Grey’s Anatomy: The Show Should Not Go On

Ava Brenden, Opinions Editor

Recently, I started rewatching “Grey’s Anatomy” once more, and I’m embarrassed to say that this is not the first time I’ve given into the addiction. Having watched the show many times, I can say that “Grey’s Anatomy” is one of my favorite shows, and one that I will never not enjoy. But even the best things in life must come to a conclusion, lest they become the greatest fear of any fan: a distorted glimmer of what the show once was. Suffice to say, I don’t have favorable opinions of the later seasons of Grey’s, nor of any show, really. And “Grey’s Anatomy” is not the only show that suffers from this; fan favorites like “The Walking Dead,” “Criminal Minds” and “The Vampire Diaries” are all shows that come to mind when thinking about shows that have overstayed their welcome. 

There are many factors that contribute to why these shows (and others like them) need to be cut off, and for me, it starts with the characters. Since “Grey’s Anatomy” is on my mind, let’s start there. Out of the original season one cast of nine main characters, only three remain. Of the guest stars (many of whom were later promoted to season regulars), only one of them returned to guest star in the most recent season, who was promoted to a series regular and then left the show as well. “Grey’s Anatomy” is on season 19, and the majority of the characters who fans grew to love and adore have left, and it was just announced that the show’s namesake, Meredith Grey, will make her last appearance in season 19. How the show will continue without her, I do not know, but the problem with running a show for as long as Grey’s is the inevitability of people leaving, and thus, the incessant need to find creative ways to exit their character or simply kill them off. 

But “Grey’s Anatomy” is again not the sole sufferer when it comes to this fatal television flaw. “Criminal Minds” had the same issue but in a slightly different way. The original team of criminal profilers all had a sort of “niche” or stereotype. There was the socially awkward genius, the provocative female baddie, the funny but strange computer lady, the leader, the ripped guy who kicked down doors and the old grandpa who said weirdly insightful things at inappropriate times. These archetypes, while entertaining at first, became more and more apparent as people were written off and new versions of the same characters filled their places. At some points, characters were added that were almost carbon copies of the ones that had preceded them. Not every new character was like this, but as the seasons progressed and the fans missed the original characters more and more, we began to see replacements that looked and sounded eerily familiar. 

Aside from issues regarding the characters of a show, the next biggest issue I take with shows that don’t end is the plot itself. Some show creators go into the production with a plan on how to end it, and I think those shows end up doing the best in the end, as they don’t overdo it and they know where to draw the line. And then you get shows like “The Walking Dead.” I mean, spoiler alert, but the main character is as good as dead! He was at one point, and having discontinued after the fourth season, I can’t say I know for certain what Rick’s fate was, but I do know that he was written off. Without a main character, or perhaps with a new main character, I’m not entirely sure what the writers of the show are hoping to achieve. After all, they’re already milking the franchise for what it is worth with the spin-off series, “Fear the Walking Dead.” Was that not enough? 

Again, these shows are not the only examples of this issue. Many shows continue on far past their prime. The question is, when is that prime? In my opinion, seven to nine seasons seems to be the peak, though that is certainly not a hard and fast rule. Bad shows have peaked around season two or three (or God forbid, season one), so it isn’t like every show should go on that long. Only the best ones, I guess. 

Still, the earliest seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy,” the original cast of “Criminal Minds” and the opening scene of “The Walking Dead” are still frequent in my mind. Those shows are memorable, and some of my favorites. But even I, a steadfast and devoted fan, can recognize that there is such a thing as too much, even if it was once great.