3 Qualities that Get TV Shows Cancelled

Ever wonder why your favorite series just got zapped off the TV sched? Nah, of course, you didn’t. Because you – like all the rest of it – knew in your heart of hearts that it was because everything you like is just too damn good for TV. Right?

But sometimes it’s something else. No, not a conspiracy to drive you off your nut. Something much more sinister and almost inevitably deadly. We don’t want to give away the most important phrase in the article below, but here’s a hint:

B-d W—–g

In case you didn’t get it:

zapperby Anthea Mitchell

At certain points in the year, anyone that’s been watching a new show with enjoyment knows to prepare for cancellation. This is assuming the series is not one of those classics that’s been on air for sixteen years — though even those can surprise you at times. Cancellation is a constant risk for most shows, particularly those that are new, but sometimes its a risk that follows a series into its fourth or fifth season.

Some shows are canceled before they truly deserve to be cut out, leading either to a rescue from fans as was seen with Arrested Development and Futurama, or years and years of bitterness, as we see in the case of Firefly. Other shows fall into some predictable pitfalls that often lead to cancellation, and those are the shows it’s sometimes hard to feel sorry to see go. Ratings are a huge part of , but what determines ratings are far more complex and have to do with everything from time slots to writing. These pitfalls are fairly predictable, which makes it all the more deserved when a show falls off a network.

One problem new shows fall into that fails about half the time is when it tries to emulate a show that’s far better than itself, pretty much guaranteeing an audience won’t be gained. If the show manages to do a fair job of reproducing what the fans loved about the other popular show, while still maintaining a certain degree of originality, it can snatch up fans who are looking for something similar — particularly if the two shows are scheduled on different days or different times. Sometimes this tactic also helps draw an initial audience, and then as the series’ position becomes more embedded and stable the writers have the opportunity to take more risks and add new material that might not have been part of the initial draw.

Of course, this is risky as well, since often that new material overwhelms what was working and loses its old audience a few episodes into the second season. This is another major problem shows have that lead them to be cancelled — throwing a stylistic or plot change in the show when the viewers aren’t prepared for it, where the change fundamentally shifts directions as a result. Loyalty only goes so far, and early in a show’s creation loyalty doesn’t run terribly deep.

Read it all at TV Cheat Sheet