For seven long years, ‘The Mentalist’ remained a major global hit for the CBS network. So why was it cancelled after season 7 in 2015? We finally have the answer to this question.
CBS’s longest-running procedural drama, ‘The Mentalist’, still remains one of the most loved shows of all times. Created by Bruno Heller, the series spanned across seven seasons with 151 episodes. Shows like ‘The Mentalist’ are usually a risky bet to place, but the show undoubtedly outdid a lot of shows in the crime genre. The story revolves around Patrick Jane (played by Simon Baker), a fraudulent psychic who infamously made a successful career as a con-man. His world turns upside down when his family is murdered by a serial killer named Red John, ultimately leading him to join the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) as a consultant under Robin Tunney’s Teresa Lisbon.
- ‘The Mentalist’ Season 7: Why does it suddenly feel brand new?
- Why was ‘The Mentalist’ axed after season 7?
- ‘The Mentalist’ Season 8: Just another hope or a distant reality?
‘The Mentalist’ Season 7: Why does it suddenly feel brand new?
‘The Mentalist’ premiered on CBS on September 23, 2008, as a key member of the network’s formidable Thursday lineup alongside ‘Survivor’ and ‘CSI’. In its seven-year run, ‘The Mentalist’ accomplished things that few shows have been able to do successfully – undergoing a major creative reboot after putting an end to the Red John mystery bang in the middle of season 6, reshuffling the supporting cast, and moving the setting from California to Texas, precisely 1800 miles from where it all started.
Back in 2008, ‘The Mentalist’ premiered with a whopping 15.6 million viewers, but the numbers dwindled to 8 million after the Red John mystery became whimsical, instead of psychologically exciting. The creators and the network worked out the math and steered the show into an exciting new direction by the end of season 6. It was definitely a risk, but totally worth a shot.
Post the Red John drama, the show confidently leads Patrick Jane, Teresa Lisbon, and Kimble Cho into the FBI (oddly believable). The supporting cast saw a reshuffle with the exit of its least likeable characters like Wayne Rigsby and Grace Van Pelt while adding two new characters named Dennis Abbott and Kim Fischer. This not just spiced up the dynamic but also added new, more real elements to the overall team, thus making ‘The Mentalist’ Season 7 feel brand new.
Why was ‘The Mentalist’ axed after season 7?
With the major reinvention in season 7, ‘The Mentalist’ episodes were essentially diving back to its roots – both quality-wise and viewership-wise. The show managed to remain very competitive in the key 18-49 demographics, getting better and better with every passing week in season 7. Then why did CBS swing the axe on ‘The Mentalist’?
Although all ‘The Mentalist’ characters are significantly well written, the plot of ‘Red John’ got way out of hand. More than being unnecessarily dragged, the storyline lost its charm and became borderline disturbing. While most of ‘The Mentalist’ episodes left its viewers on the edge, by the end of season 5 it kind of lost its balance. There’s no denying that the Red John finale was done well, but the road to the crescendo became too dull, serious, and painfully repetitive.
Then came the much-needed creative resurrection following Red John’s death at the hands of Jane. ‘The Mentalist’ fans came back running, but, unfortunately, not all of them came back. Interestingly, some fans even theorised that the reinvention route was strategically taken to lure back the dearly departed viewers for the series finale.
Nonetheless, the move wasn’t enough to save the show from the cancellation doom. The earlier dipped ratings couldn’t be restored enough to stop CBS from pulling the plug on the show. The network even shortened the series finale season 7 to 13 episodes, while all the previous seasons had 20 episodes.
‘The Mentalist’ Season 8: Just another hope or a distant reality?
On 18 February 2015, ‘The Mentalist’ bid good-bye to fans with its final episode. With Jane and Lisbon tying the knot and Lisbon ultimately announcing her pregnancy, all the storylines were tied up neatly and wrapped. ‘The Mentalist’ Season 7 being the last wasn’t a surprise for fans as home network CBS had already made the announcement in 2014. Thus, the showrunners had enough time to give a proper send-off to all ‘The Mentalist’ characters.
Talking to “The Washington Post”, actor Simon Baker revealed the importance of the Red John revenge motif to his story arc. Baker said,
“Due to the fact that the character has such an enormous tragedy, you can’t help but be somewhat sympathetic. I think he’s full of self-loathing and incredibly self-deprecating. There’s a distinct lack of self-preservation. Jane really has nothing left to live for, except for a form of revenge and justice, and his own kind of take on what justice is”.
According to Baker, once the revenge motif is satiated, there isn’t much left to Jane’s story. Now the question bugging the fans is will ‘The Mentalist’ return with season 8? In today’s digital age nothing seems impossible. Creator Bruno Heller is all for a ‘The Mentalist’ characters’ reunion. Heller told “The Hollywood Reporter”,
“That’s entirely up to Simon and Robin. I would love to work with Robin again, I would love to work with Simon again. That’s in the lap of the business gods and their choice”.
Giving fans hope, Heller added,
“And the show was still basically as successful at the end as it was at the beginning, so you can never say never”.
Reboot or a reunion episode – tell us in the comments below which option sounds like a real possibility for the return of ‘The Mentalist’ in 2021.