Why is Endeavour ending?
The Inspector Morse prequel series is coming to an end with this week's season 9 finale – but why?
It's a veritable success of a series, amassing an average of 4.5 million viewers across season 8's three episodes, which aired in September 2021.
But now, it's time to say goodbye to DS Endeavour Morse (played by Shaun Evans) and the main cast, which includes Roger Allam's DCI Fred Thursday.
This ninth and final season is set in the early '70s, and finds Endeavour and Thursday entering a new era of change both professionally and personally. There's the return of some familiar faces – including Fred's son Sam, played by Jack Bannon (Pennyworth), who arrives back from Northern Ireland following his service in the British Army and appears to be struggling.
We already know that this will unfold as a "bit of a crisis" for the Thursday family, which will lead to a "parting of the ways for Morse and Thursday", according to Allam.
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While many fans will obviously be upset that Endeavour will no longer grace our screens after this series, it has always been part of the plan according to founder of Mammoth Screen Damien Timmer, who is also the executive producer of Endeavour.
He said: "From the first Endeavour pilot, Russell [Lewis, creator] has known exactly where he wanted to end the saga of Endeavour Morse and Fred Thursday. We put off this awful day for as long as we possibly could, but there was a point a few years ago where we agreed as a creative team that it was time to prepare for the final end, and go out on a high!
"ITV has been the most generous and supportive partners and were very respectful of the team's decision to make this the final series. We have now made more Endeavour films than there were Inspector Morse stories."
But why exactly is the series ending? Read on to find out more about the decision to wrap up Endeavour with season 9.
Why is Endeavour ending?
Essentially, it's time for the long-running series to end, according to its crew and stars.
When talking about filming that final season 9 episode, series lead Evans revealed that it was "very difficult". He said: "You can’t please all of the people all of the time. What we wanted to do was to end Endeavour in a way that was fitting to all of the enormous work we had put into it over the last 10 years and also to all of the huge support we have had every year from the audience.
"To not leave anybody feeling short changed. To leave people feeling emotionally satisfied. It’s also a thank you, in a way. To say, 'Thank you so much for sticking with this over the past number of years.' To honour and respect that. So it’s all of those things."
He added: “Also for it to feel irreconcilable. For it to feel closed. In terms of we won’t be seeing Joan and Thursday again. We will see Morse and Strange again ‘later on’ in Inspector Morse but they will be very different versions of themselves. But our story is at its end."
As for how it will end, details remain firmly under wraps for now. But fans obviously do know that it will likely end in a parting of ways for our two main characters.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com about his ideas around the final season, Allam previously said: "We're going to try and provide a satisfying and satisfactory emotional reason why John Thaw's Morse never mentions a man called Fred Thursday. I hope that's satisfying for fans."
Similarly, Evans previously also revealed in a PBS Masterpiece fan Q&A that the nature of Thursday and Endeavour's relationship has always been "unique" in this prequel.
He states: “We know because of the unique prequel nature of this story, that neither Joan nor Thursday is ever mentioned in either the books or the series with John Thaw. So it’s our duty to make a decision about why that is, and what they do in our particular stories that ensures that they’re never mentioned again later on. And I feel like we’ve satisfied that.”
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In a bid to give a nod to John Thaw, who played Morse throughout eight seasons of Inspector Morse, Evans has revealed that there will be a "subtle" tribute to the late actor. He revealed that "only the more discerning viewer ... will realise what we have done".
He said: "Those who have maybe watched all of the Inspector Morse episodes and all of the Endeavour series. We wanted to be fleet of foot about it. To do it with a sleight of hand and not to hit it on the head. It’s a subtle thing that fits perfectly into our story. It’s only there if you are really looking for it. And if you’re not you won’t even realise that you’ve missed it. And that’s OK too."
While our eyes will be peeled for any tributes in the anticipated finale, John Thaw's daughter Abigail Thaw (who plays Dorothea in Endeavour) revealed what she believes her father would think of the show, saying: "I like to think that Dad would have given it the nod of approval."
Speaking with What to Watch, she continued: "Dad would have loved Shaun, and would have totally respected Shaun’s wishes to not emulate him but with the writing, you could still absolutely see Morse and the man he was about to become."
In terms of finishing the series, both lead actors feel satisfied with how the final season of Endeavour wraps up. Evans has also said that filming his final scenes alone, driving around in Endeavour's black Jaguar "was a way to say goodbye to it and let it go", adding: "I thought, 'I’ve done this now and I have no sadness in saying goodbye and moving on.'"
He also says on ending the series: "Of course there is a degree of melancholy when you say goodbye to any experience. But it’s a great feeling to be able to walk away and say, ‘I couldn’t have done more. There’s nothing more that I could have given. That’s it.' That’s a nice feeling."
Allam also stated that "it seems unbelievable to me that we have been doing Endeavour for 10 years" and when asked to reflect on the 36 films they've managed to film across the past decade, he revealed: “That really does give me satisfaction. I’ve never done anything for as long a time as this.
"I’m sorry that it’s finished but I think it’s right that it has. Because we have managed to have a very good beginning, a very good middle and a very good end. And you can’t really ask for more than that in terms of drama and storytelling.”
Endeavour concludes on ITV1 on Sunday 12th March at 8pm. Seasons 1-8 are available to stream on ITVX now. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what’s on.