Person of Interest was a really innovative show for network television, and a really popular one for quite some time, as well. While CBS shuffled it to the summer schedule for its final season and the show had to work out a bunch of final season plots in only 13 short episodes, Person of Interest still managed to finish out its run on a not to be proud of. On the recent Person of Interest: The Complete Series DVD set, executive producer Greg Plageman explained exactly why he feels Person of Interest set itself apart from many other shows. Here's what he had to say:
You do have people watching sometimes who are casual viewers. I got these people sometimes who were like, 'I like your show but that's not like a show I can go into the kitchen and get a snack [during]. I really gotta watch it.' They almost resented the fact. I'm like, that's kinda what we want you to do. Lean in. I think that was one of the things I'm most proud of.
When Person of Interest first started, it had a little bit of a procedural bent. But as time went on, the show developed a more expansive universe featuring serialized storylines based around characters we cared about, not to mention more inventive bents around the concept of artificial intelligence, The Machine and the similarly tasked but much more aggressive Samaritan. As Greg Plageman said within the bonus feature on the DVD set, Person of Interest became a gripping series, one you couldn't dismiss while you were playing candy crush or carting laundry from the washer to the dryer. You had to pay attention to know what was going on. It made the series more special than the average network TV program, and the average TV program in general. It's a good thing to be proud of.
Of course, the very reason Person of Interest became so compelling might be one of the reasons CBS only ordered 13 episodes for the show's final season. The drama did lose some viewers over time, although we should note that even during Season 5 Person of Interest was earning total viewer numbers that other shows would be quite jealous of. The Season 5 finale did 6.5 million total viewers---and that was in the middle of June, a time when it is traditionally harder to get audiences to tune in. Previous seasons had done even higher numbers. The bigger problem was that Person of Interest didn't do as well in the 18-49 demographic, averaging only a .97 rating in its final season. The show may have simply gotten too focused for casual viewers to want to tune in, not to mention I can't imagine how expensive it was to pay people to create the high-octane, New York-set series.