TV Show: End suddenly while it's still good, or go too long but have an ending?

Given only these two choices, assuming of course you enjoy the show in the first place, would you rather a series:

A) end abruptly, but while it was still producing a good product,


B) go on a season or three past its prime, declining in quality, possibly significantly, but have an actual (and relatively satisfying) ending?

Wow, no vote. Neither one is a good option. Fringe is a good example, I think, of the latter. It ended well, but very e-ven-tu-al-ly… Then there’s Carnivale, Alphas and Deadwood, cut short without warning or ending. Both bad.

(Not to hijack, but what I’d really like to see is what I thought Sons of Anarchy was going to do at the end of Season 4: End, unambiguously, but without announcing it. Let everyone think it’s going to run another season or three, and then pull a massive wipeout ending.)

I love a good ending to a show. It colors my whole view of everything that preceded it (and is a major factor in determining whether I purchase the show on DVD/rewatch it).

If it gets really bad toward the end, I’ll stop watching, but maybe come back for the ending. If it just peters out after I stop watching, it tends to be soon forgotten.

Hmm. I think it depends on how bad it gets, and for how long, before it ends. If the quality gets truly bad - not just mediocre - then I would prefer it to just end. Unless it’s only truly bad for a couple of episodes. The longer the slump lasts the less a good ending can redeem it. It’s hard to say where I’d draw the line.

Let the masters explain it:

Bart: If I had a tv show, I would run that sucker into the ground!"

Homer: Amen, boy, amen!

With a show that has a story arc I want an ending.

Personally I’d prefer a show end while it’s still good, rather than have to witness the slow (or not so slow) decline of a beloved series just to get to an ending.

Dead Like Me, the not-so-good movie notwithstanding, while I enjoyed the series and it still had a lot of life left in it (ha!), it was a reflective, inward-looking show, so the final episode was actually a decent ending.

Weeds OTOH, ran at least 3 seasons too long, and was way past being compelling, or even funny, anymore by the time they reached the bizarre ending.

If a series goes on longer than it should, any viewer is still free to “end” it at any time just by stopping watching. And different viewers are likely to have different ideas of just when that should happen. When a series ends abruptly, though, the only people who are happy are those who just happened to have made that decision right at the exact same moment, which is going to be almost none of them.

My preference would be that a series end before it becomes a parody of itself. To me the signs that a show has gone on too long are:

[li]All of the major cast has been replaced by new or secondary characters[/li][li]It’s a drama, but they do a “funny” episode. More than once.[/li][li]They introduce a Cousin Oliver (from The Brady Bunch for those of you too young to remember) character who really is more annoying than useful to the plot.[/li][li]The show spins off (successfully or not) more than one other series[/li][li]The show tries to sneak in recycled episodes from earlier seasons.[/li][li]More than one Christmas special/flashback episode during the run of the series[/li][/ol]

Shows that ended before they grew stale: The Rockford Files,Wild Wild West,Fringe (five seasons were enough),In Plain Sight

Shows that lasted waaayyy too long: Happy Days, Friends, ER, Law & Order:SVU (still going, unfortunately),JAG, NCIS,Cold Case, Criminals Minds,etc

You’d try to time it just right - resolve it while it’s still good - but given the two choices, go out on top. Don’t wear out your welcome.

I’d add *The Simpsons *to your second list. And you have no idea how much it hurts to say that.

I think two examplars of this are Firefly and How I Met Your Mother.

Firefly was practically killed in the cradle, but people idolize it - it went out on a high note.

HIMYM started great, but nobody cares that it’s ending because it dragged WAY too long.

So, end in your prime.

End it while it’s still good…

E.G. Battlestar Galactica, the darker re-imagined series should have ended on the scorched False Earth, none of this "Starbuck is an angel and “god” did it crap that they dragged the ending out to…

Hmm, maybe an alternate ending, where instead of Kara being an angel, she’s like Kenny from South Park, and simply unable to die

“Oh my gods! They killed Kara, you bastards!”

A proper ending trumps going on too long.

Note, that’s a proper ending, not just some crap ending.

The ending is essential. Obviously, it’s best to end at the right time, but if you have to have a “wrapping up season” then that’s just what you do. To put a more measurable spin on it, nothing in my NetFlix queue gets a fifth star without a good ending. If the ending is missing or bad, the best you can do is four stars.

I assume the point of this poll is to pick the lesser of the two evils. And that’s definitely to go ahead and have an ending.

Though, I’m going to thwart that point, because I don’t think shows should end when on top. Sure, they should end before they get bad, but I’d rather them drop a bit in quality, so that ending them actually seems justified.

Without the drop, you don’t know for sure that you actually reached your peak.