The biggest TV shows cancelled in 2020

Abby Robinson
·21-min read
Photo credit: Showtime/Digital Spy/ST - Netflix
Photo credit: Showtime/Digital Spy/ST - Netflix

From Digital Spy

As we approach the end of the year, the following shows have all had their fates revealed in 2020... and it's not good news.

From The Crown to Ray Donovan, here's a rundown of the biggest TV cancellations that have made headlines in 2020.

Lucifer – six seasons

Photo credit: John P. Fleenor/Netflix
Photo credit: John P. Fleenor/Netflix

There was a time when Lucifer fans didn't have the foggiest what was going on.

The series, which follows the titular fallen angel after he leaves Hell for LA, where he runs a nightclub and consults for the LAPD, was initially cancelled by Fox.

But Netflix saved the day, swooping in and picking it up for a fourth season.

Then it looked like season five was going to be the last chapter, before season six was announced. Then there was uncertainty over Tom Ellis's contract, before the show lead and the streaming giant were finally able to come to an agreement.

Still following?

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

But now we finally have confirmation that season six will, indeed, be the final outing.

"The devil made us do it. #Lucifer will return for a sixth and final season. Like, FINAL final," said the tweet.

No official reason has been given as to why it's wrapping up, but it's never felt like a 15-season show to us.

The Crown – six seasons

Photo credit: Sophie Mutevelian / Netflix
Photo credit: Sophie Mutevelian / Netflix

Back in January 2020, Netflix announced that The Crown would be ending (they're adamant that it's not a cancellation, but an ending) with season five and not six, as many had expected. (Hold that thought.)

"At the outset I had imagined The Crown running for six seasons but now that we have begun work on the stories for season five it has become clear to me that this is the perfect time and place to stop," said showrunner Peter Morgan in a statement.

"I'm grateful to Netflix and Sony for supporting me in this decision."

Photo credit: Sophie Mutevelian - Netflix
Photo credit: Sophie Mutevelian - Netflix

As for why that decision was made, Morgan had previously spoken about not wanting to cover the royal family's more recent history.

"I feel uncomfortable writing about events within a certain time period," he told Entertainment Weekly at the beginning of January 2020.

"I think there's a certain amount of time within which, if you write about it, what you do instantly becomes journalistic because it's too close to the moment.

"If you wait a certain amount of time, if you allow fifteen or twenty years, basically a generation, between you and [the events] then you can write about it somewhat freely as drama."

Photo credit: Des Willie - Netflix
Photo credit: Des Willie - Netflix

But it was later confirmed by Netflix that season six is happening after all.

"News from the palace: we can confirm there will be a sixth (and final) season of @TheCrownNetflix, in addition to the previously announced five!" said the streamer on Twitter.

That will give the newly-cast Imelda Staunton (Queen Liz) and Lesley Manville (Margaret) an extra season to shine.

"As we started to discuss the storylines for series five, it soon became clear that in order to do justice to the richness and complexity of the story we should go back to the original plan and do six seasons," said Morgan (via Deadline).

But that Meghan Markle storyline you're all desperately hoping for still isn't on the cards.

"To be clear, series six will not bring us any closer to present-day — it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail," added Morgan.

The Walking Dead - 11 seasons

Photo credit: AMC
Photo credit: AMC

AMC's The Walking Dead, now ten seasons in, will wrap up for good with season number eleven.

The first half will air in 2021, and the second in 2022.

The ratings have continued to drop over the course of the series, which is based on Robert Kirkman's comic series of the same name, set during a zombie apocalypse. Fans and critics alike have been less than impressed with later seasons, so it's hardly a surprise that it's approaching the home stretch.

But a Daryl and Carol spin-off is in the works, as well as Tales of the Walking Dead, an anthology series.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians - 20 seasons

Photo credit: NBC Universal
Photo credit: NBC Universal

Keeping Up with the Kardashians will be ending after season 20, set to air in 2021.

It wasn't revealed why the reality show, which hones in on US media personality Kim Kardashian West and her family, is drawing to a close. But given that the clan are going to be starring in a new series on Hulu in the US and Star internationally after signing a deal reportedly worth $150 million (£113 million), you get the picture.

