According to TVLine, more than 90+ shows were cancelled in 2021, which feels like a lot of TV tossed in the bin. Their list didn’t include shows that were cancelled in 2021 but which had episodes come out in 2020. 2020 had its share of painful cancellations, too; I remember GLOW’s un-renewal as particularly painful. Here are 6 TV casualties of the past year, in order of when they concluded their run.
1. American Gods (Starz)
It felt like American Gods was constantly on the verge of being one of the TV casualties of the entire span of its run, but it finally ended this year, after three seasons and twenty-six episodes. Its run was filled with controversy, from creators Bryan Fuller and Michael Green’s departures at the start of season two, to changing showrunners multiple times over the next two seasons. A fourth season had been planned, but it was cancelled in January 2021. Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods, the series aired from 2017-2021. Another notable controversy came when Orlando Jones was fired because his character Mr. Nancy sent the wrong message to “black America,” according to the show’s final showrunner, Charles “Chic” Eglee, who is white. Jones was furious, which seems understandable. American Gods will probably still be missed by the audience who remained throughout its run, but maybe its cancellation isn’t a terrible thing.
2. The Irregulars (Netflix)
The Irregulars is one of Netflix’s shows, or rather, it was. Using the past tense for Netflix shows which had potential is unfortunately becoming a regular occurrence, these days. The Beat’s own Avery Kaplan enjoyed the series, and it actually beat out The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in streaming ratings at one point. I vaguely remember it being fairly popular on Tumblr for a period of time, and it was renewed for a second season, and it was about to start shooting this summer when Netflix cancelled it in May. Netflix really does seem to have a problem, and let’s all hope they figure out the solution, soon. They probably won’t, but hey, that never stopped me from hoping. That, or they’ll keep racking up a list of TV casualties that rivals the networks’ trigger-happy use of their own cancellation buttons.
3. Wynonna Earp (Sy-Fy)
Look. I’m not gonna pretend that I’m not happy about Wynonna Earp finally ending. It easily had one of the most…well, let’s say vocal fandoms in, perhaps, television history, often reaching the Twitter trending page with #BringWynonnaHome, and they’d spam the mentions of any article that even mentioned the show. They might even spam this one. There’s no doubting it was a good show; it reached multiple best-of lists in its early seasons, and the veracity of the fandom clearly speaks to its good qualities, but this show might be an example of the fandom becoming so irritating that the show becomes irritating, unfairly or not. It’s not just this show which counts in that category for me; people will probably call for my head, but Hannibal is one of those shows, too. It already got renewed for an unlikely fourth season, and I’ll just say this: yes, while The Expanse is another Sy-Fy show which got un-cancelled by getting “saved” by a bigger fish, in their case, Amazon, the fans have been relatively calm about the fact that it’s ending with the sixth season. Maybe it’s just because the writers and producers of that show have said it might come back in some other form, or maybe it’s because the fans have accepted that one un-cancellation is one more than most genre shows get. This is one of the TV casualties I’m not exactly grieved over.
4. Jupiter’s Legacy (Netflix)
Speaking of TV casualties I’m not sad over, I got the pleasure—hah—of reviewing Jupiter’s Legacy for The Beat, which was supposed to be the start of bigger things for the Millarworld franchise that Netflix was starting. Somehow, I think that might be put on hold, because this thing bombed among critics, and possibly viewers, getting cancelled by Netflix in June, which, for context, is a month after it premiered! That’s gotta be some kind of record. It also cost more to make than the entirety of sense8, a Netflix genre show which was actually, y’know, good. Somehow, I’m guessing this actually won’t make fandom’s list of things they’re sad about at the end of this year; but it’s a worthy inclusion if only to show the hubris of the people who make television.
5. Castlevania (Netflix)
I’m not going to speculate that Castlevania proper ended after four seasons because Warren Ellis is allegedly a creep. Well, I guess I just did. But with the news shortly after the show’s final episodes released that Castlevania would be continuing on in a spin-off series, without Ellis’s involvement, well… And I’m happy this isn’t the end of the franchise, for sure! I’ve always thought of the now-original Castlevania very fondly, and I’m sure the sequel show will capture my attention, too. The show actually got a pretty good, conclusive ending, and I while I would’ve loved more Sypha, Trevor, and Alucard, as well as two surprise returning characters, I’ll live with it being one of 2021’s TV casualties.
6. Conan (TBS)
Okay, this is mostly on the list for me. Conan’s ending marks the end of an era for me. Conan aired alongside shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, and while Conan O’Brien isn’t going anywhere, his departure from airing daily episodes does feel like some kind of vacuum space has opened up. As Conan ran from 2010-2021, the late night world changed around him, but O’Brien himself did not change much. David Letterman retired, Jon Stewart retired, Craig Ferguson retired, Jay Leno retired, Stephen Colbert got the Late Show mantle, Jimmy Fallon took Leno’s seat at The Tonight Show, James Corden got The Late Late Show…but Conan remained stalwart. I’m not going to pretend I watched every single episode from 2010-2021, but I enjoyed watching some of them, and I certainly enjoyed watching highlights. Late night fandom, and yes, that was a niche fandom, mostly died out as people like Fallon and Corden rose to prominence, and as Colbert grew more repetitive—I love him, but… I’m not sure how fandom would’ve reacted to O’Brien leaving the daily format—he will now have a weekly variety show—but I know I’m sad to see him go.
So there you go: 6 TV casualties of 2021, all in a row. Obviously, I couldn’t include every casualty on this list, as there were over 90. But I’ve always felt it’s interesting to plot the course of TV history by the shows that left, either too soon or well into their runs. Here’s to a new year, of renewals…and cancellations.