Once again, we find ourselves nearing the end of another year full of plot twists, disappointments, and pleasant surprises in TV. Take Jussie Smollett, for example. He began the year as a well-respected actor on "Empire." But then came the threatening letter mailed to him at Fox, and the alleged racist and homophobic attack. For a moment, the entire internet rallied around him -- and then the police investigation turned against him.
He lost his spot on "Empire" and was indicted on 16 felony counts including filing a false police report, only to have the charges against him suddenly dropped. And all that happened before May.
Yeah, it's been a long year.
Winner: Pro-Wrestling Goes Boom, Like "Dynamite" There is so much wrestling on TV now. Just this fall, "SmackDown" moved from USA Network to Fox's broadcast channel, TNT launched AEW's weekly series "All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite," Impact Wrestling moved to AXS TV, and "NXT" upgraded from one-hour pre-taped on WWE Network to two hours live on USA Network. These days, a pro-wrestling diehard's week is just that jam-packed 52-times a year. What a time to be alive (and fake fighting).
Winner: Unmasking a Massive Success "The Masked Singer" was the runaway ratings success of 2019, especially considering Fox's big hit debuted on just the second day of the year. The oddball singing competition was 2019's No. 1 new series among adults 18-49, and by more than a full Nielsen ratings point over No. 2, NBC's "Manifest."
Losers: Where Have All the Awards Show Hosts Gone? Blame Kevin Hart. After a swirl of controversy last December when Hart was named host of the 2019 Oscars and refused to apologize for his well-documented history of making homophobic jokes on stage, as well as off stage, ABC and the Academy ultimately chose to go with the safest option of all -- nobody. And the result was, well, fine. So fine, in fact, that the Emmys were quick to follow suit later in the year.
Loser: Jussie Smollett The Lyons are down a cub on the currently airing sixth and final season of "Empire" due the curious case of Jussie Smollett, who played Jamal Lyon -- the openly gay son of Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and Lucious (Terrence Howard) -- on the Fox hip-hop drama up until he was written out of the final few episodes of Season 5 last spring. Smollett's removal from the series came a few months after he claimed to have been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack on the streets of Chicago in January.
Loser: "Game of Thrones" Fans (hear us out) "Game of Thrones," HBO's epic tale of the battle to become the ruler of Westeros' Seven Kingdoms, came to what many viewers considered to be a less than epic conclusion with its series finale this May. So not only did they lose their favorite show, but lost it in a way that still has some of them taking their anger out on series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss on a daily basis, six months after the show ended. (And let's not forget that petition.) Adding insult to injury, the untitled Naomi Watts-led "GoT" prequel that many fans were looking forward to got scrapped after production wrapped on the pilot.
Winner: Cord-Cutters Yes, this was certainly a banner year for people who aren't interested in paying for cable, but are OK shelling out $4.99/month for Apple's Golden Globe and SAG Award-nominated "Morning Show," among other original Apple series, and $6.99/month for Disney's extensive library of movies and TV shows, plus new originals like Baby Yoda -- er, "The Mandalorian." And cord-cutters are on a roll heading into 2020, which will bring with it the launches of WarnerMedia-owned streaming service HBO Max and NBCUniversal's Peacock.
Losers: These Losers This year didn't see the same level of #MeToo fallout as last year, but as the decade drew to a close, echoes of the movement were still being felt throughout the industry. From "NCIS: New Orleans" executive producer Adam Targum to "The Chi" star Jason Mitchell, 2019 continued to see men face professional consequences for inappropriate behavior.
Winner: PWB Phoebe Waller-Bridge has had a whirlwind year. She burst onto the scene with the second season of her Amazon comedy "Fleabag." PWB wrote the series and starred in it opposite Andrew Scott's Hot Priest. Their chemistry was so intense that it caused the internet (and the Television Academy) to fall all over themselves in adoration of her. Her writing is so revered that she has since been hired to help polish the script for the next Bond film, "No Time to Die," and signed an overall deal with Amazon Studios shortly after snagging them all those Emmys for "Fleabag."
Winner: Media-Merger Consultants The entertainment industry ended this decade by bulking up. A year after AT&T swallowed up Time Warner and turned it into WarnerMedia, two more major media couplings took place. Though it may seem like Disney and Fox agreed to that deal long ago (they'd be right! It was first hammered out in 2017), the deal finally consummated in March. And in December, after years of starts and stops, Viacom and CBS finally got back together.
Loser: Simply Not Marvel-ous In hindsight, it wasn't a good start to 2019 when Netflix and Marvel decided to end their creative partnership, with "Jessica Jones" formally closing the book on the streaming service's "Defenders" universe this summer. But then the hits kept coming for Marvel TV fans: "Agents of SHIELD" announced it will wrap up next summer, "The Runaways" ended in December, and "Cloak & Dagger" was canceled after two seasons on Freeform. The final shoe-drop came in October, when Marvel TV was moved under Kevin Feige, effectively ending the division as it gets absorbed into Marvel Studios.
Winner: Your Parents' Favorite Sitcom The streaming era has led to an insatiable appetite for library content (no, not for you Apple), and this year that meant an all-out land grab for the rights to classic TV sitcoms. And it wasn't cheap. "Seinfeld," which last aired a new episode during the Clinton administration, commanded a hefty $500 million-plus deal to move from Hulu to Netflix in 2021. It wasn't the only TV show no longer in business that got a huge payday in 2019: "The Big Bang Theory," "Friends" and "The Office" were other old shows that garnered major dollars.