The Strange Reasons These TV Shows Were Canceled

TV shows can be canceled for lots of normal
reasons. Maybe people aren’t watching the TV show or
maybe the lead actor is a total sleeze. However, these TV shows were canceled for
the most bizarre reasons. Before the iconic 1988 movie The Naked Gun,
there was its somewhat less-iconic but still brilliant television ancestor, Police Squad! Like Naked Gun and its two follow-up films,
the show was a parody of 1960s police dramas starring the late Leslie Nielsen as the hilariously
deadpan detective Frank Drebin. The humor was fast-paced and often visual,
which is a pretty great formula for an audience sitting in darkened movie theater watching
a big screen. It didn’t seem to work so well for the more
distractible television audiences of the early ’80s, however. “there had been a recent waves of murders
at the city zoo. I was bringing in a suspect when I got a call
about the kidnapping of Terry Burden.” When asked about the reason behind the decision
to cancel Police Squad!, network executive Tony Thomopoulos famously said the show was
canceled because, quote, “the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it.” A TV show you had to watch? Weird, right? What he meant, of course, was that the jokes
moved so quickly that a casual viewer might miss something if they were having conversations,
eating dinner, or doing anything else other than paying attention to the rapid-fire gags. That didn’t didn’t stop critics from relentlessly
dunking on his reasoning, though TV Guide even went so far as to call his statement,
quote, “the most stupid reason a network ever gave for ending a series.” Considering some other reasons you’re about
to hear, that’s saying something. Before Star Wars claimed the title of the
greatest merchandising vehicle of all time, there was Batman, the unconventionally popular
television series starring Adam West as the campy caped crusader and Burt Ward as the
Boy Wonder. The 1966 series appealed to a huge audience
kids loved the colorful superheroics of the Dynamic Duo, and adults caught on to the show’s
self-aware deadpan comedy. It was so popular that it had two episodes
airing each week, with a cliffhanger leading from Wednesday night to the same Bat-Time
on Thursday, and racked up massive ratings and a list of Hollywood stars who wanted the
dishonor of playing a Special Guest Villain on a genuine pop culture phenomenon. Batman and Robin spent three years fighting
crime on television and even starred in a feature-length theatrical film, but they couldn’t
save themselves from the most diabolical death trap of all: the network. ABC decided to kill the show halfway through
its third season, citing high production costs and falling ratings. Sounds normal enough, right? The story doesn’t end there, though. In a twist right out of Batman’s death-defying
playbook, NBC was willing to pick the show up for a fourth season. Unfortunately, nobody told the guys with the
bulldozers to wait a few weeks before destroying the elaborate and expensive sets. NBC balked at the idea of spending thousands
of dollars on rebuilding the Batcave for a show with slipping ratings, and POW! that
was the end of the dynamic duo. If only they’d asked millionaire philanthropist
Bruce Wayne if he could spare a few bucks for the fight against crime, we might have
gotten a fourth season. Fans of Joss Whedon’s space western series
Firefly are still mourning the early demise of their favorite show in 2002, and some are
even still holding out for some kind of reprieve or revival nearly two decades later. “Might’ve been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.” That might seem more than a little obsessive,
but it’s also understandable given the circumstances. The demise of Firefly was a combination of
different unfortunate factors, but from a distance, it almost looked as if network executives
were maniacally conspiring to ensure its failure. They marketed it as “wacky genre comedy” (which
it definitely was not), they put it in a Friday night time slot that was infamous for a lack
of viewers, and they inexplicably chose to air the episodes out of order, with the pilot,
where all the major characters and their world were introduced, appearing last. While the show’s small core group of fans
stuck with the show through every considerable misstep, the rest of Firefly’s viewers were
baffled by the inconsistencies and disappointed that the wacky comedy they tuned in to see
was actually a western reimagined as a sci-fi drama that dealt with some pretty dark themes. Sure, it had lots of jokes, but the stories
about desperate criminals and space cannibals were definitely much darker than viewers had
been led to believe. The poor ratings were enough to convince Fox
the show was a failure, and it declined to resurrect Firefly even after desperate fans
organized a postcard-writing campaign to plead for a stay of execution. Eventually, however, the completed first (and
only) season of the show expanded its audience on DVD and streaming, and Whedon got the chance
to tell more of the story in the 2005 feature film Serenity, which was largely possible
because of all that fan enthusiasm. Millennials buy smartphones, Baby Boomers
buy transistor radios. And no one sells transistor radios anymore. Or at least, that was the logic behind the
cancellation of Harry’s Law, a smart crime drama starring Kathy Bates as a former patent
lawyer-turned criminal defense attorney. According to the LA Times, Harry’s Law was
NBC’s second most-watched drama of the 2011 to 2012 television season, ranking just behind
Smash and just above Law & Order: SVU. How could 8.8 million viewers be wrong? Because they were 8.8 million older viewers. Yes, that’s right Harry’s Law ended because
advertisers didn’t think they could sell enough stuff to Grandma. “Next thing I know I’m broke. And starving! I had no money, not even for food.” Despite winning an Emmy, the show didn’t perform
well with viewers aged 18-49, a lucrative demographic for advertisers, which left NBC
network executives with a lot of difficulty in selling the show’s advertising time. You’d think they could just shore things up
with commercials for medical alert systems, Werther’s Originals, and those Jitterbug phones
