Any interesting stories out there about TV shows ending for reasons other than cancellation? The couple I can think of:
Cheers ended because Ted Danson decided to leave the show.
Seinfeld apparently ended because Jerry Seinfeld was just done with the show. According to the IMDB, NBC offered him $100 million for a tenth season, which he declined.
Night Court had an interesting couple final seasons. Again according to the IMDB, Season 8 was supposed to be their last one, so all kinds of shakeups were planned for the final episode. Instead, the show was renewed at the last minute, so the plans were changed. After season 9 ended, the cast was offered more money to do a 10th season, but it would be on a syndication network instead of NBC, and the cast declined.
When the CBS Head of Programming Fred Silverman decided to clear out what he considered lowbrow entertaiment, he cancelled Petticoat Junction, The Beverley Hillbillies, Green Acres, Mayberry R.F.D., Hee-Haw, and–for some strange reason–The Ed Sullivan Show.
This is also referred to as “the Clear Cut” season because he cancelled “every show with trees”.
Sanford and Son ended because Redd Foxx was offered a huge contract to jump ship and start another show for another network. He did, the new show tanked fast (as did replacement show Sanford Arms) and he of course went broke and ended up playing Sanford again on a much lesser show.
One Day at a Time ended because Bonnie Franklin and Valerie Bertinelli wanted to move on. Pat Harrington (who played Schneider) didn’t and was vocal about it, but he obviously couldn’t carry the show alone.
Good Times ended because the departure of John Amos and Esther Rolle sent it from a Top 10 to a Bottom 10 show in one season. They brought Esther Rolle back with a big raise but it was too late to make a big difference in the ratings.
Another show that dropped wwwwaaaaaaay down the ratings charts was Grace Under Fire, due largely to negative press over star Brett Butler’s out-of-control antics (she through a full soda can at one of the show’s writers in front of the studio audience) and insistence on turning it from a comedy about a single mother to an “issue of the week” show on alcoholism, unwed mothers, etc…
The most recent incarnation of the game show To Tell the Truth ended largely due to regular Paula Poundstone’s alcohol/pedophilia scandal. (She was cleared of the pedophilia part and plead guilty to dui and child endangerment.)
Murder She Wrote was cancelled, despite good ratings, because the audience was considered too old to be valuable for advertisers…so they replaced the show with Diagnostic Murder. Go figure. Like 18 year olds were rushing home to catch Dr. Sloan solve crimes instead of Jessica Fletcher.
At least two shows ended due to divorce: I Love Lucy/The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour (Desilu wanted Fred and Ethel to have a spinoff but Vivian Vance so hated William Frawley she turned down a $50,000 offer just to do a pilot episode) and Sonny & Cher (though it reappeared and lingered, but finally the sight of seeing Cher singing “I Got You Babe” with Sonny while heavily laden with another man’s child was just too bizarre). I believe Carol Burnett and Bewitched were also hastened by the show’s star divorcing the show’s producer.
Mayberry RFD, which broke the rule that a show can’t be successful after replacing the main star, was cancelled because the president of CBS thought rural shows were somewhat backwater and decided to “cut the corn out of its weekly, diet, and purged all shows that were deemed ‘demographically undesireable’.”
It was cancelled in the 1970-71 season despite good ratings. It 1968-69, it was the #4 show of the season.
The Southerner in my is disgusted! (But the snob in me agrees!)
CITE: Prime-Time Hits: Television’s Most Popular Network Programs- 1950 to the Present. Susan Sackett. 1993.
Roseanne was going full speed ahead into its eighth or ninth season when Roseanne Barr insisted on doing all the writing herself. The last two seasons stank to heaven, and the series tanked. A classic example of a star’s ego running out of control.
Another show cancelled because the stars refused to go on was “Home Improvement.” Tim Allen and Patricia Richardson were offered ungodly sums of money to go on, but they chose to quit with the show on top.
Rumor had it that “The Wizard” was canceled in 1987 because of an unsuccessful suicide attempt by its star, the gifted and troubled David Rappaport. Rappaport made several more attempts before successfully committing suicide in 1990.
Gilligan’s Island was another show that was a huge hit in the ratings but was cancelled for being too low-brow. The producers had hated it from day 1 but kept it on the air because it made money. Finally the show was replaced by Gunsmoke, which was moved into Gilligan’s prime real estate from it’s usual slot and already having a large audience kept the money rolling in.
Trivia: The cast had already signed contracts for and were paid for a fourth season (though they no longer received residuals after the late 1960s). Tina Louise’s contract was up during the 4th season and plans were made for her character to be rescued, get amnesia (so she couldn’t tell about the other castaways) and replaced by two more characters.
If at first you don’t succeed… (I can’t remember if he attempted suicide at or finally committed suicide at the Hollywood sign, but he did one or the other [ala Peg Entwhistle minus the jumping]). He left a very large estate because in addition to U.S. TV and movies he’d been a TV star in his native UK and had invested well besides.
Some blame the departure of another suicidal Little Person, Herve “Tattoo” Villechaize, on the cancellation of Fantasy Island a year later. More likely, the show had just run its course.
The show Lost in Space was cancelled because several of the stars and writers just couldn’t go on and their contracts were up (especially after the Vegetable People episode).
The Ropers was cancelled due to lukewarm ratings. Norman Fell had a contract stating he could return to Three’s Company if the show was cancelled after one season, but because it had 7 episodes as a replacement series and then a full season it couldn’t be honored because technically it was cancelled after 1.5 seasons (though I think they gave him an out-of-court settlement to avoid a legal battle that, while they probably would have won anyway, would have been bad P.R. and lots of lawyer’s fees).
Battlestar Galactica was cancelled because, while popular, it couldn’t make a profit due to its exorbitant $1.5 million per episode production costs. It’s ironic how short a time really before shows like Cheers, Friends and Mad About You were paying far more than that just to their main stars in straight salary. (Cheers was barely making a dime for the network by the last season because even John Ratzenberger and George Wendt were getting paid six figures per episode and had shares of the profits.)
Andy Griffith’s salary and points in the show earned him just north of $3 million during his final year of The Andy Griffith Show, an absolutely incredible compensation package for the time. That’s one reason the network didn’t fight harder to save the show- Mayberry RFD only had to be a fraction of the hit TAGS had been to make more money due to Griffith’s salary and Danny Thomas’s cut. (Both Thomas and Griffith had a piece of Mayberry RFD as well, but it was a “concept” percentage and thus not nearly as much as for TAGS, which they co-created.)