Better Off Ted. The critically acclaimed sitcom quickly grew a Firefly-level intense fanbase, and to ABC's credit was given a second season despite low ratings, but then screwing truly began with the network providing minimal promotion, launching the season in December (exceptionally late for a returning show on the network), airing episodes during the holiday season (even though by 2009 most US viewers had been conditioned to expect new shows to be on mid-season break and so likely didn't expect the series to be on at that time), and when the ratings weren't stellar began burning off the episodes two at a time in January, cancelling the series, thus giving the show a Season 2 that ran for less than two months with the last two episodes not being aired in the U.S. (they did air in Australia later that summer, and both are available on Netflix) due to the network's plan of airing them as Filler if the NBA Finals ended early wasn't needed due to that year's series going a full seven games.
ABC's apparent reaction to Commander In Chief winning rave reviews and Emmys for its acting was to kill the show. They put it on hold during the Winter Olympics, then moved it to a different timeslot afterwards without properly announcing this. Ratings suffered, as tends to happen when one moves a show to a new timeslot without announcing it, so they canned it.
There's a bit more to that story. Showrunner/Director Rod Lurie took too long to produce episodes for the network, since he wanted to write and direct everything himself. ABC was understandably upset, but their unwise next move hurt the show beyond repair. Instead of giving Rod Lurie a scriptwriter to help him out, ABC instead fired Lurie and brought in Steven Bochco as the new showrunner mid-season. Then came the way-too-long delays and schedule shifts that followed, which further destroyed the show, one season in.
Covington Cross (1992) aired only six episodes over eight weeks, being constantly preempted and/or moved due to sports programming. It didn't help that the show was expensive to produce (shot on location in England) and had been a prime target for Moral Guardians due to its violent content. Regardless, after the show's "dismal" ratings, it was canned.
One of Litton's Weekend Adventure shows, Culture Click (an educational clone of The Soup), got screwed in Atlanta when their ABC station aired it at 4:00 AM Eastern. To be fair, it was the dud show in the Litton lineup and the first canceled program.
Cupid was bounced around from the Friday Night Death Slot to Saturday (the two nights people are least likely to be home to watch television) to Thursday against NBC's Must-See TV, justifying its cancellation before the end of the season. The show was Un-Cancelled years later, as ABC has gave its creator permission to try again...but the revival didn't get much better treatment, and after ratings slipped it was quickly canned once again.
Fridays was a Saturday Night Liveknock-off that aired on ABC from 1980 to 1982 (though it was first pitched and developed in 1979). Despite clashes with the censors and initial unfavorable comparisons to Saturday Night Live, it did win over fans who were disillusioned over SNL's decline in quality at the time (when Lorne Michaels and the remnants of his original cast left and Jean Doumanian was named the new showrunner) and cited by most critics (past and present, as seen in this article, ""Fridays: The SNL Ripoff That Nearly Surpassed the Original"")as the only sketch show that was worthy of replacing SNL. However, ABC was wary about the show's content (which, despite banning the infamous "Diner of the Living Dead" sketch, the writers continued with such subversive and creative sketches as a Hope/Crosby comedy in El Salvador, a live-action Popeye cartoon with Bluto as a fascist dictator, a dramatic sketch about a punk rocker who tries to make amends with his elderly fathernote only to find out that the old man's claims of "I Have No Son" and "Who are you?" aren't cold-hearted ways of disowning him, an Italian sex comedy about a nurse who seduces an old man, and, what's now considered the show's magnum opus, a Rocky Horror Picture Show parody that lasted 17 minutes and made fun of Ronald Reagan and the new wave of Republicanism), and, during the second season, moved the show from its cushy 11:30 PM timeslot to midnight and extended it from 70 to 90 minutes to make room for Nightline. When the ratings suffered because of this, ABC had the brilliant idea to air the show in primetime on April 23, 1982 — where it got its ass kicked by Dallas (like so many other shows from the early- to mid-1980s). Also not helping was the fact that NBC had gotten rid of Jean Doumanian and most of her SNL cast (Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo were the only survivors of Season 6), with the show more-or-less recovering from its Seasonal Rot with Dick Ebersol at the helm.
Hope and Faith was still getting decent ratings in Season 3 despite being scheduled opposite American Idol, but ABC cancelled it anyways so they could make room for an expanded Dancing with the Stars.
ABC screwed over Jake In Progress after its Season 2 premiere by replacing its timeslot with The Bachelor and cancelling the show a few short months afterwards (they screwed over Emily's Reasons Why Not in a similar manner), leaving eight episodes unaired, ABC cited lackluster ratings in the premiere as its reason; it seems more like ABC just wanted an excuse to cancel the show so it could fill another time slot with more of their Lowest Common Denominator reality shows.
Just the Ten of Us, a spin-off of Growing Pains, was screwed because of politics. Although Just the Ten of Us did well in the ratings on Friday nights (and frequently won its 9:30 PM timeslot), ABC wanted all shows in the TGIF block to be produced by Miller-Boyett Productions (as was the case with Full House, Family Matters, and Perfect Strangers). Ultimately, after finding no other suitable timeslot for Just the Ten of Us in time for the 1990-91 season, the series was canceled outright and replaced by Going Places (which lasted only one season of 19 episodes, changing its premise on #13).
Feeling that ABC wasn't promoting it enough, Stephen King spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money to buy print ads for Kingdom Hospital. The network then decided to change the timeslot to compete with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, meaning all the ads King bought gave the wrong time. King was probably pissed-off at this.
Less Than Perfect was royally screwed by ABC during its final year, first by shortening its Season 4 order from 22 episodes to 13 despite solid ratings for the previous season, then the season was delayed until April. Then only 5 out of 13 episodes were aired; the next two episodes scheduled to air were pre-empted by NBA games and ABC unceremoniously cancelled the show without giving any explanation whatsoever.
Fans of Lois and Clark had no reason to suspect Season 4 would be its last, as 4-5 had been confirmed for some time as part of a single contract deal. Then ABC got both new Disney ownership and leadership who wanted the timeslot for a revival of The Wonderful World of Disney and the contract was reneged on, leaving the cliffhanger unresolved and the hasty removal of "To be continued..." over the last scene.
America's Funniest Home Videos may have suffered for this too, given that its 7 pm Sunday timeslot was the first half of the two-hour timeslot Disney wanted for the Wonderful World revival. That Videos was already facing trouble, with a weary Bob Saget leaving at the end of the 1996-97 season, couldn't have helped. In any case, the Retooled show was treated poorly (start at 3.2 at the linked page) from that point on, with three timeslot changes — ending up on Saturdays. From there, it was demoted to occasional specials. In the end, however, it survived the screwing; once it relaunched as a series with Tom Bergeron as host in 2001, it gradually clawed its way back to being a network fixture and returned to its old Sunday at 7 timeslot.
Max Headroom: Give it promotion no series could live up to (like appearing on the cover of Newsweek) and then drop it opposite two wildly-successful shows (Dallas and Miami Vice). This is somewhat different, though, as the reason it was screwed was not due to incompetence or office politics so much as the content may have been too subversive for American tastes. The fact it was ever greenlit at all is a miracle. The show's high price tag was part of the problem, as well. Sci-fi series rely on effects, props, costumes and set design, which, back in the days before CGI, translated to massively inflated budgets. Given the show's content, it's hardly surprising the executives decided against continuing to sign those huge checks.
ABC screwed over the Damon Wayans sitcom My Wife and Kids by cancelling it after the creators had already been promised another season, thus ending the series on a cliffhanger as a result (though Word of God's explanation for what would've happened next season lessens the blow somewhat).
The Partridge Family was a modest ratings success its first three years, debuting at #26 and breaking the Top 20 in Seasons 2-3. Then ABC moved it to Saturday nights opposite All in the Family, which was in the middle of five consecutive seasons at #1. Ratings tanked, and the show was canned.
Disney originally was pretty nice to the Power Rangers franchise, going so far as to show episodes on three different channels. Ratings declined eventually (which many blame on the Dork Age of Bruce Kalish), and the last season (Power Rangers RPM) was delegated to a Saturday-morning spot on ABC among tween sitcoms, where it was constantly preempted in the West Coast because of football and golf, with many stations airing it during ungodly hours or refusing to at all because it cut into the ability to fulfill their Edutainment Show requirements. It's been stated by RPM's first showrunner that Disney is embarrassed to show the series, not to mention produce it.
And even once RPM ended, Disney still held the rights for another year, during which they aired a Recut of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. This had all of the scheduling problems RPM had, with the added strike against it of being nearly-twenty-year-old reruns.
The Practice was having great success for six seasons. Then ABC decided to move it from Sunday nights to Monday, supposedly to get out of the way of the similar and strongly-casted NBC show The Lyons Den (which ended up being canned in less than a year). The Practice suffered a huge drop in ratings during that year. At the end of Season 7, ABC refused to renew the show unless its budget was severely cut, citing "poor ratings". As a result, six of the main cast members were fired. Ironically, the show was put back on Sunday nights for the final season...and to show that David E. Kelley can make lemons into lemonade, he introduced a new character: Alan Shore, played by James Spader. The final season mostly dealt with Shore being wooed by a rival law firm led by Denny Crane, portrayed by special guest star William Shatner. Spader and Shatner both won Emmys later that year for their performances, and both characters and actors were spun off onto a new show, Boston Legal, which lasted for several years.
For some reason, ABC decided to screw Samantha Who?, which was undoubtedly one of their most successful shows with high ratings and an award-winning cast. The deathblow? The network decided to move the show from its popular Monday timeslot (right after Dancing With the Stars) to a Thursday timeslot right after In The Motherhood, a complete flop that turned off most viewers.
Tales of the Gold Monkey. Cast and crew members cited a lot of hostility by ABC at the tone of the show (the network wanted Lighter and Softer), the high budget, and "culture clash" (the South Seas Retro setting of the show didn't mesh with ABC's at-the-time "modern urban" sensibilities). It experienced Executive Meddling in scripting from the start and was canned after a single season even with growing ratings and the rival networks certain it would be ABC's flagship.
ABC originally slotted Twin Peaks against Cheers, against which it actually performed admirably...then shifted the show's timeslot repeatedly. And then they forced David Lynch to reveal who killed Laura Palmer long before he wanted to.
Ugly Betty was screwed over by ABC. Its first three seasons aired consistently on Thursday nights at 8:00 PM, but a slight drop in ratings resulted in the show being shunned to the Friday Night Death Slot at 9:00 PM in favor of Flash Forward taking its place (which ended up being canceled). Betty's ratings were cut in half after the night and time switch, and its fans spoke out...so at midseason it was moved to Wednesdays at 10:00 PM with other comedy shows. Even though the ratings improved, it was too late. The show officially ended at the end of Season 4, not finishing its original ordered run. The show did get a story sendoff, but it was rushed, and many plot points were never explained.
ABC doesn't have a Friday Night Death Slot, it has a Thursday Night Death Slot. The network has tried and failed to get a successful show going at 8:00 PM (Ugly Betty was the only scripted exception, although Whose Line Is It Anyway? and more recently Wipeout have both managed to run a few years by being low-cost filler) for over 30 years. So, naturally, in 2012 the geopolitical/military thriller Last Resort was aired Thursdays at eight. The ratings started as bad as you'd expect from a show that had to compete directly against (among other things) The Big Bang Theory and The X Factor, and got worse to the point where it finished last in its timeslot twice in a row, after which ABC killed it. Mildly subverted in that ABC is airing the remaining episodes and allowing its studio to give the series an actual ending.
Of course, with Grey's Anatomy being such a runaway hit in the hour afterwards, does ABC really need to worry too much about that?
Actually, FlashForward's ratings declined steadily going into the hiatus, yet it was brought back afterwards at the same time slot. They gave the show every chance to succeed, but it just didn't take with enough people to become the Spiritual Successor to Series/Lost that ABC desperately wanted. If it was screwed in any way, it was by putting it on at 8 rather than 9, where violence that didn't hurt Lost was perhaps a little off-putting at the earlier hour, and certainly didn't make any of the Grey's Anatomy fans watch it.
While 666 Park Avenue received modest ratings by Nielsen standards, it was later revealed that 77% of it's viewings came from DVR recordings. However, ABC ignored this, and the show was canceled anyway. Fortunately, this announcement came early enough for the final episodes to be re-written and re-shot to give the series closure. Unfortunately, the show was pulled off the schedule before they could actually air that finale. It finally did over the summer, only to see another screwing with the literal last minute of the show's finale being pre-empted for the George Zimmerman trial verdict in the East.
Masters of Science Fiction was an anthology series with plenty of promise (adaptations of stories by popular science fiction writers with a wraparound sequence hosted by none other than Stephen Hawking) but ABC sat on the show for a year, dumped it to Saturday nights and didn't air two episodes as the studio head felt the show was "too intelligent". And you wonder why there hasn't been a successful American anthology show since Tales from the Crypt...
My So-Called Life. Among other factors, it was in the Thursday Night Death Slot, and up against NBC's Friends and Mad About You. And unlike, say, Last Resort, it ended on a huge, unresolved cliffhanger.
ABC started airing season 2 of Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 and Season 3 of Happy Endings on Tuesdays on October 23, a month after the start of the season, and more importantly after the start of popular Tuesday comedies New Girl and Raising Hope and new comedies Go On, The New Normal, The Mindy Project and Ben And Kate, all of which share the same time slot as the B and HE. Then they began seriously effing with Apt. 23 airing unaired episodes from Season 1 while airing episodes from Season 2 at random, resulting in serious discontinuities between episodes (like June working on Wall Street and then not, then doing it again the next episode; the entire "James on Dancing with the Stars" plot via airing order was scrambled beyond belief to the point a Dub-Induced Plot Hole had to be created to scrub a DWTS mention). Then, on January 22, 2013, they cancelled the show and announced they were not going to air the remaining 8 episodes on the network. After the end of the 2013 broadcast season the missing eight episodes were placed online and Hulu, allowing some kind of closure.
This was actually a result of being screwed in Season 1 when, after a positive response at upfronts, ABC had ordered 13 episodes and scheduled it as an actual midseason replacement with a premiere date in February. But then...perhaps ABC got cold feet about the title, not least because they were taking similar heat over Good Christian Bitches, which became Good Christian Belles and finally just GCB. After putting Apt. 23 through the same rollercoaster, they rescheduled its premiere date to the end of April, allowing just 6 episodes or so and forcing the mixed-up order in Season 2.
Houston Medical was a well-received 2002 documentary series about the inner workings of a hospital in Houston (it also received praise for its tasteful handling of one of the series' subjects, a doctor dying of brain cancer). So what did ABC do? Dumped it into the Summer 2002 scheduling with no advertising or awareness whatsoever. After ABC burned off the series, the series was never re-run.
ABC was pretty much the Fox of the 2010s. Pan Am, Missing, Body of Proof, Zero Hour, No Ordinary Family, Better with You, How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life), Red Widow, and countless other series have gotten yanked off the air pretty quickly, some as a result even ending on cliffhangers, though most of those shows were considered mediocre at best and terrible at worst (especially Pan Am, which tried to be the free-to-air TV version of Mad Men), so there's no love lost.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was first put into direct competition with NCIS and was given an incredibly erratic schedule in its first season, not helped by the fact that its second half had to be scheduled around the Winter Olympics. Episodes would be shown in small bursts before being put on hold for several weeks before the next batch would air, such as T.R.A.C.K.S being the only episode shown in February with three weeks between the episodes before and after it. This did nothing to help the show's ratings and frustrated fans so much that one of the big announcements from Marvel was that the last batch of Season 1 episodes would be shown without any interruption. Thankfully, the show was renewed (it helps that it's part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe juggernaut) and Marvel was keen to point out that the second season would be broadcast in two uninterrupted batches with an eight week winter hiatus when Agent Carter will be shown.
