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Why these TV shows are ending in 2020

All good things must come to an end, even and especially fantastic TV shows that air for so long they've become reliable, rock-steady sources of entertainment, comfort, and delight. And sadly, a lot of TV's most popular shows from the 2010s (and even earlier) will air their last episodes and say goodbye to their characters in 2020, from cult classics and hit sitcoms to sci-fi stalwarts and soap operas.

But why? Why do they have to end? Well, in some cases, maybe it's because there are just so many great shows, and every now and then, a few have to bow out to make room on the various broadcast channels, cable networks, and streaming services so even more excellent shows can come along and engage viewers. But for some series, it's a whole lot more complicated than just "they've done all they can do with the characters" or "the ratings aren't what they used to be." From animated series to philosophical comedies, here's why these big shows are leaving TV for good in 2020.

Arrow is flying away in 2020

Over the past decade or so, Marvel Studios upended the movie world with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a vast and complex network of two dozen or so interconnected films. But over on television, it was superhero rival DC Comics that created a big and dazzling world, with The CW programming the "Arrowverse." And none of its fan-favorite shows — The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman — would be possible without Arrow taking its shot in 2012. For eight seasons, Stephen Amell played wealthy socialite turned hooded vigilante Oliver Queen (aka Green Arrow), a hero who uses his archery skills to rid Starling City of its criminal enterprises. But now, Arrow's days are coming to an end.

In January 2019, The CW renewed Arrow for an eighth season, one that would help launch a huge, multi-show, episodes-spanning event called "Crisis on Infinite Earths." A handful of weeks later, Amell announced on Twitter that the crossover would ultimately be Arrow's way of going out on top. "Arrow will return for a final run of ten episodes this fall," Amell wrote. "There's so much to say ... for now I just want to say thank you." The end had been looming for a while, at least for its star. In a Facebook Live video from March 2019, Amell revealed that he'd approached executive producer Greg Berlanti at the end of the show's sixth season about wrapping up Arrow after season seven. He ultimately signed on for a shortened eighth season, and they can't make Arrow without the Arrow. The actor's main motivation for moving on? He needed to spend more time with his family.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is shutting down

While the MCU was mainly focused on film, the comic book empire did extend, relatively modestly, into television during the 2010s. In 2013, Marvel Studio's corporate sibling, ABC, debuted Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a weekly exploration of the cosmos-saving, villain-fighting exploits at the counter-terrorist agency known as the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division. Leading the operation was Agent (and later, Director) Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) who actually died in The Avengers, died after season of five of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and then was replaced by a new guy named Sarge in season six (who's also played by Gregg).

A high-quality MCU TV show airing on free television each week was at first an irresistible novelty to fans. S.H.I.E.L.D. placed at a modest #43 in the Nielsen ratings for its debut season, but viewership greatly declined with each passing year. Nevertheless, executives let the creative braintrust of S.H.I.E.L.D. decide when they were done. In fact, Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb told Deadline that he met with executive producers Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Jeff Bell to discuss why Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. really needed to end. "We all came to the conclusion that getting another season is so flattering, so lovely, so amazing, but how about if we go back and say, yes, but this is it." And so, the seventh season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be it's final one, but hey, Clark Gregg stuck around in the MCU longer than Robert Downey Jr., so that's pretty impressive.

Star Wars Resistance has come to an end

Years before The Mandalorian made Star Wars fans melt over Baby Yoda and sign up for Disney+, another show set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away was representing Star Wars on the small screen and expanding the franchise's already vast universe. The animated Star Wars Resistance hit Disney XD in late 2018, and it followed the story Kazuda Xiono (voice of Christopher Sean), a young New Republic pilot who goes to work for the Resistance to keep tabs on the increasingly dangerous First Order.

Unlike other Star Wars spinoffs such as Solo: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars Resistance doesn't take place in another time far removed from the core film saga. Its events coincide with those of the 2015-2019 trilogy, the final three entries in the nine-film "Skywalker Saga." The first season of Resistance starts up just before the events of The Force Awakens, while the final moments run concurrently with that film. Season two of the animated series coincides and collides with The Last Jedi and builds up to the climactic happenings of The Rise of Skywalker. And so, for those reasons, season two of Star Wars Resistance will be the series' last. "We developed the roadmap from the very beginning," executive producer Athena Portillo told reporters, before adding, "The Rise of Skywalker is finishing up the saga." In other words, there's no place left for Resistance to go.

Supernatural is giving up the ghost

Supernatural has been on TV for an extremely long time. How long? Well, when the show about the monster-hunting Winchester brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles), debuted in 2005, the man who's now the U.S. president was a reality TV star. Even The CW didn't exist, as it hadn't yet supplanted The WB network. So when Supernatural concludes its run in 2020, it will have been part of the broadcast landscape for 15 years, making it the longest-running sci-fi/horror/fantasy series in American history and The CW's most enduring series. And it doesn't seem like the bosses were ready to let go of Supernatural. 

"The network and the studio did not say like, 'Hey, guys, get outta here! You're done,'" Padelicki told a Supernatural fan convention in March 2019. "It wasn't an easy decision," Ackles added. "It was months and months, if not years, of discussion. ... I think everybody kind of felt that it was coming soon. So it was just taking that leap of faith of going like, 'Well, guys, let's get out the paint and paint that finish line, and hold our heads high, because what we've accomplished is unlike any other.'" Indeed they have, considering that creator Eric Kripke started work on the series with only a five-year plan in mind.

