Because TV involves [[UsefulNotes/UnionsInHollywood unionized people]], and unionized people sometimes go on strike. When the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) goes on strike, this largely shuts down the Hollywood process, since writers are needed for script rewrites on-set and act-er, teamsters aren’t keen to cross picket lines (in fact, they have it in their contract that they’re immune to punishment should they honor any picket line). Strikes come as a result of bargaining falling apart with management, as represented by the UsefulNotes/{{AMPTP}}. As a result, a lot of shows hit by the strike may suffer through having a large batch of their [[WhatCouldHaveBeen unproduced scripts and stories slashed]].

Strikes affect movies too, but the effects are a lot easier to notice for TV.
!!American strikes:

'''Disney Animators’ Strike of 1941'''

Creator/{{Disney}}’s animators joined the Screen Cartoonists’ Guild and went on strike on May 29 for the profit promised from ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'' (which many animators took unpaid overtime to complete) and in response to the firing of prominent lead animator Art Babbitt for joining the Guild. Six weeks later, a federal mediator found in favor of the Guild, and “The Mouse Factory” has been a union joint ever since.

It’s been rumored that the nasty, drunken clowns from ''Disney/{{Dumbo}}'' (which was in production during the strike) who decide to “hit the big boss for a raise” are a TakeThat at the striking animators.

'''1960 WGA/SAG Strike'''

January 16–June 10. The writers got the studios to pay into the WGA health and pension funds. Film writers got bigger residuals, and television writers got their wages doubled.

During the writers’ strike, the Screen Actors Guild went on strike as well. This one only lasted six weeks, and is notable for having been led by then-SAG President UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan, of all people -- which becomes HilariousInHindsight given Reagan's later fame as a champion of the free market and opponent of labor unions while [[UsefulNotes/ThePresidents President of the United States]].

'''1978 Animation Guild Strike'''

Went on strike over runaway production (studios started outsourcing animation to lower-wage countries). Led to a new clause where studios had to employ a certain number of employees before they could subcontract. The Guild lost this protection in the 1983 strike (see below).

'''1980 Hollywood Actors’ Strike'''

Most notable for the fact that ''Series/{{Dallas}}'' had recently aired its famous “Who shot J.R.?” season-ending cliffhanger, and the strike meant viewers had to wait five months rather than three to find out who the shooter had been. Extra-strong measures were taken to prevent the solution from leaking, including filming shots of just about every member of the cast and crew, including J.R. himself, pulling the trigger.

'''1983 Animation Guild Strike'''

Lasted 10 weeks. Again, the Guild fought over the runaway clause (see 1978). They lost because, well, the studios subcontracted to overseas studios and also to companies in other counties and states (and thus outside of the Guild’s jurisdiction).

The final nail in the coffin was on the ninth week, when Disney animators decided to take “financial core” status[[note]]Also known as “fi-core”. It’s a legal category under which you need only pay reduced union fees that only covers your union contract and benefits. You can’t participate in union activities, but in return you don’t have to obey the union’s regulations, can work at nonunion companies, and most importantly you can continue to work during the strike.[[/note]] and return to work. The Guild lost all hope and called off the strike, losing the “runaway” clause in the process.

'''1985 WGA Strike'''

A two-week strike that ended badly for the unions, forcing them to take a terrible residual/royalty on VHS sales, a low number that has had far-reaching effects with the advent of DVD and downloads. This ultimately culminated in the 2007–08 WGA Strike, below.

'''1987 Directors’ Strike'''

This strike only lasted three hours and five minutes.

'''1988 WGA Strike'''

This one is the WGA’s longest strike (March 7–August 8), over reduced residuals for hour-long series and foreign reruns.

