Coming as no surprise, ABC announced today that Once Upon A Time will be coming back for a sixth season. That show is down considerably in the ratings year over year, but then so are most of the entries on the broadcast networks and it was still one of the top rated shows across the Big Four on Sundays in Fall. It has been on hiatus since December, but it returns to finish out its fifth season starting this Sunday. I had previously considered the possibility that the show could be in its final season this year, but with no announcement to that effect by mid-season, I assumed it would be coming back for at least one more run. Perhaps next year will be its swansong seeing as its ratings have been in decline, but ABC made no indication of that in the announcement. And since Disney continues to cycle its fantasy and fairy tale characters through the show, maybe they will decide to keep it as an ongoing tie in to the company’s vast selection of movies past and present. The show’s ratings once it returns from hiatus could be the determining factor. If it holds steady, they may keep it open-ended. If it slips further, they may start making plans for a sixth season wrap up.
Third year series Agents of SHIELD also received a renewal, though I didn’t consider that one as much of a sure thing. It has struggled mightily in the ratings and it is an expensive show to produce, so I had theorized that ABC might have it pass the Avengers tie-in baton to spin-off series Marvel’s Most Wanted (currently in development) next season. Sites like TV by the Numbers and TV Grim Reaper have insisted it would get renewed because of its third season show status–meaning one more year gets it to a syndication friendly count of episodes–but I theorized that it might get packaged together with Agent Carter to bring it to enough episodes for syndication. But as it had made it this far without without any indication of a cancellation, I have been leaning more toward renewal of late. I do believe that next season will almost certainly be its last and that MMW is the most likely show to carry on the Avengers franchise on television. Agents of SHIELD returns from its hiatus next Tuesday.
Absent from the announcement was Agent Carter and Galavant, but that’s not surprising. Agent Carter is barely hanging on at the moment and Haley Atwell has been cast in an upcoming ABC pilot. And I would say there is a very good chance that Marvel’s Most Wanted will get the timeshare slot with AoS next season currently held by Agent Carter. Galavant is a complete wildcard. Everybody thought it would be cancelled last season and it wasn’t, so maybe it lives the charmed life again, though I have a hard time seeing that considering that it is pulling historically low ratings for a Big Four broadcast network show.
Expect even more announcements over the coming weeks and months as we approach the May Upfronts where the networks present their schedules for the 2016-17 season (you can see the timing of those at this link). And keep a close eye on this site and the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site for updates and breaking announcements.