Contractual obligation with the network's original founder Pat Robertson is the only thing keeping The 700 Club on ABC Family. In the meantime, the network is doing everything it can to discourage people from watching it, airing it at 11 pm and putting disclaimers before it that its views do not reflect that of the network. Some would call this entirely justified due to Robertson's laundry list of controversial statements, especially since 9/11, making this a rare case of Screwed By The Creator.
The network spent the spring and summer of 2013 coming out with news on everything on the network, including a spelling bee game show and the The Hills clone The Vineyard, except for news about the fate of Bunheads, which had their first season come to an end in February of that year. The network waited five months and through multiple questions from fans and television critics to announce the show's cancellation in the dog days of July, leading to consternation among the fans of the show, and did no favors to the cast, who were stuck waiting to see if it was coming back and were unable to commit to the 2013-14 pilot season without news either way. It also had the opposite effect of having those who like Bunheads root against the new ABC Family shows The Fosters and Twisted in the infinitesimal hope that they'd bomb so they'd get their show back; both shows did well and came back in the winter (though Twisted ended up plunging and was canceled at the end of its winter half-season). It also lead to questions as to why ABC Family just doesn't expand their original programming efforts to another night so they don't have to deal with this.
Shall no one mourn the loss of Kyle XY?. After 3 successful seasons (which most people agreed that it really didn't degrade in quality at any point) it appeared that mainly after the slow decline of Heroes and Smallville viewers ABC Family decided that Superhuman Realism based shows weren't really their bag anymore. So Kyle was suddenly canceled and "several" new dramatic based shows mainly The Secret Life of the American Teenager along with several press statements that ABC Family would be focusing on more realistic shows in the future.
ABC Family also said Kyle XY was axed due to low ratings. It is true that ratings dropped after Secret Life premiered, but Kyle was still pulling in an average of 1.5 million. That's pretty good for ABC Family, but since it wasn't Secret Life's average of 3 million, it was "low ratings" and worthy of cancellation.
It's also worth pointing out that between Seasons 2 and 3, ABC Family put Kyle XY on a year-long hiatus. By the time it came back for the third seasons, many casual fans had mistakenly assumed that the show was already canceled and thus didn't tune in. It didn't help matters that even after the season finally started, ABC Family seemed more intent on shilling "The Secret Life" ad nauseum and seemingly lost all interest in Kyle XY.
Another show that was cancelled due to ABC Family's new "more realistic" outlook was The Middle Man. Alas. Matt Keeslar's acting career pretty much ended at this point.
10 Things I Hate About You had solid ratings and good advertising for the first half of Season 1. (It is ABC Family's habit to split the seasons in half. In this case, the first half was in the fall and the second half was in the Spring.) Disaster struck with the second half: this time, there was scarcely any advertising. The half-hour show wasn't paired with anything else and merely showed the same new episode instantly afterwards. The instant followup was also the only rerun that was on at a reasonable time of day. Now in this day and age, if one misses a show, one can catch it online...right? Not so fast. The website made people pay a 99¢ fee if they wanted to watch the episode online before Friday (when it would become free), a tactic they haven't used on any other show before or since. The worst blow, however, was moving the show from Tuesday nights to Monday nights, pitting a show still finding an audience against ratings juggernaut Dancing with the Stars. The show still did fairly well considering the circumstances, but dipped below an average of one million viewers, which prompted a swift cancellation.
Spooks got this bad during its two runs on cable TV in the United States. It first landed on A&E at a time when the network was in the process of decaying from its original image as a home for British imports into the reality hive it is today. After getting decent midweek slots for series one and two, the network decided to push series three to Saturdays at 10 to make room for reality in that midweek slot. Ratings suffered, but A&E was already locked into a contract for series four. So, they pulled repeats off the schedule during the long hiatus between series, and dumped series four on Fridays at 11, where the ratings dropped so hard, so fast that it was pulled after two weeks.
That said, at least the network bothered to burn off the rest of series four (in Saturday afternoon marathon form). The show wouldn't get that chance at BBC America, who restarted the show's run at series one. This time at least, the show would maintain a midweek slot for its entire run. Unfortunately, the third series found it in competition against American Idol, which helped drain away a lot of viewers from the show (as Idol was prone to do to all shows at the time). The fourth series actually premiered against the gigantic Idol finale that year, and the numbers never recovered during the subsequent summer run, which led to BBCA pulling it after the fourth episode, never to return to cable TV in the US.
Luckily, PBS would pull a Network to the Rescue by contracting most of its affiliates to carry the show. As of this writing, the first nine series have aired in their entirety.
In a rare instance, networks themselves can get screwed over, mostly by cable and satellite providers.
The most infamous recent case involved a dispute between Dish Network and AMC's family of networks. Dish pulled all AMC related channels in June 2012, and the channels didn't return until late October (despite mass public outrage over the move). Though Dish claimed it was a matter of renegotiating costs of each channel (a usual reason why channels get pulled: some channels demand too much for the content they provide, and providers are reluctant to let subscribers' bills go up as a result), AMC heads insisted it was because of Dish holding a grudge for a past issue involving Cablevision when they bought the satellites for Voom HD, a now defunct suite of HD channels offered by Cablevision, and some Fox affiliates in the New York area.
Evidence that AMC may have a case about Dish involves Dish pulling another channel, this time with a local station in Youngstown.
In order to prove a claim about AMC not being watched enough, Dish pulled a sneaky (and very dirty) move during the final weeks that AMC was on the service: they moved the channel to a deep part of its 1000's array of channels (all the way to the 9500's, where "public interest" channels like Free Speech TV and Link TV cater to niche audiences) to see if people would notice the move. However, what Dish was banking on, and what they got, was that because people were never told that the channel would be moved (or to where), and because it was near impossible for people to find the channel it was on (since it was on an ungodly and rarely clicked on high channel number), no one was able to watch it, thus no one did (the DVR recording slots didn't follow either). Dish claimed this was proof enough that there was no value in keeping the channels on the lineup.
Further proof that AMC has a case: all their hit series, including Breaking Bad, continues to score sufficient ratings despite Dish's reluctance to renegotiate. Indeed, far from merely "sufficient", Breaking Bad scored it's highest ratings ever in the first run of episodes after Dish pulled AMC. The Walking Dead made AMC's case even plainer, as its premiere was the highest-rated "entertainment" (read: non-sports) telecast of anything in the first three weeks of the fall season, as well as shattering its own previous ratings record (5.8 Adults 18-49 rating, vs. a 4.7 for the season finale the previous March) despite Dish having not yet restored the network. Needless to say, it didn't take long (about a week) for Dish to restore AMC once that happened.
Also helping was that AMC was in a winning position with the Voom lawsuit against Dish. After it was a certainty Dish would lose, they capitulated pretty fast.
While Amazing Stories (or Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories, as the BBC insisted on billing it) was no classic, it still deserved better scheduling than it got from The BBC, with episodes being flung onto the lineup at whim (and even going from BBC1 to BBC2 and back) and turning up anywhere from early in the morning ("Family Dog") to mid-afternoon ("The Mission") to early in the evening ("You Gotta Believe Me") to late at night ("Mirror, Mirror"). If anyone managed to catch the entire run when it was screened terrestrially in Britain (Sci-Fi, to their credit, gave it a coherent run), you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.
In 1985, BBC controller Michael Grade (you know, the one Chris Morriscalled a c**t) cancelled the original series of Doctor Who (a show he reportedly loathed) until public pressure resulted in the cancellation being modified into an 18-month hiatus. To his credit, he allowed the series to continue afterward, but then decided to fire then-star Colin Baker. Grade later claimed that he did the former out of spite and the latter out of dislike for the actor's style. Further, when he returned the show in 1986 he scheduled it against popular Soap OperaCoronation Street, which was a major factor in the show's 1989 death.
Coronation Street wasn't the only timeslot killer. Part of the Sixth Doctor era aired at the same time as The A-Team.
It's also worth noting that several parties have alleged that the real reason that Grade fired Colin Baker was because he was a close friend of Baker's ex-wife and after having witnessed their messy divorce, had a personal vendetta against Baker. Whatever the truth, one thing that people agree on is that Grade did not want Baker working for the BBC.
Other changes made by the BBC that didn't sit well with fans included cutting the length of the seasons in half, and there was a very unpopular experiment in Season 22 (1985) of producing 45-minute episodes instead of the usual 25 (20 years later, of course, no one cared about either).
Subsequent historical publications have suggested that Grade wasn't the only person who sabotaged the show in the late eighties: Jonathan Powell, the controller of BBC1, also wanted it cancelled, and has said in interviews that he regrets that he didn't do it earlier. In his case, there don't seem to have been any personal motivations involved, just general dislike of the show and all genre shows.
The new series wasn't immune to this, either. The series debuted on the US Sci Fi Channel in 2006 (a year after the UK, and after Sci-Fi initially rejected the series for being "too British") and was screwed from the start. Varying minutes of material were cut from episodes for time ("Journey's End", originally 65 minutes, was cut down to 45), the trailers for the show the channel ran often revealed hefty spoilers, and finally they got rid of the show completely in 2009. BBC America picked it up and have been treating it much, much better than Sci Fi Channel did. The Canadian network CBC also mishandled the series after a promising first season in which they even had the stars record unique intros to each episode, but eventually the CBC lost interest in Doctor Who, which was later picked up by the cable network Space and handled much better.
Christopher Eccleston's tenure as the Ninth Doctor seems to have suffered from this. Despite propelling the show back into public consciousness and gathering tons of critical acclaim, every time the BBC repeats old episodes they always start with David Tennant's era.
For the last several seasons, the BBC has had a tendency to air the series at differing times through the season, sometimes at a different time each week, and rarely after 7 PM (sometimes even before 6 PM). Strangely, the show seems to dip in the ratings the earlier it's scheduled, whereas episodes aired after 7 have consistently been among the highest rated, but the Beeb doesn't seem to register this fact.
Nor does it seem to realize that fans would appreciate having more than a couple weeks' notice of when a new season will actually start, as has been the case for a number of revival-era seasons.
The Goodies were shafted by a BBC executive who never liked them. They were denied funding and retreated to ITV, who cancelled them after one season and a Christmas special.
Goon Show founder Michael Bentine went on to make an acclaimed series of surrealistic comedy for the BBC, It's A Square World. Very, very few of Bentine's shows survive today. Michael Bentine alleged that when he refused to incorporate political satire into his shows at the behest of very senior BBC executives, not only did the BBC rip up a contract for more shows, it deliberately wiped all the tapes so that Bentine could not profit from repeat fees or overseas sales. If this is true, then the BBC execs cut off their collective nose to spite their face, in screwing over an artiste who would not play ball at the price of destroying a critically admired comedy show.
As a small consolation, Bentine did later (and presumably under different management) remake most of his best sketches for BBC radio, playing all the parts himself, and the radio shows have survived.
When the BBC originally aired Monty Python's Flying Circus, they broadcast it at inconsistent hours and preempted it with the Horse Of The Year Show. This is the reason for some of the show's Biting-the-Hand Humor and malicious jokes about BBC television programming. Terry Gilliam even had to buy the original tapes from the BBC to prevent their destruction, as TV studios at the time were in the habit of taping over shows they no longer wanted.
Python also suffered, due to its original scheduling time, from the BBC's "regional opt-out", a device allowing BBC regions, at certain times of day, to over-ride nationally scheduled programmes with material of great regional interest, such as Cumbrian Dry-Stone Walling Techniques or Pig Slurry: The East Anglian Farmer's Friend. Some British regions therefore never even got to see the show on its first run.
This issue resurfaced on the 30th Anniversary Week in 1999, where at least on paper, episodes of Python were being repeated nightly for seven days. Viewers in the North-West tuning in at 10:00, expecting to see a classic Python episode as per national schedule were less than thrilled to find BBC North-West was running thrilling highlights of the Rugby League fixtures. Despite BBC North-West promising to screen the scheduled Python at a later date, the later date has so far not arrived.
Robin Hood had arguably already killed itself with the death of Marian, but The BBC didn't help matters at all with its "promotion" of Series 3, which essentially amounted to one trailer for the series (and a few other episode-specific ones), and Jonas Armstrong and Joanne Froggatt guesting on The Paul O'Grady Show. This They Just Didn't Care attitude culminated in the finale being shunted to BBC Two in favour of tennis just hours before it went out (not that it mattered much, since the series had been released on DVD prematurely). Irrespective of fandom's reaction to Series 3, it's hard to deny that it got a raw deal from the network.
Robot Wars suffered this at the hands of The BBC around the time of Season 5 (which had already aired on BBC Choice but not on BBC2). The BBC were trying to use it to get people to get satellite or cable to get their extra channels. The result was that they aired Robot Wars Extreme twice and by the time Season 5 did air... Season 6 had already been filmed (and started immediately after Season 5 ended).
After the Channel Hop to Five, Robot Wars was constantly shunted around the schedule on either Saturday or Sunday. This was its last season.
Any (UK, at least) programme on the subject of video games, ever. Apart from Games Master.
The BBC agreed to co-fund Rome with HBO to the tune of $15 Million per season (which is a lot of money to a British broadcaster), but treated it like an embarrassment when it came time to air the show. They decided to play up the sex scenes in the promos and re-edited the first three episodes into two, losing an hour of character and story development in favor of the sex scenes and blood, to the utter fury of the director Michael Apted. The British audience was not impressed and immediately tuned out, resulting in poor ratings. The BBC, apparently unrepentant about their mistake, then pulled out of funding for Season 3 and put Season 2 on at about 11:00 PM on Friday nights.
The BBC's withdrawal concerned the higher-ups at HBO, who consulted the accountants. The accountants informed them that they could not afford the show without the BBC's 15% budget contribution, and the show had only gotten good American ratings for Season 1 due to a strong lead-in from The Sopranos, which would not be airing ahead of Season 2. HBO decided to pull the plug before Season 2 was written, giving the producers plenty of warning (but only 10 episodes) to resolve the 24-odd further episodes of plot they had planned. Of course, when Season 2 aired, it maintained its audience and HBO could have afforded to have kept it on the air even without the BBC, but it was way too late by that point as the cast had scattered to other projects.
Incidentally, the BBC claimed the initial editing was done because British audiences were aware of the historical background, unlike their American counterparts; director/executive producer Michael Apted claimed it was done in the name of ratings. Who was right? Well, the BBC screened all four seasons of the famously low on historical accuracy and high on sex appeal The Tudors, which unlike Rome is set in Britain...
The American rights for Trailer Park Boys were picked up by BBC America and it was gone after just two episodes. Compare that to the not-as-popular Canadian series Corner Gas, which has had a strong run on WGN and in syndication. Luckily, the complete series is available to rent on Netflix.
The Dirk Gently TV series was off to a good start. Then it was cancelled due to budget cuts within BBC. The series was specifically under BBC4, which decided to focus on importing foreign shows and cut producing their own.
