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

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.

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