Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Real Reason The Game Was Canceled

Just because a TV show gets canceled doesn't mean it's really gone for good. Just ask fans of Family Guy, Arrested Development, or The Killing, all shows that got the ax, only to come back from the dead. Still, even when a show does get revived, the question always remains: if it was popular enough to be given a second chance, why did it get canceled in the first place?

That is the question fans of The Game had to grapple with when the sitcom was canceled by the CW after just three seasons. The Tia Mowry-starring comedy took place in the personal world of professional athletes, focusing on how their significant others navigated the fame, fortune, and scrutiny that comes with the profession. After the series was canned by the CW, it moved networks and ran for six more seasons before getting canceled again — and that's not even the end of the story.

If you're one of the many people who have been checking out The Game ever since it dropped on Netflix (the series is currently among the top ten most viewed TV shows on the streamer) and you're curious about its history, here's a play by play of why the show was canceled, and then revived, and then canceled again.

The CW canceled The Game after it decided to move away from sitcoms

The Game began life as a spin-off of the popular UPN sitcom Girlfriends, and was introduced via a backdoor pilot in the latter show's sixth season. As recounted in The Washington Post, it was one of the first original series to premiere on the CW, which was then a brand new network formed from a consolidation between UPN and the WB. There were a few sitcoms that aired on the CW when it first debuted, including its sister show Girlfriends, Everybody Hates Chris, and Reba. But The Game was the only original sitcom that launched with the network, according to TV Series Finale, while the others had already been airing on UPN or the WB before moving to the CW.

However, none were fated to last long on the new network. Per The Washington Post's reporting, after a few years on the air, the CW decided to overhaul their lineup, moving away from 30-minute comedies to focus on shows like Gossip Girl. This, unfortunately, meant that there wasn't room for the network's sitcoms. According to TV Series Finale, the CW considered retooling the show so that it had the same hour-long dramedy format as the rest of the programming under its new identity, but that never came to fruition. Ultimately, The Game was canceled altogether, leaving fans of the show devastated.

But that sadness wouldn't last for long. Even though the CW canceled The Game to make room for other programming, the series soon came back on another network in a big way.

The Game was revived at BET and ran for another six seasons

Nobody took the end of The Game lying down. Soon after its cancelation, there were reports that BET was considering reviving the series. According to a TV Guide report from the time, the show's cast was instrumental in the plan to move the show to BET. The Washington Post also noted that there was a significant social media campaign by fans of the show to bring it back. Those efforts were effective, and in January 2011, season 4 of The Game premiered on BET.

The first new episode of The Game brought in an astounding 7.7 million viewers, which, according to TV Series Finale, was the highest-rated sitcom episode on ad-supported cable at the time. Even though the following episodes didn't sustain the monster ratings of the premiere, the network was clearly happy with their decision, as they produced six total seasons of The Game before putting the show to rest.

From what it seems, the decision to end The Game for a second time was merely a case of it being the right time to do so. As Deadline reported, series creator Mara Brock Akil said of the cancellation, "Shows do end; that is a part the business...We made history when we got to the network and it's nice to be able to celebrate the great achievements of the show."

That would be a very nice end to the long saga of The Game. But there's one more act to this story.

A reboot of The Game was canceled before it even got off the ground

The Game remained dormant for a few years after it was canceled. However, in 2019, reports began to spread that the show was slated to be brought back yet again. This time, according to Deadline, it would be a spin-off that featured some of the players from the original but focused on a new group of characters navigating the world of professional sports. The new series was in development at the network that started it all, the CW, and planned to transform from a 30-minute sitcom to an hour-long dramedy.

Although it was a potentially great idea for a reboot, that iteration of The Game was canceled before it even made it out of the development stage. According to reporting by Nellie Andreeva at Deadline, the network wanted to redevelop the concept for the project, but Akil, who co-created the reboot, passed on the opportunity.

The reports of the latest instance of The Game being canceled come with the caveat that there's still the possibility that the reboot might find life at a different time. In short, it's not out of the question that the beloved sitcom will have yet another rebirth... and eventual cancellation.