Broadcast's May upfronts are a bit like spring training for baseball: the upcoming TV season is full of possibilities, and every new show trotted out for the fall is a potential hit. But as the new season begins in September, reality harshly sets in, as at least one new show provides so radioactive to audiences and advertisers that it must be excised after as little as two or three episodes on the air. It took several weeks longer than usual, but this year’s first canceled series was finally determined tonight: ABC’s Wicked City is no more, lasting just three weeks in its 10 p.m. Tuesday time slot.
While less than half of all broadcast freshman shows make it to a second season (of the 11 new shows NBC debuted in 2014-15, only one—The Mysteries of Laura—was renewed), it takes a certain level of ineptitude to become the season’s first casualty. That was especially the case this season, as cancellation became such a dirty word that networks were content to keep airing shows that averaged as little as a 0.6 rating in adults 18-49. Four shows that normally would have been canceled by now—Fox’s Minority Report, ABC’s Blood and Oil and NBC’s The Player and Truth Be Told—were instead allowed to remain on the air, while their episode orders were reduced from 13 to 10 (9 for The Player).
But while networks and advertisers agreed that low-rated original shows were preferable to airing repeats, when Wicked City tumbled to an abysmal 0.4 rating in its third episode this week, ABC could no longer justify keeping it on the air. The network will air Shark Tank repeats in its place instead.
As Wicked City is added to TV's most infamous club, here’s a look back at the first prime-time shows to be canceled each fall since 2000. How many do you remember, and how many have you tried to forget?
2015 — Wicked City (ABC)
Canceled: Nov. 13, 2015 after three episodes
A serial killer (Ed Westwick) on L.A.’s Sunset Strip in 1982 forms a Bonnie and Clyde-like relationship with a fellow sociopath (Erika Christensen). But not even the show's impressive '80s soundtrack could convince bored audiences to stick around.
2014 — Manhattan Love Story (ABC)
Canceled: Oct. 24, 2014 after four episodes
Two unlikable New Yorkers (Analeigh Tipton and Jake McDorman) start a relationship, with voiceovers that reveal their innermost thoughts (spoiler: she like purses; he likes sex).
2013 — Lucky 7 (ABC)
Canceled: Oct. 4, 2013 after two episodes
This unlucky drama followed a group of Queens, N.Y., gas station employees who play the lottery every week—and finally hit it big.
2012— Made in Jersey (CBS)
Canceled: Oct. 10, 2012 after two episodes
A New Joisey born-and-bred first-year lawyer (Janet Montgomery) lands at—holy Snooki!—a posh New York firm.
2011 — The Playboy Club (NBC)
Canceled: Oct. 4, 2011 after three episodes
NBC's stab at Mad Men, about the employees of the original Chicago Playboy Club in 1961, proved that star Eddie Cibrian is no Jon Hamm.
2010 — Lone Star (Fox)
Canceled: Sept. 28, 2010 after two episodes
This critically acclaimed drama starred James Wolk as a Texas con man juggling two separate lives—and women.
2009 — The Beautiful Life (CW)
Canceled: Sept. 25, 2009 after two episodes
Mischa Barton and Elle Macpherson starred in an ugly drama (executive produced by Ashton Kutcher) about male and female models living in New York.
2008 — Do Not Disturb (Fox)
Canceled: Sept. 25, 2008 after three episodes
TV viewers heeded the title of this neglected sitcom about employees at a fading New York City hotel, which featured Jerry O’Connell and a pre-Modern Family Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
2007 — Online Nation (CW)
Canceled: Oct. 17, 2007 after four episodes
The reality series that showcased the Internet's most popular videos. In other words: YouTube.
2006 — Smith (CBS)
Canceled: Oct. 6, 2006 after three episodes
Ray Liotta led a team of thieves who pulled off elaborate heists around the world but couldn't steal an audience for this drama.
2005 — Head Cases (Fox)
Canceled: Sept. 22, 2005 after two episodes
Chris O'Donnell played an attorney who had a nervous breakdown and is rebuilding his career with help from another lawyer (Adam Goldberg) who has anger issues. Disbarred!
2004 — Hawaii (NBC)
Canceled: Oct. 19, 2004 after seven episodes
Hawaii Five-O minus the "Five-O" (and viewers), this drama focused on an elite group of detectives in the Honolulu Police Department.
2003 — Luis (Fox)
Canceled: Oct. 28, 2003 after five episodes
Luis Guzman played a donut shop owner and landlord coping with—you'll never guess!—wacky tenants.
2002 (tie) — That Was Then (ABC)
Canceled: Oct. 9, 2002 after two episodes
A 30-year-old traveled through time to fix a disastrous, life-changing week of high school.
2002 (tie) — Push, Nevada (ABC)
Canceled: Oct. 9, 2002 after four episodes
Push featured an IRS agent searching for $1 million in a Nevada town while viewers uncovered clues and tried to win it for real.
2001 — Danny (CBS)
Canceled: Oct. 9, 2001 after two episodes
Daniel Stern played a newly separated dad trying to raise his two teenagers while running the town's community center.
2000 — Tucker (NBC)
Canceled: Oct. 24, 2000 after four episodes
A Malcolm in the Middle ripoff about a boy who moves in with his aunt (Katey Sagal) and her family.