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The Real Reason These TV Shows Were Canceled In 2022

All television providers — be they advertiser-driven broadcast networks, subscription-oriented premium cable networks, or streaming services — are a business, trying to earn as much of a profit as possible through the almost completely philosophically opposite idea of providing art, expression, and entertainment to the masses. They aim to reach as broad an audience as possible because more eyeballs means more profit, but sometimes they miss the mark, and even shows that seemed like they'd be a surefire hit just don't resonate with the public. The result is a series that's pulled from the airwave. But there are many reasons a TV show gets canceled. Perhaps the creative forces or stars decide to move on, or maybe it's getting too old and losing the impact it once had. All those reasons and more are major factors in why these shows all had their lives cut short in 2022.

Updated on July 1, 2022: Networks and streamers cancel shows all the time, so check back here periodically to see if any of your favorites will be disappearing from the small screen.

It's game over for Ellen's Game of Games

"The Ellen DeGeneres Show" served as a silly and sunny alternative to its syndicated daytime talk show brethren. While the competition offered salacious discussions of serious problems, "Ellen," hosted by the low-key and charming comedian Ellen DeGeneres, served up audience giveaways, impromptu dance parties, and party games. Those activities — "Blindfolded Musical Chairs," "Dizzy Dash," "Hot Hands," and "Oh Ship!" among others — proved so irresistibly popular that DeGeneres spun them off into their own show for NBC's primetime lineup, "Ellen's Game of Games." The main difference is that the prizes got bigger and so did the games, stretched out to involve massive set pieces and gigantic props.

The fourth season of "Ellen's Game of Games" aired on NBC's primetime schedule throughout the 2020-2021 season, and no new episodes will be produced or aired. According to Variety, DeGeneres' exit from television includes not just her 19-year-old eponymous daytime talk show but "Ellen's Game of Games" as well. In 2019, DeGeneres signed a contract extension to keep the parent show on the air through 2022, which wasn't renewed amidst backstage scandal, with former crew members alleging continual mistreatment and severe labor issues. DeGeneres' reputation as the "Queen of Nice" suffered, and ratings for her shows dropped, both for the talk show and "Game of Games."

Bull lost its star, and CBS pulled the plug

Fitting right in on CBS' schedule full of crime and legal procedurals, "Bull" is about the previously little-known world of jury consulting. Brilliant psychologist and court expert Dr. Jason Bull (Michael Weatherly) leads Trial Analysis Corporation, which helps his high-powered, high-paying clients find the ideal jurors and correct angle to bring about an agreeable verdict. Inspired by the former career of talk show host and executive producer Dr. Phil McGraw, "Bull" ran for six seasons on CBS, spending its first two years among the top 10 most-watched shows on broadcast television.

On January 18, 2022, Weatherly announced via a tweet that he was ready to leave "Bull." "I've decided it's time to pursue new creative challenges," the actor explained. As the show was very much a vehicle for Weatherly, a huge star in the CBS family after a 13-year stint on the network's massively popular "NCIS," the network opted to cancel the show rather than continue on without its anchor. And after six seasons on the air, "Bull" was no longer the ratings juggernaut it once was, ranking as the eighth-most watched CBS drama among all viewers and dead last among people in the sought-after 18-to-49 demographic.

Promised Land flopped and got dumped onto Hulu

Midway through the 2021-2022 season, to fill in a gap while hit show "The Good Doctor" was on hiatus, ABC launched "Promised Land," a throwback to the dramatic — if not melodramatic — primetime soaps of the late '70s and '80s. And just like "Falcon Crest," "Promised Land" was set at a successful and picturesque California winery, detailing the machinations and romantic entanglements of several generations of a sprawling, wealthy, spoiled family.

"Promised Land," which brought in the lowest 18-49 demographic-favored numbers of any ABC drama in the 2021-22 season, lasted just five episodes on the primetime schedule, with the network pulling it from its Monday night time slot in February 2022. Subsequent installments weren't aired and instead dropped directly on Hulu (which, like ABC, is owned by Disney), and "Promised Land" ran out its first and only season of 10 episodes in that manner. While creator Matt Lopez claimed on Instagram (via Just Jared) that the move didn't equal a cancelation, the low ratings and unceremonious dumping make a second season of "Promised Land" highly unlikely.

