Signs A TV Show Is In Its Final Year
When a TV show has been on the air for a while it starts running out of ideas and starts running towards the following desperate concepts that indicate the series is about to come to a dead stop.
Little Kid Appears out of Nowhere
When a show hits a creative and Neilson ratings standstill the producers have three options: 1) End the series with some dignity, 2) Do the entire series all over again but this time in space, or 3) Introduce a cute kid. This is known as the “Cousin Oliver Syndrome,” named after the above tyke who was brought into the last season of “The Brady Bunch” when all the younger Brady kids got destroyed by puberty. It’s a ploy used to attract viewers by saying, “Look! We’re still young and full of energy!” while generating whole new plot lines around the character such as “Adorable new kid does adorable new thing,” “Adorable new kid does other adorable new thing,” and “Adorable kid isn’t actually that adorable when you see him in direct light and so is replaced by an adorable puppy.”
Main Character Suddenly Decides to Start a Business
Whenever a series has gotten all the plots it can out of its original premise it will look to change things up with a new set and perhaps even a new set of secondary characters. And that’s when a main character who has never expressed even the slightest interest in being a small business owner suddenly declares, “If I can’t spend my life selling muffins then I might as well shoot myself.” The end result is a slow, painful final season about kooky customers, wacky wait staff, troubles with restaurant inspectors, and the sense that the only way such a poorly run, underfinanced operation could stay in business is because it’s a front for the mob.
Only One Member Left from Original Cast
Over the years cast members may leave a show to work in the movies, star in their own TV show, or because the drug rehabilitation center has them in lockdown. And so the ensemble series you loved dwindles further and further down until it’s just one original member surrounded by a whole new slew of characters you’ll know by such names as “Not as good as the first actor who essentially played the same role,” “I think her name begins with a P or Z,” “Oy, not him” and “Late-series love interest you’ve seen play late-series love interest on countless other shows that then went straight into the toilet.” Eventually the audience either prays for guest spots from original cast members or realizes the show they loved now only exists in endless TNT reruns.
“Will They or Won’t They” Couple Gets Married
Shows built around the romantic tension between the two main characters can be great fun. But eventually the audience starts screaming, “Get on with it already!” so loud that you can actually see the actors flinch on screen. And that’s when the two get married in a lavish season-ender of a wedding ceremony that might as well serve as a funeral service for the entire series. That’s because the following season all those coy looks, playful flirtations, and even funny bickering from years past are replaced by a plots about proper lawn maintenance, arguing over where a sofa should go, and staring at each other blankly across the breakfast table every single day until one poisons their own cereal or just makes a run for it.
Character Wins the Lottery
Say you’ve done everything with a character and a show’s premise you possibly could short of giving them a floating alien sidekick (“The Flintstones”), a baby that ages backwards (“Mork and Mindy”), or 142 unanswerable plot twists (“Lost”). That’s when you have the character become richer than God (who of course saw the current global economic collapse coming from a mile away and so invested wisely). Then suddenly a series that was once a realistic look at a family trying to make ends meet with a practical income becomes one in which plot arcs revolve around whether the character should buy a three-story garage for the new hovercrafts or just skip flying cars all together and pay a lab to breed dragons.
Ted McGinley Shows Up
Nicknamed “The Patron Saint of Jumping the Shark” by jumptheshark.com, Ted McGinley is by no means a bad actor or even the reason shows get cancelled. But his coming on board to a series does indicate that the show has entered its “late period” or “end times.” Sometimes his appearance helps a show run a lot longer than maybe it should (“Married with Children”). Sometimes his appearance indicates a show should have ended maybe four years ago, especially if the series takes place in the past but no one is telling wardrobe that anymore (“Happy Days”). And sometimes his appearance goes completely unnoticed because everyone assumed the series ended a decade ago or was in reality just a bad fever dream (“The Love Boat”).
When do you notice it's time for a TV show to end? Let us know in the comments below!