Sending Stuff To Save The Show
"What if we cancel Moonlight
, and they send blood?"
—Keckler, Television Without Pity
When a show is perceived by fans/viewers as being in danger of being Screwed by the Network
, and ending up relegated to the sad brotherhood of shows that were Too Good to Last
, fandom mobilizes.
They pool their resources and organize a campaign to write letters, convincing the executives at the network that the show is worth saving, and that they should Uncancel
In the earlier years of television, viewers simply sent in letters to the network to extoll the virtues of their favorite program. However with the arrival of the 21st century and the advent of the internet, fandom has become a lot more organized, active, and creative.
Letters are no longer all that gets sent in, partly because although the internet makes communication easy, the general consensus is that the networks will take tangible mail more seriously. Taking that simple fact to an extreme, fans will, en masse, send in items that are significant to the characters and/or situations found in the show they're trying to save. It appears now that sending food or snack items is an automatic Circular File for the items, and the show is not likely to be saved by fan effort directed this way.
are the ones the fans save that go on for more than one more season.
The Nice Tries
are the ones that don't quite manage another season, but at least give the audience a proper sense of closure by wrapping everything up in a Series Finale or movie.
Saving Throw Fail
happens when Executive Meddling
overrides the devotion of the fans.
includes shows whose fandoms' success or failure has not been determined because the renewal or failure to do so hasn't happened yet.
And Wrath of the Viewers
is the inverse of this trope. It can occur if a show is offensively bad enough; viewers will write in requesting the program be yanked off the air altogether, rather than asking the network to keep it on.
Most frequently, a trope for television, as fans campaign to save what they like doesn't have as active an outlet in other media. Its actual impact is often unknown, as a network may have been planning on renewing the show anyway, but lets the fan campaigns go on in hopes of gaining free publicity for the show.
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- Macross Plus and Macross II got across the Pacific in large part because of this. The Macross series in general is an almost memetic example of Screwed by the Lawyers, with no less than four companies all holding some part of the series' distribution rights and most of those companies hating each other. Despite this, pressure from both fans (who wanted a good series to make it across the Atlantic) and the rest of the industry (who wanted awesome product out there, strengthening the anime market) managed to get the Japanese side of the pileup to agree to play nice and share the revenue, at the same time that Harmony Gold (the U.S. end of the crossfire) was in the middle of a major reorganization and not minding the store. This is probably not happening again for any future Macross series, however.
- Gundam is a very unusual, and very famous, example. The original series suffered from low ratings and had its episode count cut from 49 to 39 (though the staff begged for an extension and ended up with the odd number of 43 episodes). After this, creator/director Yoshiyuki Tomino had the idea to recut the series into a trio of Compilation Movies; thanks to positive press from anime magazines and word of mouth, the trilogy was a colossal success, and the rest is history.
- After [adult swim]'s 2012 April Fools prank of unexpectedly reviving Toonami for a night garnered explosive results, they let fans know that they were seriously considering reviving the block and encouraging them to make their voices heard by contacting Cartoon Network and using the "#BringBackToonami" hashtag on Twitter. One month later, licensing deals were struck, and just like that Toonami is Back Bitches.
Films — Animation
- When Disney/Buena Vista put out their release plans for the home video and DVD release of Princess Mononoke fans were upset that the DVD would not include a subtitled Japanese track. A letter writing campaign and petition mobilized by the Nausicaa.net mailing list sucessfully convinced them otherwise; apparently they had no idea there was a demand for it.
Live Action TV
- The original Star Trek was saved by a letter-writing campaign. Fans got rewarded with only one season before it was canceled again, and said season is almost universally considered to be the worst of the series. The third season took the show past the threshold number of episodes needed at the time for a syndication deal. Without it, there'd have been no syndication and likely no further movies or series. But it's only very common misconception, since Gene Roddenberry made that story up to cover up the real reason a third season was greenlit (because Star Trek helped sell more color TV sets, which RCA, NBC's parent company had the patents on.
- Hill Street Blues was saved by a letter-writing campaign and went on for several more seasons, .