Tower Prep appears to have fallen prey to this. According to Paul Dini, after Unnatural History's average ratings, Cartoon Network gave up Tower Prep before it had even started. They stopped promoting, gave up on recaps, and switched the timeslot to Tuesdays.
In Canada, the CBC has a reputation for nurturing critical and commercial hit series... then treating them like absolutely dirt for no discernible reason. Many series produced and aired by CBC over the years have enjoyed massive critical acclaim (some of which have gone on to be classics in the genre), a meaty percentage of the Canadian viewing audience and tons of overseas sales. Then, whatever the reason, the shows are abruptly yanked off the air with no fanfare whatsoever. Alternately, they're starved of air time, given just 13 shows one season, 9 the next, a TV movie the next, and then drop dead of malnutrition. It's been speculated by many fans and media outlets that this happens because the network has a middle-school corporate culture, and a powerful political movement that wants to eliminate public broadcasting. Notable examples include:
This Is Wonderland: A show that garnered a whopping twelve Gemini Awards during its run, the series launched to a massive wave of critical acclaim. After the third season finished, the network yanked it off the air with no explanation.
Despite having been written by a lauded Canadian author (Douglas Coupland, who remained involved during production), jPod was treated incredibly poorly by the network, despite the fact that it was exactly the sort of relevant, thoroughly-Canadian drama they promote. It was moved to the Friday Night Death Slot, and the twelfth episode was never aired — in its place, the CBC ran a half-hour of men's figure skating and a re-run of Royal Canadian Air Farce (which was also cancelled just a couple seasons later for no explanation). jPod just happened to be the only CBC show targeted at a younger demographic.
For most of its seven-season run, Da Vinci's Inquest was the most-watched show on Canadian television. The second the show's ratings started to drop (when it relaunched as Da Vinci's City Hall, the show was yanked from the schedule. Better yet, a TV movie wrapping up all the plot threads from the series, The Quality of Life, was kept on hold for four years due to Executive Meddling, and finally dumped on a Friday night with no promotion.
Intelligence (2006) was cancelled shortly after it won the Gemini Award for Best Dramatic Series (its fifth Gemini in two seasons). According to rumor, it was axed for political reasons: the newly-elected Tory government was looking for an excuse to eliminate the CBC altogether and the elimination of a show with a markedly critical view of the American government was supposedly intended to placate them.
The CBC in Canada also mistreated the new series of Doctor Who. After heavily promoting it the first season, airing the episodes only a few weeks after UK broadcast and even getting the star to record intros for each episode, it appeared as if the CBC forgot it had a hit show on its hands (this isn't hearsay; an article in the Doctor Who Information Network's Enlightenment magazine states this as well). With Series 2, the gap between UK and Canadian airing got even wider, edits (which were necessary due to the realities of airing on commercial TV) became more noticeable, and one episode (the 2007 Christmas special, Voyage of the Damned) never aired at all despite its resolving the cliffhanger at the end of Season 3. By the time the CBC aired "Journey's End" — which was mercilessly edited down, eliminating most of the plot in the process — and skipped the 2008 Christmas special altogether, fan outcry for another broadcaster became deafening. Eventually, the Space network picked it up a few months into 2009 and has so far aired the episodes unedited — and, beginning in 2011, usually on the same day as the UK broadcasts.
Essentially, this bookends NBC's cancellation of Star Trek — Nielsen's demographic breakdowns of a show's ratings had become more specific between 1969 and 1971, thus if Trek's early demise (good demos but low overall ratings) was the before, the 1971 CBS Rural Purge (of shows with good overall numbers but lousy 18-to-49 ones) was the after.
American Gothic premiered at 10:00 PM on Fridays, a fairly-good timeslot. There was plenty of press, promotions, a lot of hype. The show aired, got rave reviews from critics and fans alike...and then, for no apparent reason, scheduling issues began cropping up. Whether the executives in charge at CBS changed and wished to do away with the success of their predecessors (though CBS was transitioning from the disastrous cheapskate Tisch era of the network to Westinghouse ownership; the final-year Tisch era had left a FOX-lite schedule with post-NFL transition disasters such as an Andrew Dice Clay sitcom where he plays a family man, Bless This House, and Central Park West with the new owners), didn't understand how good a thing they had, or didn't understand the show at all, all sorts of problems began plaguing the show. It would be preempted; there would be no episode shown, something else randomly stuck on in its place with no explanation; there would be gaps of several weeks between new episodes, sometimes filled by reruns but usually not; episodes were shown out of order, or never aired at all. Then, without warning, the show was completely yanked from the line-up and vanished for many months. Granted, the show was unusual, not for everyone, and very different from most of CBS' usual fare, but with so many praising it for its daring and disturbing nature, you'd think they'd have gotten a clue. Luckily, the creators knew long enough ahead of time that the plug was being pulled and managed to wrap up the main plot points, but even these final episodes were withheld for a long time before being suddenly plunked on TV one right after another as a three-hour movie "event".
Central Park West is an interesting case. The show was originally a way for CBS to bounce back after their disastrous 1994-95 season. The network threw their entire marketing clout behind the show, which was touted as the hottest and sexiest drama to ever air on a network, and bolstered it with a massive advertising campaign - huge banners on buildings, bus advertisements, commercials, you name it. For a reason only known to the executives, CPW's first two episodes were scheduled against anniversary episodes of the two biggest prime time soap operas airing at that time (Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place). It also had to deal with the big affiliate shuffle in the wake of the FOX/NFL deal, where the new CBS stations just wanted to make sure viewers knew where they were on the dial first before getting into things such as network promotion. The show was trounced in the ratings, which would've led to its cancellation had CBS not already invested so much money into the program (roughly $13-15 million for the first season alone).
The show was continually pre-empted, aired on different days (which led to its being trounced by Party of Five) and then taken off the network while the show was Retooled. When it came back, half the cast was gone and the show's theme was changed to a Dynasty-esque clone. However, it didn't last even a handful of episodes before CBS pulled the plug for good.
When Due South first premiered on CBS in 1994, it produced higher-than-expected ratings for the network (and for the CTV network in Canada). Because one of the CBS executives who endorsed the series was fired, the show was canceled. Then, after CBS' Fall lineup became DOA, the show was brought back again. After several months of beating Friends(!), the show was canned once more. This came after a press release praising the show's critical acclaim. It's a good thing the series was then picked up by Canadian and foreign investors.
The US Eleventh Hour had consistently good ratings, but was cancelled by CBS because it essentially didn't get the ratings of its lead-in CSI.
Family Matters, at the very end of its run, was a victim of this. After declining ratings, the series was silently moved from ABC to CBS for its last season, where ratings became almost non-existent. Adding insult to injury, the final episodes aired during Summer 1998 (when TV viewership was typically down due to between-season reruns) and the Grand Finale received little promotion or recognition from CBS. The fact that it aired just a couple months after the Seinfeld finale probably didn't help matters.
It's also an example of an actress getting screwed over by the network. Jaimee Foxworth was inexplicably written off after Season 4 after demanding more money and a larger role for her part. The rest, they say, is history.
Gilligan's Island, despite having decent ratings, was cancelled because one CBS executive hated the premise and wanted to give its timeslot to Gunsmoke, which was the show that originally was going to be cancelled. Luckily for James Arness, the exec's wife was a fan of the western show.
This came back to bite the network. Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of the show, was so angry at CBS that he vowed not to work for it again. The next show he created ran on ABC, which you may be familiar with.
Arguably, both sides got something out of this. Gunsmoke ran for 20 seasons, more than twice the running time of Gilligan/BB combined. However, Brady and Gilligan became two of the most syndicated shows of all time. Alongside spin-offs, reunion movies, and the 1990s Brady films that were a good-natured parody and deconstruction of the series, in the long run Gilligan/Brady have been much more successful.
The success of The Jeffersons notwithstanding, CBS still chose to cancel it two weeks after the end of Season 12 (the longest run of any Norman Lear sitcom), leaving Sherman Hemsley to find out in his morning newspaper. They didn't even get to shoot a farewell episode, leaving it to the Series Finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to provide the needed closure, when Louise and George buy the house.
When Jericho got canceled the first time, CBS decided not to announce its impending doom until after the cliffhanger season finale aired (it made the nuts all the more necessary).
The only consolation prize from all of this was that the writers were prepared for an either-or situation (two different endings, both filmed) and that CBS informed them of their cancellation before airing the series finale. Notice how networks now are giving more of their serial dramas (and their fans) ample warning of likely cancellation before their season finale airs to give writers some time to wrap up major storylines. The Jericho fans may have been a major influence in this change, which would make this seem like a bittersweet victory for fans of quality TV storytelling.
The very short-lived 2012 lawyer series Made In Jersey was cancelled after only two episodes. A shame, since it had set out to undo some of the damage wreaked on the state's reputation by Jersey Shore by having the Jersey girl be the heroine instead of the butt of jokes, and by portraying New Jersey and its citizens in a favorable light instead of as cartoonish stereotypes. The New Jerseyans in the series were refreshingly portrayed as being just as noble as their brethren in New York, a nice change of pace from the usual Jersey-bashing fare put on TV by Hollywood and the New York media.
What really killed this one was the awful reviews and the Friday Night Death Slot. The show basically being a tourism ad for New Jersey only made things worse.
CBS screwed over The New Adventures of Old Christine in its last season by cancelling it despite it being their highest-rated show on Wednesday nights (it was pulling in 8 million viewers on average).
The short-lived series Now and Again was dropped into a Friday Night Death Slot with no lead-in whatsoever, despite its unique premise and high budget. While it initially did well (even defeating Chris Carter's lauded Harsh Realm in the ratings wars), CBS suddenly started to cut back on promoting the show in the spring and the ratings dropped as a result. According to cast members who spoke at conventions that summer, rumor has it that the show was being set up to fail due to internal politics and the CBS/Paramount/Viacom merger.
Unforgettable had Top 20 ratings and was first in its timeslot, but got almost no buzz at all and didn't do better than what The Good Wife did the previous season, so it was canceled at the end of the season...only to be Un-Canceled for a Summer run in 2013 upon CBS realizing Lifetime and TNT were kicking the tires of the show to bring it (and CBS "It Girl" Poppy Montgomery) to their network. The replacement show, the Period PieceVegas, did no better and also ended up canceled for being popular, but not among anyone under 50.
WKRP in Cincinnati: CBS changed the show's time slot a dozen times in four years, leading to its early cancellation. Although the show was getting decent ratings on Monday nights at 9:30 PM following M*A*S*H, CBS moved it out of that slot as they wanted to free it up for House Calls, which starred former M*A*S*H regular Wayne Rogers, and they also felt that the rock n' roll music and the sex appeal of Loni Anderson were better-suited to an earlier slot, which at that time was thought of as mostly aimed at young people. During the third and fourth seasons, CBS continued to move the show around repeatedly, so much so that cast and crew members claimed that even they didn't know when the show aired. This time slot shuffling hurt the show's ratings and it was eventually canceled in 1982. It probably didn't help matters, however, that MTM co-founder and president Grant Tinker had left the company to become chairman and CEO of NBC the year before.
The Crazy Ones got low ratings due to it airing at the same time as The Voice. There was also little advertising for the show. Believe it or not, its cancellation caused Robin Williams to fall into depression, causing him to eventually commit suicide.
Williams's suicide had nothing to do with the cancellation of this show. He had been clinically depressed for years, and apparently not taking his medication, and had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's.
Channel Four (UK)
Programme creator Phil Redmond felt that this was the very reason that his Soap OperaBrookside was cancelled by Channel Four in 2003.
Channel 4's 2004 comedy series Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, a spoof "rediscovered" forgotten low-budget British horror-fantasy show from the 1980s, failed to find many viewers and subsequently only had a single series. This was largely blamed on Channel 4's mysteriously failing to do much in the way of promotion for the show, despite signing-up the Perrier award-winning character of the title (played by comedian Matthew Holness). Despite only attracting a small audience on its initial broadcast, word of mouth and DVD sales brought a strong cult following. Even more absurdly, Channel 4 responded not by commissioning a second series but by instead commissioning a spoof chat show (Man to Man with Dean Learner) featuring many of the same actors playing the same characters. Not only did this also flop, but it attracted nothing like the cult following or appreciation of the "parent" series. Why Channel 4 didn't just recommission Darkplace remains a mystery.
The comedy-drama Sugar Rush was apparently going to have a third season, but it was cancelled by Channel 4 after the second season, which, while not ending on a Cliffhanger as such, does end in a somewhat open-ended fashion. Actresses Olivia Hallinan and Lenora Crichlow, who played Kim and Sugar respectively, were among those displeased with the cancellation, and it was later revealed that Hallinan had a contract for a third and fourth season. The fact that it was rumoured to have been cancelled to make way for the eighth series of Big Brother did not help.
Channel Five (UK)
British fans of The Lying Game could be forgiven for thinking Channel Five was trying to dump it from the word go: beginning on Five** pronounced Five Star at the end of January 2012 and airing on Mondays, it had a mid-season break at the same point in the story as ABC Family ("East Of Emma"), following which there was a four-month break (twice as long as ABC Family) before the series returned and picked up in September...for two episodes, before another brief break while the series moved to FiveUSA on Saturdays and in a mid-afternoon slot (compare to Pretty Little Liars, which went through a similar situation on MTV and Viva but was handled far better - MTV had the sense to start over and give viewers a chance for a refresher course... until they dropped it after two seasons due, apparently, to viewer apathy; too bad it didn't apply toJersey Shore). And then it got moved again to Sundays!
For the second (and final) season it went back to Five* and aired on weekday afternoons at 1pm, which as season two has 10 episodes meant it was burned through at a rate of knots (so most interested viewers could only watch on Five's website). Maybe if it had been aprocedural... it's doubtful Five would have bought season three had there been a season three.
The retooling of CNN's sports news flagship show Sports Tonight in 2001 into a sports phone-in show could either be seen as a laudable attempt to compete with SportsCenter, or a suicidal move by the network to get rid of the last spoke of Ted Turner's 'we cover everything' remit and become a straight news network; the attacks of September 11th, 2001 gave CNN a very convenient excuse to kill the show entirely.
Connie Chung Tonight had pretty good ratings throughout it's run, only to get suspended along with several other CNN shows once the Iraq War started in 2003 (Chung was relegated to reading news headline during that time), unlike the other CNN shows however, "Tonight" did not return to the network despite being under contract.
Unfortunately, this is pretty much par for the course with Comedy Central, hence why it gets a Once per Episodelampshading (and occasional lament) on the very much Adored by the NetworkTosh.0, which will go to commercial by replacing its own name with that of a show the network previously screwed.
Daniel Tosh: We'll be right back with more...I'm not happy about this one...The Sarah Silverman Program.
For whatever reason, the network has had some shows, such as The Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show, run their pilot episode in the 3AM death slot. Unsurprisingly, most of these shows don't last long.
