicker animation, quick jokes, and the sentimentality that defined the show's early days. The show's second season was the start of an insane rise in quality until the show's "golden era" around the fourth and fifth seasons. 3. Futurama Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Fox / Via media.giphy.com Just like with The Simpsons, Futurama got even better as a show at the same time its voice actors got to know their characters a little better. The big one here is Bender (voiced by John DiMaggio), but even then, he had a pretty solid grasp of the robot's iconic voice by the end of Season 1. Futurama Season 2 took everything that made the first season great and dug in deeper. More world building, more geeky jokes, and more Zapp Brannigan. Season 2 also first introduced us to Lrrr, Robot Santa Clause, and Flexo. It's also where we discovered that Leela isn't an alien but a mutant! 4. Star Trek: The Next Generation Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Paramount / Via media.giphy.com The first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation is famously hard to get through. Star Trek's creator, Gene Roddenberry, had much more control over this new series than he did the original, but people have debated whether this was such a good thing. For example, he made last-minute changes to casting (the actors who play Deanna Troi and Tasha Yar were originally supposed to play each other's role). The writing also suffered. Legendary Star Trek screenwriter D.C. Fontana quit the show, it was difficult to find new writers throughout the season, and every writer they did hire (except one) quit by the end of Season 2. Still, there were enough changes made in the second season that The Next Generation started to turn around. By the third and fourth seasons, it turned into one of the best sci-fi shows of all time. The actors got to know their characters better, there was less chaos behind the scenes, and writers like Michael Piller and Ronald D. Moore helped give the show a more solid identity. 5. Community Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF NBC / Via media.giphy.com Some shows get more grounded as they go on, but Community knew early on that it was meant to be the ultimate parody machine. Season 1 of the show is unique in that it feels like the most "normal" of the show's run. As creator Dan Harmon and the brilliant writing staff became more comfortable with meta humor, playing with genre tropes, and exploring different mediums like stop-motion, the show went from good to great. Fun fact: Chris McKenna, an executive producer and key writer for Community, just cowrote the Spider-Man: No Way Home script! 6. The Office Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF NBC / Via media.giphy.com With animated shows, they tend to get better as the voice actor gets to know the character. The same is true with Steve Carell's hair; it's the easiest way to tell whether you're in the first season of The Office or any other. And just like Carell, The Office changed things up from its first to second season. Initially, The Office seems to have taken more from the British show that inspired it, ending many of the episodes on a down note of embarrassment or awkwardness. Season 2 puts all that lovable cringe into a much more positive light, showing that Michael's awkwardness comes out of a desire to connect with people rather than from him just being a loser. Episodes get sweeter, eventually finding that balance of awkwardness and heart that the show is so well known for. 7. Parks and Recreation Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF NBC / Via media.giphy.com Parks and Recreation was created by the people behind The Office, but besides a mockumentary style and an overzealous boss, the show didn't feel like a copy-and-paste. That being said, the second season of Parks and Rec only further separated it from any comparison with Dunder Mifflin, featuring a cast of unique characters and situations. In my opinion, Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope is one of the best modern sitcom characters, and she only got better and goofier in the second season. We also saw Chris Pratt become more of a main character, Donna Meagle become better established, and the introduction of Chris Traeger and Ben Wyatt. But the core of Parks and Rec is in that first episode where Anne Perkins says, "Frankly, I don't really care for politics" and the room applauds, and it carries throughout all seven seasons.Watch on Peacock. 8. Breaking Bad Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF AMC / Via media.giphy.com Season 2 of Breaking Bad is pretty unusual compared with the rest of the show. While some TV shows are criticized for "making it up as they go along," Breaking Bad actually thrived on having the writers find the story as they wrote it. Sometimes they would intentionally paint themselves into a corner at the end of a season to force themselves to be creative for the next one.That wasn't the case with Season 2. It was meticulously planned out, and they knew exactly how it would end before filming (this may seem like the obvious way to do it, but it's much less common than we think). Still, the Breaking Bad writers are the best of the best, so of course they still pulled it off. Season 2 also had the first appearances of a lot of the characters who are impossible to separate from what the show became: Gus Fring, Mike Ehrmantraut, and Hector Salamanca. Even the character who spun off, Saul Goodman, wasn't introduced until the second season. 