4. No Paula
She started out as the nice one, but soon turned into the nice one who was also a (lovable) trainwreck. And since the show was pretty much already about trainwrecks -- in the tryout weeks, at least -- her bizarre behavior just extended that particular brand of crazy. Seriously, Ellen was great, but she wasn't going to show up strung out on 'ludes and Cutty Sark and come on to some of the contestants, which is what we all wanted to see.
3. Randy's Still There
Granted, he may be the one merciful note of continuity from the glory years, but Randy Jackson can't carry the load all by himself. Randy being the last one standing (or sitting) is like having an Idol contestant reunion show to which only Sanjaya shows up. Randy, I'm sorry, dawg, but in a leadership role? I'm just not feelin' you.
2. The Lambert Factor
Season 8 will go down in Idol history as the beginning of the end, because it's widely held that Adam Lambert should have, by all rights, won. Even more important is the belief that he lost in part because he was gay. This has caused a mass defection from the fan base of both the GLBT community -- no small part of the viewing audience, that -- and a lot of young fans very sympathetic to gay and lesbian causes. Of course, it was also claimed that Lambert's loss was just winner Kris Allen's home state of Arkansas seriously stuffing the digital ballot box, and that it had nothing to do with homophobia. Too close to call, though; we're talking about Arkansas, after all.
1. Simon Leaving
Face it, fans: Simon is what made Idol not just watchable, but downright good TV. Without Simon, Idol becomes... well, Star Search. And really, nobody wants that.