The network has a truly nefarious habit of having most of their new shows air a grand total of twice: once at its official timeslot, the second at an arbitrary slot the same night (arbitrary as in they don't follow the usual EST/PST re-run rules). Didn't tune in on its day of broadcast? Too bad, so sad, that episode is Lost Forever. Your only chance is to wait for some random schedule several months from the end of the season's run, usually well past your cable company's guide service, and expect it to run the season incomplete and out of order. The fact that Ugly Americans managed to last more than one season having been treated like this is a miracle in and of itself; most other CC shows haven't been so lucky.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was victimized twice by network heads (Doug Herzog at Comedy Central and Bonnie Hammer at Sci Fi Channel) who professed not to understand the show's sense of humor and clearly resented having it left to them as a legacy program from previous executives; they wound up fighting a war of attrition against the show's small but vocal fan base while looking for an excuse to cancel the series. Despite this, the show enjoyed a ten-season run, plus almost five years of reruns on the Sci Fi Channel, before finally signing off for good in 2004. The Movie is well known for being screwed by the studio.
Chappelle's Show got this in reverse. Dave Chappelle infamously left the show during production of its third season and would only return to the show provided that the episodes that were already filmed weren't shown, as he felt the humor in those shows went beyond making fun of racism and homophobia and actually encouraged it. Comedy Central went and showed them anyway with Charlie Murphy and Darnell Rawlings (The "Ohhh! He stole that guy's PIZZAS!" guy) as hosts. Dave Chappelle not only did not return, but left television and movies entirely, opting to focus on his stand-up career.
The CW rented out the Sunday-night slots for the 2008-09 season to Media Rights Capital. The shows — 4Real, In Harm's Way, Easy Money, and Valentine — scored such terrible ratings that The CW repossessed the timeslot and put in reruns of The Drew Carey Show and Jericho, plus movies. The ratings immediately jumped back to pre rent-a-block levels (although still test-pattern low), and after the season The CW gave up completely on Sundays and gave the time back to their stations.
Valentine was critically-acclaimed, but despite liking the premise nobody tuned in. Why? No advertisement whatsoever.
The CW started screwing over a lot of shows, particularly their half-hour comedies. Everybody Hates Chris and The Game got cancelled. Another show, Aliens In America, despite receiving good reviews and having decent ratings, got the worst treatment by not only being moved to the Sunday slot but never even airing the later episodes. (Needless to say, its ratings were pretty much destroyed. Doesn't help that the Writers Strike caused the last few episodes of its first and only season to never be finished.) While Reaper (a dramedy about a young slacker who must be Satan's bounty hunter) did get the dignity of a second season, it still got screwed over by CW. Like the many other shows they screwed over, Reaper suffered mostly through lack of advertising. Go look at the ratings for each season 2 episode — they plummet, and plummet hard, about halfway through. One cast member later mocked the network's protestations of innocence, saying "They say they're disappointed? We're disappointed!" and points out how the network basically refused to promote the show.
The last seasons of Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars had so much executive meddling from Dawn Ostroff and the other people at UPN who somehow fell upward into the executive suite of the new network that the slam-dunk "Girl Power Tuesday"' dream lineup which had been gushed about by critics and fans at the time of the merger ended up failing miserably. This was due to The CW forcing the shows to hire writers that didn't know anything about either show's canon (certainly not helping was The CW not allowing Amy Sherman-Palladino to continue with Gilmore Girls), insulting the intelligence of their fanbase by hyperfocusing on the lead actors of each show when both programs had been built on ensemble casts, forcing Veronica to abandon the season-wide arcs of the past for "crime of the week" episodes, and finally the "Content Wrap" (an advertising concept created by the network putting a brand front and center in a non-subtle way) deal with American Eagle Outfitters which forced the Aerie Girls onto fanbases that considered them completely against the spirit of both series.
Ironically, one show that CW tried to screw repeatedly and never succeeded in was Smallville. Repeatedly firing and replacing writers, sometimes in between seasons, moving the show from its very popular timeslot on Thursday to Friday for no reason, and cutting the budget of one season in half and giving it to The Vampire Diaries, it was obvious the network (or rather the network's president, who openly despised sci-fi shows and wanted to shill 90210 and Gossip Girl instead) just wanted this show to die. But despite all the changes, Smallville managed to hang onto good ratings and the series ended on its own terms and not on the CW's.
Supernatural received similar treatment, and people involved with the show have begun to publicly state that Dawn Ostroff was out to kill it. While it stayed on Thursdays and followed The Vampire Diaries for a time, the following season it was moved to the Friday Night Death Slot running against Grimm and Fringe. Supernatural got the last laugh. The show survived the death slot and moved to Wednesdays where it was used to launch Arrow, another dark drama aimed at men. Supernatural is currently the third highest rated show on The CW. 90210 and Gossip Girl are no longer on the air.
Life Is Wild premiered in a Sunday-night timeslot and was sure to be canceled after the first season. And then it did, as well as Hidden Palms.
Both of them were victims of The CW deciding to throw out The WB's plan to expand their horizons and go into more expensive programming (UPN was infamous for spending as little on their shows as possible). As Life is Wild was shot on location in South Africa, it was screwed from the moment UPN and WB executives walked out together on January 24, 2005.
Despite decent ratings, The Secret Circle was canned by The CW after one season. Apparently, it's not even going to get a DVD release, although the complete series is available for streaming on Netflix.
Though the reason it lost out its spot to Hart Of Dixie came down to cost: Hart of Dixie was much cheaper to produce with similar ratings.
Discovery Channel seriously screwed Dinosaur Revolution — there were originally six episodes planned (plus another six-episode companion series), but for some reason only a mere four materialized. There were to be no talking heads and no narration, and the stories were to be told purely through the visuals and animal vocalizations...but that was changed too, as the two sister shows got merged together. This format change also caused some confusion among viewers, as the show was meant to be a comedy with dinosaurs acting like cartoon animals, yet the finished version was presented as a serious documentary. The worst example is the fact that the last two episodes were set to air on September 11, 2011 but were hastily re-scheduled to September 13 and moved to the Science Channel, where only a few dino fans managed to watch them.
In an effort to make up for this mess, they eventually released a theatrical movie titled Dinotasia which attempted to salvage most of the series and present it as it was originally intended, but even so it had to be subjected to some major cuts, and the film became a critical failure.
Disney is infamous for screwing over their popular shows, thanks to their 65-episode only rule. Shows screwed by the network:
Lizzie McGuire, which helped put the Disney Channel back on the map, ended after fulfilling its 65-show order.
Phil of the Future, which was cancelled well before the 65-episode mark much to the confusion and dismay of fans. The reason Disney gave the cast was that since the show was so popular (and making them so much money), they had a choice: produce a third season of the show, or use the money to create another show with the potential to be just as popular. They somehow chose the latter and, despite many fans' attempts to save the show, the show remained cancelled.
Disney had the rights to Power Rangers for a while but eventually started thinking of the show as an embarassment and took it off their cable channels, even when the recently-debuted Disney XD would be a perfect home for it. They kept airing it on ABC, but that had its own issues (see the ABC folder above).
Prankstars, a Disney Channel Punk'd clone, was killed halfway into its run when host Mitchell Musso was caught drunk driving and was blacklisted from the company and written out of Pair Of Kings. It still aired in the United Kingdom for a few months to low viewership without any promotion whatsoever.
On the note of Disney, So Random! started off pretty decently, but eventually it was moved to 7:30 PM, and during the Summer it had been consistently getting less than 3 million viewers per episode. note (Case in point: one episode got exactly 2.399 million viewers, only to be followed by a new Good Luck Charlie which got over 4 million.) It might be that people weren't as pleased with Demi Lovato having left the channel at the time, but still. Though since the Fall, it seemed to be making its way back up rather quickly...until the series got cancelled in March 2012.
Season 3 of Shake It Up was given a 9 PM time slot on Sunday, a time when children are usually in bed. Despite this, the ratings actually increased from the second season. Disney however still decided to cancel the show after season 3.
If you fall in love with a series that airs on Disney, odds are you can say goodbye to ever getting full-season releases on DVD. The best you can hope for are "best-ofs" or reedited movie editions, as per Kim Possible. There have been a few exceptions, but only a few. Let's just say don't hold your breath for a Blu-ray of TRON: Uprising...
E!'s The Daily 10 was announced for cancellation coincidentally, about a week after guest host "Psycho" Mike Catherwood made an extremely crude and lame "prison rape" joke about Adam Lambert, who is openly gay. Naturally, regular hosts Catt Sadler and Sal Masakela were screwed out of a job because of what Catherwood did (although Sadler is now back on the channel).
The highly-publicized case involving DirecTV and Viacom-owned channels is unique in which one side kept claiming it was the other's fault for pulling the channels. DirecTV said Viacom forced them to remove the channels despite DTV not wanting to remove them, while Viacom kept harking that it was DTV's sole decision. Nonetheless, the dispute was mainly over a series of movie channels called "Epix" that Viacom wanted DirecTV to add as an "all or nothing" endeavor. However, even that's disputable depending on which side you ask (Viacom said it wasn't forcing Epix on DTV, while DTV says otherwise). Even then, the issue was soon resolved, with a deal in which DTV has the option to add Epix.
The channels still remain in limbo for DirecTV, and it doesn't seem as though DTV is in any hurry to add the channels, since they claim that the channels were the reason for why rates for customers would've gone up if Viacom had their way to begin with. More to the point, DTV didn't even mention the Epix channels at first, only being forced to when Viacom claimed that talks "broke down", making DTV counter with the reason being the dispute over Epix.
Almost Human began in the fall of 2013 already slightly screwed by having its premiere date pushed back two weeks. After a strong Sunday night premiere the series slowly began to slip but it maintained a huge fanbase. After a season of episodes being aired out of order, causing continuity problems with viewers, Fox cancelled the series for good after just one season in April 2014.
Arrested Development struggled in the ratings despite being a critics' favorite, a problem FOX compounded when they did little advertising and kept moving the timeslot around. Luckily, it now has new episodes on Netflix and a possible film adaptation in its future.
Joss Whedon joked that Dollhouse's (aired in the infamous Friday Night Death Slot) unexpected renewal was the network screwing him around, saying that they told him "Whoops, we forgot to cancel your show, you're going have to make more episodes."
Drive's first three episodes were aired over two nights; the fourth aired a week later, and then it was canceled, giving all of four episodes and nine days. This after the initial 13-episode order was split in half, so even if it hadn't been canceled it would've run for a month followed by a three-month hiatus. This proves once again that Tim Minear (who also produced both Wonderfalls and Firefly) and FOX go together like peanut butter and nitroglycerin. Minear is reportedly now two shows into a six-show deal with FOX.
The Finder looked to have it pretty good, Bones creator Hart Hanson is hot stuff on Fox, given Bones is still on the air, it started in the post-Idol Thursday slot, what could go wrong? Fox (surprise surprise) rearranged the episode order, randomly put it on a month's hiatus, then with little advertisement shifted it to Fridays so Touch could get the post-Idol slot. The Finder supposedly was canceled for low ratings, but it did better than Touch overall before the timeslot shift (comparing with Touch's aired episodes). Since Touch was the new golden child with Kiefer Sunderland in it on Fox, it got a second season while The Finder ended with everyone needing to be found. And now the death of Michael Clarke Duncan prevents any chance of a revival.
From the looks of things, Touch may not be that much of a golden child after all. Fox had originally planned to ship it to Fridays at 8:00 PM starting in late October for Season 2, but then announced a "TBA Midseason" return date, likely due to The Mob Doctor being DOA. Said "TBA Midseason" was later clarified to "Fridays at 9" starting February 1, meaning the show would spend eight months off the air and still be stuck in a Friday Night Death Slot. Turns out they delayed the return of Touch for a full week so they could air a rerun of The Following instead. No matter, as the second season was a critical and ratings dud when it finally did air.
Firefly was supposed to begin with a double-length pilot that set up the complex universe the series was set in, along with the various characters' relationships. The network decided that the pilot wasn't action-oriented enough and should be shelved, asking the show's creators to make a new first episode, giving them just one weekend to write it. After that premiere, Fox completely ignored the arc and aired the episodes in seemingly random order, in some cases resulting in episodes showing Previously On scenes that wouldn't air until the following week. There was almost no commercial promotion whatsoever following the premiere (and the commercials that did air downplayed the series' strengths to "broaden the appeal"), episodes were preempted for sporting events on numerous occasions, and the pilot movie didn't air until after the series had been canceled. Not to mention, it also aired in the Friday Night Death Slot.
The Good Guys was a comedy on Fox featuring the uptight but ambitious Detective Jack Baily and the relic of the 1980s, Detective Dan Stark. It featured colorful characters, plenty of action, a great sense of humor, a low budget, and rather good reviews. However it was given the Friday Night Death Slot at the end of Summer 2010 and was cancelled later in the year.
The Fox sitcom The Grubbs was cancelled two days before its premiere (supposedly due to bad reviews) without having even aired a single episode.
Fox did the same thing to The Ortegas a year later. NBC had already screwed over the show (after beating out Fox in a major bidding war for it) by pushing it back to midseason, so the creators decided to approach FOX with the show and they were promised a Fall premiere date...but in the end FOX gave them nothing as the show was cancelled weeks before its premiere. Unlike The Grubbs, FOX didn't have the excuse of bad reviews to fall back on.
Jonny Zero, while no means a great show, suffered at the hands of FOX as well. It was aired completely out of order and was stuck in the Friday Night Death Slot.
Lie to Me was continuously screwed by FOX despite a devoted fan following and critical acclaim (mainly for Tim Roth's performance). The show was always near cancellation due to Fox not being happy with the ratings (despite the show winning its timeslot or finishing near the top most of the time) and a few seasons only got 13 episode orders that didn't premiere until Spring. The show was finally canceled in 2011 along with several other shows that had decent followings (such as Human Target).
A very slight, yet still loomingly-large version: Married... with Children suffered from this, in regards to the Series Finale. Not only did FOX waffle on whether or not they'd renew the series, they didn't even tell the actors before announcing the cancellation. Christina Applegate expressed the surprise she got when they heard about it on the radio first, while Ed O'Neill was told about it by two fans he met in the parking lot at a bed-and-breakfast. O'Neill replied that he was glad he heard it from them first.
New Amsterdam was screwed over before it even made it to air. The network decided last-minute to scrap the show, even after they produced eight episodes and started to promote it. The only reason it made it to air was because the Writers' Guild strike of 2007-08 made producers desperate to find anything they could air that wasn't scripted (or was written, but currently not in production).
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles opened with strong numbers, only to be interrupted by the writers' strike which sidelined its planned lead-in to 24. Instead of trying to gain viewers in Season 2, FOX shoehorned it into a lead-in spot for Prison Break (which had seen a dramatic crash in viewership and popularity). The show was then put on a three-month hiatus and upon its return, rather than being scheduled as the lead-in to the returning 24, FOX moved it to the Friday Night Death Slot and needless to say it was over from there.
FOX's Titus was simply shot down, no questions asked, at mid-season because of the show's twisted humor (culminating in a two-part episode about Titus and his friends being accused of hijacking a plane and a Missing Episode where wild teen Amy gets in trouble for beating up a boy who sexually harasses her, then accuses his father of molesting her when she was a childnote which turns out to be true, after Dave finds a poem she wrote in her notebook about the man's rose tattoo on his penis). Its replacement? The Pitts, one of the biggest failures FOX has ever aired (at the time), running five episodes before the timeslot was canned and forgotten (save for a quick, cheap mention on Family Guy's first episode back from its 2002 cancellation).
