Whether a television program has aired a few episodes or has existed for many seasons, no show is safe from cancellation. The two common reasons a network may axe a show are declining or stagnant ratings or it’s too costly to produce. The latter reason is more prevalent these days, especially with science fiction and fantasy shows, and programs that are shot on location.
But sometimes there are bizarre and shocking reasons shows are cancelled which cause viewers to be perplexed. If your favorite show became a network’s victim, no doubt you’d seethe in anger, especially if the decision was based on an actor’s behavior or the network’s basic ability to understand the theme of a show. Essentially, reasons that could have been prevented.
Presently, shows have reasons to be more optimistic than in the past. With streaming services like Amazon and Hulu making original programming and reviving fan-favorite series, creators and producers can at least solicit the decision-makers of those types of companies to pitch a show’s continuation.
As you read through the entries in this list, ask yourself if the show deserved to continue or if the network made the right call. Here is part two of 15 TV Shows That Were Cancelled For Shocking Reasons.
15. Zoey 101
Running for four seasons, Zoey 101 starred Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney Spears’ sister, as she navigated life with her friends in a boarding school that recently allowed girls to attend. The show was a hit for Nickelodeon with the younger crowd, spawning soundtracks and two video games (though the video games were poorly rated.)
In 2008, 16-year-old Jamie Lynn announced she was pregnant. She told magazines it was a shock to both her and her 18-year-old boyfriend Casey Aldridge. Nickelodeon praised Ms. Spears in taking responsibility for the situation, but two weeks later canceled the show. At the time, it was unclear if they’d air season four since production had finished on it.
They showed the final season, and in 2015 aired a 10th Anniversary Revival Short that referred to the season two episode “Time Capsule”. This short was the last Zoey 101 episode fans got and ended on a major cliffhanger.
Angel was a spin-off from Joss Whedon’s popular, cult show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and ran for five seasons. Angel was a vampire who murdered a gypsy, and as punishment, the gypsies returned his human soul, which tormented Angel as he worked as a private detective in L.A.
The WB Network often waited until the last minute to renew Angel, so Whedon went to Jordan Levin and asked him to renew early. Ratings had increased and critics loved the show, so Whedon was confident Levin would say yes. Whedon also was thinking of the actors and crew, because they would often turn down jobs waiting on a decision, which could be up until the last minute.
Unfortunately, Levin thought the request was an ultimatum and informed Whedon the day after the request the show’s been canceled. A later WB president admitted it was a mistake to cancel Angel, but the network never changed their mind.
One of the longer-running series on this list is Castle. Nathan Fillion starred as a best-selling author who becomes smitten with the detective he’s paired with. He decides to use her as the basis for a character in his next book series.
After seven seasons, Stana Katic – the main actress – was let go from the show. Fans were dismayed until they learned that a source said she and Nathan Fillion hated each other. They were reportedly forced to go to couples counseling to resolve the issues. Two other cast members were asked not to continue with the series for what the network called “budgetary reasons.” Tamala Jones also left the show, creating turmoil between the show and fans, who now lost two of their favorite actresses and characters.
12. The Biggest Loser
The Biggest Loser was a reality competition that had contestants competing in challenges and enduring food temptations to lose the most weight relative to their starting weight. Two trainers provided exercise regimes and motivation for their team or worked with all the contestants depending on the week.
The show faced criticism for unhealthy weight loss – some contestants lost 20-30 pounds a week – and for imperfect dietary strategies and exercise practices. But what brought the show to a halt in 2016 was a 2008 participant who wrote an article stating the show’s doctor, Dr. Robert Huizenga, handed out Adderall to suppress competitors’ appetites. He denied that and other allegations he gave out other FDA-banned drugs like ephedra and extract.
11. Freaks and Geeks
Freaks and Geeks, a drama-comedy show about high school life, was canceled after 12 episodes, but had created a huge cult following by the time it ended. The show ranked high on many “Best of” lists from Time to Entertainment Weekly.
When Garth Ancier took over as NBC president, he wanted the characters in the TV show to have more “victories,” meaning he wanted them a little cooler and more relatable to the common teenager. Apatow refused since he didn’t want to compromise the theme and nature of the show, which was typical of the high school experience.
Ancier went to boarding school, so his understanding of high school wasn’t the same that creator Paul Feig and Judd Apatow felt Freaks and Geeks showcased. Despite the short run, the show began the careers of some current big stars like Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jason Segel.
10. Sam & Cat
Sam & Cat starred Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande as the titular characters who become roommates and start a babysitting company to earn money. The first season began initially with twenty episodes, but twenty more were ordered due to its immediate popularity (although thirty-six were only produced). According to producer Dan Schneider, season two was official and would be twenty episodes.
At first, a rumor of a feud between the two stars circulated; both were popular not because of the show, but because of outside endeavors, and McCurdy wanted the same respect as Grande. However, a salary disagreement between McCurdy and Nickelodeon erupted in season one, and buzz about the show’s cancellation reached an apex.
9. To Catch a Predator
To Catch a Predator was a reality show that held hidden camera investigations where an actor or volunteer would impersonate a young girl or boy (usually thirteen to fifteen years old) to catch adults soliciting them for sexual activity. Encounters would start online, but eventually end up in a fake home set up for the operation.
The series ran for three seasons and created controveries from entrapment claims to conflict of interest when Dateline (Predator’s host show) started to pay Peverted-Justice – an Internet watchdog group – a consultant fee. But those were mild in comparison to what led to the show’s cancellation in 2008.
A Texas District Attorney committed suicide after the show caught him chatting and swapping photos with one of the actors pretending to be a 13-year-old boy. The man’s sister brought a $105 million lawsuit against the network, claiming the sting operating drove her brother to kill himself. ABC decided not to continue the show.
