When to End a TV Show: Balancing Quality and Quantity

by Chelsea Adonteng '25 on May 30, 2023
Opinion Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for Grey’s Anatomy.

In the current entertainment industry, there always seems to be a television series that seems to lack the ability to accept its winnings and make the difficult decision to announce the final season. This mindset is reasonable: if a television series is successful, tells a good story, and isn’t lacking in its ability to capture its audience with each episode, why shouldn’t it be able to run for as long as the producers want? However, if the general consensus is that a show has overstayed its welcome and is grasping at random storylines just to stay relevant and it becomes difficult to support based on nostalgia alone.

From a creative standpoint, it seems very difficult to maintain a long-running television series that contains quality storylines after having so many seasons. A long-running series can face complications, such as actors wanting to exit the series for the opportunity to expand their careers and work on other projects. When actors want to participate in other projects,  producers are likely to resort to simple methods of eliminating a character’s presence from the show, such as killing them off.

The popular and long-running television series known as Grey’s Anatomy is a prime example of a nostalgic and well-loved show that has poorly written the exits of many characters—with the exception of Cristina Yang—when an actor has indicated they want to leave the show. A well-known death on the show was the death of Meredith Grey’s husband, Derek Shepherd, played by Patrick Dempsey. Shepherd died from traumatic injuries after a car crash, and his painful yet stunning exit was rumored to have occurred due to Dempsey wanting to pursue other projects and possible drama on set.

 Shepherd’s death was not the first nor the last of the deaths that the show has quickly written when an actor feels it’s time to diversify their career experiences. The audience rightfully begins to wonder how long a show can continue when they’re writing off lovable characters so easily.

When television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy continue running for longer than expected, they lose the spark that helped them initially become so popular and the characters lose their appeal to the audience. While viewers try to see past the fact that the show might be losing steam and creativity, they are in a difficult position simply due to sentimentality.

While we all love and appreciate the work and effort being put into these shows, how many fresh and creative storylines can writers come up with before the need for quality scenes and characters overrides the profit?