With shows like The Walking Dead, why do they use a 2-part season? There are other shows like Son of Anarchy that do not have a 2-part season. Some shows such as American Horror Story take a break for the holidays, but there is not really an explicit mid-season finale, just a teaser episode.

What is the purpose and when did shows start using this format?

  • Mid-season finales are used like a cliffhanger ... make you want to come back. They started splitting the seasons in order to make the seasons seem longer. I don't know when they started this format, so leaving this as a comment. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Feb 23 '15 at 23:18
  • I don't have any proof for it but my guess is that the post production on shows that have a lot of digital animation can have an effect on the airing schedule. Once Upon a Time does the same thing. – Catija Feb 23 '15 at 23:23

There can be many reasons for a mid-season finale:

  1. The holidays. Most mid-season finales occur between Thanksgiving and January/February, sometimes as late as March. Lots of people get preoccupied with the holidays, especially holiday TV specials and programming, so stations put their key shows on hold so they don't lose ratings numbers. This is occasionally done at other points in the year, such as Game of Thrones skipping the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.
  2. To allow the post-production teams time to do their jobs. Lots of TV shows, such as The Walking Dead, have come to rely very heavily on special effects shots, which take time to complete. Taking a break for a few months allows the post-production teams time to finalize these special effects without feeling too rushed.
  3. To build hype. Let's face it: loads of people love The Walking Dead. You know it, your friends know it, and AMC knows it, so they're totally fine with taking a break to build hype by leaving the season hanging on some big event and letting people talk about it for months while showing other things and building ad revenue to help pay for the second half of the season. They know you'll be back, so there's really little to no risk for them.
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