TV Cancellation Watch: Which Shows Are on the Bubble?

  • Publish Date: April 13, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 96 user comments

The latest predictions from TV industry experts

ImageAnother case of good reviews, bad ratings?

In just a month -- the week of May 16th, to be exact -- the broadcast networks will announce their 2011-12 primetime schedules, and the fate of every current show will be known with certainty. In the meantime, all we have are the few renewal and cancellation announcements that have trickled out so far, with many other programs -- from Chuck to V to The Chicago Code -- remaining in limbo.

What is the likelihood that these bubble shows will return next season? To answer that question, we have compiled the latest renew/cancel predictions from five established sources:


ImageHas V fought its final battle?

Skating with the Stars isn't the only ABC series on thin ice heading into the end of the season. Of the network's ten scripted programs yet to get renewed or canceled, only Desperate Housewives seems certain to return next year. Possible cancellation victims include both long-running series (Brothers & Sisters) and newcomers (Better With You).

The shows likeliest to get the ax are all low-rated series in their first seasons: cop drama Detroit 187, medical show Off The Map, and superhero drama No Ordinary Family. (Even the stars of the latter program are certain it is ending; they've all taken jobs elsewhere.) Another struggling freshman program -- the Matthew Perry comedy Mr. Sunshine -- has a small chance of returning, especially if ABC needs it to pair with another comedy. And while the ratings-challenged V escaped cancellation last year, it is unlikely to do the same this season -- though there is still a chance it could be saved by the fact that there so few ABC hour-long programs will be surviving.

ABC ABC Primetime Programs, 2010-2011 Season
Show Expert Predictions
EW TVBTN bw TVBTN r/c TVGuide TVLine
Uncertain Fate to be determined:
America's Funniest Home Videos 5 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Better With You 3 2 2 2 3
Body of Proof n/a 3 4 n/a n/a
Brothers & Sisters 3 2 3 2 3
Dancing with the Stars 5 n/a n/a 4 5
Desperate Housewives 4 5 5 4 5
Detroit 187 2 1 1 2 2
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 5 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Happy Endings First episode airs tonight (April 13)
Mr. Sunshine 3 3 3 n/a 3
No Ordinary Family 1 1 1 2 2
Off the Map 2 1 1 2 2
Secret Millionaire 3 n/a n/a n/a n/a
V 2 2 2 2 3
Wife Swap 4 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Wipeout 5 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Renewed Already renewed:
The Bachelor RENEWED through 2011-12 season
The Bachelorette RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Castle RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Cougar Town RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Grey's Anatomy RENEWED through 2011-12 season
The Middle RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Modern Family RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Private Practice RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Canceled Canceled or ending:
My Generation CANCELED: 2 episodes aired; 6 remaining episodes will not air
Skating with the Stars CANCELED: All episodes have aired
Supernanny ENDED: All episodes have aired
The Whole Truth CANCELED: 6 episodes aired; 7 remaining episodes unlikely to air

Key to predictions:
5 Likely renewal   4 Possible renewal   3 Could go either way   2 Possible cancellation   1 Likely cancellation


ImageThere's little chaos in CBS' schedule ... especially in the future

Though ratings leader CBS has more shows up in the air than the other major networks, that doesn't mean many of its shows are in trouble. On the contrary, most of the network's programs stand a good chance of returning next season.

However, there are a few problem spots in the CBS lineup, and they are roughly the same programs that were fearing cancellation when we last checked in two months ago. The legal procedural The Defenders looks like a goner, fellow first-year program $#*! My Dad Says may be $#*! out of luck, and the New York branch of CSI will likely be the first to close down. Joining them as likely cancellation targets are two shows that premiered this spring: the sitcom Mad Love, which has been steadily shedding viewers since its February launch, and brand new drama Chaos, which has been a ratings disaster even by Friday night standards.

Blue Bloods could also be jettisoned if CBS needs the hour to make room for a new show in the fall, though the same can be said for Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, which -- despite winning its time slot -- has been losing viewers since its premiere. Acclaimed drama The Good Wife, however, now looks a more likely to come back next season, according to the experts. And, by now, you may have heard about some of the behind-the-scenes drama involving hit comedy Two and a Half Men, whose fate is up in the air despite already being renewed through next season. The show will likely continue with or without Charlie Sheen (and we only include "with" as an option because Sheen has claimed that he may be in negotiations to get his job back, however unlikely that may seem).