* The biggest event resulting from this strike was that it marked the beginning of the end of the daytime SoapOpera in America. When this happened, the soaps were left without their most experienced writers, and the quality of the shows nosedived as the networks brought in inexperienced nonunion writers who often weren’t familiar with the material. Even after the old writers came back, the damage done by five months of crappy writing was catastrophic. The soaps were ''still'' recovering when, in 1995, there came the O.J. Simpson murder trial, which not only knocked the soaps ''completely'' off the air for weeks, but provided viewers with [[IfItBleedsItLeads a real-life soap opera]] to enjoy. Daytime soaps, which were once ratings juggernauts, [[DeaderThanDisco never recovered]], and as of now the few daytime soaps that haven’t been canceled yet (with decades-long runs) face the risk of it.
* The ends of ''Series/{{Moonlighting}}'' and ''Kate & Allie'' are attributed to the strike.
* Season 2 of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' got through the strike by using a ClipShow and some previously-written scripts for the abandoned 1977 ''Star Trek: Phase II'' series.
** ''Film/StarTrekVTheFinalFrontier'', meanwhile, was forced to go into production with an unfinished script.
* FOX bought ''Series/{{COPS}}'', being a reality show that didn’t require writers (but see above), and it became a very successful [[LongRunners long-running]] show which mothered the genre of RealityTelevision. ''Series/AmericasMostWanted'' also found its stride during the strike.
* ''Series/SmallWonder'' had an episode about a strike at Ted’s company.
* Creator/{{CBS}} reran non-holiday-related ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'' animated specials to help plug holes in primetime, to the point that ''Magazine/TVGuide'' pointed the tactic out in a highlights listing.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' gave a ShoutOut to this strike in “Last Exit to Springfield” where Homer recalls the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant strike of ’88.
* A ''ComicStrip/BloomCounty'' Sunday strip acknowledged the strike. It ran an old strip presumably rewritten by a scab writer, with the new dialogue being anti-union.
* Michael G. Wilson had to finish the script for ''Film/LicenceToKill'' as the strike precluded Richard Maibaum from working on it.
* Sam Hamm handed in the script to ''Film/{{Batman}}'' only days before the strike started. Due to the strike he could not do any rewrites (British writers were hired instead) and many things were changed from his screenplay of which he disapproved.
* Alan B. [=McElroy=] had [[RidiculouslyFastConstruction only 11 days]] to come up with the story and write the screenplay for ''Film/Halloween4TheReturnOfMichaelMyers'', which he handed in ''hours'' before the strike starting.

'''2007–08 WGA Strike'''

In 2007, unhappy over low royalties for [=DVDs=], and low or no residuals for Internet distribution of shows and for Internet-only broadcasts, the WGA went on strike from November 12, 2007 to February 5, 2008. The strike was concluded with a deal that granted or increased some Internet residuals, while not affecting [=DVDs=].

The strike was also the first of its kind to take place in the era of the Internet. As a result, writers had a more direct line of communication with fans/the general public, which led to unprecedented public support. When Creator/JossWhedon announced a “Meet Joss Whedon” day on the picket lines, fans streamed in from as far away as Australia.