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 is both a success story and a saving throw failed. When Comedy Central took it off the air, both a letter campaign and an ad in Variety saved it and brought it to the Sci Fi Channel. However, after three seasons there, the powers that be yanked it again and not even a letter campaign would save it.
- Apparently, Reaper was renewed for a second and final season because fans sent in socks, standing for the character Sock.
- Jericho managed to get a second season after fans sent crates full of Nuts to the Producers, in reference to Jake Green's "Nuts!" reply to the New Bern attackers' demand to surrender. Unfortunately, the ratings went down even further post-renewal and it didn't last very long, but did reach a conclusion of sorts.
- Joss Whedon fans began sending in letters to save Dollhouse months before the first episode even aired. While they had their reasons, Fox politely asked fans to wait until the series aired to start saving it. Ultimately, however, it did get renewed for another season.
- When asked what to send, Chuck producer Josh Schwartz suggested Nerds candy. One savvy fan decided it would be better to enlist advertisers. Playing off an especially shameless Product Placement, the "Finale and a Footlong" campaign had fans buy Subway sandwiches. Wanting a piece of the action, Nestle sent Nerds. Thus far, the show has managed to survive to season five (2011/2012), though it's also been declared to be the final season.
- Roswell fans sent Tabasco sauce and the show got two more seasons.
- Fans of British sitcom Not Going Out successfully got the show Uncanceled in 2010 after a petition and letter-writing campaign.
- Fans of Nikita tried sending lipstick (Nikita once hid the detonator of a bomb in her lipstick) into The CW around May 2011, when the network held up on telling of its fate. In the end, it turned out the network were trying to draw out the process to entice fans. Regardless, the show returned for a second season.
- The now famous Operation Rainfall is an attempt to get the Wii RPGs The Last Story, Xenoblade Chronicles and Pandora's Tower localized in North America. They sent letters to Nintendo's North American HQ trying to convince them to bring these games to North America. After their first attempt failed, they tried again with an even bigger letter-writing campaign. After a while, Nintendo eventually released Xenoblade Chronicles, while XSEED Games released The Last Story and Pandora's Tower.
- Kim Possible fans organized a letter-writing campaign to save the show, and it was brought back for a fourth and final season.
- Family Guy fans sent diapers (for Stewie) to Fox to save the show. Though it didn't work initially, the show did come back a few years later due to good DVD sales and strong performance on [adult swim].
- Futurama fans tried this with anchovies, though it never really caught on. However, like Family Guy, it was eventually renewed for its success on DVD and [adult swim] (not to mention how popular Family Guy was after its renewal).
Live Action TV
- Firefly's fans, the Browncoats, sent in postcards, rather than letters. While they were not successful in getting the show Uncanceled, they did manage the unprecedented result of getting the Series Finale as a theatrical release feature film. Acounts vary what Joss Whedon himself wanted and anticipated. Some say that the film was hoped to renew interest enough for the network to continue the series, while the others say that the film was intended as a closure from the beginning.
- Farscape fans' effort to save their show was called BraScape, wherein they sent bras to Sci-Fi Channel. They did not successfully get the show Uncanceled, but did get a Made-for-TV Movie wrapping up the series. 'Scapers also sent in boxes of crackers (for the episode "Crackers Don't Matter"), but since this was close to 9/11 it was a serious hassle for the network to screen that many packages, so instead they started sending in postcards made from crackers boxes.
- La Femme Nikita fans sent in many things, most notably sunglasses, after the title character's favorite accessory. Their efforts were rewarded another half a season to wrap things up.
- Code Lyoko fans have been campaigning for a fifth season ever since the show ended in 2008, after some years of deliberation, MoonScoop is making a new season, entitled, 'Code Lyoko Evolution' and this time, it will be in live action.
- Despite a massive number of petitions, Danny Phantom still went off the air. But at least there was a big series wrap up that answered a ton of plot points and wrapped things up nicely.
Saving Throw Failed
- There was also a plan by The Big O fans to send tomatoes to Cartoon Network, but there wasn't much turnout for that.
- Save our Voice Actors, an organization that tried to get the original 4kids English voice actors back for Pokémon, once sent pasta to the new dubbing studio because the last episode to use the original voice actors prominently featured noodles. It failed.
