The TV Guide: Uncovering the true meaning behind cancellation


Swinging into a new season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one of many shows rescued from cancellation in the 2017-18 season after 5 seasons on Fox, the network canceled the show last May. However, after days of fan outrage, NBC picked up the series for a sixth season

Maggie Cargile, Staff Reporter

As the broadcast season comes to a close each year, many of us have tissues in hand as we say goodbye to some of our favorite series.. While a few series may have a planned ending we can prepare ourselves for, most series disappear with little to no warning. Despite the fact that we often times think networks just cancel shows out of the blue with no true rhyme or reason, this is rarely true. Many, many things factor into a network’s decision to pull the plug on one of their series, and most of these reasons continue to go unnoticed by most. However, we will hopefully find the logic behind these decisions.

Perhaps the most common reason shows get canceled is due to low ratings and bad reviews. Many shows may start the season out well with lots of viewers tuning in each week and great reviews from critics, but as the season drags on, so will the show. It is for this reason that the highest viewed new series in September may very well end up a goner come May, if its audience levels plummet. Occasionally, networks tend to play favorites and may still renew a show with low viewers and bad reviews if the creative team behind it is important to the network. For example, last spring Shonda Rhimes’s drama For the People premiered to an extremely small audience and a plethora of negative reviews, which only worsened after each installment. However, when it came time to make a decision, ABC decided to keep the series on for another season due to the relationship they have with Shonda Rhimes and the things she has done to improve the network.

 One of the most common reasons for cancellations, especially on a broadcast network, is ownership. Meaning that a network is much more likely to continue with a series they have full ownership to rather than one they have partial to no stake in. Airing an in-house production not only saves the network money, but the network will likely profit off the show for years to come once it reaches syndication, meaning the show will air re-runs off network. Sometimes networks will even opt to renew an unsuccessful show that they own over a very successful show they do not. During cancellation season, it is always important to keep in mind that networks prioritize making a profit over everything else when making their decision.

 Another common reason for cancellation, especially in veteran series, is that the show failed to get a decent syndication contract and is essentially worthless to the network now. This reason typically causes the most distress in fans and usually is accompanied by the strongest feedback and thus many more shows get ‘saved’ by a different network or streaming service. Sophomore Rebecca Peterson said, “Over the years I have been really upset as a lot of my favorite shows have been canceled. However, I have noticed a few of my shows being saved by other networks and have been able to enjoy further episodes of my shows.”

 While it may seem like a show was canceled for no reason, there is always some sort of logic behind the network’s decisions. Everything happens for a reason, and it is best to move on while fondly remembering your favorite shows after they are canceled.