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30 Popular TV Shows That Were Nearly Canceled

Friends

We now know Friends as being one of the most popular shows on TV, but that wasn’t always the case. Before the show even aired, it almost got the ax. Friends didn’t test well, and things didn’t get better after the pilot. In fact, NBC hated the pilot, but it wasn’t enough for them to actually pull the plug. Friends produced 10 seasons and became one of the most popular sitcoms of all time.

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Seinfeld

Love it or hate it, Seinfeld was incredibly popular. Many people consider it to be one of the best comedies in TV history, and that’s obvious thanks to its Emmy winnings. Surprisingly enough, it almost wasn’t a reality. NBC wasn’t a fan and called it “too New York,” and audiences weren’t tuning in. Still, it was given a shot, and it became the powerhouse it is today. 

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Chuck

While Chuck wasn’t the most popular show on television, it does have one of the best comeback stories. After season two, the series was at risk of being canceled, but people banded together to fight for their favorite show. The resturaunt chain Subway noticed the fight and stepped in to offer the show a huge amount of money to integrate its sandwiches into the show. People went to Subway, and Chuck got a third season.

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Baywatch

Baywatch was so iconic that it was turned into a movie in 2017. What if it had never existed? Well, that’s what almost happened. The TV show was nearly canceled due to poor ratings, but it was destined to live. David Hasselhoff and the show’s creators teamed up to get the series syndicated. After syndication, the show did extremely well overseas, which helped it run for 11 seasons.

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Star Trek

What is life without Star Trek? We can’t imagine it being canceled, but NBC almost axed it before the third season. Like so many other shows, fans stepped in and wrote letters to the company in an intense campaign to save their favorite series. NBC gave it a third season, but that still ended up getting canceled. During the 1970s, it went into syndication where it was a massive hit, and the series was revived in 1979. 

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Roswell

Roswell was almost a one-season wonder. WB noticed that it was getting poor ratings and wanted to cut it, but fans couldn’t let the show go. They began to send Tabasco sauce and letters as a way to beg for another season. Weird right? Well, real fans will know that it’s a wink to a character’s condiment of choice. WB got the hint and renewed it for a second season.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The ‘90s wouldn’t be the same without Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but kids everywhere almost grew up without it. WB wasn’t too happy with Buffy’s ratings, and they weren’t happy to pay for it to continue showing it on the main or sister channels. Buffy survived by hopping networks, where it lasted seven seasons.

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Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights has often been considered one of the most-underrated shows on TV. However, it was almost canceled by NBC. When fans got news of it, they began sending footballs to troops abroad. They sent over 20,000 pigskins, and it was enough to save it for a few more seasons. Unfortunately, it still got canceled after season five. 

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Everybody Loves Raymond

Not everybody loved Raymond. In television, there’s a spot called the “Friday Death Slot” because any show that comes on Friday nights is destined to die. Everybody Loves Raymond was initially given the Friday Death Slot, and it naturally struggled. A network exec was a huge fan and fought to keep it on air, which succeeded.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Anyone that’s seen Brooklyn Nine-Nine will tell you it’s an absolutely hilarious show, but that wasn’t enough for Fox to keep on the air. Despite being the highest-rated live-action comedy series on the network, Fox decided that it “didn’t have the exact right place to schedule it this year.” NBC immediately stepped in and bought it saying, “ever since we sold this show to Fox I’ve regretted letting it get away.”

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Roseanne

Roseanne was a massive hit in the ‘90s. It was brought back in 2018 to great success. However, it was canceled rather quickly after a racist tweet by lead actress Roseanne Barr. Fans of the show are happy to hear that ABC has decided to greenlight a spinoff series called The Conners. It’s Roseanne without Roseanne Barr.

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Valerie

Valerie had one of the most infamous cast shake-ups in sitcom history. The star, Valerie, was fired after the second season because she fought with NBC and the show’s producer about how much she was getting paid. The show killed her character off, but instead of canceling the show, they hired Sandy Duncan as a new live-in aunt. The show was retitled Valerie’s Family, but later changed to The Hogan Family after season three. 

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Family Guy

It isn’t too surprising that Family Guy almost didn’t make it since it can be incredibly controversial. The show was almost canceled on two separate occasions, but fans wouldn’t let it go. They rallied behind Family Guy, buying DVDs and watching reruns on Cartoon Network until the network realized the show was worth keeping. It didn’t have a huge demographic, but it was still one of the funniest shows on television.

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Jericho

The first season of Jericho was enough to put a nail in its coffin. It was canceled, but fans saved the show in a pretty unique way. The main character has a habit of shouting “nuts,” so those that watch the show sent over 20 tons of nuts to CBS studio execs. It was just enough nuts to have them review the ratings and allow it to have a second season.

