The family sitcom, Father Knows Best, ran for six seasons and 203 episodes, from 1954 until 1960.
The show is one of the few to have successfully switched networks, moving from CBS to NBC and then back to CBS. In its last season on NBC, it was tied for 23rd place on the list of top-rated shows. After the move back to CBS, it tied for 13th for the 1958-59 season and then, in its final season, became even more popular and tied for sixth. That would be like ending The Mentalist today.
In 1977, Robert Young, Jane Wyatt, Elinor Donahue, Billy Gray, and Lauren Chapin reunited for two CBS TV movies, The Father Knows Best Reunion and Father Knows Best: Home For Christmas. If the movies had performed better, it’s believed that a new series would have followed. For whatever reason, it didn’t happen.
Several years later, on May 9, 1984, the cast reunited again and Young answered a question that had been bugging fans for years. Why did he end the show when it was still very popular?
He said, “A lot of people say, ‘Why did you quit when you were still in the top 10?’ I said, ‘What better time to leave?’ While you’re still welcome, not waiting until you’re shoved out the door. I did it because, actually, the show was changing. Bill [Bud] would be drafted, there was a draft at that particular time, and he’d be gone. Elinor [Betty] would fall in love, get married, and she’d be gone. Then we’d have one left [Kathy] which changes the whole structure of the show.”
What do you think? Do you think it was smart to end Father Knows Best when they did? What other shows should have ended when the kids had grown up?