with the giant buttons and get at least a little cash out of those 8.8 million, but
no. Maybe it’s for the best, though. Those companies tend to pay for air time with
crisp five dollar bills folded up into birthday cards. Given his track record in children’s television,
you’d think any network targeting kids would let Paul Dini do pretty much whatever he wanted. After all, he’d worked on kid-friendly hits
like Tiny Toon Adventures before becoming one of the showrunners behind Batman: The
Animated Series, where he co-created Harley Quinn and gave Warner Brothers one of its
most popular and profitable new characters in decades. Unfortunately, Cartoon Network didn’t want
to take the chance, canceling his popular series Tower Prep after only 13 episodes. The reason? In a 2013 interview, Dini accused Cartoon
Network of ending the live-action teen drama because it had too many girls, both on screen
and, probably as a result, in the audience. Don’t misunderstand it’s not that the network
wanted Dini to leave out female characters altogether, it just wanted him to make sure
that female characters were, as he put it, quote: “one step behind the boys, not as smart as
the boys, not as interesting as the boys.” So when Dini ignored this helpful advice and
kept on writing some compelling backstories for his female characters, the show got the
axe, frustrating fans even further by ending on a cliffhanger. So why exactly did Cartoon Network want to
exclude half of Tower Prep’s potential audience? Allegedly they didn’t think girls would buy
enough merchandise to make it worth having prominent female characters, who apparently
need to be justified in order to exist. Because if there’s one thing we know about
teenage girls, it’s that they never spend enough money to make someone ridiculously
wealthy on genre stories that include women, right? “Are there by chance and vampires in this
book? Dark, brooding vampires, who know they shouldn’t
fall in love with a mortal, but do anyways?” Tower Prep wasn’t the only victim of Cartoon
Network’s terrible decision-making. Just look at Adventure Time, one of Cartoon
Network’s most unexpected hits. It was the weirdly compelling story about
a boy, a dog, and a bunch of people made out of candy or magic fire, or lemons, or cinnamon
buns, or… space… lumps? Either way, they had, well, adventures in
a fantastic world of magic and mystery that was bright, fun, and relentlessly charming,
right up until it turned serious and hit its viewers right in the emotions. “This means someday you’ll die. You know that, right?” “I guess that will be my last adventure.” As a result, the show didn’t just appeal to
the kids it was originally aimed at, it also got the attention of a huge audience of adult
viewers. Great, right? Well, no. It turns out kind of presented a problem for
Cartoon Network. They couldn’t move it into their grown-ups-only
Adult Swim time slot for fear of losing their huge kid audience, but they couldn’t monetize
all of those adult viewers if they left it in the earlier time slot. To be fair, Adventure TIme ran for a full
ten seasons and is unquestionably one of the most iconic cartoons of a generation, but
in the end, it was canceled because it was just too popular with the wrong audience. You know when you were a kid and you were
supposed to write a story for school, but you got a little too weird and couldn’t think
up a decent ending so you just wrote, “and then she woke up… and it was all a dream?” Dallas, an incredibly popular prime-time soap
opera, did that to an entire season in 1989, swerving viewers with a twist so profoundly
ridiculous that it could have easily come from the mind of a bored 10-year-old who didn’t
feel like finishing their homework. So why exactly did the show’s writers decide
that a grade-school level plot device was the right way to wrap up their ninth season? Because back in Season 8, star Patrick Duffy
decided he was too big for Dallas. The writers sent him off with a bang, or rather
a flip, killing his character after tumbling over a speeding car. A year later, he changed his mind. According to Duffy himself, he was asked to
come back, but feel free to take that with a grain of salt. Either way, the producers came up with a spectacularly
clever way to bring him back and just erased the entire 9th season by explaining it away
as someone’s dream, having Duffy’s character show up in a shower like nothing had happened. The show limped ahead for a couple more seasons,
but the damage had been done. Viewers just couldn’t stomach the stupidity
of the plot twist and the ratings never recovered. In early 2000, Fox decided to ride the reality
show craze to success with some wildly over-the-top ideas, including the hugely popular special
Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?, about… well, you can probably guess from the title. There were immediately plans for a sequel,
but by February, Fox announced it was killing its plans to produce a follow-up because of
some bad press about star Rick Rockwell, namely allegations that he was a) a jerk, b) a liar,
and c) probably not actually a multi-millionaire. Among Rockwell’s transgressions was an accusation
by a past girlfriend of physical abuse, which led to a restraining order. The real estate developer, failed stand-up
comedian, and self-proclaimed motivational speaker also seemed to have lied about at
least one part of his resumée. Several venues he claimed to have a history
with revealed that he’d never actually performed for them. “My girlfriend left left me. Well, I’m a comedian. It’s mandatory.” Perhaps most damning of all, it eventually
came out that he wasn’t really living the gold-plated lifestyle most of us associate
with multi-millionaires. His 1,200-square-foot ranch home in California
was pretty far from Beverly Hills, and the backyard was decorated with an old toilet. In case you’re curious, the unlucky bride
who “won” on the show, Darva Conger, had the marriage annulled just seven weeks after exchanging
vows, and you can’t really blame her. Even if he actually had the piles of money
that he claimed, which he didn’t, the real treasure here was about a million red flags. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite
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