The Lost Symbol was declared a miniseries after the fact

Robert Langdon is a world-renowned symbolist, the go-to expert for finding clues in ancient works of art and historical artifacts so as to uncover far-reaching conspiracies and solve mysteries. He's the hero of multiple bestselling novels by Dan Brown, as well as "The Lost Symbol," a 2020 Peacock original starring Ashley Zukerman as the brilliant Langdon.

"The Lost Symbol" adaption for streaming television is essentially the only piece of Robert Langdon to not register as a massive success. Brown's original novels were all massive bestsellers, and three big-screen adaptations starring Tom Hanks ("The Da Vinci Code," "Angels and Demons," "Inferno") earned a worldwide box office of more than $1.4 billion. But each film made less than the previous, and the last hit theaters more than five years before "The Lost Symbol" debuted on Peacock, so perhaps Robert Langdon's historical mystery solving is a fad whose time has passed. 

In January 2022, according to Variety, Peacock canceled "The Lost Symbol," with a source close to the show reporting that the streamer and producers figured they'd told a full story with its one season, retroactively turning the continuing show into a limited series.

Gentefied never broke through for Netflix

Praised and notable for bringing oft-neglected voices and perspectives to television, Netflix's "Gentefied" is set in East Los Angeles and explores the experiences of Latino individuals in the United States, people maintaining a unique culture while also finding a place among the broader national identity. An outgrowth of a crackling and sensitive digital series by Linda Yvette Chavez and Marvin Lemus, "Gentefied" centered on the Morales family as they kept their grandfather's restaurant open, tenaciously pursued their own dreams, and fought against the twin menaces of immigration officials and gentrification.

Despite early signs of success — the critical and cultural buzz helped the series earn a Season 2 renewal just a couple of months after its first season debuted — "Gentefied" traded in quality over quantity and never attracted a sizable audience or at least one large enough for Netflix to justify a third batch of episodes. Netflix doesn't release specific viewership numbers for any of its shows, but according to Deadline, the second (and ultimately final) season of "Gentefied" never made an appearance on the Netflix Top 10, the one public barometer of success on the major streamer.

The Baby-Sitters Club didn't get binged

Ann M. Martin's beloved "Baby-Sitters Club" books are cultural touchstones for many readers who grew up in the '80s and '90s. These warm, funny, and relatable stories explore adolescence and small business management from the perspective of the titular club, which is comprised of tween girls growing up in suburban Connecticut. While the books have been adapted before, Netflix's 2020 series, "The Baby-Sitters Club," earned especially ardent praise. This new take faithfully adapts and updates the classic characters for the screen, offering warm, funny, and relatable stories about growing up.

Despite this critical success, The Hollywood Reporter revealed in March 2022 that Netflix had canceled the show after two seasons. In conversation with Vulture, creator Rachel Shukert noted that though the series pulled in solid viewership numbers, it's possible subscribers didn't consume the show in the manner most preferable to the company. Shukert hypothesized that Netflix wants to devote more resources to widely appealing shows that are immediately binge-watched upon release and draw in new markets, rather than quieter shows with a niche audience. 

Space Force was too expensive for Netflix

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix was highly motivated to land "Space Force," which premiered on the streaming service in 2020. It marked the return to series television for Steve Carell, star of the enduring hit sitcom (and one-time Netflix magnet) "The Office." Plus, he would be collaborating again with the creative force behind Carell's big show, Greg Daniels. In a satire of government life during the Donald Trump administration, Carell played an Air Force general picked to head up the fledgling, flailing new branch of the military known as "Space Force."

The second season of "Space Force" debuted on Netflix in February 2022, with a new co-showrunner and production transferred from Los Angeles to Vancouver. Such changes were undertaken to improve the show's critical quality and buzz (Season 1 earned middling reviews from viewers and writers), as well as to cut costs. The first season of "Space Force" was among the most expensive shows on contemporary television, with Netflix paying Carell more than $1 million an episode. The show's viewership figures didn't justify such an expense, especially after April 2022, when Netflix (per Forbes) reported a massive subscriber loss and endured a $55 billion decline in value. Within a week of that financial disaster, "Space Force" was grounded.

