‘The Waltons’: How Fans Nearly Kept the Classic Series Going

by Megan Molseed

In 1981, just weeks after the show’s ninth season had gotten underway, showrunners on the popular classic TV series, The Waltons announced that this season would be it. The series would be no more after the ninth season came to an end. This decision was based on sheer numbers, really. Once at the top of its game, The Waltons had slipped quite a bit in TV ratings, landing at number 42 at the start of the show’s ninth season. However, the series found new life that year, nearly sparing the classic TV series from cancelation.

How Some Faithful Viewers Nearly Stopped The Waltons From Ending Back In 1981

Fans were shocked in 1981 when news broke that The Waltons would be canceled just after the ninth season got underway. The show hit the TV airwaves years before finding nearly immediate success. However, by 1981, the series had dipped quite a bit in these ratings, hitting No. 42 by 1981.

However, shortly after CBS made this announcement, fans must have realized what they were missing. The series quickly found new life, jumping from No. 42 to No. 14 nearly immediately. The Waltons held this slot for quite some time, too.

CBS Is Shocked By Fans Massive Support For The Classic TV Series, But Series Showrunners Were Not

This massive jump in ratings shocked execs at The Waltons network, CBS. However, one of the writers on the series, Earl Hamner Jr. was not shocked at all by this massive show of support.

“We have a very faithful audience,” Earl Hamner Jr. has said about The Waltons.

“And they’ve always come back to us,” the iconic classic TV writer continued in a 1981 conversation with The Orlando Sentinel per MeTV.

“So, I wasn’t surprised by the ratings,” he says. “Just delighted.”

The Big Jump In Ratings Prompts Execs To Reconsider The Waltons Cancelation

As the faithful fans returned to the iconic television show in droves that season, the CBS execs couldn’t ignore The Walton’s newfound success. And the network was watching this upswing in ratings closely before officially announcing the show’s official cancelation. It looked for a bit as if The Waltons was looking at reviving its initial success. And that CBS would want to continue airing the series beyond the ninth season.

“It will be good business to keep it on,” Hamner said of the series. Hamner also noted that faithful fans could bring the series back to a spot in the top five. However, despite its impressive ratings return, The Waltons didn’t continue beyond season nine. The final episode in the Waltons’ ninth season, The Revel, became the series finale as well.

“I hope that you’ll remember this house as I do,” Earl Hamner Jr. says in his voiceover comments at the end of The Revel.

“The mystical blue ridges that stretch beyond it into infinity,” Hamner continues in the voice-over.

“The sound of warm voices drifting out upon the night air,” he continues.

“A family waiting, and a light in the window,” the final goodbye says. “Good night.”