Updated 4/24 with a note about The Mentalist (see below).
Updated predictions from industry followers
In mid May, the broadcast networks will announce their fall schedules, thus revealing the final fates of all remaining 2013-14 shows not yet renewed. Which of these bubble shows are likely to return for another season? To answer that question, we have compiled recent renew/cancel predictions from the following sources (all published within the last few weeks):
- BW - TV by the Numbers Bubble Watch (Tom Shaw)
- DL - Deadline (Nellie Andreeva)
- EW - Entertainment Weekly Death Watch 2014 (Lynette Rice & James Hibberd)
- RCI - TV by the Numbers Renew/Cancel Index (Bill Gorman)
- SP - SpoilerTV Cancellation Predictor Index
- TV - TV.com (Tim Surette)
- TVG - TV Guide
- TVL - TVLine's 2014 Renewal Scorecard
- VUL - Vulture (Josef Adalian)
Still on the bubble
The scripted broadcast shows listed below have yet to be canceled or renewed. Reality and news shows are omitted—as are all cable series—since the experts do not offer predictions for such programs. Note that several new network shows (including CBS's Bad Teacher, ABC's Black Box, and Fox's Gang Related) have yet to premiere at the time of this report and are also omitted.
The CW has six remaining shows on the bubble after renewing its five top-rated programs in February. Of the six, late-arriving sci-fi drama The 100 looks to be in the best shape, with most experts predicting a season 2 pick-up.
Though the new comedy's numbers don't necessarily scream "renewal" in isolation, About a Boy does reasonably well following The Voice against tough competition, and puts up better ratings in the 18-49 demographic than any other NBC sitcom (including the already-renewed Parks and Recreation). That makes a second season extremely likely.
One of two J.J. Abrams-produced newcomers on the bubble, Fox's futuristic cop drama faces an uncertain future itself, though an initial ratings decline last fall eventually turned into steady (if uninspiring) numbers that actually remain superior to many of Fox's remaining bubble shows. Several pundits, including those at Deadline and TV.com, think that Fox will bring Almost Human back for a short (13-episode) second season, but others take the show's omission from Fox's recent list of renewals as a bad omen, and there are no unaired episodes left for Almost Human to boost its own cause.
Though most experts feel that this second season will be the rebooted drama's last, EW's James Hibberd cites recent information to suggest that Beast's fate is "still up in the air." It doesn't help matters that ratings have been down considerably compared to last season, and that the show's remaining new episodes will be held back until June, well after the network makes its final renew/cancel decisions.
The combination of writer-director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) and producer J.J. Abrams proved to be less than the sum of its parts, with their new sci-fi adventure receiving lackluster reviews and ratings. Though viewership has picked up a bit in recent weeks after a precipitous drop following the premiere, experts do not believe the show has a future.
While there is virtually no chance that young Carrie Bradshaw will return for a third season, the good news is that you already know what will happen to her character when she grows up.
Alone among the five broadcast networks, ABC does not like to make early renewal announcements. As a result, you'll notice plenty of ABC programs listed here that are perfectly safe and would have been renewed months ago were they on any other network. That includes Castle, which should return next year for its seventh season even though its ratings are down a bit from last season.
Would you settle for five seasons and a movie? The good news is that you may not need to; the cult hit's improbable journey to season 6 looks like it is on track, with over half of the experts surveyed predicting renewal (and almost no one willing to predict a cancellation). Yes, Community's ratings are as dismal as ever—even though quality is up thanks to the return of show mastermind Dan Harmon—but it would seem almost cruel to cancel the show at this point. (Unless, of course, a meteor strikes Greendale.) Plus, NBC will need cannon fodder to throw up against CBS's new Thursday Night Football broadcasts this fall, and why waste a perfectly good new show when an old one will do? One negative: series owner Sony won't be as inclined to pressure NBC for renewal as it was in the past, since it already has enough episodes for syndication.