Batwoman's numbers weren't good enough for The CW

"Batwoman" extended the mythology of Gotham City and its criminals vs. vigilantes underworld. Inspired by Batman-adjacent DC Comics, the show was part of The CW's ambitious and expansive "Arrowverse" of interconnected superhero shows, initially starring Ruby Rose as hero Kate Kane and then starring Javica Leslie as criminal turned caped crusader Ryan Wilder.

Showrunner Caroline Dries broke the "sad news" on Twitter in April 2022 that "Batwoman" would not return for a fourth season. According to Variety, The CW might be cleaning house of its underperforming scripted series as it prepares for an ownership change. Currently owned by WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS, Nexstar Media Group — a consortium of TV stations — is preparing to buy a majority stake in The CW. "Batwoman," which survived behind-the-scenes controversy and an on-screen shift when original star Ruby Rose left the show after alleging an unsafe working environment and was replaced by Leslie, was among the least-watched shows on its network in the 2021-2022 season, averaging around 760,000 viewers, a drop of 20% from the previous frame.

Legends of Tomorrow will be a show for yesterday

Involving more time travel, humor, and cast members than the typical small-screen superhero show, "Legends of Tomorrow" (technically "DC's Legends of Tomorrow") follows an often-changing team of young superheroes (as well as villains and rogues) who move through space, time, and the universe to prevent apocalypses and other threats to the continued existence of humanity.

Once the single most dominant programming source in its lineup, The CW's "Arrowverse" of intertwined DC Comics-based action-adventure shows is shrinking. In the 2022-2023 season, the only pre-existing comic book shows that remain will be the recently launched "Superman and Lois" and "The Flash" in its ninth and likely final season. "Legends of Tomorrow" was among the oldest and least popular "Arrowverse" shows, concluding after seven seasons and attracting fewer viewers than the superhero series that survived, according to TVLine. "Legends of Tomorrow" pulled in an average of just 860,000 watchers in what wound up being its final season on The CW, a network taking a hard look at what shows to keep and save in the wake of a potential sale to a new ownership group.

Less than a month after this axe fell, The CW continued to clear out its schedule and production slate when it canceled seven more hour-long dramas, including the rebooted "Dynasty," "Charmed," "4400," and "Roswell, New Mexico," as well as "In the Dark," "Legacies," and "Naomi."

CBS got rid of multiple sitcoms to make way for new dramas

As reported by Vulture, the 2021-2022 season marks the 14th straight year CBS has been able to call itself the most-watched TV network in the United States. This is impressive, given cable and streaming services siphon off more broadcast network viewers every year. Yet even in this rapidly changing landscape, CBS maintains its sizable audience. This means it has higher and more narrow standards of what constitutes a hit and which shows are worthy of renewal. This was made apparent in May 2022, when CBS canceled one long-running drama and three sitcoms with middling-to-low viewership figures. Such a culling makes way for a slew of new series more in line with the network's hit crime dramas.

According to TVLine, CBS axed comedies "B Positive," "United States of Al," and "How We Roll," as well as its "Magnum P.I." remake, which was later picked up by NBC. At the same time, Deadline reported that the network ordered three new drama series: Cop show "East New York," legal series "So Help Me Todd," and firefighter yarn "Fire Country." Though "So Help Me Todd" garners a laugh every now and then, you couldn't really call it a comedy — and that's fine with CBS.

Legends of the Hidden Temple couldn't capitalize on nostalgia

Countless Millennials look back fondly on the high-concept, elaborately-produced kids' game show "Legends of the Hidden Temple." Like a mini Indiana Jones-style adventure in a competitive format, the 1993 series pits six duos against one another as they raid a supposedly ancient temple (lorded over by a talking stone head named Olmec) in search of a priceless artifact.

Like fellow '90s series "Charmed," "Roseanne," and "Twin Peaks," "Legends of the Hidden Temple" earned a reboot which hit The CW in 2021. This revamped, bigger-budget version of the classic game show boasts an elaborate set and features grown-ups instead of kids. Comedian Cristela Alonzo hosts, while voice actor Dee Bradley Baker reprises the role of Olmec, who remains as eerily impressive as ever. Sadly, "Legends of the Hidden Temple" was met with historically bad ratings: According to TVLine, the 13-episode reboot averaged less than 300,000 viewers. Unsurprisingly, it was canceled in June 2022. Perhaps the nostalgia craze that's gripped TV for the last few years is finally over — or maybe "Legends of the Hidden Temple" simply failed to impress '90s kids everywhere.

