All good things must come to an end, but what if they didn’t? What if quality TV shows were allowed to continue indefinitely? I decided to explore that idea, and think about which types of show might be able to come up with fresh content past the years they aired.
Some shows have to end. Dexter eventually had to be found out. Walter White had to face his reckoning. Lost had to explain the Island (even if it did a crappy job of it). These shows needed hard endings. But the five I’ve picked? Not so much. These are all shows that have already had a run, either long or short, so I didn’t include ones that might currently be on the air.
Enjoy the list:
Friday Night Lights
Most shows about high school don’t fall into the category of what I’m talking about here. It’s a pretty hard and fast rule that once a show about high schoolers moves to college, it starts to suffer. See Saved by the Bell, The OC, 90210, the list is endless. But with Friday Night Lights, it’s different. Sure, there are characters we all know and love, but the show was excellent at bringing in new blood for you to care about. Coach Taylor keeps coaching football, and new kids with their own unique stories cycle in and out. It really could have gone on forever and ended on a fairly arbitrary note.
This might be a more controversial pick because 24 was going noticeably downhill near the end of its run. Also because despite the fact that the show ended it keeps reappearing and will be again! But, realistically 24 started be to constrained by its real-time format. Plots began to get increasingly far-fetched when crammed into a 1-hour/24-hour episode/season, and the story suffered because of it. I feel like if 24 eventually dropped the real time format and allowed Jack Bauer to operate independently of that kind of timeline, things could have been kept fresh. After all, audiences weren’t in love with the real time format, they were in love with Bauer, and he could have kept having adventure after adventure.
The Wire lasted a respectable five seasons, but it didn’t quite feel like enough. The show was just that good, you didn’t want it to end, and when it did, you were left saying “why?” In reality, the drug game never really changes, and it wouldn’t have in Baltimore. Police and street gangs could have cycled in and out and as long as the show kept the great writing and realism that made it so monumental, I don’t see a reason it couldn’t have continued indefinitely.
This is the only real “it was killed too soon” entry on this list, as even with a show like Arrested Development that you might consider (that ended up rebooting), you have to admit that even it might have gotten stale over time. I don’t think that’s the case with Firefly however, and one of the biggest reasons fans get choked up about the death of the show is that the universe in which it exists is just so fascinating, when it died it was a huge waste of potential.
Joss Whedon created an extremely cool universe that could have been as deep as Star Trek or Star Wars if it was allowed to expand. It was unique because there was not a single alien in sight, and its old west vibe was something that hadn’t been seen on TV for eons. Firefly could still be on the air right now if it was give the time to cultivate and grow properly, and it’s sad that it never got that chance past 2/3rds of a season worth of episodes.
This was the show that inspired the list for me, and the best example of what I’m talking about. Seinfeld went off the air when it was still the number one show on TV in order for the cast and creators to be able to say they went out on top. The fact that they did this reveals the real truth about this article. Sometimes it’s good to quit while you’re ahead. Maybe every show I mentioned COULD be 20 seasons long if it wanted to be, but after a time, quality has to suffer. Seinfeld didn’t want that, and I can respect any good show that wants to go out on a high note. This was just a fun list to consider.