CBS CBS Primetime Programs, 2010-2011 Season
Show Expert Predictions
EW TVBTN bw TVBTN r/c TVGuide TVLine
Uncertain Fate to be determined:
Blue Bloods 5 3 3 4 4
Chaos 2 1 1 n/a n/a
Criminal Minds 5 5 5 4 5
Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior 4 2 3 n/a n/a
CSI 5 5 5 4 5
CSI: Miami 5 4 4 4 5
CSI: New York 4 3 3 2 3
The Defenders 3 1 1 2 2
The Good Wife 5 4 3 4 5
Hawaii Five-0 5 5 5 4 4
Mad Love 3 2 2 n/a n/a
The Mentalist 5 5 5 4 5
Mike & Molly 5 5 5 4 5
NCIS: Los Angeles 5 5 5 4 5
Rules of Engagement 5 4 5 2 3
$#*! My Dad Says 4 2 2 2 4
Two and a Half Men * 4 n/a n/a n/a 3
Renewed Already renewed:
The Amazing Race RENEWED through 2011-12 season
The Big Bang Theory RENEWED through 2013-14 season
How I Met Your Mother RENEWED through 2012-13 season
NCIS RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Survivor RENEWED through 2011-12 season (two additional cycles)
Undercover Boss RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Canceled Canceled or ending:
Live to Dance CANCELED: All episodes have aired
Medium CANCELED: All episodes have aired

* Technically renewed through 2011-12 season, but show may not return.

The CW

The CW is the only network yet to announce any renewals for next season, but most experts are predicting the network's 2011-12 primetime schedule to be very similar to its current lineup. Only three scripted shows -- Hellcats, Nikita, and One Tree Hill -- seem to be facing any cancellation danger, but it would not be a surprise to see all three return next season. Of the trio, Hellcats seems to be in the most precarious position thanks to its ever-declining ratings, but it will have one last chance to redeem itself when it returns from hiatus next Tuesday. While there were some rumors that the cast and crew of One Tree Hill did not want to return for a ninth season next year, that no longer appears to be the case, so the decision to bring back that show rests solely with the network.

CW CW Primetime Programs, 2010-2011 Season
Show Expert Predictions
EW TVBTN bw TVBTN r/c TVGuide TVLine
Uncertain Fate to be determined:
90210 4 4 4 4 5
America's Next Top Model 4 n/a n/a 4 5
Gossip Girl 4 4 4 4 5
Hellcats 4 3 3 4 4
Nikita 4 4 4 2 3
One Tree Hill 2 4 4 2 3
Shedding for the Wedding 2 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Supernatural 3 5 5 4 5
The Vampire Diaries 5 5 5 4 5
Canceled Canceled or ending:
Life Unexpected CANCELED: All episodes have aired
Smallville ENDING: Show is in its final season; series finale airs May 13


ImageWill House have a new home?

Of the scripted Fox shows that haven't yet been invited back for another year, Bones seems to be the one certain of renewal. Though it's too soon to know the fate of Breaking In, ratings for last week's premiere of the Christian Slater comedy were very strong; if tonight's second episode can come anywhere close to those numbers, expect the series to get picked up for next season.

House, however, is an interesting case. The issue with the long-running medical procedural isn't ratings -- those green numbers you see below stem from the fact that the show continues to perform well in that department -- but money, and negotiations between Fox and House producers NBCUniversal have stalled. The show could get even more expensive next season, since new deals will have to be negotiated with every actor, including star Hugh Laurie. While still likely to return, House could be on a different network next season (with NBC being an obvious candidate), and could also be without co-star Robert Sean Leonard for all or part of the season while he devotes his time to Broadway instead.

If Fox does lose House, Lie to Me could get a reprieve; otherwise, both that show and Human Target could be gone next season. Things also aren't looking good for new drama The Chicago Code, which started strong but has faded considerably in recent weeks (with ratings down over a third compared to its premiere), but its critical acclaim may be enough to give it an edge if it comes down to a decision between struggling 60-minute programs. The new comedy Traffic Light has seen its ratings drop by more than half since debuting in February and will not get a green light on another season.

Fox Fox Primetime Programs, 2010-2011 Season
Show Expert Predictions
EW TVBTN bw TVBTN r/c TVGuide TVLine
Uncertain Fate to be determined:
American Idol 5 n/a n/a 4 5
Bones 5 5 5 4 5
Breaking In 4 n/a 4 n/a n/a
The Chicago Code 2 2 2 n/a 4
House 5 5 5 4 5
Human Target 2 2 2 2 3
Kitchen Nightmares 4 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Lie to Me 2 3 2 2 3
Million Dollar Money Drop 2 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Traffic Light 2 1 1 n/a 2
Renewed Already renewed:
American Dad RENEWED through 2012-13 season
Bob's Burgers RENEWED through 2011-12 season (13 episodes)
The Cleveland Show RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Family Guy RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Fringe RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Glee RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Hell's Kitchen RENEWED through 2011-12 season (two cycles)
Raising Hope RENEWED through 2011-12 season
The Simpsons RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Canceled Canceled or ending:
The Good Guys CANCELED: All 20 episodes have already aired
Lone Star CANCELED: 2 episodes aired; 4 remaining episodes will not air
Running Wilde CANCELED: 9 episodes aired; 4 remaining episodes unlikely to air


ImageLaw may get re-ordered

With NBC recently renewing most of its Thursday night comedy lineup for another season, the future doesn't look very bright for the two sitcoms not renewed: Perfect Couples and Outsourced. Only the latter has a chance at coming back, but the odds aren't good. Also certain to be terminated is The Event, which proved to be anything but.

