Our ongoing look back at sci fi / fantasy TV shows that were cancelled way too soon or pilots that never made it to series.
This series adapted the DC comic book Hellblazer to the small screen as it focused on John Constantine, a master of the occult who aids people facing supernatural crises. The series also had an ongoing story arc as Constantine was tasked with warding off the ‘Rising Darkness” that was making evil magic more powerful in the world. This show arrived on NBC’s schedule with high expectations and pretty quickly lived up to them with its good writing and strong performances, particularly from Matt Ryan in the lead role (though he also had a stand up supporting cast with Angélica Celaya, Charles Halford, Harold Perrineau, and more). Critics and fans both applauded the show, though unfortunately that did not translate into strong ratings, possibly because it was too dark and edgy for the broadcast networks. At first glance, Constantine seemed to have a good pairing with solid performer Grimm on Friday nights, as both delivered supernatural-tinged drama. But the veteran series saw a slip in its numbers in its fourth season and the new show pulled even lower ratings. Through Fall, Constantine averaged lower numbers in the overnights than Dracula had in the same timeslot the prior year, and that show had already been cancelled. NBC announced that they were suspending production on Constantine at thirteen episodes, though claimed that they were still considering the possibility of a second season. However, the writing seemed to be on the wall, and when it returned from mid-season break (inexplicable moved to the Friday 8 PM EST hour) its numbers dropped further. NBC did give the producers the chance to pitch a second season prior to them setting their 2015-16 schedule, but likely they were just going through the motions. They officially cancelled the show before the May upfronts (when the networks present their schedule to the sponsors), though the show’s studio Warner Bros. indicated that they would shop it around to other venues. Nothing came from this, though, and in early June series showrunner Daniel Cerone announced “that the show is over” and the actors were released from their contracts. Ultimately, Constantine‘s darker tone would have been a much better fit on the cable networks, but apparently interest had waned (or the price tag was too high) by the time that the WB had shopped it around. Marc Guggenheim did mention that he would like to bring the Constantine character to The CW’s Arrow, and that is a possibility seeing as Warner Bros. owns both. Whether that comes to fruition remains to be seen, but unfortunately the series proper will not continue beyond its thirteen episode first season.
Aired: NBC, 2014-15, 1 Season Totaling 13 Episodes
Starring: Matt Ryan, Angélica Celaya, Charles Halford, Harold Perrineau