The combination of Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and creator David E. Kelley didn't exactly produce the hit CBS was hoping for—of the network's Thursday night comedies, this is consistently the worst performer—and CBS is already short of space on its 2014-15 schedule. The show's fate may depend on ratings for the newly launched Friends With Better Lives (see below) and Bad Teacher (which debuts Thursday). At most, only one of those three comedies will earn a renewal, though it is equally possible that none will return.
Of the generic, one-word-title thrillers that have plagued primetime this season (while thrilling few viewers), this is the one with the most Gillian Anderson. Rapidly dwindling viewership (even creaky old Dateline now performs better for NBC on Sunday nights) gives experts few reasons to offer encouraging words.
Television's worst new show (by a large margin) of the 2013-14 season, Dads would probably already be a goner were it not for two factors: (1) Fox owns the show, and (2) it comes from Seth MacFarlane, who provides Fox with a large percentage of its programming. It's still not likely to return, but nor is it 100% dead.
Renewal isn't entirely out of the question for this relatively inexpensive first-year series; NBC will likely want at least one genre program to pair with Grimm on Fridays. It's just that it won't necessarily be this first-year retelling of the Dracula story, which carries with it less prestige than Hannibal, another cheap-to-make NBC bubble show in a similar situation (though Dracula performed slightly better).
No matter how often your favorite TV critic writes a defense of this first-year military comedy and asks for its renewal—and critics do like the show, while Fox has given it almost no chance at success—there is virtually zero chance it will be back for a second tour of duty.
Renewal appears to be a mere formality for Seth MacFarlane's flagship series, which will return for its 12th or 13th season (depending on how you count such things) next year.
While this brand new CBS comedy doesn't exactly hide its attempt to duplicate the classic Friends sitcom formula, its performance so far has been Friends with worse ratings. With only three episodes under its belt, FWBL still has a slight chance at sticking around, but it will need to show signs of life in the next few weeks (and hope that fellow CBS newcomer Bad Teacher is DOA).
This 1980s-set series has been a surprisingly decent performer in its first season despite mixed reviews, faring far better than the network's other new sitcoms. Unless ABC surprises the experts and decides not to bring any of its first-year comedies back, The Goldbergs looks safe.
An 11th season looks like a sure thing for the soapy medical drama, with casting changes (the departures of Sandra Oh, Gaius Charles, and Tessa Ferrer) already announced for next year.
Though this first-year sitcom is less impressive than its lead-in About a Boy in terms of quality and ratings, it retains just enough of Boy's viewers to lead experts to suggest that if the former returns, so will the latter.
Despite critical acclaim and the devotion of its fans, this second-year drama just can't seem to find enough viewers to escape the bubble, even with the lowered expectations of a Friday night timeslot. But don't lose hope completely. Several writers suggest that another network (or perhaps Netflix) could save Hannibal should NBC unload it. And NBC could even wind up bringing it back for a short season to pair again with Grimm, should the network choose to pass on a second season of Dracula as well as its fantasy/horror pilots.
Though our panel of experts are divided on the future of this third-year drama series, the more authoritative (and recently updated) among them suggest that CW will renew the series. If Dixie does return, it may be for a shorter season than normal, however.
With much of its current schedule already renewed, CBS is expected to have room for just four new series in 2014-15. So it is extraordinarily unlikely that it would use one of those slots to return this low-rated Josh Holloway vehicle, which had lesser 18-49 viewership numbers than any CBS series other than Hostages this season and has no unaired episodes left to try to impress network programmers.
Though we sometimes suspect that this prophetically named Tim Allen comedy survives merely because ABC forgets that it airs the show and thus doesn't realize it needs to cancel it, Last Man Standing is only about a season away from scoring a syndication deal. In other words, don't expect it to go away yet.
Some of you may never have experienced a world without some sort of Law & Order series on television. Like The Simpsons, the L&O franchise has been on the air since the Bush administration—the first one. As with The Simpsons, nothing changes next year. Only a few unresolved financial issues stand in the way of a 16th season for SVU.
