Cops TV series canceled after 31 years in wake of protests
Cops has been canceled.
Paramount Network has decided to dump the long-running true-crime reality TV series.
Cops was already pulled from the cable channel after nationwide protests of police brutality and racism following the death of George Floyd on May 25.
Now the network confirms the series has been permanently shelved. "Cops is not on the Paramount Network and we don’t have any current or future plans for it to return," a network spokesperson said.
Cops was headed into its 33rd season and has aired more than 1,100 episodes. The series premiered in 1989 and ran for 25 seasons on Fox.
In 2013, Fox canceled the show and cable network Spike TV picked it back up. In 2017, the show celebrated its 1,000th episode with a live special hosted by Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Terry Crews. In 2018, Spike TV was rebranded as Paramount Network.
Cops has also been controversial for decades. A study in 1994 found viewers were far more likely to associate black and brown people than whites with violent crime. Two separate studies in 2004 concluded that the show was racially skewed and could be used to justify racial profiling. In a 2018 interview, co-creators John and Morgan Langley said that they long ago adjusted the show to include a racially diverse mix of cops and perpetrators in response to the criticisms.
Civil rights advocacy organization Color of Change, a longtime critic of the series, helped lead the charge against Cops in 2013 when Fox canceled the series. The group says they spoke with Paramount Network owner Viacom earlier this week about canceling the show "permanently."
"For more than 30 years, Cops has miseducated the public and normalized injustice," said Arisha Hatch, vice president of Color Of Change, in a statement provided to EW. "Crime television encourages the public to accept the norms of over-policing and excessive force and reject reform, while supporting the exact behavior that destroys the lives of Black people. Cops led the way, pushing troubling implications for generations of viewers. Now it’s time for other networks to cancel similarly harmful shows. We call on A&E to cancel Live PD next. In a moment when everyone wants to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, we must hold these companies accountable to put actions to words with a complete industry overhaul."
Live PD is a successor of sorts to Cops and has a somewhat similar format. The show, launched in 2016, jumps between real-time police on patrol in various cities and is hosted by ABC News legal affairs chief Dan Abrams. The show is typically the top-rated cable series on Friday and Saturday nights, with one episode last summer delivering a series-high 2.4 million viewers. Just last month, A&E renewed the series for 160 additional episodes. According to THR, A&E pulled last week's episodes of Live PD. Sources say Live PD is very unlikely to air as originally scheduled this weekend but the show is currently expected to return at some point.