Happy New Year, broadcast TV shows!
Too bad not all of you will be here to ring in 2016.
After a remarkably bloodless fall, expect some cancelation fireworks through the end of the season in May. Here is our updated Deathwatch guide to which shows are safe, which are endangered (either now or in May) and which are canceled — or in a few cases, sorta canceled, which has been a popular move for networks this season. For example: Some new shows like NBC’s Bad Judge and Constantine and Fox’s Red Band Society have seen their production prematurely halted, but they’re still under contract and network reps insist they still might eventually renew these titles for second seasons. But if their ratings aren’t high enough to earn a full season now, why risk doubling down with another season after a long hiatus? (It’s like a first date who concludes the evening by saying: I don’t really want to go out with you a second time, but maybe I’ll like you again six months from now.)
Below is our take on the primetime lineup, with reporting drawn from a combination of Nielsen ratings and conversations with network insiders. Color guide: Safe / Endangered / Canceled or Canceled-ish / Too Soon
America’s Funniest Home Videos: Even YouTube couldn’t kill it.
Black-ish: Super safe — fall’s top-rated new comedy with a 3.5 rating among adults 18-49.
Cristela: Snagged a full season, but it’s giving Friday hit Shark Tank a terrible lead-in and there’s nowhere on the schedule for it move from here.
Dancing with the Stars
Forever: Received a full season, but it can’t keep delivering numbers like this for– uh, for too much longer.
How to Get Away with Murder: ABC executives would love to sit around all day doing nothing but renewing Shonda Rhimes’ latest hit over and over again. No. 1 new show of the fall among adults 18-49 (4.4 rating including DVR).
Manhattan Love Story: First officially canceled series this season.
Last Man Standing: Keeps hanging on despite itself.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Somewhat modest ratings? Sure, but what other drama series can have stories blatantly promoting the network’s parent company’s movies on a regular basis — and viewers actually get excited when such marketing synergy happens? This win-win-win all-in-the-corporate-family venture isn’t going anywhere.
Nashville: Still singing a stronger tune than Revenge and Resurrection.
Once Upon a Time
Revenge: Might go into the ground this year.
Selfie: ABC swiped left.
Agent Carter (Jan. 6)
American Crime (March 5)
Fresh Off the Boat (Feb. 4)
Galavant (Jan. 4)
Secrets & Lies (March 1)
The Astronaut Wives Club
2 Broke Girls
The Amazing Race
The Big Bang Theory
Blue Bloods: Soft ratings, but making money in syndication for CBS’ sister studio (same with Hawaii Five-0).
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Likely safe despite its numbers this season; also, I would expect a show as important to the network’s history as CSI to get a “final season” heads-up send-off (even though its spin-offs NY and Miami did not).
Elementary: Doing Friday night-level ratings on Thursday night—not good. But CBS owns the show and it’s making a whopping $3 million per episode in syndication. So it doesn’t take Holmes to figure out CBS is motivated to keep this one. Still, I bet this show doesn’t stay on Thursdays.
The Good Wife: With its ratings, The Good Wife should be endangered, but CBS loves having a drama that critics and Emmy voters really like.
Hawaii Five-0: See Blue Bloods. And yet, can CBS really keep around all of its modestly rated syndicated piggie banks another year?
The McCarthys: Struggling freshman comedy received an order for just two more episodes—for a total of 15—instead of a full boat. Bad sign.
Madam Secretary: Not strong, but odds of reelection slightly favorable.
The Mentalist: Final season.
NCIS: Los Angeles
NCIS: New Orleans: Ranks as the most-watched new series in total audience (18.4 million viewers including DVR).
Person of Interest: Worrisome combo: Soft ratings and not owned by CBS.
Stalker: Performing better than other titles on CBS’ lineup, yet not owned by the network and all those protests over the show’s violence won’t help its odds (might not hurt — CBS typically shrugs off content criticism — but it won’t help).
Two and a Half Men: On final season.
