In the end, not only did Sean not save the world, he couldn’t even save himself.
Over the course of 13 episodes, Sean Saves the World averaged 3.34 million viewers and a meager 1.0 rating in the adults 18-49 demo. After leading into the similarly underwhelming 9:30 p.m. effort The Michael J. Fox Show for 12 weeks, Sean on Jan. 23 switched places with its fellow freshman comedy. That didn’t do the trick—per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the latest installment drew a series-low 2.58 million viewers and a 0.7 rating.
The writing was on the wall for Sean as far back as Nov. 8 when NBC ordered five new episodes instead of making the customary back-nine commitment. But with just a handful of shows left to shoot and after what appeared to be a measured endorsement from NBC entertainment president Bob Greenblatt, the cast and crew seemed taken aback by the cancelation.
Series star Sean Hayes took to Twitter to thank his fellow actors, the crew and NBC for the opportunity to do the show, noting that he had “never laughed harder” while working on a series. He also joked about how he was “looking forward to [President] Obama’s minimum wage increase to $10/hr.”
Hayes became a household name (and one of NBC’s favorite sons) as part of the 1998-2006 ensemble comedy Will & Grace. At its peak, the show averaged a staggering 17.3 million viewers and a 9.4 in the demo as part of NBC’s 2000-01 “Must-See TV” roster.
Samantha Isler, the actress who played Hayes’ teenage daughter Ellie, confirmed that the show had been canceled in a tweet of her own.
Speaking a week ago at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, Greenblatt said that NBC was disappointed by the performance of Sean and TMJFS, which were in-house favorites heading into the 2013-14 broadcast season.
“We think they’re good shows,” Greenblatt said, before acknowledging that neither was carrying its weight on Thursday night. “We’re really unhappy that we can’t find an audience for them in those time periods. … We’re still going to work hard to see what we can do on Thursday nights, but it’s a real uphill battle”
Preempted this week by a Saturday Night Live special, Sean wasn’t expected to return to the Thursday night lineup until at least after the Winter Olympics. With the cancelation, four episodes of the 18 ordered will remain unproduced.
Sean joins the short-lived Welcome to the Family on the list of NBC’s doomed Thursday night comedies. Pulled after just three broadcasts, the teen pregnancy comedy averaged 2.63 million viewers and an 0.9 in the dollar demo.
News of the cancelation came just hours after NBCUniversal parent company Comcast announced that the broadcast network had boosted its fourth-quarter revenue 12 percent to $2.23 billion. (It also arrived as the NFL prepares to announce which network will host the new Thursday night game package. A win by NBC would go a long way toward alleviating its weekly bout of agita.)
It is unclear what will replace Sean in the 9:30 p.m. slot, although it’s possible that NBC may choose to burn off the seven remaining TMJFS installments by airing at least a few back-to-back episodes. Through 15 episodes, TMJFS is averaging 3.77 million viewers and a 1.2 in the 18-49 demo.
The next two new comedies set to launch are Tuesday night efforts; About a Boy and Growing Up Fisher bow Feb. 25. The Chris D’Elia comedy Undateable as yet has not been given an official premiere date.