For years, the introduction of streaming and the evolution of the television industry to keep up with increased competition has resulted in too much to watch. As recently reported by FX exec John Landgraf in his annual address to the Television Critics Association, a record 599 series aired in 2022. And those were only the adult, scripted, English-language ones.
Television has never been more abundant — or in more danger. With increasingly diminished returns in the age of excess spending, some networks and streamers have taken to reversing series renewals or outright canceling new shows that have already been produced. These are quite unlike the average cancellation. Even though networks have already begun funding a future for these projects — from production to marketing — that investment still isn’t more persuasive than the possibility of a tax write-off. It has led to unprecedented confusion and concern within the industry that projects able to clear the hurdle of getting a green light are suddenly no longer guaranteed to make it to air. Even filming an entire series isn’t a safeguard anymore; just look at HBO Max’s critical darling Minx and TNT’s ever-endangered Snowpiercer.
At a moment when the future is unclear for development and the exponential growth that has defined television of late, we took the chance to chart the shows that have fallen victim to a changing landscape. Where could they go? What stands in their way? Is there life after untimely cancellation?
This former HBO Max Original series stars Ophelia Lovibond and Jake Johnson as the purveyors of a feminist erotic magazine in 1970s Los Angeles. After being renewed for a second season in May 2022, it was abruptly canned by HBO and left to find a new home. Even worse, it had reportedly already filmed the majority of its 10-episode order.
Actor Jake Johnson vowed on social media the cast and crew were intent on finishing production and shopping the series, which was rather quickly picked up by Starz in January 2023. In the span of a month, Minx emerged as the Cinderella story for an orphaned series. The show's good fortune was likely thanks to the premium cabler's pedigree: Starz is owned by Lionsgate, which produced the series for HBO Max. With shows like Outlander and The Serpent Queen already among its slate, Starz is already primed to court female viewers with sex-positive, period-specific programming — the sweet spot for Minx.
HBO already had an issue on their hands when this Victorian England-set fantasy series premiered in 2021. Its creator, Joss Whedon, had recently become the subject of misconduct allegations on his sets, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The network distanced itself from him as they unfurled Part 1 of the show’s first season. But then it was crickets on when the final six episodes would air, despite a mind-blowing finale that upended the entire concept of the series. The show was ultimately a victim of HBO Max’s mass cancellation in 2022, but it was earmarked for possible inclusion on a FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV) platform.
That plan came to fruition on January 31, when Tubi announced it would be the new streaming home for The Nevers, along with other canceled HBO/HBO Max series including Westworld, Raised by Wolves, Legendary, FBoy Island, Finding Magic Mike, Head of the Class and The Time Traveler’s Wife. But unlike those programs, The Nevers was canceled having only aired in part, so Tubi will be able to tout unseen episodes as part of the deal.
Nasim Pedrad’s cringe comedy about a teenage Persian-American boy going through all that awkward phase entails was originally developed in 2016 for Fox, before landing at TBS in 2019. Finally airing in 2021 (and subsequently renewed), it was one of the final scripted series left standing at TBS, until it wasn’t. The already-shot second season was canceled just hours — yes, hours — before it was set to premiere in July 2022. A few months later, The Roku Channel (which had already resuscitated Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist for a one-off Christmas movie after NBC canceled it) swooped in and saved the series, with a promise to air the second season. For once, awkward Chad managed to catch a break.
While this Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney series wasn’t canceled by Showtime for the same reasons as the other shows on this list (as far as we know), it does stand as a good reminder that Peak TV’s vast array of streaming services are always looking for content — especially ones with Emmy winners and already-built worlds. This series follows the decimated ideal of the American Dream through the story of a Rust Belt town. It was not well received when it first aired and its cancellation was hardly a shock. What was surprising was Amazon’s Freevee picking it up for a second season in June 2022. It’s a lesson that could benefit these shows that find themselves without a home — the grass could be greener on another streamer.
With news of Paramount’s decision to fold the Showtime brand into its Paramount+ platform (and bizarrely renaming the endeavor “Paramount+ with Showtime”), one of its buzzier projects has been cast out into the cold. Three Women is an adaptation of the Lisa Taddeo novel, which tells three stories of American female desire through different perspectives (played by Shailene Woodley, Betty Gilpin and DeWanda Wise). The series was completely finished when Paramount announced it had been shelved. On February 7, Starz once again came to the rescue and saved the series, not unlike what it did for Minx. The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported the news, noted it had been shopped around town to places like HBO and Amazon before Starz snatched it up.
First ordered to series by TNT in 2018, Snowpiercer didn’t make it to air until 2020, cycling through several showrunners across three seasons. The fact it was renewed for a fourth (and final) season that would allow the post-apocalyptic train to pull into the station was an impressive feat. When TNT announced it wouldn’t air the final season after all, it seemed more on brand for the show’s beleaguered history. Where it goes now is unknown. WarnerMedia owns TNT, so a jump to HBO Max would be ideal. But with a perilous journey behind it, including many questions about why it hasn’t already been transplanted to HBO Max, the move seems unlikely. In other words, if it hasn’t happened already, the future looks as grim as the icy world Snowpiercer has been circling since 2018.
From the beginning, this Courtney B. Vance-fronted courtroom drama was commissioned by AMC in 2019 as a two-season series. But after airing the first season and filming the second, AMC opted to shelve the series rather than carry it across the pre-ordained finish line. Whether Season 2 will ever see the light of day is tricky. In late 2022, AMC announced it was in the midst of a restructuring overhaul that would include up to $400 million in tax write-offs from an assessment of its programming, which is likely the culprit behind its recent rash of cancellations. If AMC had any intention of finishing out the series, it could have easily dropped it on its AMC+ streaming series and called it a day — something it notably didn’t do. Moreover, 61st Street wasn’t a cultural hit, nor did it garner awards acclaim despite a timely subject matter and a strong pedigree (Michael B. Jordan is a producer). Finding a new home for a show people hadn’t found in the first place will be an uphill battle.