Fans of Parenthood, however, have few reasons to worry; that show is looking more and more like it is going to stick around for at least another year. Law & Order: SVU, too, is a virtual certainty to return, though its Los Angeles-based counterpart is much iffier, especially after its recent return to the NBC schedule (after a major cast shakeup) resulted in even lower viewership than the first-year series managed in the fall. Another week or two like that, and LOLA will be gone. The news is much better for another freshman legal drama; the Kathy Bates-starring Harry's Law has been a surprise -- though very modest -- success for the network, and is likely to be back next season.

Finally, it goes without saying that Chuck is on the bubble -- it wouldn't be spring if the somehow long-running series weren't in danger of cancellation. This time, however, the writing seems to be on the wall; over the past month Chuck has posted its lowest numbers in its four-year history, and ratings overall this season have been well below those of last year. Looks like you'll need to buy at least two footlongs at Subway this time.

NBC NBC Primetime Programs, 2010-2011 Season
Show Expert Predictions
EW TVBTN bw TVBTN r/c TVGuide TVLine
Uncertain Fate to be determined:
America's Next Great Restaurant n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
The Apprentice 4 n/a n/a 4 4
Chuck 3 3 2 2 3
The Event 2 1 1 2 2
Harry's Law 2 4 4 n/a 4
Law & Order: Los Angeles 3 3 2 4 4
Law & Order: SVU 5 5 5 4 5
Minute to Win It 3 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Outsourced 2 2 2 2 3
Parenthood 4 4 5 4 4
Renewed Already renewed:
30 Rock RENEWED through 2011-12 season
The Biggest Loser RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Community RENEWED through 2011-12 season
The Office RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Parks & Recreation RENEWED through 2011-12 season
The Sing-Off RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Canceled Canceled or ending:
The Cape EFFECTIVELY CANCELED: Series finale can be viewed at
Chase EFFECTIVELY CANCELED: 5 remaining eps to air Saturdays beginning Apr. 23
Friday Night Lights ENDING: Show has completed final season on DirecTV; NBC run concludes Jul. 8
Outlaw CANCELED: All 8 episodes have already aired
Perfect Couples EFFECTIVELY CANCELED: Series put on indefinite hiatus with no return scheduled
Undercovers CANCELED: 11 episodes aired; 2 remaining episodes unlikely to air

Cable highlights

Status of Selected Cable Programs, 2010-2011 Season
Show (Network) Notes
Uncertain Fate to be determined:
The Borgias (Showtime) Strong premiere numbers, but dropped quite a bit in week 2
Camelot (Starz) Also dropped from its premiere; ratings below those of Merlin
Fairly Legal (USA) First season ended with ratings uptick, always a good sign
The Killing (AMC) New series has been a hit; barring a huge drop, expect it back
Law & Order: UK (BBC America) Has already been renewed in U.K., so will likely air in U.S. too
Merlin (Syfy) Finished third season on a high note; likely to return
Onion Sportsdome (Comedy Central) Ratings better than similar Sports Show with Norm MacDonald
Skins (MTV) Ratings decent, but subject matter scared off some advertisers
Renewed Already renewed:
Archer (FX) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Being Human (Syfy) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
The Big C (Showtime) RENEWED: returns this summer
Boardwalk Empire (HBO) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Breaking Bad (AMC) RENEWED: returns this summer
Californication (Showtime) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Childrens' Hospital (Adult Swim) RENEWED: returns this summer
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO) RENEWED: returns this summer
Delocated (Adult Swim) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Dexter (Showtime) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Entourage (HBO) RENEWED: returns this summer for a final season
Episodes (Showtime) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Eureka (Syfy) RENEWED: returns this summer
Futurama (Comedy Central) RENEWED through 2012-13 season (two 13-episode seasons)
Hot in Cleveland (TV Land) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Hung (HBO) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (IFC) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Jersey Shore (MTV) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Justified (FX) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
The League (FX) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Louie (FX) RENEWED: returns this summer
Luther (BBC America) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Mad Men (AMC) RENEWED for two additional seasons (starting in 2012)
Onion News Network (IFC) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Portlandia (IFC) RENEWED for an additional 10-episode season (in 2012)
Project Runway (Lifetime) RENEWED: returns this summer
Psych (USA) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Rescue Me (FX) RENEWED: returns this summer for a final season
Retired at 35 (TV Land) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
The Ricky Gervais Show (HBO) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Shameless (Showtime) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Sons of Anarchy (FX) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Southland (TNT) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Spartacus: Blood and Sand (Starz) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Top Chef (Bravo) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Top Chef Just Desserts (Bravo) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Torchwood (Starz) RENEWED: returns this summer
True Blood (HBO) RENEWED: returns this summer
The Venture Brothers (Adult Swim) RENEWED for two additional seasons
Walking Dead (AMC) RENEWED through 2011-12 season
Weeds (Showtime) RENEWED: returns this summer
ABC Selected Cable Programs, 2010-2011 Season
Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (Bravo) RENEWED: returns this summer
Canceled Canceled or ending:
Big Love (HBO) ENDED: All episodes have aired
Caprica (Syfy) CANCELED: All episodes have aired
Glory Daze (TBS) CANCELED: All episodes have aired
In Treatment (HBO) CANCELED: All episodes aired; could return in another format
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List (Bravo) CANCELED: All episodes have aired
Lights Out (FX) CANCELED: All episodes have aired
The Real Housewives of D.C. (Bravo) CANCELED: All episodes have aired
Stargate Universe (Syfy) CANCELED: Final season is currently airing
Working Class (CMT) CANCELED after one season