Altered Carbon - two seasons

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Netflix series Altered Carbon, which is based on the work of Richard K Morgan, is set in a world where consciousness can be distilled into different bodies, meaning the possibilities are endless.

It has reached the end of its journey after two seasons, and while the streaming giant didn't reveal why it had terminated its run, it doesn't take a genius to work it out.

The series is an extremely expensive one to make – some reports previously put it at $7 million per episode, a number which will have increased over time. And clearly the ratings, while not made public, were not a big enough pull to keep Netflix on side.

The Society - one season

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Twitter erupted when news of The Society's cancellation hit headlines.

Not only did the show, which follows a group of teens who end up stranded up in an alternate reality which looks exactly like their hometown, bow out after one season after originally being renewed for a second season, but multiple questions were also left unanswered, which added insult to injury.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix said that Covid was the driving factor: "We're disappointed to have to make these decisions due to circumstances created by COVID."

Chatting to Variety, showrunner Chris Keyser said that it was "extremely upsetting", but he did say that he wasn't surprised, adding: "I know we had many months of conversations about the challenges of producing in this environment."

I Am Not Okay With This - one season

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Netflix's I Am Not Okay with This was also canned at the same time as The Society, with the pandemic once again cited as the reason.

The show stars IT's Sophia Lillis as Sydney, a young girl mourning the death of her dad, who discovers that she has superpowers. But despite a big ol' cliffhanger right at the end, it has reached the end of the road.

Glow - three seasons

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Critically-acclaimed Glow, which is loosely based on the real-life professional wrestling circuit, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, will not be returning for its previously announced fourth season because of... Covid.

The big C strikes again.

"COVID has killed actual humans," said series creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch (via Deadline). "It's a national tragedy and should be our focus. COVID also apparently took down our show.

"Netflix has decided not to finish filming the final season of GLOW. We were handed the creative freedom to make a complicated comedy about women and tell their stories. And wrestle. And now that's gone."

There's been talk of a movie to tie up all of the loose ends, but Netflix has yet to comment.

AJ and the Queen – one season

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

AJ and the Queen enjoyed just one season before Netflix pulled the plug.

RuPaul's comedy-drama, in which he also starred as Robert Lee / drag queen Ruby Red, will not be getting a second season – at least not on Netflix.

"End of the road for AJ and the Queen," he wrote on Twitter. "@Netflix has decided to not extend our road trip across America. Thank you for all the love & support. We're so very proud of the work."

Netflix hasn't revealed why the show has been cancelled, but our guess is disappointing viewing figures.

Cops - 32 seasons

Photo credit: Paramount Network
Photo credit: Paramount Network

US reality-documentary series Cops, which follows police officers and county sheriff's deputies on patrol, has been cancelled after 32 seasons. The decision came as a result of global conversations about race and how the police treat Black people following the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of white police officer Derek Chauvin.

It has long been accused of glorifying police brutality.

"Cops is not on the Paramount Network and we don't have any current or future plans for it to return," a spokesperson told the The Hollywood Reporter.

A&E's Live PD, which also follows police officers on patrol, has also been canned after four seasons.

"This is a critical time in our nation's history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD," said the network in a statement (via Variety).

"Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them."

Better Call Saul - six seasons

Photo credit: AMC
Photo credit: AMC

It was announced back in January this year that Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul would be concluding with season six.

The AMC series, which is essentially a Saul origin story, charting the journey that led Jimmy McGill to become the titular character, has consistently received rave reviews and has long been spoken about in the same breath as its predecessor.

So why, you ask, is creator Vince Gilligan stopping after the sixth instalment?

You'll be pleased to hear that there's no drama afoot. He's simply reached the end of the line.

"From day one of Better Call Saul, my dream was to tell the complete story of our complicated and compromised hero, Jimmy McGill – now AMC and Sony are making that dream come true," said the prequel's showrunner Peter Gould.

"We couldn't be more grateful to the fans and critics who are making this journey possible. Next month, we start work on the sixth and final season – we're going to do our damnedest to stick the landing."

