Why Was Farscape Cancelled?

By | January 18, 2018

Looking back on cancellations from the years past.

Farscape arrived on the scene in 1999 when Star Trek: DS9 was just wrapping up and Star Trek: Voyager was well into its seven year run (and Enterprise was only a few years away). So grand space dramas were not uncommon on television at that time, though this new series offered a very different take than that delivered by the Trek spin-offs. Following the adventures of Earth astronaut John Crichton who gets launched across the universe by a wormhole, this series combined science fiction and fantasy and was populated with a myriad of alien races, many of which were brought to life by the Jim Hensen Creature shop. It was created by Rockne S. O’Bannon (Alien Nation, seaQuest DSV) and produced be the Jim Hensen Company with Brian Hensen (Jim’s son and torchbearer) closely involved. The series debuted on the Sci Fi Channel to much acclaim and aired there for three seasons before it started to run into some trouble.

Work on a fourth season of the show had already begun, but Sci Fi had lost faith in Farscape due to declining ratings in its third year and its high production costs (according to IMDb.com, the series cost $2 million per episode to produce which was very high for a cable series at that time). The network was already committed to airing the fourth season, but word broke that it had cancelled the show before the season began and would not continue it to the planned fifth year (which would leave the audience with a very big cliffhanger). The show had a very loyal following, though, and fans immediately put out a call to action to save the series.

They mounted a campaign that launched letters, phone calls, and emails at the network demanding that they reverse their cancellation decision. The comic strip Fox Trot even jumped in as uber-geek Jason Fox directed his ire at the Sci Fi Channel and petitioned for them to change their mind. The campaign brought significant attention to the show and ultimately several European backers agreed to help with the finances which allowed the Jim Henson Company to produce the mini-series Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars which resolved many of the storylines from the series. Fans were still miffed at the network that it did not deliver a full fifth season, but at least the mini-series wrap up left them with some semblance of resolution. Those lobbying for the recently cancelled Dark Matter should definitely take Farscape as an example of what strong fan support can accomplish and should continue in their efforts to get a resolution for that truncated series.

The story of Farscape continued on in comics with multiple series running through 2010. There have also been talks of a revival of the TV show with plans for a web-series that never did surface and more recently talks of a movie that appears to be on a very slow track if it has not stalled completely. But the original show is much beloved and well-respected for what it accomplished and it is often ranked among the top ten to twenty of all-time great sci fi shows.

Aired: 1999-2003, 4 Seasons Totaling 88 Episodes + 2-Part Mini-Series

Created By: Rockne S. O’Bannon, Brian Hensen

Starring: Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Virginia Hey, Anthony Simcoe, Gigi Edgley

From Amazon.com:

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