• Chris Green

The Legacy Of Prison Break

Prison Break is a show that will divide opinions. For everyone who loves it there's someone who argues that it lost it's way. I'm a fan of the show but to a certain point. I'm going to discuss here what the legacy of the show should really be.


Super Strong Start

There's no way anyone can deny the importance of this show. It came out in 2005 around the same time shows like Lost, The Sopranos, 24 and The Wire were reinventing our ideas of TV. It was the revolution of how shows were done. Before these shows it was all very procedural and not with a big reoccurring arc. These shows were breaking that mould and building massive expansive stories that were season long arcs rather than per episode. Prison Break literally burst onto the screens. i don't think anyone could really deny how it came out of nowhere to be one of the most popular shows around and for good reason!


The first season of the show is fantastic television even now. The story of Michael Schofield trying to break his big brother out of jail for a crime he didn't commit was a solid one. Add in Michael's genius IQ and tattooed break out plan with a big government conspiracy and we had the makings of a great show. Each episode was riveting. The story just kept getting more and more intense and we fully felt like anything could happen. The way the writers put that first season together is fantastic and brilliant TV. Money Heist tried to copy that formula for me but they massively failed with stale twists and an uncharismatic rip off of Michael Schofield.

Not that it was only Michael who we loved to watch. Sure he was the genius of the show and the one we loved the most but characters like Fernando Sucre, John Abruzzi and Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell were incredible characters in their own rights. In a way we felt gripped to all of our convicts. On top of that the story of Veronica and L.J on the outside trying to break open the big conspiracy was great TV and made the show have so many levels. The art of a great show is building great characters and especially in that first season of Prison Break we had some of the best in TV history.

Nobody can deny the first season of the show in particular is the best the show ever had to offer. It was edge of your seat TV and what was not meant to be a major show became one of the most popular on TV battling with Lost at the top of its game.

Building On That Start Perfectly

Some shows second seasons are where things go completely wrong. Prison Break for me is an exception for that rule. The first season ended on a cliffhanger up there with the best! We literally were all desperately waiting for the year for it to come back onto Channel Five! Yeah shows that good used to be on Channel Five! The show hit the ground running and just didn't let up. From the brilliantly put together plan of the first to the equally cleverly planned on the run season. Things just kept escalating but Michael and most of our heroes continued to evade the law. We saw some big deaths this season which kept the show fresh and unpredictable as well as the wildly entertaining hunt for Charles treasure.


The show while saying goodbye to some key characters introduced maybe my favourite in the history of the show. Alexander Mahone the F.B.I agent brought in to capture the Fox River 8 is a brilliantly written character in this season. We hate him yet a part of us kind of likes him and he's definitely Michael's most worthy adversary ever. We had this great new character and other characters we really liked stories being explored further and further. T-Bag became a legend of the silver screen in this season and his adventures while usually disturbing and deadly were always great TV!

The second season does have some moments which aren't great Tv though. The story of the company does get a little bit stale by the end of the season and there are warning signs of what's to come in the next seasons!

Overall though season 2 more than anything builds the legacy of Prison Break. It should have been the end of the story though. The company being brought down and Michael & co living happily ever after. Sadly though that's not always how it works. Some shows make so much money that there's a clamour for more and more of it despite the fact the story is running dry. Like i said we had hints of that throughout this season but a solid end after 48 episodes or so would have been perfect.... but that's not how it went down.

The Start Of The Decline


Season one of the show is all about Michael and his ingenious plan to break out of a prison that he plans to go into. They basically do the same this season. Michael may not know the prison but he's become this ultimate prison breaker who the company now want to use to break one of their men out. Just because this new prison is not Fox River and is completely different we are meant to forget that the show is basically retreading the same story that we have already watched for 24 episodes. It's lazy writing. It's also probably because the writers are being forced to continue the story because the Network is onto a ratings success.