Another casualty of AMC’s restructuring, this sci-fi comedy from playwright Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm and starring Okieriete Onaodowan follows a man on a mission of self-discovery through the burgeoning field of digital psychiatry. The series also boasted a big name in recurring guest star Martin Lawrence. The credentials are there for the show to hit, even hailing from Better Call Saul executive producer and AMC stalwart Mark Johnson (who is guiding the network’s valuable Immortal Universe from Anne Rice’s books). But AMC Studios will have to find a new home willing to take a chance on a show it has decided it doesn’t want. Other axed AMC shows like 61st Street and Moonhaven at least have first season stats and library-ready episodes to offer up to possible buyers. Demascus would be an unproven risk, which could be good or bad.
Invitation to a Bonfire
Tatiana Maslany’s big return to the AMC Networks fold after her Emmy-winning role on BBC America’s Orphan Black should have been big news. And it still could be, if the show can find a home. The six-episode series based on Adrienne Celt’s novel is a psychological thriller set in the 1930s at an all-girls boarding school in New Jersey. It centers on a groundskeeper who finds herself in a lethal love triangle with the school’s newest faculty member and his bewitching wife. Four episodes were shot before the plug was pulled, but showrunner and creator Rachel Caris Love confirmed to Deadline it was being shopped. An erotic period drama would be perfect for a network like Starz, if it wasn’t already rescuing another castoff. Any potential buyer would likely also have to assume the cost of completing the Boston-based production.
The lone animated casualty of AMC’s bloodbath was not only an AMC+ exclusive, but it was the network’s first animated drama series. Initially receiving a two-season order, Pantheon follows a bullied teen (voiced by Katie Chang) who is helped by her deceased father after his consciousness has been uploaded to the Cloud. The story is pulled from short stories by author Ken Liu, and features a stacked voice cast including Daniel Dae Kim, Paul Dano, Rosemarie DeWitt, Aaron Eckhart, Taylor Schilling, and the late William Hurt. The greenlit second season was already in production when the ax fell. But it hails Titmouse, Inc., which also produces Star Trek: Lower Decks for Paramount+ and Fairfax for Prime Video. So there could be potential animation-friendly homes for the well-reviewed series. For now though, fans can’t even watch the first season, as it has been removed from AMC+.
AMC touted the first season of Moonhaven, a sci-fi series set in the titular Moon-bound colony that could be the key to save life on Earth, as its most-watched AMC+ exclusive show. Which makes December’s news that the network had reversed its Season 2 renewal that much more puzzling. With stars Dominic Monaghan and Joe Manganiello, the series wasn’t without its familiar faces. But finding a new place to continue its galactic mystery might be harder than colonizing the moon. Also, unlike the other AMC cancellations, Season 2 had not begun production when it was killed, so there’s less to lose by just moving on. The confusing move is yet another slight against creator Peter Ocko, the mind behind Lodge 49, one of AMC’s most egregious cancellations in recent memory.
The planned feature-length continuation of Workaholics was riding high on the good will of the beloved Comedy Central series starring Blake Anderson, Adam Devine, and Anders Holm when it was ordered by Paramount+ back in 2021. On Instagram, Devine confirmed the movie was five weeks away from filming when it was canceled in January. He told fans Paramount execs informed the creators the film didn’t fit its changing “global strategy,” as he called it. Finding a new home, which Devine says they are pursuing, could be tricky since the series shows no signs of leaving Paramount+’s library. It isn’t unheard of to see continuations live apart from their past content (see: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery being on Netflix without its predecessor film). If anything can help it clear this hurdle, it will be the popularity of the cast and series.
Starz may have shown its willingness to shelter discarded series with Minx, but it has also pulled the rug out from under one of its own. This adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ classic novel was renewed for a second season before its first even premiered. But just as quickly, the decision was reversed before it finished airing. Undoing the reversal will likely prove tough because the show is produced by Lionsgate. While that proved beneficial in Minx’s move to Starz from HBO Max, if Starz wanted to invest in Dangerous Liaisons, it would have stuck with its first decision. Still, the show is said to be on the market for the new home. But Starz wasted no time in removing it from its platform (along with other recent cancellations Becoming Elizabeth and Step Up.)
(Shows outright canceled as networks restructure their programming.)
The Time Traveler’s Wife (HBO)
Love Life (HBO Max)
Made for Love (HBO Max)
Legendary (HBO Max)
FBoy Island (HBO Max)
The Gordita Chronicles (HBO Max)
Raised by Wolves (HBO Max)
Head of the Class (HBO Max)
Step Up (Starz)
Becoming Elizabeth (Starz)
Vampire Academy (Peacock)
Dead Day (Peacock, despite a series order)
Field of Dreams (Peacock, despite a series order)
Let the Right One In (Showtime)
American Gigolo (Showtime)
Hunter Ingram is a TV writer living in North Carolina and watching way too much television. His byline has appeared in Variety, Emmy Magazine, USA Today, and across Gannett's USA Today Network newspapers.
TOPICS: Cancellations, HBO Max, Paramount+, Peacock, The Roku Channel, Showtime, Starz, Tubi, 61st Street, American Rust, Dangerous Liaisons, Demascus, Invitation to a Bonfire, Minx, The Nevers, Pantheon, Westworld, Courtney B. Vance, Dominic Monaghan, Jake Johnson, Joe Manganiello, Tatiana Maslany