We have all suffered the loss of a beloved TV show. You dedicate hours per week to a series, watching diligently and getting wrapped up in each week’s story.
These days, we even devote days to binge-watching back-to-back episodes to either get ready for a new season or devour the series itself.
Eventually, after years on the air and a (hopefully) satisfying series finale, your favorite show comes to a close. Unfortunately, many fans are not given the gift of closure for their favorite series. Due to poor reviews or low viewership, a fan-favorite TV show will be abruptly canceled and leave fans heartbroken. While some fans simply take the loss and move on, the more dedicated, die-hard (and slightly crazy) fans will take action.
Over the years, fan campaigns have expanded from the simple letter writing campaigns and rallies. Fans find new and creative ways to express their love for a show and make sure the network knows it too.
Although some campaigns have been an outpouring of products, food, and other miscellaneous items, there are a few campaigns that have ended up serving a greater purpose or cause. Whether they lead to a successful renewal or just added to the pain of the cancellation of the loved show, these fan campaigns are some of the craziest stunts we have ever seen.
Here are the 7 Craziest Fan Campaigns That Actually Worked (And 8 That Failed).
15. Succeeded: Reaper – Sent socks
Reaper may seem like a typical comedy about an ordinary guy leading a secret double life. The significant difference was that the main character of this show, Sam, was a “reaper” for the Devil. Just a small difference.
This unusual comedy premiered on The CW to great reviews and few viewers. Despite having one of the most unique premises for a show of its kind, viewers were simply not interested. That is, except for the devoted fans that didn’t want to see their show dropped from the network when the show was interrupted by the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike.
Since the show began to lose it initial momentum, Reaper actor Tyler Labine called fans into action to help save the show from cancellation. Fans sent in letters and socks (in honor of Labine’s character named Sock) to the network to demonstrate their commitment to the program.
14. Succeeded: Roswell – Sent Tabasco sauce
In the past, The WB was home to many iconic TV shows including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson’s Creek, and Gilmore Girls. With Roswell among its lineup back in 1999, the networked expected a stronger viewership of the unique alien-themed drama. However, despite great reviews and a solid fan base, people were still not tuning in.
After the end of season one seemed to mark the end of the show, fans rallied together to deliver over 3000 bottles of Tabasco sauce to the studio. The spicy condiment was a favorite of the alien characters in the series.
Inspired by the fans’ enthusiasm, Rowell was renewed for a second season on the WB then eventually moved to UPN for its third season. After viewership had continued to dwindle, the show came to an end in 2002.
To this day, the Roswell fan base has not lessened its dedicated devotion to the show or its stars. About a year ago, a campaign was started to promote the series Baron and Toluca, which stars former Roswell co-stars Majandra Delfino and Brendan Fehr. In an effort to help find a home for the series, fans bombarded Netflix with honey (for the “B”) and tea (for the “T”) and honey infused tea k-cups.
13. Succeeded: Friday Night Lights – Sent eye drops & light bulbs
Director Peter Berg brought H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger’s book Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream to the big screen in 2004 – it was a critical success. After adapting the film, Berg began his plans for the TV version almost immediately.
Friday Night Lights premiered on NBC in 2006. However, the series had the same problems as many of the shows on this list: great show but low viewership. Despite its connection to the successful movie, Berg could not seem to recapture the same success for the small screen. In a desperate attempt to stop its pending canceling after the conclusion of season 2, fans mailed thousands of light bulbs to the network. In addition, they sent in bottles of eye drops as an homage to the show’s popular motto, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”
While these campaigns seemed like a waste of household products, fans found a worthy cause to connect to their efforts. Viewers also created the “Save FNL Campaign” which raised money to purchase thousands of DVDs of the show to send to troops overseas. Eventually, a deal was struck between NBC and DirecTV to keep the show on for a full five seasons.
12. Failed: Journeyman – Sent Rice-A-Roni
Creating a completely original show can be challenging for some writers. Despite their best efforts, their projects can tend to be too similar to previous more popular iterations. This happened to be the case with the sci-fi series Journeyman.
Set in San Francisco, the lead character Dan Vasser is dragged backwards through time into the lives of people he is destined to change. Critics of the show were unimpressed with this recycled time traveling concept, criticizing it for being way too similar to other successful shows like Early Edition and the legendary Quantum Leap.
It did not take long for the audience to feel the same and viewership took a nosedive. By the end of season one, the series was announced for cancellation in 2008. The small yet dedicated fan base tried their best to save the show and sent in boxes of Rice-A-Roni (in honor of the show’s location). The fan campaign was, inevitably, a failure, and the series only received its one season.