Season 3 isn't horrendous though. It's passable TV. The Sara storyline is pretty dreadfully put together and everything out of the prison isn't too interesting but we have the best characters in the prison which is where the action is playing out. Bellick's and Mahone's character arcs are fantastic and Mahone's in particular is a saving grace for the show this season. Despite some good moments the breakout feels rushed and very budget in comparison to how excellently put together the first season's was. For me it was really the beginning of the end for a show that was once one of the best.

Straight Up Bad TV

Season 4 of Prison Break is UGLY! Bringing Sara back from the dead, the chase for Scylla and ending with the Final Break it just was a hot mess that dragged on for far too long. Even when we thought it was over with Scylla gone and our heroes safe it still had to come back again really unnecessarily.

There's some good moments obviously such as Kellerman's return from the dead and C-Note coming back but those two moments are in what should have been the final episode. Mahone getting his revenge on Wyatt (Truly dreadful character) was great Tv and had Mahone as the bad ass he is. The good moments though were just few and far between.

The season though just went on far too long. The show had already out stayed it's welcome at this point but this season pushed it over the edge. Every-time we felt like we had a conclusion there was a twist that dragged it out further (Michael's mum being alive or him and Lincoln not being brothers). I was too far in to give up on this show. I had to see the ending so I suffered through it despite some horrendous plot choices. For me though the show had soiled it's legacy. We as an audience always want more but sometimes we should let a show go out on a high. Of course we all wanted more Breaking Bad but it told it's story and left itself perfectly. Prison Break tells it's story and then just goes on and on, recycling plot points and twists all the time. For an educated TV fan it becomes a tough watch.


The show was done after the Scylla conclusion yet it felt necessary to come back for the "Final Break" (well until season 5). Except this time we're breaking Sara out of jail. MASSIVE YAWN! Just please stop the show guys. It's not clever anymore and it's now insulting peoples intelligence with rushed together and ludicrous breaks. Then they kill off Michael. Yeah the guy suffered throughout with his decisions but to kill him just for shock factor was again just lazy writing and pissed me off more than made me sad. I hadn't loved the ending but at least it was over. No more government conspiracies, no more prison breaks and no more Lincoln getting on my last nerve by being a thick bastard. Oh no wait season 5 happened.

The End For Now

By this point nothing surprised me. Michael was dead and the show was done. But nope he's not dead he's in jail in Yemen. The show is back for a 5th spectacular season....... not so much. I watched it out of curiosity more than anything. Could the show recapture it's brilliance of the first seasons?! The answer was a massive no. The new characters were rubbish. I was basically here to see all my favourite characters return and see what they had been up to.Even that was a let down. Kellerman died straight away, T-Bag was a good guy, C-Note became religious, Sucre was barely in it and Mahone wasn't in it at all. Major let down.


The season was a massive shit show too. They were hoping much like season 3 a change in location and prison would make things more exciting but it didn't. This was the FOURTH prison they had escaped from. Talk about a tired plot. There was another shady government conspiracy and a bunch of people chasing them once again. The problem was none of the characters were great like Kellerman and Mahone were. They even made General Krang look like a great character. It was genuinely trash TV.

Season five made me really sad in a lot of ways. How a great show had slowly declined overall to the point it was just barely passable TV. With news appearing of late with Dominic Purcell saying Season 6 may be coming I just ask please don't do it. The first two seasons legacy has been tarnished massively. Each season just makes more sour on the show more and more. I ask that they please just leave this show alone. I know there's a lot of fan out there and one's who love the show and want more but there's no story left to tell. Some people need to realise that. Prison Break should never have new episodes. Even if they can find a story with no government agencies or prisons! It's done. The party is over.

So the legacy is up for debate! In my eyes it's tarnished by lazy writing and unnecessary seasons but for every one of me there's someone who wants more and more of the same thing. For a show that was breaking the procedural mould to start it sure as hell as become very procedural!


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