9. Black Mirror Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Channel 4 / Via media.giphy.com Black Mirror is the ultimate show when it comes to "hit or miss." It's got some incredible standouts and some duds. While series highlights like "USS Callister" and "San Junipero" came later, some people feel that the show was at its best pre-Netflix (Season 3 onward). Creator and writer Charlie Brooker wanted to get more intimate in Season 2 (or Series 2, for the Brits), so he focused more on individual stories rather than large-scale sociopolitical satire. He also listened to criticism that all of the main characters in the first season were men, so he included more women as protagonists. Even though Season 2 has what many consider to be a pretty bad Black Mirror episode ("The Waldo Moment"), the other two are some of the best in the entire show ("Be Right Back" and "White Bear"). Another incredible episode is "White Christmas," shown above, though it was technically a Christmas special. 10. Fleabag Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF BBC One / Via media.giphy.com If you haven't watched Fleabag yet, don't worry, you won't find any spoilers here. I also won't even say "What the hell — how have you not seen it yet?" because that's maybe the most annoying thing a person can do. Besides, you've probably heard by now that Fleabag is a very, very good show, so I have full confidence you'll get around to it. And you can take comfort in the fact that Season 2 is just as much of a masterpiece as the first. Phoebe Waller-Bridge's writing and performance, whether dramatic or comedic, is the backbone of a show that is so tight and confident while still managing to feel improvised and constantly unexpected. She proves that you can communicate just about anything with a single, split-second look to the camera (if you're her, that is). Season 2 took a show with impossible standards and delivered the perfect follow-up without milking storylines, overstaying its welcome, or adding a second of filler. 11. The Mandalorian Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Disney / Via media.giphy.com Disney is nothing if not a people pleaser, and it certainly listened to fans' criticisms of The Mandalorian Season 1. While the show was a massive success straight out of the gate, some common criticisms were that each episode was too long and that the storytelling quickly became formulaic.Retaining its Western style while shortening the episodes (slightly) and focusing more on a season-long arc rather than one-off stories resulted in an even better second season. We also got more of what we all love: character reveals! Ahsoka Tano, Boba Fett, Bo-Katan Kryze, and even Luke Skywalker himself all make appearances. 12. Better Call Saul Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF AMC / Via media.giphy.com Season 1 of Bettter Call Saul lays the groundwork for what quickly turns into a patient, soft-spoken, and unassuming show about lawyer Jimmy McGill (before he becomes Saul Goodman). Better Call Saul never quite gets as action-packed as Breaking Bad, but that's mainly because Walter White is trying to prove he's a badass, while Jimmy wants to prove he's a good guy. Still, Season 1 was noticeably slower and more focused on Jimmy's legal work, which is hard to make entertaining. Once Jimmy starts getting pulled between two worlds in Season 2, the show really gets going.Vince Gilligan (the mind behind Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul) knows that comedians tend to be pretty incredible dramatic actors as well. We all know Bryan Cranston's most notable role before Walter White was the dad in Malcolm in the Middle, but fewer are as familiar with Mr. Show. It's an alternative comedy sketch show that aired on HBO in the '90s, and it starred David Cross and Bob Odenkirk. You may also recognize Michael McKean (Saul's older brother) from This Is Spinal Tap. Other comedians featured in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul include Bill Burr, the Sklar Brothers, Steven Michael Quezada, Lavell Crawford, Javier Grajeda, and Matt Jones. All of these talented performers add immense quality to the two shows. Odenkirk in particular helps keep Saul (the show and the character) avoid the most common mistake that shows that deal with serious subject matter make: taking themselves too seriously. 13. X-Files Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Fox / Via media.giphy.com X-Files is one of the most influential shows that I still can't believe ever got made. It's a show about aliens that somehow managed to set the tone (and help establish) the modern procedural drama. It's about not trusting the government before it was cool. Its main characters are a lonely obsessive who alludes to being a porn addict and a woman who Fox producers said wasn't "busty or blonde" enough, yet they still went on to become sex symbols. Vince Gilligan (creator of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul) was a writer and producer on it. It's a show that stayed on too long and saw young versions of Jack Black, Seth Green, and Dean Norris (Hank on Breaking Bad). It all comes together in a brilliant show that got better, season after season, until it started to fizzle out. Season 2 is considered one of the show's very best. 14. Barry Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF HBO / Via media.giphy.com "He does serious stuff too!" We said it about Michael Keaton when he took on Batman, Jordan Peele when he made Get Out, and now Bill Hader in Barry. Of course, Hader had proved his dramatic acting chops before in movies like The Skeleton Twins, but Barry allows Hader to have more control over the entire creative vision. He writes, directs, and produces the show in addition to starring in it, making the character Barry Berkman entirely his own (well, his and co-creator Alec Berg's). Barry Season 2 is similar to Fleabag in that there's minimal fluff. The show isn't afraid to swing between goofiness and extreme seriousness, but it does so without wasting time. There's even a fight that lasts an entire episode, and I wouldn't cut a single frame of it. Season 2 tightens any loose screws that were in the first and leaves us with a big cliffhanger and plenty of questions for Season 3. 