Is it time for networks to plan ahead for TV show cancellations?

TIMELESS Photo: Eddy Chen/NBC via NBC MediaVillage
TIMELESS Photo: Eddy Chen/NBC via NBC MediaVillage /

If the last month has taught networks anything, it’s that TV show cancellations need to be better thought out. Gone are the days where fans will just move on from major cliffhangers.

Take a look at Twitter right now and you’ll see multiple fandoms requesting the saving of their shows. Others are still fighting for renewals because the networks haven’t made their decisions yet. Some of the more vocal fandoms including Lucifer, Timeless, and The Brave, but there are so many more.

Over the weekend, The Expanse was officially saved by Amazon after a couple of weeks of negotiations. Lucifer showrunners and Warner Bros. are currently looking to see if a streaming service will take up the comic adaptation for at least one year. Other networks have stepped in to save shows in the past, such as CMT saving Nashville and Netflix saving Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Photo credit: Nashville/CMT by Jake Giles Netter, Acquired via CMT
Photo credit: Nashville/CMT by Jake Giles Netter, Acquired via CMT /

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Some networks have now opted to give fans warning of final seasons. FOX opted to share that Gotham Season 5 would be the final season, HBO made the announcement Game of Thrones would end with a shortened Season 8, and The CW has announced that a number of shows will air their final seasons over the last few years.

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These sorts of cancellations work. While fans are understandably disappointed that their shows are coming to an end, there’s the knowledge that the shows will actually have a fitting end; that the story will be fully fleshed out. When The Vampire Diaries Season 8 was announced as the last season, fans were ready for the series finale and the writers had the chance to create throwbacks to the past. The Originals has done the same this season and we can expect the same with the likes of iZombie, Jane the Virgin, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend next year.

iZombie — “You’ve Got to Hide Your Liv Away” — Photo Credit: Shane Harvey/The CW — Acquired via CW TV PR
iZombie — “You’ve Got to Hide Your Liv Away” — Photo Credit: Shane Harvey/The CW — Acquired via CW TV PR /

By getting a season that is fleshed out and completes the story, we get this sense of the show being final. There’s no need to feel angry that the show has ended with a major cliffhanger, such as the likes of LuciferDark Angel, Witches of East End, and potentially Timeless. We don’t get that sense that we’ve wasted years of investment into a story, never to find out how it would have all ended. That’s the part that leaves us bitter and angry as fans. Not everything is as lucky as Firefly to get a movie to wrap things up or like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel that get comics afterward.

It’s time for networks to think about the fans and think carefully about TV show cancellations. Sure, there are business decisions that need to be made, but fans are part of the business. If fans continually feel jipped by a network, they’re not going to give new shows a chance. This puts new shows and new jobs at risk and it could all be solved with some forward planning.

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This understandably wouldn’t work for freshman shows like The Brave or Life Sentence, but it would hold some hope for those that reach their sophomore years.

Do you think it’s time for networks to give fans time to say goodbye? Do they need to allow shows to wrap up their stories? Can they think carefully about their TV show cancellations? Share your thoughts in the comments below.