Popular TV Shows That Barely Avoided Getting Axed
Though tons of shows get axed every year, only some are lucky enough to bounce back from (or in some cases, just barely avoid) cancellation. Case in point? In 2016, Supergirl and Nashville (formerly on CBS and ABC, respectively) were both able to secure their next seasons by moving to different channels.
But they’re not the only TV shows that jumped networks during their time on air. Below, check out 14 shows that got a second chance on a new channel.
Supergirl moved from CBS to whe CW for its sophomore season last year, following months of speculation. The move followed reports that the show was in jeopardy after CBS and Warner Bros. had reached a stalemate in negotiations over the show’s $3 million per-episode price tag. The former apparently felt that the hefty costs weren’t justified by Season 1’s ratings (the show lost around half of its initial 13 million viewers over the course of the season).
As negotiations dragged on, there was talk that CBS head Les Moonves could move Supergirl to its network branch The CW, which already has an established lineup of DC Comic series, including Arrow and The Flash. The move was finally confirmed in mid-May 2016. Supergirl has since moved production to Vancouver to cut down budget costs and help facilitate crossovers with the other DC shows.
The country music drama, starring Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere, aired on ABC for four seasons before getting abruptly axed in May 2016. Though the show earned middling ratings throughout its run, there had initially been some promising signs that the show would get a fifth season on the network. Prior to the cancellation, producer Lionsgate TV had even announced its hiring of two Emmy-winning producers to help guide the series and work on potential plotlines for the next season. This apparent show of confidence made it all the more surprising for viewers (and even cast members) when ABC officially decided to pull the plug.
But the show isn’t gone for good. Lionsgate TV shopped Nashville to several potential buyers (including both traditional networks and streaming services) and eventually closed a deal with CMT. The show has since aired a fifth season and kicked off a sixth and final season.
During its initial five-season run on NBC, the comedy, starring Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Alison Brie among others, received critical acclaim for its acting and writing and cultivated a cult following. But low ratings caused the network to cancel the series in 2014.
Thanks in part to the show’s loyal fanbase, Yahoo! decided to give the Dan Harmon-created series a second life, airing the sixth season on its video platform, Yahoo Screen, in March 2015. Season 6 Community ultimately failed to land a big enough audience or any long-term commitments from advertisers to make the investment worth it. The series aired its final episode in June 2015. Talk of a potential film (which would fulfill the fan’s mantra “six seasons and a movie”) has been circulating since then.
4. The Mindy Project
Fans of Mindy Kaling’s sitcom were less than thrilled after Fox announced that it was officially canceling the show in 2015. Though the series was never a ratings juggernaut for the network, it gathered a devoted following over its initial three-season run — something made clear by the strong reaction that the cancellation sparked on social media. Still, viewers were given new hope after speculation started swirling that Hulu (which already aired past episodes of the sitcom) was strongly considering adding The Mindy Project to its own slate.
The streaming service officially picked the show up for a fourth season in spring 2015, with the option of renewing the series for more seasons beyond that. In 2016, the streaming service exercised that option, ordering a fifth season of The Mindy Project.
A&E took many by surprise when it canceled the popular show Longmire, based on Craig Johnson’s mystery novels, in August 2014. The show was the channel’s most-watched original drama, but the network unexpectedly opted not to renew it for Season 4. The decision sparked an outpouring of viewer support, and Longmire producer Warner Horizon immediately launched an effort to find a new home for the series.
Luckily for fans, Netflix heard their protests loud and clear. In mid-November 2014, it was announced that the streaming service picked up the show, which has since gone on to air two more seasons. Its sixth and final season will air in 2017.
6. Arrested Development
The critically acclaimed, Emmy-award winning sitcom originally aired on Fox for three seasons from November 2003 to February 2006. After ratings began dropping in the second season, Fox decided to cut the season a little short, halting the production after 18 episodes instead of fulfilling its initial 22-episode order. In the third season, Fox moved the show’s time slot, but ratings continued diving. Eventually, the network cut the third season’s episode order in half before axing it altogether.
After its initial cancellation, rumors of another season and an Arrested Development feature film persisted for several years. In 2011, Netflix announced it had picked up the rights to the series. Stars Jason Bateman, Portia De Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, and Tony Hale reprised their roles in the show’s 15-episode fourth season, which debuted in May 2013 and earned generally favorable reviews.
A fifth season is reportedly still on the table, although it has yet to materialize.
