Last month, one of the most popular comedies on TV according to the Nielsen ratings, “The Good Place” did something that is rare for many other shows. It ended. After only four seasons, “The Good Place” had its series finale on its own terms.
The finale was satisfying, allowing fans to say goodbye to characters they had come to love and had watched grow throughout the seasons. The show told a complete story, and never undid character progression or unraveled previously tied up plot lines in order to drag things along.
More shows need to take after this formula. I’ve watched too many shows that are funny for their first few seasons but then limp along to a finish that never feels satisfying. Or worse, they’re canceled before they even give you a conclusion, and you’re just left to wonder what could have been.
The biggest problem is, when this happens, it can negate a lot of the good of the show. “Community” is a show I loved, but after the fourth season, main cast members started departing, and with them went the show’s soul. They could have ended the show there, and I would have forever looked back fondly on the entirety of it. Instead, they dragged on for two more seasons that lacked the heart and humor of the ones that came before and produced the most forgettable television of their run.
The criminally underrated “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is another show that planned its ending from day one and had a much stronger finish because of it. We got to see the main character go from someone denying her mental illness and obsessing over finding external love to someone who was getting help and had learned to love herself.
I loved that show and I will always love it. They gave me a complete story with a great conclusion. I got to see the characters I’d come to care about succeed, rather than any progress being undone for the sake of creating drama or extending a story-line.
When I start a story, I always have to worry that the ending will ruin it. When I fall in love with a show, I worry it will ruin itself before it even gets to finish. “Stranger Things” is one such show that had me hooked from the start. However, the showrunners told Entertainment Weekly that while they planned a four-season story, now they’ll likely go past that. I fear that they’re sacrificing the narrative because of the popularity the show has gained.
I will always appreciate shows that end on their own terms, rather than having to be put down after 10 seasons because the magic has been gone for years. So please, TV shows, I beg of you. End.