'Blue Bloods' Ratings & Cast Have Stayed Constant for an Impressive 10 Years

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John Paul Filo/CBS

Having hung on to its cast and its ratings for a decade now, Blue Bloods is a television anomaly. But its survival may very well depend on how well it evolves in the Black Lives Matter era.

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The family met a previously unknown relative in the Season 10 finale.

In terms of ratings, roughly 600,000 viewers separate the Season 1 average and the Season 10 average for the CBS cop show, which turns 10 years old on September 24. And by delivering such steady ratings in a rapidly diversifying TV landscape, Blue Bloods has climbed from #19 to #7 in total viewership.

Miraculously, the Reagan family has stayed intact, as well. In a television-industry anomaly, all five series regulars from Season 1 are still on the show today: Donnie Wahlberg (Danny Reagan), Bridget Moynahan (Erin Reagan), Will Estes (Jamie Reagan), Len Cariou (Henry Reagan), and Tom Selleck (Frank Reagan).

In fact, only one series regular has ever left Blue Bloods: Amy Carlson (Linda Reagan), who departed after Season 7. Jennifer Esposito, who had “also starring” status on the show, exited midway through Season 3, citing “ugliness” with her CBS Television Studios bosses after she requested a part-time schedule to accommodate her Celiac disease treatment.

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Jennifer Esposito in 'Blue Bloods' (John P. Filo/CBS)

Esposito’s acrimonious departure seems to the only black mark on Blue Bloods’ production history. While other TV procedurals dealt with behind-the-scenes drama — pay disputes, on-set altercations, bullying showrunners, and toxic work environments — the cast and crew of Blue Bloods seem to have sailed through the past 10 seasons with professionalism.

That said, just because Blue Bloods hasn’t faced outright controversy doesn’t mean it hasn’t faced criticism. In 2014, six years before the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor but after decades of recorded police brutality, Slate’s Laura Hudson observed that Blue Bloods is “perfectly scripted to both cater to and reinforce” the perspective that “acknowledging systemic racism and asking for police accountability is unnecessary at best and treacherous — or even dangerous — at worst.”

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Some shows have already announced plans to address real-world events head-on.

Hudson added: “In Blue Bloods, accusations leveled at police by citizens are almost always revealed to be fraudulent, and concerns about racial bias are almost always manufactured, deceitful, or overblown … Despite all the hullabaloo from troublemakers and unfortunate isolated incidents, Blue Bloods reassures, there are no deep, systemic issues of racism that we need to address — just a few bad eggs who will ultimately be checked by a fundamentally fair system.”

Donnie Wahlberg Blue Bloods Danny Reagan

Patrick Harbron/CBS

In July, Wahlberg spoke with TV Insider about the ongoing Black Lives Matter and police brutality protests. At the time, the actor admitted that Blue Bloods “can certainly be more mindful” of everything going on in the United States right now.

“We’ve always tried to engage in tough conversations with multiple opinions … But certainly, we are aware that everybody in this country has to take a closer look at themselves right now and of course Blue Bloods has to do that as well,” he added. “It’s a good opportunity for us to really engage in a lot of what’s going on, but also maybe help the discussion and be a part of the discussion.”

At a time when cop shows are under intense scrutiny and even threat of cancellation, Blue Bloods’ future — whether it can last for, say, another 10 years — may depend on whether it can reflect the reality that cops aren’t always the good guys.

Blue Bloods, Season 11, Fall 2020, CBS