8. Sonny with a Chance
By the time Sonny with a Chance started airing, Demi Lovato had already done TV, film, and recorded the album Don’t Forget. She was a rising star perfect for her comedy role in Sonny with a Chance, where she played Sonny, who is cast in the sketch “show within a show” called So Random!
During the show’s second season, while Lovato was touring for her Demi Lovato: Live in Concert tour for the albums Don’t Forget and Here We Go Again, Lovato was in an altercation and punched one of her backup dancers. This led Lovato to realize she needed help and checked herself into a rehab, leaving production of future episodes in limbo.
Disney went ahead and started filming the third season without Demi Lovato, but ultimately decided to cancel Sonny with a Chance. However, they kept the rest of the cast members, renamed the series So Random!, and turned it into a sketch comedy show.
7. Are You Hot?
The reality show Are You Hot? consisted of contestants being judged solely on their looks. Forget personality and talent, the judges and viewers would vote on pure attractiveness. The show received harsh criticism because people felt Are You Hot? demeaned and degraded contestants based on shallow criteria. This confusing disapproval was in spite of other shows that had similar judging formats around the same time, like The Swan and Extreme Makeover.
Besides low ratings, what sealed the fate of the show was the lawsuit by Howard Stern, who claimed an ex-producer of his radio show ripped off Stern’s radio segment called The Evaluators. Scott Einziger, the ex-producer, was a top executive and producer for Are You Hot?
Deadwood was a Western show that used real materials like newspapers and diaries of the 1870s to create fictional characters and characters based on real people. David Mulch, the creator, was praised for his writing, the show received critical acclaim for its storyline and acting, and Deadwood won 8 Emmys and had a total of 28 nominations.
In 2006, HBO didn’t pick up any options for the actors, meaning the current cast wouldn’t proceed with the future of Deadwood. HBO did not cancel the show at that time as they offered Mulch a shortened season of 6 episodes. The creator declined, wanting a full season instead. After offering Mulch the opportunity to create two 2-hour television movies, HBO decided that producing the films would prove difficult.
5. Kingdom Hospital
Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital was initially going to be a mini-series, but was stretched to thirteen episodes. The one-season show was about a hospital that had been built on a mill that manufactured Civil War uniforms in the mid-1800s. A psychic comes to the hospital on multiple occasions and wants the truth uncovered about the spirits that haunt the halls and rooms.
King wrote and produced Kingdom Hospital, which maintains average to positive scores on IMDB and has garnered several Emmy nominations. ABC was continuously vague about renewing the show. But worse, King felt ABC wasn’t doing enough to promote Kingdom Hospital, so he paid for a print campaign out of his own pocket.
Sometimes a reason a show is canceled is surprising, but in a simple way. That is what happened with Underground, which aired on WGN America. The network admitted the show was a terrific and important series, but wasn’t going to fit in WGN America’s “new direction,” despite bragging about the shows viewership in the second season and Rotten Tomatoes high ratings.
This network’s new landscape focused on less money for scripted shows (they had budgeted less money for the second season of Underground) as the owner of WGN America, Tribune Media, was up for sale. Essentially, the network was going to do more programming with less money, which included few – if any – scripted shows. Underground was simply collateral damage to maximize advertising dollars during a merger.
3. BBC’s Robin Hood
Jonas Armstrong starred as Robin Hood in BBC’s adaptation of the same name. Robin Hood had slowly declining viewership and struggled to maintain consistent numbers through the third series. Moving the show to BBC Two also didn’t help the ratings.
At the beginning of the third series, BBC publicized that Armstrong would be leaving the show, but stated that didn’t mean the show would be canceled. The writers worked the story to reflect the announcement – and were prepared to continue the story in additional seasons – but ultimately killed Robin Hood in the third series finale. In a previous episode, the show had already killed another main character, Maid Marian.
With two main characters dead – one of them the namesake of the series – and sluggish ratings, the show was canceled. The network said, “With the death of Robin, we feel that the show has reached its natural conclusion.”
2. Batman (1960s)
Adam West, an icon himself, starred as one of the most iconic superheroes in comic book history, Batman. With his campy humor and one-liners, West made the 1960’s version of Batman memorable for decades to come.
After three seasons on ABC, the show proved expensive to make. As ratings continued to decline, even after adding the Batgirl character, the network canceled the show. The producers attempted to find another network, and they almost succeeded. Negotiations with NBC began, but NBC didn’t want to start from scratch so they made a deal: we’ll take the show if you include all the set and props.
However, in the transition from season three to cancellation on ABC, crew members leveled the $800,000 set. Because of how costly it would be to create a new set, NBC declined to take on Batman, and the show never found footing with another network. However, the Batman franchise continues to thrive in a variety of mediums and seemingly won’t die anyway.
1. Dark Matter
Announcing early September 2017 that they wouldn’t move ahead with a fourth season, SyFy canceled Dark Matter. While critics had mixed reviews about the show, Rotten Tomatoes shows an 87% Average Audience Score as of this writing.
The creator, Joseph Mallozzi, stated on his blog he “was feeling cautiously optimistic about a renewal.” While ratings dipped slightly in the second and third seasons, the decline was well below the industry average. Dark Matter maintained a steady rank in total viewers and key demographics (viewers 18-49 years old).
SyFy informed the creator and crew the decision wasn’t creative. Money seemed to be the reason this show was canceled, but not how you might think. Since Dark Matter wasn’t a SyFy Original, the network couldn’t monetize it with advertising like it could with its other, first-party produced shows.
Mallozzi states he ran a tight ship and made sure money was spent where Dark Matter needed it to create the most impact for viewers. But high ratings and his budget-consciousness apparently weren’t enough.
What shows do you think were canceled for weird reasons? Let us know in the comments.
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