The Most Surprising TV Cancellations of 2018
They all deserved so much better.
In 2018, the fate of television shows was particularly shaky. Nowadays, stratospheric ratings and sky-high critical praise simply isn’t enough to sustain a show’s tenure. Scandals, internal conflicts, and the never-ending war between networks and streaming services can all lead a show directly to the chopping block well before its prime. Here, reminisce about all the most surprising television cancellations of 2018. They all deserved better.
Despite being Netflix’s fourth-most popular show, Marvel series Daredevil received a shocking cancellation announcement on November 29, just over a month after the premiere of its third (now final) season. Fans of the comic book superhero show took umbrage at the news, especially given the platform’s repeated axing of fellow Marvel titles (more on that below) just a few months prior. Though Netflix hasn’t given a formal reason for the cancellation, rumors suggest that the streaming service is seeking to part ways with Marvel’s parent company Disney, due to the launch of Disney+, the upcoming streaming service.
After a near two-decade hiatus, ABC brought back its hit TV sitcom Roseanne to primetime programming. The reboot clocked record ratings for the network and was picked up for a second season after just one episode. But the celebration abruptly ended after ABC opted to yank the show from air after its lead actress, Roseanne Barr, posted an overtly racist Tweet aimed at former President Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.
The series was eventually developed into a spin-off, titled The Connors, featuring several principal Roseanne cast members, but without its original star.
In early May, the Syfy network announced that its hit sci-fi drama The Expanse would be leaving the air after its third season, much to the chagrin of its cult fanbase. Right after cancellation, however, said fanbase mounted a massive #SaveTheExpanse Twitter campaign—and it worked!
On May 25th, at the International Space Development Conference, Jeff Bezos (a huge fan of the show) personally broke the news, on stage with the cast, that Amazon Studios scooped up The Expanse for a fourth season. Keep an eye out for that on Amazon Prime Streaming in the future.
The cancellation of Cartoon Network’s beloved (and astonishingly dark) series Adventure Time was first announced in September 2016, but its end finally came this year. After 10 years and a whopping 278 episodes, the show, which debuted on the network in 2008, concluded in early fall, where many fans, cast members, and series creators bonded together on the blogosphere to commemorate the show’s viral and critical success.
House of Cards
The fate of Netflix’s hit political drama House of Cards was in shaky hands late last year following the media furor that erupted around actor Kevin Spacey’s sexual misconduct allegations. The news, which occurred shortly after Netflix renewed the series for a sixth season, lead producers to announce the show’s cancellation and temporarily postpone production. A few months later, House of Cards resumed production as originally planned, with Spacey’s character written off the show, allowing Robin Wright’s irresistibly enigmatic Claire Underwood to take center stage. The final season was released on November 2.
Acclaimed Amazon series Transparent came to an end after actor Jeffrey Tambor, who plays trans parent Maura Pfefferman, quit the show in November 2017 amid sexual misconduct allegations made against him by several crew members. The actor was officially fired from Transparent in February 2018, but a fifth and final season will be produced without Tambor for early 2019.
Many viewers praised the nostalgic ’90s middle school nods featured in newbie series Everything S*cks!, with comparisons even being drawn to cult series Freaks and Geeks. When Netflix decided to cancel the series after just one season, people wondered what caused the unfortunate decision. According to Netflix’s VP of original series, Cindy Holland, the reason came down to an insufficient number of binge watchers necessary to warrant a second season.
On October 19, Netflix decided to pull the plug on Marvel’s Luke Cage after just two seasons. The news marked an ongoing trend of Marvel cancellations by the streaming platform, with executives citing creative differences as their reason for parting ways with the Harlem superhero favorite, which stars Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson, and Mahershala Ali. Luke Cage’s first season premiered on September 30, 2016, and a sophomore season was announced three months later. The series finale was released on June 22, 2018.
Yet another shocking Marvel cancellation was announced on October 12, when Netflix added Iron Fist to its list of axed comic book TV series. The news arrived just a month after the release of the show’s second season, which was met with mixed reviews but considered a vast improvement from the show’s critically-panned March 2017 series premiere. Netflix declined to release an official reason for the cancellation, prompting several theories about the ongoing divorce of Marvel content from the platform.
When Fox originally announced the cancellation of its hit police sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine in May, fans took to the news with an uproar of grief. The series, which stars Andy Samberg and Terry Crews, had accumulated a large following since its 2013 debut, and despite a slight dip in ratings in its fifth season, buzz around the show continued to swirl around the internet.
