15 Sitcoms That Knew When It Was Time To Quit (And Those That Didn’t)
It’s refreshing when a show knows how (and when) to wrap things up. Every comedy wants to go out on a high note, and that could be the major difference between a timeless show, and an, “Oh my god, enough already” show that makes us wonder if the sitcom as we once knew it is dead.
You can only stay new for so long.
Critics couldn’t deny the talent of the ensemble cast when the Fox show initially aired, and many felt like the characters only became funnier and more fleshed out as New Girl reached its 7th and final season.
“Jessica Day is a wildly competent woman,” writes Ariana Romero. “This is a far cry from the Jess we met in ‘New Girl’s’ pilot so very long ago.”
After 11 seasons, everybody did indeed know their names.
The story wraps up beautifully with Diane (Shelley Long) returning after 6 years, but Sam realizing the bar will always be his biggest love. The 98-minute finale was seen by about 40% of the U.S. population at the time - 84.4 million viewers.
Jerry knows how to go out on a high note.
Jerry and Larry made it clear they wanting to end it before any of “the funny” was compromised, and although fans are split on the quality of season 9, Seinfeld called it quits after 9 seasons on May 14, 1998.
After almost being cancelled early on, it became the #1 show by the 1994-95 season, averaging just over 30 million viewers per episode. It rose back to #1 in season 9, and the finale brought in 76.3 million viewers.
There’s just such a clear separation between season 9 and the first 8 seasons.
The last season of Scrubs saw the departure of multiple characters, and most fans and critics agreed they should’ve just closed up shop several seasons earlier to end on a high note.
Two and a Half Men
As we’ll see in a certain show about a certain office, here’s no clearer of a sign to call it quits than when the main character leaves.
In season 9, Sheen was replaced by Ashton Kutcher, and Pilot Viruet writes, “The show hit a new low every season and then continued to sink even further underground. During this last season, the show went off the rails in terms of absurdity and offensiveness.”
Those first 3 seasons are in the comedy hall-of-fame for sure.
Abed famously said it would last for “six seasons and a movie!” And this became a rallying cry for fans, as producers fought for Community’s renewal each year. Many, however, would come to regret the show moving past those first 3 seasons.
The Big Bang Theory
Jim Parsons was 45 in the last season.
By the end, it was regularly getting more than 15 million viewers an episode, but The Big Bang Theory’s cast aged out of the show’s premise a good half-decade earlier, and after 12 seasons, we couldn’t help but feel like it was just there to feed the cash cow.
After 8 seasons, we did get to see Wilson's face.
You could argue it went out on a high note and went way too long. The ratings had slipped dramatically in the last few seasons, losing nearly 60% of its audience. On average, 15 million viewers were tuning in, but the series finale on May 25, 1999 brought in 35.5 million viewers.
Critics say that Frasier went on a few seasons too long, but they did wrap the story up nicely, and brought a ton of fans back to see it off. After 11 seasons, the series finale had 33.7 million viewers - its biggest audience since October 2000.
Everybody Hates Chris
No we don’t, Chris.
Airing for 4 seasons on The CW, it won over critics from the very beginning. As the show reached its end, critics said it was sharper than ever. Season one’s rotten tomatoes score was 91% and season 4 ended with a perfect 100%.
“It was sharply written, very funny and didn’t shy away from serious topics like race and class, like so many feel-good nostalgic comedies do,” wrote Louisa Mellor from Den of Geek.
Although Psych stumbled out of the gate in season one, critics were soon won over by Roday and Hill’s chemistry. As the sitcom finished out its eighth season, it was still met with positive reception.
“Few shows display the level of unbridled, free-form silliness that Psych had,” David Wiegand wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Everybody Loves Raymond
Critics thought of the CBS show as a comforting sitcom for the majority of its run, but as the years stretched on critics felt like the once lovable show became repetitive.
“In its heyday, ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ defied every oracle who said traditional situation comedy was dead,” wrote Kay McFadden of the Seattle Times. “‘Raymond’ was a once-great show that overstayed its creative apex.”
It’s timeless either way.
The show’s ratings and critical acclaim peaked in season 5, and with no shortage of reasons why they probably could have called it quits after Michael Scott’s departure, seasons 8 and 9 just felt like a spin-off of sorts.
Many critics consider the award-winning ABC show to be one of the most popular sitcoms of the last decade, but after 11 seasons, reviewers admitted that they had grown tired of the show.
“The show should have ended years ago, when it was better equipped to tie together all these subplots, characters, and themes,” Ben Travers wrote for IndieWire. “Now, we’re left with an ending that doesn’t really want to be an ending.”
The Good Place
The Good Place kept critics hooked from the very first episode.
“With its tremendous heart and unwavering commitment to the stakes of ‘The Good Place’s’ ethical inquiries, the series finale is a delightful return to form,” Hannah Giorgis wrote for The Atlantic.
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Top Image: Chuck Lorre Productions & Warner Bros.