After two seasons, Fox has canceled The Gifted. Here's why, and whether the show have a future. Loosely inspired by the X-Men's "Days of Future Past" timeline, The Gifted was something of a deep cut into X-Men lore, with none of the A-list X-Men; in fact, the best-known character is Emma Dumont's Polaris, the daughter of Magneto, who's something of a third-stringer in the comics.
Legion and The Gifted were the result of an unprecedented partnership between Marvel Television and Fox networks. In recent weeks, though, it's become clear that both X-Men TV shows are coming to an end. Noah Hawley's Legion will end after season 3, with FX CEO John Landgraf explaining that Hawley always planned a three-season story. The more striking news is that The Gifted has been canceled by Fox after season 2. Naturally, most X-Men fans have assumed all this is something to do with Disney's purchase of Fox.
Those fans are right, albeit in a far more indirect way than they're assuming. It's important to remember that Disney's purchase did not include Fox Broadcasting, because Disney already own a broadcasting network and wouldn't be allowed to buy another. Fox Broadcasting is now the only network not affiliated with a television studio and, in a recent conference call, Rupert Murdoch indicated that its future lies in partnering with studios that aren't aligned with a broadcaster, such as Warner Bros. TV, Lionsgate and Sony Pictures TV. Industry analysts expect Fox to approach these studios and offer to air their shows in return for some sort of equity in the programming. The Gifted - which is now completely owned by Disney - doesn't fit with that particular business model.
Significantly, according to Deadline, Fox felt The Gifted's linear ratings simply didn't justify continuing with the series. Although it performs well online, The Gifted‘s second season averaged a 1.1 adults 18-49 rating in Live+7, about half of its Season 1 average (2.0), and 3.3 million viewers. In an interview with SlashFilm back in February, showrunner Matt Nix admitted he expected Fox to pull the plug because of these viewing figures.
"My sense is that the most likely thing is that if we come back, we’ll come back in some sort of creative way. Some partnership, because I think what we’ve discovered is that fans of The Gifted are big fans of The Gifted. We have a solid fan base and it’s a little small for the broadcast networks. But we do well on streaming so there may be, my hope is that there’s something to work out in that realm... I don’t anticipate a 22 episode season on broadcast but I’d love to be wrong."
Nix's caution has proved to be prophetic. As he noted, there is a chance that The Gifted could be picked up elsewhere, most likely by one of Disney's streaming services. It's unlikely that would be Disney +, given that particular service appears to be reserved for Marvel Studios content; Marvel Television seems to have been relegated to Hulu. The partnership between Marvel Television and Hulu has deepened over the last few months, with the announcement of an "Offenders" range of TV shows, so The Gifted does have a shot. Unfortunately, Deadline reports that as yet there have been no real conversations about this possibility.