Many TV shows were able to capture the fans’ fancy for years on end. Some went on for six seasons, others for ten. Though the exact reason for a success of a TV show is difficult to pinpoint, one thing’s for sure: the actors who star in it makes all the difference.
Several shows met their demise when one of its lead actors decided to pursue other endeavors and had their character killed off. Such was the fate of the teenage TV show, The OC. When Mischa Barton’s character was killed off, the show fizzled out, ending the season after her character died. Some shows, on the other hand, have enjoyed the same success, even when a main character is written off. A fine example is Two and A Half Men, whose fate was hanging in the balance when its main star, Charlie Sheen, left the show. However, producers replaced him with another A-lister, comedian Ashton Kutcher. The show has continued to bring in great ratings, thanks to Kutcher’s comedic prowess.
Although there are those hit TV shows who have had the good fortune of retaining its main cast members from its pilot episode, all the way to the series finale years later. No doubt the staying power of these cast members was the main reason why these shows were such hits. The actors knew that the chemistry among the cast members had already been established and they were smart enough to realize that if one left the show, the dynamics of the characters would totally alter and the show’s popularity would suffer.
These are just some of the hit TV shows in the recent past whose main cast members stayed til the show made its final curtain call.
10 Golden Girls
Who can forget the four lovely golden ladies who shared a retirement home in Florida? Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia were quite the elderly foursome, coping with widowhood and divorce, as they dealt with living with each other in one house. They regaled audiences with their crazy antics, until Beatrice Arthur, who played Dorothy, decided to leave the show. The cast members and crew decided collectively that if one of the girls left, the show wouldn't be the same and so they put the show to bed after seven wonderful seasons.
9 Home Improvement
A TV show that launches its actors to stardom is a successful one indeed. Home Improvement, a family sitcom about a dad who has his own tool show, put Tim Allen, Pamela Anderson, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas on the Hollywood map. Tim Taylor, Allen’s character, is a regular husband and dad, whose life revolves around his wife, three sons and stars in a show called “Tool Time.” Home Improvement was one of the highest-rated sitcoms for its eight-season run and though Jonathan Taylor Thomas was merely a recurring character in the last season, he still stayed until the show closed.
8 Mad Men
A period TV series is always tricky to produce because it doesn't usually appeal to the mainstream audience. Lucky for Mad Men, it was able to capture a cult following and is now on its seventh and last season. Having won a multitude of Emmy and Golden Globe awards, the show is set in the 1960's and follows advertising agency executives’ professional and personal lives. The actors comprising the main cast have stayed on throughout the entire run and as the drama comes to close in a few months, the actors will surely wax nostalgic about their time on the show.
Creating a show that’s loosely based on one’s real-life experiences seems to be a formula that works on television. The TV sitcom, Seinfeld is a testament to this success. The show is set in Upper West Side Manhattan and focuses on the goings-on in the lives of Jerry Seinfeld and his band of friends. The show ran for nine seasons and won a whopping 10 of the major Emmy Awards. The main cast of four won at least one award each for playing their respective characters on the show.
Frasier is one of the rare success stories where spin-offs are concerned. Taking off from its parent show Cheers, Frasier went on to follow the life of Frasier Crane, who was a fixture in Cheers. In the spin-off, Frasier leaves Boston and returns to his hometown of Seattle and becomes a radio psychiatrist, while he tries to deal with his father, brother, and producer. As proof of how popular the show was, it ran for a whopping eleven seasons and is touted as one of the best spin-offs in TV history.
5 Everybody Loves Raymond
The Barone family had all their viewers in stitches in every episode of the hit TV sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond. Loosely based on the family life of the show’s star, Ray Romano, this comedy hilariously shows how Ray, a sports columnist and his wife, Debra relate to Ray’s parents and older brother, Robert. The humor is mostly dry and sarcastic, but it sure made for great entertainment. The show ran for nine seasons with its original main cast members intact and ended on a high note.
4 Will and Grace
At the time the TV sitcom Will and Grace started airing in 1998, there weren't too many shows yet that focused on the satirical side of homosexuality. Grace is an interior designer who is roommates with her gay best friend, Will, a lawyer. The show elicited much controversy, as many criticized its somewhat limited view on the homosexuals’ characters, attitude, and way of life. Despite this, the series went on for eight seasons and opened doors for Debra Messing’s and Eric McCormack’s respective careers.
It’s rare that you find a show that can be tirelessly watched over and over again, but Friends proudly holds such a distinction. Who can forget the six twenty-something yuppies living in New York and constantly hanging out at the Central Perk coffee shop? Friends was such a huge hit that by the time the tenth and last season rolled around, the six actors on the show banded together and demanded that each of them receive a salary of $1 million per episode; that’s $18 million per person for an 18-episode season!
2 Sex and the City
New York City is the main star of Sex and the City and its four “supporting” characters, Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda weren't too shabby themselves. Based on the book with the same title by Candace Bushnell, the show revolves around the lives of four women in their mid to late thirties and how they go about their professional, personal, and sexual lives. The show received multiple awards in its six-season run and several acting accolades for its cast members—all four of whom even went on to do two Sex and The City movies after the series closed.
1 How I Met Your Mother
It certainly was “legen…wait for it…dary. Legendary!” How I Met Your Mother just recently ended after nine seasons of dodges and hints as to who the elusive mother of Ted Mosby’s children was. Ted is an architect and hopeless romantic and regales his future children with a carefully censored version of his misadventures with friends Lily, Marshall, Barney, and Robin. All the events of the whole show lead up to the moment when Ted finally meets his wife. There were mixed reactions to how the entire tale ended, but one thing’s for sure, the show ended on a high with its five main original cast members basking in its glory.