The results of the strike:
* ''Series/TwentyFour'', with only eight episodes in the can before the strike, decided that an incomplete season would not be a good thing and delayed Season 7 until January 2009. A two-hour MadeForTVMovie prequel aired November 2008.
** This also meant that Kiefer Sutherland, who pleaded no contest to his second DUI charge, got to serve his 48-day jail sentence in one go. He’d planned to do it in two stints, during the production gaps.
* ''Series/ThirtyRock'' is an interesting case since the series is about the production of a ShowWithinAShow and several of the regular characters (including the protagonist) are writers. Per WordOfGod, the strike didn’t happen in the ''30 Rock'' universe. Episode 210 went out without a formal title, the script having been turned in a couple of days before the strike began.
* ''Series/BionicWoman'' got eight episodes done, but was then axed during it.
* ''Series/{{Journeyman}}'' had all 13 of its episodes written before the strike, and was cancelled for low ratings; the strike is probably responsible for all 13 episodes actually making it to air rather than being DVD-only.
* ''Series/{{CSI}}'' had a 24-episode run cut to 17 and ''Series/CSINewYork'' to 21.
** For UK viewers, this resulted in a) sudden gaps of a couple of weeks to avoid catching up on the first and third (''Series/CSIMiami'' airs after the other two) and b) the situation where UK viewers ended up mere days behind their US counterparts, resulting in PreviewTapesNotAvailable being stated because the actual episodes ''had yet to even air'' when the ''Magazine/RadioTimes'' went to press.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' from 24 to 20, with the last five episodes incomprehensible. Well, ''more'' incomprehensible.
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' carried on and bashed the strike in one episode, in which the [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything World Canadian Bureau (WGA) encourages Canadians to strike for “more money”]]. Many animated programs, including ''South Park'', were written under a different union than the WGA.
** IATSE covers the writers on most animated series. This is a [[UsefulNotes/UnionsInHollywood point of contention]] between the WGA and IATSE.
** The ironic part of the episode was Kyle’s [[AuthorFilibuster episode-ending speech about how people shouldn’t strive to get money from unproven revenue sources]]—in the case of the episode, online content. That summer, Parker and Stone had just inked a deal to stream ''South Park'' episodes online, with ad content, which was estimated to bring them ''$75 million'' over the next four years. So it’s either HypocriticalHumor, or just plain hypocrisy. Your choice.
*** The stupid part is that [=DVDs=] are very reliable cash cows and people working on the Internet can make a living.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' was one of the hardest-hit series during the strike, resulting in two episodes being screened without Seth [=MacFarlane=]’s permission, the sixth season ending with only 12 episodes, and the entirety of the seventh broadcast season consisting of episodes held over from the sixth season. ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' went a little better, with the third season consisting of 16 episodes.
* The second season of ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' was also cut from 24 episodes to ''11'' (more than half a season's worth of episodes), with the final episode of what was supposed to be the first arc hastily altered to wrap up the season. The planned spinoff ''Heroes: Origins'' [[WhatCouldHaveBeen was never produced]]. The idea that Volume 2 went "slow" (when it was being planned out for a 24-episode season) likely resulted in the rapid pacing and constant plot shifts of Volume 3.
* When the producers of ''Series/{{Lost}}'' set an end date for the show, the final three seasons were originally planned to have 16 episodes each. The fourth season was supposed to have the episodes all aired in a row, but the strike cut it down to 13 episodes with a month-long break between episodes 8 and 9, although the script for the finale was long enough that the season was later extended to 14 episodes. As well, to make up for the [[IncrediblyLamePun lost]] episodes, Seasons 5 and 6 were extended to 17 episodes each (with Season 6 later being pushed up to 18).
* The ''Literature/AngelsAndDemons'' adaptation was delayed by a few months.
* ''Series/{{ER}}'' and ''Series/{{Scrubs}}'', both scheduled to end during the 2007–08 season, were extended one more season to have a proper sendoff (with ''Scrubs'' [[ChannelHop channel-hopping]] to Creator/{{ABC}} to do it).
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' had its normal 22 episodes cut down to 16 for the third season, with the last few episodes time-jumping through how long Dean had left.
* A few shows got lucky. The strike almost exactly coincided with the time the writers of ''Series/BurnNotice'' were supposed to be taking a break anyway, and USA actually ordered more episodes for Season 2 than had been planned pre-strike.
* The StargateVerse was unaffected: ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' is produced in Canada and had wrapped filming before the strike started anyway.
* The late-night talk shows went on hiatus for the first couple of months, but returned in January rather than lay off the non-striking production staff. Notably, David Letterman negotiated a special deal with the WGA to let both his show and Craig Ferguson’s return with their full writing staff; the others (including ''Series/TheTonightShow'', ''Series/TheDailyShow'', and ''Series/TheColbertReport'') relied on non-scripted material for the duration of the strike.