Katy Keene - one season

Photo credit: James Devaney - Getty Images
Photo credit: James Devaney - Getty Images

Riverdale spin-off Katy Keene lasted just one season.

The CW show, which starred Lucy Hale as the titular character, an aspiring fashion designer trying to make it in New York City, suffered from poor ratings, which ultimately made the decision for the broadcaster.

Teenage Bounty Hunters - one season

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Netflix's Teenage Bounty Hunters followed twin sisters Blair and Sterling who unexpectedly become bounty hunters, all while trying to navigate the trials and religions of their uber religious school.

One season is all it'll be getting, and with the news breaking in August, there's a possibility that it could have had something to do with the pandemic.

One Day at a Time - four seasons

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

After it was saved by Pop TV following its Netflix cancellation, enabling the show to run for a fourth season, One Day at a Time, which centres on Cuban-American family the Alvarez-Rieras, has been axed again.

Covid cut the latest season short, forcing its creators to wrap up with an animated special serving. But ViacomCBS has decided not to order more episodes.

The show is now being shopped to other broadcasters.

Queen Sono - one season

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

It's just the one season for Netflix's Queen Sono, which stars Pearl Thusi as the eponymous South African spy.

"We've made the difficult decision not to move forward with season two," said the company in a statement.

No more detail was given, but series creator Kagiso Lediga said in a statement that "unfortunately [the show] could not be executed in these current trying times", which suggests that the pandemic is to blame.

V Wars - one season

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

"I would love to come back and reprise the role," said Ian Somerhalder when asked if he’d be game for a second season of Netflix's V Wars. But he didn't get his wish.

The sci-fi horror, which revolved around the war between humans and vampires following the outbreak of a biological infectious agent, was cancelled after just one season.

We weren't given the official line as to why, but the reviews were largely negative, which may well have put people off tuning in. And as we all know, ratings are king.

But Somerhalder is said to be in talks with Netflix about other potential projects, so watch this space.

High Fidelity - one season

Photo credit: Hulu
Photo credit: Hulu

Already a film adapted from Nick Hornby's novel of the same name, Hulu's gender-flipped version stars Zoë Kravitz as Rob, the owner of a record store with a number of disastrous relationships to her name.

Its Rotten Tomatoes rating is pretty solid, but our bet is it didn't set the world alight in the ratings department.

Replying to actor Tessa Thompson on Instagram after she shared her disappointment following the news, Kravitz wrote: "It's cool. At least Hulu has a ton of other shows starring women of colour we can watch. Oh wait."

Away - one season

Photo credit: DIYAH PERA - Netflix
Photo credit: DIYAH PERA - Netflix

Away will not be returning to Netflix for a second season.

The show, in which Hilary Swank starred as an astronaut heading up a mission to Mars, "performed solidly for Netflix in the United States", according to The Hollywood Reporter. But only Netflix knows the full scope of its ratings, and we're guessing it didn't achieve what was hoped.

Plus, this will have been a pricy show to make, which can count against creatives when these conversations are being had.

Castle Rock - two seasons

Photo credit: Hulu - YouTube
Photo credit: Hulu - YouTube

Castle Rock, the Hulu drama anthology series inspired by a number of Stephen King novels including Misery and Shawshank Redemption, will not be getting a third season.

According to Deadline, "the decision to end the series after two seasons was made a while ago". That could potentially be linked to the fact that Warner Bros TV, one of the production companies behind Castle Rock, has "focused its attention to supplying recently launched sibling HBO Max", and there are "no plans" for the show to live on that platform.

Insatiable – two seasons

Photo credit: Tina Rowden/Netflix
Photo credit: Tina Rowden/Netflix

Netflix's Insatiable will not be back for season three.

The announcement didn't come from the streaming platform, but Alyssa Milano (Coralee Armstrong), who was asked by a fan on Twitter about the future of her character.

"We will not be coming back, sadly," she wrote.

It's hardly a surprise given the backlash directed at the controversial series.