While it hasn't been the commercial or critical success that Disney was hoping for, Agents of SHIELD gets a significant boost to its somewhat disappointing (and declining) 2nd-place broadcast numbers through DVR playback. While the later viewings don't help ABC's bottom line, those numbers do suggest that there is an audience for the show—one that the network could better exploit in future seasons. As a result, experts now feel that this one-time bubble show is almost certain to return for a sophomore year, and comments from ABC management in recent months also suggest that a renewal is in store. The network is also strongly considering adding a second Marvel series (or miniseries) based on Hayley Atwell's Agent Carter character next season, which would also suggest that its first Marvel series is sticking around.
Many factors point to the end for this Sunday night procedural, now in its sixth season. Ratings have been steadily declining (though still better than those for The Good Wife), the show is expensive, the central serialized storyline was wrapped up mid-year, the showrunner is leaving for another series next season, and the cast was recently re-tooled. Still, Deadline's Andreeva argues that Warner Bros., which owns the series and makes money from its international sales, could convince CBS to bring it back for another year.
Updated 4/24: Warner Bros. is reportedly shopping the show to other broadcast and cable networks (with TNT a good possibility) should CBS decline to renew the series for a 7th season.
Another one of those shows on this list solely because of ABC's no-early-renewal policy, The Middle will certainly be back for a sixth season in the fall.
New serialized comedy Mixology hasn't exactly been a hit during its eight weeks on the air, but the show's 18-49 numbers put it ahead of several other ABC bubble comedies on this list. Thus a renewal, while still fairly unlikely, wouldn't be a complete stunner. And Deadline's Andreeva reported last week that the show is "gaining momentum" with ABC programmers (Vulture's Joe Adalian agrees that "ABC execs love the show"), even if it isn't doing the same with viewers.
In his new book, physicist Max Tegmark posits that everything that can conceivably happen at any moment in time does indeed happen in one of the infinite number of parallel universes that make up our multiverse. In every last one of those parallel universes, Modern Family is renewed for a sixth season.
As one of ABC's lowest-rated returning dramas, Nashville isn't entirely in the clear as its second season nears its conclusion. But TV by the Numbers's Tom Shaw cites the program's alternative revenue streams—music sales and live tours—as a possible argument in favor of renewal.
While a move from Wednesdays to Fridays helped to lower expectations for this second-year alien invasion comedy, it also reduced viewership, to the point where The Neighbors is easily ABC's lowest-rated remaining comedy. Though it apparently isn't entirely out of the running for next season, it seems likelier that ABC will greenlight series creator Dan Fogelman's new series instead.
Though its spin-off proved to be short-lived, and its own ratings are down by 10-20% compared to last season, Once Upon a Time is considered a lock to return for a fourth season.
Sudden cancellations tend not to happen to long-running serialized shows with a devoted (though small) fan base and critical acclaim. Experts feel that NBC is unlikely to pull Parenthood without giving it a chance to wrap up its storylines, so a sixth (most likely short and final) season seems in the cards.
Though critics felt that Resurrection paled in comparison to the French drama The Returned, which features a very similar concept, this spring newcomer started very strong in terms of viewership and remains among ABC's top-rated dramas. The show has been shedding viewers in recent weeks, however, though probably not to the point where it is in danger (though possibly to the point where its second season will be 13 episodes or fewer).
Syndication is the reason cited by most experts in pegging this third-year drama as likely to be renewed; it needs just one more full season to reach the magic number of episodes. And ABC owns the show, giving it added incentive to get there. Experts also suggest that the network wouldn't alienate fans by killing the serialized show without giving it a chance to wrap up the story.
While a few experts suggest that it could return for a short season (or even a movie), this one-time hit has seen its 18-49 ratings drop by almost 50% compared to its freshman run. If you're one of Revolution's remaining fans, you'll need to root for a poor batch of new NBC drama pilots (and probably the cancellation of Parenthood and Hannibal). It does, however, have a better chance at renewal than fellow NBC bubble shows Believe and Crisis.
