'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air': Will Smith Explained Why The Show Ended

Jonathan Franks

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air- the small-screen TV sitcom that turned Will Smith into a big-screen movie star.

This September will mark the 25th anniversary of the pilot episode of the hit NBC sitcom - an episode that introduced Will Smith's character to TV viewers, fans, and critics worldwide.

After six seasons and more than 140 episodes, many fans were left expecting more when it was confirmed that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would not be coming back for a seventh season.

The show was still a major hit for NBC during the sixth season, so the end of its original run had nothing to do with the ratings.

On the contrary, it was actually Will Smith's decision. That is, of course, at least what the rising Hollywood star told the Los Angeles Times during a May 1996 interview.

"You become a family. On some weeks you spend more time with your TV family than you do with your real family. It's hard to say goodbye to that atmosphere, but we felt like it was time. We've all grown as actors and as people, we had an incredibly talented cast, but the show is just limiting."
"TV is a good workout facility, where you get to work on your timing and other paces, but I think I've had enough time in the gym. Now I'm ready for the coach to put me in the game... motion pictures."

Nearly 20 years after the series finale aired in May 1996, the 46-year-old actor still has one of the most impressive box-office resumes in Hollywood - especially thanks to such massive blockbuster hits as Independence Day, Ali, I, Robot, as well as the Bad Boys and Men in Black franchises.

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Smith even had a chance to work on his versatility as an actor during many of the emotionally-stirring episodes of the show - such as when he was let down yet again by his biological father.

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[Image Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images]