BoJack Horseman is leaving Netflix

One of the most original series in recent memory, BoJack Horseman probably wouldn't have made it to TV if not for an upstart content provider like Netflix willing to take some risks. It's an animated series about a talking horse, who's also a washed-up actor (voiced by Will Arnett) best known for starring on a Full House-like, cheesy sitcom called Horsin' Around. Plus, Bojack is a guy who deals honestly and profoundly with clinical depression, addiction, and ennui while surrounded by a world filled with other anthropomorphic animals and endless animal puns. BoJack Horseman helped establish Netflix's reputation as a viable provider of prestige television, earning a stable full of TV and animation awards. But the streamer decided six seasons was enough horsing around and said "neigh" to any more episodes after its final eight hit the internet in 2020.

Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg told Vulture that he was surprised when Netflix gave him a preemptive "heads up" to write the sixth season with a definitive ending. "I thought we'd go a couple more years," he said. "But you know, it's a business. They've got to do what's right for them, and six years is a very healthy run for a TV show."

Vikings is finally sailing off The History Channel

The History Channel used to be a cable TV repository of sedate World War II documentaries. Then executives realized that an outlet with the word "history" in its name could tell all kinds of stories, even scripted, well-budgeted, and immaculately produced ones — so long as they're set in the past and take place in a compelling (and true) time period. And so, in 2013, the first ever scripted offering on The History Channel debuted. Yeah, we're talking about Vikings, Michael Hirst's saga about Scandinavian voyaging marauders — primarily the Lothbrok family — at work and at play. It brought in some of the best ratings the network had ever seen, but alas, in 2019, the show announced that it would conclude with its sixth season in 2020.

Ending things there was Hirst's idea. "I always knew where I wanted the show to go and more or less where it would end if I was given the opportunity," he told Variety, going on to add that, "After six seasons and 89 episodes, that's what I felt — finally — I'd done." He then explained, "I had no reason to want to continue it beyond that." However, Hirst does seem to want to "continue it beyond that." He signed a deal with Netflix to make Vikings: Valhalla, an in-universe continuation set 100 years after the events of the first show.

Modern Family is moving on in 2020

In many ways, Modern Family was an era-defining sitcom. Shot like a mockumentary, it was among the most popular "single-camera" comedies as it focused on all the branches of a, well, modern family, including a same-sex couple and a patriarch on his second marriage to a much younger single mother. Modern Family won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series for each of its first five seasons, as well as individual trophies for Ty Burrell (Phil Dunphy), Julie Bowen (Claire Dunphy), and Eric Stonestreet (Cameron Tucker). 

But that was all a long time ago. The 2019-2020 season is the aging sitcom's eleventh, and it will also be its last. "For 10 years, our characters have bravely faced turning points in life and moved through them to great personal enrichment," co-creator Christopher Lloyd said in a statement linked to the show's final season announcement. Lloyd has hinted at why it's time to end the show, as the characters have reached so many major life events together that there aren't that many more to depict. Back in 2009, all the kids on the show were living at home. Now they've been raised to adults, moved out, gone to college, and one of them, Haley Dunphy (Sarah Hyland), has children of her own now.

The Good Place is saying goodbye

After four short and intricately crafted seasons of some of the most original and thoughtful shirt to ever grace a forking network sitcom, The Good Place will wrap up in 2020. The ambitious, afterlife-set series follows the story of four souls (led by Kristen Bell) who — with the assistance of an otherworldly being named Michael (TV legend Ted Danson) and a robot named Janet (D'Arcy Carden) — must fix the system by which all other people are judged and become better, more ethical people in the process. Plus, it features one of the best TV twists of the last decade

The incredibly philosophical show was created by Parks and Recreation leader Michael Schur, who's been engineering the series' ending for about two years. "After The Good Place was picked up for season two, the writing staff and I began to map out, as best we could, the trajectory of the show," Schur said at a Good Place panel event in June 2019. "Given the ideas we wanted to explore, and the pace at which we wanted to present those ideas, I began to feel like four seasons — just over 50 episodes — was the right lifespan." Months later, Schur explained his decision to TV Line, saying that "the show has always operated on this M.O. that you blow everything up before it gets boring."

Empire is going to fall in 2020

Fox's Empire, the saga of a family owned hip-hop musical label, has been the biggest primetime soap in decades, captivating viewers and getting them talking in a way not seen since the salacious days of Melrose Place. Not only did it make a huge star out of Taraji P. Henson, who plays the crafty and inscrutable Cookie Lyon, but it earned massive ratings for Fox. In each of its first two seasons, Empire was the sixth most-watched and fifth most-watched show on broadcast television, respectively. 

But these kinds of shows tend to burn brightly and quickly, and before long, Empire mania faded. By season five (2018-19), Empire had fallen to #62 in the yearly ratings. Plus, it didn't help the show's image when supporting star Jussie Smollett staged a Chicago attack, resulting in legal problems, which led to his dismissal from the show. But it's not waning interest or scandal that technically did in Empire. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show is the victim of corporate realignment. Empire airs on Fox, but it's been produced by 20th Century Fox TV, which was absorbed by Disney when the House of Mouse acquired Fox's operations. That left Empire without a production home.