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Why Some of Our Favorite Shows Get Canceled Abruptly

Updated on January 24, 2020
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Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes about various things, including celebrities and entertainment.

Robin Given, star of the canceled show "Ambitions"
Robin Given, star of the canceled show "Ambitions" | Source

Fans become disheartened when their favorite television show gets canceled. This is true especially when so many storylines are left hanging. Viewers never find out what the writers might have written if the series had continued.

When sitcoms and other television shows are canceled they don't impact viewers as much as when series are canceled. That's because there are ongoing storylines that are cut short before they are completed.

When creators have an inkling that their series might not be renewed, they deliberately end the season on cliffhangers to make viewers think the show will return.

Reasons Shows Are Canceled

Networks give reasons some programs are not renewed for additional seasons. Some of the typical reasons include low viewership, low ratings, bad reviews and financial losses for the network and for advertisers. Sometimes networks will cancel a show because of controversies among cast members or staff members. It is not unusual for a network to cancel a program to make room for a new one especially if they think the new one is better for the network.

If a show is costing more money to air than the money it is bringing in, then the show gets canceled. Some game shows don't get canceled with low ratings before they cost much less to air than other shows.

All shows that go off the air have not been canceled. For instance, Scandal that ran for seven seasons on ABC wasn't canceled. It was the mutual decision of writers, creators, producers, and cast to end the programming. In that case, viewers were alerted to the termination of the show a whole season in advance. Therefore, they were not caught off guard. Cast members and crew were able to plan in advance what they would do after their jobs ended.

The same thing happened when Seinfeld and The Sopranos went off the air. In those cases, viewers were not left with cliffhangers. Instead, the last episode is usually a special one such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show when all the cast members were included. A script was written around them saying goodbye to one another as well as to viewers. The finale was appropriately entitled "The Last Episode."

The last episode was the only one of its 168 episodes that all eight of the regular characters appeared. To top it off, it was the only time all eight them were seen together on stage at the same time. It was such a touching ending that the episode won an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series."

Can Canceled Shows Be Revived?

On rare occasions, a television show may be brought back for a second chance. For instance, the CBS crime drama Unforgettable was canceled in 2012 only to be revived in 2013.

Also, on rare occasions, a show can be canceled by one network and is later picked up by another network. The fallacy with that is by the time a show gets a second chance, the original audience is no longer interested.

Sometimes a show might return after enough fans request a revival. Star Trek, Cagney & Lacey, and Jericho returned for additional episodes after letter-writing campaigns. With so many other things to watch on television these days, viewers get over their disappointment quickly and move on.

Cast of "Grand Hotel"
Cast of "Grand Hotel" | Source

Two of My Favorite Shows Were Canceled

Two of my favorite shows were canceled after only one season and left me disappointed.

Grand Hotel premiered on ABC on June 17, 2019. After 13 episodes, the season ended on September 9, 2019 and was canceled in October 2019 after its first season. It was an intriguing show about the goings and comings in the family-owned Riviera Grand Hotel in Miami Beach. The storylines were centered around the family, staff, and guests at the hotel that kept viewers guessing about what would happen next. Unfortunately, viewers will never get the chance to find out the ending to the cliffhanger that ended the first and only season of the series.

Fans were surprised that the series was canceled because it started off with 3.69 million viewers. The number did decrease during the first season and ended up with 2.17 million viewers. Some shows stay on the air with those numbers.

"Ambitions" cancelled after first season
"Ambitions" cancelled after first season | Source

Ambitions on OWN was canceled after only one season with a number of unresolved issues left hanging. The series premiered on June 18, 2019, and ended on December 17 after 18 episodes. The series started out with1.18 million total viewers. The finale for the first season had only 0.57 million viewers. The announcement came on January 23, 2020 that Ambitions had been canceled.

Shows Canceled Early

At least viewers got to see one season of Grand Hotel and Ambitions. Some television shows did not make it that far. Some pilots never aired on television. There is a long list of shows that got canceled even before one episode premiered. Viewers weren't disappointed because they never got to see any of the episodes.

There is also a long list of shows that got canceled immediately after only one episode aired. That happened because of initial negative reviews, extremely low ratings, controversial content, or situations that went against the network's standards and policies. Viewers were not disappointed because the shows were not around long enough for them to become invested in them.

Have you ever been disappointed over the cancellation of a series you were watching?

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