“The Middle” will end after its upcoming ninth season, which kicks off this fall.
Debuting in 2009, the family sitcom is one of ABC’s longest-running comedies, next to “Modern Family.” Though the series has never been a huge ratings breakout, it’s been steady on the network’s schedule.
Starring Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn, Charlie McDermott, Eden Sher and Atticus Shaffer, “The Middle” revolves around the middle-class, midwestern Heck family. Created by Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline, Warner Bros. Television is the studio.
“Last year we sat down with our cast and made the bittersweet decision together that in this ninth season it is time to bring the Hecks’ story to a close. It’s been an amazing run, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we’re looking forward to having an entire year to say goodbye,” said co-creators Heisler and Heline. “Plus, we wanted to go out before too many people knew we were on the air.”
“The Middle” has surpassed 190 episodes with each season spanning 24 episodes, except for the most recent eighth season, which had 23 episodes. The sitcom will hit the major 200-episode milestone during its final season next year.
Back when the show hit its 100-episode anniversary, Heisler spoke with Variety about why “The Middle” resonates with viewers, attributing the success to the lack of family comedies on broadcast at the time in 2009. “When we were developing it, there weren’t many family comedies on the air, and those that were on were really upscale,” she said. “The show came from an observational place and wanting to tap into our roots.”
“The Middle” has been an important property to ABC, having helped launched the network’s Tuesday night comedy block and many new shows, most recently leading into “American Housewife.” The show hovers around a 1.7 rating in the 18-49 demo in Nielsen’s Live+Same Day ratings, and typically sees an increase of 50% or more with three-day delayed viewing.
“The Heck family has been part of the ABC family for almost a decade. It’s rare for a series to have this type of longevity, and we are proud to have been its home,” said ABC president, Channing Dungey. “We’ve watched Axl, Sue and Brick grow up right before our eyes under Frankie and Mike’s unique parenting style. I’m looking forward to the fitting and happy ending the producers will give the Hecks and our viewers.”
Peter Roth, head of Warner Bros. TV, added: “For eight remarkable seasons, Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline have crafted a wonderfully relatable, honest, funny and authentic world of middle class life in the heartland of America. The writing, acting and craftsmanship have been superb, and the show has been vividly brought to life each week by the incomparable Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn, Charlie McDermott, Eden Sher, Atticus Shaffer and a creative team that has poured its heart and soul into each and every episode. We look forward to a memorable final season for ‘The Middle,’ and we thank our passionate and loyal fans!”
Speaking to the storyline that will wrap up the final season, Heisler told EW, which first broke the news, before ABC’s announcement, “We started having an idea a couple of years ago and honed it more in the last year … It will be true to our show. It’s an end that fans will like.”
“The Middle” begins its ninth and final season on Oct. 3.