Taking notice of the commotion, NBC swooped in to save Brooklyn Nine-Nine, announcing only a day later that it would be picking up the series for a sixth season, currently slated for January 10, 2019.
Fox announced on May 11 that DC comic book drama Lucifer’s third season would be its last. In an effort to save the series, co-showrunner Joe Henderson encouraged fans to rally with the hashtag #SaveLucifer, which soon became the number-one trending topic on Twitter. The commotion prompted Warner Bros. Television to start shopping the series around to premium cable and streaming outlets, eventually landing a deal with Netflix on June 15th. Lucifer’s fourth season will air sometime next year, and its penultimate episode will be titled “Save Lucifer” in honor of the campaign.
Ash vs Evil Dead
Ash vs Evil Dead, a comedic TV spin-off based on Sam Raimi’s cult horror franchise Evil Dead, first aired on Starz in October 2015. The show, which saw actor Bruce Campbell reprise his role as Ash Williams, served as a sequel to the original trilogy, set 30 years after the events of the third film. Two months after the Ash vs Evil Dead’s third season premiere on February 25, Starz announced that it wouldn’t be renewing the series for a fourth season due to poor ratings. Despite efforts from fans to petition a renewal from Netflix, Campbell stressed on Twitter that he was “officially retired as Ash.”
Priyanka Chopra-starring series Quantico was a breakout hit when it first debuted in fall 2015. Fueled by a thrilling narrative and the popularity of its star, the ABC terrorism series met a surprising end this year after network executives decided that Quantico’s third season would be its last. According to ABC, the series had seen a gradual decline in ratings following the second half of its first season.
Horror series have been making a splash on the TV circuit lately, drawing in big ratings and praise from audiences and critics alike. But the longevity of Fox’s supernatural horror anthology series The Exorcist was cut short this year following news that the network would be canceling the show after just two seasons.
According to Fox chairman Gary Newman, the show’s numbers suffered after being placed on the Friday evening time slot, a move that Newman had hoped “would be able to tap into a moviegoing crowd who didn’t want to go out to the movies.” Unfortunately, the plan didn’t pan out as anticipated.
USA Network announced in August that it would not be renewing drama series Shooter for a fourth season. The drama, which stars Ryan Philippe, was based on the 2007 movie of the same name and Stephen Hunter’s hit 1993 novel, Point of Impact. Shooter debuted on USA in July 2016, but its success ran dry after Season 3, becoming the network’s lowest-rated drama series among adults aged 18-49.
Once Upon a Time
Created by LOST and Tron: Legacy writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, American fantasy drama series Once Upon a Time premiered on ABC in October 2011 to 12.8 million total viewers, making it TV’s highest rated drama show. After seven years, the show’s creators announced in February that they would be concluding the series with its seventh season, airing its final episode in May.
Based on the eponymous film trilogy starring Liam Neeson and his particular set of skills, crime drama Taken debuted on NBC in February 2017 with a modest rating of 5.1 million average viewers. The show’s second season saw a substantial dip in numbers, averaging 2.8 million viewers weekly and thus becoming NBC’s lowest-rated drama. The network axed the series in May and its final episode aired in June.
Although officially canceled in May, CBS medical drama Code Black received a faint glimpse of hope for a renewal after network president Kelly Kahl stated he was reconsidering the decision following a successful third season run. That pulse was soon halted, however, after the network decided to stick with its original cancellation. Code Black’s final episode aired in July.
Netflix’s true-crime mockumentary series American Vandal made its series debut on September 15, 2017. Widely praised by critics, the show went on to receive a Peabody Award for Television as well as an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or a Dramatic Special.” The show was subsequently renewed for a second season, which was released on September 14, 2018, but a month later, Netflix announced the show’s cancellation. Producers are reportedly shopping the series around to other networks, though, as of yet, no confirmed deal has been announced.
The Jerry Springer Show
After 27 long, chair-throwing, profanity-bleeping years, everyone’s favorite trash daytime talk show The Jerry Springer Show quietly came to an end. The show’s titular 74-year-old host, a former politician (if you didn’t hear, he was a campaign advisor to Robert F. Kennedy, and was even once the mayor of Cincinnati), lead more than 4,000 episodes since its first airing in 1991, and played a crucial part in reshaping daytime television for a younger, more thrill-driven demographic. And for more on the year in TV, check out these 20 Times TV Made Us Cringe in 2018.
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