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When Duck Dynasty first aired on March 21, 2012, no one could have predicted its success. Revolving around the Robertson family and their family business Duck Commander, the reality show airing on A&E had over 11.8 million viewers during its peak. The show was an intimate portrayal of middle America, a segment not often viewed in the public eye outside of the occasional documentary.

Most of the episodes followed family patriarch Phil Robinson and his three sons as they crafted special gear for duck hunters, their most popular being the Duck Commander. As the seasons evolved, more of the family along with their spouses became major players on the show. Of course, with more people came way more drama.

One thing Duck Dynasty was known for was the cast’s outspoken conservatism and strict religious values. This would be a source of controversy for the show in 2013 when Phil Robinson stated that the LGBT community were “sinners” in an interview with GQ magazine. The interview spawned a huge backlash, which resulted in a huge decline in viewership.

It was announced in January of 2017 that the show’s eleventh season would be its last. So why was the show canceled? Read on to find out more about the Robertson family and the controversy that brought down a dynasty.

15. The Celebration of Middle America

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Duck Dynasty provided a unique look at American life through a family that represented much of white middle America. While most reality shows come off as scripted and fictional, Duck Dynasty maintained a level of realism that offered an intimate look at a very religious and conservative family.

14. Never Say Forever

Image: The New York Times

Why the show is finally coming to an end is a question that is on everyone’s mind. After eleven successful seasons, why would A&E decide to abandon the property? The announcement came during the premiere of the now final eleventh season, leaving many fans outraged and others reeling from shock.

13. A Sad Farewell

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Jason Robertson took to Facebook, stating “After five years we’ve decided as a family for this to be the final chapter of the Duck Dynasty series.” Korie Robertson also chimed in, revealing fans were in for the best season yet and promised the family could pop up in a special every now and again.

12. What Really Happened?

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Many began to speculate as to why A&E decided to cancel the show. When it first premiered in 2012, the show had a soft start in the ratings. However, by it’s third season, it was averaging over 8.56 million viewers. Unfortunately, the ratings had declined into an average of 1.5 million viewers by the end of the tenth season.

11. Phil Robertson’s Interview

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Some critics of the show believe the beginning of the end began when the family patriarch Phil Robertson was removed from the show. This stemmed from an interview he gave in 2013 to GQ magazine, where he stated that gay people are sinners and the African American community was happy with Jim Crow laws.

10. The Blacklash Begins

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Of course, this interview didn’t go over well with the LGBT or African American communities and the backlash was severe. A&E had to tread carefully with the scandal, because on one side, the conservative fans stood behind Phil’s right to free speech; however, they also had to decide what was best for the image of the network.

9. Hiatus Announced

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A&E immediately put the show on hiatus, consulting with both Phil and the rest of the Robertson family. Many liberal groups were calling for the show to be cancelled, but instead the network announced they had fired Phil Robertson from the show

8. A&E in the Spotlight

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While the removal of Phil Robertson pleased advocacy groups and the communities his words had harmed, the core fans of the show were absolutely outraged. What could A&E do to remedy the situation?

7. A Swift Reversal

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After a week, the network decided to reverse their decision and resume filming with the entire Robertson family. Sadly, the damage was already done and viewership began to decline swiftly. Of course, conservative fans of the show stuck with it, but the mass majority of their audience quickly fell away.

6. Conservative Values Gone Too Far?

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The Robertson family is known for being outspoken Christians and Republicans. They’ve quoted the Bible in many of their interviews, which has led some advocacy groups to question their points of view.

5. Trump Support

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The Robertson family received even more backlash when they revealed themselves to be supporters of Donald Trump throughout the 2016 election. This put a lot of pressure on A&E, especially when most of Hollywood was condemning Trump and throwing their support behind Hillary Clinton.

4. An RNC Speech to Remember

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As viewership continued to decline, it did not help matters when Willie Robertson announced he would be a guest speaker at the Republican National Convention. This sent the liberal media into a frenzy as the A&E stars continued their support for a presidential candidate that was seen as a racist, a bigot, and one who promoted xenophobia.

3. The Trump Train

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At the Republican National Convention, Willie Robertson received an overwhelmingly positive response. He stated during his speech, “Let me tell you why I’ve been on the Trump train from the beginning,” said Robertson, “if you’re looking for a job or trying to grow a business like I am, Donald Trump will have your back.”

2. The Inauguration Debacle

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Another straw that might have broken the proverbial camel’s back was Willie Robertson attending Donald Trump’s inauguration, once again throwing A&E and Duck Dynasty into the spotlight. Could this have been the final nail in the coffin?

1. An Ending Predicted

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While we may never know for sure, it definitely seems that the Duck Dynasty cast brought upon their own demise. Whether it was their outspoken candor or a decline in ratings, it seems the dynasty was likely to fall in the end in regardless.

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