- The Sailor Moon "procott" is a strange example for a number of reasons. Instead of the network, it was targeted at the advertisers. The plan was to buy a whole bunch of a unfrosted strawberry Pop-Tarts on a single day, creating a sales spike that would demonstrate the fans' buying power and prove that the series was a good investment. Whether or not this Zany Scheme could have worked in the first place is debatable, but the really interesting bit was that the fandom was against it. The original dub of Sailor Moon was notorious for questionable scripting and some significant edits. A majority of fans wanted the North American dub dead so that they could keep their fansubs. The split killed any chance of the stunt succeeding, and the fact that the chief organizing fan-group had a reputation for spreading false rumors and disinformation didn't help. The series was later brought back anyway after reruns did surprisingly well on Cartoon Network. But Pop-Tarts were a in-joke in the fandom for some time thereafter.
Live Action TV
- Cupid fans sent in letters, but were unsuccessful in saving the show. Years later, ended up Uncanceled for other reasons. Unfortunately, the new version suffered the same fate, as ABC aired it in the 10:00 pm hour on Tuesday nights, and repeatedly preempted it for another ultimately failed show, The Unusuals.
- Before Veronica Mars was renewed for a second season, its fans organized a campaign to send in fake $2 bills with the words "Veronica Mars is smarter than me" written on them. Before it was renewed for a third season, a group of fans called Cloud Watchers organized a freakin' plane to fly over the UPN and WB buildings saying "Renew Veronica Mars! CW 2006!" Before the third season aired, fans even spread around flyers for the show. When it was finally canceled at the end of the third season, some fans sent Mars Bars (and after they ran out, Snickers) to the CW. It didn't work that time, unfortunately.
- Fans of The 4400 sent in letters and sunflower seeds as well, but this appears to have been unsuccessful. NBC owns USA, and the now-defunct show has more than a passing similarity to their then-fair-haired child show, Heroes, so The 4400 may be a case of Screwed by the Network when all is said and done.
- Enterprise was going to get canceled on UPN after its fourth season, when it was just getting good (which says many things about the show and the fans), so fans actually organized a money-raising campaign to essentially reimburse UPN for its losses. They actually succeeded in raising several million dollars, but it was canceled anyway.
- Phil of the Future had the fandom up in arms after it was confirmed by a cast member that the third season was being canceled so Disney could make The Replacements instead, so it ended on a cliffhanger. An online petition was started and many emails were sent, but to no avail.
- ABC canceled Pushing Daisies as of November 20, 2008, despite a daisy sending campaign from the fans. They dangled the show in limbo for a while before airing the last few episodes. There will, however, be a Pushing Daisies comic miniseries.
- Fans of the Witchblade TV series sent in Pez dispensers (as in Sara Pezzini, the lead character). However, as the series was canceled because of the lead actress's being entered into a detox program, no amount of fan goodwill could avert the cancellation.
- Fans of The Invisible Man sent in confetti and other sparkly stuff, but since this was during the anthrax scare these didn't get to the intended audience.
- Fans of VR5 formed a group called "Virtual Storm" whose letter-writing campaign did get the studio to green-light a TV movie to tie up the storyline. Unfortunately, the cast had moved on to other things by then, the scriptwriting foundered, and the whole thing fell apart before it got very far.
- ABC Family Channel only purchased 1 season of The Middleman. Although fans sent in M&Ms chocolate candies [because right side up they invoke the Middleman himself, and upside down, they look like Ws, invoking Wendy Watson], the show was still canceled.
- The first season of 10 Things I Hate About You ended on more than one Cliff Hanger, but that didn't stop ABC Family from pulling the plug on it. Fans sent in postcards and letters, made phone calls, swarmed the feedback option on the website and started a Facebook fan movement to get it back for at least one more season in order to get some closure. No dice.
- Fans of Journeyman sent in Rice-A-Roni, to no avail.
- Fans of Moonlight decided to go a different route and organize blood drives. Their efforts did not save their show.
