Modern television shows are often judged by their endings. They might be great ("Six Feet Under"), awful ("Game of Thrones"), or ambiguous ("The Sopranos")... but endings matter. They are the lasting image. You remember the endings.
That wasn't the case before. Television shows had no endings.
As absurd as that sounds, that was absolutely the case. Shows just kept going and going, abruptly stopping when they got canceled. No one laid out multi-season-long arcs. No one planned meticulously for the end. There was no end.
Part of it was because it supposedly made better syndication; people could tune in at any point and not be lost. Part of it was because today's television is consumed in much different ways than that of yesteryear. Part of it was simple stupidity.
That stupidity ended in 1967 with "The Fugitive". The very popular show was wrapping up its four-year run, and the plan was to just have Dr. Kimble continue to... fugitize. Just like every other episode ended with the title character on the run, so would the series finale. That is, until Leonard Goldberg stepped in.
At the time, Goldberg, who produced numerous TV shows and movies, was an executive at ABC. It was his idea to actually give "The Fugitive" an ending. It became a groundbreaking change that completely altered the TV landscape.
Considering how "Seinfeld" ended, not always for the best.