Cancelled Too Soon: Stargate Universe (2009)

By | January 7, 2016

Our ongoing look back at sci fi / fantasy TV shows that were cancelled way too soon or pilots that never made it to series.

stargate-universe-syfy-cancelledThis third live-action entry in the Stargate television franchise focused on a group of military and civilian personnel that find themselves trapped aboard an ancient spaceship hurtling beyond their control billions of light years from Earth, and it seemed like a sure thing going in to its first season.  But it ended up falling victim to miscalculations by the show’s producers as well as poor timing. SGU creator’s Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper wanted to make it “a completely separate” entry in the franchise (as opposed to Stargate: Atlantis which was a spin-off of Stargate: SG-1). They gave the show a darker, grittier feel and a more heavily story-arced approach, but that apparently did not sit well with long-time fans of that franchise who showed a reluctance to jump on board (calling it Stargate meets Battlestar: Galactica). And the series didn’t bring in enough new viewers to make up for the existing fans that avoided it, maybe because they felt they would be lost by not knowing the backstory of the previous two series. In any case, SGU just did not draw a large enough audience as it debuted with only mediocre numbers and never managed to improve much throughout its two seasons. In addition to this, the Sci Fi Channel had just gone through a rebranding in 2009 to Syfy and had switched much of their focus for scripted shows to more budget-friendly, “sci fi Lite” entries like Warehouse 13, Haven, and Being Human which allegedly appealed to a broader audience. Thus, SGU’s disappointing ratings plus the fact that it did not fit in well with the network’s new direction worked against it and Syfy cancelled it after its second season. It ended on a cliffhanger and there were plans to do a movie that would provide some resolution, but that was eventually scrapped. There were rumors that the series might continue apart from the Syfy channel (as the network didn’t hold the license for the Stargate franchise), and the producers of the show actually lobbied the fans, telling them that letters in support of the show would be nice, but DVD sales and downloads would be much better. But despite a push from the fans to keep the show going, it remained cancelled after its two season run.  And even though it received much criticism early on, it has since been looked upon by many as a decent science fiction entry and one that was axed just as it was starting to demonstrate its full potential.

Aired: Syfy, 2009-11, 2 Seasons Totaling 40 Episodes

Created By: Brad Wright, Robert C. Cooper

Starring: Robert Carlyle, Louis Ferreira, Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque

Buy the Stargate Shows on DVD and Blu-Ray from Amazon.com:

6 thoughts on “Cancelled Too Soon: Stargate Universe (2009)

  1. mike

    Coincidentally, I just began to re-watch the show and to this day feel the sting of lament at its early cancellation.

    The writing, characters, casting and acting were outstanding. It’s a shame that the SG: Atlantis fans couldn’t set aside their sense of entitlement and support this show as the best path to get the continuation/resolution they wanted. Instead, they effectively killed off the SG-1 universe – possibly for good if the Devlin/emmerich sequels actually see the light of day.

    This show is often described as “StarGate meets BS:G” ; in many cases as a slight against it. I’m of the opinion that this show was far better than the hand-waving smoke and mirrors mess that Battlestar turned into.

    Oh well, maybe one day we might be able to contact a parallel universe where SG:U lasted 5-7 seasons

    Reply
  2. Cole

    Long time fan of SG-1 and atlantis, and i was completely on board with SG-U. Devestated when I saw it was cancelled…BRING IT BACK!!

    Reply
  3. Elias

    I’m a massive fan of SG1 and SGA who completely fell in love with SGU. I was dumbfounded by the stupid ass decision to cancel this show right at the moment when it was flying off! The people in charge must be wired ROYALLY wrong in their heads!!

    Reply
  4. Larry Johnson

    It’s all about money & ratings they could care less about the consumer Star Gate Universe was a great series Bring It Back the only series I have ever watched were the ending was just plain (horrible) ????

    Reply
    1. mike

      I think the fact that all they care about is money and ratings can be distinguished from mismanagement and short sightedness. People seem to forget that entertainment is a business – of course all they care about is money because everyone does to one degree or another. If it wasn’t for the business end we wouldn’t even have such programs.
      Think about how expensive it is to produce a series like SG-U; I don’t think there’s any tv exec that actually wants one of their projects to fail but people always seem want to blame ‘capitalist greed’ for everything.

      Remember that they gave a second season green light pretty quickly. The truth is that a large number of SG-1 / SG-A fans deserted SG-U because they were upset so this contributed to the ratings decline; this exacerbated the cut our losses mentality on the business end. Of course they also mishandled the scheduling and didn’t account for delayed viewing. When it became evident that SGU wasn’t drawing in the huge numbers they wanted they jumped on that to justify cancelling in favor of cheaper shows like Eureka and Warehouse 13 – more bang for their buck.

      Remember, that’s their job: to look out for the bottom line for the company. Nobody is going to risk their career to be a hero for a bunch of fickle genre fans. These companies care about profit – why should they care about you personally outside of that? Think about it, if they kept funding shows that don’t return their investment they’d soon go out of business and you wouldn’t have anything to watch.
      I suppose this sense of entitlement and cartoonishly naive view of life just irks me a bit.

      Reply

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