Let’s end great television shows

| April 12, 2012

Great TV shows must come to an end. I’m only suggesting this because it’s so sad to see amazing television become a drag. Some shows start off strong, like a majestic stallion riding in the wind – and then it gets tired, strained and eventually so delusional that it falls off a cliff and dies…

So that may be melodramatic, but I’m just paralleling what can happen to prolonged plot-lines. It’s the curse of the sequel – many of these fail the greatness of the predecessor. It’s because the original story is the peak in the main character’s life. Then all of a sudden, the sequel is supposed to top the most important thing that happened, and this is hard to do. So writers exaggerate situations to the point of incredulity, and we are unable to escape into the wonderful world of entertainment because we’re too busy thinking about how bad this story has become. Here are some examples:

TV shows that should’ve ended earlier

The TV show killed the TV stars... they were all dead anyway.

  • “Lost” – This is the archetypical example. The end result did not live up to expectations.
  • “Smallville” – It was too early to move to Metropolis.
  • “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – It’s still my favorite show of all time. I considered it done after the move to the UPN network.
  • “The X-Files” – I haven’t seen it all, but I’m sure it didn’t need two feature films.
  • “Weeds” – It became a different show once the “ticky-tacky” theme song disappeared.
  • “How I Met Your Mother” – Have we met the mom yet? I stopped watching.

The list goes on because drawn-out endings are so common in entertainment. It happens because producers want to keep viewers watching as long as possible to milk all the money. On the other hand, when newbie shows with potential don’t get viewers, they are cancelled prematurely. To some, this is a sadder story, but perhaps these shows were just saved from impending doom of the drag.

Cult classics that ended early and were saved from plot failure

  • “Arrested Development” – fans should be happy to know it’s coming back in 2013 for 9-10 episode arch and a feature film.
  • “Freaks and Geeks” – maybe it ended too soon. Luckily, it launched the careers of Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and James Franco, and whatever these stars create makes up for it.
  • “Firefly” – so glad it came back with a feature film.

So what’s the solution to the dying show problem? Just like all great stories, writers should know from the beginning how to end the story. That way, they can carefully develop the plot into perfection. Sure, there are certain television shows that don’t need to end, such as Law & Order, NCIS, CSI and the like. Because these plot-lines are contained in one episode, these shows keep on entertaining people.  It’s shows with stories that develop over seasons that need the gracious axe.

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Category: featured, TV and Movies

About the Author ()

Bonnie is double majoring in International Relations and Public Relations. Obviously, she loves getting to know the world and probably you, reader. Her favorite movie genre is Romaction Dramedy, an all-encompassing genre of the epic proportions. Not all films fit this description, but not all things fit this author's fine tastes, such as Asian-Hispanic fusions of both the food and race kind.

Comments (4)

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  1. bob says:

    I’ve always said a serial show should NEVER be within more than three episodes of an ending… if writers wrote that way, then every cancellation could still yield a completed story arch that could be later sold on DVD/Blu-Ray and syndication.

    As it stands, who wants to be an open-ended DVD series like TERMINATOR or FLASH FORWARD?

  2. bob says:

    Agreed X-Files went at least four seasons longer than needed – however, the “second” film that you reference actually had NOTHING to do with the canon of the show, and was essentially a sort-of dark “reunion” episode that stands alone, so I personally didn’t see it as superfluous.

  3. Michelle O says:

    The only flaw I can see in your argument is that it seems to me that the shows you tihnk “drag on” are all dramas (or slanted to be dramatic with character arcs that last several episodes or a whole season). The three you list as “never having to end” are crime procedurals which at their core are meant to be resolved in one episode. Now don’t get me wrong, I never want NCIS or Law & Order SVU to end, but shows like How I Met your Mother don’t drag on, they just get complicated. Thats kind of the nature of a Drama. Also, two X-Files films do not indicate the need to end earlier. Since you didn’t get through it all, let me just say while the last season was wacky, it was not excessive or fall off a cliff.

    But yes I totally see and agree with your point that writers need to realize when the end is here and just say goodnight and goodbye to our favorite shows before they ruin them by getting too crazy and complicated.

    • How I Met Your Mother isn’t a drama… it started out as a sitcom and has, over the past couple seasons, become a dramedy. I agree that it needs to end, if only because many of the characters are just piling on more arcs for the sake of piling on arcs.

      You want to talk shows that should have ended earlier? Try “Heroes”. The first season was awesome. The seasons after that existed because it made a profit.. Nuff said.