What do you think?

What bubble shows would you like to see return, and which deserve to be canceled? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (96)

  • freddie  

    I think the following should be renewed: Detroit 187, Secret Millionaire, Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, American Idol, Extreme Makeover and Dancing with the Stars.

  • Casey  

    I'm a huge CBS fan, the network just knows how to make shows people want to watch and have some of the best producers in the biz to back them up! I wish the few shows I watch on the rest of the networks can find a way to harness what CBS clearly has to make shows like "Chase" or "Off the Map," "Chuck," and "No Ordinary Family" not meet their inevitable doom. Fox was definitely a contender once upon a time, but they're really making ABC look second best. And the CW is seriously just grasping at whatever shows they can to stay a float, when clearly they need to get rid of some baggage like "One Tree Hill," I really don't know how that's still on, and get some new ideas or bring back some old ideas with a new twist! They're missing what made UPN and The WB work.

  • Carole  

    They take all the good shows off the air and leave on the crap. Sorry to bring this up but they need to leave All my children on and One life to live.yeh i know soaps but i enjoy them on ABC. aLSO I'D LIKE, TO SEE rIZZOLIM AND iSLES COME BACK WITH aNGIE hARMON.t

  • Gary  

    I can't believ they are even considering cancelling CSI: NY. Show is even better with cast change.

  • Jarian Williams  

    I got a idea about a 2011-12 television season:

    Get rid of The CW, & Bring back UPN and the WB.

    Who's with me?

  • Jarian Williams  

    I like comedies so I going to speak my mind about some of my favorite shows:

    Two and a Half Men: They should bring back Charlie Sheen or cancel the show, because it won't be good.

    The Office: It won't be the same without Steve Carell, but I still would watch the show.

    30 Rock: I really really really enjoy this show.

    How I Met Your Mother: Really enjoy the show.

    Modern Family: Favorite

    The Middle and Cougar Town: The Best.

    The CW: Need to get over yourselves.

    The Simpsons: Even though it's been on for 22 years, I still think it's funny in some ways.

    The Cleveland Show: Funny

    Family Guy: Been the funniest

    American Dad: Sometimes it's good

    Mike and Molly, Better With You, Happy Endings, Mr. Sunshine, Mad Love deserves a chance.

    That's all I have to say.

  • Esther  

    First of all... ONE TREE HILL should 100% be cancelled. It's not even a question! I used to be a big fan but now it's just embarrassing to say that! I'm upset about SMALLVILLE but all good things must come to an end.
    But seriously? JERSEY SHORE? Do everyone a favor and just get rid of it! If Jersey Shore is still on then LIE TO ME should definitely also be because it's an awesome show! Despite the fact that I often question its validity...
    I'm glad that SHAMELESS is still on... and as far as WEEDS goes, why not have another season?

  • jill  

    Lie to Me should be Renewed!!!!!! I mean come on FOX, this show gets consistently good ratings!! Please do the right thing and make sure you Renew this Show!!!!!!!!! Cause believe me when I say that this show already has a huge fan base and can Last many Seasons!!! Please RENEW!!!!!

  • Joshua  

    Brothers & Sisters has had it's ups and down, but the last couple of episodes have been very good. It deserves a final "wrap up" season. Blue Bloods is crap in my opinion, but Donnie makes it watchable - it has potential. "The Killing" is the best new drama I've seen in a long while, it's almost too good for American TV. I think everyone knew "True Blood" was coming back. The only thing that truly shocks me is that "Bob's Burgers" was renewed. It's so awful, words fail me.

  • alfrida  

    It`s a shame we liked The Cape so Fingers cross for V. Great news for Sons of anarchy and Dexter and for restarting Torchwood.

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