The narrative follows Patty (Debby Ryan), a teenager who is bullied at school about her weight. But a freak accident forces her onto a liquid diet and it doesn't take long for her to become half the size she was. That, in turn, makes her significantly more popular with her peers.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

"For so long, the narrative has told women and young impressionable girls that in order to be popular, have friends, to be desirable for the male gaze, and to some extent be a worthy human... that we must be thin," reads the Change.org petition.

"This series will cause eating disorders, and perpetuate the further objectification of women's bodies. The trailer has already triggered people with eating disorders."

Responding to the anger from viewers, Ryan said (via Vanity Fair): "I think the message is you don't have to polish things up all the time and look a certain way. We all have something that we want or try to be.

"As long as we are sincere and transparent, we can fuel our desires to succeed and lead to redemption and to make things right no matter how we look. That's one thing that I took away."

Milano added: "We are addressing [through comedy] the damage that occurs from fat shaming, I hope that clears it up."

Well, it doesn't matter now because it's a goner.

Turn Up Charlie - one season

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Idris Elba's Turn Up Charlie, which follows Elba as a DJ who somehow gets roped into being a nanny for his famous mate's daughter, has not been renewed for season two.

A Netflix spokesperson thanked all involved in a statement, but failed to offer up an explanation as to why it won't be returning.

With critics largely disappointed with what they saw, you don't have to be a genius to work out that there was very little desire from many for a follow-up.

Atypical – four seasons

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Netflix announced that Atypical's fourth season will be its last.

The show, which follows 18-year-old Sam Gardner who is on the autism spectrum, will bow out with a ten-episode run in 2021.

"I'm thrilled we'll be doing a season four of Atypical," said creator/executive producer Robia Rashid. "And while I'm so sad to be nearing the end of this series, I am extremely grateful to have been able to tell this story.

"Our fans have been such beautiful, vibrant supporters of this show. Thank you for being so open to Sam's voice and stories, and those of the entire Gardner family.

"It's my hope that the legacy of Atypical is that more unheard voices continue to be heard and that even after this series ends, we keep telling funny, emotional stories from underrepresented points of view."

The streaming giant hasn't explained why the series won't continue beyond season four.

Ray Donovan – seven seasons

Photo credit: Showtime
Photo credit: Showtime

Showtime confirmed that Ray Donovan would not be returning following the season seven finale on January 19.

"After seven incredible seasons, Ray Donovan has concluded its run," the network confirmed in a statement. "We are proud that the series ended amid such strong viewership and on such a powerful note."

Photo credit: Showtime
Photo credit: Showtime

Fans of the show were furious because season seven was, by no means, the intended ending. Showrunner David Hollander had one more season planned, something that he spoke about to Vulture.

"We had no indicator that the show was ending," he said. "We were behaving creatively as though we were in mid-sentence. And so, there was no sense that this was going to be a completion. This was in no way a series finale... this wasn't meant to be [the ending]. You could spin it one way and say that it's hard to satisfy an audience with a finale, not that I didn't want to try.

"I always want the opportunity to try. I just wish I had."

Showtime hasn't revealed why it decided to can Ray Donovan, but Hollander has his suspicions.

"The corporate elements of show business are complicated and often mired in things that will never be spoken out loud," he told Vulture. "I think the easiest external impact was the merger. Whatever new environment grew from the merger clearly had some impact on their choice."

Showtime is owned by CBS, and the company recently merged with Viacom to form ViacomCBS, a new company which is now worth around $30 billion.

Hollander's claim has not been verified by Showtime.

There's always a chance that another network will pick it up, and show lead Liev Schreiber sounded hopeful on Instagram: "Too soon to say how or when, but with a little luck and your ongoing support, there will be more Ray Donovan."

Utopia - one season

Photo credit: Amazon Prime
Photo credit: Amazon Prime

The Amazon remake of Channel 4's Utopia lasted just one season.

The plot revolves around a group people who are trying to stop the spread of a a virus, using a graphic novel, Utopia, to inform them. But their job is made increasingly more difficult when a deadly organisation sets its sights on hunting them down.