- Sour Patch Kids, Kyle XY's favorite snack, were sent in an effort to save that show. There is an online petition floating about, as well. Unfortunately, since the show has been cancelled for two years and the actors have all moved on to do different things, it seems unlikely that it will be renewed for another season, or given a movie finale like Firefly. Intensely irritating, since the series ended on a cliffhanger.
- In addition to the usual letters and phone calls, one cheeky fan sent her (broken) TV to FOX to protest the cancellation of The Lone Gunmen.
- The Dresden Files had a shortlived Save Dresden Files campaign in 2007 which consisted primarily of sending in drumsticks engraved with "SAVE DRESDEN FILES". Drumsticks were what Dresden used in the series as a blasting rod (or a wand, to those of you who aren't Dresden-savvy). Which is amusing since the show was under fire for They Changed It, Now It Sucks for most of its short run...
- Cavemen fans (and yes, they did exist) sent in their own hair to protest the show's cancellation, apparently inspired by the nuts sent to save Jericho.
- Womens Murder Club fans sent Hershey's Kisses (because the Big Bad was named the Kiss-Me-Not Killer). The show was granted a few extra episodes to finish the season, but was canceled after that when ratings didn't improve.
- Guiding Light fans sent candles with the message "Keep the light shining!", but, by that time, the decision had already been made not to renew the show.
- Fans of As The World Turns sent in bars of soap to CBS. After concerns that the soap might have contained anthrax (it didn't, by the way), the FBI was called in to investigate.
- Some Heroes fans began to worry about the show's falling ratings during the third and fourth season, and started sending waffle mix to the network in a plea for them not to axe the show. It hung on for a while longer but was canceled after season five.
- Fans of The New Adventures of Old Christine sent in wine corks, unfortunately the ratings of the fifth season weren't high enough for the execs to justify renewing it.
- For Awake some fans sent red and green rubber bands. The show didn't end up getting anything past the first season, but creator Kyle Killen did once mention the possibility that he'd continue the story in book form at some point.
- Not just letters and posters of fanarts, but a small group of fans actually held rallies located around major Nickelodeon-based networks for years to try and convince the big wigs to bring back the canceled Danny Phantom. No dice. But they haven't given up yet.
- There was a "Waffles for Stephanie" campaign, but Dan Di Dio claims to have only received ten or so. The tumblr maintainer disputes this, and there are plans for a second campaign, "The Halloween of Missing Batgirls," focusing on not just Stephanie Brown, but also Cassandra Cain, Helena Bertinelli, and Renee Montoya.
- There was also the Cassandra Cain Fan Campaign, an effort to get a concentrated group to buy the first issue of Cassandra's Batgirl series on Comixology, to prove she still has selling power.
Live Action TV
- The Mole had a "Save the Mole" campaign in 2008, after ABC said halfway through the 5th season that they won't renew the show for a 6th season unless the ratings improved for the second half of the season. They sent in "lemonheads" (not the candy, but actual lemons with faces painted on them, after Paul's unofficial mascot for the season.) So far, the show has not been declared canceled, nor has it been renewed for a 6th season.
- Fans of the pre-Paul F. Tompkins multi-comedian version of Best Week Ever have discussed sending cans of soup to VH-1, the point being that we already have The Soup, we don't need another one-host pop culture mocking clip show.
- Casualty and Holby City fans attempts to get background extras into proper characters, e.g. in Casualty Big Mac, the porter, is a slightly minor character, but sometimes gets major storylines. (See the articles on Casualty and Holby City for the Fandom involved.)
- After Caprica's cancellation, fans launched a campaign consisting in sending bags of Apples to SyFy, after the promotional images.
- Tower Prep fans have been trying to get the series a second season ever since the last episode's infamous cliffhanger ending. So far, they've sent in mass petitions, thousands of letters, some very impressive fanart, and more. One of the "Tower Prep Riot" group's more impressive feats was a month-long boycott of Cartoon Network in its entirety. The show's fate is still undecided.
- Fans of The Hour organized a letter writing campaign to the BBC (or rather postcard writing, imitating postcards sent by Freddie to Bel between series 1 and 2) to protest the show's cancellation. They also have an online petition, a #savethehour twitter tag, a charity drive in the name of the cause, and have sent production company Kudos a yellow desk lamp having been informed that the BBC can't accept gifts.
