Cancelled Too Soon: The Lone Gunmen (2000)

By | October 28, 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.

the-lone-gunmenFOX knew that The X-Files would have to come to an end at some point (it was in its eighth year during the 2000-01 season) and decided to keep the franchise alive on television by giving conspiracy chasers The Lone Gunmen their own series. Chris Carter was onboard the spin-off as well as other vets from the original show like Vince Gilligan and Frank Spotnitz. And The Lone Gunmen debuted to good ratings (and decent reviews from critics) when it premiered mid-season in the X-Files’ Sunday 9 PM EST timeslot. But when it got shuffled to the Friday 9 PM EST hour (where the parent series got its start), its numbers dropped significantly as did the confidence that FOX execs had in its ability to carry the torch for the franchise. Of course, by this point FOX had grown to become one of the “Big Four” broadcast networks as opposed to being the struggling new guy it was back in 1993 when The X-Files debuted.  Network execs could not see their way to giving The Lone Gunmen a chance to prove itself like FOX had done with the parent show when it was a low-rated cult series in its first season.  True, the quality of TLG‘s first season was a bit choppy, and probably could have used a straight-man to counter balance the antics of the show’s three rather out-there leads.  But The X-Files had its struggles early on as well.  Another season might have given TLG the time to work out its kinks and also find its own voice apart from the parent series.  But FOX was too focused on the short-term numbers at that point and would not give the show more time or a better timeslot to prove itself.  The Lone Gunmen was fun while it lasted, though may not have been the best candidate for a long-running series.  But it was also denied the chance prove if that was true, which may have been part of the conspiracy all along . . .

Aired: FOX, 2001, 1 Season Totaling 13 Episodes

Created By: Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz

Starring: Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood, Dean Haglund, Zuleikha Robinson

Buy The Lone Gunmen and The X-Files on DVD from

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