Why TV shows need to end eventually


All good things must come to an end, and that goes for TV shows too. If it’s done its job right you should feel sad when it’s over, mourning the loss of it as you trawl through Netflix shouting that you’ll NEVER find a show like that again. But inevitably you will, and that show will end, and you’ll be sad. Repeat forever.

It’s natural to get attached to characters – you spend episode upon episode rooting for them (or in the case of Breaking Bad, despising them) and to think that their stories will come to an end is upsetting to come to terms with. It can seem counter-intuitive to end a show that’s well loved and doing well, with high ratings and good money for those involved. But then you run into the problem of shows that just drag on, even after natural ends have happened. For example, Supernatural, a show that should have ended when a literal apocalypse happened, is looking to negotiate a 13th season. Which makes one think, what else could they possibly do that they haven’t already done?

Some TV shows could go on for a long time but they don’t, having written a neat and concise ending that ties up all the loose ends and stops the show from dragging on to the point where the ratings begin to drop and everyone is sick of it. Gravity Falls took place over one summer where Dipper and Mabel were visiting their Grunkle Stan. That show had a clear start and end date, and although the ending may have been a little too nice and neat, it’s done. Over. No need to continue.

Likewise, an anime called Charlotte in its penultimate episode had something happening which they could have easily made into a 100 episode arc, with multiple seasons and cliffhangers. But they didn’t. It wasn’t necessary to, and if they had done it, it would have become predictable and overdone. Much like, I hate to say it, House, where sometimes you’re just a little sick of House coming up with some amazing idea, his sentence trailing off and him dashing out of the room – even more so when the characters around him comment on how it’s about to happen.

Sometimes, shows just need to end when their original premise has ended and there’s no longer anything unique about the show. Such as The Big Bang Theory, which started as unique and is now four stereotypical nerdy men with wives and girlfriends, on a 10th season where everyone is now about to have children or get engaged. Or like Glee – a show that should have ended when the main characters graduated high school, rather than the writers just bringing in brand new characters. On the topic of new characters coming in who nobody really cares about, The X Files is one of them. When your main character leaves at the end of a season you don’t just swap someone else in! An example of how to make ratings plummet. These shows no longer really have/had a purpose, just bumbling along. The finale of season five in The X Files was even called ‘The End’, but it had to keep going for four more long seasons.

You want a show to go out on a high and for everything to be wrapped up. Dexter turning from an antihero to a lumberjack was just the strangest move I’ve seen in TV, but it’s a show with an example of where it should have ended with a bang. If it had ended after the Trinity Killer arc, that would have been significantly better. Rather that then shows ‘jumping the shark’, where they have far-fetched storylines and start to decline in the quality of their episodes because it’s all just for shock and novelty. Again, House faking his own death at the end of season eight to spend more time with Wilson feels like the worst way to end a show which has focused around him becoming a better person. Even current shows like New Girl have jumped the shark, because now that Nick and Jess have been together and broken up in a ridiculously short timeframe there’s now no tension and nothing that exciting about the show.

TV shows have to end eventually. Much like a book which can’t go on forever, or a song that keeps fading and coming back, it can’t be dragged out for a decade. Just because it’s well-loved doesn’t mean it should keep going ad infinitum. Not every TV show is Friends – and even that ended eventually.


About Author

Politics and International Relations graduate, Live Editor 2016-18, now a semi-functional adult and journalist. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about the above @cmkavanagh on Twitter.

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