It’s been a rough few weeks for fans of quality TV. When AMC and Matthew Weiner finally worked out a deal to keep Mad Men going, we learned that Weiner is planning to end the show after only three more seasons. And now, because of Alec Baldwin’s big mouth (which, lest we forget, has gotten him in trouble before), we’re not sure whether or not 30 Rock will stop production next year. Instead of going into premature mourning, we’ve decided that this may well be for the best. Although many great TV series keep going for years after they’ve lost their magic, some wise showrunners make the noble decision to forsake a reliable paycheck and quit while they’re ahead. We look at ten shows that did just that after the jump.
Although Seinfeld‘s quality suffered after Larry David left the show for its final two seasons, it remained one of America’s most popular TV shows. If the cast and NBC had their way, we assume it would still be on the air even now. That’s why it was front-page news when Jerry Seinfeld announced, on December 25, 1997, that the show would wrap the next year, after nine seasons. (Some Christmas present, Jerry!) ”I wanted to end the show on the same kind of peak we’ve been doing it on for years,” Seinfeld told the New York Times. ”I wanted the end to be from a point of strength. I wanted the end to be graceful.” Whatever your feelings on the show’s controversial finale, it certainly went out with a bang: over half of that evening’s TV viewers tuned in, for a total of roughly 76 million.