Another contribution to the Titus cancellation came when creator Christopher Titus got called in to meet one of the head honchos at FOX. Turned out that the exec wanted to break up Erin and Titus as they had done with Dharma and Greg. Titus naturally objected as the show was based on real life, and Erin and Titus had never broken up in real life. Seems Titus' objection was a little too rough for the execs, as the next week all the promos completely stopped and the show ended up canceled not long after that. Ironically, Titus did divorce Erin Carden in 2006 (according to the comedy special Love is Evol), and was working on a sitcom that would have been adapted from his comedy specials, Love is Evol, Neverlution, and The Voice in My Head, following his life after his divorce, his custody battle, and finding love with a new woman, but those plans have since been put on hold.
The War At Home didn't fare too well as a replacement for Arrested Development. While they did renew the show for another season, they abruptly moved it from Sunday nights to Thursday nights and did little to promote it, causing the ratings to fall and as a result, the show was not renewed.
Wonderfalls was canceled after four weeks, one of the quickest deaths Fox has ever managed to give a show. But that was only the last of a number of choices on the part of the network that led to the show's demise: first, the show was developed at the same time as CBS' Joan of Arcadia, to which at first glance it may seem strikingly similar in theme. Supposedly fearing it would draw too many comparisons, they held off the premiere for an entire year, which backfired and led some to think it was a deliberate copy (as opposed to a coincidence), especially as Joan had proven successful and was still on the air. Worse, it started airing 8:00 PM on a Friday, which had the dual misfortune of not only being the same time as Joan aired on CBS, but of also being the infamous Friday Night Death Slot, whose name tends to be especially apt for non-family friendly fare... which of course, describes Wonderfalls. In a sort of Coup de Grâce, Fox finally moved the show after its third week to Thursday, where it would ostensibly get better ratings...which they did this without telling anyone, so it kind of defeated the purpose. Fox also ran promos for the fifth episode, only to pull the series before it aired. Making matters worse for fans, there was uncertainty for months as to whether the series would be allowed a DVD release, but thankfully this was resolved.
G4/The Esquire Network
The Screen Savers, among most other Tech TV shows. When G4 "merged" with TechTV, it was a merger in name only. In everything else, it was a thinly veiled example of a textbook hostile takeover. The G4 execs fired most of the existing TechTV talent (the shining example being Leo LaPorte), moved some shows around, canceled other shows, and eventually turned The Screen Savers into Attack of the Show!. The only show still surviving from TechTV is X-Play, and with the departure of Adam Sessler on acrimonious terms in April 2012, its days are numbered. As if to add insult to injury, the "G4TechTV" name of the merged channels was then changed to G4. This is how you kill a competing channel and become loathed by those who might have been your audience.
Doesn't help that G4 was owned by Comcast and Comcast decided to drop TechTV, possibly to lower its price before the merger.
DTV also has yet to budge on their position about G4. The provider removed the channel on 2010 citing that they didn't see any value in the channel, despite the network claiming that it came with the same price it had been. There have yet to be any talks to attempt to bring G4 back to the lineup, and from the way the current lineup is described below, don't hold your breath for it to come back.
The launch of the Esquire Network itself might as well be an example of a launch where the network is coming to air having both of its feet shot, with an extra shot in the arm for good measure. After promoting for months an April 22, 2013 launch date, a week before with launch promos peppering the network with promotion of Parks and Recreation, Party Down and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon reruns, management decided to change course and switch the launch to the always-vague "Summer 2013", claiming it wanted to have more of their own original programming at launch (which is all of seven series bound to hit endless rerun loops by the time Christmas rolls around), along with the start of the new American Ninja Warrior season. Eventually they settled on September 23, two days out of Summer 2013 to tie in an Esquire anniversary special, but right in the middle of the debut of the new TV season and giving a three week head start to probable competitor FXX (which also has P&R reruns). With G4's original programming long gone and the lack of a big event such as E3 or Comic Con to easily push the network, Esquire will now launch without any promotional steam; as of May 2013 the network consists solely of nonstop reruns of Cops, Quantum Leap, Knight Rider, Campus PD and aged reruns of X-Play, not exactly programs enjoyed by the claimed "metrosexual" audience they want to target. ANW was lucky to have NBC run episodes twice a week over the summer to avert a guaranteed lowest-rated season ever on a network without any new program support.
That's not it, however. After looking at things, the new cable chief of NBC realized that G4 both couldn't launch a new network with their schedule and the Direc TV issue, so she decided to change the network being taken over by Esquire to the women-targeted Style Network, which has better cable positions and Direc TV carriage, but is also the odd duck out among E!, Bravo and Oxygen in targeting, so Style's programs will be moved among those three with Esquire launching on Style's channel space, while leaving G4 out to pasture with Heroes and Airwolf reruns until a death date on most cable systems of January 2014, continuing to run until its last carriage deal expires. However, Esquire Network didn't escape unscathed to start out with; for three months after its launch the network was stuck with a contractual obligation to air Sex and the City reruns, a show which got tons of backlash from its namesake magazine when it was on the air.
As of September 2014 G4's rights to syndicated programming expired, meaning its only use if you still have it is to complete your Web Soup recording collection with seemingly never-ending reruns of that and X-Play reruns that only knew the X-Box One and PlayStation 4 as pure rumors, along with other former programming. American Ninja Warrior is also thriving now that it's fully an NBC show freed from being stuck with G4's baggage.
HBO has a remarkable record for almost never doing this to its shows, with most getting either a full run, or at least partial closure, as well as decent treatment otherwise: no screwed up schedules, no PR letdowns, etcetera. Still, there have been a couple examples.
Carnivàle was actually partially screwed over because the network thought too much of it due to when it was greenlit, expecting the extremely dense supernatural period piece to post better numbers than breakout hit The Sopranos. In the words of show creator creator Daniel Knauf, "They just hadn't had failure, so they were a little crazy. If they hadn't been, I don't think they would have ever done Carnivàle in a million years." He did go on to point out that their ratings at the time would still make them very successful on HBO today, though. There was also a considerable amount of Executive Meddling in plots, particlarly in the second season.
Rome got a bit of this, being deemed too expensive and canceled after two seasons, although they had time to wrap up current plots. HBO execs later admitted canceling it was a mistake, partly done due to a loss of funding from the BBC... see the entry under that folder for how the BBC screwed them.
Sapphire And Steel got badly screwed as a result of the regional ITV franchise changing hands from ATV to Central. What turned out to be the final story had its transmission delayed as a result, and the issues of the TV Times for those weeks wrongly showed the transmission as a repeat (whether this was deliberate sabotage or due to a miscommunication related to the network instability remains a mystery).
Noah's Arc (essentially Queer as Folk with blacks and Latinos) was canceled by Logo after Season 2 despite being the highest-rated and most critically-acclaimed show on the channel along with bringing some much-needed representation to gay media. Network execs were shocked by the outcry from fans, and said they'd bring it back if The Movie was a success. It was, but Logo didn't keep their word.
Not to be outdone, Comcast themselves were involved in a slight controversy in which they were accused of screwing over a channel. In 2008, at the height of the Presidential race, Comcast decided to move MSNBC (which had just begun seeing ratings successes by airing progressive leaning prime time hosts as opposed to Fox News' right-leaning ones, thereby tapping into a yet untapped demographic) to a digital tier that had a higher asking price in many markets. Some thought the move was to push the right wing agenda more (as Fox News was never moved from its expanded basic lineup), and the move came at an odd time: when then-candidate Barack Obama was gaining popularity. However, this was quelled immediately due to Comcast also moving G4 (a channel it owns) to the same tier.
In an interesting twist, though, Comcast now owns part (or all?) of NBC, which means that it basically owns MSNBC now. Despite that, it has yet to move the channel since that time.
Phil Donahue's exit from MSNBC in 2003, before the start of the Iraq War, is considered a notorious case. Despite being MSNBC's most successful primetime host, Donahue made the mistake of openly opposing to the war at a time when the network was still trying to emulate the right-wing jingoism of Fox News. MSNBC fired Donahue because, according to a leaked memo, he was a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war."
The end(s) of Countdown with Keith Olbermann were apparently this. To hear it from Olbermann, MSNBC bosses wanted to muzzle his political commentary after the unfortunate death of Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert, who championed the show. MSNBC initially tried to suspend Olbermann after he donated money to Democratic congressional candidates in violation of network policy, but an outcry from Olbermann's viewers led to the suspension ending early. Then, a few months later, Olbermann was forced to abruptly sign off from Countdown permanently about 20 minutes after being told he had been released from his MSNBC contract.
Comcast was once again accused of trying to punish MSNBC for its progressive stance by ending Countdown, which took place just a few days after Comcast took over NBC Universal and, with it, MSNBC. Several left-wing bloggers came up with fevered conspiracy theories claiming that Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell were the next ones who would be axed, and vowed to never watch the channel again. In truth, Comcast had little to do with what had been an internal conflict between Olbermann and MSNBC hochos.
In MSNBC's defense, Olbermann is notorious for being very demanding and difficult to work with. The fact that he was given a lucrative job and a powerful position with Current TV, and managed to get himself fired within one year was a testament to some serious male Prima Donna behavior that went on behind the scenes. The righteous outrage from Olbermann's fanbase was noticeably muted the second time he was given the boot.
This had actually been the second time Olbermann had been fired by MSNBC. He hosted a prime-time program in The Nineties called The Big Show, but was canned when he mocked the network's gratuitous coverage of the Monica Lewinsky scandal in a college commencement address.
Headbanger's Ball was a popular show that aired Saturday nights on MTV beginning in 1987. The Ball (as it was nicknamed by its fans) aired for two hours and played hard rock, Heavy Metal, and Hair Metal music videos. The show also featured interviews with musicians as well as "road trip" specials where the cast of the show would accompany bands to various locations around the world. It was one of the most popular shows on MTV and for a while was one of the network's flagship shows. The show even remained popular during the 1990s, when alternative rock and hip-hop became the most popular genres of music. But in January of 1995, Headbanger's Ball was abruptly canceled without warning. The host of the show, Riki Rachtman, was called by the network and informed that he would not need to come into work the following week. Rachtman pleaded with the network to allow him and the rest of the crew to make a "farewell episode" for the show, but the request was denied. Fans of the Headbanger's Ball were outraged by the news and to this day many of them consider the cancellation of the Ball to be the moment when MTV Jumped the Shark. MTV has never explained their reason for canceling the show. Headbanger's Ball was Uncanceled in 2003, but many believe the new version of show to be inferior to its predecessor.
As of late with MTV shows, if the network feels that the show is not good, they will promote it minimally, and air it in the 11PM time slot, and the show will often not be renewed or they won't even finish the season. Also, if a show gets poor ratings on just it's first episode, they suddenly completely stop showing reruns and stop promoting altogether.
I Love Money 4 got into a whole heap of trouble here and needs a good amount of explanation to get through. For years VH-1 had relied on the ...of Love series such as Rock Of Love and Flavor of Love as their big-hitting shows, but soon a double-whammy pretty much killed off all the different series and spinoffs at once — the first was a general decline in viewers which, while the numbers still made the shows the highest -watched ones on the channel, were still declining nonetheless. The much heavier blow came during the run of Megan Wants a Millionaire as one of the contestants, Ryan Jenkins, was found to have murdered a model and escaped the country, later found to have shot and killed himself. This caused the mid-season cancellation of the series and also shelving of the spin-off series I Love Money for which two back-to-back seasons had been shot (Season 3 containing Jenkins himself, rumored to have won the entire thing making any edit job impossible).
Soon, however, I Love Money 4 began appearing in the schedules without so much as a mention from VH-1 other than the show being listed in production company Endemol's overseas ordering system. It was released quickly and quietly in the 11pm dead-zone and then through the series run, shifted from Wednesday to Thursday and back again to 10pm and back to 11pm once more.
Amusingly, because of a large word-of-mouth campaign, the viewing figures actually held up well and more often than not beat out the viewership of many of the highly pushed main shows. VH-1 however still didn't take any notice and apart from a Rock of Love - Where Are They Now? special (which once again beat all other highly-pushed shows on the week), they seem to have ignored the series now as a whole.
As Season 4 came to an end, NBC wasn't guaranteeing another season but did promise at least one extra final episode to resolve the cliffhanger the season ended on. They ended up giving the show nothing in the end, and the series ended with ALF becoming a military prisoner. Not that the cast minded that much. They hated working on the show.
There was a follow-up TV movie a few years later called Project: ALF. It featured ALF, still a prisoner but generally alright and still his old irreverent self, but the rest of the cast was written out with a one-line Put on a Bus. Also, it didn't even air on NBC, but on ABC.
There was also that talk show on TV Land, but let's not speak of that.
American Dreams: Performed fairly decently in its original Sunday-night timeslot, but it wasn't enough. NBC played a wise move and moved the show to Wednesdays at 10 in direct competition with CBS' Survivor: Palau and ABC's LOST. The show was canceled despite many fan campaigns, but the producers were able to film a brief finally to Wrap It Up, but NBC ultimately decided not to broadcast the finale, leaving many viewers hanging.
Undateable was given a summer burn-off with very little promotion from NBC and was absolutely savaged by critics. Surprisingly, it caught on with audiences and did very well for a summer series. Enough for a renewal, albeit with a slightly shortened second season.
Bionic Woman: The 2007 version didn't set the world on fire, but NBC nonetheless said it was sticking by the series when production and broadcast had to be halted due to the Hollywood writers strike. Cast members for upcoming episodes were announced, and NBC indicated several times that the show would be allowed to at least complete its 13-episode commitment. A DVD set of the episodes that had been aired was commissioned and promoted as "Season 1 Part 1". But this apparent show of support disappeared after a couple of months and NBC cancelled the show anyway. (There are likely other series impacted similarly, and to be fair there were likely other issues such as actor availability at work in the decision to cancel, but this example is notable for the public show of support given the series before the network turned its back on it, thereby, if nothing else, casting the impression of it being screwed.)
Boom Town: This show was an interesting experiment. It featured numerous characters, overlapping storylines, out-of-order timelines, and unusual visual techniques. It could conceivably have caught on as a cult show but unfortunately it didn't find an audience. NBC deserves credit for trying something different and for bringing the low-rated show back for a second season. However, the show was given a retool by NBC in season 2, removing most of the unique elements in an attempt to make the show more like Law & Order in hopes of getting similar ratings, but they cancelled it anyways and refused to air the remaining season 2 episodes.
Breakthrough with Tony Robbins: Which aired in Summer 2010, was screwed by NBC because it was the last program approved (for midseason) by programming non-wunderkind Ben Silverman before the merciful end of his tenure as president of the network. As anyone in the entirety of both NBC Universal and the universe but Ben and Tony knew nobody was going to watch what was pretty much a one-hour infomercial in primetime, the program got a cheap budget, the infamously lousy Tuesday at 8pm timeslot, and was absolutely not promoted at all beyond the required synopsis and a Today fourth hour interview with Robbins (you get into Hota & Kathie Lee & Wine territory for a promo interview and you know your show is the network's shame of the moment). It also wasn't broadcast in HD, a Kiss of Death for a program in 2010 unless you're on public access. It died a swift and merciful death after two weeks to be shoved off to shame on NBC.com, with the episodes finally (barely) seeing the light of day on the ever-cursed Oprah Winfrey Network.
Chuck: Was a mild example of this. While the show was a critical success, the show was never a huge ratings hit. This resulted in every season starting with season 2 being a potential final season. In fact, were it not for a large fan campaign and a sponsorship by Subway, the 2nd Season might have actually been the final season...
