The mid-season finale for The Walking Dead that aired last Sunday shocked fans. Carl Grimes, one of the main characters, the son of the protagonist, and the small glimmer of hope in the post-apocalyptic walker-filled world, was bitten. While he didn’t die on-screen, viewers knew his fate – he would die, and then return as a zombie. Fans did not like that. In my opinion, it was a terrible decision to kill Carl off for shock value; there was no explanation from creator Scott Gimple except that he thought it would further the story.
This isn’t the first time The Walking Dead has done this. At the beginning of season seven, fan favorite Glenn Rhee was brutally murdered for the same reason: shock value. The show could have easily ended with every character being safe and fulfilled in the Alexandria community. Instead, they killed Glenn in front of his pregnant wife to up their ratings and continue raking in money from fans.
The same thing has happened with shows that entered double-digits in their number of seasons. Both Grey’s Anatomy and Supernatural had potential, but once they entered their tenth season most of the main actors had left the show for the death of a character or legal reasons. The plotline seemed to be completely random or frustratingly repetitive. Ratings dropped as long-time fan favorites were no longer there to appeal to the majority of viewers.
Another example of this continuation of a dry and unexciting plot masqueraded as being “for the fans” when it is really for the money is Thirteen Reason Why. Thirteen Reasons Why was first written as a book with no sequel. It was meant to show the effects of bullying and suicide. The show unfortunately relied on shock value and showed the graphic death of Hannah Baker even though creators were advised not to. The show was meant to be a statement with one season, but shortly after it ended, creators announced they were working on a second. What purpose would it serve? They were simply planning to create a story for the purpose of views and money – not because they wanted to.
So what can be done about this dilemma? Comedies work with a multitude of seasons because they usually include a separate plot line in each episode, with a few running gags or stories throughout. But there are some shows that knew when to end: Breaking Bad, with five seasons, and Mad Men, with seven. Both AMC shows, they are, in my opinion, two of the best television shows ever produced. Game Of Thrones, another amazing show, is coming to an end after its eight season. The creators of these shows know when to stop. They know that to carry on the plot line would be foolish and, frankly, nothing more than self-sabotage. There are still many bad TV shows out there, but television has proven itself to be a more respected and artful form of media as of late. As long as creating the show is truly a passion for the producers and not a method of making money, then they should know when it is time to part.