Why Was Stargate: Universe Cancelled?

By | December 14, 2017

Looking back on cancellations from the years past.

Stargate: Universe debuted on Syfy in 2009 and focused on a group of military and civilian personnel that find themselves trapped aboard an ancient spaceship, known as the Destiny, hurtling beyond their control billions of light years from Earth.  It was the third live-action entry in the popular Stargate franchise and 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 creators 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 with a heavier story-arc 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 (but which ultimately drove away much of the sci fi community from the network). Thus, SGU’s disappointing ratings plus the fact that it did not fit in well with the 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 also 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 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.

The show did receive a fair amount criticism early on, but 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.  And interestingly enough there may be an opportunity for fans to convince MGM to return to the Destiny and provide some resolution or perhaps continue the story.  The studio has started up the Stargate Command streaming service which is all Stargate all the time (it costs $20 per year).  It has the complete run of the three live-action shows, and the upcoming mini-series Stargate: Origins will stream there as well.  In order to keep subscribers coming back, I assume they will be considering additional new productions, and a SGU movie or perhaps series continuation might fit into those plans.  I have heard nothing along those lines at this point, but fans should definitely try lobbying Stargate Command and MGM to at least do a movie that would provide some resolution to the show’s cliffhanger.  The streaming service launched this year, and they will likely be doing a big push when Origins is ready for its debut, so now might be the perfect time for SGU fans to start up a campaign (focusing on social media as well as those DVD/download purchases) that will return us to the Destiny for at least one more voyage.

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:

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