To add insult to injury, creator and showrunner Dan Harmon got replaced without his knowledge.
And then the series was pulled before the premiere, with NBC claiming they "wanted to use the new hits on their schedule to better promote their upcoming series". The real reason is that they needed to hold it and Whitney to replace other comedy bombs - in Whitney's case, Wednesdays at 8 in place of megabomb Animal Practice. Community returned on February 7 to the same Thursday night slot it's always held, once 30 Rock ended its run.
To be fair, even though the reviews and general reception has been great, the viewership was far down to begin with.
The name of the save-Community campaign is Six Seasons and a Movie. Why? In a flashback, Abed is dressed up (and annoying Jeff) in anticipation for The Cape. Jeff bitterly tells him it'll last three weeks, which Abed emphatically denies with "Six seasons and a movie!" No one knows how to go meta like Community.
The show was finally cancelled by NBC at the end of its fifth season, although several have noted that it's lucky it got to have a fifth season, with its perennially low ratings.
Hunter: This TV series was screwed over by NBC as, in the wake of the Rodney King beating and subsequent fallout, Moral Guardians were increasingly critical of a Cowboy Cop like Hunter being portrayed as a hero.
Imagine That: This Hank Azaria show aired two episodes, and that was it. He got three episodes for Free Agents on NBC in 2011, which was a workplace dramedy mismatched with Whitney Cummings's self-titled three-camera sitcom.
The Jim Henson Hour: Despite being critically acclaimed and being nominated for several Emmy Awards, the show aired in the Friday night death slot, right against Full House and Perfect Strangers, where it achieved very low ratings. After four episodes, it was moved to Sunday nights. However, the show performed even worse in the ratings, and NBC cancelled the series after only 9 of the 12 episodes had aired.
Joey: This FriendsSpin-Off got screwed by NBC in its second season when it was moved to the timeslot opposite American Idol (a fate nearly as bad as, if not worse than, the Friday Night Death Slot) and of course its ratings soon declined considerably. Even worse, the show was suddenly cancelled mid-season with no warning, leaving eight episodes unaired in the U.S. The only way to see them (other than downloading them of course) is to import the somewhat pricey season 2 DVD from Canada.
Kings: When this show first premiered, NBC had put it in the 8:00 PM Sunday timeslot. However, despite the show's unique concept, strong cast, and high production quality, NBC decided to relegate the fledgling series to Saturday nights after airing just four episodes, where steadily declining ratings eventually killed it.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: In its first two seasons, the splashy spy series became one of the most popular shows on American TV and sparked a homegrown variant of Bondmania. For the third season it was decided to capitalize on the then-current "camp" craze popularized by Batman and transform UNCLE into a spy comedy with ridiculous storylines and scenes like one in which the hero dances with a gorilla. Audiences abandoned the series; the decision to revert back to a more serious storytelling model for Season 4 was too little, too late, and the once-popular show was cancelled by midseason. Had the decision not been made to change the tone, there's every chance UNCLE could have run for several more years.
Medium: This show was one of NBC's strongest performers (which isn't saying much), but was constantly put on hiatus and was treated like filler on its Monday lineup. Then CBS picked it up...and wins the Friday Night Death Slot. The return of Jay Leno leading to the removal of all of NBC's 10pm shows at the time was also a factor.
Miami Vice: This show itself was screwed by putting it on opposite Dallas, then moving to Sunday night. In addition, the network was so eager to open up the show's timeslot, just after it was moved back to Friday nights, that they "burned off" four Season 5 episodes just before the finale. While two of them were largely inconsequential, the other two ("World of Trouble" and "Too Much, Too Late") wrapped up storylines going all the way back to Season 1. The latter also featured the final appearance of Pam Grier's character Valerie, and gave more context to Switek and Tubbs' decisions in the finale. The episodes didn't air on television until USA picked up the syndication rights a year later, but are included in the DVD box sets.
In Germany, this show got the worst treatment in existence. The first run of season one was at 11PM at Fridays. The show got cancelled after 6 weeks due to low ratings. Two years later they brought it back at the smart timeslot of 1AM in the night of Friday to Saturday. Surprisingly, it worked, and the show has better ratings than the ten viewers before. They aired two-and-a-half seasons at this timeslot and occasionally had a rerun at Saturday afternoon, which seems to have drowned because of the more popular rival channel having Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother at that time. They now announced to show the remaining episodes, now in Saturday/Sunday nights at 3AM. I have no idea how a show could generate viewers at these slots, or do they accept Tivo now?
The show also got screwed in the US when NBC chose not to renew it for a fifth season in favor of the failed Jay Leno Show experiment. TBS was offered a chance to pick it up but turned it down and creator Greg Garcia chose to do Raising Hope instead.
Garcia was aware that the show's ratings had declined in Season 4. He asked the network if they were going to renew or cancel the series. He said he could make the final episode of Season 4 a series finale that wrapped up various plotlines, or a cliffhanger that would hopefully draw viewers for the fifth season premiere. NBC told him the series would be renewed and he should make the cliffhanger. Garcia did and then NBC cancelled the series.
The New Normal: This show was cancelled after only one season, despite it's strong cult following and general well reception. The only consolation fans got was that the season had wrapped up neatly with Bryan and David getting married and Goldie giving birth.
Quantum Leap: This show was also moved around to different time slots, and fans overwhelmed the network with mail to keep it on the air. The series finale was just supposed to be a season finale. A rather depressing title card was added to the very last shot of the series in order to wrap things up.
Revolution: Many fans are crying foul, because NBC has decided to put this show on a four-month hiatus after episode 10 aired in late November 2012, and we all know how wellthis wentfor other sci-fiand/or serialized shows on network TV. However, the show is getting a second season, production is being moved to Texas, and episodes will be aired Wednesday 8:00 PM, instead of Monday 10:00 PM.
This new time slot would end up as the final nail in the coffin for the series, as NBC did not pick it up for a third season after ratings took a huge dip without The Voice leading into it and with the competition against American Idol.
Rex Is Not Your Lawyer: NBC managed to screw an actor along with a show once. One reason David Tennant left Doctor Who after an acclaimed run was to shoot this pilot, which had a guarantee that the show would be picked up. But after a test screening where audiences didn't exactly understand the concept, they simply canned the show without reshoots and went back on the guarantee. As a result, Tennant was screwed out of not one, but two shows due to focus groups!
Seinfeld: This occurs in-universe in this show. Jerry and George had been pushing for a long time to get their "show about nothing" approved by NBC. Finally, their first episode is aired and is successful. However, at the same time, the head executive who had approved the show goes AWOL and is replaced by a vindictive woman who cancels the show out of spite.
She Spies: Had this happen twice. It started out pretty well, with its first four episodes being aired on NBC. After that, the show was dumped into first-run syndication, with some markets airing it at unholy hours in the morning. However, the show was still pretty successful, and it got renewed for a second season. However, they decided to completely retool the show, taking it from a light-hearted action/adventure/comedy series (like a gender-flipped version of Chuck) to a straight action series (basically, yet another lukewarm rip-off of Charlie's Angels). As it turns out, the comedy aspect was one of the show's strengths. It was canned soon after.
The granddaddy of all Screwed by the Network examples is this show. After two seasons of middling ratings, NBC announced its intent to cancel the show. However, a national campaign of letter writing, led by a fan named Betty Jo Trimble, resulted in an unprecedented backdown by the network. NBC renewed the show for Season 3...but also cut the show's budget by approximately half and placed the show in the Friday Night Death Slot, when the show's demographic was likely to be doing anything but watching TV. Episode quality, and consequently ratings, suffered meteoric falls (although it was responsible for some of the series' most memorable episodes), followed by cancellation at the end of the season.
Interestingly, many of the cast and crew involved in the show later declared that the show's cancellation was the best thing to happen to the franchise — instead of the slashed budget taking its toll and resulting in a steady decline in quality, Star Trek cemented itself in the public consciousness as an excellent show killed before its time, which left fans clamoring for more and led to the creation of eleven films and five subsequent series, the second of which would win critical acclaim and eighteen Emmys in the process, and another of which would garner the highest critical ratings of any Trek series and pioneer Character Development and serialized plotlines and Myth Arcs several years before that became common on network television.
That the letter writing campaign saved Star Trek is actually a myth created by Roddenberry, who also organized the "fan campaign"; in reality, it had little to no effect (and why would it? NBC knew how many people were watching, and these numbers don't magically change if the audience starts writing letters). Though Lucille Ball, who owned series producer Desilu, did make a big stink and threatened to leave, which shook the house. But according to Inside Star Trek, the true reason Star Trek got a third season was because back then, NBC's parent company was RCA, which owned the patent for color television. Star Trek was one of the biggest reasons why people bought color TV sets, and RCA made more money by selling them to Star Trek fans than NBC lost by airing Star Trek instead of something else.
Southland: The show got a fairly well-rated, if not blockbuster, short run for its first season. And then it was cancelled to make way for Jay Leno's ill-fated 10 PM show. Fortunately, TNT swooped in to pick it up.
In a regional example, Detroit, Michigan's NBC affiliate WDIV seems to hate the fourth hour of Series/Today, as they've never aired the Kathie Lee Gifford/Hoda Kotb-hosted hour at the normal national time of 10:00 AM, instead choosing to run syndicated talk shows in that slot. Instead, the fourth hour has ran at 11:00 AM, then was postponed further to 2:00 AM in the Detroit market in 2013 to make room for Live in the D, a local news/talk show.
In a tragic and inexplicable move, NBC decided to move this show, hosted by Conan O'Brien, from its regular 11:30 timeslot to 12:05. Because he knew it would push out Late Night, do more harm to The Tonight Show than help, and because he was just plain tired of being dicked around by the network, Conan threatened to quit the show and leave the network in protest. NBC paid him a penalty of $44 Million to leave while Jay Leno took The Tonight Show back. Conan was so badly screwed by the network that even his direct competitors are furious on his behalf: David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, George Lopez, and Jimmy Kimmel have all directly reamed NBC for their atrocious behavior.
Not to mention, in a rare example of knock-on screwing effect, the ill-advised decision to park Jay's talk show — and promote it exclusively and not Conan, even in the nightly lead-ups — five nights a week at 10:00 PM managed to screw Conan and every NBC station due to the decision to cancel five nights of prime-time scripted drama, causing ratings for the late local news to tank across the country. It arguably didn't help Jay, either.
Supposedly, the reason for this change was because NBC was tired of shelling out money for prime-time dramas that no one watched and ended up tanking, and realized it was cheaper to just produce a variety show for Jay (who was leaving The Tonight Show anyway) so he could stay with the network.
Conan and Andy did "The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour" from April-June, then moved to TBS.
Conan got screwed by NBC again with the handling of his production Outlaw, which not only got the Friday Night Death Slot but got canceled after just five episodes due not getting the desired 18-49 demographic (who probably don't even watch TV on Fridays). Its replacement, School Pride, got far worse ratings but didn't seem to be on any sort of cancellation threat...until the producer died.
NBC started the whole Tonight Show mess by offering O'Brien Tonight in order to prevent the same problem that occurred when Letterman quit NBC after they refused to give him Tonight after Johnny Carson retired. O'Brien was announced as the new host of Tonight more than five years earlier, during a special segment on Leno. But in the intervening years, Leno decided he didn't want to leave, and started making noises about leaving NBC if he was forced to stick to the plan. Hence, they gave him the prime-time series...so basically Leno changes his mind and NBC gives him what he wants while screwing O'Brien over. But now O'Brien's with TBS so...who's laughing now?
TeenNick (and its predecessor, The N) is quickly shaping up to be the teenager's equivalent to FOX when it comes to screwing shows over. If you're a show that airs on The N in the US and your name is not Degrassi, you will get screwed. Examples range from the canceled South of Nowhere and O'Grady to the not-canceled-but-completely-forgotten-about-until-the-network-suddenly-decided-to-drop-the-next-season-in-a-frenzy-of-new-episodes-about-eighteen-months-too-late Beyond the Break. The majority of the network's non-Degrassi schedule? Reruns of shows that originally aired on other networks, only about half of which came from Nickelodeon (like Drake & Josh, Neds Declassified School Survival Guide, and Zoey 101, along with the occasional iCarly, Victorious, or Big Time Rush).
And even Degrassi doesn't get off all that easy. The N's broadcasts were heavily edited for content, the most notorious example being when they refused to air a two-part episode about abortion out of fear of viewer backlash. Once the show became really popular in America, The N was now forced into a position of pushing for creative changes on the Canadian writers.
True Jackson VP was rarely shown on the network (but mostly shown on TeenNick). Whenever a new episode was scheduled to air, no "new episode" promo was shown until THE DAY OF the airing and whenever a rerun airing of the show was scheduled to air.
The Troop was also treated pretty badly by the network. Nickelodeon was a bit more kind to the show in the second season, giving it a plush Saturday-afternoon timeslot, right after Power Rangers Samurai. However, they decided to screw it even there by pre-empting the new episodes with Sponge Bob Square Pants reruns! However, it was because the show was moved to a prime-time timeslot on Saturday nights! The show was cancelled before all the episodes of season two were even aired on the network.
Anything produced by their international networks (especially their Australian and British operations) appear to air only out of a contractual obligation instead of a genuine interest to air something different for viewers, though the international producers have no say on promotion or timeslots at all it seems. Witness the rebranding of the Australian series Lightning Point on TeenNick to the generically confusing Alien Surf Girls.
A downgrade to TeenNick also means an immediate loss of any airings in High Definition, which is pretty much a must for any series in the 2010s, and means the makers of those international series are stuck waiting for Netflix (if Nick even puts their series on there) to present their show as intended in the US.
Hollywood Heights, an attempt to create a telenovela-like daily series was supposed to be the big attraction of Nickelodeon's summer 2012 season. However, a confusing strategy which resulted it being branded as a Nick @ Nite program by the time it started, along with an inexplicable looping of the first episode through the first week, which instead of attracting viewers, fatigued them from watching the series further, along with the usual complaints of why a teen soap opera was under the Nick @ Nite label. By the time it ended in August it had been reduced to being stuck on TeenNick and only watched by diehards. Compare this to January 2014's Every Witch Way, which got Nickelodeon branding, a guaranteed weeknight timeslot and got a second season, never changing its prime timeslot in each of its month-long full runs on Nickelodeon.
For the network as a whole, its incredible decline in ratings in 2011 can be mostly due to its odd treatment of its shows not named Spongebob Squarepants, Victorious, or iCarly. However, even iCarly received some bad treatment by the series' end. From advertising two separate episodes as the 'season premiere' (The Other Wiki hasn't even established when most seasons started, forcing Wild Mass Guessing as to where each 'season' begins since the network won't tell them), advertising the series to run back to back, only to stop that after 4 episodes, airing episodes with no advertising, and weird timeslots like the 28th of December for the second blooper episode and New Year's Eve for "iPsycho 2", it's ratings have been hammered with several episodes dropping into the bottom 5 rated ever, and the series as a whole dropping the average ratings of the rest of the show by over a million viewers.