No official reason was offered, but the majority of critics were less than impressed with what they saw, which could well have translated into disappointing viewing figures.

And ratings, as we know, are king.

The Magicians – five seasons

Photo credit: SyFy
Photo credit: SyFy

The season five finale of Syfy's The Magicians will be the show's last.

"The Magicians has been a part of our Syfy family for five fantastic seasons," read the statement. "As we near the end of this journey, we want to thank John McNamara, Sera Gamble, Henry Alonso Myers, Lev Grossman, and our entire brilliant cast, crew, writers and directors for their beautiful creation.

"But most of all, we thank the fans for their tremendous support and passion. Because of you, magic will be in our hearts forever."

According to Deadline, its current ratings, while still "healthy", are half those it achieved for its first two seasons, and it's not a cheap show to make either.

Bosch – seven seasons

Photo credit: Amazon Prime
Photo credit: Amazon Prime

The good news: Amazon Prime Video's Bosch is getting a seventh season.

The bad news: it will be the show's last.

The show has currently aired five seasons to date, so there's another two to go before we say goodbye forever.

We'd expect both seasons six and seven to arrive around mid-April 2020 and 2021 respectively.

"I'm proud of what we have accomplished with Bosch and look forward to completing the story in season seven," said Michael Connelly, author of the books on which it's based, in a statement.

"It's bittersweet but all good things come to an end and I am happy that we will be able to go out the way we want to. This started seven years ago with showrunner Eric Overmyer and me writing the pilot. We plan to write the last episode together as well.

Photo credit: Amazon
Photo credit: Amazon

"We'll leave behind the longest-running show so far on Amazon and it will be there to be discovered by new viewers for as long as people are streaming. That is amazing to me.

"The other thing is that we would not have come all this way without Titus Welliver. There could not have been a better actor to play this role or a better team player to build this show around. He'll be Harry Bosch for the ages."

It's a blow for fans, but at least they'll get their ending, unlike Ray Donovan.

Amazon didn't reveal why the series is ending – there's a chance that Connelly has simply run out of steam or perhaps, as is so often the case, the ratings have been on the slide although, like we said, there are no clues out there.

Spinning Out - one season

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Netflix's Spinning Out will not be getting a second season.

The drama, which follows Kaya Scodelario as ice skater Kat Baker on a mission to perform at the Olympics despite the odds being stacked firmly against her, was canned by the streaming platform.

"Hey, everyone," wrote the writers on Twitter. "I'm sure you've seen the news – we've been cancelled.

"We're of course upset because we had so many stories to tell for our badass characters. Thank you so much for watching and being a part of our community. We truly appreciate each and every one of you."

Netflix didn't reveal why the show has not been renewed, but as Deadline pointed out, the company takes into account viewing figures, cost and awards recognition when deciding whether to press ahead with a title – so clearly it fell short in one of those areas.

Soundtrack - one season

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

Soundtrack was barely given a chance to get going. The musical drama, which centres on a group of people living in LA, was cancelled by Netflix after one season.

The show was originally going to air on Fox as Mixtape, but it moved to the streaming platform following a shake-up at the broadcaster.

Once again, this could be a case of low viewing figures, but without an official line from Netflix, we can only speculate.

Almost Family – one season

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

It didn't look likely that Fox drama Almost Family would make it to season two when the network took away its regular Wednesday slot and shifted it to Saturday. Its ratings were extremely disappointing and critics weren't loving it.

The narrative follows Brittany Snow as Julia Bechley, a woman who finds out that her dad, a fertility doctor, has used his sperm to impregnate multiple women without their permission.

The situation regarding the show then became significantly direr when Timothy Hutton, who played the father, was accused of raping Sera Dale Johnston when she was 14 years old.

Hutton has denied any wrongdoing. Fox has not commented on the allegation.

We'll add to this list throughout 2020, so make sure you bookmark this page to keep on top of all the major TV cancellations that are making headlines.

For more information on how you can support Black Lives Matter, please visit its official website or donate here. Readers can also donate to the UK anti-discrimination group Stand Up To Racism, and the Unite Families & Friends Campaign, which supports those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody.

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