It would be a scandal indeed if this buzzy drama didn't come back for a fourth season, but there is no reason to even consider such a possibility.
Ratings for this new sci-fi romance have been miniscule (we're talking Carrie Diaries miniscule) even by CW standards, but ratings aren't the only factor the network considers in making its renewal decisions (online viewership, for one thing, also comes into play). Out of the remaining CW sci-fi/fantasy bubble shows, though, this one seems to have the smallest chance at another season.
Held until midseason this year, this third-year comedy with a modest cult following has been putting up decent but not terrific numbers—one of the reasons why experts can't seem to agree on its renewal odds. Still, it is performing better than fellow Wednesday night comedy Mixology, so if ABC renews that show but not Suburgatory, you'll have a legitimate gripe.
The only reason this mostly misnamed freshman comedy (true, it is on at night) isn't a lock for cancellation is the very, very slim chance that ABC could re-tool the series (yet again) and give it one last shot (especially if the network's comedy development slate doesn't pan out). Still, most experts predict cancellation, thanks to Night's propensity for losing much of lead-in Modern Family's sizeable audience.
Though Justin Halpern's second TV comedy scored far better reviews than his short-lived first series, its ratings are far lower. (Even Dads performs better in the 18-49 demo.) Fox also telegraphed its intentions last fall when it slashed the number of episodes planned for this first season—a vote of non-confidence that now seems somewhat justified. Still, the show's ratings have been fairly stable through its first four weeks, and they aren't really all that far behind those for renewed comedies The Mindy Project and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. So the door is still slightly open for Jack to impress Fox execs in the coming weeks.
Though there probably is no tomorrow for People, the first-year sci-fi remake has better ratings than all of the CW's remaining bubble shows other than The 100. Still, with few open spots available on the network's limited schedule, Hart of Dixie would probably get the edge over this by virtue of its longer tenure (and thus being closer to syndication).
If the show were cheaper to make, the fact that ABC owns the series would give the modestly rated first-year comedy a better shot at renewal. But Trophy Wife's big-name cast means big salaries, leading most experts to suggest that the show will not return.
Fate already determined
Below is a list of shows already canceled or renewed. Bookmark our 2013-14 TV Season Scorecard for daily renew/cancel updates (as well as a guide to the renewal status for many of your favorite cable series).
|Renewed||Canceled or Ended|
|2 Broke Girls CBS
48 Hours CBS
60 Minutes CBS
The Amazing Race CBS
America's Next Top Model CW
The Big Bang Theory CBS
The Blacklist NBC
Blue Bloods CBS
Bob's Burgers Fox
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Fox
Chicago Fire NBC
Chicago PD NBC
Criminal Minds CBS
The Following Fox
The Good Wife CBS
The Great Christmas Light Fight ABC
Hawaii Five-0 CBS
MasterChef Junior Fox
Mike & Molly CBS
The Millers CBS
The Mindy Project Fox
NCIS: Los Angeles CBS
New Girl Fox
The Originals CW
Parks and Recreation NBC
Person of Interest CBS
The Simpsons Fox
Sleepy Hollow Fox
Two and a Half Men CBS
Undercover Boss CBS
The Vampire Diaries CW
The Voice NBC
|American Dad! Fox *
The Assets ABC
Back in the Game ABC
Betrayal ABC **
Killer Women ABC **
Hostages CBS **
How I Met Your Mother CBS
Lucky 7 ABC
The Michael J. Fox Show NBC
Murder Police Fox [unaired]
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland ABC
Raising Hope Fox
Rake Fox **
Sean Saves the World NBC
Us & Them Fox [unaired] **
We Are Men CBS
Welcome to the Family NBC
The X-Factor Fox
Which shows would you save?
What bubble shows would you like to see return, and which deserve to be canceled? Let us know in the comments section below.