** Which led to the hilarious {{crossover}} episodes between ''TDS'', ''TCR'' and ''Late Night'' culminating in a fake fight between Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and Conan O’Brien.
* ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles'' ended abruptly without really ending the season; on the other hand, since it was used as a midseason replacement, the absence of competitors may have helped it gain an audience. It was renewed for another season.
* Joss Whedon got bored and wrote ''WebVideo/DoctorHorriblesSingAlongBlog''. ''Series/{{Dollhouse}}'' had its development put on hold as a result.
* ''Series/BrothersAndSisters'' went through a couple of large time-jumps plot-wise.
* Creator/WarnerBros’ lack of a solid summer blockbuster for 2009 meant ''Film/HarryPotter [[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheHalfBloodPrince and the Half-Blood Prince]]'' was moved back to fill that slot (''Film/TheDarkKnight'' did so well that they weren’t worried about having a successful ’08 without it), and ''Literature/{{Twilight}}'' moved up a month to fill '''its''' slot. The announcement that ''Harry Potter'' was being moved came after the [=TimeWarner=]-owned magazine ''Entertainment Weekly'' gave that film the cover of its Fall Preview issue, leaving ''EW'' with egg on its face.
* ''Series/PushingDaisies'' was a clear casualty: the strike hit nine episodes into Season 1, and Creator/{{ABC}} decided not to bring it back in the spring (like every other show brought back after the strike). Waiting until the next TV season resulted in it being off the air for ''almost a year'', and proved to have sapped its audience beyond recovery.
* Some shows that were to air over the summer were rushed out a few months early to compensate for the strike. ''Series/HellsKitchen'' aired in April instead of June.
* ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'' was halted mid-season, and Earth, which was supposedly to be shown in the next-to-last episode, ended up appearing in the midseason finale.
** In addition, because the writers knew that the show would end at that point if the strike went south, “Sometimes a Great Notion” was written in a way to resemble something of a series finale. An understandable effort that ended up undermining the show as a whole when the strike ended and the series went on, forcing the writers to restart and end the story in the space of 11 episodes. This resulted with the "show-ending arcs" (Fleet slowly dying out, the Cylon Civil War, etc.) being squeezed beyond recognition and was the source of '''some''' of the more controversial elements of the last 11 episodes.
* ''Series/{{Bones}}''’ third season was cut to 15 episodes, and the season-long serial killer StoryArc was given a problematic ending.
* Creator/MichaelBay supposedly wrote much of ''Film/TransformersRevengeOfTheFallen'' while Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman were on strike.
* The script for ''Film/QuantumOfSolace'' was finished two hours before the strike commenced and some filming took place with Creator/DanielCraig having to work on the script with the director. [[ It showed]] (NSFW language).
* ''Series/{{Greek}}''’s first season was halted after 10 episodes. These episodes were then compiled as “Chapter One,” and the rest of the season as “Chapter Two.” Because of this, the later seasons were also divided into chapters.
** The season division strategy unexpectedly started by ''Greek'' is now used by most ABC Family dramas to make spreading production costs out easier and to keep buzz percolating through the summer and into the winter, where ABC Family takes advantage of Creator/TheCW’s winter hiatuses between November and February to air the second half of a season.
* ''Series/LasVegas'' was cancelled on a CliffHanger that was never even intended as a ''season'' ender.
* Because Britain and Australia (and presumably other countries as well) ended up with less American content than they were expecting, some channels relaunched old shows, leading to a new season of both local versions of ''Series/{{Gladiators}}'' and the reboot of ''Series/GoodNewsWeek''.
* When the writers for ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' went on strike, Disney went ahead and hired scab writers to finish most of ''Series/PowerRangersJungleFury'' with the WGA writers returning with four episodes remaining to write. It actually worked out fairly well as ''Jungle Fury'' is (at least) seen as a step back in the right direction after years of declining quality.
* ''Series/EastboundAndDown'' had only just finished work on its pilot episode when the strike hit, meaning the rest of the first season wasn’t made until late 2008 and the show itself didn’t air until early 2009. The effect of this hiatus is only really noticeable in the changed appearances of Dustin’s kids, though, since their actors had obviously grown more in the year off.
* Attributed to the cancellation of ''Series/JustJordan'', due to it being the only Nickelodeon original show at the time to feature WGA writers.
* The long-running sitcom ''Series/{{Girlfriends}}'' was CutShort due to the strike, and the CW couldn’t afford to give them a series finale.
* ''Series/BreakingBad'' had its first season cut off after seven episodes, with no chance to rework the last one into season finale material. Though this ended up working out for the best, as [[BreakoutCharacter Jesse]] [[Creator/AaronPaul Pinkman]] would have been killed had it gone a full season, and instead Vince Gilligan had time to rework his plans for the show after it became clear how popular he was.
* Post-strike budget cuts at ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' resulted in the demise of Robert Smigel’s animated “Saturday TV Funhouse” segments.
* ''Series/OutOfJimmysHead'' was cancelled, but considering this was the first series to mark the NetworkDecay of Creator/CartoonNetwork, that may have been considered a good thing.
** Speaking of CN, this was one of the contributing factors (others being going over-budget and a lawsuit) that led to the premature end of ''WesternAnimation/ClassOf3000'' shortly after it premiered, as most of the writers were with the WGA.
!!British strikes:

