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A Helpful Guide to TV Cancellation Season

Networks have been busy shaking up their programming slates this week. Here’s everything that’s in (Hi, ‘Killing Eve!’) and out (RIP, ‘The Expanse’).

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It’s officially that week in May when major broadcast networks and their subsidiaries go through a spate of series renewals and cancellations. It’s a tough time of the year. There’s always at least one show you’re super invested in that gets an early, devastating hook; meanwhile, shows like The Big Bang Theory are renewed again, and you get the creeping feeling that the word “bazinga” will be uttered in perpetuity.

Because the news of these cancellations and renewals comes in unrelenting waves, it can be difficult to keep track of what’s happening. This year, it feels like all television was canceled. To help sort through everything, below is a comprehensive list for which shows are returning and which will be leaving the airwaves and streamers like Netflix and Hulu, along with some selected breakdowns for why the decisions were made, and how they’re making me feel. (Rest in Power, The Expanse!)


Noteworthy Cancellations

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)

Number of Seasons: 5
Likely Reason: Low ratings
Public Reaction:

The Fox comedy ran for five seasons and drew rave reviews from critics; in 2014, the show even won a Golden Globe for Best Television Series: Comedy or Musical. But this decision probably came down to declining ratings as the network cleaned house on several of its scripted comedies, including The Mick and Last Man on Earth. News of the cancellation hit hard Thursday, with an outpouring of Twitter love—including from the Backstreet Boys!

But all’s not lost: Brooklyn Nine-Nine is being shopped around, with several outlets—including Hulu, Netflix, NBC, and TBS—reportedly expressing interest in acquiring the series. It could still be saved yet.

Update, May 12: As expected—especially because the outpouring of disappointment about Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s cancellation was only growing louder—on Friday night, NBC announced that it was picking up the series for a 13-episode sixth season. “Ever since we sold this show to Fox I’ve regretted letting it get away, and it’s high time it came back to its rightful home,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment. As far as I’m concerned, this was Guillermo del Toro’s doing.

The Expanse (Syfy)

Number of Seasons: 3
Likely Reason: Low ratings and an antiquated business model
Public Reaction:

This one hurts. Syfy had its hands on a near-masterpiece of the genre, an heir apparent to Battlestar Galactica with terrific writing, resonant political themes, character actress Shohreh Aghdashloo threatening dudes on a weekly basis, and surprisingly good special effects.

But as Deadline broke down, the cancellation was likely due to an arcane agreement that Syfy had with Alcon Television Group, which produces and finances the series. Syfy had only first-run linear rights in the States, meaning there was a greater emphasis on live-viewing at a time when streaming and DVRing shows is the norm. Alcon will reportedly shop the series to other networks—lord willing, someone will take a flier on the best science-fiction show in a decade.

Here and Now (HBO)

Number of Seasons: 1
Likely Reason: Low ratings and poor critical reception
Public Reaction:

As The Ringer’s Alison Herman put it, Here and Now is “a bizarre and puzzling cluster of decisions that rapidly coalesce into a glorious mess.” HBO doesn’t often cancel shows after one season, but a combination of modest ratings and a tepid critical response meant Here and Now was a logical show to ax—despite the fact that Alan Ball of Six Feet Under and True Blood fame was at the helm.

Everything Sucks! (Netflix)

Number of Seasons: 1
Likely Reason: Not enough eyeballs (but Netflix won’t tell us!)
Public Reaction: Put it this way: The Ringer’s Andrew Gruttadaro had an innocuous, non–Everything Sucks–related tweet that was retweeted by the Netflix account. Afterward, many teens tweeted at him demanding he renew Everything Sucks, even though—as far as I’m aware—Andrew does not work for Netflix. Here are just a few of the replies.

The coming-of-age dramedy took a while to get going, but with briskly paced episodes clocking in at around 22 minutes, Everything Sucks! was one of the streamer’s easier binges. Since Netflix doesn’t disclose its internal ratings, it’s unclear what sparked the show’s cancellation after just one season, but with a goal of 700 pieces of original content for this year, perhaps Everything Sucks! got lost in Netflix’s ever-growing library.

A Bunch of Other Shows to Wave Goodbye To

Chance (Hulu), Damnation (USA), Disjointed (Netflix), I Love Dick (Amazon), Jean-Claude Van Johnson (Amazon), Lady Dynamite (Netflix), Last Man on Earth (Fox), Life Sentence (The CW), Living Biblically (CBS), The Mayor (ABC), The Mick (Fox), Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon), One Mississippi (Amazon), The Path (Hulu), Seven Seconds (Netflix), Taken (NBC), Ten Days in the Valley (ABC), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix), Valor (The CW), Wayward Pines (Fox)

Noteworthy Renewals

9-1-1 (Fox)

Ryan Murphy’s delightfully entertaining clusterfuck of a procedural was mostly an excuse to hop among absurd emergency scenarios for its firefighters to deal with—be it a baby stuck in a pipe, a plane crashing in the Pacific Ocean, or three pregnant women giving birth at a pregnant yoga class at the same time.

