On Sunday night, May 13th, after 180 episodes, ABC’s primetime soap opera comes to an end. I’m one of those few that stuck with it all the way through after a decline in quality after its freshman season. Eight years means lots of plotlines, some good, some bad, and some really, really bad. In honor of the show’s impending signoff, here’s a look back at the best and worst plotlines featured on the show over the years. Mysteries and infidelity are mostly good, while extra children and crazy people are almost always bad. Disagree? Post a comment with your favorite and least favorite plotlines below.

The Best

1. Mary Alice

It’s no surprise that the show’s first mystery remains its best. The opening suicide paved the way for a season-long story that involved the terrific Paul Young and Susan’s beau Mike Delfino. The eventual reveal that she accidentally killed Mike’s beloved Deirdre made it all worth it, and her narration continues to provide a haunting frame for each episode.

2. John the Gardener

Before Carlos became a nice guy, he was a cold-hearted businessman that treated Gaby like a trophy wife. Her affair with her young gardener John Rowland, played by Jesse Metcalfe, was the first season’s most consistently entertaining comic relief, back when the show was actually clever in its light depiction of what essentially constituted statutory rape.

3. Bree & Rex

Another season one highlight was Steven Culp’s Rex Van De Kamp, Bree’s best and meanest husband, who managed to unleash a magnificent fury in Bree when he cheated on her and then purported to still love her. His death cemented his legacy, as his cruel attitude towards his wife led her to take her time in calling the ambulance after a heart attack induced by her maniacal pharmacist suitor.

4. Beth Young

Paul Young’s return in season seven reinvigorated the show, and his quirky new wife, played by Emily Bergl, was such a peculiar addition that it was impossible not to watch her with fascination. Her shocking connection to Felicia Tillman led to Paul casting her out, and her suicide was just as memorable as that of his first wife – walking into a hospital and declaring that leaving her kidney to Susan was the most important thing she’d ever do.

5. Dave Williams

Neal McDonough proved that he is an exceptional villain with his performance in FX’s Justified this past season, but he also managed to enliven the otherwise dull fifth season of this show as the intimidating Dave, Edie’s latest husband and a man with an unknown vendetta against someone (Mike) on Wisteria Lane. Throughout an overlong and unfulfilling season, he was the show’s captivating saving grace.

The Worst

1. Tom’s Monster Daughter

What initially looked like an affair in season three turned out to be a daughter Tom didn’t know he had. Kayla was more than a nightmare for Lynette, burning herself, threatening the other Scavo children, and making up lies to accuse Lynette of child abuse. Lynette had enough to deal with when it came to her many real children, and all Kayla did was reveal an excessively ugly side of everyone.

2. The Creepy Baby Doll

Things get crazy when your kids aren’t your own, and Gaby’s discovery that Juanita wasn’t actually her child was among her more lamentable realizations. After a petty traffic stunt got Juanita’s birth father deported, Gaby developed a disturbing attachment to a doll that reminded her of her daughter Grace. No part of it was pretty, and, like Lynette, raising her own daughters was a handful.

3. Tom and Lynette’s Separation

This ongoing storyline has plagued season eight, and the fact that it’s sure to resolve itself during the finale is what makes it most irksome. Breaking up after so many years together was never going to be permanent, and the prolonging of its resolution made way for Tom to find a new girlfriend for Lynette to hate, causing her to do immoral things like date his boss to make his life miserable and manipulate her teenage daughter into spying for her.

4. Orson’s Fall from Grace

Kyle MacLachlan’s Orson Hodge was one of the show’s most fascinating characters when he first appeared at the end of season two, but by season five, he was a control freak and a kleptomaniac, and things only got worse when he ended up in a wheelchair. His return in season eight revealed that he had gone further off the deep end, plotting and even killing to win Bree back, and it’s his fault that she’s in this current predicament with the law.

5. Crazy Katherine

The steeliest housewife entered in season four with a major secret, and once all was revealed, there was no clear use for her, so the only sensible move was to turn her into a bona fide nut job, pretending that she didn’t lose Mike to Susan and even stabbing herself. Her post-institutionalized life was only slightly more coherent, as she opted for a much younger female partner in the form of Julie Benz’s Robin.

Catch the two-hour series finale of Desperate Housewives this Sunday, May 13th, from 9pm-11pm on ABC.

By Abe Fried-Tanzer

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