What kind of restaurants has this happened to you in?
I wouldn't expect particular attention to detail in your average mid-price chain restaurant. Efficient service in places like that sometimes means the server coming by to drop off food, take plates, refill drinks, or drop the check off at seemingly random times as they are able. When restaurants like that are busy, you might only see your server 3 or 4 times the whole meal, since they are often waiting on a number of tables at once, so having them be a little more proactive in clearing plates or dropping off the check can often mean less time sitting around trying to catch the server's eye to get the check.
In a restaurant that is closer to fine dining, I would expect that plates get cleared more as a group and that the check not be offered until everyone is done. But that's the kind of experience and atmosphere you pay for in restaurants like that. They cost more in part because they often have more servers working at any given time so that they can give more attentive service (even if attentive service sometimes means paying enough attention to leave you alone for a little while when it's clear you don't need or want anything).
As a general thing, I don't think servers in any type of restaurant should clear a plate without at least saying something to the effect of "Can I get this out of your way?" or "Let me get these out of your way." I also don't think they should be so proactive in clearing dishes that they take it as you finish your last bite. I've had that happen to me, and it's annoying.
I don't think that them bringing by the check while some are still eating (after making sure you don't intend to order anything else) is unreasonable, though, at least for your average mid-priced restaurant. Most servers mention specifically that there is no rush to pay it when they do that to me, and I take them at their word. I'm happy to linger at a table for a bit even after paying, especially if we dealt with paying while I was finishing my meal. It just means, for me, that I get to immediately get up and go as soon as I've decided I'm ready to leave, rather than having to wait impatiently for the check.
I also agree with Toots that it's completely fine to ask the server at the beginning of the meal to clear your table more slowly, since that is your preference.