Save Our Shows! 7 Times Fans Stopped Their Favorites From Being Canceled
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The series that pledged “to boldly go where no man has gone before” also made TV history as one of the first series to be saved by its fans. After NBC announced plans to cancel the series in 1968 after two seasons, a massive letter-writing campaign and demonstrations outside of the NBC corporate offices convinced studio execs to grant the sci-fi series a third and final season.
Cagney & Lacey
CBS canceled the female-police drama starring Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly in 1983 after its second season received low ratings. But a letter-writing campaign promoted by Ms. magazine, Gloria Steinem and the National Organization for Women overwhelmed CBS brass and led to the show being renewed, airing for seven seasons and winning a total of 14 Emmy Awards.
After NBC moved Scott Bakula’s time-traveling, body-jumping series to the dreaded Friday night time slot, “Leapers,” as fans of the series were known, sent 50,000 letters to NBC offices. The move prompted then NBC Entertainment President Warren Littlefield to return the series to its Wednesday night time slot.
In 2007, after the postapocalyptic drama Jericho was canceled after its first season, fans shipped over 20 tons of nuts to CBS network offices. The nutty presents were in reference to a line in the season finale cliffhanger, where Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich), told to surrender his town, defiantly replies, “Nuts!” The stunt prompted CBS to renew the series for a second season and to donate the salty snacks to U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Instead of engaging in a letter-writing campaign, fans of the NBC spy dramedy Chuck put their money where their mouths were — literally. After ratings slumped in the series’ second season, fans showed their support by buying Subway sandwiches. Star Zachary Levi even led a “flash mob” of 600 hungry fans to one local shop, where they chowed on footlongs. The support helped convince the fast-food chain to help cover the costs of the show’s third season.
In 2017, NBC’s freshman drama Timeless received so much fan support that it won USA Today’s annual “Save Our Shows” poll. NBC execs cited the poll as a factor in a surprise second-season renewal that came two days after the network had initially axed the show.
One Day at a Time
The Netflix comedy starring Justina Machado and Rita Moreno faced cancellation after its second season, but a spring 2018 letter-writing campaign and social media blitz from the series’ producers, fans, TV critics and advocacy groups, including the National Hispanic Media Coalition, prompted the streaming service to renew the comedy from producer Norman Lear for a 13-episode third season.
There's a reason that broadcast and cable networks provide mailing and email addresses for fans. First off, it's so readers can contact them directly and provide feedback on shows they love and shows they hate.
But these addresses are also provided to help facilitate an annual rite of spring — the fan-led letter-writing campaigns in support of shows on the cancellation bubble.
Plus, find out which of your other favorite shows are coming back next season.
If a show teeters on the verge of ending, the passionate pleas of a program’s most loyal supporters can sometimes tip the hand in the series’ favor. Click through the gallery above for some examples of times when fan support helped save a series like Timeless, Star Trek, Chuck, and more!