15. Lady Dynamite Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Netflix / Via media.giphy.com Lady Dynamite may be the show on this list people are least familiar with, but it deserves a huge shoutout. It stands with BoJack Horseman as one of the best shows I've ever seen deal with mental health. That's largely thanks to Maria Bamford, who plays a version of herself in the show. She's always been very frank and brutally honest about herself in her stand-up, and Lady Dynamite examines countless aspects of her life, from love to sex to feeling like a fraud and that she's merely being used by the industry that's giving her a platform. The second season sees Bamford and co-creators Mitch Hurwitz (Arrested Development) and Pam Brady (South Park) home in on the tone of the show and critique the first season itself! The show is a Netflix original, and in the second season, Elon Musk's streaming platform, called MuskVision (basically Netflix), works Maria to the bone while asking her to be a passive, agreeable version of herself. Season 2 also adds Ólafur Darri Ólafsson to the cast as Scott, who plays Maria's boyfriend. Their relationship adds some beautiful sincerity and tender love to a show that was starting to feel slightly too irreverent in its first season. 16. Silicon Valley Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF HBO / Via media.giphy.com It wasn't until I had already watched all of Silicon Valley that I found out Pied Piper was inspired by a real company, called MaidSafe, that tried to make a decentralized internet. But I'm sure that wouldn't surprise any fans of the show, because it is as technical and researched as any industry-specific TV show can be. This accuracy is also because co-creator Mike Judge was a programmer at a Silicon Valley startup in the late '80s. Season 2 gave us Russ Hanneman and Laurie Bream and turned Pied Piper from a scrappy young startup into a company everyone in the Valley had its eyes on. This kept the show from feeling stale, constantly raising the stakes and keeping us on edge as Richard Hendricks and his team shift focus, expand or shrink, and eventually try to make a whole new internet. 17. Star Wars: The Clone Wars Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Disney / Via media.giphy.com If you've ever told someone they just have to get past the first season of a show before it really gets good, there's a solid chance you said it about The Clone Wars. This show is a lot like Harry Potter in that it feels as if it grows up and matures as you do. What starts out as a pretty standard kids show turns into a violent, dark, and gripping show that proves Star Wars fans make the best Star Wars creators.The show was so successful that some of the most recent reveals on The Mandalorian have been characters from The Clone Wars (such as Ahsoka Tano and Cad Bane). If that second season hadn't had the courage to grow past its relatively childish roots, it might not have resulted in what turned out to be one of the best Star Wars properties ever. 18. Avatar: The Last Airbender Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Nickelodeon / Via media.giphy.com "It's not just a kids show!" If a kid watching Avatar: The Last Airbender were to tell their parents that the show deals with genocide and something called "bloodbending," they might finally believe us when we say Avatar isn't just for kids. It's an incredibly rich world with plenty of fun, action, and thought-provoking storylines. The show gets slightly darker as it goes on, which seems to be a theme with kids shows directed by Dave Filoni (he directed a lot of Airbender and Star Wars: The Clone Wars). That means Season 1 is more geared toward kids, with Sokka's goofiness being the most notable change in Season 2. The animation also gets a big upgrade as the show goes on. 19. BoJack Horseman Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF Netflix / Via media.giphy.com We all know criticism doesn't mean much — it's all about whether you enjoy a show for yourself. STILL, the fact that BoJack went from a 70% approval rating in its first season to a 100% in Season 2 can't be ignored. As we've seen throughout this list, Season 2 of a TV show is all about the showrunners, directors, writers, voice actors, animators, and everyone else who makes great television possible finding their identity. And as Emily VanDerWerff wrote for Vox, "Netflix's BoJack Horseman has found its footing beautifully in season two, earning the title of not just the streaming service's best show, but of one of television's best shows." Diving into mental health, life after fame, and finding purpose are all themes that really start to take root in Season 2. And the show somehow manages to be hilarious while dealing with such heavy topics? Hooray! What do you think? Which shows only got better in the second season? Let me know in the comments!