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How Many Seasons is Too Many Seasons?

American TV shows tend to stay on the air for as long as they can get renewed. Could the stories be better if the shows were written with the intention of only being on the air for X number of seasons? Broadchurch, for example, is filming it’s third and final season currently. If it went on to a fourth season just because it had the audience for one, there isn’t much the story could go on to do in order to follow the characters it’s introduced along the same tone as the show has set thus far (and I already don’t know how they’re going to manage a third season. The second season seemed a good place to wrap it.)

How would TV change if we signed shows up for a story arc instead of by season? Would we get fewer sudden cancellations of shows (say, how Firefly ended abruptly?) How would we deal with the departure of beloved characters at the end of well-wrapped stories that end before the viewers are necessarily ready for them to (instead of having a show go on for too long and have viewers drop off as the storyline gets convoluted or watered down)?

  • Or take a beat and return after an extended absence like Arrested Development and Prison Break – Munjeera 5 years ago
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  • Arrested Development was abruptly cancelled after Season 3 and was rescued by Netflix (and I'm finding Season 4 really bizarre). A planned extended break could work, but I don't think Arrested Development is an example of that. Season 4 of AD seems closer to the Firefly movie, Serenity. A last chance to give fans closure after an abrupt cancellation. I haven't watched Prison Break, so I don't know about that one. – Amanda 5 years ago
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  • This is entirely dependant on the show – Darcy Griffin 5 years ago
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  • Grey's Anatomy would be a good example to use for this article. They're now heading into the show's 13th season, and the fans are dropping off day by day. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Grey's, but I'm not oblivious to why fans are suddenly turning their backs on it. It's been on for a long time, so much has happened, so many new characters joining and old characters leaving. Not to mention the show is very different from the way it was when it first premiered. I'd like to see your topic fully explored. – Karyn Little 5 years ago
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  • This is definitely a subjective case, not a "one size series," fits all. Look at how successful Breaking Bad was; yet, the creator Vince Gilligan decided to end it after 5 seasons! I think sometimes this has to do with the creative overall vision, and writers truly knowing the "end game," before they begin. Some series go on forever because they are successful, have a solid fan base, and produce quality television. While others meet the first 2 criteria, but differ in producing poor quality television that they get away with. – danielle577 5 years ago
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  • Amanda, I agree: nothing topped AD in comedy for seasons 1-3, and S4 was poor. Watching a series after its expiration date is like watching Holmes destroy Ali or Willie Mays' creaky attempt to top Ruth's HR record: sad. – Tigey 5 years ago
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