Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Season 3 finale of Penny Dreadful!
It seems like only yesterday we were teasing the third season of Penny Dreadful. This weekend, fans of the show were shocked to find out that the last episode of Season 3, "Perpetual Night; The Blessed Dark," was also the show's finale — in an unannounced move, the words "The End" were simply added to the last frame.
Is that a sign of laziness from the show's creators, who could have given so much more to the fans, or is it actually a bold decision that puts the quality and the coherence of the show at the forefront of the production? Looking back at the history of TV shows, there's actually a few shows that ended sooner rather than later and are still widely considered to be excellent.
Many Fans Were Upset That Penny Dreadful Isn't Coming Back
While some celebrated the beautiful ending, many fans were upset to have been taken by surprise and disappointed that the show wouldn't come back for a fourth season.
The Showtime series, which starred Eva Green, Timothy Dalton and Josh Hartnett in a fantasy horror story drawing from the 19th century British horror fictions called the penny dreadfuls, was created by John Logan, who also recently wrote Spectre and Alien: Covenant.
Penny Dreadful Creator Logan Justified His Decision
In a series of interviews, Logan and Showtime CEO David Nevins revealed that they had planned the ending for a while now, and explained why they felt this unusual way to wrap up the show made perfect sense for Eva Green's character Vanessa.
Logan told Variety,
"This is a show about Vanessa Ives and her struggle with faith — how one woman grapples with God and the devil. Midway through the second season, when we were filming it —so about two years ago— I realized where we were heading. A woman who loses her faith in the second season, she has to grasp her way back. What that would take? To me, that was an apotheosis — she would find peace finally with God."
Which is why, even though the rest of the characters had fantastic storylines themselves, the show wasn't going to go on without their leading lady. And as Nevins put it, it's a good sign for the current state of TV that the network didn't feel compelled to keep it going despite its creator's vision.
"Television is in a place now where each show can have its own sort of rhythm, its own trajectory. There's not "one size fits all." There's no longer an economic imperative to get to 100 episodes in order to make a syndication deal in order to have a back end."
You Don't Need Five Seasons To Make A Great Show
Whether you believe it was a creative decision or a business imperative, if you look at other shows whose presence on TV was short and sweet, you can see why it was a smart decision not to extend them any further. In contrast, how many times have we heard that showrunners and directors are "milking" concepts and plots just to get the ratings up?
So if you've dried your tears and actually enjoyed seeing Penny Dreadful wrap up the way it did, here are four other shows that prove series definitely don't have to last forever.
Sherlock is still running, but it's doing so at such a glacial pace that it clearly fits the requirements of this list. Although fans are always dying for new content, the actors' requirements have led the show to find its own rhythm that puts quality over quantity, and the result proves nothing less.
2. The Newsroom
The ending of The Newsroom in December 2014 left many feeling unsatisfied, but ultimately the third and last season earned a 76% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and 91% from the audience. It seems like once the disgruntlement of fans who realize they'll have to find something else to binge-watch has faded, the quality of a short show actually stands out.
3. Black Mirror
Just like Sherlock, British futuristic series Black Mirror isn't over yet, especially now that Netflix has scooped up the rights. But the fact that it has released 7 episodes since it first aired in 2011 hasn't prevented it from becoming one of the most innovative and captivating shows on television, with the first season reaching a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
4. Arrested Development
Arrested Development was cancelled in 2006 before Netflix took over, and we're still waiting for updates on Season 5. The first season also obtained a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the overall reception of the series makes it safe to say that a cancellation doesn't equal to a failure.
Do you enjoy shorter TV shows, or do you feel like they're frustrating?