At the risk of this space being your daily How TV Used to Be Different corner, it's worth considering a time when final seasons of TV shows weren’t always a thing. Or, rather, they were generally the purview of massively successful TV shows. We all knew Seinfeld was coming to an end long before that much-ballyhooed finale. Ditto Cheers and Friends. The foreknowledge allowed fans to prepare themselves and for the entertainment press to marshall up their retrospectives. But for the rest of the TV landscape — middling- and low-rated shows alike — fates remained uncertain often until after season finales aired, only to retroactively become series finales.
These days, networks and streaming platforms have caught wise — or perhaps endured enough angry fan campaigns — to know that by announcing that a struggling show will wrap up its run at the end of the ensuing season, the showrunners will be able to craft a proper ending, the fans won’t feel like they got the rug pulled out from under them, and complaints will be kept a minimum.
And so this season alone we’ve known that shows like iZombie, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Jane the Virgin (all CW shows — rough spring for the quasi-youthful demographic) were ending. Some shows, like Game of Thrones, have had their endgames mapped out for a while. Some, like The Big Bang Theory, have run for a very long time and know when to say goodbye. Some, like Gotham, would probably have been cancelled anyway; some, like Veep, want to go out on a high note.
As we plow ahead into finale season, be happy that there’s less uncertainty about our favorite TV shows, at least compared to yesteryear. Enjoy your well-plotted final run, iZombie fans…
SEASON PREMIERE: The fifth season of the horror/comedy/mystery/romance series iZombie will be the show’s last, and it kicks off with an investigation into a murder despite there being no body and thus no brain to eat. Series star Rose McIver is a consistent delight, and it'll be a bittersweet journey to follow her these final 13 episodes. 8:00 PM ET on The CW
CROSSOVER EVENT: Shonda Rhimes’s two Seattle-set dramas Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 are set to cross over again in a two-hour Shondaland event. When one of Station 19’s own ends up in the care of the Grey Sloan surgeons — Maggie, in this case — the drama is high for both shows. Though Shonda has officially signed with Netflix for new projects, her Thursday night programming block is still pretty much the steadiest thing on ABC’s schedule. 8:00 PM ET on ABC
SPECIAL PRESENTATION: What do you get when you combine Nick and Vanessa Lachey, Reno, Nevada, and women representing all 50 states plus the District of Columbia? You get the 2019 Miss USA, live from the very city that Deloris Van Cartier made famous with her Motown act before witnessing a murder and fleeing into witness protection at a convent in San Francisco under the name Sister Mary Clarence. Reno! I’m talking about Reno. 8:00 PM ET on FOX
SERIES FINALE: HBO’s six part miniseries On Tour with Asperger’s Are Us comes to a close tonight with another two back-to-back episodes. Noah, Ethan, Jack and Michael — a comedy troupe, all with Aspergers — ready for their final show in Los Angeles and say goodbye to their tempestuous RV. They also get a chance to reflect on their experiences on the road. 8:00 PM ET on HBO
Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, The Herald Sun, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.