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Nashville

Nashville was nearly canceled after four seasons, but CMT saw it’s potential. It brought the show back from the dead and even allowed all future episodes to stream on Hulu the day after its initial broadcast. The network responded, “CMT heard the fans. We see our fans and ourselves in this show, and we will treasure it like no other network.”

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Community

Despite being critically acclaimed and having a huge fan-base, Community almost got canceled in the middle of its third season. Part of it could be due to the show’s creator, Dan Harmon, having a spat with one of the stars, Chevy Chase. Still, fans fought for its return, and it came back for two more seasons. It almost had another cancellation during season six but was saved by Yahoo! Screen to finish the final season.

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Arrested Development

It doesn’t matter if there’s money in the banana stand or not, Arrested Development just wasn’t popular enough for Fox to keep it. After three seasons, the series started to dip in ratings. and Fox axed it. Fans protested, and Netflix saved the series. Netflix purchased the rights and went on to produce a fourth and fifth season afterward.

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Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time was a fairytale-based series that became incredibly popular very quickly. After six seasons, the actors and actresses wanted to move on to other projects, so nearly all of them left. Due to how much fans liked it, the producers decided to do a soft reboot, so it could keep the series going.

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The Leftovers

The Leftovers has some die-hard fans. In fact, they’re the only reason it got one more season. After the second season, HBO was ready to cancel the series. Then, a group of people showed up to HBO headquarters dressed as characters from the show. The people dressed in all white, chain-smoked, and wordlessly picketed. HBO gave the series a third and final season to wrap everything up.

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Futurama

Futurama is possibly one of the best-animated shows that ever existed, but that didn’t save it from being canceled by Fox. Due to how expensive it was to make, other networks passed. However, the series didn’t give up. They made three movies that did exceptionally well, so Comedy Central stepped in to pick up the show after a seven-year break.

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Lucifer

Lucifer was another show that suffered from the Fox cancellation epidemic. Despite being popular, the show was canceled, and a massive outcry ensued. Thankfully, Netflix stepped in and saved the series from its untimely death. Nearly a year after being canceled, it returned with a 10-episode season that was one of the most emotional ones since its creation.

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The Expanse

The Expanse wasn’t all that popular, but it did have a dedicated fan-base who was left broken-hearted after its cancellation. Fans created a petition and a GoFundMe page, which raised funds to have a banner flown over Amazon HQ requesting the corporate giant to save the show. Amazon stepped in and closed a deal with Syfy to produce a fourth season, so fans got exactly what they wanted!

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Damages

You know a series starring Glenn Close would be a hit, but that didn’t save the series from getting canceled. It received the ax just after its third season despite critical acclaim. Thankfully, DirecTV wasn’t going to let that happen. Sony reached an agreement with DirecTV to share the cost of future episodes. This led to two more successful seasons.

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Game of Thrones

That’s right! Game of Thrones was nearly canceled! HBO initially didn’t like the first episode. The network found that it was disjointed and almost canceled it before we got to see the pilot. Thankfully, the makers fought for the show and re-shot several scenes. HBO decided to give it a shot, and we’re guessing they’re thankful they did!

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Timeless

Time travel shows can be hit or miss, but fans loved Timeless. After the second season, NBC decided that it wasn’t doing well enough to keep on the network. Fans stepped in and begged NBC to keep it for more seasons. NBC obliged and brought it back for a two-hour movie that wrapped up the series. After that, NBC decided to cancel it a second time.

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Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars was Kristen Bell’s big start, who is now best known for her role as Anna in Frozen. The series was a hit with younger audiences, but it was still canceled after the third season. The fans weren’t happy. The creator and Kristen Bell created a Kickstarter for the series, which raised $2 million in less than 11 hours. This brought it back for a two-hour movie and a third season on another network.

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Designing Women

Designing Women had a single season before it was put on hiatus. The network was considering canceling it, but fans rallied for its return. There were 50,000 letters sent into the network asking for another season. CBS obliged, and the series turned into one of the most popular on the channel with seven total seasons.

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Big Bang Theory

Can you imagine life without the Big Bang Theory? Well, you almost had it. The series was almost canceled after the pilot episode because it received poor ratings. The makers came back and convinced the network to keep it on. That led to 12 successful seasons before it was canceled once again, but it was still one of the biggest shows on television.

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Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is possibly one of the best series that’s been on television (and it had a fantastic finale, unlike other hit shows). Still, it had a hard time ever making it on television. HBO and other major networks passed on the series, but the creators kept campaigning. AMC saw it had a lot of potential and turned it into the massive hit it is today.

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Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives is extremely popular whether you watch it proudly or as a dirty little secret. Still, it got canceled because HBO wanted to focus on Sex and the City. The series then had a hard time finding a home until ABC picked it up. All eight seasons showed on the network with about 120 million viewers worldwide.

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