The network also seems to want to push all their viewers to Amazon or Netflix to watch SpongeBob reruns without interruption. The new Nick Studio 10 afternoon block in 2013 broke into programming with random viral or production video and inane stunts(usually involving food), while the segment "Fart in a Jar" wouldn't even seem to be appropriate on Comedy Central. Nobody except the network and quiet fans seemed to enjoy it, probably because the show's Periphery Hatedom overwhelmed any attempts to fix the show or allow disagreement with their views; their Twitter account was hacked with racist posts to the point where the network gave up on keeping control of it, while the program's Facebook page was best described as entirely having "feedback" of the profane variety. A promised return after Labor Day 2013 never materialized, and it's assumed that the block has been killed, and the hosts of the block have pretty much disavowed ever appearing on it (likely due to said profane feedback ending up on their own personal social media timelines from the hatedom which got to the point of threats for the mere reason of just doing their jobs).
Power Rangers had it rough at Disney (see above), so a lot of fans cheered when it made the switch to Nickelodeon. However, that didn't last long. Because of a weird "20 episodes per season" rule that Nick forced on them, the 40-episode run of Samurai/Super Samurai was stretched out over two years. Adding to that frequent delays, and it's stretched even longer (in more recent years, one fan crunched the numbers and realized that the 40 episodes of Samurai/Super Samurai have run over a longer period of time than the 150-episode run of the first three seasons of Mighty Morphin). What makes it worse is that Rangers has always adapted the previous years Super Sentai series, but Rangers just keeps falling further and further behind.
Not to mention Taina, for those unaware or it. It was about Taina, a teenaged Puerto-Rican girl who aspires to be a singer and actress. Other cast members included a black guy friend that is sometimes the voice of reason, a guy that sometimes plays guitar for Taina's performances, and another aspiring actress who acts mostly as a rival but sometimes a friend to the main character. And if none of that sounds familiar, Taina is enrolled in Manhattan Performing Arts School. It also received similar ratings to Victorious and was moved to Saturday nights for the second season (which aired from January to May of 2002) where ratings doubled. Aside from being a popular show, it was cancelled that Summer. Number One reason: Nick thought it only appealed to girls when at the time, Nickelodeon's target audience were mostly males. Turns out guys did like the show too.
In an extremely odd move even by Nickelodeon standards, Victorious got this treatment during its final year: several new episodes scheduled to air during October/November 2012 were preempted by new episodes of Big Time Rush. YMMV as to whether it was due to the network wanting to hype BTR as a replacement for when iCarly and Victorious fold, or because of the somewhat-declining quality of the later Victorious episodes.
Aaaaand then the show was canned despite being a massive hit. Why? Something about the channel (as said by the executive producer of How To Rock) going through a transition right now. Same also goes for How To Rock, Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures, and Fred: the Show...all of which were on the air for one season only. Judging by recent programming, said "transition" is from Nickelodeon to The SpongeBob SquarePants Network, along with the network's need to stay in business with Lucas Cruikshank and create the Mork and Mindy clone Marvin Marvin for him, it too was cancelled after one season.
To add insult to injury for How to Rock, every show that premiered after it got cancelled has had worse ratings.
It seemed to happen again with Big Time Rush when it aired it's fourth and final season in early 2013. The new Thursday timeslot for their season four episodes had no promotion. Most episodes aired rated with series lows, with the episode aired 5/16/13 gaining just above 1 million viewers. It was a series that regularly gets above 2 million on a bad day. Nick seemed to be trying to kill their last surviving live action moneymaker.
And now Sam & Cat is getting this treatment, not being renewed for a second season despite high ratings, and this was after the networks poor treatment of the cast and crew. Nick had abruptly ordered 20 more episodes of the show for the first season without giving anyone a chance at renegotiating contracts, the schedules were grueling for everyone, particularly Jeanette Mc Curdy who had wanted to take time off after her mothers death, Nick also reacted badly when racy photos of Jeanette were released online by her ex, causing her to publicly accuse them of unfair treatment and refuse to attend the Kids Choice Awards. Nick then abruptly shut down the show with four episodes unfilmed.
Since its premiere in 2007, Naked Brothers Band was one of Nick's most successful shows. Despite this, by the end of the 3rd season, executives demanded more, urging Polly Draper and her family to lengthen the season from 13 episodes, to 60. 60 episodes in one season, for a show whose cast consisted of mainly grade schoolers and high schoolers! Obviously Draper refused, citing a previous agreement that the shooting schedule would not interfere with the boys shooting schedule. Nickelodeon of course, did not conform to the "Demands", and basically contributed to the end of one of their most popular shows in 2009.
House of Anubis got this pretty bad, possibly because it was made by the British network. In the months leading up to the premier of the second season, they decided to re-show all the episodes of the first season. Fans were excited, as many episodes weren't on the Nick site, and so they haven't seen much of the show in a year. Well, after the first half of the season, they used up one of the episode slots to air the premier of FRED instead- and stopped showing episodes since, leading fans to get rather upset. The third season got this the worst, however. At first, they only showed new episodes once a week- which doesn't sound so bad, except that previously the episodes were shown Monday-Thursday. About six episodes in, they used the time slot to, instead, air yet another new show. It wasn't shown for two weeks, until it was finally moved to TeenNick- a channel a portion of the fans didn't have and couldn't present the show as intended by the producers, which caused ratings to drop.
In 2000, Nippon TV joined the list of people screwing All Japan Pro Wrestling — they canned the weekly TV show, which they had aired for nearly 30 years, and signed a deal with former AJPW president Wrestling/Mitsuharu Misawa (now head of Pro Wrestling NOAH). However, Nippon kept their 15% share of the company and made it so they couldn't get a TV deal with another network, taking the once-large company off the air. Keep in mind that this was about a week after Misawa announced he was leaving the company and taking almost all of its employees to NOAH, and at the time AJPW owner Giant Baba only had three people under contract (two wrestlers and a referee) with free agents and independent wrestlers rounding out the rest of their cards.
Nippon TV actually backed the separate promotion a year before it happened (and it only happened in 2000 as opposed to 1999 out of respect for Baba, who died that year). This isn't appreciably different from Baba's split with the earlier Japan Wrestling Alliance in 1972, which was also coordinated with Nippon TV (leading to their stake in the company).
Season 2 of Alphas received barely any promotion and was moved from 10:00 PM to 8:00 PM in the middle of its run. (keep in mind, this show is noticeably Darker and Edgier than the type of programming usually shown in this hour) Then the network waited for three months after the finale to formally cancel the show, which ended on a massive cliffhanger that will never be resolved.
This actually served as a plot for an episode of The Big Bang Theory, with Sheldon upset over the cliffhanger, due to his compulsive need for closure. At the end of the episode, he calls up the show's writer to ask how they would've ended it, only to comment that it was terrible and "no wonder your show got cancelled."
One of the factors of Caprica's cancellation was SyFy's decision to re-promote Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome from a webseries back into a backdoor pilot movie, and choosing to favor it alone over having two Battlestar spin-offs airing simultaneously. That was back in 2010. It has since been demoted back to a webseries, and SyFy remains noncommittal over whether or not it will even air the damn thing now, especially in light of the unprecedented amount of press coverage and fan interest generated by the leaked trailer for the premier episode, which SyFy has been sitting on for nearly two years now. Why does Syfy hate this Peabody Award-winning franchise? It's like they're determined to look as terrible as possible on the matter.
And now Universal is planning another reboot, as a film directed by Bryan Singer. We guess Universal just wanted space battles and lots of CGI.
Eureka was screwed over by SyFy. They ordered what was supposed to be a sixth season - the final one - with six episodes. A week later, they then canceled the show and took back the season six order, leaving the writers scrambling to wrap up the series.
although with enough time to lampshade this action repeatedly in the final episode with similar treatment to the namesake Town at the hands of the Government
Farscape was renewed for a fourth and fifth season by Sci-Fi, and the show's writers plotted out Season 4 under the assumption that story threads, including the season cliffhanger, would be resolved in Season 5 because hey, Sci-Fi gave them two more seasons. Four days before production ended on the final episode shot of Season 4 (and several weeks after the actual finale had been filmed, owing to episodes being shot out of order), Sci-Fi abruptly cancelled the series; it was too late to change the finale, and the best the writers could do was sneak in a few extra character beats into the last episode filmed. The writers were given a rare opportunity to wrap up the arc in the Peacekeeper Wars miniseries (produced independently and, ironically, broadcast by Sci-Fi) but it was still a case of having to take a full seasons' worth of story threads and condense them down into a four-hour miniseries.
In Australia (where it was made), Channel 9 screwed with it even further — during the airing of Seasons 2-3, episodes were moved (out of order) to 5:30 PM and 11:30 PM...and due to "censorship" of the earlier timeslot edited/deleted over 20 mins on each episode and deleted anything that sounded like a swear word.
Bonnie Hammer and Mark Stern, while separating the schedules of Stargate SG-1 and Battlestar Galactica in what would end up the last season of the former and penultimate season of the latter, put the former after a remake of Knight Rider (and against Monk, which not only tops Nielsen cable ratings but is also on USA, whose scheduling is also done by Hammer and Stern) and delayed the latter's season premiere until six months after the finale last season. When the ratings fell, they canceled the former (on the 200th episode airing party, no less) and moved the latter to an even worse timeslot.
"Bonnie Hammer = Satan" has been around a while. Ask any Forever Knight fan about the treatment their show got on USA Network. The last four episodes were the first original dramatic program on the Sci-Fi Channel... because USA Network dumped the last four episodes on a channel that, at the time, had about 500,000 subscribers.
Not to outdo themselves, they seemingly swore to repeat history with Stargate Universe and Caprica, after a first season in the usual franchise time slot for the former and an inexplicable seven-month hiatus for the latter, both shows were shoved into arguably the worst possible timeslot, Tuesday nights, against some of the most popular shows on television, left to die while the "Scifi Friday" timeslot was given away to...wrestling.
Despite having its episodes aired horrendously Out of Order, Tremors managed to become Sci-Fi's highest rated program at the time. Nevertheless, it was canceled on the grounds that it didn't hit the demographic that Sci-Fi wanted.
This becomes doubly brain-wracking (if perhaps somewhat karmic) when one considers the demographic in question was the audience that had already been watching Farscape (which aired side-by-side for its final season with Tremors)...which Sci-Fi canned without warning (leaving the series ending on a cliffhanger) to replace with a stylistically similarshow...
Sci-Fi also didn't promote the series, deciding instead to promote Earthsea, and effectively threw Tremors under the bus. They didn't hit a big enough demographic because a lot of Sci-Fi fans didn't know the show was even on the network.
The adaptation of The Dresden Files was cancelled because, like so many other Syfy shows, it wasn't hitting the demographic the network wanted (18-to-35 males vs. the female audience the show brought in). On top of that, Syfy was fairly tight-lipped to the production crew as to whether or not the show was cancelled - at least, until Paul Blackthorne (who played Harry) jumped ship for another show.
Dead Like Me's executive meddling caused the writer and team to split after three episodes.
When Odyssey 5 first premiered in 2002, it managed to pull in the highest ratings ever for the network (a mark that took a decade for the network to beat)...but then the network moved the show from a cushy Sunday-night slot to the Friday Night Death Slot immediately, which led to a fast ratings drop and a cancellation after just 13 episodes. It wasn't until 2004 that Showtime finally aired the remaining episodes.
PTEN, the ad hoc "network" that produced and syndicated Babylon 5, doubly screwed over what was arguably the only show it produced that anyone was watching by cancelling it, then selling it. First the network told series creator J. Michael Straczinski while prepping for the fourth season that he was only getting one more season. This caused Straczinski to remove all the B-plot material from the scripts, resulting in one of the most quickly-moving, action oriented, you-don't-want-to-miss-this season the show has ever had. TNT buying the show and un-cancelling it left Straczinski with nothing but the "filler" he had excised from Season 4, making the fifth season (which was already planned to be the last) slow-moving and dissapointing by comparison.
PTEN screwed around with this show much more than that. For one thing, they insisted that one condition of its second-season renewal was that a "hot-shot pilot" in the vein of Han Solo be added to the cast. This resulted in the creation of Warren Keffer, a character who was deliberately used as little as possible and Killed Off for Real at the season's conclusion.
Reportedly, this is happening to Legend of the Seeker. The rumor going around is that the fans of Terry Goodkind's book series are so furious at the way the books have been adapted for TV, Disney-ABC is afraid to advertise it. However, the ironic twist is that the show has possibly taken the advertising budget, poured it into show quality, done some interesting stunt casting (Charisma Carpenter and Jolene Blalock, for starters), and have caused the ratings to slowly climb in its second season. Of course, the show's trapped in a syndication nightmare, so Season 3 is still in limbo.
The Tribune Company, which originally produced it, has gone bankrupt so I think it's safe to say it's never coming back.
One ABC station in northwest Florida aired 3rd Rock from the Sun at 3:30 AM Central every Saturday/Sunday morning, right between two infomercials. One MyNetworkTV station in northwest Florida (its sister station) barely aired it in a good timeslot, but it failed...
Hard to believe today, but in the late 1980s, Star Trek: The Next Generation didn't set every local station on fire, and there were reports of it being relegated to late-late night time slots in some markets until programmers realized it was actually a hit.
Paramount had little to no faith in the spin-off Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In its first two seasons it was airing concurrently with TNG, by then a confirmed hit, and almost all the advertising dollars were spent on the parent show. After that, Star Trek: Voyager was launched, which was not only a ship-based series in a similar vein to TNG, but was the banner series of their newly-launched network, UPN. Amid all this hoopla for any Star Trek series that wasn'tDS9, the ratings continually dropped per season, despite its quality rising.
Gerry Anderson was bitten twice by the finicky syndication market. UFO and Space Precinct were two (somewhat) adult-oriented series that programmers couldn't figure out what to do with as they usually associated Anderson with marionette shows for kids. As a result, neither series was able to survive beyond one season due to the US syndication markets not handling them properly.
Their treatment in Britain was somewhat similar, with some regions airing UFO at 8pm while others ran it in earlier slots.
Spanish public broadcaster TVE became famous for securing the rights for the hottest American series and then dumping them in their low-audience second channel La 2 and changing their slots around at least once a month, with the legendary 1 AM slot being left precisely for the most popular series at the moment. LOST suffered this treatment, among others.
Since the death of TBN founder Paul Crouch in November 2013, his widow Jan Crouch has assumed full control of the network and has apparently dropped a whole slew of programs dealing with pre-dispensatioanalist (belief in the pre-tribulation rapture) Bible prophecy. The moves could have been made to appeal to younger viewers, or were a result of theological differences within the Crouch family. The network has also begun to shift some of their more extreme-viewed shows over to the less-viewed Church Channel and made room for more centrist programming, along with inspirational-based Hollywood films such as ''A Walk to Remember, a move that would've been heresy when Paul was alive.
Crusade, the sequel to Babylon 5, suffered all of these from the ground up, complete with Executive Meddling writ large. JMS later learned that TNT (which had also aired the Post Script Season of B5) had done research and learned that the B5 and Crusade audience was completely failing to make the jump to the rest of the network's programming, and vice versa. It decided to scrap the sequel, even as it was in production...except that they couldn't do it without breaching their contract with Warner Brothers. So they decided to make it impossible, giving unbelievably-bad notes (including demanding a fistfight in the first episode). The production team did its best, but the show was quite literally doomed from day one. TNT's plan was to ensure that the show couldn't move to another channel (namely Sci-Fi, who wanted it) and become a success by insisting that they would only allow that to happen if the other channel also took on the B5 reruns, and then slapped a massive pricetag on them that no channel could possibly afford to pay. Sci-Fi, not surprisingly, passed and the show was lost forever.
