After seven stunning seasons, The Golden Girls ended in May 1992. In the very last episode, Dorothy (played by Beatrice "Bea" Arthur) marries Blanche's (Rue McClanahan) uncle, played by Leslie Nielsen. Not only does she move out of the house, but she says her goodbyes to Miami. It was a bittersweet and emotional ending for fans, as many wanted the show to continue.
So, why did The Golden Girls end like this? Believe it or not, it was actually Bea who wanted it to be done with, which in turn resulted in a series finale that wrote her out of Miami. Below, we discuss why the late actress felt it was time to retire Dorothy.
Why did Dorothy leave 'The Golden Girls?'
In his book Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind The Lanai, author Jim Colucci tried to get to the bottom of Bea's exit. He tapped 20 actors and crew members of the show, including Bea herself, to discuss. What was the most common answer he got? Simply put, Bea wanted to leave because she felt the quality of the show had been in decline.
The Golden Girls was known for its solid, punchy storylines. But after seven seasons, Bea felt the writers had exhausted all of their options. The show began to struggle after a certain point, so she wanted to leave while it was still viewed as quality television.
Furthermore, Colucci's book also shed a light on how Bea was actually offended by how much her character was teased during the series. He wrote that co-stars Betty White, Estelle Getty, and Rue McClanahan didn't take the jokes written about them too seriously. But Bea, on the other hand, did. "Unfortunately, the things that were said about Dorothy were that she was big and ugly. And that wears on an actress after a while,” Colucci wrote.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Pop Goes the Culture TV, Rue McClanahan revealed to the publication that "Bea kind of got tired of doing The Golden Girls, along about the third year, fourth year, fifth year. At six years she'd had it, she wasn't going to renew for the seventh ... but she did it. They coerced her in some way," Rue said. But Bea had a hard stop after that.
Not to mention, Bea's son Matthew Saks, also spoke about his mother's departure with Closer. He echoed her concern that "the ideas had started to run out." He also added that her age also played a role in her decision to leave. By the time the final credits rolled, she was 70 years old. Bea would die of lung cancer in 2009 at age 86.
Bea Arthur did not particpate in the 'The Golden Palace' either.
After Golden Girls ended, producers Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas approached the remaining stars with a new idea. What if Blanche sold her house in order to buy an old hotel in downtown Miami called the Golden Palace?
The spinoff series, dubbed The Golden Palace, only lasted one season. While Bea did guest star on one episode as Dorothy, she did not want to reprise her role full-time. This may have hurt the series in the long run.
As Betty White told the Television Academy Foundation, the spin-off was a dud for many reasons. The same writers signed on, and as gifted as they were, they only knew how to write for the four of them, not three. Betty compared Bea's absence to a table that was missing a leg. They needed her.