Why is my show cancelled? Why do all the good shows get cancelled? Why wasn’t my favorite show given a chance!?
There are a number of factors that impact the longevity of our favorite TV shows. We’ve compiled a list of the main reasons why TV shows get cancelled (axed) by networks.
- Low ratings – Declining or low viewership is usually the main reason for a show’s cancellation, particularly if the show is performing insufficiently in the 18-49 demographic coveted by advertisers.
- Financial losses – If a TV show loses money or costs the network more than it brings back in advertising revenue (etc), then it will find itself in the cancellation graveyard before long.
- Conflicts – Disagreements between producers/cast/networks over the creative direction of the show. While such things are not uncommon, and are often ironed out behind the scenes, if the powers that be are not on the same page it could prove fatal to both a show’s quality, and its ultimate lifespan. For example, in its final throes, Bones experienced a financial fallout between FOX and the producers/cast, which contributed to the show’s demise.
- Cast contracts – The core actors are usually signed up for multiple seasons when a TV show starts. However, further down the line shows get more expensive to produce and actors, especially those of a hit or ‘popular’ TV series, become more expensive to retain. Actors may play hardball over contracts to ensure their wages are increased, or they may want to do other things. Depending on the specific show and circumstance, this can lead to the end of a show.
- Conduct/Behavior. The sexual harassment scandals that impacted TV shows including House of Cards in 2017-18, is a prime example of how the conduct of creators/cast and executives can result in a show’s cancellation.
- Bad reviews from critics and other viewers can lead to negative impressions about a show, which in turn can result in poor buzz, social impact and, crucially, ratings.
- To make room for new programming. A network may decide to axe a show if it needs to make room on its schedule for newer programming. UK broadcaster the BBC are open about this, but they are not alone. This is often the case when a show is ‘on the bubble’.
- Network politics/prerogative can come into play when it comes to TV shows getting the axe. For example, TV shows produced outside of the network by other companies are often killed off ahead of an in-house productions for financial and political reasons.
- End of life-cycle. Producers and networks may decide to conclude a show and work towards a ‘proper ending’. A show can be ‘ended’ without necessarily being ‘cancelled,’ if the final season is announced early enough to suggest there’s some sort of plan. As in the case with LOST, when the producers convinced ABC to give them an end date for the show three years in advance. Usually, shows end on their own terms when the end date or final season is announced before or during the last renewal.