- Hornblower fans (mostly fan girls) are known to organize postcard drives from time to time. Unfortunately to no success, but hope never dies. (The last instalment of the miniseries aired in 2003.)
- Fans of Pleasure Island's Adventurer's Club at Walt Disney World tried sending in maps and masks in their efforts to save it from closure with the rest of Pleasure Island. It might be reopening briefly around the holidays, but its fate after that is unknown.
- Mother 3, a game which, despite surviving one cancellation and eventually releasing in Japan, is still not likely to ever be localized abroad. This in spite of Starmen.net's obsessive EB Siege fan campaign. A very professional Fan Translation has been finished and released.
- On August 31, 2012, in a "realignment of company focus," NC Soft shuttered Paragon Studios and announced that City of Heroes would also shut down by November 30. In response, the player base (noted for setting up its own charity drive) organized "Save CoH" with the intent of convincing NCSoft to sell rights to the game and its IP to investors, or to keep the game running. Efforts have included a petition with over 20,000 signatures, letter-writing and cape-and-mask-sending campaigns to NCSoft, and a Unity Rally held on September 8 that included at least 6,000 participants and completely filled up the primary server designated for the rally. The player base also showed solidarity with the former Paragon Studios employees by raising $1,000 to buy them dinner. Big names like Neil Gaiman, Felicia Day, Scott Kurtz, and Mercedes Lackey have also shown their support for the cause—and Mercedes, who is a City of Heroes player herself, sent a proposal to NCSoft to advertise their games free of charge if they don't shut this game down.
The player base has received a ton of media attention, and the Unity Rally was streamed live by Joystiq's MMO subdivision Massively. "#SaveCoH" was also trending on Twitter during that day. On October 2nd, NC Soft released a statement claiming they had "exhausted all available options on selling the rights of the studio" and would be shutting the game down anyway. However, some investors have said anonymously that NCSoft completely refused to negotiate sale of the game with them. In response, Titan Network released a statement resolving to fight on all the way to the shutdown date.
Although the game shut down on November 30 as announced, the player community continued its efforts to save the game—compounded with mounting negative attention paid to the handling of the game's closure by online media outlets. Mercedes Lackey organized "Task Force Hail Mary," a business proposal sent to Disney in hopes that it may convince them to purchase the City of Heroes IP from NCSoft. The Korea Times also interviewed Mercedes in light of City of Heroes' closure, detailing just how poorly NCSoft handled the shutdown of the game.
- Gargoyles fans bought what they could of the first half of season 2 to try and bring the second half to dvd, but Buena Vista still won't budge. Strangely enough, unlike other canceled examples here, it still airs...but in the dead of night, as filler. Also, the creator himself has gotten involved to try and revive the property through comic book sales, as well as continue the story away from the Canon Discontinuity season made after he left. There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason, or even an organized effort, so their offices randomly get gobs of celtic/scottish-centric objects, pictures, what have you, every now and then.
- Sym-Bionic Titan fans have been exhorted by the brother of one of the cast members to send purple shirts to Cartoon Network.
- Invader Zim campaign group Operation Head Pigeons and convention company Wasabi Anime joined forces for a letter writing campaign titled Project Massive. Invadercon II: Doomcon attendees sent letters to Nickelodeon with proof of donations to New York based charity Toys of Hope in lieu of physical items. Subsequently the mailing address went online for a second phase not requiring a donation, with visible Twitter based support from Richard Horvitz and Rikki Simons (voices of Zim and Gir respectively). The show cancelled midway second season, contrary to popular belief, solely due to Viacom's budget cuts after their stock fell. It remained out of production all these years because an enthusiastic (once again contrary to popular belief) Jhonen Vasquez wants the show to return in its full budget glory and no less than that. OHP awaits results from Viacom AND further minor updates from Nick New York press department's Katelyn Balach, who allegedly agreed to collect and present the letters to the powers that be.
