It’s always a shame when a much-loved TV drama comes to an end, but at least the latest canceled show had a good run. The series in question is British detective favorite Endeavour, which picked up a devoted following on PBS Masterpiece, and is now coming to an end after nine seasons.
Endeavour is the prequel to another hugely popular (and influential) detective series, Inspector Morse, and followed the title character as a young officer in 1960s and early 1970s Oxford. After a pilot episode in 2012, it ran continuously over the next nine years, with season eight airing in the U.K. last year and filming for season nine starting this month.
And it’s proved to be hugely popular, both in Britain and elsewhere. It’s been a mainstay of the ITV schedule in the U.K. since it began, while PBS Masterpiece has shown every episode up to and including season seven in the States. Season eight, meanwhile, will air in the U.S. from June 19, with the final three-episode installment presumably following later this year or in 2023.
Fortunately, this is one show that should get a satisfying ending — not least because the lead character, the eponymous Endeavour Morse, goes on to feature in the 1980s-set Inspector Morse sequel. What’s more, the decision to end it was made by mutual agreement, with producers Mammoth Screen, screenwriter Russell Lewis and stars Shaun Evans and Roger Allam all agreeing it had run its course.
“Endeavour has been a real labor of love for all of us, and we salute Russell Lewis for his extraordinary achievement in chronicling Endeavour Morse’s coming of age across 72 hours of TV,” a statement from executive producer Damien Timmer said.
“Russell has many surprises up his sleeve for the final three films, with the return of some familiar faces and new challenges for Endeavour and Thursday to face before the final goodbye!”
PBS Masterpiece executive producer Susanne Simpson added, “Endeavour has been one of our most beloved Masterpiece series. Though we hate to see it end, we have been so proud to present this wonderful series to our viewers.”
A sad ending — but also a necessary one
Endeavour is that rare beast: a prequel that added something to the original series, rather than just hanging off its coattails for easy ratings.
Morse, played by John Thaw in the original series and by Evans in Endeavour, is a consistently intriguing character and the show’s setting among the classical spires of Oxford rooted it in a place just as expertly as Mad Men did in 1960s Manhattan or The Wire did in 2000s Baltimore.
While Endeavour didn’t quite hit those heights, it was (mostly) free from the usual cop-show cliches and could be counted upon to give your gray matter a workout while also entertaining. It also did a great job of chronicling the changing fashions and trends of the ’60s, with one episode centering on a popular beat-pop combo and others dealing with racism and gender issues.
But with season nine due to be set in 1972, and with Inspector Morse starting in the mid-1980s, there was only so much further the showrunners could take it. Would we really have wanted it to run right up to 1987 and join the two shows together? Even if we did, clearly Evans and Allam, who plays his gruff boss Detective Fred Thursday, probably fancied a break from it.
Still, we still have season nine to look forward to (and season eight in the U.S., too) and the teaser trailer for the final episodes does a great job of ramping up the expectation for that.
And on the plus side, all the previous episodes are available on BritBox (opens in new tab) and ITV Hub (opens in new tab) in the U.K., and on PBS (opens in new tab) and Prime Video (opens in new tab) in the U.S. — so you’ve got no excuse not to watch it all again.