I'm curious as to whether a (once?) hugely popular and liked sitcom that is/was The Big Bang Theory be pulled off the air before its final season. The show's longevity was confirmed in March of last year by The Hollywood Reporter

CBS has handed out a hefty three-season renewal for The Big Bang Theory.

The pickup takes TV's No. 1 comedy among adults 18-49 through season 10 and extends the series through the 2016-17 season.The deal marks the second time the series, […] , has earned a massive three-season renewal.

However, according to the website Rotten Tomatoes, the audience ratings for the show are not as high as they once were.

  • Season six the meter scored 67% among TV critics, and 81% among viewers

  • Season seven (2013-2014) the ratings rocketed to 100% and 85% respectively.

  • Season eight (2014-2015) the TV critics seemed to pan the show, only 67% gave a positive review while 71% of RT users who reviewed the show thought it was still good.

  • Season nine (2015-2016) so far 84% of the critics have given the sitcom a positive rating while a staggering all-time-low 54% of viewers/fans have praised the show.

Q1. In light of these figures, and I'm sure there must be others similar, how realistic is it for CBS to go ahead with the production scheduled for season 20016-2017?

Also consider the amount of money each episode of TBBT costs to pay three actors' salaries alone.

After months of negotiations, the trio [Galecki, Cuoco, and Parsons] finally banged out new, three-year deals on Sunday that will triple their current $350,000 an episode salary.

Now, the CBS stars will be raking in $1 million paychecks per episode for 72 episodes in the upcoming seasons 8-10. […]
All in, I hear Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco are poised to make at least $90 million dollars each over the lives of the deals ...

Source: Business Insider

Q2. Has there ever been a show which has been pulled off the air despite its contract being extended the previous season or two?

  • 2
    "Has there ever been a show" The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien comes to mind.
    – Walt
    Dec 19, 2015 at 9:24
  • 1
    @mari-lou - This season's figures do look a bit lacklustre now that you mention it...
    – user7812
    Dec 19, 2015 at 9:36
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    @Mari-LouA - The figures are actually pretty interesting. They've declined markedly in the last series from their (pretty consistent) levels in the previous 4 seasons. My personal interpretation is that people were largely watching because of the tension between Penny and Leonard (now heavily diminshed now that they're a couple) and the relationship between Leonard and Sheldon (largely the same but getting less screen time now that they've built up the minor characters more). As experiments go, it looks like the screenwriters have failed. My guess is that it'll be "back to basics" next season.
    – user7812
    Dec 19, 2015 at 12:32
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    @Richard it's not as funny or charming as it was, period. It was "clever", and "nerdy" until season 6, the nerdiness has completely disappeared and been replaced by neurosis, and dull acting. Parsons played Sheldon brilliantly, and there were episodes where his acting shone. A joy to watch. But he doesn't have the lines any more. Bad scripts, and complacency have dominated the show. And I'm amazed so many still watch the show.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 19, 2015 at 12:38
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    @Mari-LouA - Except that the ratings nosedived this season. Clearly something has happened.
    – user7812
    Dec 19, 2015 at 12:39

3 Answers 3


Yes, Any network could change their decision and cancel a show after renewing it or (more likely) order a small number of episodes. For example The Brink starring Jack Black. HBO renewed the show for season 2 then reversed the decision

From this

HBO Cancels The Brink

The network has reversed its Season 2 renewal

HBO has cancelled The Brink after its first season, changing its tune on the freshman series after initially renewing it. The Tim Robbins and Jack Black comedy was halfway through its debut run when word first broke that HBO had picked up the show for Season 2.

While it is unclear what changed the cable network's mind in the months since, HBO did release the following statement:

"After evaluating our schedule and our programming needs, we unfortunately decided we cannot give The Brink the attention it deserves for a second season. We are proud of the first season and wish everyone involved in this show the very best."

But it's unlikely something like that happens to TBBT since it's the highest rated CBS show

  • 2
    CBS would sooner cut off their hand then cancel their flagship show. Get ready for some of the cast to be leaving though as they "retool" it in order to try to get their ratings back up.
    – user7812
    Dec 19, 2015 at 10:12
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    "Accepted" for pointing out that TBBT is the most watched show on CBS, which I didn't know, and for the example of a show that had two big stars but was cancelled.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 21, 2015 at 9:06

Sure it can. If one of the main stars say or do something stupid, any show can get canned. For example professional Blowhard Donald Trump racist remarks resulted in Univision and NBC from dropping his shows. http://starcasm.net/archives/320385

“At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values,” begins a statement issued by the network earlier today. “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBC Universal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”

The statement reveals what the end of their relationship with Trump means. “To that end, the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants, which are part of a joint venture between NBC and Trump, will no longer air on NBC,” the network says. “In addition, as Mr. Trump has already indicated, he will not be participating in The Apprentice on NBC.”

The Food Network also dropped Paula Deen cooking show after her racist remarks.

  • 1
    I'm aware of the Paula Deen scandal, and of Martha Stewart's fall from grace, but were any of these shows cancelled as a result? Or did someone hold the fort for these ladies? Furthermore, had the contracts for Trump's shows been extended for a season or two, or were they renewed on an annual basis? I am particularly interested in that particular aspect.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 19, 2015 at 17:16
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    @mari-lou paula Deen was straight cancelled, not just recasted. And Trump said he's suing Univision for breech of contract. Univision explicitly broke the contract they had. It wasn't just refusing to renew.
    – cde
    Dec 19, 2015 at 17:19
  • @mari-lou univision was at the start of a five year 13 million dollar contract. NBC was a 50-50 owner of the pageant.
    – cde
    Dec 19, 2015 at 17:25

Max Headroom was cancelled partway into its second season, when it was put up against Miami Vice, on one network, and Dallas, on another, and basically died in the ratings due to it's time slot. The final episode makes ironic reference to this in a speech the character gives:

"We will fight them on the beaches of Miami," said Max with the fervor of Winston Churchill. "We will fight them on the sidewalks of Dallas. . . . And if the ratings system lasts for thousands of years, men will turn and say, this was Max Headroom's finest hour!"

Ironically, shows that have one of the main actors die, such as Dan Blocker on Bonanza, or Peter Duel in Alias Smith and Jones, or Redd Foxx in The Royal Family, etc., tend to trundle on until the end of the season, trying to survive without the main character, but tank. This is usually due to contractual agreements and threats of lawsuits.

Also, it's rather rare for a cable network to cancel a series they paid for; the cost structure is much different for network television shows, which tend to not do their own production, but the networks are also the ones with the biggest contractual disputes, since they know the show can't go on, but they in insist on the show going on, in the hope that the production company will eat the loss, instead of them eating the loss.

  • I have never heard of this show, when was it aired? Did it have any commercial success that is comparable with TTBT? Who were its stars? (Yes, I know I could Google it, but wouldn't it be best if you provided that info yourself, or posted a link?)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 19, 2015 at 11:53
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    It's indescribable, but geeky and awesome and dystopian. Look for it on YouTube. Dec 19, 2015 at 12:17

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