TNT screwed with Memphis Beat by hardly ever promoting the show during its two seasons despite the fact that the show starred Jason Lee and had none other than George Clooney as executive producer. Instead, TNT put most of its marketing power on Franklin & Bash and its other in-house productions.
Monday Mornings: Opinions vary whether the marketing and promotion was good enough. Ratings were lower than expected, and the network opted not to renew it after the first season which lasted only 10 episodes. However, few series gain a big audience or devoted following right from the scratch, and needless to say, lots of Medical Drama geeks were intrigued (the most enthusiastic ones compared it to a best new thing since House or praised its rare realism), and lots of people watched the show for the stellar cast or David E. Kelley's reputation. It's sad that this was not enough to merit a new season.
Los misterios de Laura, a series proposed in 2008, was greenlit but only for half a season, which happened to be a success in 2009. A second season was ordered, but frozen until 2011. It happened to be a success again so a third season was ordered... except this time they decided to wait a bit longer so everybody would have had time to forget about it, and it was finally released in 2014, three years later. Its future is yet unknown, but the ratings have dropped in the new season.
Isabel was advertised as the network's next big thing until mere months before its planned release at the end of 2011, when TVE went suddenly mute and the release was pushed back to February and then to the fall of 2012. The reason was a government-ordered budget cut: a show's cost in TVE (which is a public broadcasting company) only becomes official when it airs, so by not airing it the cost was not accounted and the network could claim less money spent, even though the first season was already paid and completed. By summer the show was considered cancelled in practice and the production company even dismantled the sets. Only its very good ratings and the entry of phone company Telefónica as a second producer when the first season finally aired caused TVE to pull a 180º and greenlight a second and third season. Then Telefónica demanded that none of its produced seasons could be watched for free on TVE's website...
The most blatant case is 14 de Abril: La República (2011). Despite being a Spin-Off of the very popular period soap La Señora and the good ratings of its first season, the network has just plain refused to air or even release in DVD the second season, which is already filmed. TVE's excuses range from economic problems (even though every other show frozen for this reason in 2011 has aired, and TVE has ordered new shows since) to the claim that 14 de Abril's high rates don't matter because it was only watched by old people. It is obvious that the real reason is political: La Señora was set in The Roaring Twenties, but 14 de Abril takes place in the more ideologically charged Thirties - specifically, the second season takes place from 1932 to the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The first season was already the target of a hate campaign by conservatives, and the 2011 elections were won by main conservative party PP, the one that gets to say what TVE can air or not as a result.
In an example of an entire network screwing itself, UPN, a broadcast channel created by Paramount Studios that was supposed to become the new FOX Network. Unfortunately, that never happened, and the only reason the network stayed alive at all for just a little over 10 years (even after airing shows that were either universally panned or just hardly watched at all) was simply Star Trek. Basically Star Trek: Voyager was (and for most critics of the channel still is) UPN's flagship series, and the strong Trek fanbase and viewership was truly the sole thing (outside of Smack Down - see the entry on Pro Wrestling for how Paramount screwed THAT over) keeping the small network's head above water (but just barely). After Voyager's final season, many wondered if UPN would survive. Fortunately, a strong vocal campaign to create a new Trek series was heard and Enterprise was created. Unfortunately, many believe that even Enterprise was screwed over in its own way by the network leading it to become the third-shortest-running Trek series (next to the three-season Original Series itself and the two-season Animated Series). Simply by sheer irony, by screwing over Star Trek they essentially screwed themselves into network cancellation, and finally merging with The WB.
To expand on Enterprise being screwed over, an ongoing issue with the series was the fact UPN apparently had little control over what its affiliates actually aired. As a result, the series was chronically preempted in major markets in favor of local sports coverage, with Enterprise (and other UPN shows) being rescheduled to local-specific timeslots that weren't counted by Nielsen ratings. UPN itself also aired a repeat of Enterprise on the weekend, and this too was not counted in the Nielsens despite anecdotal evidence indicating many viewers were choosing to watch the weekend broadcast instead of the Nielsen-counted timeslot (the evidence for this is provided by series co-star Connor Trineer who, shortly before the series was cancelled, took to the pages of Starlog magazine to plead with viewers not to watch the weekend showing but instead watch the showing that counted). The fact UPN failed to achieve nationwide coverage was also blamed for the show's lower-than-expected ratings (in some markets it aired on local versions of the Home Shopping Channel!). It's been argued that Enterprise's alleged lack of fanbase support contributed to this, however such issues were being reported from the get-go, long before the series had been given a chance to establish itself, and similar issues were reported as affecting supposedly "better supported" series on UPN too. And there's still that issue of UPN cannibalizing its own ratings by re-broadcasting Enterprise on the weekend...
Moesha was a very tragic example, as the execs at UPN were the ones that demanded the infamous storyline of Frank's infidelity and Dorian being his son, the series creator strongly objected to the storyline and the Retool and was let go. The ratings sharply declined following the introduction of the infidelity plot, and then UPN cancelled the show on the same day that the cliffhanger season finale aired, leaving many loose ends unresolved (they were supposed to be resolved on the spin-off The Parkers, but that never happened, presumably due to Brandy Norwood getting tired of her character and the show). It's like they had already made up their minds about what they were going to do to the show before the season had ended.
Nowhere Man was one of UPN's highest-rated and critically-acclaimed shows, but it was canceled after one season only to be replaced by Homeboys in Outer Space, which hardly lasted any longer.
The show that replaced Moesha, One On One, ended up suffering almost the exact same fate (Executive Meddling during the last season, an unresolved cliffhanger) after the UPN/WB merger - The CW canned One on One a mere three days after the network's debut; the CW execs claimed they intended to renew the show but simply couldn't find a spot for it on their schedule, which sounds like a really lame excuse. It's obvious The CW was more interested in focusing all their attention on the shows carried over from The WB while barely giving the UPN shows the time of day, so the execs more than likely canned One on One just so they could free up space for their new shows.
The execs claimed they gave Veronica Mars the best spot possible — against House, a show that pretty much commanded Veronica's demographic as these guys will tell you.
The Australian run was even worse, airing late at night on Fridays and stopping mid-season for months at a time because of Big Brother.
Angel was suddenly canned to the confusion of those making the show, as it was consistently high-quality with high ratings. The reason the network gave was even more confusing: the show was so popular and good that they wanted the series to end on a high note instead of letting it die in obscurity. Possibly the only example of a show being canceled (ostensibly) because everyone liked it too much.
Word of God says that the network wanted to wait until the end of the season to consider renewal. Joss demanded an answer at mid-season and Jamie Kellner canned it, seemingly out of spite.
Worse, Word of God was that this had happened for the last several seasons of the show. Joss finally snapped since the show was, as established, quite popular. For some reason, the network dropped the ball on what probably would've been the best season yet for fear of Joss actually gaining enough leverage to know if those scripts he'd been writing for next season were a waste of time or not.
Series/Buffy The Vampire Slayer was screwed by The WB, although UPN picked it up.
Perhaps most lethally, the show kept teasing every week that Batman would be returning to Gotham imminently (as in "in next week's episode")...and then he didn't, in arguably the most shameless example of Trailers Always Lie in the network's history. By midseason, virtually all the casual fans and even a majority of the more ardent fans were sick of being lied to every week, and quit watching.
End Result: Dead Show, Dead Network.
Jack & Bobby wasn't treated very favorably by the The WB — it was hardly advertised at all compared to most of the network's other shows, and after Winter break there was no advance warning of any new episodes airing, so unless you used an episode guide you'd never know the show was even still on. To be fair, it did get a much more significant amount of advertising towards the end of the season, but the damage was already done as the ratings were far too low for it to have a chance of renewal. Further, Jack and Bobby wasn't exactly an easy show to sell based on marketing — the ads made it look like a typical WB teen drama, not even hinting at the story of Bobby being President in the future (being told through flashforwards). Those looking for a teen drama were caught off guard by the political storyline, while those who didn't mind the politics didn't watch because it didn't look too different from every other teen drama on the network. In the end, the show's unique premise was its undoing.
The WB was so quick to cancel Run of the House that it didn't even to get to finish its first and only season (the last few episodes were only ever aired overseas). It wasn't like the show's ratings were that bad, either, as it had What I Like About You as a lead-in.
Twins and Related were also victims of this. Really, The WB was almost as infamous as FOX for cancelling shows left and right...and now The CW seems to be following in they're footsteps, given how badly they screwed over Reba, the highest-rated show on The WB.
Saturday Morning show Kamen Rider Dragon Knight was mostly un-screwed by 4Kids and the network (lame marketing and trailers always spoiling aside)... until its two-part series finale was never aired. It was put on 4Kids' website to watch; it was never broadcast on television. This decision was made ahead of time too; the announcement that the finale would be online was made immediately after the last episode before the finale aired.
Break The Bank 1976 was a prime daytime example: it was #3 in all of daytime, but ABC canned it after just 15 weeks to expand two soap operas by 15 minutes. Tsk, tsk, tsk...
Million-Dollar Mind Game, a well-liked quiz imported from Russia and intended for primetime with good...well, everything...was sat on by ABC for over a year before being slapped on Sunday afternoons against NFL games (a timeslot usually used for awful time-buy motocross events and infomercials!) with minimal promotion, and instead chose to focus on promoting and giving You Deserve It primetime space. The result? The burn-off got better ratings...and yet it was still canned after one season, which makes you wonder why Million-Dollar Mind Game was slotted on Sunday afternoons in the first place if neither show was going to last.
While the screwing may not have been deliberate, The Mole fell victim in Season 5 when ABC's marketing department did so little to promote the show that even many die-hard fans were completely unaware that the show had returned for the first third of the season.
Of the five series of the BBC's Would I Lie to You?, it has never once held the same timeslot twice; it has bounced from Saturday at 10PM, Friday at 9PM, Monday at 10:30PM, Friday at 10:35PM, Friday at 9:30PM. And it's been announced that Series 6 will be airing before the watershed, at 8:30PM.
CBS' Match Game flourished at 3:30 PM Eastern, but somebody at the network got the great idea to move it to 11 AM, following The Price Is Right. Ratings tumbled as several major markets blacked out Match in favor of syndicated fare. Six weeks later, Match was moved to the low-clearance 4 PM Eastern spot (previous occupant Tattletales was moved to 10 AM and Price to 10:30) where it lived out its tenure to April 1979.
CBS screwed Million-Dollar Password by cancelling it simply because it didn't hit their target demographic, despite the fact that it frequently pulled the highest ratings in its timeslot.
CBS also screwed over the American Winning Lines by only airing it Saturday nights with seemingly no consistent timeslot, causing the ratings to plummet.
This is thought to be the cause of Carol Vorderman's 2008 departure from British game Countdown: when the show's budget was going to be cut by 33%, Vorderman was willing to take a 33% salary cut as well...except Channel Four allegedly went up to her and said what boiled down to "We're going to take off a trailing zero from your salary next year. Take it or leave it, you have two days to respond." Note that Vorderman's about as famous in Britain as Vanna White is in America, as she was on Countdown from its 1982 debut.
The Chamber got screwed by FOX as it was rushed to air ahead of time to compete with ABC's The Chair and ended up getting labeled a rip-off as a result (it's unknown which show began production first)... and then FOX canned it after only airing half of the six shows taped.
Forever Eden, a rare example of a Reality Show getting screwed, FOX changed its timeslot repeatedly with little advance warning and cancelled the show mid-season before a winner was even announced.
FOX screwed over both Greed and It's Your Chance of a Lifetime because the current network president hated game shows. Chance got it the worst because it was barely advertised, and what little advertisement there was only appeared mere days before the show was due to air. Chance was supposed to become a regular weekly series, contestants were being interviewed and everything, and FOX just pulled the plug for no reason whatsoever. Full details here.
In a very rare case of Screwed By The Affiliate, a FOX affiliate in North Carolina, WRAZ-TV, has a reputation for being run by Moral Guardians who refuse to air FOX programming that it judges to be "anti-family" and is particularly hostile to the raunchy reality shows, preempting or canceling airings of Temptation Island, Who Wants To Marry A Multimillionaire, Married By America, Osbournes Reloaded, and Who's Your Daddy?, a definite case of over-nannying or guardian of sanity by that station, depending on your view (not airing Married by America helped them avoid a fine Fox got from airing a particularly sleazy scene, for instance). In their place, the station usually airs reruns of The Andy Griffith Show, a show which retains legendary popularity in North Carolina.
Quite a few GSN originals. The typical formula for an original game here: A) introduce it with some fanfare, B) constantly jack its timeslot around, C) show a metric buttload of reruns while the show's still making new episodes, D) announce the new seasons rarely if at all, and E) gradually stop making new episodes. Small wonder that, out of all of their original programming dating back to the late 1990s, Lingo was one of the only ones to be a bona-fide hit… and even that was a revival.
Perhaps the most notorious example came in 2004, when the network, which had previously been known on-air as the Game Show Network, decided to try to appeal to a younger demographic by changing its programming up with dozens of non-game show related series, including Kenny vs. Spenny, the unsurprisingly short-lived Fake-a-Date and Vegas Weddings Unveiled, and various blackjack/poker games. In the ensuing change-up, all of the network's original programming that wasn't named "Lingo" was canceled. Said original programming, which included a Friend or Foe, Russian Roulette, and a revival of Press Your Luck, were some of the network's most popular programs, and likely would have gone on for more seasons had GSN not screwed them (and, in effect, themselves) over.
Many daytime game shows whose network was run by Fred Silverman. Not surprising, as Silverman actually openly hated game shows, feeling that they were a waste of time and not as entertaining as scripted programming.
The original (1957-64) nighttime version of The Price Is Right flourished Wednesdays at 8:30 PM on NBC, making it the top-rated primetime game show. In 1961, the sponsors wanted to tinker with it so NBC moved the show to Mondays at 8:30. Ratings slid, so a year later the show got moved to 9:30 PM Mondays, opposite The Andy Griffith Show. Price hemorrhaged ratings, so on February 1, 1963 it was moved to Fridays at 9:30. NBC wanted a show that attracted a younger audience than Price sponsors wanted, so they optioned the sitcom Harry's Girls to replace Price that Fall.
ABC stepped in and acquired both versions of Price for an amount NBC wasn't willing to match, although the move was costly as ABC couldn't afford the nighttime show in color and not every market had an ABC affiliate (48 markets aired Price on their CBS station). Nighttime ended in September 1964, and daytime a year later.
NBC's 2000 revival of 21 was performing quite well, yet it was abruptly canned out of nowhere for no reason, and the finale wasn't even advertised.
NBC head Lin Bolen became the enemy of fans for her insistence on ousting games hosted by middle-aged men on technologically-obsolete sets.
In 1973, as CBS' Price Is Right reboot was trouncing it, she refused to move the original Concentration from being its competitor.
Once TOAM ended, Bolen moved the original Jeopardy! to the 1:30 slot, causing it to lose a good portion of its audience. In exchange for ending Merv Griffin's show a year before the contract stated, the remainder of said contract was given to the culmination of over a year's development and Bolen putting her job on the line — Wheel of Fortune.