11. Succeeded: Sense8 – Twitter campaign & sent flip-flops
Over the last few years, Netflix has been steadily building an excellent catalog of original programming for its subscribers. Shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black have received both critical acclaim and accolades for its excellent and diverse storytelling.
The sci-fi drama Sense8 steadily built a solid following over its two seasons on the streaming service. We reported earlier this year that the series would not be renewed for a highly anticipated third season. Fans were livid, to say the least, at Netflix’s decision and immediately took to social media to plan a campaign to save their beloved show.
However, the calls for #RenewSense8 and #BringBackSense8 were not enough to change the executives’ minds to invest in the costly show. The campaigns continued with petitions on Change.org and daily Twitter campaigns were used to bombard Netflix with their pleas for renewal.
More extreme campaigns included fans outright canceling their Netflix accounts and mailing flip flops (a reference to a scene in the show) to Netflix with the hash tags printed on them. After more than a month of dedicated campaigns, fans were excited to hear that the series would return for a two-hour final episode.
10. Failed: FlashForward – Faked blackouts
Based on the novel Flashforward by writer Robert J. Sawyer, the television adaptation brought an interesting premise to ABC’s audience in 2009.
On October 6, 2009, nearly everyone on the planet lost consciousness simultaneously for two minutes and seventeen seconds. During this collective “blackout”, certain people are able to see what their lives will be like six months from now.
Though FlashForward premiered with nearly 13 million viewers, the audience faded out by the end of the first season. Even positive reviews couldn’t motivate the audience to tune in. Once the cancellation of the show was announced, die-hard fans rallied to recreate “blackouts” in various major cities.
As reported by Variety.com, “For two minutes and 17 seconds, fans of the show are going to pretend to be passed out in front of ABC offices.” While the concept itself is very unique, its impact was lost on ABC executives. The show was canceled after only one season.
9. Succeeded: Arrested Development – Sent bananas
Despite being a critically acclaimed show, Arrested Development ran into issues with retaining its audiences. The Emmy Award-winning comedy could not keep the ratings it needed to remain on FOX. In fact, the second season of the show was cut from 22 episodes to 18 due to its low viewership.
As rumors swirled its cancellation was on the horizon after the second season, fans took action to express their love for the crazy Bluth family. As a tribute to the characters’ family business, fans sent crates of bananas to the studio to convince the executives to give the show one more chance. Thankfully, their gesture was enough to maintain the show for another season.
However, still faced with the same problems, Arrested Development was finally canceled after a 13-episodes third season. Fans rejoiced when the show found a new home on Netflix and premiered the fourth season in 2013. They are even plans for a fifth season being created for the streaming network in 2018.
8. Failed: Angel – Sent Candy Bars, Fundraisers, And Mobile Billboard
There is no denying how popular the character Angel became since he debuted on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Over the years, he began to outgrow the show and, by the end of season 3, moved to headline his own show.
Though the series was expected to duplicate the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel never seemed to gain the same following. Created to be a grittier, more urban type of series, the series never maintained the following needed for it to be a hit. When its cancellation was announced after the fifth season, fans rallied to show their support.
Campaigns included rallies, mailing in postcards and even a fundraiser that garnered $40,000 toward show’s costs. Additional efforts were made via candy bars sent to the networks and a mobile billboard.
According to USA Today, this billboard “traveled to the WB and various studios and networks proclaiming, “We’ll follow Angel to hell … or another network.” “However, their efforts did not affect the executives’ decision and Angel never got to its sixth season.
7. Succeeded: Stargate: Atlantis – Bag pipe protests
One of the hardest things to deal with as a fan is the loss of a favorite character. Whether it is a beloved sci-fi character or a character on a popular teen drama, his or her death with undoubtedly resonate with viewers. Look at the torture Game of Thrones puts its fans through.
This indelible pain hit Stargate: Atlantis the hardest when fan favorite Carson Beckett was killed in season three and fans went ballistic. Even critics were disappointed in his death, and Chicago Tribune TV critic Maureen Ryan referred to his removal from the show as a “bonehead decision.”
The site SaveCarsonBeckett.com was created soon after his departure, and local protests took place outside of their Vancouver studios in 2007. Some creative fans included bagpipe players and Scottish dancers in their protest, an homage to the character’s funeral in the show. Protests even popped up at 2007 San Diego Comic-Con.
6. Failed: Pushing Daisies – Sent flowers, seeds, and pies
Undoubtedly, one of the most original series to premiere in 2007 was the comedy Pushing Daisies. Premiering on ABC, the series followed pie maker Ned and his ability to bring the dead back to life. Creator Bryan Fuller (American Gods, Hannibal, Dead Like Me) was highly praised for the show’s excellent script and talented cast.