The ratings were great, so we’ll be blessed with more 9-1-1 in the near future. Unfortunately, the next season may or may not include Connie Britton’s character, Abby, especially since she signed on to star in Bravo’s new true-crime anthology series, Dirty John. It’s probably for the best: The show couldn’t stop reminding us that she was lonely and single.

The Good Doctor (ABC)

The Good Doctor is the This Is Us of medical dramas, constantly trying to manufacture tears from its audience—but damned if it isn’t entertaining. Remember when the Good Doctor lanced a boil in a porn star’s vagina? Good times.

The Good Doctor was also, inexplicably, the most popular show on television when it made its debut last fall. Of course it’s coming back.

Killing Eve (BBC America)

Killing Eve was initially envisioned as a miniseries. My, how quickly things change. The show got an early second-season renewal from BBC America off the strength of really good numbers: the show has seen an increase in viewers in every episode since its April premiere. Sparked by the dynamic cat-and-mouse game between MI-6 agent Eve (Sandra Oh) and the charismatic killer Villanelle (Jodie Comer), and terrific, darkly hilarious writing, Killing Eve has morphed into a surprising word-of-mouth sensation. The arrow continues to point up for Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)

There are renewals, and then there’s what Rick and Morty cocreators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon were able to swing: 70 (!!) more episodes of interplanetary adventures. This is great news for both parties; Adult Swim gets to keep its buzziest series for the foreseeable future, while Harmon and Roiland get rare, long-term security as creators to flesh out their characters for what could be another seven seasons (the last two Rick and Morty seasons were 10 episodes each).

The only drawback is that the Szechuan sauce–loving Rick and Morty fans—including … Kanye West—will be yelling about how a really high IQ is needed to understand the subtleties of the show for years to come.

The Sinner (USA)

Is a second season of The Sinner—initially a miniseries—necessary, you ask? If you like absurdly high drama and batshit plot development (and Jessica Biel stabbing someone on a sunny day at the beach), then OF COURSE IT IS.

Adding even more value to this renewal is the fact that Season 2 will star Carrie Coon, a supremely talented actress who is batting 1.000, makes everything infinitely better with her presence, and just so happens to be my favorite person on the planet. Coon was inexplicably robbed of an Emmy for The Leftovers, despite turning in the most compelling and emotionally devastating performance on television. Perhaps The Sinner: 2 Sin 2 Furious (working title) will provide the actress a long overdue trophy.

Billions (Showtime)

Time to celebrate with the boys!

Showtime
Showtime

A Bunch More Recent Renewals

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix), American Idol (ABC), Arrow (The CW), The Bachelor (ABC), Barry (HBO), Better Things (FX), The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Big Mouth (Netflix), Black Lightning (The CW), Black Mirror (Netflix), Bosch (Amazon), The Chi (Showtime), Counterpart (Starz), Crashing (HBO), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW), Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO), Dark (Netflix), Dynasty (The CW), Fear the Walking Dead (AMC), Fleabag (Amazon), Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TBS), The Good Fight (CBS All Access), Grace and Frankie (Netflix), Grown-ish (Freeform), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu), Happy! (Syfy), High Maintenance (HBO), Homeland (Showtime), House of Cards (Netflix), Insecure (HBO), Jane the Virgin (The CW), Jessica Jones (Netflix), Killjoys (Syfy), The Last O.G. (TBS), Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO), The Magicians (Syfy), One Day at a Time (Netflix), Orange Is the New Black (Netflix), Riverdale (The CW), Roseanne (ABC), Runaways (Hulu), Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix), Search Party (TBS), She’s Gotta Have It (Netflix), Silicon Valley (HBO), Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access), Suits (USA), Supernatural (The CW), Superstore (NBC), The Tick (Amazon), This Is Us (NBC), Transparent (Amazon), Unreal (Lifetime), The Walking Dead (AMC), Westworld (HBO), Will & Grace (NBC)


Breaking through the TV landscape when the number of scripted series could reach 500 in 2018 continues to be a tough affair. For every Westworld or Riverdale, there’s an Everything Sucks! that doesn’t get enough eyeballs to justify its renewal. Don’t worry, we’re here to mourn with you—and if anyone has any sad Spotify playlists to recommend, I’m still not over The Expanse.