- Interestingly enough, mutual fans of Young Justice and Green Lantern The Animated Series (Fanterns) are actually teaming up with word that their shows haven't been renewed. The strategy includes sending in Reach drink bottles for YJ and blue flowers for GLTAS, receipts for merchandise, keeping the episodes selling steady on iTunes, letters, e-mails, getting the shows to trend on Twitter, and now buying toys to donate to Ronald Mc Donald House Charities. Of course, Green Lantern: TAS toys are practically nonexistent due the colossal flop that was the Green Lantern live action movie, so movie toys or general DC Green Lantern toys have to be sent instead. They've forced Cartoon Network and DC to issue a joint statement reassuring them that they appreciate their support for DC Nation the block and Cartoon Network has started advertising the shows on their Facebook again. The major point of contention is the fact that Young Justice seems to be reaping more benefit than Green Lantern; Green Lantern's ratings have been steadily dropping and while the show sells very well on iTunes, it can't sustain its momentum like Young Justice can, plus the fact that "#Young Justice" was trending separately on 2-23-13 from the combined fandom hashtag. Bose fandoms have gotten the attention of K-Mart who said that they will look into the toy situation. And now WB has seen the fan outcry and set up a meeting to possibly save the shows! HOLY SHIT!
Wrath of the Viewership
- In Finland, the atrociously bad voiceover group Agapio Racing Team, also known as Nordic Agapio, had their doors shut down for good after angry Digimon fans sent in enough complaints about their Digimon dub to the show's distributor, who sacked the group about a season or two into the series and hired another, much more competent group.
Live Action TV
- Soupy Sales, miffed at being denied a day off for New Year's Day, asked his juvenile audience to go into their parents' purses and wallets, find the "pretty green pieces of paper", and mail them into the show. They only sent Monopoly money, but he got his wish — a one-week vacation. (Suspension, technically, but who's counting?)
- Peter Berg's Wonderland is part this and part Screwed by the Network. The show only lasted for two episodes, even though the pilot won its timeslot (against an ER repeat.) Its short lifespan is often attributed to protests by mental health advocates of a spree-killing storyline.
- Doctor Who: Several examples.
- Doctor Who fans being what they are, large numbers of them sent in acerbic letters complaining about the various scientific inaccuracies and how the show wasn't nearly as good as when they were children. They thought they were being "helpful", trying to restore their beloved show to its former glory. Unfortunately, so the legend goes, Michael Grade (who, so the legend goes, was looking for an excuse to can the show anyway) interpreted the complaints as demands to cancel the series. So he did.
- Rumors suggest that Grade's vendetta against the show was personal, seeing how star Colin Baker had married Grade's ex.
- This in turn, resulted in an even greater deluge of letters demanding the show be brought back. Some of which were, reportedly, written in blood.
- It also resulted in possibly the worst protest song in history.
- In a comic book adaptation of The Powerpuff Girls, a villainous show host of a kid's show asked its fans (including Bubbles) to send in money without telling their parents. In this case, it wasn't so much to save the show from being cancelled, as it was a villainous plot to get money. Also, instead of threatening to cancel the show, all the characters would die if they got no money.
- The Animated Series also has an episode like this. He pretty much indicates the world will end for the show's cast if they don't get money. So Bubbles robs the banks herself.
- Garfield once had Uncle Roy ("Everybody loves Uncle Roy") begging his audience to send letters to protect him from the "big green monsters who want to take Uncle Roy off the air".
Live Action TV
- In 30 Rock, Kenneth tries to save TGS by sending sugar cubes. Unfortunately, the cubes got crushed in the way and were mistaken for anthrax, and Kenneth was tackled by Homeland Security.
- The Castle episode "One Life to Lose" has an inverted example; a group of internet fans all agree to send axes to the producers of their favorite soap opera as part of a campaign to get the head writer fired.
- The webcomic Save Hiatus is about this phenomenon. In it, the main cast, who are the fans of the fictional TV series Hiatus, send in red thongs.
- In one episode of Arthur, D.W. organized a petition at her preschool to get the network to uncancel Mary Moo-Cow. It didn't work as expected: The show wasn't brought back due to the lead getting a new role as a business news anchor, but did end up in syndication on another channel when a Fictional Counterpart of Batman: The Animated Series was unexpectedly cancelled.