The Power of Series: This is Why Viewers Stay Tuned

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Why Viewers Stay Tuned

photo by Efraimstochter (Author), Pixabay Licence (License)

Series are an unmistakably hot trend in the media world. Currently, the last season of "Better Call Saul" is entering its mid-season break, and fans have to wait weeks for the actual finale. The first season began airing in summer 2015, and viewers have remained loyal ever since. At first, the drama series was simply seen as a prequel to the series smash "Breaking Bad," but it has since developed its own momentum. This means that even before it started, there was a potential, hooked audience that actually got involved with "Better call Saul" for the most part.

"Breaking Bad", one of the best TV shows ever, ran from 2008 to 2013: what makes people watch the same series for five or even seven years, until the final? And then possibly start all over again? Probably part of the answer lies in the characters, to whom people become accustomed like to a good buddy or a life partner. Even despite the fact that most of the fictional characters in these particular two series are villains rather than "the good guys."

But people are creatures of habit. Once they get attached to a person, they don't want to let go so quickly. Especially if this character or protagonist is exciting and develops his characteristics in sometimes surprising ways. That's exactly the case with "Breaking Bad" and "Better call Saul": There are real-life personalities who change in a comprehensible way over time, sometimes in frightening directions. However, series producers don't usually bait their viewers with villains, but rather with heroes who eliminate crimes instead of committing them. An example of this is the crime series "Las Vegas" from 2003 to 2009, which is set in the famous Sin City: The heroes strive to fight the very worst of those sins.

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Whether the protagonists count as "good" or "evil" (some are rather shady), all series have one thing in common: the common thread that runs through all episodes, even if there are a lot of them. If the storyline is well-crafted, viewers simply have to stay tuned to find out what happens next. Of course, the scriptwriters like to work with cliffhangers to increase curiosity and impatience even more. That's how they manage to keep people glued to the series – and keep them coming back for more.

This also applies to rather slowly told series that revolve around love and romance, for example. The characters are always working, consciously or unconsciously, toward some kind of goal, and the viewer is curious to see whether their efforts are successful. Reduced to a cliché, this means: Will the nurse get her beloved doctor? Or: Will the hero actually defeat the dragon?


Photo by Dieterich01 (Author), Pixabay Licence (Licence)


To prevent viewers from jumping off along the way, modern screenwriters are increasingly relying on surprising twists and turns. The hit series "Game of Thrones," for example, is known for (warning: spoilers!) killing off its main characters in the first seasons. The audience falls in love with certain heroes, who then suddenly die. What now? Oh, there's another character who ... Oh, gone too!

But as an author you shouldn't overdo it, otherwise the former fans will eventually turn away in frustration. In this series, the character deaths stop at some point, and soon it becomes clear who the real protagonist is. However, we won't tell you here whether this character will last until the end, in case some of you haven't seen the series yet. So, one thing follows another, and most viewers who start with a good series, eventually experience the finale.