Battle Creek (March 1)
CSI: Cyber (March 4)
Mike & Molly (Jan. 5)
The Odd Couple (Feb. 19)
Under the Dome
Bones: It’s like The Godfather Part II, where Fredo is safe as along as his mother is alive: Fox cannot afford to lose Bones until it has more hit dramas.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Did better than expected among the cartoon crowd on Sundays.
Gotham: Sorry haters, it’s one of the few new broadcast dramas certain to get a second season.
Gracepoint: Was never officially a series, but Fox would have given unlimited renewals to this “limited series” if it had been a breakout hit.
MasterChef Junior: One Fox’s couple fall bright spots performed surprisingly well after getting a battlefield promotion to Tuesday nights after Utopia collapsed.
The Mindy Project: Fox has ordered an extra six episodes this season; seems to keep surviving despite its numbers, and it’s tough to see that changing soon. Like with Bones, Fox can only cut so deep without some proven replacements on the bench (plus, critics and the network like this show).
Red Band Society: Not official but Fox’s sick kids drama has no pulse.
Sleepy Hollow: Fans are fretting about Hollow given those increasingly sleepy ratings, but, again, it’s not like Fox has a lot of options—and this one of the network’s few shows in recent years with any buzz.
American Idol (Jan. 7)
Backstrom (Jan. 22)
Empire (Jan. 7)
The Following (March 2)
Glee: Final season, 13 episodes
The Last Man on Earth (March 1)
Wayward Pines: Limited series (May 14)
Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
A to Z: NBC not currently planning to order more but not officially axed; all 13 episodes will air.
About a Boy
Bad Judge: Same as A to Z.
The Biggest Loser
Constantine: Proves not every comic book-inspired show is a hit. Not pulling its Grimm lead-in weight; no official decision, but will stop production for this season after 13 episodes.
Chicago Fire: Along with P.D., managed to surprise this fall (in a good way).
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Marry Me: Heavily aided by Voice lead-in, but received 5 extra episodes.
The Mysteries of Laura: Modest expectations in a troubled slot helped this panned freshman drama get a full ride, but Laura will likely have to fight for another season.
Parenthood: Final season, 13 episodes.
State of Affairs: Underperforming Blacklist in that prime Monday slot, recently fell through the floor without a Voice lead-in, and has yet to receive an order for more episodes. But State of Affairs didn’t launch until mid-November, going right into the viewer-distracted holidays, and fewer than half of its episodes have aired. So it’s not doing well, but it’s too early to really judge.
Allegiance (Feb. 5)
Hollywood Game Night
One Big Happy (March 17)
Odyssey: Limited series
Parks and Recreation: Final season starts Jan. 13
Undateable (March 17)
Welcome to Sweden
A.D.: Limited series (April 5)
American Ninja Warrior
America’s Got Talent
Aquarius: Limited series
Heroes: Reborn: Limited series
Last Comic Standing
The Night Shift (Feb. 23)
The Slap: Limited series
The 100: Since The CW’s schedule is so lean and the network doesn’t like to make a lot of changes midstream, its renewals tend to be pretty math-based — how many new shows are ordered in the spring tends to precisely determine how many shows return. So the fate of middling performers tend to twist in the wind until May when the network knows exactly how much shelf space will be available next season. I suspect this will be the case with The 100.
America’s Next Top Model: If somebody asks you at a party what is the lowest-rated show on broadcast TV, you now know what to say (also: you should be going to better parties). Top Model is averaging 0.5 in the demo with DVR and 1.5 million viewers, yet has already been renewed for a 22nd season.
The Flash: Premiere was CW’s most-watched telecast ever.
Jane the Virgin: Tied with Reign as the lowest-rated scripted broadcast show (a 0.7 rating among 18-49), but Jane is certain to get a second season thanks to its Golden Globe nominations, which put The CW into a big race for the first time.
Reign: Hey, Reign, where are your Golden Globe nominations? Still, a short-order 13-episode third-season pickup seems more likely than cancelation.
The Vampire Diaries
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Hart of Dixie (returns Jan. 9)
Beauty and the Beast