Corporate coupling meant the end for Raised by Wolves

One of the most visually striking sci-fi series in recent memory, "Raised by Wolves" revolves around two androids, Mother and Father, who are programmed to raise six human children on a dangerous alien planet. They create a solid space colony, but all their hard work is threatened when a theological conflict erupts.

According to Variety, TNT ordered "Raised by Wolves" in 2018. It would ultimately premiere on another Warner Bros.-owned outlet, HBO Max, in 2020. Both seasons of "Raised by Wolves" earned strong reviews, but the series couldn't overcome its behind-the-scenes shuffling. As CNBC reported, WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. merged to form a new media company, Warner Bros. Discovery, in April 2022. In a series of Tweets, "Raised By Wolves" star Abubakar Salim claimed this merger brought an early end to many productions, including the sleek sci-fi show. He expressed hope, however, that it might be picked up and continued on another platform if enough fans push for such a rescue.

Tom Swift was both too risqué and too unpopular

Following "Nancy Drew" and "The Hardy Boys," "Tom Swift" was the latest gritty, contemporary reimagining of a decades-old young adult novel series produced by the Stratemeyer publishing syndicate. Loosely based on the books that first appeared in print in 1910 (per Variety), Tian Richards portrayed young billionaire and tech genius Tom Swift, waging war with a shadowy global conspiracy he believes is responsible for the disappearance of his father.

In the books, Tom Swift was a white teenage inventor. In the CW's "Tom Swift," the character was a gay, Black billionaire in his 20s. But that big change did little to grab audiences' attention. The character was introduced on "Nancy Drew" way back in 2021, with the standalone show ordered to series in August 2021 and finally debuting in early summer 2022. That lack of momentum couldn't have helped with audience-building because the show's viewership numbers were very low, drawing a negligible 0.1 rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic. According to Deadline, the show's edgy content may have been what really led to its demise. Nexstar Media Group is set to acquire the CW and reportedly isn't interested in programming that isn't squeaky clean.

Duncanville couldn't compete with other Fox cartoons

Debuting in the middle of the 2019-2020 season, Fox's quick-witted animated family comedy "Duncanville" arrived packed with talent. Co-created by longtime "Simpsons" writer Mike Scully and "Parks and Recreation" star Amy Poehler, the show revolved around a wildly mediocre but self-aggrandizing teenage boy named Duncan (voiced by Poehler) as he bristled against parental control (voiced by Poehler and Ty Burrell of "Modern Family") and hung out with his crew of ne'er-do-well friends.

"Duncanville" just didn't perform at a competitive enough level for Fox, which boasts more animated shows in production than it has the space for on its Sunday night animation block. In addition to established hits like "The Simpsons," "Bob's Burgers," and "Family Guy," as well as newer successes including "Housebroken" and "The Great North," Fox had to make room for new, high-profile, ordered-to-series cartoons "Krapopolis" (produced by "Community" creator Dan Harmon) and "Grimsburg" (starring Jon Hamm). According to Variety, numbers for "Duncanville" in Season 3 were so bad — averaging 530,000 viewers per episode — that Fox pulled it off the schedule and at some point will dump six unaired episodes onto Hulu.

Paramount+ renewed and then canceled Why Women Kill

"Why Women Kill" is a darkly comic crime anthology, detailing the events that lead up to the titular murders. Debuting on CBS All Access in 2019, the first season concerned three different time periods where the same Pasadena house and marital cheating were involved, while Season 2 (on CBS All Access successor Paramount+) followed a standalone story about a new character driven to commit homicide.

In December 2021, Paramount+ ordered a new set of episodes of "Why Women Kill" from creator Marc Cherry, according to Deadline, as executives were pleased with both the quality of the show as well as its performance. The show reportedly placed high on a top 10 list of the streamer's most popular and visible programs. The new slate of episodes entered preproduction, and producers entered into negotiations with actors, but then on July 1, 2022, Paramount+ decided that it didn't want anymore "Why Women Kill" after all, canceling the series after just two seasons.