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The Real Reason Syfy Canceled Wynonna Earp

In early February 2021, the same dream-crushing boot that squished Firefly after one season and Farscape after four struck again. Wynonna Earp, the beloved Canadian fantasy-horror series, met its demise after four seasons.

Based on the IDW comic book character created by Beau Smith, the show followed the titular Wynonna Earp (Melanie Scrofano), the descendant of frontier lawman Wyatt Earp and inheritor of all he left behind — including a smorgasbord of reanimated enemies and a magic gun capable of putting them back in the ground. Alongside an eternally youthful Doc Holliday and the members of top-secret government organization the Black Badge Division, she sets out on a journey of magical kaboomery. Also, her sister is the daughter of an angel, and there are witches sometimes. This show has everything.

With such a bevy of weirdness and violence, in addition to the show's passionate audience, Wynonna Earp seems like the sort of series that should've run for decades. So why did it get the ax so early in its run? The answer comes down to a combination of reasons: a niche fan base that's too niche and — surprise, surprise — the almighty dollar.

The numbers just didn't add up for Wynonna Earp

First, let's tear off the stickiest Band-Aid: Wynonna Earp didn't have the same audience as, say, the NFL or Law & Order: Surprise Health Inspector Visits. It's an unfortunate fact that any show about a lady with a magic gun hunting undead abominations with her half-angel lesbian sister is going to have a limited reach. Plus, shows with a long, overarching plot tend to bleed viewers as time goes on.

More important, though, is the program's complex business situation, as outlined by The Hollywood Reporter. Wynonna Earp's cancellation after season four had a lot to do with an international web of licensing rights. Syfy had to pay a licensing fee to the show's Canadian distribution company, Space, adding an extra layer of expenses to the program on top of the network's financial commitment on the production end. Add to that the fact that IDW still owns the rights to the characters, and the endeavor may have simply been too expensive to justify.

However, the cancellation of Wynonna Earp seems to be the second act in an ongoing story. Previously, the show brushed up against death when funding issues stood in the way of the fourth season, but a fan push breathed life back into it, and its continuing success as a streaming offering on Netflix could mean another stay of execution in days to come. In short: Season 5 of Wynonna Earp isn't a lost cause yet.