Vicki Lawrence reveals why The Carol Burnett Show ended when it did

America's favorite Mama on the anti-climax of it all

Shout! Factory, LLC

All good things must come to an end, so they can be rebooted as some lesser version by a television executive who only half understands the property's significance in the first place. Maybe that's a too-modern understanding of the TV world, but the first part is true no matter which era you look at. 

One of those good things that had to come to an end was The Carol Burnett Show, a beloved sketch comedy program that ran for an incredible eleven seasons. To apply another contemporary lens: There's no way The Carol Burnett Show would exist for that long on today's TV platforms. The fact that it existed— at all— is a miracle, one wrought by hard work, sweat, and tears. That it continued for eleven years is indicative of just how much television has changed since the Seventies.

So, why did The Carol Burnett Show end? Yes, logically, every show must end at some point. Even Gunsmoke had to call it quits eventually. But Burnett was both popular and critically acclaimed. Why wrap it up?

In her 1995 memoir, Vicki!, Burnett's costar Vicki Lawrence shed some light on why the show stopped.

"After we finished taping the last Burnett show of the eleventh season, I received a phone call from Carol. She wanted me to know she was ending the show. 'I'm not coming back next year and I wanted you to hear it from me before you read it in the press.'

"As a result, there was no final episode, no teary goodbyes, no wrap party, nothing. After eleven years of being on the air, Carol woke up one day and felt she'd done it all, taken the show as far as it could go, and wanted to leave it while she was still on top. I guess you could say she was the Michael Jordan of her day."

The Carol Burnett Show was Lawrence's first and only real show-biz experience. She'd famously been plucked out of the Miss Fireball contest to appear on the sketch comedy program.

"I was a little surprised [that the show ended], but ready to make some changes in my life as well. After all, I was twenty-nine and had done nothing else but The Carol Burnett Show since dropping out of UCLA."

While the show could've surely continued, we're instead left with eleven masterfully crafted seasons, each of them full of incredible sketch comedy.

Watch The Carol Burnett Show on MeTV!

Weeknights at 11 PM
Sundays at 10:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
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16 Comments

birdnest 10 days ago
I still watch M F and T C B S on roku
RedSamRackham 11 days ago
* It was the last truly successful prime time variety show. Others have tried the format but it is a bygone genre that no longer succeeds. ♣
Snickers 14 days ago
Kind of sad the cast wasn't given the chance to say goodbye to their devoted fans.
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This helps clear up some things the article does not mention:

"People also ask
What was the very last episode of The Carol Burnett Show?
A Special Evening with Carol Burnett
"A Special Evening with Carol Burnett" is the two-hour series finale of the American variety/sketch comedy television show The Carol Burnett Show.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › A...
A Special Evening with Carol Burnett - Wikipedia"
So it looks like there was a special final episode / series wrap up after she decided to not come back for a 12th season
Special guest, Jimmy Stewart even plays the piano in the finale.
Having Jimmy Stewart was a nice touch. He meant a lot to Carol, ever since she was a little girl. She was very touched by the gesture, especially since it was a total surprise to her. 🥲
Runeshaper 14 days ago
It may have been less painful to not go through the final episode, teary goodbyes, wrap party, etc. Eleven seasons is a nice, long run (-:
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