NEW YORK – The Camden family is passing into TV history, with the WB network announcing Friday that "7th Heaven" will end after 10 seasons.
"7th Heaven" was quietly the most popular show in the WB's history, even as the relentlessly hip network trained its spotlight elsewhere. Nineteen of the 20 most-watched shows in the WB's history were "7th Heaven" episodes.
Series creator Brenda Hampton said she anticipated this would be the last season, but it was still difficult to break the news to the cast and crew.
"At this point, we're all very much a family," she said. "However, just like the Camden kids, I think we've all grown up and it's simply time to leave home."
No one gave a reason for the cancellation, but production costs tend to increase as shows get older and salaries rise. Contracts for most of the people involved in "7th Heaven" reportedly run out at the end of the season.
The show also proudly proclaims itself the longest-running family drama in TV history, with this final season enabling it to pass "The Waltons" and "Little House on the Prairie" in longevity.
This season, "7th Heaven" stands as the WB's most popular series after "Gilmore Girls." Its average of 5.1 million viewers a week is only slightly down from last season's 5.3 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.
It began in 1996 with actor Stephen Collins portraying the Rev. Eric Camden, the patriarch of a family of five children that expanded to seven with the birth of twins in 1999. Catherine Hicks played his wife, Annie. "7th Heaven" suffered only one cast defection — Jessica Biel, who was the oldest Camden daughter.
"In a million years, I never thought I would play some sort of iconic image of fatherhood. I'm tremendously grateful for it," Collins told The Associated Press earlier this year.
The WB hasn't announced a date for the finale; the ratings "sweeps" month of May is most likely.
"Brenda Hampton has already begun work on scripts for the second half of the season," said David Janollari, WB entertainment president. "These episodes will be filled with emotion and life-changing events."
It looks like curtains, too, for FOX's comedy "Arrested Development," which never translated its Emmy Award and critical raves into a broader popularity.
FOX didn't announce the end of the show, but said it wouldn't order a full season's worth of 22 episodes. Barring a miraculous turnaround, that usually means a series is kaput.
Critics loved the quirky comedy starring Jason Bateman, and it won the Emmy for best comedy last year. But its already paltry ratings dropped precipitously this season, averaging 4.3 million viewers on Monday nights.
FOX also decided against a full season order for "Kitchen Confidential."