Despite 57 award nominations with 18 wins and critical acclaim from tv critics, the series never found that same support with its audience. The show was also affected by the 2007-2008 Writers Guild Strike and was reduced from 22 episodes to only 9 for its first season.
After the 13-episode second season, ABC announced the show had been canceled. Its dedicated fans pushed for its continuation by sending in various items related to the show. ABC executives received flower seeds, real daisies and even pies in honor of their favorite pie maker.
5. Succeeded: Chuck – Bought Subway sandwiches
In its premiere season, actor Zachery Levi became a household name as the titular lead in the NBC comedy Chuck. Playing Chuck Bartowski, a member of the Nerd Herd team in the local Buy More and reluctant spy. Levi’s comedic skills, and boy-next-door charm helped gained a solid fan base over the years. Though praise for the show continuously increased, fans were not supporting the show like they used to. By the end of season 2, Chuck was soon to be on the chopping block.
Fans developed a campaign that NBC could not ignore. Not only did they write letters and create petitions but they made sure their efforts went toward a worthy cause. Fans raised over $17,000 in donations to the American Heart Association in NBC’s name. To help with the costs of the third season, fans also frequented Subway restaurants in droves hoping to convince this sponsor of the show to help save Chuck. On the day of the season 2 finale, fans purchased foot long subs and left comment cards stating they bought the subs to support Chuck.
Even Levi was motivated to join the cause and led thousands of fans to Subway restaurants while in London. After Subway had agreed to increase its financial support of the show, NBC was convinced the show was worth saving and renewed the comedy for three more seasons.
4. Failed: Moonlight – Blood drives & sent garlic
Before fans were sucked into the worlds of Twilight and True Blood, Moonlight debuted as the go-to vampire series in 2007. The CBS paranormal drama had the help of not only Beauty and the Beast creator Ron Koslow but also involved Angel co-creator David Greenwalt. With the experience of two successful series creators, the show was destined to become a hit, right? Yeah, not so much.
Critics panned the pilot and subsequent episodes, with Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle referring to the series as “a vampire show that just flat out sucks and has no life in it.” Negative reviews and wavering viewership led to its cancellation in 2008.
Determined to keep their show on the air, fans organized several campaigns including sending in cloves of garlic to the president of CBS. However, their most unusual and beneficial campaign centered around blood drives held throughout the country. The “Blood Drive to Save Moonlight Campaign” received thousands of participants and successfully collected blood for the American Red Cross.
3. Succeeded: Jericho – Sent 20 tons of nuts
The post-apocalyptic theme Jericho began airing on CBS back in 2006. Following the lives of residents in Jericho, Kansas after a nuclear attack occurred in the United States, the show, though promising, could not maintain enough of an interested audience.
When it was canceled after its first seasons, devoted fans of the show banded together to convince the studio to bring back the show. Inspired by the line “Nuts” that was said in the final episodes, fans coordinated through online message boards and bombarded CBS with over 20 tons of peanuts. Though the ratings were not there, the studio could hardly ignore this outpour of fan devotion and brought the show back for another season with seven episodes.
2. Succeeded (& Failed): Star Trek: Enterprise – Sent letters & raised millions of dollars
Star Trek can be considered one of the most dedicated fan bases around. Their love for the series runs deeper than many other fandoms to date. Dating back to the 1960s, fans of the show have rallied many times to keep their beloved series afloat. Due to a successful fan campaign back in 1968, fans kept the original series from facing cancellation during its second season.
In the spirit of past successes, fans of Star Trek: Enterprise were also successful in saving the show from cancellation with a letter-writing campaign. Though it was saved from a second season cancellation, the show officially became canceled after its fourth season. This time, fans upgraded from a letter writing campaign to fundraising. Fans around the world pooled their funds to generate enough money to pay for a fifth season and collected millions of dollars.
1. Failed (& Succeeded): Veronica Mars – Sent Mars Bars & Crowdfunded
The cleverly written dialogue and talented cast of Veronica Mars made the show a favorite among critics and fans. Centered around the teen private investigator Veronica, fans of the show even included Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon and Clerks director Kevin Smith, both of whom had guest-starring roles.
Despite the support of several famous fans, the viewership gradually declined through its third season. Fans known as the “Cloud Watchers” encouraged new viewers to tune into the show and even hired a plane to fly over the WB studios with the message “Save Veronica Mars”. After the announced cancellation, the folks at Ain’t It Cool News came up with the idea to flood the CW office with Mars Bars. Fans followed suit and more than 10, 000 candy bars were set in support.
Unfortunately, there was no hope for the show’s future on the networks, and the show was canceled in 2007. Since then, fan support has never wavered, and their efforts were rewarded with a crowd-funded Veronica Mars movie in 2014.
Have you ever participated in a fan campaign? Do you think they’re worthy efforts? Sound off in the comments!
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