Cancellation Watch: Agents of SHIELD, Timeless and 4 Other Shows in Danger of Cancellation

By | December 24, 2016

The fall season is pretty much done at this point as most shows are either on their Winter breaks or have wrapped up for the year. Several of the sci fi and fantasy entries out there have managed to do okay ratings-wise, such as WestworldAmerican Horror Story and even The Walking Dead (despite the fact that its numbers are down).

But quite a number are struggling as peak TV (up to 455 scripted shows this year) continues to fracture the viewing audience. Here are six genre shows that I have identified as facing the biggest threat of cancellation along with my thoughts on their chances of escaping the Network Executioner (and be sure to keep up with the renewal / cancellation prospects of all the current sci fi and fantasy shows over at

1. Agents of SHIELD

Can Ghost Rider summon up enough hell-fury to save 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

Network – ABC

Status – Cancellation Likely

This spin-off from the Avengers movies has been on the low side ratings-wise for ABC since its second season. Perhaps the only reason it has managed to survive this long is that Disney wants to keep a tie-in to its Marvel movies on a network it owns. But The Inhumans is set to hit the schedule next fall and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will have enough episodes at the end of its current season for an encore run in the syndication market (where shows really start to turn a profit). With AoS currently as one of ABC’s lowest rated hour-long dramas, I’m thinking that its mission will end once the 2016-17 season wraps up.

Could Survive If: ABC decides to go for that cross-over boost that has been a boon for The CW’s superhero shows and ties it in with the new Inhumans series. Another season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is just padding to the syndication package and the network will make its money back in the long run. But then The Inhumans is not considered a spin-off from AoS as it will focus on the “royal family” and it will also get a boost of its own with its first two episodes debuting in IMAX theaters over Labor Day weekend. So consider a fifth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a longshot.

2. The Exorcist

Will 'The Exorcist' have to make a deal with the devil to get a second season?

Network – FOX

Status – Cancellation Likely

This sequel series to the infamous 1973 horror film was heavily handicapped by its own network which scheduled it on low-viewership Fridays. Apparently FOX execs thought that name recognition would draw viewers to that night, but it didn’t happen and the network made no attempt to shift the show’s timeslot despite that fact that it has been well-received by critics. This is currently FOX’s second lowest rated show and the delayed viewing is not enough get it back in contention (and despite the lip-service, the broadcast nets do not give much weight to those numbers anyway). This show had its season finale this last Friday which will likely also turn out to be its series finale.

Could Survive If: FOX decides to give it the chance it deserves. This show has received good marks from critics and the poor scheduling has been the biggest hurdle it has faced. This one was always planned to have only ten episodes in its first season, so another ten for a second year with better scheduling could prove to be a decent bet, especially considering the good word-of-mouth it has received and the fact that FOX is struggling overall this year. Or perhaps they could move it over to FX and pair it up with American Horror Story. I don’t believe that either of those scenarios will play out, but FOX should not just quickly discard a well-liked show when they are already struggling mightily in the face of peak TV.

3. Scream Queens

Can 'Scream Queens' holler up another season on FOX?

Network – FOX

Status – Cancellation Likely

This season-long anthology series is another FOX entry and it is currently that network’s lowest rated show. Its numbers were pretty low in its first year as well, but the network cited delayed viewing and “stickiness” in the social networks as the reason they brought it back. I’m dubious about that, though, and believe the real reason it got the second season nod was to keep creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk (of American Horror Story fame) happy. But based on where its numbers stand now and the fact that it is no longer seeing decent delayed viewing gains or getting much buzz on the social nets, I’m thinking it has had its last scream.

Could Survive If: FOX decides it wants something to plug up an hour on low-viewership Fridays and plans on eventually tacking Scream Queens onto the American Horror Story syndication package. I’m thinking that the latter scenario is going to happen anyway, but I don’t like this show’s chances of coming back for a third season unless FOX wants to chase the long-term money from syndication returns.

4. Falling Water

Is 'Falling Water' about to go over the edge?

Network – USA

Status- Cancellation Likely

This supernatural drama bowed on USA this fall with pretty low linear ratings and has not seen much in the way of delayed viewing gains (those matter more to the cable channels than the broadcast nets). Its numbers have been about half of what Colony and Mr. Robot have seen in 2016 on the same network, suggesting that it could become yet another one-season-and-done casualty of the peak TV era.

Could Survive If: It has significant international partnerships and/or financing backing it. BBC America’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency has pulled even lower numbers than Falling Water this fall, but it was renewed on the strength of the network’s partnership with Netflix (the streaming service has the distribution rights outside of the U.S. and Canada). I’m not aware of a similar situation for Falling Water, but if it does have something like that in its back pocket, it could survive into a second season. Update: Apparently this show has entered into a streaming deal with Amazon and Deadline Hollywoodbelieves that might be enough to earn it a second season.

5. Frequency

The CW could be losing the 'Frequency'

Network – The CW

Status – Cancellation Likely

This (sort of) time travel series based on the 2000 movie of the same name has pulled numbers that are low even for the fifth place network, and it hasn’t been able to make up much slack with delayed viewing. It also typically loses over half of its lead-in audience from Arrow each week. The network recently announced that the show would not receive the typical “Back 9” episode pick-up for its first season, capping it at thirteen. So at this point, it appears that The CW is tuning this show out.

Could Survive If: The CW decides to give another blanket renewal announcement for all its Fall shows, though that seems unlikely considering it has several that are severely under-performing and it has a lot of development in the pipeline. The other chance this show has comes from the partnership The CW has with Netflix. Frequencywill become available for streaming on that service in February, just after it wraps up its first season. If it manages to find a bigger audience there, then it might still survive into a second season.

6. Timeless

NBC's 'Timeless' could be running out of . . . well, you know.

Network – NBC

Status – On the Bubble

This time travel series from Supernatural creator Eric Kripke started out the season in the high-profile Monday night timeslot immediately after that network’s hit singing competition The Voice, but its ratings have not met up to expectations. After a decent debut, its numbers have slipped below the network average for the season and it has been losing half or more of its lead-in audience for over a month. To make matters worse, a preview episode of NBC’s new gameshow The Wall aired in the Monday timeslot after Timeless went on its winter hiatus with a weaker lead-in (a special two-hour ep of American’s Got Talent) and posted the highest ratings for that hour since the Timelessdebut. Don’t be surprised if the time travel show gets booted to a different night and the gameshow takes over the Monday lead-out hour.

Could Survive If: Its numbers improve when it returns from hiatus. The show doesn’t count as a flop, but it is definitely slacking, especially considering the strong lead-in it has. Those numbers need to turnaround quickly when this show returns, otherwise time will run out pretty quickly.

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