'''1968 Creator/{{ITV}} Strike'''

A franchise shakeup led to a lot of workers being forced to move location (there were no actual job losses). A dispute over who would get redundancy payments (specifically over those moving company, but not location) led to wildcat strikes and lockouts.

Creator/{{ITV}} was taken off the air in August 1968, leading to the management creating a [[ “ITV Emergency National Service”]], which was only repeats, pre-recorded programmes or live continuity links.

A month later, the strike ended, all sides claiming victory. The bitterness would continue, though...

'''1970 "Colour Strike"'''

Technicians at all Creator/{{ITV}} companies had a pay dispute with the management. In retaliation, they refused to use colour equipment and only recorded shows in monochrome, which meant ITV couldn't sell airtime to advertisers at the higher rates they requested for colour and couldn't make full use of the colour equipment they had just heavily invested into.

To create a monochrome image with the colour equipment, the technicians simply switched off the colour tubes on their cameras[[labelnote:†]]Colour cameras of the time used four tubes to relay the picture: three tubes for the chrominance signal which provided the colours and one tube for the luminance signal which produced a monochrome picture.[[/labelnote]] and switched off the color signal on their telecine machines (used for [[VideoInsideFilmOutside filmed location footage]]).

The strike lasted from 13 November 1970 to 8 February 1971 and affected such programs as ''Series/CoronationStreet'', ''Series/TheBennyHillShow'', ''Series/TheGoldenShot'', ''Series/PleaseSir'', ''Series/UpstairsDownstairs'', ''Series/OnTheBuses'' and ''Series/{{Crossroads}}''.

'''1979 Creator/{{ITV}} Strike'''

Electricians (an important job in TV production) at Thames Television, the station who provided the Creator/{{ITV}} service for viewers in UsefulNotes/{{London}} from Monday to Friday afternoon and undoubtedly the TeamMom of the ITV network, walked out over a pay increase they felt was derisory. The management tried to maintain a normal service, but other workers refused to help do this. Thames told the strikers to “return or else”.

In response, ACTT (the broadcasting union) got 13 of the other ITV regional stations to go on strike as well, this being a time when sympathy strikes were still permitted in Britain. Channel Television, serving UsefulNotes/TheChannelIslands, was the only company in the network to continue broadcasting during the blackout, because the tiny size of its audience meant a loss of revenue could have put it out of business.

The result was the nearly total shut down of ITV for ten weeks (10 August to [[ 5.43pm on 24 October]]) and the loss of around £100m in revenue for the striking companies. Channel Television sustained itself with extended regional news bulletins and Western movies.

In other areas of the UK, with only three channels at this point in time, Creator/TheBBC was the sole alternative, resulting in ''Series/DoctorWho'' getting its highest ratings ever for “City of Death”, a record that even Creator/DavidTennant’s regeneration ''barely'' scraped.

* ''Series/DoctorWho'' didn’t escape strike action. That season saw “Shada” ultimately cancelled after strike action prevented the second and third studio session from taking place, although in that case it was a tube strike, not an industry one. The completed portions were released on VHS in 1992, and eventually done as an audio drama for the Eighth Doctor in 2003. Scriptwriter Creator/DouglasAdams [[RecycledPremise reused the concepts he originally came up with for this serial]] for what eventually became ''Literature/DirkGentlysHolisticDetectiveAgency''.
* This period had [[BotheringByTheBook “work-to-rule”]] going on a fair bit. The DVD for ''Series/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'' includes an extra showing the cast and crew trying (and just succeeding) to get a scene filmed before the lights were turned off.

The strike ended in a victory for the unions. ITV wasn’t able to air much newly-produced programming for two-and-a-half months (showing lots of episodes of ''3–2–1'' instead), but gradually recovered its audience.

It was the longest dispute in British television history.