As we head firmly into the 2021 Fall TV season, which is thankfully nowhere near as disjointed and scattershot as last year's, audiences are no doubt waiting for the returns of such broadcast hits as Grey's Anatomy and The Masked Singer, along with cable winners like Yellowstone and What We Do in the Shadows. But considering just how many TV shows are airing on a weekly basis throughout each year, it can be hard to keep track of everything that isn't coming back due to cancellation. Networks and studios don't tend to promote those quite as much.
Here, we've rounded up a selection of Fall TV favorites from recent years that a lot of viewers are probably going to be looking for if they weren't already aware the shows were ending. I certainly don't hope to break any hearts with the below, but let's get started.
Anna Faris' exit from CBS' addiction-centered comedy Mom came dangerously close to the start of Season 8, and reportedly left the creative team mentally scrambling. Power to everyone who did their damnedest to spread the spotlight around to the always impeccable Allison Janney and the rest of the cast, but their efforts couldn't save Mom from the chopping block. Which is even more of a shame since the ratings didn't tumble nearly as hard as many shows' would upon the exit of a main star.
Vikings (History / Amazon)
For five and a half seasons, the fictionalized Vikings brought its brutal storytelling to History Channel, with Season 6 serving as its swan song. Only, a lot of viewers were bamboozled when Amazon took over as the home for the back half of the final season, with all the episodes releasing at the tail end of 2020. But even though Vikings is over, fans can still look forward to creator Michael Hirst's prequel series Vikings: Valhalla when it hits Netflix.
Changes behind the scenes can also seriously affect a TV show's day-to-day reality, which is likely part of what happened with CBS' reboot MacGyver, which carved out a home for itself on the unenviable Friday night schedule. Less than a year after its co-creator Peter Lenkov was fired for complaints about his work conduct, the Lucas Till-starring drama was unceremoniously cancelled in April 2021 with five episodes left to air in Season 5, which gave some serious added weight to those last five installments.
American Housewife (ABC)
For five seasons, Katy Mixon kept audiences laughing as the titular American Housewife on ABC, and there's a good reason the network kept renewing it, since its viewership numbers and ratings often remained consistent as those of other shows fell. But a behind-the-scenes controversy may have had something to do with its downfall. Co-star Carly Hughes left the show soon after Season 5 started filming, and her complaints about the toxic work environment sparked an in-house investigation that led to its creator and another producer stepping down from their roles, among other consequences.
While Walton Goggins' The Unicorn was only on CBS for two seasons, the looking-for-love comedy had quickly built up a devoted fanbase who adored the series' emotional core, which was delivered in full through the talented ensemble that also included Michaela Watkins. Despite all the good tidings, The Unicorn was cancelled for low-for-the-network ratings, and would likely have been served better on another network, since it didn't quite fit in with CBS' traditional sitcoms, nor the procedural nature of most of its dramas.
Supernatural (The CW)
Despite seeming as if Supernatural might defy the laws of physics by staying on The CW until the end of recorded time, the dark and fantastical drama's COVID-delayed 15th season was its final one. Fans will no doubt beg for Jared Padalecki (now starring in Walker) and Jensen Ackles (soon to star in The Boys) to return to their Winchester brothers roles, but they won't be found on TV together this fall. At least, not outside the 327 reruns that can be found in syndication or streaming.
As one of the most successful UK remakes in some time — at least as far as longevity goes — Showtime's intoxicant-fueled dramedy Shameless has made household names of most of its cast members, minus the already legendary William H. Macy. As it goes with many shows listed here and beyond, the beginning of the end started with the exit of a major star. In this case it was Emmy Rossum, who left at the end of Season 9, at which point the show became Showtime's longest-running series ever. But rather than cancel Shameless after Season 10, as many expected, the network gave the cast and crew a final season to conclude everyone's stories in true Gallagher family fashion.
Last Man Standing (Fox)
Oddly enough, 2021 won't even be the first time TV audiences may have forgotten that Tim Allen's sitcom Last Man Standing was cancelled, considering it sat out an entire fall-to-fall cycle after it was cancelled by its original network, ABC. Ahead of its ninth season, the network announced Last Man Standing would be ending with those final 21 episodes, with its final production span marred by COVID-related protocols and limitations. (The showrunner did tell us how he'd like to return to the Baxters' story in time, but we'll have to wait and see if that ever happens.)
For six seasons, NBC's Superstore made commerce and capitalism a fun primetime escape, and its final season didn't suffer too grandly when star America Ferrera bounced early on. (Though she did return for the final episodes.) However, it was during that sixth season's mid-year hiatus when NBC announced that Superstore was heading to that grand liquidation sale in the sky. Any hopes of the discussed spinoff Bo & Cheyenne were also killed off after the flagship series' final episode aired.
NCIS: New Orleans (CBS)
As CBS sets up to deliver a new branch of its ever-popular NCIS franchise to the table with its Hawaii-set spinoff, fans will no longer be taking trips to the Big Easy with Scott Bakula's Jethro Pride, as NCIS: New Orleans was cancelled earlier in 2021. While the crime drama's Sunday-night ratings were no doubt solid enough, the series suffered several behind-the-scenes issues over the years, and while exact reasons were never made clear, it would appear the network decided to take its fictional NCIS teams to a different part of the country.
Just because everything on this list is over with doesn't mean there aren't a ton of awesome shows premiering throughout the rest of the year as part of the 2021 Fall TV season, because there's definitely something for everyone.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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