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Breaking Bad Was On The Verge Of Cancelation Year After Year According To RJ Mitte

There's a sad trend going on with many TV series as of late. In the era of streaming where platforms are more than happy to greenlight any old show that comes along, it's becoming exceedingly rare for series to get picked up for more than a couple of seasons. Even shows that have sizable fan bases like "Warrior Nun" end up getting the ax because (at least in Netflix's eyes) it's just not feasible to keep it going. 

It makes it hard for viewers to get invested in a series because they don't know if it'll last long enough to pay off any cliffhangers. It makes for an interesting thought experiment of what popular shows for years' past perhaps would've gotten canceled before they had a chance to become phenomenons. A foundational series like "The Office" was almost canceled after a single season, but fortunately, it was saved and managed to find its footing later on. Amazingly, the same could be said of "Breaking Bad," and according to actor RJ Mitte, the show was barely hanging on from one season to the next early in its run 

A cult following kept Breaking Bad alive

"Breaking Bad" was not a mega-hit when it first came out. Sure, it earned good reviews, but its pilot episode garnered less than 1 million viewers upon its first airing, as creator Vince Gilligan told the Los Angeles Times. It was a pretty inauspicious start to what would become a worldwide phenomenon, but that's the thing about a lot of shows — they just require some time to find an audience. And in the case of "Breaking Bad," Netflix proved to be a major boost in getting eyeballs to actually check it out (via Vox).

But for those early seasons before landing on Netflix, it was a rough go, as RJ Mitte explained in an interview with Big Issue. According to him, the show was always in trouble of getting canceled before being picked up for one more round. As he explained, "Every year they pretty much told us we were cancelled. Every time we wrapped it, they're like, don't expect a second season, don't expect a third season, don't expect a fourth season." But the show kept going because it was a massive hit with critics, as Mitte went on to say, "Luckily we had a cult following when it came to the critics. That's what kept us on. Only in the last seasons, four and five and six, we really got the viewership. But by then it was already on the path of wrapping."

It's frightening to think what the show's fate would've been if it came out within the last few years on some streaming platform that needed proof a shot was an instant hit. Hopefully, it serves as a reminder that some series need tender love and care to find their audience.