7. The Killing
The AMC murder mystery drama had a lot of ups and downs over the course of its four seasons. The network initially canceled the show in July 2012 after Season 2 failed to perform as well as the first. AMC then changed its mind and renegotiated a deal with Fox TV and Netflix to pick up the show for the third season. When that season again proved to be disappointing, the network pulled the plug on the show for a second time in September 2013.
Just two months after the second cancellation, Netflix announced it had picked up the show itself for a fourth and final season. The series’s last six-episode run premiered on the streaming service in August 2014 and ended up earning mixed reviews from both critics and fans alike.
8. Cougar Town
The sitcom, starring Courteney Cox, Busy Phillips, and Christa Miller, aired its first three seasons on ABC. While never a big ratings hit, the series had a core group of passionate fans. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for ABC, who axed the show in 2012 after issuing a reduced episode order and a move in time slots in Season 3.
Only days after its cancellation, TBS decided to pick up Cougar Town, renewing it for another season and earning the rights to all past episodes. Season 4, the show’s first on TBS, aired in early 2013, followed by two more seasons. The comedy’s sixth and final season concluded in March 2015.
After premiering on NBC in 2009, the crime drama, starring Kevin Alejandro, Arija Baraikis, and Regina King, was renewed for Season 2. The show’s second season was supposed to kick off that September, but was pushed back a month only to eventually get canceled prior to the premiere.
About a month later, it found a new home at TNT, which closed a deal with Warner Bros. for the critically acclaimed series. The channel earned exclusive rights to air all six episodes that had been shot for the second season, as well as the seven-episode freshman season. The show aired four seasons on TNT, before getting canceled in 2013.
The legal thriller, starring Glenn Close and Rose Byrne, aired for three seasons on FX. Though the show earned critical acclaim and several accolades, low ratings and hefty costs in Season 3 led to speculation that the show was nearing its end. In 2010, Sony reached an agreement with DirecTV to share the cost of future seasons with its Audience Network, also giving DirecTV the rights to the show’s original three seasons. Thanks to the deal, Damages ended up airing for two more seasons on DirectTV, before concluding with its Season 5 finale in 2012.
11. Friday Night Lights
The football-themed drama, starring Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler, aired for two seasons on NBC, starting in 2006. Though the show garnered critical acclaim and a group of loyal fans, the series suffered low ratings and was facing likely cancellation after Season 2.
To save the series, NBC struck a deal with DirecTV to co-produce three more seasons. Each subsequent season premiered on DirecTV’s 101 Network, with NBC rebroadcasting the episodes a few months later. The drama ended its run on The 101 Network in 2011 after five seasons.
12. Law & Order: Criminal Intent
The police procedural was only the second spinoff of Wolf’s successful crime drama Law & Order. Starring Vincent D’Onofrio, Jamey Sheridan, Courtney B. Vance, and Chris Noth, the show aired on NBC for the first six seasons. During its NBC run, each episode aired on USA the week after its original NBC airing.
Ahead of the seventh season, the drama officially moved to the NBCUniversal-owned USA Network, due to hefty costs and declining ratings. After the move, the series ran for four more seasons. Law & Order: Criminal Intent ended in 2011, after a total of 10 seasons and 195 episodes.
The medical comedy drama, starring Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke, Donald Faison, and John C. McGinley, started out on NBC, running for seven seasons from 2001 to 2008. During Season 7, the network announced that it would not be renewing the show.
Despite Braff and creator Bill Lawrence’s initial protests that the seventh season of the series would be its last, speculation soon began circulating that ABC was in talks with corporate sibling ABC Studios to bring Scrubs back for an 18-episode eighth season. The move was made official in 2008 and Scrubs went on to air Seasons 8 and 9 on ABC.
It’s ninth and final season moved the show’s setting to a medical school and introduced a new cast, with only Braff, Faison, and McGinley remaining of the original stars. The show officially ended in 2010.
14. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer first aired in 1997 on the WB network and played a major part in the growth of the Warner Bros. television network in its early years. The series remained on the channel for five seasons, from 1997 to 2001.
In the 2001–2002 TV season, the show moved to UPN after a negotiation dispute with The WB. At the time, the WB felt that the show had already peaked and was not worth giving a salary increase to the cast and crew, despite that it remained one of the network’s highest-rated shows.
Meanwhile, UPN showed strong faith in Buffy and picked up the show for a two-season renewal. The series aired its seventh and final season in 2003.
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